Posted in Comic Books/Graphic Novels

Best of Batman & Superman: A New Era Begins

***It’s easy to put Batman and Superman against one another, as they’re so different. But those who truly understand them know that the Dark Knight and the Man of Steel are better together! “Best of Batman & Superman” celebrates their best moments as a team!***

TITLE: Superman/Batman #1
AUTHOR: Jeph Loeb
ARTISTS: Ed McGuinness, Dexter Vines (Inker), Dave Stewart (Colorist), Richard Starkings (Letterer)
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
ORIGINAL COVER PRICE: $2.95
RELEASED: Fall 2003

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

It’s hard to believe this issue is creeping up on 20 years of age. And yet, among Batman and Superman stories, it’s a timeless classic.

If I could bring one person back to work on Superman and Batman, seperate or together, it would be Jeph Loeb. He understood both characters, and cut to their core better than almost any of his peers. That’s why, in the early 2000s, DC tapped Loeb and his former Superman collaborator Ed McGuinness to work on an all new title featuring the Man of Steel and the Dark Knight: Superman/Batman.

Loeb would do more than 25 issues of Superman/Batman, roughly half of which were with McGuinness. Almost all of them were great. But the book’s inaugural issue, Superman/Batman #1, delivered pure magic. You’ll won’t find a better example of why these two characters are better working together than against each other.

The series is narrated by both characters simultaneously. Thus, we get duel perspectives on the events of the story. Loeb makes perfect use of this tool right out of the gate, as our heroes narrate their origins in alternating sequences (shown below).

Loeb, McGuinness, and the team start out with dueling sequences in which Superman and Batman narrate their origins. What’s brilliant about this is that it showcases not just the differences between these two characters, but their similarities. Yes, they have different methods and demeanors. But its this common ground that ultimately brings them together. These are two heroes born of tragedy, who used that tragedy to forge their identities for the betterment of mankind. That mutual desire to better the world serves as the foundation of every Superman/Batman story we’ve ever seen.

Our main antagonist for the issue (though not the story at large) is Metallo, a machine with the brain of John Corben, and a heart of pure Kryptonite. Coming out of the opening sequence we get a fight between he and Superman in Metropolis. We then jump to Gotham City Cemetery, where Batman is examining Corben’s grave.

Here we get a great little moment between our heroes. One of my favorites in the entire six-issue story. Superman talks about going through Corben’s files at S.T.A.R. Labs, and speculating about his actions of late. Batman asks, “Which one of us is the detective again?”

Superman replies with a line I absolutely love: “It’s called investigative journalism.”

I love this moment because it illustrates that while Superman isn’t the detective Batman is, he’s not just some brute with super powers. Writers like to emphasize that Batman is the brains of the team, while Superman is the braun. But the best writers are the ones who show us it’s not as simple as that. Superman is perfectly capable of putting on a detective hat, just as Batman can hold his own against some of Superman’s more powerful enemies.

We’re reminded of that moments later as Metallo attacks, shooting Superman with a Kryptonite bullet. And of course, he falls directly into John Corben’s exhumed grave. After briefly incapacitating Metallo, Batman goes to work trying to extract the bullet. Loeb provides us with another great little moment as we get this little exchange…

Batman: “Do me a favor, Clark. Lose the sense of humor.”
Superman: “Do us both a favor, Bruce. Buy a sense of humor.”

We get a cliffhanger for next issue as Metallo then proceeds to dump a mountain of dirt on top of our heroes, burying them alive. Then to close the issue, we go to the Pentagon and President Lex Luthor. We’ve got a crisis on our hands, as an asteroid made of Kryptonite is headed for Earth. To complicate matters, President Luthor has recruited his own team of heroes…

Visually, the issue is gorgeous. Everything is bright, crisp, and clean. Ed McGuinness’ superhero figures are always jacked beyond belief. Practically every muscle in both Superman and Batman’s bodies are bulging for display. It’s not my favorite style choice. But it works for McGuinness in a cartoony, popcorn-flick sort of way.

Simply put, this issue has it all. Action. Drama. Beautiful art. Character exploration. Character origins. It’s appealing to fans, but 100% accessible even if you’ve never picked up a comic book before. What’s more, it’s the first chapter in one of the best Batman & Superman stories ever told.

Now that’s how you kick off a series.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

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Posted in Comic Books/Graphic Novels, Weekly Comic 100s

Weekly Comic 100s: Batman, Bendis’ Superman Finale, Spider-Man, and More!

