Be The Super Man They Are Waiting For: Translucid #1

SQUEEE!

SQUEEE!

When I started reading comics in earnest a year or so ago, I did not know that Claudio Sanchez and Chondra Echert were going to be writing a superhero comic. But boy am I glad they did.

So, here is the review that I’ve been waiting all week to write!  I don’t know why it took so long for it to get here, but I was really, really happy when I got home from work last night and it was waiting for me!

My favorite part about The Amory Wars is how unhinged it is. Not that it doesn’t make sense, the plot does, even the crazy meta parts, but it’s a no holds barred id fueled story of cosmic space opera violence, pretty much from panel 1. That’s kind of what I expected from Translucid, but in it’s first issue, well, it wasn’t like that at all.

Translucid is about the relationship between a superhero, The Navigator and his long time nemesis The Horse. When teasing it months ago, Claudio talked about the similarities between the two and Batman and The Joker, and perhaps later on we’ll see more of that, but aside from the fact that The Navigator appears to be “just a man” their relationship feels more symbiotic even than that.

Also, once again, the story appears to be meta, as we move in between the super hero action and panels of a young boy apparently playing. It’s hard to make the call, however, because this is alternative comics, this may be (probably is) a misdirect.

The art by Daniel Bayliss and colored by Adam Metcalfe is absolutely beautiful, full of realistic images and tight lines. The characters we meet, The Horse and Navigator in particular are well realized, as are the Apocalypse 3, a trio of villains who have been terrorizing New York in The Horse’s absence. But the real thing that I can’t believe (actually I can) is how badly I want to see an album of this story. So many of the lines feel like Claudio’s lyrics.

“The good news is, I don’t care about your imperfections.”

“One less rung high on the ladder makes for a quicker climb to the top.”

“Breaking on the scene as you can see above me.”

“I’m just a man, and this is just a building, but you’re the closest thing to a friend I’ve ever had.”

“Have the Apocalypse 3 filled their hearts while I’ve been gone?”

“Heroes can’t turn back time, only villains can do that.”

I’m looking forward to this run, and I’m so glad it finally came. (Seriously, the stupid post office!)

All Summer Long

There are a lot of reasons that I look forward to summer. Not least of all is my theater group, (still looking for donations, by the way. Every little bit helps!) and of course the start of  Movie Season, and this year, I’m looking forward to picking up some new comics series that will be hitting!

But let’s start with Movie Season 2014. I’m not going to go through every movie that’s hitting this season, but here are a few that I’m really looking forward to.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2, 

I wasn’t like super excited about this, because I’m not that big a fan of The Amazing Spider-Man, and I badly don’t want to see Emma Stone’s Gwen Stacy die. (I’m still not sure they will kill her, but I think it’s likely.) But, I am really excited to see Jamie Foxx as Electro, and seeing the development of Harry and Peter’s friendship this time around. Dane Dehaan is soo different from Jams Franco, and I’m very glad for that.

Chef

Jon Favreau doing what I like best from him. (No not making Iron Man, though I like that too.) Making small, indie, character based comedy. I don’t expect Chef to be Swingers level good, but I think it will be good.

Godzilla

I really want this to be good, for it’s own sake, for Bryan Cranston’s and for the sake of a possible Pacific Rim sequel.

Million Dollar Arm

Jon Hamm, Disney, Baseball and adorable teenage boys. What could go wrong? Oh, I mean, it could turn out to be totally racist, but I hope not because I mean, Jon Hamm, teaching 19 year old boys how to play baseball!

X-Men: Days of Future Past

will cry. Every trailer for this movie has made me weep like a baby. And I’m truly curious how cleaning up a continuity is going to work on film, since it’s something that will probably just have to keep happening down the line.

Maleficent

I have mixed feelings about this. It looks visually stunning, but I don’t like the idea of recasting one of the best villains ever as an anti hero. Part of what makes Maleficent so compelling is that she’s pure evil. But Lana DelRay’s version of “Once Upon A Dream” is so chilling that it’ll make the whole endeavor worth it.

How To Train Your Dragon 2

Can’t wait to go back to this little world and hang out with Hiccup and Toothless again.

Jersey Boys

Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy! I’ve been waiting years for this one. Be prepared for a large chunk of people in your life, or anyone who sees it to be singing “Sherry” for the rest of their lives.

Transformers: Age of Extinction

Wahlberg, giant robots, and no Shia? It’ll be a good visit.

Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes

Rise of The Planet Of The Apes was so stinking good, and I can’t wait to see how they follow up on it in this sequel.

Guardians of The Galaxy

I mean, I’m kind of excited about this movie. I may have mentioned that a time or twelve.

Lucy

Please just, I mean, go see Lucy, so that there’s no reason not to make Black Widow. Also, it looks great just on it’s own.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

It’s looking like less of an abomination with each new detail that gets released. Who doesn’t want to revisit this childhood touchstone.

The Giver

BEST BOOK EVER! And Meryl Streep, so you know, it’s going to be good.

Sin City: A Dame To Kill For

This is going to close out the summer, and then we move into the fall part, which is very different (fewer blockbusters, for one!) I can’t wait to get back into this world, it’s going to be great.

As for comics, in July we’re getting the new series Grayson, which will be about Dick, (thankfully not dead…) and how he becomes a secret agent. I’m not totally sold on the concept, but I’m so grateful that he’s still going to be alive that I will buy the series. And I love him, so there’s that. There’s also going to be a run on Batman & Robin called “Robin Rising” which I can only hope is going to be about Damian’s resurrection. (But probably won’t be.) And finally Multiversity Grant Morrison’s new limited book, that I will love reading and trying to understand and ultimately just laugh at because Morrison comics are bonkers. (Also, it’s going to feature an all ages Shazam story which, YES!)

It’s going to be an entertaining summer, that’s for sure

DC Animated Movies: Superman: Unbound 

Unbound

I was looking forward to Superman: Unbound for a lot of reasons, but not least of all because I hadn’t gotten a chance to watch it and it features the voice talent of the fabulous Matt Bomer. (The man who should have been Christian Grey) But also because it’s something very different than the things that I’ve been watching before, and I love any story that’s about Kal and Kara trying to come to an understanding about her place on earth.

Lois Lane is kidnapped by terrorists, because of course she is. Supergirl shows up first and starts fighting the guys and Lois is smirky and sarcastic. It’s great, then Superman shows up, they win and Supes and Lois head back to the planet. They banter a bit about going public with their relationship, as Lois and Clark, not as Lois and Superman, then another reporter comes in and hits on Lois and intimates that he thinks that Clark’s gay. It’s a fun scene and I love it a lot. Meanwhile, in Smallville, Kara is feeling listless, but assures the Kents that she’s grateful for their love and support. Martha Kent proves her infinite value as a character in her one scene where she comforts Kara. Seriously, was there ever a Superman story that didn’t benefit from the Kents involvement? (I’m a huge New 52 apologist, but even I think killing off Clark’s parents was an unnecessary measure.) Meanwhile, Superman fights a robot that leads him down the path to Brainiac. Once he finds Brainiac, he manages to visit the bottle city of Kandor, and meet Kara’s parents. Brainiac then reveals that he’s going to use Metropolis as his sample earth city. He bottles it, but Superman fights him, forcing him into the world to have brain overload and explode. It’s pretty damn cool. Then he releases Metropolis and proposes to Lois.

There are tons of great things about Unbound, not the least of which is the animation style. This is probably my favorite version of Kara that I’ve ever seen, and she’s one of my favorite characters ever. There’s also a moment where Lois literally gives Brainiac the finger and it’s one of the most spectacularly Lois Lane-y moments ever. When Superman explains to Brainiac that Earth is his home and his heart, it gets at the core of the character and his motivations in a tangible and familiar but new way.

And it’s time to talk about voice cast. Of course as I said, Matt Bomer was a big excitement for me while watching this one. And he did a great job. I mean, when you’re an actor and you look like Bomer, it’s not terribly unlikely that you spend a lot of time wondering if you’ll ever get to play Superman. (I love Henry Cavill, but talk about a missed opportunity.)He delivers well. Molly Quinn’s Supergirl is probably going to become the new gold standard, like Nathan Fillion’s GL. It passes all previous incarnations and she’s so enthusiastic about it (I saw her at New York Comic Con, bless her, she was a ton of fun.) Her Castle co star, Stana Katic plays Lois here and more due to the writing than Katic’s performance, I love this version. She’s fiesty, powerful and a lot of fun and Katic delivers a fantastic rendition. And then of course John Noble is Brainiac. I don’t think I need to explain that because John Noble is fantastic and should always be fantastic.

I really enjoyed this one, and it’s probably my favorite of the Superman movies I’ve watched, and certainly worlds about Doomsday.

