Showing posts with label DCU. Show all posts
Showing posts with label DCU. Show all posts

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Super Watch: Supergirl Season 2, Episodes 1 & 2

When I started watching Supergirl last season, I spent a lot of time rolling my eyes and letting my disappointment in the formulaic, color-by-numbers approach take me to a dark place.  But then, probably earlier on than I'd admit, the show started doing something different from what I expected.  Rather than setting up petty jealousies between characters, rather than turning Calista Flockhart's Cat Grant character into a caricature, rather than turning Kara into a hapless dope that everyone loves only because that's what the show insists must happen despite the fact the character is an idiot ruining everyone's lives...  someone stepped in and started turning the show into something I quite liked.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Obligation Watch: Batman v Superman - Dawn of Justice (theatrical cut, 2016)

So, I was in no rush to ever see Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016).

In summer of 2013, despite the many positives of having a Man of Steel movie even existing, a stellar score by Hans Zimmer and Amy Adams cast as Lois Lane, I never cottoned to the movie, and, in fact, despite the fact my completionist self purchased a deeply discounted BluRay of the movie, it's never found it's way onto the platter for a spin.

But, you know, WB and DCE seemed aware of their problems with Man of Steel.  It was a little hard to ignore when adults watching the movie started saying "holy @#$%.  Did I just watch a movie where Superman was turning presumably occupied buildings into rubble and started his public career by snapping the neck of the bad-guy?  Yeesh."  So, despite the return of Zack "I don't understand characters or motivations" Snyder as director and the casting of Jessie "Two Modes of Nebbish" Eisenberg as Lex Luthor, I'd tried to withhold judgment until the reviews hit.  And, mostly, the reviews were not kind on many levels.  So, I'd stayed away.

But, ha ha ha.  One of you (JimD) decided to just send me a copy of the BluRay in the mail.  Over the course of two evenings, I watched the movie, trying not to open my computer or look at my phone when the movie got dull (which was more or less 90 of the 150 minutes).  I tried to make note of what I liked and didn't like, but - I guess unsurprisingly - the movie offered little to enjoy that was not Amy Adams.

It's not the worst movie I've ever seen.  for example -  Suicide Squad was just a dumber movie.  But BvS:DoJ felt positively adolescent in some ways, and had the storytelling instincts of a five year old relating the events of the day.  But it has some interesting stuff in it, too, as far as DC Comics lore.

It's just not a terribly good movie.

Monday, August 15, 2016

DC Comics' Rebirth - DC Tries To Get It's Groove Back

I'm buying way, way more in the way of DC Comics these days then I have in a few years.  Not as many as I might have been back in the hey-day around 2007 (back when I was practically panic-buying comics, afraid I'd miss something), or even as many as I was in the days before DC's New 52 effort launched, but I'm back up from, like, 3 per month (I was picking up Action, sometimes Superman, Sensation Comics and Wonder Woman '77 when it came out).

But, back then, I was literally picking up about 25 DC titles per month, I think.  It was a lot, but I was a Wednesday comics guy, I liked keeping up weekly and monthly with all the ongoing characters and stories, seeing what would happen, good, bad, otherwise, and it was the constant decision-making of "is this comic worth picking up or should I try something else?".  At the core of all the titles I read were four characters - Superman, Wonder Woman, Flash and Batman (in a somewhat managed capacity as there was always too much Batman on the shelf).  The rest were usually up for debate.

With Rebirth, I'm picking up a few titles:

Action Comics
Wonder Woman
The Flash
Justice League
New Superman
Supergirl (not yet released)
All Star Batman
Trinity (not yet released)
and probably the Super Sons title or whatever it's called, which will come out this Fall.

I'll be waiting on word from folks to see if any of the Green Lantern titles are worth it, but I'm not holding my breath.  When they quit making the book about the Corps shattering and reforming and shattering and reforming, somebody wake me up and alert me.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Vertigo Watch: Preacher (TV series, 2016)

At the beginning of the 1990's, I almost bailed on comics.  If you want to know who kept me coming back I can throw a bunch of names at you of authors and artists, but the real force bringing me back to the funny book store was editor Karen Berger, the mastermind behind the 1993 launch of Vertigo comics.

