Basket Full of Heads will Roll (a Comic Review)

Even as specifically horror season ends it is still getting cooler and darker, still spooky. So I figure it’s fine enough reason to finally look at the first in DC Comics and Joe Hill’s Hill House series: Basket Full of Heads.

Joe Hill, the son of horror legend Stephen King, has had his share of smash works that I never got to experience correctly. Locke and Key being the best example. The TV show was lacking and the audio drama, though hypothetically compelling, was neigh unlistenable or understandable at moments. Outside of that his short story collection Strange Weather was full of mostly misses. Yet I am compelled to keep giving him chances. It’s clear he is talented and Basket Full of Heads

Following in the classical Kingian horror tradition of a classic drama turned dark by mystical forces the book follows June, a college student visiting her boyfriend, a deputy intern for a local New England port town. On her visit to help him clean out the house boat he was living on the night takes a dark turn when the worst storm collided with a collection of inmates breaking out of jail. When June is confronted by one of the inmates she goes for the protection of an axe only to find that when the head is removed it keep on ticking. With the help of her decapitated counterparts she will work out what happened to her boyfriend, Liam, and find the true darkness the town was hiding.

The book is incredibly satisfying. That’s not a word I use often in my writing, but that was the final feeling the book left me with. A twist on the revenge-horror trope that positions the creature getting revenge as just a college girl trying to save her man. It’s an incredibly tight narrative. Every person she kills has an interesting story of how they relate to the larger mystery, along with a final twist that feels totally believable and callable.

The art, by Leomacs, works overall but is a little cartoony in places. The worst of it is shown when they try to do a head turning back and forth. It might supposed to look scary, seeing a two headed person, but instead looks silly. It also does not hold a candle to the fantastic, ominous, and dynamic cover art. It gives a much more realistic portrait of what the book is like that the book itself doesn’t totally give.

Though the atmosphere of the covers sells the book it is not really what the book is about. Again, the person in the rain jacket, axe, and basket of heads is a twist on revenge horror entities. The person under that hood isn’t scary and neither are the events that occurre to her. Not in the traditionally horror way. Instead the book is about (take a shot cause this feels like just a theme of works now) systemic horrors. How corruption can spread throughout an idealic looking community. It’s about how greed, power, and fear of losing both causes men to do terrible things to people. Sure it’s not piss your pants scary like a hay ride full of killer clowns with chainsaws (totally not a random example from personal life), but is more realistic and prevalent than we would want to believe. I mean there is a reason why an examination of the police and police procedures have been so hot for such a long time.

This book was a solid start to this line. Sure, more books have come out since and seem interesting, but it’s good to have a strong baseline quality, and that, for my misgivings about Joe Hills work (all little of it I have read), is definitely baseline. It’s got strong ideas, pretty good characters, a good premise, and strong ending. It’s hard to ask for more with such a short series like Baskets Full of Heads.

I’m cleaning house and selling some media. If you would like to buy comics, manga, or cards I owned and used follow this link: say you’re a reader and I’ll be happy to discount any item for you!

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So, Rise Against did a Song for DC’s Death Metal (a look at Broken Dreams Inc.)

Watch the video:

DC’s Dark Nights: Metal was one of the biggest, craziest, darkest, and more beloved event books in comic history. A real metal inspired story and look that’s been escalated with all I’ve seen in this sequel series, Death Metal. It is almost perfect synergy to get a song to illustrate all the book represents and stands for and Rise Against is a great pick.

I like Rise Against as a band. They made two of my favorite songs, Satellites and Savior. They have a strong command of writing a song while making it feel epic. They do, in their lesser songs, devolve into just screaming and not advancing the song. That makes them a good if possibly risky pick. Thankfully they stick to what works for them.

Forturnetly and unfortunately they made a Rise Against song. It’s not bad in anyway. The beat and riffs rock. There is a lot of power and energy behind both the production and lyrics. When turned up loud, it feels like a big song about… well it’s what most Rise Against songs are about, loss of innocence, death of the American dream, general rioting against big businesses. So, yeah it’s not really a song about the DC heroes.

Part of this disconnect I’m feeling comes from how I don’t know what the story of Death Metal. Maybe Death Metal is all about automation taking over, riots of the underclasses, and are the children of lesser gods (this part I do believe). This isn’t to say I want an anime OP for the book… actually I do. That would be awesome! I just want something somewhat related to the heroes and their struggles in the book, and that did kind of happen.

