So what prompted the return of Comic Book Boom? It all started with Batman...everything Batman. I found my brothers old PS3 and he had Arkham City. I don't normally play video games because of my bad eyesight but Arkham City is a Free Roam game and damn I just love Batman and his villains. Next thing you know I'm sucked back into the thing that I truly love and missed. After completing the game (minus the dumb Riddler Trophies) a twitter follower recommended I read Batman: Hush. There was just one problem:
I am on a huge Batman kick right now. It's actually what got me back into blogging. Everything Batman. Movies, games and of course comics. I visited my local shop and was pleasantly surprised to learn about a comic book sale. They had dropped prices for just about everything for "tax refund day." It was then and there I decided to jump back in to the stream. I bought as many "Batman: Rebirth" issues as I could afford. (Rebirth is the most up-to-date run of Batman for those of you that didn't know). So here I am delving into the newest Batman, I started with the hardcover binding of Batman 25-32 which is called "The War of Jokes and Riddles."
After seemingly cranking through it in less than a week. (After just finishing Hush I wanted to see nothing but Bat/Cat Romance), I was fairly pleased with the current run and was glad that I dropped $50 on all the remaining issues...and I'm glad I started a pull list.
It seems like Batman is in good hands, with the art looking fresh, crisp and on point. The stories capture the Batman tone, with a perfect blend of detective work, complex emotions tragedy and loony villainy. "The War of Jokes and Riddles" captured all of these (with one glaring flaw, more on that later).
When it comes to Superheroes in TV, The CW has it figured out. Well, for the most part (*cough* Supergirl). While Agents of SHIELD are chasing poorly animated ghost, The CW pulled off the most badass superhero crossover we’ve seen in a long time. The crossover was so impressive that the mid-season finales paled in comparison. Yes, the TV Justice League is well on their way. However, one thing is holding them back, an old superhero trope that needs to stop now.
The Mirror Villain
Is it a villain that turns people into mirrors? No that’s dumb. The Mirror Villain is a villain that reflects the hero, is eerily similar to the hero and sometimes represents the antithesis of the superhero’s beliefs. Sometimes they’re deeply complex and help the hero explore his morals and determine his values. 100% of the time they have the exact same powers as our hero, the only thing that making them different is that they are evil.
My criticism with the CW showrunners is that they rely almost exclusively on Mirror Villains, to the point of gluttony. I’m sure you’re already thinking of the numerous examples. Flash and Reverse-Flash is the most “on-the-nose” example of this. In fact Barry has had an evil speedster in every one of his season and all of them are featured in the season story arc (not one-shots): Reverse-Flash, Zoom, and Savitar. In the first season of Supergirl the villain is a Kryptonian that looks like her mom. And just think of all the bow-masters in Arrow. The sheer number of expert archers is absurd.
Reviewing the shows, especially Flash, I have to say I’m extremely disappointed. Yes, the shows are fun to watch and pose good stories. But aren’t you just a little sick of it? I would love to go one season and see just one archer and one speedster. When I saw Prometheus and Savitar introduced, I rolled my eyes. Arrow is five seasons in and still peddling the Mirror Villain. To be fair, they mixed it up with Slade Wilson and Damian Dahrk, but the fact that they had to revert back to another archer is just sad. Flash is even worse! Back-to-back-to-back evil speedsters is absolutely pathetic. There, I said it…pathetic.
By constantly resorting to the Mirror Villain, the show runners are ignoring creative opportunities. There are thousands of different villains, each with different motivations. The writers could explore different themes with these villains. All three evil speedsters that I mentioned earlier all want to challenge Barry because they want to be the fastest. “There can only be one speedster.” How many times have we heard that? If another speedster appears in Season 4 of The Flash, I’m going to flip a table…and still begrudgingly watch it.
It’s time for the writers to step up and challenge themselves. They need to crack open a few comics for inspiration. I’m sure there are plenty of Mirror Villains in the comics, but that doesn’t give the writers permission to shovel that crap. The shows and characters have us hooked. Now it’s time for risk taking. I highly doubt that anything they do will result in a mass exodus of viewers. Anything new will be greatly welcomed. I think the introduction of aliens is a decent start, but we’ll have to wait and see…
Till next time!
