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

Watch the video: https://youtu.be/fSure8z1lF4

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: https://ebay.com/usr/connorfahy1013 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: https://ebay.com/usr/connorfahy1013 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: https://ebay.com/usr/connorfahy1013 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: https://ebay.com/usr/connorfahy1013 say you’re a reader and I’ll be happy to discount any item for you!

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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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Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is the Monkey’s Paw of movies (Review)

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is almost a great movie that hurts from trying to be Iron Man 2. 

At the time of watching BvS, I was coming off of disliking Man of Steel very much. I had no real excitement for this movie other than the fact we were getting Ben Affleck as Batman and that Batman was going to be a main part of this movie. I didn’t really agree with the direction they were taking, by giving us a combo movie before giving us a proper Superman sequel, but on the other hand I did see it as a kind of pseudo Superman sequel. I’m watching the trailers, I did have a little bit of excitement because it seemed like they were actually taking the story in an interesting direction that made sense, but I was more worried about the subtitle “Dawn of Justice”. It could have meant a lot of things and in this case it meant exactly what I didn’t want it to. Originally I halfway liked this movie, and rewatching it I always find myself watching the extended cut which does feel like a better movie overall. In this review I won’t be discussing the differences between the theatrical and extended editions, I will be reviewing only the extended edition because that’s the version I watched prior to writing this. 

A quick side note here, there’s a cool scene that I actually really like when Clark goes up to the top of a mountain and has a conversation with Johnathan Kent. Obviously it’s not a real conversation but rather a conversation he has through his own memory of his father. It’s meaningful and really works by giving us a great moment between these two characters. I bring this up because if any of you reading this really like this scene then just remember, a very similar version of this is done in The Rise of Skywalker between Ben and Han. While I wasn’t a huge fan of the movie overall, the scene really works for me in that movie too. Just keep that in mind if you weren’t entirely aware. 

Back to the rest of the movie. I actually appreciated how they set up the main story by giving us the battle between Superman and Zod but from Bruce Wayne’s perspective. They also set it up in a way that makes it feel as if the battle was a terrorist attack in the vein of 9/11. Now this is entirely fictional of course and you can’t compare the two, but it was definitely the feeling they were trying to get across by showing the events from ground level. I love that it doesn’t take long for us to sympathize with Bruce Wayne and where his motivation to take down Superman came from, but I also don’t like the decision. 

Of course not everyone is going to look at Superman the way that we have in all of the previous feature films, but it seemed a little earlier in their “DC Universe” to make him out as a bad guy. Now this is only coming from a personal perspective of me not feeling like it was the best idea. With that said, how they embraced going into this direction works perfectly. Everything is set up the right way in which the world looks at him both as a villain and as a god in some people’s eyes. It really does a fantastic job of giving us a realistic approach to how our current world would perceive somebody with the powers he has and I applaud them for that. 

The problem is that it never really gives Clark a chance to be human. Of course he has emotional moments where he feels the pain of having to carry the weight of the world on his shoulders, but he honestly doesn’t get time to do a whole lot. We just see him sulking and being pushed around by the public and then eventually being attacked by Batman. He has no real development through this story. You can argue that he does and I can see certain points where you might be right but overall I feel like his purpose is to just be there for the sake of Lex and Batman. He only shows a real importance when the final battle comes around. 

Speaking of Batman, this is easily one of my favorite versions of this character in live action. He’s a veteran of crime fighting and where’s the scars on his sleeve. You can feel the pain that he has been through yet it’s hard to really grasp since we haven’t actually seen some of the instances he’s hurting from. Outside of that though, he does give us one of the most brutal versions of the character and I mean that in a good way. The fight choreography with him at any given time is absolutely stunning and brutal. I keep saying brutal because it almost seems very violent and angry when he’s knocking down bad guys. Not too violent of course but possibly the most violent we’ve seen Batman. They also do the best job of making us feel the terror that is Batman. It actually makes us feel what the bad guys feel when they see him. There’s a specific scene early on when he’s hiding up in the corner of a room and it’s terrifying for a moment as you realize it’s him. Also his costume is by far the best on screen costume we’ve had and that includes the badass desert nightmare costume. 

