Friday, November 24, 2023

Adult Siblings Versus...Episode 86: Wallace & Gromit

 Another new episode of Adults Siblings up. This time we are talking about the very British Wallace & Gromit. We talk about all four shorts. 

Note: we recorded this months before we found out that England is out of clay and Aardman had to make a statement claiming everything is A-Ok, stop worrying about it.

Gromit should just leave Wallace to die and take over the house

More details after the jump.

Saturday, November 18, 2023

Adult Siblings Versus...Episode 85: Clips, Letters, & Shakespeare

I'm late again in posting this, but we had an episode of "Adult Siblings Versus..."go up not too long ago that's basically a clips show, but with never before heard clips and extended clips form our first year of podcasting. Also we look at a fan email.

Mail bag day! Mail bag day!

More details after the jump.

Friday, October 27, 2023

Adult Siblings Versus...Episode 84: Weird Al

 Adult Siblings bac with a new epsidoe that's a little different than normal. This week we talk about our childhood experience with "Weird Al" Yankovic, speficially four of his albums we owned as kids.

"Alapalooza”, “Bad Hair Day”, “Running with Scissors”, and “Poodle Hat.” But not "Polka Party." Never "Polka Party."

We need to have a serious talk about cultural appropriation, 1990s Weird Al

More details after the jump.

Monday, October 16, 2023

Adult Siblings Versus...Epsiode 83: Trigun

Unfortunately, I'm a little late with this one, but Adult Siblings Versus...recently dropped an episode on the classic anime Trigun, a show so imbedded in my own history as an anime fan that I never dared review it on this blog.

Until now!

Well, kind of. It  snot really here, it's on the podcast. But you can listen to it here!

Classic cartoon or overrated nostalgia bait?
You decide!

More details after the jump.

Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Beta's Top Ten Favorite Gundams (Part 2)

It took them 43 years to have a female protagonist in the main series

And we’re back. This is Part II of my Top Ten Favorite Gundam list. Before you take a look at today’s blog I highly suggest that you look at the previous entry. If you’re too lazy for that, here’s some important text:

For the purposes of this list, the primary factors taken into consideration when judging Gundam were 1) Functionality, 2) Aesthetics, and 3) Cool Factor. Only Gundams were considered for this list, but not the SD Gundam part of the franchise. The Gundams from the Gundam Build series will be counted even though they are technically plastic models rather than actual giant robots. 

List so Far:

 #10: Gundam Aerial/Gundam Aerial Rebuild

#9: A-Z Gundam

#8: Gundam Heavyarms

#7 Tequila Gundam Daniel Custom

#6: Gundam

 Okay, we caught up? 

Honorable Mention #2: RX-78-2 Gundam. No Top Ten Gundam list would be complete without the original Gundam. Except this list. It’s not on this list. Look, I appreciate this thing as a classic, but frankly it’s the blueprint that is the basis of all other Gundam, almost all of which could be described as “Gundam + ___ = Cool.” It just feels like even by Zeta Gundam it felt like we had moved on. Sorry if this bugs you.

Part II after the jump.

[WARNING: This page contains unavoidable spoilers for various Gundam anime, in particular Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans, so read at your own risk.]

Monday, October 2, 2023

Beta's Top Ten Favorite Gundams (Part 1)

"It's a Gundam!"

As I continue dig back into my blog per the suggestion from my therapist, I find myself leaning towards a post I can been wanting to write for a number of years, and even started at some point, but never got around to posting; a Top Ten list of my favorite Gundams. [Note: Part 2 is Here]

For those of you who may not be aware, Gundam is a metaseries of anime, manga, novels, video games, and tons and tons of plastic model kits that have been a mainstay in Japan since 1979. It’s best to think of it as their answer to Star Trek, a space opera franchise with a variety of different shows, spin-offs, and sequels. While each show has some differences, the basic premise usually centers around giant robots as tools of war (as opposed to superheroes, as they were portrayed in Japan before Gundam), some sort of conflict between the people of Earth and the humans living in space, a specialized giant robot (usually called a “Gundam”) that is significantly more powerful than the standard units, and that war is hell and the realities of it are not heroic but ultimately tragic.

Also it’s a giant commercial to move plastic model kits based on all the robots in the various media. GOTTA SELL THEM TOYS!!!

