ARE WE STILL FANS OR DO WE JUST WANT TO SEE THE CAPES?

There was a time when comic book shows in multimedia were far and in between. Comic nerds and superhero fans were starving for entertainment other than what was on the pages at their local comic store. There might be one TV show with a guy in a mask one season and another with a lady with a lasso a few years later but that’s all you got. Then you may get one major motion picture with a guy in a cape and two decades later get another movie about a superhero vampire but that was your limit. Yup the pickings were slim.

When comic book heroes started showing up in serials in the 1930s. Flash Gordon, Shazam, Batman and Superman all came to life for about 15 minutes leaving you with a cliffhanger until the next episode. Another popular medium, radio, where every week you can hear the adventures of Buck Rogers and Dick Tracey. With a TV in the 1950s, your home was visited by The Lone Ranger and Superman. As decades past you had a very campy Batman, Wonder Woman, Spiderman, and yes, we had a Hulk. To satisfy our lack of live action we had some of the best classic cartoons. From Marvel superheroes in the 1960s to the Superfriends of the 1970s to G.I. Joe in the 1980s to the X-Men of the 1990s our Saturday mornings and after school schedules was set.

Then something happened. The late 1990s Sony Spiderman movies became a hit. Over in TV land, Smallville, a show about Superman’s beginnings ran for 10 seasons. Then Batman Begins and so starts the Christopher Nolan trilogy. Marvel launches the MCU with Iron Man and from there the industry blew up. Superheroes are everywhere.

There are currently about 16 comic books inspired live-action shows on TV with four more starting next month in June. There are at least 8 comic book inspired movies due out in 2018. These numbers do not include the countless cartoons and kid shows based on comic books and superheroes in general.

The question we now need to ask ourselves is: Has the industry oversaturated the fanboys and girls with the comic book world?

The recent cancellation of Marvel TV’s Inhumans it may signal that this superhero boom may be over. Although Marvel put a decent push for Inhumans by releasing the pilot in IMAX it did not go over well with the fans. It was perceived as too campy compared to the MCU that fans have been used to getting. On top of that, the fate of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D seems to be a little uncertain. Yes, the CW seems to be going strong with their line up of superhero and comic book shows every night which all have basically been renewed for next year but of all the shows Arrow which was the flagship show that started it all is at the bottom of the ratings. Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War have topped the box office this year with millions but our payoff for Infinity War is a year away. Will the fans wait that long, or will the attention move elsewhere?

In some respect, you can say that it feels like the industry makers are taking our love for superheroes too far and not giving us the quality that we are used to. Just stick a cape on it and the people will buy it. There’s no need for quality, compelling storyline or character development when you know there will be ticket sales and viewers based on the superhero content. Netflix’s Jessica Jones might have been that show to display this. Overall this Marvel Netflix outing was not up to par with previous shows almost like it was rushed to get the product out to the fans. DC is coming out with its own streaming service called DC Universe in 2018. Set previews of its upcoming show, Titans, has not been sitting well with fans. Already there’s debate about whether this first live action Titans will live up to its comic book predecessor.

The remainder of 2018 promises some awesome things in movie, TV, and streaming. It’s up to us the audience to determine if we are still fans. It’s up to us to determine if we just want to see our favorite characters on the screen regardless of the content. The superhero genre is still booming but whether it’s waning a bit remains to be seen. There are some great plans for comic book superheroes on the big and small screens even past 2020 but the question is will this genre stand the test of time.

Kenny Walker Jr

Chasing Dion: Families Sacrifice for SuperHeroes

Chasing Dion follows the superhero cinematic trend, with its own twist. This new Netflix series focuses on the family dynamic in a superhero universe. In this Universe, an asteroid is responsible for the characters superhuman abilities. Any individuals, in Iceland, observing the Aurora light that night, had their DNA altered and developed superhuman abilities.

