THE FLASH, Season 5 preview!

Read the original story here: https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/live-feed/black-lightning-arrow-flash-supergirl-legends-tomorrow-castings-news-comic-con-2018-1127968
— Written by Sydney Bucksbaum (@SydneyBucksbaum), thanks for allowing me to share your story!

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(Season five returns Tuesday, Oct. 9 at 8 p.m. on The CW)

The season five big bad is revealed, and it’s not another speedster!

Veteran actor Chris Klein (American Pie, Oz) joins The Flash as season five’s main villain, DC Comics character Cicada. A grizzled, blue-collar everyman whose family has been torn apart by metahumans, Cicada now seeks to exterminate the epidemic — one metahuman at a time. While Cicada in the comics is a cult leader, executive producer Todd Helbing explains that they’re taking some liberties and putting the iconic character through The Flash lens. “He’s not so much a cult leader, but his powers present a challenge for Team Flash that they’ve never had to deal with before,” Helbing says. Other villains coming up this season are “younger” versions of The Rogues, according to Helbing. And the showrunner hopes to do a team-up between King Shark and Gorilla Grodd in the second half of season five … but only if they have enough money in the budget to do all the CGI work. This is something he’s been trying to do for years, but never had enough money.
Before the San Diego Comic Con panel began, a sizzle reel played for Ballroom 20 with new footage from season five, including some answers about Nora West-Allen (Jessica Parker Kennedy). Her superhero nickname in the future (given to her by her father!) is XS, and she’s hiding something from Barry (Grant Gustin) and Iris (Candice Patton) at first. And while Lonsdale isn’t returning to Legends of Tomorrow this season, he is shown in The Flash season 5 trailer, fully suited up as Kid Flash and running alongside The Flash. But the biggest cheer came when Barry got a new suit upgrade: his Flash ring from the comics. Expect to see a new supersuit as well, one that Helbing promises is “the most comic book-influenced” look yet.
But fans should begin bracing themselves now. Helbing warns, “There will be a lot of deaths this year.” Maybe even a main character or two.

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About the blogger: Michael Curry is the author of the Brave & Bold: From Silent Knight to Dark Knight, The Day John F Kennedy Met the Beatles and the award-winning Abby’s Road, the Long and Winding Road to Adoption and How Facebook, Aquaman and Theodore Roosevelt Helped. Check his website for more releases! Thanks for reading!

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The CW Fall 2018-19 Schedule

Changes are coming to our DC-CW shows. Well, at least on the days they are airing.

Originally the DC-CW shows spanned the week, now they are lumped into the first few days.

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All times are Eastern…

SUNDAY
8-9 PM — Supergirl

MONDAY
8-9 PM — DC’S Legends of Tomorrow
9-10 PM — Arrow

TUESDAY
8-9 PM  — The Flash
9-10 PM — Black LIghtning

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My internet trolling has not help me learn why. The ratings for the DC-CW shows are still stellar (for the CW) and all the shows ended up in their top ten.

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About the author: Michael Curry is the author of the Brave & Bold: From Silent Knight to Dark Knight, The Day John F Kennedy Met the Beatles and the award-winning Abby’s Road, the Long and Winding Road to Adoption and How Facebook, Aquaman and Theodore Roosevelt Helped.  Check his website for more releases! Thanks for reading!

A review of the Flash Season Four Finale

I sat through 21 episodes for THIS shit?

What a bitterly disappointing ending for a fair-to-good season…

Season Four had wonderful potential – the big bad was finally not another omnipotent-he-is-always-one-step-ahead-of-us speedster (he was an omnipotent-he-is-always-one-step-ahead-of-us genius), a whole new rogue’s gallery was forming, and the highlight – the introduction of the Elongated Man!

Hartley Sawyer was perfectly case – he even LOOKED like Ralph!

But the rest of the season just shows the severe limitations of the “Big Bad”-style.

