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Wednesday
May152019

Review We Never Learn v The Quintessential Quintuplets

Well it’s been awhile since my last review so for this one I’ll take a look at a series that is rising in popularity thanks to it’s recent animated adaptation.  The story follows a high school boy from a single parent household.  Their financially down on their luck.  He’s not interested in romance and is only focused on getting good grades so he can get eventually better his and his families situation.  Then one day he is gifted an opportunity to do just that but he has to tutor multiple cute girls(well duh it’s comic books!) and if they get good grades/pass he can achieve his dream.  This series premiered in 2016. 

 

The name of the series is “We Never Learn” uh I mean “The Quintessential Quintuplets”.  Uh, yeah it’s easy to get confused by which is which if you only look at the story description of both of them.  Despite the similarities I think that this was most likely just a case of similar ideas happening at the same time.  “We Never Learn” came out in Feb 2016 and “The Quintessential Quintuplets” in Aug of that year.  Still there are a few differences so what I’ll do here is do a quick review then a compare and contrast of both series.  I finish up with which series I think is better.  This should be interesting because I’ve change my mind several times since I began reading both series in 2016.

 

Oh one last thing both of these are Harem series.

Friday
May032019

AVENGERS ENGAME REVIEW AND THOUGHTS

There’s no need to do any real recap.  Everyone(even if you didn’t see the previous film)knows what’s up.  Thanos snap half of universe dead.  Overall this was a satisfying conclusion to the first 11 years of the MCU.  The acting was great.  The action was good.  While there are easter eggs and fan service it makes since in the context of the story.  I had to think was this a better film than “Infinity War”(which really should have been called “THANOS QUEST”!).  I would say yes.  Last year I said while Infinity War was good it’s the type of film where you’ll really only enjoy it a lot if you’ve seen all the previous films.  I didn’t see it as a film that would create new fans.  I feel a bit different now.  Endgame works together with Infinity War.  So if these are the only two films of the MCU you’ve ever seen I think new fans of the franchise will come out of this.  

 

Overall I REALLY enjoyed the film and felt it was an awesome conclusion for the first part of the MCU’s life.  Sure there were issues I had with the film but those are nit picks.  The film is a 10/10 or 5/5 I’d rank it tied with Dragon Ball Super: Broly as my favorite film of the year.

 

That was until I started thinking about it some more.

 

I still think the movie is great but the more I think about a particular concept of the film and how it was used…well my pedantic sense began to tingle like crazy.  *MINOR SPOILERS*  As many people have suspected yes time travel and the quantum realm is an important part of the story.  There is also a timeskip.  This all leads up to a 2nd act “Time Heist”.  I really enjoyed the heist BUT the way they portray the multiverse and time travel doesn’t make sense.  There are a couple ways I’ve seen time travel depicted in comics.  In DC comics if you go into the past and change it you change the future.  Makes sense.  But after thinking about it more the concept of time travel and the multiverse in doesn’t make any sense.  I figure that most fans of the MCU will give it a pass due how the rest of the film is executed.  I know that I did.

 

This film had tons of big moments and was incredibly acted and despite any issues with the film it can be forgiven.  The film doesn’t have any mid or post credit scenes so anyone that would normally get upset about Marvel promoting another film down the line that doesn’t happen here.

 

What is interesting is that at the end of the film one character continues on an legacy and another and has the freedom to do anything they want for the first time in a long time.  If (solo)movies based on these characters continue it will be interesting on which way they will go.

 

 

 This actually reminded me a bit of LOTR Return of the King 

Monday
Apr082019

SHAZAM! (CAPTAIN MARVEL) MOVIE REVIEW

 

 

After seeing this film I REALLY want to talk about the spoilers but I figure just in case no one has seen it yet but plans too I’ll be non spoiler(y) as I can(at first anyway).  For those people that wanted Warner Bros to make Marvel Studio type films and “Aquaman” didn’t satisfy you then this film should.

