Earth-9 Podcast – Ep36 – Zack Snyder’s Justice League

So I mean honestly what else was there to talk about this week but the long awaited Snyder Cut! Join Jim, Rob and Michael as they pick it apart and give you their honest opinions on how the original vision of the film came out!

Also there is some Earth9 news, things are changing a little, take a listen to find out what!

Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox Review

Let’s rewind to 2013 and talk about an incredible DC animated movie. Flashpoint is probably The Flash’s most well known storyline and this movie is packed full of action as we witness Barry Allen thrown into an alternative world.

Causing a shift in the timeline by saving his Mum, Barry finds himself living in a reality where Nora West really is still alive but nothing is the same. The Flash doesn’t exist here and Iris doesn’t even know who Barry is. The Flashpoint Paradox throws you straight into the plot with a small introduction of what should have happened before we see the repercussions of Barry’s actions.

In a world where there is a full out war between Wonder Woman and Aquaman, it’s the first appearance of Batman which makes you realise something is not right. His physique, his costume and especially his eyes are all different and that’s before you see the change in his attitude as he’s clearly alright with killing. It was the reveal of Thomas Wayne being Batman in this version of reality that gave me the highlight of the movie as a flashback reveals that Bruce was killed in the alleyway that night and it was haunting seeing Martha Wayne go insane with grief and realising what she goes on to become.

Take everything you know about your favourite DC characters and forget it because in Flashpoint everyone is different. Heroes are villains and villains are trying to restore peace around the world. Speaking of villains, Eobard Thawne as Reverse Flash is portrayed so fantastically as knowing all of Barry’s weaknesses and how to use them to break him down. You’ll also be shocked when you see Superman. Whilst this would be a great starting point for people wanting to explore the world of DC, this story would have much less of an impact if you don’t already have knowledge of the more well known characters at least. Billed as a Justice League movie, The Flash definitely takes the lead and we are shown the more intricate workings of Barry Allen and what drives him.

The anime styled visuals really pay off and at times some scenes are so brutal. Some shots look like they’re taken right out of a comic. I think this makes it more appealing to an adult audience rather than young kids and a sex scene between Diana and Arthur and the tragedy it leads to proves that further. Some great vocal talent really help bring these characters to life and allow you to become immersed in this crazy, alternative world.

The Flashpoint Paradox is a lot of fun. What I love most about it is the ‘what if’ aspect. What if these heroes were not here to do good and what could happen if they used their incredible abilities for bad rather than good? That’s something that made the movie Brightburn so brilliant too. The butterfly effect is in full force as the story’s overarching message plays out. We have to learn to accept the things we cannot change and even if we are given the chance to change the past, the long lasting effect could be even worse.

Earth-9 Podcast – Ep30 – Wait, he doesn’t talk to fish??

Its just Jim and Mike this week talking comics, the give you their thoughts on the first Aquaman book in the New 52 ‘The Trench’, then Jim shares his thoughts on the Brian Michael Bendis run on Superman and Action Comics, Mike talks about the Greg Rucka Wonder Woman run and we find out whats next on our read list!!

            

Justice League: Origin Review

A decade has nearly passed since the New52 (eventual Rebirth) initiative kicked off, and for a universal reboot has experienced quite a few more downs than ups in the ten years since its inception. It is perhaps a tad poetic that Justice League, as a then flagship title, perhaps represents a microcosm of the successes, failures and the impact that this slate wiping produced.

In many ways this series can be seen as a natural successor to the 1990s JLA run under Grant Morrison and Howard Porter. Like that famous duo of creators, Geoff Johns and Jim Lee knock right out of the park, the feel for what a Justice League book should be; high stakes, perhaps a bit high drama, and high octane. The Justice League should be tackling the planetary and universal threats. Let Superman save kittens from trees in his own titles; when you appear in the Justice League, it is because you are expected to go toe-to-toe with the likes of Darkseid. It is no surprise that the likes of Johns and Lee give us exactly that in the opening arc.

It is perhaps why this type of Justice League story becomes the classic or archetypal interpretation. There is a time for many different approaches to the source material, but it is not too unreasonable that if you are going to kickstart a new universe with this as a core title, that more relaxed, oddball interpretations, are perhaps not the natural first choice. While the general plot of this collection is fairly by the numbers, it does reveal early flaws in the whole reboot. Those flaws can loosely be grouped into three areas: plot, characters and continuity, with considerable overlap between.

