Comic Book Review – JSA by Geoff Johns Book Four

JSA by Geoff Johns Book Four (2020)
Reprints JSA #32-45
Written by Geoff Johns & David Goyer
Art by Peter Snejbjerg, Leonard Kirk, Keith Champagne, Steve Sadowski, and Patrick Gleason

There is something deeply satisfying about reading Geoff Johns’s JSA run. When I was a kid with a limited amount of money to spend while perusing the comic rack on the wall at Kroger, I always leaned towards the team books because it was more economical in my line of thinking. I wanted to expand my knowledge of obscure characters, and team books always gave you the most characters for your buck. So, as an adult, when I stumbled across this run by Johns, it was like my childhood dream come true. He always found creative ways to weave together disparate strands of the DC Universe by using those commonalities.

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Comic Book Review – Young Justice Book Four

Young Justice Book Four (2019)
Reprints Young Justice #20 – 32
Written by Peter David, Jay Faerber, Chuck Dixon, Brian K. Vaughn, and Todd Dezago
Art by Todd Nauck, Sunny Lee, Coy Turnbull, Eric Battle, Patrick Zircher, and Scott Kolins

One of the problems I think Peter David encountered as the writer of Young Justice was his inability to develop or change his flagship characters because he was borrowing them from other titles. Superboy has his own ongoing series, which wouldn’t end until 2002. Robin had a very popular ongoing written by Chuck Dixon that ran from 1996 to 2009. Impulse was under the umbrella of Mark Waid’s Flash family with a solo book. Wonder Girl was a recurring cast member in the Wonder Woman title. That left Waid with characters like The Secret, Empress, and Arrowette to have the freedom to develop. However, the book wasn’t going to sell if those were the people on the covers. Yet, by continuing to spotlight characters outside of David’s control, the book never really felt like it went anywhere.

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Movie Review – Howl’s Moving Castle

Howl’s Moving Castle (2004)
Written & Directed by Hayao Miyazaki

Howl’s Moving Castle is one of the most financially successful Japanese films ever made. It grossed $236 million worldwide, which is quite a feat for a picture like this. It’s also yet another Miyazaki film that has had heaps of praise for its inventive magical world and characters. However, it’s the first Miyazaki movie in this series that I would rate below everything that has come before. For all of the technical mastery of animation and the fully developed world, I would argue something is lacking to pull all the elements together. Miyazaki revisits some old themes and some new ones, and I think the result is a very confusing picture.

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Movie Review – Spirited Away

Spirited Away (2001)
Written & Directed by Hayao Miyazaki

Spirited Away became the Studio Ghibli film that opened the floodgates into the American theatrical market. It was just home video sales of movies like My Neighbor Totoro and Kiki’s Delivery Service had doing well until this picture. However, seeing a Miyazaki movie in a theater was a more challenging experience to find. If you lived in a major urban area, your art-house theater might show them, but it was difficult outside of those venues. That isn’t to say Miyazaki films became marquee pictures in the States. However, from my own experience, it was from this point forward that I knew I could go to my local Regal cineplex; when these animated films reached our shores, they would have them playing on at least one screen.

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Comic Book Review – Young Justice Book Three

Young Justice Book Three (2018)
Reprints Young Justice #18-19, Young Justice: Sins of Youth #1-2, Young Justice: Sins of Youth Secret Files and Origins #1, Superboy #74, Sins of Youth: JLA Jr. #1, Sins of Youth: Aquababy/Lagoon Man #1, Sins of Youth: Batboy and Robin #1, Sins of Youth: Kid Flash/Impulse #1, Sins of Youth: Starwoman and the JSA Jr. #1, Sins of Youth: Superman Jr/Superboy Sr #1, Sins of Youth: Wonder Girls #1, and Sins of Youth: The Secret/Deadboy #1
Written by Peter David, Todd Dezago, Chuck Dixon, Geoff Johns, D. Curtis Johnson, Karl Kesel, Dwayne McDuffie, Ben Raab, Brian K. Vaughn, Jay Faerber, Lary Stucker, Scotty Beatty, and Jim Alexander
Art by Todd Nauck, Carlo Barberi, Sunny Lee, Tom Grummett, Rob Haynes, Drew Johnson, Scott Kolins, Cary Nord, Michael Avon Oeming, Angel Unzueta, Mike S. Miller, Norm Breyfogle, Pasqual Ferry, and Cully Hamner

