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As the self-proclaimed "Ben Urich" of Boston comic book and geek culture, myself and my esteemed colleagues at VIGILANT GEEK MEDIA work around the clock to provide you with up-to-date, pertinent comic book and geek culture news! We discuss a plethora of graphic novel titles from the mainstream labels like Marvel, DC, Valiant and Image, to interesting indie publications both local, (Boston, MA), and nation-wide! Whether it be comic books, comics-based tv or movies, anime, gaming or who knows what else that makes you tick.. I am confident you will find it here at THE VIGILANT GEEK! Thanks so much to loyal fans of the blog and podcast, as well as you newcomers. I hope we all keep having fun and never grow up.

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Saturday, July 26, 2014

Happy Belated 75th Batman!!

The 75th Anniversary of "The Batman"












The time has come, (well, it's actually come and gone being two days late), to honor one of the greatest heroes in all of comics. (As if we don't honor him enough by buying all the comic books, movies, video games and misc. bat-crap) It was seventy-five years ago when Bob Kane and Bill Finger came up with this infinitely iconic character that first appeared in DC's Detective Comics No. 27. 






Turning 75 years old hasn't been easy on the dark knight. He has seen quite a bit of action in the past 75 years, and finds himself growing weary more often these days. In addition, Batman hates birthday parties.


No pouting Batman, you have a birthday to celebrate!!! (I hear your old pal Joker is performing ;))

With DC Comics kicking off the birthday bash of the century, (ie. "Batman Day"), at San Diego Comic Con just two days ago, I felt it appropriate to celebrate the "bat legacy" by sharing my top five personal favorite Batman portrayals in any artistic medium below:


The Vigilant Geek "Top 5 Batman Portrayals"


5.)  The Dark Knight Returns, written by Frank Miller, illustrated by Klaus Janson and Lynn Varley

**DC Comics animated film, The Dark Knight Returns, voice talent by: Peter Weller




One of the most beloved and game-changing Batman story arcs ever written still to this day is, The Dark Knight Returns. To sum up the story in just a few sentences, I would state that, "it's a thrilling tale of crime noir, as an aging hero past his prime refuses to give in to his limitations and fights a variety of old and new adversaries to the bitter end." 



Frank Miller took control of this character at a time period when most its story arcs were quite silly and unrealistic. He was able to take a character that was starting to become stale and corny, and transform him back into the brutal punisher of street crime he was meant to be even on the earliest pages of Detective Comics. This story was fresh, raw, gritty and violent. This formula, rediscovered by Miller, is still working for the character in present day.




The DC Comics animated film adaptation of the graphic novel was an instant hit. Although when it comes to voice talent, no one can touch Kevin Conroy's Batman, I have to say that Peter Weller had a perfect voice for an aging caped crusader. It was deep, dark, powerful and it worked. One of my favorite types of "Bat-Media" right here.





4.) The Dark Knight Trilogy Batman, played by Christian Bale



This guy needs no introduction. Perhaps the darkest, coldest, most brutal portrayal of Batman we will see for a long time..


The first "nonsense-free" live-action portrayal of the caped crusader. (Keep in mind this is all my own personal opinion ;))


Bale and Ledger played off each other so damn well. This scene above is particularly epic.



Batman Begins 






3.) Batman: The Animated Series, vocal talent by Kevin Conroy




This show is second only to Marvel's X-Men cartoon as my favorite tv show from my youth. 



Kevin Conroy, who voiced the character for the show's entire run, and still continues to be the voice of Batman on most DC Comics animated films and Batman video games (Arkham). In my opinion, he had the perfect Batman voice. It was deep and stoic, but not overdone like Bale's bat-voice has been criticized as.



The show did a lot for the Batman story in regards to redefining and reintroducing numerous characters to mainstream media. Batman's rouge's gallery was celebrated very well in this series. Each episode featured a new villian, each with a new story. Batman mastermind Paul Dini, who wrote numerous "bat-books" throughout the years, as well as the "Arkham" video game series, wrote the series in its entirety. His attention to detail in regards to conveying story arcs through animated plots is unmatched, and it shows.



