Comic Book Review – Copra Round One

Copra Round One (2014)
Reprints Copra #1-6
Written by Michael Fiffe
Art by Michael Fiffe

I had to close my book a few pages into Copra Round One because I needed to check something. A quick search online confirmed I was seeing what I saw correctly. This is a fan continuation of John Ostrander’s Suicide Squad series with all the serial numbers filed off. Character designs and personalities make it evident that this is a love letter to that 1980s DC Comics classic from top to bottom. Also, they throw in analogs for Marvel’s Doctor Strange & Clea just because they can. The name “Suicide Squad” is never used; there’s no mistaking this is written by someone who loves those characters but couldn’t get a job at DC writing a revival. But, in true indie comics fashion, Michael Fiffe did it anyway, resulting in a wild trip.

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TV Review – Better Call Saul Season 1

Better Call Saul Season 1 (AMC)
Written by Vince Gilligan, Peter Gould, Thomas Schnauz, Gennifer Hutchison, Bradley Paul, and Gordon Smith
Directed by Vince Gilligan, Michelle MacLaren, Terry McDonough, Colin Bucksey, Nicole Kassell, Adam Bernstein, and Larysa Kondracki

Justice is a joke in the United States. I was born & raised in the U.S., and it’s evident that our system of law & order is a complete joke, a hollow icon trotted out by the worst corrupt figures responsible for doing near incalculable harm to the most vulnerable people. But we give them badges, call them “Judge,” and put everything on fancy official letterhead, which legitimizes the evil. There are always pressure release valves built into any social system like this, and the establishment understands most people will not go along with the idea that the justice system is hallowed & pure. So they allow us to mock one part of it, and it works out to their advantage that way; they mock defense attorneys. I grew up seeing commercials for people like Bart Durham, downright shady ads that promised people big paydays if they went with him. These are always working-class lawyers, the big city, expensive slick ones get a bit more grandeur in their media portrayals. On the surface, Saul Goodman appeared to be one of those ambulance chasers when he appeared on Breaking Bad. With his own series spin-off, a prequel of sorts, audiences got the chance to see if there was more beneath the colorful suits & flowery language.

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Movie Review – Nebraska

Make sure to vote in our poll: What is Alexander Payne’s best film?

Nebraska (2013)
Written by Bob Nelson
Directed by Alexander Payne

For the first time in his filmmaking career, Alexander Payne directed a script he did not write. The result was a film that got a lot of praise from critics. It wasn’t a box office smash, but it did better than expected due to awards season word of mouth. After the diversions of Sideways and The Descendants, Payne had returned to his Midwestern roots, exploring the humor and daily dramas of life in Nebraska. A pair of producers contacted Payne while working on About Schmidt with the Nebraska script. Payne already knew Sideways was in the pipeline and wisely realized he would be seen as “the guy who makes road trip movies” but thought the Nebraska script was great. It got put on the back-burner, and after The Descendants, Payne saw this as the time to make Nebraska.

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Movie Review – The Wolf of Wall Street

The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
Written by Terence Winter
Directed by Martin Scorsese

Of all Martin Scorsese’s 21st century films, this was the big one, the movie that reminded everybody how good he is. That doesn’t mean his previous work in the 2000s/2010s was terrible; it just didn’t always match what the director was best at. You might say, “Hey, where are your reviews for Shutter Island and Hugo? Well, I watched & reviewed them both in the recent past and wasn’t too keen on revisiting those pictures. In my opinion, Shutter Island was always okay, while I dislike Hugo. They are two examples of Scorsese going outside his wheelhouse and trying something I have to admire, no matter my feelings about the final product. And while The Wolf of Wall Street feels more like a Scorsese picture, he’s still trying new things. 

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Comic Book Review – Justice League: The Darkseid War

Justice League: The Darkseid War Essential Edition (2018)
Reprints Justice League #40-50, Justice League: The Darkseid War Special, and DC Sneak Peek: Justice League
Written by Geoff Johns
Directed by Jason Fabok and Francis Manapul

The New 52 came in with the Justice League and ended with it too. After fifty issues, Geoff Johns capped off his run as Rebirth became the banner on every comic. With this final arc, Johns could wrap up most of the threads laid out over the last four years, more or less. The Darkseid War brought back the titular menace from the first arc and expanded on DC lore. Now it did so in some highly confusing ways and clashed with other points, but this is sort of a thing for DC Comics ever since Crisis. The continuity just doesn’t quite fit. But you just get used to it and move on, I suppose.