I’ve complained about this style recently and called for its elimination in the DC-CW shows. The last three seasons of Arrow show the style at its worst. But it wasn’t until the last episode of Season Four of the Flash that it finally dawned on me why.

Yes, the Big Bad makes for tedium and repetition (“Hoping this is their chance to stop (insert name of Big Bad) once and for all …” seems to begin the synopsis for 3/4ths of Arrow’s IMDB’s Episode Lists …) but that is only a symptom. The disease is thus:

Nothing. Happens. Until. The last. episode.

Nothing.

No plot progression. No sense of advancement.

The Big Bad Style is interesting and thrilling when you first watch it. But the plot devise has been used in sixteen seasons between the four DC-CW shows, as well as Agents of Shield, Gotham, etc.

Maybe it’s me, maybe these shows are better while binge-watching. I doubt it. I suspect the Big Bad syndrome is even worse – seeing the heroes defeated not once per week but four times in an afternoon – “is this a rerun, did I hit the repeat button?”

Again it goes back to the main problem: “We’ll stop him this time!” “At last! I … oh. Episode 17, nope, you have five more to go before THAT happens.” Until then …

…nothing…

Arrow tried for a different take this season by killing off their Big Bad – revealing that the actual Big Bad was lurking in the background. But then it was back to the “We’ll stop him this time/this will work it HAS to!” …

Meet the new (Big Bad) boss, same as the old (Big bad) boss.

Flash should be better than this. They do done-in-one shows, they do not only character development, but character advancement! The heroes are likeable. The actors playing them fit the roles perfectly – the chemistry of the cast is obvious!

So how do we fix this? Get rid of the Big Boss. Or at least stay away from him or her for more than one episode at a time. Do two- three- or four-part arcs with other villains. Grodd, perhaps, or a more powerful non-Flash villain: Kanjar Ro, the Shadow Thief or Felix Faust.

For gosh sakes, introduce the Green Lantern Corp!

“We can’t, it might conflict with the DC Cinematic Universe!”

Ignore the DCCU; they certainly are ignoring YOU…

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I think my souring began with the resolution of the mid-season cliff-hanger “The Trial of the Flash” and I never had a chance to recover. For several episodes Flash did not escape from his cell or allow other shenanigans. “If I cannot get out legitimately, I don’t want to do it.” So how does he get released and found innocent of murder?

Illegitimately.

Ralph disguised himself as DeVoe. How can you kill a man who is still alive? Granted DeVoe WAS alive, but it was a fraud on the court. At least Arrow, pulling similar shenanigans some months later, used it against a corrupt system. Here the judge/jury was legit.

The means do not justify the ends. Barry Allen would be the FIRST to tell us that! His reaction to how his team sprung him was conveniently ignored.

Plus, at the final hearing DeVoe’s “widow” was present, but the District Attorney was NOT?! I know this isn’t Law and Order, but STILL…

It was the nadir of the series, in my opinion.

Until this season’s finale…

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The season finale had its moments – the introduction of Barry & Iris’ daughter from the future, the birth of Joe & Cecile’s daughter (yes, thse are spoilers, who cares? It was a crappy show), even the Thinker’s reference to himself as the “Big Bad” made me laugh.

But the rest of it?

Synopsis: with technobabble that would make the writers of Star Trek Voyager get erections, Barry put his physical self into DeVoe’s mind. This is done with the help of DeVoe’s wife who finally turns to the good side after a 20-episode build-up.

Flash finds Ralph “alive” (an why not the rest of his new Rogue’s Gallery?) and they fight off an infinite number of Thinkers in Matrix-like fashion.  Devoe is finally destroyed because Ralph’s physical body leaves the Thinker’s mind. Of course, why hadn’t anyone thought of THAT …

But, thanks to Holographic Resurrection, the Thinker appears again to menace our heroes! His wife finally defeats him by reaching around the chair and unplugging him.

Yes, they unplugged him.

By now I’d unplugged the Tivo.

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I love the Flash, I do. I love the charactersl I love the cast.

But I swear to god if this keeps up next year I’m rooting for the bad guy.

