Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance The Essence of Revolt

Almost forty years after the original, Netflix revives a cult classic. The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance is a prequel series to the 1982 Jim Henson film, The Dark Crystal. In the film, and now prequel series, the Dark Crystal, which was known as the Crystal of Truth before it became corrupted, is the core of this world, Thra.

This show is visually stunning from the Dreamfast between Gelflings, to the Gelfling’s and other creatures, as well as the diverse landscapes of Thra. The captivating storytelling leads to enamoring characters eliciting empathy from the viewer for their plight.

The creatures of Thra have been subjected by the Skeksis’, and this series, if you have not seen the original film, gives fans hope the subjugated species would find a way to win. Those who have seen the 1982 masterpiece, still want to see the Skeksis pay for their crimes, even though they know the bad guys will win this revolutionary war.

There are three main Gelfling heroes in The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance. Rian, a member of the Stonewood clan. This is the warrior clan of Thra. Rian’s father is the Captain, charged with protecting the Skeksis and the Dark Crystal. Rian is the first to witness the Skeksis’ atrocities. Rian saw the Skeksis’ steal the essence of Mira, his girlfriend.

After his escape, The Chamberlain of the Skeksis’ planted the seeds of lies that would convince Rian’s clan he not only killed Mira but carries a sickness that would spread if another Gelfing chose to Dreamfast with him. Dreamfasting is a moment of shared consciousness between Gelflings.

This plan would ensure the Gelfling would not discover the truth about the Skeksis’ draining the essence of the Gelfling’s. Rian eventually comes to bear the Dual Glaive, which contains the missing crystal shard from the Dark Crystal.

While Rian is unable to unite the Crystal and the shard, it was his bravery and Dreamfasting that would play a major role in uniting the Gelfling clans to finally revolt against their oppressors. Deet, and the rest of the Grottan tribe live underground in perfect harmony with their surroundings and fellow creatures.

Until the Darkening spreads, corrupting the Nurloc. A few of these infected creatures attack Deet, forcing her above ground. This is when she encounters the Sanctuary Tree. This sentient tree chooses who can hear them speak, so Deet was chosen for the quest to end the Darkening.

Unfortunately, this hopeful, joyous, and loving character will be transformed into the literal personification of the Darkening. The Emperor, the leader of the Skekzi’s, has channeled the Darkening through his staff, and uses it to attack the Gelfling rebellion. Deet, with the power of the Sanctuary Tree, absorbs all this energy and becomes infected.

Thus, at the end of Age of Resistance, she banishes herself for fear of the harm she could do all those she loves. Sacrifice for the greater good was a common theme throughout Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance. Bold Juergen, Rian’s friend, suffers the torture of having his essence drained as the Skeksis’ question him about his friend’s whereabouts, yet he does not yield.

The Captain, Rian’s father sacrificed his life to save Rian from the Hunter, as did The Archer, the Mystic half to the Skeksis half, The Hunter, sacrificed himself twice to save Rian and ensure their quest to save Thra would continue. First, he shot the Hunter with arrows which would have led to his death if not for another sacrifice from Mother Aughra.

Mother Aughra sacrifice her life to save the Vapra princesses and Maudra Fara, the leader of the Stonewood clan. Maudra Fara in turn sacrificed herself to save Seladon, so she could continue her quest for redemption. Princess Brea is royalty amongst the Vapra clan, represent the aristocracy. Thra is run by a Matriarchy, in every clan, a woman rules over the land.

Brea’s mother, their leader, the All Maudra, rules over all Gelfing tribes, as they do the bidding for the Skeksis’. Princess Brea has an insatiable thirst for knowledge, which leads her to question the Skekzi’s rule. In her quest for knowledge and to save Thra, she found a secret room with symbols of all seven tribes engraved in stone.

At first, she attempts to solve this puzzle by the order of the class system. Eventually she realizes class does not mean best, and all clans are equal. Once solving its mystery, she stumbles upon Lore, a rock “monster.” The Heretic, a shunned Skekzi, and his mystic were the ones to create Lore, the Protector, to escort her to the Circle of the Suns to meet Lore’s creators and find the key to defeating the Skekzi’s.

Lore saves Brea on a few occasions. One of which occurred after Seladon sold out her family to the Skeksis’, leading to their mother, the All Maudra’s death during the battle of the Gelfing’s and Skekzi’s. After she, and her essence, were saved by Mother Aughra, she joined the fight to restore the harmony in Thra.

Mother Aughra may not have been one of the main Gelfing’s but she is a hero throughout the adventure. Thra created Mother Aughra to communicate with the sentient beings to help create the Age of Harmony. After the urSkeks, the beings when Skeksis’ and Mystics combine, built Aughra an Observatory and Orrery in exchange for her knowledge of Thra.

While Aughra sent her consciousness into the stars, the Skeksis’ were created, ultimately leading to their proclamation of power and subsequent reign of terror. Mother Aughra took blame for the damage done to Thra. Just like most of the Gelfling’s ready to revolt, she would do everything in her power to help save Thra.

The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance has as many engaging “secondary characters,’ as main characters. Deet’s escort, was a Podling with dreams of being a Paladin warrior. The Pod people domesticated the Fizzgig’s, another species of entertaining creatures.

The Chamberlain of the Skeksis was like the Littlefinger of Game of Thrones, always scheming and looking for an angle. The Heretic and his mystic counterpart, the Wanderer mystic, shined in spectacular fashion. This series was jampacked with heroes to cheer for, villains to root against, and “side” characters you want to see survive the impending war.

The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance could be a surreal allegory to the oppression of the masses today. Just as geography, class systems, and propaganda create dissension amongst humanity so did the Skeksis utilize these tools to gain control and give them absolute power over the Gelflings and Thra itself.