Up next is Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox, which is one of my favorite comics stories and an adaptation that I really and truly love. I don’t know when I’ll get a chance to watch it, since I’m going back to work, but I have every intention of getting it done.

Time To Get Personal: On Me

I’ve decided I’m going to do these every once in a while, where I write about something “real,” and “illuminate the dark places” as my non fiction writing professor, Joseph Kraus would put it. (Hey Professor Kraus! Remember how you used to tell me that I needed to find my voice? I found it! 300 whole posts of it!)

This past week was crazy, filled with three job offers (2 part time, 1 full, took the full) a decision to go to a comic convention by myself or attend a concert with my family, (picked the concert) and a decision to reread Harry Potter (Yes, nearly two years later, I’ll probably finally write about Harry Potter and Potter fandom in a significant way.)

But Saturday, I was laying out on the wicker loveseat on our back porch, reading Justice League: Trinity War, and I realized that there is becoming less of a gap between who I am and who I want to be. Maybe it’s a maturity thing, but I suddenly realized that being the girl sitting reading a comic book in a sundress, listening to Evita isn’t a mess of contradictions, it’s just who I am.

Yes, I would prefer that that girl was two dress sizes smaller, didn’t still have acne in her late twenties, and could comfortably refer to herself as a woman, but generally speaking, I like who I am right now. I’ve struck a balance with my family at long last, by being (for the most part) open with them about who I am and what I want, which in the past two years has changed significantly. I’ve excised many of the more toxic relationships and patterns I’ve developed since college from my life. I’m still working on some. My propensity to get too drunk and throw up and cry still rears it’s ugly head biannually, but that used to happen monthly, so progress! I’m eating better, getting out of the house more, and going to church again.

This last one is big. One of the first things that goes for me when I start to feel disconnected is my connection to my faith. I love my religion, which, as I’ve said many times has been a haven of love for me my entire life. “Catholic Guilt” is a foreign concept to me, because I was taught my whole life that God, through his son Jesus loved me more than I could comprehend. But unlike most people, who go to religion when things are bad, I don’t. When I’m feeling out of sorts, sometimes, yeah, I can find prayer and community helpful, but usually, I get frustrated because I’m not getting what I usually do out of it. So, coming back to church again, was for me, a huge deal and a liberating one, because having that community around me always feels better.

I’ve developed strong friendships and gotten better at that thing that I’ve had trouble with for a while, which is taking the initiative. If I want to see a friend, it’s my job to get in touch with them and make plans, not theirs. Or if I want to talk to my friends who aren’t nearby, I can just pick up the phone and do it.

And yeah, I’m going to be the girl who wears a little dress and kitten heels to a dive bar and deals with the weird looks, just as I will be the girl who will be having an impassioned conversation about the death (and resurrection, I hope) of Damian Wayne (still in the dress and shoes, btw) with a guy she just met who made the mistake of commenting on her friends’s Batman tee shirt while she was there. Said friend and I were discussing Batman & Robin: Reborn, because I will literally talk about that with anyone, whether they’ve read it or care. Another thing I’ve gotten better about, telling when guys in bars are actually interested in my opinion about Dick Grayson’s tenure as Batman or if they’re just trying to hit on me. This guy was both, and it didn’t really work for him. Though I never tire of the wowed look on people’s faces when the preppy girl says, “Sorry, I only recently re read incorporated, so Damian’s death is feeling a little fresh at the moment.”

Because I’ve come to accept that this is who I am, and the world is mostly OK with it too, but they still don’t expect it. And that gets pretty great.

 

Margaery Tyrell: The Character Winner for “The Rose and The Lion”

To be honest I would probably give this to Margaery every week, because I love Natalie Dormer so much but once I figured out that this was the episode, I knew that it was going to belong to her.

Maybe it should be the costume designer's episode, because that dress and hair did half the work.

Maybe it should be the costume designer’s episode, because that dress and hair did half the work.

I’ve been waiting for this episode since The Red Wedding, because as horrific and heartbreaking as that is the royal wedding is a much bigger game changer, and Margaery’s feeble attempts to control her new husband, who doesn’t make it past dinner are worth noting.

Yes, I did play with giving this week to Joffrey because he finally dies, doing the only thing that any one wants to see him doing.

Also, frankly, it was between Margaery and the tree that Bran was talking to, and she’s a lot prettier. I mean, seriously, that costume design is fantastic, and Margaery saying, “my love” with no enthusiasm in her voice every time Joffrey does something awful, I mean, it’s just so stinking great.

