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TV Review: Stargirl E108 Shiv Part Two

Stargirl

Courtney is injured after her encounter with Cindy, aka Shiv. So what’s a father to do? Lie through his teeth to keep her identity a secret. It’s a loving moment, if not a bit twisted, and really shows that Pat and Courtney’s relationship has come a long way. It has him not just lying to authorities but also to his wife, Courtney’s mother. It’s a hell of a start to Stargirl‘s eighth episode, “Shiv, Part Two.”

Further scenes are really interesting concerning Pat and his relationship with Stargirl/Courtney. There’s a really touching scene as he talks to the staff laying out where he stands with things and where his head’s at. It’s a dual role in many ways not just a sidekick/mentor watching out for his ward but that of a father watching out for his daughter.

Cindy also now knows the identity of Stargirl, upping the danger for her and her family. It also leaves her dad pissed because she didn’t finish the job and Stargirl is still alive. That’s a factor and direction I didn’t expect the series to go in this year and I thought it’d be something we’d see in a second season.

The episode is an interesting one with Pat teaming up with Beth to try to find out more about Cindy and a completely unexpected confrontation between Cindy and Courtney. The latter half of the episode is where things really pick up adding some interesting and delivering action. It’s an episode that’s hard to describe without spoiling it. What happens feels like something we shouldn’t be seeing yet and the reveals and twists and turns are the things of really solid cliffhangers.

Stargirl continues to be a series that mixes humor, action, heart, and drama. It also defies expectations each and every episode. This is a show that feels like it’s breaking the established rules of superhero television and it’s a series that’s a must-watch each and every week.

Overall Rating: 8.15

Ray Fisher Says Joss Whedon was Abusive and Unprofessional on Justice League (Update)

A few days after actor Ray Fisher retracted his praise of director/writer Joss Whedon he went on to further elaborate why on Twitter.

The actor who played Cyborg in Justice League stated that:

Joss Wheadon’s on-set treatment of the cast and crew of Justice League was gross, abusive, unprofessional, and completely unacceptable.

He was enabled, in many ways, by Geoff Johns and Jon Berg.

Accountability>Entertainment

Fisher has been talking more about the film since the announcement that Zack Snyder’s vision for the film will be done for HBO Max. He praised Snyder and writer Chris Terrio for “empowering” him and giving him a seat at the creative table with input on his character for the film.

It’s believed that much of Fishers Victor Stone/Cyborg storyline was cut in Whedon’s version of the film. Whedon took over for Snyder on the film after Snyder had to step down due to a family tragedy.

Named as enabling Whedon in the Tweet are Johns and Berg. Both were producers on the film and have credits on numerous DC properties going forward. Johns shifted his focus from comics to DC’s live-action properties but still has handled high-profile DC comic storylines like the recent Doomsday Clock. Johns went from film to comics due to DC staffer Eddie Berganza who himself has a history of abuse. In 2010 Johns was named the Chief Creative Officer of DC Entertainment and he stepped down from his executive role in 2018. He launched Mad Ghost Productions to focus on film, tv, and comic book based on DC properties. He’s currently working on the Green Lantern Corps for HBO Max. Johns being named would be yet another DC executive accused of shielding abusive behavior by staff.

Whedon himself has been involved in comics with the relaunch of his Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel properties at BOOM! Studios.

None of the individuals named have made a statement regarding Fisher’s statement.

Update: Jon Berg has made a statement to Variety saying it was “categorically untrue that we enabled any unprofessional behavior.” He also said “I remember [Fisher] being upset that we wanted him to say ‘Booyaa,’ which is a well known saying of Cyborg in the animated series.”

It was announced today as well that Fisher’s co-star Jason Mamoa would be starring in an upcoming film produced by Johns and Berg.

TV Review: Stargirl E107 Shiv Part One

Stargirl

The episode kicks off with hints as to what being the JSA means to its members. You can see the changes in each person as they begin to fall into their new life.