The Dark Crystal symbolizes fossil fuels. As the Skeksis corrupted the Dark Crystal, Thra began to suffer. The Skeksis would stop at nothing for immortality, even if it meant the destruction of the planet itself. Just as the Corporatocracy will destroy every resource for the almighty dollar.

Unfortunately, the Gelfling’s may win the battle, but ultimately are doomed to lose the war. Much like in our profit driven world, the world continues to crumble under the hands of corruption, despite millions and millions looking through the crystal of truth. Hopefully, we won’t lose the essence of humanity

Mike Hoff

Brightburn: Evil Shines

Brightburn made no secret about being Superman plus the Omen, and still managed to throw twists to the audience. Brightburn paid homage to Superman throughout the film. After his ship crashes at a Farmhouse, the alien baby, named Brandon Breyer is raised by loving parents who were battling infertility.

Fitting the theme of evil Superman, Brightburn warps a few recurring Superman themes, while adding the thrills of horror and slasher films. In Brightburn, Brandon Breyer’s lifts a truck like the iconic Action Comics, except he drops the truck on the street as a murderous act. He toys with his Uncle as the uncle flashes the lights, Brandon is on the ground, flashes again, this time he is levitating, then gone.

He picks up the truck and drops it, his jaw breaks off against steering wheel. This gruesome scene was the first instance of Brandon cutting his family ties. Throughout the film the audience learns more about Brandon Breyer’s “gifts.” He proves to be exceptionally smart while discussing the difference between wasps and bees in the classroom.

This class discussion foreshadows much of the film to come. Brandon describes the wasps as aggressive predators, which he soon becomes. The hive mind also hints at the power of the spaceship and it’s ability to control Brandon Breyer. It is also disclosed that Brandon has never been sick, never bruised or bled.

As he reaches puberty, his 12th birthday, the spaceship begins pulsating and communicating causing him a seizure. After the seizure, he wakes up and jumps out his window, hitting the ground. In the next scene, he moves at superspeed, showing no signs of damage as he heads toward the barn. His mother finds him yanking at the trap door storing his spaceship.

Brandon has seemingly blacked out. The next day he throws the lawnmower like a football. As he investigates the mower, he slides his hand between the rotating blade, breaking the blade. By this point it has been revealed that Brandon Breyer is smarter than most, apparently invincible with superhuman speed and strength.

So, it comes as no surprise later in the film when Brandon announces his superiority to the guidance counselor, his aunt. Brandon Breyer’s perversion leads him to become a superhuman stalker and serial killer. After an anticlimactic birds and bees talk, Brandon takes his father’s advice about giving into his urges.

So that night he flies into his crush’s bedroom, starts playing a song on his crush’s laptop, then using his superspeed to appear ghostly as he opens the laptop and starts the music again after she closes it. She saw him in the blinds, but as she called for her mom, he flew out the window. The next day she calls him a pervert in gym class, so he grotesquely breaks her hand and arm.

After this incident, his mom, Tori, admits the truth about his origin to Brandon. He does not handle this well and is now one step closer to becoming Brightburn. He arrives at his crush’s house and delivers a chilling message then proceeds to attack her mother at the restaurant. In true horror fashion, he leaves the Brightburn symbol all over the glass.

Then breaks glass lighting above her head so glass shard gets in her eye. With one eye seeing completely red, the scene has a horror feel as he uses super speed to scare his prey. Finally, she locks herself in fridge, prompting him to use laser vision then super strength to rip open the door. The police declare her missing, as Brightburn has relocated her and performed a dissection.

The beginning of the end of Brandon Breyer occurs in a scene that eerily felt like the pivotal scene in the Walking Dead when Rick Grimes kills his best friend Shane. Kyle, Brandon’s father, accepted their son’s evil ways before his wife, so he decided it was his responsibility to end Brandon’s reign of terror.

As Brandon looks at deer tracks, Kyle cocks back the hunting rifle and fires it directly into the back of Brandon’s head, the impact does no damage. Brightburn is truly born in this moment, he flies around, taunting his dad then knocks him over, and proceeds to shoot eye beams through Kyle’s head and skull.

Brightburn starts with Tori, Brandon’s mom, playing hide and seek by whistling before school, and he pops out in the barn behind a barrel of hay, setting up the ending of the movie. The last time Tori can reach her son, Brandon occurs when he is again drawn to his spaceship, repeating a phrase, “Take the world.”

The birth of Brightburn culminates as Tori calls Kyle to warn him about the pictures she saw, but Brandon answers while levitating above the house. Brightburn starts ramming the house while she calls 911. As they arrive Birghtburn flies through the sheriff, very similar to a scene in the Boys. Then violently flies up and down slamming other cops head into the ceiling then throws her into room where mom is hiding.

Whistling as he looks for Tori, Brandon Breyer has fully transformed to Brightburn, and his mother finally realizes she must try to end his reign of terror. She sneaks outside the window, then runs to the spaceship. She grabs a piece of the ship and starts whistling. She coaxes him into a hug and goes to stab him, but he catches her arm. Flies her through the roof into the stratosphere then drops her.

Killing his connection to humanity, and thus his humanity. Instead of saving a plane about to crash like Superman, Brightburn forces a plane to crash into his childhood home to cover up the deaths at his superhuman hands. Brightburn does a great job of interweaving the horror, slasher, and superhuman genres.

Brightburn was full of amazing visuals, from the ominous scenes of him floating in the window of his aunts house to the talented artwork he drew documenting his crimes, and his future goals; such as him floating about Earth and his eye beams to blow it up, and another with skeletons in a burning Earth underneath him.

This film becomes even more tantalizing at the end. The end credits display a few news reports with Brightburn destroying an office building, floating above a forest fire, then his Brightburn symbol as a crop circle. Then, a conspiracy theorist by the name of Big T screams about the government hiding the truth about Brightburn.

Then drops the bombshell of other super villains. As he mentions a half man, half sea creature destroying ships, a creature with glowing green eyes is shown. The conspiracy theorist also mentions a being that chokes men with ropes and chords, perhaps this universe’s evil versions of Aquaman and Wonder Woman.

