Posted in Miscellaneous

For the Geek in me 2019 was awesome: Films

I cannot describe 2019 as anything other than a challenging year. There have been a few ups and a good number of downs. But at this time of year, I want to look back at things I liked, so here we go. Now I wasn’t able to get to the cinema too often this year, but I did manage to get a list of 5 films, so it couldn’t have been so bad, so here is this year’s 5.

Spider-verse

My first new movie of 2019 was one that I went with my father and with SuperSam and it was very close to being the best film of this year. Now the central character of Miles Morales is one that I found boring in the comics that he was introduced in. With the tremendous need for better and more inclusive representation isn’t helped by a character who is as boring and as too connected to the previous version of that character. This film however has none of those problems. This Miles was interesting and had his own arc that wasn’t so directly connected to the previous Spider-Man. It also had an interesting multiple realities versions of Spider-Man, including a middle aged slacker Spidey, a teenaged Anime Spider-Girl, the currently popular Spider-Gwen, Spider-Man: Noir and Peter Porker, the Spectacular Spider-Ham all facing an army of villains and a threat to all realities. This was action-packed with high stakes that didn’t leave out any real emotion or humour. The narrative device of the character origins was brilliantly done and this felt very comic book, without that harming the story. I have yet to see Spider-Man: Far from Home, but that is the only reason that I haven’t declared this film to be the best Spider-Man film ever made. It may be the 9th one, but something this good is waiting for.

Captain Marvel

 

This is the first MCU film to be female led and it is one of the strongest of the origin films. An alien called Vers crash-lands on Earth in the 90’s only to learn that she has already been there before and there’s so much more to her story than she has ever thought. It’s space-opera, it’s super-heroics and it’s a woman’s search for her own past and using that to forge her own future. It isn’t perfect, but there was a lot about this film that I really enjoyed and it was very family friendly. It was positioned to get this character ready for inclusion in the upcoming Avengers: Endgame but we did get a decent film and one of the last cameos by Stan the Man Lee.

Avengers: Endgame

From 2008’s Iron Man to now, we had had more than 20 films over the last 11 years. We’ve had highs and lows and that entire saga came down to this over 3 hour long film which acts as a direct sequel to last years Avengers: Infinity War as well as a capstone to the entire MCU so far. It had heartbreak, it had stakes, emotion and several punch the air moments. At least three characters got happy endings or at least satisfying ones and at the worst moments of last year, I got to share this film with my dad. I am of the opinion that the MCU should have ended here and if it had, it would have ended on a high.

Shazam

I will get this out of the way now, I do not like Geoff Johns’ take on Shazam. From losing the Captain Marvel name (understandable really) to his having Billy Batson being a surly teen rather a hopeful 10 year old. I was not overly keen to see this film and skipped it’s cinema release. But I kept hearing good word of mouth, so I watched it on Blu-Ray. This proved to be wise.

This was a lot of fun. Remember fun? Remember when films brought a smile to your face? This does that and proves that it was execution that was the problem. It was how the story was told that matter, because told well like this, it works. Zachary Levi mails playing a teenager in a 30 year old man’s body. He was naive, but also cynical. He was searching for family, but didn’t trust it and wasn’t a hero, until he really needed to be. One of the few films that came out over the last couple of years that made me go “I hope they make another” rather than “I expect they’ll be making more of them.” DC haven’t always known what to do with the Shazam properties, but Warner Bros’ film division has no such problem. I will watch this film again before too long.

Ghostbusters: With Live Orchestra

Again, this is a cheat, since this was a 35th anniversary of the film with all of the incidental music being performed by a full orchestra. I watched this with my father as his Christmas present, but this was a shared gift. The music was better and that enhanced what is essentially a fantastic bit of 80’s cinema. The effects haven’t aged particularly well, but none of that detracts from a film with  a great cast, all at their peak delivering one of the best films of that era.

This year started with Into the Spider-Verse and it ended with Ghostbusters, no matter what lay between those films, this was a good year in cinema. Most of which, I got to share with my favourite people in the world. There are more good films coming and it looks like another good year on the silver screen.

Posted in Comics n Stuff, D-Cember

D-Cember 30th – And I am outta here

30 Day Challenge Question 30: Favourite Event

Events, the bane of a comic fan’s life, or the best of stories, epic in scale and consequence. In regards to DC, I missed most of them up until 1994, so my first one was 1994’s Zero Hour

Dan Jurgens wrote and drew this story, which took threads from Green Lantern and 1985’s Crisis on Infinite Earths to tell a cracking story that while convoluted, still manages to entertain and launched yet another reboot/relaunch to sort their continuity out. To be honest, it didn’t work and most of the effects of Zero Hour have been undone at least once, but it was a great story to be collecting as it came out.

