The Supermen did not Reign: An example of reading the book is way better

Not everything translates well from comic books to animation. In a comic book, the writer can write a story and give explanations and backstories. They have monthly issues to plan and detail their story. When you move that same story that developed over an extended period from a book into animation, you would lose a good portion of the integrity of the new adaption. This was the case with Reign of the Supermen.

Following the 2018 animated movie Death of Superman, Reign of the Supermen was the second act in the famed 1993 DC Comics story about the death and return of Superman. In the original story, Superman is confronted with the alien Doomsday and during a massive battle both Superman and Doomsday are killed. During Superman’s, “death” for figures appeared to replace him: The Eradicator, the Cyborg Superman, Steel, and Superboy.

Superboy was a clone that was formed from the DNA of Superman and Lex Luthor and created in the labs of Cadmus. Steel was a brilliant ballistics expert who was once saved by Superman and created his armor to serve as a replacement to the Man of Steel in Metropolis. Eradicator was a weapon created centuries ago on Krypton by an ancestor of Superman that took a human form to replace Superman upon his death.

Cyborg Superman was a scientist-astronaut named Hank Henshaw who along with his crew was poisoned with radiation and ultimately blamed Superman for the accident. Though his body died, Hank Henshaw’s mind molded with alien Kryptonian technology and he became Cyborg Superman and used his identity to get revenge on Superman by taking his name and being the bad guy.

The actual story of the Reign of the Supermen in the comics took months to flush out a lot more backstory than I have provided here. DC had the brilliant idea to try to condense this in a 2-hour animation. Not the best idea. A lot of plot points in the original story were condensed in order to make the ultimate bad guy behind Doomsday killing Superman and Cyborg Superman being the bad guy impersonator be none other than Darkseid.

Watch this movie for the fun of watching a movie if you have nothing else better to watch but please do yourself a favor and get the trades or go digital to read the full complete real story of the Reign of the Supermen. It’s not so much that DC decided to change the story to condense it, it’s the fact that they did not condense it well. In truth, this should have been a trilogy: Death of Superman, Reign of the Supermen and Return of Superman.

One of the main plot points that ruins this movie is the last 15 minutes. The lackluster explanation to bring Superman back so that he can save the day. Then have him reunite with Lois and give the world the worse explanation why Clark Kent was missing while Superman was presumed dead was the worse rushed feeling to the end of a movie I ever experienced. Even with the plot change to tie it all together in a new way, giving this whole movie to the replacement Supermen and having Superman come back in another installment would have told a better story.

Another misstep was the voice casting. Tony Todd, who is an exceptional actor and has done great voice work in the past was dreadfully miscast as Darkseid. At no point did Darkseid sound like the God he is but rather just a very angry human crime lord. Similarly, Rainn Wilson did not have the power in his voice to properly portray Lex Luthor. Lex Luthor should sound like the egotistical mega maniac he is not whatever this was. It was too nasal.

It was not all forgettable, there were some highlights. Steel and Superboy were both portrayed very well and made you wish you had more time with their backstory or at least a chance to see them in action without a Justice League to save them. Although it was rushed to fit in the movie, the love between Lois and Clark was shown in the best way. Throughout this movie even presumed dead, Lois’ love for Superman was undeniable.

If there is nothing on your regular cable stations and you’ve watched everything you want on Hulu and you’ve got no one to Netflix and chill with, then, yeah, give this little movie a chance and kill some time. Otherwise, do yourself a better favor and read the source material for this story.

Kenny Walker Jr

Event Horizon, In Space You Can Still Visit Hell

The human desire for space travel is a concept in science fiction as commonplace as dunes of sand in a desert. Writers and filmmakers have taken the idea into multiple areas ranging from semi-fantasy as in Star Wars and Dune franchises to the semi-realistic in the Star Trek universe or Babylon 5. Within these stories are usually the wonderment of discovery and the evolution of social, technological, and even physical humanity. However, while most of us, myself included, embrace the awe and possibilities of this landscape, others have introduced the idea of, “what if this went wrong”, or “what if this was horrifying.”

The latter is explored in Paul W.S. Anderson’s 1997 film Event Horizon starring Laurence Fishburne and Sam Neill, among others. The film, set in the year 2047, centers around a rescue crew sent to investigate the return of a lost starship, the Event Horizon, designed for interplanetary space exploration. Upon finding the ship, the crew begins to learn about what happened to the Event Horizon’s crew, have terrifying visions, and discover, much to their dismay, where the ship has been for the time it was lost. All culminating in a situation of absolute fear and horror which guides the flow of the film.

Event Horizon, as a story, is quite possibly one of the truest science fiction horror films ever produced. In the sense of science fiction, the viewer is introduced to the idea that while humanity has advanced significantly in space technology, the “big” elephant in the room comes to how does humankind travel beyond its solar system. Though not constantly harbored on, this element is a central aspect of the story. As science fiction fans we are given star travel plot devices within the majority of popular space operas. Star Trek famously has warp technology which set the pace for humanity to both explore space and served as a unifying measure as it was able to see that, to quote Deanna Troi, “We were not alone in the universe.”

