Inspiration from Blackest Eyes by Porcupine Tree.
Inspiration from V For Vendetta by Alan Moore and Beautiful Lie by Hans Zimmer. For the best experience, read the poem with Zimmer's song in background.
Inspiration from Sentimental and Fear of A Blank Planet by Porcupine Tree.
Hey guys! I’m here today to announce yet another series that I plan to frequent on my blog. Yes, these will never stop rolling out. W.A.S.D is aimed at explaining and discussing concepts and doubts regarding gaming, on a computer. We will be covering a variety of topics pertaining to both hardware and software, where each fits in and the role they play that directly affects a game. We’ll try to answer some common queries that have never quite been dwelt into properly or simply are just worth revisiting. We will poke fun and rant at behavior of general phenomena in this field, talk about the agenda of a few brands, where they succeed and egregiously fail. And just really discuss games. Should be a lot of fun. So what is it that should drive you towards the world of gaming? What goes on behind it all? And why should you care? What is the spirit of gaming?
The average adult who has led a mostly distasteful life will see games only as an addiction for his kid and nothing more than a growing nuisance, a cancer. And there are the kid’s peers. They too enjoy the same and will find pleasure in the company of games as long as they play. But eventually, they grow into teenagers, priorities change and their older phases are outgrown. But what about that one guy who has still stuck to games? He is looked at as an introvert with no friends, a man child who doesn’t like to socialize and prefers to stay locked up in hits basement, staring at a monitor all day long. But of course, this man child couldn’t care less about other’s opinions. He’s busy having fun!
The distasteful adult and the ignorant teenager however, do acknowledge games, but only as a means to pass time. Hence they get mobile games to entertain themselves, and it works because these games require a very limited attention span. So they pull out their mobile phones whenever bored, and well, tap away. These games are the real cancer. And the ones who play them aren’t really gamers.
So, what exactly do games offer beyond recreation?
Developing games is one of the most underrated fields of computing, to the common man at least. It is actually a really tough job, that requires a lot of skill. But passion is the most important credential, and how does it manifest in this case? As in what is in it for the developer? He gets to build entire worlds. Beautiful and vast lands. It can be anything. A haunted house, a cut off space station, a mystical forest, a high rise city, pretty much anywhere the imagination leads. Like a painter, the developer puts his elements in place and decides how they interact with each other. Be it wide vistas like moving clouds or small details like an elevator shaft, everything is in the developer’s hands. And like a painting, the world feels real. And by that, i don’t mean photorealistic. I mean dynamic and full of soul.
Then these worlds are populated by characters. As if moulded by clay, the developer takes and puts them in a theorama. One or more of them are chosen as a medium to take us, the gamers to world that has been created. Again, there is no limit to who these characters are and where they are from. They can be like everyone else around them or one of their kind. Important thing is, they are given a story and an agenda. For the time we control that character, we are one with them. We feel whatever they feel. Some games let us live the experience as our own self, in our own shoes. We can choose to act and look different, being ourselves at the same time. Like a really cool alter ego.
That’s all cool, but the real intriguing thing are the other characters with artificial intelligence. Higher forms of this are usually found in bad guys and less commonly, in your companions. These guys, they react organically to situations and certain parameters. So technically in a way, they are alive. For the developer having created a world, with (kinda) alive characters, that sense of power, that feeling of being a creator is itself a huge accomplishment. Like an artist, he tells a story. All that matters to him now, is how the audience receives his work.
For the consumer, it’s like watching a movie, except being in total control over whatever’s happening. It’s like taking an amusement park ride, and being able to steer the roller coaster to will. To some, the world of the game and the people within are more appealing than the real ones. And that’s perfectly alright as the game let’s them be something society says impossible. Important, unique, righteous etc. It gives them a chance to be a superhero, or an astronaut, or very commonly a soldier, an alien conqueror and pretty much anything, really. Games are a great way to vent your feelings without hurting anyone or anything in the process. It’s your world. But it’s more than just that. Remember that thing I said about connecting with the character? Everything they feel, you feel too. And that includes pain, happiness, conflict, views on authority and the deprived. A good story and solid characters, or even a potent theme/concept has the ability to carve at your inner personality in a positive way if you let it.
Some others may like to create their own stories and special moments, and hence become warriors, form teams, take on real opponents and win battles. This enhances not only their leadership and team work skills but also their presence of mind during tense situations. New friends are made. And I’ve seen how much it means to them, eternal glory or not. Many people today have dedicated their lives to playing and analysing games. Best way to live, if you ask me. Like these games are pop cultural phenomena, and they’re changing lives.
But in the end, if a consumer really likes a game, he/she may not say it out loud, but they’ll definitely close their eyes to thank the developer. And somewhere in the studio, the developer nods in appreciation. That, is the spirit of gaming.
Now, let’s get back to the technical aspect of it all. When I first found PC gaming appealing, I thought I’d just brush myself up on some basic topics, but, I’ll be honest, looking at the sheer vastness of it all, and how much even the little things matter, it was very daunting. So, I researched a little bit, touched upon a few stuff and thought I was ready to go, but sadly, that wasn’t the case. It just wasn’t enough and I was left even more confused than before. All these hardware components and what their specifications meant, numerous graphical terms and abbreviations all over the place, and entities I didn’t even know existed coming into importance. I thought I should just give up, but then I told myself, “No matter how long it takes, we will dig deep in and learn it all!”. So here I am, wanting to share with you guys everything I learnt over the past few years, some from hours of research and some from personal experience.
But why should it matter at all? Why can’t we just play and enjoy games? Well, the reason for all this isn’t to be a some sort of know it all or bully the intellectual capabilities of others. I’m doing this because I feel like there’s a certain beauty in knowing how things work, the mechanics of it all. It let’s you look at stuff and appreciate its maker in a different way. Then there’s the satisfaction that comes from knowing everything that’s going on under the hood. And by that I not only mean the hardware, but also the code part of it. To know just what you’re investing your time, money and most importantly, your soul on.
If you want a certain topic to be discussed, contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org and I will reply, or may even dedicate a post to your query. So, gear up, turn your PCs on, and let’s get on with this series. This is W.A.S.D, PC gaming in all directions. I will see you in the next post!
You react so spontaneously
To inorganic matter of today
Illusions of what is art
Boy, you’ve lost your way.
You swim only in the mainstream
Impatiently ignoring without a single thought
The beauty of an unorthodox ocean
Girl, you’re missing out on a lot.
Do you find yourself attracted
To the synthetic shit they produce?
Is your mind only so able?
Because you’ve fallen for their ruse.
Doesn’t it get suffocating
In your little comfort zone?
Why don’t you come out for once?
Too afraid to stand on your own?
Sitting behind your bright screens
Defending the excuse that you are
While soldiers cower behind bunkers,
Trying to stop a real war.
The moon is falling down into space,
But you couldn’t even care
Orpheus is falling to the mortal coils,
But you weren’t even aware.
You only hear choosing not to listen,
You only see accepting not to observe
You may think you’re busy
In reality, you just don’t deserve.
The cloak of sophistication
Won’t hide your unintelligence
It’s the subtlety of little things that holds weight,
Not your narcissistic negligence.
You worship dolls of porcelain
That sing artificially with the wind of a key
Future won’t let them sustain,
They’ll die forgotten like you and me.
Those self acclaimed idols
Have interloped the halls of fame
With their aggravating armies,
As blind as they came.
They made music an industry,
All the artists became celebrities,
Art all lost in media paparazzi,
This is not how it should be.
The machine of today
It sings, dances and cooks
Another reason for us to lay back
Another reason to burn our books.
The artist of today
Dreams not of his paintings on the wall
But of money in his bank
Oblivious to any luxury too small.
The leader of today
Is a leech on his misguided followers
Thriving on their dodgy decisions
As a result of hallucinative hangovers.
