Thursday, January 30, 2020

Red Sonja: Age of Chaos #1

Red Sonja: Age of Chaos #1 begins the time-travelling crossover between Red Sonja and various characters Dynamite Entertainment acquired from the now defunct Choas! Comics. In her own time, Sonja takes steps to prevent Kulan Gath from resurrecting again. In another time and place, Mistress Hel inspires several different characters to go in search of the wizard's recently-discovered amulet which she promises will deliver them powers beyond their comprehension.

Thursday with Vanessa

Primal - Spear and Fang

Genndy Tartakovsky, who gave us the brilliance of Samurai Jack, turns his attention to the "dawn of evolution" for a new series featuring a caveman and dinosaur. The pair are united in the first episode of the series, "Spear and Fang," through tragedy and shared loss. Presented without dialogue and set to a classic score, the series doesn't play with aspect-ration like Jack did, but does offer plenty of close-ups and slow-motion to underscore ideas and feelings. While I cringe at the thought of certain people mistakenly believing the show's plot somehow legitimizes the inane idea that man and dinosaurs ever co-existed, Tartakovsky provides an intriguing set-up here that delivers on the show's title given the emotions it puts on display.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Guardians of the Galaxy #1

If you are thinking, didn't Marvel just reboot this series less than a year ago? You are not mistaken. Marvel Comics relaunches the title once more with Peter Quill and Rocket Raccoon being pulled into the fray by Richard Rider who is seeking any heroes he can find to help stop the sudden appearance of of the Olympian Gods who are making a deadly swath across the galaxy.

Far Sector #3

The rookie Green Lantern's investigation into murder in the City Enduring continues in Far Sector #3 which expands on the personal relationships Sojourner Mullein has made since coming to the city and explore how her past colors her duties as a Green Lantern.

Supergirl - Back From the Future (Part One)

Although both the show and Brainy (Jesse Rath) waffle a bit over the recent change to his character there's certainly an improvement over how the show has begun using the Legionnaire from the future. The episode offers the return of Jeremy Jordan reprising his role of Winn Schott and as an crazier version from a parallel Earth who Winn returns from the future to stop from destroying his timeline. Jordan fits in easily here, particularly in his individual scenes with both Kara (Melissa Benoist) and Nia (Nicole Maines), the later of whom he encourages by offering a glimpse of the hero she (and her descendants) will become.

Once and Future #6

What was originally planned to be the final issue of a six-issue mini-series, Once and Future #6 features Duncan stepping into his role of her to save his grandmother and prevent a zombie version of King Arthur from cementing his power.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Anime Los Angeles 2020 Cosplay Music Video Part 2

Doctor Who - Fugitive of the Judoon

"Fugitive of the Judoon" offers several questions and few answers for an episode that sees the return of Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman), dire warnings about the return of the Cybermen, and the first appearance of another version of The Doctor (Tosin Cole) whose place in time makes no sense to either Doctor (or to most fans). Returning to Earth to find it being quarantined by the Judoon who are furiously seeking a fugitive, The Doctor (Jodie Whittaker) and her companions buy some time while searching for answers which lead to her companions being stolen from the planet by Jack and The Doctor coming face-to-face with an alternate version of herself whose existence she cannot comprehend.

Batman #87

Following up on the events of Batman #86, the latest issue deals with the GCPD taking Deathstroke and the other assassins into custody and locking them up in the new secure prison known as the Black Block. Batman #87 reveals Deathstroke and his team always wanted to get captured (which makes you wonder why they fought so hard against Batman and what they may have done had they actually won the fight). While not that big of a surprise, it does make you wonder about the mind behind these plans.

Batwoman - An Un-Birthday Present

Batwoman offers up one of the better episodes of the series by introducing a new Beth Kane (Rachel Skarsten), one that grew up on a parallel Earth who never went crazy and became Alice (Skarsten). While at first wary of another Alice trap, Kate (Ruby Rose) eventually comes to terms with a sane version of her twin sister arriving on their birthday. While she isn't introduced to the the wider cast, Beth does make good impressions on both Mary and Luke. The final scene suggesting one of the two Beths must die for the other to live feels more like the show falling back into bad habits. While the death of Alice would certainly help the show drop dead weight and offer Batwoman room to grow and take on other villains, and still give Skarsten a role on the show, I'm not sure I see the courage in the show's writers to be willing to make such a drastic shift (though I would be happy to be proved wrong).

