Movie Review – Joker

Joker (2019)
Written by Todd Phillips & Scott Silver
Directed by Todd Phillips

We are incapable of having a nuanced conversation about anything in popular culture. As I scroll through endless hot takes on Warner Bros.’ latest DC Comics property turned movie Joker, I find myself getting numbingly-exhausted. Apparently, Joker is either A) a clarion call to Trump-loving incels or B) the most magnificent piece of cinema ever produced, so we should end filmmaking now. Joker is a beautiful, ugly, well-acted, terribly-written, film that says so much while being so profoundly shallow and on the nose. This is going to be a long review and go into a lot of detail, much of which will involve me rambling about things you may find tangentially unconnected from Joker, but this is my review so…nyah.

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Comic Book Review – Heroes in Crisis

Heroes in Crisis (2019)
Reprints Heroes in Crisis #1-9
Written by Tom King
Art by Clay Mann & Mitch Gerards

Most event comics in the DC Universe are now bloated multi-title crossovers that stretch their thin story premise to an unreasonable length. They find some way to hammer the word “crisis” into the title as a way of drumming up nostalgia in burnout fanboys. If you read my reviews of the DC event books a couple of summers ago then you know I have had my nostalgia glasses removed and see most of my love for these books evaporating. I’m an adult now, and the understanding I had of story structure and character development has evolved since those days. Zero Hour and Infinite Crisis are just convoluted and boring books at this point. Then Tom King comes along, riding the acclaim of work like The Vision and Mr. Miracle. It’s announced he’ll be writing Heroes in Crisis, an event book.

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Comic Book Review – The Wild Storm Volume 4

The Wild Storm Volume 4 (2019)
Reprints The Wild Storm #19-24
Written by Warren Ellis
Art by Jon Davis-Hunt

Several major plot threads are wrapping after a year and a half of build-up. The feud between International Operations and SkyWatch has escalated to the point that the unware citizens of Earth are in peril. John Lynch is hunting down the people he experimented on while Mark Slayton is hunting down Lynch. Jacob Marlowe and the Halo Corporation are trying to throw a wrench into everything while pushing the agenda of the Khera. Unnoticed by almost everyone is Angelica Spica and her growing group of compatriots see a different path forward for humanity. What surprised me most about this final volume is how for all Ellis’ build-up the story falls apart and becomes a pretty standard superhero battle.

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Comic Book Review – The Wild Storm Volume 3

The Wild Storm Volume 3
Reprints The Wild Storm #13-18
Written by Warren Ellis
Art by Jon Davis-Hunt

Ever since Len Wein and Dave Cockrum introduced to the all-new all-different X-Men, comic creators had madly searched in vain for a creation that would shake the foundations of comics. Because they use this event as a template, the ideas they present are often teams of young, angsty heroes with as much interpersonal conflict as they have battles with supervillains. Gen13 was an attempt to freshen up the Wildstorm line at Image Comics, their first issue dropping in 1994. The presentation is dripping in both X-Men influences and MTV trends, one member is even named Grunge, a reference that immediately dated itself. The original Gen13 concept and execution is yet another reminder of why it was vital for Warren Ellis to freshen up the Wildstorm line with this sprawling, world-building maxi-series.

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Comic Book Review – The Wild Storm Volume 1

The Wild Storm Volume 1
Reprints The Wild Storm #1-6
Written by Warren Ellis
Illustrated by Jon Davis-Hunt

In 1992, comics were at one of their financial peaks with superstar artists at the forefront of what was driving the buying frenzy. This allowed several Marvel artists to strike out on their own and created Image Comics, a creator-focused publishing house where they could feel free to play and know they had ultimate ownership of their properties. Jim Lee was one of those artists, having made a name for himself illustrating X-Men, the highest-selling comic of the day. Lee and fellow artist Brandon Choi co-founded Wildstorm, their branch of Image and it was home to the most consistently produced titles at the company. Some of these titles were WildCATs, Deathblow, Stormwatch, and Gen13, all existing in an original shared universe with very complex back history. In 1999, as the market cooled down, Lee sold Wildstorm to DC Comics and took on a more significant leadership role with his new company. Today, Jim Lee is the Co-Publisher and Chief Creative Officer at DC Comics.

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Comic Book Review – The Flash by Grant Morrison and Mark Millar

The Flash by Grant Morrison and Mark Millar
Reprints The Flash #130-141, Green Lantern #96, Green Arrow #130
Written by Grant Morrison and Mark Millar (with Ron Marz and Chuck Dixon)
Art by Paul Ryan, Pop Mhan, John Nyberg, and Ron Wagner

Mark Waid announced in 1997 that he would be taking a year-long hiatus from The Flash comic. He cited feeling burnt out after penning almost seventy consecutive issues of the series. Waid explained he already had his next story arc planned out but that in the meantime Grant Morrison and Mark Millar would take over the writing duties. Scotland-born Morrison had quickly become a critically-acclaimed writer when he made his American debut with Animal Man. He had a penchant for taking lower tier characters and showing readers while they mattered while recontextualizing the more prominent figures as archetypal, as seen in his JLA run that was happening at this time. Mark Millar, also from Scotland, would go on to great success with his Kick-Ass franchise but at this time he was a protege of Morrison’s, making his name on the comics scene of the late 1990s.

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Comic Book Reviews – 52 Volume Four

52 Volume Four
Reprints 52 #40-52
Written by Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, Greg Rucka, and Mark Waid
Art by Keith Giffen, Chris Batista, Giuseppe Camuncoli, Darick Robertson, Dan Jurgens, Eddy Barrows, Jamal Igle, Patrick Olliffe, Justiniano, Joe Bennett, and Mike McKone

Here it is, the final chapter in 52 and this summer series. Things kick-off without missing a beat as Steel has his showdown with Lex Luthor. The Everyman Project has been revealed as crooked with hundreds of people dead. The Teen Titans and what remains of Infinity Inc work alongside Steel to take down Luthor. Luthor uses Everyman and his suite of powers only to be outsmarted by Steel. Things are pretty clean and to the point which results in a reasonably satisfying conclusion to this arc. It’s a good thing because there are a lot of story beats left in the remaining eleven issues. The creator commentary in these collections lets us know that behind the scenes the writers and editors were panicking to bring all these storylines to a satisfying conclusion before the series ended.

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