(Submitted by Senor Prince Adam…Thanks for kicking ass, Kinky Kolleague! 🙂 xoxo)
“Rosemary’s just an average American co-ed bringing her boyfriend, Takehiko, home from college to meet her parents, who happen to be Satanists.” (Vertigo)
When I first started reading through this story, I thought that this was going to be a one off filler issue. Instead, what we get is a jaw dropping mythological twist and the setup for the next big arc. The issue starts off very casually enough. It’s about a boy and a girl, heading to a seemingly quaint town in New England, so the boy can meet the girl’s parents. You even see the girl warning the boy that her family is weird and to be prepared for anything. The stereotype is perpetuated by the boyfriends typical reaction of shrugging her warnings off as hyperbole. While this may sound like a typical romance story, it is anything but that. Shockingly, Rosemary and her parents. are part of a group of Satanists, living in the town of Devil’s Knob. Maybe the name of the town and the fact that this is a Lucifer comic book, should’ve made me think twice about writing this issue off as a romantic filler with some scares. As Rosemary tells her boyfriend the history of Satanism in the town, we the reader get just enough exposition that we need for the payoff for the rest of the story, we learn that a resident named Gordo, who started a church because he knew that if he ran a church, he’d never have to pay taxes, That reasoning is so humorous , yet so believable. I can imagine some lazy bastard doing this because he didn’t want to pay taxes. The fact that the church is in part a Satanic church and a club for Death Metal Band, serves the nature and tone of the comic book on the whole and the overall story. Rosemary tries to soften the idea of her parents being Satanists for her boyfriend Takehiko, by telling him that while there is a segment of Satanists who believe in a devil with horns and a pitchfork, for most, including Rosemary and her parents, Satanism is about physical gratification, putting yourself first, lusting after hot people, eating inappropriately, being a bitch or an asshole and treating it like a sacrament. Takehiko asks Rosemary if there are any true demonic or ghost stories associated with the church, she say yes. We then get the story that really kicks this comic into a high gear and it starts to have relevancy. During one of the parties, things got too crazy and the church/house burnt down with a drunk girl named Joanna Newton, who died inside. Gordo then, as folklore tells it, sold the girls soul for money to build a new church. If this were any standard romance story, the boyfriend would cut it and run. Instead, Takehiko says he’s looking forward to meeting her parents and attending their church function. He is ambushed by her parents and other members of the congregation, who are naked except for wearing robes and horns. They pull a blade on him, claiming to sacrifice him for Lucifer.
At this point, Takehiko snaps and calls them blasphemers and summons the supposedly dead Joanna Newton. Turns out Joanna survived the fire and managed to escape, after Gordo and the others left her for dead. This revelation means that, the deal Gordo made in exchange for her soul is incomplete. After learning the demon Gordo made a deal with was Asmodeus, Takehiko summons him. Here’s where the real twist comes in. Asmodeus is Lucifer’s brother and uncle to Takehiko, meaning Takehiko is the first born son of Lucifer. The book ends with Asmodeus ordering Takehiko to return to hell, allowing him to bring Rosemary, while he keeps Gordo as a slave, as a means to fulfill his deal. With Lucifer back in action, Asmodeus indicates it’s time to challenge Mazikeen for the throne and reclaim his birthright, becoming the King of Hell. I’ll be completely honest, I did not see that twist with Takehiko coming. The sad thing on my part, is that there were hints. For example, its mentioned that, his father was long gone and that eventually he would have to deal with the family business. These bits of writing were in bold, so I should’ve paid them more attention. Even worse, there were small demonic wings sprouting out of his back, as he was having sex. I’m going to use the fact that there was a sex scene and the fact that I was so engrossed in the backstory of the Satanic Church, thus I missed it. That’s my story and I’m sticking with it. There was no mention of Lucifer having children in the first story arc and I don’t know enough about Neil Gaiman’s initial run of this series, Given that reasoning, I have to give credit to writer Holly Black, for writing such a fascinating and distracting story.
Art for this issue was drawn by Stephanie Hans. This is a different artist than the first story arc but I liked her work just as much, if not more. While I said that a page or two looked painted in the last story, this whole book had a painted look to it. Specifically, an oil paint style. I don’t think it is actually painted though as it’s not mentioned anywhere in the credits info. Also, they don’t mention a colorist, so I’m going to assume, that too, was done by Stephanie Hans. The opening scenes, with the young couple driving through a wintery New England, was idyllically picturesque. I know people who live in New Hampshire and winter’s can produce quite the snowfall, so this imagery has some accuracy to it. The flashback scenes to the drunken party had this purple filter to them. I’ve seen color pallets such as this used in films and television when people get piss drunk or sky high and I like that this book borrows stylistic choices from other media. The art for the fake Satanic sacrifice ritual poked fun at the stereotypes that are out there about Satanism. I like that the art and this book as a whole, is very self aware and does this sort of thing. While Lucifer and his son look nothing like the stereotypical version of the devil, I’m glad others like Asmodeus do have the more red skinned, horned demon look we are used to. Gives the book some variety. Regarding Takehiko’s red demonic looking wings, as opposed to Lucifer’s white angelic looking wings. I’m going to assume this is due to the fact that Takehiko’s mother is an ancient Japanese demon herself, while we must remember that Lucifer is in fact an angel. Once again there is plenty of nudity in this book and it is very naturalistic and never done to be in your face, or over the top.
This issue is a great example of what a stand alone issue after a main story arc should be. A more personal intimate story that gives the reader time to catch their breath, while at the same time, getting us excited for what’s to come. I am beyond excited for the Game of Thrones-like supernatural battle for the throne of hell, that is about to go down. This book may be about the devil but the quality of writing and art continues to be heavenly good! It’s worth your time and money. After reading this, I am definitely going to do a commentary article on the television series, after Season 3 concludes, especially with Smallville alumni Tom Welling on the series.
(Submitted by your Super Friend and mine, Mr. Doctor Prince Adam…Thanks, you Naughty Nerd, you! 😉 xoxo)
“No Angel is a cosmological and conspiratorial modern western with super power by way of The Da Vinci Code.” (Black Mask Studios)
No Angel is an independent comic book, written by the brother sister team of Eric Palicki and Adrianne Palicki. If that name sounds familiar, it should. Adrianne Palicki starred in the film Legion, played Mockingbird on Agents of SHIELD and starred in the pilot for the David E. Kelley Wonder Woman series, which never got off the ground. Her involvement is how this book got on my radar. Thee book starts out with an FBI agent based out of Chicago, returning home to the small town of Tucker’s Mill Wisconsin. Our protagonist Hannah Gregory, comes upon her old house with her high school friend, now the Sheriff. The house is now a cordoned off crime scene, as her father and brother have been murdered. While attending the funeral, Hannah meets a woman who had a relationship with her father. The woman suggest they should talk, handing Hannah a piece of paper. Hannah scolds the woman and demands she leaves. If this is sounding like a paint by the numbers CBS Drama, I thought the same thing at first and was quickly losing interest. However, the book quickly takes an interesting turn, when Hannah reads the note, which has a bible passage on it. This bible passage, tells of angels mating with humans. Curious, Hannah meets with Miriam Chapman, who tells Hannah that she and her father were indeed a couple, but it was more than just sex. Miriam and her father believed in the Nephilim , which are the children created from the unions of angels and humans. It turns out that these bible passages have truth to them and that Miriam and Hannah’s fathers research deduced that the bloodline of the Nephilim has survived and that they, along with their family members are descendants of angels. Adding to the mythology, is that Hannah has a half sister named Jessica. Due to the pairing of two descendants of the Nephilim, she is born complete with actual Angel wings. I’m sure there are films and television that flirt, or directly deal with the children of Angels and human fornication. I think the aforementioned Legion starring the co-writer of this book, dealt with a similar idea. Also, a recent issue of Lucifer, saw human and a demon give birth to Cain and Abel. Even Preacher has an angel and demon hooking up and creating a unique offspring. However, the idea of humans and angels getting together, coupled with the family drama, that originally had my interest waning, actually made the supernatural element more unique. The further mythology is cool as well. There are several other descendants of angels, that comprise a group know as the Eloise. The members/descendants of angels are from all denominations of religion, including Christianity, Judaism and Islam. I love the decision that, while the conception of angels is rooted in Christian mythology, other religions are included as descendants of the Nephilim and in the group of believers known as the Elioud. Religion often divides amongst different denominations, so seeing them all come together under a common belief was a welcome change of pace from the reality we live in at times.