Star Wars simply uses hyperdrives as a method of travel which is as commonplace, and easy to obtain, as a bicycle. In both franchises, the ability to travel through space, at times to different sections of the universe, is often without problem or consequence. Event Horizon takes a different stance in that while humanity is seemingly in a state of peace, it still desires, and desperately needs, to travel to other star systems. In this regard, the Event Horizon’s gravity drive is developed to cut a hole in space-time, via an artificially produced black hole, to instantly travel from one point in space to another. As a part of this want and need, there is a “mild” disregard for the possible ends to these actions which leads to dire consequences.

To loosely quote the character of Smith, played by Sean Pertwee, confronting Neill’s Dr. Weir, “you violate the laws of physics and expect nothing to happen.” This idea is central to the heart of the story, which leads to the horror. The most standout aspect of Event Horizon’s horror lies not with an individual antagonist, such as the xenomorph from Alien, but in another dimension. Throughout the film, the story leads you through hellish, pun intended, obstacles which in the end make you question, “what is this place where the ship came from.” Is it simply another dimensional plane of pure chaos, as stated by Weir, or is it, in actuality, hell. It is even stated during the climax that “hell is but a word, the reality is far worse.”

One is left to judge based on the events, this time no pun intended, that the ship is punishing the crew for their past sins and ultimately torturing and killing them for said transgressions. However, it is both known and unknown what the place is and what the ship has truly become. In one way this echoes John Carpenter’s premise of Michael Myers from the Halloween franchise. While you know Michael is a killer and is virtually unstoppable, you never truly learn the why for both aspects. The same principal element exists in Event Horizon. Additionally, the horror is just as much psychological as it is physical with each being as direct. As previously stated, the ship is a being that knows how and when to torture its prey, then at the right moment physically strike.

Stephen King fans could view this in the same way as Pennywise the Clown creates absolute fear in his victims before killing them. All being said, both the ship and hell are mutual antagonists. In all, Event Horizon is, in my opinion, an intensely good film with an excellent and creative story and a cast that can carry it. In its original release, the movie was nearly panned by critics and even some viewers alike. In being both pure horror and pure science fiction, the film could alienate a viewer wishing to see one or the other. Additionally, the film carries a very hard gothic atmosphere to it. The ships, sets, and visual aspects are very dark and medieval cathedral-like versus the streamlined sci-fi pieces one is generally used to.

Thus, in some ways, this can stray the baseline science fiction buff away. The horror element also gleefully utilizes both gore and shock gore to a degree where one might think they are watching a Hellraiser movie albeit set in space, though there was such a film. In later years, the film would develop a profound cult following which has allowed its popularity to resurface in the past few years. As a die-hard horror and sci-fi lover, the movie is one of the truest bridges between both genres. However, every diamond is not without its coal.

The movie is a little over 90 minutes long, with an original cut being two hours and 10 minutes long. Though Anderson even stated that the original cut was “overly” long, he further acknowledged there were key points to the story within that 40 extra minutes which benefited the film. Paramount, following the film’s success on home release, wanted a director’s cut released. Unfortunately, the cuts were forever lost in a salt mine in Scotland, as the story goes, though a few cut scenes are available for viewing on YouTube. For anyone looking for a true space horror film, apart from Alien, Event Horizon is worth your time.

James Hales

Glass: a superhero movie, but not

In the world of film, great trilogies can be difficult to achieve. For every Star Wars, episodes IV to VI, of course, there is a Godfather, where one leaves you almost thoroughly satisfied and the other says “we should have stopped at part 2.” As a filmmaker, M. Night Shyamalan has certainly had his share of greatness mixed with not so great. One would argue that The Sixth Sense was highly masterful as opposed to The Last Airbender which left much to be desired.

This past weekend the director’s newest work, Glass starring Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson, James McAvoy, Anya Taylor-Joy, Spencer Treat Clark, Charlayne Woodward, and Sarah Paulson was released. The film is the final part of a trilogy which began with Unbreakable in 2000 and Split released in 2016. The trilogy revolves around the existence, and implications, of superheroes and supervillains in the real world.

The characters from the two previous films continue their individual paths of the hero David Dunn, played by Willis, the intellectual villain and titular character Elijah Price or Mr. Glass, portrayed by Jackson, and the “brute” villain with multiple personalities Kevin Wendall Crumb, played by McAvoy.

The story brings all three together after each is confined to a mental institution where their abilities, viewed as baseline mental disorders, are analyzed by psychologist Dr. Ellie Staple who believes their conditions are a form of delusions of grandeur. Through the course of the film, the characters are explored and, in true M. Night fashion, a myriad of plot twists and turns lead to a final conclusion which can launch the viewer in several directions depending on how they embrace the story.