 

SuperSam’s answer

This was a very one answer question since the only one he knew about was Crisis.

Crisis on Infinite Earths came out between 1985 and 1986 and had 12 issues written by Marv Wolfman and drawn by George Perez both creators were on a roll with The New Teen Titans and were very well regarded by peers and fans alike. It saw the death of Supergirl, the final run of the Flash and the death of the Multiverse and it was a comic I read to my son a few years ago. It’s as good as it ever was and deserves its place in comic book history.

Other Stuff

Well, that’s this second 30-day challenge done and also as of tomorrow that’s 2019 done as well. I do intend to post more regularly (but not daily) but I am glad I decided to see this through.

See you next year internet people, love to you all.

 

Posted in TV Stuff

For the Geek in me 2019 was awesome: TV

I cannot describe 2019 as anything other than a challenging year. There have been a few ups and a good number of downs. But at this time of year, I want to look back at things I liked, so here we go. Now it was a year in TV that was either stuff that started last year, or non-genre TV that doesn’t qualify here, so it was difficult to find 5 new TV shows that deserved to be commented on, but I managed to find the 5.

Titans

This was a show that I was able to catch on Netflix, after it launched on DC’s streaming app. It starred a mostly unknown cast and had a tone that was at odds with every iteration of the Teen Titans that  I can remember and its initial online publicity was less than encouraging. So I gave it a go and wrote about it here.

Swamp Thing

This was a sadly single season of a well-made show that also debuted on DC’s streaming service, yet got to me through Amazon Prime. This was a bit of a horror/fantasy take on a DC comics series. The show had a strong cast and also the guy from the Sharknado films. Storylines and tones were ripped from Alan Moore stories in the 1980s. One of the episode titles is “The Anatomy Lesson” and it’s loyal to the spirit of Saga of the Swamp Thing, without actually following it too closely. It did only have the one season, but when you look at it, you can be seen as Firefly was, with only one season, it is ideal just as it is. It’s not the easiest of sits, but it was well worth sticking with.

Umbrella Academy

This one sort of took me by surprise. I had heard the name Umbrella Academy before, but it wasn’t a comic series that I had read, so I had to take the series on its own merits and not how it was adapted. So as a series in and of itself? It was very good, a very strong cast and a solid story. Several babies are born under supernatural circumstances, a wealthy eccentric adopts them to create his own superhero team/family and we see how badly that went years later after he dies. We then have ghosts, time travel and a hidden threat that is set to cause the apocalypse. This is a bonkers show and leans into it, whilst keeping you interested in its plot. I don’t know who this was aimed at, but it definitely got me at the right time. Apparentley a second season is on its way.

Watchmen

I love the original comic Watchmen. I have read the series annually for over 25 years. My most recent copy has been signed by the artist Dave Gibbons and its place as one of the greatest comics of all time is not without merit. So as a result, I have been hesitant to approve of any sequels and continuations, since it works as a 12 issue story and should be left as such. DC can’t do that though, can they? So we got Before Watchmen stories a few years ago. I stayed away. Then the disaster that was the New 52 gave way to Rebirth and then we got the first hint that Watchmen was going to be connected to this new era of DC Comics. I’ll write about that in comics, but that mining of previous successes led to the Watchmen comic getting a TV series sequel. It was from the comics not from the film, so used the comic’s original ending. We get to see the world 34 years after those events, but we didn’t see that at first, we got a look at Tulsa, Oklahoma. We saw a police force made up of mystery men detectives and masked uniformed officers. We met Angela ‘Sister Night’ Abar as she investigated the death of her boss and how that was connected to the Minute Men of the 1940s and Ozymandius and his plot. The stories seemed meandering at times and it was quite aggravating to new viewers who didn’t have the conext of the Watchmen stories, but as with the comic, if you stuck with it, it was a gripping show that kept you interested, even though you knew that it wasn’t going to end well.

War of the Worlds

This is a bit of a cheat considering that I haven’t finished watching it, but this is a modern made period-specific retelling of H.G. Wells’ Victorian novel. It is well shot, had a great cast and sells the horror and confusion that comes from that. It is a TV show that I have been looking foward to for a while and I will be watching the rest of it before too long.

There’s also been a lot of box sets and continuing series and I have started the new year laughing and enjoying the TV that I watch.

Next Time: Movies

Posted in Comics n Stuff

For the Geek in me 2019 was awesome: Comics

I cannot describe 2019 as anything other than a challenging year. There have been a few ups and a good number of downs. But at this time of year, I want to look back at things I liked, so here we go.

This was a mixed year for me with comics, to be honest, I have become less and less enamoured with the big two and with comics buying in general and when the solicitations for last week came, I could only see one comic that I wanted to buy. One, that’s it and I think I am only getting this to finish what will be in the first trade and then that will be gone too. But I managed to get 5 things worth talking about, barely.

