Tag Archives: DC universe

DC vs. Marvel (comic)

Have you ever wondered what would happen if the greatest, most powerful heroes and villains from the DC and Marvel Universes met? How awesome would that be? Well, it already happened in 1996, so you missed out. But you can relive the past and pick up DC vs. Marvel and see the two worlds collide.

There is actually a pretty coherent storyline. Writers Ron Marz and Peter David are able brings some of the biggest characters from two rival companies together in a comprehensive way. So back in the day, these two brothers/entities were controlling their own separate universes, until they learned of each other’s existence. One brother is the DC Universe, and the other represents the Marvel Universe. They decide to have a battle between their top superheroes to determine which universe will be destroyed.

Each separate universe starts to be aware that something weird is happening when heroes and villains start vanishing in a flash of light, and new, different masks start showing up. A young man named Axel Asher finds himself inexplicably drawn to an alley where a crazy homeless guy is trying desperately to keep an inter-dimensional gateway contained in a cardboard box. Axel is the Access, and he just might be the key to solving the crisis if he ever accepts his destiny.

6 Marvel characters are chosen to fight 6 DC characters in one-on-one battles to determine the mightier universe. There are some really obvious fights between similarly powered characters like Aquaman vs. Namor, Wolverine vs. Lobo, and Flash vs. Quicksilver. There are also weird, random fights like Robin vs. Jubilee and Superboy vs. Spider-man. Elektra fights Catwoman, the Green Lantern and Silver Surfer duke it out in space, Wonder Woman somehow loses to Storm, Batman and Captain America are pretty evenly matched, and Superman barely beats the Hulk into submission.

Instead of one universe getting destroyed, the Spectre and the Living Tribunal are able to temporarily merge the two universes together. This buys them some time, and has the awesome bonus of creating hybrid superheroes like Dark Claw (a mixture of Batman and Wolverine) and Super-Soldier (Superman and Captain America’s lovechild).

Access finally gets his shit together and it able to separate the merged universe back to the two separate ones. He gets a little assistance from Batman and Captain America to end the Space Brothers’ hissy fit. And now the two universes can co-exist and life is good.

Yeah, there’s a lot of nonsense about two brother universes using magic humans to end a cosmic dispute, but once you get past that you can appreciate the story. What if the superhero you depended on was powerless to stop the end of the world? What if that superhero vanished and was replaced by a stranger in tights? What if you are a superhero and you can’t simply punch your way to victory?

The art is awesome. The panels spill over into each other, they overlap, it feels very fluid. Dan Jurgens and Claudio Castellini’s drawings are bold and powerful. And it’s pretty cool to see the Hulk and Superman exchanging blows in the desert.

There are a lot of characters to keep track of, but it doesn’t slow down the momentum of the story. If you like DC, it’s worth checking out. If you like Marvel, it’s worth checking out. If you like comics, then you should have read this already. You’re slacking.

Critically Rated at 13/17

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Smallville (tv show)

