Justice League Steel book – Jim Lee Edition

For collectors, steel book are a fantastic inclusion to your library. Especially if designed well. With the home release of Justice League, this was no exception. Regardless of your feelings on the film, personally I rather enjoy it, it was inevitable that it would receive a steel book. Several in fact. While some retailers such as HMV offered a simple black case with the logos of each of the respective member. Very simple and stylish for what they are, but of the options released none is more stunning than the ‘Jim Lee’ edition.

This stunning edition features a front cover with the main six beautifully rendered by artist and co-publisher for DC Comics, Jim Lee. With a back cover that features the inked art. Interestingly, Lee is usually inked by artist Scott Williams. In this instance however, Lee inked himself, giving it a familiar but new presence. The colour by Alex Sinclair does add that extra dimension. Making this an absolutely stunning edition to the shelves.

With the increase of comic book films and steel book editions, it’s refreshing and amazing to see actual comic book artists lending their talents to promotional work such as this. The steel books for Marvel’s cinematic universe could certainly benefit from this level of affection. With both this and the two other Jim Lee designed DCEU steel books, it’s a pleasure to see the comics and films merge even further.

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Jor-El’s Golden Folly – Superman #233 (1971)

Superman 233-00Superman #233: The Fabulous World of Krypton – Jor-El’s Golden Folly.
January 1971
Writer: E. Nelson Bridwell
Artist: Murphy Anderson

A back up story in Superman #233, the beginning of the infamous Kryptonite Nevermore. Jor-El’s Golden Folly is the first of the ‘Fabulous World of Krypton’ mini stories. Meant to build up and explore the world that Clark will never know and his own people. This first story follows Superman’s father, Jor-El, as well as showing his work and meeting Clark’s mother, Lara.

Jor-El and his friend Kim-Da find themselves with brand new assignments and are now separated. Splitting up the good friends and having to go their separate ways. With Jor-El being sent to the ‘Kryptonopolis Space Complex’ and Kim being sent to the ‘Kandor Observatory’. For the reader, we know that Kandor is the city that will eventually be shrunken down and stolen by the villain Brainiac. A city, and villain, that makes its first appearance in Action Comics #242. The final fate of Jor-El is obvious to us, as it’s a defining catalyst for Superman being sent to Earth in the first place. However, the fact that Kim-Da is sent to Kandor begs the question of weather or not he survived, only to be trapped within the bottled city. It’s a minor thought, especially with how little the character appears, but interesting none the less.

Superman 233-17 - Copy

As he arrives at the Space Complex, Jor-El is shown around by a man named Ken-Dal. The idea is explained to him that a major goal right now is to break free of Krypton’s gravity and reach the stars, the problem is that the science council has cut their budget. While showing him around, Jor-El sees Lara Lor-Van, his future wife and the mother of Superman, as one of the ‘test fliers’. He comments on her beauty within seconds of seeing her. Time passes, and Jor-El is experimenting with Anti-Gravity. Eventually developing an ‘Anti-Grav Belt’ and testing it by attaching it to a white dog and controlling where he floats with a remote control. Later, he demonstrates it on himself in front of both Ken-Dal and General Zod, another little Easter Egg for readers. They are both greatly impressed and allow him to continue with the next phase of his plan.

Jor-El’s next thought is to use his Anti-Gravity technology to help fly and stabilise a rocket ship. Due to its abundance on Krypton, he makes the decision to use gold in it’s construction. The idea that gold is such a common material on Krypton helps to re-emphasis the fact that this is not Earth. That we are watching a different civilisation entirely. However, due to the weight of gold. Those around Jor-El mock him for thinking that this gaudy, hunk of metal would ever fly. Nicknaming it “Jor-El’s Golden Folly”. The only person who does seem to believe in him is Lara, how offers to fly the ship due to her excitement at reaching the stars. Jor-El tells her that because they don’t even know if it will fly, so for this maiden voyage they will use the same remote-control system he had used before.

