Titans Episode Review S01: E05

It’s been an interesting road for Titans up until now. With eleven episodes planned for the season, Episode 5 — or “Together” — marks the closest thing to a “half-way point” the show is going to have. So how does that point fare? Well, it’s nothing spectacular, but it does at least continue the trend of being “potato chips” (take a look at my review for Episode 4, if that throws you for a loop). That being said, there is one major slip-up that the episode makes that could very well irreparably damage the show as whole.

Before we get too carried away, however, let’s recap. Following a series of events, which include but are not limited to both blowing up a church and meeting a fully cognizant robot, all of our main players are now in one place. Dick takes this as an opportunity for the “team” become more familiar with their own abilities. There’s only one problem: a renewed Nuclear Family is hot on their trail. Suffice it to say, the results are explosive.

So let’s start with the good. First, the show is immensely more enjoyable when it has everyone in one spot. It feels more organic when a character is allowed to focus on more than one problem, something that becomes easier the more people someone can interact with. Granted, everyone sort of gets the short end of the stick compared to Dick Grayson, but they still have different stories building at the same time. Frankly, it adds some nuance to the decidedly straight-forward proceedings.

Without getting too close to spoilers, the choreography in this episode is quite good as well. Unlike the infamous alleyway fight from Episode 1, movement doesn’t feel as jerky or sped-up here. Camera cuts are fast, but not so fast as to be confusing. There is a slight dip in quality midway through one fight scene…a dip that, at least in terms of what this point entails, doesn’t really make a whole lot of narrative sense. However, even that is miles ahead of what we’ve seen up until now, and the quality also ramps back up after a brief interlude.

Now, what about the bad? Well perhaps the most pressing is that, at this point, the show seems to be meandering quite a bit. After Episode 3, it felt like we were on the cusp of getting some sort of answers, and I forgave the slow build-up to that point because of course you can’t have everything all at once. Yet, two episodes later, and we really don’t have any new knowledge in terms of the larger, overarching plot. On top of that, it doesn’t seem like the show even knows how or when it’s going to divulge something critical. The whole affair is somewhat of a confusing mess, and it feels like the writers are just going to keep stringing us along until Episode 9.

And as for my not-at-all-hyperbolic position of the show being in ruins due to ONE decision? Well, depending on who you ask, it may not be as doom-and-gloom as that, but it is indicative of a larger problem in terms of character-building. There is one interaction between two characters that, if you know anything about the source material, is not exactly a surprise, but is also done so haphazardly and hastily that you might get whiplash from seeing it. This is something, that if played right, would have been an easy home-run — something so expected yet hoped-for that it wouldn’t have mattered if it didn’t have the best lead-up. Instead, the writers opted for NO lead-up whatsoever. It’s a nonchalant rush to the finish, and it makes about as much sense as that phrase.

So, yes, Episode 5 is a glimpse at what the entire show is leading to — a fully-functioning Titans squad — and that’s very exciting. Despite all of the show’s problems when it comes to its script, CG, or just acting in general, it still knows how to relish in the fun of finally throwing all of its heroes together (sorry, I couldn’t resist). However, it still can’t seem to get past its extremely lacking writing quality and character development. In earlier episodes, it was just something to hopefully chalk up to growing pains, but as we approach that 60%-mark, the show desperately needs to find something to give us that’s more worthwhile than just, “These are the Teen Titans you know…with a twist!”

6/10

Titans is released every Friday only on DCUniverse!

Comic Review – The Green Lantern #1

The Green Lantern #1 Cover

When you think about it, Green Lantern is one of the more awkward superhero ideas in existence. It makes a little more sense if you consider it in the context of the first Green Lantern, Alan Scott, who was originally going to be Alan Ladd as a modern take on Aladdin. (His name became Alan Scott after it was decided they couldn’t risk a lawsuit from a screen actor with that name.) From there we get the idea of magic rings and magic lamps and suddenly the idea of a ring and lantern that allow you to wish whatever you want into being makes perfect sense.

It became somewhat stranger in 1959, when the concept of Green Lantern was revamped with a science-fiction twist, to capitalize on the increasing popularity of science-themed comic books. In the wake of The Space Race and the increasing emphasis on science in the schools at the time, the comic publishers flipped the arguments of censors who said that comic books encouraged juvenile delinquency and started marketing comics as educational material.

