Do we really want more Watchmen?

Do we really want more Watchmen?

Posted by on Jun 5, 2018 in Home, News, Opinion, Uncategorized

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Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons 1985 series Watchmen is without a doubt one of the best and greatest comic series ever published. Describing an alternate earth with similar but different timelines, this serious and adult series was one of the first comic book series to be viewed as literature instead of comics. Watchmen also has a serious and controversial backstory involving legal ownership rights which resulted in the permanent dissolution of Alan Moore’s working relationship with DC Comics. If you’ve read into the matter, you may better understand Alan Moore’s distance from modern comic companies such as Marvel and DC and why he wants nothing to do with any of the modern adaptations based on his work; his distaste for such matters includes his insistence that his royalties go to support his fellow co-creators instead of himself. But like an old prospector who can’t help returning to the well until his supply is exhausted, DC Comics continues to return to the Watchmen series. Previously they had their Before Watchmen series in 2012 which elaborated on origins and backstories of main characters before the main series which debuted to mixed results from fans and creators alike. Recently DC Comics has incorporated the Watchmen character into their mainstream DC Universe in their DC Rebirth relaunch. Now with the unauthorized sequel to Watchmen titled Doomsday Clock slowly being published this year and an HBO produced series taking place in the Watchmen universe, we must ask but one question: Are these really stories that need to be produced and/or published?

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When the Watchmen movie came out in 2009, I had never read the book before seeing the movie. While most of the comic literate world would cry foul, I still found the movie to be a decent and faithful adaptation despite the limitations that you would expect from a Zack Snyder directed movie. I even read in a magazine that even the articulate and ever distant Alan Moore thought it was “okay” which coming from him is a big compliment. When one reads Watchmen, the content is so rich and complex that you get the sense that not only do you understand and follow the story but by the end, you feel like you understood the entire world you just read within the thick manuscript of its pages. There is this sensation that all the loose ends were tied, and anything left dangling you didn’t need to question because some of it was good storytelling and the rest common sense. You knew that Dr. Manhattan was still out there among the universes, the cover-up about the “alien” attack had resulted in world peace instead of nuclear war, and that Rorschach’s journal detailing the entire incident would continue the deceased vigilante’s quest for justice without compromise. That was all you needed to know and that was fine.
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Last year they announced the HBO Watchmen series was in the works and people debated whether it would be an adaptation or a sequel to the original series. When producer Damon Lindelof revealed actors and actresses cast in the project, he also elaborated on the writers approach to the show. “We have no desire to adapt the twelve issues Mr. Moore and Gibbons created 30 years ago. Those issues are sacred ground and they will not be retread nor recreated nor rebooted. They will however be remixed.” He compares the process in the writer’s room to sampling beats to create new music or comparing the original Watchmen and this new series to the Old and New Testament by saying the New Testament didn’t erase what the Old had established but continued the stories. While those are some creative metaphors, that kind of high praise leaves me feeling anxious and inquistive instead of relieved and ready to put the matter to bed. They want to pay tribute to the original source material but tell their own stories with it which is what most if not all comic book movies have been doing since their introduction to the silver screen. But what more could they tell that wasn’t elaborated on in that dense and literate Bible they’ve put on a pedestal? They want to tell these stories in a contemporary context meaning the series will happen after the events depicted in the original Watchmen series but in the modern day. So this is a sequel but not really? In essence how is this any different than the current Doomsday Clock series except that our mystery characters won’t be interacting with characters like Batman, Joker, or Lex Luthor ( at this time anyway)?