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When the big day comes, the ship finally flies. Taking off through the crimson skies. As they celebrate, a message comes through over the communicator. Lara is onboard the ship, seemingly forgetting the time and not getting off. How very Lois Lane of here. The ship eventually lands on a nearby planet, Wegthor, and since communication is lost it is assumed that the experiment failed and had crashed landed. As the higher ups walk away, laughing at Jor-El’s failure. Jor-El is informed that a cargo ship is leaving for Wegthor in a few days. Using the technology Jor-El had invented and an oxygen mask, Jor-El sneaks aboard the cargo ship hoping that Lara is still alive. When they finally land, Jor-El sneaks away and traverses this strange planet before final discovering the ‘Valley of Gloom’. At the centre, Lara. He ruses to find her and in a final panel they embrace. Ending with Jor-el saying; “My discovery may have been a failure, Lara… But it did have one success. Bringing us together!”

Superman 233-22 - Copy

  • Binder, O & Plastino, A. (1958) Action Comics #242: The Super-Duel in Space. DC Comics, New York: USA.
  • Bridwell, E. & Anderson, M. (1971) Superman #233: Jor-El’s Golden Folly. DC Comics: New York: USA.

World’s Finest – The Passage of Time and the Meeting of Batman and Superman.

Superman 76 CoverSuperman #76: The Mightiest Team in the World
May/June 1952
Writer: Edmond Hamilton
Penciller: Curt Swan
Inker: John Fischetti

When it comes to the icons that are Batman and Superman, the question that often comes up is ‘Who would win in a fight?’. When people ask for stories involving the pair, it’s usually stories of them at opposite ends. 1986 “saw the publication of Frank Miller’s historic miniseries The Dark Knight Returns [Miller.1986], with its revamping of the two heroes’ relationship. Since then, things have been a little strained to say the least between the two superheroes” [Anders.2005]. Miller presents an older Batman going up against Superman in the final act, as one is continuing illegal vigilante work, while the other is now a ‘lapdog’ to the President. Another notable example is Batman: Hush [Loeb & Lee.2003] which includes a notable scene of the pair fighting, while Superman is under the control of Poison Ivy. Even on a cinematic level, the first time the two met on the big screen, excluding animated outings, was in a film explicitly titled Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice [Snyder.2016]. It seems that our fascination with these two heroes when together, is that of conflict. However, this raises the question. Have they always been at each other’s throats?

While they had previously appeared in the same issue in 1941’s All Star Comics #7 [Fox, et.al.1941]. Batman and Superman first met face to face in 1952’s Superman #76 [Hamilton & Swan.1952]. Despite the cover depicting Batman and Superman almost fighting over who gets to save Lois Lane from an oncoming train. The two become fast friends in the 12-page story contained within. The closest to an argument the pair engage in, is one partly planned by the two and somewhat encouraged by Lois.

The story opens with a text box addressing this monumental issue. “Superman, might man of steel whose super-powers have conquered catastrophes and wrecked wrongdoers! Batman, hooded foe of crime whose flashing feats have crushed crooks for years! Are any two names in the world more famous than these? Yet these two mighty champions of the right have never met – until now! Yes, at long last Superman and Batman meet face to face on a voyage of peril – and strange and startling is the outcome when two legendary figures form… The mightiest team in the world!” [Hamilton & Swan.1952:01]. The issue follows Batman and Superman as they have both independently booked spots on a cruise in their civilian identities. Due to over booking, Bruce and Clark end up being bunk mates and both start to worry about the other finding out their secret identity. When a fire breaks out on the docks, the lights go out and they both change, but as light comes in through the window, their identities are discovered. They worked together to stop those that started the fire, and while they got away, it’s discovered that a diamond has been stolen. It’s believed that the criminal is on board the ship as one of the passengers. Batman and Superman decide to continue their cruise as their secret identities. Problem is that now Lois Lane has decided to tag along in hopes of getting a scoop from both Batman and Superman. The pair come up with different tricks and tactics to hide their switching places. Pretending Clark is sea sick and in bed, using port holes to sneak back in. Even Superman flying Batman back to Gotham overnight, so no one would notice that Batman and Bruce Wayne were not out of town at the same time once the heroes have supposedly left the ship.

