Posts Tagged ‘Aquaman’

Justice League Review: It Was Fine, I Guess? Not Good, But Not Awful

November 17, 2017

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Justice League isn’t a terrible movie, and that in itself is a major achievement. Director Zack Snyder’s past two superhero outings were dour, unwieldy affairs that fundamentally misunderstood almost every character who appeared in them. Justice League is a much more conventional movie, leaner and even fun at times. It’s not great by any means. I wouldn’t even say it was good. But I didn’t leave the theater angry, so that’s a plus.

Everyone seems to have learned a few lessons from Wonder Woman, which is the far superior film by leaps and bounds. Justice League is lighter and funnier than its predecessors, though since those films weren’t light or funny in the slightest it really wouldn’t have taken much. But Snyder and his uncredited co-director Joss Whedon appear to be actively trying to set a new tone. There are jokes this time, and considerably less brooding and angst. The team bickers which each other instead of trying to kill each other. People smile sometimes. The success of this new approach is hit and miss, with a lot of corny dialogue and quips, but it’s a far better direction to move the franchise toward than the dark, miserable drama of the past.

In terms of plot, Justice League is a little bit thin. Steppenwolf and his evil plan to terraform the Earth and turn it into a hellscape is pretty standard stuff, and neither he nor his nondescript legion of Parademon minions bring much personality to the movie. Luckily, the good guys are far more endearing and enjoyable to watch. Jason Momoa’s gruff Aquaman is a good time, Ezra Miller’s socially awkward Flash is amusing, and the complicated interpersonal dynamics of bringing a group of very different heroes together for a common cause made for some decent scenes. Everyone is new at this team thing, and several members were new to their powers, so watching them all find their way together makes for an interesting angle. That’s really what the movie is about more so than the possible destruction of the world or how to bring back Superman (SPOILER ALERT: They bring back Superman! I know, I was shocked too).

Between assembling the League and Steppenwolf’s nefarious activities, we get a tour of the franchise as a whole and a peek at where things are going. We stop by Themyscira again, and I missed Patty Jenkins so much. The scenes there highlight that this was a film written, directed, and generally designed by men, as do many of Wonder Woman’s scenes. Nonetheless, the scene is a good reminder of the larger superhero world at play here. As is the visit to Atlantis, peeks into the backstories of the Flash and Cyborg (who was particularly cool; I’m excited to see more of Ray Fisher’s take on him moving forward), and a fun cameo that I won’t spoil. All of this will be fleshed out in solo films to come, and this is a franchise that could grow in interesting ways.

Watching the film, I realized that my main issue above all else was characterization. Having grown up on DC comic books and researched them extensively in my professional life, I feel like I know these characters very well. And as much as Momoa was fun, that wasn’t Aquaman. Ditto for Miller and the Flash. Affleck’s Batman and Cavill’s Superman have been off for multiple films now. No one feels right to me in the way that Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman does. She captures the spirit and legacy of Diana so well, in ways that the boys just don’t with their characters. It felt like I was watching Wonder Woman plus a bunch of alternate universe impostors.

In short, while they’ve made an okay movie with the characterizations they’ve decided to go with, it just doesn’t feel like the real Justice League to me. That’s 100% my personal taste, of course. But by not being true to the characters, I found this turn toward the light to be a little bit underwhelming. Composer Danny Elfman even integrated iconic bits of his own 1989 Batman score and John Williams’ Superman theme, which was super clever and cool, and it still didn’t move me because these versions of the characters don’t fit the iconic mold for me. For example, there’s a mid-credits scene with Superman and the Flash that is classic comic book fare and I should have loved it, but because the personalities are so different from my experience of the characters it fell flat. While I appreciated what they were trying to do, it just didn’t land for me in any emotionally resonant way. Meanwhile, I wanted to cheer every time Wonder Woman did anything rad because Gadot’s take on her connects with me so well. With everyone else, I felt a disconnect.

Speaking of Wonder Woman, I enjoyed her role in Justice League for the most part. The franchise painted itself into a corner by having her stay out of the public eye for a century in Batman v Superman, so trying to reconcile that with the engaged, inspirational character we saw in Wonder Woman was a bit awkward but narratively necessary. Her action scenes were excellent, especially her solo outing busting up an attempted bombing; there’s so much bullet deflecting, and it’s glorious. What I enjoyed the most, though, is that she’s the heart and soul of the team. No one particularly likes or trusts each other as the League comes together, but they all respect and admire Wonder Woman. There’s a scene where she and Batman are arguing in front of everyone and she gives him a forceful shove, and the Flash says something along the lines of “If she’d killed you, we would have covered for her.” As much as Batman is the one who works to assemble the team and Superman is set up as some sort of great, inspiring unifier, it’s Wonder Woman who brings them all together.

