The following is a video from my YouTube channel, Jack’s World. It’s another entry into my Jack’s Comic Gems series, in which I highlight uniquely awesome gems from the world of comics. This time, I single out Sean Murphy’s brilliant series, “Batman White Knight.” If you’re a Batman fan, I think you’ll love this. Enjoy!
Tag Archives: DC
We all have our things that put us in this special zen-like state. One of my old college friends got into that state by listening to heavy metal music at nearly full volume. I don’t know why that relaxed him as much as it did, but it worked. I’m not sure how good it was for his ears, but I don’t aruge with results.
For me, comics are that special thing that puts me in that special state of serenity. I download all my new books onto my iPad. I put my feet up and then I proceed to partake in the weekly joy that is New Comic Book Day. I challenge anyone to find someone as content and focused.
It’s a great feeling. No matter how my week is going, reading new comics puts me in that special state where everything seems balanced. It’s my shortcut to inner peace and contentment within a world that has been increasingly stressful over the past year.
Since that world doesn’t seem to want to settle, my weekly trips to comic book Zen will be all the more important. Even in the middle of winter, it’s easy to find something from the vast library that is Comixology that will warm your body and soul. This week is no exception.
Here is my pull list and pick for the week. Enjoy!
My Pull List
My Pick Of The Week
Future State: Justice League #1
It’s the first week of 2021 and while things are still awful, they haven’t gotten considerably worse just yet. By 2020 standards, that counts as progress. That’s just how low the bar is these days. I hope it raises at some point, but I’m not getting my hopes up just yet.
In the meantime, I won’t let that stop me from enjoying the first New Comic Book Day of the year. In my experience, comic companies often use that first Wednesday to set the tone for the kind of year they’re going to have. That usually involves setting up or furthering stories that began late in the previous year and launching new titles to help set up events in the new year.
In addition, these efforts also mean I tend to spend a lot more than average on the first week of the year. That usually works out because I use the money I got from generous relatives over Christmas. So the first New Comic Book Day of a new year are usually very special for me and this year promises to be no exception.
New characters are being introduced.
New titles are launching from top tier talent.
New storylines are set to pick up.
These are exciting times for the world of comics. The world is still a mess and I’m still frustrated by it to no end. Even so, an extra large pile of new comics helps make it more awesome and that’s exactly what we need right now. As such, here’s my pull list and pick for the first of many New Comic Book Days in 2021. Enjoy!
My Pull List
My Pick Of The Week
The following is a video from my YouTube channel, Jack’s World. It’s a video essay/celebration of the first “Wonder Woman” movie, a film that will always be near and dear to my heart. I know I recently did a review of “Wonder Woman 1984” and I was tempted to do a video about that, but I wanted to first pay tribute to the movie that started Diana’s wondrous journey into film. Enjoy!
It’s the last New Comic Book Day on the last week of the year and I think I speak for many, comic lovers and non-comic lovers alike, when I say fuck 2020. Fuck this god-awful year. It cannot end fast enough.
I apologize. I just needed to get that out of my system. Thank you for bearing with me.
I know that’s a popular sentiment. I think everybody is ready to close the page on this shitty year and embrace 2021 in ways we usually reserve for puppies, kittens, and a cold beer on a hot summer day. However, we still have a few days left so there’s still time for an asteroid to hit.
For comic lovers, this year has been plenty challenging. At one point, the global pandemic that has dominated this year effectively brought the entire comic book world to a halt. It was a painful, heart-breaking time. I still remember it and the agony that came with it.
The industry has since adapted. It still has a long way to go and will likely face more upheavals in 2021. However, the bar for improvement is so low at this point that I’ll be content if it just means I can attend a comic convention at some point.
Normally, the last New Comic Book Day of the year is a time of bittersweet reflection. This year, which has been like no other, carries a very different feeling. Whatever that feeling entails, let’s try to enjoy it as best we can. Better days are coming. I believe that and I’m willing to work towards it.
In the meantime, here is my pull list and pick for the week. Enjoy!
