DC Animated Movies: Justice League: War

Justice_League-War

Justice League: War is not a fundamentally bad movie. It’s techinically great and has moments of fantastic genius. But Justice League: War kind of encapsulates everything that’s messed up about The New 52, and I don’t even hate The New 52 like most people do. I actually really like The New 52, and probably would even if they weren’t the only game in town to get new stories about my favorite characters.

Justice League: War is based on the first “volume” of The Justice League comic to come out in The New 52, telling the story of how this team was formed. Hal Jordan is fighting a large armored monster in Gotham City and he and Batman encounter one another and sort of fight but sort of don’t. Then they find a motherbox and track down Superman and Flash gets involved, and teenager Victor Stone becomes Cyborg, and Shazam shows up and Wonder Woman is there, and the fight Darkseid.

It’s a good plot, and absolutely what a Justice League story should be, and one that I liked OK in the comics, but here just felt grating. It’s a lot to do with how the characters are presented. There should absolutely be some friction as this group begins meeting each other and working together. Hal Jordan and Bruce Wayne should not be friends immediately. Wonder Woman is really violent, every should be somewhat wary of this person. Batman and Superman should not understand how the other one works right away, and given Cyborg’s origin story, Victor should be super angry.

Flash should tell jokes. He does. We’re cool there.

Um, here’s what shouldn’t happen. BILLY BATSON SHOULD NOT BE AN ASSHOLE! Oh my God! Within the first half hour, Billy has run away from home, snuck into a football stadium, been a dick to Vic, stolen Vic’s championship football jersey and been mean to his foster siblings. I was staring, agape at the TV screen. Who was this kid and why on earth did the wizard give him these powers? Billy earned his power by being pure of heart. This kid? He should be punched in the face, not given the wisdom of Solomon.

And that to me is the big problem with The New 52 and frankly a lot of comic books and comic book movies, is that there’s this need to make it gritty and that’s great. I love Frank Miller, but The Dark Knight Returns doesn’t work because Bruce is a dick to everybody, nor is that why the Nolan Bat-Movies work. It is why Iron Man works, but that’s because Tony Stark is a dick. If when Constantine hits on NBC he’s a dick, I won’t be mad, because that’s who John Constantine is. But Superman isn’t. Barry Allen isn’t. Hal Jordan can be, but it shouldn’t be his defining characteristic. (He’s not Guy Gardner!) And Billy Batson, Captain Marvel, Shazam, whatever you want to call him, he should be the best person ever.

Anyway, that’s my problem with this movie, that is very good and has good moments. Let’s talk voice cast! This version of Shazam that I hate? Is voiced by Sean Astin, who should be a great Shazam because he’s the most likable presence. How do you not root for Rudy and Samwise Gamgee? Ugh. Anyway. He does a good job, this movie just left a bad taste in my mouth. Christopher Gorham’s Barry Allen is good and definitely underused and Justin Kirk nails Hal Jordan’s attitude. My favorite aspect of this story is that Hal and Barry cannot deal with the idea that Batman is hanging out with them. They are in awe. It’s cute. Michelle Monaghan, Jason O’Mara and Alan Tudyk turn in admirable big three performances and I’ll never ever get over the moment of Diana eating ice cream for the first time. It’s adorable. If the whole movie was just Wonder Woman eating ice cream and befriending children and then they all fight Darkseid? I would love that movie.

Up next is Son of Batman. Guys, guys, guys! No, but guys. Guys! (I’m sorry, unless you know my friend Nancy, you wouldn’t understand how that was supposed to be said.) I am SO EXCITED! I miss Damian so much. Like SO MUCH.

Batman Eternal 1-3

In order to celebrate the 75th Anniversary of Batman, DC is releasing Batman Eternal a weekly comic. I will be celebrating the way I always do, by thinking about Batman way more than is probably healthy and reviewing Batman Eternal on the last Tuesday of every month. Also, I will continue to doodle the Bat-Signal in my notebook every time I’m bored at work.

I feel like that last one is a given though.

Anyway, let’s talk about the first 3 issues of Batman Eternal! 

