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Superman turns 83!

The iconic cover of Action Comics #1

Superman premiered this day 83 years ago–the cover date says June but it was published April 18, 1938. One could argue that no character has had an impact on culture and popular culture as much as Superman has. In the first issue, he appeared, Superman was portrayed as a fighter for social justice and a warrior for common good, and he hasn’t changed much since then.

Superman was created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, who were both children of Jewish immigrants who fled to the United States to flee persecution. The character of “The Super-Man” was originally a bald telepathic supervillain but would be revamped and remodeled by Siegel and Shuster into the character we all know and love.

An early desciption of Superman’s powers. He would evolve and become much stronger later.

Superman has a lot in common with Siegel and Shuster, he is an immigrant himself, sent by his parents Jor-El and Lara to our planet to save him from the destruction of Krypton. Here Superman, aka Clark Kent, leads a double life as a godlike alien and a mild-mannered reporter. As Superman, Clark Kent, inspires humanity to be their best and gives them hope for a better tomorrow. The best portrayals of Superman don’t focus on his alienness but rather on his unique humanity. Superman is an inspiration in and out of comic books. He gives humanity an ideal to strive for and hopes that things can be better.

For me, personally, I look at Superman as that ideal. He doesn’t aim to destroy or damage humanity, he uses his heroism to inspire people and lead them into a new age of generosity and kindness. Superman may toss around and fight supervillains such as Lex Luthor and Zod, but his greatest strength isn’t his fist of steel but his kind heart. As a child watching Christopher Reeve fly around helping people inspired me to treat everyone I come across with kindness. Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster used their remarkable creativity to inspire generations to be creative and good. Since this is the Spring of Sci-Fi, I thought it would be an excellent time to highlight an icon of Science Fiction and the two creators who helped inspire the world. I want to end this post with one of my favorite Superman moments. It comes from Grant Morrison’s iconic and essential All-Star Superman and to me demonstrates who Superman is and why he is important.

A scene that shows Superman’s true power and inspiration.
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Batman Comics Movies Reviews

Review: Zack Snyder’s Justice League (2021) (Part Two)

We’re back with the second and the final part of our Zack Snyder’s Justice League review. The film is still a mess, but shaping up to be better than the original cut. It’s time to review the final two hours of this four-hour superhero saga. The film, obviously, is directed by Zack Snyder. It is written by Chris Terrio. The film stars Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne/Batman, Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman/Diana Prince, Jason Momoa as Arthur Curry/Aquaman, Ezra Miller as Barry Allen/The Flash, Ray Fisher as Victor Stone/Cyborg, and Henry Cavill as Clark Kent/Superman.

As I mentioned in the previous review, the Snyder cut does a tremendous job with the origins of Cyborg. Viewers get to see Victor Stone’s life before the horrific accident that almost killed him. The Mother Box, an alien device, is as connected to Cyborg as the Kryptonian spaceship is to Superman. If it wasn’t for the Mother Box, Cyborg wouldn’t exist. This inclusion into the film is a great addition by Snyder. However, a surprise addition follows.

After the scene where Cyborg explains the background of this particular Mother Box, we get a new sequence where Martha Kent is visiting Lois Lane in Metropolis. The pair chat with the surprise coming after the talk. Martha goes to the hallway after leaving and it’s unveiled that it’s actually the Martian Manhunter (Harry Lennix)! General Swanwick (Harry Lennix) from Man of Steel is secretly the Manhunter. He’s there to motivate a depressed Lois Lane to live again in the world. Why? His motivations are unclear.

In the original cut, there’s a scene where the Justice League resurrect Superman from the dead. The scene isn’t executed properly, as the tone is everywhere and the scene is confusing as to how Superman is resurrected. There wasn’t a thorough explanation. This time around, the movie explains better how the Mother Box can bring Superman to life. Also, the tone is better as the League are afraid of the resurrection and are somewhat at odds due to fear. Snyder introduces a new nightmare scene into this sequence. Cyborg gets a vision of what could possibly happen with Superman’s return. It seems that the future could be in peril with Superman’s return to the living.

