Monday, May 29, 2017

Comic Review: DC's "The Button" Parts 2-4 (2017) (SPOILERS AHEAD!)

As a way of making up for falling behind on comics this past month, I decided to simply read through all three remaining parts of the storyline (Flash #21, Batman #22, and Flash #22) and write up one final review for it. The good news is that the next major event involving this story isn't coming out until November, so I had plenty of time to catch up!

Flash #21 continues right where Batman #21 left off, leaving us to question what really killed Reverse Flash, and where would we go from here? As Barry/Flash attempts to make sense of everything going on around him, more parallels to Watchmen begin to stand out. In the double-page spread below, you can clearly see the black, white, and red coloring of the smiley face pin being displayed in the smaller panels, showing Bruce getting pummeled by Eobard Thawne/Reverse Flash:

Once Barry finally speaks with Bruce again, he blames himself for the issues with the current timeline. Bruce tells Barry that it couldn't be his fault, as the issues they were experiencing pre-dated Flashpoint (still not fully understanding what Bruce is talking about here???). We get more reflections on Wally telling Barry that moments of their history were stolen from them, and what it all means. Barry also remembered the helmet of a different Flash (Jay Garrick from Justice League of America), and the fact that it left him feeling calmer as a result of it, without really knowing why.

Barry decides to use the cosmic treadmill (that he once used to try and save his mother in the past), to follow the radiation of the smiley face button to its source, and determine what could have possibly killed Thawne. Bruce decides to go along too, despite still recovering from his encounter with Thawne. As they travel, they begin to see events from the past that they themselves don't even recall happening. This prompts Barry to question if this is some of what was "stolen" from them previously, but once again, it leaves us with more questions than answers.

Once they reach the end of their journey they come to meet Bruce's father, Thomas Wayne from the Flashpoint universe. (I suppose if Reverse Flash is going to rip up your only memento of the guy, the next best thing you can do is actually go see him in person, right?) This concludes Part 2.

Batman #22 (Part 3) continues with Thomas, Barry, and Bruce briefly following up on events. The most poignant question proposed is how the Flashpoint universe could still be existing at this point, if Barry prevented it from ever occurring at the end of the original Flashpoint comic. They begin to deduce that someone is purposely "holding" on to these different histories for one reason or another. We learn that Thomas was planning to commit suicide right before Barry and Bruce arrived, and that he was also about to be ambushed by both Amazonians and Atlanteans from the Flashpoint war. Bruce also gets a brief moment to tell Thomas that he's a grandfather.

Due to an incoming ambush of the Amazonians and Atlanteans, Bruce and Thomas unfortunately get no time to talk with one another, and immediately have to prepare for the onslaught coming their way, while Barry works to fix the cosmic treadmill. As this is all going on, the Flashpoint universe itself begins to come undone. Barry makes a point to say he felt like it was done on purpose, possibly by the same person who was "holding" these different points in history. Barry manages to fix the treadmill just in time. Just before leaving, Thomas says something quite bold to Bruce: "DON'T BE BATMAN. Find happiness, please. You don't have to do this. Don't do it for me. Don't do it for your mother. Be a father for your son in a way I never could be for you. Let the Batman die with me."

I admit, if I were Bruce, I would have no idea how to react to that. It also obviously has some type of impact, as I'll get into a little farther down.

Bruce and Barry continue on as the Flashpoint universe now becomes completely destroyed. After this, they immediately get passed by Reverse Flash. Wait, I thought he was dead!? Well, he is, but this is revealed to be the Reverse Flash of the past, right before the moment that killed him. He states that he knows who the power of the button belongs to, as he leaves Barry and Bruce behind. End of Part 3.

Flash #22 (Part 4) opens with a bit of a rehash of things we already saw from the previous issue for about six pages (which is kind of annoying when this story is only a short 4-part arc to begin with). The scene follows about the way you would expect it to; with Thawne going forward to his death by the hands of what we're pretty sure is Doctor Manhattan. The cosmic treadmill begins to break, while Bruce and Barry keep hearing a voice calling out to them. Barry couldn't seem to place the voice, but eventually listened and started to say his name, "... Jay?" If the cover didn't make it completely obvious, Jay Garrick (the original Flash from DC's Golden Age) makes a triumphant return in order to save Barry and Bruce, and quickly rushes them back to the batcave, where the entire event started. Unfortunately, Jay and Barry also don't get much time to talk, before Jay is whisked away once more. This leaves everyone with far more questions than answers (ugh!).