What immediately stands out is Beth not making her parents lunch and being distracted by her now powers and role. Her parents seem lost due to it. Out of all of the characters so far, Beth seems to be the one that really has changed the most as opposed to their powers just enhancing who they are.

The episode is an interesting one revolving more around the high school and not just the new JSA but their future rivals. The children of the villains take the spotlight such as Cindy and Henry.

We get a bit more about Cindy as Courtney parnters up with her for chemistry class and a school dance looms. Cindy is an interesting character as she begins to have a rough go of school. Her Queen Bee routine begins to falter as she’s rejected by those around her. We also get to see more of her home life and some of what her growing up was like.

Cindy when she gets home, the relationship between her and her stepmother is one that’s beyond abusive and shows a home that’s broken. Any ounce of sympathy for Cindy should quickly go away after the segment with her mother.

But, what’s interesting is that out of all of the future villains, Cindy is the one that’s aware of her father’s role. She goes into his lair in defiance of her stepmother and when confronted by… something (Grundy?) it doesn’t phase her at all. What we learn is very intriguing not just with her mother but her in general. She’s very different from the rest of the future villains as she’s fully in on the situation and wants to join the Injustice Society. It’s a bit different than where I was expecting the show to go.

While the villains get organized, the Justice Society of America needs to get organized as well. We get something of a training montage as Pat runs down the villains we’ve met so far. The team isn’t one quite yet and the series gives us some interesting interactions. Courtney, who is a vet compared to the rest, is a bit headstrong.

But the point of it is to compare Courtney and Cindy. Their pairing during chemistry is for a reason. How Pat treats Courtney is being mirrored by that of Dragon King and Cindy.

There’s a bit of some eye-rolling in the episode. While a lot of it feels fresh and interesting some of it to is predictable like the “future villain” liking the person he doesn’t know is a hero. Cameron asks Courtney to the dance and it feels a bit cliche but even with that, the episode still surprises.

It ends with a fight between Stargirl and… we’ll leave that one to the viewers. It’s a bit surprising as it’s something that’s expected but it’s something that’s expected for a future season, not the first. The show does a solid job of keeping viewers on their toes, just like it does with Janitor Justin who fans of the comic will know about. The episode delivers just enough excitement as far as this mysterious character to get viewers excited to come back for more.

Another solid episode that plays with tropes and expectations and delivers a hell of a lot of fun.

Overall Rating: 8.15

Batman: Three Jokers Gets Premium Variants

It’s one of the most anticipated comic book stories of the decade: Batman: Three Jokers by Geoff Johns and Jason Fabok! Debuting in August, this series delivers the payoff to the years-long mystery of why—and how—there are three Jokers, and what that revelation means to the eternal conflict between Batman, his allies, and the Clown Prince of Crime.

To commemorate this landmark series, DC will offer to participating retailers nine Premium Variant Covers for Batman: Three Jokers, each illustrated by series artist Jason Fabok. Along with the main cover and regular variant cover, each issue of Batman: Three Jokers will have three Premium Variant Covers, showcasing Fabok’s interpretation of a different face of The Joker’s madness throughout DC history. All nine of the Premium Variant Covers mirror Fabok’s main covers for the three-issue series, giving a close-up look at even more of The Joker’s terrifying incarnations.

The Premium Variant covers for issue #1, on sale August 25, are as follows:

  • Red Hood (Variant A)
  • Joker Fish (Variant B)
  • Joker Bomb (Variant C)

For issue #2, on sale September 29:

  • Joker Behind Bars (Variant D)
  • Death in the Family/Top Hat & Monocle (Variant E)
  • Joker Applying Makeup (Variant F)

And for the final issue #3, on sale October 27:

  • Batman: The Killing Joke Hawaiian shirt and camera (Variant G)
  • Stand-Up Comedian (Variant H)
  • “Endgame” Mohawk (Variant I)

Participating retailers ordering all nine premium variant covers will also receive one free Batman: Three Jokers #3 “compilation” premium variant cover, collecting all nine of Fabok’s variants, plus the three main covers from the series.