Snyder shakes up the battle scene where Superman fights the Justice League. In the original version, Joss Whedon made the scene similar to an Avengers’ fight sequence. There’s drama injected with comical quips. Snyder’s version is all drama with peril as Superman is deadly in his return. The scene is smoother, cohesive, and it makes more sense.

The final battle sequence sees many creative changes. Unlike the original cut, the team actually loses briefly. Steppenwolf forms the Unity and the world explodes. For the first time, we get to see The Flash run into the past and rewind time. A huge, creative change that actually works flawlessly. It made the scene more impactful and that it takes the whole team to win. If Snyder gains enough success from this, we may get a sequel. It sets up a potential sequel where the league would fight Darkseid in a dark future.

Although the film’s odd at times, the Snyder cut is a deep improvement. Out of the three films he has directed, this is the best installment. Snyder had plans to do a five-film saga. Hopefully, this film generates enough buzz that Warner Brothers will let him complete his vision. If not, Snyder delivered a passionate project for the fans.

Overall rating: 3.5/5.

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Comics Movies Reviews

Review: Zack Snyder’s Justice League (2021) (Part One)

Directed by Zack Snyder. Written by Chris Terrio.

SPOILERS AHEAD! This is an in-depth review of the Snyder Cut for the Justice League film. Part one will review the first two hours of the movie as the film’s runtime is four hours long. Part two (the last two hours) will be reviewed at a later date. The film stars Henry Cavill as Superman, Ben Affleck as Batman, Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, Ray Fisher as Cyborg, Jason Momoa as Aquaman, and Ezra Miller as The Flash.

The film begins by telling audiences that the movie was shot in a 4:3 aspect ratio. They kept it this way as Zack Snyder wanted this ratio for the film if it was released in IMAX theaters. For those viewers that like the widescreen ratio, they may not appreciate this. The opening scene begins at the end of Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. Superman gets impaled by Doomsday, then lets out these epic screams. Screams that send out soundwaves that penetrate pivotal locations of the DC Universe. It’s haunting to see Superman’s scream echo throughout the world. In this same sequence, Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) is in a pool with no clear indication of what he’s doing. The scene is poorly executed as it’s clear that Eisenberg is in front of a green screen and perhaps the water around him is even digitally animated. It’s unclear if he’s trying to summon Steppenwolf or trying to activate the mother boxes that the Steppenwolf statue possesses.

Snyder introduces black title cards into the film now. He decided to break up the movie in parts. Around ten minutes into the film, the first black screen with a title is introduced. It reads, “Part 1: “Don’t Count On It, Batman.”” For a lengthy film, these title cards may be nifty to prepare viewers as to what’s to come next. It is reminiscent of how Quentin Tarantino introduces parts into his films.

Snyder injects the film with awkward song sequences and singing. It seems as if he’s going for a somber and emotional tone. In the scene where Bruce tries to recruit Arthur Curry/Aquaman to the league, Icelandic villagers sing as Aquaman goes underwater to swim as Bruce leaves the area. It comes off as creepy as one of the villagers sniffs Arthur’s discarded shirt while they sing. I believe the singing is why Bruce left.

Steppenwolf’s armor is more metal this time around. Steppenwolf has metal spikes on his armor that can pop outwards if he so pleases. It’s metal, but not an amazing look. Steppenwolf is sent to the earth to obtain the mother boxes. He seems formidable in his fight sequence with the Amazons. He seems to be trying to win the favor of his boss, Darkseid.

After this battle, we meet Cyborg’s father, Silas Stone. Now what’s interesting about this is that new scenes have been added that introduces a new character to the universe. Silas has a lab assistant by the name of Ryan Choi. Yes, the Ryan Choi that becomes Atom. I found this to be refreshing to see an Asian American superhero get introduced into the DC cinematic universe.

