Suicide Squad Issue Four

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This issue starts with a bunch guy pulling off a small violent robbery. A figure comes from the shadows – a hero we don’t. He has a crossbow, but its armed with an explosive tipped arrow. And when the car stops-

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Why this guy is perfect for the Suicide Squad! He’s like a stupider looking Green Arrow. He’s –

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Oh crap. He’s a racist.

And he’s like an evil Batman. He’s really rich, well-connected and he even has a chauffeur. But after he leaves, we see that the real chauffeur is in the trunk of the car. And the driver?

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Rare DC super-heroine Black Orchid. There have been a few versions of this character, and this is the rarest one. There isn’t a lot of information about her, but she is a bruiser.

Anyway, Amanda Waller is briefing the team (and their new member, Chronos) about a tense area in Central City where the ghetto meets a white working class neighborhood. A conservative businessman named W. James Heller (who is not good at fake superhero names!) is stirring the pot and funding white supremacist groups, eventually forming his own named the Aryan Empire.

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Its not a surprise that the Australian Captain Boomerang might have some quaint ideas on race. It is a surprise that Deadshot knows Heller. Heller was a rich kid whose family got killed in a race riot and subsequently twisted by his hateful grandfather.

Waller has a plan.

She sets up a crime involving Captain Boomerang and Bronze Tiger. Hell takes Boomerang into his organization.

They show up to give a speech at a demonstration and…

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William Hell plays William Tell. I can’t make this up.

The first William Hell makes the shot, but the second one misses high. He is unmasked as James Heller. Heller is accused of keeping the REAL William Hell hostage and twisting his work.

‘William Hell’ walks away, but is shot in the back by one of his former henchmen. Mortally wounded he is loaded into an ambulance.

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The Squad used Chrono’s time delay machine to allow Bronze Tiger to deflect William Hell’s bolt, making him miss. However the machine blinded Deadshot…who did his shot with his eyes closed.

Now honestly this has been a decent comic so far, but you might not understand why I hold it in such high regard. The next issue, for me was the turning point.

Suicide Squad Issue Three

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The introduction of this comic is with the cosmic villain Darkseid on his home planet Apokolips. Frankly this is from a fairly stupid event that happened in other comics, but basically he is sending an all female team to break out someone imprisoned in Belle Reve, the Suicide Squad’s headquarters.

Courses there’s a little rivalry on the team he’s sending.

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This is kind of a bad time.

Rick Flag is shaken by seeing Karin, and he knows the mission didn’t go too well. He finds out that Plastique is undergoing a painful procedure to get rid of her memories of the mission and that Karin is helping villain Dr. Moon to carry it out.

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Nightshade isn’t happy about being an accomplice to a massacre. She tries to vent her frustration. It doesn’t go well.

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There’s a reason she’s nicknamed ‘The Wall.’ Nemesis is torn too, even though he owes the squad for rescuing him, he doesn’t actually feel like he’s fighting crime anymore. Everything just seems too dirty. Captain Boomerang complains that he’s trapped in Belle Reve and gets the concession of a pied a terre in New Orleans.

Even though its early in its run, Suicide Squad is starting to show why its exceptional. If you just went on a violent mission, you wouldn’t just shake it off with a joke, like an 80’s action movie.

Flag shows up, furious about Plastique’s treatment. Waller refuses to back down leading to this exchange-

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We don’t know what would have happened next, because the Female Furies teleport in from Apokolips. No one is equipped to defend the prison, half of the Squad is recovering from the previous mission, Deadshot doesn’t feel like getting out of bed, and Boomerang hides to avoid being drafted.

The Bronze Tiger is a master martial artist who has fought Batman to a standstill. But the Furies are around Wonder Woman strength. Its not a fair fight.

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The Furies go through the entire prison, ignoring the guards, weapons, and poor outmatched Nightshade who gets hurt again. They get their prize, but Lashing is betrayed when they go to teleport out.

The portal overloads and her body is launched outside the compound in the explosion, her fate unknown.

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And then Waller apologizes.

That’s one thing I see people get wrong when Waller is in cartoons, or TV shows or whatever. She’s not a villain. She’s a tough person who makes tough decisions, and sometimes she goes too far.

Suicide Squad Issue Two

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They arrive at the Jihad’s headquarters.