But it was not just the humans, animals and the ground itself were poisoned by this same phenomenon. All these individuals returned to their regular lives, which would become anything but regular. These genetics are also passed down through genetics, the viewer discovers while watching the journey of the main character, Dion.

Dion just arrived at a new school, but the new changes to his body compound the typical stressors of being the new kid at a public school. Dion is having breakfast with his mother, Nicole, as is their morning tradition. Running late, as usual, Nicole rushes Dion, leading to him tripping and spilling his bowl of cereal, only the cereal does not hit the ground as physics would predict.

At this moment, Dion realizes there is something different about him. He stares at the milk, and pieces of cereal suspended in the air, which only drops as his mom scares him as she calls his name. After a few more small incidents, Dion decided to show his mom. In a scene akin to exorcism and haunting films, Dion creates a cyclone of toys, with enough power, one Lego cuts his mother’s shoulder.

Being a single mom is hard enough, add a superpowered child, and the level of stress reaches epic proportions. Sacrifice was a major theme within Chasing Dion. This series showcased the effect a superhuman child would have on a single mother. Due to the discovery of Dion’s superpowers, his mother, lost one job, left an interview early, and risked her new job at the dance studio due to Dion’s newly developed abilities.

But she was not the only one to sacrifice for Dion’s benefit. Pat, Dion’s godfather, also risked his position at Biona. Dion tried to help cure Pat’s headaches, which caused him to become extremely ill. Dion’s aunt, Cat, brought him to the ER, where she was a resident doctor. Nicole tried a few times to inform Cat of Dion’s newfound superhuman abilities, but as a woman of science, Cat was ready to have Nicole committed.

Following protocol for severely ill patients, she drew Dion’s blood for testing. Nicole was desperate for her to stop the testing, as she warned Dion, using his powers in public would lead to a black van abducting him. Exactly how the scene ends, Cat get caught erasing Dion’s medical records after witnessing him levitate firsthand, but her now ex-girlfriend called the CDC when Dion’s temperature rose to one hundred and fifteen degrees.

There seems to be almost no limit to Dion’s power. Other superheroes in the movie seem to have limited powers. The farmer could grow plants with his hands, his son is telepathic. Dion’s father, and Charlotte, could turn invisible and teleport. Like his father, Dion can utilize invisibility and teleportation, with the additional abilities of healing, telekinesis, and the ability to manipulate on a molecular level.

As comic book fans would say, Dion is lining up to be OP, overpowered. Next season will see if he gets the Superman treatment with developing more powers as his heroic tale continues. In a series full of parallels to the unjust reality of our world, the most poignant scene occurred after Dion experienced racism for the first time at this new school. Dion was using his father’s watch as a mental block to prevent him from using his powers in public.

One of the school bullies, a white kid, took Dion’s watch. Dion lost control and used telekinesis to propel the bully into the wall. When it came time for the white principal to wield punishments, he was gun-ho about suspending Dion, with no repercussions for the bully who attempted to steal Dion’s watch.

Nicole is hesitant to explain this racist mentality, and the lifetime battle dealing with racists, but after a conversation with her sister, she sat down with Dion and explained there will always be people like the principal, judging Dion for his skin color. Chasing Dion utilized misdirection to further the storyline without revealing twists until the time was right.

From the first few episodes, it seems Biona is just another evil scientific empire, putting their experiments ahead of humanity. It is revealed one of their employees is responsible for the “Storm Deaths.” This big twist was hinted at with mentions of this character having been in Iceland, and headaches he has been struggling with as the other characters develop superhuman abilities.

Dion’s own Godfather, Pat, is the Crooked Man, or the Man in the Storm. Pat’s exposure to the asteroid in Iceland leads to a degenerative disease which could be stalled by the absorption of the other superhumans. Chasing Dion is a unique superhuman perspective, while borrowing typical Superhero tropes.

Like many superhero origin tales, Dion lost his father at a young age, and his powers were passed down genetically. He has trouble controlling his emotion-based powers, but they kick in when he or someone he loves is in danger, and the villain was right under the heroes nose the entire time.