BATMAN VS. BANE

Bane was a character that benefit quite a bit from this series. Created in the early 1990's, Bane was a relatively new character when this show first aired. Besides the source material, there were no other portrayals of Bane at the time. This cartoon helped create the immense popularity that the character has attracted over the years.



2.) BATMAN (1990 feature film), directed by Tim Burton, played by Michael Keaton



Once again, strictly my own opinion, but I firmly believe that Michael Keaton was a phenomenal Batman in the 1990 title film. Keaton played a great dark, stoic Batman, while simultaneously playing an illuminating take on Bruce Wayne.. perhaps my favorite Bruce Wayne of all time.



Mike and Jack really created an epic on-screen rivalry like no other film in that time period. 



Don't mess with Keaton, he's a badass.



You want to get NUTS?? OK. Let's get NUTS!!




Even this Batcave ruled in comparison to others. I do also enjoy the Joker monopolizing all of Batman's monitors. Well done gentlemen!





1.) Zero Year, written by Scott Snyder, illustrated by Greg Capullo




There is just no disputing the greatness of the creative team that has taken the reigns over in Gotham City since the start of the New 52, Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo. Their work on Batman has been nothing short of graphic novel excellence, seen prevalent in such great story arcs as The Court of Owls, The City of the Owls, Death of the Family and of course Zero Year, the duo's fresh new dark knight origin story. 



The Snyder / Capullo formula for the character appears to be tough as nails, darker than pitch black, smarter than Sherlock Holmes and valiant as the bat has ever been. Every issue has been thrilling to read. Snyder really knows how to throw curve balls at his readers, and they all seem to keep wanting more, myself included..




As Zero Year comes to a close next week, we find Gotham City in a complete blackout during one of the worst storms ever recorded, all thanks to Edward Nygma, aka The Riddler. As Batman, Gordon, and Lucious Fox all scramble to solve Nygma's next riddle before the city is destroyed, Batman and the gang find themselves in even worse trouble than before. Will the dark knight persevere?? (Of course he will, he's Batman!) It will be fun to see how this one concludes.



The Snyder / Capullo "New 52" Batman
(My favorite!)




Well there you have it folks. These are my top-5 portrayals of Batman, to celebrate Batman's belated 75th anniversary.. Please comment below with your top 5 favorite batmen!



But wait... what about.......????



The Top 5 Silliest Batman Portrayals

5.) Batman Forever, played by Val Kilmer


Hilariously awkward in the batsuit, no charisma, no balls.. Val Kilmer's too much of a sissy boy for this role. 



4.) Batman: The Brave and the Bold


Just too goofy and cartoony. They had a lot of trouble staying true to the source material in this series as well. However, I'd bet it's fun to watch while high as a kite.



3.) Batman: 1960's tv series, starring Adam West



I know it was the 1960's, but look at his costume, he's making me cry!! It looks like his mother sewed it for him. How is anyone, let alone the criminals, going to take this man seriously?? Yeah, let's put this wrinkly old actor in a really tacky-looking Batman costume and make a hit tv show!! Hey, at least they had a really cool Batmobile in this show:






2.) Lego Batman, The Lego Movie, voice talents by Will Arnett



The DC Comics / Lego mash-ups I have been witnessing lately have been surprisingly well-done and entertaining.





I was skeptical of Will Arnett's portrayal of Batman, but only at first. The veteran tv and film actor/comedian did a spot-on, hilarious Batman voice.




1.) Batman and Robin, directed by Joel Schumacher,  starring George Clooney



This one just gets me every time. Clooney, an excellent actor by the way, in just about any other application besides Batman, seems lost throughout the entire film as its main character. He sounds ridiculous trying to talk like Batman, and to make matters worse, they give him a batsuit complete with fake nipples, abs and butt cheeks. Clooney was the silliest, (worst), Batman that has existed so far..





**What's your opinion?? Leave a comment below and let us know which Batman portrayals you find silly, hilarious or just plain awesome.


























