Monthly Archives: September 2013

New 52 in Review: Week 5

Friends, we have made it to the end. Welcome to Week 5, our final week looking back on DC’s New 52. This final week held up pretty well. While there are a few cancelled titles, they held on long than most titles did.  Full of vintage characters, from Aquaman to Hawkman, this was a week packed with heroes from the Golden and Silver Age.  For the most part it was pretty good for these guys, but not all of them did well.

All-Star Westernsciencefiction.com

For decades now there has been a small but loyal group of people who love westerns. Be it in movies, books, or even comics, the wild spirit of the west captures the imagination of the romantic in many fans.  All-Star Western features the adventures of Jonah Hex and Amadeus Arkham (founder of the famous Arkham Asylum) in an Old West Gotham City. While I don’t count myself a western fan, I can see how this book would be fun. The Old West is a great setting for both drama and great action adventure, two things at which comics excel.  All-Star Western has also included groups of one to three issue mini-stories after the main story focus on side characters and help expand DC’s Old West universe.

Aquamantalkingcomicbooks.com

“I don’t talk to fish”. That’s my biggest take away from Aquaman.  In all seriousness, though, Aquaman has actually turned out to be a pretty good series. Aquaman isn’t exactly known for being a real heavy hitter and he is often mocked for the perceived lameness of his abilities. What this book has done best is address those naysayers in issue #1 and move on as if it never happened. He has gotten some good stories in this volume, including a crossover series with Justice League (despite essentially being a retelling of a previous Aquaman story). It also helps that the creative team (Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis) running the show is the same that helped rejuvenate Green Lantern a few years ago.

Batman: The Dark Knightsciencefiction.com

Batman: The Dark Knight works with some of Batman’s lesser villains and introduces a new one in the form of White Rabbit. The second story arc featured Dark Knight Rises villain Bane. Unfortunately this title has been plagued by repeated creative team changes, mostly in the writing department. Originally David Finch was supposed to be on the book full time, but it quickly became apparent that this wouldn’t be the case, as guest writers began appearing with increasing frequency. Personally I think second-tier books like this are a great chance to have fun with characters that don’t often appear in main books. These books could be something really fun and special if DC Editorial would just let go of the reins a little bit.

Blackhawks CANCELLEDtucsoncitizen.com

I’m really getting tired of series about super secret special ops teams. The cancellation of Blackhawks after eight issues tells me that I am not alone in this feeling. In its eight issues, Blackhawks took some pretty weird turns. Plot points included sentient techno-organic machines, nanites, satellites, and the maiming of one of the team. This book lacked any treads to ground the characters, who are supposed to be human, in reality.

The Flashsciencefiction.com

There is something about The Flash that DC Comics fans love. I don’t quite get it, but I have tons plenty of respect for it. Once again, fan favorite Barry Allen has taken up the mantle of The Flash. This series starts off with a less experienced Flash who is still getting to know his powers, especially his connection to the Speed Force. The series has also tapped into Barry’s past, adding new depth to the story of his mother’s death. Given that Flash was the major focus of Flashpoint, it’s no surprise that Flash is now one of the key players in the post-Flashpoint reboot.

The Fury of Firestorm CANCELLEDFury-of-the-Firestorm_Full_1

The Fury of Firestorm is a different take on Firestorm, which is traditionally a combination of two characters, Ronnie Raymond and Prof. Stein.  This time around, Ronnie combines with fellow high school student Jason Rusch to become the Fury. This happens only after both of them are turned into Firestorm and they fight each other for a while. While I didn’t read this book, I’ve always appreciated Firestorm and his powers. Being able to create anything by just rearranging atomic structure is not only cool, but historically writers have taken this as an opportunity to include some real science into the comics by using actual chemical equations. The Fury of Firestorm made it to issue twenty, although it went through some creative team changes along the way.

