Posted in Batman, Comics, DC Comics, Review, Superheroes, Superman

Super Sons #6: Planet of the Capes Part 1 (2017) [Review]

Super Sons 06 (2017)Six issues in to the Super Sons series, and it’s time to start the boys second arc. One that explores not only the super sons team, but introduces Jon to the Teen Titans! After an issue off, the wonderful Peter Tomasi returns to writing, and the fun and energetic art of Jorge Jimenez explodes off the page.

After the previous issue, we find the Kent’s living in Metropolis, and Jon preparing for a night of super heroics, and a chance to test his ever-growing powers. Tomasi is fantastic at highlighting the family dynamic of the Kent household. Even when confined to a handful of panels, their interactions are perfect.

Jon: “Come on, it’s FRIDAY – Damien’s Dad lets him stay out all night.”

Clark: “Damian’s Dad dresses like a bat and gets hit in the head 28 times every night. So maybe not the best argument.”

After the first arc of Super Sons, and the in-between issue, this is the first time we can really see Lois and Clark’s thoughts on Jon’s team up with Damian, and putting himself in harm’s way without Superman around to save him. There moment together as Jon leaves, adds to Clark’s development as a father, and shows, not only that he is learning from his own past, but the example his own father set.

Super Sons 06 (2017)sfdghsdfhfgshAs with the previous 5 issues, and there appearances together in Superman, Damian and Jon play off each other with an incredible beat to their dialogue. As they take to the streets to fight crime, Damian’s more harsh and darker upbringing comes out almost instantly, jumping to conclusions, such as jay walking quickly turning to store robbery, while Jon, despite being the younger of the pair, acts as the voice of reason between the two.

The Teen Titan’s introduction here works remarkably well, with Beast Boy acting as his usual jokey self, appearing as a cat beside Jon, just after Jon rescues neighbourhood cats, almost rubbing in Jon’s more wholesome and ‘uncool’ roots. The moment the Teen Titans show off, there is an immediate change in how Jon is treated. Robin, while still cocky and commanding, takes on a far more authoritative and constructed tone, almost hammering in Jon’s younger age, as though the work Jon and Damian do, is below actual Super heroics. It seems that even being the son of Superman doesn’t grant you all the privileges. The abandonment of Jon is even commented on by Starfire, despite his abundance of power, he is still just a ten-year-old kid. Despite Jon’s almost carefree attitude, it’s clearly shown that it bothers him, providing a very interesting look at Jon as an average ten-year-old. Upset at not being invited, feelings of being left out.

Despite the book itself focusing on the adventures of Damian and Jon, this issue spotlights the Teen Titan’s incredibly well, in a brief encounter with Atom-Master and Chun Yull, the team’s dynamics and how they work off each other are defined and played with. Something that is remarkable to see in such a short space of time. This arcs villain rears his head, and while his appearance is brief, his impact hammers in the theme of age and youth in this issue, and possibly the entire arc. Damian’s feelings of superiority due to his older status and training, may well be a hindrance to him here.

Damian: “Weird. No one is answering.”

Jon: “Who are you calling?”

Damian: “My Team. I have more responsibilities tonight than just us.”

Jon: “Sounds super-important if they’re ignoring your calls.”

Damian: “They’re raw. Young. I’m still working on them. One day maybe you’ll even be ready to be a Titan.”

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This arc, in the first issue at least, is shaping up to be an interesting one when it comes to growing, not only Jon, but especially Damian as characters. While it’s fun and interesting to see their personalities play off of each other, they need to grow. Especially Damian. The added benefit of this issue, is a curiosity to explore the current Teen Titans book. The team makes enough of an impact here, as well as showcases another side to Damian, that certainly leads to a desire to check out their solo title.

As the start of a new arc, this issue is a perfect jumping on point for new readers, as well as intriguing set up for things to come.

