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Wednesday, October 17, 2018

UPCOMING DC SHOWS TO GET EXCITED ABOUT


It's a really exciting time to be a DC fan. Two years ago DC did a whole Rebirth thing (you might have heard about it) and every comic got a much needed shot in the arm. I was enjoying a lot of the New 52 run but I'm glad that the comics got back on track. After the success of Rebirth, DC has gone all in on their branding in the same way that Marvel has and honestly, I think that's awesome. I've been a DC fan my whole life. You probably guessed that since most of my posts are DC posts. And I'll admit that the films that have been put out recently haven't been . . . shall we say the best DC can offer. Honestly, I've enjoyed all the films I've seen (yes even Green Lantern).

While the films may not always hit the mark it's safe to say the TV shows have been absolutely mind blowing. For me, it started with Smallville 17 years ago (holy shit I'm old) and has continued with Arrow, The Flash, Gotham, Legends of Tomorrow, Supergirl, Black Lightning, and so on and so forth. Even the shows I'm not watching like Preacher and Lucifer I still get excited about because I go to Comic Cons and see fans cosplaying as those characters and that makes me happy.

With the launch of DC Universe, DC has taken it upon themselves to produce their own content free from any corporate mandate. They're getting to tell the stories that they're excited about and that's awesome. At the time of this writing, Titans has had it's first episode. While the trailer might have turned people off, I'd encourage them to give it another shot. I loved it and I'm excited to watch these characters grow over the next several episodes. BUT THAT'S NOT ALL! Between the exclusive content on DC Universe to a few upcoming shows on other networks, DC is primed to continue knocking everyone's socks off! Here are the shows I'm most excited about:

WATCHMEN
 
This has the potential to be one of the most interesting and ground breaking shows ever. Just like the Watchmen graphic novel was so groundbreaking for it's time, the show should be the same way. As I'm sure you know, the graphic novel was a deconstruction of the superhero genre. Given that so many comics have been adapted to television and film in the past 15 years, some more than once, Watchmen is in a position to comment on all of it and transcend the genre. With an amazing cast assembled including Regina Hall and Jeremy Irons plus Damon Lindelof as writer/producer, I have a feeling we're going to see something special. Hell, I'm even considering signing up for HBO just to check it out!
 
PENNYWORTH
 
Ok, ok, ok. Hear me out! This show kind of sounds ridiculous. I mean, why does it even have to exist in the first place? Are any of us really excited about seeing the origin story of Alfred Pennyworth, Bruce Wayne's faithful butler? Well, EPIX got excited enough to greenlight the damn thing so somebody is doing something right!
 
Seriously though, after reading Scott Snyder's run on All Star Batman, specifically the arc titled "The First Ally", I actually have some hope that this show will be really cool. As long as they keep the Bat-references and easter eggs to a minimum. I mean, Thomas Wayne is supposed to be the co-star and that's all well and good, but I'm not interested in seeing Alfred take on any Bat-rogues. I'm interested to see his origins as a bad ass British special forces guy with medical training and fighting styles that make us say, "Oh shit! That's where Batman gets it from!" I think that's the route they are going to go and with the producers of Gotham behind the camera, I think we're in good hands.
 
 

DOOM PATROL
 
I'll be the first to admit that I was not excited about this show. I mean, it's cool that DC is able to produce it's own content but Doom Patrol? Seriously? I didn't give it much thought. I figured I would watch it anyway because Geoff Johns (my man) kept talking about how excited he was for it. And to be fair I wasn't a big Green Arrow fan before Smallville and of course Arrow. So maybe it would be cool.
 
While I was at New York Comic Con earlier this month, I went to the DC Universe panel. Geoff Johns (my man) was there talking about the show and how it's based on Grant Morrison's run from the 80's. He said those comics still hold up and recommended we all check them out. Well, since Johns is practically a walking DC encyclopedia I figured I'd give it a shot. Well, I bought the first volume and read it while waiting in line the next day. I couldn't put it down! It was so exciting and fun and the characters, especially Robotman, hit a chord with me. When I finished that volume I immediately bought the second volume and devoured it. If the show is anything like the comic, which Johns says it is, then we are all in for a real treat! Plus with a great cast including Brendan Fraser, Timothy Dalton, and Matthew Bomer, we're in for some powerhouse performances!
 
HARLEY QUINN
 
At New York Comic Con, I was lucky enough to attend the Titans premiere. Before they showed the first two episodes (yay!) they gave us a sneak peak at Harley Quinn. Even freaking Kaley Cuoco came out to announce it! It was pretty exciting! The clip we saw is online now and it's really funny. Sam Humphries, current writer of the Harley Quinn comic book, says that he thinks of Harley as Bugs Bunny. She can go anywhere or do anything in her stories. She interacts with everyone the same way and is just a lot of fun to watch get into crazy adventures. With that in mind, Harley is perfect for a wacky animated series, especially a mature themed series. Plus the cast sounds awesome with Cuoco as Quinn, Christopher Meloni as Commissioner Gordon, Diedrich Bader as Batman, and Lake Bell as Poison Ivy! It sounds like a lot of fun and I can't wait to see what sort of hijinks Harley takes us on!
 
 



STARGIRL
 
The first comic that Geoff Johns (my man) wrote at DC was Stars and Stripe where he created the character Stargirl. He based her off of his late sister. I read the first volume of that comic and you can feel the passion and love he had for this character right off the bat. The show sounds like a great legacy series, which Johns excels at. Courtney, Stargirl, finds her stepdad's old superhero uniform and decides to have some fun with it. Along the way she learns about the Justice Society of America and all the heroes that were apart of that generation. I'm so excited to see characters from the JSA on a TV show! Granted we've seen some of them guest star on Smallville, the Flash, and Legends of Tomorrow but seeing them get the spotlight in a new TV show? That's just too awesome to pass up! Plus Johns has promised a lighter tone for the series to balance out the darker Titans and Doom Patrol. It's refreshing to hear that DC is willing to put all kinds of content on their streaming service so that fans can get a variety of content. And Stargirl just sounds like so much fun!
 