This brings me to my first real significant negative point. Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor absolutely does not in any way work for me in the slightest. Look, I really like Eisenberg as an actor, but the version of Lex we got is absolutely annoying and irritating every time he’s on screen. I understand the version they were going for and I can see a way that it could have worked, but man I cannot get it out of my head how much I dislike this character. Everything with him makes sense and his plan is a very Lex Luthor type of plan that on the surface works, but it’s the character himself that I can’t ignore disliking as much as I do.

With all of this, we finally get to the confrontation of Batman and Superman for the big fight. There was of course a small interaction between the two prior to the big fight, but it’s the big fight that matters most. Batman does his Batman thing and comes up with a way to defeat Superman which is badass. The fight itself is badass despite me not being a huge fan of the mechanical suit that Batman wears. I understand why he has it and why it’s necessary of course, but I would have much rather seen a version where they could think of a way to keep him in his normal suit. The fight goes on and I’m loving it, but then the rest of the plot comes into play and ruins the whole movie. They have to get to the “Dawn of Justice” part after just getting into the “Batman v Superman” part and so they need a transition. They needed a way to stop the two from fighting and having them team up instead. This brings us to the famous “Martha” moment. 

Now look, I could probably write a whole piece about why I hate the “Martha” scene but I’m not going to go into it that much. I have seen and read many things regarding how the scene makes sense, but hey, if it doesn’t work for you then it doesn’t work and this scene is one of the worst things to happen to the movie. The name Martha clearly is important to both Clark and Bruce and eventually leads Bruce to stop fighting and join up with Superman in the fantastic “Dawn of Justice” portion of the movie. I understand why the name affects Bruce, but up to that point his character wasn’t going to allow anything getting in the way of him completing his mission to defeat Superman. The only reason why this name works in stopping Batman is because 1. They don’t want Batman killing him and 2. They need to get to the Iron Man 2 portion of the movie. 

If you’re not familiar with what I mean by Iron Man 2 portion of the movie, it basically means that it’s a part in the movie where the main plot is pushed aside for the sake of setting up their larger universe. And in this case, I believe it’s done worse than Iron Man 2. Up to this point and right before the “Martha” scene I was actually really enjoying the movie despite not liking Lex. There was enough up to that point to make me think this movie was actually pretty good, but then they decided to ruin the whole thing by going from a grounded and emotional story into a world destroying epic disaster movie for the sake of setting up their DC Universe. Let’s bring in the destroyer of worlds himself, Doomsday.

As if it wasn’t enough to just have a good story with Batman and Superman, we had to bring in a monster created by Lex Luthor that is set to absolutely annihilate Superman while destroying the planet in the process. My big issue with Man of Steel was that the action was over the top. The action that comes into play in the final act of this movie far surpasses that. It’s as if they felt like they needed even more destruction than before. Now I will say that the visuals of course are stunning, but you can’t just please me with visuals if the narrative doesn’t work with them. It was like watching a car crash happen right in front of me. 

It was the most jarring transition between two totally different movies that I’ve ever seen. We go from a great interesting narrative between two heroes with differing perspectives to an almost Justice League end of the world story. All of this also ends with killing Superman because it wasn’t enough to just make him feel like a villain, they had to kill the guy too. This whole final act is so frustrating that it makes me want to bang my head against the wall over how poorly it was handled and then it makes me realize how poorly a lot of the movie was handled. I think the best part of the movie through and through was Batman, but this movie has so many problems.

My buddy Connor said it best. He said that this is the Monkey’s Paw of movies. It gives you everything you want out of a movie like this, but executed on absolutely none of it. While I do think that they execute Batman very well throughout, I can’t argue with this statement. It gives you so much, so much to be excited for and to like, but drops the ball entirely on almost everything. This movie feels a lot like the first half of Man of Steel. There’s a fantastic movie in here somewhere but the direction never gives you a chance or the movie a chance to fully realize what it has to offer you. It instead gives you surface excitement with underlying disappointment. As my dad says best, shit floats. It doesn’t matter how much surface excitement you have, when the underlying feeling is utter disappointment for them dropping the ball then it’s going to float to the top and overpower any excitement or enjoyment you had. 