Green Lantern: New Guardiansdc.wikia.com

This book is everything that has gone wrong with Green Lantern all wrapped up in one neat little package. Green Lantern: New Guardians is jam packed with the entire spectrum of colored rings, Guardians, and Kyle Rayner, all of which are the least interesting parts of the Green Lantern franchise. This was the one new Green Lantern series I was not looking forward to. So far the series has dragged itself along from crossover to crossover without really doing much of any consequence.

I, Vampire CANCELLEDcomicmegastore.com

A title based on an old backup story, I, Vampire managed to make it to issue nineteen before being cancelled. For what it is, that’s a pretty respectable run. A 600 year old vampire named Andrew Bennett is battling his former lover, Mary, Queen of Blood and her army of vampires in Gotham City, leading to a team-up with Batman. Eventually, Bennett accidentally releases Cain, the first vampire, and he takes over Mary’s vampire army. This lead to a small crossover with Justice League Dark and was used for the series wind down. Fortunately for I, Vampire the cancellation was announced in advance so the series was given a chance to actually end instead of just stopping mid-story like so many other books do.

Justice League Darksciencefiction.com

Justice League Dark is another example of how to use lesser characters to great effect. Justice League Dark is a team of supernatural specialists assembled after Enchantress managed to take down the Justice League (Superman never was very good against magic). This is a title I keep hearing good things about. Working from the shadows has allowed this team to crossover and intermix with several other titles and characters, as well as pickup a couple characters that couldn’t support their own titles. Most recent, Justice League Dark participates providing the sparks behind the “Trinity War” event. Justice League Dark has also become the home of long time Vertigo character John Constantine (Hellblazer), who is now the leader of the team.  

The Savage Hawkman CANCELLEDwww.ebay.com

Hawkman is one of those characters that has gone through a couple, vastly different origin stories. My personal favorite is the one in which he is the resurrected ancient Egyptian pharaoh Khufu. The Savage Hawkman uses the other, much more common one of Hawkman being from the planet Thanagar. The one common thread is that Hawkman is either a museum curator or an archeologist, and I like that. Billionaire playboys are a dime a dozen in comics, but nerd academic heroes are much fewer and farther between. This time around, however, Hawkman is unaware of his alien origin and DC didn’t even explain it until the first anniversary zero issue. Unfortunately for this Golden Age hero, he got cancelled after issue twenty. Fortunately, Hawkman lives on in Justice League of America.

Supermandc.wikia.com

I’m not much of a Superman fan, but that doesn’t mean I don’t recognize something good when it comes around. Friends of mine who are Superman fans are enjoying this book, and for good reason. Writing by comic veteran George Perez provides a solid story in which the Man of Steel can exist. The only complaint I’ve heard about the series is that they have been focusing on Superman’s alien nature, and, while this is a legitimate take on him, a number of people, don’t see this as the best approach to the character. The second story line brings in a connection to the Daemonites, which is making me think that I should do a little more research into who these guys are.

Teen Titanswtfdccomics.wordpress.com

The only surviving title of the Young Justice group, Teen Titans is a long standing title that has managed to hold its own. Featuring several returning cast members like Superboy, Wonder Girl, and Kid Flash as well as two new heroes, Teen Titans starts off with the old standard, assemble the team. These can be lots of fun, especially if you’re already familiar with the team because then you can see what they do that’s new and different with the characters in order to get them to join (or sometimes not join) the team. As the sole surviving series in its family, Teen Titans must be doing something right.

Voodoo CANCELLEDsciencefiction.com

We now have (or had) a superhero who’s day job was “exotic dancer.” For those of you who don’t read between the lines, that means stripper. With elements like this, I’m not really surprised that Voodoo only made it to issue twelve. While I’m trying not to beat a dead horse here, this is the final example, from the first wave at least, of a second-tier (or more realistically third or lower) character who was given a book and just didn’t have the following to support it. There were plenty of books that deserved a slot in the first wave, and didn’t get one because of books like this. Voodoo is a Wildstorm character who is half human, half Daemonite who is working as a spy for the Daemonites. After learning she is really a clone, Voodoo turns on the Daemonites, but then turns back when she’s offered a promotion. If it weren’t so close to actual human nature, it’d be terrifyingly stupid. For now it’s just regular stupid.

