(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 Mr. Prince Adam…Thanks, Superfiend! 🙂 xoxo)
“Untold Tales and Alternate Timelines, part 1: BttF creator/screenwriter Bob Gale returns with all-new tales from the twisting and turning timeline that made Back to the Future a, well… TIMELESS pop-culture phenomenon! Take a trip back to 1985 and be there when Doc Brown and Marty McFly first meet, and then jump even farther back, to 1945, to witness Doc’s involvement in the super-secret Manhattan Project.”
Rather than pick up after the third film, I like that this film goes back to the past to tell two stories about our two main protagonists. The first story starts in the early 1900’s and features Doc Brown telling his young son, the story of how he and Marty McFly met. While it’s never stated, given the time period this story starts in, I’m assuming the Doc Brown featured here, is the one who experienced the events of all three films. With that premise in play, this issue delivers on the films title and takes us Back to the Future. We then see Marty McFly being bullied by “Needles”, who wants to take Marty’s interoctpr tube and use it for his guitar. When Marty struggles to get it back, it breaks. At this point. “Needles warns Marty that if he doesn’t get one for him, before he and his band need to perform, Marty’s going to get a beating. As Marty tries to track down a interocito tube, he realizes that they’ve all been sold to reclusive scientist Doc Brown. Marty locates his residence, but is turned away at the intercom. He’s even electro shocked for his troubles. Ever persistent, Marty finds a way to sneak in, only to encounter more booby traps, He finally meets Doc Brown, who applauds him for following the clues he laid to his residence and finding a way into his house, despite all the safeguards. When Marty tells Doc Brown why he’s there, Doc gives him a interceptor tube and offers him a job as his assistant, so long as all the work they do in the lab is kept a secret. Marty agrees and the iconic friendship is born. Having co creator and screenwriter Bob Gale co-write this comic is great, because he thrusts the reader right back into a familiar world. It was fun seeing the reclusive/conspiracy theorist reputation of Doc Brown again. This coupled with a Marty who is shy, meek and being threatened by a bully, made me feel like I was watching the iconic first film again. The classic lines of “Think McFly Think” and “Great Scott” appear in this book but, never feel like they’re there just for the hell of it. They’re used in appropriate instances. The second story takes us to 1943 and the California Institute of Technology, where a younger Doc Brown is furious at his boss, for not recommending him to the committee in charge of selecting the Manhattan Project. His boss said he though of him but, ultimately felt that his chaotic unorganized personality, would prevent him from getting a spot on that committee. Doc brown insists on a meeting anyways. To present a more structured, organized version of himself, he sets up the interview at a neighbor’s house. Despite his deceptive efforts, the government official and General conducting the interview, unearth his lie, thanks to a piece of his neighbor’s wayward mail. Figuring he blew the interview, Emmett heads home, only to find J. Robert Oppenheimer in his basement lab, welcoming him to the Manhattan Project. While the first part of the story is more exciting, I like that this part of the story gives us the more unhinged, unorganized, and chaotic Doc Brown we are used to for the bulk of the films, even though he is younger. His deceptive ways to get what he wants, gives him something else in common with Marty, who snuck his way into Emmett’s house in our main story. I liked the connectivity and similar traits of our to main characters. They were destined to team up.
Art for the first story is by Brent Schoonover. His depiction of Doc Brown in the late 1800’s/early 1900’s looked exactly how we left him and his family in the third film. Likewise, the 1985 initial meeting between Doc Brown and Marty McFly was very much like their first encounter in the original film, at least a nod to it. The look of Marty and Doc Brown is spot on to the appearance of actors Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd, as their characters. It’s so good, you’d be forgiven for confusing this issue to be a cut scene on the Blu-Ray extras. I loved that whenever a date and time was given in this book, it was depicted in the style of the date/time dashboard of the DeLorean. Even though the iconic car is absent from the book, it’s presence is still felt. The back story is drawn by Dan Shoening of Ghostbusters fame. Even though we get a younger Doc Brown here, we get the crazy over the top mannerisms, more so in this story, than the first one. It makes for a funny page. Doc Brown looks like a young Christopher Lloyd, but with an Egon esque hair style. I don’t know if Mr. Shoening did this on purpose, or as a force of habit. Either way, it works. I loved the splash page of Doc Brown’s early lab. It is eclectic, chaotic and cramped, very much like its owner.