 
BATWOMAN
 
I've already written about what I think would make for a great Batwoman series. The truth is that I'm not too worried about it. With Greg Berlanti and the awesome producers at the CW at the helm, I have no doubt Batwoman will be an excellent series. The recent costume reveal, pictured above, only solidified what I was thinking - Kate Kane and Gotham City are in excellent hands! I'm looking forward to seeing her debut in the annual DC CW crossover this year. I read the first volume of her solo series by Greg Rucka and, if the series is anything like that, it will be epic and exciting! Plus the CW has a knack for making us fall in love with people behind the masks. What more can a fan want?
 
 
 
Like I said, it's an amazing time to be a DC Comics fan. From the upcoming Aquaman and Shazam films to all the shows I've mentioned plus the returning shows like Young Justice we've got so much to look forward to! I say keep it coming! And if anyone at DC is reading this - please review my suggestions for what to add to your streaming service. I'm only an e-mail away! :)
 
 
 
Till Next Time!
 
 
JJ - the Comic Junkie! 
 


Monday, September 17, 2018

6 REASONS LOIS LANE SHOULD STAR IN HER OWN SHOW


With the DC Universe service having just launched this weekend and news of Lois Lane being cast in Supergirl (to be played by Elizabeth Tulloch), I thought it would be a good idea to revisit the Metropolis series that was ordered and then put on hold. The show was first described as Lois Lane and Lex Luthor investing bizarre situations on the fringe of science. Or . . . something like that. Whatever that means. ANYWAY! I personally think the show could be interesting and exciting. It just needs to be about Lois Lane. Lex and other Superman supporting characters will have their roles to play of course, but Lois should be the star. Let's dig into why she would be a perfect protagonist.

SECOND FIDDLE TO SUPERMAN

Throughout her lifetime in comics, movies, TV, etc, Lois has always been second fiddle to Superman. There have been plenty of stories about Clark Kent and Superman without Lois as a supporting character but to my knowledge there haven't been many stories about Lois Lane without Superman. A show all about her rise to prominence in the journalism world is unexplored territory. Lois is a strong enough character to hold her own series without needing a lot of winks and nods to Superman or even Clark Kent as a supporting character. She doesn't need Superman to make her an interesting character. All she needs is a passion for finding out the truth and the guts to go after it at all costs. She don't need no man looking out for her! 

SHE WAS ALREADY THE STAR

Metropolis was already going to be about Lois and Lex. Instead, I think the focus should be shifted away from Lex (but not completely, more on that later) and the spotlight given to Lois Lane. Having Lois be the sole star gives the writers and producers more room to give Lois a brand new supporting cast. A rival reporter, a boss, a plucky sidekick, all the tropes that these types of shows always have. Lois and Clark actually did a good job of having all of those things. Metropolis can be like that but without Clark Kent being introduced until maybe the last episode or two. Lois is qualified enough to run a series on her own. She was a reporter long before Clark showed up in Metropolis and had made a name for herself. I think that show would be interesting.

A NEW ANGLE ON THE SUPERMAN STORY

Smallville told the story of Clark Kent growing up, Lois and Clark told the romance between those characters, Krypton is about Kal El's ancestors now I think it's time to tell a story without mention of Kal El, Krypton, or any of those elements. Keeping the story on Earth and human threats would be something we haven't seen in the Superman side of the DC Universe. Granted I still like the idea of Lois investigating the fringe science . . . stuff. But there's plenty of stories to tell with all kinds of weird experiments, other aliens, the multiverse, all that crazy DC stuff without even a mention of Krypton or the survivors. While that may sound like blasphemy, I like the idea of Lois's story being more Earth-bound and then when Superman arrives, that's when the Kryptonian elements come in. There's plenty of story to tell about Lois and the rest of the Daily Planet and the stories they uncover.

FAMILY DRAMA

One type of story that is forever timeless is family drama. Whether it's a supportive family, a dysfunctional family, or somewhere in the middle, everyone can relate to some type of family. Lois's family, father General Sam Lane, mom Ella Lane, and sister Lucy, have been portrayed as either being on the outs with Lois or supportive or somewhere in between. It all depends on what the writers think is the best place to go. Personally, I've always liked the family being supportive but Sam has secrets with his military units. It's another type of story that recent comic book series have done well which is the loving parent or parent-figure with secrets that could hurt the hero. Arrow and The Flash had those going into their first seasons with great success. I think that's the way Metropolis should go with Lois and her father. That type of story will give them a lot of mileage especially in a first season. But there's always a different type of antagonist . . . 

LEX LUTHOR

While I think Metropolis will be just fine without Superman, I don't think it would do so well without Lex Luthor. Not because he's a recognizable face or foe, but because he's always boasted about being the one who built and reshaped Metropolis. It would be interesting if the series showed us Lex's empire growing in Metropolis. Of course, he would come into conflict with Lois and the Daily Planet. Granted, maybe it's too easy to make Lex the antagonist yet again for Metropolis and it's residents but given a certain commander-in-chief's penchant for calling the media "fake news" it's not out of the realm of possibilities for people to fall under Lex's charm and believe whatever he tells them over the facts presented by the journalists at the Daily Planet. Lois is all about discovering the truth no matter what the cost and Lex would do anything to protect his empire. Maybe that would hit close to home, but as I've said before comic books and sci fi always have a way of being topical without beating the audience over the head with morality or politics. 

ROLE MODEL

As I've said, Lois is all about reporting the truth. In today's world with the term "fake news" being shouted at every turn, the truth seems to be relative. It's important that people, especially young women, see that the truth is not relative. Truth is truth. There's no such thing as alternative facts. The truth speaks for itself and the people who are afraid of the truth are probably guilty. Lois Lane has always been a journalist first. Her devotion is to the truth and making sure that the public knows what is real and what is not. She's a role model that our world desperately needs right now. Someone willing to dig for the truth no matter the consequences. For decades she's played second fiddle to Superman but she's a hero without super powers. She's just damn good at her job. But to her it's not just a job, it's her life.


So far, I'm loving DC Universe. It's full of classic and even some contemporary DC content that a fan like me can spend hours and hours gobbling up. I'm most looking forward to the new TV series they have to offer. I'm hoping Metropolis gets off the back burner and becomes something special to inspire us all the way Superman does. Excuse me . . . I mean the way Lois Lane WILL.