Snyder introduces DeSaad, who works for Darkseid too. DeSaad seems to be a loyal soldier to Darkseid that introduces viewers as to why Steppenwolf is doing this for Darkseid. Steppenwolf betrayed Darkseid’s commands, which led to a falling out. Steppenwolf is trying to regain the favor of his Lord. That’s why he’s trying to conquer the earth.

Snyder loves the slow motion sequences. He crafts an amazing one for when the film explores Barry Allen looking for a job in Central City. Allen walks into a doggie day care late for a job interview. He meets a beautiful female, whose name that we don’t get. While Allen talks to the manager, the female leaves and her car starts crashing into a truck driver who runs a red light. Allen runs so fast that time comes to a standstill. He saves the woman and steals a hot dog wiener that’s in the air from the crash. After Allen saves her, they share an awkward, yet romantic look until Barry gets nervous. He runs away–showing the woman his superspeed ability briefly. As the day care owner catches up in time, she sees Barry with the other dogs and feeding one a wiener. Out of all the slow motion scenes, this one is the most beautifully constructed. The others aren’t as creative or they’re for shots that don’t need it.

In the third part of the film, viewers get more insight into the life of Victor Stone/Cyborg. Cyborg didn’t have much character background in the theatrical cut of the film. The Stones are a fragmented family that Snyder does well conveying. Ray Fisher has incredible chemistry with Joe Morton (Silas Stone/Victor’s father) and Karen Bryson (Elinor Stone/Victor’s mother). The movies does a great job of describing Cyborg’s powers to the ones that are new to him. A thorough breakdown of the inner workings of the artificial intelligence system within Victor.

So, for the first two hours of the film, it’s still messy, but better than the theatrical cut. The tone seems to be more cohesive, though there are weird creative choices made by Snyder. Snyder added depth to areas that needed it and others that didn’t. The most impressive details added were for Cyborg. He got the character development that he needed.

Overall rating for part one: 3/5.

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DC Comics Movies Reviews Superheroes

Man of Steel (2013) Review: A flawed portrayal of an iconic character.

Man of Steel. Released in 2013. Directed by Zack Snyder. Starring Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Michael Shannon, and Diane Lane.

Man of Steel, released in 2013 and directed by Zack Snyder, shows us the origins of Kal-El and his emergence as Superman on Earth. I should start by stating that I have a strong bias when it comes to Superman, and this story isn’t my flavor. I grew up with Christopher Reeve’s Superman movies, and while not all those are great–see Superman III and Superman IV: The Quest for Peace–I feel like Reeve’s first two Superman films capture the spirit and magic of that character that is hard to replicate. I will give credit to Henry Cavill’s performance; Cavill not only looks the part but truly seems to love the character and works hard to embody that character even though the material is weak.

The movie starts off showing the demise of Krypton and what led to their fall. The people of Krypton have not seen natural childbirth in over a century. The citizens are preprogrammed from birth to fit a certain skill set and cannot depart from their programmed setting. Jor-El and Lara have a son Kal-El through natural means and place within him the genetic codex for their species. The villain of the movie, Zod (Michael Shannon), is sent to the Phantom Zone in penis ships, (Kal-El also gets his very own penis ship. There are too many penis-shaped ships in this movie to count) and escapes after the destruction of Krypton. He comes to Earth looking for Kal-El wanting to use the codex to wipe out the human race and rebuild Krypton in the dust. If that was exhausting to read, try watching the movie. One big flaw that this suffers from is that it is all plot and barely story.