(Some of) My Gunpla pile of shame

I am a fan of giant robots and Gundam in particular always resonated with me since I was a kid. Like any Gundam fan I have my favorite units across the franchise. When making this list I focused on three aspects:

1)     Functionality: What does the Gundam do, do well, and do better than all other Mobile Suits?

2)     Aesthetics: How interesting or visually appealing is the Gundam?

3)     Cool Factor: A combination of intangibles, personal biases, and the Rule of Cool.

A few guidelines before we start: 

·        To streamline the list, we’re only looking at Gundams, not other mobile suits from various shows. Otherwise machines like the Tallgeese, Qubeley, and The O would dominate the list.

·        I have decided that the Gundams from the Gundam Build side of the franchise will be considered, even though technically they are basically in-universe toys and video games rather than giant robots. For the purposes of this list, they’re close enough.

·        I will NOT be counting anything form the various SD Gundam franchise, as from what I understand those things are proper characters instead of pilotable robots.

Honorable Mention: Barbatos Lupus/Barbatos Lupus Rex. I struggled over this for months (yes, that’s how long I’ve been tinkering with this list). I think the issue is that these two versions of the main Gundam from Iron-Blooded Orphans are just different enough that I feel they don’t count as one suit, but neither one is able to make the list in its own. If I could get a version of this with the look of Lupus and the weaponry and performance of Lupus Rex it would have beaten out #10 or more.

Full list after the jump.

Friday, September 29, 2023

Adult Siblings Versus...Epsiode 82: Jumanji

This week on Adult Siblings Versus...we look at another Robin Williams family film where he has severe arrested development, but unlike Hook there are considerably more monkeys.

Robin is having a bad time

More details after the jump.

Monday, September 18, 2023

Review: One Piece (Live Action TV Show)

Currently, the Writers Guild of America and the Screen Actors Guild and American Federation of Television and Radio Artists are on strike against the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, aka the various Hollywood studios. This show, and as well all of your favorite shows and films, would not exist without the hard work of both writers and actors, the vast majority of whom are not millionaires but rather working professionals.  If you are inclined, you can help support these professionals in this trying time by checking out the Entertainment Community Fund.

Fuck the fat cats.

Live action anime adaptations have a pretty bad reputation, particularly when being adapted by Hollywood. Every once in a while, you’ll get Alita: Battle Angel, a flawed but ultimately fine attempt to adapt the source material. But for every one Alita there’s three absolutely terrible films or TV shows. From the shitshow that was Dragon Ball Evolution to the baffling decision to have Scarlett Johansson explicitly play a Japanese woman trapped in a white woman’s robot body in Ghost in the Shell (despite it being completely superfluous and very easy to just make the character not-Asian, I mean seriously, what the hell) the fact is that Hollywood has had far more misses than hits when trying to bring anime/manga to the live action realm.

It's not hard to see why it’s a difficult assignment. It is taking content 1) from one medium and making it work in a different one, 2) trying to pitch it to Americans when the original was aimed for a Japanese audience, and 3) trying to  squeeze the correct amount of content into whatever limitations the new medium has. Trying to fit tens of manga chapters into one film is hard enough, especially when you have try trick Joe Schmo America into ponying up 14 bucks to watch it. Netflix, the streaming giant who always seems to be one strong breeze away from falling over in a pile up of massive debt and investor tears, has made several attempts to buck the trend and so far they have not been received that warmly. The most recent attempt, a live action TV adaptation of Cowboy Bebop, ended up being very divisive among fans (as in, some fans thought it was fine but not at all Cowboy Bebop and other fans thought it was an abomination against God).

So when Netflix announce they were creating a live action TV adaptation of massively popular (but interestingly not particularly popular in the United States) manga and anime One Piece, there was a lot of skepticism. That manga creator Eiichiro Oda supposedly had some involvement didn’t really make it easier to swallow. From my perspective, it was tough because on the one hand I LOVE the One Piece comic and have been collecting it since 2003 (even though I’m embarrassed to admit I only own 61 volumes out of the, as of this writing, currently available 106 volumes). On the other hand, I actually don’t like the anime, ever since I saw it shortly after reading the first volume and deicide it was unable to capture the best qualities that made the comic so good. So if I’m too much of a snob for the high successful One Piece anime how the hell can I get into Netflix Presents One Piece, especially after the disappointment of Netflix Presents Cowboy Bebop?