Another of my favourite ladies, Lois Lane, is in the mix as well, and although she isn’t given much to do, she does have a couple of amazing scenes. When SPOILER ALERT Superman comes back (I still can’t believe it! They pulled the wool over our eyes on that one!), Lois plays a pivotal role in what was the only really emotionally impactful moment in the entire film. Her connection with Superman is shown beautifully, and Adams and Cavill have great chemistry together that really makes for a powerful reunion. I wish that Lois could have had a bigger role, perhaps tracking down a big story or some such, but Adams make the most of the limited screen time she’s given.

Overall, Justice League isn’t awful and I’m glad about that. It’s not good either, and this cinematic universe really isn’t for me apart from Wonder Woman, but there was nothing egregious or terrible about it. I mean, the Amazons should have beaten the hell out of Steppenwolf; they screwed up there. But other than that, it is a run of the mill superhero film that isn’t entirely unpleasant to watch. It’s easily the second best movie from DC’s current superhero line. It’s just far, far, far, far, far, far, far, far, far, far, far, far, far behind the first best.

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A Wonder Woman-Centric Review Of Justice League: Throne Of Atlantis

February 11, 2015

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DC Animation’s new direct to DVD movie, Justice League: Throne of Atlantis, focuses primarily on Aquaman discovering his heritage and joining the Justice League, but let’s face it: Nobody cares about Aquaman. His storyline was fine, albeit rather grim and grumpy. It was definitely odd to see DC Comics turning a corner in their comics with some new, lighter fare and then watch this movie that completely embodies the dark dourness of the early New 52. Directed by Ethan Spaulding and written by Heath Corson, the story is a tweaked version of “Throne of Atlantis”, a comic book crossover between Justice League and Aquaman, that throws in an origin story and a dead mother for the aquatic hero. It’s all about what you’d expect.

So let’s leave Aquaman behind and talk about the character everyone cares about. Or, at least, that I care about. Wonder Woman! While several voice actors reprise their roles from Justice League: War, Wonder Woman has a new actor behind her voice with Rosario Dawson replacing Michelle Monaghan. Dawson is decent in the role, thought she often slips into the formal, somewhat stilted delivery that a lot of actors go for when they play Wonder Woman. They hit the regalness a little too hard, and lose some of the humour and fun of the character. Dawson is a bit better at this than most, but she never really escapes it. Anyone who plays Wonder Woman in the future would be wise to listen to Susan Eisenberg in the Justice League animated show to hear how to find the perfect balance.

Wonder Woman is in an odd spot in the film, being the only woman on a team full of men. By the end of the film, she’s outnumbered on the Justice League by 8 to 1, and that’s not including the Justice League’s military liaison, Steve Trevor (who’s sporting a goatee for some reason). So what do the filmmakers do with the only woman on the team? They make her a romantic interest, of course.

Justice League: War hinted at some romantic feelings between Wonder Woman and Superman, and just like the comics it blossoms into full on romance. While a lot of the film deviates from the source material, the romance scenes are very reminiscent of their comic origins. Superman and Wonder Woman gaze out at the powerless masses and are brought together by their feeling that they don’t really fit in, and later on Clark shows Diana the wonders of using glasses as a disguise when they’re on a dinner date. Both scenes are cribbed from the comics.

There are additions, though. During said dinner date, Lois Lane stops by and has a staredown with Diana before settling in next to Clark in a very proprietary manner. The scene is a waste of two great female characters who would be better served doing pretty much anything else.

Once the action kicks into gear after Atlantis invades America, the romance fades into the background. Wonder Woman isn’t given a lot to do with the fighting. She takes out some sea creatures with her lasso, but then she’s one of several Justice League members struck down by the usurper king Orm when they visit Atlantis, and she spends the next chunk of the movie unconscious in a pod. Aquaman frees himself from his pod, then breaks out Superman, and they take down a giant sea creature together.   Wonder Woman is freed only after the battle ends.

