It’s been 10 years since the Marvel Cinematic Universe was kicked off with Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark in Iron Man, and it has taken us this long to finally get a non-white superhero in a solo outing. Such has been a major downside of the MCU, although there have been some good movies made in that time, and the arrival of King T’Challa in his own movie is a fantastic step forward as the MCU begins to chart a new course for the future, moving into the nebulous Phase 4 which is still raw and undefined.
Black Panther, in many ways, is an Afro-futurism dream come true. A major black superhero shaped by the rich diversity of the many African cultures, a harmonious and united forward-looking society that is true to its roots, and a superb social message that transcends cultural barriers. Ryan Coogler and his team have pulled off something amazing with Black Panther and although the villains were somewhat lacking in the movie, it did prove to be a diversity extravaganza in every way that matters when it comes to African culture and how characters of color are portrayed, whether men or women.
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Ask any comics fan who is the most iconic female superhero and the majority answer is likely to be Wonder Woman. Created by William Moulton Marston and Harry G. Peter in 1941, she has emerged as one of the most dominant of all female superheroes. Sure, you have the Storms and Jean Greys and Supergirls and Batgirls and Black Widow and others, but none come close to the pedigree of Diana, Princess of Themiscyra and Daughter of Hippolyta. Following the success of Man of Steel and Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice we finally have the character’s first live-action movie, Wonder Woman, that goes back to her origins and transposes the character into the war-torn era of the First World War and shows how a young girl made of clay become a legend and a myth.
Note: Some spoilers from the movie discussed in the review.
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The Teen Titans are one of the most prominent of DC’s superhero teams, primarily because it is based around legacy superheroes such as Wonder Girl and Robin and other young heroes like Starfire and Beast Boy. Over the years, the Teen Titans have carved out quite a niche for themselves, even transcending the comics with shows like Young Justice and Teen Titans Go! which have proven to be popular as well. So it was no surprise that when DC began to roll out its series of Earth One storylines for its premier heroes like Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman, that they’d delve into the Teen Titans as well.
Teen Titans: Earth One Vol.1 repositions the team in a timeline that is very different from the current comics storyline. This is a trend that follows on from the other Earth One graphic novels, where the characters and their stories are reinvented and have their own continuity separate from the main comics-verse. Written by Jeff Lemire and art by the Dodson Duo, it is an interesting read that brings together some classic characters such as Raven, Cyborg, Beast Boy and others, but it also falls short by a significant margin because the story can be incomprehensible at times.
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Marvel Studio’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier, which is the second movie in the Captain America series, is very much the best movie in the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe. Iron Man and The Avengers come very close, but The Winter Soldier is a well-balanced mix of action and intrigue that superhero movies in general would do well to emulate. And it gets even better in comparison with its predecessor, Captain America: The First Avenger, which was a very lackluster and subdued affair with a boring villain and a boring plot. As such, the studio’s latest, Captain America: Civil War had a lot to live up too, and while it didn’t disappoint, it also left much to be desired.
Captain America: Civil War builds forward from the end of The Avengers: Age of Ultron from last year, and takes the overall story of the MCU forward in a plot that sees conflicts develop between the team members, conflicts that were hinted at in The Avengers and which are now magnified from several angles. As a pure action movie, Civil War does not fail to entertain and is right on point. But as an adaptation of the infamous Civil War storyline from the comics, it is unsuccessful and unsatisfactory.
Note: This review contains some major spoilers for the movie and even some for the original comics the movie is adapted from, so read at your own peril.
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Daredevil is one of Marvel Comics’ workhorse superheroes. He is a street-level character who usually deals with criminal realities on the streets rather than having the grandiose adventures of the kind that the Avengers and X-Men, though he has certainly participated in a few shared high-rides in his long history. A little over a decade ago, the character got a major push when we got the 2003 Daredevil live-action movie starring Ben Affleck, Jennifer Garner, Colin Ferrell and Michael Clarke Duncan in the lead roles. While the movie had some potential to it, it unfortunately flopped and the character’s live-action future was binned. That is, until the rights to the titular character and a few other associated heroes and villains reverted back to Marvel Comics almost three years ago.