So, it looks like the store of this year long saga is going to be about Carmine “The Roman” Falcone wanting to take Batman down and return Gotham to it’s previous glory of being the most crime ridden city ever, but this time only with mobsters, not with you know costumed freaks. His first step is somehow framing Jim Gordon for the derailing of a train that killed a bunch of people. The commissioner is behind bars and Batman is set on getting him out. It’s a simple enough premise and I’m really looking forward to seeing how everything plays out, especially because Scott Snyder is writing it and after The Black Mirror and Night of The Owls I’d follow Snyder down any Bat trail he wishes to go.

The first issue deals mainly with introducing us to Detective Jason Bard, which is great. I like Jason, and he’s been used before as a love interest for Barbara, and with Dick, “dead” I wouldn’t mind her finding love elsewhere. (Temporarily! Obviously, I want them to end up together! I enjoyed the book, I didn’t get a personality transplant.) The book sets up Bard as a good cop, and will probably be Gordon’s street level stand in as he stays behind bars. It’s a dynamic that works.

Probably my favorite moment in the first two issues came as we saw the rest of the Bat-family reacting to the news of Gordon’s arrest. Barbara was appropriately horrified (tomorrow’s issue is entitles “Batgirl VS Batman” so that’ll bethe  fun), Tim gets on the next plane for Gotham (as the last “living” son who’s you know, speaking to Bruce, that’s probably the right call for him) and Jason sits in a bar in full uniform drinking a beer. It probably shouldn’t surprise anyone that this is my favorite part, because I love Jason, and because I love the idea that he goes out drinking in full gear, helmet and all.

The third issue is the big one, because we met Stephanie Brown. I never knew Stephanie well, but little that I did know her, I liked, so I’m looking forward to seeing how this all goes. Stephanie’s father is still a bad guy, and she still knows too much about his plans and might she SPOIL them? Eh, eh? Maybe? I don’t know guys, I just hope that she and Tim hook up. Because I think it would be nice for Tim to get some.

In Batman related action, he beats up the Penguin for information and Falcone blew up a bunch of stuff. Hooray!

I’m really enjoying reading this one, and it’s what’s getting me into the store every week and opening my awareness to non Bat related titles. (But also mostly the ones about Batman, if we’re honest.)

So, we’ll be back with more Eternal on May 27!

Daenerys Targaryen: Character Winner for “Oathbreaker”

Guys, seriously, how much did Khalessi own on last night’s episode?

Like a Boss

Like a Boss

Freeing slaves, conquering Mereen, tossing the sigil of The Dragon over that weird angel statue? Litle Miss Stormborn had it going like a boss.

I don’t have much to say about it, and it’s interesting to me that she’s my favorite for the week when she did less than a lot of other people. (Other options included Jon Snow, who did some mighty fine speechafyin’ and The White Walkers because OH MY GOD HOW CREEPY WAS THAT?) But in the end, there can’t be anything better to me than Daenerys.

What’s interesting to me is that this throughline in the books lost my interest but Emilia Clarke’s arresting presence keeps any and everything interested. She really does feel like a queen, a leader in these episode, leading her children/people/brothers/sisters towards freedom and towards her ultimate reward.

And really, that shot of her standing on top of that pyramid,triumphant with that coy smile on her face was one of the most epic shots in the history of this show with it’s many epic shot.

So, Khaleesi, Daenerys Stormborn of House Targaryen, Mother of Dragons, and the true queen of Westeros? Way to go and congrats on your win.

But also, I mean, dude The White Walkers.

Marvel Comics Round Up: Week of 4/24/2014

Here’s the first week of my Marvel comics round up! I’m still trying to figure out how to use the website at the store that I’ve decided to go to to reserve my stuff moving forward, but it’s a ten minute detour after work on Wednesday, so, I’m not terribly worried about it, I can ask for a tutorial there. (You’d be surprised how technologically useless I am.

Anyway, here’s the thing with Marvel Comics for me. I’ve also been a DC Girl. I like Marvel, and thanks to their movies and Ultimate Spider-Man I have a passing familiarity with most of their characters. But, for the most part, this is a newer thing for me. Please be patient as I pick up and try to catch up here. Some of the dynamics are going to be new to me and there are going to be characters that I’ve never heard of. (The Marvel universe doesn’t have JLU or Young Justice: Invasion so I haven’t met like, every single character.)

