Tag Archives: Justice League

Astonishing Art: Batman ’66 by Kevin Maguire

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

If you’re a comic book fan and you don’t know the name Kevin Maguire, then shame on you. He’s one of the all-time greats, and draws some of the most expressive and flamboyant characters you’ll ever see. He’s perhaps best known for his work on the original Justice League International series, which ties in nicely with what we’re looking at today.

Maguire’s most famous work from JLI, if not his career overall, is the cover for the first issue. You’ve got all your heroes together looking out at the reader, with Guy Gardner drawing focus at the bottom center. Since the issue’s release in 1987, Maguire has done seemingly countless take-offs of this cover. If you see him at a convention, or simply Google him, you’ll see a bunch of different versions with a bunch of different characters. Not just DC characters, either. You’ll see Marvel characters, and even a print dedicated to the various incarnations of Doctor Who. It’s all amazing.

A few years ago, I had the chance to meet Mr. Maguire and purchase a print from him, which is still hanging in my office now. There were no shortage of choices. But this one caught my eye, and is the subject of today’s “Astonishing Art.”

(In the interest of full disclosure, the print I have actually has a white border with black text. But the image itself is the same.)

I picked this Batman ’66 piece not just because of my soft spot for the show, but because of how well Maguire captured the spirit of some of the characters. Look at Robin, for instance. He’s got that gloved fist tucked into his palm, as we so often saw Burt Ward do on-screen. Frank Gorshin’s Riddler looks delightfully manic as always. And then you’ve got Victor Buono’s King Tut, who’s every bit as animated here as he was on the show.

One thing I’ve always been curious about is why Egghead, the Vincent Price character, is the only character other than Batman making eye contact with the viewer. Why him?

And in the Guy Gardner spot? Who else could it be, but Batman himself? I love that pose too. Paired with Robin’s, it makes it seem like the whole group is about to break into a classic WHAP! BIFF! OOF! slugfest.

Man, I miss Adam West…

Email Rob at PrimaryIgnition@yahoo.com, or follow Primary Ignition on Twitter.

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Micro-Reviews: Justice League, Batman, The Man of Steel

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Not a good week for publisher diversity at the Siebert house. Four from DC and one from BOOM! Studios. To be fair, funds were tight this week. Otherwise this list would have been at least twice as long. But minuscule as it looks compared to previous weeks, this is what’s in my stack.

Justice League #1
Notwithstanding my prior gripes with Scott Snyder’s stuff, I enjoyed Justice League #1. As he almost always does, Snyder goes big. That’s how it should be with the League. They’re going with the classic Justice League vs. Legion of Doom story, which is always a good draw.

I wasn’t a huge fan of Metal, but one thing I did enjoy was Snyder’s world-building. He continues that here. The way he uses the Hall of Justice and the Source Wall are fun. But I’m partial to the Psychic Conference Room myself.

Batman: Prelude to the Wedding – Nightwing vs. Hush #1
I was expecting a very personal, street-level fight from this one. We got that. But there was a cosmic element that I didn’t expect. Some interesting stuff. I just didn’t expect to see it here.

Also, there’s an exchange between Bruce and Dick in this issue that rubs me the wrong way. Dick tells Bruce that when he broke off on his own, he didn’t mean to distance himself personally. I call BS on that. The friction there was part of Dick’s development as a character.

This may sound odd, but I didn’t realize it was Batman and Catwoman that were getting married as opposed to Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle. From a secret identity standpoint, not having Bruce marry Selina makes sense. She’s a publicly known criminal. But then what’s the point? How is it even a wedding? Are Batman and Catwoman getting a marriage license? Is the state going to recognize them as married? How does that work?

Batman #48
Is it possible to make the Joker too Jokey? Or maybe to quippy? Tom King pushes it in that respect with Batman #48. The whole issue is basically a big, nonsensical talking scene. You can get away with that to an extent, because it’s the Joker. But it got to be grating. On the plus side, Mikel Janin’s art is great as always. The visual of someone as evil as the Joker in a church is disturbingly awesome. Or awesomely disturbing.