Well thanks for joining me for the last six week while we took a look back at everything DC’s New 52 has been doing. I’ve had tons of fun writing this and it exposed me to some stuff I originally missed. As it stands I have several trades on order at one of my local stores so I can catch up. In the end, if you were a Batman, Superman or Green Lantern book, the last two years treated you pretty damn good. On the other side however, if you were a lesser known character, a more experimental book, or in the Young Justice group, you got beaten down hard. I’d like to think that DC has finally figured out what works and what doesn’t, but the flow of news out of there is not convincing. Sure it has slowed down, but it seems that every time there is a big announcement, it’s because of some miss-step by DC Editorial.

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Recap: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Last night’s premier of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was pretty much exactly both what I expected and hoped.  All in all it was not mind-blowing, but it was solid.  I’m hoping that this means the series will be able to sustain this level of writing, acting, etc.

SPOILER ALERT:  A brief recap of last night’s episode follows.

First, in the world’s worst kept secret, Agent Coulson, who was killed right before the Avenger’s final battle scene, is apparently alive.  I say apparently, because there is clearly something that the viewers have not been told yet.  We know that there is something that the viewers have not yet been told, because Agent Hill (How I Met Your Mother’s Cobie Smulders, reprising her role from the Avengers movie) comments to Agent Ward that there is something Coulson doesn’t know about himself.  My theory?  Agent Coulson is actually a life model decoy–a pretty standard ploy by Nick Fury.

Clearly, viewers would have been too dull to notice the way Coulson repeated the exact same description of his recuperation vacation to Tahiti several times during the episode—always a sure sign that a character has been brainwashed.  “It was magical.”

It was fantastic, as a Joss Whedon fan, to see J. August Richards again.  Charles Gunn was one of my very favorite characters from Angel.  An appearance by Ron Glass (Shepherd Book, from Firefly and Serenity) was also a pleasure.

The storyline itself felt very much like a “Joss production.”  S.H.I.E.L.D. is assembling a team of crack experts to find out what is going on with a rebellious hacker-type group calling itself Rising Tide.  As near as I could tell, this seems to be mostly consisting of one single girl named Skye.  She has located a thirty-something male who is showing superhuman abilities, but without any official superhero moniker—which is clearly against regulations.

After she is captured by S.H.I.E.L.D. and exchanges some witty banter with the interrogating agents, she realizes they are all on the same side and they work together to save the poor, lost superhero—who isn’t so super after all.

The show wraps up its plot nicely (Thank you, Joss, for making a more episodic series than a serial!) with a ride to the airport in Coulson’s flying car.

Good to see old friends again!

Although some are criticizing the pilot as a good episode, not a great one, I think that I would rather have good writing throughout the season, rather than a shock-and-awe pilot, with mediocre filling for the next few weeks.

One thing is for sure, I’ll be tuning in next week.  Until then, check out ABC’s companion web series for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Did you like the pilot?  Which familiar actor were you most excited to see again?  Let us know in the comments!

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Filed under Andrew Hales, Reviews, Television, Television Reviews

Guest Blog | Breaking News: Browncoat states, “It might be a good thing that Firefly was limited…”

You may recall the Therefore I Geek editorial recap of Mikey Mason’s performance at Atlantis Comics & Games this spring.  While we were there, we asked Mikey to do a guest blog for us.  He got the biggest grin and asked if he write an argument against bringing back Joss Whedon’s Firefly.  I said no, but sadly, I was overruled by Andrew.  Therefore, here is Mikey’s guest post. -T

Warning: This blog post probably contains some of those so-called spoilers for anyone who hasn’t seen the entire Firefly series and the Big Damn Movie (Serenity, for the uninitiated.) I say that because, even though the series and movie have been out on DVD since 2005 (nearly a decade) somebody will cry. Here’s your warning. Also, I abuse the hell out of parentheses and ellipses. If you can’t abide such a thing, well… get out now.