And start watching NCIS. Abby Scuito or no Abby Scuito.

Copyright 2018 Michael Curry

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About the author: Michael Curry is the author of the Brave & Bold: From Silent Knight to Dark Knight, The Day John F Kennedy Met the Beatles and the award-winning Abby’s Road, the Long and Winding Road to Adoption and How Facebook, Aquaman and Theodore Roosevelt Helped.  Check his website for more releases! Thanks for reading!

Super Team Family: the great comic with the lousy name…

Behold! The Bronze Age

bronze-age

Super Team Family #1 debuted in November 1975 (cover date). To this day the fanbase (and creators) dump on its unusual name.

It was part of four comics with (what we would now call) an imprint of “Family” from DC Comics.

DC family of comics

In May 1974 Superman Family debuted, combining three Superman related books into one – Supergirl, Lois Lane, and Jimmy Olsen. The numbering picked up where Jimmy Olsen left off. One of the stars would feature in a “full-length” new story and the other two would be a reprint. Three low-selling comics combined into one fair-selling comic.

DC decided to create three more “Family” comics containing some new material but chocked full of reprints to save costs. The comics could be larger-than-normal size with an increased cost.

Korak morphed into Tarzan Family (with the same numbering) and Batman Family also debuted.

Super Team Family was to be a comic of new team-ups not featuring Batman. He was holding court in Brave & Bold.

Unfortunately, the first issue contained only reprints. A scheduling problem; so said the debut letter column. This would be the case through issue #8 – with only two new stories published until the magazine was given to new Challengers of the Unknown stories.

Fortunately, those reprints were pretty good – covering DC’s Golden and Silver Age!

That first issue featured reprints from World’s Finest (Superman and Batman with a cameo of the Flash) Teen Titans and Flash (in which Heat Wave and Captain Cold team up to duke it out with the Fastest Man Alive – hey, they didn’t say only heroes teamed up!). Later issues in this reprint era featured the Doom Patrol, Captain Marvel and his “family” (one assumes the idea of publishing a “Shazam Family” comic was nixed) the JSA and two Brave & Bold team-ups starring Batman & Deadman and Batman & Eclipso.

Issue #3 reprinted the cross-over of Green Arrow and Aquaman in each other’s stories from Adventure Comics #267.

#5 had a reprint from Superboy #47 in which the Boy of Steel dreamt he met his adult self. That’s pushing the team-up thing in my book, but … eh … it was a good story.

I will recap the new stories in Behold: The Bronze Age from Super-Team Family in future blogs, but not the reprints. It makes little sense to review Silver and Golden Age stories in a Bronze Age blog, yes?

Not that they weren’t good issues – they were! The comic (along with Wanted, Four-Star Superhero Spectacular and other reprint comics) were a great way to read these older stories without draining the wallet. Maybe I will get back to them someday. But for now, let’s concentrate on the new material.  Well, new for 1974 …

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About the author: Michael Curry is the author of the Brave & Bold: From Silent Knight to Dark Knight, The Day John F Kennedy Met the Beatles and the award-winning Abby’s Road, the Long and Winding Road to Adoption and How Facebook, Aquaman and Theodore Roosevelt Helped.  Check his website for more releases! Thanks for reading!

The DC-CW line-up: Our story so far…

Our Story So Far

We are at the mid-season cliffhangers of the four DC-CW Television shows. Here are some thoughts:

SUPERGIRL

Supergirl is DC-CW’s touchy-feely show. I don’t mean this in a bad way – but the show deals with the emotional health of the characters much more so than the other shows.

But that doesn’t mean it lacks fun and plenty of comic-booky action.

This season we meet Samantha Arias, a co-worker of Kara (Supergirl) and who slowly discovers she has super powers. She IS from Krypton and turned into Reign by Krypton’s version of the devil. Now Reign is killing off National City gang members and other bad guys to the delight of Morgan Edge, who is blaming Supergirl.