On the screen behind Big T, there is a red costume with yellow emblem, presenting a twist to build fans excitement. That suit belongs to the Crimson Avenger, the main character from ‘Super.” Also, the name of the restaurant Brightburn attacked was named, Darbo’s.

The main character from Super’s name, Frank Darbo, a vigilante with the aggression and penchant for violence of Batman, without the brains and fortune. Brightburn’s ending opened the door for the first Super Villain focused cinematic universe, posing the question, “Will evil aliens Take the World?”

Mike Hoff

Hush: Don’t Mention This Movie Exists

The DC universe has done it again. If their goal is to let down their fanbase, they have been on fire. More realistically, they are playing cash grab, trying to catch up to the MCU. Hush is one of the most revered Batman story arcs, just like the Killing Joke, and just as they did with the Killing Joke, they ruined a fan favorite.

If they keep this up, the LEGO comic book universe will be the MCU’s closest competitor. Hush, the animated movie, followed some of the story. Batman tries to catch Batwoman in the opening scene, but his Batarang line is cut, causing him to free fall and resulting in a brain injury. In the opening scene in the comics, Killer Croc is the villain Batman and Catwoman converge upon, whereas the movie chose to use Bane.

The casual DC fans would be more familiar with Bane than Killer Croc, so there is a certain profit-based logic, but it does not add to the story. But at least that only didn’t add to the story, compared to other alterations which ruined this animated adaptation. The animated movie again stuck to the source material in the Batman versus Superman fight.

Poison Ivy was able to put Superman under her spell with Kryptonite lipstick, then used him as a weapon against Batman and Catwoman. This scene was a rare bright spot. Batman using the Kryptonite gloves and running in lead lined tunnels to counteract Superman’s superhuman strength advantage always appeases Batman fans.

The Batman and Catwoman love storylines intrigued readers since its inception, Hush the movie capitalized on this to the “Umph” degree. The audience went “Umph” when this story about the manipulation and betrayal at the hands of childhood best friend became that love story. Fans probably would have been happier if it ended in the wedding of Batman and Catwoman than they were with this movie’s twist(ed) ending.

Introduce Dr. Thomas Elliot, like the comic, the fans are introduced to Thomas Elliot as Bruce Wayne’s childhood friend to operate on Bruce Wayne. The scenes between Bruce and Thomas were supposed to set up an emotionally driven reveal, instead, they turned it into another tragedy caused by Bruce Wayne being Batman.

In the comic, Joker looks guilty of killing Thomas Elliot, and Batman almost breaks his code as he brutally beats the Joker then almost stabs him to death. The animated movie closely followed this scene, then turned the entire story on its head. The animated movie decided to kill off Thomas Elliot, it was not another of Hush’s ploys.

In the comics, this scene was staged, as it is finally revealed, Hush was Thomas Elliot. This emotional impact of this personal betrayal is one of the main reasons Hush goes down as one of Batman’s best stories. Another missing emotional piece to this puzzling movie, was the absence of the Clayface as Jason Todd scene.

This scene was absent due to continuity issues, as Jason Todd is not a part of their DC animated universe. But the scene in the comics where Batman confronts Jason Todd was one of the most pivotal scenes of this story arc. Instead of drawing the fans in with this scene, they foreshadow a decision that would make Batman fans squirm and dissociate from this animated film.

Hush, the animated movie decided to put their own twist on the surprise ending, and The Riddler revealed as Hush. Their apparent logic comes from the very end of the comic when Batman visits The Riddler at Arkham Asylum. While their reasoning makes sense, it completely ruins the impact of the reveal, and thus the movie in its entirety.

Hush, the animated movie, another DC movie let down. DC animated movies, such as Under the Red Hood stuck to the source material and was a hit amongst DC fans and blew Marvel animated movies out of the water. DC comic fans want their favorite comics to come to life whether live-action or animated, however, they will stop spending their hard-earned dollars if DC continues to butcher some of its best storylines.

Hush is a movie no Dc fan will recommend to another, diehard or casual. With movies like the Killing Joke and Hush, it is getting harder to be excited for any future DC animated projects. Here’s to hoping there is a major twist in the DC production team so Dc fans will once again be proud to discuss their favorites story arcs come to life on the big or silver screen.

Mike Hoff

Dora and the Lost City of Gold Review – The Undiscovered Gem of 2019

Dora and the Lost City of Gold was a very funny and entertaining family movie and you should definitely go see it whether you have kids or not. Now I could stop there and leave it to you to see this movie, but I want to backup my words here.

I’m not going to lie. When I heard of this movie coming out, I was not impressed and thought that this would be a joke. Then I saw the trailer. This looked like nothing but fun and adventure and I was right. Isabela Moner as teenage Dora was casting gold. She was Dora in every way.

Her perkiness and upbeat attitude in the face of adversity is exactly what you would expect from a live action Dora. She even had wide eyed blank stare like she was born for the role. This movie portrayed Dora grown in her teen years coping with learning how to live in the city away from the jungle and interacting with kids her own age instead of jungle animals.

Moving to the city, Dora is reunited with her cousin Diego, played by Jeff Wahlberg, who moved to the city 10 years earlier. Dora’s adjustment is hard and sometimes embarrassing for Diego in school. The characters naïve approach to the outside world is what keeps this movie close to its source material. It keeps the content pure. Moner is perfect in this capacity.

You can’t praise Moner’s Dora without giving recognition to the young version of Dora played by Madelyn Miranda. You would have thought they used this young actress as the prototype for the animation. The other main characters play well off Moner’s Dora. Fan favorite Michael Pena and Eva Longoria play Dora’s father and mother.

Of course, this is a much larger role than we are used to seeing Dora’s parents in the animated show. Pena adds his own style of quirky humor that he is known for that stands up in this feature. Dora’s new school friends Randy, played by Nicholas Coombe, and Sammy, played by Madeleine Madden, are along for the adventure with Dora’s cousin Diego, Wahlberg.