While one could make a case for the “Flash Facts” in The Flash teaching some basic scientific principals, Green Lantern was not quite so scientifically minded. Though his ring was now powered by alien science instead of magic, the basic principal of a ring and a lantern that enable its wielder to create whatever they willed into existence remained the same. Hal Jordan’s greatest contribution to the efforts to teach science were largely limited to inspiring kids to look to the stars and acting as a role-model to those kids who wanted to fly as a test pilot rather than a superhero. Of course the idea of a group of alien space cops was pretty awesome, even if it wasn’t all that educational.

I mention all this history because I found myself pondering the origins of Green Lantern as I read The Green Lantern #1 and how writer Grant Morrison said that he was going back to basics. No more of Geoff Johns’ mythology regarding a whole spectrum of Lanterns who drew power from emotions! Say goodbye to Peter Tomasi’s sprawling military epics! The Green Lantern would be a police procedural in space, with a thin green line separating law from chaos as Hal Jordan found himself trying to be a lawman in a cold, indifferent universe, while Morrison explored just how a simple Earthman could enforce local laws that he couldn’t even understand because of his inherently limited viewpoint.

Such ideas are bread and butter for Grant Morrison, who has a reputation as a brilliant writer when he can carry his ideas off. It remains to be seen if he will be pulling this one off in the end, but this much can be said after a single issue – I want more!

Morrison is well-matched in this endeavor by Liam Sharp, whose work was most recently seen in the DC Rebirth Wonder Woman series. Sharp’s artwork is simply amazing, managing to be smoothly streamlined yet heavily detailed without feeling at all cluttered. Steve Oliff’s colors provide the perfect vivid finishes to Sharp’s pencils and inks, making this one of the most beautiful books in recent memory.

The only real weakness to The Green Lantern #1 is that it doesn’t quite live up to the reputation of its writer or the pre-release hype. We were promised Grant Morrison doing things with the concept of the Green Lantern Corps that would be wholly inconceivable. Not only was most of The Green Lantern #1 conceivable but I can tell you precisely where some of the wilder ideas in this book (such as X-Ray Lanterns and Microwave Lanterns and other Lanterns for wave-lengths of light that do not have a color) originally came from.

It is entirely possible, however, that Morrison is merely establishing a world for the sake of the newcomers before he starts to rebuild it. And even if his talk about redefining Green Lantern was just that, Morrison still spins a perfectly serviceable story here. Couple that with Liam Sharp’s art and there’s plenty of reason to give this series a shot for a few months to see how it develops. Whether you’re a newcomer to the world of the Green Lantern Corps or an old hat when it comes to the ring-slingers, this book is guaranteed to light up your life.

8/10

The Green Lantern #1 releases on November 7, 2018!


Written by The Critic The Internet Deserves, but not the one it needs right now…. Matt Morrison. He’s a smart-ass guardian. A sarcastic protector. A Snark Knight.

Comic Review – Doctor Who: The Thirteenth Doctor #1

Doctor Who The Thirteenth Doctor #1 Cover

There is a long history of comic-book tie-ins being poor-quality products. For every amazing series like Tom Taylor’s Injustice: Gods Among Us that perfectly captures and expands upon the world of the television series, movie or video game it is based upon, there are a dozen like Malibu Comics’ Street Fighter or the Family Guy comic from Devil’s Due Publishing that fail to exist as anything other than a cheap cash grab.

Thankfully, Titan Comics has avoided this since taking over the license for Doctor Who in 2014. The publisher created a number of series and mini-series set at different points in the story of Doctor Who, crafting a complex mythology that easily grafted onto that of the show. Now, one month after the start of the newest season, Titan has released the first issue of a new series based around the 13th incarnation of The Doctor.

At this point, a quick explanation may be needed, for those who don’t know the show.

Doctor Who centers around the adventures of The Doctor – an alien time-traveler who wanders the universe in an intelligent machine called a TARDIS – Time And Relative Dimension In Space. A natural hero at heart, who dislikes bullies and tyrants, The Doctor frequently engages in battles to help people in need, from lost children to oppressed societies. The Doctor also frequently adopts companions, who travel along with The Doctor and enjoy exploring the wonders of reality.

