#TimeTravelThursday (it’s a thing ;) Comic Book Review: Back to the Future #1

(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!

#SuperheroSaturday Comic Book Review: Batman/Elmer Fudd Special #1

(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!

#TBT TV Review: Batman: The Animated Series – Season 1 Episode 1: On Leather Wings

(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!

Kinky Komic Book Review: Riverdale #2

(Submitted by Mr. Prince Adam…Thank you, Super Friend! 🙂 xoxo)

“Set in the same universe as the hit CW series, Riverdale continues to reveal untold stories of the world’s most famous teenagers. When five students from different social cliques (Archie, Betty, Veronica, Jugghead, and Josie) end up in Saturday detention together — will they kill each other or come together against the forces of evil that brought them there?” (Archie Comics)

If you love the film The Breakfast Club, then you will love this book.  This is the comic book’s homage to that classic 80’s coming of age film.  Heck, the title of the film is the title of this  issue and there are at least three characters in the book who reference the film. Archie even mentions having never seen the film.  That’s the hardest part of this book to believe, that someone hasn’t seen The Breakfast Club.  The fact that the film is spoken by name, as well as social media such as twitter, sets Riverdale as existing in the real world.  I’m glad this is the case because these characters are your average teenagers, meaning there’s no need to create a alternate world for them to inhabit.  Narratively, the issue is bookended by present day and time scenes, but the bulk of the issue is a flashback to the food fight, that landed them in detention.  After Josie, of “Josie and the Pussycats” fame singles out relative new girl Veronica Lodge for starting the food fight, we get a look back at what everyone was doing during the food fight.

Archie tuned up his guitar and stood up on a table, ready to give an impromptu concert.  However, his crippling fear of performing in front of people prevents him from going through with it.  This is technically, the first mention of Archie’s desire to be a musician and sets up his rivalry with Josie. It also sets up the dichotomy of wanting to be a performer, yet being shy about performing in front of others. We see him battle and to a degree, overcome this fear in the back half of season 1 but here, it’s really fresh.  Also, a fear of public speaking/performing is a fear I’ve had back in high school, so I absolutely feel for him.  Veronica Lodge was helping her friend Kevin set up a Gay/Straight school alliance, to try and decipher all the gay students in the school, and get their numbers so Kevin could get a date.  Sure, setting up a school group just to get a date seems a little overboard.  Though I purposely wrote an essay filled with errors, as well as the backup one with suspected corrections I’d need to make, because I had  really hot teacher that I wanted to spend more time with before class. Of course, nothing happened, but she was hot, so the extra time was so worth it!  Anyway, the true take away from this scene, which continues on from issue #1, is that while Veronica has an attitude and a chip on her shoulder, she is intensely giving and fiercely protective of her friends.  She admits that she got involved in the food fight, when a football jock insulted her and Kevin but she didn’t start the fight.  As for Betty and Jugghead, Betty was doing research for an article she is writing for the school paper.  One of the books she is reading is The Story of O, an erotic novel.  When Jugghead discovers this, he playfully chastises Betty.  However, when Cheryl grabs the book and starts referring to Betty and her sister as freaks and outcasts.  The reference to Betty’s sister, is the first mention of Betty’s sister and Cheryl’s brother having dated and that it ending badly.  As Cheryl berates her, we can see darkness and anger building up and erupting in Betty, as she throws a piece of pie at the back of Cheryl.  Betty’s anger and darkness gets heightened in Season 1  but you see it in it’s infancy here.  Without spoiling anything, I hope Betty’s emotional state is explored more in this comic and in Season 2.  I like that the instigator of the food fight was Betty, the goody two shoes you’d lest expect.  The book ends with detention ending and the gang sans Josie, sharing a meal at Pop’s Dinner.

Joe Eisma is back on art but this time is joined by fellow artist Thomas Pitilli.  Their artwork looks so similar, that when one ends and the other begins, it is hardly noticeable.  Each artist has certain characters who they excel at drawing though.  Joe Eisma’s strength is Archie, Josie, and Jugghead, while Thomas Pitilli draws a great Veronica, Cheryl and Betty. The opening image of the gang sitting in detention continues the theme of homage for The Breakfast Club. The position of the characters, and the location being the school library, is an exact replica of the film.  If the cover didn’t say Riverdale, you might think this was a comic book adaptation of the film. The image of Archie about to perform his impromptu cafeteria concert is great.  The detail is so strong, that you can not only see, but almost feel his crippling anxiety.  The scene where Betty snaps at Cheryl before she starts the food fight is very evocative on several levels.  First, you can see Betty’s face scrunching and teeth gritting in anger.  Adding to it, is the temporary black and purple color scheme in this panel almost makes it seem like we’ve gone into Betty’s mind and are seeing her anger actual emerge from the recesses of her mind. Kudos to  colorist Andre Szymanowicz.  Without him, this effect doesn’t happen.  My favourite page is definitely the food fight.  It’s so messy and chaotic.  There are later panels that isolate the food fight, from our main characters perspective but the main splash page is so chaotic. Also, somehow artist Thomas Pitilli has made Cheryl Blossom even more bitchy looking.  In his hands, her natural resting look is “Bitchy Face.”

