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Wednesday, 27 March 2013


Red and Blue vs Red and Blue

Which is better? For me, that's like choosing between butter and margarine. Both are good on bread and do, essentially, the same thing. At times, sometimes they even taste the same. I like to collect Justice League of America comics, but my favourite comic character is Ghost Rider. So, apples and bananas.

However, I am in confusion [I am in confusion?! Isn't English your first language?--Ed] as to who I think makes better films: MARVEL. If we're talking live action. Those guys have got their shit together behind the scenes, as evidenced by the run-up to AVENGERS. And AVENGERS itself, of course. Plus, MAN-THING remains one of my favourite comic book films. Seriously. Let all those who know fear burn at the touch of the supposed Swamp Thing rip-off. Up yours; he's a THING who lives in a SWAMP. There the similarities end. [Stop digressing!--Ed] ANYWAY...

DC, however...I just don't think their live action films are very good. I like The Dark Knight, but don't like Batman Begins, and wasn't too taken on The Dark Knight Rises. The early Superman films were good, but very much a product of their time. The Tim Burton Batman films were good (although the first one is also something of a product of its time - thanks, Prince) but the other Batman films...we don't need to go there. Why don't I like them? I don't think they do the source material justice. I don't think they're disrespectful to the characters (except for YOU, New Version of Bane) but, compared to Marvel's [recent] output, they're somewhat...lacking. Can the new MAN OF STEEL rectify this? We'll see.

HOWEVER. DC always pull it out of the bag when they do animated films. I have not seen a shit one yet. Some are better than others, but they're all respectful of the source material, if not quite faithful adaptions. Recently, I was flixing through Netflix when I stumbled across SUPERMAN/SHAZAM: THE RETURN OF BLACK ADAM. I've always been intrigued by the character of Captain Marvel--a kid who turns into a superpowered man when he says 'Shazam!'--so thought I'd give it a whirl. Turns out, it was actually the 'first part' of a 'DC SHOWCASE', which I have never heard of before.

SUPERMAN/SHAZAM is a lot of fun, being as it is an extended fight scene between these two and Black Adam/the origin of Captain Marvel. 13 year old Billy Batson is a sweet, good-natured kid who believes "Good will be followed by good" ie be nice to people, and they'll be nice to you. Black Adam is some sort of pointed-eared Communist wizard who wants to murder him, before Billy can gain the power of Shazam. Superman has a pop at Black Adam, but because Supes is allergic to magic, he doesn't fare too well. Billy is rescued by a magic train (really) and becomes Captain Marvel. He fights Black Adam. The good guys win (but not in a way I quite expected). This segment, at around 20/25 minutes, feels rushed to some extent, but enjoyable.

Next is THE SPECTRE, which I did not expect at all; weirdly fitting since, in the comics, he always seems to appear from nowhere to dispense vengeance. This 'Showcase' is written by horror scribe Steve Niles, and is a suitably violent/horrific introduction to The Spectre (and his human alter ego of cop Jim Corrigan) as The Spectre dispenses vengeance upon murderers via animatronic monsters, a brilliant CHRISTINE homage, and a mini-whirlwind of money that rips someone to shreds. For some reason, this segment has a 'grindhouse' filter on it and a wakka-wakka 70s style soundtrack. This bit's as dark as the Superman one is light, and ultimately as vacuous. That's maybe a little harsh. It's fast food for the eyeballs.

Hello, GREEN ARROW! Boy, DC really want you to stand on your own two feet, don't they? The version of GA in SMALLVILLE was an enjoyable take on the character, though the JUSTICE LEAGUE cartoon version has always been closer to the comic character. I enjoy the new ARROW tv show, even though the creators of that have basically turned GA into Batman [I said, stop digressing!--Ed]. This animated short falls between SUPERMAN and SPECTRE in terms of tone - Green Arrow is full of quips and heroics, but there's a fair bit of violence (people getting shot, mainly). This is the 'Showcase' that I think actually showcases the titular character the best - we find out he's a member of the JLA, that he is willing to put his life before that of a young girl's, that he has some interesting villains to face, and that he's in love (small cameo from Black Canary at the end!). More please.

JONAH HEX finishes the Showcase off with a snappy ten minute piece of poetic justice. Penned by noted genre writer Joe R. Lansdale, this is a suitably violent/quip-leaden slice of pulp Western goodness. Jonah is on the hunt for an outlaw, and his travels bring him to a saloon populated by that hotsy totsy above. She's running a murder racket, and it's up to Jonah to stop her and her goons. This is the shortest segment, but it gets the job done. I think I preferred the tone of this piece the most, as it was dark without being excessively violent, and had some decent one-liners in it. Would it work as a self-contained show? I don't think so, unless Hex was put up against a really interesting nemesis and/or a lot of it was penned by Lansdale (and he was allowed to go balls-out).

So: MARVEL VS DC. What would be the outcome? Why, the AMALGAM COMICS, of course!

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