I know that I may have gotten off the rails a bit towards the end of the review, but it’s honestly so frustrating that this movie had so much potential and failed. The potential was just within arms reach, but it just never made it to the point of success. This movie makes me want to see more of the Ben Affleck Batman and it makes me enjoy Man of Steel more, but does nothing for me overall at feeling confident for the DC universe going forward. It’s a movie that I want to love, but just fails at so much that I just can’t. I know there are many who like this movie a lot and I know that many of the negative and positive points I made can be argued, so if you disagree in any way then comment below and let me know what you think about it! 

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Heroes in Crisis: A Beautiful and Tragic Disaster

Heroes in Crisis, DC Comics big event from 2018 by Tom King and Clay Mann, is a masterful piece of dramatic storytelling and one of the best dramatic superhero comics ever.

Heroes in Crisis is also an utter mess that is totally rushed, has a completely unsatisfying conclusion, and severely hurts a fan favorite character in Wally West (until we see how his mini-series Flash Quest concludes). That is a lot of descriptors for single 9 issue comic series to have, and it is. It’s able to be all of that through its structure, art, and rushed ending.

Its structure follows three different plot lines running through the book. The first two plotlines follow the Trinity as they investigate the mass murder of a group superheroes at the Sactuary a mental health safe house for the heroes to center themsleves after traumatic events. The second follows Booster Gold and Harley Quinn, the only survivors of the Sanctuary and are on the run because they each believe the other killed all the heroes. The final plot line centers on the heroes of the Sanctuary talking about the stress of the job, and those videos being released to Lois Lane for publication by the Puddler. Only, the videos are destroyed after being filmed.

These plot lines allow the book to consistently shift to different genres to keep the book fresh, and explore different parts of the DC universe. It also does not make the person who should be the main character, Wally West – Flash,  in the center of the narrative until the final issues. That would not be a problem normally. Two or three full issues devoted to telling the story around everything you’ve been reading is a very common convention in mystery novels (And Then There Were None jumps to mind). However it doesn’t work in this context. 

The main reason it does not work is because those big reveal chapters are often for the villain of the piece to monologue and explain how and why they did everything they did. There is a similar chapter in Heroes in Crisis. It explains everything we saw and our characters saw, but also is not satisfying because its twist was that it wasn’t a mystery. 

Okay, well that’s not completely untrue. It was a mystery, but a mystery no one could have called until the end of the issues before the reveal. In order to explain spoilers for the rest of the book will follow. So the reveal is that Wally West, the second Flash was the one who killed all of the heroes at the Sanctuary by accident and instead of just turning himself in the first time he goes to the future and bring a dead Wally back to be with the dead heroes, then frames Booster Gold and Harley Quinn by taking them to the holo-deck/training room holograms and making them see the other kill the heroes, and finally Wally runs through time to find the recorded videos, piece them together and send them Lois Lane for reasons… I think it is so he can release his confession video to the world, but that’s not explicit, and makes no sense.

Now that you have the breakdown, do you see the problem? If you haven’t its the word “accident.” He kills all the heroes by accident. Not that accidents don’t happen, but setting a whole murder mystery around an accident the person didn’t mean to cause is damaging to the character. It damages them as a person in the world they live in like any event would, and it also damages them to audience. We see a heroic person do something not heroic and then try to cover it up. That is not inherently a problem. Only, we get very little personal time with him after the inciting incident, and even less time to take in the events after everything is revealed to make him sympathetic (and if they did not want to for some reason that seems like lazy writing). If that’s the point the book is trying to make, and it is (we’ll get to that), there are better ways than killing heroes and making another hero the murder.