A singular aspect one must realize when watching Glass is that it in every way is a superhero movie, but not. The film’s strength, as with the previous entries, is that it thrusts the viewer into a “real world” of superheroes and supervillains. This subtlety of content erases the ultra-fantastic elements of costumed teams of powered individuals fighting cosmic beings while placing the viewer in a possible, relatable, reality where disbelief is less suspended.

However, a soft weakness is, as, with any sequel, one must know the prior films. Glass is not a movie to walk into without watching Unbreakable or Split. There are literally only two new characters in the film with little points of extended explanation of the established characters. Thus, with no knowledge of the original players, the viewer will more than likely not grasp certain elements of the story. The film expects you to jump in and start swimming.

Overall, the film is a masterful conclusion to the series which started with Unbreakable. Truth be told, I have been waiting for this movie since I saw Unbreakable. As a die-hard comic book fan, one might say my appreciation lies solely in the superhuman subject matter. However, this aspect, though very important, is tertiary to the telling of a great story.

Shyamalan wove a tale of absolute fantasy and absolute reality that is impossible to ignore. While some critique the film in the context of high-level known superhero films, it would be best to judge the movie, and its setting, in a class by itself. In comic book terms, there are serials and then there are graphic novels, Glass and its predecessors are the latter. As previously stated, know the two other films and once viewed, one shall certainly enjoy and value Glass.

 James B. Hales

Aquaman Saves the DC Cinematic Universe

When I was a kid, I used to watch the Aquaman cartoon on television. The main reason I liked taking baths was that I could get in the water and pretend to be Aquaman. I would twirl my hands under the water to pretend to make whirlpools. To me, being Aquaman was cool. However, everyone else saw him as the lame fish guy.

With the new release of the movie Aquaman starring Jason Mamoa, Aquaman is no longer just the fish guy. Aquaman has made the title character what he was always meant to be: one of the most powerful and interesting characters in the DC universe. Director James Wan has breathed new life into Warner Bros. DC Comics properties with his take on this classic character.

Wan has made Aquaman one of the best DC Comic films in a very long time taking away the dark brooding elements that have plagued previous DC Universe films. Wan has returned to the hero in superhero showing his main character in the light and giving him a heroic quest to fulfill his destiny. We first got a look at Jason Momoa’s Aquaman in the Batman vs Superman cameo.

Then we got a full range of what this character would be from the Justice League movie. I must admit, I was not impressed. The character did not seem like the Arthur Curry that I had read about in comic books. This Arthur Curry seemed like a brutish bore. This movie proved me wrong. The Aquaman movie gives Arthur Curry background, personality, and depth. Jason Mamoa portrays Aquaman as a brute because in his world he has always been the most powerful person around.

The cast is completed by Amber Heard who plays Mera and acts as a guide as Arthur discovers more about the other world he is from. Heard portrays Mera as the warrior princess who is loyal to Arthur. The undeniable chemistry between Momoa and Heard moves the story along as it is predominately about their quest to set Arthur as the proper King of Atlantis.

Patrick Wilson does a second outing as a DC comic book character (Watchmen) by playing Orm, Arthur’s half-brother. The misconception to those that do not know the comic book world is that they believe there should be an unfair comparison to the half-brother relationship of Orm and Arthur and Marvel’s Thor and Loki. Orm and Loki are two different kinds of characters from two different comic book universes.

Originally, in the comics, Orm started as the human half brother but over time his origin has been rebooted to the Atlantean half-brother. Orm is not a mischievous trouble maker bent on taking a throne that is not his but an Atlantean born and under Atlantean ways. Orm was trained as an undersea ruler and seeks to strengthen his rule and protect his sea. Orm uses deceit to trick the various Atlantean tribes that they need to unite under his rule for their own protection.

Nicole Kidman also does a second outing in a DC comic book movie (Batman Forever) by playing Atlanna, the Queen and Arthur’s mother. Hers is a tragic story of a Romeo and Juliet type of love that she has with Arthur’s father, Tom Curry played by Temuera Morrison. Both Kidman and Morrison sell this love affair with the limited screen time they are given. William Defoe portrays Vulko who serves as a mentor to Arthur teaching him some Atlantean ways and how to use his powers.

Dolph Lundgren portrays King Nereus, Mera’s father, who is the first King to willingly go along with Orm’s plans of conquest and revenge upon the surface world. Yahya Abdul-Mateen II portrayed Black Manta the typical villain out to get revenge on our hero for something he did in the past that the villain blames him for. Although this is a plot point that has been seen countless times, in this case, the villain is right.

It was Aquaman’s fault Black Manta’s, father played by Michael Beach, is dead. The typical scenario was made better by the fact that you got to see a classic villain come to life on the screen. You got a savage Black Manta with laser eyes and all. All in all, Aquaman was definitely worth the ticket price. I originally walked into this expecting a typical bad DC Universe movie that doesn’t hit the spot with its characters and came out thinking this is how Aquaman should be done and this is a direction that DC should keep with their movies.