With the mythology now set, the revelation (no pun intended), that the death of Hannah’s father and brother was no random robbery is revealed. The murders were actually part of a string of murders of Elioud members that began 14 years ago, The killer is a man named Elliot. Elliot is a member of the group The Watchers, who believe in the Angel Azazel. According to The Watchers, Azazel understood the tyrannical potential of his fellow angels, went down to Earth and shared secrets with humanity about angels and helping them create weapons that could kill the angels. For his deeds, Azazel is punished, disfigured and cast out of heaven. He is chained and buried underground, However, he gets free by mutating into a horde of spiders. He and his followers drove the angels into disappearance. However, now that they are back via their descendants, The Watchers, via Elliot are back on the hunt. I loved the classical battle of good and evil, where the roles are so clearly defined. There’s no black and white and sometimes, that’s okay. Too many characters are shades of grey in modern stories. The rest of the book is a chase/hunt, with Elliot hunting Hannah and Jessica, while they race to evade him and try to protect other members of the Elioud. As a result, I agree with the description calling it a modern day western. In fact, it reminds me a little bit of Logan, with Hannah being this story’s Wolverine and Jessica being the Laura/X-23 character. There are deaths as a result of this chase. Miriam is killed by Elliot and when Eliot has a gun pointed at Hannah ready to pull the trigger, Jessica ignites a fire at the gas station, burning Elliot to death. Jessica is mortified by what she’s done, after her parents have raised her to be pious and live a peaceful life. Seeing her half sisters pain, Hannah tells a story about her time in the war in Baghdad, where to save her partner, she threw a grenade into the apartment the sniper was stationed in. Ultimately, she saves her partner and got a commendation for it, yet she was ultimately mortified when she realized the sniper was just a boy. The similarities between the two siblings actions, and reactions to the consequences of their actions, further bonds them. This is a big moment for Hannah because at the start of the book, she was very closed off towards her family. However, each issue showed a progression of Hannah opening up to the notion of a sister, accepting her as part of her family and the fact that she’s an angel, before finally accepting her role in Jessica’s life, post Miriam’s death. I loved the slow burn of this relationship. It would have been absolutely disingenuous if Hannah embraced and accepted Jessica straight away. I also really enjoyed the juxtaposition of Hannah’s war time flashbacks, with Jessica killing Elliot. This book manages to ground itself in the unfortunate reality of war, while telling a story with overt supernatural trappings. Not many movies, comic books, or television can balance both as good as it is here.
Art is drawn by Ari Syahrazad. His art is new to me but is very reminiscent of Michael Lark’s work on Daredevil, though that art is slightly more detailed. This book had everything, The dark, gritty, earthy look of war. You feel like you’re in Baghdad, and that your life is in danger, as you track Hannah and her fellow soldier through that warzone. The creepiest image is easily seeing spiders crawl out of Elliot’s eye socket’s and all over his face. The second creepiest is a young Elliot being indoctrinated into The Watchers, while staring at the strung up bones of Azazel. The opening of the door, to reveal Jessica, Hannah’s literal Angelic half sister looked both impressive as it should, yet rather small scale given the homely setting. It’s a very unique image to behold. We’ve got grit, we’ve got a creep factor, and we also have big action sequences. We’ve got a car chase shoot out, that looks like they could be Need for Speed concept art drawings. There’s also a gas station explosion and Elliott going down in flames, that would make Michael Bay and James Cameron’s testicles tingle. The artist can seemingly draw literally anything the writers throw at him.
I didn’t even know about this book, let alone have any expectations for it. Yet, here we are and I really liked it. This book was a four issue mini series but the ending implies that more is to come (no I won’t spoil the ending.) I definitely want more, especially after the end of the epilogue. So, do your part, buy this book and read it, so we can get a volume 2. Buy it because independent comic books don’t always get the love and exposure they deserve. More importantly, buy this book because it’s a fantastic story!
(Submitted by Senor SuperheroScifi himself, Mr. Prince Adam…Thanks, Super Freak! 😉 xoxoxoxo))
GOTHAM Season 3, picks up right where the second season left off. The Indian Hill Monsters are on the loose. This includes Fish Mooney and Bruce Wayne’s doppelganger. Jim Gordon has once again left the GCPD and now freed from bureaucratic red tape, hunts down the “monster’s and solves other crimes as a bounty hunter. Meanwhile, Lieut.. Barnes and Detective Bullock try to maintain order in Gotham City and straighten out a police force in disarray. All the while, Leslie Thompkins has moved on from Jim Gordon, and is set to marry Mario Falcone, son of mob boss Carmine Falcone. The first half of the season is titled Mad City and sees the freaks from Indian Hill tracking down Hugo Strange, to discover why their powers are actually killing them. Each of the main characters are affected by this development, In his search for clues about the Indian Hill escapees, Jim Gordon teams up with photo journalist Valerie Vale to track them down. Bruce Wayne and Alfred Pennyworth are tracking Bruce’s Doppelganger, who is out on the streets, assuming his life and ruining his relationship with Selina Kyle. Penguin meanwhile, is using the Indian Hill chaos to make a bid for mayor, He gets Butch Galzean and his cronies to kill the other candidates, handing Penguin the mayoral seat. Edward Nygma is promoted in Penguin’s organization, leaving Butch out in the cold. Butch secretly joins the Red Hood Gang, and plots to kill Penguin. The show throws a curveball in the Penguin/Nygma relationship, by having Penguin in love with Nygma, However, in a soap opera type twist, Nygma falls in love with a librarian named Isabella, who looks exactly like Kris Kringle, the woman he killed last season. Penguin can’t handle Nygma being with anyone else, so he has Isabella’s breaks cut, causing her to die in a car accident. When Nygma discovers the truth behind Penguin’s motives and actions, he too, plots to drive Penguin mad, before killing him. Back to Gordon’s quest. His Bounty Hunter calling brings him into contact with Jervis Tetch, who comic fans will know as the Mad Hatter. Jervis is looking for his sister Alice, a patient at Indian Hill, who is on the lose and has a blood disease. In reality, Jervis is trying to find his sister to use her blood to infect citizens of Gotham, making them angrier, prone to more violence, and giving them enhanced strength. When Jervis finally finds his sister, he holds her captive and extracts her blood, against her will. At first, he infects Captain Barnes, who later becomes the villain known as the Executioner. In an altercation between Jim Gordon and Jervis Tetch, Alice is killed. Jervis escapes, and sets out for revenge against Jim Gordon. He infect Mario Falcone and kidnaps both Leslie Tompkins and Valerie Vale. Valerie ends up getting shot and wounded, before Jervis is ultimately apprehended and sent to Arkham. With that, the first half of the season known as Mad City ends.
The first half of Season 3 of Gotham was all over the place for me. Given all the hierarchy office politics and corruption Jim Gordon has had to put up with in the first two seasons, I like that he’s broken away and become a bounty hunter, It makes sense story wise, could be plausible for the hard boiled Year One esque Gordon we are presented with, and fits perfectly with the rough and tumble version played by Ben McKenzie. I even like the inclusion of Valerie Vale. Obviously for her familial connection to Vicki Vale. (the former is the latter’s aunt.) What I will say, is that Valerie Vale is tougher, and a better investigative reporter/photo journalist as played by Jamie Chung, than Vicki Vale played by Kim Basinger, Though, it was disappointing, that she was ultimately used as a plot device to prove to Jim Gordon, that he still ultimately loves Leslie Thompkins.. I though everything involving the Penguin and Edward Nygma was great. Penguin running for mayor was both a call back to Batman 66 and Batman Returns. Penguin being revealed as gay and in love with Edward Nygma, is an interesting change, that I’m totally okay with. You can see why Oswald would develop those feelings. Over the course of both seasons, Nygma is the only one that’s supported Oswald and they’ve helped each other in times of need. You get why Penguin goes overboard when Nygma rejects his proclamation of love. Though, having Nygma’s girlfriend killed is deplorable, and the schism between the two is meaningful. The escaped Indian Hill captives on the loose was almost pointless, save for Doppelganger Bruce being on the loose and Poison Ivy coming into contact with a metahuman’s who’s touch, steals her youth. However, Ivy wasn’t in his grasp long enough, and therefore only ages to a mid 20’s adult. The result is actress Maggie Geha assumes the role of Poison Ivy. She’s sexy, sultry and is able to pull off Ivy’s classic mesmerizing and control of men with ease. PS: I’m glad Fish Mooney finally 100% dies this season. It’s about damn time. I absolutely hated Jervis Tetch and the whole super blood virus plot point. It was ridiculously stupid and Mad Hatter was nothing more than a Riddler wannabe. However, this show already has a much more superior Riddler. Also, there’s a sexual tension that Jervis has for his sister Alice, which is extremely creepy. (Dear Gotham Writers, just because it works for Game of Thrones, doesn’t mean it’ll work for you.)