***”Weekly Comic 100s” keeps it nice and simple. Comic book reviews in 100 words or less. Straight, concise, and to the point.***

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

TITLE: Batman: The Adventures Continue #16
AUTHORS: Alan Burnett, Paul Dini
ARTISTS: Ty Templeton, Monica Cubina (Colorist), Josh Reed (Letterer). Cover by Mirka Andolfo.
RELEASED: December 18, 2020

This issue and issue #15 are weird in that they essentially repeat a story from the New Batman Adventures episode “Double Talk.” Arnold Wesker, the Ventriloquist, tries to reform and ultimately fails. That’s a really strange thing to have happen, as these guys obviously worked on the old shows as well…

This story seems primarily like an excuse to put Harley and Ivy together. On the upside, we get a cool villain Christmas party at the Iceberg Lounge with plenty of cameos. Including, oddly enough, a panel where Captain Boomerang and Roxy Rocket are making out.

TITLE: Superman #28
AUTHOR: Brian Michael Bendis
ARTISTS: Ivan Reis, Danny Miki (Inker), Alex Sinclair (Colorist), Dave Sharpe (Letterer). Variant cover by Kael Ngu.
RELEASED: December 15, 2020

I’d love to know when Bendis’ run on the Superman books was originally supposed to end. Or if they even had an endpoint in mind. In the grand scheme of things, this feels like a fairly abrupt finale. But at the end of the day, Bendis did right by Superman. That’s more than a lot of writers can say. I respect him that much more for that.

Reis and the artistic team did too. There’s a beautiful panel in here of Lois looking lovingly at her husband. Amongst all the space alien grandeur in this issue, it’s an unlikely highlight.

TITLE: Power Rangers #2
AUTHOR: Ryan Parrott
ARTISTS: Francesco Mortarino, Raul Angulo (Colorist), Ed Dukeshire (Letterer). Cover by Matteo Scalera & Moreno Dinisio.
RELEASED: December 16, 2020

A neat issue, conceptually. Jason, Zack, and Trini against a bunch of space vampires. But this series is having trouble holding my attention even earlier than I anticipated. The foundations of a good book are there, but I think Power Rangers needs a stronger hook. Here’s hoping this book can up its game in a big way soon.

There’s a pretty cool splash page early in this issue. It’s just Jason posing with a sword. But between the pose, the framing, and the lighting, it’s got an epic feel to it that works really well.

TITLE: Spider-Man #5 (of 5)
AUTHORS: J.J. Abrams, Henry Abrams
ARTISTS: Sara Pichelli, Elizabetta D’Amico (Inking Assisant), Dave Stewart (Colorist), Joe Caramagna (Letterer). Cover by Olivier Coipel & Stewart.
RELEASED: December 9, 2020

This story was compelling enough, and the premise was enjoyable. Plus, Sara Pichelli was apparently born to draw Spider-Man. But I’ve said it before, and I’ll keep saying it: The presence of the Iron Man characters took away from Ben Parker’s journey as Spider-Man. Especially here in this final issue. This was supposed to be a family story about Peter Parker, his son, and the passing of the proverbial Spider-Man torch. Instead, the waters got a little too muddied.

TITLE: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #112
AUTHORS: Kevin Eastman & Tom Waltz (Story), Sophie Campbell (Script)
ARTISTS: Jodi Nishijima, Ronda Pattison (Colorist), Shawn Lee (Letterer)
RELEASED: December 9, 2020

Just when I think these TMNT issues can’t add any more depth, we get a story about a fight breaking out during an “I used to be a  human, but now I’m a mutant” support group meeting. Love it.

To help differentiate between the Turtles without their multi-colored bandanas, Ronda Pattison is giving them different skin tones. The IDW Turtles have had different skin tones since issue #1. But note they aren’t given such tones on this otherwise pretty cool cover.

TITLE: Star Wars #9
AUTHOR: Charles Soule
ARTISTS: Jan Bazaldua, Rachelle Rosenberg (Colorist), Clayton Cowles (Letterer). Cover by Carlo Pagulayan, Jason Paz, & Rain Beredo.
RELEASED: December 9, 2020

You’d think a story about Lando and friends trying to break into a museum on Coruscant would be a lot more fun than this. But somehow this issue managed to bore me with it.

I’ve been on the brink of dropping this Star Wars title for a long time. This might have been the issue to push me over the edge. There’s a certain fun, a certain spark, that’s missing here.

TITLE: Suicide Squad #11
AUTHOR: Tom Taylor
ARTISTS: Bruno Redondo, Adriano Lucas (Colorist), Wes Abbott (Letterer). Variant cover by Jeremy Roberts.
RELEASED: November 24, 2020

I’m not a Harley Quinn mark the way a lot of people are. But even I’ve got to admit: That’s an awesome cover.

In hindsight, this series was better than it had any right to be. As expected, Taylor leaves the door open to work more with the characters he created in Suicide Squad. He and Redondo are about to start a run on Nightwing. So I expect we might see them there.

In the end, this may go down as one of the more underrated runs Suicide Squad has ever seen.