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There the team finds out that the Chimera is actually Suicide Squad member Nightshade, who resents being an accomplice to murder, even though her powers just provide transport through a pocket dimension.

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Plastique immediately betrays the team which is generally what bad guys do, given the first opportunity.

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Except there’s another team member she doesn’t know about, master of disguise Nemesis. There’s a reason Amanda Waller doesn’t tell her team everything. But Plastique gets away from Nemesis and she hurts Nightshade before she is subdued. The team’s exit is blown.

Rick Flag fights Rustam, but Rustam escapes as well. Captain Boomerang gets to show us his stuff.

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Boomerang is a comic character for a lot of Suicide Squad’s run. But it doesn’t mean he’s not lethal.

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Bronze Tiger cripples Ravan who swears revenge. He reveals that the Tiger was in the League of Assassins casual fans are familiar with the League through the Nolan Batman movies.

Deadshot kills the Manticore, June turns into the Enchantress and beats the Djinn but then struggles to transform back into her human self.

Rustam shows up with a gun, flanking Mindboggler. Boomerang spots it and…

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The team has to steal a jet to get out, but someone has to stay back to flip the gate open to the hangar. Furious at his failure with Plastique, Nemesis volunteers, and the Squad flies away.

Thankfully there is a backup extraction. Briscoe, the team’s helicopter pilot (who is a little overly attached to his copter Sheba) gets him out.

The first two issues are its own arc, and this comic has showcased on a small scale what made it great, diverse complex characters, missions that don’t go as planned and twists galore.

But you ain’t seen nothing yet.

Suicide Squad Issue One

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Cover edit

Suicide Squad starts like a movie, with a typical US airport and credits.

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What happens next is something that didn’t happen a lot in 1987. A bunch of costumed villains that no one is familiar with start an assault on the entire airport…including a plane that is taking off.

When they are done everyone is dead.

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This massacre takes place in the fictional country Qurac and it was just a ruthless test drive to pitch the team to a foreign dictator.

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Then we meet the team. The new member Plastique and Mindboggler learn the deal from mission commander Rick Flag Jr.

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Watching them all is the puppetmaster Amanda Waller. Note that Flag, Floyd Lawton/Deadshot and June Moone/Enchantress are all in the upcoming movie.

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Now we meet the villains, the Jihad.

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And from the first issue, we get big insights into Amanda Waller’s personality.

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Flag finds Waller’s surprise is Karin Grace, someone from his past. And Mindboggler, tired of Captain Boomerang’s constant sexual harassment of Plastique exposes his insecurity. Boomerang swears revenge and they head off to their mission.

The Suicide Squad: A Retrospective (Intro)

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Next year, they are releasing a Suicide Squad movie. Maybe that doesn’t mean much to you, and maybe you care because Will Smith is in it, or its the next appearance of the Joker and you want to see how Jared Leto does, and those aren’t bad reasons.

But the Suicide Squad is one of the best traditional ensemble titles of all time. (I say ‘traditional’ in the sense that it was an old-school, non-digital comic that didn’t have aspirations on being high art, unlike more radical sensibilities that have happened mostly in the last thirty or so years.)

Done by writers John Ostrander and Kim Yale, its a simple concept – the government uses super-powered criminals and their flawed handlers to do the dirty work that lilly white superhero teams won’t do.

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So what’s so great about it?

Tough question. I COULD write an article about it. Or I could painstakingly scan portions from my comic collection and show you what I mean, a labor intensive move that I will almost immediately regret. But this blog is all about labor intensive stuff that I regret.

So over the next few months, or until my scanner blows up, we will have an adventure with the Suicide Squad.

Hurray!

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Rachel Dolezal is broke. All those jobs and I guess she didn’t save any money.

No one will hire her.

She has been debased and mocked for months, and almost no one likes her or believes her. She is more of a curiosity than anything else.

She has a teenage son to raise by herself.

The only job she has now is doing hair.

Congratulations, Rachel! NOW, you’re black!

Killers in Africa: A Book Review

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“John P. Whorter, a Colorado mining man, came to Africa to hunt big game. One September morning in 1937 he came face to face with a male lion. Whorter, an excellent shot and as cool as an ice cube, whipped his rifle to his shoulder. His aim was true.