This reverting then led to Netflix picking up the slate for a shared-universe TV series and last year we saw the first fruits of the same with the first season of Daredevil, with Charlie Cox taking up the torch from Ben Affleck in the titular role as we saw how the Man Without Fear got his start in his fight against crime in the Hell’s Kitchen area of New York, and indeed in the rest of the city as well. Comprising of thirteen spectacular episodes, Daredevil effectively broke new ground in lots of different ways and brought together an amazing cast of actors who gave it their all, cementing Daredevil as a major superhero once again while also shining the spotlight on his various friends and enemies.
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The world of superhero television has been quite a abuzz this year. Whether it is the topic of the new DC Television shows like Supergirl and Legends of Tomorrow or Arrow and Agents of SHIELD coming back for yet more after seeing some record success, or even the release of the Netflix Marvel shows, 2015 has been pretty damn incredible so far. And it only keeps getting better. Earlier this year we had the first of the new Defenders franchise, Daredevil, which did an incredible job of bringing the blind lawyer and superhero Matt Murdoch to television. Successful enough that it was almost immediately renewed for a second season, which only seems to be getting better with each new piece of information coming out about the show’s production.
But of course, one of the things that Daredevil was meant to do was pave the way for Jessica Jones, the second show in the series of 4 that will eventually lead to a Defenders show. Starring the likes of Krysten Ritter, David Tennant, Mike Colter and Rachael Taylor, Jessica Jones has had a great first season, and I must say that I was pleasantly surprised by the show. Sure, it had some hits and misses like most debut shows (especially the superhero variety), but it also did some really mind-boggling things that you wouldn’t have expected. And the stars, and the writing and everything else all fit together into a really neat package that is worth going back for a rewatch.
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Let’s not mince any words here. Ever since the show’s pilot got leaked online a few months back, I’ve been pretty damn excited for this. The trailers were promising, though a bit weird, but I had faith in the show and what it promised to deliver, and the leaked pilot did set me up on the positivity train. Well now, now we are in the second week of the show, and all those months of waiting has definitely been worth it. From the people who’ve brought us so many comic-book properties on television in recent years, Supergirl is a great addition to the line-up.
I reviewed the leaked pilot back in May, which you can read here, and it was a pretty good experience for me. As I said in that article, I found the actual pilot to be much better than the trailer let on, and it made me fall in love with Melissa Benoist’s portrayal of the Maid of Might all over again. Supergirl is one of my favourite DC superheroes, and it is great to see such a perfect portrayal here, which easily matches what Grant Gustin has been doing for close to two years now as The Flash. The supporting cast is also working fairly well together, and though there are a few kinks here and there in terms of story and general character-writing, this show has started off great.
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DC’s Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman got off to a really great start last year, but somewhere along the way, it kind of lost its momentum with some really odd stories that seemed to be shoehorned in, for no reason at all. And that’s kind of why I felt turned off from the experience of reading the comics, and even writing the reviews, because I didn’t want to review what I saw as less-than-expected. There were some good stories in the middle, sure, but mostly, it was all just rather boring.
Thankfully, issues #33 through #35 provide something of a revival in that respect. Some of the recent stories have been really good, and I think that it is this arc, Vendetta, that puts it all into perspective. Written by Josh Elder, this arc is all about a fateful encounter between Diana and Ares, set against the backdrop of a racial civil war in a war-torn African country. It feels simplistic at first, but it has a great message, and that’s the true value of it. The art by Jamal Igle, Juan Castro, Wendy Broome and Deron Bennett is also fairly decent, though it could use some improvements.
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Just as Dynamite is no stranger to crossover event comics, it is also no stranger to team-up style comics, of which the publisher has done quite a few in recent years. Masks is once such title. It came out in 2012-2013 and it brought together many of the publisher’s various pulp action heroes such as The Shadow, Green Hornet, The Spider, and others. I never read the title then, as I wasn’t really into either pulp comics or Dynamite in general back then, and that’s kind of something I regret at this point, given how strongly some of these characters are in their solo series.