I meant to review this when it came out
Short Version: Just go watch the anime instead

Full review after the jump.

Friday, September 15, 2023

Adult Siblings Versus...Episode 81: Revenge of the Sith

Adult Siblings back with the final film of the controversial Star Wars prequal trilogy, Revenge of the Sith. It's the "good one" so long as you ignore of the parts of it that are genuinely awful.

What are the Sith getting revenge for? Unclear.

More details after the jump.

Friday, September 1, 2023

Adult Siblings Versus...Episode 80: Attack of the Clones

 In the latest episode of Adult Siblings Versus..., we continue our look at the Star Wars prequel trilogy with possibly the most divisive film of the franchise; Attack of the Clones. Yes, that is what they decided to name it.

Jedi shall not know love, or compelling dialogue

More details after the jump.

Friday, August 18, 2023

Adult Siblings Versus...Episode 79: The Phantom Menace

 New episode of Adults Siblings Versus....has dropped, and this time we look back at one of the most controversial films in all of nerdom; Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. Are the prequal apologists right and this is an underrated classics, or is this a barely watchable pile of garbage?

Pretty cool poster
Too bad about the rest of the film...

More details after the jump.

Friday, August 4, 2023

Adult Siblings Versus...Episode 78: Sister Act 2

 Another new episode of our podcast, Adult Siblings Versus…, is now up. This week we are looking at the cult classic Sister Act 2, the sequel to the big hit that features a babyface Lauryn Hill and almost no stakes.

Absolutely killer pun for a subtitle, though

More details after the jump.

Friday, July 21, 2023

Adult Siblings Versus...Episode 77: South Park - Bigger, Longer, & Uncut

Another episode of our podcast has come out. This week on Adult Siblings Versus...we look at the South Park movie, South Park: Bigger, Louder, & Uncut and discuss it's cultural impact and influence on Broadway....for some reason.

Because caring about anything is lame and you're stupid!

More info after the jump.

Wednesday, July 12, 2023

Review: Past Lives


You know, back in the day I used to review non-nerdy/non-genre films. Let’s bring that back.

Past Lives is the feature film debut of director Celine Song, a playwright turned screenwriter who also happens to be a Korean Canadian immigrant. Seeing as this movie is about a Korean Canadian immigrant coming to terms with their past and the idea of “what if”, it’s probably fair to assume  we’re seeing some autobiographical storytelling here. This movie stars Greta Lee who, after years of being in the supporting cast, is getting an overdue shot at a lead role.

Here we are seeing another example of East Asian filming making an impact, as despite it essentially being a foreign language film it is still an American made one rather than a movie imported from overseas. I really feel that, ever since Crazy Rich Asians, producers/distributors/Hollywood have been taking more chances with potentially similar projects. While focusing on a different culture, my enjoyment of The Farewell is what spurred me to try to movie out.

I’ve said this since the earliest days of this blog and it’s still true: I am not always the correct audience for independent films and I find it often to be a crapshoot over whether I leave the theater feeling satisfied. This being the work of a first-time director, does this movie show promise of a new career or should the director maybe stick with writing plays?

Full review after the jump.

Wednesday, July 5, 2023

Adult Siblings Versus...Episode 76: The Wiz (Film)

A new episode of our podcast, Adult Siblings Versus..., has dropped. This week we looked at another musical, The Wiz. A successful Broadway show but critically mixed, can this African-American show be improved on by adding Joel Schumacher and the guy who directed 12 Angry Men?

No. Sounds about white right.

If Diana Ross wats to play Dorothy, she will play Dorothy

More details after the jump.

Friday, June 23, 2023

Review: Spider-Man - Across the Spider-Verse


Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse is the sequel to the 2018 surprise hit Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. When I say “surprise hit” I don’t mean that it was a giant box office hit (it did quite well, though it started slow) but that it was a game changing animated film. Since then both Hollywood and Japan have been chasing the style dragon Spider-Verse made famous (Puss in Boots: The Last Wish, being the most recent example that I can think of). I did not review the first film, but I did name it #2 of my Favorite Films of 2018. At the time I said I it was probably the best Spider-Man movie, but with the benefit of hindsight I think you can make a strong argument for it being the best superhero movie and the best animated film ever made (even though I liked Black Panther more at the time).