Coombe’s Randy is the nerdy kid in school that gets bullied and does not have a lot of friends while Madden’s Sammy is the bossy smart girl that no one can stand. Yes, all characters we have seen before which is normally hackneyed and annoying but these two are a lot more likeable then your run of the mill. Wahlberg’s Diego is a character that is not like the animated.

This Diego is 10 years older and grew up in the big city. He’s different now. Diego shows a contrast of what Dora would have been like if she had grown up in the city. Diego had to lose some of the childhood innocence to survive. Never fear though, Diego comes around to back his cousins play when it is most needed.

Eugenio Derbez played Alejandro Gutierrez who joins Dora’s adventure under a ruse that he is a friend of her parents when he is actually the lead villain. You kind of see this coming as an adult watching this movie but you really didn’t come to a Dora Explorer movie looking for an intricate plot. Derbez does an excellent job of providing a threat for our heroes but not too threatening as to scare the young audience.

Another character worth mentioning is Boots, Dora’s best friend and monkey. Boots was a CGI creation that added so much to this movie. Boots was voiced by Danny Trejo and this was not only a scene stealer but the funniest moment in the film. One of the best parts of this movie was the tongue in cheek humor. The script and the actors played up to the nuances of the animations.

Dora breaking the fourth wall to talk to her audience, Dora pulling random things out of her backpack and even Dora putting actual red boot on her friend monkey, Boots were all nods to the animation. There were a few scenes where Moner’s Dora would give that wide eyed blank stare and the scene was set up for specific reactions from other characters as if to say this is what would happen in the real world if a girl looks at you the way Dora does throughout her whole episode. And the reactions were hilarious.

If I had one complaint about this movie it would have to be Swiper the Fox. Yes, he is a big part of the Dora universe but had a CGI fox with a mask running around for some added comic relief. Swiper the Fox was in an imaginary sequence in the beginning of the movie when Dora and Diego were kids and you assumed that was all you were getting for nostalgia sake.

However, Swiper was made real as he was part of the bandit of bad guys after Dora whose main job was, you guessed it, to swipe the map. I know this was based on a kid cartoon and not to be taken serious with a bit of the unbelievable but having a talking fox walking around on his hind legs wearing a mask and acting human was a bit much. Funny but much.

As this is the tail end of 2019, I would put Dora and the Lost City of Gold as one of the best movies I have seen this year. So far. Dora did not need a map to find a fan in me. I am eagerly awaiting a follow up and will have to add this to my dvd collection.

Kenny Walker Jr

The Lion King Review and Disney’s Live Action Remakes

The new trend for Disney is to take your favorite animated movies and bring them to the screen in live action. Jungle Book, Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin have all received the treatment. In the future we can look forward to Mulan and The Little Mermaid.

These features are met with moderate success. I never hear anyone raving about them as a must see. I myself was not impressed with Beauty and the Beast preferring the animated take over the live action. It wasn’t as magical to me in live action because some of the slight changes made it too realistic and no longer fantasy.

My favorite scene was in the opening musical number “Belle” which is way better in my opinion in the animated version. However, in Aladdin the slight change of giving Genie a love interest was well played and made sense.

Also, giving Jazmine the additional storyline of proving she could lead her country was a nice modern twist to keep the movie with the current climate of society and culture. We cannot even begin to proceed without mentioning the hype and drama certain people are having after Disney made the decision to cast a woman of color as Ariel in The Little Mermaid.

The outrage! The poor offended masses! Who knew that fictional mermaids only came in one color? Overall, it seems Disney’s attempt to bring these features to us in a different way and make the slight changes to attempt to also play this up to adults falls somewhat flat.

Which leads us to The Lion King.

We all know the story of The Lion King. Simba, Mufasa, Nala, Pumbaa and Timon were all introduced to the world in the 1994 animated box office hit. In a short time, this Disney film became a new classic. With that being said, Disney decided to take it a step further and release it as what appeared at first to be a “live action” movie in 2019.

However, it wasn’t really live action but just a CGI technique using virtual reality tools. Because this is a kid’s film then I guess that was a good idea. This way you can genetically alter the virtual reality technology so you don’t have to explain the anatomy of Simba and Mufasa. At the same time, you have the adults looking at the movie saying “Wait, that ain’t right.”

Director John Favreau let it be known that this wasn’t going to be a shot for shot remake and that there were going to be some changes made. Admittedly, there were some iconic shots that Favreau said he could not leave out. But in such an iconic movie you would think that would at least leave 90% of the film. And that’s pretty much what you get: 90% of the original movie.

The film makers added an additional 30 minutes making this feature longer than the original animated version. A lot of that additional time was spent expanding on the experiences Nala, Sarabi and the other lionesses had under Scare’s rule while some was also given to show the life Simba had with Timon and Pumbaa growing up.

The additional scene added extra insight to Scar’s story giving him a history of being jilted by Sarabi in favor of Mufasa. Except for those parts, this was basically the same movie over again. At one point while trying to be engrossed in this film knowing full well how it was going to play out, I paid close attention to the dialogue looking for something new and was not impressed or surprised to hear exactly the same thing I heard in 1994.

None of the actors stood out to me as owning their voice parts. It was like they were told to mirror the original. The stand our voice acting was Beyonce’ and, forgive me Beyonce, that’s not because her voice acting was good. It was like she was reading for an e-book. The changes that were made were not impressive.

The main reason for this was that the changes left out a lot of the humor involved in The Lion King’s original story. One funny aspect from the original was the hyenas. The comedy of the three main hyenas was left at the waist side with some of their dialogue changed in order to make them more sinister and not the brainless lackeys that they were meant to be.