Doctor Doom

This was a comic showcasing Marvel’s best protagonist. Doom isn’t a villain, but a man with a very specific view of how the world should be, our problem is that we disagree, his problem is that we are wrong. This shows what happens when people believe he has done something that he hasn’t. Doom is on the back foot and that is somewhere he almost never is. He has to keep his homeland safe, prove his innocence, find out who has done this too him and dole out the righteous retribution that needs to be doled out and he has to do all that with the world against him. This is  a story where you are rooting for Doom, despite knowing how flawed he is and it’s the only Marvel series that I am still following.

Hoxpox

Marvel relaunches the X-Men. Wow, again? But it’s the most drastic change in status quo since Morrison’s back in 2000. The X-Men have their own nation, they are looking towards the future and we get to see it, it’s not going well. Johnathan Hickman puts together a huge story, grand in scope and littered with sci-fi concepts that fit quite happily with Marvel’s merry mutants. This was an event worth reading in a way that the X-Men haven’t done in such a long time. It was nice to be on the ground floor of something so big again.

Angelic

I met the writer of this little gem, Simon Spurrier at Thought Bubble as he signed my X-Men Legacy 1. We spoke a bit about the character Legion and his work on him, which led to us talking about the TV series. I liked him, so felt the right thing to do was to buy a copy of his creator owned series first trade. This is a story about a post humanity Earth and the creatures we leave behind. It’s also about curiosity over faith and the importance of thinking for yourself. I even bought a copy later on for a friend as an X-Mas present.

Doomsday Clock

As I recently mentioned in my TV post, this has been the year of mining Watchmen for new stories and this one was a very long time in coming, since it had started in 2018. I was not a fan for most of the run, but believed that if I kept with it, it would be worthwhile. Sometimes I am right for good things. Geoff Johns sticks the landing here, with a story that left me smiling at the end. I don’t know where this leaves the DCU, but am more optimistic about it now, than I was before I read Doomsday Clock 12.

Thought 💭 Bubble

In December 2017 I went to “For The Love of Sci-Fi” convention in Manchester with SuperSam & the MIGHTY Rosie. I enjoyed some of it, but it was badly run and in the end we cut out halfway through. But I wanted to try a comic convention, so this year I went to Thought Bubble, the comics convention in Yorkshire. I wrote about it here.

I’m less and less enamoured with the current monthly comics, but my love for the medium, it’s fans and associated media is still very much present. Who knows what the future will hold.

Next time: What about actual life? What was that like in 2019?

Posted in Comics n Stuff, D-Cember

D-Cember 29th – Almost there

30 Day Challenge Question 29:  Favourite Series to Recommend

Marvel and DC Comics suffer from the narrative problem of the perpetual 2nd act. We get the origin and then the second act and then….. nothing because these stories do not end. In their normal run, we won’t get to see  Batman retire, Aquaman abdicate to his son or when the Teen Titans are no longer teens. So when we refer to Superman’s never ending battle, that’s the correct way to refer to it.

So we only get a couple of views of the end of that particular battle. Kingdom Come is one, the most famous one is Whatever Happended to the Man of Tomorrow. But for me the best of these is All Star Superman by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely.

This last days of Superman story was a love letter to the Silver Age, showcasing all of the things that made Superman great, even the silly things of it and can be appreciated by anyone from long time fans to someone new to the character.

SuperSam’s answer

This wasn’t a wholly DC story, but a collaboration with IDW. Batman Adventures/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Tonally, they couldn’t be further apart, but this was a great series that showcased the characters beautifully. When I asked SuperSam why he chose it, his answer was brilliant in it’s succinctness.

“Because its fun.”

He’s a good boy.

 

Posted in Comics n Stuff, D-Cember

D-Cember 28th Keeping track of the Days

30 Day Challenge question 26: Favourite elementalist

Wasn’t a difficult choice this, I went back to the ancient elements based character and I chose Firestorm.

An attempt to do a sort of Spider-Man like character, Firestorm was the synthesis of Professor Martin Stein and high-school slacker Ronnie Raymond. Martin as the brains and Ronnie was the body and the two became quite well-regarded superheroes as well as members of the satellite era Justice League.  Though nuclear in origin, fire is at the heart of what this guy both did and what he looked like, very few people can pull off the head on fire look.

Super Sam’s answer

Volcana from Superman the Animated Series

She was a villain whom he can understand and feel sympathetic towards and he was always happy to see her again, when she showed up again.

30 Day Challenge Question 27: Favourite non-human race.

There’s a lot to choose from here, DC has no shortage of alien species, going from the human-like (braalians, daxamites and thanagarians) to the bizaare (martians, xudarians and whatever the hell Mogo is) so this was a hard one, but I went with the Durlans.

