Thoughts On Justice League

JL Film PosterIt’s been years since I’ve written a review of anything, but after seeing Justice League on opening day, I’ve had some thoughts percolating in my mind.

First up, I’m a big Justice League fan. I’ve always been a DC Comics diehard and have been devouring comics since before puberty, so I have thirty years of minutiae stored up in my brain to “impress” my friends and answer the occasional quiz question. When DC rebooted their entire line with the New 52 initiative, I pretty quickly stopped feasting on superhero comics, but I do enjoy the occasional nibble.

In short, I was disappointed with the JL film. Yes, there were some good things about it, and there was some serious behind the scenes issues that led the film to not being all it should’ve been, but with that in mind, here are a few bullet points.

I like Ben Affleck. He’s a great actor and director, and is actually a pretty good choice to play an older Batman. However, just because he has pointy ears and a gruff voice doesn’t make him the Dark Knight. When asked what his superpowers are, Batman answers, “I’m rich.” That’s not something Batman would say. That’s a Tony Stark line. It doesn’t belong here. With the Flash and Cyborg, the film has enough humour. Don’t drag Batman in to it too. Let him be Batman. Not everyone needs to be witty.

The first scene is all about how Superman inspires people, and how his death at the hands of Doomsday at Batman v Superman has united the world in a sense of loss. In the two Superman films we’ve seen starring Henry Cavill prior to this, there’s nothing inspiring about him. He doesn’t inspire. He terrifies! He’s not warm, and smiling. Thor has taken the role that Superman should have. If you ask anyone (kids or adults), who’d they’d love to hang out with, I’d imagine most would easily choose the happy god of thunder over the glowering, morose Man of Steel. This is a Superman who allowed his earthly Dad to die, caused massive property damage and killed Zod infront of a traumatised family, when he had so many other options available. (Fly him up to space! spin him round so he loses consciousness! even break his limbs! anything but neck snapping!). The Superman who has existed for almost a century in pop culture, and who will outlast all film makers, is someone who cherishes life and only takes it as an absolute last resort. The last time Superman was properly portrayed was in the 1980s with the maginificent Christopher Reeve. Who else could say, “I like pink very much Lois,” with a straight face, let alone with gravitas and sincerity? The world would not mourn the death of this version of Superman. They barely knew him, let alone embraced him.

There was a cleaner who showed up briefly at STAR Labs. They could’ve made him Rudy Jones, who becomes the Parasite, and as Kevin Smith pointed out – even the thief at the start of the film could’ve been a DC character, rather than a generic bad guy. Again, the terrorists who Wonder Woman stops could’ve been anyone from DC’s rich history, like Cheetah, or the Royal Flush Gang, or even someone linked to Steppenwolf, to give the villain  much needed dramatic weight. Speaking of which…

Steppenwolf had no visible motivation. A scene where he’s speaking to a hidden Darkseid would’ve helped tremendously. Perhaps he could be sent off to earth amidst cheering crowds from Apokolips, or he’s failed to conquer other planets before and this is his last attempt before Darkseid executes him in dishonour, and he thinks earth will be an uneasy target. As it is, Steppenwolf just shows up to cause havoc and..be bad.

There was no need for the jokes at Aquaman and the approach they took to make him the tough guy was desperate. I can imagine the writers thinking, “Quick! Let’s make fun of Aquaman before the audience does, and then we’ll show how grumpy and angry he really is. That’ll shut them up!” Aquaman is a great character, as Peter David has shown with his tremendous run on the comics. When your film stars apologizing for a great character, it’s not off to a good start. The acting here is great though, and Jason Momoa, like his castmates does a great job with these versions of the characters.

The Russian family at the final battle was odd. Perhaps it was meant to be a microcosm of the potentail destruction the rest of the world would face, like the family at the end of Batman v Superman was.

Okay, now the good points….

It was pretty awesome to see Superman unleashed and take on the whole League single-handedly. Oh yeah.

