All posts by JC Alvarez

Writer | Producer | Personality. Pop-Cultural Agent. Music | Entertainment & Genre Enthusiast. I knew comics were cool before primetime. The voice of "Out Loud & Live! with JC Alvarez" on Internet Radio. Visit www.thefanzite.com for more!

iReview :: JUSTICE LEAGUE #14

It’s a new day for the Justice League and just as quickly as it begins a new threat hangs in the planet’s orbit and renders the team inert! The league find themselves at a crossroads asking whether or not their days as Earth’s greatest heroes are over!

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It’s been a bit of a challenge for the Earth’s Most Powerful Heroes of late. The Justice League has entered into some of their most tenuous exploits of late and although time-tested, this latest incarnation of the group still has a lot left to prove — especially to one another. The metal has hardly cooled on the team that was forged at the onset of the latest multiverse reboot when Darkseid and his armies invaded! The original seven realizing their extreme potential for greatness, pooled their resources and accepted the responsibility of becoming the planet’s ultimate defenders, but hardly coalesced immediately as a single force.

In fact, several factions in the group proved detrimental to their early exploits, forcing Batman to work diligently behind the scenes to keep tabs on his teammates. This was of great import when Aquaman ultimately lost footing as the monarch of his realm and Atlantis attacked, a war of great consequence eventually brought together the three factions of the Justice League which lead to their imprisonment when the league’s evil doppelgängers the Crime Syndicate took over the world. Eventually our heroes prevailed, but at great consequences and nearly lost it all again when they found themselves at the center of a conflict between Darkseid and the Anti-Monitor!

As the dust settled on the team, Batman ever the most cautious one among them, cited the potential danger in their ranks when their own Man of Steel met his fate and had been replaced by a Superman from an alternate earth/alternate existence who’s agenda wasn’t entirely on the up and up. Before the league could figure out the mystery surrounding their new ally, they found themselves in an unlikely alliance with perhaps the most dangerous individuals on the planet Amanda Waller and her Suicide Squad. The two formidable forces united in an effort to bring down an even bigger threat to the multiverse Maxwell Lord.

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Now licking their wounds and pulling themselves together, the league find themselves once again mobilizing against a new menace that has entered into Earth’s atmosphere, a planet-sized weapon of mass destruction that has taken them out and buried them — with one shot! Justice League #14 written by Bryan Hitch who assumed the mantle of the title after Geoff Johns concluded his historic run, is a welcome pause from the chaos the team had been recently facing. In light of the latest publishing rebrand “Rebirth” continues to examine the legacy of our favorite DC Comics characters, the Justice League not being exception.

Trapped miles underground and confined to a space with limited air, the members of the Justice League are in fight for their lives and suddenly are succumbed by self-doubt. Considering everything they’ve recently faced together they realize how little trust exists between them. Superman confronts Batman as questions about each other’s loyalty is raised, the rookie Green Lanterns — Simon and Jessica — feel they are simply out of their league, even though both have proven themselves time and again. It’s an interesting and very humanize look at a group that hasn’t really gelled, but in this moment, trapped together must find confidence within themselves and each other.

Justice League #14 – “Regroup” written by Bryan Hitch with additional inks by Daniel Henriques is a refreshingly paced narrative that takes a look at the league from a very different perspective. The dangers they’ve faced have lead them to this moment and will define them as the “Rebirth” storyline continues to unfold.

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DC Comics REBIRTH :: The Plot Deepens

DC Comics continues to evolve during its latest “Rebirth”! Entering into a second act with a mystery for its greatest detectives to solve!

 

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DC’s Universe — all great and small — are in for a serious shake-up as the events of the imprint wide rebrand “Rebirth” enter now into a very critical second act.

Fans have been patiently anticipating the outcome of DC Comics most recent publishing rebrand an event entitled “Rebirth”. After much of the 2011 “The New 52” reboot which renumbered and retooled (not to mention retconned) much of the imprint’s more than 75 year established mythology and retrofitted most of the major character’s origins to appeal to millennial readers, the attempt at attracting younger readers left most diehard devotees in the dark!

After the time-twisting “FlashPoint” storyline which is considered the epicenter crisis that through everything for a loop and reignited the timeline, many faithful long-time readers discovered that the Flash/Barry Allen’s reckless abuse of the speed force, the energy band that gives him control over time and space caused a major backlash that rewrote history and erased some very important people from history.

