Sunday, April 17, 2016

Review: Batman v Superman - Dawn of Justice

I gave Man of Steel a pretty good review when it came out, though a major problem I had with it was that it was a crappy Superman story and that it wasn’t all that fun. Superman did kill a dude in that flick and while that did bug me what really bothered me was that he didn’t really seem to care all that much afterwards. I mean, Superman probably shouldn’t kill but the reason he shouldn’t is mostly due to his own repulsion at doing so. Man of Steel was a fine action film but it felt a bit like Zack Snyder didn’t really “get” the character. Superman doesn’t need a “dark and gritty” reimagining and if you think he does then you don’t “get him either (similarly the Fantastic Four doesn’t need a “grim and gritty” take either).

Enter the film we’re looking at today: Batman v Board of Education. While Man of Steel was the soft launch of DC Expanded Universe, devised to compete with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, this flick is the true start of the campaign. This film, like Man of Steel, was directed by Snyder. I’ve reviewed a few of his movie at this point, Sucker Punch being the film I associate with him the most (Note: I hated it). This movie is heavily influenced by the 1986 comic book The Dark Knight Returns which, along with Watchmen, is credited with ushering in the Dark Age of Comics. The hype machine for this movie has been running hard for over a year, mainly because despite the flick being done Warner Bros. opted to push it back from Summer 2015 to Spring 2016. Having been out for bit now the film has been met mostly negative reviews, with a few sprinklings of folk claiming it’s a fantastic film. Well, now that I’ve seen it myself I have my own opinions. And I’ve only been drinking a little bit, so I’m good to go!

Full review of Regents of the University of California v Superman after the jump.

[Warning: This review contains some spoilers but I do avoid majors ones.]

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Beta Likes Wrestling #1b: WrestleMania 32 Pre-Blog Part 2

And it all went downhill from there...
We've reached Day Three of my crazy WrestleMania kick. We’re going to wrap up the rest of the card, specifically the marquee matches that theoretically are bringing everyone into the building. The WWE is hoping to fill the AT&T Stadium, which would be 100,000 people. Everything the company has done for the last year has been to sell this bad boy out. I don’t know if they will do it or not but I feel confident that even if they don’t they’ll probably lie and say that they did. Because wrestling promoters lie all the time.

Um, let’s move on.

You can check out the last blog here to get the details on the first half of the card but if you’re lazy here’s a quick summary, with my predictions.

AndrĂ© the Giant memorial Battle Royal – Tyler Breeze will NOT win

The Usos vs. The Dudley Boys – Usos will win

Kalisto vs. [The] Ryback –Ryback will win

Total Divas vs. B.A.D. & Blonde –The women from that TV show I don’t watch will win 

Intercontinental Championship Ladder Match – Kevin Owens will win

The New Day vs. The League of Nations – LON will win, but who f**king cares?

More predictions after the jump.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Beta Likes Wrestling #1a: WrestleMania 32 Pre-Blog Part 1

That was a good night...
WrestleMania 32, the premier wrestling event of WWE, will take place in Arlington, TX at the AT&T Stadium (...damn you, corporate brand recognition strategy) on April 3rd, 2016. As I mentioned previously I'll be writing about it over the next week.

Here’s the deal; we’re going to go through each announced match individually, giving a brief summary of the storyline of the match. I’ll also talk about matches that will likely be on the card even if they aren’t announced as of the time of writing. In addition I’ll give my brief opinions of the match (because that’s what I do on this blog with movies and comics; why shouldn’t I do it with wrestling) as well as predictions. I’ll also toss a few notes that I think you might find interesting. Before we get to it here are a few terms that you may be unfamiliar with that I may bring up during this blog.

Babyface/Face: A wrestling “good guy”.

Heel: A wrestling “bad guy”.

Luchador: Usually refers to a Mexican wrestler, especially if they're wearing a mask.

NXT: WWE’s developmental promotion. Think of it as the minor league team that the major league franchise owns as use as a feeder program.

Preview after the jump.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Beta Likes Wrestling #0: The Warning

When I first started my blog in 2010 I threatened that one day I might write about professional wrestling. Well, ladies and gentlemen, after six years of avoiding it that day has finally come. God help us all.

