Superheroes

Tue
16
Jul

Not Your Father's F-ing Titans

Titans Season One

I've been reading comic books for nearly fifty years. It's not just a fandom for me, it's a lifestyle. In all that time, there are characters I've grown to love, teams I've rallied for, and storylines that have served as touchpoints in my life.

The Teen Titans were always more than that. The Teen Titans were special. They were the sidekicks, given a chance to stand on their own. It was a one-off idea, putting Robin, Kid Flash, and Aqualad together for an adventure in THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD, arguably a filler series, but it struck a chord. The next time these three got together, they were joined by Wonder Girl as the Teen Titans, quickly getting their own series. Those Bob Haney and Nick Cardy books were elevated in some way from the other titles--more culturally relevant, and definitely more relateable to the younger audiences.

Tue
16
Jul

Strange Communion: Priest's Vampirella a Therapy Patient

Vampirella 1

Vampirella has gone through a number of origins through the years. She's been an alien from Drakulon, an escapee from a realm of Hell, a daughter of Lilith. Through it all, she has been a force for good, standing against the agents of Chaos. And she has become an icon.

The creation of Forrest J. Ackerman, Trina Robbins and Tom Sutton, Vampi first came Drakulon to survive the blood drought on her planet. Attempting to blend in to human society, she caught a flight to take her to a television contest. The plane crashed, and she survived by drinking the blood of all the victims.

Sun
07
Jul

Gotham's Final Season Short, Sweet Introduction to Batman

Gotham Season 5

The original premise of GOTHAM was underrated. It was going to focus on James Gordon (BEN MCKENZIE) who would begin the series as a sergeant and work his way up to commissioner. Bruce Wayne (DAVID MAZOUZ) would appear, but he would still be the young boy who had just lost his parents to a murder, a case Gordon worked. And while Bruce sets out on the path that will take him to becoming Batman, the villains are already taking the stage. Oswald Cobblepot, aka The Penguin (ROBIN LORD TAYLOR) went from being an assistant stooge to a crime lord. Edward Nygma, aka The Riddler (CORY MICHAEL SMITH) started as a mentally troubled forensic scientist for the police to letting his evil alter ego take over his life. Ivy Pepper went through the more startling metamorphoses, as she began as a child and grew to adulthood thanks to some weird chemical process. Even Leslie Thompkins (MORENA BACCARIN) went from being Gordon's love interest to being a psychotic villain and back to good guy again.

Fri
28
Jun

Sina Grace Spills the Tea About Marvel's Handling of Gay Superheroes

Iceman and writer Sina Grace

Sina Grace has been a focal point controversy within the comics community. Not for unprofessional behavior or for unethical crowdfunding efforts, as is de rigeur for the troublemakers these days. No, the attention on Grace has been solely because he is a gay man, writing a gay character, who just happens to be one of Marvel Comics' oldest mutants: Bobby Drake, Iceman.

Fri
28
Jun

Absolute's White Widow Absolute Fun, with Concerns

Born out of a Kickstarter crowdfunding effort, WHITE WIDOW is the creation of Jamie Tyndall and Benny R. Powell, and puts a sexy superheroine front-and-center of the action. Gabrielle Garcia has just learned she was born with a fatal disease, and that her parents arrested the disease using experimental technology from the government think tank where they worked. But when the cure began to fade, another unique treatment was applied. Only this time, her parents got caught and her father was murdered before her eyes -- but not until after injecting her with some special nanites to bond with the white widow spider DNA that had already been spliced into her physiognomy.

The result: Part Philip Wylie's Gladiator, part Marvel's Carnage, part Spider-Man. In fact, lots of Spider-Man, right down to the sticking to walls, spinning of webs, and spider symbol on the front and back of her nanotech / spider-silk armor.

Fri
28
Jun

When Spectre Needs a Detective, There Will Be Blood

Batman Detective 1006

Detective Jim Corrigan is the human host for the Spirit of Vengeance known as The Spectre. But that's a secret that someone has figured out, and they've enacted a horrific, bloody plan to separate the ghost from the host, and hiding him where the supernatural spirit cannot find him.

You would think that when one "good guy" needs the help of another "good guy," it's a simple matter. That's not the case when The Spectre is involved. Because Spectre operates on a different plain, and reports to a higher authority. So when Batman visits the scene of the crime, he finds an abbatoir of death -- a dead police and the several bodies Spectre left behind that allowed the villains to steal away Corrigan. This is not the kind of "justice" Batman can get behind.