A lot of people say a lot of negative things about the comics industry in the 1990's, and if you consider what was going on in many corners, they're not wrong.  I was avoiding shiny and holographic covers, watched unknown companies try to launch whole universes in one shot and avoided the Scarlet Spider stuff like the plague.  But Berger was the one who saw the potential for what comics could do, saw the potential in then little known writers, was flexible about what could appear in a floppy comic, and she may be the least risk-averse person to ever work at the Big 2.

After successes with Wonder Woman, Legion and other titles, she shepherded several cutting edge titles that eventually set up shop under the Vertigo imprint.  She gave Sandman, Swamp Thing and Hellblazer a home, nurtured and loved both the titles and creators, and resurrected dead IP at DC Comics (Kid Eternity, The Tattooed Man, Shade: The Changing Man) while also letting creators bring their own, fresh ideas to the Vertigo.  In an era embracing what had been counter culture  as we coined such terms as "Alternative Music" and put a groovy coffee shop on every corner, the company that put out Superman was also putting out The Extremist and Transmetropolitan.

Just imagine a young and hungry Neil Gaiman, Grant Morrison, Warren Ellis...  And, of course, Garth Ennis.  In many ways for which she will rarely be given the credit she deserves, Karen Berger gave us Preacher.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Suicide Watch: Suicide Squad (2016)

As the lights came up, I turned and looked at my movie companion and heard myself say "that was the worst movie I've seen since Battlefield Earth".  But, that was unfair.  It's the worst movie I've seen since 1998's Godzilla,  but the issues with the movie are maybe more akin to Battlefield Earth.

Now, I don't say that lightly, and I obviously don't include "bad movie" fodder like The Room, Birdemic and other grasp-longer-than-reach independent efforts.  Rather, there's a special place in movie-going hell reserved for huge blockbuster movies with gigantic budgets for production and marketing that have been corporate committee'd to death.

I didn't show up at Suicide Squad wanting to dislike it.  I'm a grown-assed adult, and if I don't want to see a movie, I won't.  Heck, I could have skipped the movie with a refund before it rolled (and I thought about it after seeing the reviews).  The movie was sold out and people would take the seats.  I could have had a nice beer on the porch at the theater.

I am, of course, not a DC "hater" and am more than happy to discuss DC comics, associated media and lore at length.  In short, don't make me embarrass you, kid, when you come at me to explain the movie.

For decades I've read DC comics, watched TV shows - good and bad - read non-fiction histories of the characters and industries.  And, in this era I just want for DC to make a movie that isn't a trainwreck, and - while I've not seen BvS - that doesn't seem to be happening.

There's probably a competent movie somewhere in the footage and scripts that led to the product that is Suicide Squad (2016).  Director David Ayer has a respectable filmography as both writer and director, and on IMDB, he's listed as the sole writer and director, but...  well, it's Warner Bros.  I mean, they say a lot about being a "director's studio", but if you believe that the suits had nothing to do with how this movie wound up, I have some beachfront land in Arizona to sell you.

I have no doubt the folks who've already branded themselves as DC movie fans (and as carriers of true fandom for these characters) will like the movie as it follows a certain line of thinking that has so far appealed to that audience and basic issues with story and structure didn't deter them with Man of Steel, and from what I've heard about BvS, even more so.   It is in no way short of wanting to be hip and edgy like an Ed Hardy shirt or vape booth at the mall.

It's a movie that does not know the rule of "show, don't tell" - it doesn't trust the audience to follow a story, delivering character and action in literal bullet points.  Mostly, though, the film is presented in such a way that the errors and issues were so large and as consistent as gunfire throughout the movie, that it's impossible to stay with the movie rather than just cataloging the issues as they pop up, one after another.