The second issue doesn’t move the story along, instead being more of a character study of sorts. Last issue, I said it worked as both a prequel and a continuation of the TV series.  This issue is clearly more of a prequel to the story told in season 1.  It’ll be interesting to see if the series tries to juggle telling prequel stories, or if it toggles between prequels and concurrent stories.  If you’re a fan or the show or the characters from the comic books, you’ll like this book.  Even if you don’t love Archie or Riverdale, you’ll still want to read this if you love The Breakfast Club. And who doesn’t!?

#SupernaturalSaturday: Castlevania Season 1 Review

(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!

Batman & Bill (2017)

(Submitted by Mr. Prince Adam…Thanks for helping spread the good word, Bat Buddy! 😉 xoxo)

Who created Batman?  Well, if you scroll the reprints of old comic books or watch any Batman animated, or live action film prior to Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, it will tell you that Bob Kane is solely responsible for the creation of this enduring and much loved character.  However, in the documentary film Batman & Bill presented by Hulu,  Marc Tyler Nobleman uncovers a secret and exposes the truth.  Shortly after the success of Superman, National Comics, which eventually became DC Comics, went to Bob Kane and asked if he could create a second superhero for them.  At that Friday meeting, he assured them he would have their next superhero on their desk by Monday.  Over the course of that weekend, Bob came up with an idea and then showed his friend and collaborator on other books what he had.  That friend helped Bob tweak his ideas, implementing several suggestions, which improved and fleshed out the character. With both men happy, Bob Kane took the meeting, the publisher loved it and bought the character.  Bob and Bill had a verbal handshake agreement, where Bob promised to split some of whatever he earns.  However, during the meeting, Bob Kane never mentions that another person was involved in the creation of the character and negotiated a sole creator credit on The Bat-Man and eventually worked out getting a “piece of the pie”, as he put it.  I don’t know, nor was it stated in the film, whether Bob Kane shared any money from that sale with Bill Finger. It was stated that Bill Finger was hired as a writer/ghostwriter on Batman later on.  Some will say. “Well, at least he got paid for his work later on.” Well that’s all well and good, until you realize just how much of a hand in creating Batman Bill Finger actually had.  First, it’s worth noting that Bob Kane came up with the name The-Batman.  His version of the character was blonde, wore a red leotard and had a domino mask, akin to something Robin would eventually wear.  Marc Tyler Nobleman, consults archives and comic book writers and artists past and present, to reveal that Bill Finger was responsible for the following concepts; the origin, the costume, Bruce Wayne, Dick Grayson, Robin, The Joker, The Riddler, The Penguin, Catwoman, the Batcave, Gotham City and the Batmobile.  So, basically, Bill Finger created all the parts of Batman that are cool and make Batman…well Batman!  Even when DC Comics discovered the truth, years later, they didn’t do anything about it, for fear of opening up a legal can of worms with Bob Kane.  Bill Finger didn’t have funds to fight for his rights legally.

The truth was made public to fans at an early comic con in the 60’s, when a DC Comics editor introduced Bill Finger as the creator of Batman.  When he was questioned about it, he clarified what he was responsible for, which is all of the stuff l listed above.  What’s great about this document, is that you hear the rare audio clip from this convention.  You’re hearing Batman history, as you watch this documentary.   A contributor to a Batman fanzine publicized the quote in one of the issues.  This was Bob Kane’s first opportunity to set the record straight, finally giving Bill Finger the credit he deserves. Instead, he writes a letter absolutely, flat out denying Bill Finger’s comments, asserting that he was the sole creator of Batman and asks for it to be published in the magazine.  As years passed, while Bill Finger struggled to make ends meet and ultimately died alone, Bob Kane enjoyed the fame and part of the fortune Batman brought with it. This miscarriage of justice, is what led Marc Tyler Noble to write this book. To give notoriety and a voice for the often forgotten Bill Finger. Our writer/narrator in this film becomes a detective out for justice for Bill Finger.  He essentially becomes a real life Batman for Bill Finger.   The detective work Mr. Nobleman does would make Batman proud.  First, he goes to wear Bill Finger used to live and from there, discovers Bill Finger had a second wife who was still alive.  From her info, he was told that Bill Finger had a niece and nephew.  From there, he literally called every Finger in the phonebook until he found Bill’s nephew and niece.  Here we learned that Bill Finger had a son.  Marc Tyler Nobleman in the documentary excitedly perks up, as this relative could be one of the few that could challenge for creator rights for his father. Sadly, we learned that Bill’s son died of AIDS.  Just when it seemed like legal recognition was lost for Bill Ginger, the discovery of his granddaughter is made.  This was like an AH HA moment from the Batman ’66 TV show, when Batman and Robin would discover one of Riddler’s clues, or foil one of the Joker’s plots.  Marc Tyler Nobleman urges Athena Finger to meet with Warner Brothers to discuss getting a creator credit for her grandfather.  The film reveals that WB & DC acknowledged Bill Finger’s contributions but once again, didn’t want to open the can of worms in dealing with Bob Kane’s estate and trying to alter that credit. The documentary features an interview and quotes from the man who co-wrote Bob Kane’s biography, where Bob Kane produced a fake drawing of Batman dated in 1933 where he allegedly formed the concept of Batman.  The reason this is known to be fake, is because it looked like the core modern drawing of Batman, with the insignia in the yellow oval etc.  The first design, which was crafted by Finger, looked significantly different. In the same interview, recorded on tape and made available for the documentary, Bob Kane admits that Bill Finger was involved with 50-75% of the conception and creation of Batman. Armed with this recording, a lawyer and national attention, thanks to Marc Tyler Nobleman’s book and taking Athena Finger to conventions and spreading this story, Athena meets with Warner Brothers and DC Comics once more.  This time. she is awarded with a credit byline, for her grandfather.  Starting with episodes of GOTHAM & the release of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Batman’s credit line will read; Created By Bob Kane with Bill Finger.