The Man of Steel #2
I’m worried that Bendis’ use of “Bendis Banter” will wear on me as his run progresses. But for now it’s charming. Superman and Green Lantern have a refreshing exchange in this issue that feels like a genuine conversation between friends. On the flip side, we see Perry White confide in Clark about the pressures of surviving in the journalism industry. As a former journalist, that’s really interesting to see.

The pencilling in this issue is split between Evan “Doc” Shaner and Steve Rude, with two pages also done by Jason Fabok. It’s all great. But Rude steals the issue as far as I’m concerned.

Go Go Power Rangers #10
The Megazord we see on the cover is called the Gravezord. It’s made from the remnants of destroyed zords, specifically the Thunderzords. Kind of like Typhonis in MMPR: Pink. Dan Mora’s awesome art aside, I can’t decide how I feel about it.

For yours truly, the highlight of this issue is Jason having to ask Zordon to do something very personal for him, and Zordon having to tell him why he can’t. Well done, Ryan Parrott.

Email Rob at PrimaryIgnition@yahoo.com, or follow Primary Ignition on Twitter.

Panels of Awesomeness: Justice League: No Justice #1

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

CREATORS: Scott Snyder (Author), Joshua Williamson (Author), James Tynion IV (Author), Francis Manapil (Artist), Hi-Fi (Colors)

THE SCENE: In a battle between Brainiac and the Justice League, Superman lands a high-impact blow. But Brainiac’s motivations aren’t what the Man of Steel thinks they are.

WHY THEY’RE AWESOME: One thing I’ve always remembered about Superman Returns is the critique about its action sequences. Specifically, the notion that we needed to see Superman punch somebody. I don’t necessarily agree with that. However,  it is always satisfying when Big Blue hits a big blow on a big bad. Case in point, this moment with Brainiac.

What makes these two pages truly awesome the layout. Francis Manapul makes the punch as giant and epic as it deserves to be, complete with a heroic one-liner and Superman’s fist coming straight up at us. But then you’ve got the figures overlapping just a bit with the panels on the opposite page. More often than not, that trick makes for a really fun visual.

I also really like the sequential storytelling here. On the previous page we see Brainiac on top of his ship, with the rest of the League wrapped up in those tentacles. Then we get the punch, and in the next two panels we follow them off the ship and through that building. And based on how that lower middle panel is framed, we can see what kind of distance they’ve covered in relation to the ship.

Finally, that lower right panel gives us a really nice pull into the next page. Not only do you have that defiant line from Brainiac, but he’s blocking another punch. Thus indicating the momentum is about to shift.

Justice League: No Justice wraps up today with issue #4. As I’ve said previously, this is the first Justice League story I’ve picked up in a couple of years. Very curious to see where this goes.

Email Rob at PrimaryIgnition@yahoo.com, or follow Primary Ignition on Twitter.

Weekly Comic Haul, May 9, 2018: Venom, Justice League: No Justice

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

I’m Rob, and these are the comics I spent my hard-earned money on this week…

(And shame on me, there are no indie comics in my haul this week. Unless you count The Walking Dead as an indie comic. I do not.)

Venom #1
I’m not much of a Venom guy, so normally I wouldn’t have picked this one up. But Donny Cates’ name attracted me to it. He writes Babyteeth over at Aftershock, which I’ve really enjoyed. So I’m giving this one a whirl for him.

Justice League: No Justice #1
I’m not the world’s biggest Scott Snyder fan. He’s hit or miss with me. But the Justice League portion of DC Nation #0 piqued my interest. Plus, James Tynion IV and Joshua Williamson are attached, and I dig both of them. Francis Manapul is also an artistic deity. This has been proven.

Detective Comics #980
James Tynion IV is my favorite modern Batman writer. The fact that he’s bringing back all this ’90s and early ’00s stuff is a just a bonus.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi #1
I don’t normally pick up these Star Wars movie adaptations from Marvel. But the preview for this one caught my eye. A portion of it is done through Luke’s point of view, which is a nice little added hook.

The Walking Dead #178 and #179
In recent months, I’ve slept on The Walking Dead a little bit. It was partially intentional, and partially cost-related. I’m intrigued by the new direction they’ve taken things, but they obviously didn’t grab me hard enough to keep me buying month to month. Here’s hoping the combined effort of these two issues will change that.