We finish things off with two more memorable moments. The first being Bruce, looking out at the batsignal, but reflecting on his father's words about not being Batman anymore. Bruce's silence in this scene actually said quite a bit, and it will be interesting to see how this affects his judgement going forward. The second scene in the epilogue, however, is the real big moment:

Yes, with that direct quote from Watchmen, familiar type of comic bubble, and gigantic blue hand, we can finally confirm that it was in fact Doctor Manhattan that killed Reverse Flash. Following this is an ad for DC's Doomsday Clock event, further continuing this story, and hinting at a very strong connection between the colors of the Watchmen pin and Superman's chest emblem.

I could easily see why some people would feel let down by this story arc. Like a lot of hype-train events from both DC and Marvel, many of these stories end up feeling like long advertisements for future events (in this case, the upcoming Doomsday Clock event in November), and this is really no exception to that rule. Part of the reason that I still came out of this event with more positive reactions than negative is the fact that I was expecting it to go that way. From the moment DC announced this was going to be a 4-part story arc, I knew there was no way we could have a story that would resemble anything complete or totally comprehensive. While I admit I did feel a little disappointed that we didn't get ANY answers to our questions yet, I'm also not one of those people who was expecting to get EVERY answer either. Looking back on this event for what it WAS instead of what it WASN'T, left me with a much more positive outlook. I was originally cringing at the thought of DC combining with the Watchmen universe, and now have to admit I'm actually kind of excited to see where this is all going.

If you've also read "The Button," feel free to share your thoughts with me.

Thanks for reading!

Flash #21 - 8/10
Batman #22 - 8/10
Flash #22 - 7/10

Friday, May 19, 2017

Deadpool's Cool And Relevant Movie Review Of Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol.2 (2017) (SPOILERS AHEAD!!!!)

Good morning/afternoon/evening/whateverthehellisinbetweenthose everyone! Something dawned on me this past week. I forgot something. Something very important. Yes, that's right. I just about wrote the entire review for this movie in my head, but never actually WROTE the bloody thing in all of that time!!! So, if it's alright with you, I'd like to slyly release this review in a style similar to a kid sneaking into his class after getting there extremely late. Coolzies? COOLZIES!!!


With that off of my chest (for now, until it comes back later in this review most likely), I'd like to say this movie is an enjoyable experience, even if not necessarily better than the original. That's okay. It didn't HAVE to better per se. Do you like soundtracks with music from the 60's-80's? Check. Do you enjoy laughing at the misfortunes of the group due to antics that they themselves usually cause? Double de Check. Are you okay with the fact that the plot can go all over the effing place for the sake of keeping this in line with other Marvel movies? Ehhh... I guess that's half check for me.

Superhero movies (as of late) tend to have one big flaw that they're all basically constrained to. The execs of both the Marvel and DC movies are certain that in order for their movies to be successful, they have to not only make a great stand alone tale, but also mix in enough bits and pieces to make it relevant to the other upcoming films. Fair thought to have. In some cases, this can work pretty well. In others, it can be absolutely fatal. I hate to say it, because I love SO many things about the first Guardians movie, but this one did start to suffer a case of "future movie setup" hell. It didn't RUIN the experience, but it damn well could have, and I'm certain some people do feel pretty defiled by it. (Yeeck, I hate that word; defiled. It's almost as bad as moist. Ugh. Moist... I need a shower...).

So what's good about it to counter that slightly shittier paragraph above? Well, the character developments were actually really nice for the most part. Probably the most surprising was the bonding that took place between Yondu and Rocket. I did not expect Yondu to suddenly become one of the better characters of the movie, but it happened (and this is talking PRIOR to the now famous 'Mary Poppins' line that I'm SO jealous I didn't come up with first!!!). Peter/Star-Lord's development with his father, Ego, was certainly interesting as well. You just KNEW something was up, but didn't know just what until the later half. And boy, did that reveal hurt... Not the reveal about him actually being a planet, like in the comics; that was kick-ass. (HA, take THAT, losers who try to complain about everything not being like the comics, only to be proven wrong!!!) I meant the reveal about being the actual cause of his wife's death. That stung. This white dudebro, extremely smart and composed green woman (who should actually be leading the group, btw), talking asshole raccoon, giant "everything is literal" warrior, and cute tiny tree babypants are like my family now. When you hurt my family, people die, in horrible (and usually hilarious) ways, depicted on a 2x6 comic grid panel.