I want to like this movie when I sit down and rewatch it, but there are just too many flaws that distract me and either bore me or make me roll my eyes. A few moments I do enjoy include: Superman learning to fly, young Clark Kent saving the kids on the bus (although this is slightly diminished by Jonathan Kent’s words after the fact), and I like the moments when you see Superman stopping Faora (Antje Traue) from destroying a plane and Superman rescuing a person falling out of a crashing helicopter. These moments are not prevalent throughout the movie, instead, we see Superman committing massive amounts of damage and killing people he has claimed that he is trying to protect by not letting Zod get ahold of the codex. The biggest offender of Superman acting out of character is when he breaks Zod’s neck. Now, if Superman were in a situation where millions of lives were in danger then maybe, and only maybe, could I see him taking a life, however; the movie has already established that Superman will destroy buildings bringing them down on innocent people and possibly killing them in order to stop Zod but for some reason, Zod directing his heat vision at four people puts Superman in a situation where he has to kill. I’m sorry I just don’t buy it, and no one telling me I just don’t understand the genius of Zack Snyder will convince me either. I hate to say it but even though I enjoy Henry Cavill as Superman, this is a bad Superman movie. Unfortunately, this movie’s sequel, Batman v Superman, makes this look great in comparison.

Rating 2/5

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DC Comics Gaming Superheroes Twitch

N1A Streams: Injustice 2

Third stream of the day. Let’s keep grinding. It’s time for some heroic beatdowns. I’m getting back to work on my Aquaman build. Come join in as the stream begins shortly.

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Comics

Nostalgic Reviews: “Aquaman Goes to College” (Adventure Comics #120) (1947)

We bet that you didn’t know that, did you? Aquaman has been to college. In 1947, writer Joe Samachson and artist Louis Cazenueve had the nautical superhero attend university to expand his knowledge of deep-sea animals/creatures. That is an admirable reason for Aquaman to go to school as he hasn’t seen every sea creature that there is. With extra analysis, people who study fish are called “ichthyologists.” It is a branch of the field of zoology.

In the story, Aquaman tells his finny friends that he’s going up to land to study fish after interacting with one that had poisonous spines. The fish with spines made Aquaman sick for a few days, so Aquaman wants to investigate fish that he hasn’t interacted with yet. Aquaman attends Weston College that has the top ICHTHYOLOGIST in the country. You will have that big word memorized by the end of the day. Professor Hatcher, the top ichthyologist, is in charge of the financials of the university. Aquaman overhears Hatcher talking to Mr. Reed, who donates his own money to keep the university open. Mr. Reed tells Hatcher that if the university doesn’t field a winning sports team, he will stop funding the university. Aquaman tells Reed that they will win an upcoming swim meet. Reed says he’ll give the university a million dollars if they win. Aquaman starts dominating the meet, while Mr. Reed is on the ocean with his boat sinking. A finny friend finds its way to Aquaman to relay to him that Mr. Reed may die. Aquaman swims his way to the ocean where he saves Reed with his finny friends and earns the million-dollar donation that Weston needs to keep operating.

The story is brief, but captures the lightheartedness of past Aquaman tales. Samachson crafts an intelligent script with the limited page length that he has. The transition of Aquaman’s academic career to saving Mr. Reed/Weston in the script is well-paced. Aquaman going to college could’ve been inspirational for readers back in the 1940s. Cazanueve is brilliant with his art and the colors make it pop. Some objects are colored oddly in the story, such as Mr. Reed’s ship being purple. The colors of when Aquaman is underneath the ocean has this beautiful, space vibe.

Overall rating: 3.5/5. It’s not a memorable story. It is a pleasing, short story that will make you smile.

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Comics

Retro Review: More Fun Comics #73 (1941) (Aquaman Debut)

Today, we take you back in time. We love time travel. More Fun Comics #73 released in November of 1941. DC Comics asked DC editor/writer Mort Weisinger in 1941 to create a few new characters. He quickly created three hits: the speedster Johnny Quick, the archer Green Arrow, and the underwater hero Aquaman. Aquaman made his debut in the back pages of More Fun Comics #73. Today’s review is of that debut story written by Weisinger and co-creator Paul Norris that did the art for the book.