But onto the actual reviews!

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Guardians of The Galaxy #14

God, I love Guardians. I’m so glad that because of movies, I know what they are. I love that it’s funny, and out there and that things blow up in space. (Also, Flash Thompson/Venom is hanging out with them these days. Too bad we’ll never see that in a movie.) Anyway, #14 is a double issue, so it’s pretty long and there’s a lot of stuff happening. Gamora is being tortured, Drax is getting venom a weapon, Star Lord is working on his Daddy issues. Also, Peter’s father is trying to kill them all, but it looks like Captain Marvel is going to save them! (Marvel Captain Marvel, not DC Captain Marvel or Shazam.) And Groot is hanging out with a bunch of squirrels in the forest, and it makes no sense, but it’s super cute. (I am Groot.) Also, the future guardians are libertating a camp that the Brotherhood of Badoon have imprisoned a bunch of humans in.

I love that I know enough about all of these individual parts that I can understand all of this, but not quite enough that the part of my brain that says, “This is totally nuts” hasn’t shut down yet. Hooray Guardians!

What if? Age of Ultron #3

What if’s are fun, if only because they create worlds and ideas that would otherwise be kicked right out and dismissed outright. What ifs are like officially sanctioned fanfiction. So, thats what Age Of Ultron #3 is, and the What if? in question? What if Thor perished and Black Widow became the new God of Thunder? What would that look like. Um, it looks like a lot of explosions, but Natasha does some mighty great butt kicking and looks super hot in the armor, so there’s that. Not sure I’m going to keep up with this book, but, it will depend month to month. I was pretty lost, even more than in DC this week and the Batman/Superman debocacle.

Original Sin #0 “Who is The Watcher”

Let’s start off by saying that I love Nova and that The Watchers as a concept seem like less blue versions of The Guardians from Green Lantern. I got that out of my system so now I can talk about the actual book. I’m looking forward to Original Sin as an event, because I figure it’s a good way to get into the universe and get to know everyone a little bit. Also, events are good jump in points, because status quos change and you can move forward. In the issue, Nova, Sam Alexander goes to the moon to talk to the watcher, and learns the mystical beings story. His people once helped a planet advance, and then the people of that planet destroyed themselves. Now they don’t interfere. Sam understands this, but asks the watcher if his father is alive, and the Watcher answers that he is. The elated Sam leaves, after learning that the Watcher knows everything about everyone. The issue is a prelude to the big event and intros the watcher well and like I said, I love Nova, so I’m on board. Brian Michael Bendis is a good writer and I’m loving that I’m starting to recognize names. Makes me feel good.

DC Comics Round Up: Week of 4/23/2014

Hi all! This is a new feature, where I write short paragraph opinions about the DC Comics I read this week! Hooray for Structure and Schedules! This’ll hit every Saturday at noon unless for some unforeseen reason I don’t read any DC Comics that week. (Also, Movie Season reviews may go up the same day. This isn’t to inundate you, it’s because there are only 7 days in a week.) Also, spoilers, but I’m me, so I guess you could figure that out on your own.

Excluded from this round up is always Batman Eternal, because I’m going to be doing more in detail reviews of that once a month. So, here we go:

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Batman/Superman #9 “First Contact”

Hey, know what’s fun? Jumping into a story smack dab in the middle with no details. That’s what I did here. I enjoyed it because, look, it’s Batman/Superman, and as a bonus it features my favorite character that I know very little about but who I love in concept, Helena Wayne as Huntress. Clark and Bruce fight aliens that if I’d read the previous 8 issues, I’d probably know, and try to keep the girls from going back to their dimension, because there’s something dangerous over there. (Also, now I have to pick up World’s Finest #21 because I want to know what happens. Damnit!) But Clark is poisoned by nanites, which, I mean, is always good. Nanite poisoning is always a good plot point especially for Superman and Wonder Woman. The best part of the whole issue was the sound effects. They were truly amazing. Good job on that.