Not to leave out other character developments, the dialogue between Drax and Mantis was very sweet (minus the fact that Drax was heinously dickish the entire time, and I'm going to hell for laughing at some of it). Gamora and Nebula also had a very intense moment, despite their more forced encounter in the beginning. And who could leave out the mention of Peter and Gamora's relationship, which seems to still be building up slowly, even though Gamora's still not having any of Peter's bullshit? That's wonderful. My kind of fighter. <3

As with the first movie, the soundtrack is pretty much the best thing about it, no question. Okay, end of review now... Except not really, because HA! I don't know if I felt like every song resonated with the movie as well as it did the first time around, but this was still very well put together, and I commend James Gunn for once again knocking it out of the park. This time, you might hear a few more songs you're not as familiar with. And that's okay, because you don't always have to be an absolute hipster know-it-all jackass about every damn thing in your life. You can admit that you don't know all the songs. Really, it's alright. Once you realize no one gives a shit about your musical boner of knowledge, the sooner you can move on to getting more dates with actual live humans... or kree, or whatever you're into!

One more thing I do feel the need to mention (because it's my review and I'll cry if I want to!), is one major difference between the first and second movie. In the first, you felt like the universe was a big, mysterious place, and that the Guardians were just characters living in it. In this movie, it seemed more like the entire universe was created just for them to play around in and do as they please. It took me almost a freaking WEEK to figure out just what was bothering me about the film so much, and I think I've finally gotten there. GO ME! I am a rock. I am an island. I am Groot.

So again, positives:

- Super happy fun time continues!
- Pretty good character developments all around.
- So colorful, it'll make the Steven Universe artists blush.
- Dat funky music.
- We are Groot.
- David Hasslehoff is still relevant, apparently.

Aaaand the negatives:

- WTF plot is WTF all over the place.
- Too much insistence on connecting to other future movies.
- I love Howard the Duck, but seriously, stahp!
- What kind of name is TASERFACE!? (Okay, this one is actually just me continuing the joke, and is not to be taken seriously... like the name Taserface.)
- Laws of the universe are so bent for these characters, it's putting Barry Allen to shame.

7.5 David Hasslehoff References Out Of 10

I think that just about covers it. Movie's still fun, but we need to point out the bad when it happens, m'kay? And that's ALRIGHT. We're ALLOWED to do that! You can like Return of the Jedi and hate Ewoks with a flaming passion. It's totally cool. I got you. Here's hoping Marvel can still keep the gravy train coming, and I can't wait to see if Wonder Woman finally breaks the DC movie hate curse. Look forward to more superhero movies, people!... You know, until the market implodes and over-saturates to the point of no return. But I'm sure that'll be well after our lifetimes, and screw those other people, am I right!? (I know I'm not really right, stop judging me!) TILL NEXT TIME, TRUE BELIEVERS!

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

My Top Ten Picks From Free Comic Book Day 2017

It took quite a while to read 30+ comics in order to make this list, but as always, it's been a lot of fun (and a bit of work in places). Enjoy the list and explanations below!

10. Underdog #1

Maybe it's just the kid in me who loved this cartoon as a child, but this short issue manages to capture just about everything I ever loved about the original cartoon. The zany circumstances and even zanier villains behind them? Check. Hilarious narration? Check. Pun-tastic dialogue between characters? Check! It even managed to capture the charm of the cliffhanger sequences, where you would cut to a commercial during a really crucial moment. As far as nostalgia trips go, this one is at the top. I also recommend it to any young kids as well, as I'm sure they'll also love it like I did back when I was their age.

9. Wonder Woman #1: Special Edition

While I do tend to get disappointed whenever DC decides to simply re-release older material for FCBD, instead of simply writing up new stories to tease us for future events, this was admittedly a great choice for them to go with. As with other titles in DC's Rebirth event, this issue serves as a great starting point (if the "Year One" title didn't already make it obvious). This will also be of interest to those looking forward to the upcoming movie, as you will notice a lot of similarities between parts of the movie trailer and the events in this issue. Well worth the read if you're not yet up to speed with Diana.

8. 2000 AD Special

It impresses me to see this title come out every single year. Not only do you get a host of talent together for multiple short stories, but they somehow manage to feel fresh and engaging every single time. This is one of those yearly releases that you can never go wrong with. Consistency is key, and this book always nails it.

