Sunday, 1 December 2019

Disney Plus Is Worth A Look

-
Spotlight:

Photo Courtesy of Amazon's Affiliate Program.
Long time Marvel readers will remember the 2099 line of comics from the mid-90s. It was a chance for Marvel’s writers to reimagine popular superheroes one-hundred years in the future.

This fall the company is revisiting these characters with a series of one-shots loosely tied together by a “time’s being rewritten” story. The series comes in “Parts” and “Tie-Ins.” The main story's parts, beginning with the Amazing Spider-Man series and the “2099 Alpha” one-shot, tell the time travel/alteration saga, while the Tie-Ins offer glimpses into the futuristic world in question.

I’ve posted the reading order below. Honestly though, I’m only going to collect the main story a few Tie-Ins featuring the namesakes of characters I already read.

"Marvel 2099" Reading Order

Amazing Spider-Man #32 (Prelude)
Available October 23rd.
Amazing Spider-Man #33 (Prelude)
Available November 6th.
2099 Alpha #1 (Part 1)
Available November 20th.
Fantastic Four: 2099 #1 (one-shot tie-in)
Available November 20th.
Amazing Spider-Man #34 (Part 2)
Available November 20th.
Conan: 2099 #1 (one-shot tie-in)
Available November 27th.
Punisher: 2099 #1 (one-shot tie-in)
Available November 27th.
Ghost Rider: 2099 #1 (one-shot tie-in)
Available December 4th.
Amazing Spider-Man #35 (Part 3)
Available December 4th.
Venom: 2099 #1 (one-shot tie-in)
Available December 4th.
Doom: 2099 #1 (one-shot tie-in)
Available December 11th.
Spider-Man: 2099 #1 (one-shot tie-in)
Available December 11th.
2099 Omega #1 (Part 4)
Available December 18th.

Disney Plus Is Worth A Look:


Photo Courtesy of Amazon's Affiliate Program.
Classic Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, and National Geographic are the divisions which comprise the internet’s hottest new entertainment site. My main blog is on Disney Plus, which went live on November 12th, 2019.

Being a self-professed nerd, I plopped down my $6.99 a month (or $69 per year) for access to the Star Wars and Marvel content.

The Star Wars section has everything a Padawan Jedi could want. Viewers can watch every Star Wars movie and almost every cartoon series, except for the “Droids” and “Ewoks” series of the 1980s. Also included are an array of shorts (mostly Legos based), specials, and, of course, “The Mandalorian,” the section’s first original series.

The Marvel section features every Marvel Cinematic Universe movie and a respectable number of series, specials, and cartoons. Notably absent are the Spider-Man movies, which are owned by Sony, and the X-Men films, which have been owned by FOX until recently. Also absent are the Incredible Hulk series starring Bill Bixby and the Spider-Man series starring Nicholas Hammond. While several original series are in the works, the first offering, a live action series centered around Loki, isn’t slated to premiere until 2021.

While I have no interest in Pixar or National Geographic, I have spent some time exploring the Disney section. It has selections ranging from Mickey Mouse to the Simpsons; from Herbie the Love Bug to Indiana Jones. I even found a few gems, from my childhood at the drive-in movies, to add to my watchlist.

Disneyplus.com still has some rough edges to smooth out, especially in regard to its Marvel section. Nevertheless, there's enough streaming content to make the site worth checking out.

Site’s Greatest Strength: The Mandalorian series

Site's Greatest Weakness: Gaps in Marvel’s content

Saturday, 2 November 2019

Terminator's Back On Track

-
Spotlight:

Photo Courtesy of Amazon's Affiliate Program.
John Constantine is an exorcist/paranormal P.I.. Think Harry Potter meets Phillip Marlowe. I’ve been getting a pretty good dose of him within the pages of Justice League Dark, but DC has given him his own title again as part of “The Sandman Universe.”

Personally, I’ve never thought of Hellblazer as being under Sandman’s umbrella. They’re both magic though, so eh… OK. I can see Constantine as a bridge between mainstream Superheroes and Neil Gaiman’s dark world of dreaming.

No matter which category it’s being published under, Simon Spurrier and Aaron Campbell have created a beautiful first issue. The art keeps dipping into the psychedelic, while the text tells the story of a hero battling inner demons as well as satanic demons.

Although I found the book to be worth the $4.99 ($4.24 with my Comixology discount) price, it’s NOT FOR KIDS! Our hero drops several F bombs and makes crude references to female anatomy. The crass language is true to the character it helps paint; I simply wouldn't let my nephews read it.


They’re Back!:

Photo Courtesy of Amazon's Affiliate Program.
In our top story, we take a look at Terminator 6: Dark Fate.

In 1984, audiences were introduced to a killer robot from the future, bent on preventing the birth of humanity’s greatest military leader, John Connor. Seven years later, a duplicate of the first movie’s villain played the role of hero trying to protect a teenage version of John from a more sophisticated Terminator.