This documentary fascinated me as it revealed a mystery about Batman’s creation that I and many other fans, weren’t aware of.  It made me sad, that for so long, Bill Finger wasn’t credited for his work.  Sadder still, that Bill Finger died alone, his son suffered and died from aids and Athena Finger raised her son as a single mom and for so long had to struggle to make ends meet, while another man reaped the rewards both public and monetarily, based on a good portion of someone else’s hard work.  Ultimately, I felt uplifted and happy that justice had been done, for Batman’s most influential founding father.  This documentary is also unique to watch because it breaks the mold of normal documentaries, by having some scenes drawn as a motion comic book. These scenes had the classic pulpy but noir look of the early Batman comic books.  I will always appreciate Bob Kane for his 25-50% contribution, whatever that actually was, to Batman. However, I’m glad justice was done for Bill Finger and I am thankful to him, for creating many of the aspects of Batman I gravitate to and love.  For the Finger family, Marc Tyler Nobleman was the hero they deserved and the one they needed.  For Marc Tyler Nobleman, the truth wasn’t good enough. He deserved to have his faith rewarded, and it was.  If you consider yourself a Batman fan of any kind, it is your absolute duty to watch and spread the word about this documentary.

Comic Book Review – Vampirella #8-10: A murder of Crows

(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!

Farewell Batman – An Adam West Tribute.

(A lot of folks are hurtin’ right now…Here’s Prince Adam’s personal take on Mr. West’s passing. Thanks for sharing this with us, Super Friend. 🙂 xoxo)

The world lost some of its light last weekend as Adam West, better known as TV’s Batman left this world after a brief battle with Leukemia.  Those who know me, know that I love Batman and have since my childhood.  It’s also true, that Michael Keaton and Tim Burton rocketed my Batman fandom forward, with the release of Batman & Batman Returns. However. You know that age old saying, you never forget your first?  It’s true, even when discussing Batman.  Given my age, and my self-professed love of the Keaton and Burton era, you’d think that Batman would be my first.  However, you’d be wrong.  My first Batman was indeed Adam West, via syndicated reruns.  Watching that show created a ritual in my house.  It became part of my after school ritual.  I’d come home, my mom would have milk and cookies waiting for me and I was allowed to watch Batman, before getting to my homework.  

Sure, now I know that show was chalk full of tongue in cheek humor120, but back then, I took it dead seriously.  While Adam West keyed adults into the humor with his delivery and slight vocal inflections, he still played it 100% honest for the kids.  When I was a kid, Adam West’s Batman costume was the most comic book to screen accurate I had ever seen! I wanted one of my own and as an adult I still do.  The other thing I liked, was that Bruce Wayne conformed to the stereotypes I had of rich people at the time.  He lived in a mansion, had a servant, went to parties, even holding gala’s himself.  He even went fishing with Dick Grayson.  Though, those fishing trips would often be a ruse, for explaining away their Batman duty.  What I loved as a kid, were the little life lessons Batman would give Robin, and by extension us the viewer.  Whether it be walking an older lady across the street, paying for parking, wearing your seatbelt and yes, the dangers of jay walking. Adam West as Batman gave us all the essential advice and advocated drinking milk and eating vegetables.  Batman with Adam West under the cowl, reaffirmed all our parents’ teachings.  He was essentially our uncle.  And come on, who wouldn’t want Batman as their uncle.  When you think about it, Adam West was the first live action Batman to highlight his detective aspects. Every week, he would comb through the evidence of a case with the bat-computer, other gadgets and the help of Alfred and Robin.  The detective aspect of Batman was barely present in Batman 1989 or Returns, it was nowhere to be found in Batman Forever and Batman & Robin.  Hints of it were found in The Dark Knight Trilogy, with the caveat that it was largely all done by Alfred & Lucius Fox. There was a decent sample size of detective Batman in BvS, which was carried equally between him and Alfred.  However, Adam West as Batman carried the torch of that character trait in bulk, from 1966 to 2016.