Yes, there were a few plot fails like how did Orm and Manta meet to partner up in the first place and how did Vulko become Arthur’s teacher when he was a youth. Minor things that could be overlooked for the sake of moving a story. I’m going to take more baths and be a big kid playing in the water as Aquaman.

Kenny Walker Jr

 

 

The Spider-Verse Is A Cool Place To Be

 

I was never a big Miles Morales fan. Peter Parker was my Spiderman. In my 40 plus years of being a comic book reader, I was still old school. Almost everyone I knew that was into comics had jumped on the Miles Morales bandwagon since the character was first introduced in Marvel’s Ultimate universe in August 2011. I had not, however, until Spiderman: Into the Spider-Verse changed my mind.

Into the Spider-Verse is a coming of age origin story of Miles Morales as Spiderman. It’s a movie filled with an alternate universe filled with a bunch of what ifs? What if a second person was bitten by a radioactive spider? What if Spiderman dies and another person took that mantle? What if there were other universes with other versions of Spiderman?

As I stated I was not a big Miles Morales fan and was not looking forward to seeing this movie. In a time where we have had six different live-action Spiderman movies, why would I want to see a cartoon Spiderman movie? Since Miles’ introduction in 2011, many people have been waiting for the character to make his live-action appearance. We have already seen Miles Morales on the more recent Disney Channel Spiderman cartoon.

This near 2hour cartoon movie was what the fans got and yes it was worth it. As an old-school comic book reader, this movie has confirmed in my mind that I’d rather have alternate dimensional Spidermen existing than clone Spidermen around. This dynamic is actually easier to explain and follow than trying to understand which Peter Parker is the real one and which is the clone.

This movie is set in an alternate universe where Spiderman (Chris Pine) is killed trying to stop the Kingpin (Liev Schreiber) from creating an interdimensional gateway and Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) who is also bitten by a radioactive spider is charged with taking over the mantle of Spiderman. Miles finds a reluctant mentor in another alternate Peter Parker (Jake Johnson) who is trying to find his way back to his own dimension.

Along the way, they also encounter other versions of Spiderman from other dimensions who help them on their quest because not only do they need to stop the Kingpin but they need to get back to their own dimensions or be destroyed in the one they are trapped in. the storyline also depicts the other relationships important in Miles’ life such as his father, Jefferson Davies (Brian Tyree), who is a police officer and his uncle Aaron Davis (Mahershala Ali), who is one secretly one of the Kingpin’s henchmen, The Prowler.

The standout scene is the one with Stan Lee. Tasteful, meaningful and one of the funniest moments in the movie. And that says a lot. Spiderman: Into the Spider-Verse is a computer-animated movie that plays out like a live action movie as you would read it from a comic book. Each Spiderman is given their own backstory sequence. The first sequence with the illfated Peter Parker in this dimension is almost identical to the Tobey McGuire Spiderman down to mentioning the loathed singing Spiderman bit in the third movie of that trilogy.

There are also remnants of Andrew Garfield’s and Tom Holland’s Spiderman. The voice acting is superb and some of the best in any other animated movie of this genre. There were moments in this movie that tugged at your heartstrings and also had you on the edge of your seat with action. You felt the passion in these characters to the point you could forget you are watching an animated movie.

Which worked out for me because when I saw the 1 hour and 57 minutes run time of this movie, I was less enthused about seeing it. As I stated above, along with the Stan Lee cameo, this movie had humor to spare. Not only was there the basic obvious humor in the script but there was also the tongue in cheek humor. The part of the script where the writers used the typical comic book noir to poke fun at the movie itself.

Overall, I highly recommend Spiderman: Into the Spider-Verse to everyone.

Kenny Walker Jr

Venom – More Bark than Bite

The things I do for you.

I love writing for you here on ObsidianNomad.com. I love putting together stories for my fellow nerds. So much so, I feel like I wasted two hours I will never get back and money for a movie ticket, popcorn and a drink that will never come back to me. All so I can give you this review of Venom. Before I tell you why I didn’t like this move I will say that it had great action scenes. However, I think we have moved on from that in comic book movies. Comic book movies need to be more than just great special effects and action/fight scenes. There needs to be a feasible plot. Although the studio cannot totally appease the fanboy and has to appeal to the masses, there must be some base in actual comic book lore.

That base for Venom should be simple: you can not have Venom without Spiderman. Period.

Now before you say anything: Yes, I did approach this with an open mind. I knew Spiderman was not in this movie and I didn’t like the idea. However, when I went to see this on a friends advice who had seen it before me I approached the movie with an open mind. I can no longer take this friends advice about any movie. Venom opened over the weekend staring Tom Harding as Eddie Brock/Venom, Michell Williams as Anne Weying, and Riz Ahmed as Carlton Drake/Riot. The story attempts to tell an origin story of the Marvel Comics character Venom without involving Spiderman.