These superheroes’ power is based on the ability to manipulate ions, more of a Matrix style explanation of superpowers opposed to the genetics. Dion is the one to save this world, and after watching season one, viewers will make sure to save the date season two premieres.

Mike Hoff

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

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

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

Game of Thrones: King of Modern Television

Game of Thrones, one of the most popular television series of recent time, arguably all-time. This show is so popular, you can see MEMEs splattered over social media about people who DID not watch this epic fantasy saga. Now that it is over, apparently fanatics are seeking therapy. Not since The War of the Worlds has an entertainment broadcast traumatized viewers like Game of Thrones. Most fans watched for the dragons, sex, and violence. Personally, the best parts of Game of Thrones throughout the entire series was the dialogue, foreshadowing, and the repeated theme, history repeats itself.

Dragons were like the tenth best thing about Game of Thrones. This show shocked people into fandom from episode one, and never looked back. I can remember vividly when I first watched Jaime Lannister throw Bran out of the window. First was the big risk they took with the adulterous, incest scene between Cersei and Jaime Lannister. Its shock value seemed diminished seconds later with an act of attempted murder when a “Knight” pushed a child from the window. I was instantly hooked, wondering how they would “WOW” me next. From Ned Stark’s beheading in Season One to the Red Wedding to Jon Snow being killed by the Night’s Watch to Cersei blowing up the High Septon, their fanbase jaw’s would drop week after week.

Its opening scene was as detailed as the show. If they showed Winterfell, you knew you would see a Stark trying to do the right thing. Kings Landing, a Lannister plotting their next malicious move. In Essos, Daenerys Targaryen and her dragons, while Beyond the Wall meant the White Walkers are coming. This show was as much about the villain’s journey as it was the hero’s journey, and these evil characters were just as appealing in their own villainous ways. Game of Thrones specialty was creating characters so enthralling and dynamic, fans were as excited to see how the story of B characters played out, not just main characters. “Secondary” characters like The Hound, Tormund, a wildling from Beyond the Wall who wound up as one of John Snow’s most loyal friends.

Bronn of the Blackwater, the man was promised a castle early in the series, and the fanbase was all over social media. Gendry, a King’s bastard was almost sacrificed but was set free by Sir Davos then disappeared for seasons. Again social media wondered if he was still rowing. So the show gave back, when Sir Davos, the World’s Best Smuggler,  says “I thought you might still be rowing.” This is an example of a show giving back to its loyal fandom. The villains of this show captivated audiences with their cruelty. Season after season, there were villains we loved to hate. After the first few seasons, Joffrey Baratheon seemed like the vilest character, until Ramsey Bolton was introduced, then Joffrey’s sadism seemed like amateur hour.

Hearts stopped when the Night King, the White Walkers magical leader, turned the dead Wildlings and Northmen at Hardhome before the survivor’s very eyes, but his evil was nothing compared to the heinous acts committed by the Mad Queens, Cersei Lannister and The Dragon Queen in the end. Who was the most clever man in Westeros? It Varys. You could always count on Littlefinger, the most conniving, Varys, the Master of Whispers and Tyrion Lannister, who drank and knew things to deliver the wittiest conversations. Littlefinger and Varys’ deceptive schemes were consistently moving plot points and keeping fans guessing their true motives, while Tyrion stole the show with his witty banter just about every scene. Often he was the comic relief surrounded by the most malicious characters.

The fun didn’t stop with the show for Game of Thrones fans. In between seasons, the fandom would spend countless hours creating their own theories about the show, or scouring Youtube to hear theories about the future fate of their favorite characters and storylines. Some of which turned out to be correct. One in particular, “R + L= J,” Rhaegar Targaryen plus Lyanna Stark equals Jon Snow, was an underlying theme for the entire series. These also ranged from Bran as the Night King, the world was in a Giant’s eyeball, and the story was being told by Samwell Tarly decades after these events occurred. While most of the theories turned out to be wrong, fans would not have concocted them if Game of Thrones didn’t do so many things right.