Prior to the second half of the season truly kicking off, there’s a three episode interlude that deals with a cult dedicated to Jerome, who you’ll remember is GOTHAM’s version of the Joker. The Leader of this cult has obtained Jerome’s body and resurrects him in a very Frankenstein way. The result literally starts to peel Jerome’s face off. Before killing the underling that brought him back to life, Jerome’s face is stitched and stapled back on. This was horrifically gruesome and was a great callback to the Joker losing his face in the first arc of Detective Comics in the New 52. The show mixed new and old, once again, having Jerome commandeer a TV station to lure Bruce Wayne and Jim Gordon to the Gotham fair grounds We saw Jerome commandeer a TV Station last season to get his message out there. Once again, this is a nod tp Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight, while also honoring the Joker’s first appearance, where he interrupted a radio broadcast. Jerome is doing all this because Bruce and Gordon foiled his plan the first go around and, inadvertently led to his death. The Fairground setting also has ties to Batman lore, specifically, Batman: The Killing Joke. Much like in that book, where Batman and Joker fight in a Hall of Mirrors, so to, do Bruce and Jerome. The tension, hatred and frustration these two characters have historically had for each other, is beautifully recreated by David Mazouz and Cameron Monaghan The fight between the two was riveting. GOTHAM‘s Bruce Wayne goes full Ben Affleck Batman in the BvS where house scene, and Jerome taunts Bruce like Heath Ledger’s Joker did, in The Dark Knight. I genuinely believe that the performances by David and Cameron belong in the same sentence as those iconic moments in Batman on film lore. The two characters and actors and characters, are so dynamic and electric on screen together that before tis series comes to an end, I want a season long arc with the Bruce/Jerome conflict at its core.
With the Indian Hill Leftovers mostly dealt with, the second half of the season known as Heroes Rise elevates the rest of the season into high gear. Edward Nygma orchestrate a fake kidnapping, so he can separate himself from Penguin, and begins to torment mayor Cobblepot, hiring an actor to play the ghost of Penguin’s dead father. After driving Penguin mad, Edward Nygma steps out into the public as The Riddler, going about committing riddle base crimes. His emergence and criminal activity , leaves Penguin incensed, and starts another mob war, with the villains in Gotham choosing sides. Poison Ivy, Firefly and Mr. Freeze side with The Penguin, while Butch Galzean, Tabitha and Barbara Kean side with The Riddler. What ensues is very akin to the mob war currently going on in the comic books titled, A War of Jokes and Riddles. Though, in that story, it’s The Riddler vs The Joker. The end result of this war, is that there is a schism between Tabitha and Barbara, after she kills Butch. The two start fighting with Barbara getting electrocuted. This whole season has seen Barbara, Tabitha and Butch in the middle of this fracture between Riddler and Penguin’s relationship. Between last season and this season, Tabitha is clearly positioned as a prototype Catwoman, while Selina Kyle eventually transitions into that. Meanwhile, Barbara Kean has gotten crazier each season, going over the edge, specifically this season. What’s interesting is that the crazier she gets, the more I enjoy the character. She’s this show’s prototype Harley Quinn and the producers have hinted she may go full Harley Quinn in the near future. It’ll be interesting to see how that turns out. If the show does go that route, good luck to Erin Richards trying to follow Margot Robbie. While Butch was shot and killed, as he’s being carted to the morgue, it is revealed that his birth name is Cyrus Gold, which suggests he is a comic book character, for whom death is not permanent. Here’s a hint: There’s a good chance he was born on a Monday! This was a shock, a true twist I was not expecting.
Speaking of the unexpected, this season, gives us an ultimate big bad for the season and the series in the first two season’s. As Bruce and Alfred are searching for his doppelganger, they discover that Hugo Strange isn’t the mastermind behind Indian Hill or Thomas and Martha Wayne’s murders. The group responsible for that, is a clandestine group known as the Court of Owls. The evil secret society has a council of members, comprised of Gotham City’s wealthiest and elite. They were the ones who hired Hugo Strange to raise the dead and imbue them with abilities. This was their attempt to find a means to eternal life. They put a hit on Thomas & Martha Wayne because they rebuked the Court, and threatened to expose them. They also had Jim Gordon’s uncle kill Jim’s father, for the same reasons. I like that this further ties Jim Gordon and Bruce Wayne together, not just their future’s but their past as well. When Bruce and Alfred take their findings to Jim, he decides to infiltrate the Court of Owls, becoming a member, while Bruce & Alfred confront the Court’s presence in Wayne Enterprises. While Gordon infiltrates the Court of Owls, Bruce Wayne is kidnapped, and taken to what is sure to be Nada Parbat, where he is trained by an elderly shaman of sorts known as the Sensei, who further trains Bruce in the ways of martial arts, as well as using mystical mental techniques to purge him of the mental block Bruce can’t get over, which is his parents death. It is revealed that Sensei is apparently training and brainwashing Bruce Wayne so that he will become a tool to usher in Gotham’s destruction and rehabilitation. To bring about said destruction, the Court of Owls have found a way to synthesize the Alice Tetch blood virus and disperse it in the air. This begins to drive the citizens of Gotham mad, as they destroy each other and the city. Gordon, Bullock and Lucius Fox race against time to find a cure and stop mass dispersal of the virus. This plot point reminded me of the fear toxin/microwave emitter plot point in Batman Begins a little. When Bruce Wayne returns to Gotham City, he is under the control of the Sensei, who has commanded Bruce to kill the Court of Owls. With some slicing and dicing, Bruce does so. Why would the Sensei order his employers dead? Well he did because, the person the Sensei is grooming Bruce Wayne for, is none other than Ra’s al Ghul. Ra’s al Ghul has designs on Bruce Wayne being his successor, and truly being a part of Gotham’s rebirth and revitalization. To have Bruce prove his allegiance, Ra’s orders him to stab Alfred with a sword .Bruce does, but the sight of Alfred’s dying body snaps Bruce out of his hypnosis. He immediately places Alfred into a Lazarus pit, before taking him to a hospital. In the hospital as Alfred comes to, Bruce expresses his regret for killing the Court of Owls. Alfred tries to reassure Bruce, that he wasn’t of sound mind and wasn’t in control of his faculties and couldn’t be blamed for his actions. He reminds Bruce, that he has been training to help people and make a difference in Gotham and should refocus his efforts on that. The season ends with a mother, father, and daughter walking home in an alleyway. They are held at gunpoint and robbed. Suddenly, a trench coat, ski mask wearing vigilante, swoops down, gives the mugger a beating, coming to the rescue of the family. The mysterious figure leaps and climbs his way atop a Gotham City skyscraper, before pulling off the ski mask, to reveal that he is none other than Bruce Wayne.
I honestly absolutely loved the inclusion of the Court of Owls this season. The group is relatively new to the comic book world, first debuting in 2011’s New 52. Their interpretation, their longevity and control and secrecy within Gotham City is spot on, to Scott Snyder’s original creation. I also enjoy that the show retroactively inserts the Court of Owls into events of the past two season’s of the series. It gives their stated presence throughout Gotham City’s history actual legitimacy. The city of Gotham being such a character in its own right makes so much more sense with the Court of Owls being involved. It was exactly the same way in the comic books featuring the Court of Owls. As for Ra’s al Ghul, his brief appearance on the show was more exposition and set up for next season, but his motivations were spot on and his look, was spot on with the comic books, complete with green cape/cloak. There’s even a Lazarus Pit! As much as I love Liam Neeson in the role, Christopher Nolan’s neutered version of the character left a lot to be desired for me. It’s too early to say whether this version will be better, but, he’s off to a great start. As for Bruce Wayne suiting up in a trench coat and ski mask as Proto-Batman, I say if it’s fine for Tom Welling’s Clark Kent, then it’s fine for Bruce Wayne. Also, we’ve seen a makeshift pre-Batman in both Batman Begins and Batman: Mask of the Phantasm. In my head canon, GOTHAM, is a prequel to Tim Burton’s Batman films, with the short lived Birds of Prey TV series, being a sequel to Batman Returns. Since we never saw Bruce Wayne’s early days, and full transition into Batman in Tim Burton’s film, I’m perfectly okay with the show experimenting with that going forward . No matter where your head canon places GOTHAM, for me it keeps getting better, and season 3 was not only its best, but it marked one of the best DC TV shows of the past season! Bring on Season 4!
