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!

UnBoxing | JUSTICE LEAGUE Action Figures Assembled

The World’s Greatest Heroes finally come together in this impressive line of high-end action figures from Medicom Maf Ex eager to fill some space on your shelf that prove this Justice League is in a league all its own.

For the avid film aficionado and action figure collector, we’re living in very exciting times! The market has expanded to the degree that the generation of fanboys (and fangirls alike) that grew up avidly infatuated with Kenner’s extensive line of Star Wars 3 ¾ action figures and larger than life Masters of the Universe line from Mattel, have been able to add to their collections. As now adult collectors the expectations have also increased, and toy manufactures have continuously worked to meet this growing demand.

The MAFEX line of Medicom Toy Company action figures have also pushed the level of playability with extensive articulation and multiple accessory options often packaged alongside a highly detailed 6” figure that has become the envy of other various competitive manufactures. Medicom has prided itself on the ability to capture remarkably well-sculpted likenesses of characters especially those based on personalities appearing in film and other media. The MAFEX line drew great attention from collectors with the figures based on the films in The Dark Knight Trilogy.

Christopher Nolan’s adaptation of the Batman mythology introduced the role of Bruce Wayne as portrayed by celebrated actor Christian Bale. The action figures captured the hero in truly authentic detail, and bared an uncanny resemblance to Bale himself. Although the experience hasn’t always been positive, in the pass many critics cited at how fragile the MAFEX figures are, with limbs that detach all too easily or figures that fail to properly stand upright because their legs are far to nimble to support their weight.

The line has come a long way and has even reissued many of its most popular first editions with far more improved sculpting, accessories and assembling, and the recently completed series of figures based on the heroes from DC’s Justice League are perhaps the best examples yet. All six of the leads assembled on the big screen have finally been released, Wonder Woman and Aquaman rounding out the bunch, that launched with Batman and Superman, and include The Flash and Cyborg!

The Justice League Assembled

The MAFEX action figures based on the line-up appearing in Justice League have fully assembled and may be among the best set of figures on the market — when they aren’t falling apart that is. Confidently Medicom has worked out many of those issues that plagued the earlier releases in the line. Batman has he appeared in Justice League and portrayed by actor Ben Affleck inaugurated the line and is a sturdy reproduction of the action star as he appeared in the Caped Crusader famously upgraded kevlar suit. MAFEX also designed a version of Batman in the “tactical suit” the hero wears in the last act of the movie.

Though the Wonder Woman figure is mostly a reissue of the version first produced for the Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice line, the repaint and subtle details between the 3 released representations of Gal Gadot, as the Amazing Amazon are worthy of collectibility. Wonder Woman is accessorized with movie accurate weaponry as well. The action figure based on the King of the Seven Seas, Arthur Curry, Aquaman allows collectors to really appreciate the detail and design of the ceremonial warrior attire that Jason Mamoa wore turning the longtime comics character into the film’s most formidable badass.

The Man of Steel Superman finally appears in the more comic-accurate colors that fans have always loved; the classic red and blue is a richer, more cinematic color to the grim, darker hue of the figure released for BvS. Ray Fisher’s superstar athlete Victor Stone is the Cyborg the most impressively detailed of the bunch with plenty of accessories to recreate the film’s most action-packed moments, and Ezra Miller’s The Flash suit may not hold a candle to his primetime counterparts, but we have to remind ourselves that the suit that appeared in Justice League is a prototype.

The figures are all comparatively sized at about 6” a piece, and range accurately. Momoa’s Aquaman is armor is heftier than the others, but that doesn’t mean that Cavill’s Superman can’t float majestically posed on the included stand above his teammates. It’s unfortunate that the film didn’t do as well as expected at the box office, especially when you have the whole team assembled like this, but with the individual successes of Wonder Woman and now Aquaman there’s no doubt that the Justice League will once again gather on the big screen. In the meantime adult collectors can direct their own sequel with these impressive figures.

Ray Fisher’s Cyborg likeness is captured in this action figure from Medicom.
Advertisements

ICYMI | DC’s WHO’S WHO Arrives on Digital

The classic encyclopedic compendium gets the digital treatment and helps to save countless amount of shelf space by providing fans with a directory to comic’s biggest players!

Feeling nostalgic yet? You will be once you deep dive into Who’s Who: The Definitive Directory of the DC Universe released on DC’s and digital comics reader app. The full 26-issue initial run released in 1984 of the encyclopedic tome coincided with the publishing giant’s 50th Anniversary and was a invaluable companion piece to the world-changing Crisis on Infinite Earths maxi-seres which would ultimately redefine and arguably alter many of the guide’s inaugural entires.

