Category Archives: justice league

Rise of the Guardians

Rise of the Guardians ~ This is a fun animated adventure that I actually enjoyed quite a bit. It’s sort of like there’s a Justice League of mythical beings who protect the children of Earth – Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Sandman, and the Tooth Fairy. When the Boogeyman, Pitch Black, rears up to change the status quo for the more evil and nightmarish, these Guardians are called together, but must take in a new member, the reluctant Jack Frost.

There is great voice work here as well as interesting takes and personalities on the different Guardians. Hugh Jackman, being chief among the voicers, is extremely good. Jude Law as the villain, and Alec Baldwin’s Russian Santa Claus are also good. Very entertaining, I wish I’d caught it in theaters so I could have seen it on the big screen.

Guardians strikes me at many levels being similar to the Rankin/Bass holiday specials of my youth. Here are tales of Santa, the Easter Bunny, etc. for a new generation, and just as believable as they were back then. You’ll leave this movie feeling refreshed and filled with hope, and not just a little childlike wonder. This is how a Superman movie should leave you. Maybe we can hijack those writers for the next chapter in that franchise.

Rise of the Guardians was a breath of fresh air and good entertainment for the whole family, recommended.

Arrow S02 E05: "League of Assassins"

We open on a Queen’s Gambit flashback, this one surprisingly from Sarah’s point of view, and turns out to be a nightmare. Girl has more PTSD and origin flashbacks in ten minutes than Oliver had all last season. Good thing an assassin in Dark Archer garb attacked to break the tension. Turns out he’s a member of the League of Assassins, yeah, Ras al Ghul’s League of Assassins, and in a fit of fashion faux pas, they all dress like John Barrowman in costume.

After the attack, in the Arrowcave with Diggle and Felicity, we get the lowdown. After the boat went down, Sarah was rescued and trained by the League of Assassins. The guy who attacked was called The First (who trained Merlyn), and was sent to take out Sarah. And, da da dum, the outfit of The Hood was first worn by Shado. I wonder where that little tidbit will go.

On the soap opera side of things, Moira is still coming up to trial, with Laurel prosecuting. It’s life with possibility of parole or the death penalty. Wow. It sounds like Starling City has the same corrupt and ridiculous legal system as Gotham City. Is Moira Queen worse than the Joker? Everyone is suitably whiny about this.

To protect her father, Sara reveals herself. She brings him to her watchtower and tells him she took the name Canary. There Sarah, her dad, and Oliver, just a little bit take down the assassins come to kill them. Good fight, but really it’s Sarah’s fight, and Quentin’s. Oliver just kinda watches, then shoots an arrow or two, like, “Hey, I thought this was my show.”

As if that’s not enough, Sarah’s flashback reveals she was rescued by Professor Anthony Ivo on his ship, the Amazo, and he’s going to save the human race. Oh boy. Time for a comics lesson. For the uninitiated, Ivo is a mad scientist, capital M mad with an immortality obsession. That’s not his claim to fame however. That would be Amazo, and it’s not a boat.

Amazo is a giant eight-foot tall android that Ivo created, super strong, near invulnerable, and a sociopath. As if that wasn’t good enough, he has these energy absorption powers, which allowed him to gain the powers of the Justice League, all of them, even Superman. Armed with a replica of Green Lantern’s power ring and Wonder Woman’s golden lasso, and all those powers, Amazo has terrorized the Justice League for decades. Yeah, that’s the legacy of Professor Ivo.

This kind of makes me wonder… how many big bads will we have this season? We have Brother Blood, possibly Ras al Ghul, possibly Suicide Squad coming, maybe Metamorpho, hell, maybe Trigon. And who knows what things will be like once the Flash shows up. One wonders how big this could be, will the rumored “Amazon” show, and the just announced “Hourman” series tie in as well?

I didn’t know what to think of the special mini-adventure “Blood Rush” with Felicity and Roy. In the space I took to explain it, it’s over, so at this point, it seemed a waste of time. Perhaps it would be better as a webseries?

Next week: The return of Deadshot, Amanda Waller, and maybe… the Suicide Squad??