Friday, July 11, 2014

Homegrown Horror: Boston's Own Hellbound III: Darkness


Homegrown Horror
An Extensive Look at Boston’s Own
Hellbound III Darkness





I have been trying to broaden my horizons of graphic novel consumption as of late, particularly to include more independent and local work into my usual mainstream weekly variety. One of the greatest local projects I have had the privilege to fall upon is a publication of short horror stories entitled, Hellbound III: Darkness. This particular independent compilation was written and drawn by members of the Boston Comics Roundtable, a networking and skill-sharing group that meets once a week on Harvard’s campus to discuss the greatest topic known to man: the comic book. The roundtable does a lot for the local independent comics community, including holding sketching and scripting workshops, planning and managing Boston’s annual independent comic book convention, the Massachusetts Independent Comics Expo, (endearingly referred to by insiders as M.I.C.E.), providing the means for local artists and writers to network and exchange ideas and even offering some assistance with publications. They really are the go-to people in Boston for anything regarding the graphic novel medium. This is how I knew that the heart and soul of the city of Boston went into each panel of the publication.





In regards to the work itself, the third installment of the Hellbound series, (and yes, I know I am behind the eight ball starting at volume three, and do plan on playing catch-up on volumes 1 and 2 ASAP), each individual short story was creative, original and distinctive to the individual styles of each artist and writer. In a compilation of numerous works of art or literature, (or in this case, both), it is important to feel like each story or composition has a fresh new tone and voice to it; and that is exactly what the creators of the Hellbound series have accomplished. If I were forced to choose a favorite story from the compilation, I don’t think I would be able to. Therefore, I’d like to give a brief analysis on a few stories that I have hand picked.
Before I continue, let me first mention the cover. The cover art, done by Jerel Dye and Roho, is simply phenomenal.  If you were to remove the cover from the book, you would unfold an intricate mural of doom and gloom, depicting a large monster of sorts with four eyeballs and decaying skin emerging from the ground.  On one end of the cover you will see a large, menacing python snake slithering next to a couple old farmers trying desperately to ward off the monster with pitchforks and scythes. Numerous other dark creatures lurk across the cover, such as giant vampire bats, evil-looking mountain goats with six eyes, squid-like creatures with endless tentacles, giant crabs, etc. In other words, if it was a childhood nightmare of your’s once upon a time, chances are it is on the cover of this book.  At the opposite end of the cover you will find an extremely odd, fairly disturbing image of a creature that appears to have a troll’s head, a giant insect’s body and talons for claws. The cover itself is quite an amazing and intricate spectacle that could become very time-consuming to look at if one were to allow themselves to be “sucked in” to the horrific alternate reality created by Jerel Dye and Roho.






The first short story entitled, “Family Man,” written and drawn by Tak Toyoshima, is an extremely morbid look at what could potentially occur during the zombie apocalypse. The story starts off with a man fortified in his old cabin, overlooking hoards of zombies approaching his home. The man seems rather pessimistic about his ordeal, feeling very little hope for survival.  The story throws a quick dagger at the reader when the man says, “At least I spared my family from those bastards.” The next panel shows the man going for the fridge to make himself a “hand” sandwich. A bloody stump is all that is left in the place where the man’s hand should be. By the last panel, the reader comes to the harsh realization that the man killed and ate his own family for survival. Wow, what a quick lesson in “adapt to survive,” or maybe just a lesson in the inevitable harshness of the circle of life. I’m sure Tak Toyoshima could elaborate on this if he were here with me now.