Fri
28
Jun

Holland, Zendaya and Gyllenhaal Excite In SPIDER-MAN: FAR FROM HOME

Spider-Man Far From Home starts July 2, 2019

I really enjoyed Tobey Maguire's Spider-Man series, at least the first two films. The inclusion of Macho Man Randy Savage as Bonesaw more than made up for the very slight shortcomings of the Green Goblin. Willem Dafoe was great, but that suit--there just was no good reason to not use the classic look. The second movie, with Alfred Molina's excellent turn as Doctor Octopus, was a rare sequel that surpassed the original. Beyond those two films, well, let's focus on the positive. The Marvel Cinematic Universe was launched and over the course of 22 films it became a paradigm shift in cinematic storytelling.

Tue
25
Jun

With a Bullet: Cave Comics Wins with The No. Ones #1

The No Ones 1 Cave Comics

I've never heard of Cave Comics (although I've been in a few comics caves in my travels around the country). But I have heard of Jim Krueger, from the mesmerizing job he did for Marvel on EARTH X. So when my friendly neighborhood comics guy at Cosmic Comics in Belleville suggested I check out THE NO. ONES #1, I was instantly intrigued. I expected Krueger to deliver a multi-layered mystery with a mixture of distinct personalities, and I was not disappointed. Well-Bee's washed-out inks and colors gave the superhero series a gloomy tone that helped establish the mood of the story going forward.

The Bastion are the city's superheroes. They're more than just heroes, however. They're role models with a carefully cultivated public persona and canny marketing. Their brand is valuable, in both social and physical currency.

Mon
17
Jun

DCeased Breathes New Life into Superhorror Genre

When I first heard about the DCEASED concept, the immediate callback was to the Marvel Zombies issues that saw the company's super-characters turned into creatures of the undead. But an appropriate amount of time has passed so that this doesn't seem derivative and, I have to admit, the name is deucedly clever.

The conceit of DCEASED is that Darkseid has finally found the other half of the anti-life equation, buried in Cyborg's programming. But getting it out might kill Cyborg, and destroy his chances at obtaining the equation. So Darkseid summons Death personified in the form of the Black Racer, to keep him from taking Cyborg. But by introducing Death into the equation, he corrupts it, and the modified anti-life equation destroys Darkseid and all of Apokalips as his zombied body releases Omega energy from the core of the planet.

Mon
17
Jun

Event Leviathin: The Real Mystery is, Who Are These Characters?

Event Leviathin 1

So I've just finished reading EVENT LEVIATHIN #1 -- and boy, are my logic processors tired.

Boiled down to its core, Brian Michael Bendis's grand design is a "mad bomber" story, utilizing technology that doesn't leave behind any clues other than the massive destruction and the aforementioned lack of clues. We open with Batman sneaking into the ruins of the darn-near-just demolished ARGUS facilities to investigate, only to find he's not the only investigator there. Not first responders or CSI teams or DHS agents. Him in the dark, because that's how a Batman story works. The bodies are skeletons, because the energy was just efficient enough to detroy tissue but not so hot as to shatter bones. And who does he find waiting inside but Lois Lane, who snuck in all on her own.

And she's holding a gun on him. And she keeps it trained on him for far too long.

The dialogue exchanged between them does not, unfortunately, improve anywhere else in the book.

Sat
15
Jun

Talking Peter Cannon with Kieron Gillen

When we reviewed the first issue of Dynamite Comis' take on PETER CANNON: THUNDERBOLT, we were taken aback by what we read. Was this a WATCHMEN derivative? Did Kieron Gillen think people wouldn't catch on? By the end of that issue, it became clear that things were muddier than we thought (if that makes sense), and the second issue had us hooked. This was something different, something that was far more metacomic than it was supehero adventure.

When the fifth and final issue came out, we were certain that the whole thing was a reaction to what WATCHMEN had brought us, and how it had changed the industry.

Mon
10
Jun

Watching Without Feminism Goggles, Captain Marvel Actually Fun Superhero Flick

Captain Marvel BD

CAPTAIN MARVEL was, perhaps, the first Marvel Cinematic Universe film to come with pre-release baggage. The marketing machine started things off by signalling how much of a milestone it was that this was the first Marvel film to have a female lead, as though that were a reason to watch the film. Then lead actress Brie Larson began making disparaging comments about the opinions of white male critics. There was simply too much pre-movie commentary that came off as "You will enjoy this movie for the reasons we tell you, or else you're a bad person."

That was before the film hit the theatrical circuit, where I did not see it. More time has passed now, and viewing CAPTAIN MARVEL on Blu-ray is my first exposure to the film. And with the hype and anti-hype simmered down, I could actually sit down and watch this without being told that I have to have a feminist mindset, or that there's a politically subtextual nuance to every comment, or that Brie Larson doesn't smile enough.

