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Who Is Wonder Woman
In recent years, Wonder Woman has finally gotten the respect she deserves. That’s in no doubt due to the absolutely amazing reaction from the cinema going public to the Wonder Woman movie starring the spectacular Gal Gadot.
WW has always been one of DC Comics ‘Big Three’, the other two being Superman and Batman, both of whom have been extraordinarily successful in other medium: video games, cartoons, TV shows, movies… but realistically WW has only ever worked before on TV in the seventies, and even then, it took three goes to get that right.
I’m getting ahead of myself through and I should answer the question that is asked by this very trade paperback: who IS Wonder Woman?
Wonder Woman is a character owned by DC comics and was created by William Moulton Marston, and polyamorous psychologist who also invented the polygraph machine, and first appeared in All-Star Comics issue 8 in 1941, with art from Harry G. Peter.
She is a being from the island of Themyscira, a place inhabited by a race of warrior women, and after proving herself through a series of trials, Wonder Woman… or Diana as she is better known, travels to ‘man’s world’ as an emissary of peace.
Now this origin is where Wonder Woman has her problems: over the years, Superman and Batman’s origins have more or less stayed the same, but Wonder Woman’s have occasionally been reinvented, and in that reinvention become a character whose solid foundations are shaky.
Funny enough, though all that change has rocked those very foundations, this trade paperback, collecting Wonder Woman numbers 1 through 4, and annual 1, embraces all that variety and even celebrates it.
This collection has a really interesting introduction by Brian K. Vaughan, the writer of Vertigo’s Y: The Last Man and Image Comic’s Saga which is a real interesting take on the Spirit of Truth.
Story: This story takes place after a massive upset in the DC universe, as Wonder Woman has killed a man known as Max Lord: the founder of Justice League International, and unbeknownst to everyone, a psychic villain with the power to coerce others into doing as he pleases… by breaking his neck.
This story takes up Wonder Woman’s life a full year after that event, and even though she has been exonerated of his murder, she still feels she may no longer be the symbol of hope she professed to be, and so, hands the title of ‘Wonder Woman’ to her younger ‘sister’, Donna Troy.
N.B.: I put the word ‘sister’ in inverted commas as Donna Troy is another character with an origin that has been screwed up over and over and I honestly can’t remember which this one is.
Anyway, Diana has reinvented herself, with the help of Batman and Superman, as Agent Diana Prince and is teamed up with Nemesis, an older DC character at the Department of Metahuman Affairs and gets to face a cavalcade of her enemies, from Cheetah, to Dr Psycho, and even Circe, who even takes on the mantle of Wonder Woman.
Will Diana Prince reveal herself as being the real Wonder Woman, or is the secret identity more important to who she has grown into?
This entire tale of Wonder Woman is a great read, and even though it does have a bunch of guest stars, it never gets bogged down in re-introducing them. Allan Heinberg, a TV and comic writer who is also responsible for the script for the Wonder Woman movie has created a cool spy story, with a bunch of superheroes thrown in for good measure, and it is a heap of fun and runs at a great clip.
Also, it re-invents Wonder Woman without disrespecting what has come before, and even the 60s martial arts master I-Ching gets a mention, as does Diana’s white jumpsuit from the same era.
As a side note: I must admit to having a sly smirk on my mouth when Hercules is re-introduced, and Nemesis refers to him as ‘the REAL one’, as DC’s Hercules appeared in comics over 20 years earlier than Marvel’s more famous one.
Art: Boy, oh, Boy, do I love the art in this book!
There’s is no doubt that I adore the art of Terry Dodson, and when inked by his partner Rachel Dodson, is a perfect storm of super powered heroes that never… Ok, rarely… descends into the anti-storytelling of the nineties books that were cheesecake and beefcake shots. All of the poses of the characters are powerful looking and the story is told really well with some amazing choices of layout.
The redesign of most of the characters fit this story really well. Diana as secret agent looks tough, Hercules looks godlike, Donna Troy, who with a lesser artist would just look like The Diet Coke version of Diana, has her own look and Circe villainy is apparent by the spectacular lighting choices made.