TITLE: Batman/Superman #14
AUTHOR: Joshua Williamson
ARTISTS: Max Raynor, Alejandro Sanchez (Colorist), John J. Hill (Letterer). Cover by David Marquez & Sanchez.
RELEASED: November 24, 2020

“I’m calling for my Bat-spaceship to come get us.”

*cringe* That feels like a line out of a post-Wertham comic in the ’50s.

Still, while this story looks uninspired on the surface, it manages to be a decent amount of fun in its execution. A fairly interesting take on the composite Superman/Batman concept, with some fun art by Max Raynor and beautiful coloring by Alejandro Sanchez. I’ve seen much better. But in all fairness, it could have been much worse.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

Posted in Movies

Rob Watches Star Trek: Back to Basics

***What happens when I, a 30-something-year-old fanboy, decide to look at the Star Trek franchise for the first time with an open heart? You get “Rob Watches Star Trek.”***

TITLE: Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
STARRING: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan, George Takei
DIRECTOR: Leonard Nimoy
WRITERS: Harve Bennett (Story), Leonard Nimoy (Story), Steve Meerson, Peter Krikes, Nicholas Meyer
STUDIOS: Paramount Pictures
RATED: PG
RUN-TIME: 122 min
RELEASED: November 26, 1986

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

New Around here? Check out the “Rob Watches Star Trek” archive!

There’s a moment in Star Trek IV where Uhura looks to Kirk and says, “Admiral, I am receiving whale song!” Now that’s just wild and random enough to come from a classic Star Trek episode. And for yours truly, that’s where much of the appeal of Star Trek IV: The Voyage  Home is.

Months after the events of Star Trek III, an alien probe causes catastrophic effects on Earth. The global power grid fails, storms rage, and cloud formation threatens to block out the sun. But what is the probe’s purpose? A clue leads Kirk and the crew back to the year 1986 in pursuit of, believe it or not, humpback whales.

The Voyage Home made me feel like I was watching the original series again. In true original series fashion, they even found a silly way to disguise Spock’s ears. One can certainly argue it’s too derivative, as they did time-travel episodes numerous times on the old show. And of course, Kirk finds a love interest.

Star Trek IV is funnier than its three predecessors, which is frankly refreshing. Shatner is particularly strong when it comes to comedy. The other movies had their funny moments. But by and large they took themselves so seriously. Of course, Star Trek had that epic action and adventure feel when it needed to. But it also wasn’t afraid to have fun. Cast in point, The Trouble With Tribbles. It’s a perennial favorite, while being played almost entirely for laughs.

One major caveat: As someone just seeing these movies for the first time, I continue to be frustrated at the glossing over of the death of David, Kirk’s son. With the benefit of hindsight, it’s obvious they should have either kept him out of the third film, or scrapped the idea of giving Kirk a son altogether. My point from Star Trek III stands here in Star Trek IV: Kirk should be grief-stricken over the loss of David. Perhaps even a little resentful that Spock got to come back to life, but David won’t. Instead, the movie has the Saavik character pop in to mention him out of obligation if nothing else. Not developing or playing with the David character is the biggest missed opportunity I’ve seen in Star Trek thus far.

On the subject of casting, I love that they got Mark Lenard to come back as Spock’s father in both this film and the last one. The exchange he has with Spock toward the end is very satisfying, and feels like a pay-off from the show. As a bonus, we also get Jane Wyatt back this time as Spock’s mother.

In what wound up being an odd twist of fate, Kirk’s love interest Gilian is played by Catherine Hicks, who on 7th Heaven would play opposite Stephen Collins, who played Decker in the first film. Her scenes with William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy have a certain quaint charm to them. The fact that Hicks is 20 years younger than Shatner is a bit odd, but not unforgivable.

Not surprisingly, the one crew member who gets in trouble and slows them down is Chekov. I wish I could say I’ve come to like him. On the upside, Kirk, Gilian, and Bones have to rescue him from a hospital. That gives us a chance to see the Enterprise‘s resident doctor in a 20th century medical facility, which is kinda cool.

One thing I enjoyed about Star Trek IV is that almost every member of our crew has something to do, a role to play in the story. Everyone that is, except for Sulu. For whatever reason, after they go back in time, Sulu has a little exchange with a helicopter pilot, and then we don’t see him again until much later in the movie. What gives? Why couldn’t they have left friggin’ Chekov behind?

The story revolving around the acquisition of two Humpback in a time-travel science fiction film is unusual. But it’s that eccentricity that makes it work so well. After seeing the three previous films, you’d never be able to predict the third one being about, of all things, whales. It’s just weird enough to be a perfect fit for a Star Trek story.

Another cool pay-off the movie gives us from the show is that we actually get to see the “light-speed breakaway factor” alluded to in “Assignment: Earth.” That bit of expository dialogue definitely came back to beniefit them. The light-speed breakaway factor more or less becomes the Star Trek equivalent of the DeLorean from Back to the Future.