In Aquaman’s debut story, we see the nautical superhero take on the Nazis. It was 1941, when the United States was in the middle of World War II. Comics during the time was featuring the war in their stories and Aquaman wasn’t the only superhero fighting the Nazi regime. Weisinger begins the story with suspense as a German submarine is going to attack a small boat filled with men, women, and children that are seeking help. The submarine fires a shell at the boat, then Aquaman’s hand rises from the water. Aquaman grabs the boat, then swims quickly away from the submarine. After Aquaman saves the survivors, he heads straight for the submarine to kick the asses of the Nazis.

In this sequence, there is a shift in the story’s mood. It goes from worrisome to happy. Weisinger liked to have a fusion of suspense and lightheartedness in his scripts. Aquaman busts onto the submarine–throwing punches and delivering hilarious nautical-themed quips. Norris portrays this beautifully with scenes of despair and scenes of enjoyment. Norris features bright colors to give happiness to this tale. You can tell that Aquaman is a tale to bring smiles upon readers’ faces in a time of darkness.

Aquaman defeats the Nazis in the book. Weisinger briefly introduces Aquaman’s origin story quickly in the comic. Across three panels, readers are introduced to Aquaman’s father. It’s not enough to truly get a grasp of who the character is. It is enough to entice readers for more info of Aquaman’s past. Overall, the short story is fun and entertaining for readers to want more.

Overall rating: 4/5.

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Batman Comics DC Comics

Halloween Rewind–Batman: Gotham After Midnight #3

Writer: Steve Niles. Artist: Kelley Jones.

It has been a while since we had the chance to talk about Batman: Gotham After Midnight! The saga continues as the citizens of Gotham are running scared as they learn about a new villain rising in the city. Steve Niles does a fantastic job portraying a sense of urgency within Batman. Midnight, the book’s villain, is menacing to victims, while being motivating to Batman’s rogues gallery. Niles provides Midnight with the same charisma that Joker has. Midnight persuaded Scarecrow and Man-Bat previously to help in his/her violent mission. I said his/her because Midnight’s gender is unidentified. Midnight adds Clayface in this issue to the mix to assist.

Readers get their first look at Midnight’s face in the comic. It is a ghastly sight due to Kelley Jones’ huge, one-splash page of a bony, gaunt face. It’s revealed that Midnight uses a speaker attached to the throat in order to speak. Clayface learns from Midnight that he can absorb bodies and become a gigantic, building-sized monster. Niles and Jones make Clayface into a monster that is reminiscent of classic monster movies, such as Godzilla. Clayface gets colossal size and starts to terrorize the city of Gotham. Batman appears in a mammoth-sized robot to combat Clayface–setting up for a massive showdown for the next issue.

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Batman Comics

Batman: Gotham After Midnight #2

Writer: Steve Niles. Artist: Kelley Jones. All images courtesy of DC Comics.

So…did Batman survive? Niles and Jones work their hardest to make it seem that he didn’t. Readers know that Batman isn’t going out this easy. The cover of issue two features the Axe-Man going for the fatal blow on Batman. Chapter one of issue two begins with the thugs celebrating the death of Batman. A thug turns his back on Batman to call his boss about collecting a cash payment for Batman’s body. Axe-Man wants the Bat’s head so he swings only to be countered…by the Batman! Batman begins to fight the thugs where readers get treated to a two-page splash by Jones. It’s Batman jumping in the air to avoid bullets from the thugs. The art is amazing. It will make readers wonder how none of those bullets hit. These thugs have Stormtrooper aim. Batman defeats the thugs and captures Axe-Man. Batman lets one thug run away so the thug can inform others of the fear that Batman brings. Too bad that the thug won’t make it.

After the warehouse showdown, the one escaped thug gets cornered by a mysterious person. The streets of Gotham look ancient. It looks like the setting is from the 1800s. Niles and Jones may have wanted this to feel similar to Batman: Gotham by Gaslight. The mysterious person is revealed to be the person that the thug was negotiating terms for Batman’s body. The person is displeased with the thug for failing. Niles and Jones keep the design of the character in the shadows. They give readers a few small details. The mystery person has on a long trench coat with a top hat and a straw mask. It looks like the character has long hair from behind the mask. The character is carrying a staff that is revealed to have an extracting mechanism at the end of it. The character uses it on the thug, who screams into the night.