“But he made one ‘little’ mistake.

“Two seconds later he was dead, with the lion’s fangs buried in his skull. Whorter’s mistake was one of ignorance. He aimed at the center of the hair mass on the lion’s head. And that’s exactly where the bullet went – smack through that magnificent mop. Whorter didn’t know that a lion has practically no forehead- that the hair on its head is nothing but hair.”

These are the first lines of non-fiction book Killers in Africa, and its hard to imagine a better start than this.

I don’t really read ‘great white hunter’ stories. I feel little personal connection to Africa, and while I like animals, I rarely find their habits engaging. So when I say that one of the best books I’ve ever read combines all three, you understand that I’m being completely objective on the issue.

Alexander Lake was a hunter intermittently in the 1920’s and 30’s. Hunting big game now is barbaric, but at the time, it was not as reprehensible, and Lake lived by a strict code of honor that makes his exploits readable in a way that others are not. He liked nature, liked Africa, liked the tribes that he interacted with, liked the peculiar people that came from around the world for their own peculiar reasons, and these interests makes him more than just a blood thirsty character.

But Killers is Africa is an arresting read from the first two sentences. Lake immediately tells stories of hunters in scenarios who did what seemed to be the right thing – and ended up dead. Lake rarely blames animals for their nature. His problem is the hunters, uninformed, cowardly and volatile. He is watching the changing of the guard, the influx of men that had no love or respect for nature.

You wouldn’t think that a bunch of stories has a narrative or a flow, but somehow this book does. Lake and his Zulu companion Ubusuku travel from country to country, escaping death and disaster, hunting and escorting other parties and cataloging the adventures of the animals they see.

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Its the details that make this work.

Its the hunter who wounded a buffalo but didn’t finish the job and got killed by the same animal five days later, not understanding that the African buffalo has a mean temper, a long memory and tends to circle back on hunters that attack it.

Its men who got trampled by stampeding elephants, not realizing that had they stayed behind even the smallest tree or shrub they would have likely been safe.

Its his brilliant takedown of Colonel Patterson.

Patterson was known for killing two man-eating lions in 1898 after months of brutal attacks. Over nine months twenty nine men were pulled from where they slept and eaten alive, although Patterson exaggerated the numbers to nearly a hundred and fifty. (There was a movie about it The Ghost and the Darkness, with Val Kilmer and Michael Douglas) Lake carefully explains why two elderly lions shouldn’t have been about to outsmart three thousand men for nearly a year.

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Its being outwitted and terrorized by a troop of baboons, or dodging hungry crocodiles, avoiding mambas, and being entertained by hippos. For a kid outside of Philadelphia with no frame of reference, Lake might as well have been writing science fiction, but I honestly believe you could read this book ten times in a row and still be entertained.

(It is worth noting that Lake also wrote Hunter’s Choice, a very similar work.)

All the butt problems

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Fifteen years ago I had my first cherub. She was beautiful; I had never seen such a perfect little being. Four years later, I had popped out the third and while I sat through my one-millionth episode of Barney or the Wiggles with the oldest, propped a bottle with my foot for the newborn, and ignored the middle, it occurred to me that these “blessings” had effectively ended my life as I knew it.

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In that process, they had also left me with a few things about which I had had no warning such as floppy, stretchy skin, saggy boobs, stretch marks, and an inability to retain thoughts for longer than nine seconds.

Over the last decade and a half, I’ve lost the weight, hit up a plastic surgeon, and covered some of the stretch marks with tattoos. I do what I can with what I’ve got and normally it comes out all right.

I think it all turned okay, personally.

I think it all turned okay, personally.

Until recently I had considered myself pretty lucky and out of the woods. It’s been over eleven years since I’ve had a kid so I don’t think this was irrational thinking. Then one morning I wake up and something is amiss. I’m not quite sure what it is yet so I go about my morning routine. Once I hit the shower, I make the horrifying discovery. What the actual fuck. Is coming out of my ass? Seriously, what is this? Panicked, I jump out of the shower and run to the mirror. Yep. There is it. A hemorrhoid.

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OmigahdNO. Ok I am not going to say this is the worst thing that has happened to me in my life but in that moment, this was the worst thing that had happened to me in my life.