Batman: Three Jokers by Geoff Johns, Fabok and colorist Brad Anderson debuts at open and operating comic book stores and digital retailers on Tuesday, August 26, with issue #2 on sale September 30 and the series conclusion on October 28, just in time for Halloween. Each issue is priced at $6.99, and will carry DC’s “Black Label” content descriptor, identifying the content as appropriate for readers 17+.

TV Review: Stargirl E106 The Justice Society

Stargirl

Again, Stargirl kicks off an episode delving into more of the history of the characters and world. In this case it’s Artemis, who was mentioned as a potential member of the new Justice Society in the previous episode. It’s an interesting opening as it’s clear where her parents stand but not so much with her (there’s a lot of kids who are clearly going to take over as villains though the comics give a hint). The opening also keeps up the show’s willingness to keep things adult at times with yet another death. Seriously, how many people have died on this show?

This episode is pretty key as there wasn’t a screener available which usually is a sign that there’s big moments they don’t want to come out. That seems to be hinted really early as Pat and Courtney debate the need for a new Justice Society and who Courtney has recruited.

It’s an interesting discussion between the two as you can see where each are coming from in their arguments. Pat is haunted by the death of the previous team. He’s afraid history will repeat itself with a bunch of kids dying instead. It’s understandable the motivations. Then there’s Courtney who is finding purpose and in some ways closure of her past by channeling her idealism through this route. It too gives us character motivations that make sense and are clear.

The episode definitely delivers heart as Courtney sees Beth and Yolanda with their new powers/abilities and we can see how important it is for them in such a short period of time. This is more than just stopping evil to them but it’s an opportunity to redefine who they are, take back their control, and even just find friendship.

The episode also gives some solid time between Barbara Whitmore, played by Amy Smart, and Trae Romano‘s Mike Dugan, her step-son. The two characters haven’t had the screen time that Courtney or Pat’s relationship has and thought it’s maybe a few minutes, it adds a lot to the two’s relationship.

Continuing the series’ pattern, the team gets to fight yet another villain, this time the Gambler as he continues the Injustice Society’s plan, whatever that might be. Enough has been teased about their plot to keep viewers guessing and makes the show a bit more entertaining. What’s going on is both clear and not and allows the viewer to run with their imagination. But one confrontation leads to another. We also get Sportsmasters and Tigress as the Justice Society features their first battle as a team. It goes about as well as you’d expect with not so much teamwork as individual battles. We get to see powers used and some entertaining moments for the team. They’re definitely green and don’t automatically gain lots of experience with their powers. You can see them learn, and fail, as the battle goes on. They make mistakes and fail hard at times but they also progress.

The episode is another solid win for the series expanding on characters, the mythology, and adding some solid depth to some of the secondary characters. You also can’t help but enjoy those final minutes as the team comes together. It’s the “hell yeah” moment we’ve expected and brings the team together. It’s that moment where the series begins to get really rolling from the setup and heads into the direction we’ve been expecting. This is a pretty key episode in that it takes everything that’s been building and sets the series up for the rest of the season and the eventual clash between the JSA and Injustice Society.

Overall Rating: 8.5

Preview: Green Lantern 80th Anniversary 100-Page Super Spectacular #1

Green Lantern 80th Anniversary 100-Page Super Spectacular #1

(W) Geoff Johns, Mariko Tamaki, Peter J. Tomasi, Jeff Lemire, Robert Venditti, Dennis O’Neil, Sina Grace, Charlotte Fullerton, Ron Marz, James Tynion IV, Others (A) Ivan Reis, Fernando Pasarin, Darryl Banks, Mike Grell, Rafa Sandoval, Others (CA) Liam Sharp
In Shops: Jun 24, 2020
SRP: $9.99

In brightest day, in blackest night, no evil could ever escape their sight! The Green Lanterns are celebrating 80 years of keeping the DC Universe safe. Join us to see tales of all of the universe’s most legendary Green Lanterns: Alan Scott, Hal Jordan, John Stewart, Guy Gardner, Kyle Rayner, Jessica Cruz, Simon Baz, and appearances from other cosmic favorites! A legendary lineup of creators including Geoff Johns, Peter J. Tomasi, Jeff Lemire, Ivan Reis, and others will be keeping the galaxy glowing bright! PRESTIGE FORMAT.

