Comic Book Review – Justice League International Volume 1

Justice League International Volume 1 (2009)
reprinting Justice League v1 #1-6, Annual 1
Written by Keith Giffen & J.M. DeMatteis
Art by Kevin Maguire and Bill Willingham

In the wake of the Crisis and Legends, a new Justice League must be formed. However, this new team won’t be made up of the classic roster (Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, et al.). Instead, anonymous invitations are sent out to a more eclectic group of superheroes: Blue Beetle, Mister Miracle, Black Canary, Doctor Fate, Captain Marvel, Doctor Light, Guy Gardner, with stalwarts Martian Manhunter and Batman rounding out the mix. Their mysterious benefactor Maxwell Lord has designs on the Justice League refraining from being a simply America centric group, instead, he imagines the team going worldwide. The biggest obstacle in getting them there is making sure they don’t kill each other.

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Movie Review – Charlie Wilson’s War


Charlie Wilson’s War (2007)
Written by Aaron Sorkin
Directed by Mike Nichols

charlie wilson

In 1980, Democratic Congressman Charlie Wilson of Texas was known as a hard-drinking, hard-partying, womanizing member of the House Appropriations Committee. Wilson was a man quite deft at securing favors from his fellow congressmen and infamous for his office staff of “angels,” young and fit women that ran his day to day operations. Despite a mind very focused on the material and carnal, Wilson was deeply moved by the footage he saw of Afghan refugees. A fact-finding mission to Pakistan found him walking among a camp comprised of a one-fifth of the Afghan population that had fled in the wake of the Soviet invasion. Wilson, pushed by Texan socialite Joanne Herring and CIA agent Gust Avrakotos, was one of the figures responsible for getting weapons into the hands of the Afghan freedom fighters who ultimately repelled the Soviets.

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Movie Review – Mandy

Mandy (2018)
Written by Panos Cosmatos and Aaron Stewart-Ahn
Directed by Panos Cosmatos


In 1983, lumberjack Red Miller and his lady Nancy Bloom were living a peaceful life in the Shadow Mountains. Nancy is an artist, enamored with fantasy, heavy metal, and science fiction, all of which work their way into her paintings. Their lives are forever changed when the Children of the Dawn come into their life. This cult’s leader, Jeremiah Sand, glimpses Mandy and decides he must have her, no matter the cost. What follows is a trippy, psychedelic journey into the depths of horror and revenge. Red quickly loses his humanity to do whatever it takes to get back Mandy.

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Movie Review – Explorers

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Explorers (1985)

Written by Eric Luke

Directed by Joe Dante


Ben is an average kid having extraordinary dreams. In these dreams he is flying in the clouds, looking down on a complex outline of circuitry. These could just be inspired by his late night viewing of classic science fiction films, but he still shares them with his nerdy friend Wolfgang. They discover this information allows them to manifest an anti-gravity field that they can manipulate the size and speed of. With help from their other friend Darren, they use an old Tilt-a-Whirl car to create a ship they can fly across the city with. A variety of complications arise putting the boys’ plans of space exploration and alien contact in jeopardy.

This is not going to be the review you are expecting.

As I have watched this films inspired by the Spielberg sense of wonder starting with E.T. I have noticed something. It came to the forefront when watching Explorers when I saw the female love interest looked familiar. A quick google search and I found her name, Amanda Peterson. You likely remember her from the teen comedy Can’t Buy Me Love where she starred alongside Patrick Dempsey. She had a few more films after that major one but settled into a few television movies, and by 1994 her filmography ends. The next time you probably heard about Amanda was in 2015 when she died.

Amanda Peterson was raped the year after Explorers came out. She was only fifteen at the time, and this story didn’t come out until after her death. Her parents felt that it needed to be told. While her assailant has never been named, we do know he was 27 years older than 15-year-old Amanda. I don’t think it’s too big of a stretch to assume this was someone in the film industry because Amanda insisted to her parents that they don’t go to the police about it. After all, she wanted to be a star and who wouldn’t want to rush past such a traumatic moment in their lives.