Wonder Woman does have one good moment in the final battle against Orm. He wields a trident that only Atlantean royalty can handle, and Wonder Woman’s attack on him and his powerful weapon is one of the few that has any real effect on him. She snags the trident with her lasso, and struggles mightily against all of its great power that is now working against her. Most people, even most heroes, would be instantly felled, but she toughs out it out for an impressive amount of time before Orm is able to regain control.

Wonder Woman’s limited screen time seems largely due to the presence of Mera, here presented as an Atlantean guard who protects Aquaman. She gets a lot of screen time, and is generally pretty awesome, busting up bad guys left and right with her cool water powers. But it looks like the filmmakers only had space for one kick ass lady hero, and so Wonder Woman got relegated to the background for a lot of the film.

Perhaps not surprisingly, Mera’s arc quickly turns to romance as well. In fact, all of the film’s major female characters were either involved in a romantic subplot or got killed over the course of the film. The movie really isn’t a great showcase for varied portrayals of female characters.

Overall, Justice League: Throne of Atlantis was only okay for me. It wasn’t a great outing for Wonder Woman, which is a serious strike against it, but Wonder Woman aside it was pretty standard, almost bland superhero fare. The twists were telegraphed, you knew how it would end as soon as it began, and it lacked the heart that a good Justice League movie needs; the team spent most of their time squabbling with each other instead of working together. It’s not the worst DC animated film, but they’ve made much better. Furthermore, everyone behind the scenes really needs to rethink how they approach female characters, and definitely add some more women to the Justice League. I mean, 1 in 9? That’s just ridiculous.

Aquaman Annual #2 Review OR The Wonder Woman And Mera Team Up Steals The Show

July 31, 2014

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Wonder Woman not only co-starred in yesterday’s Aquaman Annual #2, she was actually in the book more than Aquaman himself. The issue began with Diana and Arthur investigating a castle in France to track down the giant-born, a group of powerful monsters disguised as humans. The story was fine, but somewhat underwhelming. There were a lot of references to past events and characters in Aquaman, which I am not at all up on, but that’s my problem and not all the fault of the book.

What didn’t quite work for me was the somewhat adversarial relationship between Diana and Arthur. For Justice League teammates, they didn’t get along very well. Their styles were very different, with Aquaman holding back while Wonder Woman wanted to go at the monsters full tilt, and this caused some tension. There was also a lot of distrust, and while under the thrall of one of the monsters they revealed the core of their problems: Wonder Woman thinks that Aquaman doesn’t care enough about the surface world and Aquaman sees Wonder Woman as a murdering goddess who thinks herself above humanity. They reconciled when the brawling was done, of course, with both understanding that they truly didn’t mean what they said while enchanted, but there seemed to be a bit of a core of honesty in their critiques of each other.

The fighting in the story was pretty fun, but Wonder Woman and Aquaman were sidelined for a lot of it due to a long, heroless introduction and then several pages where they’d been turned into stone. They were a good time when they were on the page, but that was only about half the story. When I got to the end, I was a little bit disappointed with the book.

Then I turned the page and there was another story! This time, Wonder Woman teamed up with Mera, and it was awesome the whole way through. Mera’s regal warrior mentality meshed well with Wonder Woman, and after the monsters refused their offers of diplomacy and mercy, both women realized that the creatures they faced were cruel monsters who needed to be destroyed. And so they did just that.

The ensuing brawl was well choreographed and exciting. Mera conjured water sharks to attack the monsters while Wonder Woman flipped her way through the horde, taking down creatures left and right. The finishing move was especially great. I loved the plan of Wonder Woman diving down to the bottom of the ocean to smash through to the lava below and Mera removing all the water under the creatures so they fell into the volcanic abyss. It was all sorts of cool.

But what really sold me on this story was the chemistry between Wonder Woman and Mera. With the Aquaman story, even though they knew each other well it all felt a little stiff and awkward, even before they revealed their deep, dark opinions of each other. Their battle styles weren’t complimentary, and the whole team-up seemed out of sync. With Mera, Wonder Woman didn’t know her well at all, yet they instantly connected and were on the same page, fighting side by side and working together with ease. It was an effortless partnership, and their instant camaraderie made the story a real pleasure to read.

Jeff Parker’s writing was solid throughout, though again I enjoyed what he did with the second story much more than the first. Superhero conflicts aside, the leadoff story was a bit too heavy on exposition and side characters for me. Yvel Guichet, Jason Gorder, and Wayne Faucher drew the first story, and I thought the art was decent. The monsters were gruesome and cool, and both heroes looked about right.