The following story, entitled, “Blackout,” written by Janaka Stucky and drawn by Josh Wallis, was so descriptive in regards to the illustrations that I could almost smell the rotting corpses right off the page. In this story, an old, bald, troubled mortician, alone in his mortuary, seems ready to join the corpses himself in eternal slumber. In the first page of panels, the mortician states that, “Once you stop being afraid of death, that is what you strive for.” Ok, quite a depressing outlook, but if I spent my entire career around cadavers maybe I’d feel the same way? Not long after, our mortician friend starts to think that the corpses are speaking to him through the odor leaving their decrepit mouths. However, as the mortician looks up a second time, there are no bodies to be seen! Perhaps the mortician is going insane? Maybe his psychosis is causing him to hallucinate? As the story progresses, it suggests that this man has such a passionate death wish that he is actually preparing his own body as a cadaver. While stitching up different parts of flesh, he reflects on Indian religious rituals of the “Aghori,” perhaps an ideology the mortician has adapted. The mortician goes on stating their beliefs as such, “The only way to be free from rebirth is through the self’s identity with the absolute. To achieve unity, to secure their freedom from life, they must move beyond all illusions of duality. They embrace all that is polluted in order to fully embrace themselves and their own death.” It seems to me that based on this ideology, if someone is searching for “freedom from life,” they must certainly be suffering in their own personal reality here on Earth. Perhaps the mortician was in so much pain and anguish from being around so much death that he found the beliefs of the Aghori and clung to this point of view as a means of justifying his suicide. The Aghori also embrace all that is taboo, (ie. drugs, alcohol, meat) in order to better prepare for their deaths. The story ends with the mortician encountering the Indian deity Shiva, who is shown with skulls for pupils and the tongue of a reptile. Whether or not this is supposed to suggest that our poor mortician friend has entered the afterlife or not is still a mystery, but the artwork regarding Shiva at the end of this story is simply incredible!


One story in this compilation that came as a pleasant, yet eerie surprise was “America’s Pastime,” written by Stephen Cartisano and illustrated by Ellen T. Crenshaw. As the title suggests, the story is somewhat baseball-related, but only in regards to setting and attire.  This is by no means a heart-warming tale of America’s favorite game, such as Field of Dreams or In a League of Their Own. No, no, this one made the hairs on my neck stand-up, which is not easy to do since I’m a horror junkie. The tale kicks off with a woman coming home from work to a mysterious shadow lurking in her living room.  The devilish shadow looks evil, with spikes forming out of his shoulders. However, the woman does not seem to be startled at all. Instead, she asks the mystery shadow if she is late or if he is early. It is then that we realize the shadow is her husband, all decked-out in baseball catcher’s garb. However, this wasn’t an average catcher’s uniform. As I stated before, it looked quite demonic, with spikes coming out of the shoulders and a creepy mask. The wife thinks nothing of it, and proceeds to have her husband sit with her and tell her about his night at the ballpark. This is when things become really disturbing.
He tells his wife about a young teenage couple he found getting intimate in the dugout. He is displeased with the couple to put it lightly, griping about how “they have no respect for tradition. Just like those before them. Willing to defile everything pure and American.” He then iterates that he “couldn’t allow that.” As the couple is confronted by the husband in the catcher’s garb, the boyfriend pushes his girlfriend towards the horrifying baseball catcher and runs for his life. The catcher, appearing sympathetic to the girl, gives her a hand getting up, gives her his baseball bat, (complete with spikes also), and proceeds to have her do the dirty work, killing the cowardly boyfriend. The catcher goes on to add that, “They will do whatever is asked of them, if you simply tell them it’s alright.” Perhaps this insinuates that the younger generations are more na├»ve or ignorant, or perhaps this is an example of how older generations have power and authority over younger generations. Either way, the real clincher is when the wife, who is later seen using the dead grandmother as a footstool, becomes gleeful and celebratory over her husband’s acts of violence, telling him that, “society is lucky to have you.” Talk about a textbook enabler!


Another very distinctive tale from this compilation was “Garbage,” written by Lindsay Moore and illustrated by Donna Martinez and Joey Peters. This story starts out in the halls of high school, where one girl approaches another rugged-looking girl with a proposition. The proposition was for the rugged girl, (Brenda), to break the other girl’s, (Doris), fingers for fifty dollars. Though perturbed by the odd request, Brenda does not have time to answer Doris, as a teacher breaks up the conversation sending Brenda off to detention. Brenda is now concerned for Doris, but cannot seem to get the attention of the scolding teacher, so she runs to the nearest pay phone, (as if those still exist, but let’s not be cynical and pretend), to call Doris’s home.
When the voice at the other end of the line refuses to let Brenda speak to Doris, Brenda decides to get to the bottom of this strange dilemma by visiting Doris’s home.  When Brenda arrives at Doris’s house, there is no answer to the doorbell, so Brenda enters with caution. Upon entering, Brenda hears nothing except the eerie ticking of the piano metronome and sees nothing except a dark figure lurking in the background. Upon a closer look, the dark figure appears to be Doris, covered in blood and wielding a butcher knife at her mother and calling her “garbage.” Doris then exclaims, “I really wish you had taken my fifty dollars!” Terrified, Brenda runs out of the house and calls the authorities. As Doris is taken away by the police she reiterates once again to Brenda, “I really wish you had taken my fifty dollars.” I felt this insinuated that if Brenda had taken the fifty dollars and broken Doris’s fingers, that she would not have been able to murder her mother. However, even though one act of violence could have been utilized to prevent a much more brutal act of violence in the future, is it justifiable to fight violence with violence? I suppose this was a question that most readers had after reading this terrifying short.


