Tag Archives: dc comics

TV Review: Arrow S3E4 The Magician

arrowOn this episode of Arrow, Nyssa and Oliver join forces to go after the Dark archer. Yeah, that pretty much sums up the episode. There’s a lot of “who killed Sara” in the episode, enough to keep us the viewers wondering who’s telling the truth, and who’s lying. At the end of the episode I’m still not sure.

This is a pretty straightforward episode that brings the fact Malcolm Merlyn is still alive to front and center. Overall, the episode brings up a lot of interesting stuff. First there’s Thea and Oliver’s relationship. They’ve promised to be open to each other, but clearly they’re both keeping something back. Second, you’ve got Nyssa running around and trying to get vengeance, and then Oliver’s proclamation to her. Finally, there’s Oliver’s vow to not kill. He struggles a lot in this episode with that. And we see that he’s a lot worse about all of that in his past than we know about… ie his time with Amanda Waller.

The episode overall is pretty mixed. By itself, the episode doesn’t stand too well on its own. But, as part of the build up in the season, it’s a solid episode. In three episodes we’ve had a lot thrown at us, and this episode slows that down some to have us catch up and bring some of those threads together.

It’s a bit weaker of an episode, but that’s partially because the first three were so packed with things. But, the episode was needed as well. Overall, Arrow has learned a lot in it’s first two seasons, and we’re seeing those lessons on full display, in a positive way, so far this season.

And, lets face it, it’s kind of hard to not dig the end of the episode.

Overall rating: 7.25

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Review: Harley Quinn Volume 1: Hot in the City

The influence of Deadpool comics is really quite apparent in DC’s current Harley Quinn series; she’s a nutty killer who doesn’t take anything seriously and finds herself talking to both the reader and to herself. Thankfully, however, Harley Quinn, a comic co-written by couple Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner and primarily drawn by Chad Hardin, doesn’t feel overly derivative. There is enough uniqueness to the way this book operates that the Deadpool comparison is easy to forget while reading. It’s also important to note that having something like this, shining a silly light in a cave of grim and gritty darkness, taking place in a modern DC comic is special. The first nine issues of this comic, collected in Harley Quinn Volume 1: Hot in the City, form a great read that offers loads of funny, simple fun, even though it isn’t very consistent in quality.

harley bob

While not without the rare instance of groan-worthy, juvenile humor that vaguely objectifies particularly attractive women, Harley Quinn is largely sex-positive and empowering when it comes to its portrayal of sexuality. The titular main character, along with Poison Ivy, a reoccurring character used to pal around with Harley, is sexually playful, but the sense that they are in control and comfortable is always clear. The characters are also ethically complex, but this dynamic is handled with intelligent care; for example, when Harley takes up a part-time therapy gig, she doesn’t do anything offensive that will upset those emotionally invested in issues of mental health.

Fortunately, Harley Quinn’s first volume treads careful ground and offers light-hearted entertainment that is easy-to-read. The characterization of Harley works incredibly well, embodying an infectious, care-free brand of goofy sociopathic behavior with some heart. Harley just wants to have fun, which for her means loads of violence, loads of food, and loads of cute animals. Every now and then that quest for a good time is interrupted by an impassioned tangent from Harley. Often, these little bits manage to be more touching than what one would expect.

The book is all over the place in terms of plot, but this is rarely a cause for concern. Various plot threads are touched upon for just a little while before the book moves on, but at the end of the day, no subplot is particularly substantial enough to need that much attention. A lot is built in this series in terms of supporting cast and activities for Harley to partake in, all carried along with another simple, overarching plot point that ties every issue together. Most issues more or less work on their own, all the while crafting a bigger narrative that is fun in its totality.

To the book’s detriment, the quality isn’t linear either. The first issue, featuring a ton of fourth-wall breaking comedy that ends up incorporating a cavalcade of big name DC artists, is fantastic fun that is never exactly matched by later efforts. Sometimes, a particular issue isn’t as solid as the average attempt, dragging down the pacing. Towards the middle, particularly in a two-issue arc found in issues five and six, certain sequences come off as rushed and to a certain extent, dull. The comedy is usually sound, but every now and then it gets a bit uncomfortable; the most striking example is in the fourth issue, featuring some violence towards a young boy that proves unnerving.

The art style of Harley Quinn is largely safe, but still compelling in its technical proficiency and emotive sense of style. Page layouts are standard, but the sense of movement and display of facial emotion works as good as one would want. While not remarkable in this regard, the book manages to look and feel exciting and energetic. There is plenty of color and detail, with solid background work as well. The medium of sequential art is also put to great work here when it comes to comedy; panels bereft of dialogue that work mainly to get across a character’s facial reaction to something ridiculous are plentiful and end up being hilarious.

All in all, Hot in the City is a load of fun that is easy to enjoy. It doesn’t maintain a consistent quality, but it’s always enjoyable to some extent: generally a great extent. Anyone looking to get a laugh out of something in DC’s lineup would be hard-pressed to find something better.

Story: Jimmy Palmiotti, Amanda Conner Art: Chad Hardin
Story: 8.0 Art: 8.0 Overall: 8.0 Recommendation: Buy

To check out Matt’s about.me, click here.

