Category Archives: Batman

Justice League: A (Spoiler Free) Movie Review


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justice-league-poster-fandango

Batman smiles!

But more on that later…

If one were to peruse my prior reviews of DC movies, one would find that I have been far more generous in my appraisal of their quality than widespread opinion has been. I have also enjoyed them more, it seems, than much of the movie-going public (though, for the negative reputations these movies have, someone is seeing them – they make a lot of dough!). It should come as no surprise, then, that I very much enjoyed Justice League. There is a Seven Samurai, bring the heroes together quality to the film that is intentional and that works very, very well. Each of the five (six?) heroes of the Justice League are spotlighted quite nicely as they determine whether or not to band together against, you know, ultimate evil.

Let us begin with that self-same ultimate evil. The glaring disappointment in the movie is Steppenwolf, the antagonist whose actions bring together the League. Like many (most?) superhero movies, Justice League has a difficult time establishing Steppenwolf as more than a powerful force bent on destroying the world. He is powerful. He might destroy the world. His motivation beyond that is murky as is the CGI that realizes him on screen. There are some breathtaking CGI scenes in Justice League – very cool, very fun visualizations. Steppenwolf, unfortunately, is not one of them. He is just another generic, superhero movie villain with very little, visually or otherwise, to distinguish him.

The members of the League itself, however? Not generic. At all.

Justice League has a tonally different feel from the prior movies of the DC universe. Where those movies, in my opinion, delved surprisingly deeply into the implications of heroes living in the “real world” and the ramifications of their presence, Justice League end-runs any significant thematic rumblings in favor of save-the-world dynamics. And the dynamics are engaging, exciting and fun.

Batman (Ben Affleck having much fun in the cowl) knows something is coming for the Earth. He learned this at the end of Batman v Superman and he is aware that his actions have left the earth vulnerable, aware that Superman’s death is, at least partially, his responsibility. He and Wonder Woman (the again terrific Gal Gadot) embark on a quest to bring together other meta-humans to face the coming crisis. These are the meta-humans Batman and Wonder Woman learned of from Lex Luthor’s jump drive in Batman v Superman and the fun kicks into high gear when the team starts to come together.

Say what you wish about Zack Snyder as a director. I believe it is difficult to fault his casting choices. Jason Momoa (Aquaman), Ezra Miller (the Flash) and Ray Fisher (Cyborg) are all terrific and bring much to the party. Miller’s Barry Allen is a particular delight and he had a challenging task to differentiate himself from Grant Gustin’s popular turn as the Flash on television. His performance more than does that. He is hilarious and endearing. Ray Fisher’s Cyborg is the surprising heart of the movie and the depths that could be mined with the character point to great potential. Jason Momoa’s Aquaman has a bit more going on than the tough-guy images shared in the previews might suggest. Individually they are good.

Together, they are great.

The fun of Justice League is found in the well drawn interplay among the leaguers. Director Zack Snyder, writer Chris Terrio and Joss Whedon, who came into the movie very late in the process (and it is very difficult to tell where Whedon picked up from where Snyder left off) know that their stars will carry the day, so much so that the plot of the movie, which is more than serviceable, is less important than the players. It is difficult to single out any combination of the Leaguers as the best combination and that is a credit to cast and director.

If the DC movies (save the almost universally well received Wonder Woman) have been bleak, humorless, gray and meandering, Justice League set out to and succeeded in rising above those critiques. The movie begins briskly and does not take its foot off the gas until the final stinger scene (at the far end of the credits… stick around, people). It is rumored that Warner Bros. mandated a running time of no more than two hours. While I would have loved to have seen a bit more (and a long run time may have addressed some of the Steppenwolf issues), I understand the choice. And it works.

Justice League is a big, fun, superhero team origin story. It is a story of redemption for Batman who lightens up in this one, who cracks jokes and smiles and, through whom, perhaps the upcoming DC movie slate is changed. Future DC movies are well positioned following Justice League.

And, hey, let’s get Justice League II on the schedule.

Now, that the team is in place, I want to see what happens next.

JUSTICE LEAGUE receives FOUR AND A HALF BAT SMILES out of a possible FIVE.