Till Next Time!


JJ - the Comic Junkie! 


Saturday, September 15, 2018

8 WAYS TO CELEBRATE BATMAN DAY


Today is DC's annual Batman Day! Your local comic book store and probably a few other geek-ish stores will be having various Bat-related sales and such. Also, www.readdc.com is having a sale on digital Bat-comics for your enjoyment. But what other ways can you celebrate? Well . . . I have a few suggestions . . .

LISTEN TO AND DANCE TO THE BATMAN THEME

You all know it! It's one of the most iconic and well known songs of all time. Even if you've never seen a minute of the original TV series you know how this song goes. NA NA NA NA NA BATMAN! It's perfect and fun to (kind of) dance to. Legend has it that if you say Batman three times in the mirror, Adam West appears and does the Batusi with you. 

FIGHT FOR JUSTICE

I'm not saying put on a costume and fight crime. I mean you can but without years of rigorous training you might get your ass kicked. I mean stand up to a bully, donate to charity, compliment someone, I don't know dude! Do something good in the world! What have you done lately? Probably nothing but complain about how tired you are! Do something good for crying out loud! Batman can't do this alone! 

READ YOUR FAVORITE BAT-COMIC

What if you don't have one? Well, take advantage of DC's sale on their website or get off your butt and visit your local comic book store and find one! I highly recommend a few classics such as Batman: Hush, The Dark Knight Returns, The Court of Owls, The Killing Joke, Death of the Family, or whatever you consider to be your favorite! There's 79 years of comics to choose from. Choose wisely . . . 

WATCH YOUR FAVORITE BAT-MOVIE

I mean if you don't feel like getting off your ass then pick one or two (or more . . . whatever) of your favorite Bat-movies, heat up some popcorn, grab a soda or a beer and sit back and relax! There's the excellent animated films to choose from or the varying degrees of quality live action films. Wanna laugh? Batman and Robin! Wanna cry? Batman: Mask of the Phantasm! Wanna cheer? Batman Begins! Dealer's choice, man! Go for it! 

BUILD WITH SOME BAT-LEGOS

I don't care how old you are - Batman Legos are fun and awesome. Go to your local toy store, not Toys R Us of course (too soon?), and pick up some bad ass legos and have fun! If you think they're too pricey then pull out your Bat credit card and pay it off later! "Never leave the cave without it!" 

WEAR YOUR FAVORITE BAT-SHIRT

This one was obvious right? If you're like me, you have a whole drawer literally overflowing with various Bat-shirts. I've walked into stores wearing a Batman shirt and bought a different Batman shirt. Because I'm a devoted Bat-fan and I'm not ashamed of that! (anymore)

MARATHON YOUR FAVORITE BAT-EPISODES

Batman has been in so many various animated series throughout the decades it's hard to keep track! There's the Adventures of Batman from the 1970s, Batman: the Animated Series, Batman Beyond, The Batman, Beward the Batman, Justice League, Justice League Action, Batman Unlimited, Batman: the Brave and the Bold, Superfriends, I mean the list goes on! It's crazy! Fun fact about me - that aforementioned Adventures of Batman was one I discovered at Blockbuster when I was a kid and watched the hell out of so many times. When the DVDs FINALLY released a few years ago I gobbled those up. It's so much fun to watch. Hopefully, DC Universe will add it to their collection. OH! And speaking of which . . . 

DOWNLOAD DC UNIVERSE

Oh it's so cool! So much of what I mentioned is already on this thing! From classic Batman movies, to the wonderful animated series, to great comic books, this streaming service is so incredible. It's the kind of thing I never knew how much I wanted. And yeah yeah yeah I already own all these things but with so many upcoming new series and more content it's worth it. I'm sure over the next few months we'll see their catalog get bigger and better. But for now, there's plenty to enjoy. And for just $7.99 a month it's a pretty sweet deal! 


Well . . . what are you waiting for? Get out their and enjoy the Bat-Day!



Till Next Time! 


JJ - the Comic Junkie! 


Thursday, August 30, 2018

WHAT IS IN YOUR DC UNIVERSE?


Last night, DC Universe streamed their first episode of DC Daily, or rather an episode 0 if you will, talking about the awesome stuff that the new streaming service is going to offer. Honestly, it was a lot of fun to watch. I felt like I was spying on old friends as they gushed about all things DC Comics. The one question host Kevin Smith asked everybody was "What's in your universe?" Meaning what brought you into DC Comics in the first place? Well for me, the list is long. I started off as a Batman guy and then as the years went on more and more things took me out of just Gotham City and into the wider DC Universe. I'd like to share those things with you now.

SUPERMAN: THE MOVIE

This film is probably on everybody's list and there's a good reason for that. It's a damn good movie. Sure some of the effects and stunts are severely outdated but the performance that Christopher Reeve gave as Clark Kent/Superman still holds up today. I remember my mom taking me to Blockbuster and I rented all the Superman movies one summer and watched them all. They were so much fun. Back then as far as Superman went I had Lois and Clark, which I loved, and Superman: the Animated Series, which I also loved. I remember my dad talking to me about it and saying he saw it when he was younger and liked Christopher Reeve a lot. I learned a lot about him and felt bad about his accident. He was a great actor and is definitely missed. But these films, especially the first one, hold in my memory as pillars of why I love Superman so much. 

BATMAN

I'll keep this brief because I've talked about this film ad nauseum on this blog. But more than anything else, this version of Batman is cemented in brain as definitive. The opening scene where Michael Keaton growls, "I'm Batman" is the moment I fell deeply in love with the character. I mean I was scared shitless, but it stayed with me forever. The costume, the subtle movements and dialogue from Batman, the Batmobile, the city, I mean this movie perfectly captured Batman's world to me. I rewatch this movie at least once a month and I never grow tired of it. 

BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES

Another one that's probably on everybody's list but again with good reason. This show is not only a landmark in pop culture and animation history, but it's really, really good. If you go back and rewatch the series, as I do quite often, the stories hold up. Batman is set in a timeless world. It could be the 1940s, it could be the present, it could be the future, it's never directly stated. Even it had been the stories are still amazing. Visually they are stunning, the performances are top notch, and the stories range from mature to more family friendly and it never feels out of place. The show defied what traditional "cartoon superheroes" looked like and just about every animated action series since then has taken a cue from it. Plus it gave us Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill as Batman and the Joker. I mean . . . that alone makes it great. 