For nearly all the time that the heroes have been working themselves through the current Earth-0 timeline (the Prime-Earth in the DC Comics Multiverse) someone had been missing from existence, someone significantly important to the post-Crisis universe. DC Universe: Rebirth written by Geoff Johns reintroduced Wally West, the one-time Kid Flash who succeeded Barry Allen as the Flash and who we learned had been trapped in a nexus between time and space.

Wally had been trying to reconnect with the “real world” but there were other elements at work, someone else was closely watching these events as they took place — and that someone had interfered in the Prime-Earth continuity. By the time Wally escapes from his captivity, he enters into a world that doesn’t remember who he is and also learns that a significant amount of time (10 years) has been stolen!

Now reunited with his former teammates in the Titans Wally is working to collect the pieces of his life. In the most recent issue of Titans #7 while has a meeting with Superman, who is himself a displaced version of his former self who existed before the events of the “FlashPoint” and was trapped on the patchwork world of Telos during “Convergence”. The mystery of who has tampered with the time stream is about to start taking shape…

In the upcoming April issues of Batman and The Flash a four-part arc entitled “The Button” will begin to put readers on the path to the climatic reveal of the story behind that smiley face button that Batman found imbedded in his Batcave wall. The two greatest detectives in the DC Universe, will be teaming up in issues #21 and #22 of the respective titles with a story by Tom King and Joshua Williamson, with art by Jason Fabok and Howard Porter.

Given the speed at which the “Rebirth” storyline is progressing and the considerable importance of factoring in the characters from Alan Moore and Dave Gibbon’s iconic Watchman graphic novel into the equation, after “Rebirth” arrives at its conclusion it is safe to say…the DC multiverse may never be the same again!

“The Button” the next arc leading to the inevitable climax will debut in April and May and will also be released in special lenticular covers by Jason Fabok.

DC Comics MIDNIGHTER AND APOLLO :: Go To Hell?!

They are the most out-loud and proud avengers ready to save the day! Midnighter and Apollo continue their stellar run in the latest 6-issue miniseries from DC Comics.

Love transcends all barriers even those guarding the gates of hell! Especially in the case of superpower couple Midnighter and Apollo. The macro-mighted, swift-kicking crimefighter has had his work cut out for him ever since reconciling with his more powerful than the rising son super beau, but after taking on a deadly demon Apollo is struck down and his soul is sent into the afterlife. The latest issue of the 6-issue arc in Midnighter and Apollo #3 written by Steve Orlando with are by Fernando Blanco continues the adventures of two of DC Comics most popular and out-spoken characters.

Ever since the vigilante Mignighter struck out on his own (see the recently wrapped solo title Midnighter also by Orlando) he hasn’t been having the best go of single-hood that you’d imagine or expect from a cat who’s packing a heck of a six-pack and an even more charming roguish attitude. Admittedly, by end of that series’ run, and a couple of pretty harrowing knock-down drag-out fights, including several capers that had him teaming up with none other than Dick Grayson aka Nightwing. Obviously you can’t keep a good man down — though many have tried — and the dark finally saw the light as Apollo returned!

Now this dynamic duo (the comparisons between Batman and Superman aren’t going unnoticed) are back together again, fighting crime and winning hearts as the DC Universe’s most out-loud and proud gay super heroes.

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It appeared that the two heroes had struck the most perfect of balances. Apollo has come to terms with the Midnighter’s penchant for kicking bad guy ass. For someone has powerful as Apollo, whose powers would rival those of perhaps the Man of Steel’s, killing is not an option. Where the Midnighter prefers to strike down his enemies with his own brand of justice, he understands and never underestimates Apollo’s restraint. Grateful that the two, after several break-ups are now rallying to make their way as a couple, trouble is still looming darkly round every corner for these two. Though that’s just another day and night for this pair.

After confronting the archdemon Mawzir Apollo is fatally and ends up in hell at the mercy of the Neron. Desperate to bring his lover back from the precipice of despair, Midnighter learns that the only way he can avenge Apollo’s “death” is by using an ancient weapon an eldritch rifle called the Ace of Winchester. Midnighter learns about the weapon from his colleague the magician Gregorio de la Vega, El Extraño and one-time “New Guardian” a remnant of the Millennium event. Gregorio tells Midnighter he needs to use this weapon to destroy Mawzir and also casts a spell that will help get Midnighter into hell so that he can rescue Apollo.

When I spoke with Orlando about the direction that this latest adventure would be taking for these tier characters, he promised that there would be some very colorful supporting players waiting in the wings that would enhance the story. Given the obscure nature of the hero Extraño who made his debut in the Millennium crossover event published by DC Comics in 1988, the inclusion of this hero also harks to the imprints current company-wide “Rebirth” initiative that is looking to reestablish many of the legacy elements that may have gotten retconned recently.

