Tag Archives: DC comics

February Bonus Review: DC vs Marvel Comics

Anyone who’s familiar with western comics knows Marvel and DC. They’re the big two. The ones with extended cinematic universes and adaptations of widely varying quality. Comic fans have long debated which characters should fight and who would win. In 1996 the companies themselves decided to come together for a crossover that would explore those very questions in a mini-series written by Ron Marz & Peter David that ran for four issues. So, is it everything that comic fans hoped for? The back of the trade promises the showdown of the century. So, let’s take a look. 

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Story:

The walls that separate universes are coming undone. Several heroes and villains are finding themselves transported elsewhere. Spidey appears in Gotham. The Juggernaut finds himself in Metropolis. Tim Drake finds himself right in the X-mansion and those are just a few examples. Everyone wonders what’s happening. The answer comes fairly quickly, two brothers are responsible for creating the universes and, after losing their consciousness from a climactic battle that destroyed everything, they’ve remembered everything and become aware of one another. They decide that instead of fighting directly and letting everything end in the cross fire, they’ll select champions from their own universes. The universe that wins gets to live. And that’s how the battle between these two universes is joined. 

Let’s talk about the writing flaws. The first is that a lot of the battles seem more like popularity contests than an actual examination of who would win given the powers and skills of the combatants. To go into some examples, Wolverine beats Lobo in a straight out brawl. And, as much as I like Wolverine’s character when he’s written by Chris Claremont, Larry Hama and several others, including Peter David. Lobo’s whole shtick is that he’s over-powered and over the top. The bloke can go toe to toe with the Justice League in its entirety. Wolverine is not that strong by half. You get the same thing with Storm against Wonder Woman. You’ve got a woman who’s effectively a Goddess against a lady who can control the weather. And somehow Storm wins with a couple lightning bolts even though Wondey should be able to stand up to far worse without a problem. As much as I love Strom, that’s nonsense. We’ve also got Batman against Captain America. A fight between two experts at hand to hand combat. Two tactical geniuses. With one having a measurable advantage in terms of strength, stamina and speed. And yet the one with the disadvantage wins and in a very lazy way. Which is the general problem with these fights. They can’t even give a conceivable explanation for why the less powerful combatant wins. At least the Spidey and Robin fights show you some cleverness on their part that lets them win. The Aquaman vs. Namor fight is also very lazy. This is a fight that could have gone either way, given how evenly matched they are. But we get bullshit involving a whale jumping out of the water and belly flopping onto someone standing on land. That is really stupid. Is the whale supposed to have super powers? 

There’s also a lot of bluster about these heroes working together, learning from one another and we see very little of that. The series really could have benefited from some extra length to let us see these actual interactions in a more substantial way than a few panels. 

With that being said, I do like the idea of the characters being put against one another by cosmic forces outside of their control. It certainly beats having there be some misunderstanding to clear up or having them all get tricked by some villains so that they can halt their battle and come together later. I also do rather like the big climax. 

Characters:

I’ll give the mini-series some credit here. They use a lot of characters and they’re pretty good at giving them a sense of personality that meshes with their regular characterisation. They aren’t deeply complex and I suspect the aftermath of these events was never dealt with in the comics proper. I don’t remember hearing anything about it in them, any way. But the characters are in character and I think that’s the best you can really expect from an event like this. The worst thing I can say about it is that the “romantic tension” betwixt Tim and Jubilation is really forced. 

Art:

So, we get artwork by Dan Jurgens & Josef Rubinstein. Overall, it looks really nice. There are some good action sequences in the story. They could have certainly benefited from being longer since most of them are over in two or three pages, but what we do get is pretty nicely done, mostly. The character art is dynamic with some really good designs for the Amalgam portion and the colourists did a really good job. There are occasional moments of minor fail. There are a couple panels with Bane where it looks like he was drawn without a top and it was lazily added in by the colourist later. There’s an original character called Access who’s drawn a bit inconsistently. All in all, though, the art fails are relatively minor and rare. 

Final Thoughts:

So, that’s DC vs. Marvel. Is it “the showdown of the century?” Not really. The writing can be lazy. Particularly when it comes to explaining how certain characters manage to win their bouts. The concept is a good one, but it’s not explored all that thoroughly and, when it comes right down to it, the actual bouts are too short for that particular accolade. That being said, it is fairly entertaining and there are things to like about it. In the end, it’s a pretty average read. My final rating is a 5/10. Have any ideas for what March’s bonus review should be? Leave them in the comments. Until then, expect the Wednesday anime reviews to continue as scheduled. 