What? You don’t remember Mercenary by Panic! at the Disco? The song produced for the Batman: Arkham City game, it is also a good song and, though can be equally vague in the way post-first album Panic! can be, but at least its bridge uses a Jonathan Crane voice line as a bridge to put us in the head of Batman. Broken Dream Inc could be getting into Batman or one of the other character’s heads, but again I wouldn’t know the story.

The video for Broken Dreams Inc uses art from the comic along with additional ADRd lines to frame the events as something the heroes created. It makes the line, “A chaos we ourselves created,” literal by having the chaos be The Batman who Laughs and the scenario of this Heavy Metal Apocalypse be on the heroes heads as something they must solve. The video also tries very hard to find literalizations of song lyrics in the book. A truly funny example is, “And they’re changing the locks on the doors,” paired with the Joker closing a jail cell. It’s goofy in a way I don’t think they intended. Even with the pairing of comic pages it is hard to see the relation other than the lyrics being what the heroes are saying to The Batman who Laughs and his villains, but that’s not nearly as explicit as they think it is.

There was no place to really put this since I framed this as the song relates to the the DC universe and characters, but the title “Broken Dream Inc” is a great title and used really well. It is given one line, but feels like it’s supposed to be informed by the line before and after. In the chorus and they sing, “When the factories are automated/Broken dreams incorporated/Gather your things but there’s nowhere to go,” they make the line about broken dreams feel more like something added to the factories and business. The peoples broken dreams are incorporated into the business so you can try to leave but you won’t go anywhere. The line says that businesses, corporations and the like are not just made by the people in charge but by those who gave up everything to work there. Who had dreams of their own but were broken under the weight of the impossible system we live in. It is a really haunting line that far more interesting way to use it, instead of being the name of an actual corporation.

More comic companies need to do this. Sure, Death Metal is more closely related to an actual genre of music (though I would not classify Rise Against as death metal, they are the most normie friendly metal they could get), but that doesn’t mean more comic companies can’t do this. Adding a secondary, multi-media element, that isn’t as intrusive as a tie-in novel or game, but can get the themes and tone across is brilliant. Songs are the perfect medium to accomplish that task. They can be as brief, lyrical, and bombastic as needed all while never being crucial to understanding the text of the story. A whole event book that had a song tied to each release and was meant to be listened to with each book would be epic and really unique. And since unique is all the comic book industry has left it sounds like a great idea.

I’m cleaning house and selling some media. If you would like to buy comics, manga, or cards I owned and used follow this link: say you’re a reader and I’ll be happy to discount any item for you!

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Superman: Man of Tomorrow is a Great Superman Origin (a Review)

It is still so impressive that Warner Brothers and DC have continued to release direct to video animated films based on their characters. Something that is so utterly 2000s surviving this long shows some skill and ability along with ranges of storytelling and chabges in art style over the years help show how the teams have evolved and change. They already went through one of the biggest changes in ending their New 52-alike universe with an utter banger of a film and have been looking for smaller solo films. Deathstroke was a fine enough revenge feature, but to truly be a new step forward you should always go back to the OG superhero, the man who originated that name.

Superman: Man of Tomorrow acts as an updated origin story for Superman. Taking place in a time where Clark knows he’s an alien and has powers he uses as the Flying Man, his status quo changes when space bounty hunter Lobo shows up looking for the price on his head. After a showdown and intervention from a Martian, J’onn, a man gets hurt in the crossfire. When hotshot reporter Lois Lane, hot off of her outing of Lex Luthor as a criminal, gets on Clark’s trail to find out who he really is Clark must find out for himself before he is exposed and a new monster wrecks the city.

What makes this such a great Superman movie is multifaceted. The biggest standout is how they have a Superman that acts like a Superman. He saves lives, protects people, and is kind hearted. Though it is carried by the expert performance of Darren Criss. But the whole cast is utterly brimming with talent and energy for days. Zachery Quinto of Star Trek fame is an utterly devious and charismatic Lex while Alexandra Daddario (last seen on this show as playing the insane Alexa from We Summon the Shadows) plays the exact opposite as a strong willed and hard driven Lois Lane. There is not a single weak link in the cast.

Of course a good cast is supported by expert art design. The characters brim with personality. The solid mix between classic comic and updated style shows a strong attention to detail while the Metropolis feels utterly perfect and futuristic. Though there aren’t many, the fights that break out all feel weighty and well choreographed with expertly timed highs and lows.