It all started with making Superman a weekly character. In the 1990s, the Man of Steel had four monthly series making it so that you could pick up the next chapter in the Superman saga every week of the month. This led to DC Comics shaping their publishing schedule around this four-week model. However, this ran into a problem when you had a month with a fifth Wednesday (traditionally New Comic Book Day). In 1997, DC introduced fifth-week events, a filler week where a collection of themed one-shots would be published. That grew into a space to have a mini-event, nothing world-shattering but a longer story, the type you might typically have seen in the summer annuals. This is how we got Sins of Youth.

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Supervillain Spotlight – The Cheetah

Earlier, I looked at Max Lord, one of the villains in the upcoming Wonder Woman 1984. Today, I’ll breakdown the second villain, The Cheetah. Unlike Lord, The Cheetah has always exclusively been a Wonder Woman enemy, but there have been multiple people that worked under that name. In 1985, DC Comics launched Crisis on Infinite Earths, a company-wide event that rebooted the entire timeline and compressed many parallel Earths into one. Before this, there had been two Cheetahs, neither of whom had superpowers and were mainly knock-offs of Batman’s villain Catwoman. With Crisis, these versions were erased to make way for writer-artist George Perez’s overhaul of Wonder Woman and her continuity. This led to a new Cheetah, one who derived her powers from dark mythic gods.

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Movie Review – Southland Tales (The Cannes Cut)

Southland Tales – The Cannes Cut (2006)
Written & Directed by Richard Kelly

The promise of Richard Kelly was huge and seems to have dimmed in the last decade. In the wake of Donnie Darko, he was suddenly rocketed to the list of hot up-and-comers. I was definitely one of those people caught up in the Darko hype. I still hold that it’s his best work to date and that his subsequent work never felt quite as honed and clear. Southland Tales was the follow-up with a bigger budget and big names in the cast. It debuted at the Cannes Film Festival, and it was hailed as a disaster, bloated and too sprawling. Another cut was made for the theatrical release, and the reaction was much the same from audiences.

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Supervillain Spotlight – Maxwell Lord

The upcoming Wonder Woman 1984 is set to feature two villains, and I am writing up a spotlight on each. First up is a character who has been both a hero and a villain, and it wasn’t until 2006 that they were even associated with Wonder Woman so directly.

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Movie Review – George Washington

George Washington (2000)
Written & Directed by David Gordon Green

I have noticed in these reviews for the Visions of the American South series that few of the directors are actually from the region. Only Billy Bob Thornton and David Gordon Green are actually from the areas where their films take place. Because of that, I think these are the most naturalistic movies. That doesn’t mean they aren’t made with a stylistic flourish. In the case of George Washington, the film is almost like a visual poem. George Washington is also the first film in our series to prominently feature Black characters.

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Movie Review – Little Children

Little Children (2006)
Written by Todd Field & Tom Perrotta
Directed by Todd Field

Tom Perrotta has enjoyed quite a bit of success in having his novels adapted to film & television. Election, directed by Alexander Payne, was his first work turned into a movie and remains a great picture about the dangers of ambition. Even more successful was the television adaptation of The Leftovers by Damon Lindeloff, arguably the best series of the 2010s. Inbetween these two lies Little Children, a very literary film helmed by Todd Field. This is a dense movie that doesn’t stick to the text with fidelity, instead creating its own narrative spin on the same themes and characters.

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