The original comic book story is that Spiderman acquired this new black costume while fighting on the alien Battleworld with other heroes against villains in a scenario created by the god-like Beyonder. After returning to Earth, Spiderman discovered that his new costume was actually a living creature that was bonding with him in a dangerous way. Spiderman went through lengths to detach himself from the alien symbiote and feeling rejected the symbiote bonded with Eddie Brock to exact revenge on Spiderman. Eddie Brock was a nemesis for Peter Parker, Spiderman’s alter ego, in the journalism field. Brock’s hate for Parker melded with the symbiote’s hurt of rejection made for the perfect antagonist for our hero, Peter Parker/Spiderman. That’s how Venom was born.

This is not the case in this story.

I think of asking how can you do a Venom movie without Spiderman the real question is why would you do a Venom movie without Spiderman? The answer is simple: money. Sony owns the rights to Spiderman and subsequently the universe related to that character. Sony makes a deal with Marvel to use the Peter Parker/Spiderman character in a Marvel-related movie and infusing that character into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The new Tom Holland Spiderman is a hit in both Captain America Civil War and Spiderman Homecoming. Sony then, in turn, sees this popularity in the Spiderman universe and decides to capitalize in on it themselves and make Venom. Sony realizes that even if the everyday person has not heard of Venom the same way they have heard of Spiderman, at least the fanboys will know and rush out to see this movie. Sony also assumes that they can change the origin story of Venom because the character isn’t that popular with everyday audiences and it won’t matter. Wrong.

Sony wanted to cash in on the Marvel cow instead of doing the reasonable thing and making the same deal with the character as you did with Spiderman. Technically, you had the perfect opportunity. Spiderman was in space with Iron Man, Dr Strange and the Guardians of the Galaxy during Avengers Infinity War. That was the time when you could have introduced the character to a symbiote then after he comes back from the “turning to dust” you had your Venom story. (I know I didn’t give anything away – you do know they are not going to keep Spiderman, Black Panther, Winter Soldier and most of the Guardians of the Galaxy dead, right?) Sony decided to do their own thing.

Without Spiderman, Sony had to create another origin story for Venom. In comics, when fused with Eddie Brock, Venom is the bad guy. When you make a movie solely based on the bad guy you have to make him a good guy or create someone who is worse. Venom could not be the antagonist throughout this whole movie. One of the changes you had to make to make this believable was to change the character of Eddie Brock. This character is no longer the egotistical self-absorbed journalist who will go to unethical means to make a story but a journalist who is compelled to go for the story that exposes corruption and is a voice for the people. You now have a man with a high standard of what is morally right and wrong. To have this Eddie Brock fused with the symbiote you have now changed the makeup of the character.

A good deal of this movie is spent with Tom Hardy’s Eddie Brock fighting the symbiote and trying to make the symbiote understand good and evil. Instead of a psychopathic killing machine, the Venom symbiote becomes a walking joke for comic relief. The Venom “voice” that should be terrifying you, instead, makes you laugh. You lose concern about the life of Eddie Brock because you’re waiting for the symbiote’s next one-liner. I was waiting for the villain and I got Kevin Hart.

Riz Ahmed played a very typical villain Carlton Drake and there was no surprise where his character was going. Multimillionaire rich guy which the world loves and adores for his humanitarian efforts but is really an evil scientist that only Eddie Brock mistrusts. No depth, no rhyme or reason just a guy that wants to explore space by melding everyone with symbiotes. Michelle Williams plays Anne Weying, Eddie Brock’s confused girlfriend. I say confused because not only is the character confusing since she does everything she can against Eddie Brock throughout the movie but I’m not sure which direction the director gave her while shooting this movie. Michelle Williams loses her character playing around Tom Hardy and the Venom one-liners.

As I said, though, the action is good. However, the superhero genre has evolved past making movies with just good action. A standard for a lot of these superhero movies is the post-credit scene or scenes. Without giving them away I will say that I wish I had left when the credits started to get the taste of a poorly done movie out of my mouth before it got worse. I stayed because that friend that told me this was a worthwhile move told me to stay. Worse post-credit scenes ever that really did not get me excited for a sequel. The more I think about it the more I should really consider slapping that friend the next time I see him. I’m filing this one somewhere along with Batman vs Superman, Steel and Spiderman 3, you know, that movie where Peter Parker did a song and dance because he was infected with Venom. At least we got a musical number from that one.

Leave a comment and let us know what you think of Venom. Tell us if you think we are off the mark or right on point.

Kenny Walker Jr

Ant Man And The Wasp: Movie Review

The awesome thing about Marvel movies is that they all fit to tell a big story. Each movie tells its own story but there is also a bigger story to tell. In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the big picture was revealed in Avengers: Infinity War. The big bad Thanos came to wreak havoc.

One of the big questions of that movie was: Where was Ant Man. Captain America said they had to call everybody but there was a lame excuse for why Scott Lang was not called. You’re looking at this movie and you say to yourself “wait a minute, the world is about to end and Scott Lang is sitting this out because he’s on house arrest?” It didn’t make sense but we finally got to figure out what Scott was doing while Cap and the gang were fighting in Wakanda.