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

DC All Access – Ep 231 – iJustine reveals new LEGO Batman 3 character + Earth 2

In brightest day, in blackest night, no evil shall escape…Blair?!? Yes, when Blair heeds the call of the Green Lantern Corps, it falls on Youtube star iJustine to help Tiffany bring you the latest from the world of DC Entertainment. Things get started with a rollicking session of LEGO Batman 3, giving us a glimpse of as-yet-unseen gameplay as well revealing a new playable character. After that, Earth 2: World’s End co-writers Marguerite Bennett and Mike Johnson discuss what lies around the bend in their brand new weekly series, we look at the new Batman: Death of the Family book and Joker mask set, and wrap up with a glimpse at the first round of co-host submission videos!

TV Review: The Flash S1E4 Going Rogue

theflash_full_costumeThe Flash stops a robbery but the culprits get away after shooting a guard, and The Flash chooses to save the man instead of following the criminals. Joe shows Barry a book of suspects and Barry identifies Leonard Snart as the leader of the group. Snart revises his plan to steal the Kahndaq Dynasty Diamond and gets a boost when he gets his hands on a stolen “cold gun,” which could kill The Flash. Dr. Wells is furious when he finds out that Cisco built the cold gun without telling anyone and now it’s missing. Meanwhile, Iris is getting the silent treatment from Joe because of her relationship with Eddie. Finally, The Flash and Captain Cold have an epic confrontation.

The first that stands out about the episode is the humor of it. With Felicity back for the episode, there’s a cuteness that really grounds The Flash. It’s really cute, and put a smile on my face. That cuteness is balanced out with the seriousness about half-way through as the Flash and his team have to deal with the loss of a life (a civilian, so no big shocks). That mix of serious and lightheartedness really makes the episode, and series, stand out for me.

This episode is the debut of Wentworth Miller as Captain Cold, probably the most iconic of Flash’s rogues. Out of them all Captain Cold is absolutely my favorite, partially due to the fact he’s somewhat sympathetic. He has a clear set of rules, like to not kill unless they have to. But, here he ups the damage compared to previous villains. He goes out of his way to cause damage, and almost kills folks, which flies in the face of his rules.

Even better, the episode ends in a bit of a draw, and sets up Snart/Captain Cold as a big villain for the future. We’ll clearly get the full Rogues in the future, I’m crossing my finger it’s this season, and if the end is any indication, looks like we will! Can’t wait.

Overall rating: 8.5

Nerd Black Classic Gets Batman

Nerd Block today announced that November’s Nerd Block Classic box will include a Batman item. Previously they announced an item having to do with Boba Fett would be in the box as well.

Nerd Block Classic Batman

TV Review: Gotham S1E6 Spirit of the Goat

gotham cast When a killer begins targeting the first-born of Gotham’s elite, Bullock is forced to confront traumatic memories from a nearly identical case he worked in the past. Later, Gordon is confronted by past decisions.

This episode of Gotham is light on the main attraction, Oswald Cobblepot, but heavy on Gordon and Bullock. It’s a very different episode that focuses more on the detective aspect, with some supernatural elements, versus what we’ve been seeing before, which I’d call more drama.

What’s particularly interesting, and very much-needed, is a bit more insight into who Bullock is. Yes, he’s crooked. Yes, he’s morally questionable. But with all of that, there’s still a code that drives him, and we get a bit of that. We get to see that he really isn’t all that shitty, and there’s some good in there.

What’s also meh is the whole Gordon killing Cobblepot aspect, which comes to a head here. It’s not exactly difficult for him to beat the charges, so I don’t see this going very far, and in general it’d have been great for this to play out longer in the season.

Again, the episode is mixed, like previous episodes. Bullock and Gordon on the case is solid. The rest is a bit meh. Much like a lot of the series as a whole. It’s still figuring out its rhythm and balance, but it’s getting there. The ending though hints it’s all about to get good.

Overall Score: 7

TV Review: Constantine S1E1 Non Est Asylum

CONSTANTINE-First-Official-Image1Based on the wildly popular comic book series Hellblazer from DC Comics‘s imprint Vertigo, as well as the New 52 series Constantine, seasoned demon hunter and master of the occult John Constantine is armed with a ferocious knowledge of the dark arts and a wickedly naughty wit. He fights the good fight – or at least he did. With his soul already damned to hell, he’s decided to abandon his campaign against evil until a series of events thrusts him back into the fray when an old friend’s daughter becomes the target of supernatural forces.

It was only nine years ago that John Constantine made his mass media debut in the 2005 dreadful film Constantine, which starred Keanu Reeves in the title role. It’s interesting that nine years later the next attempt to bring the character to the masses shares the same title, but after seeing the first episode it sort of makes sense.

The visual aesthetic I think shares a lot with that film, something the movie got right. It has a bit of a cheesy horror film vibe about it all, just a step above the cheese though (though not much). The film and television show share the basics of the character, and a little of the attitude, and that’s where things generally end.