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Filed under Batman, Batman V Superman Dawn of Justice, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Comic Book Movies, DC Movies, Justice League, Man of Steel, Movie Review, Movies, Wonder Woman

The Best Sequential Art I Read Last Week: September 20 – 26, 2017


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I am a comic book collector and happy to be one. I might say “proud” if I hadn’t, over a year ago, switched to reading digital as opposed to print comics. I feel a bit robbed of the tactile sensations of the hobby – of the turn of the page, the sneaking look to the panel a page over, the bagging and shorting and stacking and filing. Though I read my comics in a different medium than I used to, I still treat each Wednesday (comic book delivery day to specialty shops around the country) as different from the other days of the week. I subscribe and now, rather than go to the comic store to be handed the books pulled for my “Hold Slot,” I click a button on my iPad and watch them download.

Then I read them.

Rare is the week that I don’t read them all between Wednesdays and some weeks I have, well… let’s just say more comic books in my digital downloads than a grown man should. Comic book legend Will Eisner (creator of The Spirit) is one of the most influential men even to put pencil to drawing board in the pursuit of making comics. So influential was he that the industry awards (think the Oscars or the Emmys or the Grammys) are named The Eisner Awards. He called comic books “sequential art,” perhaps because he became embarrassed by his profession when he had to admit what he did for a living. This is my weekly reaction to the comics I read.

Comics I Read Last Week:

OneTwoThree

 

The best comic I read last week was Batman: The Red Death #1.

Writer: Joshua Williamson

Artists: Carmine Di Giandomenico

And I thought the parent book, DC Metal, was crazy.

It is hard to describe just what happens in this comic but, suffice it to say, that Carmine Di Giandomenico’s art is brilliantly vibrant, bloody, bizarre and over-the-top, the perfect counterpoint to regular Flash writer Joshua Williamson’s brilliantly over-the-top, bizarre, bloody and beautifully vibrant script.

This book is gonzo in the very best way, unexpected and insane, a story that sticks with the reader long after reading it.

I guess doing Batman is something like playing Hamlet – everyone wants to put their spin on it and Scott Snyder in DC Metal has built the vehicle to do so: the Dark Multiverse wherein alternate (and very evil) versions of Batman have taken the powers of their fellow Justice Leaguers to pursue their own ends.

I do not wish to spoil the chaos but, in this issue, Batman steals the power of the Flash and becomes The Red Death.

Anything named after an Edgar Allan Poe story cannot be good, right?

Batman: The Red Death is not good.

It is great.

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The Best Sequential Art I Read Last Week: September 5 – 12, 2017

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I am a comic book collector and happy to be one. I might say “proud” if I hadn’t, over a year ago, switched to reading digital as opposed to print comics. I feel a bit robbed of the tactile sensations of the hobby – of the turn of the page, the sneaking look to the panel a page over, the bagging and shorting and stacking and filing. Though I read my comics in a different medium than I used to, I still treat each Wednesday (comic book delivery day to specialty shops around the country) as different from the other days of the week. I subscribe and now, rather than go to the comic store to be handed the books pulled for my “Hold Slot,” I click a button on my iPad and watch them download.

Then I read them.

Rare is the week that I don’t read them all between Wednesdays and some weeks I have, well… let’s just say more comic books in my digital downloads than a grown man should. Comic book legend Will Eisner (creator of The Spirit) is one of the most influential men even to put pencil to drawing board in the pursuit of making comics. So influential was he that the industry awards (think the Oscars or the Emmys or the Grammys) are named The Eisner Awards. He called comic books “sequential art,” perhaps because he became embarrassed by his profession when he had to admit what he did for a living. This is my weekly reaction to the comics I read.

Comics I Read Last Week:

OneTwo

 

The best comic I read last week was Batman #30.

Writer: Tom King

Artists: Clay Mann

Another week, another issue of Batman.

While Batman #30 may have been my least favor issue of “The War of Jokes and Riddles” arc, the overall story has been so very good that the least is, well, better than most.