And you, you live your life
Seeking cheaper thrills,
You see no superficial gains
From honing your hidden skills
How can you ignore the dark side of being?
It’s not always rainbows, sunshine and unicorns
Dystopia is more real than your Utopia,
An angel’s halo stays afloat only on invisible horns.
I don’t know what’s more pathetic
Matching tattoos to signify commitment
Or how quickly your priorities change
To make you laser out the pigment.
You waste your tears on the obvious
How much further down will you fall,
When the unexpected urinates on you?
Your ‘friends’ won’t bear your funeral pall.
Sometimes I pity you
Temporary ecstasy makes you ingest those shiny pills,
Over the art that can colorfully cure
You choose something that kills.
Using up all your grey matter
On someone else’s recycled humor,
And if your brother doesn’t laugh
You accuse him of tumor.
Boasting your empty experience
Do you know what it’s like to wait?
You only ever faced an ant bite
To the real world, you’re just shark bait.
This is the world we live in
But you couldn’t care less
As long as there’s a host for your parasite
And means to short lived happiness.
Don’t look at me like that
I’m only giving you my opinion
Little did I know,
That you preferred oblivion.
I tried to tell you but
You just wouldn’t pay heed,
You were too busy socializing
With your candid creed.
If only you weren’t biased and blind,
You’d see all that was amiss
But I don’t think anything matters
Cause ignorance is bliss.
Spoiler Level: Ultra
Welcome everyone to screen suite! I did not feel the need to make a separate post on what this series is about like I did for Between The Panels. Instead I’ll just give it a brief introduction right here. Well in here, I just plan to ramble on about the movies I watch, it can be anything. Could be a movie I watched at the theaters last night or something I caught on T.V. Just stuff that I deem worthy of sharing with you guys. I don’t watch a shit ton of movies, but I watch a fair bit and I give each one a shit ton of thought and WordPress gives me a place to vomit it all out! Also, this is less like a review, more like bunch of people sitting down, kicking back with a nice drink and plate of appetizers and talking. Mostly subjective. So, grab your popcorn, munchies or whatever and let’s get on with the first one!
I’ve probably never waited so hard and long for a movie as much as I did for Batman v Superman here. Like ever since they announced it in the coolest possible way at SDCC 2013 (Age of Ultron was announced on the same day but that didn’t matter 1/10th as much) it had been the only thing on my mind. I probably know Warner’s marketing timeline for this movie by heart. From staring for hours at every picture they released and watching and re-watching all the trailers and TV Spots that followed frame by frame, trying to piece them together, looking for easter eggs, jumping to conclusions and all that stuff to reading the prequel comic books they released for free (Yes, they actually did. 10 issues. No major stuff though, just world building and a glimpse at the characters. You can get them here). I watched the Leicester Square red carpet live stream for the movie and even bought a shirt to wear on the big day. And the week before the release, that was the real pain. You should’ve seen me search the darkest corners of the internet (just kidding, I hung out on Reddit mostly) for a legit claim of anyone who watched the early screenings. So obviously, this stuff mattered a great deal to me and it’s finally out there but does it live up to the hype? Was it worth it all? Read on as I talk about what made me laugh, tear up, drop my jaw, scratch my head, what made me cheer, conversely cringe, what I would change and pretty much everything else I felt about Warner’s tent pole movie this year.
Okay, so as you know, most of the reviewers didn’t really have kind things to say about this movie. When I woke up to IGN’s review, I’ll be honest, I was a bit disappointed (and not to mention that RT score which kept getting worse). I did tell myself to be impervious to other’s opinions and it’s not that I care too much about what the guys at IGN or Rotten Tomatoes have to say but you see, I wanted this movie to be the best thing ever. Like there was so much riding on this movie. The future of both DC films and legacy as a whole, the fate of all my favorite comic book characters on the big screen, and I wanted them to pull it off perfectly. However, I now realize that this wasn’t a rational thought simply because a movie of this stature, ambition and scope is bound to have some flaws. It holds the responsibility of not only introducing new characters but also building a foundation for later projects, all this while being only the second movie in its shared universe. So the embargo had lifted and the reviews kept pooling in. Jeremy Jahns (represents the casual audience, except when the movie in question is Star Wars) puts up his review. Jeremy is like one of those reviewers I actually trust and he didn’t really like it either. But by then I’d told myself “Fuck it, Chetan! You have a mind of you own. Go watch it and then decide for yourself”. So the time came. I put on my shirt with all the feeling of Bruce Wayne putting on his suit. Wish I had a car to drive to the theater and a girlfriend to tag along, that would’ve been rad (in reality I took an Uber and watched it with a bunch of guys. Fun people though, don’t get me wrong). I went with an open mind, finally got to watch it on 27th March, and I must say, I had a great time! Sure, the movie is not perfect but is it by any means BAD? Hell no! It was quite enjoyable.
For like 80% of the run time, my skin was literally covered in and ravaged by goosebumps. You guys know where I’m coming from: huge DC fan, Superman and Batman are two of my favorite characters. To watch them together, share the silver screen for the first time was really amazing. I loved all the stuff that was happening in the movie, but does the story allow these elements and plot points to come together? Well, that’s where the problems begin arising. There’s no real cohesion between all the spectacle, the main event and the characters’ sub plots. Shit goes down in certain sequences and you’re enjoying it and then the story pulls you back, you’re like “wait, why did that happen? How is this related to that?”. The film does try gluing them together with the Daily Planet thing, Lois Lane’s own little mission and the Anatoly guy’s shenanigans (he’s the bad guy KG Beast from the comics). The problem here is the events don’t really make you care enough about these guys and they get lost so easily in the multi colored haystack that is this movie. You could say that some of it finds a converging point and begins to make sense in the second half, but most of the elements are left dangling. Elegantly though, like a chandelier, not a convoluted mess, like most reviewers are saying. More than pacing issues, this movie has progression issues. The way it transitions from one scene to another, you’re almost led to believe the movie is building up something huge, but it just isn’t. By the time the movie wraps up, among so many other feelings, there is that small sense of dissatisfaction and I was left longing for a better conjunction, I guess. Don’t get me wrong, it’s just that a movie should really make you go “Wow, that was so awesome! I wonder how they can make it better next time, it’s gonna be hard to outdo…”. Sadly, Batman v Superman doesn’t quite achieve this. Nonetheless, it does end up leaving that special aftertaste in a strange way, and of course I’m still pumped as ever for future DC films that are to come. That will never change.
Let’s talk about Zack Snyder for a moment. There’s no doubt that he can make movies look terrific but that begs the question: has he dropped to the level of all style and no substance? Not really. He has a bunch of different and interesting concepts that he tries his best to put forward. It’s just that all of it may not be for everyone’s taste and he definitely does not believe in fan service like J.J. Abrams might. But think about it. These main characters in the movie, they are pretty much mythos of today. To even try to do something different with them is quite ballsy. That’s just how they evolve really.
Snyder tries to strike some very particular chords, some of which were very beautifully handled in Man of Steel. My favorite being the difference in contrast between the views of both of Superman’s fathers. But that movie, being solo, gave him much more room to work with. In BvS, it gets a little crowded, so there’s a loss in focus. The points he brings forward, some aren’t gonna get it at all, some will choose to ignore, some will think a lot about it and some will love it. No matter what, the viewers of this movie will be divided in terms of interpretation and opinion. But the one thing I believe that everyone’s gonna agree upon is that BvS looked rad as hell. With help from Chris Terrio, the visual aspect of storytelling is on point, and that itself is a huge reason why the experience is worth it on the big screen. It looks and feels like a comic book. Like during the main event, remember the rain, thunder and smoke? Straight out of a graphic novel’s panel. Love it! Another one when Lex’s talking about the devil and they show us that wall painting, and Superman was being referred to there but close to the end, the same painting is used to point towards Darkseid. Dual symbolism switch. It could be that even the awkward transition between unrelated scenes that we discussed earlier is another thing from comics that they tried to implement. And such transitions happen a lot in the latter. Shame it didn’t translate too well on the big screen. However it’s not just the look. Zack Snyder manages to capture emotion really well too, just like he did in MOS. Although a little cluttered, I still did feel for Batman and Superman (not really much for the others though, honestly). So, hail Snydra? Probably not, but I respect him and what he’s tried to do. All of it does matter to him.