Green Lantern 80th Anniversary 100-Page Super Spectacular #1

Batman: The Three Jokers Get Souvenir Playing Cards with Each Issue

In celebration of the highly anticipated Batman: The Three Jokers prestige miniseries, DC, and participating comic book stores, are dealing fans the ultimate wild card by offering a free with purchase souvenir playing card for each of the three issues of the series, while supplies last.

Featuring breathtaking new artwork by series artist Jason Fabok, each issue of the Geoff Johns-penned series will feature a different card, spotlighting the Clown Prince of Crime and his three major adversaries – Batman, Batgirl and Jason Todd.

Batman: The Three Jokers reexamined the myth of who, or what The Joker is, and what’s at the heart of not just his eternal struggle with Batman, but how his horrific treatment of Barbara Gordon and Jason Todd has affected them. Arriving at open and operating comic book stores on Tuesday, August 25, the series will carry DC’s “Black Label” content descriptor, identifying the series is appropriate for readers 17+.

TV Review: Stargirl E105 Hourman and Dr. Mid-Nite

Stargirl

Again, Stargirl kicks off an episode delving into more of the history of the characters and world. In this case, it’s the history of Hourman, and his son Rick Harris. The details are danced around teasing what’s to come and a new character we know will be key down the road.

In “Hourman and Dr. Mid-Nite,” we get dual origins as a new Hourman and Dr. Mid-Nite are the focus. The episode does a great job in balancing the seriousness of the show and the humor. What it does really well is bringing these two new heroes together and does it in an intelligent way.

The show has done an excellent job of bringing together varied personalities and the actors really play off of each other well. Beth, Yolanda, and Courtney all are very unique in character and background. Each bring something different and interesting to the show and add things in their own way.

And we get a double dose in the episode with Rick. He’s the least like the rest without the enthusiasm and want to do what’s right. You get extremes in the episode with Beth’s positive enthusiasim to the point of anoyance and Rick’s less than altruistic viewpoint. Either could easily have been the focus of their own episode but the two together creates an interestying dynamic and juxtaposition.

And what it does really well is giving us more about the two. Though Rick and Beth are different, they both have issues regarding their parents and are abandoned in their own way. One whose parents have died and the other whose parents are too busy. Their motivations are both understandable and relatable to different viewers in different ways.

The episode also keeps hinting at things to come with another kid of a villain, connecting the dots. If there’s a second season, there’s absolutely going to be a clash of generations. That’s pretty clear and the the show doesn’t do a good job at hiding this direction but that’s not a bad thing at all. It works and works well. Predictable but also done in a way that feels natural.

Where the show really shines is being able to take the viewer deep into DC Comic history but educate. It’s not a name drop where the viewers in the know can be excited, things are explained and play into the plot of the show. Here we get one name drop which isn’t explained, and harkens back to the first episode, but beyond that we get deep explanations of Hourman and Dr. Mid-Nite in natural ways that keep the flow of the show.

It’s an interesting episode as it focuses more on the heroes as opposed to balancing things. We get a little bit of whatever the Injustice Society is up to but that’s just a few scenes in the episode. Instead it really sets up the dynamic of our new heroic team and the good and bad that brings.

It’s not the best episode of the series but it’s the most intriguing so far in what it sets up and who it introduces.

Overall Rating: 8.0

TV Review: Stargirl E104 Wildcat

Stargirl

The fourth episode of Stargirl delivers more in the first four minutes of the episode than many series do the entire season. In the episode, Courtney sets out to recruit new members to the Justice Society of America. Pat’s suspicion is piqued following a bizarre conversation with one of the town’s residents.