Imagine the task set upon by creatives to catalog and chronicle the various histories and power sets of an immeasurable cast of characters that had been accumulating for more than 50 years. That was the mission faced by the editors, writers and illustrators of the Who’s Who: The Definitive Directory of the DC Universe. In 1982 Marvel Comics had led the way with their itemization of their cast of characters with the 15-issue Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe. With a much more profound publishing history, DC had a Golden Age as well as a Silver Age to invest in.

Over the course of its 26-issue releases Who’s Who alphabetically detailed both major and minor characters from the DC multiverse, including Golden Age characters like the Superman of Earth-2 and the full roster of the All-Star Squadron, alongside their Silver Age counterparts including The Flash and more contemporary heroes like Nightwing the original Silver Age Robin. Who’s Who ran consecutively as Marv Wolfman and George Pérez begun the huge undertaking of redefining and streamlining the DC Universe in the now classic Crisis on Infinite Earths event.

Many of the heroes and villains populating the DC multiverse would inevitably become affected by the outcome of the earths-shattering event which resulted in a single DC Comics universe with a more historically fertile landscape. Some of the larger characters in the pantheon including Superman and especially Wonder Woman would be significantly affected and were among the first “revised” entries within the original volume to reflect the conclusion of the Crisis. Future installments of Who’s Who would more accurately define major arcs and changes to the timeline.

Superman as he appeared in the first release of “Who’s Who” which followed the hero’s reboot following “Crisis”.

From A to Z

An answer to the competitors massively indexed and popular Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe the two editions differed dramatically in their presentation of the material. Who’s Who attempted to incapsulate the individual entry to one page, even for its biggest players, while also elegantly adorning the entry with pin-up style artwork by the industries biggest names. It wasn’t uncommon for the most devoted fans to single out their favorite entries and pin them to their wall. Later installments of Who’s Who followed the same format.

Who’s Who: The Definitive Directory of the DC Universe (1985 – 1987) all 26-issues are available for digital download via the DC comics reader app at $1.99 per issue from DC Comics.

Although he would ascend to assume the role of the Scarlet Speedster eventually, Wally West began his career as the superhero sidekick KID FLASH a founding member of the Teen Titans.
The most controversial of all the entries ever featured in the initial release, Wonder Girl would soon find her entire background upended by the introduction of the Modern Era’s Wonder Woman, though Wonder Girl remains a fan favorite.

iFeature | BEN AFFLECK Out as THE BATMAN

Warner Bros. cuts ties with another of its super-powered heavy hitters letting Ben Affleck out of his obligation to continue in the role as the Caped Crusader in the studio’s much anticipated The Batman directed by Matt Reeves. 

Another founding member of the league appears to be passing on the cape and cowl. Ben Affleck who had assumed the big screen mantle portraying The Batman in the blockbuster Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and continued to star as the DC Comics hero in the team-up film Justice League will not be playing the hero in the upcoming solo film directed by Matt Reeves that will be perpetuating the long-time franchise favorite.

In the week following the announcement of Affleck’s departure, the trades readily reported that he studio cited it was moving in a different direction and wanting to cast a “younger” actor to headline  in Reeves The Batman which is meant to “reboot” the titular hero on the big screen. Affleck’s portrayal of a more weathered and seasoned combatant was lukewarmly received in the press, but fans had clearly begun to come around even though Justice League didn’t meet expectations.

Affleck had been attached to writing and directing The Batman’s eventual transition into the solo arena until the discussions with the studio arrived at a decisions that Reeves would be taking over the helm of The Batman as several script revisions were under way. The film is scheduled for a release date of 2021.

Affleck stepped into the kevlar armor of the hero after Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy which featured Christian Bale in the role, and perhaps the most lucrative of the franchise films. This is yet another setback for the studio which also parted ways with Henry Cavill who had played Superman in Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel introducing the connected cinematic universe much in the vein of Marvel Studios narrative and decade long dominance of the genre.

With the darker tone of Snyder’s take on the comic inspired commodities which continued into BvS and was followed up in Justice League (even though that film passed hands and was completed by Joss Whedon), the recent successes of Wonder Woman and Aquaman have suggested that the studio may be looking to rebrand their DC properties. The box office appeal of the most recent feature Aquaman with its lighter tone worked and the upcoming Shazam! will follow suit.