My Pull List
My Pick Of The Week
We’re at a point with superhero movies where the bar has been raised to such a degree that we can’t just call them a passing fad anymore. Love them or hate them, superhero movies have evolved. They’ve developed a complexity and nuance that few genres ever gain, regardless of medium.
Plus, they make billions at the box office. Let’s not forget that. It’s why the Bill Mahers of the world won’t stop whining about superhero movies anytime soon.
Forgetting the whiners and petty nit-pickers of the genre, superhero movies have a higher threshold to achieve to be considered successful. It’s not enough anymore than to just put a famous actor or actress in an iconic costume and replay famous scenes from comics. The story, characters, and themes have to be refined and compelling.
That’s a challenge for any movie, but one that felt far more daunting for “Wonder Woman 1984.” After the success of the first “Wonder Woman” movie, which did a masterful job of establishing Diana’s origin and building her superhero persona, this sequel is tasked with building on that foundation.
As someone who loved the first movie and made it a point to watch “Wonder Woman 1984” on HBO Max with my mom on Christmas day, I had high hopes for this movie. I wasn’t expecting “The Dark Knight” level of quality, but I was hoping for a worthy follow-up.
Without giving away too many spoilers, I’ll say without hesitation that it succeeded. This movie was a beautiful, emotionally driven cinematic experience and a worthy successor to the first “Wonder Woman.”
I say that knowing that some reviews were quite scathing in their assessment of the film. As is my general rule, I never read reviews before I see a movie. As I saw with “New Mutants,” that can wrongly color your perspective. As was also the case with that movie, I was genuinely surprised by the criticisms levied against “Wonder Woman 1984.”
However, I’m not going to waste my time responding to those criticisms. I’m just going to offer my take on why I thought this movie was a worthy follow-up to the first. Like any sequel, its primary goal was building on what the first movie established. In that sense, this movie did succeed.
The setup for the movie is a dazzling spectacle. Like the first, we get a brief glimpse of Diana’s youth on Themysicra. We see her living and growing amongst her Amazon sisters, showing the kind of power and potential that lies within her. It’s a true sight to behold and one director Patty Jenkins fleshes out meticulously.
Within that setup, though, is an important theme. It highlights the importance of truth and doing things the right way for the right reasons. You cannot and should not take shortcuts to achieve your goal. Doing so will always come at a price and incur consequences. It’s a simple, but necessary lesson that kids and adults alike often learn the hard way.
That leads us directly to the main antagonist of the movie, Maxwell Lord. Played by Pedro Pascal, he comes off as the very antithesis of this lesson. He’s a con-man and a huckster, always looking for a shortcut to get what he wants. That includes tampering with the forces of the gods, which puts him in direct conflict with Diana.
At the same time, this conflict ties closely to another unfolding with Diana’s new friend, Barbara Minerva. Played by Kristen Wiig, she comes off at first as the very antithesis of Diana. She’s a nobody. She has none of Diana’s power, grace, or skill. She’s basically invisible, only ever getting attention from people she doesn’t like.
This is very much in line with the characterization of Barbara Minerva in the comics. She’s Wonder Woman’s chief rival, but she started out as a friend. She’s even sympathetic to some extent. She’s not looking to become a villain, like Maxwell Lord. She just wants a taste of the power and prestige that she sees in Wonder Woman.
She ultimately gets her chance, as does Maxwell Lord. When Barbara stumbles upon the Dreamstone, a relic imbued with the power from Dolos, the god of lies, that can grant wishes to those who wield it. However, like a typical monkey’s paw narrative, every wish comes at a price.
It closely mirrors the lesson young Diana learned in her youth, as depicted in the movie’s opening scenes. Taking any shortcut to get what you desire will come at a price. You can try to avoid the consequences all you want, but it eventually compounds. The more you try, the worse it’ll get.
Maxwell Lord thinks he has a way to avoid this. He thinks he can get everything he wants by simply making the right kind of wish. That ultimately causes a great deal of destruction. I’d go into detail, but I’d rather not reveal too much. All you need to know is that it’s not the kind of destruction Wonder Woman can stop with her fists and her sword.