In my book, that’s this film’s biggest accomplishment. It took us four tries, but we finally got a movie that feels faithful to the Star Trek TV show. And after watching hours of doom, gloom, and lengthy shots of space vortexes in the previous movies, it’s damn good to have Trek back.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

Posted in Television

Rob Watches The Mandalorian: Return of a Jedi

SERIES: The Mandalorian
EPISODE:
S2.E8. “Chapter 16, The Rescue”
STARRING:
Pedro Pascal, Giancarlo Esposito, Katee Sackhoff, Gina Carano, Ming-Na Wen
WRITER:
Jon Favreau
DIRECTOR: Peyton Reed
PREMIERE DATE:
December 18, 2020
SYNOPSIS:
Mando and his allies storm Moff Gideon’s ship to save Grogu.

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

Yes, I understand we skipped an episode. But for obvious reasons, this episode had to be talked about ASAP. We’ll come back to “The Believer” in a few days. Promise.

I hate Rogue One. I absolutely hate it, and can’t understand why so many people love it. But there’s one thing that movie did right: Captions that told us which planets we traveled to. Too many of these Disney-era Star Wars planets look the same.

Koska Reeves’ crack about Boba Fett being a sidekick rings true. That’s unexpected, considering this season is basically his big comeback. He’s got clean armor and everything!

Koska hitting Fett with a DDT is one of the most pro-wrestling things the episode could have done. I kind of love it.

See, if I’m a regular stormtrooper, I’m looking at that dark trooper armor and thinking, “Can I get at least half the protection that black armor provides?” Maybe then these damn troopers wouldn’t be so expendable…

Seriously. Cara Dune’s gun getting jammed was the worst thing that happened to our heroes as they faced down a virtual army of stormtroopers. It’s frustrating.

Those dark troopers are definitely nightmare fuel. Kudos on the design.

“…properties that have the potential to bring order back to the galaxy.” It’s reasonable to assume that means properties that can resurrect Palpatine, properties that can eventually be used to create Snoke, or some combination of both.

I like that the Darksaber was burning Mando’s staff the longer the two weapons had direct contact. It indicates the lightsaber is more powerful, which is as it should be.

Luke. Skywalker. Holy. Crap. This show just pulled out all the stops. The anticipation, the tension, leading up to the reveal of Luke’s face, was amazing. What a moment…

What’s more, they got Mark Hamill involved! I’m very anxious to see if it was just his voice, or if he was somehow involved on set as well.

And we get an appearance by R2-D2 as a bonus!

I just saw a headline that indicated this episode betrayed its characters by “indulging in the Skywalker saga.” The sub-head indicated new Star Wars had succumbed to old Star Wars. That’s a frustrating sentiment to read. But it’s a valid point. Despite a wonderfully emotional goodbye between Mando and Grogu, Luke pulled focus. It was inevitable. Anything from the original trilogy is going to have that effect. I mentioned Rogue One above, and Darth Vader had the same effect in that movie.

It’s a little bit like dangling a shiny object in front of a little kid. With this finale, Jon Favreau basically dangled a shiny object in front of the little kid in all of us. I really can’t dispute that.

But I would argue that, despite Luke pulling focus, the heart of the episode was indeed about Mando and Grogu. Those are two new characters that we’ve come to know and love over the course of two seasons. I also can’t dispute that.

And honestly, where else could this story have gone? Side effects of bringing in Luke notwithstanding, it’s logical that Grogu, being as strong in the Force as he is, would encounter him at some point…

Mrs. Primary Ignition was quite curious about what this episode means for Grogu’s fate, as he’s obviously not in the sequel trilogy. At the moment, I have two theories.

  1. Grogu’s attachment to Mando eventually lures him toward the dark side, and he has to abandon his training and return to his surrogate father.
  2. He stays with Luke, but is killed by Ben Solo during the events leading up to The Force Awakens.

Understandably, she was horrified at option 2. But I suspect we’ll discover the answer sooner or later.

Another headline I saw recently? How the “Marvel-fication” of Star Wars has officially begun. In other words, new shows, spin-offs, and all sorts of inter-connected content. You won’t find a clearer piece of evidence than The Mandalorian taking a page out of Marvel’s book with a post-credits scene. A pretty awesome post-credits scene, but a post-credits scene nonetheless.

We see that Bib Fortuna has taken over as the head of Jabba’s palace. Does he actually control anything? The throne seems to suggest he does. So is that what The Book of Boba Fett is about? Fett taking control of Jabba’s crumbling criminal empire?

I think the best season finales often leave us with questions. So what questions did this episode leave us with?