I did what any rational person would do. I immediately jumped in the car and hightailed it to CVS while frantically dialing my sister to tell her my plight. She was calm. How are you so damn calm about grapes coming out of my butt? Seriously, did you not hear what I just said? As I ransacked what I now refer to as the “ass aisle” at the pharmacy, it occurred to me that while I thought I had shed all semblance of modesty years ago when I gave birth in a room of a teaching hospital that apparently doubled as a stadium for the viewing entertainment of practically everyone I knew, I had not. I tried to discretely slide into the ass aisle and quickly grabbed one of everything.

I'll have the sampler, please?

I’ll have the sampler, please?

On my way to the register, discretely carrying (dropping) my ninety-seven products, I thought of what I would tell the girl at the register. I would make up an excuse, I’ll tell her it was for my dad, he’s old. We would share a knowing glance and she would definitely not stare me down in disgust. Shockingly, I did not have to use my cover story as the nineteen-year-old check out girl apparently did not care what I was buying or why. Neither did any other patrons, weird.

I raced home and put things in places they definitely don’t belong. I did this for days, the smell of Tucks becoming as normal as my hand soap. To no avail. Three days later my friend was still hanging around and I was convinced that Bob (we’d been together for a while now, he deserved a name) would be with me for good. It was time to bring in the big guns. I called the doctor. Of course Jeremiah answered.

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Jeremiah is the cute guy at the doctors office who schedules the appointments. I told Jeremiah I needed to make an appointment. He asked why I wanted to come in. “Oh my god, it’s none of your damn business, stay out of my life” I screamed at him. In my head. Out loud I mumbled something about my butt. He scheduled me in a bored, monotone voice but I know he was probably laughing and texting his friends.

My appointment isn’t for three days, holy shit, that’s a lot of uncomfortable sitting and driving. And do I even have enough granny panties to get through this ordeal?

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Fast forward. I somehow make it through to the day of my appointment. Why are all of these people so nosy???? Is it not bad enough that they want to know my weight as soon as I walk in; they also need to know what’s going on with my butt? Surely this is some violation of privacy, where the hell is that HIPPA paper? My doctor comes into the room. She’s a very nice lady and I feel the need to apologize to her for only coming to see her when something smells or is otherwise not right, below the belt. After she makes me lay on my side and violates me, I feel as though she should be the one apologizing to me. Good God. She confirms that Bob is indeed a hemorrhoid. In fact, Bob is a hemorrhoid and a half, she says smiling. Did I call her a nice lady? She’s actually the devil, in what realm is this something to smile about? She informs me that she will give me a prescription and apologizes that I’ll have to stick it in my butt, do I mind that she asks? Lady, I will stick heroin filled balloons in my butt and parade them across the border if you tell me it will shrink this shit up, just make it go away.

Oh wait, you don't have insurance? Guess we're doing the low-tech option.

Oh wait, you don’t have insurance? Guess we’re doing the low-tech option.

She feels confident that her plan of care will address my issue. However, she warns, this will likely reoccur. I have had kids and women who have been pregnant and given birth are more susceptible to reoccurring hemorrhoids. Never have I felt so sexy as the moment my doctor told me that my destiny was to walk this planet with inflamed veins hanging out of my butt, seriously, all I can think of is detective Einhorn from Pet Detective.

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I again mentally thank the three people who live in my home for ruining my life in seven thousand different ways and rush to the pharmacy to pick up my prescription, feeling relieved that my nightmare has a light at the end of the tunnel, however temporary.

As I sit waiting for relief to be handed to me in the form of a paper bag full of ass bullets, fate throws me another curveball. The pharmacist regretfully informs me that my ass medication is not covered by insurance. My heart sinks as she tells me my total is close to a hundred dollars. I weigh this out in my head for a moment. I really don’t like this butt grape (and a half) but I really don’t like being broke either. Angrily, I tell the pharmacist to shove it and push her capitalist propaganda somewhere else. Really it sounds more like a half sobbed “No thanks” as I flee from the counter. Can this nightmare get any worse? I grab some Metamucil and go home to drown my sorrows in some hot orange chalk water.