What happens with Barbara Minerva is even more impactful. Like Maxwell Lord, she’s unwilling to give up any power she gains. Unlike Lord, however, she’s willing to pay any price to keep it. That’s what sends her down a dark path. It’s also what turns her from one of Diana’s friends into a truly tenacious foe.
These conflicts become very personal to Diana because she too is unable to resist the temptation. She may give so much of herself to others, but she also has desires and wishes of her own. That’s where Steve Trevor, played again by Chris Pine, enters the picture.
His death and heroic sacrifice in the first “Wonder Woman” movie was so powerful. That whole movie really sold the love that blossomed between him and Diana. Even as the years go by, his death still burdens Diana. She cannot let go of that love. She wants nothing more than to have it back.
It’s sad, but understandable. If ever someone deserved a consequence-free wish from all her heroic acts, it’s Diana. Unfortunately, there’s no getting around it. She still tries. She gets her chance to be with the love of her life again. As with everything else, though, it comes at a price.
That’s the biggest theme of this movie. Getting what you want by breaking the rules or cheating will always come at a price. Even if you’re willing to pay that price, it does cause damage to yourself and others. It’s a painful lesson and one that gives “Wonder Woman 1984” so many emotional overtones.
It’s because of those overtones that this movie works so well. Wonder Woman, by her nature, is a very emotionally driven character. Her love, compassion, and heart are among her greatest traits. They’re as strong as her fighting spirit. The first movie revealed this and “Wonder Woman 1984” builds on that.
Her greatest struggles always have an emotional weight to them. It’s not just a matter of her beating up the bad guy to save the day. One of those foes was once her friend. Another is someone she can’t defeat simply by beating him up. She has to use that uncanny compassion and heart to win the day. That’s what makes her Wonder Woman.
I would argue that’s the most important aspect of her character and this movie captured it perfectly. I really did feel for Diana as she went through these emotional upheavals throughout the story. It brought out her greatest strengths, as well as her greatest weaknesses.
Now, speaking of weaknesses, this is where I also have to levy some criticisms of my own against “Wonder Woman 1984.” I promise they’re not nearly as petty or overblown as some of the other reviews to this movie. Some have complained about the length and tone of the movie. I honestly think that sort of criticism is misguided.
I’ll still say outright that this movie was not as good as the first “Wonder Woman.” This movie was not as concise and polished, in terms of story. There were a number of “and then this happened” moments that made the story seem a bit jumbled at times. In some cases, it relied too heavily on contrivances and suspension of disbelief to move things along.
I get the sense this was done to keep things moving forward from a plot standpoint. I also think there were some difficulties in revealing the ins and outs of godly magic, which is considerably harder to do in a movie when compared to a comic.
None of these shortcomings kept the movie from working overall. Gal Gadot once again carried her role as Wonder Woman with grace and grit. She, Steve Trevor, and Cheetah all had well-developed characters that played their roles well throughout the story. In terms of the most important elements to a good Wonder Woman movie, “Wonder Woman 1984” got them right.
If I had to score this movie, I’d give it a 4 out of 5. It has some noticeable flaws, more so than its predecessor. However, Gal Gadot is still an amazing Wonder Woman, Patty Jenkins is still a great director, and this world they explored together was full of dazzling wonder.
For a year that has been so bleak and dire, it’s just what we needed. For that, I thank “Wonder Woman 1984” and all those who helped make it happen.
I know Christmas is still two days away, but when it’s New Comic Book Day, the feeling is pretty much the same. I wake up early in the morning, excited as a kid in a candy store, and open my iPad to see a stack of new digital comics waiting for me. The joy I feel is not that different from the joy I feel on Christmas morning.
It’s just one of the many benefits to being a lover of comics. Every week, Wednesday is basically a holiday. New books come out. New joy is felt and shared. Thanks to digital comics like Comixology, they’re already there for you the second you wake up and you don’t even have to wear an ugly sweater.
