With the release of the Punisher series on Netflix we figured it was a good time to go back to The Punisher’s cinematic roots. In addition it’s always a good time to go back and check out the 1990 cinematic version of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Turns out these movies have a lot more in common than we thought. Since listener Allen asks the hard questions we also find out who is everyone’s favorite turtle is. We also talk about Baywatch, Robert Kirkman’s Secret History Of Comics, Event Horizon, and Colossal.
As a child of the NES and Aqua Net generation, I cut my cinematic teeth on the movies from Cannon Films and Orion Pictures like Masters of the Universe and Robocop. It’s my firm belief that the best action movies truly came from the 1980s. Certainly, they aren’t high brow or even have intelligent or coherent plot logic in many cases, but they were fun. So why am I mentioning these film studios and this rad decade when talking about Thor: Ragnarok, Marvel’s latest cinematic universe release?
We know. We missed last week, making this not all that weekly of a round-up. You can thank illness of the face for that. But we’re back this week! So let’s break this one down before another week slips by us. Worst to First, let’s do it! (A bit spoilery, but not too bad)
Bless her little Kryptonian heart, she’s trying. She really is. But what do you do with an all-powerful, god-like character? A question that’s plagued the Superfamily since forever. At first, the showrunners decided to borrow some of the best of the MAN of Steel’s history the first season, then had him actually show up in National City for what was arguably the best episode of season 2. Well, the answer this year seems to be ignore the question, because other characters not named in the title have a lot going on, and we’ll get to Kara. Promise.
This season has a lot happening to be sure. There’s Alex and Maggie’s wedding that is CLEARLY doomed to not happen as hinted at these first three episodes, Nathan Petrelli is doing his best at megolomaniacal industrialist (until his isn’t? Maybe next week?), Lena Luthor bought Catco because…um…reasons, and Odette Annable will at some point be “making it Reign”. (That’s her quote, not our quote. It’s punny as hell, but admittedly better than what we would have come up with.) Oh, and that one girl is sad about her boyfriend being maybe dead. What’s her na–OH! Kara! Right!
To be FAIR, Kara did some stuff this week. J’onn did most of it assisting M’gann and the white martian resistance though, but Supergirl helped. It was a decent bit of business with J’onn reuniting with his father he previously thought deceased.
A darker, distracted Supergirl was kind of fun. Not Snyder dark, but Kara with a chip on her shoulder that first episode would have made for an interesting sub-plot this season as she works through the idea that even with all the power in the world, she can’t save everyone she loves. It’s a good third season plot that could flesh out Kara and grow her as character. Because if she’s the role model for a generation of young girls, they need to see that even our heroes struggle and we all need to find it in ourselves to overcome.
…No? You’d rather wrap that up half-assedly after 2 eps? Alright, how about a wedding shower then? Yeah to hell with it.
…What are we going to do with this show? The time slot change is bad enough as it makes it a lot more difficult to get these reviews done in a timely manner–on top of all the other reasons– but the writers insist on recycling the same storylines the way Flash recycled Ollie’s apartment in last week’s episode. Yeah, we noticed. All of us noticed.
Anyway, Oliver is again this season spending more time as the mayor than as the Green Arrow like last year. Because when we go to watch superhero dramas, it’s important to us that we spend at least 10 minutes an episode worrying about new legislation.
This week, Diggle takes over as Green Arrow as Oliver is under the watchful eye of FBI Agent Mrs. Plot Device, and wants to be a better father to William “Exasperated Sigh” Clayton. Digs got the shakes though as is having confidence issues thanks to his last season visit to Lian Yu. I don’t speak any languages beyond this sort of English and “I am a pineapple” in French, but I have to assume Lian Yu is Mandarin for “No Real Stakes Island”. We’ll come back to that.
From there, the never-ending, white hot poker in the eye that will not be named came on screen. I was suddenly overwhelmed by my own form of Diggle Shakes and slapped the video halfway across the room. I came to outside, standing over a burn barrel holding a box of matches as my tablet sat on top of the pile, reeking of gasoline. The tablet’s fine, but I can’t finish a review for you, because I’m on a kind of expensive laptop and I don’t want to risk another blackout.
Even with the imminent destruction of my tablet, Arrow still ranks ahead of Supergirl this week. This show is still trying to find it’s way back, and we feel like it still can, but it needs to bring back the high stakes that the first two seasons had. Yeah, they killed Laurel, and for this, we will never forgive them, but this show has lost it’s nerve. If you’re going to have every character on an island, and you’re going to explode that island, then have every character survive, you’ve wasted a perfectly good island explosion. They had the chance to course correct, (same as with Flashpoint) and they didn’t take it. They keep letting all the plucky sidekicks survive. They have so many, they could Game of Thrones the hell out of the show once every two weeks, and by season end, there’s still six characters left. My math’s off, but you get the idea. Trim the fat. You have two quirky scientists. Axe one of them. You have 2 gun-toting hard asses. Axe one. You have 2 Canaries. Break one’s neck after you’ve injected bleach into her veins and set her on fire, then reform Laurel, you canon-destroying-on-a-whim, Felicity-fellating jackasses.
I’m feeling woozy..let’s move on.
The Flash, what do you say about it? It’s a consistently good show. This week and last week were no exceptions. The writer’s have loosened up on the overly dramatic reins for the time being and everyone is having fun. We didn’t get to cover this, so we’ll touch on it here, last week’s episode made it enjoyable to watch Barry and Iris together for the first time in a while. She wasn’t constantly harping on him all episode and he didn’t spend the tenth week in a row explaining how he’ll never let anything bad happen to her. For the first time in a while, there was natural chemistry between them, and it was good to see.
As far as the fun goes, they introduced Hazard this week; a girl with the worst luck in the world, until she’s introduced to dark matter, thanks to Barry’s return from the Speed Force. She’s a petite blonde that’s funny and fun to watch. In the end, she’s monster of the week, so they wrap her story quick, but she’s got a bigger part to play in Junior Brainiac’s no good, very bad scheme.