(Submitted by Prince Adam, aka Batman’s Bitch Boy… 😉 Thanks, Super Friend. Love ya lots! 🙂 xoxo)
“Batman finds himself tangling with a Jekyll-and-Hyde bat creature after it attacks a night watchman and the police wage a war on the Dark Knight. “
Batman: The Animated Series is a classic show and piece of Batman history. Every classic show needs to start somewhere, and for Batman : TAS, it’s On Leather Wings. I give a lot of credit to Bruce Timm and Paul Dini for having faith in their show to kick it off with a secondary villain like Kirk Langstrom aka Man-Bat. While more obscure, it’s actually a perfect fit. Man-Bat is the literal physical representation of a bat-man, and is the perfect antithesis to our costumed caped crusader. He’s also an allegory of the Jekyll and Hyde character, and when you watch the episode, you realize, so too is Batman in a way. Both Kirk Langstrom and Bruce Wayne embody the spirit of that story. Both men struggle with duality. Both maintain a good well adjusted persona, and both hide a dark persona that unleashes more of an animalistic violent nature. The difference being, Bruce Wayne is able to rein his in and uses that darkness as a force for good. The episode does a great job of briefly introducing the other core characters in the show, namely Detective Bullock and Commissioner Gordon. They establish that Gordon doesn’t see Batman as a menace, while Bullock definitely sees him as a dangerous vigilante. The show sets up Batman as a pre-existing figure in Gotham City, that the mayor wants the police to apprehend. The episode spends much of it’s time in showcasing Batman’s detective skill. He spends 3 quarters of the episode discovering and piecing together clues about Man-Bat. This was fantastic, because most non comics adaptations gloss over the detective aspect of the character. My only slight negative is that, the actual Batman Vs. Man Bat confrontation seemed a little too rushed for my liking. That and the fact that Batman was able to get the Man-Bat formula out of Doctor Langstrom off screen and rather quickly. But hey, given the episode is only 22 minutes, and did just about everything right, I can let it slide.
The animation is fantastic. I love the dark blue/black and grey colour scheme with yellow oval symbol for Batman’s costume. I always viewed it as the animators making a nod to the Adam West costume in a way, but with darker shades. The Bat-Computer was a definite nod to Batman 66, sounds and all. The Batmobile took it’s nods from Tim Burton’s iteration, but was it’s own beast, being longer and sleeker. That opening credits montage, is possibly the most beautiful thing, I’ve ever seen lead off any TV show. Batman cloaked in the shadows taking down bank robbers, the Batmobile roaring through the streets, and it all culminates with a bolt of lightening, illuminating Batman on the rooftop of a Gotham skyscraper! I’ve got chills just describing it! Speaking of Gotham City, I love the look of it. It’s the 1939 Worlds Fair meshed with early 1990’s modern day, and putting those two together, gives the city and the series a sense of timelessness This was definitely not the best episode of the series. This show is filled with episodes deserving of that crown. However, it set the tone for what was to come. It had me speechless when I first watched it 25 years ago, and I was just as excited when I watched it again the other day. Happy 25th Anniversary to Batman: The Animated Series. This series had as much influence, if not more on my Batman and superhero fandom. as Batman 66 and Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman film. This anniversary gave me just the excuse I was looking for to start reviewing this animated masterpiece. If you want to follow along, my reviews will go according to how episodes appear on my copies of the DVD!
In another Batman related note, Happy (belated) 66th Birthday to Michael Keaton, the man who took my love of Batman to new heights and I’ve loved the character ever since! Now that he’s 66 and now that Warner Brothers is creating an Elseworld’s division of DC Films, let’s bring things full circle and have Michael Keaton play the older Bruce Wayne in a Batman Beyond film shall we WB!
(Submitted by Prince Adam…Thanks, Super Friend! 🙂 xoxo)
“From James Asmus (Thief of Thieves, All-New Inhumans) and Carlos Magno (Lantern City, Planet of the Apes) comes the authorized origin of Kong. Two fractured and combative civilizations are forced to unite when their island is destroyed. Washing up on the shores of Skull Island, they must defend their people against an endless horde of dinosaurs and monsters. With the help of Kong lies hope for survival. Collects issue #1-4”(Boom Studios)
I know this is based on the original novels but seeing as I haven’t seen Kong: Skull Islandyet (I will now on Blu-Ray), I thought it might be advantageous to read this first. I’ll say this right off the start, I like this book. Now, while you don’t need a Kong origin story to enjoy the character, it is nice to have one. To know how he came to be and how he ends up on Skull Island. While Kong eventually becomes the last of his kind, before that he was part of a group of genetically manipulated and selectively bred apes. Sure, the creative team could have gone deeper into this but if you’re willing to accept Kong as an exceedingly large ape, you don’t really need much more. These apes were created by island dwellers, who have since split away from each other on separate sides of the island. When they come together to try and reunite their people again, they have two Apes known as Kong’s fight, as a form of entertainment and as a way for the winning Apes tribe’s to show superiority over the other. Writer James Asmus uses the way each tribe treats their Kong’s, to drum up specific emotions of the reader, for each tribe. The Atu treat the Apes as barbaric animals. It’s also mentioned but never shown, that they sometime whip and throw rocks, to get the Apes, to follow their commands. Meanwhile, the Tagu, specifically their Kong trainer Ewata, treats their Kong with compassion and respect, more like a human. We know who PETA would side with. Any human with a conscious in fact, should side with the Tagu tribe. It’s not only the treatment of the Kong that caused a schism between the groups. Religious and political ideologies also cause conflict. While the kings of both “royal families” practice traditional sacrifices and believe in multiple gods, Prince K’Reti believes in one God. This difference causes tension amongst the power brokers of the tribes, but trickles down to the tribes people as well. Even politically there is disparity. The Tagu are open and honest with their tribe, collaborating on political decisions. Meanwhile, the Atu hierarchy decides what they feel is best for the group and implements their decision. Case in point, the real reason the tribes have come together. Tribal scholars have informed both tribal leaders that volcanic lava is rising. The Tagu leaders want to warn their people, allowing them to prepare to evacuate the island for a new settlement. Yet, the Atu have already secretly started making evacuation plans, without informing their tribe as to why. Both tribe leaders make a pact to marry off their children, K’Reti and Usana, as a way of appeasing the gods and pooling their resources to get off the island, There’s only one problem, K’Reti is already secretly married to the aforementioned Ewata. Despite this, for the good of his people, he agrees to the marriage. When Ewata learns of the marriage, witnessing the royal ceremony, she is furious, resenting and giving her husband the cold shoulder.
I love how the story gives you the impossible with two giant genetically bred apes fighting. It gets us hooked on the spectacle, before grounding the story in real conflict such as religious and political differences. The people in the story may be tribal but here in 2017 real world, these issues are tenuous as ever. Keep in mind, the single issues of this book were published around the U.S. election. I don’t think these themes being at play in the book is a coincidence. I didn’t care for the secret marriage/arranged marriage love triangle between K’Reti, Ewata & Usana. It was a little to soap opera for my taste. The story gets extremely interesting, when the island begins to shake and the volcano is on the verge of eruption. The boats at the Tagu/Attu’s disposal are only enough to fit about half the inhabitants on the island, along with the Kong’s. There’s some heartbreaking and down right cruel moments as it is decided to who stays and who goes. As the survivors depart they veer off course and stumble upon Skull Island. Many of the characters are fearful of Skull Island. That’s because native storytellers have whispered about it being inhabited by monsters, as told by wounded and feverish survivors. I love how mysteriously the wrier treats Skull Island and that he makes its legend a tale told passed down through generations. It’s worth noting that the whole story we are reading is being transcribed a told by a native story teller, as we are reading it. I thought that was cool. There are monsters on Skull Island in fact. Specifically dinosaurs. There is no explanation as to how or why dinosaurs have survived on this island, however, once again, I say who cares. Is it really hard to believe dinosaurs exist in the same world as giant apes? I think not. Also, given that this story is being transcribed by native storytellers, it makes sense that they wouldn’t know the how’s or why’s about the dinosaurs.. The third act of the book sees the Kong’s and the newly united tribe fighting side by side, as they beat back the dinosaurs. The book ends with the Tagu/Atu temporarily gaining control of the island, with the hint that more monsters await them. We also have a murder mystery taking shape and a hint that Kong and crew will soon face more traditional human hunters we’ve become accustomed to in the books and films.
