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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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:


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


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!


            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


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.

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