Darth Vader #15
I’ve had to hold back on Darth Vader as well. This one was strictly a cost thing. Like issue #14, this one might be a candidate for “Epic Covers.” For some reason, part of me is always surprised when someone uses a lightsaber underwater. Luke just did that in Star Wars #48. Did they work that way in the “Legends” continuity?

Email Rob at PrimaryIgnition@yahoo.com, or follow Primary Ignition on Twitter.

The Fanboy’s Closet: Wonder Woman Gear for Guys

***In ”The Fanboy’s Closet,” I pull a geeky item of clothing from the closet, snap a pic, and then see what subjects it takes us into. Why? Why the hell not?!?***

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

Another arrival from the folks at Loot Crate. Imagine the smile on my face when I pulled these suckers out of the bag. They’ve almost got a regal quality to them, what with the red and gold. Certainly fitting for an Amazon Princess.

You know what sucks? You don’t see a lot of Wonder Woman apparel out there for guys. I’m mainly thinking of t-shirts, but it doesn’t have to be exclusive to that. You see a little more now that the movie has been so successful. But before all that, if you were looking at a major retail outlet (Target, Walmart, Meijer, etc) you were almost out of luck. You’d have to go to a comic store or some other specialty shop. As much as I love my local comic shops, they’re not always easy to find for more casual superhero fans.

The only one I was ever able to find before Warner Bros. really started promoting Wonder Woman was at Hot Topic, and that was the DC Bombshells version of the character. No disrespect, but I’m talking about the true face of Wonder Woman. The feminist icon that has endured longer than most of her male counterparts.

(Incidentally, that Bombshells Wonder Woman t-shirt was in the bargain bin.)

From a purely capitalistic standpoint, I get it. You market male characters to men, and female characters to women. It’s only natural. That doesn’t mean I like or agree with it. But I understand. I just wish we lived in a world where men could be more secure in their masculinity. It would be a hell of an example to set for kids. Especially boys.

Here’s a challenge: Next time you go to a big box store, or any kind of clothing outlet, look in both the Men’s and Boys sections. See how often you spot Wonder Woman, or any female superhero. Black Widow, Supergirl, Gamora, etc. Not only can it be difficult, but on certain products they’re either shoved to the background or deliberately excluded (i.e. the shirt on the left).

At the risk of acting like the PC Police, I hate that. It’s so damn cynical and it sends a bad message. These characters don’t need to be separated by gender. Being a hero is for everyone. It would serve our next generation of men well to learn that early.

For those of you that are interested, I’ve taken the liberty of hunting down some of my favorite Wonder Woman t-shirts for men and boys. (Special thanks to the folks at NerdKungFu.com.) Please note the lack of oversexualization  or innuendo. That’s an entirely different issue…

Simple 75
At Your Service
Vintage Wonder Woman
American Heroine
Power
USA Banner

Email Rob at PrimaryIgnition@yahoo.com, or follow Primary Ignition on Twitter.

Astonishing Art: Classic Justice League by Mike Mahle

***In “Astonishing Art,” we spotlight a particular work or series of works from a specific artist or creative team. The only requirement? That the work be simply and purely astonishing!***

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Mrs. Primary Ignition and I stumbled across Mike Mahle’s table at C2E2 this year, and were immediately struck by what we saw. Specifically, posters featuring his digital renderings of DC Comics superheroes in their unabashedly colorful glory. These pieces celebrate the iconic looks of characters like Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman, with a delightfully retro (and often retro-futuristic) flair.

We purchased a print of Mahle’s take on Superman, as I found myself hopelessly drawn to it. In an era where so many want to darken the character, or make him a moody brooder, Mahle casts the Man of Steel in the idealistic light he was meant to be shown in. This is the true face of Superman.

Mahle actually sells a collected book of these DC posters, which is the size of a standard comic book. It’s got his tributes to most of the big DC names, as well as some of the lesser known characters. Booster Gold, Power Girl, Captain Atom, etc.