Unfortunately my doctor’s office is now closed for the weekend so I can’t get a prescription covered by insurance (if one exists) until Monday. It’s a good thing I have very little semblance of a life, my calendar is clear to spend two days sitting on a donut watching reruns of Will and Grace. I count the minutes until Sunday night, diligently going through my tube of over the counter ointment, shoving my over the counter, subpar bullets where nothing belongs, and chasing all of that with my over the counter, subpar Tucks pads. My life now revolves around my bathroom, much like when I was pregnant, reminding me again that the root cause of this trauma is those three people I birthed who now spend their days asking for my money and slamming doors. I feel I got jipped in the tradeoff.

Monday morning finally comes and I spring out of bed, staring at the clock, willing it to become nine o’clock. To kill time, I take a shower as I remember that I do obligations outside of my seemingly futile hemorrhoid curing efforts. It is then, in the shower, that I realize Bob is gone. Bob. Is. Gone. Ok I’m not saying this is the best thing to ever happen to me but in that moment, this is the best thing to ever happen to me.

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Now, weeks later, I reflect back and think about Bob. Not fondly. I don’t miss Bob. Bob did not enrich my life or teach me any important life lessons. Bob was, however, entertaining for those close to me so for that I suppose I should be thankful, as I certainly love to see people laugh even if it’s at my expense. So thanks, Bob, for that. But seriously. Screw the pharmaceutical industry. What a bunch of opportunist punks.

10 Worst Comic Book Movies of All Time: Number 1

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Instead of a review I will submit the notes I made with timing marks as I watched The Crow: Wicked Prayer.

3:31 – A character is introduced by a still frame and then a text description. Honestly, I have a weakness for that kind of thing, last time I saw it was in Feast. Everyone is named after the Four Horsemen. Not the Ric Flair bunch, the originals.

8:08 – Kind of cements Luke (David Boreanaz) as a complete non-threat as a villain. Tara Reid shows up as his girlfriend Lola. The screen hasn’t seen this kind of chemistry since Anakin and Padme.

10:01 – This horrible flute music plays as the girlfriend gives a horrible speech about the legend of the Crow. They’re opening a casino. I have no idea why she is talking about crows.

Also, this is the kind of music they lampooned in the Stonehenge bit in Spinal Tap. Its the stuff Ritchie Blackmore started playing in the 90’s. This is bad.

11:45- At some fundamental level no one involved in this film has any idea how couples interact with each other. Its like aliens landed, disguised themselves as humans and tried to make a movie about people but got all the details wrong.

22:00ish – They kill Jimmy Cuervo (Edward Furlong) and his girlfriend and take her eyes and his heart for some ritual. There are puns involved. The villains are Satanists. Satanists who buy their gear at Dollar General.

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27:01 – The eyes give Tara Reid the power of precognition. Well not really. Just more flashbacks that don’t seem to help.

28:05 – Apparently Luke and his gang are mad that the casino is shutting down the local mines and putting families out of work. He briefly goes over everyone’s motivation before explaining that he is hoping Satan will help him get his revenge. I don’t think that’s how that works. The Devil doesn’t really have a history of granting wishes and helping people deal with injustices. That would be the other guy actually.

31:04- Jimmy comes back from the dead. Not only is he terribly miscast this is a performance neck and neck with the worst of Nicholas Cage’s work.

34:40 – Much like this franchise he finds out he cannot die. He burns all of his old life and then puts on the Crow costume which is what he wore at ‘Ravenfest’ with his girlfriend and becomes…the worst Crow ever. How do you screw this up? The Crow is a simple look, but a cool one. This looks like an underage goth kid trying to sneak into a bar.

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39:31 – Okay there’s this wedding chapel/BBQ spot and Luke is taking revenge on the minister there, a reformed criminal who killed his father the preacher over a small amount of money. They’re trying to flesh out the character.

41:15 – To be fair, this is the first part of his performance that I liked, this bad guy that thinks that people can’t change. For a moment things clicked and Boreanaz showed me something? What just happened? Why did this bit briefly work and nothing else did? Was the day’s catering poisoned and he channeled that pain?

Aaaaand back to the suck.

44:45 – Jimmy shows up and displays the strength and fighting ability we’ve seen in the last three films. That means it took 45 minutes for this movie to catch up to what the audience already knew. Not good. He kills a guy by holding him against a bug zapper. There’s so many things wrong with this I don’t know what joke to write.