At almost every single thing this movie attempts, it misses in big and small ways, with the unsurprising exception of the Will Smith as Deadshot storyline (Big Willie carries too much clout in Hollywood to not come out of this still intact, and the charm I'd nearly forgotten the man has on screen fills in a lot of gaps that the movie leaves there for virtually every other character).  Whether it's the much derided musical accompaniment, the nonsensical story bits left in place after the editors were done, the odd choice of villain and scope of the mission, or why everything in the movie felt like it needed to be doodled upon from the frame of the film to Margot Robbie's face to Will Smith's collar.

This movie is a @#$%ing mess.  And, no, it's not even really a "fun" or "enjoyable" mess at that.  Maybe "a distracting two hours where you'll ask yourself a lot of questions about why they made a lot of decisions the way they did."  That kind of mess.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Comic-Con Trailer Discussion! DC, Marvel, Kong!

Randy suggested I take a look at the trailers that came out during Comic-Con, and while I haven't looked at every one of them, and some of them I have no opinion on in general (like the new Harry Potter), I guess I can do this fairly quickly and painlessly.


Wonder Woman

I've already been asked how accurate this is to the original comics, but as one always has to say with DC comics and characters, in particular, the specifics aren't that important.  Especially trying to bring the character to the big screen in 2017 versus what the characters were like in their 1941 original first appearance.

The question needs to be:  how did they handle the origin in general (do the producers understand the character well enough to understand the importance and resonance of the most important details of the character), and what did they do to demonstrate that the character is not a new character masquerading as the titular character?

I am not expecting the poly-sexual, bdsm subliminal antics of the original comics to ever make the big screen (we can make arguments about Season 1 of the Lynda Carter show some other time).  This is the Wonder Woman of the Greg Rucka era, who still carries the lasso, but is like to pick up a sword and shield.  To avoid comparisons to her contemporary creation, Captain America, the origin story has been transported to WWI instead of WWII, a change which I feel doesn't exactly make sense for a downed aviator to find Themyscira by accident (the range on those flyers was not putting them out over the mid-Atlantic, and aircraft carriers barely existed at the time).

But, ignoring the logistics of aviation history, I have to say I'm as excited by this trailer as I likely am to be about anything spinning out of DC/WB's theatrical efforts.  Gadot isn't my first choice, but she seems fine in the part.  The action looks like it's not softened in the slightest and the Amazons are living up to their potential from the comics if this trailer is to be believed.

Like Captain America, the action is likely to move to the modern era for any sequels, which kind of begs the question "why set it in WWI when it's going to draw so many comparisons to Captain America?"  It's not like we've lacked for military conflict in the past 20 years.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

We Ponder the Ever-Growing Complexities of Superman and DC's "Rebirth" Event

It's no secret I wasn't a fan of much in the way of Superman comics since the launch of The New 52.  Somehow the character stumbled off the blocks, introduced in Justice League #1 as a showboat and almost a bully.  The history of the character never added up, what with DC's mishandled "we're five years in since Superman appeared" idea, a history they utterly failed to reconcile with pre-Flashpoint continuity despite their promises to the contrary.  The Superman title tried at the start.  You could feel George Perez try, get compromised again and again, and his abrupt departure and comments afterward about editorial interference jived with the inconsistency of what was on the page, not just in that title, but in many of the New 52 titles I tried out.

Over in Action Comics, Grant Morrison was given free reign to do as he pleased, and you could feel him trying to do something, working hard to try to seize the opportunity, but whatever he was trying to build with a blue-collar, working-man's hero in jeans and t-shirt was mis-appropriated to ill-effect by the end of the New 52 era and "Street Fighter" Superman in jeans and t-shirt almost a loud sigh that DC just didn't know what to do with the character they'd tried to assemble.

The comics just never quite worked.  I wish they had.  I can't say how much my waning interest in Superman comics took out my interest in comics in general.  If you've seen a major shift from comics to movies in my blogging - well, where do you suppose I'm spending my dollars and spare hours now?

