Posts Tagged ‘Joker’

Suicide Squad Review: Not Very Good, Not All That Bad, A Somewhat Watchable Mess

August 9, 2016

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**This review is SPOILER FREE, so read away!**

Let’s start off with my major takeaway from Suicide Squad: That rumoured Harley Quinn spinoff movie that might have Batgirl, the Birds of Prey, and Poison Ivy in the mix needs to be greenlit tomorrow. Margot Robbie is a fantastic Harley Quinn, and with a decent story and some solid directing that could make for a spectacular film. She’d need to ditch the Joker, though, since he is far and away the worst part of Suicide Squad. But apart from him, she’s delightful.

The rest of the movie is less so. It’s kind of a mess, honestly, but I wouldn’t call it bad. It’s not good by any means, but it’s not bad. The plot is pretty ridiculous and makes very little sense if you think about it at all; the villain should have been able to off the whole team in about three seconds. For a huge tentpole franchise film, they put surprisingly little thought into the story. This wasn’t helped help by the very obvious reshoots, rearranging, and general flow chaos throughout. Suicide Squad is a mangled flick. You can see parts of a darker, more menacing movie and parts of a lighter, funnier movie, and they don’t really mesh together well.

Luckily, they hung the film on Will Smith and Margot Robbie, who have just enough charisma to carry it through to the end without everything totally collapsing. Deadshot is the heart of the film, insomuch as it has one, and Will Smith does what he does best and gets you instantly invested in a character by making the most of the few hints of layers that the script gives him. In the hands of anyone else, Deadshot could have been completely unlikeable, maudlin, or just plain boring, but Smith strikes the right balance. Robbie does as well, bringing an endearing and bubbly chaos to Harley Quinn that stands in stark contrast to the somewhat flat and often morose characters that surround her. Smith keeps the film grounded and Robbie keeps the film fun, and the few scenes with just the two of them are dynamite.

Not so much Harley’s scenes with the Joker. The abusive nature of their relationship is a given; it’s been a messed up scene for two decades now. But something about seeing it with real people instead of cartoons or drawings makes it extra offputting. It didn’t help that Harley was sexualized throughout the entire film, far more so than she typically is in the comics. Her costuming and the camera work leaves her more exploited than empowered. And Jared Leto’s Joker is a boring bag of creepy affectations that lacks any fun, style, or force. This movie would be a lot better if he wasn’t in it or was just relegated to a couple of flashbacks, and honestly he could just lift right out without affecting things much at all. Having Harley turn into a fawning puppy whenever he showed up marred what was otherwise a great, impeccably performed character. Even with the Joker nonsense, Harley still steals the movie.

Viola Davis is great as Amanda Waller as well. She is DARK, as the Wall should be, though dang do they really run with it. In a movie full of villains, it’s obvious that she’s the most dangerous of them all. Her interactions with the Squad are fun, but even more enjoyable are her various meetings with arrogant, powerful dudes in which she brutally and incisively turns them around to her way of thinking. She is a force to be reckoned with and it’s fun to watch her work, even when she’s hard to root for.

Generally speaking, Suicide Squad deserves to be commended for its representation. We’ve had over a decade of superhero movies where white dudes fight white dudes, and Suicide Squad is a movie where a black guy and a woman are the two leads. Moreover, four women have significant roles and two of them are women of colour, while more than half of the main cast are people of colour. This is a game changer. Now, not all of the characterizations were great; Katana was sorely underutilized, and the treatment of Slipknot was very disappointing. But in a way, it’s progress to have a film with so many women and people of colour in key roles that a couple of them end up sidelined. We’re used to having these folks sidelined in superhero movies where there’s only one of each to start with.

