Archive for the ‘Featured’ Category

Roman Reigns, Character Assassination, and Other Ponderings from WWE Raw

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

WWE shows footage of Roman Reigns after emergency hernia surgery. NO!!! No, no, no, no, no, no, NO! You do NOT show footage of Roman Reigns drugged up and in a hospital bed! You do NOT do that! You’re killin’ the guy off!!!

*sigh* Alright, let me dive into why this INFURIATED me so damn much.

Roman Reigns was being built as the WWE’s next top guy. And for my money, he was (and could still be) a viable candidate. But WWE can’t necessarily make Reigns into the next John Cena, because they’re cut from very different clothes. Reigns can’t be the all-American, “Never give up, kids!” superhero that Cena is, because that’s not his character. Reigns has a nice bad ass vibe going for him, between his look, his demeanor, and his ring work. Reigns runs into trouble when he gets on the mic, not just because he hasn’t developed a solid promo yet, but because his character shouldn’t talk much. His visage and his actions do his talking for him. He’s got a quiet, foreboding aura about him that makes for a great babyface with a bit of edge.

But showing Reigns in a hospital bed, especially while he’s still on his way up, spoils all that because it kills his vibe. It humanizes his character in a way they shouldn’t be doing yet. If you want to milk this injury on the WWE Network, fine! Have your on-air talent talk about it, talk to the doctors, talk to the trainers about what the injury is, etc. But don’t friggin’ show him in the hospital! This is supposed to be our next big hero! And few things kill a hero’s image quite like a hospital gown.

Dean Ambrose returns to Raw following Night of Champions comeback. The use of Ambrose on this show was a great breath of fresh air. Speaking of auras, he’s got that great unpredictability about him. He’s so good on the mic, and at times he seems so spontaneous (i.e. hanging on to the car while Rollins was driving away), he’s just so damn entertaining. And the possibility of an Ambrose/Cena match is definitely intriguing.

John Cena faces Randy Orton in the Raw main event. I had literally no interest in this match. None. No offense to either man, but this is 2014. We’ve seen John Cena wrestle Randy Orton countless times over the years. You simply couldn’t garner my interest for another match between the two, and I think that’s the general consensus of the fanbase. You’d think what happened at the Royal Rumble would have been enough to let WWE know that.

Dolph Ziggler def. The Miz for the Intercontinental Championship. Was unpleasantly surprised (as WWE likely wanted me to be) that Miz took the Intercontinental Championship back from Dolph Ziggler at the pay per view, and slightly confused to see Ziggler simply regain it 24 hours later. To both men’s credit, they’ve at least got me invested in their rivalry, despite how lackluster it was in the weeks following Summerslam. One can certainly argue whether this program is helping make the IC title “matter” again, especially with the hot potato title changes. But at the very least, I wanted to see Ziggler take it back, which he did.

Mark Henry apologizes for losing to Rusev at Night of Champions. Mark Henry probably cuts one of the best sappy, emotionally vulnerable promos in the business right now. Whether he’s “retiring” or apologizing, sad Mark Henry is usually good Mark Henry.

Adam Rose & “The Bunny” def. Heath Slater & Titus O’Neil. Not sure how I feel about the whole “Bunny” as a wrestler thing. If we want to do an angle about just who it is under the suit, that might be interesting. But the novelty of a guy in a bunny suit wrestling is wearing thin.

Natalya & Rosa Mendes def. Summer Rae & Layla El. So Summer Rae is a heel again, huh? Because of Total Divas? Alright sure. Whatever.

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A Gotham S1E1 Review – Break Out the Shoehorn

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

I’m about as big a Batman fan as you’ll ever find. And yet, I hadn’t been looking forward to the premiere of Gotham at all. Why, you ask?

Because prequels suck.

There are exceptions to every rule, of course. But generally speaking, prequels suck. One of the reasons this is true is because they take a certain spontaneity and happenstance away from what they’re preceding.

For instance, let’s say you want to do a prequel to The Wizard of Oz. And you want to have the Scarecrow and the Tin Man meet for some reason. That concept takes away from The Wizard of Oz, in my opinion. The story is no longer about this band of four misfits who just happened to meet one another, and are now following their hearts’ desires to Oz. You’ve changed part of the story because the Scarecrow and the Tin man aren’t strangers anymore. They knew of one another, and thus their entire dynamic is changed. And that dynamic is part (albeit a small one) of the magic of The Wizard of Oz.