The day the darkness came; it swallowed up all light...and all hope

It's WrestleMania season, the time of year where the entire professional wrestling industry steps it up a bit. As a longtime wrestling fan I tend to get pretty excited when the annual event draws closer. Since I had fallen behind on my blog writing this month, and I have a serious case of “Wrestling on the Brain,” I’ve decided I’d do a couple of write-ups about the show this week.

Now since I’m coming out as wrestling fan (for those of you who don’t check out my twitter feed, I mean) I’m sort of setting myself up for online ridicule and possibly a loss regular readers. It’s tricky. So consider this post to be a warning; if you have zero interest in wrestling and no interest to reading me talk and joke about the subject then perhaps you should come back next week. But if you’re a person who doesn’t know about it at all but have an open mind I’m going to include a quick FAQ to help catch you up on this.

Weird ass wrestling after the jump.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Black Superheroes: Silhouette

Short hair, don't care
Name: Silhouette Chord

First Appearance: New Warriors (vol. 1) #2 (1990)

History: Silhouette Chord, along with her twin brother Aaron, is the result of a decades long scheme to create a new breed of enhanced humans. Their father Andrew Chord, during the Vietnam War, was part of a unit of soldiers who came across a mysterious temple while in Cambodia. Tai, the mysterious matron of the temple, offered each of the men a woman to marry with the promise that the offspring would one day rule the word. Chord married Tai’s daughter Miyami, leading to the birth of the twins. Miyami, not wanting her children to be part of the scheme, faked their deaths leaving both Andrew and Tai in the dark. Years later Sihouette and Aaron have become vigilantes in New York. During this period they meet another young vigilante named Dwayne Taylor (later known as Night Thrasher) and the three became a team. Things ended poorly when Silhouette was shot and crippled by the police in a bust gone wrong. Losing the use of her legs did not stop her crime fighting career, however. Armed with the ability to melt into shadows and teleport short distances, not to mention her enhanced physical traits, Silhouette is still a force to be reckoned with. She also uses high tech crutches and leg braces, designed by Dwayne and built for combat, that carry an assortment of gadgets and weapon that aide her in battle against crime.

Beta Says: She’s basically a female Nightcrawler, as far as superpowers go. They even work basically the same way; they both teleport by briefly jumping through another dimension before landing where they intended. Nightcrawler could also sort of blend into the shadows. Is it coincidence that she was co-created by Fabian Nicieza, a writer famous for writing the X-Men quite a bit during the 90s? (Well, I don’t think he worked on Nightcrawler that much so…maybe?). On the other hand Sil gets these powers from a cult’s generations of selective breeding and manipulation of a mystical force called the “Well of All Things” which is more confusing than Kurt Wanger’s parental origin (though only just barely).

 More on this New Warrior after the jump.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Black Superheroes: Steel

John Henry was a man just six feet high,
Nearly two feet and a half across his breast
Name: John Henry Irons (…for real) 

First Appearance: The Adventures of Superman #500 (1993)

 History: A brilliant engineer and weapons designer, Doctor John Henry Irons (…sigh) diligently worked for AmerTek until he discovered weapons he created were being used to kill innocent people. Faking his death in order to escape his employers without facing blow back he relocated to Metropolis, living as a construction worker. One day while on the job he saved a co-worker from falling to his death in an accident, only to himself nearly die in the attempt. Irons was rescued by Superman who told him to live a life worth living. Later during the battle between Superman and Doomsday Irons was left buried in ruble. By the time he escaped he learned that the man he looked up to so much had died saving the city. Soon after this John discovered that upgraded versions of his weapon designs from AmerTek had made it onto the streets and become the focal point of a gang war. Hoping to right his past wrongs, as well as honor Superman, Irons created a high tech piece of battle armor and took to the skies as The Man of Steel to act as the new protector of Metropolis.

When Superman returned to life he endorsed Irons and encouraged him to continue his heroic career, but suggested he take a name that was less of a mouthful: Steel.

Beta Says: Seriously, his name is “John Henry Irons.” Honestly I can’t tell if this is racist or not. Naming your cool new, hammer wielding black character after that specific folk hero is absolutely intentional and absolutely weird as hell. Maybe if this had been 1973 or 1966 I’d be less bugged by this but one would assume by 1993 people writing comics would have understood how problematic naming a black character that could potentially be. I feel like calling him “John Henry” is only one step above creating a comic book superhero named Br’er Rabbit with a straight face. 