Although this helped in making you feel the danger, it was totally unnecessary as we all knew the final outcome. The comedy of Timon and Pumbaa was also cut. You can tell from certain script variations that the director was trying to give Seth Rogan’s Pumbaa and Billy Eichner’s Timon some comedic leigh way with the characters, however, the concept fell flat.

Making this feature more realistic and a little darker took away from most of the comedy scenes. This was a good movie because it still had the basic story and characteristics of the original. It’s great for any young person who never experienced the original. I personally could have waited for this to come to cable or the store.

Kenny Walker Jr

The Boys: The Grey Area of Superhero Universe

While the heroes featured in The Boys television show have familiar superpowers, the premise is unlike any other superhero cinematic universe. This show is dark, gritty, and gory with scenes not for the faint of heart. The Boys is also packed with political punches regarding sexual harassment, back door deals and blackmail, along with human experimenting.

The Boys did a great job of adding twists and turns while interweaving the storylines between heroes and villains, as well as showing the commonalities between them. By the end of the first episode, the viewers witness disgraceful sexual harassment by a male member, Deep, against the newest member of the Seven, Starlight.

This first impression reveals all is not as it seems, to both Starlight and the viewer. This is also when the perversion of Translucent is brought to light as he is revealed to be spying on Starlgiht and Queen Maeve in the women’s restroom, and it only gets darker from there. The show starts with the heroine, Queen Maeve, their version of Wonder Woman, saving the lives of two teenage boys, with help from Homelander.

The rescued boys proceed to ask Homelander, a mix between Captain America and Superman, for a selfie, and he follows that with a photo op with all the civilians in the area. This scene depicts the celebrity status of The Seven which is prominent through the remainder of the season. The story takes place in a world where the superhero team, called The Seven, are revered like celebrities by some and worshipped as Gods by others.

But not everyone loves these heroes, as collateral damage plays a key theme in this season. The Boys are a group with disdain toward the “Supes.” Billy Butcher is their leader, having been recruited by the CIA. Billy Butcher hates Homelander with every inch of his being. Billy’s wife, Becca Butcher disappeared after an affair with Homelander, and he has been on a path of vengeance leading to the final showdown.

Butcher kidnaps Madelyn, as she is the only thing Homelander cares about. Unfortunately, Homelander discovered a secret kept from him by his maternal leader, so he kills her, then flies Butcher to learn the truth about his beloved Becca. Another member of the Boys, The Female is a mute woman that has been subjected to human testing, as she was injected with Compound V, granting her super strength, speed, and the ability to heal.

She develops a connection with another member, Frenchie, and he tries to help her feel more human than freak. He is genuine in his attempt to help, and treats her like a person, a feeling even the Seven do not receive. This opening scene not only set a precedent for the level of adoration by the public, but it is also one of the few scenes in which the Seven save the day.

Unlike the Marvel and DC cinematic universes, there is no ominous threat looming over the world, except the Seven themselves. The Seven is more about public relations than heroics. Starlight gets admonished after saving a woman from being raped because the footage from the CCTV camera shows her beating up two men.

Only when the woman comes out as the victim on social media does her approval rating skyrocket and she then receives praise from Madelyn Stillwell. Madelyn is the brains of Vought Industries, as she controls the Seven. She is the person selling superhero protection to cities. In the first example of backdoor deals and blackmail, Madelyn tries to sell the services of Nubian Prince to Baltimore for three hundred million dollars, although the deal is never finished.

Madelyn gets undercut on the price by the Baltimore politician as he mentions “Compound V,” which quickly ends the meeting. Later, the politician and his family are killed by Homelander on a plane. This series of events give the viewer the first sign that Homelander is a villain wearing a hero’s cape.

But that’s not the only villainous reveal, reading between the lines, this shows Vought’s superheroes services, like the modern military industrial complex, have the sole purpose of monetization and profit, not protecting freedom and the lives of its citizens. Which is why she is pushing to pass a bill that will give the Seven a military contract.

This is the first superhero show to have civilians as much the main characters as the heroes. Hughie, a smitten lovebird follows the path to becoming a Supe Killer after A-train, the fastest man alive, runs through Robin. Robin was Hughie’s girlfriend, so Vought tries to buy his silence with forty-five thousand dollars.

When his dad tries to convince him to take the money, he says, “You don’t have it in you,” before Hugh storms out of the room. Later Translucent, the “Supe” as he is making his escape, declares Hugh doesn’t have the gall to kill him. Hughie proves them both wrong and kills Translucent. From the trauma of loss, Hughie has now crossed a line into villainy, and the viewer can empathize with this villain’s origin story.

Compound V is the Boy’s insight into addiction, but also its super serum. It is revealed Compound V creates superheroes, but it is also used for highs.” It is disclosed that Homelander was the subject of human experimentation, and raised in a lab, his only human interaction being the doctors in charge of him.

This alludes to his dark side, including the murder of the politicians, letting an entire plane full of people die, and the eventual murder of Madelyn, having been caused by his upbringing. The doctor who raised him, whom he also killed, mentioned Homelander’s upbringing was his greatest failure, and Homelander’s actions support that claim.

It is also divulged that Homelander created a Super-Villain then destroyed a terrorist camp before framing them for creating this Super-Villain. His motive was to ensure Madelyn’s superhero bill gets passed. This revelation about Compound V was the straw that broke the camel’s back for Starlight.

Starlight and Hughie were dating throughout the season but broke up when she found out Hughie was a member of the Boys, the group that killed Translucent. After discovering the truth about Compound V, she changes her mind about the Seven as a whole, then saves Hughie from A-Train. In a twist, the viewer discovers A-train was on Compound V when he killed Robin.

A-Train’s addiction to Compound V leads to Robin, his girlfriend’s death at his hands, and eventually his near death. When another twist occurs, and Hughie saves A-train with CPR. This is a great parallel into the extreme lows addict’s will reach in the real world, and again humanizes these “Supes.”

