Search

Graphic Novelty²

Tag

TV show

Marvel’s “What If…?” Episodes 7-9

There are spoilers for the end of the season ahead. If you need to catch up, here’s my post covering Episodes 1-3 and Nancy’s post covering Episodes 4-6.

The audience continues exploring the Multiverse with the Watcher here, but the last 3 episodes tie each one together:

  • Episode 7 shows us what Thor would have been like if he had been an only child. He arrives on Earth just as he did in our universe – but he’s here to PAR-TAY! His father has fallen into the Odin Sleep and Frigga is on a trip, so it’s the perfect time to have a galactic shindig right here on Midgard. Though Jane Foster and Darcy Lewis try to reason with him (his parties have ended planets before), they can’t help but to give in to his charms. S.H.I.E.L.D. director Maria Hill’s attention has also been attracted by Thor – but in a much more negative light. She calls Carol Danvers to take care of him, but things don’t go as planned.
  • Episode 8 explains what would have happened if Ultron had won. Taking over the Mind Infinity Stone and Vision’s body, he defeats the Avengers, killing all but Clint and Natasha. When Thanos arrives, Ultron kills him as well and takes control of the Infinity Gauntlet. In order to fulfill his purpose and bring peace, Ultron and his army begin to murder their way across the galaxy. Upon hearing the Watcher, Ultron learns of the multiverse, and thus starts crossing realities to continue his twisted quest. He crosses into Party Thor’s universe as Clint and Natasha attempt to upload a virus with Arnim Zola’s mind into Ultron’s hive mind. Defeated by Ultron, the Watcher retreats to the pocket universe of Episode 4’s Doctor Strange to ask him for help.
  • Episode 9 sees the Watcher break his oath by recruiting Captain Carter, Star-Lord T’Challa, Party Thor, Killmonger as the Black Panther, and a Gamora who defeated her universes’ Thanos, along with Strange Supreme, to end the threat of Ultron. They lure him to a dead planet where Strange summons the zombie hoard from Episode 5, including Zombie Wanda, to distract him while they travel to Ultron’s home universe to find Natasha and the Zola virus. As the only survivor of her universe, Natasha is reluctant to trust them. After a moment with Captain Carter, Natasha agrees to help, and shoots an arrow with the Zola virus into Ultron’s eye. While Killmonger and the newly-embodied Zola fight over the Infinity Stones, Strange and the Watcher seal them in a pocket dimension, where Strange will watch over them.

Additional scenes with Ultron’s Natasha and a mid-credits scene with Captain Carter and her universe’s Natasha set this series up nicely for a second season, which has been confirmed.

From a story-telling standpoint, this series started out strong for me, kinda sagged in the middle, and picked up again at the end. It seemed as if some of the stories were trope-y and played out, especially the zombie episode. We have seen any and all scenarios involving zombies played out in the early 2010’s… where they can stay, in my opinion. The episodes involving Star-Lord T’Challa and Black Panther Killmonger were the best for me, because they actually did something different. Their universes felt fresh and unlike anything we had seen before. It also allowed for a different look at or expansions of the characters. In a classic Marvel move of undermining their women characters, the taking back of Wakanda spearheaded by Shuri and Pepper was left out – let me watch that or more of Star Lord T’Challa instead of boring zombies!

I also highly enjoyed the Thor episode, because it was everything you would have expected – yet was still fun. The way the worldwide party is ultimately stopped is hilarious and touching, in a way. Also, it was very satisfying to see at least one universe peg Carol Danvers as the resident party pooper.

It was nice to get everything ultimately wrapped up. The first few episodes don’t seem related at all, but these last 3-4 had been hinting. It may be worth a rewatch to see what hints were missed from early episodes.

I never really warmed up to the animation style. Something about it was just too uncanny for me. The action scenes were punchy and fluid, but the lip syncing and facial expressions never seemed to quite match what was going on. Scenes that were supposed to be emotional fell flat for me for this reason – I was too distracted by how weird their faces looked!