The humour generally works, with the scene with Aquaman and Wonder Woman’s lasso a nice touch.

The Mother Box battle/Amazonian escape was thrilling.

Both end credits scenes are great, and even the actual credits thanked comics creators such as Jack Kirby, and I noticed Detective Crispus Allen, who eventually becomes The Spectre, listed as a character. Nice.

DC’s animated films have a much better track record of their live action output, barring the last two (The Killing Joke, Batman and Harley Quinn) and I’m excited to see the two Death and Return of Superman animated films that kick off next year.

Geoff Johns is a legend and super talented writer, so his continued involvement in any live action DC films is a huge step in the right direction. I am cautiously optimistic about what DC has planned next, and the Wonder Woman film showed that they can get it right. Come on DC. You can do it!

Injustice: Gods Among Us Trailer

Made by NetherRealm is this upcoming fighter game based on the DC Comics characters. Well, some of them, and their New 52 looks too, judging by the armour on display.

The tagline is, “What if our greatest heroes became our greatest threat?” although they don’t use the question mark. Man, that annoys me. I picked up Ghost Recon: Future Soldier and they even spelled destabilising wrong in a cut scene. Anyway, I’m not a huge fan of fighters, apart from a nostalgic haze over Street Fighter II, but this trailer looks cool.

WARNER BROS. INTERACTIVE ENTERTAINMENT ANNOUNCES

Injustice: Gods Among Us

New Fighting Game Franchise from the Makers of Award-Winning Mortal Kombat Franchise Revealed

What if our greatest heroes became our greatest threat? Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment and DC Entertainment today announced Injustice: Gods Among Us, an all-new game in development by award-winning NetherRealm Studios, creators of the definitive fighting game franchise Mortal Kombat. The game is scheduled for release in 2013 for the Xbox 360® video game and entertainment system from Microsoft, PlayStation®3 computer entertainment system and the Wii U™ system from Nintendo.

Injustice: Gods Among Us debuts as a bold new fighting game franchise that introduces a deep, original story featuring a large cast of favorite DC Comics icons such as Batman, Harley Quinn, Solomon Grundy, Superman, The Flash, Wonder Woman and many others. Set in a world where the lines between good and evil are blurred, players will experience heroes and villains engaging in epic battles on a massive scale.

“With Injustice: Gods Among Us, we are creating an all-new franchise with incredible battles set in the DC Comics Universe,” said Martin Tremblay, President, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment. “NetherRealm Studios is the extremely talented team behind the latest Mortal Kombat hit and it is developing a game unlike any other in the fighting genre.”

“We can’t wait to reveal Injustice: Gods Among Us because it will give our fans and gamers an epic experience as they battle like gods as their favorite DC Comics villains and heroes,” said Ed Boon, Creative Director, NetherRealm Studios. “Our team is excited to make a fighting game that is filled with fast-paced action, incredible story-telling and iconic DC Comics characters.”

For more information, visit www.injustice.com

Spidey and Star Wars on TV plus Supes on Console

Similar to Cartoon Network’s upcoming DC Nation block of programming is Marvel’s version, led by the long in the works Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon. It launches on April Fool’s Day (yes, true) and is called Marvel Universe. It will feature not only Spidey, but also the return of The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes cartoon and some other animated and live action bits and pieces.

Talking about overdue TV series, the Star Wars live action show at least has a name – Underworld. Producer Rick McCallum says that there have been 50 scripts completed so far, and that the show will focus on the seedy underbelly of the Star Wars Universe. I’m keen to see this, so I hope that despite the budgetary issues it gets made.

Superman, unlike Batman, hasn’t had a good video game in a long time. Here’s some great concept art from  a 2008 Supes game that never came to be unfortunately. It would’ve featured Darkseid, Kalibak and more and was code named Blue Steel, just like the Jamie Lee Curtis film, or Zoolander’s facial expression!