This show is not without its flaws. There were storylines abandoned and unanswered, like the mysterious Quaithe that knew everything about the Dragon Queen, yet was only in two episodes. Flaws like Melisandre, a century-year-old Red Priestess that turned old when she took off her magic necklace in one scene but was still young while wearing it with another scene. Then there was the issue with the CGI cost of the direwolves, and their lack of appearances. And of course, the war scenes. First, fans were unhappy because they didn’t show wars early on, just the aftermath. Then the dreaded “Too Dark” final battle between the White Walkers and The Greatest Army the World has Ever Seen. One of the last seasons many perceived flaws in the eyes of Game of Thrones fans.

There is actually a petition with over one million signatures to have the last season rewritten. So Game of Thrones is not above reproach from its fanatics. Complaints include lazy writing, as the majority of the last episode was callbacks to various scenes scattered throughout the seasons. Some felt character arcs were abandoned in lazy manners, such as the death scene of Jaime and Cersei Lannister. Three of the most pivotal, Arya Stark kills the Night King, Jon Snow kills Daenerys, and Bran the Broken being named King, were absolutely hated by millions because fans believe it was forced just to surprise the fans. I am part of the 1% of Game of Thrones fans that enjoyed the final season. While it had its obvious flaws, so does every television show and every movie. Any flaws I could point out are simply nitpicking.

The war with the White Walkers was too dark, yet the majority of war scenes in any genre film or television show are essentially impossible to follow. I have never cried while watching a television show. But Game of Thrones last season brought me as close as I’ve ever been when Jon Snow killed Daenerys. I fist pumped when they named Bran the Broken King of Westeros and literally leapt out of my seat when Arya killed the Night King. I especially loved the final episode because it was a callback filled episode. Characters, story arcs, and scene settings went full circle. Game of Thrones started with three men entering the North and ended with the King Beyond the Wall, Aegon Targaryen, formerly known as Jon Snow walking into the true North to start a new kingdom. 

I feel bad for the millions of fans disappointed with the last season, it is a shame so many did not enjoy the end of their favorite show.

But they are only that upset because Game of Thrones climbed the ladder to become the King of Modern Television.

Mike Hoff

Gotham – The 5 year Batman Begins story

When Gotham first came on FOX TV 5 years ago I was excited. I’m a big Batman fan. Even though this was not specifically supposed to be about Batman I was still excited. See, I was lead to believe that this was about Gotham before Batman based around James Gordon and the Gotham City Police Department (GCPD). In part it was but that wasn’t all of it.

The series started with the infamous death of Thomas and Martha Wayne, the parent of Bruce Wayne who would one day become Batman. With the new lore that was partly created in Christopher Nolan’s Batman movie trilogy, Jim Gordon was there to comfort a young newly orphaned Bruce Wayne and a friendship of respect grew from there. The show Gotham took that concept a step further and explored that friendship.

I love the whole Batman lore. Batman is my favorite character. I did not, however, expect any of this show to be about Batman because it was my understanding that this show was about Gotham before Batman. I was ok with that. Being into the Batman lore I knew the importance of James Gordon and was very curious about the back story the television show would give him. In that respect, I was not disappointed.

Ben McKenzie’s Jim Gordon was what this show needed. It showed him coming in as a detective and making his way up to the commissioner. It showed a man with a history before Gotham that garnered his tough as nails persona. This was not your campy 60’s TV Commissioner Gordon who was the bumbling guy waiting on a masked man’s word before he tried to solve his own crime. This was the story of the hero Gotham had before there was ever a Batman. This was the average detective dedicated to his job with just the law and his gun taking on gangs, criminals, murderers, psychopaths, and assassins. No Cape, no mask, no gadgets or fancy cars.