UPDATE: The Flash showrunners are teasing the possibility of bringing back Zoom in the form of Black Flash. This announcement just further proves my point. Needless to say I'm extremely disappointed that the writers can't think of anything better than another speedster.
It’s mind blowing to think that when it comes to major comic book movies taking a risk, DC and Warner Brothers is actually about to edge out Marvel. This is a bona fide fact. Marvel Studios is the industry pioneer and founder when it comes to superhero movies and cinematic world building. They took the first step introducing successful hits like Iron Man and The Avengers. The world saw great stories and flocked to the MCU. DC is late to the party but trying to catch up.
So Marvel is the pioneer and leader, we established that. But DC beating Marvel? How?
Two Words: Wonder Woman.
A Solo Female Superhero Movie will soon be upon us and I cannot wait. For too long it has been a sausage fest and people are damn near sick of it. A super powered woman of high caliber is going to add great value to any cinematic universe. And no, this isn’t me saying we need eye candy. New plots and dynamics will be opened up. A better balanced cast will grace the screen. We genuinely need to diversify our superhero characters. 50% of the population is girl, so why can’t 50% of the screen be the same way.
For whatever reason Marvel (and Disney) has been reluctant to invest in a key solo film for one of their female characters. Black Widow is a beloved favorite by fans everywhere but she hasn’t gotten a solo film and she had to be slowly introduced into the MCU, all the way back to Iron Man 2. The Wasp had her name tagged on to the Ant-Man sequel, a tactic by Marvel hoping more will be drawn to the sequel. But no solo film, not till Captain Marvel premieres in freaking 2019. Holy Odin that is a long ways away.
It doesn’t make sense why Marvel is moving so slow. The comics industry is rapidly growing because girls are a market now being utilized. Doubling the population of people to sell to will do that. There was a social media outrage when Black Widow merchandise wasn’t being sold during the release of Avengers: Age of Ultron. A survey by Fandango and USA Today found that a massive 48% of people want to see Natasha Romanoff in her own solo film. People want to see a female superhero.
If Marvel is afraid to green light a female hero because of past failures then let’s review those failures.
So there you have it. There is absolutely no reason, historical context or evidence to suggest that a female superhero, handled by Marvel Studios, would bomb on the big screen. The characters in the past were either ruined by a know-nothing non-comics studio, were boring choices, or are not catered to mass cinematic audiences.
Maybe Marvel is actually feeling ill equipped to deliver that solo female hero. Off the top of my head the big names that jump out at me are Captain Marvel and Spider-Woman. If you google a list of female heroes, not to many big names jump out at you. All of the X-Women are locked away at 20th Century Fox. The Wasp is getting there, Scarlet Witch has a little screen time and She-Hulk is bit of a stretch. This challenge of finding the right, well established, female hero stems from neglect of female heroes in the last century.
This is where DC comes in. They almost have it easy having the most successful female superhero of all time: Wonder Woman. Men and women alike love this character in both the comics and the movies. Gal Gadot was hands down the best thing about Batman vs Superman. So despite DC being late to the party, they’re bringing the most popular and sought-after guest: a great female superhero.
I cannot wait for WW to come out and I know it will be a great success. Marvel Comics and Marvel Studios have some work to do if they are to match the powerful punch that is Wonder Woman.
But seriously Marvel isn't even close to matching this:
Supergirl is the latest addition to the CW Arrowverse, after a trying first season on CBS. I cannot stress how disappointing the first season was. It was a villain of the week style that featured a doe eyed girl that just doesn’t quite know what to do with herself. If you take away the superpowers this show is basically “small town girl tries to work in the big city for magazine company.” Take a minute to see the clichés present. I got so bored that I couldn’t even finish out the season. I eventually caught up on Netflix, the lack of commercials making the show less painful.
And I get it, the show needed to find its footing, establish a fan base and grow the character. This is Greg Berlanti’s style and it worked for Arrow and Flash. My one criticism is that the showrunners haven’t allowed Supergirl to grow to be the badass that she is. I’m all for the female empowerment metaphor prominent throughout the series, my criticism is lets actually empower her.