These problems arise because it feels like the story was planned to have 12 issues (a pretty good assumption considering that is what Tom King usually does – Miracle Man, Sheriff of Babylon, Omega Men, Vision) and then was suddenly cut back to 9 halfway through the run. This comes from the fact that it starts with a strong deliberate pacing that devotes much of its time to atmosphere, contemplation, and themes over a strong mystery narrative. It even stops what narrative was moving to detail why each of the murdered heroes were at Sanctuary, give them growth and depth to make you feel for them, and then kill them  off. It’s a strong issue. One of the best. It is also a waste when it is now an 8 issue mystery book where a third of each issue is devoted to the actual mystery. That change is prevalent at the end of issue 7 leading into issue 8 where the reveals begin. From there on it is hardly contemplative. The book just races to explain it’s dumb muder mystery plot and rushes to the final pages and resolution by acting like Wally was the main character who had to learn something when he was barely in it in comparison to some of the other characters.  

Inhale And Exhale.

Hey, so I said this book was also beautiful and one of the best dramatic comics but wasted a lot words saying how dumb it was. That makes no sense. Let’s rectify that. Heroes in Crisis is beautiful. Beautiful in both senses of the word.

First: Clay Mann’s art  (and all the art other contributing artists) is just drop dead gorgeous. I mean just look at all the pictures in this post. The pencils, composition, and colors make the book incredibly vibrant and colorful like all superhero comics should be. He has a real eye for detail that makes the big moments epic, and the small moments that more intimate and close. It’s amazing! 

Perfect is what I want to say, but the structure of the issues, and multiple plot lines make everything muddled. The reason is that those epic and intimate moments are all there really is. Every scene is either only four or five panels of sparse dialogue and action, then dense nine panel grids that give us a lot of details in limited space. This gives no real room for natural storytelling. Everything either blows by or stays for a little too long. That also makes the Wall West reveal hurt because the reveal issue is all 3 panel pages and limited words on each page.Those pages are super nice looking though

The second way it is beautiful is…

Okay, so, it feels like the only why comics have been able to make superheroes feel real and developed is by making them gritty (Dark Knight Returns), bad people who abuse power by taking it out on bad guys and civilians who get in the way (The Boys, Watchmen, The Authority), or to have them do good things for good reasons, and are still not great people (The Ultimates and Ultimates 2). Some of those stories are very good, but it is also not the norm, and not what readers need to expect every time. 

Heroes in Crisis, meanwhile,  finds a fresh way to make these larger than life heroes feel real, and that is by showing them at their most vulnerable, weak, and saying that they are still great and strong. It says, quite literally at points, that being a superhero is not easy. Wally West says that he doesn’t count the people he’s saved because it was not enough. It says all that and says that they are still good people doing good deeds for good reasons. This is an idea that is perfectly made to be in any issue of a superhero comic, and does not take away the fact they saved someone.

It explores the theme that being a superhero is hard through the videos the many heroes record while at Sanctuary. The videos range in both length and in the starpower heroes. Some heroes get multiple pages dedicated to their struggles, others get a page, and even more get a single panel that contains so much personality and depth for each one of them. The list of characters range from the stars like Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman to the overlooked and underappreciated Blue Devil and Lagoon Boy. They all get a moment show why they are heroes by saying why they needed help. 

The characters that get the most development and help are (the protagonists?) Booster Gold and Harley Quinn. We follow their journey of trying and struggling to figure out what is going on while evading the Trinity and each other. They each go to more established heroes for help. Booster goes to long time friend Ted Kord – Blue Beetle while Harley goes to find Batgirl. Blue Beetle and Batgirl act as examples to be like and are used for guidance in helping them be better.That idea of being present to help others grow and learn is what being a hero is all about, and one of the main themes being expressed by the piece. It says that being a hero is more than just saving people from harm, but to be better everyday, and help other people better themselves everyday. 

Those themes and  that artwork make for a beautiful and moving story. I mean Superman gives a speech to the world proclaiming the importance of getting mental health help, and getting that help is a good thing. (It’s the best!) It is just unfortunate that story has to share space with a murder mystery plot where the murder was an accident caused by a superhero and is hardly investigated.