  1. What’s next for Mando? He’s got the Darksaber now, and is seemingly in conflict with Bo-Katan Kryze. So does he get involved with re-building Mandalore? Or does he go back to bounty hunting?
  2. Despite getting captured, Moff Gideon accomplished his goal. He got Grogu’s blood. So what now comes of that? Do the experiments start? Have they already started?
  3. The Boba Fett questions are rather obvious.
  4. Are we going to hear more from Luke and Grogu? Or does that become territory for another series? The recently announced Ahsoka spin-off comes to mind.

Definitely no shortage of questions. We’ll have a lot to think about over the next year!

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

Posted in Television

Rob Watches The Mandalorian: Return to Tatooine

SERIES: The Mandalorian
EPISODE:
S1.E5. “Chapter 5, The Gunslinger”
STARRING:
Pedro Pascal, Amy Sedaris, Jake Cannavale, Ming-Na Wen
WRITER/DIRECTOR:
Dave Filoni
PREMIERE DATE:
December 6, 2019
SYNOPSIS:
After stopping on Tatooine for repairs, Mando takes a job alongside a young bounty hunter.

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

So did we need to come back to Tatooine? No, not really. But I’m glad we did. Going to a classic Star Wars setting reinforces that this is, in fact, the universe we know and love. And yes, nostalgia is a factor. It’s nice to see Mos Eisley again.

I’m a little surprised they used pit droids, i.e. the “hit the nose” robots from The Phantom Menace. I don’t mind Episode I as much as some people do. But you’d think in this, the first live action Star Wars television show, you’d want to avoid allusions to what’s often considered the franchise’s worst film. (It’s not. But that’s another story.)

Question: Aren’t most rifles in Star Wars blaster rifles? If so, Peli Motto asking the droids to get her blaster rifle doesn’t really make sense. It should probably just be, “Get my rifle!”

Yeah. I’m nitpicking at that level, folks. But it’s because I care, damn it!

So he just left the child on the ship? That’s uncharacteristically stupid for Mando.

Dr. Mandible, the giant bug in the cantina, is also stupid. He makes his debut in this episode.

Fun fact: The Mos Eisley Cantina has a name. Chalmun’s Spaceport Cantina.

Another fun fact: They squeezed Mark Hamill into this episode. He’s the voice of the droid at the bar (shown below). Apparently that’s the very same droid that spoke to Threepio in Jabba’s palace in Return of the Jedi. What a remarkable coincidence…

I wonder if Mando would have taken Toro Calican under his wing before he picked up the child. Perhaps being a father figure softened him in short order.

That’s a recurring theme in the original Star Wars trilogy. The “scoundrel” who becomes a good man. The big one is Han Solo. But it applies to Lando Calrissian as well.

I must confess, I’ve never seen Agents of Shield, or much of anything else with Ming-Na Wen. But she makes a pretty good bounty hunter. And Fennec Shand is yet another powerful female character added to the Star Wars universe.

I don’t recommend watching this episode in a room with a lot of sunlight. I did so, and could barely make anything out during the nighttime scenes.

So the general consensus was that the person who comes to Fennec’s aid at the very end of the episode is Boba Fett. In the end, that obviously turns out to be true. That speaks to the amount of foresight the showrunners hopefully have.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

Posted in Comic Books/Graphic Novels, Weekly Comic 100s

Weekly Comic 100s: Rorschach, Crossover, and More!

***”Weekly Comic 100s” keeps it nice and simple. Comic book reviews in 100 words or less. Straight, concise, and to the point.***

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

We’re going to be spending the next few weeks catching up on “Weekly Comic 100s.” So you’re going to see a variety of books from late November into December. Starting with…

TITLE: Rorschach #3
AUTHOR: Tom King
ARTISTS: Jorge Fornes, Dave Stewart (Colorist), Clayton Cowles (Letterer)
RELEASED: December 15, 2020

This issue gives us an origins story for Laura Cummings, Rorchach’s apparent sidekick. To its credit, it strikes close to home, as Laura’s father leads a home-grown militia preparing for the arrival of squids, a la the one we saw at the end of Watchmen. And of course, the ones we often see on the news nowadays…

It’s a brilliant thing to pluck from modern headlines. It feels not only poignant, but something Rorschach would appreciate.

TITLE: Crossover #2
AUTHOR: Donny Cates
ARTISTS: Geoff Shaw, Dee Cunniffe (Colorist), John J. Hill (Letterer)
RELEASED: December 9, 2020

This issue was a better read for me than the last one was. I was so baffled by the inciting incident and the whole “comic characters come to life” premise that I couldn’t enjoy the issue. This time around things settle down, and we get an idea of what where the book is going.

I still can’t say I’m a huge fan of Crossing Over. Despite this issue being a little more grounded, I still have trouble wrapping my head around the premise. But I’ll say this much: I’ll be back for issue #3. For curiosity’s sake, if nothing else.

TITLE: Juggernaut #4
AUTHOR: Fabian Nicieza
ARTISTS: Ron Garney, Matt Milla (Colorist), Joe Sabino (Letterer)
RELEASED: December 9, 2020

“Sorry. I know it’s hard to breathe inside me.”

