Necessary Evil: Super-villains of DC Comics (2013)

One from the re watch pile…
Necessary Evil: Super-Villains of DC Comics (2013)

The cover of the US DVD


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.

The man responsible for some of the greatest Batman comics ever written, Scott Snyder


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.

Producer and author of The Boy Who Loved Batman, Michael Uslan


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.

Score: *****

The US DVD menu screen


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.

Score: ****

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.

Score: **

WISIA: Being a comic nut, I have to admit to watching this many many times.

An animated Green Lantern villain: Star Sapphire

Nerds of Oz: Week Ending 27th January 2017

Week Ending 27th January 2017
4 comics and 2 blurays: it’s been a quiet week.

Comics


Comics were at home when I arrived Tuesday night! Stoked.

READ! Harley Quinn #12 from DC Comics. Written by Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti, with art by John Timms and Chad Hardin. It’s funny but as I had almost finally decided to dump this title, it’s gets interesting. The Joker wants to return to Harley’s life, but Red Tool (quite possibly the lamest creation in Harley’s history) has decided to meet the Joker instead and stick up for her. Harley, of course, is furious with him, but aims the majority of her anger right in the Joker’s lap… and face… and limbs…

READ! Justice League vs Suicide Squad #5 from DC Comics. Written by Joshua Williamson with art by Robson Rocha, the only way to describe this comic is crazy just got crazier. Max Lord! A possessed Justice League! Eclipse! Batman forms his own mini league with Harley Quinn, Lobo, Captain Boomerang, Killer Frost, Killer Croc and Deadshot… which is clearly now showing that a new JLA title is about to launch starring some of these characters… not sure if I’ll get used to Frost being a good guy though!

READ! Raven #4 from DC Comics. Written by Marv Wolfman with art by Diogenes Neves, this issue we see Raven trying to stop the big white thing from ‘eating’ the locals in her town but will Raven have to resort to using her father, Trigon’s, side of her genetic make up to fight it? If she does, that’s SO Raven!

READ! The Mighty Captain Marvel #1 from Marvel Comics. Written by Margaret Stohl with art by Ramon Rosanas. Wholly disappointed by this. Captain Marvel is funding Alpha Flight by allowing a Tv series called Cap’n Marvel to be made, all the while trying to save a Kree child from shapeshifting kidnappers. It’s as dumb as it sounds.

DVDs and Blurays 


Grabbed two blurays this week, Blair Witch, which is absolutely terrible, and House of 1000 Corpses, which I have on DVD but want to replace with a bluray version.

Harley Quinn’s Greatest Hits Review

HARLEY QUINN’S GREATEST HITS
There is no doubt in my mind that DC Comics do female superheroes better than Marvel. Of my top five favourite super heroines, 4 of them are DC: Supergirl, Power Girl, Batgirl, and Harley Quinn. (For full disclosure’s sake, the Marvel heroine is She-Hulk).

I’ve been a fan of Harley Quinn since her first comic appearance in The Batman Adventures issue #12, but I really liked what I saw in the Bruce Timm/ Paul Dini story Mad Love, though they came at a time when I was drifting out of comics because of how awful they had become in the early 90s so I missed out on a whole pile of her adventures until I became re-united with her when her own comic became a part of the New 52 Universe that DC started several years ago. She wasn’t one of the 52 launch titles, but once her comic started, I was well and truly into it. Harley’s actual first appearance was actually in an episode of Batman: The Animated Series as a sidekick of the Joker.

Who is Harley Quinn, I hear you ask? Harley’s origin sees her as a psychologist Harleen Quinzel who was manipulated by the Joker whilst treating him in Arkham Asylum to fall in love with him. The Joker has a firm ‘treat ‘me mean and keep ‘me keen’ ethos and that really works on Harley.

The Joker decided at one point that she cramped his style, so he attempted to kill her but she was rescued by Poison Ivy (another Batman villain) who assisted in her recovery by giving her various plant potions which also made her more limber, and increased her strength and endurance. She is also resistant to most toxins, including the Joker’s laughing gas.