The pair show a high level of respect and admiration for each other. Their level of trust and comradery feels natural. Even the final take down of the crooks, a sort of Superman/Batman “Fast Ball Special” ala, Wolverine/Colossus. Shows an incredible level of confidence and skill. While the pair do team up every now and then. There is always this notion that one doesn’t always trust the other. That it’s easy for them to bicker, or even be on opposing sides.

Looking back at their first team up is an incredibly refreshing experience. The thrill of seeing the two side by side when the issue originally came out must have been a dream come true for readers of the time. While we see them together often now, the spirit of this first meeting seems to have been forgotten.

 

  • Anders, L. (2005) A Tale of Two Orphans: The Man of Steel vs. The Caped Crusader. The Man from Krypton: A Closer Look at Superman. Benbella Books Inc. Dallas, TX. Pp.69 -75.
  • Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice. (2016) Film. Directed by Zack Snyder. [Blu-Ray] Warner Bro. Studio: USA.
  • Fox, G, et.al. (1941) All Star Comics #7: Justice Society of America $1,000,000 for War Orphans. DC Comics, New York: USA.
  • Hamilton, W & Swan, C. (1952) Superman #76: The Mightiest Team in the World. DC Comics, New York: USA.
  • Hatch, A. (2015) Batman and Superman: Comparing Two Iconic Superheroes. [Online] May 12th. The Artifice. Available From: https://the-artifice.com/batman-and-superman-comparing-two-iconic-superheroes/ [Last Accessed: 05.04.2018]
  • Loeb, J. & Lee, J. (2003) Batman: Hush. DC Comics, New York: USA.
  • Miller, F (1986) The Dark Knight Returns. DC Comics, New York: USA.
  • Salmon, W. (2016) Every time Batman and Superman have met (for the first time) in the comics. [Online] March 8th. Games Radar. Available from: https://www.gamesradar.com/every-time-batman-and-superman-have-met-comics/ [Last Accessed: 05.04.2018]

Superman’s Metropolis (1996) – Fritz Lang, Futurism and the Mother City

The city of Metropolis. A staple in the Superman mythos. The city is as iconic as Superman himself, they go hand in hand the same way as Batman and Gotham. You can’t have one without the other. Many Elseworld stories like to play around with the location Superman lands and the city he protects. A big example would by Superman: Red Son [Miller & Johnson.2003] which made Superman a protector of the USSR rather than the USA. However, Superman’s Metropolis [Lofficier, Thomas & McKeever.1996] plays with this relationship far more, by experimenting with the city itself. In this case, transforming this comic book Metropolis, into the film version of Metropolis.

Despite its strong ties with the Man of Steel. The city remained unnamed for over a year until Action Comics #16 [Seigel & Shuster.1939]. “On June 7, 1939, Clark Kent, while on assignment in ‘Boravia,’ sends his editor a telegram addressed to ‘Metropolis, NY.’ Meanwhile, in the September 1939 issue of Action Comics (Which would have been on newsstands in June), Clark Kent poses the question ‘How come gambling is permitted to flourish in the city of Metropolis?’ These concurrent instances represent the first time the Man of Steel’s home city is given a name.” [Weldon.2013:39]

The word ‘Metropolis’ comes from 1350 – 1400 Middle English, Late Latin. Meaning ‘Mother State’ or ‘Mother City’ referring to the parent state of a colony. In modern times, the phrase refers to the chief or sometimes capital city of a country or just a very large city. [Dictionary.com:2018] In the DC Comics universe, Metropolis itself fits this by taking the form of New York City, a trait it shares with Batman’s Gotham City. However, while the cities share an inspiration, both show a different side. As stated in The Many Lives of Batman, “The difference between Gotham and Metropolis succinctly summarizes the differences between the two superheroes. As current Batman editor Dennis O’Neil put it: ‘Gotham is Manhattan below Fourteenth Street at 3am., November 28th in a cold year. Metropolis is Manhattan between Fourteenth and One Hundred and Tenth Streets on the brightest, sunniest July day of the year” [Pearson & Uricchio.1991:009]. This duality in a city can also be seen in 1927s Metropolis [Lang.1927].