Monday, January 27, 2020

The Mandalorian - The Prisoner

"Chapter 6" offers a fun heist episode that also introduces a few characters from Mandalorian's (Pedro Pascal) past. However, it's not without some head-scratching problems. The Mandolorian answers a call from his old crew led by Ranzar Malk (Mark Boone Junior) that coincidentally comes at the exact moment when the Mandalorian is looking for some quick cash. Learning the job is breaking out a prisoner from a New Republic Prison Ship, that the crew want to use the Razor Crest for their getaway, and the job doesn't even pay well enough to cover the gas are all reasons enough for the bounty hunter to walk away (plus, you know, not trusting any member of the crew from shooting him in the back or stealing his cargo). While the episode needs our protagonist to to accept the job, the writers don't cover themselves by properly selling that job to either the Mandalorian or the audience.

Superman #19

Superman #19 offers a follow-up to last month's issue in which Superman revealed to the world that he and Clark Kent are the same person. There's not much fallout here, other than Clark getting fired from The Daily Planet (for all of about 10 seconds before being re-hired) and some awkwardness of his co-workers getting used to the new normal. Superman still hits the streets to save the day and look to the stars to take on intergalactic threats.

Legacies - This is Why We Don't Entrust Plans to Muppet Babies

It's a pair of minor characters who take center stage in "This is Why We Don't Entrust Plans to Muppet Babies" when an invisible Qareen is set loose on the grounds slowly stoking the insecurities of the students and feeding on their growing discord. The only one who can see the creature is the often-overlooked Wade (Elijah B. Moore) who, to the surprise of everyone in the school, is actually a faerie. The rising bitchiness between all concerned makes fighting the beast difficult but when Landon (Aria Shahghasemi) and the rest of the student body put their faith in Wade everything turns out sunshine and rainbows. Well... not everything.

Wonder Woman #750 Custom Cosplay Covers

Wonder Woman #750 had an insane amount of variant covers, but here are a few custom ones celebrating some of my favorite Wonder Woman cosplayers.

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Legends of Tomorrow - Meet the Legends

Sara (Caity Lotz) returns from Crisis to discover the Legends have become famous and there is a documentary film crew aboard the Wave Rider. "Meet the Legends" makes full use of the crew, often framing scenes through those cameras with the Legends talking directly to the filmmakers. The latest trouble sends the Legends to early 20th Century Russia where Rasputin (Michael Eklund) has risen from the dead (as one of several souls which have escaped Hell). After screwing up several times, the team finally manages to defeat Rasputin thanks in large part (pun intended) to Ray (Brandon Routh) and his new catchphrase. The conclusion of the episode, removing the crew's celebrity, feels far too easy (although quite funny). I hope to see someone from that audience, perhaps a small group of firm believers, not taking the denouncement at face value and continuing to believe in the time traveling heroes opening up a storyline down the line.

Wonder Woman #750

As DC Comics have done for recent #1000 issue milestone issues of Action Comics and Detective Comics, Wonder Woman earns an over-sized issue featuring multiple stories from a who's who of writers and artists (along with some art and an insane assortment of variant covers thrown in). While there isn't one stand-out story here, it's a solid collection of tales touching on different aspects of who Wonder Woman is.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Arrow - Green Arrow & The Canaries

"Green Arrow & The Canaries" is an oddly constructed episode set 20 years after the events of Crisis. Following Oliver Queen's (Stephen Amell) sacrifice, Star City has lived in blissful peace for two decades, with Mia (Katherine McNamara) and William (Ben Lewis) growing up together in rich luxury. All that is threatened when evil starts to stir again with the kidnapping of Helena's daughter (Raigan Harris) whose death could be the domino to lead Star City back down the dark future seen in previous episodes (although given the number of baddies the new Deathstroke, and the not-so-hard-to-guess woman behind him put together, it looks like future version of Star City has plenty of killers and malcontents to deal with).