Stargirl‘s first three episodes have really focused on setting up the world and characters. Courtney, played by Brec Bassinger, has been the clear focus with her gaining her new role and her relationship with her stepfather Pat played by Luke Wilson. The series has teased other characters in Courtney’s life with a table of misfits. We’ve gotten hints about them but not much as far as details.

That changes this episode. The opening focuses on Yolanda Montez played by Yvette Monreal. We know very little about her beyond some of how she’s gotten bullied, we don’t know the “why.” Now we do as we get a runup to school President election and a revealing picture. It’s a real-world issue that many kids will face and shows the series willingness to deliver some reality to its fantastical elements.

And the episode has no problem diving into those fantastical elements like the hints we get about the items Courtney grabbed from the Justice Society of America’s base. But, there’s also Dragon King played by Nelson Lee who makes an intimidating appearance. The way that introduction ends… well, it’s pretty dark for this show.

But, the episode really comes down to its heart and how grounded it is. A scene between Courtney and Yolanda is heartbreaking. It draws a line in the sand with Courtney making a hell of a definitive statement and showing she’s clearly on the sign of right. It also delivers some solid emotion and Yvette’s acting is fantastic. The scene is something that should really connect with teens watching the series and hopefully will get parents to rethink their position on what happens in the episode.

The interaction between Courtney and Yolanda is great as the episode continues and Courtney reveals her secret identity and attempts to recruit Yolanda. The interaction is great and where the two go from there is fantastic. It’s a great segment of learning powers in the modern age that feels like it was inspired by the film Shazam!. The humor is great and in the end there’s a solid lesson in the episode.

Yolanda gets the spotlight and a voice discovering herself in a way and standing up. The episode is full of moments of strength and one that kids will see differently from their parents. Hopefully, parents may see things differently by the end as well.

And then there’s that ending. It’s rather messed up and leaves a lot to the imagination which is often more scary and twisted than anything that can be written. It’s a great ending and one that’s again unexpected showing Stargirl is willing to go that extra step and deliver moments that it’s generally happy exterior hides. The series continues to impress with an episode that expands the cast, delivers some solid emotion, and builds upon the mystery.

Overall Rating: 8.25

TV Review: Stargirl E103 Icicle

Stargirl

The third episode of Stargirl shifts a bit with an opening that feels more in tone of the original X-Men film. It focuses on Icicle and the loss of a loved one. It also gives some motivation to the character which should be interesting to see how it’s used. The focus is on fighting “injustice,” so to see how that’s warped should be interesting.

And from that, we get to Stargirl and S.T.R.I.P.E., Pat and Courtney, and their balancing their regular and superhero lives. Compared to the opening, it’s night and day in tone and emphasizes Stargirls’ saccharine nature. The relationship between the two is interesting two and as a duo, it’s a solid paring, especially how they play off of each other.

The episode too focuses a bit more on Courtney at school expanding on plotlines and characters that have only been teased a little in the first two episodes.

What Jordan Mahkent/Icicle’s plan for the town is an interesting one that I can’t quite put my finger on. It feels like Cobra plan and something we’ve seen on G.I. Joe.

We also get a confrontation between Stargirl, S.T.R.I.P.E., and Icicle which feels a bit sooner than expected. The segment is surprisingly good with an ending that’s shocking an unexpected. It really makes the show stand out even further delivering real emotion not just with what happens but also the moments the follow.

It impacts William Zarick/The Wizard and leads to an amazing segment between Pat and Courtney. We learn more about the Justice Society and Luke Wilson really shines. He goes to the next level from the actor we’ve seen so many times before in other roles. It feels like Wilson really becomes his character in this moment and episode and breaks from what we expect of him.

But, even with the episode taking a dour turn, it still delivers hope. The episode still delivers a sense of wonder and a positive outlook. It hints as to what’s to come. And then delivers another surprise showing the series has no issue delivering twists and turns.

But, the episode doesn’t really just stand on those surprises, it’s the small details and character interactions. An empty chair at a table for dinner says so much. A hug and a picture tell a story. There’s so much in this series that’s clearly been thought through creating a full package.

Overall Rating: 8.5

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