METROBIG

Superman’s Metropolis takes its lead and plot from Fritz Lang’s classic film. Which is in itself is adapted from the novel of the same name by Thea von Harbou [von Harbou.1925]. The story is set in 2026, the city of Metropolis is ruled by the wealthy industrialists while the working and lower class operate the machinery underground, out of sight. The city is essentially run by Joh Fredersen, while his son Freder spends his days in the pleasure gardens. When a young working-class girl named Maria brings a group of children to visit the high-rise towers to see how the other half live, Freder is smitten before she is ushered away. Freder follows her back into the underground where he witnesses one of the machines explode, killing and injuring many. He hallucinates a worse incident, where a machine is powered by being fed the working class. As Freder retains his senses, he runs to his father to tell him the conditions the working class have to put up with, but upon seeing his father’s reaction, he vows a secret rebellion against him. Vowing to help the workers.

However, secret maps are found in the possession of some of the dead workers, and the foreman, Grot, brings them to Fredersen. Fredersen takes the maps to the inventor, Rotwang, a man who had once been in love with Fredersen’s now deceased wife, Hel and has created a robot in order to “resurrect” Hel. The maps show the catacombs under the city and as Rotwang and Fredersen investigate, finding a gathering of workers, including both Freder and Maria. Maria is addressing the group, prophesying the arrival of one who will unite the working and higher classes someday. Freder believes that it could be him, and declares his love for Maria while Rotwang and Fredersen watch on. Fredersen orders Rotwang to give his robot the Maria’s likeness in order to spread chaos through the underground and disrupt the rebellion. However, Rotwang plans to use the robot to kill Freder and take over the city as revenge for the death of the woman he loved. Maria is kidnapped and her likeness is given to the robot, being sent to Fredersen when the transfer is complete. Freder walks in on the robot Maria and Fredersen in an embrace and falls into a depression at the idea of losing his love, and the one he wants to fight for. During this time, Maria is unleashed into the world and using her charms and influence drives men to murder and causing dissent amongst the workers below.

Freder eventually returns to the catacombs below and finds the robot Maria encouraging the workers to destroy the machines and rise up. Freder accuses her of not being the same person he knew, but the workers don’t listen. Leaving their children behind, they destroy the machines, causing the worker city below to be flooded. The real Maria manages to escape and rescues the children just in time with Freder’s help. The workers are horrified at what they have done, fearing their children dead. They turn on the robot Maria and burn her at the stake. Freder watches on horrified, until the fire finally reveals to them all that the false Maria is a robot sent to trick them. Rotwang appears, delusional. Believing the real Maria to be the long dead Hel, chasing her to the roof as Freder runs after them. Rotwang and Freder fight on the cathedral roof, Fredersen and the workers watching from the streets, until Rotwang falls to his death and Maria is finally safe. Freder and Maria return to the others, linking the hands of both his father Fredersen and the foreman Grot, bringing them together, and proving that Freder is indeed the one prophesised.

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Superman’s Metropolis tells a very similar story, though takes the ‘saviour’ metaphor of Metropolis and makes a more direct connection with Superman himself. Freder is replaced with the character Clarc. The son of Jon-Kent, ruler of Metropolis. While talking with another high-born woman, Lana, it’s Lois who brings the children and tells them of how the better live. As she’s being escorted away, she turns and looks at Clarc. Commenting, “The one I’m searching for is here…. But he doesn’t know it yet” [Lofficier, Thomas & McKeever.1996:07]. Clarc follows, and finds and workers in the underground, chanting bitter hymns with his father’s name in place, as they work themselves to death. Clarc witnesses the fatal accident, before returning to his father, telling him of what happened, only to be turned away. The plot continues the same, the maps make their way to Jon-Kent who takes them to the inventor, Luthor. Now bitter over the death of Marta.