 

Alongside the Skrulls from Marvel, the Durlans are shapeshifters and use stealth and guile to achieve their goals. Unlike the Skrulls, they have more mystery to them, cloaked from one another and everyone else and they aren’t as arch as the Skrulls and often you’re not sure whose side they are on. During the Invasion, they were clearly badguys, but one of the Reep Daggle, serves proudly as the Legionnaire Chameleon Boy. It’s that sense of mystery as much as their appearance that puts them in this top spot.

 

SuperSam’s answer

DC’s first alien race and the one we have seen the most of in different ways: Kryptonians.

From the Silver age’s Buck Rogers-esque version, to Byrne’s cold Man of Steel version and the Superman the Movie version, Krypton is always interesting to see. SuperSam’s preferred version is the DCAU version, with a heroic edge to them and the first episode of that series was entirely set on Krypton and he was fascinated by the whole thing.

30 Day Challenge Question 28: Favourite Era

There’s no real picture to go with this one, but for me, the best era was that period from 1994 that followed on from Zero Hour: Crisis in Time.

Once Zero Hour 0 was done every current DC title as well as several ones that started there got a 0 issue. It was either a look back at the past, an origin or something that fell into the zero issue mileu.

It was line-wide jumping on points and I started reading many titles as a result. I really got into the DCU at that time and every now and again I go back. It’s a period that meant a lot to me and one that re-reading still gets a smile from me.

SuperSam’s answer

The only era that has made any impact on SuperSam in terms of the comics has been Rebirth. A couple of years ago, we were at a comic mart in Manchester and SuperSam looked through long-boxes and it was  for Rebirth comics, which like Zero Hour had definitive jumping on points before going onto ongoings. He may never get the bug again, but he did that day and it was somewhat magical.

Other Stuff

We’re in that limbo b’twixt Christmas and New Year, where you have to try and work out what day it is all the time. Due to circumstances, the three of us took my nephew to the Riverside Bowl and had a game f Laser Tag and a frame of Ten Pin Bowling, all kinds of fun was had.

We are near the end of this little experiment Internet People, I am ready for D-Cember and 2019 to be done. See you all soon.

Posted in Comics n Stuff, D-Cember

D-Cember 26th

30 Day Challenge question 25: Favourite video game

Given the family’s fondness for lego co-operative games, there was only one answer.

A worthy companion to the Marvel Superheroes game this was, for the most part a hell of a lot of fun. Good controls, loads of characters and there is always something to do.

I haven’t put a SuperSam answer in, because it’s a family feeling, everyone enjoyed it. Well, not the dog.

Back soon internet people.

Posted in Comics n Stuff, D-Cember, Uncategorized

D-Cember 24th

30 Day Challenge Question 24: Favourite cartoon adaptation

Superman the Animated Series was the follow up to the epoch-making Batman series and using the same animation style expanded the world into a more Sci-Fi direction. It had a great cast and some great stories.

It even showcased the Fourth World, bringing it to a new audience.

Super Sam’s answer

Taking the mantle from Justice League, this show had a massive cast and some brilliant stories. SuperSam and I are currently watching through it. When I asked for his reason, he just told me it was awesome, what else did he have to say.

Other stuff

Christmas Eve is here and I am out of here for a day or so.

Have a great Christmas time internet people. And if Christmas isn’t your thing, then have fun whatever you do or whatever you celebrate.

My love to you all.

Posted in Comics n Stuff, D-Cember

D-Cember 23rd – Last Minute Panic Buying?

30 Day Challenge Question 23: Favourite method of transportation

It’s back to the Fourth World for this one

When you want to make an entrance, what better way to do so than a sonic boom?

The New Gods of New Genesis and Apokolips travelled in style you have to admit that. At least they don’t have to knock on the door, you already know that they have arrived.

Other stuff

Christmas shopping and you can see the panic in the eyes of so many fellas as they last minute the shit out of their Christmas shopping.

I know, because what was I doing this morning?

Posted in Comics n Stuff, D-Cember

D-Cember 22nd – A world very much like our own.

30 Day Challenge Question 22: Favourite dimension

Straght away this was Earth 2.

DC’s multiverse was often used as a way to tell alternate stories as well as preserve IP. Before 1985’s Crisis on Infinite Earths these worlds kept characters that DC used in the past as well as others that they had acquired. Earth-X was Quality Comics characters, Earth-S was Fawcett Comics and Earth-4 was Charlton Comics, but before all that there was Earth-2. Earth 2 was the home of the Justice Society of America (the first ever Superhero Team), the stand-in for the Golden Age Superman as well as ancillary teams the All-Star Squadron and Infinity Inc.

I wrote about my fondness for this concept here.