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Posted in Comics, Marvel, Review, Superheroes, X-Men

Spotlight on: Jean Grey #1 – 4 (2017)

Jean Grey 001 (2017)In the last few years, the X-Men comics have been in decline. While some view it as orders from Disney, due to them not holding the full rights, and wanting to spotlight other characters in their place, such as the Inhumans. The image of the X-Men has been in decline at Marvel since Avengers Vs. X-Men (2012), and Death of X (2016). However, in the past year, Marvel seems to be trying to reinvigorate the X-Men titles, with their ‘Ressurxion’ line of books. Brining us all new X-Men team books, such as X-Men: Gold and X-Men: Blue, as well as solo titles for Iceman, and surprisingly Jean Grey.

The tale of Jean Grey is one most comic fans have come to know. Thanks to the films, it’s one a lot of none comic readers have at least heard of. The story of Jean Grey and the Phoenix force. The two things are so synonymous, that it’s hard to think that Jean Grey could ever have a solo series that doesn’t feature the Phoenix. However, this can be a fresh start, a new adventure for the young mutant. The Jean grey staring in the comics today, is the young teenager introduced in the original X-Men #1 from 1963. Brought to the present day with her teammates, Cyclops, Beast, Ice-Man and Angel, back in All-New X-Men #1 (2013), after the events of Avengers Vs. X-Men. This Jean Grey is unburdened from the sins and mistakes of the past Jean, something she makes note of in the beginning of the first issue.

“I’m Jean Grey. Yeah. No. Not That Jean Grey. No Phoenix Force Here. I Never Got possessed by an intergalactic firebird. Or received the associated space god power-up. Which means I never went all crazy Dark Phoenix. Never destroyed a planet. Never tried to murder my friends. Also means I’ve never dies in the love of my life’s stupid arms. A genocidal madwoman corpse, all decked out in her burgundy bad-guy clothes. Pretty okay with not being that Jean Grey, frankly. Nope, not me either. That other Jean. Grown-up badass, seen and done it all Jean. She’s my nightmare. Her Life – The life I should have led – wakes me up a couple nights a week. All cold sweat-y. Her Shadow will probably always stretch further than mine. But maybe that’s cool. Maybe I can learn from her mistakes. Maybe I can be the happy Jean.”

Jean Grey 004 (2017)

Giving this Jean her own series, allows us to explore a girl out of time. Dealing with life, roommates, freshly developed psychic powers and telekinesis. Learning to be a strong leader, and avoiding the mistakes their predecessor made. The opening issue deals with this well, giving us a solo Jean in the streets of Japan, dealing with street level thugs, and trying to solve little problems along the way. Up until the issues last few pages, when the spirit of the Phoenix appears before Jean. Screeching that she may think she can escape, but to trust it that there is never an escape from the Phoenix. It seems that just as Jean can’t escape it, neither can we stop hearing about it. However, even with this predictable start, the series so far depicts a story that is far more about the journey, than the destination. In issues 2 and 3, Jean decides to visit previous hosts of the Phoenix, to find a way to escape her fate. What she finds, is the scarred and tortured mindsets each previous host has been left with, and the notion that the Phoenix never really leaves you. The lessons Jean learns through the first 4 issues of this series, set out a story of a young woman learning to become stronger, dealing with demons that have effected many, and if she does not learn to control, will lead to more destruction.

The writing in the first issue does come off as a failed attempt to understand a younger generations style of speech. However, this is dropped rather quickly, and from issue 2, the dialogue feels much more natural and flows seamlessly between the characters. The art vibrant and expressive throughout. With plenty of dynamic imagery, as well as subtler, more character driven moments, that work together nicely, to create a very striking, and lively book.

Written by Dennis Hopeless, and with art by Victor Ramos, Jean Grey’s first solo series is shaping up to be something with great potential. While it may be best to wait for the first trade edition, those curious will find an interesting set up in just the first 4 issues.

Posted in Comics, Guardians of the Galaxy, Marvel, Review, Superheroes

Spotlight on: Groot (2015)

DIG058968_3._SX360_QL80_TTD_.jpgMarvel is a company that knows how to take advantage of hype. The sudden and unexpected success of 2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy gave Marvel a phenomenal excuse to milk the Guardians comics for all they are worth. They found themselves with a public in love with Groot, hungry for more tales of Rocket Raccoon, anxious to hang out with Star Lord, wanting to train with Gamora, and dying to test Drax. In the light of this, Marvel revamped the Guardians title, launched solo books for Star Lord and Rocket, and by the time 2015 rolled round, fan favourite Groot got his own book.