Clarc, taking his friend Olson with him, begins working underground, wanting to help those down below. He attends the gathering lead by Lois. A corrupted Superman logo on the wall behind her. She speaks out to the crowd. “My brothers. Today I will tell you the story of the new Tower of Babel! There were men who wished to build a tower whose summit would touch the skies. And on it they would inscribe: ‘Great is the world and its creator, and great is man!’ Those who conceived the idea of this tower could not have built it themselves – so they hired thousands of others to build it for them. But those toilers knew nothing of those who planned the tower. While those who conceived the tower did not concern themselves with the workers who built it. The hymns of the few became the muttered curses of the many. Babel! Between the brain that plans and the hands that build, there must be a mediator. A Super-Man! It is the heart that must bring about an understanding between brain and hand! That saviour will rise to bring goodness and peace and love. The Super-Man will come – to free men’s souls of their inhuman bondage!” [Lofficier, Thomas & McKeever.1996:22-23]

Luthor and Jon-Kent watch on as Clarc is enraptured. Luthor even comments on Lois’ resemblance to the late Marta. Clarc stands and asks if he could be that saviour, declaring his love for Lois. She gives him a small version of the Super-Man symbol, before promising to see each other again tomorrow. As Lois leaves, she is kidnapped by Luthor, and in a departure from the source material, we briefly cut to Jon-Kent removing a book with the same symbol from a vault in his office. Luthor shows Lois the artificial being in his chamber, revealing his plan for the robot to take a human’s likeness. Originally that of his lost love Marta, having died by Luthor’s hand as revenge. But instead, he chooses Lois in order to disrupt the underground. As the robot is taking Lois’ form, Clarc and Olson discover the vault and a mysterious capsule inside. A slot on the front seems to fit the symbol that Lois gave him. As he placed the symbol inside, Clarc’s origins are revealed to him. His abilities, his history, the fact that when Luthor murdered Marta, he couldn’t kill Clarc as much as he tried. That Luthor learned so much from the craft that brought the boy here, and used this knowledge to take over. Swaying the mind of Jon-Kent, and erasing Clarc’s memory of his abilities or the death of Marta. With this new knowledge in hand, and the clothes he finds within the capsule, Clarc declares himself THE Superman! [Lofficier, Thomas & McKeever.1996:38]

Having now unleased the robot Lois into the underground, she used her sexuality and charm to sway the workers into an uprising. Smashing machines and destroying the underground. As the furnace is about to explode, Clarc flies down, complete in a new colourful garb and saves them. Asking Lois why she would encourage them to do such a thing. He tries to calm her, as he realises that she is not the woman he loves. As Superman and the robot battle, Luthor reveals that he has been experimenting on himself. Making himself part machine, and a possible equal to Superman, powered by Kryptonite. “I am more than human. Far more than just my hand was shattered on the night a projectile from space crashed near me. Even in my bed of pain. I supervised the doctors who replaced half my flesh with mechanisms I had previously created. Yet my crowning achievement was not those mechanisms – nor the robot in whose design I utilized many secrets I learned from that rocket. But this pulsing inorganic heart, held in its chromium cage – which makes my own still beat! I shaped it from the glowing metal fuselage of that star-spawned vessel – a last little piece of Clarc Kent-Son’s birth-world!” [Lofficier, Thomas & McKeever.1996:50].

As Clarc’s long battle with the robot ends, he flies to his father to learn that Luthor has Lois atop the cathedral. Clarc flies over and begins to fight the robotically enhanced Luther, but finds himself weak around his Kryptonite heart. As the fight continues on, Lois falls from the roof, only to be saved by Clarc. Revealing that despite his weakened state, he managed to remove the Kryptonite, killing Luthor in the process. In the light of a new day, Clarc stands with both his father, Olson and the people of the underground. Declaring that the day of the Super-Man has come and gone. That from now, “your hands and the city’s finest minds will work together to forge the destiny of Metropolis” [Lofficier, Thomas & McKeever.1996:64].