It’s not a perfect film after all, it does have lows. Clark not being the one to figure out about his past and needing help feels wrong and cuts down on his journey of self discovery. There is a second act death that is revealed to be a twist that isn’t really explained but works to tie in the idea of being the last of their kind, and this film breaks the cardinal sin of Superman (before you know, people thought he should kill others). That sin being Superman getting his costume idea, even tangentially, from Batman. To clarify, Batman doesn’t show up, but does have a cameo in the Daily Planet and has his costume used as inspiration. Outside of that it is just an all around tight movie that feels effortless in making Superman feel plausible.

Though the movie is good, and it is, it doesn’t feel high energy and that was worrying. It had good pacing but didn’t feel like it was going anywhere fast. That was until the climax. In the climax everything fell into place so well, and gave a strong self sacrifice that showed how anyone can internalize what Superman stands for. It is bold, bright, uplifting, and all around a good time and a strong start for whatever movie they do next.

I’m cleaning house and selling some media. If you would like to buy comics, manga, or cards I owned and used follow this link: say you’re a reader and I’ll be happy to discount any item for you!

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Deathstroke: Knights and Dragons is Taken 2 (a Review)

Deathstroke as a character was one of the first villains/anti-heroes to get his own spin-off comic series. Though popular culture seems to have forgotten that, they hadn’t forgotten that he was the standout character in the Teen Titans show, and just a cool design with more of a backstory than most anti-heroes. It makes him ripe for movie potential, and is sad that his Marvel counterparts, Venom and Deadpool, got to cinemas first. Though he still doesn’t have a live action movie (apparently the Raid director was signed on to do one… that would have been amazing), he finally got a direct to video animated feature.

After an extended prologue that goes over Slade’s backstory, a former soldier, turned mercenary with enhanced powers. He tries to lead a double life, but when his son Joseph is kidnapped he saves him, but Joseph ends up mute in the process. Slade, racked with guilt goes solo. That is until he is contacted by HIVE, the group that kidnapped his son, to say that they have succeeded this time. Only Joseph is not the helpless boy he was. Instead he is gaining psychic powers. Now Slade must use his identity as Deathstroke to find his son with the help of his ex-wife before HIVE uses his powers for their own gain.

Making Deathstroke into a dad-bro action hero, a la Liam Neeson or Bruce Willis, is a unique direction to take him in. Michael Chiklas does a great job getting him to it though. He gives him a warm tone that you could see easily turn incredibly kind or scorchingly evil. Both of which happens. The rest of the cast fits their roles well enough.

The new animation and art style is also an interesting departure from the anime-lite style the old New 52 universe had. This has a fresh look to it. A mix of classic 60s-80s comic art and fairy tale inspired designs lead to some striking images but not the most constantly fluid animation. The fights do work for the most part in conveying the weight, damage, and bloodiness of them. Unfortunately there are no totally insane fights. The most is a quick underwater shootout with sharks swarming them. It’s briefness hampering the fun of it all.

Unfortunately the rest of the movie is fine. Even after the twist is revealed and the true point is made totally clear it feels strange to have a medieval setup but not go anywhere with that since this is just a dad-bro action movie. It decides to lean into the absentee dad angle to hypothetically good effect. The movie understands what it’s trying to get across, but has a problem with reusing animation at inopertune moments, making them jarring. It also has the same problem The Old Guard had, of misusing exposition and overexplaing elements that did not need it. These factors lead to the idea of a knight slaying dragons to being window dressing at most and a waste of time at worst. I think it’s supposed to be saying Deathstroke is a knight slaying the corrupt dragons of our world but that’s not emphasized nearly enough to be effective.

This movie is better than fine, but feels like the weakest of the WB animated films to come out. It’s not as bloody or viceral as the Mortal Kombat film, and it’s not as good a story as Justice League Dark. It’s just the animated equivalent of Taken 2. It’s better than a regular one of those movies, but still kind of dull and not as thoughtful as it thinks it is.

I’m cleaning house and selling some media. If you would like to buy comics, manga, or cards I owned and used follow this link: say you’re a reader and I’ll be happy to discount any item for you!

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The Problem with Watchmen

I stated before and probably will again that Watchmen the comic fascinates me. It is considered to be the best comic book ever written. A true novel onto itself that just so happens to have drawings. It’s one of the greatest stories ever told that somehow can’t be translated to another medium, and if it does is worse for it. None of this is important to the actual problem with Watchmen but it’s good setup to say that the problems sith Watchmen are not problems with the story inherently. It’s the problem with the people who read it, their takeaways, and how superheroes are perceived in culture moving forward.