Rebirth is DC Comics' latest line-wide reboot and an attempt to recapture what I'd characterize as the lost spirit of DC Comics.  Kicked off over the last month or so, they're basically ditching the line-wide decree to make their characters all more "edgy", rolling out all-new number 1 issues and trying to find their footing.  It won't solve a lot of the problems at DC as I haven't heard of a single person in editorial or publishing losing a job, and the guy running the Superman office at the moment is the same guy who was at the helm when the Superman line lost sales and went from 4 books to 2 (and those weren't holding steady).*

But all that aside - as Superman readers, what did we actually get out of Rebirth?

Well, man, they've certainly got their work cut out for them.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

We Finally Read "Rebirth" and Here Is What We Think (SPOILERS)

I did not love every living word and panel of DC's mea culpa in comic form, but it made me realize how long it has been since I've read a new comic book from DC and didn't feel like I needed to just put it down and walk away.  If Rebirth succeeded on any level - it did not make me kind of sad while I was reading it, nor think "well, this is what they're doing these days, and the kids seem to like it, so I guess this is DC Comics now".  I got to just mostly enjoy a DC Comic, even enjoy the familiar frustration of "well, now how is THAT going to work?" as I looked at some of what the book was pitching as the new direction for DC Comics publishing line.

It's been a few days, so I really don't think I need to explain what Rebirth is, except to my brother - so, Jason:  That New 52 thing I've been whining about the past few years?  Turns out sales have been plummeting line-wide for DC since the first year or so, and they've decided that maybe they went too far in the "grim n' gritty" comics direction, and now they're remembering that the idea behind superheroes is that they're a force for positive change.  So, starting here, DC is trying to wrap up the New 52 as a direction for the publishing line while remaining basically in continuity.  They'll start by renumbering most series (again) and remember that it's kind of a bummer to read about people in tights running about feeling miserable every second of the day, so, maybe stop with the endless Pyrrhic victories and mopey heroes.

The "Rebirth" brand at DC was never one of rebooting.  In both Flash Rebirth and Green Lantern Rebirth, continuity remained intact, but DC brought back longstanding characters and principles to characters and concepts that had strayed from the sort of Platonic ideal of those characters.  In Flash, we saw the return of Barry Allen full time for the first time since Crisis on Infinite Earths.  Wally, Bart, Jay and everyone else would be around, but Barry was our focal Flash - complete with a new backstory that didn't reflect the pre-Crisis DCU continuity (Nora Allen was murdered).  Green Lantern saw the return of Hal Jordan to the land of the living, the Parallax storyline transmogrified into epic space opera that spun out the colored rings.  Both of these I enjoyed.

Rebirth is not another Crisis.   It seems to be retaining the New 52 continuity, so far anyway, and is really not so much an answer as a gigantic question mark both from a story and editorial perspective.  Or, rather, a series of questions marks or possible paths for all of us who walked away from DC to consider what teasers from the books we'd be interested in pursuing with our dollars.

Everything from here below contains spoilers.  You're on your own if you keep reading.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

TL;DR: Balancing the Dark and the Light - Getting Real About How We Were Okay with "Dark" Comics

This week DC Comics's Rebirth event will once again re-set the DC Universe of comics for what will be the third reboot since 2005 (Infinite Crisis, Flashpoint/ New 52 and now Rebirth).   Even before the story broke this weekend about what Rebirth will contain, plot and character-wise, I had been thinking a great deal about the direction of media, what superheroes and stories are for, and how I've not felt particularly compelled to write up a bunch of posts upon, nor cast ad hominem attacks on those who enjoyed this year's blockbuster, Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice.

Sunday night saw the premiere of Preacher on AMC, an adaptation of the utterly unadaptable Preacher comics from Vertigo's heyday back in the 1990's.  As the comics are numbingly brutal and , featuring a wide array of atrocities and blasphemous content, I'm frankly a little concerned about what happens in the media/ social medias if the show is a direct adaptation and if/when people actually start watching the show (the pilot was not a direct adaptation, and I'm not sure it did very well).  The content is not exactly the sort of thing that many folks here in the Bible Belt take kindly to, even as a Bible Belt perspective certainly doesn't hurt in contextualizing the overriding experience and meaning of the comic.  After all, one of the overriding themes of the book is cutting through hypocrisy wrapped in the cloth - something Texas does just about as well as anywhere (thus, your location).