 

STORY:

 

The film follow orphan Billy Batson trying to figure out his way in the world.  Should he try find his old family or try to make connections to his new one?  Also with the world at stake will he be able to use the new powers that the wizard shazam has given him responsibly?

 

 

PROS:

 

The main cast was impressive.  I think the the younger cast acted well and the writing for them was good as well

 

The film had a good sense of humor.  It was light and heartfelt at the right times.  

 

The overall tone was great for the characters.  There are some characters that work best with a dark tone and some with a lighter one.  Character like Spider-Man, Superman, The Flash and the Good Captain here can dabble in both but need to mostly have a more fun optimistic feel to their stories. (yeah I know that’s weird coming from the guy that really liked(and still do) “Man of Steel”)

 

The depiction of Billy was good as well.  We see him doing some illegal things at the start of the film but for an understandable(if selfish reason).  Except thinking it over I realized that no one actually got hurt because of this.  Well one cop was hungrier but hey tough it out copper!

 

I liked the depiction of the Dudley’s.  They were understanding and compassionate of the kids because of their own background but could be stern when they had too.  I’m just glad we get this version of Uncle Dudley and not the one from the 1981 cartoon that came off as a cross between W.C. Fields and Snagglepuss!  

 

 

CONS:

The cgi isn’t always the best.  I know that this is comparatively a cheaper blockbuster(how is 90-100 million is cheap I’ll never know!) and that they were doing more with less.  However, some of the effects weren’t all that impressive.  The seven deadly sins are the most obvious example.  The daylight flying was another.  The night time flying scenes were good but that’s because cgi looks better at night.

 

The villain Doctor Sivana it’s pretty obvious that he was stand in for “Black Adam” after re-reading the comic story that this movie is based on.  Which is interesting because in the comics the doctor is more of a mad scientist schemer.  Doctor Sivana wasn’t as strong a villain as I had hoped.  At the start of the film I think that the filmmakers did well building up his character but once we jumped to the present any character development was gone.  Thinking back on it what was the doctors overall plan after he got all the power?  I don’t think her ever stated that.

 

STUFF:

(RANT) At no point during the film is Billy Batson’s alter ego ever referred to as “SHAZAM”.  Levi is credited as Shazam(as is Djom Hansu) but never in the film.  Jokes are made about what to call him but nothing sticks.  Gee could it be that Warner Bros figured while making the film that having the hero named after the name he has to say to transform is stupid?  While I know they would never do it they could technically call him Captain Marvel(he just can’t be called that in titles)or how how about this Captain Thunder or just Marvel?  The way it’s used in the film makes it tough to go forward because at some point he’s going to have introduce himself with his name.

 

Now on with the nonsense!

 

What’s Mr. Mind doing at just chilling at the Rock of Eternity.  In the 3rd act we get the Marvel Family line-up.  Or should it be the Shazam Family?  So when Darla grows up she’ll become Megan Good?  I find it interesting that the filmmakers decided to have the good captain keep the mind of Billy when he’s transformed.  Depending on who writes him sometimes Captain Marvel has his own mind and personality.

 

I see that Geoff Johns run with the character really influenced this film.  I’m not sure how I feel about that.  It seems when it comes to live action tv and films there seems to be an over reliance on his work than the work of everyone else who’ve significantly worked on these characters in the past.

 

I really liked that during the credits writer/artist Jerry Ordway was listed(along with artist Gary Frank)because it was during his run that I became a fan of the character.  Maybe I missed it but I don’t remember seeing Captain Marvel’s original creators C.C. Beck and William Parker in the credits.  I hope I’m wrong but if that’s the case then that’s really disrespectful.  Billy displayed all of the powers except for Solomons Wisdom(unless we count his AH-HA moment at the end as it but I’m not sure…).

 

Why did the film take place in a real city (Philadelphia) instead of the fictional “FAWCETT”?  This film does take place in the DC Universe so Smallville, Metropolis and Gotham City exist.  But adding Fawcett is a problem?