Alvaro Martinez and Raul Fernandez drew the second story, and they captured Wonder Woman and Mera very nicely. They also depicted the action and the finishing move in an  exciting way that flowed well and was easy to follow, and throughout the story they elegantly displayed the strength and power of both heroes.

Overall, I’d definitely recommend this comic, especially if you’re a Wonder Woman fan. She’s the real star of the book; Aquaman and Mera each get half the issue, but Wonder Woman is in the entire thing. Aquaman Annual #2 is in comic shops and online now, and while it’s priced at $4.99 the page count is much higher and you get almost twice the story of a regular comic book.

Aquaman Annual #2 Preview, Guest Starring Wonder Woman

July 29, 2014

July’s been a busy month for Wonder Woman, and she’s closing out the month by co-starring in Aquaman Annual #2 written by Jeff Parker with art by Yvel Guichet, Jason Gorder, and Wayne Faucher. Comic Book Resources has a preview of the issue, so let’s take a look:

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There’s not much Wonder Woman or Aquaman in these few pages, but don’t worry. Jeff Parker said on Twitter that “this issue’s title is ‘Aquaman and Wonder Woman Beat Down Monsters,’” so they should definitely be in the rest of the book, busting up dopey bad guys foolish enough to tangle with them.

I’m excited to check out this issue because Parker’s been doing a lot of great work lately. His Batman ’66 comics in particular have been fantastic and hilarious, and from what I’ve read of his other stuff he seems to bring a somewhat lighter tone than what we’re used to in the dark, serious New 52. An issue full of Wonder Woman and Aquaman fighting monsters is 100% up my alley, and I think it will be a fun read.

Look for the Aquaman Annual #2 in comic shops everywhere and online tomorrow. I might have a review of it in the next couple days if I have any interesting thoughts while reading it, so keep an eye out for that as well.

Wonder Woman’s Many July 2014 Solicits OR The Usual Fun, Plus Annuals And Scooby-Doo

April 23, 2014

Wonder Woman has got a very busy July ahead of her. There’s her own series, of course, plus the team-up book with Superman, an annual for the Superman book, a guest spot in an Aquaman annual, AND a super cool Scooby-Doo team-up. The gal is all over the place.

Let’s start with her own series first:

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WONDER WOMAN #33
Written by BRIAN AZZARELLO
Art and cover by CLIFF CHIANG
BATMAN 75 variant cover
On sale JULY 16 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
It’s the beginning of the end as writer Brian Azzarello and artist Cliff Chiang kick off the astonishing finale of their epic run! Olympus must fall, and its rightful ruler must be restored – but in Diana’s depraved family of demigods and gods, who can be trusted to rule with decency and justice?

If things go like they have for the past two years, Wonder Woman’s yearlong arc should wrap up in August, and that could make this possibly the penultimate issue of Azzarello and Chiang’s run. In typical fashion, we’re not getting a lot of hints from the solicit and the cover, while gorgeous, isn’t giving us much information either. We’re moving toward the inevitable final conflict with the First Born and a new Olympian ruler, and I guess we’ll just have to pick up the book to see what happens.

Now onto Superman/Wonder Woman:

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SUPERMAN/WONDER WOMAN #10
Written by CHARLES SOULE
Art by TONY S. DANIEL and MATT BANNING
Cover by TONY S. DANIEL
BATMAN 75 variant cover
On sale JULY 9 • 32 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T
Twelfth level intellect Lois Lane uses all her new Psi Power against the God of War, Diana, in the ultimate showdown! And Superman must go up against the new Cyborg Superman as an invading armada arrives in space!

So yeah, that sound you just heard was me sighing heavily. It was so loud and heartfelt that you all could hear it even though it was coming all the way from Canada. Wonder Woman fighting Lois Lane over Superman; that’s a new one. Also, what is up with Lois? Is she Brainiac now? Lois being taken over by a bad guy is also a startling new and innovative idea. Siiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiigh.

Anyway, there’s no mention of the “Doomed” crossover in this solicit, but that does look like Doomsday in the background so I assume it has something to do with all of that jazz. On the one hand, I’m always glad to see Lois Lane, but on the other hand, this sounds sort of terrible.