As an adult some of the best aspects of Adam’s performance is in his flirtation with Catwoman and specifically the will they/won’t they aspect of the relationship because he sides with the law, while she has criminal tendencies. What’s impressive, is that Adam West has the same heat and chemistry with all 3 Catwoman, so that even though the actress changed, the relationship maintains its history and so believing that all 3 actresses were the same Catwoman was an easy ask of the audience.  The way the relationship between the Bat & the Cat were portrayed here and their interactions, still serves as the backbone of that relationship to this day.  Some of Adam West’s best pure Batman superhero moments came against The Joker and The Riddler. Adam West an Caesar Romero were electric and in a tamer way, you never really knew what would go down between the two.  Also, no matter how many times you see it, Adam West and Frank Gorshin verbally sparring with riddles and answers never gets tiresome.  Most people will say their favorite Adam West moments rage between getting rid of a bomb, Bat-Shark repellent, and a surfing contest with The Joker, or even Adam West doing the Batusi.  For me it’s the scene where Bruce Wayne is having a 3 way phone call with Batman and Commissioner Gordon to discuss funds transfer for a ransom payment.  Seeing Adam West alternate between the Wayne Manor house phone and that red Bat phone, altering his voice to fit the appropriate character, depending on what phone he was holding was hilarious.  It also shows West’s acting talent, his range and the level of nuance he could achieve. 

For years, specifically in the mid 80’s this series was shunned by Batman fans as not a valid interpretation.  The problem with that line of thinking. Is that it and Adam’s version of Batman, are a valid interpretation.  This version of Batman is replicating and mimicking the comics from the 50’s and the 60’s.  The tone look and color pallet at that point are the same.  It’s also worth noting that this series saved the Batman comic books. DC was considering cancelling the books, but Bat mania began as a result of the show, bringing interest and popularity back to the comic books. I’m so happy Adam West was around long enough to see Bat mania 2.0 to return for his series, when the show became available on Blu-Ray.  In addition, they sold toys, based on the look and iconography of the show. Things came full circle for me, one night at my sisters house. The adults were enjoying coffee and cake, while the kids watched TV.  Suddenly, my nephews came in excitedly because a “New” Batman show was on TV! They had never seen it before! So I explained that I used to watch it, when I was their age. So I went down to their toy room and experienced their first time seeing Adam West as Batman.  It was a beautiful moment. PS: They loved it! Honestly, I think I’m going to do retro reviews of the Batman TV series here periodically. I’ve got the itch.  Unfortunately for us here on Earth, heaven needed a Batman, so Adam West will watch over the citizens of Gotham from above! Thank you for being my first Batman & the memories and for being a piece of what turned out to be a great childhood. I’ll miss you but I’ll never forget you!! Rest In Peace old chum!

#SuperheroSaturday Comic Book Review: Batman 66 Meets Wonder Woman 77

(Submitted by Prince Adam on this glorious #WonderWoman Day…Thanks, Super Friend! 🙂 xoxo)

“What mysteries are hidden in the book Ra’s al Ghul hired Catwoman to steal? And why does this caper lead Batman down memory lane—to his childhood fight against actual Nazis? Witness the Caped Crusader’s first encounter with one of the greatest heroes the world has ever known: Wonder Woman!” (DC Entertainment)

I always wanted to get into the Batman 66 comic book but something kept getting in the way.  When I heard DC were planning a comic book miniseries set in the world of classic Batman and classic Wonder Woman, I decide to add this to my special review list, leading up to the Wonder Woman film.  Well that film is here (YAY), so I finally got to read it.  This book puts you right back into the Batman 66 world, as we see Catwoman stealing two antiquated books,  only to be thwarted by Batman and Robin after a silent alarm was triggered.  The banter between the caped crusaders and Catwoman was spot on, right down to her flirting with Batman, and asking him to put in a good word for her at the parole hearing.  Writers Marc Andreyko and Jeff Parker even over accentuate the word purrrfect to the point that I can hear Eartha Kitt’s voice as I read Catwoman’s dialogue. The book does two distinct things differently from the TV show.  For the first time in this continuity, we get a story told partially in flashbacks, highlighting Bruce Wayne as a 10 year old and actually showing his parents, Thomas and Martha Wayne, who were only mentioned once on the show. Not only was it nice to see the Wayne’s in this continuity, it was even nicer to see them alive for the entire issue.  Usually in any incarnation, they are walking down an alley to their death.  The reason for these flashbacks, is to establish Bruce’s first encounter with the ancient books Catwoman stole and who she stole them for. The first appearance of the books in Bruce Wayne’s life, was 1940’s war time. Thomas Wayne was having an auction for the books at Wayne Manor.  In addition to undercover Nazi’s being in attendance, Ra’s Al Ghul and his then young daughter Talia are there as well. It makes sense why both parties wan the books too. The Nazi’s want the book for Hitler, so he can locate lost civilizations and mythical locales, to pillage their enhanced weaponry and turn the tide of the war in his favor.  Meanwhile, Ra’s al Ghul wants the books to gain access to these lost worlds and weapons to fortify the strength of his criminal organization, the League of Shadows worldwide and to find the location of Lazarus Pit’s around the world. Young Talia accompanies her father to the auction and he immediately unites the two, because he wants his daughter to end up with a man who’s family is of good repute.  This bit of foreshadowing put a smile on this Bat-Fan’s face.  It was great to see that Ra’s matchmaking machinations between Bruce and Talia carry over from the mainstream continuity to here, but start even earlier.  I love that this book can take villains who weren’t created when the series aired and put them through the lens of the show, yet still keep the core of who said characters are in the mainstream universe. 