Like Batman, Jim Gordon did have a partner, Harvey Bullock, played masterfully by Donal Logue. Harvey Bullock was teamed up with Jim Gordon in the first episode and started off as this cynical washed-up detective that had given up on Gotham. He was not the best partner for a man like Gordon who wanted to clean up corruption. Gordon wanted to make waves and Bullock was not about that life. Over the five year span of the show, Gordon’s influence changed Bullock and showed him the cop he needed to be. Those of us familiar with Batman lore knew what this outcome would be but watching the transition was still enjoyable television.

James Gordon and the GCPD was the main focus of the show and had they kept it at that I would have liked it much better. I had two problems with the show: villains and Bruce Wayne. Let’s talk about the later first. Starting the show with the death of the Wayne’s and showing a young emotional Bruce Wayne was awesome. Even going back to this character now and again would have been great. David Mazouz as a young traumatized Bruce Wayne was perfect. My problem was his journey. We all know his story and how he was grief-stricken and pledged to avenge his parent’s death. When they relayed this on the TV show, I did not expect this training to be right away. They immediately started turning this kid into his future hero.

I wanted to see him grow, not just into his future hero but as a boy coping with the death of his parents. This show started running with the one day he’ll be Batman inception from the beginning. Throughout the five year run, there were times when this show focused too much on Bruce Wayne becoming Batman instead of Gotham before Batman. Let’s talk about villains, my second problem with this show. The first season you were introduced to a young girl Selina Kyle, who would become Catwoman, and young man named Oswald Cobblepot who would one day be known as the Penguin starting in the low ranks of the criminal underworld and a young police scientist named Edward E Nigma who would one day become the future criminal mastermind called the Riddler.

Camren Bicondova, Robin Lord Taylor and Cory Michael were outstanding in these roles. The problem was that by the show’s second season they were already in their perspective future identities. This happened way too fast and years before there was ever a Batman. Cobblepot went from not liking the name Penguin to embracing it with a criminal dynasty. Nigma went from a nerdy socially awkward police scientist to a murdering criminal mastermind. Selina Kyle went from child street urchin to teenager walking the fence of the law carrying a whip. And just like that other Batman villains were brought on with origin stories before there was even a Batman. Poison Ivy, Professor Pig, Solomon Grundy, Victor Zsasz, Ra’s al Ghul, Bane, and even the Joker.

Gotham quickly became what Batman villain can we show without Batman. The final story arch used for the final season was based on the No Man’s Land storyline from the comic books. Even with this, now you are telling a classic Batman storyline without Batman. Jim Gordon again became the main hero with a young Bruce Wayne walking about the show as if he were already Batman without the mask spoiling his whole playboy façade. This rich kid is allowed to assist the police wearing all black with excellent combat skills to help save Gotham that everyone is supposed to forget 10 years later? Please.

Gotham was a good show that had the potential to be better if the showrunners had focused on Gotham, Jim Gordon and the GCPD and not making a Batman begins show. Instead, they focused on Bruce Wayne’s journey prematurely and creating a who’s who of Batman villains without the existence of there being a Batman. I would have loved to see an original storyline about Gotham City.

Kenny Walker Jr

Doom Patrol: Weird is Cool

Think Twilight Zone meets The Watchmen and you have the new DC Universe streaming show Doom Patrol.

I once read an article about what some of the Marvel Cinematic Universe writers and producers would do with the DC Universe and one answer was start with B list heroes. Start with the heroes no one, outside of comic book fanboys, are too familiar with. Somebody at DC must have read the same article because that’s exactly what Dc did with Doom Patrol.

With the Doom Patrol, DC was able to do what they couldn’t do with Superman or Batman: they could re-invent history. You can’t make Superman come from anywhere but Krypton and be the ultimate hero. Batman has to lose his parents to violence to become the Dark Knight. The Doom Patrol, however, is another matter altogether. As long as you stick to some basics, the Doom Patrol can be molded into interesting TV.