As a side note, there is also a back-up tale by Gary Frank and Jon Sibal with Dave McCaig which is like a revisiting if all the main Wonder Woman characters origins. Frank’s art is as good as it generally is, his superhero bodies are always super-heroic, but occasionally there are some facial expression that look out of place. There’s not really much substance to the story as it is like a sports recap.
WIRIA: It’s a gem that is worth re-reading if only for the Dodson’s spectacular art.
One from the to watch pile…
Batman and Harley Quinn (2017)
Film: Yep, we are back with another one of those DC animated movies, which for me, are far better than any cinematic universe from any comic company. Why? Well basically these animated film live in a world where the origin of a super hero doesn’t necessarily need to be a focus of a film, and nor does there need to be a circle around to reveal the main bad guy was intrinsic to the formation of the good guy.
These films assume you know who Hawkman and other ‘minor’ characters are, and even better, with a rough schedule of three a year (thirdly? Is that the the three-times-a-year version of quarterly?) they can mix up the storylines and have a variety of characters and storylines that don’t require you to have seen 20 hours of previous entries to know what is going on: each film can exist completely by itself without having seen a previous entry.
This entry is almost a sequel to Batman: The Animated Series (TAS), and features not just favourites Batman and Nightwing, but also DC Darling Harley Quinn, along with other fan favourites Poison Ivy, Plantman and Swamp Thing.
In this film, Batman and Nightwing are investigating Poison Ivy and Plantman, who have teamed up with the idea of transforming all the ugly ‘meat’ on the planet (ie you and me) into plantlife by using the research by Alec Holland, who became the half man/ half plant/ all elemental Swamp Thing after an experiment was sabotaged, but Batman needs an ‘in’ to find where Poison Ivy is… and that in is named Harley Quinn, who might know Ivy’s whereabouts due to their friendship.
Nightwing tracks Harley down to a girlie bar where she works dressed up as her evil self, but she’s trying very hard to resist her bad urges and go on the straight and narrow, and become legit. Nightwing follows her home, and after being seduced by her, convinces her to help them, which she does with glee!
Meanwhile, Plantman and Ivy’s experiments aren’t working to what they require, and they decide they need to relocate to the swamp where Swamp Thing was created. With the Trinamic Trio (?) make it in time to stop their nefarious scheme?
From the start you know what you are in for: the Henri Mancini styled goofy, 60s score and the Pink Panther looking antics of cartoonish versions of the lead characters mean that you definitely are not looking at the Batman from previous films like Batman: Bad Blood or Batman: Assault on Arkham Asylum.
The main cast of Batman the Animated Series is back with Kevin Conroy playing ol’ Bats and Loren Lester reprising is role as an older Dick Grayson, who is now Nightwing rather than Robin. Unfortunately, there is no Tara Strong as Harley or Diane Pershing as Poison Ivy in this, but their replacements are surprising: Big Bang Theory’s Melissa Rauch and Criminal Minds’ Paget Brewster.
Melissa Rauch is no Tara Strong, but plays Harley with a great deal of fun, the real winner is a Brewster as Ivy. Do I have a soft spot for Brewster? Yes, so I was pretty excited to see her in this role! She plays Ivy extraordinarily dry and austere towards everything except for Harley.
This film was directed by regular DC animated director Sam Liu and even in adapting the Batman TAS style he still manages to make it his own, which is great considering Batman TAS creator Bruce Tim returns here as the story and script-writer… and he also plays the voice of Justice Leaguer Booster Gold in a particularly funny scene which reveals Nightwing’s opinion of some of the third tier Justice League members.
It’s certainly not the greatest DC animated film, but it certainly sees Harley at her sexiest (in all aspects of the term) and funnest (is that a word?). There are some real great tributes to the Batman 66, the henchman karaoke bar is fantastic, and it’s certainly nice to hear the 90s Batman and Robin back together again.
Format: This film was reviewed on the Australian region B Bluray which runs for 74 minutes and is presented in an impeccable 1.78:1 image with a spectacular English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 audio.
Extras: The disc opens with trailers for Teen Titans: The Judas Contract and Justice League Dark before hitting the main menu where there are some pretty cool extras.
A Sneak Peak at DC Universe’s Next Animated Movie gives us a sneak peak at Gotham by Gaslight: a DC Animated film I simply cannot wait for. I always loved these ‘Elseworlds’ tales from DC as they are story driven rather than character driven soap operas and don’t require any knowledge of previous tales for a sense of completion.