Lego Batman: The Movie – DC Super Heroes Unite

Lego Batman: The Movie – DC Super Heroes Unite ~ I am always wary of movies, books, and even potato chips that have long titles and subtitles, and this one is a doozy. I shouldn’t have worried though, because it’s Lego, and Lego is always cool, even when I can’t play their video games.

From the get-go, this was good. The opening is a Lego take off on the opening credit sequence of Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman, and even uses Danny Elfman’s great score (and later John Williams’ Superman music). And if that’s not cool enough, it has Clancy Brown wonderfully reprising his role as the animated Lex Luthor. What’s not to like?

The story is simple enough, and accessible to new viewers perhaps not savvy to the DC Universe continuity. Luthor joins up with the Joker to defeat Superman, Batman and Robin, destroy Gotham City, and win the Presidential election. Throw in guest stars from the Justice League and Batman’s Rogues Gallery, along with that clever Lego sense of humor, and you’ve got a very entertaining flick for all ages.

Of course it has all the charm and wonder of the animated Lego stuff, that coolness of hey-I-could-build-that and a wink-wink slyness that the characters know they and their world are made of Legos. The cityscapes and sets of Gotham and Metropolis are stunning. The best part is Luthor’s weapon, which is a gun that literally takes Legos apart.

Watching this I can’t help thinking that this could probably not only be better than Warner Bros’ upcoming Batman/Superman movie, but quite possibly could serve as an excellent script or template. If only…

Arrow: The Undertaking

About mid-season of the “Arrow” series, the powers that be finally gave a name to the master plan that the bad guys of The List had for Starling City. They called it The Undertaking. It’s never been clear what it actually was, but we know it has sinister implications for The Glades – the ‘bad’ section of the city, and home to Roy Harper, the Verdant nightclub, and the ersatz Arrowcave. One supposes by the title of this episode, we’ll finally find out exactly what The Undertaking is.

From all indications, we might just find out what happened to Walter as well. A unique flashbacknot to the island, shows us a meeting of The List several years prior. It seems their original plan was to blackmail bad people into doing good things, but John Barrowman’s Merlyn suggests a new ‘undertaking,’ leveling The Glades and starting from scratch. No Glades, no crime. And there it is.

And OMG, the thing that’s going to level The Glades is called the Markov device. Comics readers know that half-siblings Brion and Tara Markov are Geo-Force and Terra, metahumans with earth elemental powers. Brion was a hero who joined the Outsiders and later the Justice League. Tara was a teenage psychopath who joined the Teen Titans in order to betray them to… Deathstroke, with whom she had a very unhealthy and possibly illegal relationship. Wow. I’m guessing The Glades go in an earthquake.

In the soap opera zone, Laurel goes to Verdant to cry on Oliver’s shoulder about her break-up with Tommy. Felicity’s awkward walk-in may have sent odd signals to Laurel. Sigh. To quote one of my favorite “Simpsons” lines, “When are they gonna get to the fireworks factory?” In this case, fireworks factory equals superhero action.

In a slightly more high quality melodrama moment we get to watch Barrowman tell of his wife’s death in order to convince Oliver’s father to go along with The Undertaking. It really the first time “Arrow” has given the man room to act. Finally. And we get a glimpse into the making of a villain.

In the distracting secondary plot of the episode (because on “Arrow,” the overarc is always the main plot), Felicity goes undercover in a casino to find clues of Walter’s whereabouts. As I’ve said before, Emily Bett Rickards’ Felicity cleans up real nice, but then again I like her in and out of nerd.

With no Diggle for back-up, The Hood has to save her, doing so like a bull in a china shop. I counted at least four arrows to the chest, one a woman, probably some of them only patrons to the casino. Once again, I find myself rooting for the police to put this murderous Bizarro version of Green Arrow away.

At first it seems that Walter was dead, and then alive. The Hood saves him, plowing through henchmen to get him, but first parachuting down onto their hideout from a plane. I couldn’t get past that. Who was flying the plane? Wouldn’t they know it was The Hood on board, and jumping out? Seems like a major loose end here.

