Sunday, September 15, 2019

A Sunday Comic Books Review

Here are reviews of the DCBS comic books that I've gotten around to reading and reviewing, sorted by the original shipping date:
  • Sep 12th
  • Three StarfishPlastic Man #4 - I'm pretty confused by this book, but I'm still enjoying it. How is that possible? The Aquaman hot dogs made me laugh out loud... I suppose it's the quality of the jokes despite the story being a bit opaque.
  • Four and a half StarfishSuicide Squad #46 - Yay, villains with morals taking on nasty bad guys! Mera asserting her authority! King Shark making jokes about eating crocodile! And I haven't even mentioned Harley Quinn's nonsense! Another solid issue in a goofy crossover.
  • Four StarfishScooby Apocalypse #29 - Did we just see Fred Jones become a big bad? This has set up quite a serious moral dilemma for Daphne. Still not my childhood Scooby, but still an interesting Elseworlds version of it.
  • Four and a half StarfishThe Wrong Earth #1 - I rarely complain that a comic book has too much content, but this comic book has too much content! A main story, a back-up, a letter column, two creator Q&As, a short story by Grant Morrison, and even a one-pager comic. And all of it good. The main story's high concept - of a superhero from an Adam West Batman type world changing places with his counterpart from a much darker world - is fantastic, and nicely realized. I'm looking forward to reading more.
  • Three StarfishArchie 1941 #1 - Huh. Pretty much all set-up, and really depressing set-up at that. Good art, but man, this was a bummer to read.
  • Three and a half StarfishSpongeBob Comics #84 - Not much to say on this one. Typical issue, overall. I really liked the Ocean Facts piece on barnacles, because, while I knew what barnacles are intellectually, seeing the imagery with the simple description helped me actually understand what they are. It's always good to learn new stuff.
  • Three and a half StarfishMystery Science Theater 3000 #1 - I'm not a huge MST3K fan, and so I was somewhat unfamiliar with the cast of this issue - but at least I know who Tom Servo is and found his role in this to be hilarious. Moving the snark from movies to comics is a fun idea, but I'm not sure they'll be able to sustain the momentum for a full six issues. I guess I'll have to read and see.

  • Sep 19th
  • Four and a half StarfishAquaman #40 - Harley is just so good in this. Ridiculous and yet compassionate when she has to be. Cruel but silly. No wonder she's become so popular. As for the rest... poor Carl. And Waller is just the woman she's supposed to be. I like the conversation at the end between the two "queens". Ha. Good stuff.
  • One StarfishJustice League #8 - Still completely crap, but there's some nice Black Manta characterization, so it wasn't a complete waste.
  • One StarfishGreen Lanterns #55 - Nope. I just... no. I don't buy it on any level. Not impressed.
  • Three and a half StarfishTeen Titans Go #30 - Note to self: never play word games with Raven. This was a fun issue with two amusing stories, including one about going to great lengths to make a vegan burrito. A good issue.
  • Three StarfishDoctor Strange #5 - Huh. So now we know who the narrator is, and everything about the stupid use of language makes more sense. Still not feeling it, much, but it's an interesting twist I honestly didn't see coming.
  • Five StarfishUsagi Yojimbo: The Hidden #6 - This is just excellent. So tightly plotted, such an interesting plot, bits of history woven into the tale. It's fantastic. I finished this issue and nearly dove into my stack to read the next (and final) issue right away. Usagi Yojimbo is consistently the best comic book available. This storyline is no exception.