Friday, May 20, 2016

So, I guess that was "Legends of Tomorrow"

the thing burning in the back is the show's internal logic

As I kind of suspected, DC's Legends of Tomorrow did start to feel less like a plodding mess in the final 3-4 episodes of the show.  They had their beginning and they had their ending, but they didn't have a middle, and that was no good for anybody.

Really, if we're being honest, the show made no sense.  Time travel is a ridiculously complicated contrivance, and once you start making up arbitrary rules for your time travel story - rules clearly there so that the story can occur and not just end because you got in your time machine and flew back to the past and killed Hitler in his bed - you've kind of already lost the game.  Especially when your time-travel device is also a space-faring vehicle.

Since last I posted on the show, I've really been hate-watching it, because - and I am sorry earnest TV watcher who was truly moved by the unfolding story of Rip Hunter and his gang of renegade time-travelers - it got just hysterically bad at some point.

The past five or six episodes, Jamie and I took to both playing the role of "Vandal Savage explains to the characters how they could end this right now" in terrible Danish accents, but it made the show so, so much more watchable

At some point, a few things became obvious to me:

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

DC Comics gets a new logo. So... this means... what, exactly?

Blah blah blah...

DC Comics has a new logo.

It's certainly not as "we might sell paper like Dunder-Mifflin" as the last DC Logo.  Or as hopelessly detergent-label-like as the prior.  But there's not a lot of standards to go with in this realm.  The big, chunky red Marvel logo isn't really... much of anything, either, so let's not get too excited in the compare and contrast department.

the logo that screams "'fun', as defined in Appendix C of the PDF attachment in Tuesday's email"

Like a lot of other folks, I looked at the new one up top and said "huh, interesting they went Bronze Age with it".  Because a bit of a throw-back to those early 1970's logos DOES say what you want to say to fans about respecting the past, and the fun of that past - something DC hasn't just had a problem with, but has aggressively trampled over the past 5 years.  But it IS new-er-ish.  They're not just endeavoring into a revival of a period which is remembered fondly, but would make no sense in 2016.  Mostly, unlike the DC Fold, it's also squarely not the sort of thing that would look at home on a box of 3.5" diskettes in 1994, either.  But maybe a loaf of bread from a company that hasn't changed it's packaging since, well, 1974.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

In Memoriam Watch: Justice League - The New Frontier (2008)

With the passing of Darwyn Cooke, I had my quick appreciation write-up, and on Sunday, as I was eating my oatmeal and pondering the fact I had to work all afternoon, Jamie pitched watching the animated version of Cooke's comics classic, Justice League: The New Frontier (2008).

For a while there, I was purchasing every single new DVD WB Animation pushed out as DC got into the feature-length animated film business.  These days I limit my actual purchases (my last purchase being Flashpoint, which seemed as good a place to jump off DC Entertainment in many-a-ways), but I have a pretty good run of Batman, Superman, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman and Justice League videos.  And, as I type this, why the hell didn't they ever make a Flash movie?  It seems like an obvious fit.

But I don't think I'd actually watched this disk in something like 6 years.

Monday, May 16, 2016

20th Anniversary of DC Comics' "Kingdom Come"

This month marks the 20th anniversary of the release of the first issue of Kingdom Come, the prestige 4-issue, oft re-issued, comic by creators Alex Ross (artist) and Mark Waid (writer).

It's extremely difficult for me to state how much of an impact this comic had on me as a reader at the time of it's release.  In fact, I'd argue it was one of the comics that came out at a particular time in my life that tilted me from an interest in comics and enthusiastic readership to... whatever it became.  Further, I'd say that Kingdom Come stands as one of the key books that pushed me from thinking Superman was pretty neat to...  whatever my deal is with The Man of Steel today.

By 1996, I just wasn't that interested in superhero comics.  It seemed like a lot of books were trying to pull things off that weren't working, and, honestly, at age 21, glancing over the covers - a sense of creeping embarrassment hit me for the first time in my life in regards to comics.  Not for the hobby or comics themselves, but it seemed that, in the mainline superhero books, writers and artists and the companies themselves had a vision they were trying to execute, and that vision felt like a 13-year-old trying on their dad's suit thinking they could con the bank into giving them a loan.

