Sunday, June 30, 2019

Flack: Series Review

In the entertainment world, a flack is a public relations, or PR person who takes care of the day to day operations of a celebrity.  Much of that, is small potato activities that the famous are often too busy to deal with.  But, a flack also has to deal with the major situations celebrities often find themselves in they need to clean up and spin the public relations so the celebrity does not become a pariah and lose all the money and notoriety they have as a celebrity.

This PopTv show aired in the winter of 2018 and I just got a chance to finish the series.  I was drawn to it primarily because I am a huge fan of Anna Paquin and this vehicle is really a return to media after having a baby and some personal issues that I am sure her PR people needed to do with.

Paquin plays, PR Flack,  Robyn.  She is an American who lives in London and works for a PR firm that represents a wide variety of entertainers from actors, singers, and athletes.  The pilot opens with Robyn looking to clean up a mess by one of her clients; a closeted soccer player whose night on the town with a male prostitute almost turns tragic.  And word of the worlds most famous footballer being gay definitely is not news they want getting out.

Each episode( there are only 6), are named after the client who is the focus of the episode.  Each episode is some straight from the headlines of celebrity as Robyn and her team of Flacks are looking to clean up celebrity addictions, child porn, arranged marriages,  and even a sex tape; with an interesting spin.  In a new world of celebrity where fans and haters alike are equipped with camera phones and videos, it makes it increasingly difficult for Flacks to control the narrative and wag the dog for their clients.

The underlying B-plot for the series is Robyn and the life she has built in London.  She has followed her sister, Ruth, to London.  Ruth has a husband two kids who are dealing with the challenges that presents.  Additionally, the sisters reason for being in London is tied to their mother and her suicide.  This incident has left Robyn damaged and besides throwing herself into her job with zest, she also has a major drug issue with cocaine.  And on top of that, her relationship with her live in boyfriend seems idyllic, but there are secrets that look to pull them apart in a moment.

Overall, the series is well written and well acted.  There are some preachy moments here and there, but it does not take away from the overall quality of the show. Pacquin does a great job of playing a trouble character who is still relatable, but also makes you wonder. "Girl, what is you doing"?

I am not sure if the show is going to have a season 2.  It ends on a cliffhanger and there has not been word if the series will be picked up for another season.  But these six episodes are quality television and is worth the binge if you have the time.

The Producer

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Black Cat #1 Review

Creative Team Jed MCken and Rachel Foreman

One of the most underrated aspects of Spider-Man is his varied rogue gallery and love life.  Yes for every Hobgoblin, there is a Rocket Racer, but on the whole, his rogue gallery is mixed with powerful, credible threats, alongside some fairly ridiculous villains.  Yet, our friend Peter Parker, also has a great romance side, too; bar far greater than any mainstream superhero save for maybe Batman/Bruce Wayne.  And much like Gotham's Dark Knight, Peter often mixes business with pleasure with some of his lady companions.

The Black Cat, AKA Felicia Hardy, has been around for close to 40 years now and in that time she has been both an ally and nemesis to Peter Parker/Spider-Man; along with often times being a love interest to our hero.  Much like Catwoman in Batman's world, Black Cat's history is tied to being a thief, which over time has created conflict and romance with Spider-Man.  In fact, in an early story, she was truly in love with Spider-Man and couldn't give a damn about who was underneath that mask.

In more recent years, Felicia Hardy has gone back to a life of crime, much to the chagrin of Peter Parker.  With Kingpin, now the mayor of NYC, Black Cat has risen the ranks in the crime syndicate in New York and has been a major pain in the side of both criminals and heroes in the city.

This new series, by Jed McKay and Travel Forman, starts of at the Frick Jewelry and Art collection in New York City, as Felcia Hardy makes her way in.  The story is told in plot boxes, initially, to give us an insight into the ways of the cat.  Forman draws Hardy in an old school style and much of the over sexualization of the character is thankfully stripped away.  Often times, as much as I enjoy it, Black Cat is drawn in such a sexualized way, its easy to focus on the boobs instead of the character, and initially that is not done here.

Inside the security team, recognizes Hardy and the head of security goes into panic mode as he knows if the Black Cat is here, something is afoul.  Plus, the catering crew for the event has been replaced last minute and that is a major red flag.