I’m known (to some, at least) as an unabashed Browncoat, the “She Don’t Like Firefly” guy.  I’ve played at least one Can’t Stop The Serenity event each year for the past couple of years and plan to continue so long as they’ll have me. Hell… I’ve even written a song called “Please Bring Firefly Back For Christmas.”  But the secret truth I harbor in my little Browncoat heart is this: I think that it might (MIGHT, mind you) be a good thing that Firefly was limited to 14 episodes and a movie. Furthermore, I propose that it might (again MIGHT) not be a good thing to bring Firefly back.  Before you scream at me, hear me out. Then scream at me (or your computer screen, rather.  Or type in all caps in the comment section and pretend I’m reading it. I’ll be doing other things…)

I’ll address the first part first: the one about why it might have been a good thing the series was cancelled. We have fourteen episodes and a movie. I love ’em (all except the bit where Wash dies, at least.) I watch ’em a couple times a year (at least.) I impose them on my family. I think they’re pretty keen. And maybe, just maybe the key to their unsullied reputation is that short life span. They never had a chance to jump the shark. Never had an episode where the actors were no longer in love with their characters, or where they were tired of each other, or the grind of making the show. Never had to deal with third season ratings drops, a between seasons re-casting, or the introduction of a character with the sole intention of boosting the ratings in their final season. Think of shows, solid shows, like Roseanne and Married…With Children, that completely sucked in their final seasons. One had a cast member leave and the plot change dramatically, only to learn it “was just a story written by the main character” in the final episode, and the other had a child character named Seven dropped into the mix, a throwback to the last ditch ratings efforts of the Brady Bunch‘s cousin Oliver–which also failed.

I’m not saying any of that would’ve happened. I’m simply saying it never had the chance to. It’s a mosquito larva, preserved in amber. It stayed perfect and never got the chance to suck.  In a perfect world, Fox would’ve aired the pilot before they aired episode two, instead of well afterwards, and they would’ve kept the show in a consistent time slot. I trust that Joss and crew would have ran the tightest ship they could have, and that we’d have enjoyed every episode of every season, and that there never would be contract disputes or budget disputes or any of that. But we’ll never know–and that means it’s possible that we dodged the bullet of watching something we love slowly degrade into something we despise. Ever catch yourself saying something like, “I really love (*series*,) but only the first (x) seasons. After season (x), it’s all downhill”? It’s a popular refrain from fandom, and luckily something we don’t say about Firefly.

Now for the second part: why bringing it back might not be a good thing. It’s simple really. You’ve read or seen Pet Sematary, right? They bury the dead cat; it comes back… changed. They bury the dead kid; he comes back… changed. And that’s what we’re talking about. We’re not casting a Phoenix Down on the series, here. What we’re talking about is necromancy, and what we may end up with is a zombie. At the very least, it’s going to be different–perhaps very different–from the Firefly we’ve loved these past many years.

The actors (many of them) have other contractual obligations, and possibly couldn’t return.  And Wash and Book are DEAD. Remember that feeling in the pit of your stomach when your favorite dinosaur figurine-playing pilot took a shaft of metal through the torso? How exactly are you going to feel when they try and replace him with another lovable, offbeat pilot? Oh… They won’t do that? The pilot will be completely different? Bam. Chemistry changed. Show changed. And now the cat has come back with glassy eyes and a musty smell, and it’s not the lovable kitty we buried in the Sematary… What? You think we should just retcon that bit? Yeah. Fans always react well to retcon situations, and it seems fan support is more than half the reason this series would ever get rebooted. I thought you wanted this thing to happen… And you really don’t expect Joss Whedon to drop directing huge movies and give up being the warden and guardian angel of Marvel Studios movies in order to write and direct this series, right? He’d want too much control—control a network will be very reluctant to give.