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I understand Lindelof’s desire to “ask new questions and explore the world through new lens” and with a cast consisting of Regina King, Tim Blake Nelson, Loui Gossett Jr and other actors’ familiar with comic book storytelling and adaptation, they certainly have the tools and the potential to do so. But I recall Lindelof’s involvement with Ridley Scott’s Prometheus which served as a not-prequel to the Alien franchise which attempted to do something similar to mixed results from fans and critics alike. Because sometimes in telling more of a story you lose the appreciation for the mystery and imagination the story left behind with its ending. This is a dangerous balancing act because in wanting to be vague and not spoil what is to come, you create unrealistic expectations and demands for something that wasn’t in demand in the first place. Sure the project has talented creators and people involved but so did the Before Watchmen series in 2012 and I can’t tell you how many of those back issues with the yellow and black lettering I’ve seen untouched in comic book outlets over the years. If the public does not want it, the ratings and attention will speak for them. I remember Alan Moore, when speaking out against DC’s 2008 Blackest Night series which he felt had been inspired by some of his earlier Tales of the Green Lantern comics, said “these days, I increasingly get the sense of the comic book industry going through my trashcan like raccoons in the dead of the night.” While I don’t always agree with some of what Alan Moore says, I do believe that DC Comics should leave the world of Watchmen alone and continue to concentrate on telling exciting and fresh stories instead of revisiting projects that feel less creative and more cash cow. I don’t have high hopes for this series but I’m open to be proven wrong. Maybe in the end it’ll all be some kind of grand joke. Everybody laughs. Roll on the snare drum. Curtains.
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On another note, I would definitely be down to watch something like this.

 

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My fellow Presidents: Significant POTUS cameos in modern comics

My fellow Presidents: Significant POTUS cameos in modern comics

Posted by on May 30, 2018 in Source Material, Uncategorized

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The president of the United States may be a big deal in the real world but what position of power could they hold in a world that has the Justice League or The Avengers helping to protect and make the world a better place? To add a sense of realism to our extraordinary heroes, the President of the United States has been a constant presence in comics since the Golden Age. Obviously we could see popular presidents such as FDR, Eisenhower and Lyndon Johnson featured talking to the Justice Society or Captain America but we’ll focus on our more contemporary presidents starting with Richard Nixon in 1969 and go all the way to Donald Trump in 2018 highlighting their “best” moments in comic book history.

RICHARD NIXON

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Richard Nixon was doing pretty well as the President in the early 1970s. He had cameos in The Fantastic Four , the Incredible Hulk and one of the kids from DC Comics Newsboy Legion was modeled after him. But everything changed after the Watergate scandal and immediately Tricky Dick wasn’t the American golden boy anymore. Some of the criticisms were light, but the harshest was his role in the controversial Secret Empire story in Captain America #169-176. Although a mini series with the same name would also be controversial decades later, this series would not only parallel Watergate but also have a severe effect on Captain America himself. When Cap discovers an intricate conspiracy spearheaded by an organization called the Secret Empire, he follows the paper trail all the way to the White House. To his shock and amazement, he discovers that their leader is none other than President Richard Nixon.

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Defeated and confronted with his crimes by Captain America, Nixon suddenly decides to confront suicide in front of the character. The size of this corruption and betrayal from within America combined with the sudden demise of “the President” resulted in Captain America questioning his country and his role within it. Disgusted with an organization he no longer believed in, Steve Rogers relinquished the title of Captain America. This not only began a new era of story telling and understanding for the classic Marvel character but it was also a strong criticism for what Watergate did to diminish the American public’s faith in the government and its leader.

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The only other noteworthy cameo of Nixon is in the legendary Watchmen series where you can see him debating which portions of the country were acceptable losses should a nuclear war commense with the Soviet Union. Nixon changed the game for all the presidents who would succeed them regarding their portrayal in comics. They were no longer above criticism, they could be panned or ridiculed just like everybody else.

RONALD REAGAN

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While he could be seen awarding or praising the superheroes of their respective universes, creators were not afraid to show a darker side of the actor-turned-president. His appearance in the iconic Frank Miller story The Dark Knight Returns referenced the president close relationship with Superman in other comics but suggested something clandestine and almost sinister.

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While he’s portrayed in star spangled suits with that trademark senility gaining support for the military, Reagan’s giving orders to Superman to execute covert missions on the behalf of the American government. In Captain America #344 where Steve Rogers, now known as The Captain, has to deal with an agent of the Serpent Society known as Viper who has poisoned Washington’s water supply and turned many of the politicians including Reagan into mindless lizard men.