Smallville is a TV show about Clark Kent before he becomes Superman. Tom Welling plays a young Clark Kent and you see him go from a nerdy high school freshman to a reporter for the Daily Planet over the course of ten seasons. The early seasons are about Clark discovering strange new abilities and learning how to control them and he also starts exploring his origins. The later seasons are about him accepting his destiny, and there’s tons of characters and references to the DC universe. The cast changed quite a bit over the years as well. The early seasons were about Clark’s life in Smallville and growing up on a farm with his parents John and Martha (John Schneider and Annette O’Toole). He hangs out with his friend Pete and Chloe (Sam Jones III and Allison Mack) and has a crush on the smoking hot Lana Lang (Kristen Kreuk). Over the course of the series most of the supporting characters are phased out, but Allison Mack stuck around for most of the show’s run. In the pilot episode Lex Luthor (Michael Rosenbaum) hits Clark with his car and they both fall off a bridge and land in the water. Clark saves Lex and they become friends, but Lex becomes obsessed with how Clark escaped without injury. Lex and Clarks friendship dissolves over a few seasons and Lex gradually becomes a bad guy. Lex has one of the best character arcs of the series, even if Rosenbaum left after seven seasons. Clark pines for Lana for a few seasons and they even get together a few times, but eventually Lois Lane shows up. Erica Durance is pretty smoking hot too and you can’t have a show about Superman without having Lois Lane, so she was a great addition to the cast. There are lots of references to the Superman movies. Christopher Reeve and Margot Kidder both guest starred on the show. Terrence Stamp (General Zod in Superman II) provides the voice for Clark’s biological father, Jor-El. Other DC characters joined the show. Oliver Queen a.k.a. Green Arrow (Justin Hartley) became a series regular and other members of the Justice League show up like Flash, Aquaman, Cyborg, Martian Manhunter to name a few. Bruce Wayne/Batman never showed up though. A few notable villains show up too. General Zod, Brainiac, Bizarro, Doomsday and other DC bad guys make appearances. The first season had a lot of one-time villains. Usually someone from Smallville has an encounter with Kryptonite and transform somehow before Clark tears shit up and gets things back to normal so that next week something else could happen. Later on the storylines become more complex and there’s more story arcs that last multiple episodes or span over a few seasons. Every once in a while there will be a random episode that doesn’t have much to do with the overall storyline, but that happened less and less as the show progressed. The special effects are pretty solid for a TV show. There’s some cool CG work when Clark is using his superpowers and there are some pretty awesome fight scenes. But there’s also a lot of soap opera drama going on. Sometimes the show was a little more Gossip Girls than a superhero series. But I’m ok with it because Clark usually punches something or someone and I like violence. Smallville isn’t the best show of all time, but it’s still pretty good. Ten seasons is a great run for a TV series. They turned it into a comic book, so you can keep following the ongoing adventures of Clark Kent. Give this show a chance if you haven’t yet. Superheroes, hot chicks, cool CG, cool fight scenes… that’s entertainment. Critically Rated at 14/17

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Superman: Red Son (comic)

Superman is an American icon. But what if he wasn’t? Mark Millar’s story puts a simple twist on the Superman legend… what if baby Superman was twelve hours late and crash-landed into the Soviet Union instead of America? In this alternate universe, Superman lands in the Ukraine and comes to embrace Communism. Instead on an S on his chest, he sports a hammer and sickle. He makes the Soviet Union the dominating world power, while the US goes on the decline. The story is presented in three acts. The first act is establishes who this different Superman is and what he stands for. He is still a hero, he wants to help people, he is selfless, but he embraces the Soviet ideals instead of American ideals. The first act also introduces the other key characters, like the brilliant American scientist/genius Lex Luthor and his beautiful wife Lois “Formerly Lane” Luthor. There’s a Russian version of Batman who is leading a rebellion against the Soviet dictatorship. There’s a version of Wonder Woman that is also familiar and yet different. The second act is about Superman taking control of the Soviet Union. He doesn’t do it because he wants power, he does it because he feels obligated to help because he can help. Russian Batman is continuing to fight back against a dictatorship that’s headed by an all-powerful alien. With the help of Lex Luthor he lures Superman into a trap and nearly defeats him, but Wonder Woman saves Superman, even though it costs her a lot in the process. The last act finds Superman facing off against Lex Luthor, who is now the President of the United States. Lex is able to bring the US back from the point of total economic and social collapse, but it’s just the first step in his plan to destroy Superman. President Luthor uses Hal Jordan, Wonder Woman, and other tactics to wage war on Superman. I don’t want to give away anything major, but there is a great twist. So here is a spoiler alert – in this alternate universe, Lex Luthor saves mankind and sires a long line of brilliant descendants, one of which is named Jor-L who sends his infant son into the past, where he crash-lands in a field in the Ukraine. Mark Millar does a great job of reimaging Superman as a Russian. He is recognizable, but his upbringing changes aspects of his being. The best part of this story is how they use familiar characters in different ways. You’ll recognize a lot of DC characters, from Oliver Queen to Brainiac. You’ll even appreciate the historical figures that pop up, like Stalin or JFK and his Hollywood lover named Norma Jean. The artwork is great, but it’s the story that stands out. It’s just a cool take on a character that everyone knows. Superman is the most important character in the DC Universe. He affects everyone and everything. You will like this book, even if you’ve never read a Superman comic before, but you’ll appreciate it more if you have a greater grasp of his origin. Critically Rated at 13/17