The idea of giving Groot his own book seems like a strange decision. Despite Groot’s popularity, he is a character that can only say three words. A problem the Rocket Raccoon series by Skottie Young addressed when Groot attempted to tell a campfire story to boy scouts, leading to an admittedly hilarious issue. However, the idea of Groot gaining his own series, makes you think that it will repeatedly lean on that one joke. And while it would be easy to give him his own book and make him just a central plot point, that wouldn’t make it Groot’s story. Writer Jeff Loveness and artist Brian Kesinger took what could have been one drawn out and painful joke, and created a fun, light hearted, and overall enjoyable series.

Spanning 6 issues, the series follows Groot and a reluctant Rocket, stranded in space while trying to make it back to Earth, just so Groot can check off items on his bucket list. The first issue follows the pair as they hitch rides with Skrull’s, steal rockets from dying planets, in a frankly brilliant Superman spoof. Before Rocket is abducted for reward money, and Groot is left drifting off in space. Alone, unsure of where he is, what to do, and knowing that no one will be able to understand him. The rest of the book is an all-out adventure through space. Featuring one off characters, old favourites, quirky situations and hallucinations, and culmination in an exhilarating prison break, and the truly touching revelation as to the real reason why Groot wants to go back to Earth.

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At points where you feel as though they are about to tread familiar ground for the second or third time, we get insights into Groot’s mind. Taking the form of genuinely funny hallucinations of the Avengers in Groot form, as well as flashbacks to memories, both tender and cruel.

Loveness writes this story in a wholly fluid and natural style, creating a fun and easy to read story, that is simply a joy to devour. Partnered with Kesinger’s art, makes the book more than worth it. The heavily stylised look of the book, suites the characters and situation perfectly. The look of the characters are incredibly expressive, lending strengths to both the hilarious situations, and emotional turns. The bright and vibrant feel of the art, gives the book and extra boost of energy, making the whole thing an absolute joy to read.

Subtle pop culture references, a crazy prison break, and a cosmic adventure. With the leads of Groot and Rocket, appearances from the Silver Surfer, idiotic but well-meaning Skrulls, and cameos from Captain Marvel, Spider-Man and the X-Men. Groot is a fantastic and light hearted adventure for any Marvel fan, both young and young at heart.

Posted in Batman, Comics, DC Comics, Review, Superheroes, Superman, The Flash

Spotlight on: DC Rebirth One-Shot – The Deluxe Edition

DC Universe - Rebirth (216)DC’s New 52, now that it’s at its end, can be seen for what it was. A failed cash grab to try and rope in an older audience, and move the characters in, what they thought was a darker, more appealing direction, while forgetting who they are. Some good titles did come out of it, the Batman line springs to mind including Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s Batman, and Peter J. Tomasi and Patrick Gleeson’s Batman & Robin. However, the rest of the DC universe moved away from its strengths. Particularly characters such as Superman and the Blue Beetle. Overall, the New 52 did its job, brought in a new audience, mostly for Snyder’s Batman, but it also served another purpose. To show DC exactly what they should be. DC Rebirth not only acts as an introduction to the new titles, but as an acknowledgement from DC that there was a problem.

While the DC Rebirth one shot, could have been as simple as 20 pages giving seemingly clever allusions to plot points we already know. The one-shot instead gives us a wonderful look at the reshaping of the DC universe, through the eyes of an outsider, and a truly touching story of love. The story is narrated throughout by the pre-flashpoint Wally West, Kid Flash, as he tries to return to a world that has forgotten him. First to Batman, trying to bring up the events of Flashpoint, hoping to spark a memory of his existence, before being pulled away by the speed force as he fails. As Wally travels through this world, looking for his lighting rod, his tether to this world, we see the New 52 through his eyes. His comments feel more like an acknowledgement from Geoff Johns that it had problems, that it was missing what made these heroes iconic.