This week also saw the return of Tom Cavanaugh (It’s about time you got here! Welcome home!) and Earth 2 Harry Wells. Always good to have him back so Cisco has someone to properly bicker with. The problem there is Harry seems a bit too…not scatterbrained, but less full of himself than when he was around previously and that felt like it lost something. Still good to have him back.
Oh, and poor Wally. This town’s not big enough for two speedsters apparently. Tough Luck, Bro.
Also, I spent the episode deciding that Cecil needs to back the hell up a step. But, that’s obviously not going to happen. Nice cut to black on that one.
Legends of Tomorrow
Understand that before we get too far into this that we know. We do. We know and we understand any trepidation you might be feeling with this being the second Round-Up in a row that Legends came out as top dog. If the illness hadn’t struck last week, Legends would have been number one then too. WE KNOW! It doesn’t make sense! After the first two seasons, we get all of it.
Listen up, though: Legends is the current champion of the CW’s Arrowverse. If you aren’t watching, you’re missing out. Allow us to explain.
Is it a perfect show? No. Some of the worst extra acting around. Sometimes the mains’ acting isn’t all that great either. But what is it about Legends that we find so damn convincing? We said it last time: They’ve found their voice. The writers and showrunners know what they are, and they’re making it work. Not everyone wants the light-hearted approach that Marvel takes with it’s properties muddling in with the super serious world of DC, but this is exactly what the show needs to be.
The Legends aren’t a stoic band of heroes that save the space time continuum while attempting to bone each other in the meanwhile. They’re an imperfect group of screw-ups and also-rans that are doing the best they can with what they’ve got. The showrunners finally cracked that code and allowed themselves and their characters to be fun.
The introduction of the Time Bureau, run by previous captain Rip Hunter, is the perfect adversary for the Legends as they skip through time striving to put right what once went wrong (thanks to their incompetence).
Thats not to say that there aren’t moments of them potentially falling back into old habits, but we’re still cautiously optimistic. The reintroduction of Amaya to the Waverider is a slippery slope. We’re waiting for the moment when they fall back into the well-trodden drama of a relationship between her and Nate, but so far they’ve avoided it. We can only hope that they continue to steer around it so as to not get bogged down with the heavy-handedness of their relationship.
It probably feels unnatural to you, but unless you’re staunchly opposed to humor in your Arrowverse, this is the show to watch. It’s been consistently entertaining for these first three weeks, and with Matt Ryan’s Constantine slated to come aboard, hopefully it can only get better.
Well, Berlanti’s Arrowverse is back for another season of humor, heart, and spectacle. Here’s the (Spoiler Free) Breakdown of how the first week went from worst to first.
I believe it was Huey Lewis, of the Marin County Lewis’s that first said that the power of love is curious thing. For example, it can make one man weep, another man sing. No better evidence is there of the power of love and it’s curious (read super ass convenient) capabilities than the Season 4 opener of The Flash. It is here where love times love divided by love will conquer all.
As you may recall, at the end of Season 3, Barry decides that he will become the Speed Force’s captive, leaving Team Flash to fend for themselves. Jumping to present day, Iris (You’ll remember her as the one whose foretold death wasted half of every episode last season) is running point for Team Kid Flash, made up of Wally, Cisco/Vibe and Joe in a police issued SUV. They’re on the job, chasing down and capturing Metas, all the while having fun as they go. But it’s bittersweet, as everyone misses Barry. This is about as far as we can go without specifically ruining anything. Oh and Caitlin isn’t evil anymore. Yeah. Like that.
The Flash, while having been one of the best shows the last couple years while Arrow dipped into whatever the hell it dipped into, has a bad habit of high stakes cliffhangers with very underwhelming pay offs. Remember Flashpoint? The jaw-dropping season 2 ender that had all of our minds racing? What was going to happen?! A ripple in the fabric of time and space so big that it could help undo all of Arrow’s missteps! It could be the catalyst for a full season of plotlines and story arcs about Barry’s selfish mistake and–oh it’s done? With very little real consequence? Except for you, Diggle of course. RIP Baby Sarah.
This opener was lazy. It was lazy, uninspired, and underwhelming. I’m talking Moffatt Doctor Who levels of lazy. Eric Bischoff’s Monday Nitro levels of underwhelming. My inability to come up with a third example’s level of uninspired. The writers once again couldn’t paint themselves out of the giant corner they were stuck in so they HAHA SCIENCE!!’d and YAY FOR LOVE!!’d themselves an answer. This is getting to be a nasty habit, and it needs to change fast before the average viewer catches on. Guys, get it together. You’re better than this.
The Girl of Steel is back and broody as hell. That’s what happens when the alien love of your life gets lead poisoining and is sent off planet. Typical.
Well, Kara’s in a bad mood and in an attempt to cope has thrown herself into her work as Supergirl. National City is grateful for the drop in crime, but her friends and family are worried about her.
Meanwhile, Nathan Petrelli…no…Glenn Talbot…no…Morgan Edge…no…Nathan Petrelli is in National City to fill the male megalomaniacal CEO void left by Peter Facinelli’s Max Lord after the network switch.
Supergirl is a steadily consistent show, if not a little on the bland side. She serves as a strong role model for young and not as young girls alike, which is always a good thing. Season 1 and 2 benefitted from using the plots of some of Superman’s better stories, but that can also hinder it in the long run. We like the show, but it feels like it’s still finding it’s voice. It bounces back and forth between light-hearted and overly serious. There’s a medium there, and if they keep working at it, they’ll find it. (Hint: It’s more to the light-hearted side). It could really benefit from somehow finding itself on the same universal plane as the rest of the Arrowverse. A little crossover action, if even a simple cameo, never hurts. The first crossover with Flash in season one is one of the best episodes to date.