Tom King continues his expanded and slow-paced look at the epic battle between the Joker and the Riddler that keeps Batman and Gotham City hanging in the balance and, while the conflict is showing signs of winding down, King’s story is, in many ways, just gearing up. I have noted before that I am always impressed when comic books can surprise me and King has surprised in this book both with his treatment of his plot and the manner in which he is developing his characters.

Yes, Kite Man is the focus here again.

Kite.
Man.

And I couldn’t be more happy. What King has done with this character is almost worth the cover price of the book.

Clay Mann is more than up to the challenge of this issue and, if we cannot have Michael Janin on each issue, Mann is an apt substitute for sure. His character work is excellent and it well serves the story King is telling.

I cannot wait (and I do not believe that is an overstatement) to read this entire arc in its totality when it is concluded. It lends itself so well to an extended read and I know I will notice all kinds of things escaping me in my every-other-week connection with the book.

Batman rules.

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The Best Sequential Art I Read Last Week: August 1 – 8, 2017


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I am a comic book collector and happy to be one. I might say “proud” if I hadn’t, over a year ago, switched to reading digital as opposed to print comics. I feel a bit robbed of the tactile sensations of the hobby – of the turn of the page, the sneaking look to the panel a page over, the bagging and shorting and stacking and filing. Though I read my comics in a different medium than I used to, I still treat each Wednesday (comic book delivery day to specialty shops around the country) as different from the other days of the week. I subscribe and now, rather than go to the comic store to be handed the books pulled for my “Hold Slot,” I click a button on my iPad and watch them download.

Then I read them.

Rare is the week that I don’t read them all between Wednesdays and some weeks I have, well… let’s just say more comic books in my digital downloads than a grown man should. Comic book legend Will Eisner (creator of The Spirit) is one of the most influential men even to put pencil to drawing board in the pursuit of making comics. So influential was he that the industry awards (think the Oscars or the Emmys or the Grammys) are named The Eisner Awards. He called comic books “sequential art,” perhaps because he became embarrassed by his profession when he had to admit what he did for a living. This is my weekly reaction to the comics I read.

Comics I Read Last Week:

OneTwo

 

The best comic I read last week was Batman #28

Writers: Tom King

Artists: Michael Janin

Michael Janin is back.

Tom King is still writing.

The War of Jokes and Riddles continues.

Batman is one hell of a ride.

Here is the thing: King’s story is just fascinating. The manner in which he is playing his cards – for the very long game – is masterful. He continues to put Batman, a character with an over 75-year publishing history, into situations which are new, unexpected and breathtaking. That accomplishment, in-and-of-itself, is worth the top spot every other week.

What makes Janin’s art such a perfect compliment to King’s writing is how the artist tends toward the realistic. King’s writing, as gonzo as it is, is somehow, someway, rooted in realism. I am not sure of the writer’s process, but it seems as though he asks “what would happen to Batman if…” and then drafts the answers.

Powerful answers.

The focus here in on Jim Gordon and the role he will play in the Joker/Riddler war. Spoiler alert: it is going to be a painful one.

But not as painful as it will be for Batman himself.

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The Best Sequential Art I Read Last Week: July 19 – July 25, 2017


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I am a comic book collector and happy to be one. I might say “proud” if I hadn’t, over a year ago, switched to reading digital as opposed to print comics. I feel a bit robbed of the tactile sensations of the hobby – of the turn of the page, the sneaking look to the panel a page over, the bagging and shorting and stacking and filing. Though I read my comics in a different medium than I used to, I still treat each Wednesday (comic book delivery day to specialty shops around the country) as different from the other days of the week. I subscribe and now, rather than go to the comic store to be handed the books pulled for my “Hold Slot,” I click a button on my iPad and watch them download.

Then I read them.

Rare is the week that I don’t read them all between Wednesdays and some weeks I have, well… let’s just say more comic books in my digital downloads than a grown man should. Comic book legend Will Eisner (creator of The Spirit) is one of the most influential men even to put pencil to drawing board in the pursuit of making comics. So influential was he that the industry awards (think the Oscars or the Emmys or the Grammys) are named The Eisner Awards. He called comic books “sequential art,” perhaps because he became embarrassed by his profession when he had to admit what he did for a living. This is my weekly reaction to the comics I read.