Ultimately, Suicide Squad doesn’t hang together very well. The plot is silly, the team camaraderie by the end largely feels unearned, and the pacing is kind of terrible. It’s not a good movie, but it remained just entertaining enough throughout. And it’s a masterpiece compared to DC’s earlier efforts like Man of Steel and Batman v Superman; it was a relief to sit through a DC movie and not fume about how the creators fundamentally misunderstood every character on the screen. Also, the plot of Suicide Squad is pretty dumb, but the plot of Batman v Superman was even dumber. And ultimately, Suicide Squad is buoyed by a lot of winning performances. I don’t think I ever want to watch it again, but there are some characters I’d love to see in another film with a better story, for sure. A Harley Quinn movie in particular. Get on it DC! I want Harley Quinn vs. Batgirl hitting cinemas in 2018, please. It’ll be a monster hit.

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Convergence: Wonder Woman #2 Review OR A Pyrrhic Victory

May 20, 2015

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There’s nothing bad about Convergence: Wonder Woman #2, or the mini-series as a whole. It’s all fine, competent comic booking. The writing is okay, the art is decent, the characters mostly seem to be themselves. The only thing is, I’m not entirely sure why it exists. I mean, I understand why these two months of “Convergence” are happening; DC Comics is moving from New York to Los Angeles and they brought in some outside folks to arrange two months of comics to give them time to get sorted. What I don’t understand is why this Wonder Woman, why this story, and who it’s designed to appeal to. We’ll discuss this all momentarily, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

I am about to reveal ALL of the major plotpoints in this comic!

Look away if you haven’t read it yet!

Last month I talked about how many of the “Convergence” mini-series were tapping into nostalgia. Fans have been missing their favourite characters since DC relaunched their superhero universe in 2011, and “Convergence” became a chance to revisit beloved characters, maybe tie up some loose ends, and give a little bit of closure to fans.

If you’re looking for nostalgic fun, Convergence: Wonder Woman is not the book for you. Not only is it set in an era that few, in any, were clamouring to visit again, it takes a pretty dark turn in its second issue. It was sort of fun to have Steve Trevor and Etta Candy back hanging out with Diana Prince in the first issue, but long story short by the end of this finale both Steve and Etta were turned into vampires and killed, and the book ends with a morose Wonder Woman reflecting on the costs of war. It’s really not a fun trip down memory lane.

It’s an okay book in terms of action. I liked Wonder Woman’s plan to beat the hell out of all of the vampires to impede them from attacking anyone; the vampires wouldn’t heal, but they wouldn’t die either, so she went to town rendering them immobile with sound thrashings. Then Athena showed up to give Wonder Woman free rein to kill all of the vampires, even her friends, because they’ve been turned into monsters and to end them would be a mercy. Wonder Woman does some pretty cool staking as she eliminates her Red Rain foes the Joker, Poison Ivy, and Werecatwoman.

There’s also a nice moment of the end where vampire Steve stops vampire Etta from attacking Wonder Woman, tackling her to both of their deaths into a deep dark chasm. I like the idea that Steve’s love for Wonder Woman would still endure even under the evil vampiric thrall of the Joker. But at the same time, what about Etta’s love for Wonder Woman? I feel like she should have been able to resist as well. Etta and Wonder Woman go way back. I mean, ovaries before brovaries, am I right?

In the end, I felt like this book lacked any sort of larger purpose other than having Wonder Woman bust up a bunch of vampires. I’m not sure how or if this book ties into the main series, but my guess is that the events here don’t play much of a pivotal role in how the primary Convergence arc goes down. It’s just all sort of a weird, dark fight between two generally unloved universes that ends with everybody dead but Wonder Woman.

Meanwhile, I’m seeing folks left and right online getting all emotional and excited about big moments in other “Convergence” books. In particular, Gail Simone’s Nightwing and Oracle title seems to be going over huge in terms of giving this incarnation of Barbara Gordon a lovely sendoff and depicting a fan favourite relationship. Ultimately, these are just fill in stories, basically. “Convergence” is not the sort of event that’s going to change the DC universe for years to come like so many comic events purport to do. It’s a decent idea for killing a couple of months. And that’s what Convergence: Wonder Woman is, a fine if uninspired interlude with no real ramifications or larger point. It’s just disappointing that several other “Convergence” books have found ways to make them something more, to elevate their two issues beyond the fill in that they are, while Convergence: Wonder Woman doesn’t. Again, it’s not a bad two issues. It’s more of a missed opportunity.