At the end of last season, there were a lot of promises made. More accurately, vows. Even more accurately, ONE vow: Arrow had until the crossover to sort itself out or I was done forever. What was once my favorite hour of the Arrowverse managed to adorably trip over itself like an at first likeable but long term annoying as hell nerdy girl sidekick turned non-canonical love interest, much like the other real-world super powers predecessor, Heroes. The difference being that Heroes went bad almost immediately, while Arrow got through 2 seasons before it started to turn.
If you remember, we left our heroes on the banks of Lian Yu, where Adrian blew up all the sidekicks with an extraordinary amount of C-4 for a DA to procur. Well, we find out early on that they all survived. Well, almost all of them, you find out, as the show’s decided not to ditch the flashbacks as previously hoped, but flashback to the story of how they survived.
Meanwhile, in the present, Ollie has his hands full with fighting off a new group of terrorists led by Black Canary, while also raising his son Conn…sorry, William…who is having problems trusting his dual identitied father, if you can imagine such a thing. Also, Felicity isn’t as annoying thus far, but they made two separate hints that her and Oliver have “the talk” coming just over the horizon…there was a whole island of C-4! She couldn’t just have caught even one…never mind.
I give this show grief because I love it, and only want the best for it. And I’m not alone, thankfully, as my voice will continue to go unheard. Stephen Amell’s voice, however, that has a little more sway, and he’s made his point.
In a recent interview, while discussing a conversation that he had with Arrowverse creator Greg Berlanti, Stephen Amell said this about the show back in Season 5:
“You know, I think that there’s a lot of things that we do well,” and Greg goes, “I would agree,” and I go, “Can we do those things?”
I have to be honest, we’re only one episode in, but it feels like they really are trying to do them. Arrow was the second place winner this week. They genuinely seem to want to get back to where we all know Arrow can be, but there’s a lot of work left to do. I can’t figure that the introduction of Michael Emerson (Lost, Person of Interest) as a big bad is anything but a further step in the right direction. So I’m staying true to Arrow, but so help me if the wedding storyline comes back on the table, I will burn that bridge once and for all.
But please don’t, guys. Seriously. What am I going to watch instead? S.H.I.E.L.D.? Come on.
LEGENDS OF TOMORROW
There is a clear winner this week, and that winner is Legends.
This is the third season for this show, and if this opener is any indication, they’ve found their tone. The Legends work as a goofy band of screw-ups that really do want to do right, but can’t get out of their own way. The episode where they have to save George Lucas from becoming an insurance agent is one of the strongest of the series thus far.
In this episode, their former captain, Rip Hunter has left them on their own, and formed the Time Bureau: a group of suits that go around fixing anachronisms in the space-time continuum, a lot of which are the doing of the Legends themselves. Not to be outdone, and as a way of proving their worth, the Legends defy the Time Bureau and try to fix the mistakes themselves.
This one has finally found the humor. They aren’t all trying to look tougher by brooding or sex each other, at least not so far, they’re trying to prove to everyone that they really are the good guys, even if they get it wrong sometimes. Their new motto is “Sometimes we screw things up for the better”. They aren’t quite as zany and quippy as the Guardians of the Galaxy, (and hopefully they never will be), but they have that flare to them.
I enjoyed Legends most of all, and I hope they stick with this new “we do what we want” attitude as it will strengthen the core and bring this show up in the ranks as a contender instead of what it’s been so far, an also-ran. It certainly did this week.
We break away from our usual content to talk about 2 cult superhero movies from the 90s. First up is the 1993 film Meteor Man starring Richard Townsend and a bunch of people you know. Then after that it’s 1994s Blankman with a bunch of other people that you know. One thing binds these movies together and it’s probably not what you think. After that we talk Cult Of Chucky, Gerald’s Game, and Rick & Morty. Wubba lubba dub dub!
The highlight for me for Daredevil Season 2 was the new vision of The Punisher. We had up till then 3 big screen versions of the deranged vigilante but none seemed to really connect with audiences. Many claimed they had softened up the character too much to reach a broad audience. For me when I heard him utter “You hit them they get back up. I hit them and they stay down.” I knew they had found the right tone for the character. It was no surprise Frank Castle would end up with his own Netflix series. We’ve seen a few teaser trailers but today the full length trailer hit the internet. It’s exactly what I wanted from a Punisher show. The Metallica music gets the tone perfect. What do you think?
It’s no secret that Deadpool emerged as one of last years biggest movies, showing that an R rated superhero movie can work and paved the way for the phenomenal Logan. And now that Deadpool 2 is well into production, fans are slathering to get any info they can on the Merc With The Mouth’s follow outing.
Today, Ryan Reynolds tweeted out an eerily familiar picture, featuring our first look at Zazie Beetz as mutant ass-kicker and sometime Deadpool love interest Domino.
From Marvel.com – “Domino is a mutant with the ability to subliminally and psionically initiate random telekinetic acts that affect probability in her favor by making improbable (but not impossible) things to occur within her line of sight, thus causing her to have “good luck” and her opponents to have “bad luck.” This phenomenon can be anything from an enemy’s equipment failure to hitting just the right switch with a stray shot to shut down an overloading nuclear reactor.”
A few weeks ago (I got busy) I rounded up a crew and we sat down to discuss not only the new Netflix series GLOW but also the recently released Spider-Man Homecoming. Joining me is Doug from The Last Horrorcast, Noah from Hero Unabridged, Michael from The Awesome 80’s Podcast, and Mike Patterson of being Mike fame. There is a spoilery section but we denote it in the show so feel free to listen without worry.
Music provided by The Fantastic Plastics.
We love ourselves some movies around here but we also love us some video games. Below are trailers just released for some new games coming out of E3 2017. Here is what we’re excited for. What are you excited for?
Last time we talked, we looked at the recently-wrapped Superman Reborn storyline and what it meant for the ever-evolving post-Rebirth DC Universe. Now that the Batman/Flash crossover The Button has wrapped, now that even more things have changed, it’s time to do it again. I’m going to discuss and build on some of the theories and threads I mentioned in that first piece, so if you haven’t read it, give it a peek. And once again, be prepared, because spoilers are coming for The Button, but also for other stories across the DC Universe.