Apollo faces his own obstacles while held prisoner in hell challenging Neron to a game of his own devising that tempts the hero with doubt — presenting Apollo with an inevitable future hopelessly paved with blood, death and murder — or an eternity as part of a corrupted menagerie. Apollo ever hopeful plays Neron’s game even though the demon continues to plague him with doubts, demonstrating to the “false god” just how vulnerable he really is and how unworthy of a happy ending he is, unaware that Midnighter is on his way to release him from captivity.

Though the nature of the story is magnificently opulent and wrapped up in the sci-fi/fantasy elements of the Midnighter and Apollo format, it is at its base the truest of all heroic adventures where two lovers face the most dangerous of opposition to emerge complete at the other end. That the story is centered on the tale of these two male archetypes is even more compelling and easily the most contemporary. Good on Steve Orlando for giving these heroes a place to carry on their adventures and even better on DC Comics for championing their tale.

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Midnighter and Apollo may only have a six-issue run to unravel this epic, but in the end it will make all the difference especially entering into a particularly uncertain time after the recent election. Many are feeling scared and disenfranchised by what they expect may be some unforeseeable obstructions to basic civil rights and concerns in the structure that the government may be taking given the unpredictable energy of the incoming administration. Fortunately there are heroes out there fighting for us!

No matter how dark it might get in the shadows, we’ve got an avenger prepared to fight for us, and he’s got the brightest light to guide him by. This is why Midnighter and Apollo is a must-read!

Visit The Fanzite for a special look at the upcoming Midnighter and Apollo #4 on sale next week!

The Best of DC Comics 2016!

With a year that’s seen the end of “the new”, the rattling a “convergence” and the sudden return to “rebirth” DC COMICS announces its “Best of 2016” with an unprecedented number of titles on sale in their digital library!

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It’s been a banner year for DC Comics and to prove it the publishing giant has just announced its picks of the “Best of 2016” with an incredible up to 60% off on some great digital downloads available through their eBooks Store. Among the collected volumes on sale, stories of incredible magnitude and others more intimately driven character portrayals made the least, a very potent look at some of the “Women of DC” in the year of the 75th Anniversary of the Amazing Amazon, Wonder Woman.

Earth Shattering Events! This year was marked by the close of the significantly radical reboot “The New 52” that relaunched many of the imprint’s titles and redesigned its major players including a sizable overhaul of their personal histories. The chief storyline appearing in Justice League: The Darkseid War concluded by capitalizing on the epic confrontation between two of the multiverse’s most powerful adversaries and the Justice League was caught in the middle of it all.

Comics great Geoff Johns also concluded his run on the series that reinvigorated the pantheon of heroes for contemporary readers. Justice League Vol 7: The Darkseid War by Johns and Jason Fabok was the most anticipated event of the year and tied-up many of the loose ends dangling ever since the group was brought together by Darkseid. After the events of the “Forever Evil” arc, readers were bracing themselves for the arrival on Earth-0 of the Anti-Monitor, but even this classic villain was reimagined inline with the new continuity.

“The Darkseid War” brought these two powerhouses together for one final confrontation with the highest stakes hanging in the balance. “The Darkseid War” also shook up the Justice League line-up with the appearance of Mister Miracle and Jessica Cruz, the new Power Ring finally taking her place alongside the Earth’s Greatest Heroes. As a sidebar to the events in this series arc, also available at a reduced price Justice League: The Darkseid War – Power of the Gods the companion piece collects all six issues in the mini-series.

What happens when a god falls? New Gods walk the earth and with Darkseid’s final fate still yet to be determined his power shifts among the members of the league. This is Batman, Superman, the Flash, Green Lantern, Shazam! and Lex Luthor like we’ve never seen them before! Written by various artists including Peter J. Tomasi and Rob Williams “The Darkseid War – Power of the Gods” beautifully sets the pace for the final act in this cosmic tale! These are the stories you’d expect from DC Comics with heroes as mighty as the Justice League.

Enter Rebirth! Given the impact of “The New 52” and the multiverse-moving delivery of “Convergence” which brought back many classic favorites, many questions followed and the revelations inside Superman: Lois and Clark by Dan Jurgens reveal the stunning truth of the existence of the pre-New 52 power couple here on earth! Little could they have imagined the hand that fate would soon be dealing them when a titan falls, and Superman is called upon once again to take to the skies! Superman: Lois and Clark is must-reading leading into “Rebirth”.