Amanda retired from the industry in 1994 and returned home to Colorado, where she had been born. She ended up in two failed marriages and with two children. She started self-medicating with alcohol and an astounding assortment of illegal and prescription medications. Arrests began around 2000, and she ended up in jail for three months at one point over an assault. There were even charges of child abuse around 2012. Her parents claim she was drug-free at the time of her death. The autopsy showed she had pain meds for a recent hysterectomy in her system, on top of illegally obtained morphine, opiates, and marijuana. Doctors say her respiratory system just shut down. Amanda was 43.

In Explorers, Amanda plays Lori the one-dimensional love interest of Ben. We never learn anything much about her, and she spied on by Ben using the anti-gravity technology. His interest is framed with innocence; he wants to be close to her. Darren comments that she isn’t even undressing. Amanda pops back up at the end, seemingly in on the same alien transmission as the other boys. And that is it for her character.

River Phoenix made his film debut in Explorers as the scientifically minded Wolfgang. River would go on to have a short but pretty prolific career. He was transitioning from teen fare into more adult cinema when he died of a heroin overdose at the age of 23. River’s parents joined the Children of God cult in the 1970s, during the height of cults in America. They moved to Venezuela as missionaries. River would talk about his experience in the Children of God cult in interviews and revealed that he lost his virginity at the age of 4 with other children. The Children of God encourage sexual intercourse between minors. River didn’t go into much detail, merely saying “I’ve blocked it out.” The Children of God still exist, having undergone some name changes, they are currently known as The Family International.

These 1980s films that use childlike imagination and wonder as their hook is fine, but we cannot forget they gloss over a dark reality of that time and our own. While these young actors play clean-cut, bright and happy kids, they were being forced into adulthood in the most traumatic and horrific ways. They deserved better than this. And we do them a disservice by flushing these realities from our minds when we view their work. When we watch E.T., we have to acknowledge the turmoil Drew Barrymore was already going through at that point in her life.

It’s not pleasant to make a note of the darkness of reality, but the blatant ignoring of these abuses is one of my most significant problems with modern geek culture. Our fun and enjoyment never come before human decency.

Comic Book Review – Invasion!

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dc summer blockbusters 1980s

Invasion! (1989)
Written by Keith Giffen & Bill Mantlo
Art by Todd McFarlane, Keith Giffen, and Bart Sears

invasion tpb cover

On the distant homeworld of the despotic Dominators, a plan is being hatched. They have been abducting humans and subjecting them to experiments to uncover why Earth is home to the majority of the galaxy’s super-powered beings. A tenuous alliance is formed after the discovery of the metagene. This invasion force consists of The Dominators, the Khunds, Daxamites, Durlans, and other alien races. Their goal is to conquer Earth and harvest these metagenes for their purposes. A surprise attack is launched, and the superbeings of the planet form a defense force to resist these invaders.

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Comic Book Review – Cosmic Odyssey

Cosmic Odyssey (1988)
Written by Jim Starlin
Art by Mike Mignola

cosmic odyssey 01

For eons, Darkseid has searched for the Anti-Life Equation, a manifestation of ultimate power that would allow him to conquer all of reality. It turns out that Anti-Life is a living entity and it has sent four essences into the positive matter universe with the goal of destroying a chain of solar systems that would affect the gravity of the galaxy so drastically it would obliterate it all. A tenuous alliance is made between Darkseid and Highfather of New Genesis to prevent this from occurring. They gather a group of Earth’s greatest heroes (Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter, Starfire) and a mysterious old man named Jason Blood to help stop Anti-Life’s plans. But of course, with Darkseid, not everything is as it seems.

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Movie Review – Back to the Future

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Back to the Future (1985)
Written by Bob Gale & Robert Zemeckis
Directed by Robert Zemeckis

back to the future

Marty McFly is your average high school student. He lives in Hill Valley, California. He has a girlfriend. He has lame parents. He’s friends with an elderly disgraced nuclear physicist. You know as regular teenagers do. Things get heavy when Marty meets Doc Brown in a mall parking lot in the middle of the night. Doc shows off his modified Delorean, transformed into a mobile time machine. The experiment is cut short when the Libyan terrorists Doc stole plutonium from show up and kill the elderly scientist. Marty escapes in the Delorean and is tossed back to 1955 without the needed fuel to get time machine running again. To make matters worse, he interrupts his parents’ first meeting so that his future mother is now in love with him! The clock is ticking before Marty destroys his timeline and he needs the Doc Brown of 1955’s help to undo the damage.

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