A game that has been made though is this new one called Marvel: Avengers Alliance which will launch on Facebook sometime this year. Just before the film, I’d imagine.

Extra Sequential Podcast #73-2011 Recap

59 mins. We chat about the comics events and trends that have shaped the last 12 months and grabbed the most headlines, including dead superheroes, digital shopping and more. Also, The Punisher as an angel. Ah, memories.

LISTEN TO IT HERE

DOWNLOAD IT HERE

GET IT ON iTUNES HERE

You can email us at kris (at)extrasequential(dot)com and befriend us on the NEW ES Facebook page.

THEME – 2011 RECAP
The New York Times Bestseller list, dominated by The Walking Dead and Scott Pilgrim

DC’s new 52 (of course)

DC’s RetroActive one-shots

Artists becoming writers

Retailer incentives

Webcomics:

Hark a Vagrant http://harkavagrant.com/

Hobo Lobo of Hamelin http://hobolobo.net/

The Abaddon http://abaddoncomic.com/

American Barbarian http://www.ambarb.com/

The Man of Many Shades http://www.themanofmanyshades.com/

Tune http://www.tunecomic.com/

The success of Kickstarter projects

Marvel’s cancellations

Fear Itself and X-Men: Schism

IDW’s Infestation zombie/licence x-over

The death of Ultimate Spider-Man and the intro of Miles Morales

Manga and European sales

Joe the Barbarian, and Chester Brown’s Paying For It

Movies and video games of 2011

A quick look ahead to 2012

 

This Week’s DC Previews

It’s time for some previews for all of DC’s release this week. You can catch a few pages from All Star Western, Aquaman, Batman: The Dark Knight, Blackhawks, The Flash, The Fury of Firestorm, Green Lantern: New Guardinas, I, Vampire, Justice League Dark, Hawkman, Superman, Teen Titans and Voodoo  right here and this is also the week in which more integration, and cross-overs of series comes to the fore.

 

 

Extra Sequential Podcast #72-Best Comics of 2011

60 mins. What a crazy good year it’s been for comics. We talk about what has impressed us the most from breakout talent, to new series to movie adaptation. Also, Star Trek: TNG’s Riker, and which superhero series resembles Breaking Bad.

LISTEN TO IT HERE

DOWNLOAD IT HERE

GET IT ON iTUNES HERE

You can email us at kris (at)extrasequential(dot)com and befriend us on the NEW ES Facebook page.

1:20 NEWS 

The Hobbit, and The Dark Knight Rises trailers

Jail time for Wolverine movie pirate

6:20 THEME-BEST COMICS OF 2011

Reprint:
Mladen – Fantagraphics’ ‘Donald Duck: Lost in the Andes’
Kris – IDW’s ‘Artist’s Edition’ series

Film:
Mladen – ‘Gantz’
Kris – ‘Captain America: The First Avenger’

Australian Comic
Mladen – Bobby N’s ‘Digested’ (Gestalt)
Kris – ‘The Deep: Here be Dragons’ (Gestalt)
Honorable mention – ‘Zorro’ (Silver Fox comics)

Foreign Language Comic (in English)
Mladen – ‘The Drops of God’
Kris – ‘The Zombies that Ate the World’
Honorable mention – ’20th Century Boys’, ‘AX Manga Anthology’

New talent:
Mladen – Ian Bertram 
Kris – Mike Huddleston
Honorable mention – Nick Spencer

Continuing series:
Kris – ‘Green Lantern’ (DC Comics)

New ongoing series or mini
Mladen – ‘Blue Estate’ (Image comics)
Kris – ‘Who is Jake Ellis?’ (Image comics)

One-shot or OGN
Mladen – Joseph Lambert’s ‘I Will Bite You’
Kris – Jim Henson’s ‘Tale of Sand’

Best comic overall
Mladen – Anders Nilsen’s ‘Big Questions’
Kris – ‘Who is Jake Ellis?’