DC Animated Movies: Batman: The Dark Knight Returns: Part 2

batman-the-dark-knight-returns-part-2-dvd-cover

I always forget until I watch or read it again how deeply unfair to Superman The Dark Knight Returns is. I mean, I haven’t always been the biggest Superman fan in the world, this past year excluded, I never connected much to the character, however much I understood what he stood for.

But that’s nothing compared to how The Dark Knight Returns feels about him. (I’m not going to say Frank Miller, because I don’t actually know the man’s opinions on Clark, and a writer can express a point of view through work that isn’t necessarily fully representative of their personal POV.) The image of Superman as a personal lackey for evil eternal President Reagan (one of the many signs of the piece’s age, BTW. I understand that to people in the 80′s and early 90′s, the Reagan Era may have seemed endless, but it wasn’t actually.) and threatening to take down Batman with his “authority” is really just cruel to Superman’s many fans.

What isn’t, is the amazing fight between the two, which on the page is epic and animated here is pure superhero sublimity. My God, is this a beautiful thing. Every, punch, kick, broken rib, and toppled building as the world’s two greatest superheroes beat the snot out of each other in crime alley is perfectly paced and gorgeously wrought.

Of course, that’s the finale, The Dark Knight Returns is paced around 3 big action markers, first is Batman taking down a Bruno, a Nazi themed Gotham Boss, as she and two thugs rob a drug store. It’s a killer fight, and gets Bats into a disguise other than the suit, which is always fun. There’s not a lot to this one, it’s just some great fighting and some cool action.

The second part is the fight with Joker. After wreaking havoc on a talk show and dressing Selina in a Wonder Woman costume, Batman and joker face off at the Gotham City fairgrounds. It ends with Batman breaking Joker’s neck. It’s an intense moment, and very Miller. A Batman kill can’t be taken lightly, and Batman killing Joker really can’t be anything but perfect. It’s done very well.

Then the Superman fight. Which as I said is pitch perfect.

There’s not a lot to say about Part 2 that I didn’t already cover in Part 1, expect to note that this is the more action packed half, and the half that I prefer less. That goes for the original GN as well. I think the top half is a good deal better than the back half. I’ve never much liked this version of Oliver Queen or Superman, although the twist ending of Batman not being dead might be the best in the world.

The voice cast is mostly the same group from before, with the addition of Mark Valley as Superman and Robin Atkin Downes as Queen. They both do a steady job with characters who don’t have many shades to work with. Queen is one extreme that Batman can’t go to and Superman is the other. He is the middle road between them.

Up next is Superman: Unbound, I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m kind of excited to get into some fun after two weeks of dwelling in The Dark Knight Returns heavyness.

Hail Hydra! (I didn’t see this one coming)

marvels-agents-of-shield

After watching Captain America: The Winter Soldier I had a feeling that at least one of the agents we’ve gotten to know this year on Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. were probably going to be Hyrda. It was a foregone conclusion, although  I pretty much thought that everyone on the bus was safe.

I should have known better.

I should have known that when Joss & Co spared Skye’s life, all those weeks ago that it was because they were going to break my heart somewhere down the line.

And break my heart they did, terribly.

Really, I didn’t expect to be more upset than I was when I found out that Sitwell was Hydra, because that was heartbreaking. I was world’s more upset than that.

Because, I was pretty sure that Victoria Hand might end up being Hydra. And I was very afraid that Melinda May might be. (But I was pretty sure that she wouldn’t be) and I was curious to see how the exposure of Hydra within S.H.I.E.L.D. was going to affect the team.

Here are things that I didn’t expect, my new favorite character in anything ever, Agent John Garrrett was going to be Hydra and GRANT FRIGGIN WARD!

I mean, I’m sorry, “I’m Agent Grant Ward” who ten minutes before putting a bullet into Victoria Hand’s head said that he had feelings for Skye? I don’t understand what’s happening here. I did like that Hand and Coulson suspected one another. And, that Agent Triplett isn’t, for Simmons sake. (Those two are going to be adorable.)

Although the scenes for next weeks’ episode seem to indicate that Ward is having conflicting feelings. I just really badly want Cap to show up and punch him in the face.

So badly.

I mean, look, this episode just gave me a lot of feelings.

P.S. Aless thinks that the fact that Ward didn’t say “Hail Hydra” means that he might be going undercover at Coulson’s order. I can only hope so.