The Harley Effect looks at the history of the character of Harley Quinn and her inevitable popularity: every one loves a funny, sexy girl with brains… who is maybe just a little bit nuts.
Loren Lester: In His Own Voice is an interesting interview with the actor who has played the animated Dick Grayson/ Robin/ Nightwing, about his career.
There are a few sneak peaks at previous DC animated films: The Dark Knight Returns Part 1 and 2 and Batman: Assault on Arkham.
There are also two classic Harley Quinn cartoons from Batman: The Animated Series: Harley and Ivy and Harley’s Holiday.
In addition to the trailers that open the disc, there is also trailers for Justice League and Wonder Woman, the live action movies.
WISIA: It’s a DC animated film with Harley Quinn in it: no matter how bad, I’ll be watching it again.
One from the re watch pile…
Superman/ Batman: Apocalypse (2010)
Film: As a comic fan, I possibly love these DC animated features more than the Marvel movies. I like the fact that every film doesn’t require an origin story of the character, and there is an assumption that the viewer KNOWS who Batman and Superman and Power Girl and whomever else is. Throwing out the need to have an origin story makes for a quicker start to the tale, and the DC universe creators are clever with their introductions as sometimes they are as simple as just sitting at a table in JLA headquarters!
The other thing is unlimited budget. The beautiful thing about animation (and comics) is it takes about the same amount of budget to create one explosion or fifty of them, also, it’s a lot easier to change a cast member when all you hear is their voice.
There is also the fact that they just tell good stories almost every time, and that is because they are based on the stories told in the comics, which were far better than any ‘live action’ adaptation. This in combination with some spectacular character design, and the inclusion of one of Jack Kirby’s greatest creations, Darkseid, and other denizens of his awesome Fourth World Saga characters, make for an epic tale.
During a meteor shower, ‘something’ crash lands in Gotham Harbour, making Batman go to investigate. Batman finds a spaceship of Kryptonian origins, a bunch of kryptonite, and a girl, Kara, the cousin of Superman!
Superman and Batman become an unusual parental unit for Kara, who we quickly find out was sent with baby Superman to protect him on Earth, but her ship was knocked off course, arriving so much later that Superman is now older in body that her, as her ships suspended animation kept her at a 16 year old girl’s age. Unfortunately, Batman’s mistrust causes a rift between them and her.
Meanwhile, on the God-world of Apokalips, the evil ruler Darkseid, is attempting to replace the traitorous Big Barda, who left his royal guard as its captain. He is entrusting Granny Goodness, the trainer of warriors, to find her replacement, but she is repeatedly failing. Darkseid has seen Kara fall from the sky too, and entrusts Goodness to capture her so she can become his new Captain.
Meanwhile, again, Batman has employed Wonder Woman to take her Paradise Island to receive proper training, which Superman agrees to, causing a rift between her and him.
With Kara’s disappointment in both her ‘parents’, once captured she is easily swayed to Darkseid’s manipulations… but will she become Darkseid’s greatest warrior?
This is a really cool story, and it shows a lot of the strong women that DC has to offer all in one story, although as a weird juxtaposition, it also has a bizarre sequence where Kara goes shopping in a Pretty Woman styled sequence, which seems to show that even above all the powers, she’s still ‘just a girl’. I don’t know why such a sequence exists in this film, and the film comes to a sudden stop to show it. I have to admit that when we see what she ultimately decides as her outfit, it’s a nice tribute to Laura Vandervoort’s Smallville outfit.
Another thing I like about it is how it links loosely to the previous Superman/ Batman movie, Public Enemies, with a mention of ‘President Luthor’s impeachment’.
There’s some awesome voice casting in this film as well. Kevin Conroy returns as the angry voice of Batman, as does Tim Daly as Superman. Summer Glau from Firefly performs Supergirl but the most inspired vocal choice is TV legend Ed Asner as Granny Goodness, it makes her look even weirder with his deep attempts at a woman’s voice.
All up, this is certainly one of the better DC animated features and for me being a big Kirby fan, it was a pleasure seeing so many of Kirby’s creations, like Big Barda, Granny Goodness, the Female Furies, Parademons, Hunger Dogs… just so many, on the screen.