So That Just Happened
Let’s look at exactly where we are, shall we? In The Button, Professor Zoom attacked Batman in the Batcave, ultimately dying in a spark of blue. Batman and the Flash then used the Flash’s cosmic treadmill to try to trace the mysterious radiation signature on the blood-spattered button Bruce found in DC Universe Rebirth #1. Eventually, the two landed in the Flashpoint universe, where Bruce Wayne got to meet that world’s Batman, his father Thomas Wayne. That universe vanished, seemingly destroyed. Zoom — who can only ever be “mostly” dead because time travel — continued on his race to find those behind the power of the button. He was wiped out again, by still more blue flame, and Bruce and Barry were rescued from the timestream by the timely (get it?) intervention of Jay Garrick, who was only there for moments before the flame got him too. The button itself, judging by the epilogue, seems to have been retrieved by Dr. Manhattan, whom Geoff Johns has told us has a particular interest in Superman. He’ll be telling that story in the recently-announced Doomsday Clock event.
But that’s the Reader’s Digest version of The Button, there’s an awful lot to unpack here. What is it all saying? What does it mean? And how does it play into the DC Universe going forward?
The Manhattan Project
First of all, let’s talk about the Dr. Manhattan connection. Although the fingerprints of Watchmen were all over this story (right down to the first chapter, Batman #21, mimicking Dave Gibbons’s famous nine-panel grid in the artwork), it gave us precious little in the way of revelation. We still don’t know exactly why the button wound up in the Batcave, and although Zoom claimed to know who was responsible, his eradication at the end of the story will make it difficult for Barry and Bruce to interrogate him. In fact, as far as a direct link to Dr. Manhattan goes, the clues can be boiled down to one word: “They.”
Zoom claims to know who is responsible for what’s happening to the universe and, in his own words, “They’ve never faced someone like me!” Granted, it’s becoming more acceptable to use “they” as a gender-neutral singular pronoun these days (something that makes the English teacher in me shudder — I’m not saying we shouldn’t have a gender-neutral pronoun, just that I wish there was another word that didn’t dilute the meaning of the word “they”), but it’s hard to imagine that’s what Zoom meant. If he’s seen Dr. Manhattan, especially if the latter is walking around without his bikini bottoms again, it’s fairly clear that he’s male, and I doubt Zoom is the sort to walk up and ask him his preferred pronouns before engaging him in battle. If he hasn’t seen Manhattan, his claim to know who’s responsible becomes much more specious. All of this is to say that this one word may support something I suggested last time: whatever is happening, it doesn’t look like Dr. Manhattan is the sole person responsible.
Next up, let’s talk about Jay Garrick. Much like Wally West did in the original Rebirth special, he appears and helps save the day. Unlike Wally, Jay doesn’t stick around. The question, however, is why did he vanish? He disappeared in a nimbus of blue flame, much like Pandora did in the first special, much like the Flashpoint universe did earlier in this story (more on that later). But it’s very hard to imagine that means he’s dead. DC has teased the return of the Justice Society really hard here, not only with Jay but with another appearance by Johnny Thunder in chapter one of The Button. Would they have brought him back just to wipe him out?
Barry recognizes the circumstances of Jay’s appearance as being similar to Wally’s, and when Wally appeared, he needed his emotional connection to Barry to re-ground him in reality. It doesn’t work for Jay. Barry even says that he doesn’t seem to be Jay’s “lightning rod.” Who then, would it be? Who else has a strong enough emotional connection to Jay Garrick to return him to reality?
The immediate and most obvious answer is his wife, Joan. She hasn’t been seen in Rebirth, but that doesn’t mean she isn’t in the DC Universe somewhere: alone, sad, possibly confused by a gaping hole in her life. But Wally West’s lightning rod wasn’t his wife, Linda Park. Who else could anchor Jay? Besides Barry, his best friend has historically been original Green Lantern Alan Scott, but Alan is MIA along with the rest of the Justice Society. All of Jay’s contemporaries are missing.
Everyone except for Johnny Thunder. Johnny, who in Rebirth #1, seemed to imply that he was responsible for people forgetting the Justice Society. Johnny, who in Flash #21 screams at the skies, consumed with guilt. Johnny, who is currently locked away in a nursing home, with everyone assuming he’s a raving old man. In fact, why don’t we take this a step further? What if Johnny is, unwittingly, one of the people who helped Dr. Manhattan remake the universe? He certainly wouldn’t have done it intentionally, but he was never the brightest bulb to begin with. The only reason he was in the JSA is because he commanded a Genie with Mxyzptlk-level reality-warping power. Could he have been tricked into using his Thunderbolt’s power to change the timeline? Or could he have done it independently of what was going on with Dr. Manhattan, and could Manhattan have simply taken advantage of Johnny’s mistake to further his own goals?
Lost and Found
Let’s take a moment to do a little census here. A lot of fan-favorite characters were missing at the launch of the New 52 universe. Some of them have returned: Wally West, of course, but also Stephanie Brown, Donna Troy, Cassandra Cain, Ted Kord, and probably several others I’m forgetting at the moment. Others, like the Legion of Super-Heroes and the Ray Palmer Atom, were there for the New 52 launch but have gone notably missing since then. Still others have been taken away on-panel. Doomsday, Prophecy, and Tim Drake have all been “removed” from action, and we know they’re in the clutches of Mr. Oz. Of those still unaccounted for, the Justice Society has been particularly notable in its absence. And with its absence came the absence of other characters derived from the JSA: Alan Scott’s children Jade and Obsidian, for example. If the JSA returns, can they follow suit?