Comics I Read Last Week:

OneTwo

The best comic I read last week was Batman #27

Writers: Tom King

Artists: Clay Mann

There was an amazing run (pun intended) of issues of the The Flash wherein writer Geoff Johns re-told stories of the Flash’s Rogues Gallery to make the villains seem less cartoonish and more, well, villain-like. These were effective and provocative stories – instant classics.

Batman #27 not only reminded me of those stories, it exceeded them in at least two ways: first, it took place in the overall telling of a remarkable arc (“The War of Jokes and Riddles”) and, second, it took one of the most ridiculous villains of ALL TIME – Kite Man – and made him something… more. Something dangerous. Something sad. Something… wrong.

Well done, Tom King. Each month you surprise and delight. I cannot wait for your Mister Miracle title and I will follow you to any book you are on.

King is so good that his work here overcomes the loss of his key artist. Clay Mann fills in for Michael Janin and, while Mann’s work is competent if not inspiring, it is simply not at the same standard as Janin (or rotating artist David Finch for that matter).

But even a sub-par effort on the art cannot detract from what is another special issue in what is a spectacular run.

Tom King should write all the comics.

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Link’n’Blogs – 7.21.17 – Fighting the Dark Night


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I loved Lincoln Logs when I was a kid. Though I never entertained the idea that I would be a designer, engineer or architect, something about putting together these wooden and plastic pieces was simply simple fun. Connecting to ideas through the blogosphere seems similar to this pursuit, hence the title of this weekly post. Each Friday, I intend to post something interesting I’ve read out there on the internets. Hopefully others will find these posts as thought provoking as I have.

When the Aurora, CO theater shooting happened five years ago at a showing of The Dark Knight Rises, I received many calls and messages from friends who were checking that our family was not in the particular theater where the shooting took place. That we were not is a blessing, to be sure. And so is this story from Story Corps, a feature of National Public Radio. Yesterday was the anniversary of the shooting and two parents from Aurora remember their son who died and talk about what they do to never lose touch with him.

Heartbreaking and touching.

Row 12, Seat 12

 

Batman Ribbon

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The Best Sequential Art I Read Last Week: July 5 – July 11, 2017


Related Content from And There Came A Day:

I am a comic book collector and happy to be one. I might say “proud” if I hadn’t, over a year ago, switched to reading digital as opposed to print comics. I feel a bit robbed of the tactile sensations of the hobby – of the turn of the page, the sneaking look to the panel a page over, the bagging and shorting and stacking and filing. Though I read my comics in a different medium than I used to, I still treat each Wednesday (comic book delivery day to specialty shops around the country) as different from the other days of the week. I subscribe and now, rather than go to the comic store to be handed the books pulled for my “Hold Slot,” I click a button on my iPad and watch them download.

Then I read them.

Rare is the week that I don’t read them all between Wednesdays and some weeks I have, well… let’s just say more comic books in my digital downloads than a grown man should. Comic book legend Will Eisner (creator of The Spirit) is one of the most influential men even to put pencil to drawing board in the pursuit of making comics. So influential was he that the industry awards (think the Oscars or the Emmys or the Grammys) are named The Eisner Awards. He called comic books “sequential art,” perhaps because he became embarrassed by his profession when he had to admit what he did for a living. This is my weekly reaction to the comics I read.

Comics I Read Last Week:

 

OneTwoThree

The best comic I read last week was Batman #26.

Writer: Tom King

Artists: Michael Janin

Perhaps I simply should link to my review of two weeks ago when I selected Batman #25 as the best comic I read… all that I said in that review holds true for this issue.

This second chapter of “The War of Jokes and Riddles” is as compelling as the first. It is as well structured. It is as well drawn. Frankly, the first two issues of this arc are something of a master class in how to write well known characters in well known dynamics and keep surprise in play.

If anything, this second issue is better than the first. It propels the story forward. It shocks and it engages.

Janin and King know what they have in Batman: an immense responsibility to one of the most popular characters in all comics. They are not squandering it.

At all.

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