Format: The reviewed copy of this film was the Australian Bluray which runs for approximately 78 minutes and is presented in a crisp 1.85:1 visual with an clear cut and crisp DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 audio track.
Extras: The disc opens with previews for Batman: Under the Red Hood and The Lost Boys: The Thirst before making its way to the main menu.
Under the Special Features banner though is a huge bunch of stuff:
DC Showcase: Green Arrow is a cool 10 minute short highlighting Green Arrow. This is a really cool short that introduces the character of Green Arrow and also features other characters like Black Widow, Count Vertigo and Merlyn. DC only made a few of these and it’s disappointing that they dumped them. This features an awesome line up of actors doing the voices too: A Clockwork Orange’s Malcolm McDowell, Captain America: The First Avenger’s Neil McDonough, Scooby Doo’s Grey Delisle, Futurama’s John DiMaggio and Modern Family’s Ariel Winter!
Bruce Timm’s Top Picks features four episodes taken from Superman: The Animated Series: Little Girl Lost Part 1 and 2, and Apokalips Now! Part 1 and 2.
The Fourth World: The New Gods investigates Jack Kirby’s creation of the New Gods in the early 70s, and how important their creation was to DC at the time, and explores Kirby’s history as well, and how important he was to the history of comic books.
New Gods: Mister Miracle Pod is a distillation of Miracle’s origin.
News Gods: Orion Pod is the same as Miracle’s, but for Orion.
Supergirl: The Last Daughter of Krypton explores the history of the character of Supergirl, why she was so important to the DC universe, and why she continues to be relevant and popular today. Unfortunately this was made before the new TV series starring Melissa Benoist so there’s nothing included from that (at this point, Laura Vandervoort was still Supergirl from the Smallville TV show).
There are also trailers for the Lego Universe, the Jonah Hex motion comic, Batman: Under the Red Hood (again), Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths and Superman/ Batman: Public Enemies.
The final extra is a sneak peak at what was the next release in the DC Animated Features, All-Star Superman.
WISIA: I love these DC animated features, and ALL of them get regularly watched… including this one.
One from the re watch pile…
Necessary Evil: Super-Villains of DC Comics (2013)
Film: I’ve been collecting comics for well over 40 years, and I still love them to death. I do admit that I did have a period in the 90s where I did not buy any, but that was due to Image comics; not the comics or artists themselves as what they did for artists and writers in the industry was long overdue, but the style of their art.
I’m an old school, Jack Kirby, John Buscema, Bernie Wrightson, Richard Corbin, Robert Crumb guy, so these new flashy artists had no interest to me, and when Marvel and DC started emulating their style, I was out!
Thankfully this didn’t last too long and soon I was back in the fold, enjoying the adventures of masked heroes fighting the good fight against evil, and being a bi-fan: that is, I buy both Marvel and DC comics… but why both? Why in a world where most people buy one or the other, would I get comics from both universes?
The answer is this: I love the realism of most of Marvel’s heroes having a basis in science rather than magic, and without a doubt, Jack Kirby and Stan Lee’s Fantastic Four is still the World’s Greatest Comic Magazine, even though as of the date of this review it hasn’t been published for several years.
On the flip side of that, I think that DC’s bad guys are greater than Marvel’s. Lex Luther is a great example: in Marvel comics, his equivalent is a good guy, Tony Stark, a weapons manufacturer who became Iron Man. In reality, those sorts of people are seen by the general public as villains, like Luthor. Luther doesn’t hate mankind or want world destruction, he’s xenophobic against Superman.
In reality, what would mankind do if an alien came to earth? Luthor’s actions are probably more accurate. Acceptable? No, but when are mankind’s actions acceptable?
Another DC villain that I think is possibly the greatest villain of all time is Jack Kirby’s Darkseid. Darkseid is the dictator of a world called Apokalips, and is at odds with the ENTIRE DC universe. You Marvel fans think Thanos is something to be concerned about? Darkseid would eat Thanos for breakfast!
Anyway, this documentary, Necessary Evil, sits as a great companion piece to the previous documentary Secret Origins: The History of DC Comics, which was released three years earlier. Necessary Evil is hosted by Christopher Lee (the ultimate super villain?) and has interviews with creative types from all walks of life. From psychologists to actors, including but not limited to director Zach Snyder, screenplay writer Geoff Boucher, co-creator of Harley Quinn Paul Dini, DC editor Bobbie Chase, DC editor in chief Bob Harras and many many more.