Overall, the series is an enjoyable watch. You start out with what you think is a series of fun, unrelated one-shots and by the end, you’ve gotten a big showdown with a different big bad with a different group of Avengers. The animation works for what the series is, but it’s not a personal favorite. I’m hoping that the ending scenes are setting up a real Marvel Women Power Hour in the next season.

– Kathleen

Andrews, Brian. What If…? 2021.

The Venture Bros.

Before we start this post, I want to apologize to our dear readers for my spotty posting lately. There is still a lot going on between the house and the new-to-me job and I’m still trying to find a good reading/writing routine. Doesn’t excuse of course, but I hope it explains. I hope to be posting normally again within the next few weeks. Now, on to the post!

My husband is quite proud of himself for finally getting me to watch this show. I go so far as to say it’s probably his greatest achievements yet =P The Venture Bros. is one of his favorite shows, but try as he might, I couldn’t get into it due to the dumb humor (more below). Just as he kept telling me, it got better after Season 2, and oh boy was he right. Season 3 hits and it goes from 0-100 real quick.

What started as an episodic satire of boy adventure shows of the 1960s-70s with adult humor quickly turns into a story of characters breaking the molds of who they think they’re supposed to be. Take a few of the main characters, for instance (as spoiler-free as it can be):

  • Hank and Dean (fraternal twins and the titular Venture brothers) are heirs to the boy-adventuring, super-sciencing Venture legacy started by their grandfather and continued by their father… but is it who they really are, and more important, do they even want it?
  • Dr. Venture (Hank and Dean’s father) is a former boy adventurer and classic super-scientist… but how can he possibly carry on the Venture name when his father did everything perfectly?
  • The Monarch is a self-proclaimed villain and Venture’s arch nemesis… but can he become more than his self-inflicted hate?
  • Dr. Girlfriend is The Monarch’s significant other… does that mean she’s just a villain’s girlfriend, or a villain in her own right?
  • Henchman #21 is a henchman in The Monarch’s ranks… is he just a henchman, or can he step out of his villain’s shadow and hold his own? (OMG my fave actually as far as character development)
  • … And so on

The more the show goes on, the more all of these characters break out of the molds and classic tropes that Seasons 1-2 put them in. Not only from a writing standpoint, but a character standpoint. At some point, each character questions their identity, legacy, and motivations, and wonders if it’s who they really are and/or want to be.

Speaking of motivations, this show is MADDENINGLY VAGUE about the motivations of some characters and questions the audience have of them… which the writers know full well and poke fun at from time to time. After a while I kept watching, and wanted to keep watching, because I had questions that needed answering!

Going back to humor: Seasons 1-2 were so hard for me to get past because they mostly rely on the “so stupid it’s funny” type of humor. Which I hate. But Husband loves (This is why we make a good couple). He’s more into slapstick and satire, whereas I’m more into irony and sarcasm. Some of the “so stupid it’s funny” humor still remains, but it’s less prevalent after Season 3 when the story deepens and spreads out over individual seasons and between seasons… Which made it much more bearable for me.

Much of the humor also comes from references to old media show is based on (like Jonny Quest, Hardy Boys, etc.) and obscure and/or nerdy media. Superhero references become more common as the show goes on and it finds it’s niche in poking holes in these tropes specifically. They even get some famous superhero VAs in for some cameos and/or recurring characters in later seasons 😉

In finishing Season 7 over the weekend, I understand why Husband was so upset about it’s cancellation last year. Long gaps were common between seasons because of the animation style and workflow. But to have the show cancelled as Season 8 was being written and with Season 7 ending on such a heartbreaking cliffhanger, so many questions still unanswered… it had to have been a gut punch.

Shortly after cancellation, HBO announced that they would pick up The Venture Bros. for a final movie that will wrap up the show. Husband got HBO Max (mostly) for this reason.

In researching for this post, I found a commonly cited interview where the creators have said the show is about failure. I can definitely see that being the case, but that’s not all. I think it’s more about learning to be who you are despite the expectations that other have of you, despite who you – and everyone else – think you are supposed to be.

If you’re having a hard time getting past Seasons 1-2 for the humor – I promise, it gets better with Season 3 onwards. The writing ramps up and it morphs into an extraordinary character study set in a world built for and by organized heroics and villainy. Husband is looking forward to the movie for a satisfying ending to the series, and now I am too.

