August 17, 2018 · 4:02 pm
Until the rumblings of a potential Shazam movie, my only real point of reference with the character was a Saturday morning cartoon that I vaguely recall from my youth. And beyond the fact that someone shouted, “Shazam!” to turn into the super hero version of themselves, I couldn’t have been more clueless when it comes to a comic book character.
Then, I saw the preview out of San Diego Comic Con for next year’s Shazam! movie and I was intrigued. Part of it could be the casting of Zachary Levi, who I loved on Chuck. And part of it could be that the trailer actually made it look like someone was having fun being a superhero in the DCEU.
So, I decided to check out the new take on Shazam’s origin in this collected edition. And man, if the movie is half as much fun as this comic is, I think the DCEU could finally be on to something. Reading this take on the origin of Shazam, I can’t help but think that Levi is perfect casting for this role as he really got the whole “boy trapped in the body of a grown-up” on Chuck.
Orphaned Billy Batson has moved from foster home to foster home, seemingly never finding a place he fits in. When a new set of foster parents adopts him as part of their family, Billy starts looking for a way out. While running away, he encounters a mystical wizard looking to bestow ancient power on someone who is truly worthy and pure of heart. Alas, Billy Batson ain’t exactly first choice, but he’s the only choice available (and he does have some history of at least trying to be better) and suddenly he can transform into an adult with super powers.
So, like most teens who can suddenly pass for adults, Billy and his foster brother decide not to save the world or stem the tide of evil, but instead go for beer. Eventually, Billy will have to face off against Black Adam, the yin to his Captain Marvel yang.
Seriously, if they just wanted to adapt the story that Geoff Johns has crafted here as the movie, they’d be doing well. I’d be one of the first in line to see it (assuming that there isn’t something animated opening that Shortcake might want to see more, mind you). Reading this and watching the preview, I find myself looking forward to a DC superhero movie for the first time since The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises I also find myself wanting to pick up more installments of Shazam in the future to see where this character may go next.
August 13, 2018 · 11:55 pm
The inaugural run of New York City’s latest subway line should have been cause for champagne and celebration. Instead, the car returns empty with the interior drenched in blood. And that’s only the beginning of the horror in the debut thriller from Impractical Jokers star James S. Murray, Awakened.
In the afterword, Murray tells us that he hatched the idea for his horror thriller during his teenage years. It’s clear reading the story Murray has honed the story over the years, crafting a horror novel that feels like vintage Stephen King. Like the best King, Awakened features every day people reacting to supernatural challenges in authentic, human ways. Some react as heroes, others are scared, and still others have secrets they desperately want to hide.
An early scene in the novel with the subway creatures luring toward some unsuspecting victims had me riveted to the page and sent a cold shiver down my spine. And the (earned) scares continue to come at a regular pace throughout the novel.
Murray and co-writer Darren Waremouth have crafted a scary, entertaining, fun summer thrill ride of a novel. It’s also the first in a new trilogy of stories that will continue for the tow summers. Consider me signed up to see just where this story goes next.
August 10, 2018 · 8:16 pm
A decade ago, the controversial “One Day More” storyline saw the Spider-universe hit a ginormous reset button and remove the marriage of Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson from the continuity. Years later, another huge crossover event would, the second (or is it the third) Secret Wars storyline saw the creation of a parallel universe where Peter and MJ are still married and raising a daughter.
Their daughter, May, has similar powers to those of her father. In the wake of an evil overlord named Monarch who seems intent on collecting all the super powers he can get his mitts on, Peter is hopping to stay one step ahead of the latest detection devices for himself and his daughter. But when they get noticed and rumors of the Spider-Man’s return begin to surface, Peter finds himself fighting to defend his family — and now the family wants to join the fight.
The resolution of that storyline encompasses volume 0 of this series and then things really get going on volumes 1 and 2. Written by long-time Spider-writer Gerry Conway, these collection of arcs is a lot more fun than they have any right to be. Having recently revisited Conway’s tenure on Amazing Spider-Man, I wasn’t sure what, if anything, I should expect from these issues. But after trying to read much of the current storylines taking place in the Spider-Man universe, I found these refreshingly easy to digest, straight-forward and welcoming to readers who haven’t memorized every detail of comic book continuity for the past decade. Seeing Peter try to juggle his secret identity along with the demands of the two women in his life to be part of the crime-fighting team gives the story some much needed depth. The second collection even raises the stakes a bit by having MJ become motivated to contribute to the team (tech left over from Monarch lets her share Peter’s powers) and turning to Liz Allen for a new version of the Venom symbiote.
These three collections are some of the best recent Spider-Man stories I’ve read and they reminded me of what it was that I initially loved so much about my favorite wallcrawler.
August 8, 2018 · 3:25 pm
With her twentieth installment in the Lynley and Havers series (sorry, I refuse to think of it as anything else), Elizabeth George returns to form with one of the best installments in the series to date.
The last two novels found Barbara Havers getting herself into hot water and on the wrong side of her superiors at New Scotland Yard. As The Punishment She Deserves begins, Havers future at the Met is hanging by a thread and a case in the small town of Ludlow may be just the one that finally snaps it. Assigned to work with DS Ardery and look into the death of a local deacon under mysterious circumstances and damning accusations, Havers finds herself walking a fine line between toeing the straight and narrow and following her instincts that there is more to the case than meets the eyes.
Ardery wants to simply close the book on the case as quickly as possible, for both professional and personal reasons. She’s desperate to get back to London in order to fight her ex-husband’s desire to move her two children to New Zealand and she’s determined to ensure that Havers finished committing professional suicide. The fact that Ardery can’t go long without a drink is slowly beginning to unravel her life on all sides. Ignoring Havers’ pleas that the investigations is overlooking something, the duo returns to London and Ardery orders Havers to leave certain details out of her report. Continue reading →
August 1, 2018 · 1:28 am
“Shada” is something of an enigma in the Doctor Who canon. The final story of the much-maligned season 17, production was suspended due to an industrial strike at the BBC with just over half the story filmed. And while there were several attempts to get it remounted, “Shada” never saw the light of day again and was “lost.”
For years, the only snippets we got were those in “The Five Doctors” to cover Tom Baker’s absence.
Since that time, “Shada” has become one of the more re-told and released stories in the classic Who canon. We had the VHS release of the completed bits with linking narration (in character as the Doctor, I might add) by Tom Baker. We had the animated web version with Paul McGann as the Doctor and then an audio version by Big Finish (also featuring McGann as Doctor). There was an adaptation of the original scripts in printed form a couple of years back and an accompanying audiobook release, as well. (This is to say nothing of a certain fan’s creating his own animated version) Continue reading →