The film features clips from comics, cartoons, video games, animated films and major motion pictures, and displays many incarnations of the various villains, and is not just a great history of the villains of the DC universe, but is also an interesting psychological look at why we love heroes, but love villains even more.
Recommended, but it’s really only for the most devout of DC comics fans.
Format: Necessary Evil was reviewed on a region 1 DVD which runs for 99 minutes. The image is presented in a 1.78:1 image and a Dolby Digital 2.0 audio, both of which are pretty good.
Extras: The disc starts with a trailer for DC’s We Can Be Heroes incentive (which is a pretty cool cause http://www.wecambeheroes.org), Man of Steel, the video game Batman: Arkham Origins, the DC animated feature Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox and the DC animated TV series, Green Lantern, Young Justice and Batman: The Brave and the Bold, and that’s the entirety of the extras.
WISIA: Being a comic nut, I have to admit to watching this many many times.
One from the to watch pile…
Teen Titan: The Judas Contract (2017)
Film: Often in movie circles you’ll hear people talk about how great the Marvel cinematic Universe is, or how DC are trying to copy its success, blah blah blah, but the BEST movies about super heroes are often overlooked.
The DC animated movies started in 2008 with somewhat of a whimper with the not-very-good Batman Gotham Knights, and apart from an occasional misstep, these features have been far superior to, well, ANY cinematic film in my opinion. Why is this? Several reasons…
… and I have to admit as being a lifelong comics fan as a justification of some of these reasons.
The first is that the animated features don’t feel the need to give the origin of every single hero they introduce if it doesn’t move the story along. Does Martian Manhunter’s origin tie into the story that is being told? No? They show what he can do, as the why’s and wherefores are incidental.
Another is that even though there are a few costume cosmetic changes, in general the costumes of the heroes are similar to the comics. I do appreciate that blue and yellow spandex may not be the greatest look on film, and that cinematic tone may not read it well, but it’s just comforting to see Batman in blue and grey.
The other thing is, and I’ve mentioned it before, is that these film can be watched as a singular film or as part of their various subsets, without the weight of 36 hours of other movies to prop it up. It’s fine to make a film series, but if some of the films don’t really stand on their own, what’s the point?
Another thing is that there is a regularity of cast that don’t need to change due to age or fitness levels. Kevin Conroy has been playing the animated Batman on and off for years!
Basically I wish DC would abandon their live-action universe and concentrate on these, and their TV series’ like Supergirl, Arrow and The Flash, and maybe their video games.
This one is especially special to me as in the early 80s when the two best comics around were Marvel’s The Uncanny X-Men and The New Teen Titans, I was totally in love with both. When Marvel and DC did a crossover with them I almost exploded.
The panel of Cyclops and Robin shaking hands blew my mind!
Anyway, of those early issues of The New Teen Titans, one of the best storylines was The Judas Contract, and apart for a few alterations necessary, such as some Titans roster changes, the plot is very similar.
Our story starts with these stories version of the original Teen Titans: Robin, Speedy, Kid Flash, Bumblebee and Beast Boy, meeting K’oriander, aka Starfire: the future leader of the Titans. We then flash forward to 5 years later (now?) and we meet the current Titans: Starfire, Nightwing (who was the original Robin), the new Robin, Blue Beetle, Raven, Beast Boy (still) and Terra.
A rising threat known as H.I.V.E. and it’s leader Brother Blood are a concern to the Titans, and Nightwing is investigating everything to do with them, but what if one of the Titans is a traitor… working for the assassin, Deathstroke?
As with most of these features, the art direction and story telling is fantastic, and the story moves along at quite the clip. It does vary slightly from the comics due to the aforementioned roster changes, but in essence it tells a great story about teamwork, friendship, Stockholm Syndrome, betrayal and what it takes to be a hero.
The best thing about it is just how dastardly awful Deathstroke is. So many superhero films show the bad guys in, not a positive light, but they certainly seem cooler than the heroes. This film aborts that ideal and Deathstroke is an absolute piece of crap who is totally unlikable, potentially a paedophile and a child beater: in short, a proper villain.
