Monthly Archives: September 2014

New Comic Book TV Part II: Marvel’s Agents S.H.I.E.L.D.

Marvel agents of shield logo

Don’t Call It a Come Back

The second in our multi-part series on new fall comic book related television brings us the return of Marvel’s Agents S.H.I.E.L.D..  I partially watched the first season but was not really a huge fan.  I think the first season started off weak and aimlessly floundered in the middle but ended strongly with the help of the twist from Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier.  I think what hurt the first season of the show was its inability to figure out what it wanted to be as a show.  To me it felt like it wanted to have its cake and eat it too.  The show at times wanted to be its own separate entity in an over arching Marvel universe but also wanted to incorporate events that occurred in the movies to the show.  When this worked well we got the final episodes of Season 1 where the Hydra infiltration of S.H.I.E.L.D. continued from the Captain America movie and played out in the TV show.  When it didn’t we got a lot of references to Avengers and what they were up to but never actually seeing them on screen.  I get why Iron Man can’t show up in a network TV show, the money involved to get Robert Downey Jr. plus the CGI is too expensive.  However if you can’t get Iron Man on your show don’t constantly be talking about him and how you work with him.  It just makes it that more obvious the limitations that are inherit in the show.

So if I haven’t spelled it out enough, I wasn’t a huge fan of season 1.  However, I think the show ended strong and I know that my criticism wasn’t alone and that the show is fully aware of the love/hate relationship audiences have had with it.  So I am willing to give it another show and see where season 2 takes us.

Season 2 picks up after some amount of time following the events of Season 1.  Coulson is now the director of S.H.I.E.L.D. and they are in the process of picking up the pieces post infiltration by hydra.  S.H.I.E.L.D. does not baby us along.  We hit the ground running and and thrown in cliff hangers here and there of where we left off last season.  We are reminded that something happened to Fitz, that Skye’s father is some big deal, that Grant betrayed us.  All of these happen quickly and given to us in a atmosphere that the team has been dealing with these things for some time now and it is all old news to them.  We slowly get some answers to as the episode progresses but it is annoying that the tone is “I guess we’ll tell you what happened, but its just so yesterday’s news to us at this point we shouldn’t even bother”.  This is annoying.  Most of these things were presented to us in last episode of Season 1 and were pretty big shocking events.  I feel after waiting this long to see how it turns out they should give the revelations they do tell us a little more gravity.

Back to the opening scene for a moment.  Before we even get to all this S.H.I.E.L.D. / Hydra business we start off the episode back in World War II and we get to see non other than Agent Peggy Carter and the Howling Commandos!

Peggy Carter

This was a pretty fun/exciting cameo and may be a shameless plug for the Agent Carter spin off show (coming to ABC in January!) but I’ll take it.  All the Howling Commandos were also there and we got a nice little original S.H.I.E.L.D. mission that tied in to the rest of the episode.

Speaking of cameos we also got another big one as a new member of S.H.I.E.L.D…

xena warrior princess

Agent Xena Warrior Princess.  My new favorite agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.

We also got introduced to a new villain that is actually a thing from the comic books, the Absorbing Man.

Thor-376

His real name is Carl “Crusher” Creel and in the comic books he is a boxer and criminal who becomes the Absorbing Man after drinking a magic potion from Loki in the Thor comics.  He’s nothing A list but at least its an interesting villain and a stab in the right direction.

The show ends with two big downers.  They are pretty big spoilers so I won’t go into them but if you watched it you’ll know what it was.  Both I was not to pleased with and were pretty big bummers.

What I Liked

I liked the new villains and new agents of S.H.I.E.L.D..  The new plot they are setting up in season 2 is interesting and seems to have been made with the criticism of season 1 in mind.  It seems a lot more focused and the things they dealt with made more sense to me than Skye and all her bullshit that started off the first season.

What I Didn’t Like

We may or may not lose an agent S.H.I.E.L.D. that we may or may not have just added to the cast! In the first episode! Not pleased!

jerry final thought

Overall I think we are headed in a better direction but I just don’t know.  I think the inherit lack of A, B, and even C list characters isn’t something that will ever get solved.  Last year I compared this show a lot with Arrow because I was watching both at the same time.  Both would hint and drop little Easter Eggs of pieces of the DC/Marvel universe throughout the show, but where S.H.I.E.L.D. would only give you innuendos Arrow would often allude to a famous character and then a couple episodes later that character would actually show up.  Arrow being a self contained universe was able to use Batman, Green Arrow, and basically any DC character they wanted regardless of what other movies may be doing with them.  It’s hands were untied and they were able to tell a really good story where as S.H.I.E.L.D. all ways felt like it was playing with a deck missing half its cards.  I still have hope for the show and thought it was a good start but have real concern it can keep up the pace for another 20+ episodes.

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New Comic Book TV Part I: Gotham

Gotham Logo Fox

After a long summer drought of good television to watch we have finally reached the fall TV season.  And what is different about this year as opposed to most is the massive amount of comic book properties that will be debuting.  New shows this year include Gotham, Constantine, and The Flash.  Returning with new seasons we have Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., The Walking Dead, and Arrow.  We also have CBS picking up a Supergirl TV series, Preacher coming to AMC, and a possible Walking Dead spin off show.  Never has there been a greater time to be a nerd.  So as these new shows premiere I will give them a watch and report back to you, the peoples.