52:37 – We find out that he is a murderer, but it’s because he lost it on a football jock who was trying to rape someone. This is roughly the twentieth flashback so far. Oh wait, the couple that run the chapel are the parents of the kid he killed. So everyone is connected, in the sort of way that happens in lousy movies.

The minister that is shot comes back to life. Not sure why this happens.

56:31 – I will give them this. Tara Reid IMMEDIATELY figures out what’s happening within seconds of seeing him. The only problem is, she delivers the line the same way you and I would read someone a bus schedule.

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56:56 – “Did the blood wash off,” The Crow asked, “Or did you have to scrub really, really hard?”

58:09 – Turns out Luke is way stronger than the Crow. Also, they wound the bird that follows him almost immediately. The next four or so minutes feature bad acting, where everyone clenches their teeth and hisses their lines to indicate intensity, but they all look like live-action versions of a 90’s comic cover.

65:00 – For some reason Macy Gray.

65:42 – For some reason Dennis Hopper. And that reason was a paycheck.

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69:16 – A fight starts between the Crow, the sheriff and the Tribal Council, and apparently a Satanic pimp and the villainous gang. The Crow has done exactly zero preparation against the man who already outclassed him.

71:48 – “I now pronounce you Devil and his Shorty,” Dennis Hopper as El Nino the pimp.

74:20 – Luke becomes the Anti-Christ. He immediately starts to ham it up. He is wearing a Western jacket and has a pocket comb, because he is actually the Fonz.

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75:26 – He crucifies the Crow and then tortures him by playing an out of tune piano. Tara Reid reveals that the eyes get their power from the sacred burial ground and if they don’t have sex before sunrise something goes wrong. Its turns that Tara Reid was one of El Nino’s hos.

Hmmm.

Tara Reid as a prostitute. Maybe the casting wasn’t as off as I thought.

So now Boreaneaux descends into something worse than bad acting while Tara Reid figures out that the Anti-Christ intends to kill more people than just the ones she was mad at. Meanwhile the Crow wakes up and the Tribal Council argues with him, explaining that his daughter believed in fairy tales. Again, he’s talking a guy that came back from the dead and is clearly the figure of tribal legend.

83:22 – This is wire work that Hong Kong would find a bit much.

85:22 – The tribe does a Crow Dance to give him power. Things are just happening randomly at this point. The sun rises, the bad guy gets impaled, and the girl gets arrested as her eyes bleed. The Crow falls asleep in a hearse and gets reunited with his girlfriend.

I look down and my hands are wet from my own tears. I didn’t even know I was crying.

We need to stop doing lists for a while.

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Somehow, I always knew it would come to this.

From the moment we decided to countdown the 10 Worst Comic Book Movies of All Time, I had a pretty good idea of what my number one would be. Never before had a film been so terrible, so unbelievably disappointing. For years, it stood not only as one of the worst films ever made, but a prime example of an opportunity that was squandered for no good reason at all.

And after all these years, it still sucks just as hard as it did in 1997.

Long Live The King.

Long Live The King.

In order to understand how the Batman franchise went from the amazing Tim Burton films to this shitpile, you have to understand one thing: This is the film the studio wanted to make from the beginning.

Warner Brothers felt that the Tim Burton films were too dark, and set out to make a more kid friendly – and they hoped more profitable – offering by bringing in Joel Schumacher, resulting in the storm of mediocrity that was Batman Forever. That film still retained a lot of the things that made the original films good, but the campy tone and bad one-liners were beginning to rear their ugly heads, and once that train left the station, there was no turning back.

There was just one problem with this calculation. As an 80’s baby, I got the chance to grow up watching this:

Batman: The Animated Series is what defined the character for my generation. It was the perfect iteration of the character, and elevated several of the villains from one-note jokes in the comics to complex, fleshed out and even sympathetic characters in the show. The creators, Bruce Timm and Eric Radomski, had tremendous respect and love for the comic books, and it shows in the series.

Film studios, however, don’t have any respect for comics or the stories and characters within them; I doubt many of them even read comics growing up. So, their perspective on the character was a lot more like this:

I’m not saying that Batman and Robin is as bad as the Adam West – helmed Batman series of the 60s, but it wasn’t for lack of trying.