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In the spirit of the Secret Empire storyline, writer Mark Gruenwald also used the story to criticize Reagan and his administration. When he’s not a raging lizard man capable of attacking the Captain, he’s an ignorant leader who not only is unaware of his administration’s legacy but also comfortable with being in the dark with absolute plausible deniability. Even after he sweats off the snake skin and Captain stops Viper, everything is swept under the rug just in time for the press conference afterwards.

BILL CLINTON

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Already considered one of the best approved presidents since World War II, Bill Clinton had more than a few notable cameos in comics since his first appearances amongst the crowd at Superman’s funeral. In 1996, President Clinton appeared in the Captain America story arc “A Man Without a Country”. Writer Mark Waid and artist Ron Garney continued the theme of Captain America wrestling with his faith in the government and their power. Cap is framed for attacking a military base and is branded a traitor and exiled from the United States. Cap discovers the villain Machinesmith manipulated the whole thing and proves his innocence and saves the President in Captain America #453. Later Clinton apologizes for the mishap and reinstates Captain America by returning his shield to him.

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In Supreme: The Return #1, an extraterrestrial despot named Korgo lands on Earth and challenges the head of the free world to a fight. Although the President is defeated, Korgo decides to leave the planet in fear of the First lady, Hillary Clinton. While writer Alan Moore is know for his darker approach to superheroes and comics, this lighthearted content is unexpected and rather entertaining. Bill Clinton also is one of the few, if not the only President to become a regular character in Marc Guggenheim’s post-apocalyptic Resurrection. In the series, he was the last President in Office before an alien invasion besieged the planet and occupied Earth for 10 years. When they mysteriously leave, Clinton is revealed to have survived the occupation and his position of power in this new world is explored.

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But he would join ranks alongside Nixon and Reagan in the category of cameos that are meant to poke fun and/or criticize in Uncanny X-Men #401. This story took place during the ‘Nuff Said month which was a silent month were comics were printed without any sort of dialogue, thought bubble or communication in general. In this story, Wolverine searches for Stacy-X who has the mutant ability to secrete her own pheromones. During his search for Stacy, Logan discovers an the aftermath of an attack on a private government installation and finds our former Commander in Chief unconscious, half naked, blindfolded and… holding the American flag? We know it’s Clinton gathered from the references in the photographs and the landmark horndog status but apparently it wasn’t supposed to be him in that bed. Apparently the person was originally to be former mayor of New York Rudy Giuliani, an obvious reference to his highly publicized affair with Judith Nathan. But Giuliani at that time was busy helping with 9/11 references and Marvel probably didn’t want such a reference to come off in bad taste.

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GEORGE W. BUSH

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One can only imagine how George W. Bush felt coming off the heels of Clinton’s administration and trying to step out of his father’s shadow. In the beginning of his administration, 9/11 convinced the comic book publishers to rally behind the President to show support for him and the government by putting him in a more sympathetic light than previous presidents. One of my personal favorites was in Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch’s Ultimates series seen below.

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As more time passed and his actions became more and more divise, his depiction in comics changed drastically. Other companies were content with depicting him as a political supervillain eager to unleash war over weapons of mass destruction or even as a victim of assassination. The biggest criticism came from DC Comics who elected fictional character Lex Luthor as president instead of depicting Bush in office.

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During Bush’s eight-year administration, Lex and his three successors were all fictional characters. Judged like all presidents by his policies and actions, Bush remained divided as man depicted by some as a leader and by others as a buffoon.

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Barack Obama

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Barack Obama’s administration was something of an enigma because he was the first president since FDR to be depicted in such quantity and in most cases positivity. His appearance in Amazing Spider-Man Issue #583 went through more than four printings alone.

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He found himself the subject of parodies, cameos, and covers from people celebrating his presidency or simply looking to make a quick buck. He made the usual Presidential cameo as a member of the world’s leaders while Spider-Man and friends try to stop Doc Ock from taking over the world, addressing powerful government agents like Norman Osborn or Amanda Waller or talking strategy with Cyborg in DC Comics Flashpoint.