Convergence: Wonder Woman #2 Preview OR Fangs For The Memories

May 19, 2015

DC’s “Convergence” event comes to a close this month, with lots of inter-universal fighting building to some sort of battle-based finale, I assume. I’m not really following it too closely. I think I picked up four books, maybe? And there seemed to be lots of fighting in them, so I’m just guessing that’s what’s going on generally. Then it will end in some sort of epic fashion with no real ramifications for the wider DC universe because this was just a fill-in event to kill time while DC moved from New York to Los Angeles. It seems to be selling well, so good work, DC. I’m kind of impressed they made this work.

Convergence: Wonder Woman wraps up this week with the Wonder Woman of the 1970s (comics, not the TV show) facing off against the vampiric Joker of Red Rain. Here’s a preview of the book, courtesy of Nerdist:

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The obvious big change from the first issue is that Joshua Middleton has been replaced by Aaron Lopresti on art duties. Middleton’s issue was only okay last month, so I’m cool with the change. Lopresti is a Wonder Woman veteran so he knows how to handle the character, but here he seems to be channeling a little bit of a 70s era Neal Adams vibe. It’s a cool choice that fits the book’s setting well.

Storywise, it looks like Wonder Woman is going to go all Max Lord on the Joker, but with mixed results. That’s not how you kill a vampire, Wonder Woman! Though a snapped neck should be an inconvenience for the Clown Prince of Crime, at least. Meanwhile, Steve Trevor is trying to fend off a gang of vampires with a gun. These guys really know nothing about fighting vampires. I suppose they’re doing the best they can with what they’ve got.

Sidenote: Aren’t they in a church? So a) the vampires should be having a bad time of it to begin with, being on sacred ground and all of that, and b) there should be wooden crosses everywhere for easy crucifix stakings. Maybe Red Rain vampires work differently than classic vampires.

Anyway, Convergence: Wonder Woman #2 is out in comic shops and online tomorrow! The first one had some decent moments, and it’s easily been the best non-Sensation Comics Wonder Woman book that DC’s put out in a while. That’s an admittedly low bar, but still.

Convergence: Wonder Woman #1 Review OR Fangs For The Memories

April 22, 2015

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It’s Wonder Woman vs. vampires! Eventually, anyway. There’s a lot of set up here, and very little of it involves Wonder Woman doing fun Wonder Woman things. After a while, the 1970s Wonder Woman cast faces off against Joker and the vampire of Red Rain, and things get moderately interesting as the book jumps into the “Convergence” battle phase, where the various domed cities are pitted against each other in all out war. The issue is fine, but lacking the nostalgic fun that seems to be the core element of so many of the other “Convergence” titles. We’ll dig into it all, but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

I am about to reveal pretty much everything that happens in this issue!

Who bites who, who shoots who!

Look away if you haven’t read this issue yet!

I think part of why I didn’t love this issue was because I’m not personally nostalgic for any of the universes involved in this particular storyline. I’m a Wonder Woman enthusiast, for sure, but the 1970s comics era of the character is pretty low on my list of favourite Wonder Woman incarnations. They tried a bunch of different angles then, none of which really worked, and it’s just a mishmash of things for me. It’s hard to be nostalgic for a mishmash, unless you grew up in that mishmash I suppose. I read it all over a couple days a few years ago, rather than looking forward to it month by month. As for Red Rain, I don’t really give a hoot about it one way or another; I don’t think I’ve ever read it, to be honest.