One last story that simply must be mentioned before this article concludes is, “No, He Can Come,” written and illustrated by Kimball Anderson. I really enjoyed this story for two reasons, the first being the creative artwork. Anderson does all his panels for the story in the form of silhouettes, which to me adds a very creepy, yet realistic element to the horror short. If you think about it for a second, this story takes place in the pitch-black darkness of night, so chances are if one were there, they would be able to see little more than silhouettes.
Secondly, this tale hits close to home for me. The plot is very straight forward, but it works. It involves a boy wearing glasses wishing to join a group of children who are going to explore an old factory in the middle of the night. This reminded me of my childhood, because before the dawn of the XBOX and the Playstation, believe it or not kids used to play outside. My childhood friends and I were always trespassing where we didn’t belong and exploring old structures in the middle of the night. Being able to visualize some of these experiences from my own childhood made me feel much more connected to the story. The only difference between my own childhood experiences and that of the main character is that I always had a sense of security knowing that my group of friends were by my side during these late night expeditions. As we come to find out as the boys are exploring the inside of the factory, this poor young lad is all alone, as none of the boys he was with were his friends at all! They ended up being complete strangers! I challenge any of you to think of anything scarier for a young boy than realizing he is stranded in the darkness, in an old decrepit building, surrounded by a group of strangers he thought were his group of friends. The tale ends with the boys circling the four-eyed main character, insinuating that something less-than-desirable would be happening to him..


This was the most fun I have ever had reading any compilation in the graphic novel medium. The special element that each of these stories have is that they all force the reader to ponder different choices and outcomes. This is such a crucial part of storytelling. If a writer or artist can leave the consumer wondering why or how something happened the way it did, they have done their job. Not only that, but a lot of these stories force readers to contemplate in an almost philosophical manner certain elements of morality and daily life choices. Complete with intricate artwork that provided me with goosebumps well after I put the compilation down,  I can say with great confidence that Hellbound III: Darkness is a must-own for all horror enthusiasts and graphic novel afficionados alike. I am eager with anticipation for the next graphic novel publication that the Boston Comics Roundtable puts out. Great job guys and girls!!





**** For those scriptors/artists in the independent comics community looking for further online exposure, please feel free to leave me a message on this post, or send me an email at apuzak66@gmail.com and let me know a little about your organization and projects. I am always looking to give local and independent writers/artists the exposure they deserve! (Also, look for me at Boston Comicon, I’ll be wearing my trademark Batman ball cap and will be spending quite a bit of time in “artist’s alley.”

Deadpool Sighting in Beantown!

The "merc with the mouth" was spotted in Boston not long ago for the annual PAXEAST event dawning a completely new costume. As depicted below, it seems Deadpool wanted everyone to know that he is "BOSTON STRONG."



When asked his thoughts on last year's "Boston Marathon Bombers," the "regeneratin' degenerate" chuckled, then replied that if he hadn't been preoccupied with SHIELD missions, he would have, "sliced them, and diced them and made little knapsacks out of their hides." Well, there you have it folks!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

The DC Comics Cinematic Universe: Part II


DC Comics Cinematic Universe II:
Invaders of Network Television

For those of you looking forward to watching the typical regurgitated, recycled nonsense on the idiot box this fall, either in sitcom or reality show form, you may find certain programs of the “superhero variety” clogging up most of the air time. For the rest of us looking forward to this, especially those like myself that actually try to live in the DC Universe, brace yourselves, because DC Comics has officially taken over your television set for Fall 2014.

