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Tag Archives: comic books

Gerard Way (yes, that Gerard Way) has always loved comic books. He and Gabriel Bá launched the first issue of The Umbrella Academy in the fall of 2007, and I first read the comics a few years later. V had copies of both The Apocalypse Suite and Dallas, and let me borrow them. I was instantly hooked.

February 15th saw the release of a live-action adaptation of The Umbrella Academy, and as of last Monday night, I’ve finished my first run-through of season one. Holy god damn, that was amazing.

The story follows an unconventional family. Years ago, several dozen children were born on the same day, with none of their mothers having shown any previous signs that they were pregnant. Wealthy eccentric Sir Reginald Hargreeves adopted seven of them, six of whom demonstrated incredible superpowers. Together, the children fought crime as the Umbrella Academy. That was then. Before Ben died. Before #5 went missing. Before Luther departed for the moon.

Now, Sir Reginald has died, and the surviving children have come home to pay their respects, but are interrupted as the long-lost #5 makes an unexpected reappearance. He claims he’s been in the future, and that he’s come back to help the Umbrella Academy stop the apocalypse, which is now only a few days away.

Given that Way and Bá created an intensely bizarre world together, but it’s a beautiful framework for the Netflix adaptation to be built upon, and build it does. As they prepare for the impending end of the world, the Hargreeves siblings bond and bicker, healing some old wounds and inflicting new ones. Luther attempts to lead as he once did, but can’t conceal that he’s not the same person he was before he left for the moon. Diego tries to maintain his activities as a local vigilante, but a previous relationship with Detective Eudora Patch complicates things. Allison, despite her celebrity status, struggles with her recent divorce and separation from her daughter. Klaus battles addiction and ghosts of his past. #5 is adjusting to reverting to his thirteen-year-old body and finding a way to cope with his PTSD. Ben is still dead. And Vanya, the “normal” one of the family, just wants a place to belong.

The casting of the characters couldn’t have been more spot-on. Robert Sheehan (Klaus) and Ellen Page (Vanya) aren’t strangers to superhero universes (Sheehan starred in the early seasons of Misfits and Page played Kitty Pryde in multiple X-Men films). They’re joined by a stellar cast, including Cameron Britton and Mary J. Blige as Hazel and Cha-Cha, a pair of time travelling assassins who are sent to ensure that the apocalypse takes place as scheduled.

The Umbrella Academy‘s soundtrack is killer too, as should be expected of a series with Gerard Way at the head. From a solo dance party scene featuring Tiffany’s “I Think We’re Alone Now” through #5’s fight scene set to “Istanbul, Not Constantinople” by They Might Be Giants to Way’s own cover of “Hazy Shade of Winter” in the closing credits of the final episode, it’s pitch perfect.

Over the course of 10 episodes, you get more character development than we’ve seen in the comics (so far, but with story arc #3, Hotel Oblivion, we’re starting to see more, and Way has mentioned several more planned story arcs). Considering the relatively sparse nature of the original plot of The Apocalypse Suite, I’m happy to see that the showrunners have blended some elements of Dallas into season one, giving us a far more well-rounded bit of story. I don’t doubt that Netflix will pick this one up for a second season, and I look forward to seeing my favorite dysfunctional super-family again soon.

 

Things that are happening this week:

Captain America: Civil War (Spoiler-free review coming soon)

Free Comic Book Day (Check out your local comic shops/libraries)

Reading/reviewing Joe Hill’s new novel The Fireman (With utmost gratitude to William Morrow for the Advance Copy)

I’m also working through a heap of holds from the library. My to-read list is ridiculous. Thankfully, I’ll be putting some vacation time to good use. The weather’s getting warmer, and the small ones enjoy time outside, so I’ll try to make the most of it. Reading outside counts as exercise, right?

 

 

 

I recently took the time out of my schedule to play through Injustice: Gods Among Us. I’m not normally one for fighting games, but this one boasted a full roster of DC Comics characters and a seriously compelling story, so I figured I’d at least give the story mode a go.

WARNING: POTENTIAL SPOILERS AHEAD (But please note that the game is three months old at this point)

Our story begins in an alternate universe (surprise!) in the aftermath of a nuclear explosion that has obliterated Metropolis. The Joker managed to get his hands on a nuke, and link the trigger to Lois Lane’s heartbeat. When he managed to drug Superman and convince him that Lois was actually Doomsday, Superman kills the love of his life and their unborn son, and triggers the nuke. In a fit of rage, Superman murders the Joker in revenge and establishes himself as High Councilor of Earth.

In our universe, the Joker is about to unleash a nuke as well. The Justice League is en route to stop him when he and several of the heroes are pulled into the aforementioned alternate universe. Parallel Batman has brought heroes from our world into his to help end Superman’s reign, and the fighting begins.

Each of the twelve chapters of the story allows you to play through several fights as a range of characters. Batman, Green Lantern, Cyborg, Deathstroke, Lex Luthor, The Flash, Green Arrow, Wonder Woman, The Joker, Aquaman, and Superman are all featured in the main story mode. Each has a standard set of light, medium, and heavy attacks, and various special moves. It’s hardly the most complex fighting game to come down the line (I’m looking at you, BlazBlue and Dead or Alive), but it’s a hell of a lot of fun. Voice acting is top-notch, character designs are spot-on, and the story is pretty damn compelling. I’d rate it almost perfectly, except for one glaring issue.

I have one major complaint about Injustice, and it applies to the story mode. While you have a wide range of characters to play as, especially in standard fighting modes, story mode only includes one female character. Wonder Woman is the only female character you play while in the story mode, and her character is placed in a less-than-ideal scenario. Story mode places her playable portion near the very end of the game. She has three story mode battles instead of the typical four (or more) given to the other characters. And finally, two of her three battles take place against other female characters, including a mirror universe version of herself. Injustice takes great strides to establish itself as a strong fighting game with a great roster of characters, but the story falls flat at including this level of equality. It’s worth a playthrough, but keep in mind that Netherrealm Studios could have done a better job of implementing more of DC’s female characters. Raven, Killer Frost, Catwoman, Hawkgirl, and Harley Quinn are all fought against, and Zatanna and Batgirl are available as downloadable content, so the overall roster isn’t lacking. You’ll still find plenty of DC’s ladies kicking ass and taking names in tournaments, but the plot really needed to showcase more of them as active heroes.