BATMAN BEYOND

When I was a kid my sisters and I were already big Batman fans but this show kind of brought us together. We've always been close but it was kind of a ritual watching Batman Beyond together. I remember we were all sucked in with the first episode and would stop everything to watch it when it was on. To me, the show was a logical continuation from Batman: the Animated Series and The New Batman Adventures. Visually the show was different than the other shows but felt the same style. Plus there was emphasis on building Terry up as a great character and not just Batman Junior which I always appreciated. Plus, again, the show holds up. The stories are exciting, mature, and damn good fun. Hopefully my dream will come true of seeing this in live action some day. 

SMALLVILLE

If you've read this blog before then you know my love of Smallville. I mean heck, when I got Hulu I started rewatching the series despite owning all the DVDs. That's . . . that's me. Big ole geek man . . . ANYWAY! This show means a lot to me and my evolution into a super geek you all know and love. I remember hearing about this show being made and I thought it sounded like such a cool idea. I mean back then there weren't a lot of outlets for live action superhero stuff. Smallville was the closest thing I got to a Superman TV show and I was not disappointed. I didn't mind the slow burn into him putting on the costume because I felt like the show was maturing along with me. I was about the same age as Clark when the show premiered and could relate to being in love, growing up, and feeling like an outsider. Granted, I'm not an alien from another planet but the show's metaphor held up well and I could enjoy it. Plus the show laid the foundation for the Arrowverse and each of those shows holds a special place in my heart. Man, just writing this makes me want to watch the show again . . . 

GEOFF JOHNS'S RUN ON GREEN LANTERN

This comic series meant the world to me as a growing geek. I'll never forget seeing ads for Green Lantern: Rebirth in other comics and thinking, "That looks cool!" It was the image of Hal as the Spectre holding his lantern. At the time, I only knew a little about Green Lantern from the Justice League animated series but for some reason those ads called out to me. And clearly I wasn't the only one. The first issue was sold out when I got to the comic book store! I had to wait till they had a THIRD PRINTING to get a copy. I was not disappointed. It was worth the wait and I became a lifelong Green Lantern fan. The series followed me to my move to North Carolina where, when I was struggling to make friends in a new city, there were new issues every month that I could get excited about. The series never failed to put a smile on my face even when Geoff Johns left. Getting to meet him at New York Comic Con was a highlight for me. It was like meeting a rock star. That comic got me into Infinite Crisis, Teen Titans, and many more comics as the years went on. But my real expansion into the DC Universe came from this. 

BATMAN: HUSH

Most Bat-fans will tell you their gateway Bat-comic was The Dark Knight Returns or Batman: Year One or something like that. While I definitely read those and loved them, Batman: Hush was the one that truly got me into monthly comics starting with Batman. I remember my sister coming over and telling me there was this comic coming out that sounded cool and I should check it out. I ended up picking up the first issue and falling head over heels in love with it. It's one I revisit frequently. It felt like I was watching a new Batman film I had never heard of before. It flowed so well and started my love affair with the Bruce/Selina relationship. The story was so exciting and fun. From fights with Superman, Killer Croc, Poison Ivy, and so many other Bat-rogues it set the stage for so many other stories like Jeph Loeb's Superman/Batman, Batman: Under the Hood, and even Infinite Crisis. So while Green Lantern took me across the universe, Hush started me off in Gotham City where I was familiar. It's one comic I always recommend to friends looking for great Bat-stories. 


What's in my Universe? Well that's quite a loaded question. I could go on and on and about individual episodes, comics, and film scenes that turned me into the proud geek I am today. These are the things I grew up with that inspired me to make this blog in the first place. I'm so excited that most of these things will be available on DC Universe. I've preordered my subscription and I'm counting down the days till I can go nuts watching all my favorites plus a bunch of new things to whet my appetite even more!


Till Next Time!


JJ - the Comic Junkie! 




Thursday, August 23, 2018

10 BEST SUPERHERO MOMS


Today is a bit of a rough day for me. My mom passed away this past Christmas. Today is her birthday and it's the first birthday we'll have without her. Rather than wallow in pity or grieve her loss again, I decided to put some thoughts down into this blog. She always encouraged my writing and acting. Well, since I can't act out this type of thing (I don't even know what that means), instead I'll write a cool little tribute to her.

My mom was a big geek. My favorite memory of her is her taking me to see The Mask of Zorro. I thought the movie looked really cool but for my mom, she grew up loving the old Zorro TV show. To her, this was a huge deal. It was her childhood hero she could share with me. She was literally cheering and jumping up and down in her seat. At 11 years old, at the time I was super embarrassed, but looking back I realize how much I'm like her. I mean I was cheering during Batman Begins and The Avengers. Who am I to talk? (Sorry, mom haha)

This got me thinking that throughout comics, our favorite heroes have been inspired by their moms to not just be good people but to be heroes in the first place. In some cases, motherhood wasn't an option but the characters stepped up to take on the hardest job in the world. I'd like to share my thoughts on some of comic book's best moms.

LARA EL - MAN OF STEEL
 
Let's put aside any thoughts you might have on Man of Steel for a moment and instead focus on Lara. Lara was given a little bit more of a spotlight than she normally does in Superman adaptations. Usually, the stories focus more on the relationship between father and son, Jor El and Kal El, but this time Lara had a little bit more to do in that she is literally the one that sends Kal El to Earth. She agrees with Jor El that the system Krypton has in place is broken and they conceive their child naturally. Lara is a great mom because she's willing to not only have a child that will have free will to be whatever he wants, she's willing to save his life by sending him to a planet where he will be able to protect himself. Lara never gets much to do, but it says a lot that every story ends with her willing to sacrifice herself to save her only son.
 