I loved being back in this world. I can’t believe I’m just discovering this book now. I like that instead of resting on the laurels of making this book a sequel to the film, the first arc is exploring untold prequel cannon. In addition to that, I can’t wait until this book explores altered timelines too! If you’re a fan of this film series, this is a MUST OWN book! If you’re not a fan of this film series, sorry, I can’t help you!
(Submitted by Batman’s Bitch, Mr. Prince Adam… 😉 Thanks, Super Friend. You know I tease ya cuz I loves ya…and also because it’s true. 😉 xoxo)
“After a chance meeting with billionaire Bruce Wayne, Elmer Fudd’s obsession quickly escalates into stalking Batman through the dark alleys and high-class social settings of Gotham City. Welcome to Bat Season! And the bonus Looney Tunes backup story features DC characters written by Tom King and artwork by Byron Vaughns.” (DC Entertainment)
Batman/Elmer Fudd Special #1 is one of five one shot specials teaming up the DC Comics cast of characters with the Looney Tunes cast of characters. I love DC & I love Looney Tunes, so these crossovers should be a slam dunk and this issue absolutely is. How do the two worlds meet? Well, in the case of this issue, writer Tom King places Elmer Fudd, a hunter on the hunt for a hitman who killed his girlfriend. The hitman offers to make a trade, spare his life, in exchange for the name of the person who contracted him. Elmer agree and the hitman tells him the contract was ordered by Bruce Wayne. Elmer Fudd heads to a party at Wayne Manor and opens fire on Bruce Wayne. Of course, Bruce escapes, switches his suit for his Batman costume and tracks down Elmer Fudd. A fight ensues, Batman subdues Elmer Fudd, as he should be able to and convinces him that Bruce Wayne didn’t order the hit on his girlfriend. The two team up and track down the hitman to a bar filled with hitmen and seedy characters. Naturally a bar fight ensues and as they corner the hitman, he pleads and reiterates that he’s not the killer, pointing behind them. Batman and Elmer turn around, and see Elmer’s girlfriend. She says that she enlisted the hitman’s help to fake her own death, so she can get away from Elmer Fudd’s dangerous lifestyle as a hunter. She walks out of the bar, while the three men enjoy a drink to end the first story. The story is a traditional Gum Shoe detective story, especially with that swerve at the end, with the girlfriend being the mastermind behind it all. Judging by my commentary, you’d assume that Elmer Fudd was randomly dropped into Gotham City, just for crossover purposes. However, Tom King cleverly works in some Looney Tunes references. The bar that the hitman frequents is Porky’s, with the owner/bartender being the human version of Porky Pig. Furthermore, the hitman accused of killing Elmer’s girlfriend is named Bugs “The Bunny” Woves. The other hitmen and shady characters are made up of Looney Tunes archetypes. We see versions of Foghorn Leghorn, Yosemite Sam, even Sylvester and Tweety. I liked Tom Kings decision to make Bugs and some of the other Looney Tunes characters villains. Had they been the exact status quo as their cartoon counterparts, the reader would have a hard time rooting for Batman or Elmer Fudd. Also the reveal of classic Batman character Silver St. Cloud being Elmer Fudd’s girlfriend, is a fun way to further have Batman/Bruce Wayne cross paths with Elmer Fudd, instead of merely setting the story in Gotham City. The interesting twist, for the purposes of this book, is that Silver St, Cloud dated Elmer Fudd first before Bruce Wayne, but left them both because of their dangerous lifestyles, highlighting a similarity between the two men.. The ending of this story featuring Batman, Bugs and Elmer drinking carrot juice and discussing Albuquerque is a nice nod to Bugs Bunny’s vegetable of choice, as well as a call back to a classic episode.