– Kathleen

Publick, Jackson (creator). The Venture Bros. 2003-2018.

Marvel’s “What If…?” Episodes 1-3

The latest Marvel TV show, What If…?, premiered last month. The episodes are self-contained story arcs narrated by a being called The Watcher, who takes the viewer through different universes. In these alternate realities, we see familiar events occur differently.

Episode 1 shows us a universe where Peggy Carter took the Super Soldier serum instead of Steve Rogers. While she is now stronger than most men, she still encounters the same barriers as before… just because she’s a woman. When a dangerous mission comes up, she knows she has to go. She’s the only one who can carry it out. She takes up the shield and becomes Captain Carter, with the help of Howard Stark and Steve himself. A strong start to the series where Peggy shows how strong she really is!

Episode 2 shows us a universe where T’challa became Star Lord instead of Black Panther. The Ravagers abduct him instead of Peter Quill! Yondu, his adoptive father, tells him that Wakanda was destroyed. Viewers follow Star Lord and the Ravagers as they attempt to steal the Embers of Genesis (a powerful artifact that creates plant life, and therefore can end hunger across the galaxy) from Taneleer Tivan: the Collector, and the most powerful man in the universe. This was unfortunately Chadwick Bosewick’s last performance before his passing. It was a very emotional episode for me and is easily my favorite so far not only for him, but the high stakes heist!

Episode 3 shows us a universe where the Avengers never assembled. Nick Fury tries to call them together, but they all die under mysterious circumstances. The injection that Natasha Romanov gives Tony Stark is accidentally fatal. Thor is shot dead by Clint Barton, who maintains he didn’t shoot before dying himself in S.H.I.E.L.D. custody. In her final voicemail to Fury, Natasha declares, “It’s all about hope!” Can Fury deduce what she meant before it’s too late for him, too? This one might be the most thought-provoking one of the three, speculating what the world would be like without the heroes that have defined the series.

Of the Marvel TV shows to come out in the last year, this one is up there on my favorites list. It certainly is fun to ponder “What If…?” and explore other possibilities for the universe. Since it appears they are setting up other multiverses in other shows, it’s a nice, easy way to explain to viewers unfamiliar with the concept. It’s also easier viewing in the sense that, as mentioned above, each episode is it’s own self-contained story. The only overarching element (so far) is the Watcher himself. Unless there is a big reveal at the end where everything becomes connected, you may be able to watch any one episode that seems interesting to you.

They’ve got most of the cast to reprise their roles for this series. Chadwick Boseman reprised his role as T’challa, as mentioned above. Haley Atwell, Sebastian Stan, Samuel L. Jackson, Jeremy Renner, and Mark Ruffalo reprise their roles, among others that I won’t spoil 😉 It adds a lovely layer of immersion and truly feels part of the universe. If they had used different voice actors for everyone instead of a few, it would feel like more of a spin off.

However, I feel something is off with the animation. A still is nice to look at. Movement seems a little jerky to me, and facial expressions don’t quite capture the intended emotions. Husband compared it to watching a Telltale video game, but I feel as if Telltale animations are smoother than this. Telltale games are more graphic (with the thick lines and blocky coloring) in style; the show seems to be trying to emulate a moving comic book. I appreciate the attempt, but it’s falling a little flat for me =(

Overall, I’m looking forward to more of the series! Even if the animation is falling flat for me, the writing is thought-provoking, action-packed, and funny. My biggest hope is seeing a Thor episode! New episodes premiere on Disney+ every Wednesday. Look for Nancy’s post soon on episodes 4-6!

– Kathleen

Andrews, Bryan. What If…? 2021.

Flash: Season 2

the-flash-season-2-premiere-review

***There are spoilers for the end of Flash S1 ahead***

Oooh boy. Hold on to your hats, kids. This season of Flash was just wild.

The singularity that opened when Eobard Thawne, the Reverse Flash, was defeated, has been closed. It came at a terrible cost. Ronnie and Dr. Stien fused into Firestorm to help Barry close it, and Ronnie died in the attempt. Barry now works alone, in an effort to keep more of his friends from dying. Team Flash has scattered: Cisco now works with Joe in the metahuman task force at the police department, and Caitlin is at Mercury Labs.