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Obama was seen as both an American leader but also as a character who could support a short-lived miniseries or be paired up with other characters. He seemed to avoid the critical eye many of his predecessors endured while embracing his pop culture appeal and presence. Say what you will about his policies and decisions, but I don’t know if anybody else could have been Barack the Barbarian.

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DONALD TRUMP

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Now in 2018, we have come to our present Commander in Chief: Donald Trump. While he’s only been the President for a year, his less than stellar reception has trickled down into comics. The most notable appearance so far has been his cameo in the Spider-Gwen series. Noticing the political tension within Marvel, creators Jason LaTour and Robbi Rodriguez decided to address it out in a hilarious yet poignant fashion. In this alternate Universe, their Captain America discovers an entity known as M.O.D.A.K (Mental Organism Designed As America’s King) bossing around Mexican workers near the border. Three guesses who’s enlarged face his resembles and you’ll understand the joy on Cap’s face when she defeats him. Time and tweets will tell on what future cameo’s await for Trump.

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Annnnd…

I would feel remiss if I didn’t include Deadpool Dead Presidents (2012) story arc written by Gerry Duggan and  Brian Posehn with art by Tony Moore.  Deadpool has to fight and kill all the reanimated U.S. Presidents brought to life by an rookie necromancer who seek to make America great again by any means necessary. You get to see all the presidents, even the ones you don’t remember, killed in often hilarious fashion by Marvel’s worst historical enforcer.

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Go put down the history books and pick up some comic books when you have a minute. It’s a lighter read but just as heavy.

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Avengers Infinity War: Worth the 10 year hype?

Avengers Infinity War: Worth the 10 year hype?

Posted by on Apr 30, 2018 in Home, News, Opinion, Uncategorized

Image result for avengers infinity war ending You have been warned.

It began with the culmination of 4 years work back in 2012. Since Iron Man had birthed what would become the Marvel Cinematic Universe in 2008, a small collective of directors, actors, and writers slowly started to establish characters which had only existed on the pages of a comic book. The Incredible Hulk, Thor, Black Widow, Captain America, Hawkeye, Nick Fury, and others found audiences beyond the comic shop and the TV at home. Then they decided to come together in one movie in 2012 where these feisty, sarcastic and powerful people managed to come together to stop an alien invasion and become the Avengers. But as powerful as they were, a hint of a power greater than all of them combined smirked from the darkness of space. Shortly after we discovered of something called Infinity Stones which became some of the most powerful weapons in the MCU. Other heroes and characters arose from these conflicts such as the Falcon, Vision, Scarlet Witch, Ant-Man, Winter Soldier, Black Panther and the Guardians of the Galaxy. Along with them came villians who would oppose and test them but due to general storytelling and cinematic expectation, more than enough of them fell by the wayside; chapters in their heroes journeys. A villain emerged over time with a goal that could literally be the end of everything and all the ambition to achieve it. His name was Thanos and he was coming to Earth.  In 2018, after 10 years of anticipation and proper build up, we were given this film: Avengers Infinity War which would change the entire fabric of the Marvel Cinematic Universe forever and let me say, that was worth every f@#c&!ng minute.

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The Russo brothers and screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeeley had a herculean challenge, they had to put 10 years’ worth of Marvel films in one huge story that paid tribute to its source material but also continued the stories that had already been established on the big screen. Similar to how well the Avengers had been handled, the material or characters needed little to no introduction. We know these guys, we know what the Infinity Stones are and we know Thanos is looking to collect them all. That required little to no introduction but what amazed me was how well the movie moved. Clearly ignored the rapid place jumping that plagued films like Batman vs. Superman and Justice League which failed to replicate a plot device found in comic book storytelling, there were place cards telling you exactly where we are. The characters moved a steady pace that made it easy to understand regardless of the grandiose of the story or the dangers they faced. Nothing felt rushed and it honestly felt like I was reading a true movie adaptation of a comic book come to life. The film not only told its own story but managed to connect all the movies and even tie up plot points that had been left behind from previous MCU Gems. What was amazing was it all felt so real. The characters joked, they argued, they fought both villains and among each other while battling Thanos and his enforcers, the Black Order.  They had problems arise and personal demons to push past while they did what they had to do knowing they may not walk away in the end. When somebody died or was hurt, the entire audience was silent because you were invested in the story. You weren’t being talked down to or given the same plot formulas over and over and over again. This was something new, this was bigger than any Avengers or Marvel movie you had ever seen. Although you are pumped to see your favorite heroes coming together , the same idea keeps your eyes hooked on the screen: What happens if they lose? What happens if Thanos gathers all the Infinity Stones and snaps his fingers? What happens when the heroes fail? That’s the magic of storytelling, eventually you become so invested that the characters become you.