I think it is safe to assume that more than the big fight itself, fans were waiting to see Batfleck in action. This guy faced a lot of backlash when he was cast back in 2013. But since then, thanks to the nature of the internet, we were all already accustomed to associate the caped crusader with Ben and at the same time, learnt to move on from Christian Bale’s take. So in the end, what did I think of Ben Affleck as Batman? I thought he was great. Would I compare him to Bale? No, I would not because they are of completely different profiles. But if I had to say one thing, it’s that to me, Bale was the better (probably the best) Bruce Wayne and Ben for Batman. Dark Knight’s Batman tried to be more mysterious and in the shadows, elemental kind of thing but he was always outshone by the likes of Heath Ledger’s Joker (he would’ve turned 37 earlier this month. Happy B’day Legend!), Tom Hardy’s Bane or even Anne Hathaway’s Cat (great, now I’m hard). However, what I feel about the BvS Batman is different. I just wouldn’t dare to mess with this guy. He’s older, angrier, savager and has had enough shit for a lifetime, so he’s gonna make you hurt if you’re a bad guy. And this is probably the first time that I’m actually afraid of Batman. That is an important part of Gotham’s champ and Ben brings it out really well. Plus he’s got the physique and damn, he was (un)really big and comic book like. I think he towers over Superman too, after donning his armor (I still can’t get enough of how cool it looks, honestly). In The Dark Knight Rises, Bane tells Batman he fights with “nothing held back”. But to me, Bale’s Batman always fought like it was a boxing match, with a referee, rules and disqualifications. Batfleck however, fought with no holds barred. The warehouse fight sequence looked a lot like something from the Arkham games in the sense that Batman takes on several hostiles at once without getting overwhelmed, disables their rifles (he does takes a few gunshots from some goons arriving later), facing knives and yeah, throwing people around. Except this was a lot more brutal. Our Batman here simply does not care if his enemies are bedridden for rest of their lives, so he breaks bones, grips them by flesh with his grappling hook (in the games he does it separately using the Batclaw which I’m pretty sure is not half as dangerous) and punches a guys’s head straight into the floorboard. And then there is the one thing that people will find hard to digest: Batman straight up kills people in this movie. And not just one of two with constraints: he has guns mounted on Batmobile and Batwing with which he shoots quite a lot of people, blows them up and even runs them over at one point. For a lot of people, this will be hard to accept so directly because the no killing rule is one of the basic foundations Batman’s history is built upon. Even if you find a way around that, you’ll begin remember that Batman is supposed to be resourceful. So where has that gone, Batfleck? Even the Dark Knight Returns Batman by whom the BvS Batman is inspired from, uses rubber bullets and tries to minimize casualties whenever possible. The only time he breaks the rule is when a goon has a hostage at gun point, Batman shoots him with another goon’s gun. Being the only time he takes a life in the book, the scene holds a special importance. It inspired the final Martha Kent rescue in the movie where Batfleck shoots KG Beast’s propane tank before he can burn her. I feel like they should’ve made this the only time he kills in here too. It would’ve been a lot simpler and would’ve raised intriguing debates rather than an unnecessary controversy. All we have now are vague answers like “This Batman is fed up of crime” or “He started killing after the Joker murdered Robin”. Just like how BvS tries to justify MOS’s destruction, Warner will probably want to resolve this Batman killing issue in future films. Sigh. Déjà Vu.
Let’s get to Bruce Wayne. Well, he’s alright but the story doesn’t let him shine too much. We don’t get to see him play detective, businessman (though the poster for Alfred suggests that he’s the one taking care of the company. But if there’s a poster, why not just give us at least one scene?), he doesn’t build up his fake reckless image in front of the public (don’t tell me he’s tired of that too), and he’s a worse flirt than I am. But there’s one thing more than anything else I would’ve loved to watch: Bruce infiltrating Lex’s house during the party to steal that data. It would’ve been epic to watch him rappel into the darkness in his expensive Armani, and use some cool gadgets and Alfred’s help to bypass security systems only to find it already stolen by Diana. All this would’ve helped bridge the gap between Bruce Wayne and Batman while be way cooler than him just sauntering across the pantry and making a lame excuse about getting drunk and lost. Bruce also doesn’t interact much with Lex at all. Some mind games between them could’ve found their place in the story to give us a better sense regarding Lex’s overall manipulation of our two heroes.
We get yet another telling of the night at Crime Alley. The signature moment that shapes the Batman. While many people may loathe it and accuse it of stealing screen time, I thought it was beautiful and quite necessary. When the WB and DC logos come up even before the movie starts, you can actually see Autumn leaves (from the Waynes’ funeral) fall across the screen, which I thought was a nice touch. A young Bruce Wayne runs away from the procession into the woods where he ends up falling into the cave. In parallel, we are taken to the alley when Joe Chill pulls out his gun. The whole sequence was directly adapted from The Dark Knight Returns. From Thomas Wayne’s fist clenching, relaxing and charging towards Chill before getting shot, to Martha Wayne’s pearl necklace snapping as the life is cut off from her too. We hear Thomas utter his wive’s name while she lies still on the pavement, her pupils dilating. I guess they added that part to remind us of the ugly truth. However, this sequence exists in the movie for a particular reason, and we will discuss that in a bit. But just to watch it there, I pretty much melted inside. It shows that Batman’s war against crime is not an excuse for revenge for his family, rather it is to make sure that nobody has to go through what he did.
I liked Jeremy Irons’ portrayal of Alfred. This one felt less butler and more partner, which was very interesting. He’s still Bruce’s anchor, always passing on ‘wise’ advice and throwing around his wit though (that I doubt even Snyder can change). The chemistry between him and his Master Wayne just works. It almost felt like I’d watched them before. While there’s nothing wrong with this Alfred, he doesn’t quite stand up by his opinion of Superman. A deeper conflict between Bruce and him would’ve added to the overall tension. However, you do need to find a place for it and the movie was probably packed by then anyway. So yeah, can’t wait to watch more of Alfred in the DCEU.
I liked this version of the Batmobile. But Batfleck is a terrible driver. Between this and the Tumbler, I’d probably choose this one. While I definitely love heavy and bulky stuff, Snyder’s Batmobile is just cooler to me. I love how it springs around corners and shoots forward, though it doesn’t really do anything cool, just shoots people up, and yeah bounces off Superman. The Batwing was alright. I love the way this one moves too, and the fact that Alfred can remote control it, sitting in the Batcave. I was kinda hoping that the Batwing would actually turn out to be a part of the Batmobile and be capable of detaching itself, just like how the Batpod emerges from a dying Tumbler in The Dark Knight.