Gotham Central 1

First up is Gotham.  Last year shortly after the premier of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Fox and Warner Brothers quickly decided to get on the TV bandwagon and where else but Gotham.  During its announcement it was revealed that the premise of the show would center around a young Jim Gordon early in his career in the Gotham Police Department and a very pre-Batman Bruce Wayne.  This concept of a police procedural style drama centered around the Gotham police department, with a lack of Batman is actually not a new concept to the comic book world.  In 2002 a comic book series named “Gotham Central” was released which did just that.  Instead of being a young Jim Gordan it took place with a Batman currently in Gotham but with him rarely making appearances and the book centering around the Gordon and the cops of Gotham.  Batman was treated more like a myth/legend in this book and mostly appears in the shadows and talked about as rumor between the cops.  The series was originally written by Ed Brubaker and Greg Rucka and while it achieved a certain amount of critical success it had a hard time finding an audience.  The book never broke the top 100 comics in sales and after 40 issues was canceled.  While there are a lot of similarities between the book and the new Gotham TV show its been said that the TV show may be in the spirit of the Gotham Central comic book but will likely not follow any plot lines from the book itself.

Gotham – Episode I: Pilot

Gotham Opening Jock

Right before I began watching the show I was talking about what I thought about it and what my hopes would be.  The main thing I hoped for is that they would put off killing the Waynes until a few episodes in and establish them as characters.  This is something that I have never seen in the comics and would be an interesting take to actually see Thomas and Martha Wayne as real people instead of motivation for vengeance.  Cut to the opening scene of the show.  Dark alley, a young Bruce Wayne accompanied by his parents, leaving a theater, mother wearing pearls… We all know exactly what this is leading to.  So they not only kill the Waynes in the first episode, they kill the Waynes in the first SCENE of the first episode! They did a good job with the scene, and for an origin that we all know very well they knew enough to not spend a huge amount of time on it like some series (I’m looking at you Amazing Spider-Man).  I can’t be mad that it didn’t turn out the way I wanted but I was a little surprised they killed them in the opening scene.

Gotham Comic-Con Banner

From there we are introduced to a young Jim Gordon and Harvey Bullock as they are the first detectives on the scene and assigned to the case.  Promises are made, shenanigans ensue, a suspect is captured and killed, suspicion is raised, and not all is as it appears. We are introduced to a slew of characters and the case of who killed the Waynes has begun.  It is a pretty great first episode.  Jim Gordon is our way into this world and we get a good sense of how corrupt the city of Gotham is in every aspect.  We get to see “business as usual” of crime in the city and we see Jim Gordon’s morality tested several times throughout the episode.

One of the more distracting parts of the episodes is the onslaught of cameos of every one who’s everyone in the Batman universe.  We meet Edward Nygma (The Riddler), Oswald Cobblepot (The Penguin), Falcone (The Roman), Selina Kyle (Catwoman), Bruce Wayne (Batman), Pamela Isley (Poison Ivy, and yes I refuse to call her Ivy Pepper…), Alfred Pennyworth along with famous members of the Gotham Police Department Harvey Bullock, James Gordon, and Renee Montoya.  We even get a new character (i think) Fish Mooney played by Jada Pinkett Smith.  I actually really like the avalanche of characters from the DC universe and think it will play to the show’s favor.  I think that the inclusion of such was a big part of what made the show Arrow so enjoyable and hurt Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D..  However, having ALL of these characters in the pilot is a little much.  I understand, this is a pilot and is made not for us audience but to sell the show to the network so there needs to be this sense of things to come.  It was just distracting and put things on such serendipitous level that it became ridiculous.

Things I Liked

Alfred Batman Earth One

My favorite part of the entire episode is the portrayal of Alfred Pennyworth as being a badass.

Batman Earth One

This was actually done recently in the comic books in a book non-canon book called Batman: Earth One, in which Alfred is a former member of the Royal Marines and all around badass.  We see this right away as Alfred takes Bruce away from the murder scene of his parents and tells him to keep his head up and look defiantly ahead.  It’s a fresh take on a character we all know very well and it will be interesting to see where they take him going forward.  I also liked the new character of Fish Mooney.  I think Jada Pinkett Smith did a great job and plays a very good ruthless crime lord.  She is cold, calculated, and looking to take out Falcone and take over as the new boss of Gotham.

What I Didn’t Like

Gotham Ivy Pepper

Two words, Ivy Pepper.  It’s a dumb thing to get annoyed over but it also makes no sense why you would change Pamela Isley to Ivy Pepper.  I can only guess that the stretch from Isley to Ivy was just too much for some people… But really my biggest complaint was the constant barrage of cameos from the villains of Gotham.  Again I get why they did it but it just was a little much and made the show feel desperate to show all its tricks at once.  I suspect that going forward they will retain a normal pace of giving us the story of each one of these characters but as for the pilot it was a lot to take in a once.

jerry final thought

Overall I liked the show and am looking forward to seeing more.  I can still see it going either way for me but I think they are heading the right direction.

 

 


1st All-New Collector’s Blog Post!

Comic Books

2014-09-22 21.19.06

Cat

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Two greatest things on earth.  Usually only tangentially related I hope to finally bridge the gap between book and beast.


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