Vampblade #1

Here’s where the action really kicks in. Katie finds two blades that are supposedly props.  When she picks them up, she literally morphs into Vampblade.  She wields the blades like an expert, killing the mobster. She’s too much in control for a novice with blades.  The blades are controlling her movements.  The fact that the blades cause her to morph into a different outfit and have a mind of their own, so to speak, is what reminded me of Witchblade.  Speaking of her blades taking control, she keeps hearing voices that scream “FEED.” It’s the blades and they direct her to the back room. With that, she and the readers discover she has enhanced vision that spots Space Vampires.  The space vampires have possessed the customers and try to enter VampBlade’s body orally. She uses the blade to stab the customers possessed by the Space Vampires.  Some of the Space Vampire’s did get inside her, and she begins to spit them out/throw them up.  The book ends with police arriving on the scene to find a comic book shop, filled with dead monsters, bloody and wounded customers, and a naked Katie Carva, unconscious on the ground.  I liked that the blades are mystical in nature.  While it’s incredibly convenient for the story. I really dig that mystical blades happen to be on display at a comic book store.  When you think of it, anywhere else you’d think to expect to find them would be far too obvious.  Seeing as she just found them, there is no explanation as to the origin of these mystical blades.  This is something I hope is dealt with in subsequent issues.  I’m also hoping to get more details about the Space Vampires, as their appearance alone piqued my interest.  To me, VampBlade’s “enhanced vision” seems like a cross between Superman’s heat vision and Spider-Man’s Spidey Sense.  I thought ending with Vampblade unconscious and surrounded by police was striking.  It shows that even though our heroine kicked butt and was BADASS, doing the bidding of the mystical blades and having a partial Space Vampire inside her, had an effect and took its toll on her.

Art was drawn by Winston Young.  The art itself had a more cartoonish/animated vibe to it.  It reminded me somewhat of Chad Hardin and John Timms, who draw the current Harley Quinn series.  The art style definitely fits the story being told.  Visually, Vampblade is as scantily clad as Vampirella is.  Instead of a red one piece that reveals lots of cleavage, Vampblade wears a black S & M looking outfit with thigh high boots.  Don’t fret, this outfit shows off panty of cleavage and there’s some booty action in there too.  The artist totally embraces the 90’s cheesecake art and I for one thoroughly appreciate it.  Heck the character even acknowledges that the outfit is S & M inspired and looks, in her words “Skanky.” Clearly, the costume has the sexy box checked off and the cool factor is also present and accounted for.  I love how chains are connected to her costume and also connected to blades as well.  From a logical standpoint, it seems like all these connectivity would restrict her movements, especially when fighting.  However, it’s a comic book, so sometimes I let stuff like that go.  Besides, the chains look awesome.  The way the suit morphs onto our hero, is very VENOM like.  I wonder if that was inspired by the famous Spider-Man villain or not.  Either way, I dug it! One of VampBlade’s coolest and most violent kills didn’t even involve her blades.  She kicks a mobster in the throat with the heel of her boot , slashing his throat in the process, blood dripping from the wound.  Another gruesome shot was Vampblade stabbing herself in the stomach, to get the Space Vampire out of her.  Speaking of the Space Vampire they look a little bit like the sandworms in Beetlejuice and the Goa'uld larval symbiote that was present in the character of Teal'c in Stargate SG-1.    I think it’s cool that the Space Vampires are translucent, or more of a ghost like species.  Does this mean she is the only one who can see them? The colors in this comic book really pop, especially VampBlade’s purple hair.  That color choice really makes the character unique and stand out.

Vampblade isn’t overly dark and serious, or campy/funny.  The comic book finds the perfect balance in its overall tone.  Sure, the book seems to borrow or is inspired by comic book characters before it and while there are homages,  our writer & artist team create something fresh and absolutely original.   As I mentioned this comic book is so much fun, On top of all that, it embraces our Ms., Kinky Horror’s mantra of Free The Nipple!  I will definitely read more issues.  If you haven’t heard of this book before, or never read it, now you know! Do the right thing and read this comic book! It’s good, really good!


Justice League continued...