            That’s right comic book fans, when I stated in the first installment of my reports on the DC Cinematic Universe that, “DC is cooking something special in their cinematic cauldron,” and “all good things come to those that wait,” I was not bluffing by any means. DC Comics has fired back with an answer to all of Marvel Comic’s cinema success. The answer was simple; if Marvel is going to try and monopolize box offices, DC will just have to monopolize network television.
Now obviously this does not mean that DC will not compete with Marvel at the box offices, considering we are lucky enough to have been graced with “The Dark Knight Trilogy,” and “Man of Steel” throughout recent years. I also know I can speak for most serious DC fans when I say that “Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice,” and “Justice League” are both highly anticipated films for the upcoming years.

However, the line-up of programs DC is bringing to our living rooms this Fall will most likely, … no, I’m saying it…. will DEFINITELY trump any attempts Marvel will make this Fall. (ie. Agents of Shield: season 2 and the upcoming Netflix series based on “Daredevil” and three of the other “Defenders”) I’ll give you four reasons why right now:



1.) GOTHAM




This gritty, no-nonsense crime drama based on the city that gave Bruce Wayne his destiny looks to be an instant hit. Taking place in an earlier time period, where Bruce Wayne is still a child and Jim Gordon is brand-spanking new on the Gotham Police Department, this drama will focus much more on the evolution of some of the city’s most notorious criminals, such as The Penguin, The Joker, The Riddler and even a pre-teen Catwoman! The casting looks to be spot-on, with Ben Mckenzie in the role of a young Jim Gordon, Donal Logue as his brutal partner Harvey Bullock, Robin Taylor as the Penguin, Cory Michael Smith as the Riddler and Camren Bicondova as Catwoman. There will also be some new characters created just for the show, most notably Jada Pinkett Smith’s role as crime boss, “Fish Mooney.” Even Alfred is getting a makeover for this rendition of the life and times in Gotham City. Played by Sean Pertwee, Alfred is much more than just the butler this time around. (Fetch your own damn sandwich Bruce!) He is ex-special ops and British intelligence, he’s an expert in hand-to-hand combat and might I say he looks pretty bad-ass in this portrayal of the character. Lookout Michael Caine!
            This series is sure to make a lot of jaws hit the floor, with elements of crime noir, murder mystery and even a dash of horror, in true Gotham fashion of course! If you haven’t seen it yet, you really have to check out the extended trailer below:








**Just For Fun: Gothamites of Past and Present





Gordon and Bullock of Yesteryear



Our new law enforcement super team



Alfred Pennyworth of DC's "Golden Age"



Looking much more like a fixer for the Russian mob than a humble old butler



Our new Penguin (Oswald Cobblepot) played by Robin Taylor

and last but not least...


Our new tiny little fifth grader Catwoman, (Selina Kyle), played by Camren Bicondova





2.) CONSTANTINE







John Constantine is back boys and girls, and this time he will not be played by Keanu Reeves! (I swear on my life, they finally cast a real Englishman for the role) The popular chain-smoking, smooth-talking, double-crossing, spell-casting, antagonistic protagonist from the critically acclaimed “Hellblazer” comic book series is getting his own tv series; and it looks like this time around, it is being done right. (My apologies for the scorn I have towards Keanu Reeve’s portrayal of the character in 2005’s “Constantine” feature film, but anyone who has read the source material will say that the film just didn’t do the story any justice… AT ALL.)

My geeky rants aside, this looks to be about the best horror tv show I have laid eyes upon since “The Walking Dead” was still decent. Constantine, played by Matt Ryan, sure looks the part, walks the walk and talks the talk, which is just badass. Not much is known yet in regards to the supporting cast, but I do know for sure that Papa Midnite, one of Constantine’s adversaries and equals in the dark arts and black magic, will be a regular on the show.
This series is what I like to call DC’s “ace up the sleeve” so to speak. No one was expecting a Constantine series, DC sure didn’t NEED it considering the number of series they are putting out in the Fall, but everyone I know who’s attune to the graphic novel medium was so pleasantly surprised and energized over the news that John Constantine was coming back from the dead. (ie. Since Keanu Reeves butchered the role in his “silver screen desecration” of the original literature) I suppose all that’s left to say now about our old buddy John Constantine is good luck old boy, and don’t let the door, (or the ghosts and goblins), hit you in the ass on your way out! We’ll all be watching you exorcise demons and prance around the astral plane with cigarette in hand this Fall. Watch the full trailer below:


 





**Just for fun: The Evolution of John Constantine



Early Hellblazer


Right around the end of the last Hellblazer run


From 2005's feature film, "Constantine" (BOO THIS MAN, whether he knows kung-fu or not!)