Though the future of the DC Cinematic Universe is still in much turmoil; though Aquaman proved successful at the box office it still only garnered a tepid response from critics, and the upcoming Shazam! may not hold its mettle against the likes of Marvel Studios’ Captain Marvel and the next installment of Avengers: Endgame which will deal the climatic finale to this phase of the Marvel Cinematic empire and starting a new chapter.

iFeature | JOHN WESLEY SHIPP A Flash of Infinite Possibilities

The Flash star has been across all parts of the multiverse and back, most recently in the “Elseworlds” crossover! Hitting the convention circuit in 2019, the actor is open to all new adventures!

For John Wesley Shipp the idea of stepping back into the suit that immortalized his place in genre-fandom may have been the most surreal moment of his 40 years in entertainment. Nonetheless as Kate Main and the rest of the expert costuming team responsible for suiting up the most popular DC heroes in primetime put the final touches on the suit, when John looked back at the image of himself as the Scarlet Speedster from his 1990 version of The Flash the déjà vu of it all wasn’t lost on him.

He had (almost) made a vow to himself after his 1990 CBS series was cancelled that he’d never get into another superhero suit, and would eventually find himself stepping into the famous boots and tipping the rim of the Golden Age speedster “Jay Garrick” after “Henry Allen” met his fate in the second season of the contemporary reimagining of  The Flash starring Grant Gustin. Shipp has said that after shooting his scene in the final episode “The Trial of the Trickster,” as soon as they yelled “Cut!” he ripped off his cowl and flung the wing-tipped earpieces into the air.

The episode’s guest star Mark Hamill dove headfirst after the now iconic items, adding them to his own extensive collection, preserving a piece of cinematic history. Cut to nearly 30 years later and the earpieces were faithfully reconstructed in order to recapture the look of the original suit so that The Flash of Earth-90 could make a significant appearance in this year’s CW “Elseworlds” crossover event, hinting at an inevitable “crisis” that is threatening our primetime multiverse. Though it appears that Earth-90 is left a wasteland, will its Flash play a part in the sequel next fall?

Anything can happen it would seem now that The CW primetime multiverse has opened the door, and it certainly expanded the possibilities for Shipp to play a significant role in the impending “Crisis on Infinite Earths” expected next fall. For Shipp who climbed onboard the series and proven an integral fan favorite as both Henry and Jay Garrick, the “Golden Age” Flash of Earth-3, adding his Earth-90 Barry Allen into the mix certainly has set-up some intriguing ideas that fans hope the writers will exploit. In the meantime, John Wesley Shipp will be appearing live in a city near you!

John Wesley Shipp appeared as The Flash of Earth-90 (1990 that is) for this season’s epic crossover event. Here he is alongside the headlining trinity in primetime including Melissa Benoist, Stephen Amell and Grant Gustin.

Making the Rounds

The actor has proven among one of the most popular guests on the comic-con circuit and appreciates the opportunity to meet with his fans across the country as well as all over the world. Last year he enjoyed a rock star reception when he appeared in Lima, Peru and will soon be heading to Mexico City, invited by his fans in Mexico to bring them up to speed on what the Scarlet Speedster has been up to. Having fulfilled every fanboy on the planet’s greatest wish, including executive producer Marc Guggenheim’s, with the 1990 Flash now part of the Arrowverse.

Although fans imagined that when Shipp returned to participate in the annual crossover spectacle he would have worn the familiar attire of his Crimson Comet from Earth-3, rebuilding and revisiting the suit from the 1990s series certainly proved one of the long-running series’ greatest moments of the latest season. Propelling even more nostalgia was the appearance of The Kent’s farm from Smallville which also served as the home of Earth-38’s Super Family including Supergirl Melissa Benoist and her famous cousin.

No doubt when Shipp hits the convention scene fans will have numerous questions, especially about the fate of his Earth-90 Flash after the Monitor “folds” him out of the climatic second chapter of the “Elseworlds” event and of course if he’ll return for the promised “Crisis on Infinite Earths” crossover this fall. One thing that is certain are the infinite possibilities open now for John Wesley Shipp to interact with the Arrowverse whether as Jay Garrick or Earth-90 Flash. Fans are hopeful that the “Barrys of Two-Earths” will cross multiverses before the next crisis event!

Check out the Events Calendar for all of John Wesley Shipp’s upcoming comic-con appearances in 2019.