And there’s one other big one that needs to be mentioned. After he was “Reborn,” Superman needed to give the readers a rundown of what his history was in this world where the older, married Superman merged with his younger New 52 counterpart. Action Comics gave us two issues where he asked his little robotic buddy Kelex (and who wouldn’t want a Kelex as their own personal assistant?) to go over his past with him. It was kind of odd, in a meta way, for Superman to essentially ask the robot to read him his diary, but it worked. The big questions were answered: Jonathan and Martha Kent are both dead in this continuity, Superman never had a relationship with Wonder Woman. He did fight and was killed by Doomsday…
…but that’s where it gets odd.
As we all know, after Superman’s death he was replaced by four different people claiming the name. John Henry Irons, Steel, is part of the cast of Superwoman these days. The Eradicator and the Cyborg Superman are both in the Superman books right now in villain roles. The fourth? Connor Kent? Superboy? Nowhere to be found, even in the history that Kelex relates to us. Superman himself notes, as he listens to his own history, that something doesn’t feel quite right. Is Conner going to be lost to the void, or is DC planning to give him his own Wally West moment, bringing him back in triumph? If, as Geoff Johns promises, Rebirth is about restoring hope and legacy to the DCU, wouldn’t Doomsday Clock be a hell of a place for Connor to come back?
Of course, Jonathan Kent the second is Superboy now, but I’d be fine with changing Connor’s name and moving him into sort of a Nightwing-type role in the Superman family. Superteen? Superkid? Ugh, those are terrible. Superguy? Sequel? Okay, maybe we have to look beyond the letter “S” for a new name.
I hear “Valor” is available.
The Dark Knight Redacted?
Anyway, let’s talk about what this story has done to Batman. Back in Flashpoint, when Barry Allen was (he thought) restoring the timeline he had damaged, Thomas Wayne gave him a letter to deliver to Bruce. It was one of the high points of that story and created a grand emotional link for Bruce to his past. In The Button, that link was made even stronger as Bruce had to face a version of his father who chose the same path he did, that of the Batman. Thomas’s Batman was darker and harsher than Bruce’s (not surprising, as Flashpoint was a darker and harsher world), and as Bruce leaves, Thomas asks him to give up being Batman, to put this life behind him, because no father would ever choose a life like that for his child. As the story ends, we have a very pointed moment where the Bat-signal blazes across the sky of Gotham, and Bruce ignores it.
What does this mean?
Well, it doesn’t mean that Bruce is hanging up the cowl, let’s start there. There have been plenty of post-Button stories solicited already where he’s still Batman. (Heck, Batman #23 came out on the same day as The Button ended). There are also two other strikes against this notion of Bruce giving up. First, they did that story just two years ago with James Gordon taking over as Batman (not to mention the countless times in the past when Dick Grayson, Jean-Paul Valley, etc. have worn the cowl). Second, Rebirth has been all about bringing DC’s heroes back to their purest, classic form. Does anyone really think that means shelving Bruce Wayne? Certainly not for any length of time.
So what does it mean?
For that, let’s take a step back and look, once again, at the apparent meta-message of Rebirth Geoff Johns (I’m assigning this thesis to him, as he seems to be the architect of the story and is the author of both DC Universe Rebirth #1 and the upcoming Doomsday Clock) seems to be arguing that the darkness that has infected the DCU started not with Flashpoint, but could be traced back to Watchmen. Last time, I argued that this is only partially true, and that there are other culprits as well, but I didn’t mention one of the bigger ones, as it didn’t appear to be relevant at the time. Now it does. I’m talking, of course, about The Dark Knight Returns. Frank Miller’s magnum opus was a masterpiece of the form, like Watchmen. Also like Watchmen, people took entirely the wrong message from the story and, for years, turned the mainstream Batman progressively darker, gloomier, and more brooding than ever.
Perhaps part of the purpose of The Button — that part of it, at least — is to do specifically for Batman what the larger Rebirth story is doing for the rest of the DCU. I’m not saying that we should go back to the days when Batman was cutting ribbons at supermarket openings or encountering aliens with huge insect heads on the main street of Gotham, but there has to be a middle ground. For much of the Bronze Age, in fact, we lived in that middle ground. Go back and read some of those great Dennis O’Neil/Neal Adams Batman stories. You’ll see a character who lives in the darkness, but carries a spark of light within him, a Batman who was not above making a joke. (Indeed, in the years since The Dark Knight Returns pretty much any time Batman has displayed a sense of humor, it’s come as a total shock to whoever he was talking to at the time.)
Bruce Wayne, we know, will never quit. Not forever, anyway. But that doesn’t mean he has to live a life totally devoid of joy. Tim Drake (who himself was thinking of hanging up the cape to go to college when he was abducted) was often living proof of that. Maybe that’s another reason he, as Mr. Oz put it, had to be “taken off the table.”
It’s a long way until November, guys, and there are plenty of things that could happen between now and then that could cause me to adjust these thoughts (I’m looking at you, The Lazarus Contract). But for now, at least, I think I’ve tackled all the big concepts, and we’ve got an awful lot to chew on while we wait for the next course.
With Spiderman: Homecoming due out in just a few months, and with the wall crawler already well established in the MCU, Sony is riding high on the hype machine. And never one to let the momentum die, Sony announces a major casting decision in their Spider-verse.
Tom Hardy has officially jumped ship from the DC universe (Bane – The Dark Knight Rises) to join the Marvel world as fan favorite Eddie Brock, better known as Venom.
The movie will be a stand alone and may not feature Spiderman at all. Nothing is known plot wise about the movie, but we do know that Venom will be directed by Zombieland director Ruben Fleischer.
Hopefully Fleischer will bring the same amount of charm, fun and action to Venom that he did to Zombieland.
Eddie Brock/Venom was previously played by Topher Grace in the critically and fan panned Spiderman 3, directed by Sam Raimi.
It’s been awhile since we visited the trailer park so let’s get into it.
This week it’s just Bryan and Doug. (Scott’s busy working on a secret clown related fanfic.) They manage to keep things together long enough to discuss a couple ghost movies; The Haunting and The Changeling [spoilers from 56:41-1:13:27].