Things are heating up and finally coming together. Oliver makes up with Diggle. And he admits to Laurel he still loves her. And, most importantly, he knows that Merlyn and his mom have been lying to him, and they are behind The Undertaking. The secrets are out, time for the real game to begin.

Other shout outs to the comics in this episode include Ted Kord for whom a fundraiser was held in flashback. Ted Kord was the second Blue Beetle. And Walter was being held in Bludhaven, Dick (Nightwing) Grayson’s old stomping ground.

Yes, things are finally heating up, I can’t wait for the next episode. As long as they keep tying up loose ends, that is.

Injustice on iPhone

So while waiting to see who has the best deal to buy Injustice (cuz $60 is just not cool), I happened to notice there was an iPhone app called Injustice Gods Among Us. I thought, could it be? It was. Much smaller, but at least it had more characters to use.

Now warning up front, my phone informed me right away that the fame was not built for iPhone and there might be some technical difficulties. That’s all right, a funky game I want to play is better than no game at all, right?

The graphics are pretty intense for the phone. I was very impressed. It’s not my Justice League, mind you, in this fancy-schmancy armor, as more than a few toy lines have ruined the JLA with extra armors, but these animatics looked very good.

The iPhone version had a swell tutorial, however unrealistic, allowing the player, as Green Arrow, to wallop Superman something fierce. GA beats Supes so hard he probably went home to foster momma for a new pair of shorts (which he is sadly lacking here – the real Superman wears his undies outside his pants, period).

Once the tutorial ends, I got to play for real, and was introduced to the true reality of the game. Nobody, absolutely nobody, just stands there like tutorial Superman and let’s you hit them. I learned this very very quickly as first Sinestro, and then a very nasty version of Solomon Grundy, took turns taking my ass to school.

The game is similar to Avengers Initiative, also on the iPhone, but with more fun characters and backgrounds, has more characters than the Injustice demo for PS3, and should sate most of our appetites ’til the real thing comes out. I dug this.

Arrow: Unfinished Business

We begin with a girl dancing and dying in traffic, drugged up on a new version of Vertigo. This results in visits to see The Count in the asylum, by both The Hood and Detective Lance. For the second episode in a row, the Joker parallels are there. The Count is obsessed with Arrow, and more focused in his presence. While Starling City is under siege from this new Vertigo, yeah, you guessed it, The Count escapes.

While Arrow pursues The Count, Diggle is still looking for Deadshot, the villain who killed his brother way back when. He gives all info that Felicity found on him to an old friend named Lyla, who now runs with an outfit called Argus. Comic readers will recognize the name. A.R.G.U.S. is the organization that manages the Justice League, and does all their gruntwork, as well as their PR.

Tommy has problems of his own. Lance thinks there’s a connection between Verdant and the dead girl who died from Vertigo, and starts to investigate the club. He finds a suspicious $10,000 missing in its records. At first I’m thinking, wait, the ‘Arrowcave’ only cost ten grand??

It turns out however that the cash was used to pay off a corrupt building inspector. Lance wants to see the sub-level to the club now, and has brought a search warrant. In what should have been some clever switch, we merely get some rearranged furniture and crates. It’s still not clear who packed up the Arrowcave – Oliver, because he inexplicably knew Lance was coming, or Tommy because he was afraid of what Oliver might do. This best friends one minute, assailant/victim thing the next is getting old.

Speaking of supporting cast, Felicity is not as much fun now that she is in on the secret. Rather than an actual player in the show, she’s become simply an errand girl. Find this, do this, she may as well have “Yes, sir, no, sir.” as her only lines. I want the old Felicity back. And as long as we’re talking about the women in Oliver’s life, on the island, Shado starts training him finally.

In the end, the Vertigo is tracked back to the asylum. Another Joker reference emerges. How many years did the Joker operate out of Arkham, his own headquarters beneath the mental hospital itself? But it’s not The Count doing the dirty work, but his doctor and intern. Once they have been dispatched, Oliver mercifully does not take out the apparently insane Count.