“I have so many questions. Left unanswered. The history I know continues to echo. Seeing everything. I realize it wasn’t ten years that was stolen from us. It was love.”

EmbraceAs Wally comments on the changes, we see little details starting to correct themselves. Friendships being reformed, events being set up. While Wally’s journey is essentially an excuse to show off all the heroes and give hints to their possible stories that lie ahead, it’s his commentary that makes it worth reading. Finally, Wally’s encounter with Barry Allen, The Flash, just as he is starting to fade away, is both emotional and triumphant. Watching Wally give up on being part of this new world, excepting the new Kid Flash, giving him his blessing, and thanking Barry for a wonderful like, is heart-breaking. The moment where Barry remembers him, only for a second, and pulls him through. Breaking down, franticly apologising for ever forgetting his dear friend and sidekick. The image of Flash and Kid Flash embracing is triumphant. At once emotional in context, and standing for everything DC needs to be again. Even for a none Flash reader, it’s a tender moment.

“Thank you for an amazing life. Thank you for your kindness. For your inspiration. For being there for me so many times. For now. The last time. You were right Barry. Every second was a gift. That’s why I won’t die in anguish. I’ll go with love in my heart. Good-bye Barry.”

The books epilogue has become a talking point more so than anything, the reveal of the Comedian’s iconic smiley face button buried in the wall of the Batcave. As well as the final page taking dialogue from the final book of Watchman. While it’s interesting to see, and certainly sets up future events that are sure to ‘shake up’ the universe at some point. However, they feel forced in, just to give fans something to salivate over, and to debate franticly, up until the time the point is revealed. Luckily, it takes nothing from the overall story, and acts simply as a quick set up.

Written by Geoff Johns and pencilled by Gary Frank. The DC Rebirth One-Shot is more than worth the read, even outside of a set up for the new line. Giving a complete story as well as hints for future events across the line. For those interested The DC Rebirth Deluxe Edition is certainly worth the money, with some wonderful extra pages. Worth it for any DC fan, or novice alike.

Posted in Film, Horror, Review

Wish Upon (2017) – Review

 

MV5BMTgwOTY5NDMwM15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMTg5NDE4MTI@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,674,1000_AL_The word’s ‘Be careful what you wish for’, pops up often in life. As kids, we usually hear it at Christmas when we loudly shout, “I wish it was Christmas every day!’. When we grow up, we realise just how expensive that would be, and how little would get done in the world. The moral is hammered into us in movies, cartoons, and comics, to the point that we are almost sick to death of hearing the phrase. So, if someone wants to approach the subject, they must consider the angle of approach. How do they make the story relevant? How do you make the audience care about the consequences? Do you include a magic gene voiced by a beloved comedian or not? With John R. Leonetti’s Wish Upon, these are all very real concerns. Unfortunately, they are ignored, rather than listened too.

The story centres around a teenage girl, Clare Shannon, played by the surprisingly talented Joey King (Independence Day: Resurgence), as she tries to navigate her everyday life. Raised by her clichéd embarrassing father, after the suicide of her mother, and attending a high school where she is bullied daily by the popular crowd. Clare comes home one day to find a Chinese puzzle box her father has found, waiting for her on her bed. Due to the convenient fact that she takes Chinese language classes, she is able to make out the words ‘7 wishes’ inscribed on the front. On a whim, while crying over the day’s events, she makes a wish for revenge upon on of her tormentors. The next morning, she learns of her bully’s sudden illness, and while basking with her friends in a day of peace, she begins to wonder if the two events are related. The events that build up afterwards, follow Clare as she moulds her life to her will, leaving a trail of bodies in her wake. Followed along by her two ‘friends’, her uninteresting ‘love interest’, and her unrealistic crush, turned stalker. With predictable deaths and wishes, left, right and centred, and an easy to guess ending, Wish Upon begs for your attention, and for you to care about what happens to the characters. The ending itself gives far more than a wink and a nod to possible sequels, attempting to join the pantheon of modern horror franchises. Finally beating you around the brain with an annoying, and unsuited pop song. Somehow on the same level as following up a brutal James Bond action sequence, with a dry, drab Madonna piece.