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After all these years of separate films, it was spectacular to see everybody all together united under one cause. In Avengers, it was everybody against Loki, the Ultron, or even pitted against each other; this time it’s the entire Marvel Universe against Thanos and his armies. While the action never really disappointed, I thoroughly enjoyed that the film took time to address every plot line poignantly. Very often ensemble projects have characters or story-lines fall apart or become underdeveloped compared to others but there was an excellent sense of balance here, When Tony Stark stumbles realizing his nightmare has come true, when Gamora falls, when Peter crumbles or when the Avengers fail, each moment is hammered into your mind and remains. In the past, I have agreed that Marvel movies sometimes rely too much on comedy to break apart serious moments instead of letting them breathe. In the last few years, we have seen darker and more serious moments start to emerge as tragedy is a crucial block in building memorable heroes but it is a slow process. In Infinity War, there were definitely some serious and dark moments but in a way, that made the jokes even funnier because when it was funny, the entire audience laughed. If you asked a group of people what was their favorite moment or line, guaranteed a lot of people would same much of the same thing. Characters like Spider-Man, Drax, Groot, Thor and a few others had some of the best moments but other great laughs came out of nowhere. This movie did great to push and evolve so many of its characters further and leave us eager to see where they go next.

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A movie is only as great as its villain and Thanos is most definitely one of the greatest Marvel villains we’ve ever seen. Josh Brolin played this character with such honesty and sincerity because Thanos doesn’t believe what he is doing is wrong and overall movie has you sympathize with him. He has judged the universe and found it desperately in need of balance and thus his quest for the Infinity Stones has him deemed as the hero. He must stay strong in the face of unsurmountable resistance, he will be forced to make difficult decisions that will require sacrifice from his body and soul, he will cry and at the end he will have to reap the fruits of his labor, no matter their taste or size. Thanos has bent this idea of good and evil and he does it so effortlessly to the point where you can’t believe that you’re rooting for him at the end. While his enforcers in the Black Order certainly stand out in the movie, they are still background characters; they are merely extensions of Thanos’ will and such characters are exactly why you see him here in the first place. If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself. Just like the heroes grew with you, you have watched Thanos evolve. You got to know Thanos the tyrant, Thanos the madman, in this movie you met Thanos the father and Thanos the god. At the end of this film he has broken the Avengers, he has amassed greater power unlike any other being before him, and he has literally wiped out half of the known universe’s populace. He sits down on a perfect world and finds himself at peace. He won and we lost. Game over, man.
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Although some comic fans would cry the movie has barely touched on most of the story from the Infinity Gauntlet comic book, this is one of the rare cases where I don’t give a damn. The entire Marvel universe has changed before our eyes and nothing will be the same until we see how it concludes in 2019. Sure we will have films like Deadpool, Ant Man 2, Captain Marvel and others to entertain or fill in the gaps in the Marvel timeline but the damage made in this movie will not be forgotten and honestly that’s all we could ask for. In the end, comic book movies have slowly become a polarizing opinion in the cinema world. Some have welcome this new stage in film-making and some look at it as cinematic arsenic gradually killing this artistic and creative genre. As both a fan of comics and cinema, I applaud this movie for being exactly what anybody should expect: a great movie worthy of its story. In the end, we were simply entertained. We laughed, we cried, we shushed people who talked during and we cannot wait for more. You know what they say: once you hit rock bottom, the only place to go is up.
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Constantine: City of Demons Part 1 Review