While the first story is set in the DC Universe, the backup story is set in Looney Tunes continuity. It actually reads like a typical Bugs Bunny Vs, Elmer Fudd story. Mr., Fudd is chasing Bugs because it’s Rabbit, or should we say, Wabbit season. To save his own skin, Bugs switches the sign to Bat Season, lights the Bat-Signal and calls Batman. Seeing the sign, Elmer switches gears and starts chasing Batman. After being thoroughly amused, Bugs Bunny ends up in a Batman costume, throwing Elmer Fudd into a little bit of a confused sate, just like the cartoon. Also, just like the cartoon, he eventually figures out the ruse and continues chasing Batman. To outsmart Elmer Fudd, Batman changes the sign to Robin Season, before summoning his various sidekicks who use this moniker. As Elmer Fudd takes up the chase against the Robin’s, Batman & Elmer Fudd walk off into the sunset. This book felt like I time travelled about 29 years to a Saturday morning long ago, watching The Bugs Bunny & Tweety Show. In this story, the writer is focused all on the laughs. It’s really a love letter to vintage Looney Tunes episodes. Both these stories show how malleable the Batman and Looney Tunes stories are, that they can tell two stories, with completely different tones and objective and still be recognizable to their brands and be entertaining on two different levels.
Lee Weeks is the artists for the main story. It definitely has the feel of a gritty, noir detective story to match the story being told. The art is definitely nowhere near as clean cut or crisp as your typical Batman or Looney Tunes comic book. It’s got a scruffy look about it. This scruffy look makes Elmer Fudd look like a total badass. It adds so much gravitas to Elmer Fudd’s trench coach and hat look. Yet, Mr. Weeks manages to keep Elmer Fudd’s aloof, simplistic look. I loved the human rendition of the Looney Tunes. They all have distinguishing characteristics that give the characters away. For instance Bugs has those protruding teeth he is famous for. Although, I think they made the human Bugs more visually unappealing, so that we would gravitate towards Elmer. Yosemite Sam has his read mustache and beard, but it’s more of a goatee. Instead of a cowboy hat, he now wears a bandana. Bartender Porky looks as much like a literal pig as a human drawing could look. It’s like the pig animation morphed to a human from screen to page. Foghorn Leghorn has gone from a giant Rooster, to a sharply dressed African American card shark. I loved that there was diversity with some of the characters. The card shark angle was great as well given that Foghorn Leghorn, in the cartoon often tricks and swindles the hens and the watchdog into getting what he wants. With all this Elmer Fudd talk, I should mention that there is an exceptional image of Batman leaping down into an alley. That is an iconic image in Batman lore but done from an angle we’re not used to seeing. It’s worth noting that Silver St. Cloud is drop dead gorgeous, so it makes sense she could stop both Elmer Fudd and Batman in their tracks at the bar. The art for the second story is done by Byron Vaughns. There’s not much to say except that it’s great and looks EXACTLY like the animation of Looney Tunes. It’s so good, that it’s as if they just transposed film cells from the show. Batman looks like an over exaggerated version of the character from Batman: Brave and the Bold. The only complaint I have with this portion of the art is that when Bugs Bunny dons a Batman costume, he looks too much like Bat-Mite for my liking.
I expected to like this book but quite frankly, I straight up loved it! It satisfies both fandoms with a story set in both the DC Universe and Looney Tunes lore. If you’re a fan of both, this is your fanboy heaven. I can guarantee I will be reading and reviewing the remaining four one shots in this series. Whether you go looney or batty over this book, I guarantee you are going to love it! So BUY IT and read it. Until next time…. That’s All Folks!
(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 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 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!