Sunday, September 08, 2019

A Sunday Comic Books Review

Here are reviews of the DCBS comic books that I've gotten around to reading and reviewing, sorted by the original shipping date:
  • Aug 15th
  • Four StarfishAquaman #39 - I almost feel sorry for Harley. Almost. The interaction between Murk and Aquaman was interesting. I wonder how it will continue to play out? And Mera... heavy hangs the head that wears the crown.
  • Half StarfishJustice League #6 - Nope. Still no interest.
  • Two StarfishGreen Lanterns #53 - Why is Baz's ring lying to him? Do I really care?
  • Two StarfishTeen Titans Go #29 - I think Cyborg summed it up best at the end of the comic - stuck in a comic book based on a tv show talking about a movie? Too meta.
  • Four StarfishArchie Meets Batman '66 #2 - This continues to be much better than I expected, although splitting the team is a strange tactic for Batman at this stage in the story. No surprise that Reggie was recruited by villains, though. The number and combination of baddies in Riverdale is a hoot.
  • Two and a half StarfishDoctor Strange #4 - About time someone told Strange off. Now, I hope the fellow tells him off some more, but I suspect we're going to have to put up with more arrogance before the final fall.
  • Four and a half StarfishUsagi Yojimbo: The Hidden #5 - I absolutely adore the Inspector Ishida stories, and this one has been a treat and a half because of the real history it brings into the story. The big reveal of this issue is what the artifact is - a Bible. But not just any Bible. I'm really curious now if there was a Japanese translation of the Bible back then. Also, extra fun, there's a mention of Inspector Ishida appearing in the June 13, 2018 Dick Tracy comic strip. Yes, I found it. Yes, it's great (see below).

  • Aug 22nd
  • Three StarfishBatman Beyond #23 - Huh. The previous issue made it obvious who the Scarecrow is, but then this issue acts like it was a mystery. It was... ok. But I don't feel like the plot moved forward much, if at all.
  • Three and a half StarfishScooby-Doo Team-Up #41 - I was never much a fan of Penelope Pitstop. I watched some Wacky Races, but she never appealed to me. Still, this was a cute issue with a couple of fun unmaskings - not to mention a villain who messes himself up. Always a fun book.
  • Four and a half StarfishBeasts of Burden: Wise Dogs and Eldritch Men #1 - I miss Jill Thompson's work, but Benjamin Dewey is no slouch on the art. This is a fascinating start, with some interesting implications about the wise animals. I'm really looking forward to the next issue.

  • Aug 29th
  • Four StarfishCatwoman/Tweety and Sylvester Special #1 - I only have one minor nit with this. Klarion is a Lord of Chaos, and his efforts to stop the scheme would have naturally resulted in more chaos, rather than a simple party. Otherwise, most excellent main story and fun little back-up. It's actually kind of terrifying to find out how many DC characters are bird- or cat-based.

  • Sep 5th
  • Half StarfishJustice League #7 - Really? Ok, just tell me when this thing is over.
  • One and a half StarfishGreen Lanterns #54 - Man, those rings are really insecure if THAT guy can hack into them. In fact, for the most powerful weapon in the universe, they are pretty much useless if any old idiot can take them over.

Wednesday, September 04, 2019

Movie Review: Avengers: Endgame (2019)

Quick review: Lots of fun, but WAY too long. Three and a half Starfish

***Spoilers ahead. You've been warned.***

Three hours. That's about an hour and a half too long for a movie for me. I'm so glad I didn't see this in a theater. I'm just going to note here, I don't like my movies to go more than 90 minutes any more. Even Aquaman was a tad too long for me, and I loved it. By contrast, this movie could have had a ton of "moments" cut from it and been just as good but more tolerable to watch. In my opinion. I'm sure other folks will completely disagree.

The movie starts in a very dark place, with the heroes having been defeated utterly by Thanos. The despair gets worse when they learn they cannot undo what's been done - Thanos made certain of that. So everyone attempts to get on with life, despite having lost literally half of every loved one in the universe. What impressed me was the way people didn't just move on and adjust. Everyone had PTSD and everyone was still suffering five years later. Even those who were most successful at moving on were still suffering. Which only makes sense. You don't lose half the population of the universe and just recover in the blink of an eye.

It was Scott who really brought it all home, though. He pops out of nowhere with a possible solution, and his sheer shock at everything that's happened makes for some interesting scenes. The bit with the kid on the bike was one of those strange moments that just worked.

The "gathering of the heroes" scenes could have been way shorter and still effective. There were a lot of moments when I just wanted to turn it off or hit fast forward. Most of the "Hulk selfie" thing could have been cut. It went on much too long. Same with the Thor scenes. Just too much.