I grabbed my co-hosts from Challenged and we sat down to talk about this season of The Walking Dead. One of us loved this season, one of us hated this season, and one of us was indifferent. Things also take a weird turn as this was the second podcast we recorded this night and were already well into our stock of alcohol at this point. It gets weird.
Music provided by The Fantastic Plastics. Catch them this summer at Warped Tour.
The first trailer for Thor Ragnarok was just released. I love it. I feel like it’s taking a cue from the Guardians Of The Galaxy with the flashy retro font and colors along with the music but I don’t care. I still love it. Plus we’re pretty much here on Planet Hulk. Can’t wait to see them battle it out. And Cate Blanchett looks amazing as Hela. We see that Loki will be ringside for the battle of Thor and Hulk. But what is not shown is what role Doctor Strange will play in the film. What do you think of the trailer? Are you excited?
I am once again joined by Sometimes Co-Host Mike and Michael from the Awesome 80s Podcast as we’re breaking down our Top 5 Animated Batman Movies! Some claim to have the best list of everyone, some made their list just before we started.
After all that we chat about Wrestlemania 33. Is it really Undertaker’s final match? And the guys give their reactions to the new trailer for Stephen King’s IT.
In usual podcast chaos Sometimes Co-Host Mike and I knock equipment around and my cat seems to ring its bell a lot which I did not noticed while recording. We aim for high quality here!
Music provided by The Fantastic Plastics. Catch them this summer at Warped Tour.
According to Variety Joss Whedon is in talks to jump over to DC and direct a standalone Batgirl movie. So what does stand alone mean? I don’t know as in the same article they say that it will be part of DC’s extended cinematic universe. Who knows.
Usually I’m annoyed by news that so and so is “in talks” but I think this would be pretty big so wanted to comment on it. What do you all think about Joss Whedon joining DC in bringing her to the big screen?
Of course Whedon has worked with them before trying to get a Wonder Woman movie off the ground. He really wanted to set it during WWII and DC told him that a period piece Wonder Woman movie wouldn’t work and scrapped it. My how times have changed.
Read the article for yourself:
With the Rebirth era of DC Comics approaching its first anniversary, recent issues of Superman and Action Comics seem to have reset the playing field. This seemed like a good time to discuss the new status quo for Superman, how it reflects the greater DC Universe, and some wild speculation as to what’s really happening in the larger Rebirth mystery. Warning: This article contains spoilers for the Superman Reborn story arc, as well as other stories across the DC Universe.
A Reborn Man of Steel
As promised, the four-part Superman Reborn storyline has answered some major questions. We know now that the false Clark Kent was, in reality, Mr. Mxyzptlk, having recently escaped the clutches of the enigmatic Mr. Oz. We also know what Mr. Oz meant in DC Universe Rebirth #1 when he told the Pre-Flashpoint Superman that neither he nor the New 52 Superman were what he thought. In fact, they and their respective Lois Lanes were two halves of the same whole, split in Superman Red/Superman Blue fashion. Now the halves have been rejoined, and all is well in Metropolis. Except, of course, for the new question raised here: who split them and why? Not to mention, of course, how this impacts the rest of the DCU.
Action Comics #976 reveals that not only the characters, but also their respective histories have been merged. Presumably, this means that when they return to the Daily Planet they’ll encounter a Perry White who remembers attending their wedding, a Metropolis that knows all too well the destruction of Doomsday, and a Supergirl who once again recognizes her cousin in this man. But what about some of the elements that are harder to reconcile? Wonder Woman has already moved past her romance with Superman, but will those characters still remember it? Will the Teen Titans have memories of their former teammate, the time-tossed Superboy cloned from Lois and Clark’s son? And what about Martha Kent? In the Post-Flashpoint New 52 Universe she was dead; in the DCU that existed prior to Flashpoint she was still alive. If Clark goes back to the family farm now, will she be waiting for him?
Not all of these questions can simply be handwaved away, but more and more it’s feeling like this is by design. DC has been attacking discrepancies head-on in books like the Superman titles or Wonder Woman. Diana has learned that she’s been manipulated for years, sent to a false Paradise Island whenever she attempted to return home, and as a result her entire history is suspect (Wonder Woman #11). In another huge contradiction, the original Wally West has returned. Rather than attempting to eliminate the New 52 Wally West, a solution was found to keep them both. And all of this, of course, seems to connect back to the central mystery revealed in the first DC Rebirth issue: someone has “stolen” ten years of time from the DC Universe, and as a result, everything is off-kilter. Now, the Rebirth story appears to be accelerating. Superman Reborn was the first part of that. The next part, the Batman/Flash crossover “The Button,” begins in April.
Put a Little Love In Your Heart
After the two Superman families merged, Mr. Oz ponders, “That family has done the impossible. Proven that true love really can conquer all… Is it over? Or is there more?” The question here seems to be if “love” truly can repair the damage done to the DC Universe when whoever did whatever it was they did. I would argue that this is already happening, both literally within the DCU and in a more metafictional way. Rebirth has largely been about restoring the lost sense of hope and love to the DC Universe. DC Universe Rebirth #1 began with the return of Wally West, a character who literally uses his love for others as the anchor to keep him in reality. Immediately the romances between Aquaman and Mera, Green Arrow and Black Canary, and Barry Allen and Iris West were all pushed to the forefront of those respective books. We’ve also seen Batman working with his “family” in a much closer, less secretive way, even revealing his identity to his cousin, Batwoman (in Detective Comics #934. She already knew, it turned out, but the moment it creates between the two of them is both funny and inspiring.) That’s not all, though: he’s taking an active role in the rehabilitation of several criminals and killers: Clayface, Killer Frost, and Lobo (the former in Detective Comics, the latter two in Justice League of America). He refused to believe it when Catwoman was convicted of murdering hundreds of people and finally, after decades of dancing around it, Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle professed their love for one another (Batman #15).