By '93, a brave new world of tough, militaristic, snarling characters had flooded the shelves.  New publishers had arrived with fully formed concepts and universes, clearly either inspired as "extreme" versions of existing characters, or taking their cues from the artwork on heavy metal album covers (which, you know, how could you fault them?).  And at DC and Marvel, familiar characters were getting changed and rebooted (see: Azrael Batman) to reflect the times.  To me, the stories themselves lacked anything resembling narrative sophistication or substance, taking a Canon Films approach to violence and vitriol and mistaking it for maturity.  The plots were sophomoric at best, and adding spiked shoulder pads to pre-existing characters did nothing to sell me on their new grittiness.  I'll never forget cackling my way through the 1994 Dr. Fate reboot, Fate, wherein the hero turns the all-powerful helmet of Dr. Fate into a knife.  So he can cut things!  To the extreme!*

Meanwhile, Karen Berger had set up Vertigo at DC and was putting out HellblazerShade: The Changing ManAnimal ManSwamp ThingThe Invisibles, and, of course, Sandman and Sandman Mystery Theatre.  I didn't think I had to look too far to see characters who were telling me they were for older readers - they simply were the sophistication (or what passed for it) that felt like the proper heirs to the Moore legacy.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Darwyn Cooke Merges With The Infinite - #RIPDarwynCooke

Just yesterday we heard that Darwyn Cooke had entered palliative care in the last stages of cancer, and by the time I went to bed, the internet was telling me we that we have lost Darwyn Cooke, comics artist and writer.

2016 seems intent on taking my favorite artists from the world before their time.

It seemed to me Cooke was properly appreciated by comics enthusiasts, and a favorite in the creator community as a solid guy.

His art is making its way around the internet, and you won't have to look far for the next 72 hours to see all of us posting our favorite pieces.  I'll focus here on his DC work and his work with Richard Stark's Parker novels.

Perhaps the best known of his works is DC's New Frontier, the Jet Age re-imagining of the origin of the Justice League of America, featuring all the mainstay players and some more-forgotten characters of the JFK/ pop explosion era of DC.  If you've never read it, it's available out there in print and digital.  And, it was adapted into a feature length cartoon film a few years back.

Cooke's art tilted toward iconographic cartooning, and fit no house style at DC, even as it clearly fit the aesthetic and mood of the DCU on the sunniest of days.  Both retro and modern, his style borrowing heavily from the pop-art style of late-50/ early-60's illustration, with the nuance of line to manage expression and convey more in a face than 95% of comics artists.

During an era when DC Comics and comics in general are on a swing back toward projecting a world view of fire, chaos, and gnashing teeth for all of their characters, Cooke still found a place in the comics world to show a DC Universe infused with hope.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Signal Watch Reads: The Caped Crusade - Batman and the Rise of Nerd Culture (audiobook, 2016)

Here's what I know after reading Caped Crusade: Batman and the Rise of Nerd Culture (2016) - I would love to spend a couple hours at a bar with author Glen Weldon knocking back a couple of cocktails and talking comics.  

The book is a perfect compliment to the sort of discussion we've been having here at The Signal Watch the past few years, from our Gen-X Recollection Project (still ongoing!  Send in your posts!), to trying to contextualize what we see in movies of the past and present as seasoned dorks.  

As a matter of course, I've read a few Superman retrospectives, but very few feel like an honest conversation.  Les Daniels' works read like what they are - honest if fairly sanitary historical accounts of the rise of Superman in all media.  The very-well-selling Larry Tye book felt like a lot of research into something the author felt would move books but for which he had little personal affinity and seemed surprised that Superman wasn't the character he remembered from his years watching The Adventures of Superman.  Author Tom De Haven has the strangest relationship with Superman, having written a full novel re-imagining the character from the ground up (in ways that often seemed far, far off the mark), and then a sort of retrospective that made it clear - he kinda hates Superman.

