Stargirl (The CW)
Season One, Episode One – “Pilot”
Written by Geoff Johns
Directed by Glen Winter
I am a huge fan of Geoff Johns’s contributions to DC Comics, mostly as the Justice Society writer. He was able to present aging heroes and those who took up their legacies in a way no writer since Roy Thomas had done since All-Star Squadron in the early 1980s. There’s always a rich sense of history that is reasonably accessible to the unfamiliar and resonates powerfully with those who know the backstories of characters. Making a series based on Stargirl, which I reviewed the comic earlier this month, is a brilliant choice to introduce lesser-known heroes and villains.
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The Death of Superman (2016)
Reprints Action Comics #18-20, Adventures of Superman #496-498, Superman #73-75, Superman: The Man of Steel #17-19, Justice League America #69, Newstime: The Life and Death of Superman
Written by Dan Jurgens, Jerry Ordway, Louise Simonson, and Roger Stern
Art by Jon Bogdanove, Tom Grummett, Jackson Guice, Dan Jurgens, Brett Breeding, Rick Burchett, Doug Hazlewood, Dennis Janke, and Denis Rodier
There was no comic book event more prominent and more hyped in 1992 than the Death of Superman. I was eleven years old and was very aware of it from nightly news reports adding to the media frenzy around the pending death. I didn’t get to read the title at the time due to not having much disposable income, but I did hang around the comic books rack at Kroger, loitering & reading while my mom shopped. The opening chapter in the larger nearly year-long storyline is not the best part of the story, but you can’t skip it without losing some critical context. The Death of Superman is arguably a much too long fight scene spread out over multiple issues, a conflict that could have been resolved in a couple of books.
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Stargirl by Geoff Johns (2020)
Reprints Stars and STRIPE #0-14, JSA: All-Stars #4, excerpts from DCU Heroes Secret Files and DCU Villians Secret Files
Written by Geoff Johns
Art by Lee Moder
I can remember buying the first issue of Stars and STRIPE when it came out. I was an awkward eighteen-year-old in the summer before college, I cannot believe how much I’ve changed as a person. This comic was on sale at Piggly Wiggly, one of the few stores in my rural American Southeast town that still sold comics. I was excited to get in on the ground floor of a brand new character and especially loved the connection to the Golden Age heroes. Anytime I read a comic that embraces the depth of a universe’s history, I get happy. I kept picking up the title as it came out until I moved off to college and began going down a different path for a while. Eventually, I would come back to the character through Geoff Johns’ JSA run. With the debut of Stargirl’s series on The CW, DC Comics has collected her earliest appearances and repackaged them here.
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Wonder Woman by George Perez Volume 4
Reprints Wonder Woman V2 #36-45, Annual #2
Written by George Perez & Mindy Newell
Art by Chris Marrinan, Jill Thompson Steve Montano, Colleen Doran, Jan Duursema, & more
George Perez’s reboot of Wonder Woman in the late 1980s is just so unlike anything else that came before or after. Wonder Woman was always a strange comic when compared to others, being a female-led title when such a thing wasn’t trendy. The world of Wonder Woman was so unique pre-Crisis and continued to be different when it came to the tone. In the early days, there was more of an effort to incorporate Princess Diana’s stories with the DC Universe proper. We saw that in previous volumes with Millennium and Invasion tie-ins. This period of Perez’s run felt like it was drifting away from the larger universe, become more insular with Diana’s supporting cast.
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Birds of Prey (And The Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) (2020)
Written by Christina Hodson
Directed by Cathy Yan
I am not going to pretend I was excited in any way to see this movie. With the foul taste of Suicide Squad in my mouth and my opinion that Harley Quinn is not nearly as interesting a character as DC Comics is trying to make her, I knew I was going to dislike most of Birds of Prey, and I did. I won’t even go with the statement that “this movie wasn’t made for me” because it sort of was. I have loved DC Comics since I was a kid, especially the B-tier or lower obscure characters. Birds of Prey is chock full of them, and seeing a version of those characters on screen was mildly amusing.
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Doomsday Clock (2017 – 2019)
Reprints Doomsday Clock #1-12
Written by Geoff Johns
Art by Gary Frank
In 2016, when DC Rebirth hit the stands, it became clear that DC Comics was working towards some crossover between their universe of characters and the Watchmen reality. For the next year, the event was teased in smaller stories, but the details remained obscure. What we knew was that Doctor Manhattan has some role in the New 52 reboot of the DCU, a 2011 line-wide decision to try and revitalize the characters. It appeared to be an in-universe way to explain why such drastic changes happened and why certain characters vanished.
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Season One, Episode Nine – “See How They Fly”
Written by Nick Cuse & Damon Lindelof
Directed by Frederick E. O. Toye
Where previous episodes have taken their time and meditated on their characters and themes, this final chapter in the HBO Watchmen sequel feels more plot-heavy and honestly a little rushed. But that is the way finales work when you are trying to tie up the loose ends of a story as complex as this. The plot beats come fast and furious, leading to a reasonably satisfying conclusion with a nice tease of an ending scene. Did this follow-up to the revered comic book match the power of that work? Not entirely, but it had genuine moments of genius and illuminated characters in deeply meaningful ways.
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Season One, Episode Eight – “A God Walks into Abar”
Written by Jeff Jensen & Damon Lindelof
Directed by Nicole Kassell
Doctor Manhattan has always been my favorite character in the Watchmen story due to his tragic nature. He’s a man transformed into a god through a horrific scientific mistake. The result is he has omnipotence and omniscience and a disconnect from his fellow humans. Manhattan exists in multiple points in space & time simultaneously and knows everything that will ever happen to him. This leads to frustration from the people he has relationships with because he will be completely open about knowing when they will split or tragedy will strike. Intimacy crumbles and the shared history between these people begin to feel like a series of steps in a procedure, the discovery and mystery of love are gone.
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Season One, Episode Seven – “An Almost Religious Awe”
Written by Stacy Osei-Kuffour
Directed by David Semel
I recently saw an acquaintance who just watched the first episode of Watchmen remark that they were confused about what this show had to do with the 1980s comic book and why they should watch the next chapter. People read Watchmen as a whole; only the original readers experienced it as a monthly, which could have led to someone reading issue one and wondering what the big deal about this series was. It’s not the individual piece, but the whole that matters with Watchmen. Seemingly unimportant background matter in issue one gains more considerable significance the deeper you get into the story, the same thing goes for the Watchmen series. Each piece leads to a greater whole.
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Season One, Episode Six – “This Extraordinary Being”
Written by Damon Lindeloff & Cord Jefferson
Directed by Stephen Williams
Once upon a time, there was a man named Bass Reeves. Reeves was a slave to many prominent men since childhood and eventually became a fugitive, hiding out in the territory of the Cherokee, Creek, and Seminole. When the dust settled from the Civil War, Reeves emerged as an expert in Native relations and was made the first black U.S. marshall west of the Mississippi River. Throughout his 32 years serving in this position, he earned accolades as a skilled marksman and phenomenal detective. At one point, he even had to bring in his own son, who had murdered Bass’s daughter-in-law.
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