While The Doctor appears to be human, The Doctor possesses an amazing alien power to regenerate the body after moments of great stress or injury. When this happens, The Doctor’s physical form and personality will change, literally creating a whole new person with all The Doctor’s memories and knowledge. Currently on Incarnation Number 13, this is the first time (that we know of) that The Doctor has regenerated in a woman’s body.

The title page of the book explains all this and more, as well as introducing us to The Doctor’s current companions – aspiring mechanic Ryan, rookie cop Yasmin and retired bus-driver Graham. The action of this first issue is largely concerned with setting up a larger adventure, as The Doctor and friends encounter a mysterious portal and a figure seemingly stuck inside of it.

Thirteenth Doctor Issue 1 Preview 1 Thirteenth Doctor Issue 1 Preview 2 Thirteenth Doctor Issue 1 Preview 3 Thirteenth Doctor Issue 1 Preview 4

(Click To View The Full Image In Another Window.)

Writer Jody Houser, best known for her work on Faith for Valiant Comics, Mother Panic for DC Comics and various Star Wars books for Marvel Comics, proves a perfect fit for telling a new series of tales for The Doctor. Houser knows how to spin a strange sci-fi yarn like few others and the story she starts here is an intriguing set-up that evokes the spirit of many a classic Doctor Who episode, in which we were introduced to a whole new world and new characters before The Doctor arrived to start stirring things up. The only point in which the script falters is that we don’t get much of a sense of personality from the companions, with the high-action quotient of the issue not allowing for the moments of introspection the show often takes.

The artwork, however, is simply astonishing. Rachel Stott was rightly acclaimed for her previous work on Titans’ other Doctor Who comics but has also worked on DC Bombshells and IDW’s Star Trek comics. Beyond capturing the likenesses of the actors from the show perfectly, Stott is a tremendous choreographer and the many moments of action in this book are well-blocked. The colors by Enrica Eren Angiolini are simply brilliant, perfectly chosen and guiding the eye easily as the story progresses.

If you’re a Doctor Who fan who has never read the comics, this is the perfect time to start. If you’re a comic book fan who never got into Doctor Who, this book will smoothly guide you into one of the greatest fictional universes in existence. Either way, this is one book newcomers and old fans alike are sure to enjoy.

9/10

Doctor Who: The Thirteenth Doctor #1 releases on November 7, 2018!


Written by The Critic The Internet Deserves, but not the one it needs right now…. Matt Morrison. He’s a smart-ass guardian. A sarcastic protector. A Snark Knight.

Titans Episode Review S01: E04

Titans is quickly becoming the television equivalent of potato chips; there’s no substance and it’s not very good for you, but it’s pretty tasty and I would definitely eat two family-sized bags in one sitting if DC let me. To that end, while Episode 4 of the series — titled “Doom Patrol” — is still good, it does feel like it somewhat wastes the momentum the show had coming out of Episode 3.

Jumping in, Rachel has just blown up a convent (subtle, eh?) that was holding her captive and is now running through its backyard-forest. Soon, she’s intercepted by Gar Logan, a.k.a. Beast Boy, who takes her to his home to hide out. It’s here where we’re introduced to a ragtag bunch of misfits who are hiding out to avoid persecution for their physical abnormalities. Those who know better will recognize these characters as Robotman, Negative Man, and Elastic Girl.

I really enjoyed the banter and lighter tone that this partial Doom Patrol lent to the episode, and I think Geoff Johns (the episode’s sole writer) did what he could to keep it enjoyable while very minimally pushing the narrative forward. And while, yes, there is very little of consequence that occurs throughout the hour-long run-time, I get why it had to happen this way. At least while nothing was happening, most of the dialogue (that wasn’t coming out of Dick Grayson’s mouth) was fun. It seems fairly obvious that the Doom Patrol series that’s slated for 2019 will most likely take a few cues from Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy films (honestly, what ensemble-driven media isn’t?), but hey, if it works — which in this case, it does — I say go for it.