But aside from Les Daniels and a few excerpts in books like Ten Cent Plague and Men of Tomorrow, I haven't read up as much on Batman.  I actually heard of author Glen Weldon when he put out a book called Superman: The Unauthorized Biography.  I purchased the book, but hadn't read it as I had a stack of books I was making it through.  Still haven't read it, honestly, aside from the first few pages, which had me cackling in recognition of someone who truly knew their Superman.  But, two days after I picked up the Superman book, Weldon announced on twitter his Batman book was coming, and as I'd just finished the Tye Superman book, I figured - I'll just wait for that one.

I really can't recommend Caped Crusade enough.  This is a "run, don't walk" sort of recommendation.  

Sunday, April 3, 2016

That Supergirl/ Flash Meet-Up on CBS's "Supergirl"

Pick a tone, DC Entertainment.

I was never a fan of the "two heroes meet, fight, realize it's all a mistake and then go off to fight a common threat" trope of comics.  So, yes, just seeing the title of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice literally told me everything I didn't need to see in the WB opus (now down over 70% in ticket sales from last weekend).  It literally makes no sense for a person dedicated to improving things for other people to start a conversation by throwing a punch at someone else's head.  Frankly, it always kind of diminishes whatever I'm reading when the writers get lazy and that's the path they follow.

Yeah, even "Superman meets Spider-Man".*

I've been a fan of The CW's The Flash since episode 1, and I continue to enjoy the heck out of that show.  From this DC nerd's perspective, this is how you update a character and make the concept work in another medium with different needs than the comic page or context of National Comics in the Jet Age.  If you're going to change up Barry's origin story a bit, this makes sense, and I like the family with which they're surrounded Barry, both the Wests and his "work family", made up of repurposed C and D listers.

The show is far from relentlessly cheerful - villains are a threat, and we've had two seasons with serious arcs casting a shadow over the events of everything else.   But the core characters don't wallow in self-imposed pity parties and comply with the notion that being a jerk is a prerequisite to intelligence or depth of character (it seems Arrow is continuing to struggle with how to dig themselves out of that hole).  Barry and Co.'s ability to keep on going and improve things for themselves and the world is at the heart of what I like about ongoing superhero comics.

I wrote more than one post regarding the rocky start to CBS's Supergirl, but at some point the show started getting a grip on what it is and could be.  Once it dropped some of the standard soapy TV tropes and got on with the business of superheroing, it's been on a gradual incline of watchability.  They dropped the lame "nice guy" storyline for Win, and, to my great satisfaction, the seemingly one-dimensional character of Cat Grant (played by Calista Flockhart) blossomed immediately into a mentor character for Supergirl and her alter ego.  And, of course, the long game of naming Hank Henshaw as leader of this DEO business pulled a switcheroo and turned out to be a huge highlight of the season as the character turned out not to be the ridiculous Cyborg Superman but Martian Manhunter.**

I never disliked the cast of Supergirl, but CBS applied a lot of old-hat tricks, believing they knew how to make the show work for the broadest audience, but it seemed outdated and a drag on the show's velocity.  And, while I'm not sure we're getting a second season (it hasn't been renewed so far as I know), a second season could get down to brass tacks and be quite fun.  Plus, they've said Lynda Carter could play the President next season, which this site heartily endorses.  It could be a lot of fun.

And there's that word.  Fun.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Before Comics Were Cool - The Gen-X Recollection Project: Jason C.

We are thrilled to have the participation of Jason C. here for the Gen-X Recollection Project.

Jason is a recently published author, a former co-worker, a former collaborator from my days at Comic Fodder, holds a PhD in English, a software developer and all around good guy.  Oddly, before I met Jason, I'd read part of his dissertation as it made the rounds in the geek-o-sphere as he discussed DC Comics as a collaborative shared universe through the lens of Crisis on Infinite Earths.  It was an odd moment when Jason and I were first chatting at work and I realized he was the guy who wrote that dissertation.*

Also, it turned out Jason was in grad school at the same time as my boss and they're pals.  Sometimes Austin, TX is a very small world.