For Ant Man and the Wasp, we get our returning characters of Paul Rudd as Scott Lang/Ant Man, Evangeline Lilly as Hope Pym, Michael Douglas as Hank Pym, Michael Pena as Luis, Dave Dastmalchian as Kurt, T.I. as Dave, Judy Greer as Maggie Lang, Bobby Cannavale as Paxton, and Abby Ryder Fortson as Cassie. Newcomers included Walter Goggins as Sonny Burch, Hannah John-Kamen as Ava/Ghost, Michelle Pfeifer as Janet Van Dyne/Wasp, Laurence Fishburne as Dr. Bill Foster, and Randall Park as Jimmy Woo.

The story picks up two years after Captain America: Civil War. Scott Lang has struck a deal with the government for siding with Captain America in Germany and has been under house arrest for the last two years. When we again see Scott, he has three days left of his house arrest. In the two years of his house arrest, he has had no communication with Hank Pym or his daughter Hope who are now on the run from the government for aiding and abeding Scott with the Ant Man technology. From his home, Scott runs a security business with Luis, Kurt, and Dave and has regular visits with his daughter, Cassie. While on the run from the law, Hank and Hope are on a mission to find Hope’s mother and Hank’s wife, Janet Van Dyne, who was lost years ago in the quantum field.

There are two baddies with different objectives throughout this film. Walter Goggins’ Sonny Burch plays a tech dealer who the Pym’s have been buying their equipment from. Sonny finds out who Hope and Hank really are and try to blackmail them to turn a profit from their technology and inventions. When they say no then he spends the movie trying to get their tech so he can sell to the black market. The other baddy is Hannah John-Kamen’s Ghost. Ghost had a tragic backstory that linked in with Hank Pym that also had her after Hank and Hope’s tech. Ghost only help in her plight is Lawrence Fishburn’s, Bill Forster. For the comic fans, Bill Foster was the character who was once called Goliath and who died in the comic version of Civil War.

Paul Rudd plays through as, again, the reluctant hero whose sole motivation is being there for his daughter Cassie. He uses his same comic wit, charm, and timing that made Ant Man one of your favorite Marvel Cinematic Universe characters. Even as he helps the Pyms on their quest he is all about maintaining his freedom for his daughter. Abby Ryder Fortson’s Cassie is the heart of the film. She seems to get what the adults in the movie spend the whole film trying to figure out. The chemistry between Rudd’s Lang and Fortson’s Cassie is what makes this movie special. They portray a true father daughter bond where they both look at each other as heroes. We are also treated to comic book teases of when Cassie grows up as her own hero using the Pym tech.

Also, as in the first Ant Man, the comedy of Michael Pena was on point. Luis unique way of storytelling was cleverly inserted into the script without being forced.

The use of the Pym tech and the size gimmicks in this movie do not get old. We are treated to different uses in size control throughout the movie that are new and inventive. Watching this movie, I thought of a comic book identity of Dr Pym that he used while fighting with the West Coast Avengers. He didn’t grow as Giant Man or Shrink as Ant Man, he simply called himself Dr Pym and used his Pym Particles to shrink and grow things around him. I would be surprised if the writers did not take a page from that comic in this movie. This was not just a movie of two tiny heroes but a movie of science and the different uses of a size controlling technology. One of the other stars of Ant Man in the Wasp was every gadget used in size changing sequences and fights and the prop of the lab.

Overall, Ant Man and the Wasp was a good movie. It kept you interested and invested. You cheered for Scott, Hank and Hope to make their goal happen. As good as it was, I still am more partial to the first Ant Man but as sequels go this held up the bar. I did think Fishburn’s Bill Foster was wishy-washy and I’m tired of the cliché of the good guy doing bad to help someone but eventually turns out good character. Also, Goggin’s Sonny Burch gangster character was kind of like Kevin Spacey’s Lex Luthor in Superman Returns. There was no other point to this character making trouble and his only motivation was misplaced greed. The gangster and his crew felt like they were put in the film to have different reasons to show more shrinking CGI tricks. I think any real-life gangster would have had a second thought about messing with two size-changing heroes and a ghost villain just to tangle and steel from both or them.

The ad for the movie baost about a shocking ending. This is the part that is the biggest payoff. Without giving anything away, let’s just say the ending made sense in relation to Avenger’s: Infinity War. It’s the magic of Marvel. They know what the audience wants and how to use that to tie their universe together in every movie. The Marvel Cinematic Universe: the creator of the awesome post scenes. The scenes that make you hold in that soda you’ve been drinking for the last two hours.

Kenny Walker Jr

Why We Remember Steve Ditko

On June 29, 2018 Steve Ditko passed away.

Why is this important news for the nerd community? Because Steve Ditko was one of the greatest comic book artist and creators of our time.

Steve Ditko was the man who visually created Spiderman.