But then a brand new metahuman shows up, saying he was sent to kill the Flash by a person called Zoom. And another. And then another. Cisco and Caitlin, along with Joe and Iris, beg Barry to rethink his whole lone vigilante thing and let them back on the team. Barry eventually caves, and Team Flash is reunited.

Someone else shows up at STAR Labs, too. He introduces himself as Jay Garrick, the Flash from another earth – Earth-2. He says that the singularity Barry just closed led to his Earth, and he was sucked into it while fighting Zoom and has lost his powers. He warns them of Zoom’s terrible speed, and his awful hunger for more. He offers to help Barry get faster, to learn more about his powers, in order to defeat the monster.

More and more people from Team Flash’s life start to reappear. Francine, Joe’s ex-wife, wants to reconnect with her family. She bears some terrible secrets from being gone for so long. The Earth-2 doppelganger of Harrison Wells travels through the breach, scaring the hell out of everyone. He came in order to help Barry defeat the metas from his Earth that Zoom is sending to kill him. Some of those metas are doppelgangers of Team Flash’s friends, family, even themselves…

Meanwhile, Zoom is always one step ahead of Team Flash, taunting them, promising to steal Barry’s speed. He’s much faster than Barry, much faster than the Reverse Flash ever was. How can they hope to defeat him before he takes away everyone they love?

The big draw this season was the introduction of the multi-verse. Though we only dealt with one other Earth this season, at the end, it was heavily hinted that there will be more in future seasons, which is so exciting!!! I’m eager for season 3 to wrap up already and come out on DVD so my boyfriend and I can marathon it 8D

The writing, as ever, was superb. The “return” of Harrison Wells was met with the appropriate shock and outrage by everyone on the team, especially Barry. The incorporation of the multiverse was excellently explained. Everyone on Team Flash really went through the ringer this season with their own tragedies and heartaches, even the unsympathetic characters. Still, you can’t help but root for them.

My one bone to pick this season was the romance. They introduce Patty Spivot, a crime lab assistant in the comics, as Joe’s new partner and member of the metahuman task force. Barry inevitably starts dating her. My boyfriend and I spent every episode of their too-long romance rolling our eyes. I know they do it to draw people in and keep them watching, but anyone who’s been paying attention knows that Barry and Iris ultimately will end up together. When? Who knows??? But it’s been hinted at enough that they can’t put it off forever. So they may as well just cut out the middleman and make them a thing already. Spare us this unnecessary secondhand embarrassment.

I think Flash is by far my favorite DC TV show. It’s got humor. It’s got heart. It’s got kickass characters, plenty of action, and now, it’s got the multiverse. There was plenty to feast on this season and now we have some things to chew over for the next few.

– Kathleen

Supergirl – Season 1

p11779472_b_v8_aa

Sorry this took so long! My last Wednesday post coincided with hell week and on top of that I got sick. I’m all graduated and back home with my dogs so now I can finally share >:D

When Krypton was dying, Kara Zor-El was placed in a spaceship in an attempt by her parents to help her escape. They instructed her to watch over her baby cousin, Kal-El, told her of the fantastic powers she would have under the Earth’s yellow sun, and kissed her goodbye for the last time. A shockwave from the exploding planet knocked Kara’s pod off course, and she landed in the Phantom Zone, in hypersleep for 24 years. When her ship finally reaches Earth, she is still a grieving, confused, and terrified 13-year old girl, but her baby cousin has already grown up and become Superman, Earth’s protector. Clark leaves her in the care of the Danvers family, where she grows up alongside their daughter, Alex.

At the start of the series, Kara is now 24 years old, and an executive assistant to Cat Grant of CatCo Worldwide Media. She is hoping to become a journalist one day, like her cousin, to make a difference in the world. Unlike her cousin, she has no intention of revealing her powers. The world already has a Superman, there’s no need for another. At the same time, she is tired of hiding who she is and what she can do. So it is with a secret relief that Kara saves a plane from crashing in National City, rescuing hundreds of people. Her sister Alex is furious, telling her that this is a situation she can’t undo. And indeed, as the press gets hold of it, they start asking questions that Kara isn’t sure she’s ready to answer. Most unsettling are the not-untrue comparisons of this “Supergirl” to Superman. Is Kara ready to take up that mantle? Does she even want to?