Another amazing story arc that leads right into the current “Rebirth” is Titans Hunt by Dan Abnett which reexamines the missing origins of DC Comics favorite sidekicks the Teen Titans! All grown-up the one-time members of this group of champions, learns that 10 years of their lives have been eradicated and most significantly one among them has been missing ever since the multiverse rewrote itself, but why and who’s behind it! Titans Hunt the eight-issue mini-series is captured in one volume and opens the gate to the next big adventure!

And this is just a rattling of some of the titles awaiting fans! Full volumes featuring Batman, Green Lantern, The Flash and more are awaiting for you to add them to your digital library! Goto the DC Comics digital store now by clicking here! The sale ends on Jan. 3, 2017.

 

DC Comics JUSTICE LEAGUE vs. SUICIDE SQUAD #1

The hottest teams in comics are about to class against a common enemy bent on either the annihilation of everything that is or dedicated to saving the world!

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They’ve been branded the “worst heroes” on the block but the Suicide Squad continues to gain momentum and increase their popularity especially after the release of their first high stakes blockbuster feature this past summer. The recent retooling of this group of expendables which include among their ranks Harley Quinn (right now the most wanted character in comics), the marksman Deadshot, Killer Croc and Captain Boomerang has moved them center stage, not only guaranteeing them a hit comic series, but a sequel film and headlining franchises of their own!

Surely the big guns including Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and the Flash can glean some credibility from all the attention these bad-asses are getting (especially after making some film cameos). It’s no wonder that DC Comics has decided on correlating the timing of this very special team-up Justice League vs. Suicide Squad with the release of the “Extended Cut” of the film on Blu-ray and Digital HD. The six-issue weekly series helmed by Joshua Williamson with art from a team of the business’ biggest names launched this week.

Most recently the Batman assembled his own group of malcontents in effort to extract the Psycho Pirate from the dangerous grip of his arch enemy Bane in the “I Am Suicide” arc that was published in the bi-weekly Batman title. That storyline planted the Dark Knight right in the crosshairs of Amanda Waller, the lead administrator in charge of the covert organization Task Force X. Batman and Waller have always had a sensitively tender spot for one another, but it appears that the Caped Crusader is not in-line with her subversive use of known felons as fodder.

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The team-up to end all team-ups! DC Comics two most popular team books league up to take on a common foe in JUSTICE LEAGUE VS. SUICIDE SQUAD #1.

When the story began in last week’s Suicide Squad #8 (by Rob Williams with art by Giuseppe Camuncoli and Francesco Mattina) the prelude introduced a longtime comic book favorite that has experienced a resurgence thanks to the popularity of The Flash television series on The CW. Caitlin Snow, the Killer Frost was seen joining the residents of Belle Reve and by extension, the Suicide Squad. Other iterations of the character have crept into the current DC Comics mythology but this iteration of the character is heading for bigger and brighter tomorrows.

In the release of this week’s JLvSS #1 Batman exposes to the league Waller’s pet project and the potential threat that the Suicide Squad presents. Series writer Joshua Williamson (who is also commandeering the current highly successful run of The Flash) said about the team-up event: “My goal with Justice League vs. Suicide Squad was to give readers a crossover that felt like a big blockbuster summer movie, but also a lot of strong character moments between two teams that should not and will not get along.” Inspired by the bombastic sensibility of the big screen, fans can expect the action to match their expectations.

The initial arc will reintroduce into the Post-Rebirth continuity a modern-day classic villain that everyone has always loved to hate. Maxwell Lord returns and appears to be constituting a lethal force of baddies for himself, with one goal: take down Amanda Waller! If what you’re looking for is an all-out action brawl, then you’ve come to the right place! Justice League vs. Suicide Squad the 6-issue series takes off Dec. 21st and will dominate into the first month of 2017 with additional crossover stories appearing in Justice League #12 and #13 and Suicide Squad #9 with an epilogue to appear in Suicide Squad #10.

 

iReview :: SUPERGIRL #204 – “Survivors”

The Maid of Might finds herself in an underground arena fighting for her life before a high-stakes audience!

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One of the greatest tricks introduced into the genre-show has been the element of a mythology. It started with daytime soap operas which pioneered the idea of serialized and extending storylines, and was perfected with the advent of perhaps the most popular television series in the line, a little known primetime behemoth called The X-Files. Chris Carter’s exploration of the supernatural and paranormal against the backdrop of an investigational drama incited by conspiracy, led to a string of similar inspired genre shows.