Batman and Robin is a train wreck from minute one onward, starting with the gratuitously homoerotic suit up sequence. Bat-Nipples. Bat-Codpieces. Bat-Ass. The whole thing looks like cosplay night at an S&M dungeon.

The second treat for an unsuspecting public is a bad joke, and the film is just getting started. Bad puns and hammy dialogue permeate throughout this farcical nightmare, and it was all done on purpose. Why the hell did they think people would respond positively to all this fetishism and campy silliness? Was their target audience John Waters?

“Don’t look at me. I thought this was a piece of shit!”

The horrible trifecta is completed when Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Mr. Freeze steps onto the scene. It’s hard for one bad thing to stick out from such a catastrophic mess as Batman and Robin, but somehow he manages to pull it off.

While Mr. Freeze was a joke villain for many years, he got a significant revamp for his portrayal in Batman: The Animated Series. Here, Freeze is portrayed as a cold, emotionless being driven by two things: A cure for his terminally ill wife, and revenge on those responsible for her condition. The Emmy-winning Mr. Freeze episodes set a very high bar for the character, so high that Patrick Stewart was supposed to take the role.

Arnold Schwarzenegger is no Patrick Stewart, but this should still have been a layup for The Terminator. Instead, the character is taken back to his one-note joke roots. Literally. He can’t stop making bad puns about ice and cold, and the film keeps providing them, as if this is what people want.

Arnold gives by far the worst performance in the film, but there’s plenty of terrible to go around. Uma Thurman is gloriously bad as Poison Ivy; she has a lot of fun with the character, but the character totally stinks. And say what you will about Tom Hardy’s Bane in Dark Knight Rises, but they at least gave the character some of the cerebral depth that made him so infamous in comics. Here, Bane is turned into a simple bio-goon, a big hulking galoot without a mind of his own.

The heroes do no better, with George “I’m just here for the money” Clooney doing precisely jack shit with Bruce Wayne, Chris O’Donnell being whiney and terrible as the Boy Wonder, and Alicia Silverstone’s purposeless Batgirl being completely purposeless. She plays Alfred’s niece here, apparently from London by way of the Valley.

Joel Schumacher has claimed that he is a lifelong fan of Batman, but seeing this film makes that impossible to believe. The “action” in this film is one stupid set-piece after the next, with Batman and Robin playing hockey against Freeze’s goons, bouncing sunlight off of satellites to melt the city, and other such stupidity that even the writers of Adam West’s Batman would have thought was a bit much. All character development is thrown out the window, in favor of multiple subplots that no one gives a rat’s ass about. There’s no enjoyment to be had anywhere, and it’s all too dull and goofy to even qualify as a guilty pleasure flick.

The irony is that, in trying to make a Batman film that appealed to kids, they took out everything that made kids gravitate toward the character to begin with: They made Batman lame. Audiences responded in kind, and Batman and Robin went on to become the lowest-grossing entry in the franchise. It wasn’t until someone decided to reboot the series with a dark and gritty tone that the Batman found wings again (sorry) with Batman Begins, a commercial and critical favorite.

You kids don't know how lucky you've got it.

Next time blockbuster season rolls around, audiences will be treated to Ben Affleck as The Caped Crusader in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. A lot of ink has already been spilled on what a mistake that was, but one thing is certain: There’s no way Affleck can ruin Batman any worse than Joel Schumacher did with this steaming pile of Bat-Crap.

You kids don't know how lucky you are.

You kids don’t know how good you have it.

10 Worst Comic Book Movies of All Time: Number Two

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1997’s Steel was a perfect storm of crap, and what little audience there was paid the price.

When Superman died, there was a lousy event comic where four different people appeared and either one of them could have been the Man of Steel. It was even intimated that his ‘soul’ could have possessed another body. One of those bodies was John Henry Irons. (Subtle.)

Irons had created an energy cannon that became weaponized by the military, and somehow he didn’t see that coming. So to fight the weapon that was now filtering onto the streets, he made a set of armor and an indestructible hammer to fight crime with, which is a basically an even BETTER weapon to fall into the wrong hands.

It was an attempt to introduce a black character into comics, but it was over a decade before Steel was even bearable.