Enlisting the help of her friends Winn Schott and James Olson (yes, that James Olson who worked with her cousin), she starts to fight crime in National City. Soon, Alex reveals that she works for the D.E.O., the Department of Extra-Normal Operations, a secret government agency that monitors threats of aliens and invasions. She asks Kara to come work with her and her boss, Hank Henshaw, to better protect the Earth, like their father did before them. Kara agrees, and together the trio foil many threats to National City by escapees of the Phantom Zone’s Fort Rozz, including those of her Aunt Astra and Uncle Non. Both Supergirl and Kara have many pitfalls along the way, but hope manages to prevail each time. Will hope be enough to stop Astra and Non’s final ace: Project Myriad?

I! LOVED!!! THIS SERIES!!! I was so excited when it was announced for a number of reasons. Greg Berlanti and Andrew Kreisberg are writers and developers for the show, and since they work on Arrow and Flash, you KNEW it was gonna be good. I was mostly excited just because of the simple fact that we were finally getting a female superhero. Arrow and Flash are great, and they even have great female characters, but it’s important for female superheroes to shine. The cast of this show is mostly female, and the different strengths and weaknesses of each character made everyone feel human, even though they might not have been. Calista Flockheart is phenomenal as Cat Grant. She and Kara seem like opposites at first, but as the series goes on, you learn that they have more in common than you think, and that they admire each other for many of the same reasons. Kara and Alex’s relationship felt so organic and reminded me so much of me and my own sisters I was moved to tears on multiple occasions. Even Astra, though not likeable, was redeemable in the end.

What I liked most about this series was that it’s light-hearted and fun, much like Flash (could it be that’s why they did a Flash crossover first? =P). Kara is young, bright, and trying to find her place in the world, what being a hero means to her, and learning to not walk in Clark’s shadow but beside him, in her own light. She is optimistic, hopeful, forgiving, but her anger is earth-shattering and her sadness truly touching and tear-jerking. Melissa Benoist did a fantastic job.

I made a point to watch this every Monday, on TV, because as a new show it needed my view more than Arrow or Flash (plus, I’m not caught up, ooops). The ratings still dropped halfway through the season and while it was implied a couple months ago there will be a second season, we’re still waiting on an official announcement. There has been talk of it moving to another network, or perhaps even a streaming service like Netflix or Hulu. No matter where it moves to, we’re probably looking at heavy budget cut. The licensing fees for this show are really expensive. I’m committed to the series no matter what, though, because I love it and I think the messages it sends are extremely important. So watch this season when it comes out on DVD but be committed to the second season too – Supergirl needs us!

– Kathleen

The Flash – Season 1

FlashS1<3

I’m kinda late to this game… I’m kinda late to catch up on all my shows actually. Dat grad school life has got me able to only follow one show consistently, and I chose Supergirl. Mostly because I don’t have anything going on Monday nights, and mostly because I knew as a fledgling show, it needed my view more. What I do is, since I work in a library, I wait for the DVD sets to come out and put holds on them so my boyfriend and I can binge-watch them. He did buy me the first season of Flash for Christmas, and we just finished it this weekend. And holy COW.

Barry Allen is a forensic scientist in the Central City Police Department. He’s excited for a gigantic scientific breakthrough happening in the city: Dr. Harrison Wells has built a particle accelerator at S.T.A.R. Labs. He is in his lab, watching it turn on on TV, when it explodes. The resulting storm creates a lightning bolt that strikes him and puts him in a coma for nine months. When he wakes up, he’s at S.T.A.R. Labs. Dr. Wells, Caitlyn Snow, and Cisco Ramone (two S.T.A.R. Labs employees) explain to Barry that they took him from the hospital in order to stabilize him, because the doctors at the hospital couldn’t figure out why he kept flatlining. It wasn’t that he kept dying – it was because Barry’s heart was beating too fast for the machines to keep up. The lightning strike left Barry with supernatural speed.