A much more accurate portrayal of the character. Just look at how douchy he seems, it's perfection!






3.) THE FLASH








            Spinning out of the CW’s major hit series “Arrow,” and continuing at the speed of sound is none other than Barry Allen, known by most as The Flash. DC’s iconic red and yellow-clad speedster, played by Grant Gustin, was introduced in the second season of “Arrow” as a simple, yet righteous and ethical crime scene investigator who appears briefly in the season as more of a law enforcement scientist and consultant, advising Oliver Queen, “The Arrow,” on a murder case, and blatantly setting up his own tv series simultaneously. Now that’s how to think FAST Barry! From what I’ve seen of the footage released by the CW, the special effects look fairly legitimate for a television budget. The story seems to run parallel to the source material in regards to The Flash’s origin and supporting characters. Iris West, the supporting lady of the series, played by Candice Patton, seems to be Barry’s right hand woman and voice of reason in almost a sisterly way. Also, crucial members of the Flash’s rogues gallery are confirmed to be in season one, including, but not limited to Reverse Flash, Weather Wizard and Captain Cold. With this group of dubious degenerates gracing Central City with their presence, The Flash will have to utilize the speed force to make QUICK work of his deadly adversaries, or his life could surely end in a FLASH! Please feel free to leave me a message letting me know if these Flash puns did anything for you, and also be sure to  watch the extended trailer below:



 







**Just for fun: The Evolution of THE FLASH!





DC's "Golden Age" Flash




DC's "Silver Age" Flash





The 1990 television portrayal, (John Wesley Shipp), actually not that bad!




DC Comics New 52 era Flash



..and of course, the Grant Gustin tv portrayal we will have to wait for until Fall









4.) ARROW







Last, but sure as hell not least, is a DC television series that needs no introduction. Wrapping up season two last Spring, (and yes I know Arrow will not be televised in the Fall with the other three programs, but it’s too amazing to not mention), this smash mouth drama on street crime, vigilante justice and one man’s inner struggle to avoid “failing his city” has really hit it out of the park, down the expressway and straight into more television sets than any other CW program in the last five years.


            What makes this show such a success you might wonder? I feel like there are a few different elements to this masterpiece that led to all of its glory. One being Stephen Amell, the actor portraying Oliver Queen, the vigilante archer with a mean streak that just won’t end, at least not until triads, mobsters and corporate pigs stop FAILING HIS CITY.  Amell is just so spot-on in this role. He can be cold and calculated, quite stoic and even bloodthirsty at times. However, Amell is able to change gears better than even Bruce Wayne ever could, and play the part of the spoiled playboy party animal that he must portray to the public eye. There’s just something special about Amell..  a tough, diehard, almost Clint Eastwood-like way about him that I can’t quite put my finger on, but he’s dark, he’s gritty and he’s taking no prisoners.

            Another reason why I believe this series is such a hit is due to the extensive character development. Since “Arrow” got it’s start in Spring 2013, it has single-handedly introduced more DC Comics characters into the DC Cinematic Universe than any other film or television project created by the major comic book label… ever. In season one alone, appearances were made by such DC characters as The Royal Flush Gang, Deadshot, Huntress, Count Vertigo (The Count), Deathstroke (Slade Wilson), Shado, Arsenal (Roy Harper), and Dark Archer. Then season two goes and drops such big DC names as Black Canary, The Dollmaker, Amanda Waller and her “Suicide Squad,” Bronze Tiger, The Flash and perhaps the biggest shock of the season, a Harley Quinn teaser!! (It makes sense only due to her involvement with the Suicide Squad) With all of these characters being introduced to the DC Cinematic Universe for the first time through the outlet of this one series, it’s no wonder why viewers can’t wait to see who will arrive in Starling City next week, and thus into the DC Cinematic Universe!
           