Particularly popular at the convention was Mahle’s take on Batman: The Movie, with Adam West and Burt Ward (shown left). Like so many, my first exposure to the character came from the 1966 show. So this one hit me right in the feels. Especially now that Adam West is gone.

Mahle’s art isn’t limited to retro DC stuff, of course. In his portfolio, you’ll find more modern takes on comic book heroes, including Marvel’s cast of characters. You can also find his take on posters for both classic and current films. Mahle has also crowdfunded his own book, Empire City, an art and design collection scheduled for release later this year.

Mike Mahle’s work can be found at MikeMahle.com. I’d also recommend checking out his Instagram and DeviantArt for his latest stuff.

Email Rob at PrimaryIgnition@yahoo.com, or follow Primary Ignition on Twitter.

A Justice League Review – Lessons Learned

TITLE: Justice League
STARRING: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Gal Gadot, Ezra Miller
DIRECTOR: Zack Snyder
STUDIOS: Warner Bros. Pictures, DC Films, RatPac Entertainment, Atlas Entertainment, Cruel and Unusual Films
RATED: PG-13
RUN-TIME:
 120 min
RELEASED: November 17, 2017

***WARNING: Spoilers lay ahead.***

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Justice League is a standard superhero popcorn flick. It’s nowhere near as dark, dreary, and generally abysmal as Batman v Superman. But it also doesn’t accomplish anything remotely special. It’s about a team of heroes coming together to fight a villain with a doomsday plan. Been there, done that. Several times, actually. So what we get comes off completely and utterly average.

After all these years, the first Justice League feature film is just average. What an awful, heartbreaking waste…

The plot is basic enough to surmise from the advertising. As the world continues to mourn the death of Superman, we’ve got a new big bad in town. Steppenwolf, a tyrant from the hellscape world of Apokalips, has returned to Earth after thousands of years with his army of Parademons in tow. He aims to conquer the world using the immense power of three “Mother Boxes.” Batman and Wonder Woman prepare to meet this invasion head on by assembling a team of super-powered heroes. The Flash, Cyborg, and Aquaman are all called to action. But in the end, they won’t be enough. For this new team to triumph, Superman must return…

Trust me, it’s a lot more exciting on paper than it is on screen.

Justice League is the culmination of the years-long comedy of errors that is the “DC Extended Universe.” Man of Steel was an adequate start, flawed as it was with it’s dreary look and overindulgent third act. It was followed by the downright dour Batman v Superman, which robbed its characters of almost any charm, heart, or likability. Suicide Squad wasted arguably pop culture’s most iconic supervillain in the Joker, but managed to be fun in a mindless hot mess sort of way. Wonder Woman was the exception that made the rule. It felt like a single vision, with purpose, heart, and passion put into it.

And so, on one the most rickety foundations in cinematic history, Justice League was built. Like Suicide Squad before it, this movie feels like a melting pot of visions, voices, and priorities clumped together to form a viable commercial product. Our director is once again Zack Snyder. But with their confidence shaken from the backlash to Batman v Superman, Warner Bros. brought in Avengers director Joss Whedon to reshape the script. Thus, we have a Joss Whedon superhero movie taking place in Zack Snyder’s grim DC Universe, under the management of a studio desperate to compete with Marvel at the box office. Hot damn! Sign me up!

One of the major missteps in Justice League is it’s choice of villain. DC Comics lore is full of baddies worthy of challenging Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman. Darkseid is the obvious choice. But you’ve also got big cosmic villains like Brainiac, Mongul, and Despero. Professor Ivo and the Amazo android could have made for an interesting story. Hell, team Lex Luthor up with the Joker! It sure as hell beats Steppenwolf…

Yes, Steppenwolf. A second-rate, paper-thin, poorly rendered Darkseid stand-in with an army of space bugs, a silly name, and a generic doomsday plot. This is who they came up with to face the Justice League in their debut feature film. Strictly from a cynical marketing standpoint, how the hell to you pass up slapping Darkseid, Brainiac, or Lex Luthor on t-shirts and posters, and instead opt for someone called Steppenwolf?