Love – or at least mutual admiration – is also in the air in Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps. If you thought Batman was a mensch for trying to rehab three bad guys, the Green Lantern Corps has actually partnered up with the entire Sinestro Corps, trying to turn the yellow Lanterns into partners in policing the universe. Meanwhile, Hal Jordan has told Kyle Rayner that he sees Kyle as the greatest Lantern of all, just before Kyle dropped his New 52 Status Quo as the White Lantern and rejoined the Green Lantern Corps (Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #17). Oh, and did I mention all of this is set against the search for Saint Walker and the restoration of the Blue Lantern Corps – the DCU’s embodiment of hope?
It can’t be a coincidence that all this is happening now. One of the most consistent and justifiable criticisms of the New 52 era was that the world had grown too dark. A pre-merger Superman even pointed this out when comparing notes with Nightwing, declaring the villains of this world to be far grimmer than the ones he remembers (Nightwing #9).
Who’s Watching the Watchmen?
This, of course, leads us back to the biggest question of Rebirth: who, exactly, is responsible for the 10 missing years of the DC Universe? For the first year of the storyline, the evidence has overwhelmingly pointed in the direction of the characters from Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ Watchmen invading the DCU. Both the Rebirth special and Superman Reborn ended with knowing glances towards the planet Mars, which played a large part in that story. Also in the special, Batman found the Comedian’s blood-stained smiley face button embedded in the wall of the Batcave. The Titans even located their new headquarters in New York because Omen received a psychic impression of the word “Manhattan” (Titans #6).
Then there’s the mysterious Mr. Oz, he whom the comic book media has declared to be Watchmen’s Ozymandias. He’s been watching Superman for some time, he seems to know who’s really behind everything, and he’s taken some major players “off the table.” Red Robin, for instance, was captured early on in Rebirth (Detective Comics #940, specifically), leaving Batman and the others to believe he’s dead. Why Red Robin? Because he somehow was helping other people make connections that Mr. Oz didn’t want made.
This is where I think the wheels start to fall off the Ozymandias theory. Ozymandias was, of course, the smartest man in his world, but that was a world where only one person had super powers, and it wasn’t him. I can believe Ozymandias would be able to imprison Tim Drake. I can even believe he could think of a way to contain an ultra-powerful tank like Doomsday (as in Action Comics #962). But how could a man with no powers capture a fifth-dimensional imp like Mr. Mxyzptlk?
(Yes, I know that this is a comic book, and therefore some nonsense technobabble ass-pull is always a possibility, but I’m building towards a point here, so bear with me.)
This feeds a nagging doubt I’ve had for a while regarding Watchmen and its involvement in Rebirth. It feels… well… too easy. Too well-constructed, especially for a story that is ostensibly only approaching the halfway point. And it doesn’t exactly work, in my opinion, with DC’s meta-message here. The Rebirth special was, in many ways, DC’s mea culpa. Through the characters, writer Geoff Johns basically told the reader that DC understood where things went wrong and that this is the story that’s going to fix it. However, by capping this special with the reveal of the button, Johns essentially seemed to make the statement that DC’s problems weren’t recent (true), that the roots of the darkness Superman would later comment on go back well before Flashpoint (also true), and that in a way, you can trace it all back to when Watchmen changed the comic book landscape in 1987.
Sort of true.
The thing about Watchmen is that it was the book that proved to countless people comics could tell deeper, more sophisticated stories. But like any success in entertainment, it spawned a wealth of imitators. It never should have become the template for other comics that it did, but it’s not the fault of Watchmen itself that so many subsequent writers treated it as such.
So the notion that the meta-message of Rebirth is “It’s all Watchmen’s fault” has three problems:
- It’s only partially and indirectly responsible, if at all.
- I think Geoff Johns is far too good a writer to cast that aspersion in such a simplistic way.
- Even from a business standpoint, it’s hard to picture DC devoting two years of publishing towards denigrating their best-selling graphic novel of all time.
All of this is to say that, while the Watchmen characters are almost certainly involved in the rebirth mystery, I’m almost equally certain that things are more layered than “Dr. Manhattan messed with the world.”
We’re about to get into some wild and almost totally unsupportable theories here, friends, so buckle up. The last major element we haven’t discussed yet is the DC Multiverse, which is still following the rules established in Grant Morrison’s The Multiversity and was central to the most recent pre-Reborn storyline in Superman. That multiverse contains 52 worlds and a hell of a lot of metatextual commentary, including a world where the former Charlton characters are more like their Watchmen counterparts. (Watchmen, for the three people who didn’t know it, began as a pitch to DC utilizing the recently-acquired Charlton Comics superheroes. Alan Moore reworked them into original characters at DC’s request.) One may wonder if it’s those characters from The Multiversity: Pax Americana– and not Dr. Manhattan and company – responsible for the missing decade. However, I think we can throw that out as it doesn’t account for the presence of Watchmen’s most iconic image: the smiley face button.
There’s an aspect of Multiversity, though, that has rarely been brushed upon since. The DC Multiverse has 52 worlds, that’s true, but it’s also true that there is more than one multiverse, each with its own Orrery of Worlds. In fact, DC even announced stories from the “other” multiverses would be told in a series of yet-unproduced original graphic novels by Grant Morrison.
Here’s how, metatextually, DC can have its cake and eat it too. Let’s say the Watchmen Earth is in one of those other multiverses where the worlds (as in “our” multiverse) are to some degree or another derivative of each other. If – in the real world – it’s Watchmen’s influence that tainted everything that came after, what if in-story the true threat comes from a Watchmen derivative world that drew on the original world in the wrong way, just like so many writers did?
Or, in simpler terms, if Watchmen is its multiverse’s Earth-1, what if the real bad guys of Rebirth are from their multiverse’s Earth-3?
It’s just a theory, of course, and probably completely wrong, but it’s awfully nice to be pondering and analyzing DC Comics again, and to a degree that hasn’t been possible for years. And if nothing else, we can look forward to “The Button” next month in the hopes that the clues it gives us will keep us going into Rebirth Year Two.