This is just like the Carl moment in this past week’s season finale of “The Walking Dead.” Carl kills a surrendering kid, not for what he had done, but for what he might do in the future. Will Oliver live to regret not killing The Count, or should he have Carl-ed him?

Arrow: Dodger

Lots of stuff going on in this episode, even though it seems a bit like a fill-in issue from the comics. First and foremost there’s a new baddie in town, the Dodger, who uses hostages to do his dirty work in robberies. Basically if the hostage doesn’t do what he says, he blows their head off by remote control. He also has a nifty taser stick similar to the old TV Green Hornet’s Hornet Sting. For the record, Dodger is a minor Green Arrow villain from the comics, notably affiliated with the League of Assassins – the group headed by Ras al Ghul over in the Batman universe.

Also thrown in for good measure is Moira meeting with an old family friend named Frank who I suspect could be China White’s father. Whatever the folks on The List are up to, it’s coming soon, and the writers have given it a name – The Undertaking. Supposedly, according to Moira at least, it started as a way to help the Glades, the dilapidated area of Starling City where the ‘Arrowcave’ is.

Then there’s also the grumbling fit Felicity has made on the Arrow team. For a temporary member, all she seems to be doing is causing trouble. She not only interferes with tactics in pursuing The List, she makes Diggle ask out his widowed sister-in-law Carly from Big Belly Burger, and Oliver ask out the beautiful Detective McKenna Hall from a few episodes back. Felicity has some kind of pull, eh? Neither date goes very well, sadly, at first at least.

And then, yeah, then there’s the kid in the red hood. He steals Thea’s purse while she’s walking with Laurel. His name? Yeah, you guessed it. Who else would be wearing red in a show about Green Arrow? His name is Roy Harper.

For those who read the comics, Roy Harper was Oliver Queen’s ward, Green Arrow’s sidekick in red, and the first hero to go by the name Speedy. He later became addicted to heroin, which Black Canary (Laurel in the show) helped him kick. He was later known as Arsenal and then Red Arrow when he took his mentor’s place in the Justice League. Just for the record, Green Arrow later trained a second Speedy – her name was Mia Dearborn. “Arrow” has a close counterpart in Oliver’s sister Thea Dearborn Queen.

The TV version of Roy Harper survives on petty theft, neglected by his parents. In a switch, mom is addicted to Vertigo, and dad is dead, buried in Norris Cemetery, a nod to Paul Norris, the artist who co-created Speedy back in 1941 with writer Mort Weisinger. Other comics call outs this episode include the corner of Adams and O’Neil, the writer/artist team that brought us the award winning Green Lantern/Green Arrow series in the early 1970s.

Apparently the Starling City Police, except McKenna, but Lance is included, are a lot like the old Philly cops or Gotham’s cops. They have lots of ammo and don’t give a crap about property damage. When they try to ambush the Dodger, they just open fire on an illegal fence’s warehouse like they were in a Rambo movie. Who knows what kind of priceless antiquities were destroyed forever?

Emily Bett Rickards cleans up really nice as Felicity later in the episode when the Dodger turns her into a human bomb. I’d like to see her like this more often. As a bombshell that is, not as a bomb. And as far as bombshells go – our cliffhanger this episode? Moira has hired China White to take out Merlyn. Oh yeah, this is going to be bad… for everyone…

Special Boxing Day Edition of The All Things Fun! New Comics Vidcast

The All Things Fun! New Comics Vidcast features co-hosts Ed (Freaky Friday Fan) Evans, Allison (Superhero Girlfriend Expert) Eckel, and Glenn (The Gray Hulk) Walker, as they discuss the new comics out this week! You can see the show here, or check it out below.

Discussion featured in this week’s Special Spoiler Alert Skip Week episode includes: Happy Boxing Day, Justice League #15 and Aquaman #15, Before Watchmen Nite-Owl #4, Amazing Spider-Man #700 and Avenging Spider-Man #15.1, The Shadow Special #1, Crossed Badlands #20, Star Wars Omnibus Clone Wars Volume 3, Star Wars The Card Game from Fantasy Flight Games, open *danger* spoiler alert *danger* discussion of the above comics, especially Amazing Spider-Man #700 and the upcoming Superior Spider-Man, superhero girlfriend training, the Throne of Atlantis/Flashpoint connection, and deconstructing and compressing Justice League storytelling.