The original film did well enough that a sequel was announced soon afterwards. In fact, it was eventually announced it would have two sequels, making it a trilogy. Unfortunately, it was another Hollywood victim of the pandemic and delayed by quite a few years, no longer able to strike while the iron was hot. Even so, with how much it had influenced the movie industry since its debut, the hype train for the follow-up was still quite strong.

This film was again written by the hitmaker duo of Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, who also produced the flick, along with Dave Callaham. This time it was directed by Joaquim Dos Santos, Kemp Powers, and Justin K. Thompson.

Again, this is one of two greenlit sequel with the second, Beyond the Sider-Verse, being produced alongside this one. The idea of a mostly standalone film getting two sequels pushed ahead at the same time is reminiscent of other film trilogies such as Star Wars, Back to the Future, and The Matrix.  After five years of waiting, does the Spider-Verse manage to live up to is predecessor, ala The Empire Strikes Back, or is it a giant wet fart that should have stayed in the production truck, ala The Matrix Reloaded?

Full  review after the jump.

Wednesday, June 21, 2023

Adult Siblings Versus...Episode 75: Chicago (2002 Film)

We've posted a new episode for our lookback at musical films over at Adult Siblings Versus. This week we're looking at the 2002 adaptation of Chicago. We may have both reached for the gun, but the real gun was the friends we met along the way.

No one walks out on Roxie Hart!

More details after the jump.

Monday, June 12, 2023

Adult Siblings Versus...Episode 74: Grease

Whoops, I already forgot to put up the next episode of my podcast. I hope no one was eagerly awaiting it, but if you were then please consider following Adult Siblings Versus on your podcatcher of choice.

Anyway, our latest episode covered Grease and began our annual look at film musicals. Our next three episodes will similarly cover musicals.

It turns out John Travolta is the greatest performer of the 1970s!

More details after the jump.

Friday, May 26, 2023

Review: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is the second sequel to the original film from 2014. It’s based on the 2008 comic book of the same name but not to be confused with the 1969 comic of the same name though it does share some characters.

This movie has been a long time coming, as it should have come out some time ago, striking while the iron from Avengers: Endgame was still hot. The short version as to why it took so long stems from the public firing and re-hiring of writer/director James Gunn. I plan on writing a blog about the DC Comics movie woes and wins very soon and I imagine I’ll go into greater details then, but to keep this blog as short as possible, Gunn was fired when tweets from a decade prior resurfaced of him making many terrible, offensive, and tasteless jokes leading to a backlash from some fans but apparently mostly far-right conservatives and Russian bots (this all happened after months of Gunn publicly shaming then-president Donald Trump, but I’m sure that’s a coincidence). Gunn was then nearly immediately hired by Warner Bros. to direct The Suicide Squad. Around that time Disney, now dealing with a much larger and less bot driven backlash from fans and actors about their knee jerk decision, offered him his job back which he accepted but as he agreed to do Suicide Squad that had to come first. This fiasco directly led to Gunn becoming the one of heads of DC’s film studio, but we’ll talk on that more another day. Add the COVID-19 shutdown into to equation and today’s movie is many years later than it should have been.

[Also note that Gunn also directed a TV/streaming Holiday Special starring the cast which acts as a brief prologue to this move but luckily it’s not that crucial if you want to skip.]

With Gunn already waist deep in building out the next phase of a competing studio, this movie is, and frankly always was going to be, the final GotG film with him in charge and possibly at all, as several actors have mentioned that they plan on this being their final performance. But with all the waiting for this final chapter the question remains: is it any good, or were all the Zack Snyder fans on Twitter correct when they said everything he does is “mid.”

Full review after the jump.

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Adult Siblings Versus...Episode 73: Cool Runnings

Hi folks. While I'm unsure how many people regularly check this site at this point, I think it still may be a good idea to link my other projects here for cross-promotional purposes. Bear with me here.

A while back my sister and I started a podcast called "Adult Siblings Versus..." where we revisit media from our childhood and look at it with an adult perspectives to see how it holds up. Was The Little Mermaid mid? Is Muppet Treasure Island as good as well remember to be? That sort of thing. We have over 70 episodes recorded and we have covered everything from The Lion King to Coneheads to Ranma 1/2. It would be great if you could check us out.