Lex Luthor. The second most anticipated and important new character to be introduced in the movie, and the first most controversial choice for actor. Jesse Eisenberg just came out as plain weird and was seen largely as a miscast in the trailers to many people and most of them stuck to their opinion even after having watched the movie. Well honestly, the trailers did have me worried for a bit when it came to him. So what did I think in the end? Truth be told, I’m still unsure on that front. This Luthor definitely didn’t blow my mind, neither did he utterly disappoint me. And it wasn’t even anything in between. My opinion landed in some unknown place probably. First off, Jesse Luthor is nothing like the Luthor that we know. I don’t think Lois Lane’s “psychotic” alone is enough to describe this bad guy. He’s like one of those kids in school that everyone distances themselves from as he’s just different (seemingly), but then wanting to interact with him, you try to talk. Only to realize that he’s this deranged sort of twisted candidate and nothing can really help him. So there’s Lex Corp and he’s this young CEO guy who plays basketball in his office and meets his clients in the cafeteria. That itself should scream charisma and control. But it just does not. The marketing promised us one aspect that’s closer to the original Lex: A nefarious perpetrator who puts up a certain act in front of the public, but is completely different when he’s with himself, always scheming, calculating, confident and you get the idea. What we get instead is far from that. Jesse Luthor is just both socially and personally awkward pretty much all across the board. He twitches, acts really weird, has a running nose and falls short of words, except when there’s a metaphor. I liked the way him and senator June Finch interact though (I thought Holly Hunter was great by the way). She’s all calm and bold and practical. And he clearly isn’t any of those at all. That part when he actually sends her a jar filled with (his?) urine which says “Granny’s Peach Tea”, I was like “Ohmigod! Did he just do that?!”. So yeah, being so awkward and still pulling off evil deeds with unbelievable subtlety and also managing to get his own way, this very inconsistency bothers me.
For those of you who don’t know, Jesse Luthor is actually Alexander Luthor, the real Lex’s son. Unlike many people, I don’t think of it as an excuse to introduce a completely different Luthor. The movie tries to tell you that the way he is is deeply tied to how his father used to treat him as kid, which isn’t very nice, apparently. But if it were that important, then why not just give us a glimpse of Lex Sr. being mean to his kid? That would’ve helped a little in understanding where Jesse Luthor’s heart is at.
In the comics (and everywhere else too, actually), Lex keeps mulling over why he hates the Man of Steel, and it usually turns out to be quite a revelation. Jesse Luthor, however just somehow knows that he has to get rid of this alien. He does justify by saying that if God is benevolent then he can’t be all powerful and vice versa but it just wasn’t compelling enough for me.
Like I mentioned before, Snyder should’ve been more careful with Luthor’s connection with Bruce Wayne which is not strong enough to make Lex look like the manipulative badass they wanted him to be. And Superman? He’s busy with his own things and only finally faces off Lex in the ending (more on that later). It was supposed to be like this triangle with Luthor on top, masterfully playing our heroes, moving them around like pieces of chess on the board that is his plot. It was supposed to be epic. But it was not. In his defense though, he does ask Bruce if he wants to ‘work’ together. I’m just kidding. The whole thing was just weirdly (not poorly) thought about.
Yup, there’s still a thousand debates running through my head about what I think of this guy. Part of me says they should’ve just created a new character, cause Jesse Luthor is just not Lex Luthor. But in Snyder’s own words, it is what it is. And I think it will be interesting to see what new heights the madness escalates to. Plus I really hope his and his father’s backstory is explored. They set it up, might as well use it right? But I still don’t effing know what “redcapes” means!
So now, the main event. The big fight that everyone’s been waiting for. The piece d’resistance and the name of the movie itself. This is where all the marketing and all the hype leads. A clash between not only the bodies of these comic book titans, but also between their ideals. Did it live up to all the expectations? Not completely, but it was still pretty good. The set up is pretty grandiose but the nature of the confrontation itself is like that of a street fight. I don’t know if there’s a figure of speech to describe that. Or maybe the whole thing was just disjointed writing. We’ll never know. But I love the way Bruce Wayne works out with the massive tires. Okay, so on to the fight itself. The intensity is very much present and there’s the latent tension but the fight lacks creativity. It moves in pretty much straight lines with Batman rigging a couple of initial traps that mildly annoy Superman, who just shrugs them off and doesn’t want to play anymore “games”. Then he’s shot by kryptonite grenade which gives Batman the upper hand for a while. I love that part when he’s pummeling Supes, the kryptonite’s effects wear off and then it’s like punching a wall that’s becoming progressively harder. It was funny. They tussle for a bit and then Supes falls for the grenade again (when Batfleck’s helmet breaks and you can see like half his face digging into the metal, looked pretty crazy). Batman tosses Superman around while grunting some cool dialogue. Some of it directly from The Dark Knight Returns, and some original. I really like how he says earlier while blocking a punch: “Your’e not brave. Men are brave”. This tells us what Batman thinks about Superman: He may help people and all from great adversary but for him, having all those powers, there’s no reason to be afraid, no reason to feel responsible or be aware of the stakes, as a normal man would. So finally, Batman grabs this kryptonite spear that he crafted and goes in for the kill. And that’s about it.
Firstly, it should’ve been longer and with more gambits and tricks and turn overs to see. Like I said a million times before, Bruce should’ve partnered with Lex and they could’ve planned and prepped for the whole thing, with Lex sway talking to fuel Bruce’s rage along the way. Bruce could’ve developed some strategies from the research that Lex has done. Like lead smoke grenades etc. If not, then they should’ve just gotten a reluctant Alfred to help. This would’ve added some more depth (not that it was really needed, but still) to Jeremy Iron’s character. Since this Batman is inspired from Frank Miller’s, Batfleck was stripped off all the tech and was essentially portrayed as vengeful hulking mass of anger. Which is alright, but I would’ve loved to see some more Bat gadgets in the fight. Like even Miller’s Batman manages to do more things like frying Superman’s brain with electricity and spraying his face with acid. But this movie’s version, like come on Snyder, you could’ve done better than that!
The Batman side for the reason of conflict is plausible. But Superman just feels like he’s been forced into a fight he doesn’t want to be in. You could say that he doesn’t agree with Batman’s way of justice, but that argument can only go so far, and it only adds to Clark’s character. Not Superman’s. In the end, he’s only fighting Batman because Lex kidnaps Martha Kent. But when he does confront Lex atop the Lex Corp tower, it was pretty well done I felt. Superman’s on his knees and Lex is just throwing photos of his gagged mother at him. I got the chills when he said “Now, God bows to my will” as Superman looks up at him with such juicy anger, it was awesome. The only metaphor among Lex’s thousands that I liked in the whole movie.
But if he had already begun to create Doomsday by then, so does this mean that the whole fight was just to buy Lex some more time, and was Doomsday his primary plan? If so, why go through all the trouble of getting the heroes to fight? Was he so sure that Batman would win/lose? And why does he want Batman’s head? It’s never hinted that he was nuisance to Lex’s schemes. It’s things like this you think about later on that mess the whole thing up.
Anyhow, then the big Martha moment happens. Is it as simple and silly as our heroes shaking hands because both their moms’ names is Martha? Because that’s what at least 60% of the people thought and it’s become a joke on the internet. No, it wasn’t. When Batman sees Superman beg for his mother’s life, he is reminded of his own desperation all those years ago in Crime Alley. His life had been defined, written in ink by murder and he was to prevent it from happening to anyone else. This is where the line is drawn to connect to the night the Waynes died, as shown in the opening cinematic. Also, he sees a certain humanity in this alien, that he had so chose to ignore prior. Realizing that he was blinded by anger and insincere malice, he drops his spear. “Martha” was used as a tool to show us that even though Batman and Superman may seem worlds apart, in both actions and ideals towards justice (Lex highlights this by saying: black and blue, God vs man, day vs night etc) they’re actually quite similar. This whole sequence could’ve easily been the most powerful one in the movie, but the way it was shot doesn’t let the essence carry through at all. It happens too fast, and Lois Lane arrives and says something and then they shake hands. No wonder most of the audience thought it was stupid. Snyder didn’t give this chord of his nearly the treatment it deserved.
Nonetheless, the big throwdown happens. And for many people it will have been a dream come true to watch their favorite superheroes square off. Like many aspects of this movie, while I may not approve of the fight’s placement in the story, I really did enjoy watching it.