Art is drawn by Carlos Magno and I like it. The Tagu & Atu tribes have a Mayan look about them and it’s fascinating. It really solidifies the idea that these two tribes haven’t had any contact with the modern world. The only issue that I have with this section of the art, is that both tribes look identical and it makes telling them apart visually, nearly impossible. The Kong’s clashing together is the big, bombastic Earth shattering moment you’d expect and is deserving of the splash page it’s drawn on. These two particular Kong are distinguishable from each other but when they cluster together in a group, they too become indistinguishable from each other. The wide shot image of the volcano on the verge of eruption look as dangerous and foreboding, as two giant apes fighting. I loved the first view of Skull Island. There’s a mist in the air, the tide is rough and the skull formed in Skull Island, protruding and sticking out like a sore thumb, commanding attention on the page. The final battle between the Kong’s and the dinosaurs is the highlight of the book. The rage and the chaos of the Kong’s as they trample over rabid dinosaurs, get bitten by pterodactyls and then turn around and rip off T-Rex’s heads is pulse pounding and fun to behold. This is the closest thing to a Jurassic Park/Planet of the Apes crossover we will ever see, So I am going to continue enjoying this for as long as we can. This comic book was initially supposed to be a mini series but was since extended to a maxi series. This makes me happy because while it’s not anything ground-breaking, it’s amazing ape madness and a ton of fun! A definite must buy! I can’t wait to read more of Kong’s origin and see what happens next!
(Submitted by Mr. Dr. Prince Adam of Themyscira…Thanks, Suoer Fiend! 🙂 xoxo)
“This Army of Darkness features the crossover no one ever expected to see: Army of Darkness vs. Re-Animator! Ash Vs. West! The Ultimate Lovecraftian battle as Herbert West leaps from the literary page to fight Ash! Winner takes all! Ash finds himself committed to Arkham Asylum. It’s here that he runs afoul of a rather ghoulish and creepy Herbert West… and the battle of the century begins!” (Dynamite)
I’ll be honest, I’ve never read anything by H.P. Lovecraft, nor do I have any knowledge of his work on the Re-Animator. What I have gotten used to is this Army of Darkness comic book. The Deadites get free, chaos ensues and Ash has to defeat them, often haphazardly and leaving destruction and a bloody wake in the aftermath. This book has been able to keep this formula from getting repetitive twice over and does so a third time in this story. Both stories since the movie adaptation has rejoined our hero shortly after the events of the film, This story takes place literally minutes after “Shop Til You Drop Dead.” Once again, before any of the present day action gets underway, Ash gives us a recap of the previous stories. What I like about this is that Ash pokes fun and acknowledges how ridiculous and crazy the events that happen to him are. This is the first time the book gets meta on us, When we get to present day story telling, Ash is surrounded in the S-Mart, by dead bodies and Detroit Police. Ash is arrested and dubbed “The S-Mart Slasher”. It makes sense that the police would blame him. There is no evidence of Deadite presence, only dead shoppers, Ash covered in blood, with the only survivor being his girlfriend Sheila. A judge and jury deem him insane, and remand Ash to a mental facility for rehabilitation. Things get interesting when the book shifts to the mental facility, named Arkham Asylum. Now either there’s a real mental hospital named Arkham Asylum in Detroit, Arkham Asylum was first created for Re-Animator, or this is a clever reference to Batman. I’m going to assume it’s a Batman reference, so it remains cool and extremely awesome, which is what I thought when I first saw the reference.
Editor’s Note: Arkham is a fictional city that appears in many works by H.P. Lovecraft. Batman’s Arkham Asylum is a reference to Lovecraft.
What’s great about the Asylum setting is that new readers checking this out, will wonder if Ash is really crazy, only to discover he’s not as the story goes along. Meanwhile, long time fans know that he’s not crazy, the monsters are real and things will get a lot worse. This is where the Re-Animator comes in. Herbert West is the head doctor, and in his spare time has been using the Necronomicon Ex-Mortis to perfect his Re-Animator formula, in an effort to defeat death. He makes a deal to release the Old Ones, aka the masters of the Deadites. In exchange for Eternal life and a mastery over death, he will free them. In anticipation of the Old Ones arrival, Herbert West opens a portal, releasing Deadites into the world. I loved this for two reasons. Herbert West in trying to reanimate the dead, is a fresh take on more recent takes of zombies, while being a throwback to Frankenstein. Also, it was refreshing to see the Deadites brought to Earth on purpose, rather then Ash bumbling a spell again and accidentally releasing them again. Herbert West had a bit of a Hugo Strange flavor to him. It wouldn’t surprise me if Batman writers borrowed from H.P. Lovecraft, when creating Doctor Hugo Strange.
Like previous issues, Ash has some help in his battle with the Deadites and Herbert West’s Frankenstein creations. In past issues, Ash’s help came in the form of an ancient sorcerer, much wiser then him. Often, this humorously made Ash look like an inexperienced buffoon, Here though, Ash is aided by a fellow inmate/movie buff and a parapsychologist, who both believe him to be the chosen one to defeat the Deadites and prevent an apocalypse. The tables are turned this time, as the inmate/film buff Deuce Bellcamp is the clueless simpleton, whereas Ash is the Deadite fighting veteran. Ash pokes fun at the fact that Deuce is a bit on the rotund size and is casually dismissive of the parapsychologist nicknamed Sugarbaby. Ash’s trademark snark and attitude are on display here, but he never becomes so obnoxious that you can’t stand him. Good on writer Jim Kuhoric for finding that balance. The book once again gets meta, when these two unlikely allies return Ash’s chainsaw and broomstick. These aren’t the genuine article, but instead props from a movie called Army of Darkness based on him. They also tell him “fictional novels”, and a Broadway play based on him exist. Is this some kind of art imitating life, inside of art stuff happening here. Someone call Christopher Nolan, there’s some Inception level shit happening here! As the trio tries to escape Arkham Asylum, Ash notices Sheila’s reflection in a mirror and is pulled into a Mirror Dimension. There he discovers the real Sheila, the real Dr. Herbert West and even H.P, Lovecraft. Meanwhile, Deuce and Sugarbaby are captured by the evil version of Dr. West. I like that H.P. Lovecraft is put into the book. A great homage to the creator of the Re-Animator. You can definitely see the reverence the writer has for Lovecraft, as he is the one who gives Ash a special magical necklace, which allows him, and only him to escape. Before Ash escapes, he tells Sheila he will reunite her spirit with her body, freeing her from the mirror dimension. Back in the “real world” Deuce has been experimented on and his body parts used as part of the Re-Animated Masterpiece, which is multiple body parts sewn together from different people. This “Ultimate” Frankenstein includes parts of Sheila’s body. When Ash returns, he rescues Sugarbaby, defeats the Re-Animated Masterpiece monster and prevents the Deadite Doppelganger of Herbert West from finishing a spell that would bring the old ones to Earth. The Supernatural energy from that disruption, causes Arkham Asylum to collapse. Ash, Sugarbaby and even Herbert West’s evil doppelganger, manage to escape, before the entire building collapses. I love that this ended on a cliff-hanger. I have so many questions? Did Sheila die because her body was part of the Re-Animated Masterpiece? Or is her spirit still trapped in the Mirror Dimension? There’s even more of a reason to read the next volume now, not that I wasn’t going to anyways.
Sanford Greene and Nick Bradshaw share art duties for this story. I have to give credit to Sanford Greene for his work on that recap page. It’s crammed with imagery from all 3 previous volumes but never feels like it’s overcrowded or too much to look at. It looks as though it’s popping off the page, as if it were 3D! I loved the monsters that Ash first sees in Arkham Asylum. They’re unique and look like a mix of a fruit on steroids, a Teletubby and a Pokémon. We actually see drawn full pages of the Necromicon Ex-Mortis. The imagery on the page was more muted, which was unique because the only other book I’ve seen with even less color, in black and white in fact, is The Walking Dead. The other reason this is unique is because muted or black and white, usually denotes flashbacks but in this case, the book shows the events that are currently happening to Ash. The Mirror Dimension looks like a dreary swamp. There is a cavernous underground bunker Here we see the real Herbert West, Sheila, and H.P. Lovecraft all in costume, as Alice in Wonderland characters. The Alice theme is here, as a nod to the portal that leads both Ash and Alice into another dimension being a mirror. It’s a nice bit of unplanned synergy, adding even more weirdness to this already strange story. As soon as I saw these pages, I thought, if they turn this story into a film, either Guillermo Del Toro or Tim Burton should direct it. The most gory and violent scene is the Arkham Asylum hallway scene. Picture Wolverine during one of his berserker rages, now replace Wolverine and his claws, with Ash and his chainsaw and you get the picture. The Re-Animator Masterpiece is almost a snake like looking collage of all different bodies stitched together, Frankenstein style. It’s quite uniquely grotesque.
Last volume had a few stumbles but was still enjoyable. This book is a return to greatness, on par with the first few volumes. I still haven’t watched any of the Ash Vs. Evil Dead TV series, but this book led me to a resolution. After the next shortened season of Game of Thrones, I’m going to binge watch both seasons of Ash vs Evil Dead. In the meantime, I’m going to read more Army of Darkness and so should you.