This logic is one of the major reasons I stopped watching Smallville. In that universe, before he’d ever become Superman, Clark Kent had met Lois Lane, The Flash, Aquaman, Green Arrow, Black Canary, Cyborg, and numerous other heroes. They’d shoehorned various characters from around the DCU in an attempt to keep the show interesting, when in reality it probably should have ended at season four or five.

I knew Gotham would be more of the same. Sure enough, less than five minutes into the first episode I was proven right. Selina Kyle, the future Catwoman, just happens to be watching when Bruce Wayne’s parents are murdered in front of him. Again, this changes the dynamic of the relationship between Bruce Wayne/Batman and Selina Kyle/Catwoman. Now, could that be good thing? Possibly. But based on what’s come before, I’m not banking on it.

Oh, and the Riddler also analyzed the bullets that went through the Waynes.

And Poison Ivy’s father is framed for their murder.

Damn it, people. This is only the first episode!!!!

Still, let’s acknowledge the good with the bad. Gotham has a nice feel to it. As a lifelong Batman geek, the setting looks and feels like I was hoping it would. Gotham City is a character unto itself. It’s dirty, it’s cold, it’s rainy, and it’s corrupt to its very core. In that sense, Gotham definitely delivers.

The show is also very well cast. Everybody fits their role, fairly well. I was particularly impressed with three performers: David Mazouz (Bruce Wayne), Donal Logue (Harvey Bullock), and Robin Lord Taylor (Oswald Cobblepot).

From the very start, David Mazouz is able to give us what we want out of a young Bruce Wayne. He screams in terror and pain when he realizes his parents are gone forever. He gets broody when he learns some discouraging news about the investigation into his parents’ murder. And then he gives us a touch of vengefulness toward the end of the episode. This is good stuff. He’s certainly the best young Bruce Wayne I’ve ever seen on screen. But he’s also had the most screen time of any young Bruce Wayne, so let’s consider that.

Donal Logue fits the part of Harvey Bullock fairly well. He’s not the pudgy cop who favors the drink that we know from the comics, but he’s certainly on his way. He and Ben McKenzie’s Jim Gordon have a nice cynic/optimist chemistry, which could be fun to watch as the series progresses.

Robin Lord Taylor perfectly fits the visual bill of a young Oswald Cobblepot. But he’s also got the acting chops to convincingly give us the pre-Penguin Cobblepot that we need to see here. He’s a pitiful, whiny, sniveling worm, who just hates being called “penguin.” Given what we saw at the end of the episode, his arc could be extremely interesting as the season continues. There was a beastliness to Taylor’s performance in that final scene that was reminiscent of Danny DeVito in Batman Returns.

Still, this first episode was plagued by a problem that often haunts superhero-related TV shows: The dialogue. Gordon’s line to a grief-stricken Bruce about how “there will be light” sounds written. And Bullock kills the scene where we meet Renee Montoya and Crispus Allen with that damn ”Well well, if it isn’t…” line. I didn’t know people still said that in TV shows. It’s a phrase that needs to be blacklisted from script writing.

So what’s the bottom line on Gotham? It’s not that bad…for now. But fans like me, who get frustrated over things that are just a little too coincidental, i.e. Selina seeing the Wayne murders, are likely going to have to white knuckle through a lot. Like Smallville, this show is a prequel. But it’s drawing power comes from seeing characters we know and love from the world of Batman. And to get characters like The Riddler, Poison Ivy, and Catwoman into a pre-Batman world tends to require some shoehorning. A viewer’s suspension of disbelief can only be stretched so far.

So let’s see just how far Gotham can stretch before it snaps.

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A Justice League: Forever Heroes Review – Feelings. Nothing More Than Feelings…

TITLE: Justice League, Vol. 5: Forever Evil
AUTHOR: Geoff Johns
PENCILLERS: Doug Mahnke, Ivan Reis
COLLECTS: Justice League #24-29
FORMAT: Hardcover
PRICE: $24.99
RELEASE DATE: September 10, 2014

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Books like Forever Heroes tend to frustrate me. They run alongside event comics like Blackest NightCivil War, or in this case, Forever Evil, providing us with valuable insight into certain characters and their actions. But without the main plotline to follow, books like this are essentially useless. It’s like only watching the even numbered episodes of a TV drama. You continuously have to catch up with each new issue. The solution, of course, is to publish all the issues together, which we typically get in some sort of big omnibus. But for now, books like Forever Heroes stand as islands unto themselves. That’s a shame in this book’s case, as there’s some cool stuff here.