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December Bonus Reviews: Arrow series 1

Arrow is an ongoing American TV series that started airing in October 2012. I never really bothered with it because, frankly, I don’t like Oliver Queen as a character. I liked the Green Arrow when the  mantle was taken by Connor Hawke, but that didn’t last all that long. The thing is, Oliver been has been largely portrayed as a kind of clueless douchebag who chronically treats those close to him badly. To make matters worse, there’s rarely any acknowledgement of it. Rather like Mister Fantastic from Marvel comics. Then again, this is a live action adaptation and those aren’t known for keeping the comic characterisation. Maybe they’ll do a first for live action works and replace it with something better.

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Story:

After spending five years stranded on an island, Oliver Queen is found alive and well but changed in many ways. Most importantly, he left a spoiled rich boy and he returns a man with a mission. In his deceased father’s notebook is a list of names. The names of people who are causing harm to Starling city. Ollie decides to make it his mission to seek out the people listed in the book and give them a choice, they can redeem themselves or he’ll put an arrow into them.

Which leads me to one of the big problems with this series. Our hero, the guy we’re supposed to root for, is quite literally a serial murderer. And he doesn’t just kill these people who are causing problems. A lot of his victims are their employees who are just doing their jobs and trying to provide for their families. In several  cases he doesn’t even kill the employer but gives them a chance to save themselves by confessing their crimes or returning what they took. After putting an arrow through the hearts of their employees who, as far as we know, haven’t done anything wrong.  And he’s a total hypocrite about it too. This series also follows the grand live action tradition of mocking things from the comics that were better than what they did with the live action version. In this case, they make fun of the name “Green Arrow.” So, what exactly do they replace it with? They call him the Hood. Isn’t Hood a synonym for thug? And also a really shitty name for your hero? While we’re at  it, let’s call Batman “The Cowl”,  The  Green Lantern “the Ring” and Wonder Woman “The Tiara.

But let’s move on to the biggest problem with the series. A lot of it is a long slog of melodramatic soap opera stuff. What do I mean by that? Well, we spend a lot of time with love triangles, family problems and romantic entanglements. All of which is presented in the most melodramatic way possible. To make matters worse, these overly melodramatic, boring segments are the bulk of the series. Within the average forty two minute episode, thirty minutes will be that. The other twelve will be flashbacks to Oliver’s time on the island, action sequences and the Thug planning his attacks.

That being said, the series has some decent  moments. The stuff with “the reckoning” is all right. The  idea of having Oliver reconnect with his family could have been better executed, but it’s not a bad idea.

Characters:

I’ll  give the series credit, they pretty much nailed everything that makes Oliver Queen an unlikable prick. They did use some good characters as well. Black Canary, Huntress, Deathstroke, Deadshot and Arsenal are all in this. There’s just one problem. They didn’t bring any of the traits that make them complex or interesting characters. So, what we get are the character names attached to one-dimensional tropes. For most of them they don’t even bother with the code names. Knowing their naming sense, Black Canary will be called the Fishnets, Deathstroke will be called the Mask and Arsenal will be called the Domino mask. Unless they go for the horrendously bad new 52 version in which case he’ll be called the Trucker hat. Because writing those characters with the traits that would make them interesting was too difficult. Frankly, the only two characters in this I kind of liked were Felicity, the computer nerd who consistently has awkward moments and Malcolm Merlyn.

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Visuals:

To their credit, there are some really nice sets in this series. They also picked some fantastic locations, particularly for the flashback scenes. That being said, the action sequences are pretty mediocre. They feel less natural and more heavily choreographed. Plus, they really don’t last very long.

Acting and Music:

To their credit, the actors are clearly trying. The trouble is that most of the characters are pretty flat and the highly melodramatic tone of the series as a whole results in performances that aren’t very good. The music, composed by Blake Neely, is okay.

Final Thoughts:

And that’s Arrow, series  1. It’s not very good. More melodramatic soap opera than super hero narrative and with every good character from the comics who appears in the series bearing only the most superficial resemblance to themselves and average at best action sequences, it’s a bit of a slog. My final rating is going to be a 4/10. Next week’s bonus review will be over Hyperion. Until  then, have an enjoyable holiday season with minimal family drama whether you celebrate Hearth’s Warming, Hogswatch, the Solstice, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Saturnalia, Christmas, or any other holiday.