7. X-O Manowar Special

Don't let the title fool you. While X-O Manowar is the bulk of the issue, there is host of other characters and information included here. Along with the X-O Manowar prelude story, you also get a preview for the upcoming Blooshot Salvation story, written by Jeff Lemire. Without giving away too much, a new character is introduced, and big things already appear to be in the works. There's also a short preview for Harbinger Wars 2. If you're unfamiliar with these titles, the stories here might not mean much to you, but fans of Valiant will have a lot to look forward to here.

6. BOOM! Studios Summer Blast

As always, Boom likes to show off previews for multiple titles in their FCBD offerings. In this issue, you get an all new Mouse Guard story from Archaia, a preview of the new series from KaBOOM!, Brave Chef Brianna, and finally a spin-off of Lumberjanes called "Coady and the Creepies," focusing on a supernatural punk band trying to get their foot in the door. As much as I love Mouse Guard, I have to admit that Brave Chef Brianna is the story that actually won me over the most. It's about a girl setting up a restaurant in a city of all monsters. It's got that innocent charm that you can't help but love for a series like this, and it's admittedly very funny. I cracked up at least three times from this short story alone. It's also really neat that they offer a new recipe for a dish at the end of every issue (including this one). Fun times all around!

5. Star Trek: Mirror Broken

If it's not already obvious, this story was created solely for the hardcore Trek fan that wants to explore every possible nook and cranny of each series. Luckily, I happen to be one of those people! Here, we see the cast of Star Trek: Next Generation finally heading into a realm the shows and movies never touched; the mirror universe! This is only the first part of an upcoming miniseries, but it's already clear that this is going to be something that hardcore fans (especially of Next Generation) will want to check out.

4. I Hate Image

I have never read Image's "I Hate Fairyland" before, but after reading this comic, I now feel that I absolutely have to. In this issue, Gertrude (the girl smiling on top of all the bodies on the cover) is trying to escape Fairyland, but has to go through 'Image' in order to get there. You get various settings and cameos from just about all of Image's biggest titles, and hilarious sequences of Gertrude interacting with them. Walking Dead? It's in here. Spawn? Of course. Saga? Oh yeah. Even the infamous "Lying!" cat is here. Longtime readers will appreciate this "Kingdom Hearts With Blood" approach taken.

3. World's Greatest Cartoonists

Fantagraphics has been known to put out some of the greatest comics in the business (especially Love & Rockets). This volume does a great job of giving you glimpses into titles you may have never heard of before, with all new stories (and even missing/deleted pieces from others). It's also got a new short story by Matt Furie, creator of Boy's Club (and the now infamous character Pepe the Frog). Due to the character of Pepe being used to create memes for the "Alt-Right," Pepe was later declared to be a hate symbol by the Anti-Defamation League. This comic showcases Pepe's funeral, as it seems Matt is showing that he has given up on trying to redeem the character. This is an absolutely jam-packed comic, and there's no reason not to give it a read.

2. The Incal

If you are unfamiliar with Alejandro Jodorowsky, this is the quintessential book to try. Many will know Jodorowsky from his failed attempt at making a movie adaptation of "Dune," or his extremely trippy movies like "El Topo," but The Incal is probably the most important work he has ever put out. This issue offers 30 pages of the original graphic novel. Without going into too many details, this is a futuristic sci-fi story that will absolutely blow your mind with its storytelling and psychedelic visuals. While one could argue that this preview isn't enough to give you a true idea of the bigger picture in these stories, it at least serves as a helpful starting point. It's one of the most odd, but intriguing titles out there in the comic medium.

1. Hostage

This one really shocked me, and that's part of why it's at #1. Every time I've picked up a FCBD issue from Drawn and Quarterly, you typically get a laugh or two. This? This is something quite series. The issue includes two stories from now famous French comics (one currently out in English, and the other coming out later this year). The first is Guy Delisle's "Hostage." Not only is this story of being held captive a frightening and claustrophobic one, but it's also based off a true story on top of everything else. The second preview, "Poppies of Iraq," contains Brigitte Findakly's account of her life growing up in Iraq during the reign of Saddam Hussein, and goes all the way to the Paris attacks of 2015. While there was not a huge amount of content in this comic, it still managed to say plenty. I could imagine Brigitte's story in particular being compared to works like Maus in the future, and it will be interesting to see how it is perceived here in the States.

Honorable Mentions:
Doctor Who, Bongo Comics Free-For-All, Rick & Morty, Catalyst Prime: The Event, Lady Mechanika

Thanks for reading! Let me know what your favorite Free Comic Book Day issues were in the comments!