The Doom Patrol was first seen in My Greatest Adventure #80 in 1963 created by writers Arnold Drake and Bob Haney and artist Bruno Premaini. The team was made up of a bunch of misfits: Niles Caulder, The Chief; Cliff Steel, Robotman; Larry Trainer, Negative Man; and Rita Farr, Elasti-Girl. Each one had a power that was more of a curse to them. They were hidden from society. They focused on the weird. That weird is the catalyst of the show.

Because to the general public, the Doom Patrol is virtually unknown, the showrunners are able to take liberties with the characters that you probably couldn’t do in 1963. Niles Caulder is the brains behind the team initially because he has saved all of their lives. His control issues over his patients in order to protect them means that he sometimes treats them like children and keeps them hidden within his mansion.

Cliff Steel is not only an adventurer and a race car driver but, in this adaption, he is not the nicest guy before his accident. He has multiple affairs on his wife and is relatively a big jerk. Larry Trainer is a pilot with a dark secret. His outward appearance as an all-American hero family man hides his secret homosexual romance with his fellow airman. Rita Farr was a world-famous beloved actress who was let her vanity control her.

Her vanity of being beautiful also extended to not wanting to be around anything or anybody who didn’t meet her standard of beauty. This is what makes Doom Patrol more unique than anything DC has put on a live action film. The flaws in these heroes are what makes this show cool. Not the powers or the special effects. The best part of Doom Patrol is the back story.

Later, in comic books, there have been other lineups of the Doom Patrol with Robotman being apart of all of them. In the Grant Morrison run of Doom Patrol, a character named Crazy Jane was introduced. Crazy Jane, Jane Morris, has 64 personalities with all different powers. As her character develops in comics, she also has a close relationship with Robotman. Crazy Jane is the unpredictable bad girl of the group.

Cyborg is another member of this team; however, real fanboys and fangirls know him as a member of the Teen Titans introduced in DC Comics Presents in 1980. DC has decided to make him a member of the Doom Patrol even though they do have a Titans series. The showrunners have kept his origin story pretty close to the original and have made him a known hero by the time he meets the Doom Patrol in the second episode.

The villain is Mr. Nobody. Mr. Nobody narrates the episodes and breaks the 4th wall in speech. Whoever thought of this idea is brilliant. This is another aspect of the show that makes it so weird and different in a good way. Mr. Nobody, Eric Morden, first appeared in Doom Patrol #86 in 1964. Depending on the writers this character has had various powers throughout the years and the TV series has given him powers that give the Doom Patrol a run for their money.

These characters are not just superbeings out to save the world because honestly being three episodes in they don’t want to save the world. They are reluctant heroes. A true band of misfits. Their mission is to find the Chief that Mr. Nobody has taken hostage. As they all struggle with their own personal demons and past, they join together to help their friend. This is not The Avenger or the Justice League; they are not coming in flashy and posing on a supped-up ride.

They are coming in gritty and dirty on an old short school bus. That’s what makes this different in a good way. Mr. Nobody telling all the origins of the team in the first episode then sucking everything, including the town, in a cosmic wormhole. By the second episode, we are introduced to Cyborg and find out that a donkey has swallowed the whole town. Like I said, weird but in a good way.

Doom Patrol is just what DC needed. This is not the A list superheroes and one of the benefits of that is that you can make changes to these characters that help this show. Changes that you couldn’t make to heroes like Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman. Yet they were able to take the weird that is in the comics books and relay it to the screen.

A new episode of Doom Patrol streams Friday at 9 am. Do yourself a favor and check it out.

Kenny Walker Jr

Don’t Call It A Comeback

Young Justice: Outsiders Season 3

After protests, petitions and a long wait Young Justice: Outsiders Season 3 is finally here. The series return debuted on DC Universe streaming channel on January 4, 2019, at 9 am. Young Justice premiered on Cartoon Network on November 26, 2010, and was canceled in the Spring of 2013. This cancellation was very surprising to the fans because this was a much-beloved show. It was great. Like reading a comic book and it had more adult themes which were awesome.

