Even amongst monarchy there is a hierarchy; some kings are more kingly than others, entire reality shows are dedicated to picking the best queen, and with so many Disney princesses how are you to choose? Be they leaders of government, warrior monarchs, whether they reign over nations, planets or worlds, all were considered.
Last week, our vote was a tie. Usually what we do in these situations, is roll a die for odds/evens and whoever calls it gets the one they choose. This time, Timlah said to Joel: “I think we can do this”. Lo and behold, we managed it. We combined the tied votes to create a brand new Top 10 that you all voted for. Perhaps the will of the people wasn’t to do this, but the votes sent us this way.
Flamboyant characters can be hard to judge: they’re often more than just a bit player in their franchise. Often they’re scary, in fact, they’re usually a little bit ominous. They stand out in a realm of “the norm”, they dress fancy, they talk differently and their minds are wired in a very unique way. They’re dangerous but fabulous, they’re ominous, they’re flamboyant… they’re in our Top 10 Flamboyantly Ominous Characters list!
Having only reviewed Justice League Dark last week, I’d intended to leave my review for Judas Contract for a little while, and then I watched it. I have mentioned a couple of times how much I enjoy the animated DC films, but one of the more pleasant surprises for me has been the Teen Titans, a super team who might actually be more fun to watch than the Avengers. The Judas Contract is their second outing in the series, following on from the team of teens taking down the Justice League, but that doesn’t make this adventure a down-grade.
The young and the superpowered work together under the tutelage of the alien princess Starfire and the first Robin turned Nightwing, Dick Grayson. Amongst their number you have Raven, a young girl who bears a crystal that imprisons her demonic father; Blue Beetle, a boy whose symbiotic relationship with an ancient egyptian killing machine is still unexplored; current Robin and recovering assassin Damien Wayne; Terra, a girl with personality problems and the power to move mountains, and Beastboy… who will probably be fine.
The Spoiler Free Bit
One thing I must credit the animated films with is not wasting time on origin stories because they know their market. We receive just enough to get us kicked off and from there we’re thrust into narrative. It’s something that Jessica Jones probably did best, leaving the history to unravel a little more organically throughout the narrative through little expositional moments that lend a great deal of texture to each character. For the more knowledgeable fans it gets you straight through all of the boring “we know already” moments and to business, but even as someone whose knowledge is limited there’s a lot gained from this approach, you’re already engaged enough to want to learn more about who you’re watching.
It’s also important not to delude yourself that the Titans are not exactly for kids. Oh sure, they translate easily enough into a kids show style format, Teen Titans Go being the most current incarnation, but do not show the Judas Contract to young ones unless you want to accelerate their education of “the facts of life”. Here’s why:
Our villains are twofold. The grandiose cult leader Brother Blood holds sway over a deeply unpleasant church dedicated entirely to him, a messiah/living god figure who has acquired various forms of longevity and immortality, sustaining himself with blood rituals and draining the vitality of others. After nine centuries of patience he now has access to a machine that will allow him to steal the superpowers of others, along with their lives, but to bring them in he requires help. Enter League of Assassins reject and one of the scariest villains ever to grace the Arrowverse, Deathstroke/Slade Wilson. Hired by blood as a mercenary to keep the Titans at bay until he’s good and ready.
Between Blood literally bathing in the blood of a reporter beneath the freshly drained corpse, the rather “forward” advances of Deathstroke’s young and curvy partner in crime, unapologetic use of bad language and Starfire’s inability to filter comments about her relationship with Dick Grayson, this is not one to sit down to with the kids unless you’re ready to answer some questions. There are a bunch of teens after all, teens dealing with murderers and lunatics but that doesn’t stop puberty happening. This does all mean that the comedy is just perfect, alongside some superb characterisation, perhaps most of all from Beastboy.
Biggest let down is the action, best summarised by a fight against some gun-drones that politely hold their fire while the team dodge and prep their weapons, or demonstrate some classic storm-trooper accuracy. Blue Beetle’s scarab-armour also seems undecided about its own powers, as I feel he should be more than capable of busting loose of his restraints towards the beginning of the final conflict, even if it was debilitated. I also have a monolithic plot hole I’d like to point out, but there’s some spoiler to get through first…
It’s hard not to guess it before the big plot twist about 30 minutes in, but it turns out the new girl, Terra, is a traitor working for Deathstroke, feeding information for a year back to her boss and lover, hence “Judas Contract”. Honestly if you didn’t guess traitor from that you need to read more, maybe watch more films. You’re almost guaranteed to see the double-cross that comes towards the end when Slade sells Terra to Brother Blood along with the rest of the Titans.
So the plot hole. Following an attempt at grabbing a scientist working on Blood’s life-sucking device, the scientist dies but leaves behind a rather conclusive proof of an insider, detailed profiles of the team and candid photographs, in which only one member of the team is conspicuously absent despite having been a member for a full year. And no one even asked the question? Not even Batman-trained Dick Grayson?
That aside, the whole betrayal narrative gives us some great moments of comic-book self awareness. Banter between Slade and Robin points a huge finger at common villain stupidity, although my personal favourite line comes shortly after Terra glibly discusses how the Titans are all about to die, and Deathstroke says “Urgh, no grey areas with this one!”
This is really just a good quality super-hero adventure. Sadly I can’t speak to accuracy to the comics, although based on past performances I’d hazard a guess at “close enough” at least for those more casually inclined toward comics. It’s engaging enough that I find I’m almost as keen to see the next instalment as I am to see the next Marvel blockbuster.