Starting today I will post episodes on this blog, but if you like what you hear then please consider following us on your pod catcher of choice (Spotify, Apple Podcast, etc.)

The highest grossing live action Disney film at the time

More details after the jump.

Thursday, April 27, 2023

Review: Dungeons & Dragons - Honor Among Thieves

Dungeons & Dragons is a super fun game that I miss playing very much. If you don’t quite understand what D&D is, I will try to explain it briefly: it is a tabletop, paper and pen role playing game, of which all mainstream video game RPGs are at least partially derived form. The game is played as a group who create characters to individually play as based on classes/archetypes found in the rule book. One player is the “Dungeon Master” or “DM” who designs the world the game takes place in and usually plays the roles of everyone in that world who aren’t the players. The player characters inhabit said world and roleplay an adventure as dictated by the DM. Actions, particularly complex actions and combat actions, are determined by rolling dice, usually a twenty-sided die, which are further enhanced by statistics of the individual character performing the action base. Basically, if you roll high you are successful and if you roll too low you are not successful. Don’t roll a natural 1.

Honestly D&D likely requires its own article to explain the full details and nutty history, but for the purposes of this review note that it’s been popular since its inception in 1974 and over the decades has produced a large amount of world expanding material from novels (lots of novels) to video games to Saturday morning cartoons. By now there’s a lot of officially licensed material tied to the D&D IP, so it seemed like a movie would inevitable.

And it already happened in the year 2000. And it bombed big time. It still got a pair of straight-to-home media sequels that I’m not certain how or if they’re related, but I know that they were also not all that well received. Because of this most folks have not held up hopes for another go with a film adaptation. However, the brand is now owned by Hasbro, the creators of Transformers, and because they want all the money it was just a matter of time before they made another attempt.

Which brings us to today’s review, Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves was directed by Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley. The trailers had made this flick out to not only have a much lighter and comedic tone than past efforts but also made a point of making very obvious references to various aspects of the game (seeing an owlbear in the original trailer made me drop the drink I was holding when I first saw it). Still, an awesome trailer that promises good fun means absolutely nothing in this day and age (See: Suicide Squad) so we are still left with the question of whether or not this reboot is any good.

Full review after the jump.

Thursday, March 23, 2023

Gwen Stacy, Alive and Well

I'm not sure Stan Lee had this in mind...

About ten years ago I wrote an article on this blog where I discussed the Spider-Man supporting character Gwen Stacy. I had recently seen The Amazing Spider-Man and, after being enamored with Emma Stone’s performance and her great chemistry with Andrew Garfield, I wanted to write about how Gwen’s character had been completely compromised due to decades of being martyred as “Spider-Man’s Dead Girlfriend.” So ingrained was this one aspect in the hearts and minds of fans and creators alike, that every new adaptation of the character either always inevitably dies or the creators planned for her to die if they were allow to continue the story the way they wanted (the creators of Spectacular Spider-Man cartoon have said their ideal scenario for the show would have included a TV/Home Video movie where Gwen was killed). No real reason for this is ever given beyond “that’s just what Gwen does; she dies.”

My original article (which you may want to read) very briefly ran through Gwen’s tragically short history and also touched don some reasonings and suggestions on how they could bring her back and give her the opportunity to be an actual character again, something she hadn’t been since the 1960s. But more than that, I challenged the creators of The Amazing Spider-Man to not kill Gwen off in a sequel, and seeing as they had a super talented rising star of an actress in the role I was convinced that they would not.

 Then Amazing Spider-Man 2 came out and completely proved my point by unnecessarily killing Gwen off. Awesome.

Pictured: The preferred version of Gwen, according to the writers

I was pretty convinced at the time that Gwen would remain this nebulous area that were seemed terrified of altering the status quo, regardless of how inherently sexist this concept of turning her into a Spider-Martyr had really become. I resigned myself to it always being the way because too many editors and producers think of Gwen’s death as being too sacred to ever even entertain the idea of bringing the character back.