Superman’s Metropolis continues the film’s spirit in its use of art. The early German film heavily used both Cubism and Futurism imagery to further its futuristic feel. Both movements began in the early 1900s, “among modernist movements futurism was exceptionally vehement in its denunciation of the past.” “Futurist Painting used elements of neo-impressionism and cubism to create compositions that expressed the idea of the dynamism, the energy and movement of modern life” [Tate.2018]. The artist of Superman’s Metropolis, Ted McKeever, used elements of cubism and futurism in order to bring the same feel to the book. “By breaking objects and figures down into disctinct areas – or planes – the artists aimed to show different viewpoints at the same time and within the same space and so suggest their three-dimensional form. In doing so they also emphasized the two-dimensional flatness of the canvas instead of creating the illusion of depth.

The incorporation of Superman into the story of Metropolis works well. Both Freder and Clarc are versions of Joseph Campbell’s ‘Hero of a Thousand Faces’ [Campbell.1949]. However, Superman stands above them all regardless of this new-found equality. The Nietzschean Ubermensch that follows the idea posited by Nietche. A goal for humanity to set for itself. That human life would be given meaning by how it advances a new generation. [Nietche.1883]

  • Campbell, J. (1949) The Hero of a Thousand Faces. Pantheon Books, New York: USA.
  • Dictionary.com (2018) Metropolis. [Online] Dictionary.com, LLC. Available from: http://www.dictionary.com/browse/metropolis [Last Accessed: 27.03.2018]
  • Kubista, B. (1912) Kiss of Death. [Oil on Canvas] Regional Art Gallery, Liberec.
  • Lofficier, R.J.M., Thomas, R. & McKeever, T. (1996) Superman’s Metropolis. DC Comics. Burbank: USA.
  • (1927) Film. Directed by Fritz Lang. [Blu-Ray] UFA: Germany.
  • Miller, M. & Johnson, D. (2003) Superman: Red Son. DC Comics, Burbank: USA.
  • Morrison, G. (2001) Supergods: What Masked Vigilantes, Miraculous Mutants, and a Sun God from Smallville can Teach Us about being Human. Spiegel & Grau, New York: USA.
  • Nietche, F. (1883) Thus Spoke Zarathustra. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, South Carolina: USA.
  • Pearson, R & Uricchio, W. (1991) The Many Lives of Batman: Critical Approaches to a Superhero and his Media. BFI Publishing, London: UK.
  • Poplik, B. (2008) Metropolis is New York by day; Gotham is New York by Night. [Online] March 29th. Barry Popik. Available from: https://www.barrypopik.com/index.php/new_york_city/entry/metropolis_is_new_york_by_day_gotham_city_is_new_york_by_night/ [Last Accessed: 27.03.2018]
  • Seigel, J. & Shuster, J. (1939) Action Comics #16: Superman and the Numbers Racket. DC Comics. Burbank: USA.
  • Stella, J. (1919 – 20) Brooklyn Bridge. [Oil on Canvas] Yale University Art Gallery, Yale.
  • (2018) Cubism. [Online] Tate.org. Available from: http://www.tate.org.uk/art/art-terms/c/cubism [Last Accessed: 27.03.2018]
  • (2018) Futurism. [Online] Tate.org. Available from: http://www.tate.org.uk/art/art-terms/f/futurism [Last Accessed: 27.03.2018]
  • Weldon, G. (2013) Superman: The Unauthorized Biography. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. New Jersey:USA.
  • Von Harbou. T. (1925) Metropolis. Illustriertes Blatt, Dusseldorf: Germany.

The Iron Spider Costume – Comics and Infinity War

Superhero costumes are incredible. They say so much about the character through various details. Some are flashy and make solid statements, while others have the soul purpose of concealing identity. See Superman: Earth One for a good example of how a mask isn’t always necessary to conceal identity.

Spider-Man-Homecoming-Iron-Spider-Suit

When it comes to iconic characters, it’s interesting to see how over time creators will play with their iconography to create all new designs and costume. Spider-Man is no exception. Famously the black costume in particular made such a big impact that it even led to the equally infamous character, Venom. However, one costume that also left its mark, though in a smaller way, is the Iron Spider costume. Created by Tony Stark for Peter after his resurrection from a battle to the death with villain Morlun. The costume works like a fusion between Spider-Man’s classic design and Tony’s armour. Complete with a red and gold colour scheme and mechanical spider arms to help him manoeuvre. The costume appeared heavily during the time of Civil War, before Peter gave it up when he went on the run. The costume has its fans, particularly due to the mechanical legs, and its practical applications.