Bring me back a TWELVE-pound hammer, please,
And I'll beat that steam drill down, Lord, Lord
I bet who ever came up with that name really patted themselves on the back for that one.

“Guys, get this? What if his real name was John Henry? Maybe give him a last name that invokes metal. We can’t call him 'John Henry Steel', that’d be silly. What’s another alloy…? Iron! John Henry Irons! Holy cow, guys! We just made certified gold! This guy will be a top hero for decades to come!”

More about this modern day black folk hero after the jump.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Black Superheroes: Bishop

Can you guess which decade Bishop was created in?
Name: Lucas Bishop

 First Appearance: Uncanny X-Men #282 (1991)

History: About 80 years in the future anti-mutant hysteria has advanced to the point that mutants are captured and forced to live in concentration camps. As a child Lucas Bishop grew in such a camp, being looked after by his adoptive grandmother as well a mysterious figure named LeBeau, also known as “the Witness” due to the fact he was the last person to see the legendary X-Men alive. Once mutants were emancipated Bishop eventually joined the Xavier's Security Enforcers, or the XSE, a sort of mutant police force. On a mission to apprehend the time traveling mutant criminal Trevor Fitzroy Bishop winds up stuck in present time alongside the legendary X-Men. Professor X offers him a place on the team and Lucas readily accepts. However Bishop recognize one of the team, newcomer Gambit, as a younger version of the Witness leading him to believe that the Cajun mutant survives the eventual death of the X-Men by being the traitor that destroys the team.

Years later it turned out that Professor X was the traitor. Because of course it would be.

Beta Says: When I was a kid during the 1990s I was a really into Bishop. In retrospect I think the sole reason I was such a fan was because he was, aside from Storm, the only black member of the X-Men. Looking back there aren’t a lot of X-Men that I thought looked like me when I was a kid so I was likely drawn to this big, heavily muscled, gun toting dude despite he not really having any of the traits I usually went for in characters back then. Regardless Bishop is a character that Marvel, at least at some point, seemed pretty invested in the guy. He’s had a few ongoing titles and miniseries, none of which paid off. There’s probably several reasons comic fans as a whole never really bought the whole “Bishop is Awesome” train that Marvel was selling, but I’d argue it’s just as well because the guy is pretty goddamn dull. Then Marvel turned him into a super villain. Because…reasons.

Also, can we acknowledge Bishop probably sported a Jheri curl for the first few years of his existence?
I think  we just found the reason for Bishop's dark future
More on the time traveling, gun wielding, baby killing Bishop after the jump.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Black Superheroes Month V: Back and Black

Mister Terrific without a leather jacket is not so terrific
After a year absence I think it’s time to bring back my annual (coughcough) celebration of Black Superheroes. For those of you who may be new here (or possibly just forgot since it’s been two years) every year I try to write up a few blogs showcasing various black superheroes in comic books. The common thought process on this subject is that there are hardly any black superheroes. The fact is that there’s actually quite a few but the majority of them are not very well known…and also a lot of them are terrible or racist or extremely dull. I feel pretty confident that no one is dying for a Triathlon solo movie.

Whether they’re an A-lister like Black Panther or Storm or underrated, underused second stringers like XS or Bronze Tiger it’s still always fun to talk about these characters and remind everyone of the importance of diversity.

I look forward to all the racist comments that I’m opening myself up to by doing this.

My next blog will tackle this year’s first entry but since by this point I’ve written quite a few profiles I thought it would be handy to make up a quick master list so you don’t have to dig through the archives to so the heroes we’ve looked at thus far. Take in mind that I haven’t updated anything over the years so some of these profiles massively out of date.

Black Panther – The best black superhero ever created. 

Bronze Tiger – An insanely proficient martial arts master. 

Storm – Sometime leader of the X-Men and Marvel Comics’ highest profile black character. 

Black Lightning – Electric powered protector of the Suicide Slum.

War Machine – Pilot of the “Variable Threat Response Battle Suit" armor. 

Vixen – Super model turned super hero, with the powers of the entire animal kingdom.

Luke Cage – Street level Hero for Hire and Avenger, armed with unbreakable skin. 