Anyway, then there's the time travel. No matter what you do with time travel, something won't work. It's just the curse of working with paradoxes and such. And there's a massive "ug" moment in this movie when the past figures out the future and ... yeah, branching time streams. Whatever. I'd rather just not deal with it at all. In the end, that's what pulled this movie down for me. They have a massive paradox happening, and a snap of the fingers, and it's still a paradox but apparently only in a branching time stream and where does that leave Gamora? It's not like she could go back to her own time once both the quantum thingies were destroyed.

I did like the return of all the missing heroes. The portals opening made for an excellent moment. Having an army to go against Thanos' legions was nice to see.

In the end, we got a mostly fun movie with a lot of long boring moments and a massive battle scene. And an unholy mess of a paradox finish. It could have been better, but then it could have been much much worse.

Sunday, September 01, 2019

A Sunday Comic Books Review

Here are reviews of the DCBS comic books that I've gotten around to reading and reviewing, sorted by the original shipping date:
  • Aug 1st
  • Half StarfishJustice League #5 - I don't have anything nice to say about this tale, so I'll just move on to the next book.
  • One and a half StarfishGreen Lanterns #52 - Can't they give Baz a break? I mean, seriously. All this mind-game stuff is getting old.
  • Three StarfishPrisoner #4 - Well. Huh. I'm not really sure what to make of it. But then, that's the trick with any Prisoner story - it can't be obvious and it must have multiple ways of interpreting it. So the fact that it ended, if not neatly, at least with a solution of sorts... well, is that what I want or expect? Fun idea of what "Number One" is, though. I think I liked it. Or did I? Maybe I just didn't understand it.

  • Aug 8th
  • Three StarfishPlastic Man #3 - I'm not sure I'd be willing to trust Plastic Man's witness protection program. Still. This is fun, but a little scattered. Huh. Kind of like Plastic Man himself.
  • Three and a half StarfishSuicide Squad #45 - I swear that Harley is really all about breaking the fourth-wall. She's the saving grace of this book, with her snark and sensitivity. As for the story, yeah, it seemed like an obvious slant to the plot at the end there. I hope I picked up everything in this crossover.
  • Three and a half StarfishScooby Apocalypse #28 - So, the story has been telegraphing that final panel since the events that Daphne is so sensitive about, but we're still no closer to figuring out exactly what it means. This isn't the Scooby I grew up with, but I still enjoy it for what it is.
  • Two and a half StarfishSpongeBob Comics #83 - Fairly standard issue, with an emphasis on Plankton, who is not a favorite of mine.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Movie Review: Shazam (2019)

Quick review: I liked it. Lots of fun. Four and a half Starfish

***Spoilers ahead. You've been warned.***

I admit I've never been a huge Captain Marvel fan. And by "Captain Marvel", I'm referring to the real name of Shazam. I gather it's not acceptable to refer to him that way any more because of the whole intellectual property rights thing... but if you look at the character's history, it's been nothing BUT intellectual property rights messes.

Anyway, this movie decided to have fun with the name, since he can't use his actual name anymore. And he can't say his Wizard name without changing. So instead, the character was given new names constantly throughout, which was a lot of fun at times. Although it did begin to get old toward the end of the movie.

Ah, and there's my one criticism of the movie. At a running time of 132 minutes, some of the jokes began to get stale before the end. Yes, we get it. He's a teenage boy in a man's body. You don't have to dwell on it quite that much. Fortunately, the movie didn't let it get too stale, and there were enough other jokes to almost completely make up for the stale ones. I didn't end up rolling my eyes too much.

So, with that criticism out of the way, how did I like it? I enjoyed it a lot. I'm glad I didn't see it in a theater, as I needed a break roughly halfway through, but that's a complaint about the current length of movies, and not this one in particular. With the opportunity to take a break, the movie worked perfectly for me.

When I first heard about Zachary Levi as the main character, I was... um, let's say "skeptical". There's a part of me that didn't find him quite right for the role, but it's a big multiverse and I'm willing to accept that in one of them Captain Marvel looks like this and not... what he looks like in the comics. Other than the look, I think Levi was perfection in the role. The sense of wonder of a child experiencing true power for the first time came across very nicely.

The plot was solid, with much of the movie focusing on Billy learning about his abilities and what it means to have powers. The introduction of Sivana was nice (does John Glover only play bad dads in DC properties?) and his development was sketched out brilliantly in only a few scenes. He didn't have to chew any scenery for his character to work, which is slightly ironic because his character in the comic books is nothing BUT a scenery-chewer.