But wait, there’s more! Superman/Wonder Woman has its first annual in July:

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SUPERMAN/WONDER WOMAN ANNUAL #1
Written by CHARLES SOULE
Art and cover by ED BENES
On sale JULY 30 • 48 pg, FC, $4.99 US • RATED T
Only an Annual could contain this chapter of “SUPERMAN: DOOMED”! It’s an all-out assault by the heroes of Earth (superpowered and not) on the God of War, Wonder Woman, who’s leading the charge against all manner of alien attackers. The monstrous Superman smashes through everything friend or foe as his de-evolution reaches a critical stage. It all leads to their best hope: the Phantom Zone?!

I’m curious as to why the solicits are hitting so hard on the God of War thing this month. Wonder Woman must be going to town busting up people in a warlike manner in this “Doomed” story. Anyway, all of the excitement continues here in an issue that costs an extra buck, though I suppose you’re getting 50% more book. That’s not a bad deal.

Ed Benes is drawing the annual, which could go either way. Benes goes into T&A territory often, but I think that when he reins that in he’s actually a pretty good artist. I’ve liked a lot of his less brokeback stuff.

Wonder Woman’s visiting another annual as well. July is going to be expensive!

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AQUAMAN ANNUAL #2
Written by JEFF PARKER
Art and cover by YVEL GUICHET and JASON GORDER
On sale JULY 30 • 48 pg, FC, $4.99 US • RATED T
During his battle with Hercules, Aquaman unleashed an ancient evil from the days of the Greeks — so he’s called in Wonder Woman to help him clean up the mess! You can be sure the Queen of the Amazons and the King of Atlantis have plenty to talk about…if they can hear each other over the bloodcurdling screams of the Giant-Born!

I haven’t been following the New 52 Aquaman very closely, but I’m excited to read Jeff Parker writing Wonder Woman. I’ve enjoyed a lot of his stuff, and I’m betting he’ll have a good take on her. Wonder Woman and Aquaman teaming up for an underwater mythological battle is a story I can definitely get behind. I’m looking forward to this one.

And finally, what should be the most anticipated book of July:

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SCOOBY-DOO TEAM-UP #5
Written by SHOLLY FISCH
Art and cover by DARIO BRIZUELA
On sale JULY 2 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED E
Wonder Woman’s homeland is under attack by mythological monsters that vanish into thin air before the Amazon warriors can fight back! Scooby, Wonder Woman and the gang must work together to solve this mystery…assuming Daphne and Velma complete their Amazon training in time!

If this is the actual cover, I’m going to be a little disappointed. But regardless, this should be FANTASTIC. A Wonder Woman/Scooby-Doo team-up sounds like an absolute blast. My current 28 year old self and my past 10 year old self are high-fiving so hard right now. I really hope that the monsters on Paradise Island turn out to be dudes in masks, because that would be so hilarious. Perhaps a corrupt land developer who’s trying to scare away the Amazons so he can turn Paradise Island into a resort? That would be so fun. Whatever they do with the book, I’m crazy excited to read it.

July is going to be a five-week month, and we’ll be able to get a Wonder Woman-starring comic every single week but the fourth one. That’s a fun change of pace. I could get used to having more than one and a half Wonder Woman comics every month. Plus, there’s something for everyone, from mythological enthusiasts to Superman shippers to undersea fans to kids and the young at heart. July should be a good time.

Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox Review OR Good, But Very Dark

July 31, 2013

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I’ve been looking forward to Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox since it was announced.  While the Flashpoint comics didn’t do much for me, it was largely because they were broken up into so many mini-series that it was hard to see the whole story all at once.  A movie solves that problem, weaving all the different narratives together.  Sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn’t, but overall I thought it was an enjoyable film.

The basic plot of Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox is that someone has gone back in time and altered history so now the world is completely different.  There are good changes, like the Flash’s mother being alive instead of murdered when he was a boy, but some seriously bad changes as well, like a war between Atlantis and the Amazons that has leveled most of Europe.  Everything in this new universe is slightly different: Batman is Thomas Wayne, Bruce’s father; Superman’s rocket was captured by the government; Wonder Woman is the warring queen of the Amazons.  The Flash is the only one who remembers the old universe, and he sets about trying to bring it back.

I’m big on alternate universe stories, so I enjoyed returning to the world of Flashpoint.  Trying to fit 13 different mini-series into one movie is a tall order, so obviously certain stories got short shrift.  Most of the backstory was left out in favour of focusing on the Flash and the events depicted primarily in the main Flashpoint book.  This worked okay generally, but there was one area where the changes and lack of detail made for some confusion: The Atlantis/Amazon war.

