“A Necromancer! I hoped I’d never have to lay my eyes on one of your kind again” – Gheed.
Yes, the Necromancer is a powerful spellcaster who is capable of bringing the dead back to life. With a penchant for the macabre, these dark magicians are able to manipulate bone, flesh and even go so far as to cause disease and further. Typically though, we’re going for those who bring the dead back to life. As such, we’re not focusing on disease or any of those aspects of this dark art.
So buckle up and get ready, for it’s time that we count down our Top 10 Necromancers. (more…)
My stance on DC over the last few years has been pretty unwavering. Their efforts on the big screen have been laughable, as evidenced by the sheer amount of derision slung its way; television productions have been split down the middle, with the Flash and Arrow bringing some exceptional quality that has not been reflected in Legends or Super-Girl, with Constantine being cancelled, and Gotham falling short of its promise; and finally the creations of the animation studios.
So far the DC Animated Universe has presented a mixture of animated epics, at worst suffering a flaw or two large enough to mar complete enjoyment. For example, the Killing Joke’s padding-arc irritated a lot of comic fans, and I found the plot of Judas Contract rather bland. Never the less, every film so far has been a joy to watch, and certainly if one were to look for things to complain about there are better places to look – such is the critics burden. (more…)
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…)
A little bit of an oxymoron, a powerless superhero is probably not what you’d call a superhero. However, as time has gone on, the superhero genre has changed and we call some of the key heroes who, by all means, are as powerless as the rest of us. Sure, they might be well trained, in fact you could argue they’re trained to superhuman levels, but if we were put through the same conditions as them, we could possibly achieve this too…
… Naaah. Too much effort for my liking. However, these men and women are here to show us how cool it is to be a powerless superhero, fighting villains, supervillains and more. Be it technology, be it strategy, or be it just through sheer determination, these are our Top 10 Powerless Superheroes.
The title says it all folks, that’s right – if you’ve not heard the news, then you’re certainly missing out on some cartoon capers. DC are producing a bunch of comics where their heroes and villains will be facing off against the heroes and villains of Looney Tunes. Does it sound too gimmicky to be true, or do you think this goofy idea is too good to be true? Well, let’s go into some detail about what we know about these comics so far and what there is to look forward to in the coming months as we wait for more information.
Content Warning: For those of you unfamiliar with it, the Killing Joke is one of the grimmest Batman stories ever put to paper, and deals with some hard hitting issues. I will be discussing them. And also spoiling substantial chunks, but this is now an eighteen year old comic… so…
Though DC’s live action films might be fighting a war on two fronts, I’ve grown rather addicted to their recent efforts in animation. Flashpoint Crisis, Gods and Monsters, Assault on Arkham, and a few others that have piqued my interest. It’s been well worth a watch, delving into some of the more complex sides of the DC universe, seeing how they run off their own internal logic, and seeing the interplay of the world’s mightiest heroes. I’d have to say that the Justice League’s inter-personal dynamic is stronger by far than the personalities of any of the individuals, maybe even better than that of the Avengers. (more…)