Also, Mon-El is back. He was thrust into the future and formed the Legion (of Superheroes). Now some of them are in the present, although we’ve only met Saturn Girl so far…

The mid-season ends with Reign defeating Supergirl in a brutal battle over National City. Supergirl is in critical condition and Reign/Arias confronts her young daughter …

FLASH

The Flash is halfway through its best season since its first. We’ve slogged through almost every evil speedster in the DC Universe as the season-long Big Bad and fortunately Flash is NOT repeating itself, again. The joy that imbued the first season is back in this one. Mostly thanks to two events: the upcoming marriage of Barry and Iris and the introduction of Ralph Dibny. The joy from the former is obvious (we’ve been rooting for these two since the premier episode) and the latter reminds us of what fun this show can be. Ralph can be likeable and unlikeable, and he is played to perfection by Hartley Sawyer – he even LOOKS like the Elongated Man from the comics!

It all makes a refreshing change from the previous season: the constant losing to the Big Bad, the plans made that were thwarted forty minutes later episode after episode … add to that the characters’ gnashing teeth and rending garments over the unstoppable foretold death of Iris … episode after episode. By the time it was done, we sighed in relief. Not because of the “happy” ending, but just because it was over.

I see signs of the “episode after episode” problem with this year’s Big Bad – the Thinker. The cliffhanger ends with Flash framed for the Thinker’s murder. I hope they can continue the upbeat tone until the end of the season.

LEGENDS OF TOMORROW

The unloved step-child of the DC-CW is still going at season three. This season is probably its best season so far. But compared to the prior two, that is not saying much.

Now the Legends are fixing anachronisms in time. Somehow this led to the resurrection of Damian Darkh. Darkh’s Big Bad villainy was the low point of Arrow and was misused in last season’s Legends. I rolled my eyes when I saw this overused and overpowered character revealed as the Big Bad this season (there is a Bigger Bad lurking but we don’t really know much at this point). I roll my eyes in every episode in which Darkh thwarts the Legend’s plans. Episode after episode …

Still, I like the show. It’s fun, pure and simple. Everyone seems to be having a great time and you can feel that through the screen. I wish they had more to work with as far as decent stories and effective bad guys instead of the same old same old.

The cliffhanger ends with John Constantine recruiting the Legends … I applauded. I knew the character was coming to the show for at least one episode, but it was still a pleasure.

Rumors abound that a character from Arrow will join Legends, replacing Firestorm. It could be anybody – I’m hoping for Ragman!

ARROW

Arrow is also coming off an awful season, which itself followed a bad season (with the aforementioned Darkh). Both suffered from the problem that plagued Flash last season: constant losing to the Big Bad … episode after episode. Big Bad gets captured at one point but only to escape. No progress, no satisfaction for the viewers.

This season is better, although the same problems remain – repeated failure against this season’s Big Bad (which the cliffhanger shows us to be a TEAM of Big Bads). Also, Team Arrow has broken up …  again. Oh, and Oliver Queen is on trial accused of being the Green Arrow … again.

This season is better, but I wish it were better still.

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Oh, and the line-wide crossover Crisis on Earth X? Superb (although not without its flaws, but they are minor)! And it did something the comics rarely did during cross-over Crises – make permanent changes that will affect the second halves of this season. By why drag out Eobard Thawn again? How many villains has DC created in its 82 years of publishing? Use different ones. Please?

BLACK LIGHTNING is coming in January!

Copyright 2017 Michael Curry

A disjointed review of Justice League …

Only in America can a movie that has made over 200 billion dollars in profit be considered a box-office bomb.

I liked Justice League.

I didn’t love it with giddy glee nor did I hate it so much I demanded of God my 2+ hours back. But I liked it. I might even get the DVD when it comes out.

I saw it over this past weekend (as usual several weeks since it was released) after most of the professional and fanboy reviews were in.

I struggled for some days with this review – I just couldn’t put my finger on what I liked and disliked about it. I think that is because the movie couldn’t decide what it was either.