(Submitted by Mr. Prince Adam…Thanks for the Vampi goodness, Superfriend! 🙂 xoxo)
“Vampirella’s back and on the hunt! Dynamite Entertainment’s acclaimed mistress of the dark continues her supernatural adventures, running a gauntlet of murder and despair across an increasingly imperiled globe. A trio of demoness assassins – the Kerasu Shimei (the ‘Crow Sisters’) – have clawed their into our world, and are intent on building a bloody monument to murder, sin and mayhem, and it will take all of Vampirella’s considerable skill to send them screaming back to Hell…” (Dynamite)
This book continues shortly after the one shot from last issue, where Vampirella was recuperating from her wounds from the battle with Dracula and Le Fanu. The book picks up with Vampirella and Sofia on a stakeout, tracking a trio of gruesome murders where three people of shady character have been crucified, with Japanese Kanji drawn in their blood beside them.Vampirella has been contracted by a mysterious benefactor, who she has yet to reveal to Sofia, Through Vampirella’s inner musing, she reveals that she is keeping her benefactor a secret from Sofia, to not bring her deeper into Vampirella’s world.Vampirella reveals that as much as she enjoys having a human partner, she wants to get Sofia out of this life because the last time she had a human partner, it didn’t end well for either of them.In these quieter introspective moments, we start getting a sense of how attached and how much Vampirella cares for Sofia.As nice as that is, the best parts of these scenes are the insinuation of the mysterious benefactor’s and former human partner.I’m assuming her ex-partner was Adam Van Helsing, who she had a nightmare about in the previous issues.As for who her benefactor is, I have no idea.However, writer Eric Trautmann has me hooked liked a caught fish, waiting to see how both those plot threads play out.In the first seven issues, Sofia is thrust into this monstrous world. She’s intrigued and captivated by it all.Now that she’s had time to process it a little more fully, as a reader, you can see her fear and so can Vampirella, even though Sofia tries to hide it.I love how the writer hasn’t thrust her forward so quickly, to the point where she’s okay with all the weird crap she’s witnessing.She tries to cope by referencing that everything Vampirella does in this volume fulfills every trope from the horror movie genre.She uses smart ass commentary to mask her fears.That’s something I would do.I hope the writers keep using Sofia as a conduit for the audience.The other reason I absolutely loved this volume of issues, is due to the fact that the villains of this issue spring directly out of the first volume.The Three Crow Sisters are Hell-Spawn, who were able to escape hell, when Vampirella’s battle with the Yag-Ath Vermellus, softened the barrier between hell and Earth.The reason why they have killed those 3 people is because they represent cowardice, the immoral and the deceitful.This coupled with killing Vampirella, who represents insolence, dishonors her fellow Vampires and is disloyal to them, will serve as a monument to corruption. These acts will tether them firmly to Earth, preventing them from being dragged back to hell. We also learn that the masks they currently wear are temporary tethers to Earth and amplify their strength and speed.They are very formidable opponents, but she ultimately kills them.However, not before the big revelation that the Crow sisters know of Vampirella’s true origins, whereas, she herself does not.She has memories from different origins, which in actuality are different incarnations of the character in the comics, through the years.In the book continuity, she is not sure what her real past is.This is similar to what Wonder Woman is experiencing post Rebirth. I like this story hook, as it allows new readers to familiarize themselves with multiple possibilities, without doing too much extra “homework.”
Fabiano Neves returns on art and once again does great work.This is going to be odd to say of a Vampirella book but the car chase scene looked good.The art really captures the close quarters and break neck speed of the chase.Also, the exploded car flip diversion Vampirella creates with the car, looked straight out of a Fast & Furious movie, minus Vin Diesel’s monotone acting, while still keeping the beautiful women.The female villains wearing Guy Fawkes, V for Vendetta esque masks, looked creepy as hell.And because the masks aren’t literally V for Vendetta masks, it never feels derivative. Since we essentially had hot vampire vs hot vampire in volume 1, they had to change things up a bit.This is definitely visually striking.I loved the visual of the crucified murder victims being on one hand being a darkly colored page, with his blood being the most colored object, while the other two were shown in black and white.It gave the crime scenes a more mysterious, cold and frightening look and feel to them.The page where Vampirella and Sofia are scouring around the abandoned farmhouse which is pitch black, and their backs are facing the “camera”/reader, is a quintessential horror moment.It leaves you expecting and waiting for something bad or scary to happen.That’s hard for a comic book to pull off, but to be fair, I may have cheated by playing a horror soundtrack as I read this book,
The more I read of Vampirella, the more I like the character and this book.If you thought the story blew its load too early by using Dracula write off the bat, you’d be wrong.I’m constantly impressed with every scroll of the digital page.This character is under appreciated in the comic book world. If you haven’t read this book, or given this character a try, you simply must.If you don’t, you’re truly doing a disservice to yourself and the genre!