The voice acting in this film was excellent, with special guests like Christina Ricci as Terra, Gregg Henry as Sebastian Blood, Kevin Smith as himself and tragically, Deathstroke was the last role that Miguel Ferrer before he succumbed to cancer.
This was a fantastic film, and I hope another Teen Titans one gets made as the character dynamic makes for great fun, adventurous films.
Extras: As usual, a great bunch of extras appears on this disc:
Titanic Minds: Reuniting Wolfman and Pérez. So I totally fanboyed out when I saw this extra as these guys made amazing comics when they were making New Teen Titans comics. This is a small round table with writer Marv Wolfman and artist George Pérez, two absolute legends of comic history who rebooted the Teen Titans from being a moderately successful team of sidekicks into a group of heroes to rival the justice League, and it became the number 1 comic for a time. These extras get 5 stars JUST for how historically relevant this is.
Villain Rising: Deathstroke explores the history of the character with comments from Wolfman, Pérez and DC Entertainment’s Mike Carlin.
There are three ‘Sneak Peaks’ at other DC Animated films, the forthcoming Batman and Harley Quinn, and previous entries, Superman/ Batman: Public Enemies and Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox.
There is also two episodes of the Teen Titans cartoon, ‘Terra’ and ‘Titans Rising’.
Finally we have a bunch of trailers for the DC All Access App, Justice League Dark, The Jetsons &WED: Robo-Wrestlemania and the video game, Injustice 2. The disc also opens with a trailer for the incoming Wonder Woman movie starring Gal Gadot!
WISIA: Yes. Again and again.
One from the To Read Pile…
OUR GODS WEAR SPANDEX
with illustrations by
Joseph Michael Linsner
I’ve been a comic fan my entire life, except for the first three years, and a period of about 5 years in the 90s when comic stories and art became so dire and horrible, and everything was about ‘alternate covers’ and bonus crap and every hero was covered in armour and/ or carried guns.
Some comic boffins refer to this as the ‘Chromium Age’ of comics due to the fact the very worst of comics ended up with thick awful garish metallic covers that promised to be worth a million dollars in the future, but whose content… let’s be honest, sucked.
Coincidently, this very topic is how Christopher Knowles book, Our Gods Wear Spandex begins as it discusses the highs and lows of the comics industry: how the highs usually come after a great tragedy like World War II and how the lows are generally when the industry itself becomes a parody of itself, like when every single comic, including the leaders in DC and Marvel, imitate fads like that of Rob Liefeld’s comic ‘art’ in the early 90s.
The book then goes into a quite interesting assessment of how today’s mythical gods are superheroes whom are all in some way based on ancient myths and legends and how subsequent heroes are based upon these. For me, the revelation that my idol Jack Kirby based two of his characters looks, in Thor and OMAC on that of Shazam’s Captain Marvel! (sorry DC, no matter how much you wish to refer to the Big Red Cheese as ‘Shazam’, he’ll always be Captain Marvel to me!)
The book also details the origins of some of comics big storylines and from where historically or myth0logically they are influenced. It details how everything from religious orders and secret societies, to ideas proposed by Niezche and Einstein and have sparked creative fires in the minds of everyone from Siegal and Shuster, to Lee and Kirby, and even to the aforementioned Liefeld and his Image co-conspirators, though their ideas more are borrowed from other, better comics, rather than classic literature or intellectual thought.
Not only do we have a cavalcade of mythical tales summarised within these pages, various writers from the 19th and 20th century, those at the birth of science fiction and detective stories like Poe, Lovecraft, Wells, Verne and their contemporaries are also discussed, albeit briefly.
The comparison of these myths and theories and how they influenced the character from the pulp novels like The Spider and Doc Savage, and then how they in turn influenced comic characters and stories is fascinating, but the best thing is, Christopher Knowles has made it accessible and the language in which its written is relaxed and enjoyable. The book also has really nice illustrations by Cry for Dawn’s Joe Michael Linsner, though I must say I prefer his color art to his line art. If you are a long time comic fan, and have ever thought,” where did they get that ideas from?”, this book is for you.
One from the to watch pile…
Justice League Dark (2017)
Film: As a teen I read any comic I could get my hands on, and that evolved into me pretty much exclusively reading only Marvel comics. I stopped reading comics in the beginning of the nineties as basically, well, they sucked.