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Kingdom Come (comic)

Comics should have a good story and good art. Alex Ross and Mark Waid’s Kingdom Come has a great story and even greater art. The world is in trouble. Superman has retired, and a bunch of new but dangerous vigilantes rise up to fill the void, so Superman has to get back in the game. He starts recruiting heroes to try to restore balance between metahumans and regular people. Batman thinks Superman’s ideals are outdated, so he creates his own team of heroes, mostly ones without powers. Lex Luthor leads a gang of villains called the Mankind Liberation Front, because you need a league of villains to fight.

Kingdom Come has a lot of similarities to Watchmen. Rorschach even makes a cameo. The glory days for heroes has passed. A lot of heroes have retired, only a few are still active. A growing threat emerges, and heroes are forced to confront it. The heroes have to pick a side, and they don’t always see eye to eye. Right and wrong isn’t always black and white.

The story deals with regular people being threatened by metahumans. The metahumans fight with each other, recklessly destroying things and endangering innocent bystanders. Superman comes out of retirement to remind them that with great power comes great responsibility. I might be paraphrasing, but that’s the gist of it.

Alex Ross’s drawings are practically photorealistic, making the superheroes look even more super. The artwork is amazing. The DC Universe seems to come to life. Alex Ross is a great artist. The panels looks like photographs, sometimes you think you’re reading a scrapbook with captions and not a comic book. The battle scenes are intense and chaotic. He crams a lot of background details into each panel, look carefully and you can find lots of Easter eggs, like characters from other comics or real people.

There are a bunch of DC characters running around the story. Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Lex Luthor, Green Lantern… most of the big boys make appearances. Captain Marvel plays a significant role; he is probably the most important character. Captain Marvel a.k.a. Billy Batson is the only one who is both a regular mortal person and a metahuman. He is initially being brainwashed and used by Lex, because he is the only one capable of stopping Superman. He eventually regains control of his mind and saves the world. Sorry, that was kind of a spoiler.

This book is worth buying. Not only does it have a good, satisfying story, but the art takes it to a whole new level. You can read it multiple times, and you should read it multiple times. In fact, you should have already read it. So go do that if you haven’t yet.

Critically Rated at 14/17

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Crisis on Infinite Earths

DC had a problem. By 1985, over 50 years of heroes, villains, multiple timelines and alternate Earths had created a heaping pile of confusion. Marv Wolfman was tasked with creating a story that could simplify the DC universe and make it more accessible to new readers, and fix continuity problems. It’s a somewhat confusing story about good versus evil and the Multiverse.

So there are two omnipotent beings, one is good, one is evil. The Monitor must recruit heroes and villains to save the Multiverse from the evil Anti-Monitor. The Multiverse is a universe with multiple Earths and worlds. There is an Earth-1, Earth-2, Earth-B, etc. There are multiple incarnations of each DC character, and there are differences between each version. If you aren’t confused, you aren’t paying attention. It seems like virtually every DC character, famous or obscure, makes an appearance. If you aren’t too aware of DC, you might want to avoid this comic. There are a lot of characters and plot points that are too hard to follow if you are a newb.

There is a lot going on. This is not a simple read. Characters die, whole Earths die. It becomes somewhat convoluted to remember who did what when, and which who did what. Crisis on Infinite Earths is similar to X-Men 3… there’s a bunch of characters running around doing things, and you recognize a lot of them, but you don’t care about most of them. And when it was over you have a lot of questions, but overall you were entertained.

It tries to simplify the DC universe. It just does it in a confusing way. Read it if you like DC. Avoid it if you don’t. There are a lot of notable deaths, so if you’re morbid, you can read it for that.

Critically Rated at 12/17

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