Comic Book Review – JSA by Geoff Johns Part 7

JSA by Geoff Johns Part 7
Reviewing JSA #73-87
Written by Geoff Johns, Keith Champagne, and Paul Levitz
Illustrated by Don Kramer, David Lopez, Jim Fern, Dale Eaglesham, Rags Morales, Luke Ross, and Jerry Ordway

The issues in this final batch are only partially written by Geoff Johns. Keith Champagne (normally an inker) and Paul Levtiz (an icon at DC by this point) cover a couple long arcs while Johns was writing Infinite Crisis (and Green Lantern and Teen Titans and the weekly 52 series and something else I’m probably forgetting). This also isn’t Johns’ final say on the Justice Society. He’d write the first twenty-eight issues of Justice Society of America, the follow-up ongoing to this one. Johns currently writes two JSA-related mini-series: Justice Society of America and Stargirl & The Lost Children. Because these are in a period of somewhat confused continuity right now, I don’t get the feeling he’s folding in everything that happened way back here in JSA.

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Comic Book Review – JSA by Geoff Johns Part Six

JSA by Geoff Johns Part 6
Review JSA #59 – 72
Written by Geoff Johns
Art by Sean Phillips, Don Kramer, Tom Mandrake, Jerry Ordway, and Dave Gibbons

By May 2004, the plans for DC Comics’ 20th-anniversary celebration of Crisis on Infinite Earths were well underway. For the 10th anniversary, the company released Zero Hour: A Crisis in Time, a book which, as a kid, I loved because I bought every issue as it came out on the grocery store stands. Unfortunately, having re-read and reviewed it a few years ago, Zero Hour doesn’t hold up. I also re-read Infinite Crisis around that time, and it holds up better. There are great moments, but it’s sparse as a cohesive story. Geoff Johns was the primary writer of Infinite Crisis and led the team around it all. He’s aware that JSA is going to be wrapped up by 2006 for a reboot, so the stories at this point are focusing on a character or two and delivering some really satisfying conclusions to their arcs. Before that, though, Johns gives us a teasing episode told from the perspective of Per Degaton.

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Patron Pick – Eternal Summer

This special reward is available to Patreon patrons who pledge at the $10 or $20 monthly levels. Each month those patrons will pick a film for me to review. If they choose, they also get to include some of their thoughts about the movie. This Pick comes from Bekah Lindstrom.

Eternal Summer (2006)
Written by Leste Chen
Directed by Hsu Cheng-ping

I know this is likely several people’s favorite movie, if not that, at least something they watched as a teenager in the mid/late-2000s, and it shaped them in some way. However, this soap operatic melodrama is so corny. It’s harmless but not close to how real life and relationships play out. Oozing with broody teen angst and wallowing in the drama, Eternal Summer was certainly not a movie made for someone like me. That’s fine, but if this is a picture you enjoy, you probably won’t enjoy my review because I did not like this movie.

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Comic Book Review – JSA by Geoff Johns Part Five

JSA by Geoff Johns Part 5
Reviewing JSA #46-58 & Hawkman #23-25
Written by Geoff Johns & David Goyer (#46-51)
Art by Sal Velluto, Leonard Kirk, Keith Champagne, Don Kramer, Wade von Grawbadger, and Rags Morales

I just got impatient. It has been 2 ½ years since JSA by Geoff Johns Book Four was published. After I decided to do this series, I read that DC was publishing Book 5 in March, but I simply didn’t want to wait an indeterminate amount of time for the rest of JSA to be reprinted. Watching that atrocious Black Adam movie made me realize I missed the JSA of the 2000s, so I figured out a way to split the remaining issues into three clusters and read through them. One of my biggest takeaways was how the JSA was unlike anything else at DC Comics. The Justice League are big movie blockbusters (or they should be when written correctly), while the JSA is much closer to Claremont’s X-Men, a story about a diverse family of superheroes, they have their own lives, and these personal elements often intersect with the team’s adventures. I even found myself getting teary-eyed a couple times reading these issues because Johns finds a way to make the most obscure DC superheroes extremely human & so their losses hurt, or when we have to say goodbye, it is bittersweet.

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Movie Review – Namibia: The Struggle for Liberation

Namibia: The Struggle For Liberation (2007)
Written & Directed by Charles Burnett

Charles Burnett has always wanted to make movies but has yet to be afforded the same opportunities as his more establishment-compliant peers in Hollywood. So in the 1990s, the director settled into making films for PBS, particularly documentaries often focused on Black history and individuals, attempting to go deeper than the cursory glance most Americans have of these figures in school. Martin Scorsese even included Burnett as one of the directors of an episode of his The Blues docu-series. Burnett also directed several made for tv movies, including an adaptation of the historical novel Nightjohn for the Disney Channel in 1996. However, one of Burnett’s most constant themes throughout his work has been centered on liberation, Black people pushing against white power structures to find genuine freedom, not wage slavery & oppression with a freedom label slapped on it. 