The whole main cast of Watchmen are terrible people that you do not want to look up to, immulate, or even associate with really. They suck. They’re supposed to suck. They’re supposed to be in a form of arrested development. We also have to spend copious amounts of time with them. This makes the book a totally drag to get through and makes you feel utterly gross upon completion. Some would say that is the point. If you were a superhero in real life you would be like the police officer who kills unarmed black people for looking suspicious. The problem is that that is not a superhero and the fact people take that idea away from the book is a failing (not on them, possibly the book for not communicating that, but also kind of on them).

“If Batman were real he would just be a crazy person in a mask like Rorschach.” No, he wouldn’t. Mostly because of everyone who gives that sentiment they are unaware that the Watchmen are not based on DC heroes, strictly speaking. They are based on Charlton Comics characters. Those character did eventually fold into the DC universe, but in a different context than this one. The point then is that Rorschach is actually based on The Question, a private detective with no face. The only distinction this means is that Rorschach is just a crazy hobo with mental and anger problems who also happens to use those for good or in the name of truth. He’s a hateful man. That makes it all more prophetic when his mask is adapted as an Alt-Right symbol. That idea gets complicated since some futures have Batman and his protégés as fascist dictators, but those are often not considered the real futures of the DC universe.

The next character that’s often mischaracterized is Dr. Manhattan as a Superman analogy. Dr. Manhattan is based on Captain Atom and seems totally different from him. Dr. Manhattan is a man born of science and so above human perceptions of time and space that it makes him reluctant to do any sort of work. That is not Superman at all, and defiantly not Captain Atom from what I understand of him. The point of Superman being he could be a god above it all, but raised to be better. Captain Atom meanwhile is loyal to America to a fault. Either way neither of these are any kind of Superman, or Hulk for that matter.

The additional problem with Dr Manhattan is how his ability to live in all moments of his life at once is like reading a comic book doesn’t make sense. Dr Manhattan can literally see all of the points of his future at once. You cannot do that with a comic. You must flip to those pages to see them. The closest it would be is if they mean a comic page. You can be in a panel for as long as you’d like while also seeing the whole picture.

The final issues with Watchmen is how people give up trying to compar everyone once they move past the two obvious analogs. The Comedian, Silk Spectre, Night Owl, and Ozymandias all don’t really have analogs or people don’t try. The Comedian is kind of like a Deathstroke or Punisher figure, and the unrealistically cynical nature of the book would support him in that. Meanwhile Night Owl is literally Ted Kord Blue Beetle since that’s where he comes from, but Silk Specter isn’t really anyone. The closest DC analog would be Huntress or Black Canary. But when it comes to Black Canary she only had eyes for Green Arrow in anyway so that breaks it down.

I think the most interesting is Adrien Veidt’s Ozymandias because it feels like Lex Luthor being a good guy the whole time we know him only to reveal his scheme. That would seem like a very good beginning arc of a Superman story that just hasn’t been used. Lex is so much into that high Greek and Roman stuff that he would totally take a name like that and come up with a scheme that saves the world at a great cost. He’s really the only character that in comparing him to someone is interesting since he’s both the hero and villain of the piece.

The real issue is that Watchmen is a work of deconstruction. It wants to break down what a hero is to its core and see what it finds. Only, if you have nothing to compare it to then it feels like that is just what heroes are. That’s not true. Superheroes are super for a reason. They have certainly gotten more complex over the years for better and worse, but the best stories reflect that they do good for good reasons. The point of Superman (the person everything afterwards came from) is to be better. To save people because saving people is right, not just because it makes you feel good.

With that said I don’t blame the book or it’s readings. It’s hard to be the first. Just like Malcolm Gladwell’s Hug Heard Around the World episode of his podcast, being the first is hard. Watchmen, for all its unwarranted and unbearable cynicism it was necessary for the time. It’s dower, unheroic nonsense has made way for truly great, uplifting works of comic fiction to finally be taken seriously. That is important and necessary.

In the end Watchmen’s true problem is that it had to be the first.

I’m cleaning house and selling some media. If you would like to buy comics, manga, or cards I owned and used follow this link: say you’re a reader and I’ll be happy to discount any item for you!

If you enjoyed this: like, comment, and follow us here, and on Facebook & Twitter at Tower City Media! Subscribe to our YouTube Channel, Tower City Media and Submit to the suggestion box:!

Is HBOs Watchmen Really THAT Good?

I’m kind of obsessed with Watchmen. Not in the normal way people are, thinking it’s a great book and all. Instead I see it as one of the most interesting case studies in telling a story over different mediums (I had this whole comparison on the book and movie idea that I never carried through with but sounds good).