It’s also incredibly gratifying to see a company who aren’t afraid to plunge a group of plucky teens into a very grim story, after all these aren’t average happy teenagers. They’re cursed, burdened, shunned and alone, pledged to save lives at all costs, trained daily to combat terrible evils and the worst of humanity. This is why I found myself most enthralled with the character of Beastboy, despite one rather stupid moment where he’s presented with a “DO NOT PUSH” button. He wears his suffering plainly, but at the same time is unapologetic in embracing life, simultaneously filled with joy and sorrow and willing to share them both with anyone who’ll listen.
Suddenly I feel the need to buy comics.
If you’re at UKGE at the Birmingham NEC this weekend let us know. I’ll be there with catharsisjelly, getting our fill of board games and geekery all the way through ’til Sunday.
Building upon the last few weeks of breaking down the moral alignment chart from Dungeons & Dragons fame, I wanted to break down a character by their place on the axes between good and evil, law and chaos. Inspired by this article by Falcon Game Reviews I asked for suggestions on characters I could break down, but sadly got no ideas for anyone I felt confident enough to analyse in weird levels of detail.
So I sat, and I deliberated while chain-watching episodes of Constantine, scrolling through my Steam Library, IMdb, Deviant Art, YouTube, my bookshelves, and any number of geeky Facebook pages searching for inspiration. Someone who’s morality and methods may come into conflict, someone compelling who would be interesting to break down. And it took until about mid-day on the day I write this for me to notice what kind of an idiot I was being. (more…)
Is anyone else livid over the fact that Constantine got cancelled while Gotham limps on? I hear that Legends of Tomorrow got better, same as Supergirl, but I gave them both a chance and just couldn’t keep watching, and yet one of the three good DC shows got axed. Matt Ryan brilliantly played the sarcastic one-man army standing against the darkness that lies beyond the veil of illusion we call life, who walks between heaven and hell and raises a middle finger to both. The intention was to incorporate the series into the Arrowverse, a plan which has apparently not been entirely scrapped.
Y’see much like many of his nemeses, Constantine just won’t die. There was a brief stop-motion mini-series, a cameo on Arrow, an animated series underway in a few months time, and a starring feature in one of DCs far superior animated film series, Justice League Dark. Where is this DC? (more…)
… Ah. There really wasn’t much to laugh about, was there? Anyway, welcome back to our weekly Top 10, ladies and gentlemen, where we take a topic that you choose and we choose the best of the best in that category. Today’s subject is a little bit experimental, as we’re going to be looking at our Top 10 Mad Scientists and write up our thesis about their potentials for the top spot. We’ve taken a lot of candidates and we felt like we’d do something a bit different for this one. We’ve put a pinch of this and a dash of that together to give birth to a list which shows off the best of the best of these mad scientists. Creation is a powerful tool; so let’s see what these scientists can bring to life! (more…)
Amidst the worlds of literature, film and other media there are a host of works that simply don’t exist. From novels that sweep the world, textbooks of the strange and wondrous, and instructions on how to do the impossible. Though we may never have access to the miracles within those pages, we get to see their fictitious impact, because words matter.
Here we catalogue the finest works of non-existent prose, poetry, documentation, and scripture. Join us as we list the Top 10 fictional documents.
I like comics. I take an unusual approach compared to many enthusiasts, seizing upon every little detail of a Marvel movie and studying it in depth in an effort to uncover some easter-egg a layman might not observe, occasionally picking up a volume of something that catches my eye, including a few non-super titles like Transmetropolitan or Beyond Wonderland. The art, the complex and interwoven stories picked up by dozens of writers, each adding their own unique interpretation.
The morning before the Shrewsbury Meet I had the chance to sit down in the Shrewsbury Coffeehouse with Christian Ward, comic book artist for Marvel and Image amongst others. Christian’s unusual style and colour palette sets him apart amongst the more traditionally styled comic artists, and his unique talent has led him to a unique project.
Black Bolt, leader and King of the Inhumans is receiving his first ever solo storyline, unattached to his part-alien part-god family, and Christian has been tasked with bringing the man who dare not speak to life on page. In addition we’ll be introduced to some characters entirely new to the Marvel Universe, and he got the first shot at immortalising their image. The first issue of this unique saga is released tomorrow at comic book shops everywhere, and this is what we discussed:
Much credit to Tim for editing out the sounds of the Coffehouse going on behind us, rendering our conversation to video, and finding Throne of the Cresent Moon, well done that man. And of course thanks Christian for taking the time to chat with me. Check out the amazing people he discussed here:
If you’re in Shrewsbury on Friday then you can get your copy of Black Bolt signed by the artist’s own fair hand, information on the signing event hosted by Infinity and Beyond can be found here, but so long as your within easy reach of a comic-book shop you can grab your copy of issue 1 tomorrow (Wednesday, 3/5/17) following the Inhuman King’s first solo adventure.
Do you like Sci-Fi?
Do you like graphic novels?
Well then, Sci-Fi fans rejoice as there’s a brand new graphic novel coming to the market, but it needs your help to make it even bigger and better. If you love to help local projects come to life, help this one raise as much money as it can, but before you go and click the button to back this new story, why not check out what they’re offering us and what the prizes are for the campaign. Join us as we do our first Kickstarter Highlight in a very long time!