AMANDA ARMSTRONG - INTERNATIONAL/INVINCIBLE IRON MAN
 
Here's one you may not have heard of. In the recent Marvel comics as written by Brian Michael Bendis, before he moved to DC, Tony Stark discovered that he was adopted and took it upon himself to find his real parents. Turns out his mother was a former S.H.I.E.L.D. agent/musician, now music producer living in London. His father was a Hydra agent trying to convince his mother, Amanda, to switch sides to Hydra and they would protect her and the baby. She wanted to keep the baby safe from Hydra so Howard Stark agreed to adopt the baby. Years later, Tony found her and they reunited. Then, as these things go, Tony fell into a coma at the end of Civil War II and Amanda took over Stark Industries.
 
It takes a brave woman to admit that she can't keep her child safe and is willing to let him go. Then to have him find her, she wants nothing more than to be a part of his life. In Dan Slott's new series Tony Stark: Iron Man, she remains a big part of the comic, supporting Tony with everything he does. Just like a loving mother should.


 AUNT MAY - ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN
 
Those who know me know that more than any other comic Ultimate Spider-Man was my jam for many many years. More than any other Spider-Man story I wasn't just excited to read the fight scenes and the new interpretations of Spidey's rogues, but I loved the drama and the fun of the high school setting. Also, I found myself genuinely tearing up many times whenever Peter would interact with Aunt May. May is a character that is extremely integral to Spider-Man's adventures. In the Ultimate Comics she was portrayed as slightly younger than in the regular Marvel books. This was to "update" her I guess. Either way, more than I had ever seen, she was a fully fleshed out character. She had hopes, dreams, fears, all made that much more dramatic and scary when she found out her nephew was Spider-Man. She didn't take it well at first, but then after a long talk with Peter she saw him for the hero that he is and embraced her new relationship.
 
There's a scene where May has had a heart attack and is lying in the hospital and Peter pours his heart out to her saying that she's his mom and he thinks of himself as her son. She wakes up and hugs him and says, "My boy." I'm tearing up just writing that up. Their relationship was just about perfect.
 


 JESSICA JONES - NEW AVENGERS
 
Hey, another Bendis one! I guess I kinda liked that guy's Marvel stuff! Now most of you probably know Jessica Jones best from her self titled Netflix series. While that is a great show and Krysten Ritter absolutely nails it, the Jessica I first met was from the New Avengers comic book where she was on the run from the government for failing to register with the Superhuman Registration Act with her husband, Luke Cage, and their newborn baby. You might be thinking, "Jessica Jones? The hard ass detective with the chimp on her shoulder and a drink constantly in her hand?" And I'd say, "Yepp!" She may not seem like the maternal type but trust me when I say she stepped up to take care of her baby when needed.
 
She's a great mom because despite having a less than ideal life, at least for a while, with her husband and other Avengers friends on the run, she stood up for what she believed in and wanted to make that clear to her child. She wants to be a role model for her child. A hero not just because she has superpowers but because she stands up for what she believes is right. A damn good role model if you ask me.
 
LOIS LANE - SUPERMAN REBIRTH
 
Lois Lane is another character that I definitely wouldn't have thought of as maternal. However, given that she married the world's biggest softie, Clark Kent, it was expected that they would have a child. Not just any child but another Superboy, Jon Kent. Raising a child with superpowers is essentially like having a special needs child. It's a lot more complicated than just having a normal son. This one comes with special requirements and a much more caring hand as he grows up with powers and abilities that will take time, patience, and endurance to control and embrace. It'll take a strong woman to be able to deal with that kind of workload on top of being the world's leading investigative journalist. Luckily, she has an ever dependable partner with Clark/Superman. But Lois has proved time and time again that she's more than capable of tackling any challenge. She's a great mom because she never gives up on the people she loves.
 
SUE STORM - FANTASTIC FOUR
 
I think this one speaks for itself. The Fantastic Four are commonly referred to as "Marvel's First Family." More than other characters in the Marvel Universe they are defined by their relationship to each other. While I've read comics with the characters spread out among other groups, it's never quite the same. The Fantastic Four are at their best when they're with each other. And Reed and Sue have never shined brighter than when they became parents. Reed was already a nerdy dad to begin with and Sue always seemed like a woman ready to raise kids to be heroes/explorers like herself. 

Sue is amazing because she puts the ones she loves above everything else. She is protective of her children but isn't afraid to let them have their own adventures because she knows they can take care of themselves. She's a hero to the Marvel Universe and one of the greatest moms a kid could hope to have.
 
SARAH ROGERS - CAPTAIN AMERICA
 
Most of the best heroes we look up are forged in tragedy. For Captain America/Steve Rogers, he had to watch his loving mother suffer at the hands of an alcoholic and abusive husband. Back then, if you recall, Steve wasn't the Cap we all know and love. Back then he was a scrawny, shrimp of a man, even smaller as a boy. He watched helplessly as his mom would be smacked around by a terrible man. She reminded him that he should never back down from a bully. She says, "You always stand up." Those words stayed with Steve his entire life and informed his mantra when he became Captain America. Sarah is Steve's hero and he is the man he is today because of her.
 



LESLIE THOMPKINS - BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES
 
It's crazy to think that Batman: the Animated Series was made for children because there were plenty of very mature stories that were told throughout it's run. Early in the show, it's established that after Bruce's parents were murdered, he was looked after by his father's close friend, Leslie Thompkins. Leslie was also a doctor and acted a bit as Bruce's personal therapist when he was younger. In his older years as a crime fighter she works as his personal M.D., tending to his wounds when he's near her clinic. She's not afraid to look at him and tell him that what he's doing is dangerous, but she never turns down a patient in need. She's a constant, caring figure in Bruce's life. She treats him like her own son. She loves him and wishes he would give up his violent life but she still cares for him.
 
NORA ALLEN - FLASHPOINT
 
When it comes to all time hero moms - Nora Allen might just take the cake. She was Barry's hero as a kid due to her seemingly unending wealth of wisdom and love. But then Eobard Thawne, a crazed scientist from the 25th century who became obsessed with the Flash, went back in time and murdered Nora for no other reason than to piss Barry off. Barry had finally had enough and went back in time to stop the Reverse Flash. Technically speaking, Barry succeeded in saving his mother. Unfortunately, he messed up everyone else's life and created an alternate, nightmare timeline where Atlantis and Themyscira are at war and have decimated half the planet, Bruce Wayne is dead and Thomas Wayne is a murderous Batman, Kal El has been captured by the government and experimented on his whole life, and Barry is not the Flash.
 