In addition to how the story is told, the idea of continuing the narrative has also been a big idea with DC tasking Geoff Johns to try and wring out a good idea to mixed results from what I understand. Meanwhile Damon Lindelof of all people tackled it as a TV show to critical acclaim, but is it actually good?

The easy answer is kind of (I mean it’s super lucky this show came out last year. If it came out this year it would be more thruoughly critiqued). The more complicated answer is the rest of this post.

To start, the plot’s start is similar to the original graphic novel. Someone in a mask is killed by someone else in a mask. Through that event more information about how the world has changed in the 30 years since the inter dimensional squid destroyed New York. Such as Robert Redford being president, Silk Spectre being an FBI agent, and Rorschach’s vissage being used as the new version of a red-pill, alt-right, KKK group called the Kalvary. Of course there is more going on than it appears as Detective Angela Abar, code name Sister Night, is wrapped up in a conspiracy that goes back to the original Minutemen.

The first three episodes and finale do really feel as good as it could be. Focusing on a single city with small ties to the outside world is great (I still wonder what’s going on but the comic didn’t really do that, and if no one complains about that in Hunger Games which is way worse about that then it must be fine). It finds a way to really center the story on hot button issues through in universe means really well. The epitome of this is the fact cops must wear masks, have cover jobs, and never tell their families what they really do. They have the trappings of superheroes. Combine that with the 7th Kalvary, the white supremacists, and their home of Nixonville. They too wear the symbol of a hero but decide to use that to instill fear. It’s solid stuff and feels like it’s on the pulse in a natural way. The problem is that the story supports the other side.

It breaks down when comparing to the real world context, especially now. I understand that their world had a giant, 100 foot naked blue man sized difference, but the history of the police, and racial injustice doesn’t track. So, to break down how the poor white people become the target of police harassment… It’s easy to assume that in Tulsa, where the show takes place, everything was the same, in this case, racist/racially biased policing against African Americans, until Robert Redford passes the act that gives African American reperations for what happened to them. This causes racist white people to take offense to that. All of this leads to the Kalvary being formed. From that they attack all the police who protect the black people as a ploy by a senator to give the police masks for some reason in order to get into the White House. In the fallout the police get masks, and the poor whites are forced seemingly into the Nixonville trailer park. Coming out of that is the plot of this show. When the new Kalvary kills a cop the police round up the whole community in search of those breadcrumbs. They are being oppressed in the same way as African Americans are in our world. Now, this gets complicated as you add in the restriction on handguns, the fact the chief who is murdered is, in fact, a member of the Kalvary (I think. It’s not clear. He’s clearly a fan of the Klan and doesn’t actively stop the Kalvary when he could, making him culpable at the very least). This makes it seem orchestrated that they’re oppressed, but they are and the normal Joe wouldn’t know that. It doesn’t help that the show doesn’t give us information on that part of the world.

Instead, the show decides to shift focus to being more character centered with stories that flesh out the narrative in the periphery. A whole episode focusing on one of the Tulsa cops, a look at the history of Hooded Justice, the first hero, Dr Manhattan, and more all work in context of their episodes, but feel incredibly obvious where they all go. The episode on Hooded Justice in particular felt excruciating to watch because I could see immediately where it was all going and wanted it to get there. That’s not bad. It’s being true to the story, but being so narrative-savvy makes it feel worse than it actually is. However, the real problem this does is kill the pacing of the show. The first three episodes have a strong clip to them. They establish and get story done so efficiently that it feels like the show stalls out after that point only to finally pick up at the end.

The ending is honestly quite good. It feels like a full culmination of everything it was building up in the background into a conclusion. It does make, not changes but, adjustments on who the real villain is that might work on rewatch, but feels very abrupt in the moment, then backfilled to make sense.

The show does that a lot. It backfills constantly. It shows scenes, then shows them in a new context with new information to have everything make sense. This is different than “clever.” “Clever,” is closer to when a story is trying too hard to make a plot complicated. It adds loops for the sake of it (like how the whole boat episode of Dracula is setup as a chess match in the characters mind, and the room she’s in, in the chess match is the number of the room her body is in). It could be argued the show does this. Instead it feels like the writers knew all along what was going on, or had it work out that way really well, that they set stuff up and paid it off. However, the intermediary sections do feel like they’re trying to be too smart for no reason, as Damon Lindelof is wont to do from time to time.

In the end it does not make any of this show bad. It is good by any conventional standards. It just loses a lot of steam, and holds stuff back from the audience for the sake of a reveal when knowing that information earlier would make more scenes interesting in the immediate.