I was wrong. Marvel Comics did bring Gwen back and they did it in a way I would have never expected: as a superhero in her own right. From the pages of the original Spider-Verse comic, a story where Spider-Man had to team up with variants of himself from across the multiverse, one of the encountered characters was a version of Gwen Stacy who developed spider powers instead of Peter Parker. Almost immediately upon her debut did the character become a breakout hit for most fans both old and new, especially in the cosplay scene. Since then the character lovingly referred to as “Spider-Gwen” has become a major recurring character in the comics, regularly appearing in cartoon shows, and has starred in one of the most celebrated animated films in history and set to return in its sequel later this year.

Today I’m like to talk about Spider-Gwen in detail, partially out of a longing to do a follow-up on my original article, and discuss who and why she is, why she is popular, and why she is extremely important to both the Spider-Man mythos and to the salvation of the decades long wronged character.

 Learn about Spider-Gwen after the jump.

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Black Superheroes: Patriot II

A black sheriff Bucky?!?

Name: Elijah "Eli" Bradley

First Appearance: Young Avengers #1 (2005)

History: Eli Bradley is the grandson of Isaiah Bradley, an ex-soldier who was part of a government sponsored program during World War II to recreate the super soldier serum that created Captain America. The program opted to test the unstable formula on unwitting black soldiers and Isiah was the lone survivor, giving him peak physical abilities amongst other attributes (Note: we will probably need to talk about Isiah in more detail another time). Years later, following the events of Avengers: Disassembled where the Avengers were disbanded, a mysterious time traveling youth known as Iron Lad trigged the Avengers Failsafe Program (set to activate in the event of the Avengers ending) that led him to various superpowered individuals with connections to the team in order to revive it. Eli was one for those selected. He explained that, even though his mother was born before Isaiah received his powers, after being wounded he received a blood transfusion form his grandfather which gave the boy similar physical attributes. Taking the name “Patriot”, Eli joined Iron Lad’s new team, the Young Avengers.

Over time the Young Avengers became a successful crime fighting team but eventually the truth came out; Eli had lied about the source of his powers, and he had actually been using Mutant Growth Hormone (basically super powered steroids) to gain his abilities. After quitting the team in shame but later rejoining, Eli was seriously injured while aiding Captain America and was only saved by a lifesaving blood transfusion…. from his grandfather, just like the story he had earlier made up. The process embowed him with enhance physical abilities similar to that of his grandfather and Captain America and he continued to fight alongside his friends in the Young Avengers, this time with actual powers to back it up.

Beta Says: Eli Bradley was a major character in the mid-2000s for Marvel as part of their big Young Avengers push, a team of characters inspired by or part of the legacy of established Avengers characters. Eli has an extra nod as he is tied to the then recent groundbreaking comic Truth: Red, White & Black. That comic is very historically relevant and deserves its own article, but the short version is that it retcons both the nature of the experiment that created Captain America and its purpose wherein it explains that, with the comic creator’s taking inspiration from the real-life tragedy of the Tuskegee Syphilis Study, the United States government experimented on black soldiers. Eli’s grandfather was the star of that book, but it ends in a way where it wouldn’t be appropriate for Isaiah to enter the fold as a hero in the “modern” Marvel universe. But Eli, trying to live up to his grandfather’s legacy, could be and it opened a lot of opportunity to tell mature stories about the complexities of race and patriotism.

But then eventually Marvel got tired of him and replaced him with a new young black kid to be the Bucky to Sam Wilson’s Captain America. Cool. Cool cool cool.

More about the rise of the Patriot after the jump.

Monday, February 13, 2023

Black Superheroes: Natasha Irons

John Henry took sick and went to his bed
Polly Ann drove steel like a man, Lord, Lord

Name: Natasha Irons

First Appearance: Steel #1 (1994)

History: Natasha Irons is the niece of superhero and scientist John Henry Irons, better known as Steel. From early on into his hero career Natasha had been his steadfast supporter and ally, to the point where she was the only member of the Irons family to accompany him when John relocated back to Metropolis. One day, John was trapped under the influence of the Entropy Aegis, a powerful armor created by Darkseid. Designing her own armor using Aegis tech, Natasha teamed up with Superman and others to rescue her uncle from the clutches of Apokolips. While they were successful, John was too injured to continue on as Steel. Therefore, he passed the mantle to Natasha, something he had always planned on doing, and with his blessing and support she began her own heroic career as the new Steel.