Following the success of these two blockbusters, audiences were subjected to the sleepers; Rise of The Machines, Salvation, and Genisys. While fans wanted to like these three offerings, they just didn't capture the magical excitement of the first two films. I won’t say why, incase you haven't seen it, but the end of 2015’s Genisys left a bad taste in my mouth.

Yet, when I heard Linda Hamilton would be reprising her role as Sarah Connor, I decided to catch Terminator: Dark Fate on opening day. I’m glad I did.

Hamilton and Schwarzenegger may be 35 years older than when they began this joyride, but they can still play ass kickers with the best of them. Although the action was top notch, what made Dark Fate great was the script.

James Cameron, and his writing staff, fixed the timeline so that the last three movies never happened. Now, one can watch the first two films and this one, and get “the whole story,” without having to sit through the three weak chapters.

Sunday, 27 October 2019

Who's Watching HBO's Watchmen?

-
Watchmen was a 12 issue comic book series which ran from September of 1986 until October of 1987. Rather than giving readers the well-adjusted noble superheroes we were accustomed to; Alan Moore painted a very dystopian picture of selfish emotionally damaged heroes. On October 20th, HBO premiered the first episode of Watchmen, a series supposedly inspired by Moore’s classic tale. Below are my thoughts on the show. Spoilers ahead.
-
S

P

O

I

L

E

R

S

P

A

C

E
-
S

P

O

I

L

E

R

S

P

A

C

E


Photo Courtesy of Amazon's Affiliate Program.
Going in, I knew the show would deliver an original story, instead of a retelling of the, now, classic comic book tale. However, I expected a story featuring the superheroes from the Watchmen super team.

Instead of a story featuring Dr. Manhattan, The Comedian, Silk Spectre, or Night Owl II, the focus of the series is on an original character, Sister Night, a stealthy police detective serving a small town’s police force where all police hide their identities for fear of reprisal. We do see news reports about the superheroes in the background, but they’re there more to justify the use of the “Watchmen," label than they are to move the story forward.

The Watchmen character we saw the most of was Rorschach. Well… sort of. Replacing Rorschach, the noir-esc hero, was a cult donning Rorschach masks. We know the cult is on the wrong side of the law, but weather they’re heroes or villains is unclear. Equally unclear is their connection to the hero they’re modeled after, or if he exists at all.

It’s a textbook example of bait & switch. Imagine going to an “Avengers” movie only to have it be about Luke Cage living in a small town. The product may very well prove to be an exciting story. It’s just not the one fans, like me, tuned in to see.

Final Note:
Interestingly enough, Amazon Prime streams a dark superhero show called The Boys, which reminds me more of the Watchmen comic book than the show which bares its name.
-

Tuesday, 27 August 2019

Say It Aint So Batman, Say It Aint So!


Unless you've been in solitary confinement in Arkham Asylum, you know what happened at the end of Batman #77 last week. Even if you haven't read the latest chapter of City of Bane, it’s been all but impossible to surf the internet without bumping head long into a spoiler for the last page. Nevertheless, I’m going to leave ample spoiler space below this paragraph just in case you've wandered in here by mistake and you’re still planning to read the issue. Although, I have no idea WTF you’re waiting for?
S
P
O
I
L
E
R
|
S
P
A
C
E
|
|

S
P
O
I
L
E
R
|
S
P
A
C
E
|
|
OK, those who haven't read the issue yet should be gone. OMG, BANE KILLED ALFRED!!!!!!!!!!! I freaked when I’d initially read #77’s final panel. I doubled back, looking for the page I’d missed, when Alfred was replaced by a clone. Of course, it wasn’t there. Robin (Damian Wayne) had called Bane’s bluff by continuing to fight crime in Gotham City, and Bane broke the neck of his hostage, Bruce Wayne’s loyal butler, Alfred Pennyworth.


Photo Courtesy of Amazon's Affiliate Program.

Photo Courtesy of Amazon's Affiliate Program.
I was as upset as if a real person had just been killed. I told myself they couldn't do this. It would be like killing off Perry White or Jimmy Olsen, I told myself. I mean, he’d always been there, or so I thought. As it turns out, this isn’t the first time Alfred has died.

Back in Detective Comics #328 (June, 1964) Pennyworth threw himself in front of an on coming boulder to save the lives of the dynamic duo. Being seven years before the debut of Ra’s Al Ghul, there was no such thing as a Lazarus Pit yet. Thus, he remained dead for two years before a mad scientist would resurrect him as a scaly white super villain called The Outsider (Batman’s team of the same name wouldn't appear until 1983).