Red Sonja #12

For one year, over twelve issues, Red Sonja has matched wits with the conqueror Dragan The Magnificent. Whittling away at Dragan's armies as they are forced to track Sonja and men across the Hyrkanian steppes, Red Sonja #12 offers a conclusion to the arc featuring a trap by the Hyrkanians and a final face-to-face between Sonja and Dragan.

Supergirl - The Bottle Episode

I didn't expect the first episode of Supergirl coming out of Crisis would be a Brainy (Jesse Rath) episode, but it works (and not only for mercifully killing the puppy-dog romance that had been used too often this season as B-story filler). With National City's hero, CatCo, and the DEO all transplanted to the new Earth, Supergirl (Melissa Benoist) struggles with the machinations of Lex Luthor (Jon Cryer) who has managed once again to take advantage of the Crisis (this time setting himself up as the world's most famous humanitarian). While Lex, and his team-up with Lena (Katie McGrath), is a looming threat to be dealt with later in the season, the more immediate threat is the sudden arrival of multiple versions of Brainac-5 all from former Earths who are slowly being killed off one by one.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Black Cat #8

Black Cat #8 features a guest-appearance by the Beetle who Felicia recruits as back-up for her latest thievery of a Marvel hero. The pair have a fun patter as Beetle repeatedly attempts to sell the Black Cat on joining a group primarily made-up of all Spider-Man villains. I do think the Black Cat works best when there's room for dialogue and the art by Dike Ruan proves to be an equally nice match for the tone of the issue.

Batwoman - How Queer Everything is Today!

Batwoman begins it's post-Crisis adventure with another awkward Alice (Rachel Skarsten) story and an introduction of a talented young hacker (Malia Pyles) lashing out at the world. While the message at the heart of "How Queer Everything is Today!" is admirable, like so many of the episodes from the show's First Season, the execution leaves much to be desired. For instance, the show opens with Batwoman (Ruby Rose) saving a runaway train using a single cable from her grappling gun which, even a basic undertanding of physics tells us, would have either had no effect whatsoever or, at best, derailed the train. From there Batwoman tracks the hacker responsible to her old high school where Alice has plans to force the hacker to reveal Kate's secret (not that Alice couldn't do that on her own or that Batwoman couldn't have disarmed Alice one of a million ways before she could have done any harm).

G.I. JOE: A Real American Hero #269

"Snake Hunt" continues as Laura 343 and her team successfully deliver the captured Throwdown (who Cobra still mistakenly believe is the original Snake Eyes) to Cobra Commander and Dr. Mindbender. The short tour Laura receives of the impressive facility suggests what Larry Hama may have in mind by foreshadowing the technology that could allow the original Snake Eyes to live again.

Monday, January 20, 2020

The Mandalorian - The Gunslinger

Forced to land on Tatooine after a space battle with a bounty hunter after the Child, the Mandalorian (Pedro Pascal) picks up so local work to pay for the repairs by partnering with inexperienced bounty hunter Toro Calican (Jake Cannavale) in tracking down the assassin Fennec Shand (Ming-Na Wen). Toro needs the credit for such a capture to earn his way into the Bounty Hunters' Guild and is less interested in the money tied to the bounty which the Mandalorian desperately needs. It seems like a good job, though there will be complications.

Young Justice #12

While Superboy literally cries over being stranded in Skartaris, the rest of Young Justice calls in some reinforcements as Impulse and Wonder Girl (but mostly Bart) are able to convince the Wonder Twins to help their friends, and "borrow" one of Wonder Woman's possessions (although the need for it is a little unclear).