Trailer | GAME OF THRONES Final Season Teaser

Winter may have come and gone, but for the inhabitants of George R. R. Martin’s fantasy realm the Game of Thrones is about to claim a winner…and the winner may be the audience of HBO’s hit series after all.

While the big baby boy who would be king sits in the White House appropriating the savvy campaign strategy the folks at HBO have designed around the upcoming final season of their hit series Game of Thrones it hasn’t diminished the enthusiasm surrounding the return of one of television’s most watched genre shows. After eight seasons the fantasy series based on the book series by acclaimed writer George R. R. Martin that took the cable network (and the world) by storm will be signing off, but not before taking fans on one more journey.

The thrilling Seventh Season of the series set in motion a crescendo of events that have gone beyond the tales that Martin has narrated over the course of his still evolving books. In fact, the original series has benefitted from diverging from many of the established dictums of the story, though never too far as to offend even the most hardcore of the fandom. The series showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss have remained faithful to the world of Westeros that Martin has birthed, especially the drama of its densely populated inhabitants.

When the series debuted on the cabler, no one could have imagined the phenomenon it would become introducing a mainstream audience to the fantasy-laden landscape and the warring parties hungrily seeking control over the seat of power — never imagining the looming threat that was coming for all of them just beyond a believed impenetrable wall. It should set as an example to that fool in Washington of how powerless one can be when even vengeance has a way of toppling any empire.

Tease Me Not

The teaser trailer reveals the series last three Starks standing, and any one of them might be expendable when the adventure returns in April promising to deliver on a finale for the ages. The network has already announced that a prequel series is in the works, and many industry insiders have rumored that the cable network hasn’t ruled out a possible transition to the big screen for the Game of Thrones franchise. Undoubtedly fans will flocking to the cineplexes in droves seeking to fill every available seat that will bring them closer to the Iron Throne.

Watch the Game of Thrones Season 8 teaser trailer here:

Game of Thrones Season 8 premieres April 14 on HBO #ForTheThrone

inPrimetime | PROJECT BLUE BOOK on History Channel

The History Channel’s new Original Series dives into the mythological construct behind the UFO community’s most sacred Holy Grail and the man behind Project Blue Book.

Mythology is a device that has become all too familiar in today’s most popular and serialized genre-themed original programming. A fan favorite Chris Carter’s X-Files is often credited with charting the means by which dramas could prove more compelling by injecting a story arc that seemingly worked to corroborate or connect the individual themes of the general format often leading to a bigger, end-of-season, payoff. The tradition was pushed to the limits on Lost and has since been a viable component in contemporary storytelling.

Today “real life” mythologies and conspiracy theories have woven their way into some of the popular arcs, as audiences become more fascinated with true-crime stories and the veil is being drawn back on history’s most fanciful stories. The History Channel’s Original Series Project Blue Book dives into the shrouded background of the Air Force’s most clandestine agency devoted to the 1940s growing paranoia as the public looked to the stars and started wonder if the threat was going to come from a communist threat or an alien invasion!

Just the Facts

Starring Aiden Gillen (Game of Thrones) as astrophysicists Dr. J. Allen Hynek, Project Blue Book sets up the backstory for the origins of Hynek’s contribution to the Air Force report that tracked many of the hundreds, in not thousands, of unexplained UFO sightings that were prevalent during the 1940s. Much of the hysteria that was permeating the culture during the era was often blamed on the idea of the growing communist threat, add on top of that Hollywood’s growing fascination with flying saucers, alien invasions and the B-movie monster of the week.

Insisting on dampening the public’s paranoia, General James Harding (played by Neal McDonough of DC’s Legends of Tomorrow and Paramount Network’s Yellowstone) enlists Captain Michael Quinn (Michael Malarkey) to come up with debunking or establish “alternate facts” to this flying saucer craze. Quinn is tasked with recruiting Hynek to the cause and use the professor’s expertise to understand a recent incident involving a pilot’s interaction with an Unidentified Flying Object. Unknown to the two men there are shadow agents following their every step.

A period piece, Project Blue Book looks stylish and is benefits from expressing its narrative from a historical perspective, interjecting true-life cases into its story development. The project itself has been often shrouded in mystery and the fact that when the real Hynek was brought in he was himself a skeptic, but by the time her turned in his final report had changed his mind, the series feels like a predecessor to the afore mentioned X-Files though it still has a long way to go. That series benefitted from the chemistry of its two leads, that is still something that is developing.

Project Blue Book airs on the History Channel. Check your local listings.