            Lastly, and perhaps the most obvious element to the success of “Arrow,” is the fact that the writers and producers took the very weak, boring, almost embarrassing, laughing stock of DC Comics that was “Green Arrow,” and gave most of the story and main character a complete makeover, thus taking one of DC’s least pursued titles and making it a complete powerhouse. I mean, let’s face it. DC has Batman, Superman, Green Lantern, hell, even Aquaman was cooler than Green Arrow. There’s just nothing interesting about an average-sized guy dressed up like Robin Hood, (almost to a T), with no powers and nothing interesting to work with except a quiver of trick arrows. However, Marc Guggenheim, Geoff Johns and the rest of the writers and producers saw the potential for something far greater. Don’t quote me on this, but I believe the first step in the recreation process was a totally new outfit. They got rid of the goofy Robin Hood hat with the stupid feather in it and the green tights, and instead simplified it by giving him a hood and eye black. Way cooler, right!? I also feel like that is a much more realistic look for the character, considering the fact that if someone wants to go vigilante and try to strike fear into the eyes of evil doers, I doubt they’d do it dressed in that stupid, dorky Robin Hood costume. With that being said, this new look is dark and it works.

            The whole tone of the “Green Arrow” story was made to be much darker, much more brutal and certainly much more violent in “Arrow.” This not only makes for good tv, but once again, it’s just more realistic. Not to paint a grim picture for you all, but people tend to kill each other in cold blood daily in this country. Wouldn’t it be much more believable to have a vigilante that does the same thing? At least in the beginning of his tale, our “hero” Oliver Queen is a stone cold killer. However, while forced to take lives when he feels the absolute vitality in doing so, (depending on your point of view), Oliver exercises amazing restraint, given the scenarios he finds himself in. In real life, if you were face to face with the barrel of a gun, what would you do? Would you kill, or would you lay down and die? These are the questions viewers find themselves asking after each episode, and this creates controversy! Controversy is what makes any plot a success! There you have it, a new outfit, a tinge of noir and bloodshed in the city streets and an inner struggle so trying and controversial that it could lead anyone on a one-way trip to the loony bin. This crucial “plot makeover,” as well as detailed character development and a lead actor who seems born for the role is what I believe is the formula for “Arrow’s” great success. I for one will be sure to be watching ”Arrow” reruns in tandem with the other DC Comics television series this Fall. Be sure to check out these clips from "Arrow" season 2 below:





     
                                   












 







**Just for fun: The transformation of Green Arrow from the DCU village idiot, to one of the most badass street-level vigilantes in existence.








The oldest example of the character I could dig up, obviously from the "Golden Age" of DC. What a horrible, tacky rip-off of Robin Hood! I'm assuming DC never got sued over this due to copyrights expiring into the public domain.. (and the "Arrowcar"? Give me a break, they didn't even try back then!)



More "Golden Age" Green Arrow, still a major tool!





The dawn of the "Silver Age" of Green Arrow... still not much of an improvement, still the reject of the DCU (at that point in time)



This corny-ass panel from the "Silver Age," depicting our faithful Robin Hood wannabe playing "William Tell" with young children speaks volumes. (What kind of a so-called hero fires his weapon at innocent children?)



As the late 80's / early 90's crept up on poor Oliver, he started to worry that no one at DC cared anymore... at least not enough to even help the poor guy out with a new costume so the Justice League would stop beating him up..



Finally, as the year 2000 approached, DC threw the poor sap a bone and gave him a costume upgrade. It wasn't much, but things were starting to look up for Oliver. (He still really needs to lose that stupid Robin Hood hat though!)



Skipping ahead to the year 2010 and the dawn of DC's "New 52," (which was basically a clean sweep of all their titles in order to fix giant continuity gaps between major DC storylines), our sad sap Oliver finally got a complete makeover! Along with a completely new look, the Green Arrow was reborn, and with that came newfound grits and respect for the character. I personally started getting into Green Arrow as soon as Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino took over the title. It has been absolutely phenomenal ever since I've picked it up. I firmly believe that without this crucial transformation during the first few years of the New 52, we would have lost this character entirely.





The man with the mission.