 

Dear AMC Theaters: Where’s my free comic book?!  I got one for Justice League.  There was one for VENOM but not here?  Why advertise it(there was even a big poster when you come into the theater) and then not deliver?

 

RECOMMEND:  YES.

 

Despite some visual hiccups and a lackluster villain personality wise this was a really good and fun film.  The second half of the film just blew by.  If you you are a Marvel Studios fan they you’ll like this film because it get’s right what they do.  If you don’t like DC-Warner Bros films or Marvel Studio films then you won’t like this.  But if you’ve like the DC-Warner Bros films Wonder Woman & Aquaman then you’ll like this to.  All 3 have a feeling of optimism an enjoyment.  We get to also see the character realistically evolve from beginning to end.  In all 3 films the ending feels earned since we see that at the start of the film there is a good person there.  They just need a little time to mature.

 

After seeing the film I’m even more jazzed for the future.  With the introduction of Mister Mind could this mean that the antagonists for the sequel will be the “MONSTER SOCIETY OF EVIL”?  If so that’s good because 1. Their awesome and 2.  This delays Black Adam.  There is no reason to bring him in any faster than needs to be(I’m also a bit worried how he will be depicted in his own film(for whats been said it’ll be more as a hero and not villain or anti-hero)).

 

Initially I had a problem with Billy and his past family storyline.  It’s WAY to different than the source material.  After thinking about it I’m okay with it.  It works for the purpose for this movie.

 

While I’ve only seen a few films this year I would put this near the top.

 

1.  DRAGON BALL SUPER BROLY

2.  SHAZAM!

3.  ALITA: BATTLE ANGEL

4.  CAPTAIN MARVEL

 

Here’s hoping this film performs well enough to justify a sequel. 

Sunday
Mar242019

Top 10 Best of Captain Marvel Shazam!

One of my all time favorite characters is the Billy Batson-Captain Marvel.  With his movie being release soon (it might be out by the time this comes out)I wanted to honor the characters legacy in some way.

In 2016 I did a Superman retrospective and gave a personal list of his best comic book stories of the last 25 years.  So now for the Billy Batson/Captain Marvel I wanted to do the same thing.  The difference here is I’ll reach back further than 25 years and I also won’t just focus on comic books but from other media as well.  The reason is simple.  People don’t read comic books anymore (sob).  They just consume other media about them.

 

One last thing before I begin.  Keep in mind this is only my personal list.  If you have a difference of opinion then please comment below but keep it classy and civil.

So now lets begin!

 

10. Shazam 1981 cartoon - I remember as a kid thinking this is pretty random.  Also where’s that old guy (mentor)from before?  My vague memories of the show are people in uncomfortable positions and Captain Marvel standing around.  I decided to take a look at the first episode and…wow…WOW!   We get an uncle Dudley who sounds like a cross between W. C. Fields and Snagglepuss.  Black Adam turning Captain Marvel Jr.(Freddie Freeman) into a dog for yucks and a Captain Marvel that sounds like the the 1960’s Spider-Man.  Meaning he sounded like a 45 year old accounting exec!

 

I really need to re-watch this series(hopefully it’s available on the DC streaming service).  Maybe I’ll review it one day.  The show wasn’t successful running on NBC from Sep 12, 1981 - Sep 11, 1982 and had only 12 episodes.  It was part of “The Kid Super Power Hour with Shazam!”.

 

9.  Kingdom Come - This is an else worlds story(a story taking place on an alternate earth timeline)that takes place years into the future after superheroes from Superman, Batman & Wonder Woman retired.  The reason was because of the rise of darker superheroes led by a new one called “Magog”.  After a catastrophic event in the midwest Superman gets the band back together to put an end to this dark age of heroes.  Not only that but they also have to combat a new group of villains.  Some of which are old timers(Catwoman, Riddler, Vandal savage and the new Ra’s Al Ghul who’s Talia and Bruce’s son) and some new kids on the block.  They call themselves the MLF.  No not the “Mutant Liberation Front” that’s MARVEL but “Mankind Liberation Front”.  How did Marvel not sue DC over this?