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Comic Book Review – Justice League: Forever Heroes & Injustice League

Justice League: Forever Heroes (2014)
Reprints Justice League #24-29
Written by Geoff Johns
Art by Ivan Reis and Doug Mahnke

Justice League: Injustice League (2015)
Reprints Justice League #30-39
Written by Geoff Johns
Art by Doug Mahnke and Jason Fabok

Last week, I shared the big Justice League event of the time, Forever Evil. While that event was happening in its mini-series, the main Justice League book changed a bit. The heroes readers were familiar with were caught in a pocket dimension prison, so the Justice League comic devoted its pages to telling the origins of the villainous Crime Syndicate. For the unfamiliar, the Crime Syndicate are villainous versions of classic DC Heroes. They are:

Ultraman (Superman)
Owlman (Batman)
Superwoman (Wonder Woman)
Johnny Quick (The Flash)
Power Ring (Green Lantern)

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Comic Book Review – Justice League: Trinity War & Forever Evil

Justice League: Trinity War (2014)
Reprints Free Comic Book Day 2012, Trinity of Sin: Pandora #1-3, Trinity of Sin: Phantom Stranger #11, Justice League #22-23, Justice League Dark #22-23, Justice League of America #6-7, and Constantine #5
Written by Geoff Johns, Jeff Lemire, and Ray Fawkes
Art by Ivan Reis, Dough Mahnke, David Finch, and Mikel Janin

Forever Evil (2015)
Reprints Forever Evil #1-7
Written by Geoff Johns
Art by David Finch

DC did a good job of not having any major events in its shared universe for the first three years of the New 52. But we all knew that wouldn’t last. Things kicked off with Trinity War, an event being teased for a while that brings together the three Justice League ongoing titles that were being published at the time. It seems ARGUS, the government organization working as the Justice League’s liaison, was secretly building a team behind their back. This ties back into Green Arrow’s failure to be inducted early in the series’ run. Now Oliver Queen is in the Justice League of America alongside Hawkman, Martian Manhunter, Katana, Green Lantern (Simon Baz), Stargirl, Vibe, and most surprisingly, Catwoman. 

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Comic Book Review – Justice League: Throne of Atlantis & The Grid

Justice League: Throne of Atlantis (2014)
Reprints Justice League #13-17 and Aquaman #15-16
Written by Geoff Johns
Art by Ivan Reis, Paul Pelletier, and Tony S. Daniel

Justice League: The Grid (2014)
Reprints Justice League #18-20, 22-23
Written by Geoff Johns
Art by Ivan Reis, Jesus Saiz, and Joe Prado

Despite its title, the Throne of Atlantis begins with a two-part story, “The Secret of the Cheetah.” It concerns Wonder Woman’s nemesis, The Cheetah. At this point in the New 52, the Wonder Woman ongoing title was written by Brian Azzarello and was primarily concerned with Diana’s relationship with the Olympian gods. Her non-mythic villains were available, so Johns attempted to develop what The Cheetah is like in this reimagined DC Universe. The Cheetah as a solo villain against the Justice League is very unbelievable as she hasn’t quite proven to be a physical powerhouse against Wonder Woman. There’s some extra magic curse MacGuffin added to the story. I get the sense a lot of this story came out of the image of Superman receiving the curse and taking on cheetah features of his own. It’s reminiscent of those Silver Age covers that promised wild transformations of your favorite heroes. I find the constant push to create some sort of love triangle between Superman – Wonder Woman – Steve Trevor, or Batman really annoying and so unnecessary.

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TV Review – Veep Revisited

Veep (HBO)
Seasons 1 thru 7
Created by Armando Iannucci

If you follow this blog, you know one of my interests is examining how media is used to prop up the legitimacy of institutions in America. Since the early days of film, people have been rewriting history or portraying offices like the President with this sense of eternal nobility. This type of writing, present in the works of filmmakers like Aaron Sorkin, turns my stomach. It ultimately serves as propaganda to admonish activism that pushes for material change and instead pivot the American mindset into being satisfied with shallow sentiment and hollow platitudes. For example, the West Wing constantly presents those who populate the White House as flawed but virtuous, centrists who are always right and debate themselves into wins against conservatives and leftists. When The West Wing was originally airing, I remember someone I knew who liked the show admitting that it was ultimately “porn for liberals.” It provided a comforting fantasy with little to no connection to what happens in reality. Veep is the antithesis of this.

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Comic Book Review – The Flash by Geoff Johns Omnibus Volume 3

The Flash by Geoff Johns Omnibus Volume 3 (2022)
Reprints Final Crisis: Rogues’ Revenge #1-3, Blackest Night: The Flash #1-3, Blackest Night: Black Lantern Corps #1, The Flash: Rebirth #1-6, The Flash Secret Files and Origins 2010, The Flash v3 #1-12, Flashpoint #1-5
Written by Geoff Johns
Art by Scott Kolins, Ethan Van Sciver, Francis Manapul, Andy Kubert

I’m not sure what has happened to Geoff Johns in the last few years. It’s been a disheartening turn of events between some weighty accusations lobbed at him by Justice League star Ray Fisher and some egregious delays on books like Shazam. Recently, artist Bryan Hitch shared that plans for a Justice Society revival book with Johns had been scrapped even after promotional art was shown off in 2021. Johns has become a writer whose work I prefer to wait to be collected than deal with the chronic delays. This definitive collection of his Flash work marks the point where things really went off the rails for the writer and DC Comics for about a decade. Looking at these stories, we can see how the previous consistently high-quality stories being told by Johns about the Flash lost some luster.

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