The Boys was a wild ride from start to finish touching on political and social issues and the double-edged sword of superheroes existence in a war driven society. Collateral damage, sexism, and hidden political agendas are just a few ways this show parallels real life.

There are few characters and plotlines not mentioned in this article which lend to the quality of the Boys. The comic series differs in many ways, but also gives insight into some potential future storylines. This show has a bright future despite its’ dark tone. So, if you can handle a woman being sexually harassed, a man dying by oral sex, and a weird mom fetish, the Boys is a show you won’t want to miss, then decide if there are any heroes in this show.

Mike Hoff

Mental Illness is the Villain

After generations of suffering in silence, mental health awareness is now at the forefront of culture. In the world of super heroes and super villains, mental illness is an all too common underlying theme. The casual fans are familiar with the PTSD Batman faced after watching his parents killed but may not know he suffered this same fate after Joker killed Jason Todd, and Jason Todd’s subsequent battle with PTSD as he became The Red Hood.

Casual fans see Two-Face as a prime candidate for Dissociative Identity Disorder but may not catch the Coin Flip is a compulsion from the character’s Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. Thanks to the Iron man films, Iron Man faced anxiety and alcoholism, though on a much smaller scale than the groundbreaking 1979 Demon in a Bottle story arc tackling his alcoholism. Dual diagnoses are all too common in real life, and the same goes for these comic multi-verses.

An entire thesis could be presented with every single one of these characters and their respective diagnoses, so this will be a generalized overview. Many people living with mental illness are often dual diagnosed. The most well-known being addiction and depression. Characters like The Comedian from Watchmen and Arsenal from DC turn to drugs and alcohol to cope. However, in many cases, there are multiple mental disorders such as Bi-Polar and Schizophrenic, called Schizo-Effective.

Another combination is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Anxiety. All of which are all too commonly compounded by Depression sprinkled on top. Or in some cases like Deadpool, the Joker, and this humble author, have an amalgam of mental disorders. As mentioned before, Iron Man was a great portrayal of dual diagnosis in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Jarvis informed Tony he was having a panic attack, as well as Depression, and PTSD, after the apocalyptic vision Scarlet Witch showed him during Age of Ultron.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is all too common amongst superhero origin stories. Marvel’s Netflix series Jessica Jones brought her battle with PTSD to the small screen.  DC has recently released the title Heroes in Crisis, with the underlying theme of the trauma superheroes must overcome. Thor in Avengers: Endgame, is a great example of a depressive episode resulting from PTSD, but not suffering from Depression. He experienced a trauma, so he became extremely apathetic, and seemingly an alcohol suggested by his new dad bod.

He was very sad, as he rightfully should have been, but without more than one episode, he would not have been classified as having Depression. His character in Endgame could also resemble symptoms of PTSD originating from The Snap or The Blip. DC’s Rebirth introduced a new Green Lantern, Jessica Cruz. The green lanterns are powered by WILL, but as a superhero with anxiety, she sometimes lacks the will to even get out of bed. DC does a great job of portraying real-life anxiety in the mind of this superhero.

She helps the Justice League stop a sea monster, then catches a submarine by manifesting her powers as a Green Lantern. Despite the external battle being over, she is still battling her biggest demon, her anxiety. She tells herself she can’t hold the submarine, that she doesn’t belong amongst these other heroes, that she is not strong enough. Then it happens again and it leads to her getting knocked down by a weak villain, subsequently leading to a confrontation with another Green Lantern, Simon, Jessica goes home, constantly reliving  all the doubts, and does not get out of bed to meet Simon for breakfast as was their routine.

The story ends with fellow Simon, in her kitchen making her pancakes to show she doesn’t have to fight this alone either. Daredevil is another Marvel character dealing with depression, and unbeknownst to casual fans, his mother left his father and him due to suffering postpartum depression. Writers have even tackled Agoraphobia, or the fear of leaving one’s home. During World War Hulk, Robert Reynolds, known as Sentry, could stop Hulk as he has the power of 10000 exploding suns. Sentry also has a “dark side” called the Void. Choosing to use the term “Void” representing the void he feels as part of his crippling agoraphobia.

One common complaint, the writers’ use his agoraphobia as a plot point to continue the story. This tactic receives criticism as lazy writing and lends to Sentry being a disliked character. But for the sake of mental illness, it does portray agoraphobia and give it a brief spotlight. Domestic abuse has also been a theme presented to comic book fans. The most notorious being the relationship between Harley Quinn and the Joker. But the original Ant-Man, Hank Pym was also abusive to his wife, the Wasp, which subsequently lead to her leaving him. 

There are a few fan favorite characters addressing Dissociative Identity Disorder, formerly known as Multiple Personality Disorder. Marvel fans have been voicing their desire for the presence of Moon Knight in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Moon Knight is a cult favorite among Marvel fans. He has three identities, Jake Lockley, Marc Spector, and Stephen Grant. Legion is another character dealing with DID, but in a much different manner. Each of Legion’s identities each come with different superpowers. Legion is said to have thousands of personalities within him

With mental health awareness on the rise, so are characters specifically meant to represent mental illness. Frank Gaskill and Ryan Kelly are both doctors, specializing in the Autism Spectrum. With their knowledge they created Max Gamer. Max Gamer, also the name of the comic run, has Asperger’s syndrome, now referred to as Autism Spectrum Disorder. The creators do not portray his ASD negatively, in fact, they use the “symptoms” of ASD as his superpowers.

All these characters have battled villains to save the world, while battling the villainous mental illness within. While they may be superheroes that pop culture idolizes, never forget, in the real world, it takes super human strength to overcome these potentially crippling disorders.

Mike Hoff

Marvel Exhibit: Journey through the Marvel Universe

Upon entering the Franklin Institute’s Marvel Superheroes exhibit, eyes gaze upon an old newspaper stand lined with Marvel comics, all artwork, then proceed to watch a five-minute Marvel introduction video. This video mentions Martin Goodman, known as the founder of Marvel Comics, started off in pulp magazines before creating Marvel Comics #1.