Now here is the obligatory bashing on the name of the show. Watchmen is a terrible name because it’s not an adaption of the book (thank god). It’s a sequel. Doomsday Clock, for all its problems at least has the name of a sequel. Calling this just Watchmen feels off. To be fair if it had a subtitle people would think it was a sequel to the Zack Snyder film (possibly), but it’s immediately not that and having any kind of subtitle or colon would help distinguish this when searching online at least. At worst it’s needlessly confusing like Halloween (I mean which one did I just mention?).

This show looks at the comic so hard and wanted to honestly build off of such depressing dreck to find an honestly heart full story. That is impressive. It’s also sad that they chose not (or were not given the option) to make it 12 episodes to match the 12 issue run of the comic. The show loligags around already, adding three episodes would not be the worst. It could split the story better into episodes that can be focused just on the characters and not worry about the plot, and have episodes where it can do a whole lot of investigating and world building. This too is not a problem. It is just incredibly odd that they did 9 episodes considering the comic was 12.

I’m cleaning house and selling some media. If you would like to buy comics, manga, or cards I owned and used follow this link: say you’re a reader and I’ll be happy to discount any item for you!

If you enjoyed this: like, comment, and follow us here, and on Facebook & Twitter at Tower City Media! Subscribe to our YouTube Channel, Tower City Media and Submit to the suggestion box:!

I’m Selling Stuff!

This is a wierd post, huh? Not something I usually do at all.


My eBay Link:

I am moving and in that process am trying to sell some of my media to clear space. This is not a cry for help or financial support (but it won’t hurt) because I am fine in that regard. Instead this is just a signal boost to see if anyone would like what I am selling.

Included in the link/ what I am selling:

Collections/runs of comics in single issues (I still bought the trade for many of these so don’t ask why I did both because I have no answer).

A few manga collections

Card sets (Keyforge and CAH)

That is it for now. More stuff will be posted once I determine what all I want to sell, and how it want to sell it (I mean I just have so, so, so, so – seriously a lot- of Yu-Gi-Oh! Cards and a healthy portion of Magic TG cards). On top of that will be movie collections, TV series and more.

Here is the link again: I want to repeat that this is not for financial support, and if you don’t want to buy anything I won’t like you any less.

Also: if you do want to buy something and contact me saying that you are a reader of the blog I will give you a discount on any of the stuff you order!

(And because it’s tradition)

If you enjoyed this: like, comment, and follow us here, and on Facebook & Twitter at Tower City Media! Subscribe to our YouTube Channel, Tower City Media and Submit to the suggestion box:!j

Don’t You Understand Dexter’s Bad Superman

There has been so much talk about what being an evil Superman would be like. From the dozens of comics and alt-universe stories to Brightburn, the film advertised as “Superman but bad,” to even the parody title of this post “Bad Superman” but Scouting for Girls they all have their takes on evil Superman. The problem with those takes is that none of them feel like Superman. That might be kind of the point, but Superman still stands for something, and has goals, but get corrupted in the end, and watching Dexter I see that.

Dexter Morgan, a serial killer who hunts other killers and criminals, does not sound like he would be like Superman in anyway. Yet they have a surprising amount of traits in common.

Firstly, they are both adopted. Superman is from space while Dexter came from a broken home where his mother was murdered in front of him. On top of that they were both raised to receive their values from their parents, and in many cases have a father figure they can turn to. Superman has the holograms in his fortress of solitude, or sometimes Pa Kent himself if he is alive. Dexter has the memory of his father, and his father’s presence always with him throughout most of the series. They have a mix of girlfriends that love the facade they put on, and some who love the real person. They both have sons named after their father (Jon and Harrison), and their most remembered villain is a bald guy who has a terrible family life (I know Lex Luthor was not always bald, and his origin changes, but more modern takes have him coming from a bad home life).

Now, those are all interesting comparison. But, they are also all surface level. Any duel identity story will have love interests of different varieties, and mentor figures, and other similar tropes. However, what Dexter and Superman have in common is the drive to do the right thing.

Pa Kent and Harry Morgan both saw their child had this unusual gifts and tried to steer them into using those gifts for good. They both got a code of how to help people, and do good. The problem is that Dexter goes way too far with it.

The reason Dexter is clearly a bad Superman is that same drive to do good. It was the first real character trait that made me like him. He did these horrible things to bad people, but also wanted to be the best possible person outside of that. When he was living his other life he wanted to be a good boyfriend, husband, coworker, brother, and father. It just got complicated when his two lives clashed (almost like Spider-Man, but Peter Parker is never AS altruistic as Clark Kent at the end of the day). Dexter does do bad things to the people outside of his kill room. He lies all the time. There was that season he cheated on Rita. He kills innocent people. He flakes out on his jobs and responsibilities, and bends his own code to get certain criminals. He is bad Superman.