Her character development is so incredibly slow that even at the start of Season Two, Kara Danvers still is unsure of herself and her goals. The episode ended with her supposedly establishing her convictions, but we’ll have to wait and see how things pan out. My hope is that Supergirl starts facing some real challenges (political, moral, ethical) and becomes more dynamic as a result. Imagine if Kara dealt with similar issues to that of Superman in Batman vs Superman. Maybe not as depressing but rather a better balance between “Zach Snyder” and “Saturday cartoon.”
As for the Season Two Premiere, I worry about the overshadowing of Superman. I wrote about this before, in brief. To expand my point: I’ve been chomping at the bit to make Kara/Supergirl stronger and more dynamic of a character, if Supes is taking up screen time, it will be hard for the show to develop Supergirl. Character growth comes from struggle and overcoming obstacles, if Superman is there to help her, we might not see that growth.
Don’t get me wrong, the episode itself was actually awesome! Despite my reservations about Kara’s character development, the episode was really fun to watch. I’m a huge sucker for team-ups, as are many, and I think the showrunners know that. Also, it’s hard for Clark to be MIA for a whole season without explanation. Now the CW will get a ratings boost and cover that question. I’m actually pretty satisfied with Superman’s line of reasoning for avoiding the DEO.
Whoever was in charge of casting Superman nailed it. Tyler Hoechilin perfectly captured both Clark Kent, the lovable goof, and Superman the symbol of truth, justice and the American Way. The two Kryptonians had great screen chemistry with funny banter and charming moments throughout. It’s going to be fun to watch the family reunion this season. The space plane scene was a great moment in the show.
To Recap: The show needs to develop and grow Kara Danvers, give her better challenges much like Arrow. The depiction of Superman was spot on and the team ups were fun to watch. However, there is a risk that Superman will overshadow Kara’s growth.
I have a much better feeling about this season and I will be watching for sure. The potential of Flashpoint and all of the crossovers/team-ups make this a season to remember. Also, if the Berlanti formula holds true, we’ll be seeing some better, more complicated stories soon. I give Season Two my seal of approval and recommend you should tune in.
Till next time!
The Flash premiered last night kicking off the CW season of super heroes. Below are my quick reactions to the episode.
First off, I need to preface by saying I did not read the Flashpoint Story from the comics, which I’m told is a modern classic. Articles reviewing it say that it is the most monumental plot line in recent DC history, responsible for the DC’s New 52 and Rebirth. So fans are freaking out of the implications of Flash’s actions in the Arrowverse.
Having read the synopsis of Flashpoint I’m kicking myself for not investing more into the DC universe back when this was going on in 2011. Fortunately, Flashpoint Paradox is on Netflix which I’m told is an easy watch that’ll get me up to speed. This may be moot because Grant Gustin says the show is going to do it differently, but I’m sure the themes will remain.
“Flashpoint” the episode did a great job of not wasting time. The showrunners could’ve bounced Barry around his new universe (where Nora is alive) for a couple of episodes. Thank Odin they didn’t. There is no point in viewers investing time in a timeline that will be wiped out of existence as soon as Barry realized his mistake. Instead, they set Flashpoint up, executed it (and Nora) all in one episode. Now viewers can jump back to the timeline we all know and love with promises of a few surprises, including Supergirl.
The episode was well done and to the point and left with a great cliffhanger. What is next for this Universe? Instead of sticking to conventional story telling formats (See: Super Stories – Television), Greg Berlanti and Crew will have a near blank canvas to come up with new and awesome storylines and even heroes. Also I cannot wait for the next crossover!
If you’re looking for a reason to jump into the CW-Arrowverse the time is absolutely now. In fact, because the way Flash concluded, you could probably skip it and just know that the universe has been slightly altered. Or if you want to see Cisco be a douche and Barry take down another speedster (*yawn*) fire up the old Hulu account.
The episode wasn’t great in fact alone it was pretty mediocre. The episode was great because the implications of Barry’s actions created near infinite number of story possibilities. The show runners made a fresh slate, let’s hope they make the most of it.
Hi, I'm AJ and I predicted the Comic Book Boom. Now I'm writing about all things comics-related.
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