Sometime later Natasha ad John had a falling out and he stripped her of the armor. Unable to recreate her own, she signed up for the Everyman Project, a superhuman creation program sponsored by Lex Luthor. The program gave her superhuman strength, the ability to fly, and the power to emit light blasts from her hands and she soon took up the name Starlight. However, after realizing that Luthor had criminal ulterior motives with the project she betrayed him to her uncle but was stripped of the powers for her efforts. Later still it turned out that the experiments had lingering effects and she developed new powers, the ability to phase into a gaseous form, and she took up the name Vapor.

Beta Says: Natasha is a bit of a difficult character to write about as she is a spin-off character of a spin-off character; a derivative of a derivative, if you will. Steel has never been all that successful as a character beyond being loosely associated with Superman and a lot the time that Natasha ends up donning the power suit herself it usually feels like current DC Comics’ current writers aren’t interested in John Henry Irons at the moment for whatever reason, and tag her in instead like she’s a back-up character when they need to add a woman or a black person or both to story. Considering she spent so many years as a supporting character to John in his solo series, I to this day wonder why exactly DC felt the need to replace him with her, and then keep replacing her back with her uncle anytime someone decided they had a use for him again. It makes me tired.

More on Natasha Irons after the jump.

Monday, February 6, 2023

Black Superheroes: Ironheart

And lo, did the tears of a thousand fanboys flood the streets

Name: Riri Williams 

First Appearance:  Invincible Iron Man Vol. 3 #7 (2016) 

History: Riri Williams, a genius teenage MIT student, built a working suit of power armor based on Iron Man from stolen spare parts around her school just to see if she could. Upon completion she took it out into the world and ended up stopping two escaped convicts, but the still-not-quite right suit was destroyed in the process. The event caught the eye of Tony Stark himself, who personally came to Riri to offer guidance and support on her path to becoming a superhero. Some time later Stark is rendered comatose after the events of Civil War II, but apparently he saved his personality into an Artificial Intelligence housed in a holographic construct with the purpose of being shipped to Riri in the event of his death. Now directly working with an A.I. with the personality with intellect of the world famous Iron Man, Riri is able to fully complete her armor. On the A.I.’s suggestion she adopts the name “Ironheart” and sets forth to try to fill the gap that Iron Man left in his wake.

Beta Says: Riri Williams is something of a pariah amongst a certain percentage of the superhero comic fandom. As I understand it, some of it is backlash from her early stories not actually being very good considering how hard Marvel Comics was pushing her as this cool new superhero. However I’d argue a huge portion of it comes form a dark corner of modern comic fandom who rejected Ironheart not simply because of quality of stories but because she became their poster child for a then big mandate from Marvel to push diversity amongst their characters. In her case, Marvel probably unwisely had her temporary take over Invincible Iron Man. Replacing a high profile character with a very new character and telling everyone how cool they are is never the safest bet in the best of times but it becomes worse when that character is black and a portion of your fanbase have decided to be “Anti-Woke.” Oh yes, it’s one of these things. 

More on the “Ironheart Controversy” after the jump.

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Black Superheroes Month VIII: Black is Beautiful

Bow down before the Queen of superhero comics!

Now that I’m back writing blog content, it was really no question that I would bring back my annual celebration of Black History Month with my Black Superheroes Month series, a tradition so prestigious that even Rob Bricken of has used it as research material for an article at least once (…..well, I think it’s cool).

It’s been quite a few years since I’ve done this, so for those who have forgotten or newcomers who have wandered in by mistake, here is the gist: there is a very common misconception that there are hardly any black superheroes in comic books, but the truth is that there are actually tons. It’s just that they often are created then forgotten about, both by readers and by creators. So every year (…except for the last few; whoops) I spotlight both the popular and the not-so-popular black heroes, explaining who they are, any interesting information I think is relevant, and my own thoughts about what could or should be done with them.