This leaves Barry excited – and scared. When he was eleven years old, he witnessed his mother’s murder, and his father was convicted and sent to prison. No one believed Barry when he said that his dad didn’t do it – it was the man in the lightning. Joe West, lead detective on the case, takes Barry in and raises him alongside Iris, Barry’s best friend. For his entire life, Barry has investigated cold cases and paranormal events, looking for any scrap of a clue that could lead to solving his mom’s murder and freeing his dad from prison. Now, he is paranormal. And he is dedicated to using his powers to help people and to find out who killed his mother.

The world is a little different, though, as he remembers it before the coma. The failure and explosion of the particle accelerator has left the reputation of Dr. Wells and S.T.A.R. Labs tarnished. His best friend, Iris, is dating Eddie Thawne, Detective West’s partner. Barry tries not to let it show how much it hurts, because he secretly loves Iris. And more and more, Barry and the others at S.T.A.R. Labs are finding out that he was not the only one affected by the dark matter the particle accelerator gave off when it exploded. There are others with powers running around Central City, and they’re not all as nice as Barry. Joe finds Barry’s secret out pretty quickly, and makes him promise not to tell Iris, to keep her safe from the metahumans.

Caitlyn, Cisco, and Dr. Wells help Barry learn to use his powers, and become his team to help him stop bad guys and save people. They all grow very close. But more and more it becomes apparent to Detective West that something isn’t right with Dr. Wells. Joe, convinced now that Barry was telling the truth about the night his mother was killed, starts investigating Dr. Wells. There are things about his story that don’t add up, and Joe is determined to find the truth and reveal it to Barry – no matter the cost.

My boyfriend and I really enjoyed it. When stuff gets real, it gets really real, but it never loses its fun or humanity. Flash doesn’t take itself as seriously as Arrow does. Even the crossover episodes were more fun because of the contrast between the feel of Arrow in Flash’s territory. Everyone feels real and goes through a lot of growth: Barry of course, but Caitlyn, Iris, Detective West, and even Dr. Wells, too. I adored that Barry was never afraid to admit when he was scared or to show his feelings. He cries when he is stressed, scared, or missing his mom. While I used to like my men dark and broody, I find that there is a real strength in showing your feelings and being vulnerable (speaking from experience). I loved that Barry did it too, and showed that it was okay. There are tons of villains and other characters from the comics that show up, and even more are hinted at.

After that doozy of a cliffhanger, we seriously can’t wait to watch Season 2. We have one tiny little bit of it figured out already just from me watching the crossover episode on Supergirl the other week. But there is so much more we can’t wait to see! Curse you, grad school life!!! After I graduate I will be able to watch shows actually on TV (or at least DVR them) and not wait an eternity for the DVD’s to come out!

– Kathleen

P.S. Please no spoilers in the comments! Thank you =D

From Comics to Small Screen

Comics actually have a long history of being turned into TV shows. Among the first TV shows based on comics were animated shorts of Superman, and live-action serials featuring Captain America and Batman, all made in the 1940’s (not to mention the more well-known Batman show of the ’60s!). The first show featuring a superheroine was, of course, the Wonder Woman series of the mid ’70s. The 1990’s were a big time for animated comic book shows: among the big ones were the Batman and Superman animated series, X-Men, and Spider-Man.

Unfortunately, there were a few flops along the way. Birds of Prey (2002-03) was a series about Huntress, Oracle, and Black Canary that was cancelled after 13 episodes. Among the planned-but-never-produced were a ’90s reboot of Wonder Woman, a show based on Dick Grayson before he became the first Robin, and a Blue Beetle show. However, Smallville (2001-11), the 1960’s Batman show, and the animated Justice League (2001-06), among others, still continue to be popular with viewers. Today, shows such as Agents of Shield, Daredevil, Arrow, Flash, and Supergirl are on the air and are highly successful.

We have collected multiple DVD sets to supplement our graphic novel collection. Check out these DVDs and their graphic novel counterparts today!

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