 

Kingdom Come is a great story from beginning to end.  I didn’t realize it at the time(but I do now)but it was a response to the 1990’s “Dark Age” of comic books.  So this is a Superman story right?  Where does Captain Marvel fit in then?  

 

He’s being controlled by someone.  Who?  That would be spoilers but let’s just say he’s used as insurance against Superman because: 

 

1. He’s as powerful as him(Superman).  

2. The whole Superman being weak to magic thing. 

 

Billy’s part in this story is bittersweet.  It’s good to see him here but it’s not as a hero and then there’s how his story finishes here which is bittersweet.

 

I will have to place this on the honorable list because while he plays a significant part in the story(the 2nd half of it really) it’s not about him.  This is primarily a Superman story.

 

8.  Shazam!: The Monster Society of Evil (2007) - Let’s say you have kids and after seeing the movie in early April they want more of the good captain.  Well, this is the perfect series for them.  Written and drawn by “BONE” creator Jeff Smith.

 

This is another origin story about Billy Batson but once again it’s tweaked.  One difference here is when Billy turns into Captain Marvel it’s not a boys mind in the body of an adult.  The Captain is his own person with his own personality.  Shortly into the story Billy, the captain and Shazam not only find out that Billy has a little sister that he needs to find. They also find out about the titular Monster Society of Evil which is led by the devious “Mr Mind” who is usually a super intelligent caterpillar he’s a snake in this story though!  But it’s okay because Billy get’s help from a magical talking tiger named “TAWKY TAWNY”!

 

God I love comics! 

 

I can’t really explain well how I feel about this mini-series.  It’s heartwarming, exciting, creative, great writing.  It’s just so much fun!

 

My only problem with the story is that there never was a sequel to this.  Yes there was a 21 issue series that came out a year later(“Billy Batson and the Magic of SHAZAM!”(2008) but it wasn’t by Jeff Smith and didn’t have the energy or fun that this did(also it may not be in continuity with the series).  Considering the current state of the character I wish that this version of the character would come back.

 

7.  Justice League Unlimited “Clash” (2005) - this was probably a lot of peoples first experience of Captain Marvel and this episode nailed the character just right.  We first see him being heroic then see him inducted into the Justice League.  Everything goes down hill from there for billy and clark.  This episode reminds me of the phrase never meet your heroes.  Because they won’t be what you built them up to be.

 

6.  Superman/Shazam!: The Return of Black Adam (2010) - Hey a DC animated film that’s not solely focused on either Superman or Batman!  Oh wait, Superman’s in it too, my bad.  Also this isn’t a full film.  It’s more like a short film at about 25 mins.  I wish I had known that when I first bought this years ago.  Still this is a good representation of the character.  Within the first 2 mins you get a handle on Billy’s character.  He’s upbeat and positive despite his current situation and will stand up for anyone in need.

 

5.  Shazam! 1973  - It’s the triumphant return of the character after being gone for 20 years.  This time being published by DC Comics.  What’s interesting about the series is that the look and tone was the same as it was in the 1940’s - 1950’s.  Goofy, campy aiming more for really young kids.  At least at the start of it’s run.  It kept it’s light tone until issue 34 & 35(#34 has Captain Nazi in it, I mean how light can you get!).  The last issues of the series.  Looking at the comics the 70’s the Shazam one was an anomaly.  In the 70’s comics were getting more mature and serious.  It aiming for a younger demo sounds good but by this point that comic reader was aging up not down.  

 

I can’t find any numbers but it seems this series didn’t do well.  It ran from 1973 - 1978 and was bi-monthly.  Even with the popularity of the live action show it doesn’t seem this helped the comics(that’s true even today ex. Captain America: Civil War made over 1 billion dollars but the Captain America comics struggle to sell 300,000 copies a year(in the 70’s it sold that in a month!)). 

 

Still because of his new series it was able to get the character back into the for front.  This led to both of his tv series and eventually being inducted into the Justice League.