I haven't been following recent Shazam too closely in comics, but I knew about his "family" of fellow orphans. And I've seen at least one comic where they all got powers. So that bit didn't surprise me much... but it was a heckuva lot of a fun. I also liked the inclusion of the tiger. Anyone who knows the comic knows why that's important.

The Easter Eggs in this movie jumped out at me. I guess I know enough about the character to be tickled by such gems as the name of Billy's father and Darla's last name. The mid-credit sequence was clearly going to happen based on what we saw of that particular character on the Rock of Eternity. Amazing how two shots of a glass terrarium can foretell a potential plot point so perfectly.

While a sequel cannot capture the same magic as this one managed, I hope it manages it's own level of magic. With Wonder Woman, Aquaman and Shazam all turning out to be excellent films, I do hope the DC Movie Universe can manage to maintain the altitude.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

A Sunday Comic Books Review

Here are reviews of the DCBS comic books that I've gotten around to reading and reviewing, sorted by the original shipping date:
  • Jul 18th
  • Half StarfishJustice League #4 - Nope. Still no interest. I hope this story ends soon.
  • Two StarfishGreen Lanterns #51 - Huh. It's not that it's a bad story, it's just that it holds no interest for me. The Cosmic nature of the GL Corps doesn't spark my imagination, this time.
  • Four StarfishArchie Meets Batman '66 #1 - Ah, that's more like it. I think these crossovers are remarkably silly, but that's half the fun. And while this will never live up to Archie vs the Punisher, this is a promising start. I like how it's Veronica noticing the problems first. This will be a good ride.

  • Jul 25th
  • Four StarfishMera: Queen of Atlantis #6 - I'm a sap, because I was genuinely upset that Orm didn't get returned to the surface by Mera. I'll also say I doubted turning Tula into Orm's sister, but it really worked well for this story. This entire series was great, and I would love to see more like it in the future.
  • Four StarfishAquaman #38 - Among all the other sins of Dark Knights: Metal, I can also lay the blame for the ending of this book on it. Still, overall the issue wasn't bad. I liked seeing all of Atlantis unite, although it was annoying in that standard comic book way to see the bad guys leave at the end instead of being dead and gone.
  • Three and a half StarfishBatman Beyond #22 - Wow, the Creeper. Not a bad set-up story, but it's really all set-up and not much more. Still, good stuff.
  • Four StarfishScooby-Doo Team-Up #40 - With Swamp Thing involved, I expected one of the slightly half-serious issues. Happily, I was completely wrong. This was pure fun classic Scooby-Doo with lots of guests and some actual real information about zombies mixed in with the superhero/villain goofiness. Good times.

Thursday, July 18, 2019


Skim on by, you don't need to see this...

Sunday, June 09, 2019

A Sunday Comic Books Review

I'm almost a year behind!!!

Here are reviews of the DCBS comic books that I've gotten around to reading and reviewing, sorted by the original shipping date:
  • Jul 4th
  • Half StarfishJustice League #3 - I want to say it's a bad sign when I like the Snickers ad on the inside back cover more than the story in the book.
  • Three StarfishGreen Lanterns #50 - All the lanterns, all the events, all the stuff... not much of a plot yet. I'm left a bit cold. I guess I want my stories to have more meat on them.
  • Three StarfishDoctor Strange #3 - Hm. Ok, that was pretty good, I'll admit. A decent goal, necessary deceit, and a bit of pathos. Not bad. I'm still not in favor of cosmic stuff, but the appearance of the dog at the end was nice.

  • Jul 11th
  • Three StarfishPlastic Man #2 - It may be that I read the first issue several months ago, but I'm a wee bit confused by this one. Ok, it's funny, but confusing.
  • Three StarfishScooby Apocalypse #27 - Scrappy is reintroduced, and he's as annoying as always. But since he's not being all "puppy power!" I'll let it pass and just ignore him. Overall, a strange issue.
  • Three StarfishSpongeBob Comics #82 - Nothing of note in this one, beyond the usual fun. As always, if you like SpongeBob, you'll enjoy this book. Otherwise you'd best avoid it.