With the DC TV Universe continuing to expand into primetime and dominating the 8 o’clock hour on The CW, the series creators have capitalized on more than 75 years of already established mythology published in the pages of DC Comics. With the move of Supergirl now siting alongside the other Berlanti Productions based on the DC Comics characters all on the same network, a pattern is beginning to emerge to establish a synchronous narrative that weaves a tapestry and is based on a long established legacy.

Supergirl starring Melissa Benoist as the Maid of Might is among the best examples of how that legacy is leading to a very innovative story that is evolving beautifully and continues to surprise. The fourth episode of the show’s sophomore season entitled “Survivors” is picking things up very easily from the initial thread introduced at the top of the season which is examining the presence of aliens on earth. Kara teamed-up with her famous cousin, and the world’s greatest hero Superman (played by guest-star Taylor Hoechlin) in the season’s opener.

The threat of CADMUS a scientific think tank dedicated to containing and controlling the alien presence on Earth is at the epicenter of the xenophobia that is coming to light since Supergirl made her identity public and chose a similar path inspired by Superman to protect National City from any danger. Since then National City has become a hub of sorts for all interstellar despots and refugees, some hide in plain site while others in the shadows, others still have been discovered to frequent a dive bar tended to by Ms. Martian (new series regular Sharon Leal).

J’onn J’onzz the Martian Manhunter (David Harewood) is intrigued by the discovery of the last living daughter of Mars and he confronts M’gann (or “Megan”) about her existence on Earth and how she escaped the genocide inflicted on their planet by the White Martian. Experiencing survivors remorse M’gann rejects J’onn’s offer to mentally bond. Instead we learn that Ms. Martian is actually taking part in an underground fight club run by the elite criminal mastermind Veronica Sinclair (guest-star Dichen Lachman) calling herself Roulette.

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Supergirl — “Survivors” — Pictured: Dichen Lachman as Roulette – Photo: Diyah Pera/The CW — © 2016 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved

To appeal to the insatiable interest of the socially elite in National City, Roulette is running high-stakes gladiatorial combats pitting extra-terrestrials against one another for the pleasure of her wealthy audience. When someone dies in Roulette’s arena, the loser is discarded like yesterday’s trash. Maggie Sawyer (Floriana Lima) of the NCPD has been collaborating with DEO agent Alex Danvers (Chyler Leigh) and when a body turns up the two go undercover to learn more about Roulette’s cage fights.

J’onn is disappointed to learn that under the name of Ms. Martian M’gann has been competing as one of Roulette’s star attractions, and when the two find themselves facing each other death, J’onn refuses to kill M’gann. The two are confronted by the arena’s greatest combatant Draaga (played by John De Santis) and the two are joined by Supergirl, who learns about the alien’s weakness from Mon-El (new series regular Chris Wood) the refugee from Daxam, a sister world to Krypton that shared the planet’s fate.

Now on Earth, Mon-El is learning to fit in. Kara decides to take on the responsibility of mentoring Mon-El, especially since it will in some way fulfill her original destiny to protect her cousin Kal-El, who grow up without her guidance to become Superman. The two agree that the time to put aside the differences of their people and learn to depend on each other since they both have so much in common. Mon-El is grateful for Kara’s help and looks forward to proving himself as capable a hero as Supergirl.

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The episode capitalizes on how comfortable and familiar the characters are becoming with one another and scores very high to continue to establish its unique brand against the tapestry of its predecessors. The complexities of a world, a culture that is coming to terms with its place in a universal community that accepts there are visitors here from other planets, is moving into the spotlight on Supergirl. The series growing cast of supporting players, including Maggie Sawyer and Mon-El are also well crafted additions that easily expand on the character drama.

At the conclusion of the episode J’onn visits M’gann and apologizes for having come on so strong and hopes that the two, the last of their kind, can become close friends. M’gann agrees that she is also open to a fresh start. After J’onn leaves, M’gann reveals her true origins — that she is in fact not a Green Martian like J’onn, but a White Martian — the treacherous species that exacted a genocide on J’onn’s people! This plot twist will undoubtedly develop over the course of the season, and may or may not lead to the revelatory moment that makes Ms. Martian a hero in her own right.

“Survivors” is told from the perspectives of Mon-El and M’gann — both are outsiders trying to fit in and learn to survive any way that they can. By comparison their paramours Supergirl and J’onn are proving that they have a purpose, as the last of their kind, they stand as heroes and examples of the best hope for a cooperative between Earth and its interstellar kindred.

Supergirl • Episode #204 — “Survivors” directed by James Bamford and James Marshall written by Paula Yoo & Eric Carrosco. (Original Airdate: October 31, 2016)