Justice League suffered from bearing the burden of being both a capstone and a touchstone.

A capstone: the finale of the first phase of the DC Cinematic Universe (DCCU) – giving us a conclusion to all that came before it. On that level, it worked: it reconciled the cliffhangers from Batman vs Superman: Superman’s death, Wonder Woman’s place in the DCCU, etc.

And to compare Justice League with the original Avengers movie is an unfair as it is inevitable: Avengers was the capstone of Marvel’s cinematic universe, but did so in a thrilling way – fans (and even non-fans – therein lies the key) were excited by a fun plot with fun characters.

The DCCU has hardly been fun.

Expectations were low for the movie – most assuming it would be the usual fest of ultra-violence and brooding sociopaths with no redemption or hope. A typical Zach Snyder film. (He left the movie after the suicide of his daughter – something that is unimaginable and my deepest sympathies and condolences go to him and his family. I can’t imagine his sadness and am very sorry for his loss. But his movies are still shit.).

Then Joss Whedon “took over” and word spread the tone was lightened and (gasp) bits of humor were injected. By this time Batman vs Superman made only the darkest basement-dwellers look forward to Justice League; while Wonder Woman gave the rest of us comic book fans cautious optimism.

DC’s capstone was satisfying, but only just. There is no avoiding the feeling that DC is struggling in Marvel’s shadow and is constantly in a state of catching up (which it has with rare exception since the 1960s).

Familiar and “new” heroes get together and fight off an alien menace. Sound familiar?

“Yes, but it’s Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman! People will flock to see it!”

Fans will, to be sure. But the rest of us? Are you willing to risk $300 million on that?

It had its great moments: the only shining point of the big battle amongst our heroes was watching Superman’s eye follow the Flash as he approached and the ensuing superspeed slugfest. You just have to see it to understand what that is going on, I won’t spoil it. We know exactly what is going through Flash’s mind at that moment. “Oh shit” was left unspoken and hardly touches how Flash must have felt.

And kudos to the secondary cast – particular Amy Adams as Lois Lane, Diane Lane as Martha Kent, JK Simmons as Commissioner Gordon and Jeremy Irons (stealing ever scene) as Alfred.

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Justice League is also the touchstone of the future DCCU. From here would spring an Aquaman movie, a Flash movie, and a more-in-tune-DCCU-Batman and Superman franchise reboot.

Herein lies the problem – DC is again copying Marvel with Avengers Age of Ulton. It was also a lynchpin, but it spent too much time being a lynchpin and forgot it was supposed to be an enjoyable movie.

Admirably, Justice League avoided some of the problems with Age of Ultron. Time and background was given to the newbies: Aquaman, Flash and Cyborg. But was it enough to make us anticipate their movies? With the large scope of the movie, it may have gotten lost. As with the comics, the stories of the smaller characters are lost compared to the big three. Still, Justice League showed us as much of Aquaman and Flash as Civil War did of Spider-Man, which lead to Homecoming; a success

Another problem with the Flash is the parallel with the excellent handling of the CW Flash. My very first thought when I saw the trailer introducing the Speedster was, “Why not Grant Gustin?” Leave it to DC: not only are they plagued by their failures, but also their successes.

(and by the way, the DCCU is the Spock-with-a-beard universe compared to DC-CW. Gustin’s Flash – even another actor with a comparable personality – would have been an ill-fit. To his credit, Ezra Miller did a great job – he’d have made a great Peter Parker.)

Justice League had other good moments. Batman giving Flash advice: save one person at a time. I wish the movie would have continued with the theme: Flash’s rescue of the Russian family should have reminded us of that.

There’s more: some of the humor was well-placed and in character (a problem that notably plagued Thor: Ragnarok). The only real awkward/ill-placed bit of funny was in the aforesaid rescue of the Russian family. Anyone who knows the name Dostoyevsky probably knows it is not Russian for “Goodbye”.