In chapter two of this issue, Man-Bat has broken into the Gotham Historical Society. Man-Bat is doing the same as Scarecrow. He’s not following his usual M.O. Jones draws Man-Bat as a monstrous, muscular bat with glowing green eyes. Man-Bat uses stealth usually to get a jump on his opponents. This time, he’s out in the open. Niles keeps changing up the usual traits of Batman’s characters, so readers get a fresh glimpse of how characters act not in their normal ways. Man-Bat evades Batman and escapes with the Skull of Ra. Nothing is given on the importance of the skull.

After Man-Bat’s escape, readers are introduced to the rivalry between Batman and Detective Clarkson in chapter three at the GCPD. Detective Clarkson, a female investigator, has been taking credit for Batman’s work. She has a good reason as she doesn’t want to condone Batman’s work as a vigilante. I feel that Batman complaining makes him seem weak. I know that he wants to strike fear into the criminals of Gotham, so that’s why he’s angry with Clarkson. Batman can strike fear with his actions. He doesn’t need to talk. After bickering with each other, they have a moment of laughter. Is Niles portraying a potential relationship between the two? After leaving the GCPD, Batman returns to patrol Gotham. He finds a ghastly sight, which I find to be amazing by the creative team. The thug who gets murdered earlier in the comic is attached to the arms of a gigantic clock on a building in Gotham. His blood runs down the clock. Something is definitely not right in Gotham. I like this imagery that the duo created, though it would be hard for a single person to do that to a body. That’s the end of issue #2!

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Batman Comics

Batman: Gotham After Midnight #1

Writer: Steve Niles. Artist: Kelley Jones

It’s almost Spooktober! Let’s celebrate it by talking about a scary Batman tale. In 2008, DC Comics released the first issue of Batman: Gotham After Midnight. Writer Steve Niles and artist Kelley Jones makes Gotham a grim city that Batman must cleanse in this dark story arc.

The issue begins with Batman creeping through a shadowy alleyway. Jones draws Batman’s movements as if he were Dracula. He moves swiftly from shadow to shadow. Batman begins an inner discussion about the first time that he said the iconic quote: “I’m Batman.” He discusses this mentally as he slips inside an antique building after Scarecrow. Scarecrow is in an all brown outfit with menacing red eyes. Scarecrow is slim with long limbs. His brown hat is similar to a wizard or witch’s hat. Scarecrow is looking to steal the Hand of Glory.

What’s weird is Scarecrow is carrying matches. Not his usual M.O. Batman punches Scarecrow and asks him what’s he up to. Scarecrow tries to douse him in fear toxin, but Batman is immune. Batman gets Crane to breathe in his own toxin by removing his mask. Jones makes this panel frightening as he portrays Crane as losing his mind due to his own toxin. Batman is menacing in this scene as he gives Crane a taste of his own medicine. Crane sees Batman as a gigantic monstrous bat. Batman defeats Scarecrow, then ties him up as the G.C.P.D. arrive.

Batman traverses the rooftops as he realizes that Scarecrow has gone astray from his usual criminal patterns. Batman’s years of experience helped him come to the conclusion that all insane criminals have repeated patterns. I like this analysis that Steve Niles gives through Batman. I never have thought that criminals have patterns that are the same. When thinking about it, it can be true. Riddler is always making puzzles. Catwoman is always stealing. The theory makes sense.

At midnight, in this first issue, things get weird. All of these evil people start to appear in the city. Batman gets a tip on the Axeman, who escaped Arkham Asylum with Scarecrow. He goes to hunt for him inside of an abandoned warehouse. He gets jumped by guys with plenty of guns. They all unload on Batman. He drops to the ground lifeless. Is the Bat dead? Niles leaves readers with a pleasing shocker at the end of the issue.