As Felicia makes her way around the gallery, she interacts with the leader of the Thieves Guild and their banter is fun and serious all at once. Everyone tho knows something is up if Felicia Hardy is here and sure enough, as security asks her to leave, her team makes their move to steal a valuable piece of art from the gallery.

The book does a great job of fleshing out her team and in turn, telling a standard cat and mouse story as the Thieves Guild moves in to attack her.  Twists and turns, ninja's, and backstory all mixed into a few action packed pages filled with plot and substance.  This first issue gives you the feel of comics of yesteryear that were not all splash pages and action shots.  We get to see Black Cat at her finest, enjoying the moment, along with using her "powers" to help make her escape.

The book concludes, as our "heroes" celebrate their successful job at their hideout.  Yet someone crashes the party and who could possibly sneak up on the Black Cat?  I will not spoil the ending, but I will say that this is a fun book with a character whose back story outside of Spider-Man should be more fleshed out.  I really enjoyed the aspect of not over sexualizing the character and giving equal time to how smart and clever she is, while also being a bad ass.  Fun book overall.  I am sure this will have a short run, tho.  Grab and read it while you can!

The Producer

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Savage Avengers #1 Review

When this title was announced, I was in heavy sigh mode because, much like X-Men in the past, and the Avengers more recent past, the name Avengers had been watered down to not mean what it used to.  Heroes( and villains) had become Avengers and the elite team that it used to be,  became less and less important. From the New Avengers, to Secret Avengers, to Dark Avengers, to A-Force, and that hybrid Xmen/Avengers team, everyone was getting a chance to become an Avenger on some level.

This Book was great!!

With the success of the MCU Avengers, the comic has come back to a more "traditional" team with the big three, Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America, but also adding other MCU characters such as Black Panther, Dr. Strange, and Captain Marvel.  This main line Avengers book has been around for about a year and a half and serves as the only Avenger book outside of the West Coast Avengers which is played more for comedy than traditional super hero fare.

So when I saw the solicit for Savage Avengers, I kinda rolled my eyes thinking, "don't they ever learn"?  From doing a little research, it seems that since Conan the Barbarian came back into the fold at Marvel in 2018, plans had been underway to introduce the character back into the Marvel comics line; first with this Savage Avengers book and later his own solo series.

I guess that news would hit you based on how you feel about Conan.  My history with Conan goes back to the newspaper comic and the early run that he had at Marvel.  In fact, one particular issue of Conan scared me so much of Octopus, that I stopped reading the book because the images damn near scarred me for life.

My other run-ins with the character are from the horrible Arnold Schwarzenegger movies in the 80's where they had James Earl Jones in the worst wig ever.  So I have never been a real fan of Conan.  Seemed more like a white man fantasy trope of a big strong man who does what he wants, when he wants, to anyone who wants... not real exciting stuff for a progressive Black dude like me.

They had Darth Vader looking like Katy Perry

Regardless, I picked up issue 1 and honestly, beyond a writing trope I despise( I'll come to it), I rather enjoyed the book.  The issue opens after the abduction of a famous, Italian singer and he is brought to the Savage Land by a mysterious group that is hoping to use his sacrifice and the sacrifice of others to bring back an ancient being.  The book is drawn beatifically and horrifically by artist and its a hell of an opening for this book.

The cover art lets you know of some of the members of the team, the most prominent one on the front cover being Wolverine in the classic brown costume.  And he does make his way into the book after the Conan has a brutal battle with the Hand.  An accidental sword shot to the head then sets up page after page and panel after panel battle between the Wolverine and the Barbarian.  Each gives as good as he gets and its a bloody mess for about 10 pages.  It ends kinda corny, but I am not sure how they were going to pull out of this battle without one of them dying.

Meanwhile, and this is the trope I spoke of earlier, Dr. Voodoo is in Madripoor and is attacked by the Hand and brought to the same leader who sacrificed our singer earlier.  As they look to sacrifice Voodoo to the Marrow God, Wolverine attempts to make the save but its too late as Voodoo has his throat slashed.  Too often comics love sacrificing Black characters as a plot device and the only reason I am not screaming more about it is because I read issue 2.