The new Spider-Man Homecoming Trailer is here and is full of Vulture goodness. Michael Keaton seems to be on deck to become one of my favorite villains in the MCU. Which is really no surprise. Looks like we’re going to get a lot of action. I can’t wait for July 7th!
So from the title, you might surmise how well this article is going to go. Please do not judge too quickly though. We promise we will try our very best to be objective and cover it as fairly as possible. We good? OK.
From the screeching, hormonally charged, twittering brains with bank accounts behind the show-crushing beast that was and most assuredly will be again Ollicity, comes the inevitable response to hiring two former Glee castmates as your leads.
What? We said we would TRY to be objective. Not our fault that it didn’t take. Alright, fine. Come back. We’ll try to salvage this. Admittedly, we didn’t come into this with the most open of minds so maybe we’re not giving it a fair shake. Let’s try again and break this down to the good and bad.
Well where to start? The only place one should start with a musical: the singing. There is no doubt that the cast members of these shows are very talented musically, and they get to show off exactly what they can do with this episode.
While everyone who sang did a genuinely good job, the stand out for us was John Barrowman, normally playing Malcolm Merlyn in the Arrowverse, but this time playing club owner Cutter Moran. He didn’t have a lot to do, but he took what little he had and made the very best of it. Unsurprising really from such an amazing stage performer as he is. In a scene whose random and awful lyrics caused us to physically look away, his voice actually brought us back with eyebrows raised. Not damn bad, Captain Harkness. Not damn bad at all.
Jesse L. Martin nailed his part as well. Another great stage presence, the man can sing. We saw some of in last year’s Earth 2 episode, but he doesn’t get enough to do we didn’t feel for reasons we will come back to later.
Kara, Barry, Cisco and even Winn: They all sounded terrific and it was nice that they got to show off their great singing abilities. Melissa Benoist (Supergirl) does a beautiful rendition of Moon River right at the start and even though we knew she could sing, it was still a pleasant surprise to hear how well.
The Barry/Kara song at just over the halfway mark (the title we’re withholding for the sake of the reveal) did start to win us over, despite everything that came before it. Rao help us, the two have brilliant chemistry and you can’t help but love them together.
Darren Criss, this crossover’s villain Music Meister was a lot of fun to watch. Again, he didn’t have a huge amount of stuff to do as they tried to get in as much as they could, but the guy has charisma and charm oozing out of his little boyish face. He won us over fairly quickly in his introduction on Supergirl. His few minutes of screentime on that show actually had us anticipating what was to come.
There’s an action sequence here with Martian Manhunter teaming up with Wally and Vibe, and it is on par with the fun and excitement of the Flash’s usual action scenes. That was another great moment from the episode.
Now let’s get to it.
The biggest obstacle that this episode faces is time. It has 45 minutes to pull off a musical, as well as tie up subplots from both The Flash and Supergirl, and boy can you feel the time crunch. They have Kara and Barry play it off a few times with the meta joke that “wow, everything is so much easier in musicals”. Luckily, we were able to unstick our eyes after they rolled so hard up into their sockets, otherwise we’d have had to start the episode over.
So beyond skipping what should have been a longer, more complicated conflict, we got too easy resolutions for the sake of moving the plot along. If the resolution is so simplistic, it begs the question of why even bother? Individual shows’ subplots is why, but still.
What needed to be done, and once again wasn’t, is it being a true crossover. We had exactly 2 minutes of the plot discussed at the tail end of Supergirl, same as it was with the Invasion crossover last fall. Musicals take time to get everything explained, broken and fixed again. This is going to sound hypocritical after everything that’s come before it, but there needed to be more time for more songs. And the one thing this didn’t have was time. Were they to have stretched it out fully across both shows, we would still spend two hours cringing, yes, but the story would be a lot stronger than it was. It wouldn’t feel so hastily duct taped together.
If crossovers are going to be a consistent thing in the Arrowverse, (YES PLEASE) they have to let Supergirl come out to play for the whole recess. Her being on another universe isn’t excuse enough to hinder that relationship, especially now with Cisco’s doohickey.
The other bit, the one we’ll close with, was the writing. All the actors that they have hired in the Arrowverse are exceptional. If the actors don’t have long careers in the stage/fim business like Victor Garbor, Jesse L Martin, and John Barrowman, they have proven their abilities on these shows. They can act. We’ve seen it. But watching them try to choke back some of the dialogue from this episode made them look like amateur dinner theater workers.
We noticed it specifically with a few of David Harewood’s
(Supergirl’s Martian Manhunter) lines. He gets through them, same with the others, but it pulled us out of the moment with how clunky it was. Also, don’t get us started on the jokes. You want to? OK, fine. At one point Supergirl said, “My sister says I put the Kara in Karaoke.”
We literally almost closed the laptop and walked away at that. It was early in the episode though, and we thought of your faces, your sweet reviewless faces, and we knew we had to press on. So we did and what was our reward?
Honestly, we can’t tell you. Partially due to not giving away the ending of the episode, but mostly due to we don’t genuinely know what happened. Nothing is really explained, it simply transpired for the sake of transpiring. They knew they wanted to sing, but they didn’t know how to make that fit into a cohesive, solidly written story. It was like the ending of a Stephen Moffat Doctor Who episode: aggravatingly underwhelming.
Look, there are a lot of good moments in the episode. It was a fun little one shot stuck in the middle, but they once again did not utilize Supergirl’s hour to help flesh out their crossovers and the time crunch really cripples them from making a solid story. Perhaps though, given the rush job they did with the script, that’s for the better.
Our final analysis of this crossover is the same as our analysis of BvS’s handling of the Death of Superman: Everyone has been wanting it for so long, and yeah, that was not the best way to handle it, but hey, it’s out of the way now and we can move on to bigger and better things.
Supergirl returns Monday March 27th and The Flash Tuesday March 28th.