That brings us to the Doomsday fight and the holy Trinity! I’ll be honest, I wasn’t a fan of this fight. First off, do I have a problem with how Doomsday looks? Kind of. I understand that he’s supposed to be some kind of mutation that occurs when Lex infuses his blood with Zod’z body in that Kryptonian vitalization chamber or something. So I get why they made him look like a aberrated mess but personally, I would’ve just saved Doomsday for a Man of Steel sequel, and used Bizarro instead, he’s definitely more apt. And Doomsday was overpowered. Now that’s saying a lot, with Superman and Zod in the same cinematic universe! If I had to change one more thing, I would lose the red flashes that burst out from his body as he evolves and absorbs energy. This would have made the whole fight a lot cleaner. Batman doesn’t do a whole lot in the battle. Another example for lack of creativity. I would’ve loved to see Batman go kamikaze on Dooms with his Batwing, of course jumping off at the last moment. And climb up to his head to use some sort of Bat bombs maybe, or exploding kryptonite laced Batrangs? You know, to weaken and then blow them up. Your’e supposed to be savage anyway right? But apparently he uses up all the kryptonite to make three grenades and a spear. Not cool.
I’ll tell you what was cool? Wonder Woman, that’s who! Well actually, not cool, but by Zeus’ ghost! Very, very hot. You know how action movies have that one badass character who is cheered at by the audience as they make entrance, perfect timing of limited dialogue and still contributes enough to the plot? In this case, Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman is that character. Her side of the battle was neat and she gets to use all her weapons. I could definitely see the warrior in her fighting style and it was really awesome. She gets knocked down by Doomsday once, and even the way she scrambles back up to fighting stance is so sexy to watch. She does this little smirk and her head moves to the side before picking her sword and shield up from the ground, telling us that she does love a challenge (apparently Gal added that to the script herself). God damn. As Diana, the names of her game are mysterious and enigmatic and Gal does it pretty well. The only real question is as to why she’s there. Just to get her photo back from Lex? Maybe her solo movie, that’s coming next year will explain. I couldn’t care less if they are going to explain or not. I’m just really pumped for that movie. Even if Jesse and Ben didn’t win you over, I’m pretty sure Gal did. Cause simply, for a role with limited screen time and only 16 lines of dialogue, she sure as hell nailed it.
When Superman decides to push Doomsday away from Earth into space, it was cool but there was no acknowledgement on his part that this could very well be the Metropolis 9/11 all over again. Like he was doing his best, but he still seemed unaware a potential disaster. As a result, that anxiousness wasn’t quite there. I didn’t like that. Then the authorities decide to launch a nuke, it lands on both Superman and Doomsday, the latter of which is unfazed but the former just floating above the atmosphere, unconscious. This too like many other things in the movie has been adapted from The Dark Knight Rises, though under different circumstances. In the comic, he gets hit by an enemy Russian missile and becomes almost skeletal and zombie like, tumbles down to Earth and then absorbs sunlight to regain his powers. We see something similar in MOS when Superman put up his hand to the sun after destroying Zod’s world engine, so this time around, Snyder decides to leave him in space. Instead, the sun comes up around the horizon, he absorbs its rays and opens his heat vision charged eyes. Well, I got a cooler idea: So Batman sees the explosion go off in the sky, right? He could’ve called up Alfred, telling him to align all the Wayne Enterprises satellites in such a way that they’d reflect the sun’s rays onto Superman! He knows that this will work because of the research he did along with Luthor while preparing against Supes (as suggested by me earlier). Pretty cool right? They could’ve done that.
Superman flies back and he locks his heat vision with Doomsday Dragon Ball Z style, Wonder Woman’s hacking away at his limbs, and Batman, well he’s just trying to stay alive. There was no synergy among the three. Each one kept doing their own thing. The only team work we see is right at the end, when Wonder’s got Doomsday bound in her lasso of truth, Batman shoots him with his last kryptonite grenade as Superman charges with the spear, manages to drive it through the monster, but not before getting himself stabbed as well by his bony protrusions right in the ‘S’.
At this one point earlier, Superman puffs up his chest, and almost thought that he’s discovered a new power like vortex breath (ice breath, freeze breath, whatever you wanna call it), but he doesn’t.
The battle didn’t give me a headache or anything but it wasn’t great either. I think Wonder Woman is its only saving grace. Apart from putting her in action, it doesn’t contribute anything else to the movie. It was smothered by too much CGI, not bad quality CGI or anything but yeah, too much, the sequence was not creative, it failed to bring the heroes together as one and it was filled with unnecessary stuff here and there. That’s just what I thought though.
Let me talk a little bit about Superman. I was excited to see more of Henry Cavill’s character after MOS and he was good in this movie, but the plot was definitely not good to him. Superman just has a horrible time. The world hates him, his editor is a dick to him, he gets beaten up by Batman, his mom gets kidnapped, he gets beaten up by Doomsday, gets nuked by the government (Chow: “Bad day? But did he die?”; Me: “Yes, he dies”) and yeah, finally dies. I mean, damn son! The only happy moment he gets is when he steps into Lois’ bathtub. I always thought the Amazing Spiderman movies were bad to Peter, but BvS just takes the cake. However, there are a few moments I really liked. That part when theres’s a voice over with known personalities (Neil de Grasse-Tyson yo!) speaking about what this alien may mean to mankind, we see Superman carrying out acts of rescue/service all over the world. We see him emerge from the clouds (like a messenger of God) to save victims of a flood, preventing what could’ve been major rocketship accident, saving a girl from a building on fire and him pulling some sort of huge sunken ship with a big chain on his shoulder, symbolic of the weight of the world that rests upon him. But my favorite one is the senate explosion. I don’t think any human ever will get to witness people getting blown up in front of their eyes from the distance that Superman was standing at. Then you look at his face, and you just don’t know what to say to him. But of course, the world blames him for it. He then decides to exile himself (which was probably the shortest exile in the history of fiction) where he sees a vision of his dad, Johnathan Kent. A lot of people thought this scene was unnecessary but I thought it pretty nice to have in there. Plus, I love Kevin Costner as Pa Kent so… He tells his son about an incident from his own childhood with the moral that no matter how powerful or able you are, you can’t always save everyone, that there’ll always be someone who gets hurt. I love how this contradicts Jor-El’s beliefs. So Snyder somehow brings so subtly, one of the key aspects of MOS into BvS (that being the difference in opinion between Superman’s fathers, like I mentioned earlier). Snyder gets the emotional aspect of Superman right. What he doesn’t seem to get is the relationship between Lois and Clark. In MOS, the Lois-Clark thing is left at the end as something to be explored in the future. And now, since we never got to see any real development between them, it’s just hard to believe that they’re really in love. Also when Lois dumps that kryptonite spear in water only to realize later that it is important and jumps in again to retrieve it, I think that was the sloppiest part of the movie. It’s like they were worried that the audience would forget Lois, so they just tried to shoehorn her into the plot a little more. That’s not how Lois Lane should be treated. She should be allowed to shine by herself. I know that Amy Adams is very passionate about her character and she wanted to play Lois ever since she was a kid. She even tries to bring together all the classic Lois elements like the damsel in distress, the staunch journalist, the fearlessness in front of the villains, all of that, but they don’t seem to be there in the right concentration. Sorry, Amy. Your heels looked really hot though.
About Superman’s death, I didn’t think they’d really do it, to be honest. So basically, they did The Dark Knight Returns as promised. But they also did Death of Superman (another comic, in which Doomsday kills Superman). At that point, I was left wondering if they were doing this comic book thing for a real purpose or just for the sake of it. He gets a full funeral like he did in the comics, complete with horse carriages and the ‘S’ on his casket and everything. And then in the end some of the dirt on the casket begins to move. So, he’s alive. Why kill him in the first place then? Why make us go through all those emotions and the lengthy funeral? It’s like all the gloom and doom finally ends with Superman dying and the audience just doesn’t know what the movie wants to make them feel anymore.