Harley’s popularity also rose from her appearance in the amazing ‘Arkham’ video game series and she has been a cosplay favourite for a while too. Her appearance in the TV show Birds of Prey went by with just a blip, but her portrayal by Margot Robbie in 2016’s film Suicide Squad nailed her look into people’s regular day-to-day wear,

This collection is a series of 8 stories taken from various comics which show the evolution of the character from throwaway gun moll to superhero in her own right (if you have read the Harley Quinn/ Power Girl 6 issue mini series written by Amanda Conner, Jimmy Palmiotti, with art by Palmiotti, Stéphan Roux and Justin Gray). Her character goes from flat out villain to crazy fun-loving within a few pages that represent many years, so it’s funny to see just how much the character has evolved to suit the affection the comic loving populace have for her. Some of the stories are only a few pages long and serves as character vignettes, but others really display the character is all her crazy lights!

Story: This being a historical collection, there is a variety of writes who have worked on it: Scott Beatty, Kelly Puckett, Jeph Loeb, Paul Dini, Adam Glass, Scott Snyder & James Tynion IV, Amanda Conner & Jimmy Palmiotti and Rob Williams, and the stories are presented in historical order. The Rob Williams story is the most recent and clearly sees the film version of the Suicide Squad become a more comic related group and is an interesting look at where Harley’s mind is as far as wanting to be a superhero is concerned, but for me, the Kicked in the Teeth, from 2011’s Suicide Squad #1 by Adam Glass is the most effective story. The least effective story is Jeph Loeb’s The Opera but only because it was a past of a bigger story that was presented over 12 issues, and there are minor subplots unresolved. It’s not a criticism of Loeb’s writing, but more it’s appearance here is a misstep as it is only a snippet of an entire Batman story.

All in all it’s an uneven story collection, but as a character evolution and dissection, it almost works!

Score: ***1/2

Art: As with the story, the art is of varying quality, but is mostly representative of the story it is presenting. Modern comics art legend Jim Lee makes two appearances here, his better art featuring in the The Opera story, but for me, the fun, cartoony are of Mike Parobeck, whose art lends itself to both an animated or a traditional comic style, in the Batgirl: Day One.

Overall though, I really liked all of the art in this collection.

Score: ****

WIRIA: Am I gonna read a collection of one of my favourite characters more than once? Of course I am.

Suicide Squad (2016) report


I have been a fan of the Suicide Squad comics since the eighties, particularly due to the presence of Flash Villain Captain Boomerang (he’s Australian, it’s national pride) and Deadshot, in the post Legends comics, though I must admit that other series’ that have come out I haven’t always been a fan of; I think I like those ‘non team’ books like this, and Marvel’s Defenders.

I was excited to see this film as I loved the cast, and looked forward to a new Joker as I have never been a fan of Heath Ledger’s portrayal in Christopher Nolan’s Batman films. 

Suicide Squad takes place in the emerging DC Cinematic universe, and is the third instalment after Man of Steel and Batman vs Superman (though I still believe that these films follow on directly from Nolan’s) and tells of a secret governmental task force run by a ruthless official named Amanda Waller (Viola Davis), and with boots in the ground control by a special ops soldier named Rick Flagg (Joel Kinnaman) which contains bad, awful, villainous occasionally super-powered people who are controlled by bomb in their necks, who are employed to do the dirtiest jobs… The suicide missions… That are too dangerous for soldiers to be sent to.

Honestly, I loved this film. Cast beautifully, shot like a super-slick modern day action film, and is pure blockbuster. I wasn’t disappointed by Jared Leto’s Joker at all, though the perfect comic Joker still hasn’t been done properly, and the rest of the cast, including Will Smith as Deadshot, Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn, Jai Courtney as Captain Boomerang, Jay Hernandez as El Diablo, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje as Killer Croc, and Karen Fukuhara as Katana were bang on, though Cara Delevingne as The Enchantress was.. Well… A little lame,  though she looked amazing. Certainly a lot better than her 80s comic counterpart!


I know this film was tested and then went back to production to add extra bits too it, and there was really one issue with this film: the extra reshoots, whilst seamless, do have a point where one character reacts positively to a current event, that has already happened in his/her particular circumstance. It sat weird with me.

So it’s a big dumb blockbuster and if you expect anything other than explosions, tied together with snide jokes and a bit of sexiness, you should just stay at home. As far as I can see, what you see at the cinema now reflects what you buy at the concession stand: fast food for the mind, and if you expect an exquisite, healthy three-course meal, brother, you need to check yourself.

I do have to give a special note that a tribute to the 80s Suicide Squad creator, John Ostrander, features in this film, and as both a comics and film fan, I like to see that.

No doubt when the inevitable gigantic ultra mega bluray version is released I’ll give a proper review, but for now:

Film: ****