(Submitted by Mr. Prince Adam…Thank you, Super Friend! 🙂 xoxo)
“Beings with supernatural powers join together to fight against supernatural villains. This team of supernatural beings include John Constantine, Zatanna and Jason Blood also known as the demon Etrigan.” (DC Entertainment)
I read the first volume of Justice League: Dark from The New 52 and loved it. I thought it was one of the best books of that initiative. So when I heard they were making this movie, I was so excited. I thought it would be a direct adaptation of that story but it wasn’t. It was its own story using DC’s more supernatural heroes. I love how this movie uses the main well known heroes from the Justice League proper team, to transition to this team of darker, mystical heroes. Now I know who these characters are, but the casual movie buyer may not. So this was a smart decision. The film opens with people seeing others around them as demons and monsters. Innocents are killed in the attack, which brings the Justice League, specifically the Trinity into action. Superman stops a husband from killing his wife, Wonder Woman stops an out of control driver, who is mowing down civilians with her car and Batman stops a mother from throwing her newborn out of a window. These scenes, plus Constantine’s language alone, make the film worthy of its R rating. Speaking of Constantine, The Justice League surmises that magic and the dark arts are behind these occurrences. Skeptical of this, Batman scoffs and heads back to Wayne Manor. Back at Wayne Manor, Bruce Wayne goes through a series of blackouts and when he wakes, discovers the name Constantine seemingly written in blood on walls close by. They look as though they were written in blood. The way these scenes were filmed, it seemed as though Batman was being stalked and attacked by an unseen supernatural villain. We later learn that all this was the work of Deadman, possessing Batman’s body in an attempt to warn him. So Batman turns to my favourite Magician clad in fishnets, Zatanna, to find Constantine. She help Batman and, by extension, Deadman locate John Constantine. The next segment of the film sees John Constantine, Zatanna, Deadman, Jason Blood aka Etrigan the demon and Batman, discuss the culprit of the recent events. Since the likes of John Constantine, Zatanna and of course Batman have all had stints on live action film and television, as well as animation before, the film spends some time on the more unknown quantities in this film. In briskly paced flashbacks, we get the FYI origin stories of Deadman and Etrigan the Demon. For Deadman we see his murder during a trapeze circus act and his post death encounter with a Hindu Goddess, who felt pity on him and granted him his ghostly existence and his ability. With Jason Blood, the flashback takes us back to Camelot, where Merlin magically bonds Jason with Etrigan the Demon after he is mortally wounded. I must confess, I didn’t know much about Etrigan but I absolutely love that his origin is tied to Arthurian legend. I l also got a kick out of the interplay in that scene. Zatanna and Constantine have a history, and their bickering highlighted a past relationship and some sexual tension. This actual played out quite similarly to volume one of the book. When you throw in Boston Brand’s commentary during the arguing, it felt like a episode of The Big Bang Theory, with Penny and Leonard arguing and Sheldon making smart ass comments. Batman’s reaction to the irrefutable existence of magic only adds to the humor. Every time magic is on display early on in the film, Batman grimaces and almost grunts in disbelief.
Magical weirdness kicks off, when the group visits a colleague of Zatanna’s, Ritchie Simpson for help. When they arrive at his doorstep, they find Shroud Spirits of Death waiting for Ritchie’s demise. The group enters his house and they learn Ritchie has a mystical form of cancer. The group surmises that whatever triggered Ritchie’s mystical cancer, likely caused people around the world to start seeing monsters and demons and go on killing sprees. They bring Ritchie back to the House of Mystery and use the mystical Keshanti Key to access one of the unconscious civilian rampagers mind. While inside his head, clues seem to reveal that the culprit for all this chaos is Felix Faust. While the group confronts Faust, Ritchie Simpson reveals himself to be a sinister magician Destiny, from the time of Camelot. He was the character who fought Etrigan in the flashback scene. He lay in hiding to gain access to the House of Mystery, where the other half of the dream stone resides. With the full stone in his possession he has the power to gain vengeance on Jason Blood and rule the modern world. While Batman and the rest of the core Justice League is present during the final battle, it is the teamwork of Etrigan, Zatanna, Constantine and Deadman that defeated Destiny and saved the day. I loved that their plan of action was a combination of mental trickery and magical force. I was happy it wasn’t just fisticuffs the whole way through. I was genuinely shocked that Ritchie Simpson was in fact Destiny. That reveal was deceptive and unexpected. While I don’t know much about Etrigan, this film changes his status quo in this animated universe in a big way. I have no idea if this has ever been done in the comic books before, but for the film to separate Jason Blood and Etrigan, essentially killing Jason Blood, I thought was pretty ballsy. This film is definitely the formation of the Justice League Dark. At the end of the film, Batman extends offers to Zatanna and John Constantine to join the Justice League. So while they took the characters from the New 52 comic books, they definitely went their own way in terms of origin story for the film. My only complaint of this film is the use of Swamp Thing. What a waste of a great character. If he’s in the film for more then 7 minutes I’d be shocked..
The animation is dark and very sleek looking. It definitely takes it’s cues from the art of Mikel Janin. One of my favourite scenes is the twister that occurs trying to conceal the House of Mystery. It’s like Twister, but better because it feature superheroes and the Batmobile. Though, I was cringing to see that beautiful Batmobile get swept up and destroyed. I loved the origin scenes where both Deadman and Etrigan were highlighted. Those scenes had different and distinctive looks and could have easily been their own separate short movies. Also worth noting is the scene where Constantine and Zatanna enter the mind scape of the unconscious rampager. It was very trippy. Like 70’s acid trip trippy. Then out in the real world, Batman is chased through the halls of the hospital by the Shroud Spirits of Death. They look like a cross between the Undertaker’s Druids from the late 90’s WWE and the liquid that spewed from Penguin’s mouth in BatmanReturns. The third act finale features plenty of force fields, lit up mystical symbols of energy and corresponding energy blasts. You know, this movie has quite a bit in common with Marvel’s Doctor Strange film. By the way, that’s not a bad thing, as I enjoyed that film. The voice cast was all fairly solid. I am really getting used to Jason O’Mara as Batman. He has officially joined the Bat family in my opinion. By the way, knowing he voices Batman, makes his character on Agents of SHIELD so much cooler. It was great hearing Matt Ryan reprise the role of John Constantine. It was weird hearing him use some foul language but was great that the character was unrestrained by the R rating. By the way, it’s a shame that NBC cancelled the live action Constantine show. I really enjoyed it. I don’t know if Boston Brand is supposed to be from New York but Nicholas Turturro’s New York accent really fit the character. He was distinctive from the rest of the characters. Camilla Luddington is known as the voice of Lara Croft. Here though, she plays Zatanna. There is no trace of Lara Croft in here performance, and I give her a ton of credit for managing the backwards spell dialogue.
Justice League Dark takes the characters from the comic books and manages to tell a wholly original story. That in and of it self is quite the accomplishment. Add the fact that in character origin stories and its villain, this film is better than Marvel’s live action Doctor Strange. That’s an animated film is better than a live action feature film is an absolute win. If you’re a fan of DC’s magical characters, you can be happy they’ve been given the respect they deserve. Buy this movie so that Warner Brothers sees the interest, which will give them confidence to explore these characters in more animated and live action films
(Submitted by Mr. Prince Adam…Much appreciate your thoughts on this, Kinky Ho-mie! 🙂 xoxo)
“When a college undergrad decides to stay in and study, she will find that another seemingly inconsequential decision she makes will have a lasting effect on her.”
I’m just going to come out and say it; this was the worst of the three issues I’ve read so far. It’s kind of a mess narratively. It starts out with two girls in an algebra class discussing going to a frat party to score some hot college guys, in the hopes of getting laid. The scene then shifts to a student expressing her troubles with the class. Her professor asks her to stay after class and essentially sexual propositions her in exchange for higher grades. The student storms out of the class and literally runs into our mysterious Red Headed Lady of Death from the previous two issues, who dissuades the student from sexually engaging with the professor. As I watched this unfold, I instantly thought the professor was going to either turn out to be a killer, or be killed. And if he was killed, it’d be at the hands of our “Lady of Death.” With that thought planted in my head, the book transitions to the dorm of the other two girls from the class, who were debating going to the frat party. While one girl decides to stay in and study, Ann goes out and parties the night away. During that time, Ann’s studious roommate is approached in the hallway by the janitor, and a creepy conversation about an ongoing campus murder spree among female students occurs. Ann arrives back at her dorm room with a guy, but refuses his advances, because her roommate is inside sleeping, When she arrives inside, she turns on the lights to find her roommates throat slashed and writing in blood on the walls. Without question, I thought it was the janitor. Instead of going further into solving this mystery, the book jumps forward several months. Once again Anne and her new roommate are dressed to impress and off to another frat house party. However, Ann insists on leaving shortly after getting there, as she is still struggling with the death of her first roommate. When they get back to the apartment, in an unexpected twist, it is revealed that Ann is the killer, as she slits her current roommates blood and begins writing on the wall with the blood. After the creepy janitor hears a commotion and catches her in the act, the authorities are called in and Ann is locked in an insane asylum. As for our sexual predator college professor from the issues beginning of the book, he’s continually sexually propositioning female students in exchange for better grades. So the “Red Headed Lady of Death” orchestrated a deadly wet floor fall to the ground for our perverted educator.