Extra Sequential Podcast #68-Endings

50 mins. The opposite of origin tales is this week’s focus as we examine various superhero future stories, both classic and new. What happens to our favourite characters decades into the future when they’re older, greyer and grumpier?  Also, Colin Firth in a fountain.

LISTEN TO IT HERE

DOWNLOAD IT HERE

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You can email us at kris (at)extrasequential(dot)com and befriend us on the NEW ES Facebook page.

1:46 NEWS

NY School of Visual Arts’ free magazine, INK

The Human Torch returns to life after a no-so lengthy absence

The Dark Knight Rises film info

Batman: The Brave and the Bold finale

SyFy orders Booster Gold pilot script

8:48 ENDINGS

Son of Superman

Kingdom Come, and Earth X

Old Man Logan

The Dark Knight Returns

Hulk: The End

Batman Beyond

New X-Men: Here Comes Tomorrow

Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?

Spider-Man: Reign

Various DC Previews

Right here you can check out previews of some of DC’s releases this week. There’s peeks at the third issues of All Star Western, Aquaman, Blackhawks, Batman: The Dark Knight, The Flash, Fury of Firestorm, Green Lantern: New Guardians, Justice League Dark, Savage Hawkman, Superman, Teen Titans and Voodoo.

Here’s a few of my fave pics from those…picks.

 

Batman: The Brave and the Bold #13 Preview

When I first saw this cover and the solicitation text that promised a team-up of all the Robins to save Batman’s life, I knew that I must have it. Chris Sims at Comics Alliance has now shown that I was right. Check out a preview and rundown of the charming all-ages ish right here.

 

A Few Previews of This Week’s DC 52 Books

Handily compiled at DC’s official blog are a few peeks at the third issues of DC’s New 52 titles. At the link you’ll find pretty pics (with text!) of #3s of Action Comics, Animal Man, Batwing, Detective Comics, Green Arrow, Hawk and Dove, Justice League International, Men of War, O.M.A.C, Red Lanterns, Stormwatch and Swamp Thing. Wow.

Extra Sequential Podcast #64-Forgotten DC #1s

69 mins. We thought we’d turn back the clock to the some old debuts from DC Comics and compare them to the current blast of new series premieres, and discuss the trouble of new superhero concepts and the business of such. Also, Beauty and the Geek, Family Matters and Bruce Willis.

LISTEN TO IT BELOW, DOWNLOAD IT HERE OR ON iTUNES

You can email us at kris (at)extrasequential(dot)com and befriend us on the NEW ES Facebook page.

1: 58 NEWS

Batman: Arkham City fan made costume

The new Punisher TV series

Superman’s co-creator’s auction

Watchmen 2 gets some movement

Sydney Zombie Walk, and a great zombie print from Silver Fox Comics

13:45 THEME – FORGOTTEN DC #1s

The Highwaymen. It’s like Red, but with added Bill Clinton and more innocent deaths.

Lab Rats from John Byrne. It’s like The Matrix, or tries to be. It fails.

Suicide Squad – old and new.

Hawk and Dove – old (hard rocking!) and new (zombies on airplanes!).

Firebrand featuring exploding mechanical legs.

How the storytelling and marketing approach varies between the old DC #1s and the 2011 versions.

 

The Unexpected #1 Review

The Unexpected #1 is a one-shot from DC Comics/ Vertigo. Under that irresistible cover from Rafael Grampa (look at it! a woman in bloody stilettos, with dead birds strapped to her about to go psycho on some ’50s lovers at a skull screening drive-in!) are some great stories, in the vein of Twilight Zone. As with all mixed bags like this, there’s bound to be some losers amongst the winners, but the strike rate here is pretty good and I hope they publish another one.

The Great Karlini by Dave Gibbons is the first tale. It’s about a cheating escaplogist who eventually gets his comeuppance. It’s all told in 8 panel pages and his narration which lends a certain weight.