In terms of characters, the Justice League depicted is the classic line-up. Kinda, mostly. In a daring move, Martian Manhunter is not only erased as a core member, but shuffled off to another corner of the DCU (bad idea). With mixed results, Cyborg is promoted to both JLA member and founding member (not a bad idea, just not a great one, and for alternatives see below).

Cyborg is written as a very convincing member of the Justice League… but most readers associate him as a member of the Teen Titans, especially with prominent animated adaptations depicting the character in the last two decades. Charter member of the Justice League? No. First new recruit? Absolutely should have been, and with minor tweaking might have still worked within the storyline. These two largely cover issues over continuity as well.

Previous continuities presented either Wonder Woman (Silver Age & Post Infinite Crisis) or Black Canary (Post Crisis) as a founding member. This would have been a perfect opportunity to establish both female characters as founding members, especially on a  team that can honestly be described as a sausage-fest for most of its history.

The only other issue character wise are the wildly out of sync character representations of both Batman and Green Lantern in this arc. Fans of Hal will likely start fuming at references to how incredibly obnoxious their favourite emerald ring-slinger was, and Batman does one thing so glaringly uncharacteristic that it defies logic. In terms of writing, the Batman moment is a bit unforgivable when one takes into consideration the first issue of Justice League takes place five years into their new timeline; Bruce is simply too long into his crimefighting game to make the naïve decision he did. This one can be filed under continuity issues as well.

Finally in terms of plot, this is fairly paint by numbers in terms of storytelling; hero meets hero, misunderstand each other, fight, come to their senses, meet another hero and repeat a few times until the writer is ready to introduce the universal level threat that the characters will all have to overcome their differences to defeat.

In the end, there is no denying the overall impact this opening arc has had; from influence in the DCEU movie franchise, the promotion of a strong person of colour in the character of Cyborg to the upper echelons of super-heroics (one, who already had a rich history to begin with) and even a direct adaptation as an animated film. Big impact, entertainment value and Jim Lee at some of his best artistically; if you can forgive a somewhat thin plot.

Collects: Justice League (Vol. 2) 1-6

Aquaman By Peter David Book One Review

Peter David is a big name in comic books, especially with regards to certain characters; Hulk and X-Factor over at Marvel Comics, and most notably Aquaman and Supergirl for DC Comics. Internet fandom seems to nearly all side on giving Peter David’s run high praise, but to be honest, this is a character and run that does not particularly grab my attention. Aquaman is a very niche character that does not always do well sustaining a strong title for the long haul (despite repeated attempts), and if it was not for finding a used copy, I may have otherwise skipped over this entirely in my current spree of acquisitions.

This first book, which collects the four part Aquaman: Time & Tide miniseries and the first nine issues of the fifth volume is… a difficult read, on many levels. For one, despite the relative short gap between the miniseries and the new volume, the tones in these two different projects are nearly night and day. Aquaman: Time & Tide, while an adept attempt at wiping the origin slate a bit and tidying up some dangling threads, is actually cringeworthy in many ways some twenty five years on. The fifth volume does not kick off particularly well, either. There are some questionable appearances by other DC characters (Lobo in the fourth issue) and then some really questionable appearances (Superboy in the third issue) that demonstrate David’s desire to root his Aquaman narrative into the main DC Universe, having been at the peripheral the last several years prior. This is seemingly impeded by the guest star choices, and it is uncertain if bigger, more obvious characters were either off-limits, or of little interest to David.

On the flip side, the opening arc does give us that infamous moment where Arthur’s hand was eaten off by piranhas (hey, he is one of the very few Golden or Silver Age DC character who did not get killed off in the 90s… that in itself is something worth celebrating), and a much edgier hero as a result. One wants to also say darker, however the lighter moments in this title do not paint such a picture. And that is the dichotomy that Peter David does manage quite well; sometimes Arthur Curry is Aquaman, a hero at the time eyed suspiciously by the surface world, or as King of Atlantis, but never really himself, in many ways. These stories depicting this gruff, almost pirate-like persona at least tries to take the character into new directions, and this is in fact one of Peter Davis greatest additions to the character’s mythos.

In many ways, this book could be compared to that of a first season of nearly any television show. The basic premise is there; you just need the time to set characters and plots out, and you hope it is enough to keep going. Visually, this collection showcases the work of Martin Egeland, Jim Calafiore and others, each with their own distinctive flair for the character, while keeping him instantly recognizable. Essential comic book reading? No. Essential Aquaman reading? One still has to acknowledge what Peter David brought to the character overall, and say yes.

Collects: Aquaman Time & Tide 1-4 & Aquaman (Vol. 5) 0-8