What’s not to love? I enjoy this day knowing full well that it’s likely a significant chunk of my presents on Christmas will include comics. My family knows me all too well. They know that they can spend twenty bucks on a graphic novel and I’ll be as happy as kid who just got his first Nintendo system.
It’s a simple joy that comes every week. On weeks like this, just a few days before Christmas, that joy only compounds. Between this, Christmas, and an abundance of eggnog, my holiday spirit has never been stronger. Here’s my pull list and pick for this glorious holiday week.
To all my fellow comic fans and even those with a mere passing interest, I wish you a very Merry Christmas. Let New Comic Book Day make it that much more merry.
My Pull List
My Pick Of The Week
King In Black #2
As a lifelong comic book fan, I like to think I’m easy to shop for on the holidays. Pretty much everyone in my family is aware of just how much I love comics. I also make it a point to send them lists of books I want, where to get them, and which are the least expensive.
They appreciate that a great deal. It also helps that most of the books I ask for are rarely more than twenty bucks. Those on a budget, along with those who are just cheapskates in general, love that my needs are so simple.
It makes the holidays that much more enjoyable. I’m just a simple man with simple tastes. I don’t need big, fancy gifts anymore. I can buy my own game consoles and gadgets. Just get me a stack of comics to read on Wednesday mornings with my coffee and I’m a happy guy.
New Comic Book Day around the holidays only makes me happier. It means I can both enjoy new comics and read them under the light of a Christmas tree. It’s as joyous a feeling as anything that doesn’t involve eggnog, candy canes, and gingerbread cookies. I encourage everyone to enjoy it.
With Christmas less than two weeks away, this is as good a time as any to supplement your comic reading with some festive tidings. To help, here’s my pull list and pick for the week. Enjoy!
My Pull List
My Pick Of The Week
We all have our own unique rituals for enjoying a particular experience that we’ve come to love. One of my siblings had this weird thing where he could only watch “The Sopranos” in the basement, with all the lights off, while sitting on a bean bag chair.
I don’t get it, either. It annoyed the hell out of me most of the time. Then again, who am I to judge? I’m the same when it comes to reading comics, especially in December.
I love reading comics on New Comic Book Day at every point in the year, but that doesn’t stop me from using the holidays to enhance the experience. For me, that involves turning on my Christmas lights, starting a fire in my gas fireplace, brewing a cup of coffee, and laying back in my recliner with an iPad full of new comics.
It’s basically comic book and holiday nirvana. There are no words to describe the joy, comfort, and relaxation I feel when I’m in that state. It’s one of my favorite parts of the week. It’s also one of my favorite experiences, in general.
For all my fellow comic fans out there, I’m sure you have a New Comic Book Day ritual of your own. During the holidays, you may even mix it up a bit. I encourage everyone to embrace that. When you can combine comics with the holidays, then joy of every kind will surely follow.
With that in mind, here is my pull list and pick of the week. Enjoy!
My Pull List
My Pick Of The Week
I am so ready for this year to be over. I doubt I’m the only one who feels that way. I don’t think I need to remind everyone why.
As awful as it has been, we should take some comfort that we made it all the way to December. We have both the holidays to look forward to, as well as the start of a new year. That’s promising. It’s an objectively good outlook to have.
We still have to make it through December, though. There’s still plenty of time left for something awful to happen. Aliens may or may not invade, but if an asteroid struck tomorrow, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised.
In the meantime, the best we can do is find a way of making it through this final month. For me, comics have always been a great way to endure tough times and extract a little basic joy from life. They helped me get through high school. They also helped me get through some dark, unpleasant times in my life.
For that reason, and many others, I’ll always be grateful. Given how much my spirits have been crushed and maimed by 2020, I’ll need them more than ever to make it through this final month. Thankfully, the fine publishers of the industry are still hard at work and I gladly patronize them every Wednesday. I encourage others to do the same.
To that end, here is my pull list and pick for the week. Enjoy and hang in there people! We’re on the final lap.