WARNING TO ALL YE WHO ENTERETH: This post contains #SPOILERS. Just scroll on down to the Marvel Universe Live stuffs if that sorta thing upsets ya. 🙂
(Review submitted with all the love by our Superheroic Ho-mie, Prince Adam…Thank you, Super Sir! 🙂 xoxo)
“Several months after the events of Captain America: Civil War, Peter Parker, with the help of his mentor Tony Stark, tries to balance his life as an ordinary high school student in Queens, New York City while fighting crime as his superhero alter ego Spider-Man as a new threat, the Vulture, emerges.” (Sony/Marvel)
After his fantastically energetic extended cameo in Captain America: Civil War, Spider-Man gets his first solo film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. We get two prologues before hitting “present day”, which as stated, is several months after Civil War. The first prologue is set shortly after the first Avengers film. We see Adrian Toomes and his cleanup crew, removing debris and alien technology from the destruction sites. We see that he is so excited by landing this government job, because it puts food on the table for his wife and daughter, as well as providing for his whole crew. However, they lose the contract when Tony Stark funds the government owned “Damage Control”, to clean up super heroic messes and such. We then see a flash forward to present day, where we learn and see that Adrian Toomes and crew have been stealing weaponry from superhero/supervillain skirmishes, propagating some for themselves, and selling other weaponry to criminals on the black market. Meanwhile, the flashback with Peter Parker/Spider-Man, actually ties into his appearance in Civil War. The flashbacks are actually self-shot home movies, of his “trip” to Berlin. You actually see him getting his upgraded suit from Tony Stark via Happy Hogan, as well as P.O.V. shots of the airport battle in Civil War. These are a way to catch the audience up on where we last saw Peter, but done in an inventive and unique way. These flashbacks are great because they show us our villain’s motivations for what he is doing, and give us a glimpse into how much Peter Parker loves being Spider-Man.
Our main story picks up with Peter Parker being left back in Queen’s and dealing with being a high school student, while also dealing with being a Spider-Man that has to deal with more street level crime. First of all, I love that this film really stayed in Queen’s as much as it could. It gave this film a much more intimate feeling over previous installments. Peter Parker being in high school felt like a naturalistic part of his daily routine, as opposed to being scenes that were shoehorned into the other films because the character was supposed to be 15. I think it helps, that the actor playing our hero, as well as his classmates were actually teenaged, as opposed to Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield, who both had Wellingitis. That is to say, they were both 25, cast to play a 15 year old, just as Tom Welling was on Smallville. I also appreciated that this iteration of Peter Parker wasn’t overtly geeky, or overly hipster, like our previous versions of Peter Parker. Tom Holland plays an average teenager who takes his high school happenings and everyday situations to the extreme, and makes everything seem like the biggest deal and sometimes the end of the world. Peter Parker’s best friend in this is Ned played by Jacob Batalon. The character as played by the actor, is the quintessential best bud and sidekick. The character is a gamer and total Star Wars fanboy. Sure, the idea that the two friends spend their after school time building a LEGO Death Star, felt a little all too obvious and convenient, given the Marvel/Disney and Disney/Star Wars connection, but it felt like something two modern day teen fanboys would absolutely do. There is no spider-bite or death of Uncle Ben in this film. Instead, that sort of exposition, comes from Ned, once he accidentally discovers Peter Parker is Spider-Man. We learn of the spider bite and Peter’s abilities through Ned’s endless questions. The exchanges are so naturalistic yet humorous. There’s a lot of humor in this film, yet never once does it go overboard like Guardians of the Galaxy 2, or feel forced like in the Thor movies. Liz Allen played by Laura Harrier is the object of Peter Parker’s affection in this film. She is the popular girl, with a type A personality. Sure, she and Peter admit that they both liked each other and went to the homecoming dance together but I never felt a spark, or connection between these characters. No offence to the actress, she did okay with what was asked of her. Story wise, once we learn that Liz Allen is really Liz Toomes, daughter of the Vulture, any chance the two had at a relationship was gone. I really did like the character of Michelle played by Zendaya. This character is very intellectual and is a bit of a loner, playing it off as if she doesn’t really care about hanging out, or being around her classmates. She’s a bit of an introvert, who is lost in her reading. The banter and animosity between she and Peter, gives off a vibe of a love/hate relationship, which definitely hints at something more later on. Flash Thompson is played by Tony Revolori. This Flash is not the big hulking jock of a bully like in previous installments, or the comic books. Instead, he’s more of a verbal insulter, who tries to break Peter down emotionally, not physically. He’s still a sleaze bag. The young actor plays that well and you won’t be able to stand him over the course of the film.