Being comics, I don't expect this death to last long. Either Damian will take Alfred’s body to Nanda Parbat for resurrection in the Lazarus Pit, or, given the role the multiverse is currently playing in DC’s current titles, we may see an orphaned version of Alfred being adopted by our universe's Bruce Wayne/Batman.

Think about it, even without the precedent from the 60s, it’s a good bet they won’t leave Pennyworth dead for long, just as he’s starring in his own hit series on EPIX.

Note of Interest: Detective Comics #328 not only saw the original death of Alfred, but also introduced the character Aunt Harriet, whom I’d thought was created solely for the 1966 TV series.

Editor’s Note: So far, I’m not really impressed with the City of Bane storyline. It seems like a rehash of No Man’s Land to me.

Tuesday, 13 August 2019

Powers Of X & House Of X Mean New Direction Of X

-
This summer Jonathan Hickman is writing two interlocking X-Men miniseries (House Of X and Powers Of X), which will spawn a new direction for upcoming X-Titles.

Photo Courtesy of Amazon's Affiliate Program.

House Of X #1 hit stands first, for $7.99. Without spoiling anything I can say, the issue picks up during, what feels like, the middle of the story. After reading a few pages I actually put the book down and checked the internet to make sure I hadn’t missed something between the final issue of Uncanny X-Men and the book I was currently reading. I hadn't. The issue simply began after an entire new “world order” (for lack of a better term) had been created for mutants.

I almost pulled the title from my subscriptions list. However, I’m a huge X-Men junkie and if these books were setting up new ongoing titles, I didn't want to go in blind down the road. I’m happy I stuck it out.

The fourth season of Babylon-5 showed fans the future of humanity one-hundred years, five-hundred years, one-thousand years, and one-million following the end of the Earth Alliance Civil War. Powers Of X #1, for $5.99, does roughly the same thing with the future of mutants. I was hooked. Seriously, I can’t remember when I’ve enjoyed a book more.

A week later, I picked up House Of X #2, for $4.99, which rewrites the history of one well known character without contradicting anything which has been published previously. Hickman gives the character a power I’ve always wished I had, to tell a brilliantly creative quasi time travel story. Then he reshows readers a seen from Powers Of X #1 from a different point of view, which had me thinking about mutant history for few hours after I’d read it. Thanks for costing me sleep Hickman.

Each issue is peppered with pages mimicking computer readouts to convey important story elements to the reader. These can take the form of historical facts, mutant population statistics, political insights, etc….

Both #1s feature extra long stories which increase their price. Plus, I mistakenly bought the “Director’s Cut” of House Of X #1, featuring a cover gallery, script notes, and other extras, which add nothing to the story, but increase the cover price by $2.00.

The new take on the X-Men takes some getting used to, but now that I’m a few issues in, I like where it’s going.

Tuesday, 23 July 2019

Super Hero Prequels

-
In 1999, George Lucas gave fans the first chapter of Darth Vader's origin story.  While Phantom Menace was, unquestionably, the worst movie of the Star Wars franchise (at least until Solo hit the big screen), it made over $1 billion and reignited the Star Wars universe. 



Photo Courtesy of Amazon's Affiliate Program.
Perhaps inspired by the success of the prequel, DC gave TV viewers a prequel of its own two years later.  Smallville, told the story of young Clark Kent coming to terms with his powers.  Unlike the syndicated Superboy series of the early 90s, Smallville focused as much on teen angst as on super powered plots.

I made the mistake of writing the show off early on, because I felt it was a cross between Superboy and Dawson’s Creek.  Despite what I thought, the show developed a huge following and lasted ten years.


Photo Courtesy of Amazon's Affiliate Program.
In 2014, FOX aired Gotham, the story of the city about ten years before Batman took to the mean streets.  While young Bruce Wayne definitely played a major role in the series, it really focused on a heroic Jim Gordon earning his future job as Police Commissioner.  

The series just wrapped up a few months ago, and I was sorry to see it go.  Not only were we given rich foundations for our heroes, but popular villains such as the Riddler, Penguin, and Catwoman were portrayed as multi-layered characters rather than one dimensional evil foils for Wayne and Gordon.

Right now, the Syfy Channel (don’t get me started on the whole Syfy vs. Sci-Fi thing) is airing season 2 of Krypton.  Basically, Krypton is to Superman what Caprica was to Battlestar Galactica (2004)… with a bit of Terminator thrown into the mix.  The series chronicles Adam Strange traveling back in time to protect Superman’s grandfather, Seg El, from Superman’s enemies seeking to prevent Superman’s birth.


Photo Courtesy of Amazon's Affiliate Program.
Setting aside the fact that if one can travel through time and space one can probably shoot down a rocket solely occupied by a baby, Krypton is an immensely fun show.  Not only have we been treated to live action versions of classic characters such as Brainiac, Lobo, Doomsday, and the aforementioned Adam Strange, but the scripts and production values are movie quality. 