Jokes and unlikely companions can only do so much, however, and that’s a lot of heavy lifting for, admittedly, fairly weak concepts. No matter how effective such tertiary details are, any problems with the primary events are going to somewhat overshadow them. That’s not to say that this episode is bad — far from it. It has a decently intriguing plot and it’s probably the best episode in terms of “pace” so far. However, much of it is just sort of “fluff”. Rachel feeling confident enough to voluntarily use her powers is certainly an interesting development, but that 30-second exchange is essentially the biggest take away from the episode until the VERY end. Even that ending borders on amounting to nothing because it’s something that anyone who has a passing understanding of the property, or even someone who has only ever seen Teen Titans Go! To the Movies, knows is going to happen at some point.

Additionally, the show-runners are going to have to come up with different things for Rachel to do other than the same thing she’s be doing for four episodes now. Her entire narrative up to this point can be summed up by this sequence: girl is upset and skeptical of new person, girl learns to trust, girl shows kindness despite being literally possessed by Evil incarnate, girl finds herself restrained or in a situation in which she must now use her dark powers, girl learns that maybe you shouldn’t trust EVERYONE. Lather, rinse, repeat. Thankfully, it does look like we’ll be switching gears starting in the next episode, but for the good of the show, this formula needs to go away for a very long time.

When it’s all said and done, however, I do think the show has finally hit its stride. While it’s not as bombastic and tense as the previous episode, Episode 4 is still very enjoyable even when nothing is really happening. As long as these chips keep tasting this good, I’ll keep stuffing my face.

7/ 10

Titans is released every Friday only on DCUniverse!

Titans Episode Review S01: E03

“Third time’s a charm,” or so they say, and the third episode of Titans, titled “Origins” makes a pretty solid argument in favor of that. DCUniverse’s premier “belle-of-the-ball” had a bit of a rocky start, but it seems to have, thankfully, begun its upswing. Episode 3 still has a few problems, but they’re minor and ultimately inconsequential.

In “Origins”, we pick up immediately where we left off at the end of Episode 2, with the fallout of The Nuclear Family’s attack on our heroes being the jumping point. From there, however, the show starts to dive into what seems to be the crux of the season, “Who is Rachel Roth?” While much of the info that we’re given isn’t exactly new for comic fans, it is nonetheless exciting to be exploring a central plot and committing to moving the story forward.

While it abandons the more focused lens that was present in Episode 2 in favor of returning to showcasing multiple team members, the direction doesn’t feel as hectic and scattered as it did in Episode 1 either. Nothing feels out of place or random, and transitions between characters are much more cohesive. This makes for a good pace and the episode never really feels like it’s dragging.

The last two episodes haven’t done much in terms of forward momentum, but Episode 3 really pushes the narrative; it’s very much a welcome relief to be moving away from thin exposition. Plot details come fast and characters feel fully realized, rather than the vague, one-note standees that they have been. Motivations make sense, reactions are understandable, and everyone finally takes a beat to somewhat digest the situation with the viewer.

Much of the plot movement can be attributed to Kory Anders (a.k.a. Starfire) being present in a more significant way and not just murdering some Russian thugs. Anna Diop’s off-kilter, amnesiac version of the character is a little strange at first, but the approach is different and promises something interesting for the future. In fact, all three of the main characters that are on display in Episode 3 (Beast Boy only makes a brief appearance, once again) are at their best in terms effectiveness. Dick gets the short end of the stick, but he does get some interesting flashbacks that further flesh out his childhood.

It’s not all perfect – the horrendous CG makes a return appearance and even somehow manages to be laughable this time around. Think Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, which came out in 2001, and that’s the quality we’re getting now – with a new show – in 2018. The script is still tripping over itself as well, though the cringe-worthy dialog isn’t as prevalent as it has been. At some points, it actually seems to relish in the idea of being in so-bad-it’s-good territory, but overall, hits somewhere between “serviceable” and “inoffensive”.

None of this was bad enough to make me stop watching, however, or even make me stop enjoying myself. If the rest of Titans is at least the minimum quality that Episode 3 has established, there’s a lot to look forward to every Friday now.

8/10

Titans is released every Friday only on DCUniverse!