Set during the events of Forever EvilForever Heroes gives us an abbreviated backstory of almost every member of the Crime Syndicate of America. The plot thread that ties the issues together deals with Grid (essentially an evil version of Cyborg) and his quest to feel emotions. But when Cyborg returns, he’s out for justice. And he’s bringing back up: The Metal Men!

Indeed, Forever Heroes is tasked with introducing the Metal Men into the New 52. These heroes made up of various types of metal (Platinum, Mercury, Gold, etc.) have been a part of the DCU since the ’60s, but one can argue they haven’t been relevant in decades. I’ve been a regular DC reader for decades, and I’ve yet to receive a valid reason as to why I should care about the Metal Men, or their scientist creator Will Magnus.

Still, Johns gives us a decent start here. He establishes who the Metal Men are, and how they came to be. He also gives them a certain underdog appeal, by casting them as a failed government experiment, who now must return as one of the world’s last lines of defense. That’s a great role for them. They’re also selfless, which is obviously endearing. Cyborg also makes for a fitting partner for them. And Johns does get you to care about the romantic tension between Magnus and Platinum.

On the down side, there’s a certain awkward, corny factor to the Metal Men’s dialogue. For instance, this is one of Gold’s first lines in issue #28…

“Name’s Gold, bro. I’m one of the most malleable and conductible metals in existence. And I’m also the most desired throughout the globe — worth over $15 million by myself. I’m the Metal Men’s brilliant leader, literally speaking. Aren’t they lucky?”

Not with dialogue like that, they aren’t. That’s certainly not the only line in the book that’s needlessly clunky and expository. Some of this sounds like fiction written for grade schoolers. We know they’re made of metal, and everybody more or less knows that gold is valuable. So why not just leave it alone and let the characters be in a room together?

Metal Men dialogue notwithstanding, it’s not a bad introduction, per se. The Metal Men are an endearing concept. The question is, where do you take them from here? How do you make them a commodity in the DCU? The first Metal Men story of the New 52 is done, but hopefully the second one will give us a clue as far as that question goes.

In contrast to the selfless Metal Men, you of course have the entirely selfish Grid, an addition to the Crime Syndicate created by Johns in Trinity War, who essentially acts as an evil version of Cyborg. While the Metal Men actually feel too many emotions (according to Magnus), Grid is a lifeless robot desperately searching for a chance to feel any emotion. That’s a great juxtaposition. Forever Heroes sees Grid search through the Syndicate’s backstories looking for something to incite feeling. Johns does a nice job of keeping him unsympathetic and ruthless, and Grid manages to give Cyborg a nice character moment at the end of the book.

The Ultraman, Owlman, Superwoman, Power Ring, and Johnny Quick characters aren’t new, but Johns mixed with bits and pieces of their pre-established history with his own work to give them some mostly cool backstories. Granted, they’re all essentially the classic DC mythos turned upside down. For instance, the New 52 Owlman is Thomas Wayne Jr., Bruce Wayne’s older brother, who killed his parents and brother with the help of Alfred. Power Ring, the Crime Syndicate’s version of Green Lantern is a cowardly janitor at Ferris Air who is terrified of the ring entity, Volthoom. Johnny Quick and Atomica are a sort of supervillain Bonnie and Clyde. The only backstory I wasn’t a fan of was Ultraman’s, which unfortunately starts out the book. In that instance, Johns and Ivan Reis went so far on the opposite end of the moral spectrum that it almost became funny.

Forever Heroes also allows us to dive into Owlman’s longing to connect with the Dick Grayson of our Earth. We’re  not given a lot in terms of their interaction with one another, but I like the notion of Thomas Wayne Jr. wanting to make a connection with Dick, even though he’s not the same Dick he knew on Earth 3. And Johns tosses in a nice twist at the end of issue #25 that adds an extra dimension to their relationship.

Obviously Forever Heroes is supplemental material for Forever Evil. It’s not the best supplemental stuff I’ve ever seen. But Johns is definitely in his element here, working with frequent cohorts Ivan Reis and Doug Mahnke. And the book is noteworthy for introducing the Metal Men into the New 52, flaws and all. So all things considered, it’s not the worst thing you could spend money on at the comic shop. Just make sure you also have Forever Evil next to it on your shelf.

RATING: 6.5/10

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