Come to think of it, I actually like the misdirection as to who the killer was going to be, Toggling between the professor and the janitor in my head, kept me engaged in the story. Even the twist that Ann was the killer, was unexpected and very intriguing. However, I thought the reveal happened in too much of an abrupt way. So much so, that I had a; “Huh, What the F**K” reaction, instead of a “Holy Shit! What an awesome twist” reaction. It is assumed by the media in the story that Ann had Multiple Personality Disorder. That’s a believable reason as to why she’d kill her roommates and not remember doing it, however, the writer never bothers to explain what causes or triggers her personality changes. The only two things both murders have in common, is the writing on the wall and what each roommate says to her before the frat parties. On the wall after both murders, she writes; “aren’t you glad you didn’t turn on the lights.” When Ann asks her roommates how she looks before each party, they respond with; “she looks like a cross between a hooker and a porn star.” So either, Ann has a fear or averse reaction to turning on lights, or her murderous personality resents being compared to a hooker or a prostitute? Damned if I know because Meredith Finch doesn’t give enough to clarify at all. What has become clear by the time you read this third issue, is that our mysterious red headed lady, only arranges it so that that vile deplorable people are killed. If you look back, issue 1 she killed the dog hating bitchy lady, in issue 2 she kills the greedy, self-absorbed, duplicitous antique collector and in issue 3, she kills the professor. I love this distinction about her. As a reader, you actually cheer for her to take out these creeps.
The art is drawn by Milton Estevam. The art is once again very similar in look to the other two issues. That’s great for continuity’s sake and in that sense I like it. On the other hand, that “sameness” prevents each artist from putting their own style or stamp on their work. As I mentioned several times, the book mentions that Ann looks like a cross between a hooker and a porn star. When you look at the art, that comparison is apt. That shouldn’t be a negative. I see it as a positive. Porn stars take a lot of time and do a lot of work to make sure they always look fantastic and represent the ultimate dream girls. The creepy horny professor definitely looked like a grade A creep! Come to think of it, he looks like a cross between Robert Knepper from “Prison Break” and “Heroes” and Kurtwood Smith from “That 70’s Show.” The murder scenes are bloodthirsty and the epitome of what great slasher films should strive for. Credit goes to colorist Marcio Freire for balancing the drippy blood look and a splotchy blood look. I also loved that brief moment where the mysterious red haired lady’s eyes turned red, when she discovered what the professor was up to. It hints that she could very well be otherworldly in nature, or at the very least has some magical/mystical properties to her.
Without question, this is my least favourite issue in this series. Despite being my least favourite, I still enjoyed it. If all of the not so good comics I’ve read could still be as enjoyable as this issue, comic books would never disappoint me. Next issue teases the possibility of revealing more information about our “Mysterious Red Headed Lady.” I hope they do, so I can call the character by her actual name, instead of this long winded place holder.
(Submitted with an eXXXtra heaping helping of Awesome Sauce by one Mr. Prince Adam…who is in no way biased in this review, I’m sure. 😉 Thanks, Super Fiend! 🙂 xoxo)
“He-Man and the Masters of the Universe team up with the ThunderCats—the epic crossover event you’ve waited thirty years to see! In his ever-living desire to destroy the mighty ThunderCats, Mumm-Ra quests for a weapon that can rival the legendary Sword of Omens: He-Man’s Sword of Power! But his dimension-spanning scheme kick starts a cataclysmic crisis that will embroil heroes and villains—Masters, Mutants and ThunderCats—in a mind-blowing six-part saga!”
The books description is 100% accurate in that this crossover has been thirty years in the making for me! I loved both shows as a kid, giving the slightest edge to He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. Coupled with the fact that I’m loving the latest Masters of the Universe comic book series. At the end of this six issue mini-series, I was overall very happy with it. I liked the way the writers brought these two characters together. Before even discussing that, the book clearly establishes the fact that He-Man’s Eternia and Lion-O’s Third Earth occupy separate universes. This one line allowed my inner child to come to terms with why these characters never interacted in animation. Thankfully, comic books are not restrained by the rules and regulations of network television. The book quickly reminds the reader, that Thundera was destroyed long ago, and that the ThunderCats are transplants to Third Earth. I must admit, it was refreshing to be reminded of that fact, as some ThunderCats factoids had slipped my adult mind. (Growing up sucks) The benefit of having a relatively current MotU book, is that our He-Man knowledge has been brought to the forefront of readers mind. That’s one thing I wish DC had done differently. I wish they had given readers a ThunderCats mini-series, re-establishing them in the world of comic books and giving readers a refresher in terms of their status quo. It’s worth noting that the recent Masters of the Universe comics from DC aren’t referenced or in continuity with this story, unlike the DCU/Masters of the Universe crossover I reviewed here a while back. So, what brings these two worlds together? The Ancient Spirits of Evil, after being fed up with Mumm-Ra’s failure to acquire the Sword of Omens, so they use black magic to create a tear in the multiverse and seek out Skeletor’s help to do their bidding. In exchange they promised him their help and Mumm-Ra as a minion to help defeat He-Man and capture Castle Greyskull. I have to wonder if the Ancient Spirits of Evil did their due diligence. If they had, they would’ve had to have realized Skeletor was as ineffective against He-Man, as Mumm-Ra was against the ThunderCats. The two villains join forces in the weirdest way. Skeletor mixes Mumm-Ra’s ashes with a potion and drinks it. Mumm-Ra’s essence became one with Skeletor and the struggle for physical control plays like someone struggling with dissociative identity disorder. It is pretty humorous when they hurl insults at each other though. They’re like two children trapped in one ugly, menacing adult, monstrous looking body. Despite the push and pull between the two, they make a formidable team. They turn on the Ancient Spirits of Evil, and end up gaining the upper hand on the Masters of the Universe and ThunderCats, while Lion-O and He-Man are otherwise occupied. They commandeer Castle Greyskull and set their sights on the Orb of Power, with the intention of reshaping the multiverse, to their dastardly liking.
While the rest of the ThunderCats and Masters of the Universe appear in the book, He-Man and Lion-O are the stars of this tale. Aside from being powerful heroes with big muscles and a cool magic imbued sword, they both share a longing to live up to their father’s legacies and expectations. Lion-O has already inherited the title of King from his deceased father but with every decision, he seemingly makes, he wonders if his father would approve. It is only after the events of the book unfold and he gets positive reinforcement from King Randor and He-Man, does he start believing his father would approve. This is an understandable reaction though because despite being physically strong and appearing to be an adult, Lion-O is really 12 years old. He-Man’s situation is slightly different. His father, King Randor is alive, yet the aloof, constantly tardy persona He-Man puts on as Prince Adam. Leaves his father unimpressed and convinced he is unfit to be king. The reason I know this book isn’t cannon with the other DC He-Man book, is because King Randor finds out Adam is He-Man for the first time in this book. In the ongoing title, he’s known for quite a while that his son is He-Man. Despite both our heroes being built bigger than The Rock and Arnold Schwarzenegger, this story shows them in situations where they are at least temporarily defeated by the Mumm-Ra/Skeletor hybrid Mumm-ator. I’ve never seen He-Man so defeated. So much so that he was temporarily dead. His death scene was appropriately heroic. He battled tirelessly against a mix of his rogues and the ThunderCats rogues even without his Sword of Power, which had been stolen. After being changed from He-Man back to Adam, he succumbs to his wounds. While this death was heroic and shocking, it’s rendered moot almost as its happening. Did anyone actually expect He-Man to be killed and stay dead in this? Of course not! After hearing of He-Man’s death, Lion – O transports the body back to Third Earth, and uses Mumm-Ra’s own regenerative sarcophagus to return He-Man to life. He-Man’s temporary death does take both our main heroes out of story for a bit, and showcases just how strong and vital to their universes they are. In their absence, both the Masters of the Universe and Thundercats get decimated by Mumm-ator and his evil horde. This is more powerful a statement about He-Man and Lion-O then any feat of strength they could perform. When He-Man is resurrected, the dark magic of Mumm-Ra’s sarcophagus has driven him mad. If you think about it, the sarcophagus is this universes Lazarus Pit in function and side effects. He-Man’s altered state, provides motive for the obligatory hero vs hero fight. This story answers another childhood question of mine, who’s stronger, He-Man or Lion-O? The answer is He-Man, by a little bit…even with both getting a power boost from their swords. Of course He-Man would win, his name is Adam after all! 😉 This book skews more as a He-Man story though, with the ThunderCats as guest stars. Even still, it takes the combination of the Sword of Omens and the Power sword, coupled with knowledge discs and some multiverse travel, for He-Man & Lion-O to defeat Mumm-ator. The finale of this book is deserving of the word epic, and defies the scope and budget that animators could have achieved when these two characters first occupied our TV screens.