What does this movie mean for the Justice League? It was supposed to build the foundation for an entire extended universe. How well does it achieve this? I still find it a mostly unclear as to where the future of the DCEU stands. Apart from the the Trinity coming together, there’s two more things in BvS that are tied to this, and they are the Knightmare sequence and the cameos (of Flash, Aquaman and Cyborb).
Before the third trailer came out, I thought the Knightmare sequence was Batman’s vision of a world where Superman was left unchecked and went on to become a tyrannical overlord with his own army and everything. But later, Darkseid (the big Omega on the sand) was thrown into the mix. Supes approaches a tied up Batman and says, “She was everything to me” before punching him through his heart. So Lois? All this sounds a lot like Injustice. It’s a video game and comic book combo in which the Joker kills Lois, Superman flips out, punches Joker through the heart, and this begins his path to tyranny and authoritative control over the world. Batman leads the resistance against him. So in the DCEU, does Superman partner up with Darkseid? Would he really do that? And then a time travelling Flash pays a visit to the Batcave and the stuff he says actually does make sense (for a change). He tells Bruce that “Lois is key” and that “he was right about Superman” and to “come find us”. The first phrase points to the Knightmare sequence, I believe. Maybe Batman is somehow going to be responsible for Lois’ death and that is what will turn Superman evil. The second one might point to the fact that Batman was right about Superman being corruptible with all that power. The third phrase is the most clear one. Flash wants Bruce to gather the other metahumans and form the Justice League.
Now, onto the cameos. They could’ve been done in at least a 1000 better ways than Wonder Woman watching them in a video on her laptop one after another. I mean this is worse than the Sinister Six easter eggs in The Amazing Spiderman 2! Flash’s clip is fairly simple. He intercepts a supermarket robbery with his speed. But I still can’t imagine Ezra Miller as Barry Allen. I can’t imagine him sitting in a forensics lab (Barry Allen works for the police forensics department) all night long. And he isn’t even blond! Aquaman’s clip was funny. Unintentionally, of course. He’s stares at an underwater camera before destroying it with his really cool looking trident and swimming away. Even this guy isn’t blond! (both Arthur Curry and Barry Allen are blond in the comics). Cyborg’s was the weirdest. It was like a video log of his scientist dad trying to put his dismembered son back, I guess? Then this weird All Spark kind of cube goes haywire before the dad cuts the video. Yeah, I had no clue as to what was going on, trust me. Also, I’m not familiar with Cyborg lore, gotta brush up on that.
They should’ve gotten Aquaman to come and save Lois Lane when she was drowning. That would have been cooler.
Okay, so remember Mercy Graves? Lex’s leggy Japanese personal assistant? So she seemingly dies in the senate explosion right? But I always thought there was more to her, something mysterious. So I don’t know if Snyder’s bringing her back, but how about if she survived the explosion? Of course, she’d be in pieces. Then S.T.A.R. labs can put her together by using bionic parts and viola! We have our first female Cyborg! No? Okay, fine. I thought it’d be cool. We also still don’t know where Green Lantern is.
So, looks like Batman is going to be leading the Justice League. But I still can’t picture them coming together. Hopefully, this changes over the course of future movies as the universe matures, and hopefully they make a kickass movie.
So, in the end, Batman v Superman doesn’t play out like a movie should. It tries to do so many things. It’s trying to be a Batman movie, it’s trying to make you feel for Superman, introduce Wonder Woman and Lex Luthor and other new characters, get you hyped up for the Justice League and possibly even more things that I just couldn’t grasp. Sometimes, it makes you wonder if pitting these heroes against each other was ever a good idea. Because no matter how you look at it, a good plot just can’t materialize which brings the ‘Batman v Superman’ part and the ‘Dawn of Justice’ part together happily. Maybe they should’ve done a solo Batman movie, followed by the Wonder Woman movie next and another character before finally doing Justice League.
We, the audience are thrown into this world, that even if it claims to be complete is actually in the process of being built. As a result, we are left by ourselves to grow accustomed to stuff that’s apparently been present even before Superman’s arrival. They should’ve taken us through the world step by step.
Now, I may have been too harsh on this movie and let me get this straight: It was not a wash out. It is a great theater experience and I’ll watch it again and again once the director’s cut comes out in July. Zack Snyder is not a bad director. Some nuances in a character’s personality, only he can capture. He is unafraid to experiment and I can applaud him for that. Because that is what artists do: they show the world their work, not what the world wants to see. And I can’t wait to see what he has in store for us.
No matter where this movie ends up, no matter what others think about it, it will be special for me and nothing can change that. Even after years down the line, I’ll be proud to wear its emblem on my chest because all that matters is I got to watch my favorite superheros, who also happen to be the greatest epitomes of courage and hope, on the same screen. It is all that matters.
There once flew a bee
Over a vast floral field
Busy sprinkling his magic dust over petals
In return for the nectar they wield.
Answered only to the queen
Classed a worker, but royal
Seen as mechanical, but passionate
Taken a slave yes, but loyal.
Soon, he began to question his allegiance
For there did exist a rational soul
“What difference do I make?
How important is my role?”
For the first time in his life
He raised his head to the skies
Stared at the untouched infinity
Through a thousand confused eyes.
He wandered away into the woods
And that’s where he first met her
She was a pretty plant
But had a dying flower.
“Bring me your purest pollen”, she said
“And I’ll give you the elixir of immorality
Ambrosia, drink of the Gods
You can be more than just a bee.”
“Give me the pollen
And I will free you from your queen
You and me together
We will rule the green.”
The bee had fallen for the trap
Bewitched by the plant’s spell
Delighted by his newfound Nirvana
But was falling straight into hell.
So he flew back to the hive
And stole a dozen sacks of spore
Thought nothing much of his queen anymore
Just an unworthy little whore.
For the last time in his life
He raised his head to the skies
Jeered at the vacuous emptiness
Through a thousand hypnotized eyes.
“Did you fetch the fairy dust?” The plant asked
“Here it is” the bee handed it over
“But I didn’t catch your name.”
“Venus” he heard her whisper.
He was aroused by the aroma
Enamored by her poisonous pretense
Drunk in these dramatic delusions
Forgetting everything else.
“Within these chambers”
The plant opened her leaves
“Awaits your destiny
Now step in if you will please.”
So the bee flew inside
The spell had broken and he had awoken
But the velvet walls changed into spikes
And shut him in like an iron maiden.
Before he could scream why
The acid had begun to flow
Like in a witch’s cauldron brew
His wings were the first to go.
He buzzed helplessly in pain
As the thorns dug in
He saw his undoing with the angel of death
As he tasted her lava of lust seething.
With all the great will of life
He silenced his cries
In an attempt to break his fall
By closing a thousand blinded eyes.
He thought not of his queen
Not of the meadow nor of his mother
But of the clear true sky
Which grew darker and darker
Till the dusk broke into night.
Our 'angel' will return in Part II of Anghellic.
Spoiler Level: Mild
Okay so last time, we spoke about Batman. Today, we’ll discuss Superman! Last Son is actually a storyline consisting of 5 issues and is part of the main DC continuity in the form of Action Comics (the first comic to introduce Superman. It’s like Action Comics to Superman, Detective Comics to Batman). I did tell myself not to review anything in the continuity to keep things simple, but there’s a reason I chose Last Son.
The whole Superman circle of characters, right from Ma and Pa Kent, to the people at Daily Planet to General Zod and Co. are stripped down to their absolute basic forms and explored all over again. This makes Last Son a great place to start if you’ve just started at getting to know Superman. It’s also a nice little treat that will surely earn good ole Clark a place in your heart.
It’s written by Geoff Johns. You’ll be hearing this name quite a lot in your comic reading career. He’s written shit loads of famous comic books, and he’s even in thick with the movie publishers and studios and all that. So basically, he’s a big deal. We’ve also got Richard Donner. Name ring a bell? He’s the director of the original Superman movies (the first two, at least), and surprise surprise, Last Son contains many elements straight out of those movies while also going on to inspire later projects such as Bryan Singer’s Superman Returns (which is like a love letter to Donner, probably why it didn’t quite work out) and even the most recent, Man of Steel (very slightly though, only garnish). On the artwork side, there’s Andy Kubert. He’s another genius and we’ll talk about him in a minute.