However. The costume shown off in the Infinity War trailers look far better!

Hot-Toys-AIW-Iron-Spider-Crawling-Version-CosbabyS_PR2

Thanks to toy releases before the film, especially the Funko Pop and Cosbaby lines. The suit shown off in the trailers is confirmed to be the MCU’s interpretation of the Iron Spider costume. What makes this version feel so much better, is purely down to the colour scheme. While the red and gold of the original makes sense due to it’s origin as Iron Man’s design. The blue with the gold accents of the Infinity War costume suites the character far more. It adds a lot more personality and makes the gold just pop. Rather than the overly gaudy look of the original suit.

While the film doesn’t open for another month. The look of this costume is already a point in the films favour. Hopefully, the MCU will take some of these older costume designs in the future and add to them in the same vain as this.

A Day at the Flix – Pacific Rim: Uprising and A Wrinkle in Time

Two films on very different ends of the entertainment spectrum. Ones an action heavy, mech anime send up, the other is a whimsical journey to find a girl’s missing father. Yet both contained the line “[Insert Name]’s not here right now” spoken by a being inhabiting another body. Who knew?

Pacific Rim: Uprising:

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The follow up to 2013s Pacific Rim by director Guillermo del Toro. Uprising feels rather lacking in what the original film understood about the giant robot genre.

Set ten years after the events of the first film, Jake Pentecost (John Boyega) the son of franchise hero General Stacker Pentecost, has been living in abandoned mansions and getting by well in a post Kaiju world. Until he is arrested after helping a young girl and illegal Jaeger engineer escape the police. To avoid prison, he is thrown back into service as a Jaeger Ranger, training new recruits. Despite the lack of Kaiju threat, recruits are still trained. Jaeger’s are still built, and the world is still on edge.

Overall, Pacific Rim: Uprising is lacking compared to the first film. Greatly missing that del Torro magic. This time directed by first time director, Steven S. DeKnight. While the first is a loving sed up to mech anime, Uprising feels more like someone was told the plot beats to shows such as Mobile Suit Gundam Wing, Neon Genesis Evangelion and perhaps The Vision of Escaflowne, with only the vaguest hint of interest from the person explaining it. In particular, the film seems to pay homage to moments in Evangelion, with the notable idea of the Unit 03/13th Angel reveal in the show, only lacking the same emotional weight and drama that made that moment so pivotal.

John Boyega continues to do well in his career, but largely caries the film single-handedly. With a cast largely made up of teenagers, another nod to the tropes of giant robot anime. The kids are good, and carry their respected plot points reasonably well, but do not hold up to the same standards of the first film. Especially with how much they play into the final act of the film.

The films villain reveal and plan is somewhat logical given the threads left off from the first film. Though some thought into his plan’s early actions make little sense when you stop and think about how it fits in as a whole.

The pivotal fight choreography is strong, exactly what you would expect from this kind of film. Though the designs of the new Jaeger model’s feel like copies of existing Gundam models rather than ones that exist in this world. Something the films’ predecessor managed very well. With the noticeable exception of the new Gipsy model, the series flagship. One model however, bares a striking similarity to Unit 02 of Evangelion, with a few notes taken from Baymax’s armour in Big Hero 6. The Unit 02 influence is most noticeable in it’s use of knives and swords.

The films world feels very disconnected, even as a follow up to the first. Small details that were established in the original film, and handled well in several giant robot anime, such as civilian evacuation and protection were handled in a very haphazard manner. A lot of details about how this new, post-Kaiju war world works are largely swept under the rug. A nod is given hear or there, to acknowledge that it was considered, but only bring further questions. A lot of the film felt very unrealistic even from the world the film sets up, leading to an unsatisfying conclusion and inevitable sequel baiting.