This is very important information because Spiderman is one of the most popular and inspirational superhero characters of our time. Spiderman is the everyman hero. Your friendly neighborhood Spiderman. The story behind Spiderman’s creation is an interesting one. Stan Lee had permission from Marvel to create a new teen superhero named Spiderman. Lee took his idea to Jack Kirby to see what the artist could come up with for designs. Kirby’s idea was not quite what Lee was looking for; Kirby had a hero who was big and strong with more heroic features. Lee wanted something different. Lee wanted a teenage boy.

Lee took his idea to Steve Ditko to see what he could come up with. Ditko hit a winner and came up with the hero that looked like a boy but was called a man. Ditko came up with the concept that since this character could stick to walls he wouldn’t have hard boots and he drew web shooters out of his wrist unlike Kirby’s first illustration of a web gun. Ditko also covered Spiderman’s whole face and thought Lee would not like that idea but it worked to help hide the fact that this character was a high school boy and not a man. Ditko’s art also showed Peter Parker as a weak high school kid.

Lee did not want an average heroic looking hero, instead he wanted that unassuming kid who would not be suspected as a hero. Peter Parker was a normal kid with normal kid problems and worries which was unlikely in the superhero world. Peter Parker was more grounded and real life than most heroes that came before him which made the character very identifiable to readers. This was not only pulled off with Stan Lee’s writing of the character but with Steve Ditko art. Ditko’s art showed the trials and tribulations of a normal boy who all the sudden had great power and great responsibility.

In his career, Steve Ditko would help create other characters such as Doctor Strange, Shade the Changing Man, the Teen Titan’s Hawk and Dove, and Captain Atom to name a few. He would go on through his career doing art on books such as The Incredible Hulk, Strange Tales, Tales of Suspense, DC’s Showcase. Through his career, he has done art for Charlatan Comics, Dark Horse Comics and still shifted between Marvel and DC Comics often.

Steve Ditko was known for being a private man. He was once quoted as saying “When I do a job, it’s not my personality that I’m offering the readers but my artwork. It’s not what I’m like that counts; it’s what I did and how well it was done. I produce a product, a comic art story. Steve Ditko is the brand name.”

This article, no, tribute is more about what Steve Ditko did as an artist. We didn’t want to tell a life story on how he grew up or how he died. We didn’t want to tell where he learned his craft. We wanted to tell of what we feel his most important accomplishment was: inspiring minds. Steve Ditko’s art and ideas made you believe one of the greatest heroic lines in comics to date “With great power comes great responsibility”. Steve Ditko’s art introduced you to teenage anguish in a way that was never seen in comics before. Steve Ditko’s art presented to a master of mystic arts and took your imagination to worlds and dimensions you thought not possible. Steve Ditko art spanned decades and generations and gave you other worlds to escape into.

Here’s to Steve Ditko. Thank you, sir.

Kenny Walker Jr

illustration by Jorge O’connell

The Titan & The Direct To Netflix World

The consensus of the universe is that Direct-To-DVD movies are terrible. Can the same be said for the Netflix Original films? The Titan, starring Avatar’s Sam Worthington as Lieutenant Rick Janssen, is an anomaly in the movie world for an infant’s handful of reasons. Truly showcasing Netflix as a dominating force in the market along with other premiere streaming companies, this direct to Netflix film gives viewers an opportunity to see a film without any prior expectations. Movie critics will hate this, but the viewers may find a reason to enjoy. The Titan focuses on a selection of highly proficient people who are being trained and frankly, tested, to adapt to life on the Moon through a process known as “forced evolution.” The idea that forcing someone to stay underwater for extremely long will eventually force their body to adapt. Lung expansion, retaining oxygen longer……. Maybe growing gills? Yeah

Our star Worthington and his wife Dr. Abigail Janssen (Taylor Schilling of Orange Is The New Black) is the focal point as they adjust their life to the changes coming to Rick. This couple put on a good performance, and the acting quality is definitely not one of the weaknesses of The Titan. Sitting to watch this movie, I thought that the concept was interesting, and I had predetermined that the concept was interesting enough for me to watch. This is convenient because I’m not entirely sure I would pay $15 to watch this in the movie theater, based on the trailer alone. The luxury of an interesting concept, and not having to pay for a movie ticket, is going to benefit Netflix’s direct films. Being able to watch this without any outside influences from critics completely changed what I thought of the movie. In the future, Netflix is going to release more Netflix Original movies that are not the same quality as feature films. But, in the comfort of your home for what feels like free, it definitely does the trick. Netflix and viewers will benefit from this for a long time. While Titan isn’t perfect by any stretch, it accomplishes something for sure. Titan makes me trust that I can watch other Netflix Original Films that I may not be sure about, as long as the concept is my cup of tea.