Tue
04
Jun

Batman vs Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Fun Action Flick with Anime Sensibilities

Batman vs TMNT Blu-ray

When high tech thefts occur in Gotham City, pulled off by stealthy ninjas, eyewitness accounts place a team of metahumans at the scene of the crime; "lizard men" Batgirl (RACHEL BLOOM) calls them. But these are not lizards. They are a quartet of terrapins, previously exposed just over a decade ago, to a DNA-altering substance that changed them into anthropomorphic creatures who were trained from an early age in the ancient Japanese martial arts. Yes, they are Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and they've come to Gotham City from New York hot on the trail of the evil Shredder and his minions, the Foot Clan.

Wed
29
May

Thunderbolt Claps Back at Watchmen in Final Issue

Peter Cannon Thunderbolt 5

PETER CANNON, THUNDERBOLT wraps up its story arc with this fifth issue, whereupon the titular character takes on the titular character. It's Peter Cannon vs. Peter Cannon, but really it's more Charleston Thunderbolt takes on Watchmen's Ozymandias. But there's more going on here than simple homage from Kieron Gilen and Caspar Wijngaard.

Tue
21
May

Capes, Cowls, and Coming Out: History of the Batwoman

Batwoman from then to now

When the superheroes became popular, lo many decades ago, an attempt was made to draw in more readers by adding characters that would be (or so the theory went) relateable to girls. There was already Wonder Woman, Phantom Lady, and others, but none of them had quite the popularity of a Superman or a Batman.

And so the quick-and-easy path seemed to be to create female versions of these characters. It was a hit-or-miss process, with more misses than hits. In the Superman comics, a Superwoman was introduced in Action Comics #60 in 1943. She was easily forgotten (although has resurfaced in one incarnation or another over the years), and largely eclipsed when sixteen years later Kara Zor-El made her debut as Supergirl in the pages of Action Comics #252.

Tue
21
May

Golden Age Gets Brassy with Heroes at Large

Heroes at Large 2

So many comic book superheroes passed into the public domain that they have become golden again -- golden for independent publishers that is, who are free to use these characters to tell their stories. They're at the heart of Dynamite Comics PROJECT: SUPERPOWERS series, and have shown up in other various series.

Tue
16
Apr

Future Shock as Legion Villains Battle the Justice League

Justice League vs Fatal Five

Just when I was getting used to the idea that every DC Animated Universe release was going to be a continuation of the New 52 paradigm, they throw us a curveball and give us another chapter in JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED -- and a most welcome one at that!

The voice acting trinity of Kevin Conroy, Susan Eisenberg, and George Newbern return as Batman, Wonder Woman, and Superman, with Kevin Michael Richardson joining the team as Mr. Terrific and Daniela Bobadilla as potential League recruit, Miss Martian.

Sun
24
Mar

Long Live the King: Aquaman Comes to Blu-ray and DVD

Aquaman on Bluray

When the Marvel Cinematic Universe was being birthed, there were labor pains. How could they have a successful franchise, when their top selling titles -- Spider-Man, Fantastic Four, and X-Men -- were already franchised out to other production houses?

It's hard to imagine it now (and for longtime comic boom fans, it was even hard to imagine it then), but at the time all this was going down, Iron Man, Hulk and Captain America were not top-tier characters for the House of Ideas. There was literally nowhere to go but up with these guys, and so that's where they went.

Wed
06
Mar

Insomniac's Spider-Man Swings Into Position for Best Game of 2018

Spider-Man PS4 Best Game of 2018 from Insomniac

As with prior years, 2018 was a wide-open field of new electronic and online games, and our readers let us know their favorites. Of particular interest this year was the inclusion of some old-school games given new twists -- tabletop and board games, which, while never excluded before, made their presence known well enough that we can safely say that rolling dice and drawing cards is going to continue to be as much of a favorite pastime as pressing buttons.

Tue
26
Feb

Who Watches Peter Cannon? Peter Cannon Does, in Thunderbolt #2

Peter Cannon Thunderbolt #2 Dynamite Comics review

When I first reviewed PETER CANNON: THUNDERBOLT #1, I went over the relationship the character has to WATCHMEN, and how the premiere of this series not only paid homage to that series but also absorbed it into its own story. Too brazen and in-your-face to be called a rip-off, Kieron Gillen and Caspar Wijngaard gleefully took the keys from Alan Moore, jumped in, and peeled out for a joyride in his jet-black Magickmobile.

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