Because if there’s an excuse to put up a picture of Nathan Fillion, I’ll take it. 😉

Look: *IF* Joss would and could have total control, and *IF* the actors (the ones whose characters were still alive) could return, and *IF* a network were really willing to front the requisite monies and forfeit series control, and *IF* the network were willing to commit to a complete story arc submitted by Joss in advance, regardless of ratings, I’d be all in. Frankly, I’ll be excited if there’s ever another series set in the ‘Verse  (which seems far more likely than a Firefly revival.) Even a Firefly Christmas special… But I’m not expecting any of those things, and if they do come, part of me will actually be wary, looking for the changes (and hoping when I find them, as we all assuredly would, that they’re GOOD things. Not the same as before, but still good.)

Until then, I’m just gonna sit here counting my blessings, cooing over this mosquito larva preserved in amber, and still feeling pissed that Wash died, but happy to have seen him fly at all.

Mikey Mason

Check out Mikey’s music videos and his own blog, Beer Powered Time Machine, at http://www.mikeymason.com

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Editorial | A Highly Anticipated Movie: X-men Days of Future Past

It really is too bad that X-Men: Days of Future Past will not be released in theaters until next year.  Since the “future” part of those days takes place in 2013 (impossibly far away from the year it was written), there would have been some satisfaction in seeing the movie be released this year.  However, Marvel fans will have to wait until May of 2014 to see this visual masterpiece on the big screen.  In preparation, I read the comic books on which the movie is based and I have some thoughts on what I am excited to see as well as some things that should be made clearer in the movie than they are in the books.

The first big difference between books and movies is that comic books are released much more quickly than movies.  This allows for more continuity in the books and keeps them from having to explain and re-explain relationships and back stories.  Because of this difference, and because certain things were not explained well in X-Men: The Last Stand, I am hoping for a little more clarification on certain storylines.

A little more of this, please!

For instance, I really want more screen time for Kitty Pryde and Peter Rasputin (Sprite and Colossus).  The comics in the DoFP saga do not really explain much about their history, except, of course, to mention that they are married in the future.  The few sparks of romantic in me would like to see some of their love story.

I did not originally like Ellen Page’s Kitty Pryde, but she has grown on me and I am excited to see more from her.  She is one of the most important characters in the DoFP storyline.  In the X-men movies, her character really wasn’t fleshed out very much.  In fact, I didn’t even realize that Ellen Page was playing Kitty Pryde until halfway through X-Men: The Last Stand.  This was mostly due to the fact that Last Stand Kitty seemed much more interested in Bobby Drake (Iceman) than she was in Colossus.

I am also excited to see more of the Uncanny X-men who have grown on me, such as Storm and even Nightcrawler (although he still creeps me out a little).  I am curious whether Ben Foster will be asked to reprise his role as the Angel.  He was a very minor character in Last Stand and I felt no real connection to him, so it would not bother me at all if that part were recast for Days of Future Past.

The Sentinels are another highly anticipated plot feature, of course.  Even more fabulous is the announcement that one of my favorite actors, Peter Dinklage, will be playing their creator, Bolivar Trask.

See the resemblance?

Although the Scarlet Witch and her brother Quicksilver do not appear in the comics for the DoFP story, I am excited to see them on the screen for the first time.  Scarlet Witch has one of the coolest super powers that Marvel has ever dreamed up, and I am eager to see how that is translated into film.

Of course, I am also looking forward to seeing my very favorite X-man, and giant crush again also.  Hank McCoy will always be my not-so-secret love.  However, I am sad to see the Kelsey Grammar is not playing the Beast again this time.  My fingers are crossed that Nicholas Hoult will do an equally amazing job.

There are a few things I am not looking forward to seeing, however.  Jennifer Lawrence does not play a convincing Mystique, and I really wish she had been recast.  She was one of the most disappointing performances in X-men: First Class.  Fortunately, Mystique IS a shape-shifter, so perhaps we will not have to look at Lawrence all that much.

I also am not a fan of Anna Paquin’s Rogue.  Come to think of it, these actresses look and act a lot alike.  Perhaps they’re just not my type.

All in all, May 2014 cannot come soon enough for me!  In the meantime, I’ll just have to break out Andrew’s list of things to do while I wait.  Also, I will be enjoying tomorrow evening’s 8/7 pm premiere of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. on ABC.

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