But here’s the thing, no show lasts on television without the sponsors. No cartoon show lasts on television if you can’t sell the merchandise with the show. At first, it was said that the Young Justice cancellation was because more girls were watching the show and DC execs wanted more boys watching the show to buy more merchandise. Incidentally, there are a lot of fangirls in the comic book nerd community than these execs know about apparently. Then it came to be known that the toys from Mattel that were aligned with the show were not selling and Mattel pulled the toy line.

This pulled the funding for the show which affected the third season. The replacement by Cartoon Network of Teen Titans Go was a big disappointment to fans who loved Young Justice. However, Titans Go sold a lot of merchandise to younger audiences and manage to stay afloat to the present day and even produce major motion animated pictures. Fans protested and signed petitions to bring Young Justice back and all the hard work paid off. When DC announced its streaming network one of the prime reasons most people signed on was the promise of the much-demanded season 3 of Young Justice.

DC Universe started streaming by fall of 2018 and fans learned that they wouldn’t get their favorite show until January 2019. On January 4, 2019, all their dreams came true with three premiere episodes of the new season. As someone who subscribes to the streaming channel, it took me over two hours to get in through my app. But when I finally got in it was well worth the wait. Season 3 picks up where season 2 left off. The Reach has been defeated, Nightwing takes a leave of absence and Wally is still gone.

The Justice League and Young Justice are still working side by side in the satellite. Then time jumps 2 years. Nightwing is still flying solo, Wally is still gone and the story revolves around experiments done on kidnapped youth to expose their metagene and turn them into metahumans to exploit. Batman, believing that the Justice League is not effective anymore resigns with a small fraction of Leaguers. Nightwing is off following his own lead on missing kids.

The thing I liked about season 3 is while watching it you forgot that it had been 5 years since you last saw these characters. The flow of how this show picked up was steady and smooth. Being that the show was now on the DC Universe streaming network there was a slightly different tone. This was an even more mature tone than when the show was on Cartoon Network. With lesser restrictions, Young Justice can reach its audience with subject matter that it could not do before.

Filled with action along with a well-written script, Young Justice: Outsiders season 3 was exactly what the fans have been waiting for all this time. Just as the prior two seasons showed five years ago, the action played out like reading a comic book. But this wasn’t just an animated fight show where there were pointless fights, the drama is what makes this show stand out. The feeling of betrayal when Batman leaves with his fraction of Leaguers, the love of Superboy and Miss Martian, Tigress still missing Wally West, Black Lightening feeling like he is no longer the hero he once was, and the interaction of the royal family of Markovia all played out in this script evenly with the action sequences.

Kudos to the voice actors for bringing this animated show alive. Just like the original Outsiders from the comic book Batman and the Outsiders, we are also introduced to 2 new characters to the show but familiar to comic readers: Prince Brion, Geo-Force, and Halo. And what would bringing original Outsiders into the fold be without also re-introducing a favorite villain from the original comic: Baron Bedlam. Yes, this show had it all and it’s only 3 episodes in. If the first three episodes are any indication then this is a formula for a winning season. Young Justice is back. Season 3 looks to be everything the fans asked for.

Tell us what you thought of Young Justice: Outsiders season 3.

Kenny Walker Jr

Legends of Tomorrow not so Legendary

When we did the story on the new CW Arrowverse shows, we left our Legends of Tomorrow. Not only because the season started a week later than the others but because my verdict was still out on this one. Now the verdict is in: there is nothing legendary about Legends of Tomorrow.

Yes, I cut right to the chase with the cold hard facts.

When this show first started four seasons ago it had so much promise. You had a time squad being led by Rip Hunter that consisted of Hawkman & Hawkwoman, Firestorm, the Atom, Captain Cold, Heatwave and White Canary. They had the stamp of approval from Green Arrow and Flash. The main villain was none other than Vidal Savage, the oldest immortal villain in the DC universe which is perfect for a time-traveling band of heroes.