This whole idea for me comes from how Evil Superman is portrayed. In the portrayal I’ve seen he is always more of a dictator. He sees the world as something that needs to be controlled to work. The problem with that portrayal for me is that, that is not Superman (of course there is a path I could see him going down to get to that, but we rarely see such a detailed descent). An evil Superman would still try to help people. He would still try to stop evil, but he would go farther than anyone else. He would more overtly lie, adjust stories to fit his narrative, be a jerk, and use any method to get results.

Unfortunately, where this breaks down is in how Dexter the show weakens throughout its run. This breaks part of the character. It makes him less self-reflective, and puts him into more situations where he seems to go further than the people he tries to catch. This is sort of commented on at the end of the show, but it would be far deeper if explored more fully.

Dexter never saw himself as more altruistic and good. He saw himself as feeding an urge in a healthy way. He also saw everything he did outside his kill room as a cover (until he didn’t). He would not see himself as upholding a certain way of life, he sees himself as doing something aberratious to what people should do, unlike Superman who tries to be an ideal.

Even outside of that internalized comparison they both have such a strive to do the right thing while maintaining their two lives, but Dexter just does so much dark and self serving acts that it makes him bad.

Also, it cannot be a coincidence that when both men retire from their job they grow beards, wear flannel, and isolate themselves from the rest of society.

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Justice League Dark: Apokolips War is the Synder Cut we Deserve (a Review)

There has been a lot made over the creation and direction of the DCEU. It’s many stops and starts, it’s disastrous reception, and many tragedies has made it one of the most contentious Hollywood stories of all time. The biggest is the butchered Justice League movie that is finally going to be released to HBO Max as the Snyder Cut. A hopeful better version of the film. The problem with all of that debate is how the nerd-sphere has missed that DC has had an ongoing movie universe that spans just as long, and it, like Avengers Endgame, has come to an end.

Spinning out of an adaption of Flashpoint, the DC direct to video movies have followed a more comic book approach, one that matches the, then recent, New 52. That all ends. The Justice League has decided to make their move on Darkseid, intergalactic ruler. Only, when things go awry the Earth is captured, heroes are killed, and Superman, de-powered by one of Darkseid’s plans, and Raven, Teen Titans empath who is hounded by her demon father, must turn to the least helpful person in the DC Universe, magical con man and drunkard, John Constantine to save the day.

This movie hurts your feelings if you have any semblance of care about the DC universe. It is hard to say what heroes do not walk away with any scaring or baggage after what’s happened. It hurts your feelings, but in the right way. The movie knows what these heroes are supposed to be like, then twist them just enough to make you feel bad for them. The movie says to look and what happened, and asks you to see them struggle to make it better.

It succeeds in that.

As an animated film goes, it is not amazing to look at. The models feel stiff at points, a lot of the faces look copy and pasted over. It is not a major motion picture effort. It is a direct to video effort. The fights looks decent enough, and has incredibly atmosphere. This film feels like the DC universe has turned dark. In fact, if Justice League Dark was not already the title of a previous film in this series, and a team all their own, it would be a perfect title for the film because this is a twisted world.

And that is the reason to see the film. It has an honestly interesting twist on what happens to the biggest characters in the DC universe, but doesn’t make it cynical, gritty, and contrived feeling. To give just a taste, Harley Quinn (who is actually good in this film) leads the Suicide Squad as a group of Robin Hood like trouble makers. They are far from good guys, but they know who the real threat is, while still taking their own cut. There is also a group of corrupted heroes that are hidden for a great reveal.

The best of all of the twists is possibly the coolest Evil Superman ever. The concept of Evil Superman feels overdone. Clark becoming a despot feels stale and unoriginal. What this film does with that concept is so cool, and leads to a great fight that it feels too good to miss if you know anything about the DCU.

The film is rated R, and does earn that. There are some swear words, and foul language, but when you’re in an apokolips it is okay. The worst is the use of CGI blood spatter. It is far too disparate from the rest of the designs and feels off. There is also a lot of gore. Again, heroes do die pretty graphically.