Justice League cost a whopping $300 million to make. That’s astounding, considering our CGI-rendered Steppenwolf looks like he was done in the late ’90s. It’s not just him, either. It’s been well documented that reshoots were done with a mustached Henry Cavill. The movie’s opening sequence wasn’t even over before Mrs. Primary Ignition turned to me and asked, “What’s up with Superman’s mouth?” Certain shots in Batman’s introduction are also extremely fake looking. Makes you wonder what the hell happened to good old fashioned stunt doubles and prosthetic make up…

Superman has a certain aura of reverence in this movie. Had that been earned or established in Man of Steel or Batman v Superman, that would have been fantastic. I’ve always been a proponent of Superman being the center, or at least part of the center, of the DC Universe. He’s certainly its moral backbone. But all this mourning we see over Superman doesn’t match the controversial figure we saw in Batman v Superman. Yes, some people loved him. But he was also the subject of protests and a congressional hearing. Lois Lane, Batman, Wonder Woman, and those who knew Superman have a reason to miss him. But based on what we saw before, there’d be a large contingent of people who’d be glad Superman died.

So now that I’ve sufficiently ripped Justice League apart, what’s there to like? What did they get right? Believe it or not, all was not lost from the get go…

Unlike in Batman v. Superman, almost all of our heroes are likable. Superman knows how to smile. Wonder Woman is compassionate, but still fierce. I’ve never needed a lot of selling on Ben Affleck’s Batman. Joss Whedon’s influence in the movie is obvious when the Dark Knight gets in a quip or two. Ezra Miller plays a socially inept Flash, who provides much of the comic relief. His costume looks absolutely ridiculous. But there’s a certain charm to him. Jason Momoa’s Aquaman is surprisingly okay as a dude bro. For a team flick, it works fine. Granted it’s not the approach I would have gone with, and they’ll obviously need to deepen his character for the Aquaman solo movie. Assuming that’s still in the pipeline after all this.

As much as this movie fell short of what it could have been, there is a certain warm and fuzzy quality to seeing these characters on the big screen together. Most of them aren’t true to the essence of the iconic characters they’re based on. But at the very least it’s cool on a superficial level to see Batman is standing next to Wonder Woman. Superman is running next to the Flash! Aquaman is in Atlantis! It’s a highly tarnished version of what we should be getting. But at least we’re getting it in some form. That counts for something.

And so, four years into the DC Extended Universe, what have we learned? What has the road to Justice League taught us? More than anything, it’s this: Darkness doesn’t equate to quality. At least not to larger audiences.

Some people point to darker tales like The Dark Knight Returns and Watchmen as the pinnacle of the superhero genre. But while they pushed the boundaries of how these stories and characters could work and be seen, they weren’t simply dark for the sake of darkness. The Dark Knight Returns isn’t just about an older and grittier Batman getting to punch Superman in the face. It’s about a hero returning to face a world that’s changed in his absence. Watchmen isn’t about Rorschach beating people up. It’s a look at superheroes from a different, more grounded angle. The dark tones fit the stories and the characters, not the other way around.

We also need to remember that at the end of the day these characters are meant for children. That doesn’t mean we can’t love them as adults. We don’t need to dumb them down for kids, but we can’t keep them all for ourselves either. If DC and Warner Bros. should have learned one thing from Disney and Marvel, it wasn’t the cinematic universe element. It’s that these movies can be accessible to viewers of all ages. They can be mature without being meant for mature audiences.

The blame Justice League‘s failures, creative and otherwise, falls primarily on the studio higher-ups. But the finger also needs to be pointed at Zack Snyder. He’s got a devoted fanbase that will filet me for saying so. But if Batman v Superman didn’t convince you, the fact that the first Justice League movie didn’t outperform the third Thor movie should say it all. Snyder must be kept far away from any and all future DC films. I shudder to think what this movie would have looked like without Joss Whedon’s influence. 

Superhero movies can be thrilling, emotional, and surprisingly versatile. But at their core, they aren’t complicated. Give us a hero worth rooting for, a villain worth rooting against, and a reason for them to fight. We don’t need to see a bad guy get his neck snapped, a bomb inside a jar of piss, or a city destroyed to compensate for a lack of emotional connection with the audience. 

Lessons learned. Six years and millions of dollars too late. But lessons learned…

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