Marisa Tomei, returns from her Civil War role of Aunt May. This Aunt May is more active in the film and in Peter’s life. We see very simple scenes of them sharing a family dinner. You even see her helping him learn how to do a tie, teaching him how to dance, and giving him pointers how to treat Liz on their homecoming date. Marisa Tomei seems to be playing this younger version of Aunt May as a big sister, which makes sense, given the smaller age gap between the two actors. Though, Marisa Tomei does let the parental Aunt mode kick in, when Peter gets home late and hasn’t been answering his phone. She raises her voice at him, telling him he can’t do that and that between the two of them, that’s not okay. Even though Uncle Ben isn’t mentioned by name, the tone in her voice and the pain in her face, clearly makes it know, this reaction is a reaction to Ben’s death. It’s really powerful acting by Marisa Tomei. As was known when this project was announced and as the trailers went out of their way to point out, Robert Downey Jr. is in this film as Tony Stark/Iron-Man. He’s at his snarky, fast talking best in this film. The trailers for this film had me worried that this film would turn into Iron-Man 4, featuring Spider-Man. However, happily, that’s not the case at all. We see Iron-Man as a mentor/father figure/ big brother to Peter Parker. You can tell that Tony Stark has a love for Peter, but in typical Stark fashion, he’ll never outright admit it. He gave Peter the costume upgrade, to make him a more effective hero but also to keep him safe. Yet still, he tells Peter to stay safe, by sticking close to home grown, street level issues. The suit upgrades include different shapes and modes of webbing. The spider symbol is actually a mini drone/ tracker. There’s also an interrogation mode, which allows Peter to disguise his voice a la Batman, to intimidate his enemies. There’s a lethal mode, to deal with the extremely dangerous villains and lest we forget, the web wings from the early comic books, which allow him to glide. I thought all these enhancements by Tony to the costume would minimize Peter Parker’s intelligence but the way Robert Downey Jr. and the film itself handles it, is just Tony being overprotective. In fact, the film makes a point to show Peter’s intelligence, by showing him secretly brewing his webbing in science class. We also see Peter disabling the trackers and security measures Tony put into the Spider-Man costume. Iron-Man does save and assists Spider-Man twice in the film but it never feels like belittling and minimizing the character to me. His biggest contribution happens of screen, after he realizes that Peter is too reliant on the costume and its gadgets, so he takes it away. This forces Peter to go back to his homemade costume and find the hero within, which he ultimately does. While this is a Spider-Man film, Tony Stark does seems to resolve some father issues he had in Civil War and there is even a progression of his relationship with Pepper Potts that carries over from that film, which I won’t spoil.
