Tag Archives: Comics

Review – Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox

What’s this?

As I’ve noted before in this very series, the idea of alternate timelines and universes and all their attendant paradoxes is largely what has prohibited me from becoming what one might describe as a “fan” of comic books, which some would consider a rather egregious oversight given my line of work. When I reviewed Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths, another direct-to-DVD feature courtesy of Warner Bros. and DC, which also concerned a superhero team who ventured into a mirrored dimension to battle their doppelgangers, I expressed concerns about the futility of the endeavour, which I still hold. That movie surprised me, though, and it must be said that this one, which is based on the 2011 comic book crossover event “Flashpoint”, by Geoff Johns and Andy Kubert, surprised me just as much, if not more so.

Why’s that?

A couple of reasons. The first, rather obvious one is that a standalone feature-film is a very different proposition from a concerted effort to mangle and merge a dozen characters’ established continuities. In comic books, these events are permanent – until, that is, the next one happens, or the whole line is arbitrarily rebooted, though even then the ostensibly clean slate still contains the sticky residue of versions past. It’s a nightmare. Something like Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox has the distinct advantage of having no obligation to a broader continuity. You can enjoy its hypothetical rearranging of DC’s stalwarts secure in the knowledge that by the time the credits roll, none of it will have mattered.

The second reason is that, unwieldy title notwithstanding, it isn’t a movie about the Justice League.

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Review – Superman: Unbound

What’s this?

An adaptation of Superman: Brainiac, a better-titled miniseries by Geoff Johns and Gary Frank that reimagined Brainiac, one of Superman’s most iconic villains, as a cybernetic alien who boasts the knowledge of 10,000 worlds – accumulated, it’s worth noting, by pilfering those worlds’ most developed cities, miniaturizing them, and cataloguing them aboard his giant, tentacled skull-ship in little glass jars.

That sounds like hard work.

It does. I was compelled to ponder the logistics of this endeavour, but I gave up once I was reminded that a building full of investigative journalists still haven’t managed to determine that Clark Kent is Superman, despite him working in that very building and making no effort to disguise himself. In fact, I should really applaud Superman: Unbound, which is the sixteenth movie in DC’s animated line, for introducing a boorish Daily Planet employee who makes a point of noticing and commenting on Clark’s secretive behaviour. Admittedly he thinks that Clark sneaking around and being in good shape means that he’s a homosexual, but that’s still the closest anyone has come to putting two and two together.

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Review – Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 1

What’s this?

Another delve into the addled imagination of Frank Miller, whose definitive Batman origin story, Year One, I recently declared one of the worst adaptations to yet be churned out by DC’s generally-excellent collaboration with Warner Bros.

Well… I guess we’re off to an awkward start.

Fear not, though, because Miller didn’t just reimagine Batman’s beginning, but also his end; The Dark Knight Returns is another iconic, seminal work in Batman’s long and storied history, and the first part of it, directed by Jay Oliva and adapted for the screen by Bob Goodman, is easily the best Batman story since Under the Red Hood, and stands alongside that movie, Wonder Woman and Superman vs. The Elite as some of the best superheroic shenanigans yet committed to film.

Hold on… part 1?

Yes, indeed. It seems that the original story’s vaunted place in the comic-book pantheon didn’t lend itself well to an abridgement. For the first time, instead of trying to compress a multi-issue arc into a single, short movie, DC and Warner have taken the scalpel to the source material and delivered two feature-length halves of Miller’s four-part classic.

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Review – Superman vs. The Elite

What’s this?

An adaptation – although, if we’re being completely honest, an expansion – of a story from Action Comics #775 called “What’s So Funny About Truth, Justice and The American Way”. The original appeared in 2001, and was written by Joe Kelly, who also adapted the screenplay. The issue served more as a discussion point than a real story. It dealt with the moral quandaries at the heart of vigilantism: the question of whether power could – or should – position one above the law; the reality that some evil cannot be reasoned or negotiated with; and the dilemma of how a hero can quash villainy without sacrificing what makes them heroic. It was a poor story that contained potent ideas, and they were made even more so just a few months after its publication, when terrorists hijacked four passenger airliners and flew three of them into buildings.

What’s the set-up?

The Elite – Manchester Black (Robin Atkin Downes), Coldcast (Catero Colbert), The Hat (Andrew Kishino) and Menagerie (Melissa Disney) – are characters that were initially intended to serve as analogues for a certain breed of violent superhero team (particularly The Authority) who were popular at the time. They show up making a big deal about how they’ll fight injustice with lawless abandon; how they’ll go where others won’t, and do what needs to be done to keep people safe, including stepping over (and well beyond) the lines that Superman is so prickly about. This brings on one of Supes’ trademark moral crises, wherein he begins to question whether his aversion to murder is too old-fashioned for the modern world and for a society who are getting justifiably sick of villains breaking out of prison to wreak more havoc in their city.

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Review – Batman: Year One

What’s this?

The animated adaptation of Frank Miller’s seminal Year One, the four-issue 1987 arc that has since come to more or less completely define our current understanding of Batman, Gotham City, and their various stories. This is the work – a grim, nihilistic noir detective thriller – that spawned countless classic Batman tales, and planted the seeds which eventually grew into Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight trilogy.

What’s it about?

The first year of Batman’s crime-fighting career, which just so happens to coincide with Jim Gordon’s first year at the GCPD; here, a nakedly corrupt institution nestled firmly within the pockets of local mobster Carmine Falcone. As inextricably tied to the character as Year One is, this is far from a typical Batman outing. There are no colourful super-villains or fancy, high-tech gadgetry, just two idealistic men wading through the cesspool of a city whose citizens need a reason to hope again.

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Ready Steady Cut EP44 – Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man Trilogy

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This is Episode 44 of the Ready, Steady, Cut! Podcast. On this episode, with the upcoming release of Spider-Man: Homecoming, we discuss Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man Trilogy. We debate over topics like Best Spider-Man, Best Spider-Man movie and why wasn’t a fourth made by Raimi.

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Analysis – Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

[As this is an analysis post, please be aware that this will contain spoilers. If you have not watched the film, and you do not want to know what happens in the story, then please do not continue reading.]

Christopher Nolan spoiled us with his take on Batman. Throughout the Dark Knight trilogy, the public was provided with clear character development, a complex but deep narrative, and a story worth caring about. I think that’s where the problem stems.

As soon as BvS DoJ rolls, you are given a rushed introduction into how Batman came to be. The rest of the film clearly shows an older, bitter and tired Bruce Wayne. Was the start necessary? I felt the young Bruce Wayne was entirely irrelevant to this story. The story is years ahead of that time. Bruce has grown up, took on Gotham, experienced failure and success. Why try merging the two together? Oh yes, I guess his mother’s name does play a part, but I’m highlighting the problem of this film right from the start, and it felt disjointed immediately.

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