The Flash #30 “Lost Time”

Guys, everyone was really excited about “Lost Time” because it was going to be the introduction of Wally West into The New 52. That’s the only reason I bought it. I’m even more behind on Flash than on well, everything. And technically speaking, yes, Wally West was introduced. In that Wally West died, and also, he doesn’t look anything like Wally West. Where, may I ask, was this boy’s freckles and out of control red hair? Certainly not in the two panels where he appeared dead in this book! Basically, after going to therapy and learning that the events of Forever Evil were not his fault, Barry decided that he was going to save everyone. This is Barry’s problem. He thinks if he just goes fast enough he can save everyone. He can’t, but I guess he has to learn this all over again. Then we flash forward (hah! Flash!) two years and Barry has decided he needs to go back in time to save Wally.

Going back in time to save the lives of people always works out so well for Barry, let’s keep this one going, I mean, right?

Also Barry and Patty are living together and she gives him a watch and I do not care. I mean, Patty’s great, but she’s not Iris.

This story is going to continue in The Flash Annual #3 which comes out next week. Yay! I hope even though he has different hair and a tan Wally’s still a smart ass who eats too much.

Justice League: United #0 “Justice League Canada

I did not understand much of this comic, but watching Martian Manhunter, Green Arrow, Star Girl and Animal Man rescue Adam Strange’s girlfriend from a Thanagarian Moon doesn’t need like, clarity or anything. Also, as a 0, I expect to get more clarity for #1. But, I like this team, and at the end Hawkman and Lobo showed up, and Supergirl will come. We also met a new superhero, Equinox, who is the Canadian in question. I’m looking forward to learning more about her and the art for this one was absolutely gorgeous.

Secret Origins #1 “Superman/The Long Year/Daughter of The House of El”

The Secret Origins series is going to be a hard one for me emotionally. Or at least some of them, and this one, oh boy, did it get me. I read it in my car at lunch on Thursday in the fifteen minutes before I had to be back in my office. It was good that I didn’t go into my office because I’m enjoying being around a group of people who think that I’m at least semi sane, and weeping over the destruction of Krypton, the death of the Graysons and OK, the Supergirl one didn’t make me cry,  but it reinforce my love of Kara Zor-El. Superman: Secret Origins” shows Kal-el’s blastoff on Krypton and the Kents finding him, and uses narrative boxes from both Lara and Martha’s POV. It’s emotional and lovely and I cried like a Baby Kal. The second short story in this one is Dick Grayson’s origin as Robin, which basically jettisons the work of Robin: Year One. To me it speaks volumes how relatively unaltered Dick’s origin is in The New 52. Dead parents, adoption, training and brightly colored costume. It’s a testament to how great the character is. Seriously. He’s great. Did you know I love Dick Grayson? Have I mentioned that? Moving on. The final origin told her was Kara Zor-El/Supergirl. You saw her tricky adolescence in Argo City, her relationship with her mother Alara. She stood up to some North Koreans and generally dismissed Clark. Kara’s a pretty simple character and that’s what I love about her.

Alright, this is going to be a fun experiment moving forward! That’s this week. See you tomorrow with Marvel!

DC Animated Movies: JLA Adventures: Trapped in Time

Trapped in TIme

In an attempt to get ahead of things, I watched JLA Adventures: Trapped In Time and The Flashpoint Paradox within hours of one another. This was fun because well, these two movies could not be more different in their treatment of these characters, and how time travel effects them. Flashpoint creates a gritty gory horror show of a world, Trapped in Time, er, well, has Bizarro punting a baby Superman into space.

I”m not saying this is a bad thing, this is a wonderful thing, but I’ll get there.

The plot, however, The Legion of Doom is creating more coast line in order to own all coastal real estate. (Yup, that old chestnut) The Justice League stops them, and Lex Luthor gets trapped in ice until the 31st Century when Karate Kid and Dawnstar, not yet Legion of Superhero characters free him by accident. Then he finds a time travel demon, goes back in time to get the rest of the Legion of Doom and then go back to Smallville and prevent Superman from ever being raised by the Kents thus negating the Justice League. He does this but then Karate Kid and Dawnstar reverse that, and then I don’t know, there are a lot of time travel shenanigans and everything gets set right.