Dogs by G. Willow Wilson and Robert Rodriguez is frankly, awesome. It’s a simple story but looks great with Rodriguez’s slightly sketchy and expressive visual style. Set in a small country town filled with pet canines who get fed up with the stupid and violent humans around them, they suddenly start walking upright and take revenge. It’s an entertaining “tables are turned” story in just 8 pages.

Look Alive by Alex Gracian and Jill Thompson is about a woman who’s a zombie in a world full of them who pretends to be normal with constant drug use and lots of makeup, but can’t speak as she still sounds like one. She manages to survive with her crafty ways tough.

The dark humour continues with A Most Delicate Monster by writer Jeffrey Rotter and artist Lelio Bonaccorso which centres on a cloned caveman who’s unleashed upon the world to experience its sin and excess.

There’s a tragic muder drama in The Land by Joshua Dysart and Farel Dalrymple, violent survival in Mat Johnsons’s and David Lapham’s Family First and the blurring of real and online life in Joshua Hale Fialkov’s and Rahsan Ekedal’s Alone. The last two short comics are Americana by Brian Wood and Emily Carroll and a preview of DC’s upcoming Voodoo Child #1 by Selwyn Sefu Hinds and Denys Cowan. They both look good, but don’t really fit in with the thematic link of the previous tales.

If you grabbed the recent Strange Adventures anthology which used sci-fi as a template, this should entice you, if you also like supernatural stuff that is. I hope DC produce more of these grab bags, as not only are they a good “in” for newbies, but they give both veteran and up and coming creators an audience.

New York Comic Con 2011 Action Figures

Want to see some cool figures, mainly of Marvel and DC characters, thet were shown at NYCC? Sure you do. Plenty more here,  including Young Justice, and Arkham City, and I must say, this is the first time Superman’s redesigned costume has actually looked good.

DC #2 Reviews

Most of the Dc #1s I picked up last month will not have me grabbing their follow up issues. However, last week hit me with three pleasant surprises.

Batman and Robin #2. When Grant Morrison first introduced Damian (son of Bruce) Wayne, he was a proud brat who saw Batman as weak. He was awesome. He eventually softened, but now we have the more hard edged Damian back in the Robin costume. In the first four pages here, writer Peter J. Tomasi does a fantastic job of explaining Damian’s origin and the entire Batman/Robin relationship. Bruce is hesitant to praise Damian’s work in the field, while the boy soldier is retreating further into his inner darkness. This series could turn into a great character study, while an old acquaintance of Bruce (and enemy of Batman) surfaces. Patrick Gleason’s art is fluid and dynamic and this is the kind of series that newbies and us oldies will find irresistible.

Preview here.

Green Lantern #2. Another series putting a new twist on a classic partnership is this emerald beauty. Geoff Johns and Doug Mahnke know exactly what they’re doing and kicking things off last month with a green power ring back on the hand of former Lantern and Hal’s mentor, Sinestro is a great way to shake things up. Here Hal gets his desperate desires answered by Sinestro creating a power ring for him, but it comes with a tight leash. The bulk of the issue deals with the tumultuous relationship between these two space faring warriors, while one of Sinestro’s old, ugly comrades from the Sinestro Corps shows up claiming betrayal and promptly gets beaten, well, killed actually. With Sinestro demanding Hal assist him in taking the fight to his old Corps, the action will only ramp up from here on.

Preview here.

Grifter #2. Not as epic (yet) as the above two, but just as entertaining. A character I never cared for until now, Cole Cash is a grifter and former black ops soldier who now wears a groovy mask and tries to explain to his partner in crime (and the bedroom) that he can now see aliens, known as Daemonites, although only the cover refers to them as such. Aliens who follow him, disguise themselves as humans, and want him dead that is. A fight with a cop in a diner and a look at a shadowy military presence, which involves Cash’s brother, makes this a kind of Bourne in the DCU, with effective action staging from artist Cafu and some tight plotting from Nathan Edmondson.

Preview here.

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