We see Wolverine battle the Hand in another brutal battle as we shift again to the grave of someone... its Maria Castle, deceased wife of Frank Castle, the Punisher and her grave is empty.  That's how our book ends and honestly, I enjoyed it more than I thought.  I hope its a short run tho because to keep up this level of killing and brutality will become watered down after a few issues.  Fleshing out the story of the Marrow King, along with adding characters  scheduled to appear, like Venom should be to satisfy fans looking for their on traditional Avengers fix.

The Producer
The Savage Producer

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Dark Phoenix

Sigh... I truly do not know where to begin this review.  I have written and podcasts so much about this movie over the last few years that doing this review feels like spiking the ball after a touchdown.  As the embargo was lifted, the early reviews are slamming this movie from all sides and me doing that just feels like piling on- not that I don't love a good pile on, but after watching Dark Phoenix, I just feel more defeated than anything.

This last set of X-Movies from Fox don't feel like a victory lap as much as a car running on fumes trying to make it to the gas station.  Any momentum the franchise had from Logan and Deadpool was completely used up by the changed release dates,  news of all the reshoots and reports of an inconsistent story and plot being handled by first time director, Simon Kinsberg.  Top that off with the Disney acquisition of the Fox properties and this movie was doomed to fail from the beginning and I often wondered aloud why even bother putting this movie out as Fox's final offering of our marvelous mutants.

And therein lies the rub of the run of Fox and the X-Men.  Fox should be given credit for leading the way into our superhero movie obsession.  With X-Men in 2000, they made it possible for MCU to even think about putting together a superhero team in the Avengers.  X-2, I contend is one of the best superhero movies ever and the ending with the Phoenix effect still gives me chills as I type this.  But things fell apart quickly as the franchise, much like the comics became obsessed with Wolverine and began to put out substandard product just as the MCU began to gain its footing and the disparities between the two became more and more evident over time.

Fox hit the soft reboot with First Class that reinvigorated the brand and Days of Future Past gives X-2 a strong running for me as the best X-Men movie.  Of course they followed that up with Apocalypse and thus begins my review of Dark Phoenix....

The movie begins with a flashback of young Jean Grey, in a scene eerily similar to the start of Shazam by the way, and the accident that changed her life.  Charles comes into Jean's life recognizing that she is special and brings her into his school for Gifted Youngsters but also places barriers in her mind to not access the trauma her actions caused on the day of the accident.  Its a flimsy plot point based on the outcome that happens later.

In modern times, Charles has cozied up to the humans and the X-Men, wearing the awful ass Frank Quietly uniforms are not as hated as they go out and do projects for the government.  The President has an X-Phone to call up Charles when shit in the world goes left.  In this instance, a space shuttle encounters a solar flare and needs to be rescued and the X-Men are on the way.  Of course nothing goes as planned and as Jean saves the last pilot of the shuttle, she is engulfed by the "solar flare".

Look, this movie has no real ties to the comic and in a sense, I understand because the Phoenix Saga is epic and grand and any attempt to tell this story over one movie is fool hearted, but a nod to such a recognizable series would have gone a long way here and Kinberg and company skip over that.But while Jean gets accosted by the flare, a series of beings make their way to earth in the hopes of finding who took the solar flare.

Back on earth, all of Jean's senses are turnt up as the kids would say, and at a party she looses control of her powers.  I must make mention here that Storm at the party uses her powers to make ice cubes.  The alpha level mutant has been reduced to making ice, but I digress.  Jean's new found awakening has her breaking through the blocks Charles set up as a child and she sees what Charles did and is off to see her father, whom she believed was dead.  Both Raven and Beast, recognizing what Charles did as messed up, along with the rest of the team go to confront Jean and we ( spoiler coming) get the death of Mystique.  There is no real emotional weight to this moment and I get the sense that no one was more relieved to die in this than Jennifer Lawrence.

Jean is then off to see Magneto, who for some reason was given 40 acres and a Mule by the government and is living and farming some land with a bunch of unknown mutants.  To paraphrase my friend Task, hundreds of mutants to pick from and they surround Magneto with a bunch of unknowns.  Jean wants Eric to teach her how to not do bad things... sigh and of course the government comes looking for her and we get this ridiculous battles that is terrible on multiple levels.