The 3 newest superheroes were all great.  Ray Fisher as Victor Stone provided heart, depth and emotional heft to the story.  At first Cyborg is a recluse, hiding in his apartment. He is haunted by what he has become, is questioning his humanity, and is worried that the motherbox technology, has turned him into the next threat against humanity.  His father tries to tell him what he can do is a gift but Victor isn't having it.  Only when he meets with Diana, does he start to open up.  This happens once they both share their senses of loss.  Diana of losing Steve Trevor, and Victor Stone at the loss of his limbs.  He leaves Diana with no answer if he will join the team, but eventually does, when his father is taken by Parademons..  I liked that his embracing of his humanity happened over the course of the film, instead of happening immediately.  How his armor interacts with the mother box looked great. It was great to see  Cyborg take the lead in the resurrection of Superman and the third act battle of separating the motherboxes and that Superman was helping to executing Cyborg's plan. One place where the CGI looks real good, is with Cyborg.  I thought the armor looked legit, never taking me out of the movie.  He did utter his famous "BOOYAH" line from Teen Titans Go, but thankfully, this version of Cyborg is much better than that crappy version.  Jason Momoa comes as advertised! He's absolutely BADASS as Aquaman.  The fact is, he's a bit in no man's land, in that he doesn't feel like he belongs on land or in Atlantis.  He remains in that Icelandic village because it's remote and the people need his help.  He's a grifter, a bit of a drinker at times, but a hero at heart.  Those story beats are straight from Geoff Johns' New 52 Aquaman run.   His look is definitely inspired by the Peter David run of the comic books and the JLU cartoon.  His underwater swimming movement, somewhat echoes Superman, when he flies through the air.  The brief scenes with Mera underwater, establishes a couple that just met and have an animosity towards each other. This will surely change in their solo film adventure.  Their conversation gave us the bare bones of Arthur Curry's history and I thought it was just the right amount  As for how Mera and Arthur talked under water; they used their powers to create an air bubbles they could talk.  That's a inventive and unique idea. I always wondered how they'd handle that.  The fight scene between Aquaman and Steppenwolf, as the New God tries to steal the Atlantean mother box will make Aquaman fans wet with excitement and hard with anticipation for James Wan's film.  It all look so incredible! The VFX team really gave Aquaman their best work.  Ezra Miller as The Flash stole every scene he was in, well, in my opinion at least.  He is essentially a representation of the audience, he's a fanboy,  He's giddily excited to accept Batman's offer to join the team,  I connected with Ezra's take on The Flash, especially when he went all fanboy, from seeing The Bat-Signal, Bat-Cave & sitting in the Batmobile.  His reactions would absolutely be my reactions.  I liked that he was a college student in this. His younger age lends credence to the fact that he was an unpolished hero.  His general joy at having superpowers counter balanced Aquaman and Cyborg's initial reactions to a team up prospect.  The humor and comedic one liners all landed perfectly, unlike Ben Affleck's one liners, specifically, two in the third act.  Ezra Miller's Flash is an amalgam of Barry Allen's backstory and Wally West's personality. It's the best of both worlds.   Another time where the visual effects were top notch, were for The Flash.  The blue lightening aura trail whenever he's running is a nice touch and is visually different then the television iteration,. The slow mo effect when he retrieve's Wonder Woman's sword looks cool in the trailer but is even more spectacular on the big screen! I was intrigued by the little bits of the speed force we got to see and want more of that explored in a solo movie.  I thought the recruitment  of each new character, and the hints at there backstory were just the right amount. They gave us a nice appetizer of what's to come, without ruining the full meal that was Justice League. I was ultimately excited and left wanting to see more of these new additions, in their own future films.  Mission accomplished on that front.

Onto the big bad guy of the film, otherwise known as Steppenwolf.  As I said, His plot of finding and uniting the mother boxes on Earth, so he can terraform Earth into an Apokolips colony and make way for the arrival of Darkseid.  That's straight forward and easy enough to follow for an audience and to justify the Justice League to join forces.  His plot and ultimate endgame is as simplistic and by the numbers as most Marvel Cinematic Universe movie villains plots are.  I liked actor Ciaran Hinds voice work for Steppenwolf. His voice was the right amount of powerful and intimidating.  I had two big problems with the character.  First being his personality. Namely, he doesn't have one.  He's nothing more than a one dimensional lackey for Darkseid.  In a universe that has exceptional villains like Zod, Lex Luthor and The Joker, a villain of the quality of 3/4 of the MCU villains is unacceptable to me.  The second issue is the Steppenwolf CGI, specifically with close-ups of his face.  His lips don't movie in proper conjunction with his words.  Also, in close up shots, his face looks a little rubbery at times.  That kind of CGI is unacceptable of a production of this size and  budget.  Having said that, Steppenwolf is involved in two of my favourite sequences throughout the film.  The first is the flashback scene of Steppenwolf's first arrival and attempt at the "Unity."  Seeing Amazon's, Atlantean's and a Green Lantern battle back Steppenwolf and preventing the unity was incredible.  Visually, it looked like a Lord of the Rings set piece.  The other scene was Steppenwolf's return to modern times on Themyscira, trying to retrieve a motherbox.  What happens next is a giant game of keep away between the Amazon's and Steppenwolf! The Amazon's badassery continues onward from Wonder Woman and personally, I'd love to see a whole movie on Themyscira even more now. 