Masks 2 came out last month with its first issue, and it kind of proved to be a slam dunk for me. I’m of course familiar with Green Hornet and Kato from the unfortunate Seth Rogen movie, and the other characters like Shadow and Spider I’ve read about in some other titles like Justice Inc. and The Spider, whereas the others are all new to me. And that’s part of the fun of this first issue, that you get to see and meet so many different personalities. Cullen Bunn does some great work setting up the main conflict of the story here, and Eman Casallos’ art seems to hit the mark as well, capturing the feel and tone of the era quite well.
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Last year DC/WB announced that Supergirl aka Kara Zor-El would finally be making her way back to live-screen this year, with the character getting an ongoing show on CBS, which is part-owned by CW, the network that airs the hit-and-successful superhero shows The Flash and Arrow with a joint spin-off Legends of Tomorrow launching later this year as well. As a huge fan of the unfairly maligned Supergirl movie with Helen Slater, this was great news for me, especially since I love the character, and because the current creative team on the Supergirl comics is also just totally rocking it right now.
Through all the casting information and plot details that were revealed about Supergirl, it came across as a decent addition to the DC/WB television DC universe, and I was certainly excited by the prospect. And then just a few days ago we had what was an awesome 6-min trailer that introduced Melissa Benoist as Kara Danvers aka Kara Zor-El aka Supergirl. The trailer had some flaws, but it was promising, and I couldn’t wait to see more. Which I did last night since the pilot episode got “leaked” onto the internet everywhere, and I saw for myself just how good this show was really going to be, and that the trailer didn’t do the show enough justice.
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Since October last year, this has been coming, the end of one of the best shows on television in the last five years. Something that a lot of people hoped would be great, but doubted would actually get to that stage. But CW’s The Flash beat pretty much every expectation that fans had of it. It breezed by, changed the landscape, and maintained one hell of a consistency week after week. Sure, there were the occasional silly things such as the Bug-Eyed Bandit and what not, but by and large, and for me at least, The Flash was so much better of a show than Arrow, and I don’t say that lightly.
In episodes 21 through 23 (“Grodd Lives“, “Rogue Air“, and, “Fast Enough“), we see some of the most incredible moments of the show as yet. The first of those is pretty obvious. Gorilla Grodd was hinted at as being a villain on the show since the pilot and much of my fascination with the show was because of that expectation, which this episode met in a really great way and did justice to one of my favourite villains from the DC verse. The second switched things around a bit when Barry got Snart and his gang involved in his fight against Harrison Wells, with some truly tragic results, but which also solidified his moralities. And then, and then we have the finale from last night, which was beyond incredible. I had such huge expectations from the finale, and I certainly wasn’t disappointed. It was what fans needed and deserved after a season’s worth of trust and promise.
Note: This review contains some major spoilers for all three episodes, though I’ll try to keep things simple for the finale.
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Last time we were with Kamala Khan aka the new Ms. Marvel, Loki crash-landed a prom party and she rightly schooled him for his scheming and planning, in addition to some great heroics in general. That’s one of the most endearing things about the title and the character because G. Willow Wilson has made Ms. Marvel into a very fun and relaxed title that occasionally deals with real world issues but never gets too heavy with the allusions so that you go and think “geez, not this again”. More than a year on since release, and Ms. Marvel is still one of the best titles on the shelves, and for good reason!
Taken together, issues #13 through #15 of Ms. Marvel are about Kamala exploring more of her Inhuman legacy and also learning more about herself and fighting against everyday challenges borne out of the patriarchal bias of society. G. Willow Wilson has taken a somewhat similar line before, using Kamala’s adventures as social commentary in one way or another, but she really hits it out of the park with these three issues, and the art by new-to-series Takeshi Miyazawa impresses as much as that of Adrian Alphona before, making for a very seamless transition.
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