When Barry finally gets his powers back and realizes the hell he's created he tries to think of a way to fix everything including saving his mom. Barry confides in her and she says, "You have to let me go." It's a heartbreaking moment but Nora is a brave woman. She's willing to die to save billions of lives and inspire a hero in the Flash. Lucky for Barry, he was able to keep the memories of his life with her when everything was put right so he'll always have her close to his heart.
 
MARTHA KENT - SMALLVILLE
 
Superman is who he is because of his parents. Two humble farmers that were blessed with a child from the heavens that would one day grow up to be Earth's greatest savior. But when you're raising a young man with powers that he can barely control on top of the usual hormones and growing pains, the job is a lot harder. Martha was more than up to the task. The moment she laid eyes on Kal El she fell in love with him. She said that "he found us." Throughout all of Clark's trials and tribulations as a teenager into young adult she was standing behind him, encouraging him. She's a great mom because she was patient, loving, kind, and Clark's biggest fan. The love that she had for her son was stronger than anything else in the world and she proved that on a regular basis throughout the series. 
 
 
 
My mom always encouraged my geekiness. We actually used to watch Smallville together and she seemed to be more excited about it than I was on certain nights. I know she's out there somewhere looking out for me. Thanks for taking the time to read this, Comic Junkies. Y'all are the best.
 
 
Till Next Time!
 
 
JJ - the Comic Junkie! 
 






Monday, August 6, 2018

PERFECTLY BALANCED - AN INFINITY WAR OBSERVATION


Marvel Studios released a little film called Avengers: Infinity War (you may have heard of it). It was the culmination of 10 years worth of build up into the most ambitious crossover film ever produced. Lucky for them, and REALLY lucky for us, it was super bad ass. The film has been deconstructed and pulled apart since its release and likely will continue to be until at least Avengers 4 comes out next year.

Usually I'm good at picking up on Easter Eggs and other nods to the comic books, TV shows, etc. However, there's one theme in the film I picked up on that I haven't seen anyone talk about yet. All throughout the film, Thanos goes on and on about how the universe needs to be perfectly balanced in order to survive. It's his mantra for whatever reason. But the theme of being perfectly balanced extends to more than just Thanos's mission. Stay with me here:

There are six Infinity Stones. Throughout the film six characters are given the option to either kill to protect a stone or to save a life and sacrifice the stone to Thanos. The only stone exempt from this is the Power Stone because Thanos has it at the beginning of the film. But still six for six. Here we go:

LOKI - THE TESSERACT/SPACE STONE - SAVES THOR

The film's jarring opening sequence starts with Thanos and his homies decimating what's left of the already small band of surviving Asgardians following the ending of Thor: Ragnarok. In an unsurprising turn of events, we learn that Loki stole the Tesseract from Asgard before it was destroyed. Thanos says he'll kill Thor if Loki doesn't give it up. Loki says, "Eh kill him." Then he follows up with, "Jk lol." Thanos takes the Tesseract and kills Loki in the process. Bummer.

STAR LORD - THE REALITY STONE - ATTEMPTS TO KILL GAMORA

Honestly, this one surprised me a lot but made me love Peter Quill more in this franchise. The Guardians go to Knowhere to try and take the Reality Stone before Thanos can get his hands on it. On the way there, Gamora tells Quill that she knows something Thanos doesn't know and if she's captured he needs to kill her. Quill reluctantly agrees. While on Knowhere, Gamora is captured by Thanos and she begs Quill to keep his promise. After a long mental debate (expertly acted by Chris Pratt) and sarcastic coaxing by Thanos, Quill does pull the trigger. However, since he waited like 2 years to do it, Thanos turned his bullets and gun into bubbles. Still . . . Quill knew the cost and he was willing to pay it to protect the universe. Until later that is when he fucked it all up . . . 

GAMORA - THE SOUL STONE - SAVES NEBULA FROM TORTURE

While captured by her foster daddy Thanos, Gamora goes on and on about how she doesn't know where the Soul Stone is. But ya know, Thanos ain't no pushover. He knows what's up. He shows her that he's kidnapped Nebula and is torturing her. He shows her Nebula's memory banks and Gamora's confession that she knows where the Soul Stone is but she'll never tell Thanos. Which brings me to my previous point that Nebula is useless and ruins everything. I know I haven't mentioned here before but I've mentioned it in my personal life enough that it's probably gotten around to you at some point. In any event, Thanos uses the Power Stone to torture Nebula. Gamora can't take it and says she'll take Thanos to the Stone if he leaves Nebula alone. Personally, I think these characters are too forgiving of people that have tried to murder them in the past but . . . whatever. 

THANOS - THE SOUL STONE - WILLING TO KILL GAMORA

Whew . . . Father of the year right? Yikes! Gamora leads Thanos to Vormir where they meet the Red Skull (cuz why not). Skull tells them that he is the Guardian of the stone and to take it requires a sacrifice, "a soul for a soul." Gamora laughs thinking that Thanos doesn't love anything enough to sacrifice it to obtain the stone. Turns out, Thanos actually did love his "daughter" Gamora and is willing to give her soul so that he can save the universe. I mean . . . she just asked her boyfriend to kill her . . . Maybe she has a type? I dunno. Either way, he throws her over the edge like any good father would and gets his bangin ass Soul Stone. Which does . . . I don't know actually. Completes the set?

DOCTOR STRANGE - THE TIME STONE - SAVES IRON MAN

While flying through outer space, Tony Stark (Iron Man, in case you didn't know) says he thinks that the best course of action is to take the fight to Thanos on his home turf. Strange reluctantly agrees and then adds that if it comes down to protecting the Time Stone, Stark, or Spider-Man he won't hesitate to let either of them die to keep the stone out of Thanos's hands. Stark agrees to this. Because . . . I would too? I dunno, these guys are mean to each other. Just be friends already! 