Perhaps the films funniest moment was watching a Jaeger crash land next to the 1:1 scale Gundam statue in Tokyo. Which when you take into account it’s appearances in the Ready Player One trailers and posters, this won’t be the last time a Gundam makes it to the big screen this year.

Overall, a few good fights and a plot that feels very copy and pasted together. Predictable specially to existing giant robot fans. Worth catching on TV or at a cheap screening but does not stand up to the original.

A Wrinkle in Time:

A-Wrinkle-in-Time-Movie-Reviews

Based on the book by Madeleine L’Engle. A Wrinkle in Time follows the young girl Meg as she, her brother, and friend Calvin, go on an adventure to recover her missing father. A scientist who suddenly disappeared from their house 4 years ago. The journey takes them through other worlds and across space as they try to understand what happened, and the universes impact on them all.

Directed by Ava DuVernay, and with an all star cast of Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling, Chris Pine and more. However, the true star of the film is the impressive CGI, followed closely by the three lead child actors, Storm Reid, Levi Miller, and Deric McCabe who all completely embody their characters and carry the film. The big Hollywood names feel as though they are only there to get attention for the film, especially in the cases of Winfrey, Witherspoon and Kaling. They feel more like the stars on screen, rather than actual characters.

The film carries with it a good message, talking to the target audience, in this cast children and teens, about depression and excepting their own faults. However, while the film is well meaning, it feels as though the book it’s adapting handled these far better even without having read the book. Multiple scenes that you would imagine having been written to invoke particular emotions and images that are deeply personal to the reader, are now being heavily filtered through someone else’s perspective. Granted the beautiful CGI does provide a fair amount of eye candy. The feeling that the intension was meant to be more personal is very hard to shake.

The films focus on darkness taking over the light, and the unnamed ‘it’ are very clear stand ins for the obvious. And while the talk of, but never named, depression can be very affective, it still feels lacking. Some of the flash back examples shown in the middle, attempting to explain the darkness’s affect on people are decent, though very cliché.

Overall, a standard Hero’s Journey story with an impressive young cast, but heavily hollow to it’s core. Eye catching, but all flash and no substance.

Conclusion:

Between the two, A Wrinkle in Time is certainly the stronger film. But neither are masterpieces. Both bring something to the table, either fight scenes, effective CGI, or promising child acting. But neither are satisfying as films and give of the impression that a better version already exists.

 

Can we just have a Gundam film already…!?

The Closer we get to Action Comics #1000, The More Nervous I feel

Like any Superman fan, I’m thrilled at the idea of celebrated not only his 80th birthday, but the landmark of a 1,000th issue. I feat not only impressive in the eyes of Superman fans, but an achievement for the comic book industry. Both my copy of the 1,000th issue and the Superman at 80 hardcover are happily pre-ordered. Now less than a month before the books release, I still carry many of the nerves I had at its announcement.

Action Comics #1000 will act as the start of a new era. A new creative lead and not to mention the much-celebrated return of the red trunks.

At the release of Action Comics #999 last week, Dan Jurgens has finished his latest run. And with only two issues left for Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason on the main series, the age of Bendis is dawning. And while he is a celebrated writer, one Marvel has sung the praises of for many years. DC has done little to inspire confidence in his upcoming take over. Instead relying on his name alone as a sign of quality. And while, yes, Bendis has certainly written some high-quality work in his time. His early Ultimate Spider-Man were a childhood favourite, House of M remains a sold event book even 13 years later, and his Guardians of the Galaxy run is heavily flawed but still enjoyable. But even die-hard fans of his work have admitted that his quality has been slipping in recent years. As well as his continues problems with pacing.

In the months since Bendis was announced to be the new writer, there has been ample opportunity for DC to show him off and provide more reassurance for fans that it is indeed a good fit, and not just a publicity stunt. Granted, Bendis’ recent hospital stay would have slowed him down. But the point still stands. Why should we care about Bendis taking the lead, when Tomasi, Gleason and Jurgens have been writing the character at the best he’s been in nearly a decade?