In the comics, the backstory was a little bit complex.  Diana met Arthur and they fell in love and were set to get married, allying the Amazons and Atlanteans, but members of both groups weren’t in favour of this union.  Orm and Artemis teamed up to stop it, assassinating Hippolyta and framing Garth, and then everything went bananas and war broke out.  In the movie, they simplify the story in a muddled, problematic way.  We see Arthur and Diana meeting, and then kissing in a bedroom, while Mera looks on jealously.  Mera later attacks Diana, who kills her, and then there’s a war.  There’s nothing about plots and assassinations; instead, Mera’s jealousy appears to be the trigger, which is a lazy trope.

However, the past doesn’t matter all that much to the film.  All that matters is that the Amazons and Atlanteans are at war and the destruction therein has killed millions, and the Flash and his team have to stop it to save the world.  The Flash can hardly run back in time super fast to fix the timeline if there’s no planet for him to run on.  The muddled origins of the war don’t detract from the story so much as the comic book version was just more interesting, but it’s all tangential to the main story and they only have so much time in a movie.

The plot itself hurtles forward pretty quickly, as you might expect from a Flash-centric movie.  The opening scene in the regular universe, where the Justice League helps the Flash stop his Rogues and disarm a series of bombs, is great in that each League member prevents the detonation in a different way that’s very reflective of their character.  We’re then thrown into the new universe after the title sequence, and the Flash teams up with Batman, then Cyborg, then the entire resistance movement in Amazon-occupied London, all while we pop in on different side characters in different parts of the world.  Characters like Hal Jordan, Lois Lane, Deathstroke, and others don’t get anywhere near full adaptations of their original comic stories, but what we do see are good scenes that establish who they are in this world while moving the overarching story forward.

While I didn’t much like the animation because this weird hybrid of anime and Western style DC’s been using a lot lately just doesn’t work for me at all, the action was quite fantastic.  The fight scenes were very well choreographed to be dynamic and exciting, and were executed well by the animation team.  The final battle in London is pretty epic, with three different factions fighting it out with all manner of weaponry and support vehicle.  There are guns, arrows, lasers, concussion blasts, water weapons, swords, and even a trident, with their handlers moving from opponent to opponent in all manner of combinations and fighting style.  All of the action is creative and visually striking, amounting to the best action I’ve seen in a DC film to date.

It does get dark, though.  With all of this epic fighting, the inevitable result is a lot of casualties, many of them quite gruesome, on top of the many deaths that have occurred leading up to the final battle.  These DC films aim for a PG-13 rating, and they definitely earned it here.  There’s a lot of bloody violence.  It’s also dark in a more existential kind of way.  I don’t want to spoil the ending, but when we find out who caused the change to the timestream and why, and what has to happen for everything to be righted, it’s pretty heavy stuff.  That, combined with other dark moments like the harrowing history of Thomas Wayne, give the film a bit of a bleak, harsh quality.

Ultimately, Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox was a decent film.  It’s dark but exciting, with great action and strong voice acting.  Kevin Conroy is back as Batman and Dana Delany plays Lois Lane, so what more could you want?  Wonder Woman was more violent than I’d like, and her history was annoyingly muddled, but she definitely got to thrown down some epic battles.  If you like alternate universes and crazy action, I’d definitely recommend the movie.  Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox has been available digitally for a couple of weeks and is out on DVD and whatnot now.

The Winners And Losers In DC Comics’ Zero Month

October 10, 2012

When I write up my Wonder Woman sales report each month, I track a lot of DC’s other books so I can get a sense of how Wonder Woman is doing comparatively.  This month, DC put out #0 issues for most of their series as a one year anniversary of the New 52 celebration, and I thought it would be fun to take a look at who did the best and who did the worst in terms of improving upon their past numbers.

There were 51 titles that came out in August and got the #0 treatment in September.  There were 55 zero issues overall, but 4 of them were new so there’s nothing to compare them to.  I decided on two criteria for these rankings: change in overall percentage of sales from last month and change in number of issues sold from last month.  I tabulated the numbers for both categories, ranked each list from 1 to 51, and then added the two rankings together.