But DC is not really known for their comedy.  Over the past few decades, they’re not really known for their comic books either…

A disjointed and mixed review for a disjointed and mixed movie. I’d like to discuss it further, would you?

Copyright 2017 Michael Curry

Rich Buckler – RIP to a comic book great!

… and on Gardner Fox’s 106th birthday, I also honor a Golden & Silver Age great!

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I was very sad to hear of the death of comic book artist Rich Buckler today.  Here is his Wikipedia entry (note his death had yet to make the page):

Rich Buckler (born February 6, 1949) is an American comic book artist and penciller, best known for his work on Marvel Comics’ Fantastic Four in the mid-1970s and for creating the character Deathlok in Astonishing Tales #25. Buckler has drawn virtually every major character at Marvel and DC, often as a cover artist.

As a teenager in Detroit, Buckler attended the initial iterations of the Detroit Triple Fan Fair, eventually running the convention along with originator Robert Brosch in 1969–1970.

Buckler’s first comics work was as a teenager with the four-page historical story “Freedom Fighters: Washington Attacks Trenton” in the King Features comic book Flash Gordon #10 (cover-dated Nov. 1967). At DC Comics, he drew the “Rose and the Thorn” backup stories in Superman’s Girl Friend, Lois Lane #117-121 (Dec. 1971 – April 1972).

Buckler drew the first three issues of writer Don McGregor’s Black Panther series in Jungle Action vol. 2, #6-8 (Sept. 1973 – Jan. 1974), a run that Comics Bulletin in 2010 ranked third on its list of the “Top 10 1970s Marvels”. He fulfilled a decade-long dream in 1974 when assigned to draw Marvel’s flagship series, Fantastic Four, on which he stayed for two years.  During this period, Buckler created the cyborg antihero Deathlok, which starred in an ongoing feature debuting in Astonishing Tales #25 (Aug. 1974). Also during this period, Buckler hired the young George Pérez as his studio assistant.

Buckler collaborated with writer Gerry Conway on a “Superman vs. Shazam!” story published in All-New Collectors’ Edition #C-58 (April 1978). He drew the newspaper comic strip The Incredible Hulk for approximately six months in 1979. A Justice League story by Conway and Buckler originally intended for All-New Collectors’ Edition saw print in Justice League of America #210-212 (Jan.-Mach 1983). Buckler and Roy Thomas then created the World War II superhero team the All-Star Squadron in a special insert in Justice League of America #193 (Aug. 1981) which led to the team’s own title the following month.

Buckler worked for Archie Comics in 1983 and 1984, when that publisher briefly revived its Red Circle Comics superhero line, and he recruited Cary Burkett to write the Mighty Crusaders title. In 1985, Buckler returned to Marvel and briefly drew The Spectacular Spider-Man with writer Peter David, where they produced the storyline “The Death of Jean DeWolff”. He also served as editor for a short-lived line of comics by Solson Publications, where in 1987 he created Reagan’s Raiders.

He is the author of two books: How to Become a Comic Book Artist and How to Draw Superheroes. In 2015, he became an Inkwell Awards Ambassador.

 

I remember his covers of the comic books I collected during the Bronze Age, but as I searched for his comic book covers on the internet I was stunned at how prolific he was; at least with the comics I collected. He was everywhere! He, Jim Aparo and Ernie Chua seemingly accounted for 75% of DC covers in the 1970s! I may only slightly be exaggerating! Here are some examples of the man’s work. I still have all these issues …

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Today also marks the 106th birthday of Gardner Fox, prolific comic book author whose writing helped create the Golden Age and whose creations still exist in one form or another. He was the creator or “… co-creator of DC Comics heroes the Flash, Hawkman, Doctor Fate and the original Sandman, and was the writer who first teamed those and other heroes as the Justice Society of America. Fox introduced the concept of the Multiverse to DC Comics in the 1961 story “Flash of Two Worlds!” …” (from Wikipedia).

 

Two comic book great are being remembered today. Thank you both for your wonderful bodies of work. You and your talent are both missed very much!