Legacies - I Couldn't Have Done This Without You

"I Couldn't Have Done This Without You" offers three separate storylines. One focuses on Hope's (Danielle Rose Russell) return to the Salvatore School and the awkwardness of trying to find a bit of normal with Josie (Kaylee Bryant), Landon (Aria Shahghasemi), and others. The awkwardness with Josie is helped through the use of magic in dealing with the hourglass Josie has been pouring dark magic into for most of the year. That object is also noticed by the Necromancer (Ben Geurens) who sees it as a way to restore and embolden his own powers. While things may not be back to normal by the end of the episode, perhaps the Josie, Landon, and Hope have found the start of a new normal heading into the second-half of the season.

This is Anime NYC 2019 Best Cosplay Rewind

Friday, January 17, 2020

Disturbing the Peace

I think the story of how Guy Pearce got snookered into making Disturbing the Peace would be far more interesting than the movie itself. The story centers around a biker gang taking over a town (whose populace apparently nearly all took a field trip on the same day, making it easy for the criminals to round-up the leftover dozen or so hostages). Along with hitting the bank, the gang is also targeting an armored car carrying millions in cash... to a town where apparently very few people live? What do they need with the money? Well... that's just one of many questions the movie has no answer for.

Taking steps to limit response by authorities outside of town, the gang must deal with the local Marshall (Pearce), a former Texas Ranger haunted by his past. The script by Chuck Hustmyre (whose only credits include straight-to-video flicks starring the likes of Steven Seagal and Dave Bautista) offers some astonishing bad writing at times (to go with some questionable acting). There's an interesting idea buried deep, deep, deep at the heart of of the film but better hands than those of director York Alec Shackleton are called for to find it.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Mediocre Sequel, Mediocre Sequel. Whatcha Gonna Do?

Hitting theaters 16 years after Bad Boys II, and 25 years after the original film, Bad Boys for Life feels about as tired as its two stars at times. The film reunites Will Smith and Martin Lawrence in the latest attempt of movie studios to reboot, relaunch, or recycle any franchise they can find. There's no real reason for the film to exist, but Smith and Lawrence provide some entertaining moments bouncing off one another to keep you mildly interested between explosions and gun fights (which, sadly, fail to reach insanity of Michael Bay at his best).

Deathstroke: Knights & Dragons - Part One

The new animated web series offers a retelling of Slade Wilson's (Michael Chiklis) origins, a vendetta against the terrorist organization known as H.I.V.E., and his fucked-up family life. "Part One" is a bloody affair offering flashbacks explaining the source of Deathstroke's powers while in the present his son is kidnapped by H.I.V.E. in an attempt to force the mercenary to work for them (this part of the story stays fairly faithful to the comics). While their plan fails, it does destroy Wilson's marriage, estrange him from his son, and offer a follow-up tale a decade later when H.I.V.E. goes after the boy once more.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #101

Despite their recent victory, there is little for the Turtles to celebrate. It's been months since the events of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #100. Manhattan has been cordoned off from the outside world renamed Mutant Town by its inhabitants. The Turtles has gone their separate ways with Leonardo looking inward, Michelangelo pulling back from the world, Raphael hitting the rooftops on a nightly basis, and Donatello (who narrates the issue) contemplating what might be next for the characters.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Legends of Tomorrow - Crisis on Infinite Earths: Part Five

If the climax of Crisis turned out to be a bit underwhelming the epilogue brings back some fun. The first episode of the Fifth Season of DC's Legends of Tomorrow introduces us to a new world. Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) and the Paragons didn't rebirth the entire Multiverse, only a single universe with one Earth where all our heroes live. Supergirl (Melissa Benoist) is doubly surprised to find out she shares her Earth with Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) and that Lex Luthor (Jon Cryer) had one last move up his sleeve in resetting his role on the new Earth as a beloved benefactor rather than sociopathic villain. Only the Paragons remember the events of Crisis, although J'onn (David Harewood) is able to remedy the siutation fairly quickly to clue in the rest of the heroes as to what is happening, including a final appearance of the Anti-Monitor.