The book does use a familiar troupe from the show. The villains waltz into Wayne Manor undetected. When fights ensue, priceless artifacts in Wayne Manor start getting destroyed.  This is where Diana Prince, Steve Trevor an Etta Candy make their entrance. The three characters we’re pretty much the status quo from Season 1, as both that season and this miniseries take place in the same time period. What both writers do as soon as Diana Prince makes her first appearance, is have her steal the show so to speak.  Batman’s name may be first in the title but the first two digital installments that comprise this first issue, are very much a Wonder Woman story.  I loved how awestruck young Bruce and Talia are over Wonder Woman and how even during the fight scenes, Steve Trevor for the most part, watches Wonder Woman do all the ass kicking.  The scenes near the end of the issue where Bruce and Talia use whatever they can to ward off Nazi soldiers and League of Shadow’s ninja’s solidify and remind you that these characters are destined to become the World’s Greatest Detective and the future leader of the League of Shadows. Speaking of Ra’s al Ghul, he comes off a silent threat, with over the top ideas.  That coupled with the search and race to get a hold of those ancient books, this issue had a mixed vibe of James Bond meets Indiana Jones with Wonder Woman smack dab in the middle of it!

David Hahn is the artist on this book and while his art looks more like animation rather than current comic book art, he certainly captures the look and characters of these two iconic television series. I love that the Catwoman featured in this book is visually represented in the form of Eartha Kitt.  The casting change was part of the series, so I’m glad that it hasn’t been ignored.  Catwoman slinking out of a window after a heist is an artistic highlight.  Seeing Batman, Alfred and Robin in the Batcave discussing the books, leading up to the transition to flashbacks, felt like film cells from the show had been animated and pasted right onto the comic book page.  I love the artist teasing iconic locations from the series in a pre-Batman setting. Specifically, the retracting library bookshelf.  Before it became an entrance to the Batcave, it was a tunnel exit to the garden. Speaking of the garden, there’s a great overhead shot of it and it’s shaped like a maze. I wonder how Aunt Harriet managed her way around it without ever getting lost. My favourite images are the two pages that comprise the Wonder Woman twirl and costume change.  It looked epic and in terms of color scheme matched the show’s opening credits to perfection.  The look of astonishment on Bruce and Talia as they saw this transformation hiding behind the bookshelf, was wonderfully appropriate!

I’m extremely happy with where DC Entertainment is headed in comic books, on film and on television. Though, it is important to revisit and respect the past from time to time.  There’s no better way to do this, then by reading this issue. I’ll be back with another issue review from this series after the Wonder Woman film. In the meantime, buy this book, it’s great.

 

Movie Review: Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 1 & 2

(Submitted by our Superhero Scifi buddy, Mr. Prince Adam…Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us, Super Friend! 🙂 xoxo

In Guardians of the Galaxy, a group of intergalactic criminals are forced to work together to stop a fanatical warrior from taking control of the universe. In Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2′ continues the team’s adventures as they unravel the mystery of Peter Quill’s true parentage. (Marvel Studios)

When I saw the teaser trailer for the first Guardians of the Galaxy, I wasn’t all that into it. I fully blame the Thor franchise for this, as the forced humor in those films, seemed to be rearing its ugly head here. However, to be fair, I knew very little about the Guardians of the Galaxy. Instead of getting on the internet to bitch and moan about what I wasn’t liking, I hopped on to Amazon and bought two trade paperbacks of the newest comics. In truth, the humor was perfectly appropriate for the odd ball bunch of characters that make up the team. After finally seeing Guardians of the Galaxy, I absolutely loved it. It quickly became one of my favourite MCU films and ranks in my top 5 from Marvel Studios. Yes, there’s a lot of comedy throughout but what James Gunn does, is make you care about the characters and shows you their tragedies, so that the humor has greater effect when it finally happens. This film starts with young Peter Quill by his mother’s bedside, as she gives him one last parting gift and words of wisdom, before succumbing to brain cancer. He then runs out of the hospital, only to get abducted by an alien space ship. That is a harrowing but heartbreaking way to open a film. While the rest of the story also hinges on Peter Quill, the other Guardians have their own issues. Most of these aren’t brought to bear visually like Star Lord, however they’re all discussed. Gamora has familial issues, being the adopted daughter of Thanos and having a sibling rivalry with her sister Nebula. Not to mention, she’s acting as a double agent of sorts, in the process of double crossing Thanos. The family drama is very real world, just like Peter’s mothers death from cancer is, it just takes place on an intergalactic scale. I love that no matter how odd these character are, their emotional baggage is very relatable. Rocket Racoon and Groot are more unique from the rest of the humanoid looking group. Rocket is a creation, a genetically altered talking racoon, while Groot is the last of his kind, a talking tree, with a speech impediment, where everything he says is heard as “I am Groot.” While both characters are adorable, they are outcasts amongst a team of misfits. If you’re someone who doesn’t feel comfortable in their own skin, or you feel misunderstood, you will gravitate towards these characters beyond their cuteness. Drax is the only character that’s hard to relate to. After all, when we first meet him, he’s in prison for going on a murderous revenge tour. However, he is trying to avenge the deaths of his family and has killed or is going after, Thanos and or those connected to him, or took part in the murder of his family. So while you might not identify with him, you will sympathize with him.