That’s not to say the book isn’t good just because it doesn’t match my particular nostalgia zones. Rather, my enjoyment of the book lacks the extra boost that nostalgia can bring. When a story is set in an era you’re a fan of and that you feel connected to, reading it comes with an inherent enthusiasm that can overlook average storytelling. Lacking any nostalgia at all for this book, I read it as it was and found it fine if a little bland.

I enjoyed Larry Hama’s take on Diana, especially her skepticism of the cult that believed angels were coming to rescue everyone from the dome. I was less impressed with Etta Candy; I think Etta’s smarter than to get wrapped in such nonsense like she did here. But I liked Hama’s Steve Trevor, and that’s rare for me. I usually just roll my eyes at Steve Trevor, so it was fun to have him treat Diana well and have some decently heroic inclinations here. It was a pleasant change of pace.

The problem with the angel cult storyline is that it takes up a lot of the issue, and I can’t imagine how it’s going to factor into the second issue seeing as most of the cult leaders have been turned into vampires now. There are a lot of pages of Diana and Etta at the cult, discussing it’s veracity and ultimately fighting with the cult leaders, and it seems like a big time investment for something that ultimately won’t matter. I suppose there’s a chance it will matter and my assumptions are way off the mark; we’ll find out next month. But as much as I’m not nostalgic for this era, I’d rather be enjoying some retro Wonder Woman action than getting involved in a random cult subplot. We’ve only got two issues here, so real estate is precious.

I will say that the lengthy cult storyline does have a fantastic payoff, one that’s almost worth the space it takes. The cult leaders are expecting angels to show up and save them, so when winged creatures arrive after the dome falls, they’re overjoyed until they see that they’re vampires, not angels. That’s a great, clever beat.

Once the vampires arrive, it’s about exactly what you’d expect. There’s some fighting, some taunts, and the various characters end the issue in precarious situations. Again, fine but normal, old school superheroing with nothing really new or interesting going on. It’s not bad in the slightest. It’s just straight down the middle, average and expected storytelling.

The art is decent, but somewhat underwhelming. I was really excited for Joshua Middleton, so my expectations were a little high. He does great covers, and I’ve enjoyed his art a lot in the past. His art here is as straight down the middle as the writing. It’s nice, and tells the story well. There are no bad panels or poor storytelling choices. It’s all okay, but just okay. There aren’t any cool or stunning panels, or layouts that make you go “Wow”. The colouring is pretty dull as well. Perhaps if Middleton had put a little more pop into the colours, the art would’ve had more impact.

All together, I wasn’t blown away with this issue by any means, but I didn’t hate it either. And I’ll admit, I’m a little bit curious to see what happens next month as Wonder Woman’s battle against the vampires begins in earnest. I doubt that it’s going to have a huge impact on “Convergence” in general, though I also doubt that “Convergence” is going to have a huge impact on DC’s comic book universe once the event is over. But Wonder Woman vs. vampire Joker might be fun. Middleton won’t be back next month, but Hama’s got some chops and the good moments in this issue have me intrigued to see how he finishes it off.

Check Out These Wonder Woman Covers From DC’s Joker Variant Line For June 2015

March 13, 2015

DC Comics sure loves its monthly variant themes. From steam punk to movie posters to “Hey, let’s just let Darwyn Cooke do a bunch”, their variant cover themes have been a generally fun promotion. There are some stinkers in the mix, sure, but a lot of them have been quite nice, especially on Wonder Woman comics. Frankly, given the rough patch Wonder Woman’s been in as of late, there have been a lot of months where I’ve enjoyed the variant cover more than the actual book.

DC’s newest variant line, set for June, is based on the Joker. The Clown Prince of Crime will appear alongside many of DC’s heroes, including Wonder Woman. Let’s take a look, starting with Wonder Woman #41 by Brian Bolland:

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The use of black is kind of clever here. I like that. It doesn’t do much for me, generally, though. I’d much rather see the inevitable end of this scene, where Wonder Woman punches out the Joker. Also, her hair is super flat. Did she just come in from a rain storm or something?