The first issue featured The Human Torch, an android, not from Fantastic Four, pit against Namor, the Sub Mariner. The introduction video also includes tidbits such as Captain America nearly selling a million copies. The comic controversy of the 1950s, and of course, the origin story of Marvel’s greatest legend, Stan Lee.

This video surmises much of what follows in the exhibit, and these same points are mentioned in an interactive screen during the next phase of the exhibit. Longtime comic fans will already know much of the information presented throughout this exhibit, but there are still many reasons for these comic book fans to still attend, and for all to enjoy.

There are panels from The Phantom, said to be the first costumed superhero debuting in 1936. Also, panels of Flash Gordon, one of the most popular heroes from the early years of comics, which debuted in 1934. It is one thing to know the history of Marvel Comics #1, but at the Marvel exhibit, comic fans get to glance at an actual issue of Marvel Comics #1.

The first issue of Amazing Spiderman is also on display, along with Black Panther’s first appearance and first issue. The costumes from the Black Panther film were showcased along with the other Superhero suits and helmets from the rest of the characters from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. One of the most interesting sections was the Comic Book controversy containing articles about the Comic Book Trial.

Comic fans learn comic books were being banned and burned as the superheroes would often be included with the crime genre, thus attracting the wrath of angry parents. This led to the Comic Code. A list of “Do’s” and “Don’t’s” for comic companies to follow in order to be published. This almost killed the comic industry, until Stan Lee created Fantastic Four, and the rest is history.

Another major attraction was the inside scoop behind creating comics revealed at this Marvel Superheroes exhibit. Located in the Spiderman section, there is an interactive screen depicting the process of comic creation. From lettering to coloring to editing, fans are privy to insights to how their heroes come to life. There was an interactive screen for comic fans to arrange panels and a Spiderman issue presented panel by panel from penciling to inking to lettering to coloring.

One of these interactive screens had a chart portraying the differences between creating comics traditionally compared to the modern digital age. Depicting the differences between the standard 4 color of print, CMYK, Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and black; to the thousands and thousands of colors now available to comic artists. Another part depicted how four different inkers could have four different shades of white, thus providing fans a glimpse into the uniqueness of each issue.

The exhibit started with the characters from the Avengers, then moved onto the street level heroes of Marvel’s Netflix series such as Daredevil, Iron Fist Luke Cage. Jessica Jones, The Punisher, as well as Ghostrider to the space heroes such as Guardians of the Galaxy and mystic heroes like Doctor Strange. Also included were sections about the character progressions of Nick Fury, and She-Hulk, as well as Captain Marvel, including a web of all the characters connected to the Supreme Intelligence.

There were only a few negative aspects of the Franklin Institute’s Marvel Exhibit. First, the lighting made photography hit and miss with a cell phone. Some sections were too dark, or too reflective, but this is just a small detail. The main issue was the lack of villain displays and information. Granted it is called Marvel’s Superheroes exhibit, without villains, these heroes wouldn’t exist. Overall, this exhibit is worth the entry fee whether on a solo adventure or a team journey.

Mike Hoff

TOP 10 PATRIOTIC SUPERHEROES

In celebration of Independence Day, Obsidian Nomad presents our top 10 patriotic superheroes. These are the heroes that best represent America. A lot of the common denominators in these heroes are relationships to World War II and some kind of fluke accident or secret serum. Nevertheless, these are the heroes we most think of when we think of America.

Check out our list and let us know who you would add or take away.

Stargirl – Courtney Whitmore

First appearance (as Courtney Whitmore) Star and S.T.R.I.P.E. #0 1999 As Stargirl JSA: All Stars #4 2003

Courtney Whitmore is the stepdaughter of the Pat Dugan original sidekick hero of the Star-Spangled Kid, Stripesy. Courtney found the Kid’s old cosmic belt in the garage and originally calls herself the Star-Spangled Kid to annoy her stepfather. Later, as a member of the JSA, she meets the original Starman and receives his cosmic rod and changes her name to Star Girl.

Battlestar – Lemar Hoskins

First appearance Captain America #323 1986

Lemar Hoskins was given a version of the super soldier formula and was selected by the government to be a Bucky for the new Captain America when Steve Rogers had quit. He changed his name to Battlestar after another Black man reminded him that calling himself Bucky was derogatory because that was a term for slaves.

US Agent – John Walker

First appearance (as Super Patriot) Captain America #323 1986 – (As Captain America) Captain America #333 1987 – (As US Agent) Captain America #354

John Walker was given a version of the super soldier formula and originally became the Super Patriot as a nemesis to Captain America. When Steve Rogers was no longer Captain America, the government picked Walker to be the replacement. When Rogers resumes the mantle of Captain America, Walker becomes the US Agent.

Star Spangled Kid – Sylvester Pemberton

First appearance Star Spangled Comics #1 1941

Sylvester Pemberton was a kid superhero during World War II with an adult sidekick, Stripesy. Both heroes were lost in time with the rest of the superhero group, Seven Soldiers of Victory, and rescued in modern day by the Justice League and the Justice Society. In modern time and still young, Sylvester joined the Justice Society and used the then injured Starman’s cosmic rod. He remodeled it into a belt and changed his name to Skyman.

Patriot – Eli Bradley

First appearance – Young Avengers #1 2005

Eli Brandley is the grandson of the African American Captain America, Isaiah Bradley. Isaiah was part of an experiment the government had after the super soldier serum was lost after it turned Steve Rogers into the first Captain America. Eli, wanted to follow in his grandfathers’ footsteps, convinced the other heroes that he had powers by using an illegal drug to augment himself. When he was injured in a battle trying to save Captain America, he was given a blood transfusion by his grandfather which gave him real powers to fight as Patriot.