Constantine: City of Demons Part 1 Review

Posted by on Apr 27, 2018 in Home, News, Opinion, Uncategorized

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If anybody’s made a comeback, it’s been Matt Ryan’s interpretation of the iconic John Constantine. Ever since the solo Constantine series was canceled by NBC in 2015, Matt Ryan has continued to be associated with the chain smoking blonde demonologist and “master of the dark arts”. He voiced the character in Justice League Dark (2017) and even made a notable cameo in Season 4 of Arrow (which some may argue was the best episode in an already tired and contrived season). He revisited the character in the recent season of DC Legends of Tomorrow repeatedly as he helped the team with their battle against the imprisoned time demon Mallus. Coming off the heels of the news that John Constantine would be a cast member on Season 4 of Legends, CW Seed announced the premiere of Constantine: City of Demons, a 12-episode series set in the same universe as Justice League Dark. The first 5 episodes were released on CW Seed on March 24th.
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After watching the first five episodes, there is no doubt in my mind that Matt Ryan is perfect for the part of John Constantine. Whether he’s battling his inner demons come to life (seriously), talking with Chas at the pub or battling forces that would drive any man to death by alcoholism, Matt Ryan plays Constantine with that iconic snark, cynicism, and regret with just a dash of muddled heroism. While I am disappointed to see no immediate connection to the 2015 Constantine show especially regarding Chas and his family, writer J.M. DeMatteis known for his work on Spider-Man and Justice League International still tells a story that only could involve John Constantine. When Chas daughter is stricken with a mysterious that doctors can’t solve, Chas turns to his old friend who discovers this little girls condition is anything but a common cold. His investigation into the matter gets dangerous and near fatal but that’s a normal day in the life of John Constantine. Even though the cast is small, DeMatteis gives everybody real roles to play, especially when the series explores John’s origins and the incident at Newcastle that would forever change his and Chas’ life. That incident faithfully retells the story while walking the balance between the unflinching darkness that the Hellblazer series at Vertigo was known for with the acceptable limitations of present day animation. Near the end of this first group of episodes, Constantine finds himself in L.A. agreeing to help a demon lay off his satanic competitors in exchange for Chas’ daughter’s life but there’s no doubt in my mind that either party will honor their deal in the end.

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Although these episodes are too short to really fill the void or unanswered questions Constantine left behind in 2015, it’s always good to hear that lighter pop and hear John Constantine’s voice over a stream of cigarette smoke. In the DC universe, he’s the guy you talk to when you can’t find Doctor Fate, Zatanna, Swamp Thing or any of the other hardcore magicians when things are taking an infernal turn for the worst.  My final thoughts are that I’m liking what I’m seeing so pour me another round, give me a light and let’s get weird in the City of Angels. I’m betting on you John, hell or high water.

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Grade:
Constantine: City of Demons (Part 1): B (solid and worth checking out)

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Five recommended books to read before Avengers: Infinity War

Five recommended books to read before Avengers: Infinity War

Posted by on Apr 25, 2018 in Source Material, Uncategorized

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It is here. We are mere hours away from the premiere of Avengers Infinity War. Now I’m sure some of you might have done your private Marvel movie marathon, some working on costumes to wear for the premiere or debating theories on who will die, who will win, etc. The point being there is a huge amount of hype riding for this film, possibly bigger than other major ensemble Marvel movies such as Avengers (2012) or Captain America: Civil War (2016). But these are still movies based on comic books and as such, there is source material available that may provide insight to the characters, the stories woven within the primary story as the Avengers prepare to face a force unlike anything they’ve ever seen: Thanos and the Infinity Gauntlet.