Now on earth, Jessica Chastain, playing a D'Bari character, Vuk is on earth in search of the solar flare that gave Jean her powers.  I love Chastain as an actress and she is wasted in this entire movie and is still the best thing in it.  Once she finally catches up with Jean and explains the solar flares history and powers, Jean tries to give Vuk the powers.  The X-Men intervene, as Beast has gone heel and joined Magneto in a revenge tour to kill Jean for killing Raven.  Its full on preposterous as Magneto pulls a subway out for no real reason at all and the battle is ended with the mutants being captured by the government using the power dampening collars that are synonymous with the X-Men but damn in they ever mention that or how the government got that technology.

This leads to our climatic scene on the train... the train reshoot that was done because the original ending looked to similar to Captain Marvel.  It makes no movie sense as the government is being attacked by Vuk's people.  They are using heavy caliber firearms and they are no selling the bullets.  Yet when the X-Men get free, somehow Nightcrawler takes out on with a buck knife.  Its just so bad and when Jean and Vuk have their final battle, its anti-climatic but so on brand for the rest of the movie that it makes sense.

Truly, I was not sure if Fox could ever top the awfulness of The Last Stand, but they were able to find the bottom with this movie.  It lacks story cohesion, emotion, and basic common sense.  Its bland and lifeless and that is me being kind.  I do not know who the fans of this movie are because its certainly not comic book fans or fans of the animated series.  They have taken one of the most classic X-Men stories and fucked it up now twice.  I am not a huge fan of Disney controlling everything, but hopefully they can get the X-Men movie franchise back to a level of respectability.  They deserve that and more.  Vaya con Dios Fox.  In this you wont be missed!

The Producer

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Game of Thrones Series Finale

Its taken a few weeks to process the finale for Game of Thrones.  As someone who came late to the show and missed the initial hype surrounding it, I was not as emotionally invested as those on our podcast, I Know What You Did Last Winter.

We recapped several seasons, episode by episode, and most of this was done with the rest of the team from Brothascomics ( you can find the podcast below).  I came on as a regular for the start of the final season. It had been two years and the crew was ready and chomping at the bit to see how they were going to wrap us this historic series.

Granted, series finales are a touchy subject.  Attempting to wrap up a popular tv show or movie is never an easy task for writers and with the exception of MASH, most people tend to fall in love it or hate it on series finales.

But I think we at Brothascomics convinced ourselves that Game of Thrones was going to be different and from the jump, we were wrong.  The first two episodes was just call back reunion shows and not much really happened.  By the time we get to the Battle for Winterfell, where we finally see the battle with the White Walkers, its epic and grand but ends very suddenly with the death of the Night King and now we are two full episodes of, "Now what" and that is exactly what they gave us.

The season finale really turns after the death of popular characters Missandei and her death at the hands of Cersi leads Danerys to go Full Heel... a wrestling term when a good guy wrestler turns into a bad guy.  Even tho she had agreed with Tyrion to stop her attack on Kings Landing when the bells rang, Dany said, "Fuck them Kids" and unleashed Dragon Fire on the entire city burning it and most of its residents to ash; much to the chagrin of Tyrion and her uncle/love Jon Snow.

In the series finale, its the aftermath as the city is in ruins and people are worried that The Breaker of Chains is actually about to become the Mad Queen and what needs to be done.  Tyrion, who for some reason thought Dany was going to be fine with her best friend being killed, quits being the Hand of the Queen and winds up in jail.... but is still alive for some reason.  Jon Snow is distraught and makes a decision, after speaking to Tyrion, to kill the Queen.  This made no sense and went against all logical sense of the character of Jon Snow.  And once its over, the Kings Council, on the recommendation of Tyrion, name Bram the King of the Realm... Bran the Broken.  We get the standard, Return of the King ending as Jon is sent back to working on fries at The Wall, Sansa is Warden of the North, and Arya is off to parts unknown.

Essentially that was it. And I think if this season had been given the full ten episode treatment, these stories could have fleshed themselves out with depth and there would not have been this crazy anti fan backlash once it was over.  The pacing of the final season was all over the place and the finale was rushed with no emotional payback for the time that fans invested.