 

4. The Shazam and Isis Hour - One year after the triumphant return of the good captain in comic books in SHAZAM! (1973) a live action series was created for him and ran on CBS from 1974 - 1977.  It followed a teenage(? yeah right!)Billy traveling with a man named “Mentor” across country helping people along the way.  My first experience of the show was in the early 80’s in syndication(from the 1980’s - 1990’s if a show had even just one season it would be shown for years in syndication).  The show is a bit low rent and campy but there is fun to be had her.  Also I believe in season 3 there is a cross over with Isis from “The Mighty Isis”.

 

3.  Young Justice S1 EP 19 “Misplaced” (2012)  This appears to be a very loose adaptation of the comic JLA: WORLD WITHOUT GROWN-UPS mini-series(1998)(this lead to the YOUNG JUSTICE SERIES).  Klarion the Witch Boy (along with villains The Wizard, Felix Faust, Wotan & Blackbriar Thorn)does a spell that creates an alternate earth.  One has only kids(under 18 years of age)and the other only adults.  While Billy and the Captain are supporting players in this episode I still think he plays a huge role in that he can blink into both worlds and was also able to get one of the crystals.

 

What I really liked about this episode(Captain Marvel wise) was it should how resourceful Billy was.  The good Captain was a supporting player previously in the series so it was good to see him take a more active role in the series.  Even if it was only for one episode.  I could be wrong but the the voice of Billy here seems to be the same for the “Superman/Shazam! Return of Black Adam” short movie.

 

2.  Shazam! Power of Hope (2000) - From 1998 - 2003 DC Comics put out six tabloid size comic books co-written by Paul Dini and painted by Alex Ross(there was Superman: Peace on Earth, Batman: War on Crime, Wonder Woman: Spirit of Truth, Shazam: Power of Hope, Justice League: Secret Origins & Justice).  Each in the collection focus on a single defining trait for each character.  I know It’s cliche to say but this story shows just the kind hero Billy Batson is as Captain Marvel or just himself.  We see him save people and battle giant robots but then we see him giving joy and hope by just being himself and doing the right thing.  For example, Billy just by talking and listening to an obviously abused boy helps him open  up.  There’s a lot that I want to say about this book(the amazing art and writing)but I don’t want to get too emotional.  I will say that you can sum up the story and Captain Marvel with this quote from the book:  

 

“Frustration, Triumph, Despair and Joy.  The memories of those and a thousand other childhood experiences stay with me as Billy and as Captain Marvel.  It makes it easy for me to relate to children.”

 

1.  The Power of SHAZAM! Graphic Novel (1994) and ongoing series (1995) - It was these two stories that made me the fan of Captain Marvel I am today.  While he did appear before here(he was in the BWAHAHA Justice League of the late 80’s early 90’s)this was I believe his first ongoing series since the 1970’s.  This completely revamped his origin and was his definitive origin…until Geoff Johns retconned it in the NEW 52…sigh.  Anyway, the art in the graphic novel had a very paintery pulpy feel.  Initially when I read the GN I thought that this took place in it’s own reality because the designs of the book has a 1930’s -40’s feel to it.  The GN plays out his commonly known origin but adds some tweaks to it.  We see the introduction of some future villains and a mysteriously shadowed individual is tasked by Shazam to guide Billy on his journey.  

 

The graphic novel is a great introduction for anyone who’s interested in learning more about the the good captain.  The only negative possibly is that while I liked the art the current generation of comic reader may find it too dated(Jerry Ordway wrote and illustrated the entire graphic novel!).  Also looking back on it now it’s pretty obvious who the mysterious individual was.

 

The ongoing series that followed a year later is a continuation from the GN.  It’s still written by Jerry Ordway but this time he’s not doing the art for the series(Peter Krause, Mike Manley & Glen Whoitmore does the pencils, inks and colors).  Visually the pulp style is still present but minus the paint strokes.  Because of this the art looks simplified and more conventional.  The first issue does end with a bang with a fire, Billy using his powers irresponsibly, still needing to find his sister and Shazam punishing Billy.