I started reading comics again in the early 2000s. I started with Marvel but drifted to DC, and now read a bit of both. Even though Marvel have nailed down the movies with their cinematic Universe, DC seem to be struggling. The interesting thing though in their animated movies, which are released direct to bluray, are amazing.
The reason is quite simple: there is an assumption that the viewer knows who the heroes are and they don’t feel the need to retell and retell their origin story every time a new one comes out.
I’ve pretty much enjoyed most of them, though their have been a couple that have meandered a little; this is one of them.
Justice League Dark tells of the darker side of the DC universe: when a villain of magical proportions threatens the DC Universe, Batman employs the assistance of those from the darker side of the DCU, including John Constantine and Zatanna, who bring along other magical beings such as Etrigan the Demon, Swamp Thing, Deadman and all the magical powers of the House of Mystery and Black Orchid.
The problem with this story is it’s just not entertaining. The whole thing felt quite flat and dull, and at times I was struggling to maintain any sense of interest. Batman’s inclusion is strictly as lip service to the DCU and even he comes off like he feels like he shouldn’t be there.
That’s not to say the character design and the animation is great, because the film looks fantastic, and I’m really enjoying the character design in these animated features.
Several of the voices will sound familiar as Matt Ryan, who plays the live action TV show Constantine, plays him here too! Zatanna is portrayed by Lara Croft (the video game) actress Camille Luddington and Jason O’ Mara returns as Batman. Most of the voice acting is pretty cool except for one glaringly awful choice which is Nicolas Tutturro as Deadman. I always expected Boston Brand to have an other-worldly voice, not that of an annoying stand-up New Yorker.
Unfortunately this was a big miss for me, but I do hope the JLD return for another adventure, maybe just with a better thought out story, and without the yoke of Batman following them around like a lost dog.
Format: This Australian region B bluray release of Justice League Dark runs for 75 minutes and is presented in an excellent 1.78:1 image with a DTS-HD 5.1 audio track of similar quality.
Extras: This disc opens with a trailer for Wonder Woman (the live action one with Gal Gadot) before taking us to the menu screen.
As always with these DC animated films, we are treated to a look at the next film to be released, in this case it being Teen Titans: The Judas Contract. I love the Teen Titans so I for one can’t wait!
The Story of the Swamp Thing looks at the genesis of Len Wein’s creation of Swamp Thing, a DC muck creature created in the 70s who became a staple of DC’s Vertigo line in the 80s and beyond. This has interviews with Wein, artist Kelly Jones, writer Mike Carlin and others and is one of my favourite docos of this type on these discs. Still a shame Alan Moore wouldn’t make any sort of commentary on the character.
Did You Know? is broken into 4 mini docos ‘Constantine Origin’, ‘The Color of Magic’, ‘Black Orchid’ and ‘Deadman Casting’. These are just 30 to 60 second vignettes talking about various aspects of the movie and it’s characters. Interestingly, the casting of Deadman is talkied up when in fact I think his vocal casting was the worst.
Justice League Dark at the New York Comic Con 2016 sees the creators and cast of the film talking about the film. It’s a pretty interesting look at the challenges of making the continuity of these new ‘animated universe’ features. It ends with a pretty good Q and A session too.
There are two other ‘sneak peeks’ for previous releases of Justice League: Doom and Justice League: Gods and Monsters, as well as episodes of Batman: The Brave and the Bold guest starring Deadman and The Demon.
There is also trailers for the DC All Access App and Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders.
WISIA: Whilst it’s not my favourite one of these DC animated features, I’ll probably watch it again just because of Jack Kirby’s Demon making an appearance.
The cat is out of the bag, and Aquaman is out of the box. Check it out!
Week Ending 10th February 2017
This week I grabbed a couple of new releases: the animated Justice League Dark and Ouija Origin of Evil.
Grabbed this cool Harley Quinn (yes, again) Mugshot bust. Normally I’d do a YouTube opening, but I couldn’t resist getting stuck into this straight away!
Picked up a copy of Games Workshop’s Space Hulk. I had this years ago, and saw one quite cheap so I jumped on it. I loved this game in my twenties, this and another called Talisman, and I’m glad to have it again.