Be sure to check out the rockin’ All Things Fun! website, and the All Things Fun! Blogs, written by Allison and Glenn, featuring The Vidcast Drinking Game so you can play along at home, and watch ATF! on YouTube (don’t forget to subscribe to the channel while you’re there, and leave a comment or two on the Vidcast as well!).

And be back here every Wednesday (or Tuesdays at midnight) to watch the new broadcast, and thereafter throughout the week!

The All Things Fun! New Comics Vidcast is shot live every week at All Things Fun! – the South Jersey/Philadelphia area’s best comics, toys and gaming store, located in West Berlin, NJ. Don’t forget to visit us at Facebook!

The Lego Pirates

I love Lego. It was a toy I didn’t have as a child so I have always had a fascination with as an adult. And now that recently Lego has been putting out Lego versions of superheroes, I love them more. I really groove on having my own Lego versions of the Justice League and the Avengers.

That said, I think having special Batman, Avengers, Star Wars, Pirates of the Caribbean, and all the other sets for Lego kinda takes some of the imagination play away from the kids. Especially when a set is supposed to be put together a certain way, rather than letting the kid built what he or she wants, ya know?

Soapbox time over. Lego also seems to be a major force in videogames. Heck, one of the first games I reviewed here was a Lego game. Folks seem to like using Lego-ized characters in videogames. This time we have Disney’s Pirate franchise in Lego Pirates of the Caribbean. The animatics in the opening of the game are recreations of many moments from the movies done Lego animation style. The game itself however is something else.

The demo I downloaded from the PlayStation Store wouldn’t let me free play until I completed the story mode. That was disappointing. And once I hit start, there were more movie recreations in Lego style. There was more TV watching here than actual game playing.

When finally I was allowed to play, there was more disappointment. Without an instruction manual (good luck finding one online, PS seems dead set against supplying instructions), I was at a loss as to what to do. I collected coins Mario style but then found it impossible to leave the room I started in. I suppose I’ll have to wait for one of my gaming guru friends to come over. At least I can play with my Lego Avengers until then…

Arrow: Legacies

Before I start my review of this episode, I want to backtrack to something I missed initially in last week’s “Damaged.” The attorney prosecuting Oliver in that episode was none other than Kate Spencer. In the DC Comics source material, crusading attorney Spencer is the secret identity of the crime fighting superheroine Manhunter. Perhaps that’s a hint to an upcoming encounter.

“Legacies” represents a turning point for Oliver in his vigilante mission, going from personal vendetta to full-on crimefighter and protector of Starling City. To make that transformation, enter the Royal Flush Gang. In the comics these high tech card-themed villains regularly took on the Justice League with a revolving cast of thugs behind the masks. Here in “Arrow,” they are a family of bank robbing terrorists in painted hockey masks. Same as they ever were, just with less special effects.

I’m impressed that Diggle is able to turn Oliver’s head in this way. He can’t just fight the cause of his city’s sickness, he has to fight the symptoms as well – and this week, the symptoms are the Royal Flush Gang. I did not however dig Diggle’s Alfred impersonation when he saved Oliver from brunch to stop a bank robbery. Speaking of Batman, I loved seeing Oliver stealthily break into police headquarters, kinda part Batman, part Dexter.

We get more trick arrows this time around as well as more Felicity Smoak. Tommy Merlyn has a bigger part, trying to get back into Laurel’s pants. I’m not sure which is creepier – Tommy and Laurel or Tommy and Thea. Maybe the latter is what pushes him and Oliver apart? Get to it already, when is he finally putting on the black leather and crossing bows with our hero?

Tidbits from the quiver: Yao Fei is finally named in the show, Keystone City, Coast City, a pseudo Legion ring, and Stagg Industries are among the comics name drops this time around. I see that Philadelphia’s Comcast building has been added to Starling City’s skyline. And there’s also the fact that Laurel’s law firm is abbreviated CNRI – yeah, that’s right, Canary.