A villain says that to Juggernaut in this issue. I’ll just let that statement speak for itself, I think.

While the novelty of this series is starting to wear off a bit, I must admit Nicieza, Garney, and the Juggernaut team have a good outing with this issue. We fill the action quota, while also doing some nice character work with both Cain Marko and D-Cel, who I’m starting to warm to more and more.

TITLE: Batman/Catwoman #1
AUTHOR: Tom King
ARTISTS: Clay Mann, Tomeu Morey (Colorist), Clayton Cowles (Letterer)
RELEASED: December 1, 2020

This book jumps around to different scenes at different times quite frequently. Not my cup of tea in terms of story structure.

This book introduces Phantasm, as in Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, into the DC Universe proper. Fair enough. Though her inclusion doesn’t tip the scales one way or the other in terms of quality.

Clay Mann and Tomey Morey are on point here. The issue has a certain sensuality to it, which I suspect is by design. I just wish I could stop having Heroes in Crisis flashbacks when I see Mann’s work.

TITLE: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Jennika #2
AUTHOR/ARTIST: Brahm Revel
RELEASED: December 2, 2020

This month, we learn that New York City has de-funded all the fire departments in Mutant Town until they can figure out an aid package. I’d say that doesn’t reflect too well on New Yorkers. But then I remembered: This is the universe where Baxter Stockman is the mayor. That ship may have already sailed…

I know I’m a broken record, but I can’t say enough good things about the “sketchy” aesthetic Brahm Revel brings to this book. What’s more, he gets to flex some horror muscles in this issue, which is a tribute to his versatility.

TITLE: The Other History of the DC Universe #1
AUTHOR: John Ridley
ARTISTS: Giuseppe Camuncoli (Layouts & Cover), Andrea Cucchi (Finishes), Jose Villarrubia (Colorist), Steve Wands (Letterer). Cover by Camuncoli & Marco Mastrazzo.
RELEASED: November 24, 2020

This could very well be the best Black Lightning story ever written.

The Other History of the DC Universe #1 takes you there. It brings you into the mind of Jefferson Pierce, and shows you how he feels. Not just about John Stewart strictly being a substitute Green Lantern, or the Justice League being comprised of mostly white men. It draws you into the head and heart of a man trying desperately to save the community he grew up in, and bring a little more justice into the world.

This issue is worth the $6.99. Worth every penny.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

Posted in Movies

Rob Watches Star Trek: So Much to Do, So Little Time

TITLE: Star Trek III: The Search For Spock
STARRING: William Shatner, Christopher Lloyd, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan, George Takei
DIRECTOR: Leonard Nimoy
WRITER: Harve Bennett
STUDIOS: Paramount Pictures
RATED: PG
RUN-TIME: 105 min
RELEASED: June 1, 1984

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

I’m in awe that Leonard Nimoy directed not only this movie, but the next one as well. Can you imagine that kind of thing happening today? Say they put Mark Hamill in the director’s chair for a Star Wars movie. Or Tobey Maguire in charge of a Spider-Man flick. They’d be hounded by toxic fans to the point of never wanting to touch the franchise ever again.

Fresh off the events of Star Trek II, Star Trek III brings us the revelation that Spock’s “living spirit” is in limbo, and has found a home in the mind of Bones. Thus, Kirk and the crew set out for Genesis to reunite Spock’s spirit with his body. But they do so against the will of the Federation, and must steal the now decommissioned Enterprise. All the while, the Genesis project has caught the attention of the Klingons, who want its power as their own.

A lot happens in Star Trek III. Like, a lot. Even when you set aside the fact that they’re trying to friggin’ resurrect the dead. Kirk’s son dies. The Enterprise blows up. We have all these big emotional moments between characters as they risk their lives and careers to save Spock. On paper, this movie is just as epic and impactful as The Wrath of Khan. If not more so.

So why is it strictly okay? Why doesn’t it hold up as a successor to The Wrath of Khan?

For my money, it’s the old “10 pounds of stuff in a five pound bag” metaphor. There’s so much going on that these big moments don’t necessarily have the impact they need and deserve. Chief among them is what happens to Kirk’s son David, who we met in The Wrath of Khan. The villain kills him off during the second half of the movie. Naturally, Kirk is grief-stricken. The Search For Spock does it’s best to give it proper weight. But in trying to wrap up all the film’s plot threads, there isn’t enough time. Yes, Kirk is distraught about his son. But this is the death of his child. He should be absolutely destroyed to the point that he needs the entire movie to bring himself to suit back up.

Furthermore, Star Trek III robs the premise of Kirk having a long-lost son of any story potential it may have had. How do father and son adjust to this new connection? What role do they play in each other’s lives? Does David become a liability for Kirk in the field? Granted, David wasn’t the most compelling character in the world. But Star Trek III removes the opportunity to make him compelling.