Anyway, later in the film, Thanos comes back to Titan and faces off against Spider-Man, Iron Man, Star Lord, Dr. Strange, Drax, and Mantis. They are barely a match for him. Then Star Lord goes and fucks everything up. You know what happens. Anyway, Thanos takes a piece of Stark's armor and stabs him with it. Which I was convinced was the end of Iron Man. I was like, "There it is! His contract's up!" But Strange begged for Stark's life in exchange for the Time Stone. He hands it over to Thanos and Thanos true to his word leaves Stark alone and then travels to Earth to get the last stone. One could argue that Strange gave up the stone because out of the 14 million outcomes he saw it was the only way to stop him but I'd like to think that Strange's medical oath of "do no harm" stayed with him. But I guess we won't know till Avengers 4 comes out and makes fools out of all of us. 

SCARLET WITCH - THE MIND STONE - WILLING TO KILL VISION

In a tragic turn of events, Shuri is not able to save Vision's consciousness despite being kind of a smart ass to Banner about it (that's what you get for being cocky, kid). Vision pleads with Wanda to destroy the Mind Stone because it's the only way to stop Thanos from achieving his goal. Wanda recognizes that there is no other way and uses her power to push Thanos aside and destory the Mind Stone/Vision in the process. Like holy shit, that's some power. Thanos tells her that he understands her pain and then much to the surprise of surprisingly a lot of people (cuz I totally saw it coming), Thanos uses the Time Stone to reverse Vision's death (Yay!) and then kill him all over again to get the Mind Stone (Damn it!). 

Then Thanos does the finger snap and wipes out all the Avengers that still have movies left on their contracts and leaves the ones behind we're about to say "Bye, Felicia!" to. In all seriousness though, it's a heart wrenching ending. Thanos is a dick and I hope he gets his in Avengers 4. 


Again, this observation is a little uneven due to Thanos already having the Power Stone at the start of the film but we chalk that up to the filmmakers wanting to get the film started as quickly as possible. A smart move considering that it would have been repetitive to show Thanos destroying everyone and everything. As much as I'd love to see John C. Reilly and Glenn Close from Guardians of the Galaxy again . . . well it wouldn't have been worth it. 

In any event, we are three for three. Did the filmmakers intend for this? Maybe. Even if not, it's an awesome thing to think about and adds a new layer to an already fantastic film. What does this mean for Avengers 4? I dunno . . . But I'm willing to bet that Cap's line, "We don't trade lives" will come into play. We'll find out soon enough!


Till Next Time!


JJ - the Comic Junkie! 


Friday, August 3, 2018

10 REASONS TO BE EXCITED FOR TITANS


At San Diego Comic Con a couple weeks ago, the first available footage for Titans was shown to the world and the response was . . . divisive to say the least. Unfortunately, it seems all too common for a DC property these days. I'll be the first to admit that the initial footage took me off guard and I was surprised by the dark tone. I expected something more along the lines of The Flash or Young Justice. Instead, the show is skewing closer to the tone of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice or the first season of Arrow. Is that a bad thing? No, of course not. It just means they're going a different direction than I anticipated. The more I thought about it and the more times I watched the trailer I grew to really like this dark, gritty take on the property and came up with some reasons I think we should all be excited for this new series.

THIS AIN'T NO TEEN TITANS GO!
 
Right off the bat the tone was set up as a darker setting then I think most of us were expecting. Granted, I didn't necessarily expect it to be a live action version of Teen Titans Go but I was expecting . . . well not THAT dark. I just have to say from my personal point of view that I don't care for Teen Titans Go. I know it has it's fans, and that's cool, but really it's meant to be a silly children's cartoon that can get kids into superheroes at a young age. I have no problem with that, in fact I welcome that thought process, but for me, I got into Batman through Batman: the Animated Series and Tim Burton's Batman. Titans seems to be taking a similar route with the dark, gritty storytelling. Maybe some parents won't want their kids watching such a violent, dark show but hey! I grew up watching violent stuff and my therapist says I'm doing just "fine".

NO BATMAN
 
Yepp . . . we're gonna talk about it. The infamous line from the Comic Con trailer that seemed to either rally or piss off the fanbase. Robin violently dispatches a number of goons and grunts, "Fuck Batman." Well . . . I wasn't expecting that! The line really threw me for a loop until I realized that Dick Grayson and well, quite frankly all the Robins, have had SEVERAL "Fuck Batman" moments during their costumed careers. It just seems new to us because we've never heard those words before. We've heard, "I quit" "I'm done with you" "I'm going solo!" etc, etc. To me, the exclusion of Batman is a good thing for the series. It means we can watch Dick grow from pissed off at his father young man to his own man. I have no doubt we'll see his turn from Robin to Nightwing, probably in the first season. I'd love for somewhere down the line to have Dick finally come to terms with and forgive Batman for whatever falling out they may have. Even if it doesn't, the point of the show is to see Dick and his new friends come together as a family. That's going to be more important than anything else.
 
RAVEN'S COMING OF AGE
 
In just about every iteration of Teen Titans, Raven has had to deal with her evil father, Trigon, coming to our reality to destroy it or enslave it or whatever. Lucky for her the other Titans are always there to back her up. It's looking like this version won't be any different. Raven actively seeks out Dick Grayson because he can help her fight off the literal demons she has haunting her. Granted, this story has been told, as I just said, in every version of Teen Titans but I'm confident with it being done in live action, there will be a new twist or wrinkle in the narrative. Raven is one of DC's best characters. Someone that is trying to define herself as a good person in spite of having a literal monster for a father. As I've stated numerous times, it's the type of coming of age story that people can subconsciously relate to but it's thinly (and not so thinly) veiled as a superhero epic.
 

GEOFF JOHNS / GREG BERLANTI
 
Two names that are undeniably influential in the world of DC on TV, Geoff Johns (my man) and Greg Berlanti. Berlanti is the producer of every superhero show currently running on The CW and Geoff Johns is one of DC's best writers as well as producer of The Flash and other series. If anyone knows anything about how to craft an awesome DC TV show it's these guys. Their track record speaks for itself with all five DC CW shows getting multiple seasons plus Gotham getting to five seasons and now several highly anticipated DC Universe streaming shows in various stages of production. I know that the trailer was divisive to say the least but with these two behind the scenes I'm confident we're going to get another amazing DC show for the record books. Johns (my man) also wrote several issues of Teen Titans back in the early 2000s. It was a long and successful run that most people told him would be a failure when he pitched it. He sure as hell proved them wrong! Multiple threads from that series have shown up in various other media such as Smallville, Young Justice, and the animated Justice League vs Teen Titans film. Like I said, these guys know what they're doing.
 
