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Review TV

TV Review – The Defenders

With only 8 episodes, I was able to make it through The Defenders over the weekend, and I enjoyed it quite a bit.  It’s not perfect, and does run into some of the same problems as the previous Netflix shows.  Despite that, there are plenty of really enjoyable bits.

The basics behind The Defenders

The Defenders brings together all the principal players from the Netflix Marvel shows to take on the Hand once and for all.  But it takes some time to do so, starting out by giving us a glimpse of where each character is at the start.  Matt (Daredevil) is trying to live a non-super life, doing pro bono work.  Jessica Jones is avoiding work altogether despite Marcus and Trish trying to get her back in the game.  They are unsuccessful until she gets a strange call after turning down what she thinks is a typical cheating husband job.  Luke Cage is sprung from prison legally, thanks in part to Foggy Nelson.  Danny Rand is hunting the Hand across the globe, but is told they are up to shenanigans in New York.  This sets all our heroes on the path to their first meetings.

What works

We’ve been waiting forever to see some of these characters meet, and for the most part, it’s great fun.  Finally, there are people who roll their eyes at all of Danny’s “I’ve got to focus my chi, brah” antics.  Jessica’s double-takes every time Matt is in costume are worth it, too.  The action is a lot better than in Iron Fist.  Sigourney Weaver is a boss.  Claire is so good it hurts.  The combat, for the most part, works and showcases the different fighting styles.

What doesn’t

There’s a bit of shoehorning as far as “let’s have these characters meet to set up the future”.  There’s a severe lack of ninjas thanks to the updated origin of the Hand.  (vague spoiler) They sort of repeat the surprise villain death that happened in Luke Cage (end vague spoiler).  While I love the interplay between all the characters, they sit and talk just a hair too much.  While the fight scenes are better in general, they are poorly lit.

What’s next

I won’t spoil things, but there’s a pretty huge Daredevil-related cliffhanger, and the show leaves the rest of the Defenders in a much different place.  I feel like we got a worthy finish to what was started way back in Daredevil’s first season, and hopefully the forthcoming seasons can build on it in an interesting way.  If you’d like to know more about what may be coming, try these books:

 

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Comics

Marvel Joins Amazon Prime Reading

Just a head’s up for anybody who likes to get their money’s worth out of their Amazon Prime subscription, Marvel is now partnered with Amazon to have their comics show up there (as well as some selections in Kindle Unlimited and Comixology Unlimited).  Those are cool if you already pay the extra subscription fee for either service, but even if you don’t, there’s some very good stuff to check out in Prime Reading.  Here’s my favorites:

Star Wars, Volume 1 and Darth Vader, Volume 1:  When Marvel got the license to publish Star Wars comics, they went big.  Assigning some of their best writers and artists (Kieron Gillen, Jason Aaron, Salvador Larroca, John Cassaday, Adi Granov, and others).  These comics both follow on straight out of A New Hope, and they go a long way to re-establishing Darth Vader as the pre-eminent menace in that galaxy far, far away.

Ms. Marvel, Volume 1:  If you haven’t read this yet, there’s no excuse.  Kamala Khan matters more than ever in our current political climate, a daughter of Muslim immigrants who fights crime not because of some great tragedy, but was inspired by other heroism in the world.  And the story is a ton of fun, to boot.  G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona made a great creative team (along with Stephen Wacker and Sana Amanat editing and helping to create the character).

Hawkeye, Volume 1:  I’ve evangelized this series before, so hopefully you’ve already read it, but here’s yet another chance.

There’s also some Iron Fist, Deadpool, the first volume of Alias (Jessica Jones), and a few other solid comics.  If you are already subscribed to Amazon Prime, there’s no reason not to use Prime Reading.

Categories
Comics Movies TV

Stop making Batman v Superman about Marvel versus DC

If there’s a thing in comics fandom I hate right now it’s this adversarial tone a lot of the chatter takes on nowadays.  A spirited debate is fun, no doubt, but this isn’t that, it’s just angry people shouting at each other.  It’s there in sports now, video games, even politics.  There are certain groups who cling desperately to their ‘thing’, and that other ‘thing’?  You’re the most vile piece of trash not fit for life for liking it!  UGH.  And some of the media outlets support this sort of binary thinking – they encourage it, basking in the clicks and not caring that they make discourse demonstrably worse.  Take this article in the NY Post that made the rounds yesterday, provocatively titled ‘Batman v Superman’ is too smart for Marvel fans.  In it, Kyle “Women are not capable of understanding Goodfellas” Smith posits that Marvel fans’ intelligence levels are low:

This dimension lends the film a gravity and level of interest that places it at the opposite end of the spectrum from such sophomoric Marvel movies as “The Avengers: Age of Ultron,” “Guardians of the Galaxy” and “Deadpool.” All three feature brainless, low-stakes action that’s as interesting as watching a waiter fall down the stairs while carrying a tray of dishes;

While I love a good pratfall (Pratt-fall?) as much as the next guy, you’ll notice he singles out a couple of things from the Marvel canon, as if only Guardians and AoU represent the MCU.  As I read that, I pictured Mr. Smith as Anton Ego in Ratatouille, sitting in his coffin-shaped room, ready to eviscerate Marvel for releasing a movie that has the audacity to be ‘fun’.  Where is The Winter Soldier on his ‘spectrum’?  TWS may be the perfect comic book movie in that it isn’t really a comic book movie.  It’s a spy thriller that just happens to star Cap, Natasha and Nick Fury.  The first Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Jessica Jones, Daredevil…none of those represent Marvel, because it doesn’t fit Smith’s ‘us versus them’ narrative.

Ratatouille coffin

We need to stop letting the media gleefully hammer on the wedges that are splitting us apart.  There’s no reason we can’t like BOTH The Avengers and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.  But even if you don’t like a thing, it doesn’t make the people who DO like it stupid.  Let’s be better than that.  Comic book fans were marginalized, looked down upon for so long, now that we are finally getting our day in the pop culture spotlight we shouldn’t turn on each other, we should be celebrating.  DC fans, you are FINALLY getting your Justice League movie!  Marvel fans, you get the freaking Infinity Gauntlet!  Don’t stomp on something just because it’s too dark/gritty/goofy/noisy or whatever.  We can be better than this.  Build, don’t tear down.

Categories
Comics Review

Comic Book Review – Power Man and Iron Fist #1

And now for something completely different!  Although Power Man and Iron Fist does feature another character we first spotted the live-action MCU version of in Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, teaming back up with his old partner Iron Fist.  But don’t tell Luke that, it’s just a favor for a friend, and how well does that usually work out when you’re a superhero?

SweetChristmasThe first issue expertly straddles old and new – the plot focuses on Danny and Luke helping out their old Heroes for Hire office manager after she gets out of prison, but all is not what it appears.  We also see a bit of home life with Luke and Jessica Jones, such as the running gag about with Luke not swearing.  David Walker’s got the Luke/Danny banter down, and Sanford Greene’s art with Lee Loughridge’s colors invokes the 70’s era movies and shows that originally inspired the characters.  It’s no secret that Iron Fist is a personal favorite of mine, but this has inspired me to go back to the beginning in Marvel Unlimited to get the full details on what’s going on.  Definitely checking out issue 2.

Categories
Comics Review

Comic Book Review – Patsy Walker A.K.A. Hellcat #1

So I grabbed Patsy Walker A.K.A. Hellcat because I enjoy reading Kate Leth’s commentary on comics and her perspective, and I have to admit it’s more fun than I thought.  Plus, I got a solid sampling of Brittney L. Williams’s art, which works for me (she’ll be doing a Legend of Korra comic in the future).

If you are new to Hellcat (or coming from Patsy “Trish” Walker appearing on the Jessica Jones Netflix series), Leth and Williams get you up to speed in one page on her comics background.  Patsy is one of Marvel’s oldest characters, debuting in 1944 as the star of a series of teen romance comics published by Timely, the precursor to Marvel.  When she was brought into the Marvel Universe, it was established that those earlier adventures were also comic stories in-universe written by Patsy’s mother.  They played off this with her Jessica Jones appearance, where Patsy had been made to star in a Disney Channel-ish teen TV show by her mother.  Since joining the Marvel U she got powers, and had short stints as a Defender and even as an Avenger.

Before this issue, Patsy had been working as an investigator for She-Hulk, but loses both the job and her place to live in one fell swoop.  But like a cat, she lands on her feet, and finds a new purpose in life to boot – finding work for people with more…mundane powers.  Not everybody can be a hero, but with more and more powered people out there (thanks in part to that cloud of Terrigen that was released), there’s an abundance of folks that may be uniquely skilled at certain jobs.  Patsy makes it her mission to find gainful employment for the powered folk of the world who AREN’T on super-teams.  Complicating things is her old rival Hedy, who just republished the romance comics they starred in.

Look, I’m not going to but this month to month, but they’ve shown me enough that I’m definitely checking it out via Marvel Unlimited, and may just add it to my list of trades to buy and gift.  If you enjoy The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, check this out.