In several trailers and promotions, the Guardians of the Galaxy were classified as criminals and outlaws and technically they are, but that’s a misrepresentation. They don’t do anything in the film to make you second guess them, or root against them. As you discover their backstories throughout the film and watch them interact with each other, they’re nothing but lovable characters. This is an ensemble film but as I said, Star Lord is the main character and the team all meet through him. That occurs when the film picks up with the adult Star Lord stealing an orb contain an infinity stone and attempting to sell it to a dealer. The dealer reneges on the arrangement when he learns Thanos is after the stone. Speaking of Thanos, not only does he send Gamora after Peter Quill, he sends out a bounty for the capture of the self-proclaimed Star Lord. This gets Groot and Rocket on his trail, as well as his old partner/father figure Yondu. Yondu is the alien who kidnapped Peter at the behest of Peter’s mysterious celestial father, who Yondu describes as an asshole. He decided not to take Peter to his father and groomed him as a Ravager. However, he feels betrayed by Peter and wants to get in on that bounty cash. As Gamora, Rocket and Groot try and apprehend Peter, they are all caught by Nova Corps officers and are thrown in the Kylm, a prison in a trading post called Knowhere. It is here where the characters truly meet. They decided to team up to not only break out of prison, as well as selling the orb/gem to Gamora’s contact, the Collector. Drax comes into the equation because he wants to kill Gamora, in his quest for revenge on Thanos. However, Peter Quill talks him down, suggesting that if he joins them, he will get his revenge on Thanos, so he acquiesces. Speaking of Thanos, displeased with Gamora’s efforts, he sends Ronan, essentially his overpowered henchmen to take them out and retrieve the infinity stone. After they escape prison, they eventually strike an accord with the Nova Corps and Yondu, to join forces and bring down Ronan, which they obviously do. As for the infinity stone, even though Star Lord promised to give it to Yondu, he double crosses him and entrusts it to the Nova Corps. I mentioned the humor throughout the film and it comes in the characters interactions. I loved all of Peter Quill’s 80’ references, including Patrick Swayze in dirty dancing, and Tony Danza in Who’s the Boss. Not to mention, Peter’s ship being named after Alyssa Milano. Gamora’s naiveté mixed in with her overall badassery made the character a good addition. As I said Groot and Rocket were the most adorable characters but having Rocket be the only one to understand Groot is hilarious. It’s like a one sided version of broken telephone, where based on Rocket’s response, we the audience can piece together what Groot says. Also, Rocket being a sarcastic jackass and asking the group to steal another inmates prosthetic leg to assist in his escape plan just to see if they’d do it, made me laugh.. Drax’s humor came from his bluntness and lack of understanding of sarcasm. For example, when Star Lord says a pun went over Drax’s head, Drax responds; “Nothing goes over my head. If it did, my reflexes are so fast, I’d reach out and catch it. “Or when he refers to Gamora as a “Green Skinned Slut”, when he admits he has gotten over his grudge against her . He’s so straight faced and honest about it, I couldn’t help but laugh at the dichotomy of calling someone a slut and your friend in the same breath.

Two aspects of the first film I didn’t like were the villain and the third act finale. Ronan is another terrible villain. He’s a glorified lackey for Thanos, and the character is so over the top. It’s mustache twirl level. The film tells us that he wants to use the infinity gem to put an end to the Kree/Xandar treaty, which he feels has wronged his people the Kree, but the story never delves further into that. His antagonism to the Guardians of the Galaxy is nothing more than them being in the wrong place at the wrong time, as well as being in position of the Infinity Gem. The other thing that I didn’t care for was that Star Lord challenges Ronan to a dance off to distract him, while the others get the Infinity Gem away from him. As noted, I’ve loved every bit of humor in this film up to this point, but this dance off was out of place. The fate of Xandar and potentially the universe is at stake, and that’s the first thing you come up with. Does Marvel have a “1 Joke per Script Page” rule for their films or what? Not only did this gag pull me out of the film, but it lessened the severity of the situation and the impact of Groot’s death to spare his teammates. Don’t worry, in typical Marvel fashion, Groot didn’t really die, Rocket was able to collect pieces of him and plant him in a pot, so he could regrow.

