Goodbye Swampy-By Hank Van Hawkins
Justice League Dark Review Trades 1-4
By Hank Van Hawkins
A few words on the criticisms of Gotham
I felt it was about to time to review the new Television series Gotham on Fox. I wanted to hold back my enthusiasm and try to give a somewhat subjective review of the show and also not to be in too big of a hurry to either praise or scorn it myself until at least several episodes in. Also, the reviews I have read online immediately after each episode have been scathing and very critical so far, which I find somewhat perturbing. I say that because the TV shows of our comic book characters are going to take different liberties than the comic book. This is prevalent in any major comic book character that finally hits the live action big screen whether TV, movie or cartoon for that matter. It gives us yet another angle/story arc of the characters we love. They should take these liberties and I am glad they do.
How can you not like that? Much less be super critical of it? There is a method to the madness. Granted, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. But it is a risk and a liberty that I feel must be taken. ( Side note: case in point personally for me Jonah Hex’s debut on the big screen should have been closer to the comic book character. Because if you ask me in that instance they took way too many liberties and it didn’t work. There is a fine line. )
Hank and Richard discuss some of the criticism about Gotham and discuss their opinions about the show on their podcast SOBS. You can listen here.
Anyway, the critics are not wrong in saying this, but so far I think the writing on the show has been solid if somewhat sparse. That doesn’t bother me for keeping it less is more is favoring those who may not be familiar with every character or many comic books in general. The shows and movies are more or less about promoting the comic books. That’s why the Easter eggs have been somewhat obvious. It is stunning the amount of characters Gotham harbors and always has. It is a critical epicenter in DC’s Universe. It’s a great idea for a show. None the less, it is being kept intriguing week in and week out and I can’t say enough good things about how phenomenal the characters are. I love the casting and every one is doing more than a solid job of filling these characters proverbial comic book shoes. The never ending twists and turns of Gotham’s history is a fertile field of episodes and outlandish bad guys with their sordid back stories.
The future of Gotham
The future of this show excites me. I am looking forward to every Monday from now on. The continuity of the stories and characters is closely tied to enticing the viewer’s curiosity. Making it a easy hook so to speak because I am known to plead for those folks that are not comicbook geeks to check into shows like Gotham that can give them a glimpse of the magic that is within the pages of comics. It’s a good starter kit and it’s not just a show about when Batman was a kid. I hear that lot. Even if it was, how great is that? Tune in to find out. Basically what I’m saying is that I like to write and review things without giving too much away. Because part of the fun of getting to know a series or a particular arc in a comic book is about coming to know the characters and the details within each one by getting excited by it and then going out and buying it and having fun reading it for yourself. That is the beauty of reading and lending an open ear to some imaginative wonder that always leads you to wonder a little more about the world that we live in.
Gotham is a very overtly corrupt place, and when you see that candidacy in the show and you can also take a closer look at the world we live in see the same type of callousness in the very cities and states that we live in. I’m not saying it’s outright social commentary, but comics have always had their finger on the pulse of popular culture and I am glad to see them continuing the tradition on TV now. I figure it’s a great master plan to get more people reading comic books again.
What do you think of the Fox hit Gotham? Leave a comment or let Hank know through the contact form, or even his Facebook page here.
Hank has reviewed several of the DC TV shows. Please follow the links below to read them.
The FLASH TV show review
Ok, here I go with another review about a Superhero that not everyone may be so up to date on. I know I wasn’t at all familiar with the Flash short of his appearance in the Justice League movie. He was a super hero that I never really ever got around to knowing before. Of course alot more attention is being brought to the character thanks to his new CW show. Which I have thoroughly enjoyed and I would have never guessed the endless crime fighting possibilities for the world’s fastest man would be so plentiful and engaging. Just for the record DC is killing it on the TV scene as of late. Of course it was the TV show that set me up to buy a few issues from my local brick and mortar to further my research for this review in particular. I was far from disappointed because the comic fed my curiosity as I waited for the next episode to air this week. It also proved to be serendipitous because one of my personal favorites Deadman made an appearance in the comic issue I bought. Which again pushed my curiosity further. The same curiosity that keeps me wanting to find out more not only about the hero himself but all of his battles with his more than formidable enemies.
The TV show does a stellar job of summing up Barry’s back story in what I consider well timed flash backs much like they do in the Series Arrow. So regardless of where you pick the series up at a back story is sure to be dropped in by some sort of flash back or dream sequence and again the writers are making these moves flawlessly thus far. Barry Allen is a engaging character himself even before becoming the Flash. His back story is awash with injustice and it is a large part of what propels him to use his powers for good once they are bestowed upon him. With this chip on his shoulder he makes fighting crime look easy as he anxiously awaits the next clue to the mystery of who it was that killed his mother when he was just a child. Which is well established as his main priority albeit constantly being sidetracked by the constant discovery of Central City’s next rogue meta-human as his first prioritized task at hand.