The Steel movie starred Shaquille O’Neal. Shaq is very charismatic, quick to improvise, and has a huge sense of humor and a deadpan style to go with it. But Shaq is hard to motivate, and no one is more boring than Shaq when he’s phoning it in.

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He phoned it in.

Maybe that’s not fair. Shaq was doing the Summer Olympics, and training for Lakers camp at the same time. He had very little time to go over lines with his acting coach, but that’s why movies star – you know – actors. People whose full time job is acting. It helps with those pesky scheduling conflicts.

The writer/director was Kenneth Johnson, who had spent pretty much his entire career doing television which is why Steel looks and feels like a really cheap TV movies.

This is a boring, cheap-looking movie with bad acting and not the slightest bit of interest from anyone involved. The story is a black version of the Iron Man origin, guy makes weapon, doesn’t want it out there, puts on a suit of armor to fight crime and the spread of the weapon, except in Steel, Irons doesn’t get hurt (because that would be too interesting) his lab partner gets hurt so we lose a lot of time with sappy scenes between the two.

The wheelchair shoots rockets.

The wheelchair shoots rockets.

The villain is Judd Nelson. Steel could have embraced its cheapness and gone for being all out entertaining, but it goes for the pacing of a drama, mixed with one-liners that didn’t work in the 80’s and terrible casting. Also this is one of the worst superhero suits ever made in a movie for wide release. Somehow they found a way to make a man that is naturally seven feet tall, look unintimidating.

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Over the years, comic book movies have taken me through a gauntlet of emotions, from joy to sadness, excitement to despair and all points in between. Before watching Ghost Rider 2: Spirit of Vengeance however, no film has ever made me feel angry. Why was I so mad? Because I felt like I’d been played.

Thanks for the money, suckers!

Thanks for the money, suckers!

No film has ever been more vapid, more loud, more pointless, or more disrespectful of people paying money to see a film than Ghost Rider 2. A terrible plot with holes the size of the Grand Canyon. Camera work done by an epileptic on PCP. Monks with fucking computers. Honestly guys, what the hell did we do to you?

Why does the devil need to hop in a getaway car to escape? Matter of fact, why does he need a human body? Why does Blackout supposedly decay everything he touches, except the moment that fact becomes inconvenient to the “plot”? Why does Raiden have all those face tattoos? Why does the entirely CGI Ghost Rider have to sway back and forth like he’s listening to “Sailing” by Christopher Cross?

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Who gave Nicholas Cage the drugs, and who said it was OK to give them to everyone?

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As we talked about before, Nicholas Cage’s performances began a swift decline into the terrible right around the time the first Ghost Rider film came out. This decline brought with it some terrible box office returns that coincided with some financial problems for the actor, which seemingly forced him into a number of sub-par stories and productions.

But no one told him he had to be terrible in those films. That was his idea.

The problems with Ghost Rider are not all Cage’s fault – they literally gave him nothing to work with in terms of script and story, and not giving a single crap and still getting paid is an offer I doubt that most people would pass on. But at some point, you have to give at least half a crap about what you’re putting out there, and Cage is past the point where he can phone in lunacy and we’re supposed to act like it’s still funny. You were one of the best out there buddy. It’s time to come back home.

Even worse than Cage is the direction from Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor, the duo that brought us Crank. They apparently believe that their target audience is squirrels, because they are consistently attempting to keep our attention with shaky camera work and slo-mo scenes in every shot. Perhaps it was an attempt for them to keep us distracted from the nonsense that was supposed to pass for entertainment, but it wasn’t working.

That’s the part that made me so upset; the idea that they could attempt to play on the fact that this franchise is sub-par, and make a film that’s purposefully bad, yet not make any attempt to make it truly fun. It’s by-the numbers mayhem for them, and they expect the audience to eat it up by putting in a bunch of explosions and flaming-chainsaw crane set pieces. (Which, I’m ashamed to admit, was AWESOME.)

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They took over-the-top and turned it into dull, predictable crap, and then, on top of it all, they still have the nerve to look over and wink at you from time to time, as if you are in on the the joke, when in fact, the joke’s on you.

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Don’t wink at me, dude. We are clearly not friends, and where I come from, disrespect like this can get a boot print burned in your ass.

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