While primarily a horror flick, the actual deaths are laughable in their delivery. With one, very tasteful exception. The characters, while occasionally shining through in moments, are largely generic and one note. It feels like the films real horror, comes from the characters themselves. There utter lack of caring when they learn the truth, and how selfish they can be. While possibly a commentary on the millennial generation and their supposedly selfish whims, it’s a point against morality more than anything. The films tone is all over the place, and unfocused. While it feels as though this is done to make the deaths more shocking, it’s handled poorly. Creating instants of sudden whiplash, or fits of laughter at what is supposed to be a serious or emotional moment.

For those curious enough, it’s a film that serves as a teaching point for how not to use mood and atmosphere, and an example of stereotyped characters. However, there are plenty of other films worth your time. This film should not be encouraged to start a franchise anytime soon.

 

Wish Upon, released by Orion Pictures, is in cinemas on July 14th in the USA, and July 28th in the UK.

Posted in Anime, Film, Review

Return to: Rebuild of Evangelion 1.11

I fall in and out of love with anime. Now, it’s more like that friend you see every now and then. You enjoy their visits, and you love spending time with them, but too much of them drives you insane. On a whim, I decided to revisit the first film in the Rebuild of Evangelion series. A planned set of four films, that reimagined the plot of the 1995 series and follow up films. Telling the story, the director claims he originally intended.

The series has become a cult classic, along with titles such as Akira, Cowboy Bebop, Ghost in the Shell, and Serial Experiments Lain. Prompting discussion of the films themes of depression, the religious allegories, and the overall meaning of the series ending. While there is a lot of debate as to whether the show deserves the praise, it’s more than fascinating to go through first hand and join the debate. The show provides countless topics of discussion, as well as examples of storytelling, as well as the story of the shows production.

Fans of the series, upon hearing of the Rebirth films, were delighted to get both another piece of the puzzle, and a fresh look at the overall story. Currently, three of the proposed four films have been released, with the fourth delayed while the director finishes other projects. The new films provided the director, Hideaki Anno, with a fresh palette to start over. Reintroduce the main characters, and define them from the start, before moving to the existential nightmares that await them in later films. The first film, Evangelion 1.11: You Are (Not) Alone, essentially retells the events of the first 5 episodes. Going from Shinji first arriving in Tokyo-3, reuniting with his estranged and cold father, meeting the other members of the organisation Nerve, piloting the EVA Unit 01, and defending the world and the city of Tokyo-3 from the 3rd, 4th and 5th Angels.

While the opening five episodes work well as a self-contained arc, and an opening to the new films. When re-watching Evangelion 1.11, I couldn’t help but feel that the lack of time the film has compared to five 20-minute episodes, gives less weight to the films events. While some scenes, such as Shinji walking in on Rei are still handled strongly, with the appropriate amount of pacing given to allow the full impact of the scene. As well as the film’s climax, and the beautiful final conversation between Rei and Shinji. I can’t deny that I tear up with the line “Why don’t you just try smiling?”. However, it’s the small scenes in the original show that made the characters, and gave weight to their choices. The relationship between Shinji, Toji and Kensuke, seems generic and rushed in the film compared to series. The iconic scene of Shinji being taken away, and running back and screaming at Toji that he doesn’t blame him for hating him. That he deserved to be hit, that he feels like a coward, a wimp, sneaky, and dishonest. That moment of weakness is a defining point in their relationship, as well as the moment between Misato and Shinji at the station, when Shinji makes the active choice to stay. Aside from Shinji’s night walking the street, none of these moments are included in the film. Their lack of inclusion leads the audience to question why Shinji just doesn’t leave if he hates the situation so much. That scene of his declaration, and decision to not get on the train is his defining moment in what mater to him, and what he is willing to lay his life down for.

While the first Rebuild film is fine overall, with stunning visuals, and the return of many of the original voice actors, both Japanese and American. As a starting point for the new films, it does what it needs to, as well as introduce a few new elements early, such as Lilith’s location. But compared to those original five episodes, it lacks heart.