A spaceship crash lands in Metropolis containing a small kid that the authorities determine to be Kryptonian. Superman assumes responsibility of this kid and decides to raise him as his son with the help of Lois Lane. However, things go south when General Zod turns up and it is revealed that the kid is actually his son whom he used as a tool to escape captivity from the Phantom Zone and wants to take over Earth. Now, it’s up to Superman to stop the bad guys and save the day. Also, Supes’ arch nemesis, Lex Luthor is hiding somewhere plotting schemes of his own. That’s pretty much the outline of the story. Let’s talk a little about the different characters that fit into it.
The Superman in this story is pretty much the classic Superman that everyone knows and loves. He’s good natured, always trying to do the right thing and terribly likable. But, this version felt a little more in control. He wishes bystanders and the public looks up to him. His renowned boy scout morale is well in place. However, when the authorities decide to take away the alien kid for further testing, Superman is engaged and this brings forth a key aspect about Superman. It’s that he is his own authority and will not bear to fall under any kind of power or influence. Only lasting a page, the incident vivaciously and effectively tells us that though the Man of Steel is goody goody most of the time, it does not translate to him becoming a puppet or compromiser of ideals in any way.
As Clark Kent, we don’t get to see him much in the Planet, but it seems like he’s become more confident than the usual bumbling pretense that he puts up, probably best characterised by his facial expressions (which we’ll talk about more in the Andy Kubert section), and quick wit. The way he interacts with everyone is very organic. My only gripe is that Superman and Clark feel like the same person. I always loved the contrast between the two. But that’s more of a personal thing anyway.
It’s almost as if Superman/Clark act as a medium through which the more philosophical characters such as his father(s), Lex or even Zod convey the essence of the comic to us, the readers.
So Lois Lane. Quite simply, the ingredients that make up a great Lois character are confidence, strength, independence, fearlessness, boisterousness, and this fine line that divides worldly and introverted. The Lois in question has all of these features, albeit she’s a little more careful. This could be regarding the alien kid in her care or even just generally. There may not be quite a lot of romance between her and Clark, but they have some amount of banter. And that’s enough to tell us how their frequencies match and why they get along so well with each other. She had this one line in the first issue that really cracked me up. We don’t get to see much of her journalist skills, but that’s just how the events progress. The one thing I love about Lois is that, in any comic book, not only this one, even if the story sees her as just a character on the sidelines, she’s always determined to run towards the center stage. So no matter what, you can’t ignore her. That’s just how Lois Lane is. Quite unforgettable. Also, never thought I’d say this, but her short hair in Last Son looks kinda good.
Okay, so what’s the deal with the kid? Lois and Clark decide to name him Christopher (obviously, after Christopher Reeve). So Chris Kent is quite lovable and cute, but he’s not just an asset that falls into trouble, needing rescue. He’s not like one of those ‘special’ kids from the sci-fi movies who gets kidnapped by the bad guy and when the bad guy starts beating the good guy up, the kid unleashes his hidden power, Chris isn’t anything like that. This kid has had a troubled past. We may not quite realize it, and to be honest, he may not either, but he’s actually just trying to move on. Not like after a break up. His dad was Zod. That’s not good news right there. And obviously, Zod isn’t the type of father who comes home and plays football with his kid. He abused Chris. However, he does get some happy moments too. Like when him, Lois and Clark go for a walk, it almost feels like they’re a small family. Appropriately placed dialogue, with clever facial art make us feel everything Chris does, be it pain, love or hope.
While General Zod retains all of his “Kneel Before Me” glory, like all characters in Last Son, he has been stripped down to mark 1. However, his history with Jor-El (Superman’s real dad) has been tweaked a little to offer readers an alternative perspective and depth on the events leading to Krypton’s destruction. I like how they did that as now, we can actually debate for or against Zod’s past actions rather than just condemning his evil. I think Zack Snyder took a page off here, while writing Man of Steel.
He also brings to the table insight into a few Kryptonians who make their appearance in the story, such as Non (the giant guy who tags along Zod) former scientist, who suffered a tragic fate and psycho killer, Jax-Ur.
Then there’s Lex Luthor. It’s hard to break down such a complex character, but Johns somehow manages it, to a degree at least. No good Superman comic is without a crazy Lex-Supes verbal confrontation, and Last Son isn’t an exception. The reason Lex gives for not killing his nemesis even when possessing means to do so is as intriguing as it is enlightening on what exactly Lex feels about Superman. He plays a huge role towards the end of the series and I’m going to leave it to you guys to experience.
I feel like two other characters deserve mention.
The first one is Mon-El, another alien from planet Daxam (reading about Daxamites, their biological similarities to Kryptonians and their conservative culture is more interesting than you’d expect) from Clark’s younger days. He turns up help Clark through a certain part of the story. The bittersweet tale from their past is explored in the Action Comics Annual. Mon-El’s inclusion adds that layer of melancholic longing and promise to Last Son.
And the other person in Jimmy Olsen, Daily Planet photographer. He is going to become an important Superman character in other comics so keep him in mind. Here, he is shown as a newbie, trying his best to climb up the ranks. He almost feels like Clark in his early days of work, with the tendency to make bumbling mistakes and that tinge of self doubt. There’s a scene where his editor Perry White compares Jimmy’s photographs with that of the rival newspaper’s and that very much reminded me of J. Jonah Jameson and Peter Parker from Spiderman.
So it’s clear that Johns truly understands these deceivingly simple concepts that float around the worlds oldest superhero. He has crafted some bright, yet subtle characters and has placed them in a story that is so very well carved out of an apt situation. But of course, none of this would’ve come to life without Andy Kubert’s amazing artwork.
I love how every detail in the landscape shots gets equal preference. This contributes greatly towards the realism of the world being created. The same goes for the characters. Kubert knows how to make them speak just through their expressions. The way in which he makes the characters react to certain dialogue, changing their expressions panel to panel almost makes it feel like they’re moving in front of you.
I’ve had a bad experience with depictions of extra dimensional spaces (except probably Interstellar’s tesseract) and I was really worried about how the Phantom Zone would turn out in this book. But Kubert does it justice. It doesn’t have infinite loops or stuff flying into abyss or anything. He makes it loos and feel like what the Phantom Zone should: haunting and void-like. You’ll almost believe that time actually stops in there. It is really a sight to behold.
There’s no dearth of action in Last Son and Kubert doesn’t skimp on anything even in this field. You can trace back the shot to stuff exploding, shattering and being ripped apart, giving you an idea of just how powerful these beings are, without actually reaching Man of Steel destruction porn level. Speaking of which, the comic still does look like it’s straight out of a high budget Hollywood movie. Plus there’s also this one part where Supes engages in hand to hand combat without his powers. You don’t get to see that a lot in Superman comics. Cool stuff. In the end, it’s all about setting the tone, and although the coloring is singularly tinted, it does manage to be versatile in the way it makes you feel. Honestly, how that happens is beyond me, but I can totally vouch for it. I mean, I could hear John Williams’ Superman March play in my head while reading, so that’s gotta be enough right?
Last Son is a great read. Unlike many modern Superman comics, this one doesn’t rely on nostalgia, references or easter eggs. That’s probably my favorite thing about it. I love the fact that this comic establishes itself as the blueprint and the norm.
In the beginning and also the ending, Jor-El reminds his son that though he looks like humans, he isn’t one of them.
Kryptonians, they’re an advanced species, living with no regard for the more humble and simple things around them. Their ignorance and exploitation of Krypton’s nature is what ultimately led to its doom. I think in a way, we humans are headed there too… These are some of the concepts that Last Son dwells into secretly. Obviously, among the more obvious things it does.