ROOM TO GROW
 
Dick Grayson's portrayal in the trailer was one of the things people were most upset with. Dick is the leader of the Titans. He's the one with the cool head under pressure. He's the big brother that everybody wants. Well, guess what? That story needs to be told later. We need to start with "How did he get that way?" I'm much more interested in seeing all of these heroes as raw, open wounds from whatever tragedy has come their way. It makes more sense to see them come together and learn from each other to become the family that we're all familiar with from the comic books. Otherwise, we're just telling stories of people that start off liking each other and fighting crime and demons and monsters with smiles on their faces. And that's not good story telling. Let's give them a chance to grow, to fall down, to stumble, to have major screw ups, and then ultimately stand back up and kick ass and be the heroes we all know and love. That's the show I want to watch.
 
SO MANY CHARACTERS TO ADD IN THE FUTURE
 
They say in the comics that "Once a Titan, always a Titan." Well we're going to see the beginning of these awesome heroes on the small screen soon enough. And their numbers are sure to grow and change over time. We know that one episode will introduce the Doom Patrol, already scheduled to spin off in their own series, not to mention Jason Todd aka Robin II/Red Hood confirmed to make an appearance in season 1. Then there's rumors of Superboy and Lex Luthor appearing on the series possibly at the end of this season or the beginning of the next. And that's not to mention characters like Kid Flash, Aqualad, Wonder Girl, Ravager, Kid Devil, Cyborg, Tara, Bumblebee and the list could go on! I'm certain we'll see many of these characters before the first season is over. In my mind, it's not Teen Titans without a Wonder Girl or Kid Flash in the ranks. Only time will tell. Heck, I'm drooling just thinking about it! Then again . . . I also haven't eaten much today . . . Oh well! TITANS!
 
NIGHT IS DARKEST BEFORE DAWN
 
As I mentioned before, I was quite surprised by the dark tone the show was going for. I was expecting a little more Legends of Tomorrow and less Arrow season 1 but hey . . . here we are! At first I was very put off by this. But the more I thought about it, and I've mentioned this before, it's not a bad thing. In fact, from a storytelling point of view, it's probably the best thing the show can do at this moment. The characters don't know each other, as far as we know. They're all struggling with their own inner demons, in Raven's case a literal demon, and that's putting them all in a dark place. It's going to take all of them together to make it out of the darkness and back into the light that we know these characters inhabit so well. But we're gonna have to see them struggle a bit first and that's fine. We'll get there . . .  
 
DIVERSE CAST
 
Much to the chagrin of so called "fans", superhero movies and TV shows are looking much more diverse than they ever have. Is there anything wrong with that? No. Does it bother some people. Sigh . . . yes. I don't understand why. I'm of the mindset that as long as the actor is good in the role it won't bother me what ethnicity they are. Nobody bats an eye when a theatre troupe puts on an all female cast of Macbeth but if you cast a black woman to play an alien princess then you better jump on your keyboards and fuck up her day with your hate. Personally, I love it. When I was a kid, I looked up to Batman. He was rich, strong, and bad ass. As a white kid, it never occurred to me that I wasn't seeing very many heroes of color or hell even heroes of the female variety. Now that I'm older, it warms my heart to see little girls dressing up as Wonder Woman and African American kids talking about how much Black Panther and his cast means to them. It's a wonderful thing to see and I see why it's necessary during a casting call. But also, let's not forget, the Titans are diverse to begin with - an orange-alien princess, a half demon young woman, a boy with green skin, among others that aren't the (for lack of a better word) traditional heroes we're used to seeing. Again, that's a great thing. It's more "butts in seats" as my theater director likes to say.
 
NEW CONTINUITY
 
Believe it or not I LOVE when my favorite comic books are adapted into a new medium. It means I get to meet these characters all over again in a brand new continuity. While I may not always agree with the choices that the filmmakers and actors make, I always appreciate a new direction. The thing that most "fans" seem to forget is that these characters' stories, histories, costumes, etc are always being reimagined. If it's ok to change it in the comic books, why is it wrong to change it on film? Now I'll admit that a drastic, unnecessary change is a bad thing. Like we don't need Batman as a hard core punk rock band leader with a pet bat named Alfred. Cuz that's not Batman. But an angry Dick Grayson, desperate to escape the shadow of Batman? That's perfect. That's exactly what I want to see. But how did they get there? I love finding that out because it tells me that the creators of the show were fans of the material and wanted to put their own spin on it. You know who does that literally all the time? Your favorite comic book writers and artists. The core of the characters we love is there, but this story is brand new and they're finding their way. Whether or not it works is yet to be seen, but I'm excited at the new possibilities.
 
YOUNG JUSTICE
 
One of the best animated series of all time is without a doubt Young Justice. This "cartoon" like Batman: the Animated Series before it wasn't afraid to tell mature, dark stories that were still safe enough for kids to watch and enjoy. In my mind, Justice League: the Animated Series was the perfect template for telling animated JL stories and Young Justice was how you do perfect Teen Titans adventures. I have no doubt the producers are aware of this and will craft an exciting show that's the best parts of Young Justice and the better live action DC Films. Keeping the show an ensemble of DC's best young heroes is the best way to treat this new series. As with any first season of a show, I think there will be some stumbles in storytelling but lucky for the producers and writers they have a perfect template to draw inspiration from and that's Young Justice. I mean that show worked so well establishing each character as an individual and an essential part of the team. Titans would do well to learn from that. Hopefully, we'll see more of the characters in future trailers before the series hits this fall.
 
 
 
As a lifelong DC fan, believe me when I tell you that I'm just as nervous as I am excited for this new series. Is it what I was expecting? Hell no. Does that mean it will be bad? No. Personally, I've loved the darker DC Films and I'm glad the producers weren't afraid to start Titans off that way. Like I said, I think these characters will start in a dark place and then help each other back to the light. It's what families do.
 
 
Till Next Time!
 
 
JJ - the Comic Junkie!