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1. The Infinity Gauntlet (1991): Although the movie has the title of the sequel series, Infinity Gauntlet has been the primary inspiration for the film that Marvel has been building towards since 2012. Written by Thanos creator Jim Starlin and drawn by artists George Perez and Ron Lim in the 1990s, the series has the Mad Titan Thanos gather the Infinity Gems into the Infinity Gauntlet which makes him nigh-omnipotent. We see Thanos obliterate half the universe’s population, destroy the heroes assembled by his former ally now enemy Adam Warlock, and overthrow powerful cosmic entities who oppose his new rise to power all in a pursuit to prove himself worthy to his silent lover : Marvel’s embodiment of Death. This bestselling series would define Thanos as a threat never to underestimated for years to come and would be followed by two successful sequels Infinity War (1992) and Infinity Crusade (1993)

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2. Infinity (2012): This 2012 story written by Jonathan Hickman and drawn artists Jim Cheung, Dustin Weaver and other artists began in Hickman’s New Avengers series and grew to involve the entire Marvel Universe. When most of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes are called off planet, Thanos and his enforcers known as the Black Order see a perfect opportunity to invade and conquer Earth. While the remaining Earth heroes battle their invaders and attempt to notify their comrades-in-space, the invasion is revealed to be a cover for the real mission which may give the heroes a chance to defeat Thanos once and for all. This grandiose and intense series marked a significant change in the status quo of the Marvel Universe but also introduced the Black Order who will make their feature debut in Infinity War. Both Infinity Gauntlet and Infinity were used as inspiration by screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely for the script of Infinity War.

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3. Thanos: Uprising: Sometimes the best part of a villain is learning how they came to become one. In this 2013 mini-series written by Jason Aaron with artwork by Simone Bianchi tells the origin of Thanos. From his mother attempting to kill him after birth, his childhood transitioning to adulthood was full of heartbreak, death, madness and the curious quest for knowledge and power that typically leads to infamy. Aaron tells a dark tale full of haunting artwork telling how a peaceful and isolated young man on the planet Titan would become Thanos, an infamous pirate and maniac obsessed with power and Death. While there’s no guarantee it will be referenced in the movie, it stands as a strong and melancholy origin story for one of Marvel’s most infamous villains.

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4. Secret Avengers Vol 1: This 2010 ongoing series written by Ed Brubaker with art by Mike Deodato, David Aja and Michael Lark detailed the actions of a covert Avengers squad. After Steve Rogers returned seemingly from being dead and lost in time, he was made the new primary law enforcement agent by the President and established a group of Avengers specifically for black ops. This team consisting of Black Widow, Nova, Moon Knight, Valkyrie, Beast, and War Machine was tasked with the directive of keeping tabs on known threats with no hesitations of being proactive or cleaning them up. Having relinquished the title of Captain America to his friend Bucky Barnes, Steve operated as his own character as his team took on all manner of threats ranging from international criminals to secret shadow organizations attempting to usurp arcane artifacts or advanced technologies to take over the world. With Infinity War occurring two years after the events of Civil War, the movie details a bearded Steve Rogers who has operated in the shadows with a small fraction of the Avengers protecting the world on his own terms. While not exactly Thanos-heavy, this espionage Avengers book could give context to what Steve Rogers and his Avengers were doing during that time on the run.

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5. Warlock by Jim Starlin: The Complete Collection: This 2014 collection details writer Jim Starlin’s evolution of the character known as Adam Warlock. Originally a perfect artificial human who rebelled against his creators, it was Adam’s connection with the Soul Gem which  tipped Thanos off to the power of the Gem and the other Gems scattered throughout the universe. Although they were once allies, they would become allies and their battles would include the Earth heroes Adam considered friends and allies. Although the battles came with serious consequences, Adam would consistently reappear in matters regarding Thanos and his quest for power. Under Starlin’s pen, he played an integral part in the Infinity Gauntlet series and would even wield the full power of the Infinity Gauntlet at one point. The character of Adam Warlock was referenced at the end of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol .2 (2017) and I would surprised if Adam didn’t make an appearance in either movie as pivotal character in the Earth’s heroes battle against Thanos on the big screen.

Well that’s all for our countdown regarding Infinity War. It’s been fun looking back at the past and remembering how far in advance Marvel and the people behind the MCU have been working toward this moment. Hopefully the movie succeeds in telling a great story worthy of these characters and everyone involved. They sure have enough source material to go off on. So enjoy yourself and remember, no spoilers!

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