The reason this feels like a Snyder Cut is because of its dark, grim, hurt-your-feelings vibe. The difference, and reason I think this is superior (I could totally see Snyder doing a great live action version of this, but) is because the writers, again, know what makes the heroes great. It can look at Superman and understand why he is important, how to ground him, and how to corrupt him in natural (for a comic book universe) ways. It wants to be honestly edgy, and “subvert” superheroes, but gets what that truly means. The Synder Cut (which should technically be two movies, so did they combine that into two films in the script? Is that why it’s 4 hours long? Are we even going to get all of that? I mean if it’s his cut will there still be deleted scenes? How much of the original movie will be in there? So many questions) will come out, and probably fall in line with BvS and Man of Steel, but there will always be this alternative, even to the subversions

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Birds of Prey & the Longest Subtile in Movie History like it’s Trying to Copy a classic Panic! At the Disco or Fall our Boy Song Title (A Review)

The DCEU has been tumultuous since it started in Man of Steel. It did not get any better with Batman v Superman, or Suicide Squad. However, following the success of the pretty great Wonder Woman, most of the DCEU films have been good. Aquaman is just a live action adaption of that comic and it rocks. Shazam is one of the best movies of last year, and Justice League doesn’t count on either because that is literally no ones movie. All of this made the announcement and release of this movie incredibly interesting to see how it would go.

The film follows Harley Quinn after she publicly separates from The Joker by destroying the chemical plant that made her. Now that her protection is gone everyone who she ever pissed off is on her tail. To make it all more complicated she gets entwined in a mob hunt for a prized jewel the police, a new vigilante, Huntress, and a street kid Cass Cain are all after. Now Harley must outwit the biggest mob boss in Gotham, save her own skin, and get breakfast before she’s killed a dozen ways over.

This film is textbook in getting into the protagonist’s head. That is to say it makes you feel how Harley Quinn feels by having her rely the story like an actual crazy person you would meet while walking down the street. It has long spaces of jumping back and forward in time, skipping over scenes and then going back to add details. It uses those same tacky overlays Suicide Squad had, but built on them to be a good source of comedy and delivery information. Honestly the mocks has everything a good crazy person story would have. That nature, like The Gentlemen, makes it feel very spontaneous and energized in a good way. The main difference is that The Gentlemen wants to be clever, this wants to annoy the crap out of you.

How do you score a movie that works as intended, and that intention is to be annoying? Well by not having review scores to begin with, but the real answer is to break it down.

The acting has always been the DC movies strongest points. This film continues that trend. I shouldn’t have to say it, but Margot Robbie is still great. Harley Quinn the character might be a mess of cliches and bad ideas, but Robbie manages to make something salvageable out of what she is given. She’s able to flip between wacky, zany, ditsy, and insightful on a perfectly flipped dime. The rest of the Birds are all serviceable. None of them really stand out, but I would not hate to see them again in a second DC movie.

This also may not come as a surprise, but Ewan McGregor is a standout. He’s been on a roll with Doctor Sleep last year, and now playing Black Mask here, he’s incredible and a joy to watch. Black Mask has never been the biggest comic character, and his big debuts always put him as a secondary foe, and loser. This hammers that idea home. Roman Sionis as played by Ewan McGregor is a spoiled child. He’s impetuous, arrogant, demanding, obvious, and still terrifying. He’s a joy to watch and I want more of him.

I also want a lot more of the action in this film. All of the fights, shoot outs, and chases have this really good naturalistic flow to them. The camera ducks, weaves, cuts, and moves with the characters in frame. This choice makes all of the hits feel kinetic and weighty. The standouts for this are a prolonged police precinct fight/hide and seek off that goes from shooting into the building, to a The Raid style jail cell brawl, to a brutal evidence room beat down. It all feels so much more satisfying because the characters use the tools and environment around them to fight. It sells it.

If I have been so positive, why does it all annoy me so. Some of it comes from the very toxic place of not understanding why they can’t just do actual comic stuff. I don’t mean adapt specific stories. I mean do comic book Dinah Lance, or Cassandra Cain, or not sad Renee Montoya, not the characters we have. It also annoys me how we can get this but not any of the big characters people really should care about. The thing that really annoys me is just how rushed the film feels. It is a tight hour-forty five or so. I wish more movies could be that short. This one just does not use its time well. It gets us in Harley’s head fine, but leaves it so often to set up other elements that plot elements get lost, unexplored, dropped, or forgotten about at random. Kind of like a crazy person was telling it to you.

I can honestly say I don’t know if this movie works or not, or if I like it or not. Some stuff I really dig. The Birds of Prey is one of my favorite teams, and getting a versions is nice. It does its own thing, and I think works fine enough as a women taking revenge against entitled men stories go. I also hate how it doesn’t look anything like the stories and characters it is pulling from.

It’s a movie that has a vision and executed that vision to the max. It just could not sell me on said vision.

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