Arrow - Crisis on Infinite Earths: Part Four

After a month hiatus, the Crisis crossover continues. More than any episode of the crossover, "Part Four" does feel the limits of a television budget as the big climactic moments feel a bit rushed and underwhelming. The return of Green Arrow (Stephen Amell), now revealed to be the Spectre (although not looking any different), helps free the Paragons from Vanishing Point on a two-pronged attempt to stop the Anti-Monitor. While Supergirl (Melissa Benoist), Ryan Choi (Osric Chau), and Lex Luthor (Jon Cryer) attempt to prevent the the Monitor (LaMonica Garrett) from opening the rift that allowed the Anti-Monitor into our universe 10,000 years ago (a plotline that ultimately never leads anywhere), the rest of the heroes head for the Anti-Matter Universe with a stopover in the Speed Force that offers a few scenes from the past and one more cameo from another alternate version of one of our heroes.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Batman #86

A new creative team takes over following the events of City of Bane. Batman has taken back Gotham City, but in his absence things have gotten worse. The Dark Knight Detective is also down a few allies given the death of Alfred no appearance from any of the other members of the Bat-Family here (other than Catwoman).

It's Holiday Matsuri 2019 Cosplay Christmas Part 2

Peter Poker, the Spectacular Spider-Ham #1

The first issue of the five-issue mini-series starring everyone's favorite spider-powered super-hero pig, offers a quick recap of the hero's origins before plunging him into a new adventure. It seems his time in the Spider-Verse hasn't helped Spider-Ham make friends with the other heroes of his world. Holding his accomplishments over the other heroes, Spider-Ham's ego has gotten to be too much for many of the other heroes to bear (even when they might need his help).

Monday, January 13, 2020

Jack Ryan - Blue Gold / Persona Non Grata

"Blue Gold" and "Persona Non Grata" provide a turning point in the Second Season of Jack Ryan with the deaths of a couple of key figures and Reyes (Jordi Mollà) taking advantage of the CIA's investigation to paint Greer (Wendell Pierce) and others as agents of the United States Government attempting to steal the election for Gloria Bonalde (Cristina Umaña). Before returning to Caracas, Jack Ryan (John Krasinski) concludes his business in London ending in the death of Max Schenkel (Tom Wlaschiha) at the hands of Harriet Baumann (Noomi Rapace) who manages to survive multiple face-to-face confrontations with Max (although he did leave several holes in her body in their final encounter). The following episode doesn't deal with the fallout of Ryan's actions as he has plenty of new problems to deal with once leaving London.

Hawaii Five-0 - Loa'a pono ka 'iole i ka punana

"Loa'a pono ka 'iole i ka punana" centers around Grover's (Chi McBride) investigation into murder at the prestiguous golf club he's been attempting to get into since he first arrived on the island. Working with the club's head-of-security (Alon Aboutboul), Grover leads a quiet investigation which uncovers both money laundering and millions in counterfeit currency. Tani (Meaghan Rath) provide nominally support from Five-0 headquarters while processing the news that Junior (Beulah Koale) has been been recalled by the United States Navy. Looks like Five-0 is down another man for the foreseeable future.

Harley Quinn & The Birds of Prey Awesome Pack

For more super-heroes check out Super-Hero Pack 1, Pack 2, Pack 3, Pack 4, Pack 5, Pack 6, Pack 7, Pack 8, Pack 9, Pack 10, Pack 11, Pack 12, Pack 13, Pack 14, Team-Up Pack 1, Wonder Woman Pack 1, Green Lantern Pack 1, Black Cat Pack 1, Pack 2, Lara Croft Pack 1, Pack 2, Pack 3, Spidey Pack 1, Pack 2, Pack 3, Pack 4, Deadpool Pack 1, Harley Quinn Pack 1, Pack 2, Pack 3, Pack 4, Pack 5, SHAZAM! Pack 1, Birds of Prey Pack 1, Pack 2, Memorial Day Pack 1, X-Men Pack 1, and the X-Mas Mega Pack 1 and Mega Pack 2

Friday, January 10, 2020

Just Mercy

Based on true experiences of defense attorney Bryan Stevenson (Michael B. Jordan), writer/director Destin Daniel Cretton delivers a straightforward biopic that is more about one lawyer's struggle against a broken legal system than the legal maneuverings of a crafty lawyer. After a brief introduction to the character, the film begins in earnest with Stevenson taking his Harvard education to Alabama to defend those on death row who never received a fair trial.