The sequel for my money is a step up from the original in my opinion. Make no mistake, in terms of story, and story structure it’s pretty much the same. Characters and situations change, but the story structure doesn’t break the mold. This time around, the Guardians of the Galaxy are hired by the leader of the Sovereign nation to retrieve special batteries from a monstrous alien. In exchange for returning the batteries, the group is granted custody of Nebula who was captured for stealing the batteries in the first place. As they are dismissed, Rocket can’t help but steal a few batteries. Upon discovery of this the Sovereign leader sends of fleet of ships to attack the group and retrieve the batteries. When that fails, she hires Yondu and his Ravagers to retrieve the batters and capture the Guardians of the Galaxy. The Guardians of the Galaxy eventually team up with Yondu and his crew, not only to defeat the Sovereign army, but defeat the much larger threat of the film. A Guardian of the Galaxy even sacrifices themselves for another team member. Sounds a lot like the first film doesn’t it!? Despite this, there’s enough fresh elements that make this sequel better than the original.

The film does pick up on several open ended threads left open from the first film. One of which is Peter Quill’s celestial father. The character is first introduced in a flashback to his courtship and mating with Peter’s Mother. For this scene, the filmmakers used the de-aging CGI on Kurt Russell and you know what, it looks really good. I thought I was watching actual footage of 1980’s Kurt Russell. We first see him in earnest in the film, when he mysteriously provides an escape route for the Guardians as they evade the Sovereign Fleet. After a rough landing by the Milano, Star Lord finally meets his father Ego. Ego invites his son and crew to his planet. Once there, we get plenty of exposition detailing that Ego is a Celestial that manipulated matter to form a planet and placed itself at the planet’s core. After hundreds of years, he got lonely, so he formed a human body and traveled the universe, which ultimately led him to Earth and the love of his life Meredith Quill. When Peter asks why he didn’t return to Earth when she got ill and died, he intimated that a world without Meredith was a world he didn’t want to be on. He reiterates that he sent Yondu to retrieve him after Meredith’s death and blames Yondu for their delayed reunion. We get scenes of the newly acquainted father/son do bonding over shared taste in Earth music and Ego teaching Peter how to use his celestial power and manipulate energy and matter. This leads to a celestial game of catch. I got so swept up emotion of these scenes, that I didn’t see the twist coming. That twist being that this is all a ruse and Ego is the true villain of the film. He’s been looking for his son all this time, to use his son Peter’s celestial power, combined with his, to activate the seedling he planted on Earth to terraform it into an extension of himself. If that isn’t bad enough, he reveals he planted the tumor in Meredith’s brain, so she would die, allowing him to be left alone and easy for the taking. Even worse still, he’s attempted to do this on other planets he’s visited, but failed because his other progeny died when trying to harness their celestial powers. To use a wrestling term, I did not see that heel turn coming. One of the main reason I like this film a bit more than the first, is because Ego is a much better villain than Ronan. Part of that is the familial connection between Star Lord and Ego and part of it is the acting of Kurt Russell. The way both he and Chris Prat switch between being best of friends, to mortal enemies is emotional, raw and flawless. I could feel both the love and hate between the two characters through the course of the film. This plot point also gave us more info and more screen time for Yondu.

In the first film, you saw that Yondu and Peter Quill had an admiration for each other but the relationship was fractured. From Peter’s perspective, he believed that the only reason Yondu took him and kept him around, was because he was someone who could help him steal, getting into places where Yondu and his team couldn’t fit into. In this film, Yondu reveals that the main reason he kept him around, was because he didn’t want Ego to get his hands on Peter. Yondu taught Peter how to be self-sufficient and fend for himself. In a revealing dialogue with Rocket, Yondu reveals that he grew to love Peter and considers him his son. His action of taking Peter as a child got him in trouble with The Ravagers higher up personnel. Child trafficking is a no-no amongst The Ravagers. This plot point gives a cameo by Sylvester Stallone, who plays Stakar Ogord, and Michael Rosembaum as his right hand man, who exile Yondu and his crew from the Ravagers. Yay to James Gunn for including a cameo from Sly and Rosembaum. Boo to James Gunn for not putting Stallone and Russell in a scene together, for a mini Tango and Cash reunion. Anyways, back to Yondu. The moment where he sacrifices his life, to save Peter from dying in an explosion in a fight with Ego, was epically tragic. The moment before his death, where he says; “He may be your father, but I’m your daddy”, brought me to tears. This death does have a finality to it as well. Earlier in the film, Yondu makes a Marry Poppins reference that is quite funny. I won’t spoil it but keep an eye out for it. Michael Rooker is known as a character actor but he steals the film. By far my favourite character in the film, with Ego coming in second.