So Last Son by Geoff Johns, Richard Donner and Andy Kubert. Amazing plot, characters and artwork. Go read it.
This place of war time is where I stand
It’s heard more sounds than your opera hall
It has seen more drama,
Than your school ball.
I’ve heard grenades and gunshots,
Seen limbs over here and guts over there
Wailing widows and bleeding children,
And leaders who don’t really care.
As these sounds and sights
Try to take my mind apart,
A melodious vista from yesterday
Comes to soothe my heart.
It belonged to a person I knew
Just like this pendant of hope and love
But your battles drove him away,
Like a scared little dove.
And now my knees threaten to drop,
As the corpses line up under a suspenseful sheet
Am I prepared for the grief
Of finding my only friend underneath?
I’m taken back to the time
On our little backs we used to lie,
And guess the name by a receding roar
Of the planes in the sky.
We used to play football
With an old bunker as the end post
Kicking the sands of time into the goals of life,
Mirages of what mattered most.
Then they came with their pumps of lead
“For peace and country”, they said
And burnt our homes with hellfire
Leaving our hopes for the dead.
Those who chose to be
The lone birds in the storm,
Suffered the worst fate possible
Of having their wings cut down.
But in the end I could see
That they were just brainwashed pawns
Doing the dirty deed
Of despots sitting in their lavish lawns.
As they debate in corrupt courts
Another one of us is lost to fate’s furnace
I guess it doesn’t even matter to them
As long as war is their business.
As we count our dead
They count their money in their hands
Which are gloved to hide our tainted blood
God, send a messenger who understands.
Ironically, my fingers burn
Thanks to the lime,
Applied to the very body
That used to calm even my toughest times.
Oh, my dear friend
Just for me to crawl across,
Why did you hold up the barbed fence
Despite your ballistic blood loss?
Don’t forget the dreams we shared
Of the world beyond these walls,
The fields of green and the skies of ocher,
Ease of will and love’s lustre.
Oh, my dear Arshad,
Promise me you’ll write every week
Send the letter through your raven,
Right from the safe haven that you seek.
Spoiler Level: Mild
We’ll start off this series with the incredibly well known Batman classic, The Long Halloween, written by my personal favorite comic book duo, Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale, a partnership that really blossomed through the ages.
This book was the source of inspiration for some of the concepts seen in Chris Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy and is also one of Christian Bale’s favorite comics. As you read, you’ll actually reminiscence about some of the scenes from the movies.
The story is set early in Batman’s career. He’s fit into this life of a vigilante and with a clear agenda, has been effectively taking out the thuggies keeping the streets of Gotham safe.
Then we have Jim Gordon who’s not quite commissioner yet, but is his gruffy and thoughtful self that we love. And of course, there’s Harvey Dent, the new hotshot DA in town.
Gotham City is in the stronghold of crime lord Carmine “The Roman” Falcone, who is pretty much at the peak of his power. His only competition is Salvatore Maroni. The trio decide to rid their city from the clutches of the feuding crime families, however agreeing not to cross the line of justice.
A serial killer pops out of nowhere and starts murdering the members of the mob on a holiday every month, which earns him/her the moniker “Holiday”. The weapon of choice, a small caliber handgun is always left behind at the crime scene along with an item that symbolizes that particular holiday (for example, a fruit basket on Thanksgiving).
That’s the main premise of the story and as it progresses, a number of different components start tying into it.
It keeps you engrossed as you just want to know who dies next and what’s gonna happen. Loeb sets the pace perfectly with well spaced dialogue and intelligent timing. At the same time, you’ll be trying to guess the identity of the culprit.
The plot thickens, things are going down, the list of suspects is building and the mystery starts affecting well, pretty much everyone, though mostly, our three heroes. That’s what the story is primarily about. They’ve bet their cards in this game, and all three have something or the other to lose. Harvey’s wife is growing her suspicions of him, and this is affecting their marriage (among other shit that happens), Gordon isn’t able to spend quality time with his family, and Bruce is questioning the difference that Batman is making and as he watches people die, he is worried sick of his impeding failure as the city’s protector. And then a speculation from his father’s past resurfaces to haunt poor Bruce. There’s loads of character development, and even the less important characters get ample panel time.
Jeph Loeb brings out an aspect of Batman that we don’t get to see that often. And that’s of the world’s greatest detective. Instead of Alfred feeding him with all he needs to know from his almighty Bat-computer or using ridiculous tech to look for clues, Batman himself is placed at the crime scene, collecting evidence, working with the authorities and doing his deductions. It’s a thrill to watch him!
The Batman-Catwoman relationship has always been more complex than rocket science. This time, she’s sort of juggling lives by being Bruce’s quasi-girlfriend as Selina and as the Cat, she makes her mysterious appearances at convenient times during the Batman’s investigations. She adds a bit of romance to the story. Estranged, yes but romance nonetheless. And this is well realized after reading the Poison Ivy chapter (read it, I won’t tell you!).
And then comes Calendar Man. He was sort of a joke of a villain in the 90s and The Long Halloween tries to change that. He is in Arkham Asylum but confrontations with him are as cold and creepy as the abstract connection he seems to have with Holiday (after all, he commits crimes on certain days of the calendar too). And when you realize Cal is Batman’s only hope, you know that shit’s gotten real.
I’ve always hated crime lords. But this book shows us the POV of both the Falcones and the Maronis, what they really feel towards the city and their own family members and where their heart is really at. They’re sort of humanized. To top it off, the feud between these two crime families is handled with Godfather level subtlety.
The book also shows us the rise of Batman’s real rogue gallery from small time crooks to the crazy costumed supervillains in all their glory that we know today. The Joker makes his dramatic entrance. Solomon Grundy is’nt quite as zombie-like as I would’ve liked, he’s more baby-ish, but that’s fine. The Riddler is depicted as a bumbling fool and it’s amusing to watch as he’s bullied by the Falcones and the Batman alike. Scarecrow looks different, but is as disturbing and perverse as ever. Finally and most importantly, TLH is the definitive origin story of Two Face. We get to witness every single moment in Harvey’s life that leads to his fall. Like The Dark Knight movie suggests, it could’ve been any one of the three. But Harvey was stretched the furthest and he snapped.
Okay, I’ve lauded Jeph Loeb enough. Let’s talk about Tim Sale’s artwork. At first, to be honest I found it appalling. I was coming off Ethan van Sciver’s art and his stuff is like, what movie reveals and wallpapers are made of. But as I kept reading TLH, I realized how synergistic Sale’s artwork was with Loeb’s story and found myself loving it more and more. van Sciver made his characters look like Greek Gods, whereas Sale’s were more relatable. You can see all their flaws and every tiny expression that makes them who they are. I love his use of dark colors that just flow into the shadows, just sets the moody tone.
He does exaggerate some of the costumed characters though. Right from the Joker’s absurdly large teeth, Catwoman’s whiskers and movable tail (I’m not joking), Poison Ivy’s infinite tree like hair to Batman himself, whose cape just bleeds onto the surface he’s standing on making him look like a real creature of the dark. But all this ain’t bad, really. It adds a surrealistic template to the book. This is what makes the crazies, well crazy.
Another thing I really love about the art is that whenever Holiday’s about to kill someone, the colors change to black and white, making the whole sequence film noir. This adds a unbeatable dash of suspense and mystery.
The Long Halloween has got heart. It’s a tale about friendship and brotherhood. About how crime takes a toll on the cruelest of criminals and the most innocent of victims alike. Aaron Eckhart’s famous line about dying a hero makes perfect sense here.
Although it is self contained, the impact TLH had on later mainstream Batman stories is massive. It’s a story worth reading, and rereading. And in my opinion, a great place to start. So, what are you waiting for? Get at it.