Now in the largest chunk of the movie, as you can expect, Rick goes through changes, and as you can also expect, all of these changes do not go over smoothly. Turmoil within the group’s subjects differ but follow the common theme of them all being under immense stress, physically and mentally, and that is exactly the point. The antagonist, who is not very antagonizing, is there to push our volunteers to the brink and force them to become “Titans”. The problems the group faces are perhaps the most interesting part of the story. Obviously, the intention was to make them stronger and more adaptive, but what kind of things might actually happen when you pump a human full of animal DNA and flip their environment upside down? These questions are what kept me watching. Titan felt like a Sci-Fi TV movie that I was ashamed to be enjoying a ton (ie: Waterworld, for me).

Almost teasing you with potential, the final concept never quite springs to life and lives up the high potential that it actually had, but the lack of predetermination makes it okay. The Titan is something you expect to just be below average and when it’s actually average, it’s kind of satisfying. The least satisfying part is the ending, which comes way too fast. Not saying that the movie should have been longer, but definitely saying that the last 10 minutes can show you a human who transforms *seemingly* overnight into something totally different altogether. The interesting concept is both the bait and the badness here, as The Titan tries to sneak experiments in place of a well-told story. Ripe with government conspiracy, some family drama, and medical exaggeration, the Titan has its flaws but delivers for what it is supposed to be.

OUR SCORE: 5.5 – Mediocre

Kevin Williams

Deadpool 2 : The review

This past weekend Ryan Reynolds came out with his third outing as Deadpool in theaters. I know this is the second Deadpool movie but it’s technically his third time playing the character. I know we all want to put that first appearance to rest and here’s a hint for those who haven’t seen it yet: stay for the post credit for the resolution on that.

Deadpool 2 starts off in classic Wade Wilson fashion with a tragedy that sets Wade on a journey that has him joining the X-Men as a trainee. Wade’s first mission gets him involved in helping a young mutant named Russell Collins calling himself Firefist. In comics, Russell is a tall thin redhead kid called Rusty Collins who first appeared in X-Factor #1. In helping Russell, Wade comes head to head with a time-traveling Cable who is set on killing Russell for a crime he will commit in the future. Wade puts together a ragtag team called X-Force which includes a show-stealing Domino and sets out to save Russell. We get a surprise big bad guy, epic fights, awesome team-ups, more legendary epic fights and an ending that puts the universe right in a way that only Deadpool can do. Wade goes on a journey trying to be a better person.

What makes this movie awesome is the use of its characters. It was like reading a comic book. That’s what I look for when I watch any comic book movie. Does it play out like the actual comic book? I know you can’t make things exactly like the books and directors must take some creative liberties, but you want to feel like the producers, writers, directors, and actors read the source material to put together a movie that will entertain the fanboys and the regular audience.

One thing going into Deadpool 2 is you must realize that this is a team-up movie. There is a slew of other Marvel characters and cameos that make this move more of a team-up movie than a strictly Deadpool movie. We had returning characters from the first Deadpool movie: Stefan Kapicic voicing Colossus, Brianna Hildebrand as Negasonic Teenage Warhead, Morena Baccarin as Vanessa, Leslie Uggams as Blind Al, Karan Soni as the taxi driving Dopinder, and T.J. Miller as Weasel. New characters included Josh Brolin as Cable, Zazie Beetz as Domino, Julian Dennison as Russell Collins, Terry Crews as Bedlam, Bill Skarsgard as Zeitgeist, Lewis Tan as Shatterstar, Jack Kesy as Black Tom Cassidy, and Shioli Kutsuna as Yukio. With cast and characters such as this, you get a lot of wow moments. I compare this movie on a level with Captain America: Civil War as I watched Captain America, Winter Soldier, Black Panther and Falcon all on the scene together and I thought “Wow! I’m actually seeing this fight in live action with some of my favorite characters.” Yes, it was like that.

Stand out characters? Domino was phenomenal. Zazie Beetz was perfect as the cool and smooth mercenary with luck powers. It was refreshing to see the unexpectedly larger role she had in this film and the perfect way she portrayed it. Leslie Uggams’ Blind Al provided the even more comic relief than she did in the previous movie. I wondered how this stage and scene legend landed in this movie but in Deadpool 2 Ms. Ungums showed she had the comic timing to play in the Deadpool universe. As the main catalyst for this movie, Julian Dennison had to take his Russell Collins through many different emotions as a young mutant caught in an adult’s world. His renditions of how a young mutant would handle being thrown in epic battles with the likes of Deadpool and Cable among others was well on point. He went from scared kid to optimistic hero worshiper to vengeful psycho kid right in front of you. Josh Brolin played a perfect Cable. Just like in comics this is a Cable who is no-nonsense, militant and can handle his business. I felt there was not enough backstory for Cable. He’s a character who has some very rich history and connections in the Marvel universe which I really hope will be included the next time they use Cable.

Just as in the first Deadpool movie this film is riddled with 4th wall breaks, puns and inside jokes that make it even funnier than the first movie. Don’t get it twisted there are some serious moments in this movie that help give it heart but Ryan Reynolds ability to not take himself too seriously as Deadpool is what sets the tone. Deadpool is a very entertaining movie which I predict will be the surprise hit of the year.

Kenny Walker Jr