Freddie Williams II brings this epic team up of animated titans of the 80’s to life artistically. Much like the artist on the ongoing Masters of the Universe title, he captures the look of both animated series, while giving them a more detailed look. I didn’t think this was possible but Freddie Williams II has given He-Man and Lion-O larger bi-ceps, triceps and quads, then they had in the cartoon. Skeletor and Mumm-Ra were bad ass looking villains on their own right, but when they are combined, they’re much scarier. There are specific pages that I absolutely love. Seeing He-Man and Lion-O stand side by side for the first time will give you goosebumps. If it doesn’t, you’re not a fan of these characters. There is some dark imagery in this book. You see the Thundercats and Masters of the Universe literally laid out unconscious and bloody in front of Castle Greyskull. There’s also the page where Lion-O uses sight beyond sight to try and calm He-Man’s rage post resurrection. What we see is a vision of a future where the world is in ruins and enslaved by Mumm-ator. It’s very Jack Kirby New Gods/Darkseid inspired. Speaking of inspired, there are pages where He-Man & Lion-O travel through the multiverse. They look like a cross between Thor travelling through space via the rainbow bridge and the psychedelic look of Doctor Strange. During their travels through the multiverse, they travel to Metropolis where He-Man is Clark Kent/ Superman. It was so cool to see two of my childhood heroes morph into one for a bit. Honestly, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to see that as an Elseworld’s mini-series.
This book had 30 years of anticipation to live up to and you know what? For the most part, it did just that. This book feels like a first go around in the shared adventures of these characters. The door is open for a continuation and I hope it happens. At the very least, I hope this leads to more new issues of the Masters of the Universe comic books and launches a new ongoing Thundercats book. If you haven’t yet, help that cause by buying and reading this book. If you’re a fan of these characters, you’ll love it!
(Submitted by Birhday Boy Prince Adam…Hope your born week has been beyond a blast, Super Friend! 🙂 xoxo)
“A vampire hunter fights to save a besieged city from an army of otherworldly creatures controlled by Dracula.” (Netflix)
This animated series is based off of a third part in a video game series I have never played. I have no preconceived notions or expectations of what it’s SUPPOSED to be like. All I can say, is that the series that Netflix produced is something I really enjoyed and I’d like to see further explored. Thankfully, Castlevania has already been renewed for a second season. So my recommendation is to definitely get in on this before that eventual second season. The good news is, the first season consists of only 4 episodes, so it’s not a huge overwhelming time commitment. Surprisingly, in that 4 episode time we see Dracula fall in love, and get married. His wife is then burned at the stake by the Bishop and the people of Wallachia, for the accusation of being a witch. Dracula, when he discovers what happened to his wife, gives the people and the church a year to make peace with what they’ve done, before he wipes them off the face of the Earth. The story jumps forward a year, and we see the beginning of Dracula’s genocide on the humans. We also see the arrival of Trevor Belmont, which brings plenty of exposition about the fact that he is the last surviving member of the Belmont family, a disgraced clan of monster hunters, who have been excommunicated by the church, due to claims of being connected to dark magic. Speaking of magic, Trevor Belmont rescues a member of the Seekers, an ancient sect that uses magic to assist and help the people of Wallachia. Guess what, even they have been excommunicated from the church because of their magic. After fighting off some of the demons Dracula has unleashed on Earth, Trevor Belmont then rescues the granddaughter of the Elder of the Speakers, who is trapped in the catacombs of a cathedral. After rescuing the granddaughter, she and Belmont track down Dracula’s castle only to find a sleeping vampire Adrian Tepes. He awakens, a misunderstanding occurs and a fight ensues between the three. When Adrian revels that they fulfill a prophecy that says a vampire, hunter and a scientist will kill Dracula, they band together and hunt for Dracula.
What I loved about this series is that it respects several incarnations of the Dracula character. We have nods to the historical Vlad the Impaler, in the character’s name and the fact that he impaled his victims and skewered their head on a lance. He was also suave debonair, tall, dark and handsome. I loved that this show also highlighted that Dracula was at the forefront of science and technology, in the time period. Thus, in this story, Dr. Lisa Tepes comes to Dracula’s castle, despite knowing the myths about him, in search of his knowledge and science prowess to put into practice with her medicine. Initially, he is cold and distant, but quickly warms up to her, and witty banter kicks into high gear. Before you know it, she encourages him to start living and travelling like a human being. The series then jumps forward 20 years, they are married and Lisa is being burned at the stake as a witch for her interest in science. I wish the season had more episodes, so that we could’ve seen the development of their relationship and the change in Dracula. That way, when he snaps after her murder, it’s even more powerful and painful. I also liked the mythologies set up for both Trevor Belmont and the Belmont family. Trevor Belmont reminds me of a cross between Peter Quill aka Star Lord and Van Helsing. However, the mythology is glossed over because of the season’s short episode order. This is also true of the Speakers but we get an even more truncated version of their backstory. This seasons really needed 10-13 episodes to effectively flesh out all these storylines and backstories. Clearly though, the producers knew they were getting a second season, clearly saving plot threads for the follow up installment. While Dracula has a horrible endgame for Wallachia and its people. the true villain of this season is not Dracula, or the demons he unleashes. The villain is really The Bishop. He is going on a killing spree, taking out people who are suspected of having anything to do with magic. It is his decision to burn Lisa Tepes at the stake, which sets Dracula off on a vengeful murderous rampage. While Dracula’s ultimate endgame can’t be condoned, I can sympathize with his pain. The Bishop is doing all this, so he can be the one to defeat Dracula seen as the ultimate saviour of the Church and the people of Wallachia, ultimately ascending to the rank of Pope. The Catholic Church was full of corrupt leaders, who took part in burning witches at the stake, and using this true to life scenario because the story is set in mid-1400’s is smart. That little bit of reality set in this fantasy world, almost makes you forget this is an animated project.
Speaking of animation and the action, both were great. The art has a mix of Manga art, infused with traditional comic book art, by the likes of Michael Turner and John Romita Jr. I love the Roman/Gothic architecture of the cathedrals and Dracula’s Castle. The castle in particular looked pristine and beautiful when the lights are turned on. It’s hard to believe a vampire and demons live in such an abode. In terms of look, Dracula reminded me of a more rugged version of Luke Wilson from Dracula Untold. The gargoyle type creatures and the devil wolf dogs looked like Man-Bat mixed with Golam and direwolves mixed with Hulk Dogs, from Ang Lee’s movies. I loved that every so often, the skyline would be seen as the sun was setting. The orange/red color was more foreboding then it was beautiful, putting the viewer on notice that blood was about to be spilled. Speaking of blood being spilled, this show is damn bloody and violent and that’s great. It doesn’t shy away from showing blood and there is plenty of dismemberment that takes place. When Trevor Belmont starts kicking ass, corrupt priests lose fingers, an eyeball and even their head. In this series, Dracula can appear as a disembodied head engulfed in fire. I don’t know that this is one of his typical abilities, but it looks cool. The traditional traveling and forming from a swarm of bats is present and made this long time Dracula happy. There’s a scene at the beginning before the title card, where the bats swarm the screen. It reminded me of a more visceral, violent version of the moment in Batman Begins, where the bats swarm the screen, forming the Batman logo at the beginning of the film.
This first season of Castlevania is short, sweet, extremely dark and beautifully violent. Having said that, the four episodes feel like a combined episode of a typical live action pilot. The four episodes are all setup, for what’s to come next season. Thankfully, there’s enough mythology and demon fighting to make this an exciting thrill ride of an appetizer. Castlevania along with American Vampire, are the two best additions to vampire mythology in quite some time. The ending promises an even more satisfying and succulent experience, so definitely take a bite out of Castlevania Season 1, you won’t regret it!