The film primarily deals with Stevenson's attempts to earn a new trial for Walter McMillian (Jamie Foxx) who was convicted of murder on the testimony of one unreliable witness (Tim Blake Nelson) and no physical evidence thanks in large part to the pressure and intimidation of a local sheriff (Michael Harding) whose motives the film never really examines.

Just Mercy is a solid film filled with actors who have given more memorable roles in other movies. Along with Foxx and Jordan we also get Brie Larson as another member of the defense team who helped Stevenson set-up the Equal Justice Initiative offices in Montgomery, Alabama.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Harley Quinn #69

Harley Quinn #69 offers a bizarre single-issue story centered around 70s McDonald's nostalgia featuring loose knock-offs of characters like Grimace, Mayor McCheese, and the Hamburglar. The comic starts with the release from prison of the Hambezzler who has completed his 30 year prison sentence after being framed for a crime he didn't commit (which doesn't prevent his old pals getting together to get some payback). Luckily, he's made a new friend in Harley Quinn who coincidentally needs her taxes done.

The Mandalorian - Sanctuary

In one of the weaker episodes of The Mandalorian's First Season, and oddly enough the only one that got its own LEGO set, the Mandalorian (Pedro Pascal) and the Child attempt to hide out on Sorgan from those hunting them after breaking his contract with the Imperials and rescuing the 50 year-old infant from their secret laboratory. "Sanctuary" features a truncated Seven Samurai plot of the Mandalorian and his new pal former Rebel Alliance Shock trooper Cara Dune (Gina Carano) take too little money to protect an isolated village from bandits with an AT-ST. The army the pair put together is laughable, but the fight sequence at the end still works well enough.

Star Wars #1

Marvel Comics launches a new Star Wars title with Star Wars #1 set immediately after the events of The Empire Strikes Back and the Millennium Falcon's escape from Cloud City on Bespin. Much of the issue focuses on the internal struggle with Luke Skywalker following his defeat at the hands of Darth Vader and the realization that the Vader is his father. The comic breaks with tradition a bit here by hinting at Luke embracing some darker aspects at the Force (perhaps unintentionally... or at least not fully aware of what he was doing).

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

MCM Birmingham Comic Con November 2019


SHAZAM! #9 reveals the final choice of champions as Billy Batson shares his power with... his father? I'll admit to being disappointed that the comic didn't seize on the opportunity for Billy to offer his power to one of the creatures from the other lands the family has visited over the past eight issues (like say a bunny).

Los Angeles Comic Con 2019 Cosplay Music Video Part 3

The Mandalorian - Main Theme Song (80s Retro Synthwave Cover)

Monday, January 6, 2020

Magnum P.I. - Desperate Measures

The second-half of the crossover gets off to an awkward start with most of Five-0 being taken into custody (off-camera) leaving Tani (Meaghan Rath) and Quinn (Katrina Law) heading to ask Magnum Jay Hernandez and Higgins (Perdita Weeks) for help. Junior (Beulah Koale) has been taken by a group willing to exchange him for the CIA list that our heroes now have in their possession. Magnum calls in his pals, Higgins does some computer work, and Quinn and Tani spend most of the time hiding out at Robin's Nest (or in the back of the car) while leaving Junior's life in the hands of their new friends.

Hawaii Five-0 - Ihea 'oe i ka wa a ka ua e loku ana?

When CBS decided to add a second remake set in Hawaii it was only a matter of time before we saw a Hawaii Five-0 crossover with Magnum P.I. Magnum (Jay Hernandez) and Higgins (Perdita Weeks) cross paths with Five-0 while searching for a philandering husband on case that involves stolen government secrets being brokered to China. With Magnum offering some back-and-forth with McGarrett (Alex O'Loughlin), as the stand-in for the missing Danny (Scott Caan), it's Higgins connections which prove to have the real payoff for Five-0 in retrieving the list of undercover CIA assets in China.

This is Oni-Con 2019