So let’s look at the winners and losers for DC’s zero month!!  First up, the winners:

#1) Batman: 7 points, +31,312 (1st), +25% (6th)

Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s Batman is just a behemoth right now.  These gains are MASSIVE, and the book might even end up higher in October when the new Joker storyline starts.  It was already DC’s bestselling book, and it sold even better in September.

#2) Green Arrow: 19 points, +5,282 (10th), +22.8% (9th)

The top of the list is sort of surprising, and I was shocked to see Green Arrow so high.  Maybe people were jazzed to have Judd Winick back writing the character or something, but whatever the reason it really jumped up.

#3) Green Lantern: 20 points, +12,772 (2nd), +16.5% (18th)

Green Lantern is less surprising.  It’s been a strong performer for DC for years now under Geoff Johns, plus they introduced Simon Baz, the new Muslim, Arab-American Green Lantern.  That got some attention.

#4) Savage Hawkman: 24 points, +4,005 (22nd), +27.2% (2nd)

Another surprise!!  Apparently the book is selling so low that ordering four thousand extra copies will give it the second best jump in percentage out of all 51 issues.  Or retailers were just super jazzed there wasn’t a Rob Liefeld cover again, so they ordered a lot.

#5) Batgirl: 27 points, +6,637 (6th), +15.2% (21st)

Batgirl surprised me initially, but then I figured a) the book has some excellent word of mouth buzz, b) people would probably be curious about Barbara’s past seeing as that’s one of the bigger mysteries of the New 52, and c) all of the Bat-books had a great month, maybe due to everyone loving Bat-things or maybe in anticipation of the Joker story starting next month.  Whatever the reason, it’s great to see that a female-led book did so well!!

Since this is a Wonder Woman blog and all, let’s take a pause for Wonder Woman #0 before we get to the losers:

#21) Wonder Woman: 44 points, +5,194 (12th), +11.6% (32nd)

The middle would be #26, so Wonder Woman came in the top half of the chart.  It was also the third highest female-led book on the chart, with Batgirl at #5 and Catwoman at #19.  Interestingly, Birds of Prey, Voodoo, and Supergirl were the next three books after Wonder Woman, and all six of these female-led titles were on the top half of the chart!!  That’s nice to see.

Now, onto the bottom of the chart:

#47) Ravagers: 92 points, +1,707 (48th), +8.2% (44th)

It really speaks to the success of zero month that the fifth lowest book was still up almost 10%!!  DC must be over the moon with these sales numbers.  Ravagers was a Second Wave book, and this is only its fifth issue, and as we’ll see momentarily the Second Wave books didn’t fare so well in September, comparatively.

#48) Earth 2: 96 points, +1,718 (47th), +2.5% (49th)

Earth 2 has been doing fantastically, saleswise, since it debuted in May, and September was no exception.  It just didn’t change all that much from August.  So compared to last month, it’s #48 on the chart, but in terms of overall sales the book is actually #8.

#49) Dial H: 96 points, +1,337 (49th), +5.9% (47th)

Technically, Dial H is tied with Earth 2, but I gave Earth 2 the higher rank because its overall sales are better.  And really, when you’re down the list this far, what difference does one spot make?  Anyway, this is a bummer because I LOVE Dial H and because it’s zero issue was fantastic and did exactly what a zero issue should (and what most of the zero issues didn’t): Provide new, surprising backstory for the series.  But again, Second Wave books didn’t get much play in September.

#50) Aquaman: 100 points, +17 (50th), +0% (50th)

This was a shock.  Aquaman’s been killing it since the relaunch, but it seems that of the many thousands of comic shops across North America, retailers thought only 17 new people might want to try out the book.  Part of this might also be that Aquaman had a big jump in August for no apparent reason, so maybe retailers found that increase was unwarranted but kept the book at that level in case of zero issue interest.

#51) Batman, Incorporated: 102 points, -608 (51st), -0.9% (51st)

Batman, Incorporated was the lowest book in both categories, and the only book of the 51 titles that went down in sales.  And I have no idea why!!  It’s a solid seller, and seems fairly popular among people who like that sort of thing.  Again, it’s a Second Wave book, and this is only it’s fourth issue, so maybe retailers are still feeling out how to order this one.

Overall, zero month was a complete success for DC.  Of the 51 returning titles, 50 had improved sales, plus there were an additional 4 series that premiered decently.  Before Watchmen is still falling fast, and various minis are dropping like minis tend to do, but all told this was a great month for DC.  These gimmicks really do work, it seems.


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