A fantastic thrill ride that can be enjoyed by anyone whether you are a comic book nerd or not. I feel like all these TV series DC is doing are a great introduction to heroes you may have never explored before. Watching them on the old boob-tube is a good way to find out if you would enjoy the comics or not. It’s nice to find out some info before actually purchasing the books. Personally I tend to lean towards the bad guys because it seems that every one of them carries as big a chip on their shoulders as Barry does. So it always makes for a great episode when another villain is introduced and Barry and his team have to figure out on the fly on how to stop them dead in their tracks. The Flash proves to be very worthy of the mainstream TV audience. Because if main stream TV needs anything it, needs super heroes and it could stand to take more general direction from the world of comic books in doing so. DC is more than up to the task. It seems that they took enough notes from The Walking Dead’s TV success to try and replicate it for itself and its own heroes. So if you haven’t watched the Flash already I bid that you do so soon!
Well, I want to start off by saying I love doing reviews and I couldn’t be more excited to take part and share my take on many things creative week in and week out. I am starting off by reviewing The Green Arrow. Not necessarily a particular issue, arc, or the CW TV show. I am reviewing Green Arrow as a whole in general. That being said, the world of superheroes and comic books is an ever expanding universe and can sometimes overwhelm a newbie or first time reader. Simply sometimes by not knowing where to start or which hero to start with. As for myself ,I have many titles and arcs that speak to me and peak my interest, and they are in turn compelling me to buy the newest issues directly off of the stand every Wednesday. (Of course I will make more notes of these in the future!) So I always say/suggest to go exactly for what you like and what stokes your own curiosity. From a collector’s standpoint maybe it doesn’t have a lot of dollar value per se. But, if you enjoy the story and the art work and it respects and satisfies your curiosity then that is all that really matters, Therefore it is valuable to you and it makes it that much more easier to pass the fascination on down the line to the next generation.
That being said I am going to review some lesser known and or out of the normal heroes as a whole sometimes, if not only to discover their stories for myself but to help the general comic connoisseur to have as much information about a title/hero (without giving away spoilers of course) before simply buying it blind.
I started my Green Arrow journey by playing his character on Injustice God’s Among us and I totally enjoyed having his skill set at my disposal. I actually won a few battles. Woo hoo! That in itself kindled an interest in the character for me and low and behold, with a trip to the comic shop, I went ahead and thought there was no better place to start than with this year’s Future’s End Green Arrow one shot. I picked it up upon seeing the cool cover art and once I started reading it I was drawn in and immediately wanted more. Sure Oliver Queen follows DC’s magic formula for super heroes where they take a wealthy man who turns vigilante at night much like their greatest success Bat Man, but that is where the similarities end. It is following the formula, albeit with Green Arrow’s very own sense of identity far removed from Batman. Not to mention a whole other host of foes he ends up coming to blows with. I can never get enough of the back story of any villan/enemy/arch-nemesis. I find the bad guy’s back story is always fascinating, and The Green Arrow always delivers this in abundance.
I also love the wealth of plots and back stories that not only come along with Green Arrow, but his true identity Oliver Queen and his company Queen Industries. It is a fail safe method of always having another source of corruption or criminal influence to keep the character’s battles ongoing and constant, thus giving these characters a long running saga that can carry itself for years on end. I find it very easy to just jump right into the story line regardless of where it is at to the plot or arc as a whole. That is especially so with his TV show Arrow. Which I had never seen at all until this year and I think this is either the third or fourth season. It has been seamless. In fact, if anything, it compels me to go ahead and catch myself up on the previous seasons and episodes I have missed thus far. My fascination keeps pollinating with the more info I get. With the flashbacks and the constant building blocks of the current plot, it’s almost hard to miss the story line, much less the moral to the story. Green Arrow also relies on a staff of others who help him both on location and behind the scenes. Behind every great hero is a whole set of unheralded sidekicks there for support and help. Characters that not only add to the plot but to the legend of The Green Arrow himself. So, I say don’t be scared off by the similarities here. Embrace them if you haven’t already. Green Arrow is a bad ass and I have loved everything I have read, watched, and played so far. I will continue to do so since it has indeed touched on all the hallmarks of a super hero that appeal to me.
Hank Van Hawkins