Recently, Jason published his first novel, Old Green World. which is very reasonably priced at Amazon.

But, enough about me.  Here's Jason's narrative of how things went down.

I don't remember my first comic, but I'll tell you the first comics that I remember. A crisis happened every summer, late in the summer, around when the pool was getting routine. The Justice League would visit every year with the Justice Society. The Justice Society were the old heroes, the aunts and uncles and grandparents from World War II. It was a family reunion. The Justice League lived on Earth-1, and the Justice Society on Earth-2, but they would travel to see one another through a dimensional portal. When the portal went wrong, it was a crisis. The portal always went wrong. Every year.

ed. note:  Owl Man's original costume is insane

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

DC Comics details #DCRebirth, we look at Superman and... So many questions (not necessarily in a good way)

Thank Hera, WW is back in gold.  But what's with the blue boots on Supes?

Over the weekend at something called WonderCon, DC Comics used the Comic Convention platform to do what they used to do back before videogames and movies gentrified CCI/ San Diego - they actually delivered some fairly large comics news.

It's no secret to retailers or readers that DC Comics' line of titles has been in a creative hole of despair for going on 5 years, and sales have taken a related major nose-dive in the past two years despite incentive covers and as much Harley Quinn as DC could print.  The ill-conceived Convergence event of Summer 2015 gave anyone on the fence the opportunity to get the hell out of there, and, abandon DC they did.

It wasn't too hard to figure that after DC moved to the new West Coast offices many things would change, that the real-world stresses of moving would put any ability to react to sales issues on the back burner, but, once everyone was settled, they'd immediately begin planning.

The final product of a few months of brian-storming is now revealed:  DC Comics Rebirth.

So, what is Rebirth?

Monday, March 28, 2016

In Light of "Superman vs: Batman" - What is the Point of Film Criticism?

Batman ponders the Super Package

Although perhaps less so every year in a world of constantly sub-divided attention, movies and television are the modern cultural touchstones.  More than news, political figures or even war, there's nothing like a $400 million dollar movie to get everyone around the world doing the same thing on a Saturday.  International dominance of American cinema means that films transcend boundaries and political ideologies as Hollywood carefully crafts non-political films with standard "good v evil" tropes, without ever casting a particular point of view, aside from "evil menace" as the bad guy.

We aren't all just film viewers, we are all film reviewers.  We see a film, we consider that film against other films, source material and our particular perspective.  Sometimes we write that thought down.  The job requires no credentialing, and while some people are paid to look at movies, sum them up and say a few words about the relative merit of a film, others do this endlessly, fruitlessly on their own (cough), but it is something we all do mentally.  We are all ready to write a column for the local paper.  We all have the best, most nuanced of opinions.

Most of what you see in the press I think of as "reviewers" more than "critics".  Somehow, someway, those folks parlayed an interest in going to a bunch of movies every week into a job where they then must writer 1000 words about that movie.  A review contains a synopsis, who stars in a movie, and some sort of opinion about the movie.  Some make it colorful - and in this era of  anyone with a keyboard having the ability to publish, you gotta write some colorful stuff to get clicks.

How to separate a critic from a reviewer?

Well, a reviewer is a person with a local newspaper column or a website.  It's me.  It's you.  Your aunt who posts things to facebook.

There are two definitions of critic, I think.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

CBS's "Supergirl" Seems Markedly Better

Against my better instincts, I kept tuning in week after week to CBS's entrance into the superhero game, Supergirl.  In all honesty, I didn't think the show would last, so I figured I could stick with it for a season and call it a day.  The show would demonstrate these bits of promise, and then revert back to the disappointing formula blend it seemed the network wanted to enforce - all of which seemed out of step with what might make the show work.

None of what I think has an impact on ratings, and I don't know how large or small the actual audience is for the program.  I hear things about falling ratings, but then I'm told its been renewed, so someone has faith in it.

I was pretty hard on this show when it started.  If I can give it grief, I can say some positive things as well.  And there's been good on the show in ways I've found pleasantly surprising - especially on network TV.