Miss America – Madeline Joyce

First appearance Marvel Mystery Comics #43 1943

Madeline Joyce was an heiress who tampered with a machine a scientist had created that he claimed gave him superpowers. While tampering with the machine it was hit with lightning and she gained powers. She used those powers to fight crime during World War II. She also fought alongside Captain America, Bucky, the original Human Torch, Toro, the Sub Mariner and the Whizzer in the All Winners Squad.

Liberty Bell – Libby Lawrence

First appearance Boy Commandos #1 1942

Libby Lawrence receives a bell-shaped medal that was shaped from a piece of the original Liberty Bell. When the actual Liberty Bell is rung it enhances her powers and she uses it to fight crime during World War II. She eventually becomes a member and chairperson of the All-Star Squadron and marries Johnny Chambers who is the superhero Johnny Quick. They have a daughter Jessie Quick who becomes the second Liberty Bell.

Uncle Sam

First appearance National Comics #1 1940

Uncle Sam is a mystical entity that is described as the “Spirit of America”. He leads the Freedom Fighters who exist on a world where the Nazis won World War II.

The Shield – Joe Higgins

First appearance Pep Comics #1 1940

Joe Higgins, the original Shield, was a chemist and the son of an army lieutenant that was working on a secret formula for super strength during World War II. When his father was killed by the Germans trying to get the formula, Joe finished his fathers work and used the formula to fight the Germans.

Captain America – Steve Rogers

First appearance Captain America Comics #1 1941

Steve Rogers receives the super soldier serum and becomes Captain America during World War II to fight the Nazis. During a battle with the Baron Zemo towards the end of the war, he is presumed dead but is really frozen in ice after falling in arctic waters trying to stop a bomb aimed for America. He is revived by the Avengers in the modern day and continues to fight crime and represent America.

Kenny Walker Jr

JESSICA JONES SEASON 3: REVIEW

On June 14, 2019, the last of the Marvel Netflix shows came out. Jessica Jones season 3 marks the end of a very short era where Marvel fans were treated to the adventures of the street level side of the Marvel Universe. I remember that first season being a breath of fresh air and another introduction into yet another part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

After Daredevil, this was the perfect follow up to the Marvel Netflix Universe. The super-powered detective, Jessica Jones, played by Kristen Ritter, displayed another street level hero dealing with everyday life. The Purple Man making the perfect villain and the tie in with Luke Cage all 13 episodes making the season worthwhile.

The second season wasn’t as well received. It included a drunk sex crazed Jessica Jones trying to come to terms with the ending of the first season, a return of her long thought dead mother who was murderous psychopath and best friend Patsy Walker, played by Rachael Taylor, just being an annoying pain in the butt want to be hero throughout the whole thing. Ritter’s angst-driven I’m a bad girl routine became old and trite real fast.

The only payoff was that Patsy Walker received the powers that would make her into the superhero Hellcat that we know from the comics. Or was it? Season 3 opens with Jessica Jones again dealing with the aftermath of the previous season. The death of her mother at the hands of her best friend has her even more of a loner than before. However, even though her pain she is discovering her new mission to be a hero.

Season 3 steps the detective reluctant hero back to her star status of season 1. You see the lead character back on a path of growth as she was in the first season. We get a Jessica Jones not only trying to see her full potential but actually living up to it. Ritter has come full circle and embraced her character. To help this progression the writers have taken the Jessica Jones storyline back to the noir detective that we saw a glimpse of in season 1.

As season 2 was filled with typical one-liners and hackneyed script writing to overcompensate how badass Jessica Jones is to the point whereby the 5 episode you were watching saying “ok, we get it she’s a drunk badass”. Season 3 showed a more compassionate side along with being that badass. There was a more vulnerable Jessica Jones that not only showed when she was mortally wounded but when the character consistently wanted to do the right thing no matter how much she wanted to revert to her old ways.

This was less about strength and fight scenes and more about solving the mystery and catching the bad guy legally and alive to face justice. The character development of the other supporting characters was well scripted and plotted out to give them all a fitting finish. Malcolm, played by Eka Darville, goes a total 360 from season 1. The drug-addicted loser who sometimes helps Jessica is now a successful detective in his own right.

He has made the biggest jump in 4 seasons with this last season dealing with his own demons and almost struggling the same as Jessica with being a hero and doing the right thing. Carrie-Ann Moss’ Jeri Hogarth is still trying to come to terms with her pending doom from ALS. She learns a valuable lesson as she attempts to use her money and manipulation to buy her happiness in her final years.

The twist in the Patsy Walker storyline elevates her from being one of the most annoying parts of season 2 to one of the most interesting components of season 3. The one element in all the Marvel Netflix series is the twist that happens sometime towards episode 7 or 8. Jessica Jones did not disappoint in the twist that Patsy takes a big part in. Taylor surprises on how invested she becomes in her character to pull off this twist.

As in any good crime drama superhero series you can’t pull off a good story without a better villain. Greg Sallinger, played by Jeremy Bobb, was that villain. Sallinger was a highly intelligent man who was always one step ahead of everyone. He was a psychotic mastermind that turned out to be more than a match for Jessica and her allies. That’s what made this season enjoyable for me. It wasn’t about strength because he was no match for our hero in that department. This became a battle of wits. A true detective story. Honestly, because of season 2, I was not happy that the Marvel Netflix Universe would end with Jessica Jones.

It wasn’t grand enough for me. I wanted to see more Luke Cage, Daredevil and Iron Fist. I wanted a Misty Knight and Colleen Wing series. I wanted to see another Defenders story with possibly the Punisher, Electra and Bullseye making appearances. There was more story to be told there. I wanted to see these characters stick around long enough to be included into the Marvel Cinematic Universe (and, yes, I was one of the people who was hoping they would step out of a Dr Strange or Wong portal in Endgame). Even though I will not get to see any of those things, what I did see was a fitting ending that did not disappoint.

Let us know what you thought of Jessica Jones season 3 in your comments below. 

Kenny Walker Jr