Anyone with half a brain will have realized that despite not appearing on posters, or in trailers or in TV spots, that Superman would be resurrected in this film and indeed he was. The Kryptonian scout ship from Man of Steel, was once again used to bring Superman back to the land of the living.  Much like Zod's corpse in BvS took a resurrection bath, giving birth to Doomsday, so did Kal-El.  Where, the mixing of Lex's blood helped create Doomsday, a motherbox with a boost of power from Cyborg and a little jolt of speed force lightening from The Flash, brought Superman back to the land of the living.  Logic, you can throw that out the window, but it's comic book pseudo science, so I'll roll with it. Besides, in the context of the film it works. When Superman returns, he's "not all right." The alien technology has clouded his mind.  When he sees the Justice League awaiting him at Heroes Park, he perceives them as a threat, when Cyborg's armor goes in defense mode.  Superman doesn't remember Wonder Woman, and doesn't know the others, but upon sight of Batman, he is enraged. This leads to a clever callback to BvS, before Superman does Battle with the team.  This is a great sequence because it shows, that when unrestrained, Superman is a true force to be reckoned with.  He makes quick work of most of his future team mates, before locking proverbial horns with Wonder Woman.  This fight though quick, showed both heroes give as good as they got.  Though, you could tell Wonder Woman was restraining herself.  If push came to shove, I think she could've taken him.  The Flash tries to help get Superman under control, so while he's distracted, Barry attempts to run around Superman, then subduing him from behind. However, as Flash runs at super speed, Superman sees him out of the corner of his eye and stops him in his tracks.  This moment tipped the scales for me, making this my favourite scene of the movie.  I will say, I'm glad Superman was only "unhinged" and disturbed for a very brief time.  If it would've went on much longer, we would've been retreading on BvS moments and it would've minimized the amount of awesome heroic Superman moments we ended up getting.

 As for how, the team got Superman to turn towards the light?  Batman and Alfred had a contingency plan, Lois Lane. She is able to calm Superman down, convincing him to fly off with her to the Kent Farm.  For the rest of our team, it's off to take on Steppenwolf, who now posses all of the motherboxes, and has commenced the unity.  Back at the farm, with Superman's dark haze worn off, we get some touching, Lois and Clark moments, however, the moment that really pulled at my heartstrings was when MARTHA (couldn't resist) , finally reunites with hr son.  Full disclosure; their happiness and tears of joy, once again brought the waterworks out of me.  These scenes with Lois, Martha and Clark, really reinforce, that they are his tether to humanity, and payoff threads set up in Snyder's first two movies.  However, the mandated 2 hour runtime hindered these scenes.  I would've liked them to be a little bit longer.  The team meanwhile, once again is getting their ass handed to them by Steppenwolf.  It looks as though Steppenwolf is going to succeed in achieving the unity.  That is until Superman arrives and completely lets loose on Steppenwolf and absolutely kicks his ass.  This scene is great on two fronts.  First, Superman being back in all his glory, saving the day.  I loved the look of his costume.  It's full blown blue and red, for the first time since Christopher Reeve on live action film at least.  I loved the way every member of the Justice League looked up and was so overwhelmed with hope at Superman's arrival.  The fact that Superman was able to easily overpower Steppenwolf is important as well, because previously in the film, Steppenwolf manhandled the league.  This really shows you how powerful Superman is, but that it's who he is and what he stands for, that inspires his fellow heroes to do what they do.  As for Superman, I won't lie to you. I was so glad to see him happy, hopeful and being unabashedly heroic.  Yes, I loved both MoS and BvS, but that was in short supply, specifically in BvS.  That film told us that Superman was always saving the day and told us that half the world loved him. This film however, showed us him being a hero, specifically making a point to save civilians.  There's a flashback of cell phone footage where after putting out a fire, Superman stays behind and talks to two kids watching the scene unfold.  This is vintage Superman and no, I don't mean Christopher Reeve! I've seen Superman do this in the comics many times.  I feel these moments are Zack Snyder delivering on his promise to Superman fans, which was getting him to become the fully formed Superman we know and love from the comic books, over the course of several films.  Much has been made of the removal of Henry Cavil's mustache digitally.  The scene I just mentioned had Superman's upper lip looking really awkward.  However, this is the only time I found it noticeable, or looking bad.  I still think that because this was an opening moment in the movie, the VFX team should've made it look far better then it did.   The film ends with Steppenwolf's connection to the motherboxes severed and with that, he is boom tubed off world.  Meanwhile, our heroes all go off in their separate ways, hinting at solo adventures. Best of all, Henry Cavill, finally gets to do the iconic Clark Kent to Superman shirt rip scene and it's glorious. There are two post credit scenes, so stay until the end.  One recreates an iconic comic book cover, while the other hints at what might come in the future.  Both had me geeking out.  One thing I haven't pointed out, was Danny Elfman's score. Overall I really enjoyed it. Bringing back the Batman 89 theme was great, and it was pitch perfect.  Regarding John Williams' Superman theme, while I loved hearing it, I wished the had used Hans Zimmer's Man of Steel theme.  Especially during Superman's resurrection and final Superman scene. 

This movie isn't perfect, but no movie not named The Dark Knight is to me.  Do I have some problems with the film? Yes, and I've noted them above.  The bottom line is this.  Watching Justice League felt like a comic book and an episode of the animated series come to life.  It was a faithful representation of these characters as individuals and as a team.  Watching it was  child hood dream come to life.  For those reasons, despite my issues with it, I loved it anyways!