David’s death might have been more impactful had it come at the hands of a more interesting villain. Kruge, the lead Klingon, comes off as a hollow mustache-twirler. Yes, Christopher Lloyd is fun. But he’s also campy. That’s not what you want to follow The Wrath of Khan with.

Still, the movie isn’t without its fun elements. I love that Spock’s living spirit ended up with Bones. If anything, that should have been explored more. Actually, in hindsight, that should have been an episode of the series. It’s a fantastic way to not only contrast Spock and Bones, but give them insight into one another.

Star Trek III also continues something started in Star Trek II that I find very important: It emphasizes that these people are friends. Not just Kirk, Spock, and Bones, but the entire crew. That’s why they’re willing to risk their careers to steal the Enterprise and go after Spock.

I wish they could have had more fun with the stealing of the Enterprise. Sort of like a mini heist movie within the movie. Have Kirk, Spock, and Chekov do the grunt work while Scotty and Uhura work remotely. A Star Trek heist movie could have been fun, and a good way to make this story a very different animal from The Wrath of Khan.

But alas, Star Trek III feels like a younger sibling trying to live up to an older sibling’s achievements. It pales in comparison, of course. In hindsight, I wish Nimoy had been given a better script for his directorial debut. Thankfully he’d get another chance with Star Trek IV

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

Posted in Television

Rob Watches The Mandalorian: An Icon Returns

SERIES: The Mandalorian
EPISODE:
S2.E6. “Chapter 14, The Tragedy”
STARRING:
Pedro Pascal, Temuera Morrison, Ming-Na Wen, Giancarlo Esposito
WRITER:
Jon Favreau
DIRECTOR:
Robert Rodriguez
PREMIERE DATE:
December 4, 2019
SYNOPSIS:
Mando takes Grogu to the planet Tython, where he’s intercepted by Boba Fett and Fennec Shand.

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

I wonder who came up with the name Grogu, and how long they’ve had it. You think they had that in mind from the get-go?

Slave I gets an awesome entrance in this episode. Not overstated. Just a simple fly-by. The ship is so iconic to Star Wars fans that a simple appearance, even from a distance, does all the work.

So what is that energy field that comes up around Grogu? Are we to believe it’s Force energy? That seems like the most likely explanation. Especially since Grogu passes out afterward.

“I’m a simple man making his way through the galaxy. Like my father before me.” Nice little callback to two different lines there. The first from Jango in Attack of the Clones. The second from Luke at the end of Return of the Jedi.

This stormtrooper ineptitude is becoming a problem for me. The fact that Mando, Boba Fett and Fennec Shand were able to fend off more than a dozen of them is pathetic.

Also, when a giant boulder is rolling toward you…MOVE OUT OF THE WAY, IDIOTS!

The sequences with Boba Fett and the gaffi stick were a sight to behold. Aside from the few swings we saw in the original Star Wars, I believe this is the first time we’ve seen one in action. Certainly to this degree.

The fight between the newly re-armored Fett and the stormtroopers is obviously some great fan-service. It did bring to mind memories of the Darth Vader slaughter from the end of Rogue One. The difference? In Rogue One, that sequence was there to bolster up the end of the film because it had so little in the way of character and story. In contrast, this Boba Fett stuff has been set up since the beginning of the season. And to say the least, The Mandalorian isn’t lacking in depth.

Moff Gideon wants to be Darth Vader. Bad. Real bad. To the point that he carries around a lightsaber. It’s kinda cute, actually.

They blew up the Razor Crest! I didn’t see that coming…

I’ve never liked Temuera Morrison as the voice for the helmeted Boba Fett, especially the way they swapped out Jason Wingreen’s voice for his in The Empire Strikes Back. I have no issue with Morrison playing the role at large. But when he’s got the helmet on? Give him a voice like Wingreen’s. If Darth Vader can have a voice modulator, so can Boba Fett.

Some questions that still haven’t been answered: How did Fett survive the Sarlaac Pit? I think the general consensus is that he climbed out. But did somebody rescue him? When was he rescued?

If they do end up doing a Boba Fett series, this is some of the ground the first season should cover.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

Posted in Television

Rob Watches The Mandalorian: The Samurai

SERIES: The Mandalorian
EPISODE:
S1.E4. “Chapter 4, Sanctuary”
STARRING:
Pedro Pascal (Voice), Gina Carano, Julia Jones
WRITER:
Jon Favreau
DIRECTOR:
Bryce Dallas Howard
PREMIERE DATE:
November 29, 2019
SYNOPSIS:
Mando and the child seek sanctuary on the planet Sorgon, but are drawn into aiding a village against vicious raiders.