Three of my favourite characters from the first film left me with a mixed reaction. Groot was even better than last time, while Rocket and Drax left me wishing they would just shut up and had me rolling my eyes. Groot had only one way to go and that was up. As much as I loved Groot the first time around, how can you not love Baby Groot? The cutest part was how at every chance he got, he cuddled every member of his Guardians teammates. You will “aww” every time you see it. The funny part is when Rocket tries to explain to him about not touching the button to set off the bomb. He understands the words coming out of Rocket’s mouth, but he can’t truly comprehend them, which is why he wanted to push the button that set off the bomb. Essentially he has the mind of a two year old. Every time he appeared in a scene, that dynamic when mixed with what the rest of the group was going through, added the perfect amount of levity and fun to the situation. Rocket’s attitude in the first film was bold, brash and justified given his characters circumstances. However in this film, his attitude was amplified, to the point where he actively tried to push his crew members away. I understand that he felt that getting close to people hasn’t worked out in the past, so why go through that again, however, he got through those issues by the end of the first film. So this behaviour felt like retreading old ground from volume one. Speaking of retreading, Drax was a huge step backwards in volume 2. In the first film, his bluntness and naïveté was a driving force of humor. So James Gunn decided to ratchet that up ten notches, to where it became forced. This resulted in Drax becoming a cackling misogynistic brute, who besmirched and insulted Ego’s assistant Mantis, just to deflect his apparent growing feelings for her throughout the film. He flat out calls her ugly, I believe the word he uses is hideous. Then there’s the barrage of dick jokes he makes. He literally stops Ego in a piece of important, character building dialogue, to ask Ego if he created a dick for himself and how big it is. Then he and Star Lord make suggestive comments about the sizes of their package, I’m good with a raunchy penis joke now and again, but I think the four or five in this film were a bit excessive. Also, seeing as the Guardians of the Galaxy is the most kid friendly franchise to date in the MCU, you should be mindful that there are youngsters in the audience. There may have been more dick jokes in this film then Deadpool and for me, that’s problematic.

Much like the rest of both films, I am overall extremely satisfied with the visual effects in the films. The entire VFX team should be commended for making two entirely CGI characters Rocket Racoon and Groot look so real. Not going to lie, there were so many times in the first film, I wanted to reach out and pet Rocket or swing from Groot. Yes the performances are what connect you to characters, however, the first visual impressions makes you believe these characters exist, and these visuals succeed in that aspect in spades. Considering his background in smaller, low budget films I was impressed with several action scenes he crafted. Both films feature a space battle, between The Milano and Ronan’s warship in the first film, and the Sovereign fleet in the sequel. The space battles are epic in these particular scenes, almost Star Wars level worthy. Notice I said almost, so no one freak out. During the fight with the Sovereign fleet battle, when looking at the space battle from a POV shot of inside the Sovereign’s ships is a visual nod to an 80’s video game, which is in keeping with the fun tone of these films. The opening scenes of both films, are some of the most enjoyably interactive I’ve ever seen. Seeing Star Lord dance his way through an alien landscape, using dead fish like creatures as a microphone, dancing his way to stealing the orb, is like a hilarious absurd melding of So You Think You Can Dance and Indiana Jones. That shouldn’t work, but it does, making for an incredibly fun opening montage. Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2 starts with The Guardians fighting an alien monster, while Groot has music blaring in a stereo and is dancing, oblivious to the fight in the foreground. I love this opening because as a viewer, you’re totally transfixed, wanting to watch the battle, but at the same time, hooting and hollering over Groot’s adorably hilarious dancing. The third act featured Ego the living planet being destroyed. We almost got a firsthand look at a planet crumbling to its extinction. I’ve never seen it done quite like this. Ego transforms into a disembodied head at one point, which normally I don’t like, but it forces Peter to manipulating matter into Pac Man. Any time I can get Pac-Man references in a film is a positive. There were two instances where the CGI looked terrible. In the first film, when the Guardians join hands, trying to grab the infinity stone, the scene is engulfed in purple, as the team is literally being torn apart. This had to be one of the lamest looking third act finales in a comic book film. A clear sign that the filmmaker had exhausted his budget. In the second film, during the aforementioned fight with the alien monster, said monster looks rather rubbery and obviously CGI. Not as rubbery as the shark in Batman ’66 but considering we’re in 2017, this shouldn’t be an issue.

As I mentioned, when this film franchise first began, I had no idea who The Guardians of the Galaxy even were. As I said, the first trailer for the film didn’t even get me excited for the film. Yet, here we are two films into the franchise and their two of the best of the Marvel brand. One of the best things about these movies is, while they’re part of the MCU, they are standalone films in their own right. While I seem to have more issues with the second film, there was enough positive elements in Volume 2, that I still put it ahead of the first film. No matter which film you enjoy more, you’re guaranteed a sci-fi space opera full of emotion, humor and action featuring instantaneously lovable characters. Revisit the first one and most definitely see Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2, if you haven’t already.