And that is really the rub.  People invested time, feelings, and money into this show and they/we felt that the final season didn't deliver on its investment.  It felt hollow and empty and as time has gone on, reports of this season just being a money grab by HBO emerged.  And look, I am not mad.  The show and the creators don't really owe the fans anything.  They had their vision, ,wrote it, shot it, and presented it to us as fans.  We can love it or reject it.  That is what art is.... its the vision of the artist that matters most; not always the reception of the viewer.

That all being said, it was sad to see the show go out like this.  I had hoped for a better ending, a more gruesome death for Cersi, and to see Jon Snow go from bastard to King Bastard, but alas none of that came to be.  A great show ends with a crappy ending. Join the Sopranos, Seinfeld, Lost, and Dexter club Game of Thrones.  You are in good company!

The Producer

Cosplayer Interviews at Megacon Orlando

Full review of Megacon 2019 is coming soon,  but here are some of the interviews with cosplayers on the convention floor!  Camera work done by my kids!!!

Be sure to follow these ladies @ivydoomkitty @colossalsmidgen @evilyn13 @danielledenicolla

With cosplayer Ivy Doom Kitty

With Cosplayer Colossal Smidgen

With Cosplayer Evilyn13

Interview with Danielle Denicolla

The Big Bang Theory Series Finale

We all have our blindspots, right?  Things or people that we like that most people rightfully hate, but we go ahead and like it anyway.  Well for me, that is the Big Bang Theory.  I have gotten the most crap and hate for me liking this show from friends, colleagues, and strangers alike... and much of it rightfully so.

One of the things we consistently  talk about here is representation of nerd culture is overwhelming white nerd centered and catered to and the Big Bang Theory is white nerd culture personified.  The cast of characters are caricatures of nerd culture and even tho often accurate, the show goes out of its way to center their nerdom in whiteness.  You can count the Black characters appearing on the show in 12 years on your fingers and interaction with a Black nerd character....  never happened.  So the show has many faults and I fully recognized them and watched it anyway.

I came to the show late when it already had 5 seasons in the can and caught up watching reruns on TBS.  It was comfort food as I was going through a very rough time in my personal relationship.  A show that told simple jokes with a ridiculous laugh track, that often used nerd culture as its background.  But over time, that respect for nerd culture turned into outright ridicule of that same culture as the characters grew up from their geekly beginnings.  Of course characters need to show growth, but Big Bang used that growth as a hammer to the culture that made the show unique.  As characters got married, had kids, and changed jobs, adulthood took root in their lives and there is a respected story to tell there... they just didn't do it.  The show, over the last few years just became a vehicle to tell slapstick stories with no depth( not that it had much before).

So the final season focused on Sheldon and Amy and their joint pursuit of the Nobel Prize.  Over the course of the same season, two other scientist came in and stole their idea and their story plays out much of the season before culminating in Sheldon and Amy winning the Nobel Prize and Sheldon giving this emotional speech about how his friend are really the one thing he cherishes the most.  In a moment that should've been heartfelt, it fell flat.  Maybe it was the deadpan delivery, but more likely, it was just the show was done and running on empty for the final season.  Leonard and Penny are pregnant; even tho for the entire season, Penny was emphatic that is not what she wanted.  Howard and Bernadette have two kids and not much story exisisted for them outside of their children.  And Raj... a character that was the butt of racist, Indian jokes for 12 years and who sought out romantic love more than anyone, was regulated to stalker status as he somehow wound up at the award ceremony with Sarah Michelle Gellar.

After 12 seasons and over 200 episodes, the show had run its course.  I would actually say it should've ended when Sheldon and Amy got married, but that's just me.  A show that paid a modicum of respect to nerd culture, morphed into a thing that nerds hated because it forgot to respect the culture that birthed it.  Overall, I can still enjoy it in pieces, but it definitely did not end on a Big Bang!

The Producer

Monday, June 3, 2019

The Marvel Hacks Podcast Season 6: Episode 5

The Marvel Hacks are back this week!  We talk the new Batman, the awful tag-team nickname for the Bucky and Falcon show on Disney Plus, the new Star Wars park in Disney Land, and we review a bunch of books: Heroes in Crisis, Batman the Last Knight, Sam Wilson: Captain America, Fantastic Four #9, and we are all confused by the Immortal Hulk

Check us out on the links below 

 The Producer