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

Oddly enough, Pedro Pascal wasn’t there for the filming of this episode. He was apparently on broadway doing King Lear at the time. Apparently the performance we see in this episode comes from a combination of stunt doubles Brendan Wayne and Lateef Crowder. Apparently Pascal and Wayne worked closely together in developing the title character. What’s more, Wayne is the grandson of screen legend John Wayne. Ironic, considering what Mando has in common with a lot of the characters John Wayne played…

When Mando looks at the child and says, “Stop touching things,” he briefly becomes the personification of every parent who’s ever had a toddler.

Here we have Cara Dune, played by Gina Carano. Mrs. Primary Ignition isn’t sold on Carano as an actor. Me? I think she’s perfectly adequate for the role she’s in. The one aspect of the character I’m not completely sold on? The tiny Rebel Alliance/New Republic tattoo she has on her cheek. She’s supposed to be making her living as a mercenary, right? Isn’t that an odd thing for a mercenary to keep tattooed on her face? You’d think she’d want the thing removed.

The samurai film influences on The Mandalorian are quite evident in this episode. And that’s even if you discount the fact that this village on Sorgan matches many depictions of such places in feudal Japan. You’ve got the nomad warrior sought out by a community of innocents to help them overcome an invasive evil. Thus, he trains the villagers to fight alongside him. It’s essentially the same plot as the classic film Seven Samurai, by Akira Kurosawa. Kurosawa was famously one of the filmmakers who inspired George Lucas during the conception of Star Wars.

On the subject of connections to Lucas, our director for this episode is Bryce Dallas Howard. She’s, of course, the daughter of Ron Howard, who starred in Lucas’ first big hit, American Graffiti. She’s gotten quite a bit of praise for her work on The Mandalorian, and rightfully so. Carano credits Howard with helping her figure out how to best translate the Cara Dune character from script to screen.

The combination puppeteering/CGI work with Baby Yoda is at its strongest yet in this episode. It blends so seamlessly. It’s not a fair comparison, given the near 20-year gap, but it’s a far cry from how fake CGI Yoda looks in Attack of the Clones.

I give a lot of credit to Julia Jones, who plays Omera, Mando’s kinda/sorta love interest in this episode. She performs the hell out of her scenes here, playing off someone who essentially has a bucket on their head. Now that’s acting.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

Posted in Television

Rob Watches The Mandalorian: Ahsoka Arrives

SERIES: The Mandalorian
EPISODE:
S2.E5. “Chapter 13: The Jedi”
STARRING:
Pedro Pascal, Rosario Dawson, Diana Lee Inosanto, Michael Biehn
WRITER/DIRECTOR:
Dave Filoni
PREMIERE DATE:
November 27, 2020
SYNOPSIS:
Mando journeys to the planet Corvus and meets Ahsoka Tano.

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

This is the first episode of the season not written by Jon Favreau. Dave Filoni, who was integral in the creation and development of Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars: Rebels, serves as both the writer and director. That’s fitting, of course, given who makes her live-action debut here.

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: There’s a certain amount of injustice in the fact that Ashley Eckstein isn’t playing Ahsoka. Nothing against Rosario Dawson. She does a fine job here. But Eckstein deserved to take a crack at the role.

A question that’s been asked, but bears repeating: Why doesn’t Mando know more about the Jedi? Not just because his people were at war with them at one point, but because at this point in the timeline the Jedi haven’t been gone that long. The Empire

So beskar armor can block lightsabers. That’s convenient. Not necessarily a bad thing, though.

So Baby Yoda has a name: Grogu. Not that it makes much difference in terms of the “Baby Yoda” nickname. That thing is sticking.

The affection shown between Grogu and Mando in this episode is heart-warming. Obviously, we knew they had become close. But things like Mando cheering Grogu on during the Force exercise with Ahsoka reinforce that in a really impactful way. In that moment they literally feel like father and son.

We pretty much knew Filoni would throw in some fan-service lines, right? That’s really all those references to Yoda and Anakin were.

Once again the eastern, samurai-esque influence on The Mandalorian is quite evident here. Perhaps most notably in the look of the village on Corvus. Much like “Sanctuary,” it feels a lot like something you’d see from Akira Kurosawa

I can’t say I was incredibly surprised to hear Grand Admiral Thrawn’s name mentioned near the end of the show. He’s a loose end in the franchise, and a character they continue to use via Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn novels. So it makes all the sense in the world to bring him in as a villain for Mando. I’d love to see him as early as next season.

So Ahsoka sends them to an old Jedi temple, with the idea that maybe a Jedi will sense Grogu. Naturally, this brings up questions about Ahsoka and Luke Skywalker, and what they know about each other. Canon buffs know that at some point, Luke knew about Ahsoka. And given his strength in the Force, one would think Ahsoka knew about Luke (and possibly Leia). But to my knowledge, there’s never been a story in which they meet. That seems like a book, or even an animated movie that’s just begging to be written.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.