The plot is thin, and the movie is short. (It clocks in at 52 minutes) but it’s wonderful. The action is great, the Justice League are at their work together best, and there are some very fun gags. The fight for Superbaby, which resembles a football game is a definite winner. A quick cameo by Marvin, Wendy and Wonder Dog on their cell phones. There’s a Batman and Robin subplot, and I dedicated far too much brain power to figuring out which Robin this was. It looked like he was wearing a combination of Damian and Tim’s costumes, fought with a bow staff like Tim, but disobeyed orders like all of the Robins who aren’t Tim. (Tim is a rule follower.) I have decided to call him DiJaTimian out of pure confusion. This made it impossible for me to fully enjoy this story line and the whole movie. But that’s because I’m insane, not because the movie suffers in quality.

This is a good one. It’s fun, funny, and unapologetically all ages oriented. (Again, a refreshing change after Flashpoint.) The voice cast features Deidrech Bader back as Batman. (He took on Batman: The Brave And The Bold, a show a lot of people like that I never quite got into.) The rest of the cast are voice actor veterans who’s names I don’t recognize except for Kevin Michael Richardson, but everyone’s one point. The art is a little basic but effective and I’m always happen to see Legion of Superhero characters. There was some opening for continuing in this time line, which I would love to see, because while the main line seems to have gone down a darker road, escaping to fun frothy superhero adventures is a nice diversion.

Up next is Justice League: War, which I imagine is very different from this.

SHIPPING! It was only a matter of time: Ms. Marvel #3

Ms. Marvel 3

I’m so sorry that it took me a week to get to reading Ms. Marvel # 3, because for all that I wasn’t totally satisfied with seeing Kamala’s home life in #2, I wanted to see her world grow a little bit. #3 gave us a bit more of Kamala’s friends and we saw her at school.

Oh, and I’m totally shipping Kamala/Bruno. I’m not saying it’s all I’m coming to the book for, but I’m always going to be me, and even when I’m analyzing the feminist and ideological reasons why I love that Ms. Marvel exists, I’m also like, going to be rooting for these two kids to get together and move to the suburbs and have babies. I want everyone to have that ending. I’m very conventional that way.  These two love each other, and it’s great. Most of the issue revolved around Kamala’s anger at her friend for calling her parents after the party, and getting her in trouble. But also, as part of her grounding she had to go to the Mosque to hear a youth lecture. She snuck out with Nakia, and they went to the Circle Q to see Bruno. (Though again, Kamala is not speaking to him.)

Then in school, Kamala has a flair up of her powers, wrecks a locker room and gets detention. Her mother freaks out and asks if she’s becoming a “degenerate” which, frankly, is an awesome word for a mom to use when describing their newly superheroic child. After detention, Kamala agrees to go meet Bruno while he’s working, stating that “somebody’s going to come out of this really sorry.” But as Kamala walks in, she sees that Bruno is currently dealing with someone holding up the store.

Of course, it’s actually Bruno’s idiot brother, and when Kamala intervenes (again all done up in Ms. Marvel blond hair, though a slightly more practical costume this time around) she winds up shot and the issue ends.

There was always going to be the hint of identity as a theme for this series, there was just no way around it. But a page of Kamala walking down a street actually questioning what her new powers mean to her identity could have felt a little too on the nose, but I have a lot of affection for Kamala, and she’s so realistic that her airing of  her insecurities feel well earned.

I can’t wait to find out what comes next and I’m planning on picking up with Captain Marvel moving forward. Also, I’m going to be going to a comic book store weekly now (Thanks Batman Eternal!) and I’ll be doing weekly write ups of the DC and Marvel titles I pick up along the way. However, Ms. Marvel, Batman Eternal, and of course Translucid will still get their own monthly write ups. DC on Saturday, Marvel on Sunday, Eternal every 3 or 4 issues, depending on how the weeks fall, Translucid you know, when it shows up, and Ms. Marvel within a week of it’s coming out. Because of work, and movie season and theatre group (Still fundraising!) I’m trying to give myself more structure here (so I can write on weekends and after work and know what I’m getting into.)