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Comic Book Review – Seven Soldiers

Seven Soldiers (2010)
Reprints Seven Soldiers of Victory #0, Shining Knight #1-4, Guardian #1-4, Zatanna #1-4, Klarion the Witch Boy #1-4, Mister Miracle #1-4, Bulleteer #1-4, Frankenstein #1-4, Seven Soldiers of Victory #1
Written by Grant Morrison
Art by J.H. Wiliams III, Simone Bianchi, Cameron Stewart, Ryan Sook, Mick Gray, Frazer Irving, Pasqual Ferry, Yanick Paquette, Serge LaPointe, Doug Mahnke, Billy Dallas Patton, Michael Blair, and Freddie Wiliams II

I will not be able to fully unpack Seven Soldiers in this small setting. This is a book worthy of its own full-length book detailing the references, symbolism, and meaning that Grant Morrison has packed into it. I will spend this time talking about how much I appreciate and enjoy this book, touching on some thematic and structural aspects as we go. This cannot be an exhaustive deconstruction of such an overwhelming piece of comic art.

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Movie Review – Four Christmases

Four Christmases (2008)
Written by Matt R. Allen, Caleb Wilson, Jon Lucas, and Scott Moore
Directed by Seth Gordon

I hardly ever enjoy disparaging another fellow Seth, but for Mr. Gordon, I will make an exception. He made quite an entertaining pop documentary in The King of Kong, giving us one of the great villains of the 2000s, in video game veteran Billy Mitchell. And to be fair, I don’t place the blame for this movie squarely on the director’s shoulders. Watching Four Christmases, something was happening in the background that most viewers likely didn’t notice. Even with my attention to detail, it took me a few days after watching the picture for all the pieces to come together. It was a Christmas movie starring Jon Favreau and Mary Steenburgen, and the cartoon level slapstick and the proliferation of cameo performances by well-known faces and…is that Peter Billingsley (A Christmas Story) as a ticket agent? When I saw New Line Cinema distributed the picture, it all suddenly made sense. Four Christmases was an attempt (as ridiculous as this sounds) to squeeze more money from the audience that loved Elf. 

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Movie Review – Deck the Halls

Deck the Halls (2006)
Written by Matt Corman, Chris Ord, and Don Rhymer
Directed by John Whitesell

Surviving Christmas is objectively the worst holiday film I have ever seen. However, Deck the Halls does not lag far behind. What redeems it only the slightest is Danny Devito. Without him, the movie would have been unwatchable. I try not to shit on directors too much; just like actors, movie-making is a job for them, and you often take work you aren’t excited about because it affords you opportunities down the road. However, John Whitesell has just cultivated a career of utter shit. Before directing this Christmas flick, Whitesell gave us such gems as Jamie Kennedy’s Malibu’s Most Wanted and Big Momma’s House 2. You’ll be happy to know that Whitesell was able to keep cranking ’em out and went on to direct Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son. Unfortunately, we face this pedigree when sitting down to watch Deck the Halls.

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Movie Review – The Holiday

The Holiday (2006)
Written & Directed by Nancy Meyers

I don’t really enjoy much of Nora Ephron’s work. It’s just not my taste, but I acknowledge there are things I like. Despite knowing it is such a flawed picture, I have a soft spot for My Blue Heaven. Ephron’s closest contemporary is Nancy Meyers. Both women were gaining steam during the same period, and they made films targeted at women…well, white women. Where Ephron can be playful & inventive, even if it doesn’t always work (see Bewitched), Meyers consistently wallows in indulgent upper-middle-class fluff. I actually went into The Holiday with a moderate amount of open-mindedness. For years, I heard people defend the movie citing the Kate Winslet/Jack Black half of the picture as worthwhile. I like both those performers and decided to include this in my A Very 2000s Christmas series and was looking forward to them.

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Movie Review – The Family Stone

The Family Stone (2005)
Written & Directed by Thomas Bezucha

To say The Family Stone is the least bad movie out of the seven I have watched for this series would be accurate, but also not a sign that I enjoyed watching it. I just suffered the least amount during this one. Everything about the story would work better as part of a television series. You have a family dynamic with one person coming from outside, conflict arises, and we get a maudlin sitcom-ish happy ending. The movie is confusing in who this is trying to appeal to as it features incredibly unlikable characters (even the ones we are supposed to like) but then is also wall-to-wall unfunny when it attempts comedy yet also poor at its attempts for pathos. 

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