Thunder – Density controlling daughter of Black Lightning.

Mister Terrific II – Brilliant scientist turned adventurer, and one of my personal favorite characters.

Spawn – Demonic hero and the most popular superhero of the 1990s/The Dark Age of Comics

Static – Teen hero powered by electricity and the most high profile character from Milestone Comics

Misty Knight – An ex-cop turned private investigator with a badass robot arm and a great hair cut.

Cyborg – Former Teen Titan, now currently enjoying top tier status at DC Comics.

Monica Rambeau – Former Captain Marvel, former leader of Nextwave, lies all the time.

Green Lantern IVJohn Stewart, member of the Green Lantern Corps. 

The Falcon – A hero with the power of flight. Also an ex-pimp, because the world is terrible. 

Night Thrasher – Leader of the New Warriors and skateboard enthusiast 

Amanda Waller – Ruthless, no-nonsense government administrator. More of a villain than a hero, really. 

Triathlon/3D-Man II – A hero with three times the physical prowess of a normal man. 

XS – Speedster from the future and granddaughter of Barry Allen/The Flash. 

Rage – Super strong thirteen year old trapped in a man’s body. 

Bumblebee – Brilliant inventor and former member of the Teen Titans.  

Next time we start things off with a gun wielding mutant from the future. No, not Cable; the other gun wielding mutant from the future.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Anime Review: One-Punch Man

One-Punch Man had been on my radar for a couple of years now. It has one of the weirder journeys from original material to anime adaptation, as well as being one of the more curious success stories that I’ve heard. It was originally a web comic created by an amateur manga artist going by the handle “ONE” in 2009. Though not exactly the prettiest comic ever created (ONE was literally just messing around with manga software for fun when making this comic) it ended up striking a chord with fans and soon went viral. It eventually came to the attention of professional manga artist Yusuke Murata, probably most famous to Americans as the artist for Eyeshield 21. Murata offered to redraw the web comic and publish it on Young Jump Web Comics in 2012. Since then the popularity of One-Punch Man has skyrocketed and millions of copies of the collected volumes have sold in Japan. As someone who has seen the original web comic believe me when I say how flipping crazy it is that One-Punch Man has gotten so big.

In 2015 an anime seemingly based more on the remake by Murata began airing. Produced by big time studio Madhouse and licensed by Viz Media in America One-Punch Man was actually simulcast in the US as it was debuting in Japan, which is something that has become more and more common in the last three years. I accidentally came across it on Hulu last Fall and nearly lost my mind, as I had no idea watching this show legally in this country was an option.

I’ll get more into this in the review itself but it’s important to note that One-Punch Man is a parody and there’s a lot of jokes and puns involved. But since I’m a dumb American (as are a lot of you, according to this blog’s stats) a lot of these go right over my head. One outstanding example we should all be aware of is that the name “One-Punch Man” is itself a pun based off the long running children’s picture book series Anpanman. This is apparently hilarious. If nothing else it automatically tells you exactly what tone you should expect when going into this one.

Anpanman's head is filled with bean paste or something?
I'm not sure because I'm not a Japanese child
Full review after the jump.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Beta's Top Ten Favorite Movies of 2015

So…yeah. I guess it’s been a year since I posted anything on this blog. This is awkward. There’s a reason, though I don’t think this is the place to discuss it. I may talk about it in detail at some point in the near future (or maybe I won’t post anything for another twelve months) but since it’s doubtful there’s any regular readers at this point it probably doesn’t matter too much right this second.

Instead today I want to continue a tradition of this blog; my Top Ten Favorite Movies list. I obviously didn’t review a single goddamn movie this year but I watched more flicks in 2015 than I had in years. And what a year it was for movies! There were so many great films this past year that it was not unlike sensory overload for me. I wasn’t able to see every movie that was out there so this list only focuses on what I was able to see. So, any fans of Spotlight getting upset that it’s not on the list are going to have to calm themselves down.

I will say that I did see The Hateful Eight and, while I enjoyed the heck out of the flick, it just barely didn’t make the list. Let’s think of it as #11 or an Honorable Mention. I also saw Jurassic World this past summer. Spoiler Alert: it doesn’t make the list, though if you need a good sleep aid I would recommend it.

Beta’s Top Ten Movies after the jump.
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