Nearly all of the action beats are tied to our villain, Adrian Toomes, aka the Vulture, played by Michael Keaton. As hard as it is for me to see Michael Keaton as anything but Batman or Beetlejuice, he is absolutely fantastic as the Vulture. He’s easily the best villain in the MCU since Loki and he might even be better than Loki. As I mentioned earlier, the cleanup contract is so important to him, as he’s trying to provide for his family, as are his crew. When he loses that contract to the joint venture of Stark Industries and the government, he feels pushed aside and stepped on by “the man.” This is why he hates The Avengers and turns to the black market to sell stolen alien weaponry. He’s not a one dimensional, over the top, mustache twirling villain, which has become the norm in the MCU. What the script and Michael Keaton convey so well, is that while Adrian Toomes motivations are relatable, his actions remain 100% wrong and the viewer never over sympathizes with him. This is a mistake the Sam Raimi films made with Dock Ock and Sandman. They became too sympathetic, to the point where I gave their actions a pass. While Michael Keaton was great throughout, his best scene happens with Peter Parker when both men are out of costume. I won’t spoil it but I guarantee it will make your spine tingle. Michael Keaton is particularly chilling in this scene. The Vulture’s crew introduces other villains, namely the Shocker and the Prowler. They’re not overly developed. They’re more in service to the Vulture, which I prefer. The Prowler is of course the uncle of Miles Morales. There is a small nod to him in the film, which could open the door for Ultimate Spider-Man in the future of the MCU.
In addition to Peter Parker, Tom Holland excels as his costumed alter-ego Spider-Man. He’s got the inherent goodness and altruistic nature that Tobey Maguire had and he’s got the incessant quipping, which was present in Andrew Garfield’s take on the character. Mixed in with Tom Holland’s youthful excitement and energy and what you have is the most screen accurate Spider-Man to his comic book counterpart, when it comes to live action portrayals. The action scenes aren’t just randomly inserted into this film to fill an action quota, instead they service and enhance our hero’s journey. What’s also unique is that Spider-Man is wearing his fancy superhero attire, in the first two acts, when he is more of an unpolished hero, while wearing his makeshift home-made costume for the third act, when he becomes the full-fledged hero. Usually, it’s the other way around in superhero films. The early action beats are definitely smaller scale. We see Spider-Man stopping a bike theft, bank robbery, and we even see him giving an elderly lady directions. There’s situational humor present in the film when Spider – Man seemingly thwarts a car robbery but in fact, it was just a guy who’d been locked out of his car. The way the onlookers yelled at Spidey and defended their neighbors innocence, really sold the tight knit community feel of this Queen’s neighborhood. Also, Stan Lee gets a rare cameo where he speaks, which is nice. When the Vulture first swoops in grabbing Spider-Man, preventing him from chasing down his crew, the frantic, up-close perspective of the scenes, looks like a brief moment that belongs in a horror film. The Ferry sequence and the plane fight with The Vulture, as well as the Washington Monument Rescue are the 3 stars of this film, as far as action goes. The Ferry Sequence has a moment were Spider-Man is trying to hold the Ferry together in one piece, His positioning, actions and pose are eerily similar to Spider-Man 2, when he tries to stop the train from crashing. The scene showcases how effective, yet inexperienced this Spider-Man is. Seeing Spider-Man crawl up the Washington monument, leap from the top of it, using his web wings to clear a helicopter was so damn epic. Not quite as epic as Superman’s first flight in Man of Steel, but a pretty close second. The plane fight between Spider-Man and the Vulture was unlike anything we’ve ever seen in a Spider-Man film. Not only do they fight inside of the plane but on top of the plane as well. It took eleven years, but we finally have a scene that surpasses the Superman Returns flight rescue. Kudos goes to the costume designer, who actually made the Vulture’s costume intimidating and menacing, as opposed to looking ridiculous like it does in the comic books.
Spider-Man: Homecoming just feels right. For the first time in six films, Spider-Man feels like he’s right where he belongs, in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The plot and the reason why Spider-Man is taking on the Vulture is very straight forward. Instead, this movie focuses on getting the characters right. In this area, the film 100% succeeds. My previous favourite Spider-Man film was Spider-Man 2, however, I think Spider-Man: Homecoming slightly surpasses it. In terms of MCU solo films, this ranks 2nd, behind only the first Iron-Man. In terms of my favourite summer movies, this ranks 2nd behind Wonder Woman and is definitely a MUST SEE film.
Ho-stess’s PS- I saw SMHC last night, and agree wholeblackheartedly with Mr. P’s review…Ho-wever, I saw Marvel Universe Live on Tour today, and have to say THAT is the Marvel production we should all be talking about. #GreatestShowInTheGalaXXXy!! 🙂 xoxo