The greatest departure is Matt Ryan, who now embodies the role of John Constantine, sharing an impressive closeness in look to his comic depiction, and also playing off the borderline asshole personality of the character as well. The first episode rests on his shoulders, squarely on his shoulders, because that’s what there really is for the show.

Constantine the show is somewhat restrained by the fact its a network show, as opposed to being able to pull off an R adaptation. The comic has done some of its best work when it’s embraced its mature label. Mix that with some folks who know “horror” and you could have an amazing show. The debut though feels like “horror” light. It needs to go full “horror,” and dig in to what makes that genre succeed. Television lacks a solid horror show, and this could fill that niche nicely. As is, it dances around that, sanitizing the scares, and disturbing imagery, for the masses. It begins to go there, and it never quite crosses that moment that has me jump from my seat, or feel tense with anticipation and fear. There is definitely moments I was shocked NBC showed (don’t get me started on that pairing). There’s also a lot of religious themes, stories, and characters, that would probably get the masses up in arms if done correctly. The New 52 Constantine is a sanitized Hellblazer, and Constantine the show’s first episode is a further sanitized version of the New 52 Constantine.

The debut is a decent start, and should pair nicely with its lead in show Grimm. It shows promise in where it’ll go from here, but overall the debut episode didn’t blow me away. I’m nowhere near ready to render my verdict for the series as a whole. There’s a lot I like, Ryan being top of the list, and nothing I truly disliked. The show just kind of is. What it embraces from its comic roots will be a key to the season, and its willingness to go full horror and push what can be shown on television. There’s great potential in the series, we’ve seen what the character can do in the comics, crossing my fingers the series pulls off some magic and embraces a bit more of its dark side.

Overall rating: 7

 

Review: He-Man and the Masters of the Universe #18

she-raAlthough introduced fairly early into the stories of He-Man there has never been a very good way to overlap the stories of his sister with his own.  He-Man was at first a toy and then later a television series and comic, which was wildly popular among boys in the early 1980s.

Seeing the success of the franchise in one demographic, the creators tried their hand at a related franchise that would appeal to girls and they came up with She-Ra.  Although the animated show had some success, with two seasons compared to He-Man’s three, it never gained the same traction in terms of a fan base.  The characters were a weird mix of dolls and action figures, with the main character Adora/She-Ra focused equally on love as on fighting her mortal enemy, Hordak.   I remember as a young boy eager to fill out my own collection of action figures, that I took one look at a discounted Bow and scoffing and walking away, such a blatant romantic interest that he has a heart on his chest.  Equally although there must have been some, I never met a girl that collected She-Ra figures.   She-Ra has always been a character in need of a home and never really able to find one.

He-Man and the related characters now exist in popular culture primarily as comic book characters and since the relaunch of DC Comics into the new 52, has formed one of the sole ongoing and reliable series not tied to the main universe.  As a comic franchise it has had its ups-and-downs, though one constant has been an attempt to integrate She-Ra into the storylines.  The conclusion of the Blood of Grayskull story line introduces the character into He-Man universe as well as has probably ever been done.   Gone are the somewhat hoaky aspects of the character, replaced only by a strong story, which spanned 6 issues of the series and 1000 years of comic book time.

This final issue of the story arc is still one that is not going to be extremely moving for a lot of readers, as it borrows heavily from aspects of science fiction, fantasy and comic clichés to give a mostly action-focused story.  Nonetheless it is still interesting to read, well-produced and flows well with the bits of story and dialogue moving the action along well.  Fans of the franchise might be particularly interested in this issue, as after nearly thirty years it gives Adora a proper home and a new meaning.

Story: Dan Abnett Art: Pop Mhan
Story: 7.5 Art: 7.5 Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Read

Infinite Crisis Champion Profile: Surrender to peace, when Starro debuts!

Get an inside look at Starro, the new champion from Infinite Crisis, the free-to-play MOBA from Turbine based in the DC Universe! On Wednesday, November 5, players can excel at pushing and controlling map lanes when this aggressive controller goes live!

Starro is a Star Conqueror. These nomadic and parasitic creatures roam the cosmos in two forms: motherstars and parasites. Motherstars are sentient, while parasites are extensions of the motherstar’s consciousness. A parasite attaches itself to other sentient creatures, allowing the motherstar to control that creature’s mind. Once controlled, the victims work toward growing more motherstars to go out and bring universal harmony to other planets—by conquering them.

Little did the Star Conqueror who came to be known as Starro know how difficult carrying that plan out on Earth would be!

Starro has little concern for what happens to the individuals it controls. They’re a tiny part of the whole. When Starro speaks to creatures it doesn’t control, it does so telepathically, urging them to join in universal harmony.

Fashion Spotlight: Justice, King of the Watch, and I Will Invade This City!

Ript Apparel has three designs today for fans of DC Comics. Justice, King of the Watch, and I Will Invade This City! from Mnemovore, Ninjaink, and mhendrickson39 will be for sale on October 22, 2014 only!

Justice by Mnemovore

Justice

King of the Watch by Ninjaink

King of the Watch

I Will Invade This City! by mhendrickson39

I Will Invade This City!

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