Next up is Superman/Wonder Woman #18 by Cliff Chiang:

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I’m always a sucker for a Cliff Chiang Wonder Woman, but this is just fantastic all around. The children’s book vibe is clever, and the art captures everyone perfectly. Plus of course the Joker would love Wonder Woman! Who wouldn’t. This is super cute and fun, and I look forward to picking it up.

Wonder Woman is also on the cover for Justice League #41 by David Finch, Jonathan Glapion, and Brad Anderson. Oh great, more David Finch. Just what Wonder Woman needs:

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It’s the Justice League with Joker smiles. A little obvious. I mean, compared to what Bolland and Chiang came up with, this is pretty unimaginative.

Finally, Wonder Woman’s on the cover for Justice League of America #1 by Howard Porter and Hi-Fi:

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Again, a little unimaginative with the giant Joker and such. You’ve got to think outside of the box a bit, gang. Do something fun with it.

All of these covers will be available in June, but maybe make sure you to talk to your retailer before they come out so that they can set aside a copy for you if there’s any you really like. Variants can go quickly. You don’t want the joke to be on you!

DC Comics Villains Get Tattooed On Ink Master, Including A Killer Catwoman And A Poor Poison Ivy

September 11, 2013

Last night on Spike’s tattooing competition show Ink Master, the artists had to tattoo DC Comics villains for their main challenge in front of special guest judge and Batman artist Greg Capullo.  It was a rather clever tie-in to Villains Month, and not coincidentally all of the villains tattooed last night also have their own Villains Month issue (or, in the case of Catwoman, their own regular series).

Oddly, the show seemed poorly advertised for such a cool tie-in.  DC had a press release on their website, but that’s about it; I didn’t find out about the show until Bleeding Cool did a post about it a few hours before it aired.  And here’s the thing: I’m nothing if not inundated with comics news ALL day, AND I actually watch Ink Master, and I STILL had no idea this was happening.  Maybe I missed the coverage elsewhere, but from my perspective it feels like a missed promotional opportunity across the board.

Regardless, it was a good show.  There was the usual fighting and yelling that takes up far too much time on Ink Master; they always pick such volatile contestants.  But the tattoos turned out really nice for the most part.  And they’re all online, so we can take a look.

This one actually sucked.  Jime Litwalk did Poison Ivy in his own style instead of making the tattoo look like comic art, plus he went way too heavy on the green.  Each week the group of people who get tattooed vote on the worst tattoo, and he got the nod this week:

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Tatu Baby (yes, she actually wants people to call her that) did the Joker, and it was pretty good apart from her running low on time and having to truncate the torso oddly:

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Joshua Hibbard recreated a Secret Six cover with his Bane tattoo, which went over very well with the judges and nearly won him best tattoo of the night:

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However, Joey Hamilton took top honours with this fantastic Catwoman tattoo that Greg Capullo absolutely loved:

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Jason Clay Dunn’s Deathstroke tattoo was decent, though he ended up in the bottom three due to a lack of colour saturation:

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Jackie Jennings’ tattoo was SPOILER ALERT the worst of the night and she was sent home, partly due to some shaky lines but also because she flipped the tattoo and had Two-Face burned on the wrong side:

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Finally, Kyle Dunbar’s Darkseid turned out really well, and the judges loved the detail in the face though they were less pleased with the background (he also had a time issue):

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All in all, it was a strong group of tattoos from what has been a sketchy group of artists this season.  There’s been a lot of rough work, and I’d say that this episode was the best they’ve done yet as a group.  Plus it was a cool Villains Month tie-in, and I was far more interested in the tattooing adventures than I am for any of the Villains Month comics.  It wasn’t quite as fun as when the contestants on Syfy’s Face Off got to create a new DC villain, but it was still a good time.  I’m curious to see what creative reality show DC ends up working with next.  Maybe they’ll design some alternate costumes for Wonder Woman on Project Runway.  I’d definitely watch that.


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