Click this link to see a list of characters covered so far, but keep in mind I’ve been doing this since 2011 and at this point it’s fair to say many of the profiles are wildly out of date by 2023. This year, assuming nothing goes wrong, the plan is to spotlight three characters starting with the next post. However, before we get into it I have two points I’d like to make:

1) The original theme this year was going to be Black Women, but the lynchpin of this year’s crop was supposed to be a character by the name of Monet St. Croix aka M. However, after much checking and double checking in preparation for this year’s blog I have come to the conclusion that M is simply not black. From what I can tell she was originally meant to be considered black by her creators, but apparently they didn’t realize the area where she is from didn’t lend itself to that ethnic background. Monet’s ethnicity has since been retconned to better reflect her background. Of course, seeing as she is a mx of several different races it is likely that she is at least a little black, but frankly she’s such a complicated character (her origin is nuts) that it might be easier on me to not worry about it. If someone wants to show some specific and recent evidence that proves I’m wrong I’ll be happy to write on her in the future, but for now I frankly don’t need the headache of a bunch of folks leaving comments here FOR YEARS about how stupid I am for including her in this project. Speaking of which...

Sorry Beta from 6 years ago, but it ain't happening...

2) Fun fact: due to the sheer amount of spam and bots I get in the comments, I set it up so that I have to approve anything before it actually posts. Now, knowing that I stepped away from the blog for several years, imagine my surprise when I finally started preparing to come back late in 2022 and discovered a comment box filled with anger (and some defenders, to be fair) regarding my post about Exiles leader Blink being black. Look guys, writer Saladin Ahmed made this pretty clear during his run on Exiles from 2018. Was this a retcon? Yeah, I don’t think they were planning on that when she was originally created. Does it match-up with her many years established background as being from the Caribbean region? Yeah, it does. Sure, she has been (incorrectly) played by East Asian actresses in live action and yeah, she could be retconned again tomorrow, but I still stand by the post. If it bothers you, please complain to Marvel for giving it a thumbs up; I didn't make it up, I promise.

Okay, that’s enough pent-up frustration. Next time we’re start off Black Superhero Month with a new character who, while sparking controversy in the comic community, is being primed to be a major player in the Marvel Cinematic Universe going forward.

Saturday, January 14, 2023

Beta's Top Ten Favorite Movies of 2022

It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these. Let’s see if I remember how it goes.

Because I’m not going to the movies as much as I used to (partly due to new fatherhood and partly due to the pandemic that is still happening goddamnit) I wasn’t able to see a ton of movies in 2022, and a lot of the ones on this list I ended up catching on streaming or renting them. It’s all very deflating. So, there were loads of good movies I didn’t get to see that probably would have made the list if I had. No point in getting all mad at me.

Also note that that this is not a “Best of 2022” list but rather a “My Favorites of 2022” list, meaning it’s just one dude giving his opinion. Feel free to share your favorite movies in the comments.

Quick note: while they did not make the list, I’d still like to make special mention of Downton Abbey: A New Era, as of writing the final installment of the British TV/movie series that my wife and started watching at the beginning of 2022, and Do Revenge, which was a fun but flawed dark teen comedy. I think Maya Hawke has the tools to be a pretty big deal in Hollywood.

Full Top Ten after the jump.

Sunday, January 1, 2023

Review: Black Adam

My therapist has been telling me that I should go back to writing my blog. So, let’s talk about Black Adam.

Back Adam is a comic book supervillain and sometimes antihero created in 1945 by Otto Binder and C. C. Beck for Fawcett Comics as an antagonist for Captain Marvel. When DC Comics acquired Captain Marvel in 1972 Black Adam came along as well, but it wasn’t until the early 21st Century that the character become a prominent player in the DC continuity, becoming both a reluctant hero associated with the Justice Society of America or a world spanning threat, depending on what the story needed. These days he is considered one of DC’s big villains on a similar level to the likes of Lex Luthor and the Joker.

Meanwhile in the real world, legend has it that Warner Bros. were able to get increasingly popular Dwayne Johnson to agree to star in a DC superhero movie. Apparently, they pitched Captain Marvel to him but Johnson instead requested Black Adam. It took many years before things came together for a movie to begin production properly and even then it ended up being heavily tied to the DC Expanded Universe line of movies, specifically to the 2019 film Shazam! Then it got delayed some more due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

But finally, after years of it lingering in the depth of Warner Bros.’ backlots, Black Adam starring Dwayne Johnson has finally hit theaters. But after such a long gestation period, not to mention the enormous baggage from the so-called DC Expanded Universe, did this flick turn out to be any good?

Full review after the jump.

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