This Sunday, July 28, 2019, epix is scheduled to premiere the prequel series, Pennyworth, about a young Alfred meeting Thomas Wayne.  At first I thought, “Who cares about a pre prequel about a butler?”  Then I remembered the character was a British intelligence agent before he came to work for Wayne Manner.
            
Judging by the trailers, Pennyworth looks like it has the potential to be an exciting TV show filled with humor, action, and Easter Eggs (allusions to related material).  Based solely on what I’ve seen, it looks to me as if the main antagonists will belong to the Court of Owls, but I wouldn't be surprised to see the League of Assassins being involved in some way too.

There's room for lots of other fresh material to be produced within the prequel genre.  I wouldn't mind seeing a pre-Hal Jordan Green Lantern series featuring Abin Sur.  Whatever the powers that be have in store, it’s a pretty safe bet that fans will be shown back stories of our favorite characters for some time to come.
-


Spotlight:

Photo Courtesy of Amazon's Affiliate Program.

Wolverine is the best at what he does, selling comics.  Since returning from the grave late last year, Wolverine has been featured in Uncanny X-Men, War of the Realms, Infinity Watch, and other series which I’m probably not aware of.  However, he has yet to return to his own series

Instead of relaunching a Wolverine title, Marvel has spent the Summer putting him in a bunch of one-shot stories.  These solo appearances include; Wolverine vs. Blade, Wolverine + Captain America, Wolverine: Exit Wounds, and bizarrely a Wolverine Annual #1 for a title which doesn't exist.


Granted, this format has the benefit of allowing readers to by only the stories they want, without having to wait for another story to end.  I get it.  However, in order for that to work, one has to be aware of each one-shot coming out.  Keeping track of multiple publications can be a daunting task, even for a mega-nerd such as me; a casual reader doesn't stand a chance.


It would make much more sense to release the stories sequentially under a single title, so readers can sign up for “Wolverine” and know they're going to get every story.

Thursday, 6 June 2019

Bye Bye Westeros

-
It's been way too long since I’ve written one of these blogs.  I have no excuse.  Well, that’s not true.  I have multiple excuses, but simply none that are any good.  I think my sails lost some wind when I couldn't get to the movies to see Captain Marvel or SHAZAM!

While I’ve been gone, the world of geekdom has seen several major developments.  I’m not going to address them all, but I want to touch on two of them.

SPOILER WARNINGS FOR AVENGERS/AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D & GAME OF THRONES
V
V
V
V
V
V
V
V
V
V
V
V
V
V
V
V
V
V
V
V
V
V
V
V
V
V
V

I'm not going to address the events of End Game, it's been analyzed by a good portion of blogosphere has already picked it apart.  That being said, I feel the need to address a plot hole regarding Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.  The show was synced with the Avengers’ timeline at the end of last season.  This season picked up one year later, which should put it a year after the snap.  Yet, the show completely ignores the fact that half the people on Earth are gone.  It's just lazy writing.  Grrrrrrrrrr…….  Enough said about that.


Photo Courtesy of Amazon's Affiliate Program.
I’d rather spend time giving my impressions of the Game of Thrones’ finale.  I know that’s been picked apart too, but I’ve been hashing it over with my friend Kyle, so I thought it'd be fun to post my thoughts here too.  Kyle, you can take a nap, I’ve told you all this.

I liked the way the story ended,  for the most part.  Although, I wanted Sam to kill Daenerys to avenge his father and brother.  Jon doing it though was powerful, but having Daenerys inadvertently create her own worst enemy would have been so much more epic.

In a similar vain, I REALLY WANTED Jaime to kill Sersi.  It would have been a great moment of redemption for his character.  Going from an incestuous sleaze who pushes boys out of windows to a knight who kills his lover for the good of the kingdom would have made a complete hero’s journey.  Still dying in each other's arms, while Bran came out on top was poetic justice.

When I watched it, I groaned at Bran becoming king.  I thought they did it just for the sake of the big twist.  I thought about it though, and given all the people who struggled to protect him, it made sense.  Hodor died holding the door to protect the one who would be king.  We live for the one, we die for the one.  Oh wait, that’s from a different saga.

I think Arya served her purpose.  Some people think she should've killed Sersi, but given that she had already killed the Night King and saved humanity from the White Walkers, it seems like a lot to ask.  Just saying.  There is a rumor she may get her own spin-off showing us what's west of Westeros.  We’ll see.

Right now, I’m gearing up for The Dark Phoenix Saga.  I know going in that they have to combine The Phoenix Saga with The Dark Phoenix Saga, so that won't bother me.  I just hope they do better with The Dark Phoenix Saga than they did with Apocalypse.

Super Hero Prequels

- In 1999, George Lucas gave fans the first chapter of Darth Vader's origin story.   While Phantom Menace was, unquestionably, the wors...