 

This is a great series to read to get to know the character.  The original graphic novel is available in print and digital(at comixology.com).  Unfortunately none of the issues from the series are available in paperback but you can read them digitally at comixology.com as well.

 

A side note.  I find it interesting that on the cover of issue # 1 it has Captain Marvel’s name on the cover.  Per the copyright with Marvel Comics they could’ve sued DC for that(or whoever owned the character at the time.  There’s some that say that DC didn’t own the Marvel Family of characters until 1997 -1998).  Oh well, it doesn’t matter anymore.  He’s only called Shazam these days.  Not by me though(that’s still a stupid name to call him).

 

 

Well that’s a lot and I have more to say about each them but I edited myself to keep it as brief as I could.  All of these works of art are available in either trade, paperback, dvd or digitally so if you’re interested then check them out.

Sunday
Mar242019

Best of Captain Marvel Shazam Honorable Mentions

1.  The Captain Marvel Movie Serials (1941) - The good captain was the first superhero to appear in the movies(if you don’t count Zorro or comic strip adaptations).  He had a 12 part series named the “Adventures of Captain Marvel” that ran thru 1941(March 28,1941) little over a year after he was first introduced in the comics(Whiz Comics #2 cover date Feb 1940 release Date Dec 1939).  Looking back it’s not that bad.  I can why people would enjoy it.  Seeing the captain fighting against oversized scorpions and the such.  It seems it was so well received that this helped the sales of the comic book.  As I noted earlier(I may have noted it in another part of the retrospective)Captain Marvel was so popular that he would outsell Superman.  

 

Side note I do find it funny that for the flying scenes instead of wiring up the actor they used a 7 foot long paper mache’ version of him instead.

 

2.  Batman/Superman Public Enemies (2009) - The good captain appears here but it’s mostly an extended cameo.  We do get to see his power and cleverness.  I also like the fact that he states that Superman is weak against magic here.  Why do so many readers and writers of the character seem to forget that?

 

3.  Shazam in the New 52 (2012 - ?) (1st appearing in the Justice League comic as a back up feature)(2013) - At the time I liked the story mostly because of the Gary Frank art.  Inclusion of the other orphans and having them take major roles is good but I didn’t like the fact that they became the extended Marvel Family.  I didn’t mind Billy’s attitude too much in the series because this did seem realistic for a 15 year old boy in the mid 2010’s.  My main issue with the series was that now Captain Marvel was no longer Captain Marvel but was now named Shazam.  As in after the wizard.  As in the word that Billy has to say to transform and back.  Good god, that is so stupid.  From that point on in all media he’s being called Shazam.

 

4.  Just Imagine Stan Lee with Gary Frank Creating Shazam! (2002) - Hey you want to see weird?  Well then just take a gander in the early 2000’s when DC Comics gave Stan Lee a chance to reimagine certain DC characters in his own universe.  So what did his take on the good captain entail?  Well let’s see we get Merlin, Morgana, a trip to Nepal, a cult with a woman apparently trying to do her best David Bowie impersonation(!) Assassins, and a big red beastie thing tagging along with a big boobed woman.  I have no words for this.  The concept and execution of the story is bonkers.  Then again the entire Just Imagine line was crazy.

 

I think Stan missed the point on what makes Billy Batson/Captain Marvel a great character in this issue.  Also Billy Batson isn’t even Captain Marvel in the main story(I don’t even think he’s in the story at all).

 

5.  Whiz Comics #2 - Might as well start with his very first appearance. (Hmm maybe I should do a review of it.  It’s only 15 pages long(if you include the cover) it couldn’t take that long right?).  The story get’s straight to the point.  It’s the basis of every redo of his origin from the 1940’s on.  That said while the original origin is interesting it’s not what I consider very engaging.  If I had a choice I would re-read the 1995 Power of Shazam or the 2012 origin for fun than WHIZ #2. The original origin is a bit too dry and basic for me to want to go back to it over and over again.