Legends of Tomorrow started strong and hit the ground running. This may have been the problem.

Since 1959, the Rip Hunter character has been a time travel force in the DC universe, especially during main events that change the course of the universe. The characters history is so deep in the comic universe, that there were a lot of avenues you could have taken after season one to continue to base the series around him. As a comic book geek, in my mind I thought with Rip Hunter on board how could Booster Gold not be too far behind. But, as always, the problem with DC not following their own source material, these were plot devices not taken advantage of. This may have been the problem.

Now let’s get back to this mini Justice League you had in the first season. The Hawks, Firestorm and the Atom are all popular comic book characters. Despite that fact that the writers did not follow the source material from the books completely regarding their powers, seeing these Justice Leaguers together was part of the appeal for the show. The Flash’s rogue gallery of villains is comparable with the villains that torment Batman. Captain Cold and Heatwave are two of these heroes. White Canary is a character from the Arrow-verse who was one of the many versions of Black Canary but since one of the main flaws to Arrow is that they can’t seem to get this character right she was moved to Legends of Tomorrow.

Early on it was rumored that the cast of heroes would be changed with each season. Little did we know that the replacements would be characters that couldn’t hold a candle to what the show started out with. This may have been the problem. In season one, the villain was Vidal Savage. In season two you had a version of the Legion of Doom. After that, the villains were not anything to write home about. Season three and four had Damien Dark but we had already seen him in action for a whole season of Arrow. This was now overkill and this may have been the problem. The problem with Legends of Tomorrow is that it is a show of missed opportunity. Here you have a group of heroes traveling on a ship that can not only break the time barrier but the breach the multiverse.

In season two when they brought in the Justice Society of America that was a move in the right direction. Sadly, there have been little moves like this done during the four seasons this show has been on the air. With so much of the DC cannon to play with, there is so much missed opportunity to bring in other such heroes from all over. Yes, you brought in Jonah Hex and John Constantine who is now a series regular but that is nothing compared to what you could have brought to the table. Where are Challengers of the Unknown, The Linear Men, and Booster Gold who have strong ties to Rip Hunter? For that matter how are you doing a time travel show without the Rip Hunter character? Similarly, most of the heroes in the first season have a tremendous backstory and enough to pick from to have a few years’ worth of story.

With Waverider, there have been missed opportunities to go to different times and universes where the Legends could team up with other heroes. Where is the trip to the Legion of Superheroes time in the future? Or when they made a trip to medieval times, why didn’t they feature the Shining Knight? The biggest problem of missed opportunity is the world of magic. The third season dabbled in magic and they made a smart move by bringing in Constantine to help with the problem. At the end of the third season, Constantine showed up to interrupt the Legends vacation by letting them know that they had unleashed various magical demons on the world. Hence, this season is spent finding and capturing them so Constantine can send them back to where they came from. But instead of this being a job for the likes of Heatwave, the Atom, and White Canary, shouldn’t this be a job for Justice League Dark?

Who is Justice League Dark you ask? Justice League Dark was a version of the Justice League that consisted of heroes who specialized in magic. Heroes like Constantine, Zantana, Madame Xanadu, Shade the Changing Man, Swamp Thing, Deadman and others were brought together to fight supernatural evil in the world that was out of the scope of what the regular Justice League could handle. If you want to leave characters like White Canary, the Atom and Heatwave to fight what they can’t defeat or understand, the writers can at least have some of these magical heroes guest star each episode to help. You have these toys in your arsenal. Use them.

Legends of Tomorrow has become a farce and the weak link in the CW Arrow-verse. By often using light-hearted humor even during the most serious situations and fights, what could be an awesome DC universe team up show has been a disappointing joke. In order to save this show, the showrunners would need to utilize the entire DC universe and timelines and introduce other known characters even if it’s just for guest appearances. And please bring back Rip Hunter. It makes no sense to have the Legends and a Time Bureau without him.

Tell us your opinion and leave a comment below

Kenny Walker Jr