MUST WATCH: Titans Season 3!

Hey Everyone,

Paul here…

The DC Comics Universe is a rich tapestry of compelling and memorable characters. Marvel may the best heroes (not counting Batman and Superman), but DC, hands down, has the best villains. Yet for some reason, live-action DC properties always feel like they use the same group of characters, again and again and again and again: Joker, Zod, Batman, Superman, Lex Luthor. Wash. Rinse. Repeat. I’m a big fan of Zack Snyder‘s Man of Steel. However, as excited as I was for that film, I was so disappointed that General Zod was the film’s main antagonist. Superman has so many amazing villains that has never been in a big screen, live action Superman film before. Characters like Darkseid, Mongol, Metallo, FUCKING BRAINIAC! To be fair, I think Michael Shannon is fantastic as General Zod. In fact, I think he is one of the best villains in the DCEU so far. However, I think that changing the villain in Man of Steel would have made a massive impact on how that story was received and how well it worked. Had a badass villain like Brainiac been utilized, an already damn good Superman movie, could’ve been an all-time great comic book flick.

Wow. Um, that got away from me pretty damn fast… Believe it our not, I’m actually here to talk about the new season of Titans on HBO Max. The reason I opened with a rant about my desire to see a more diverse group of DC characters brought to life in live-action, on TV or film, is because Titans scratches that itch big time! Each season showcases a plethora of our favorite DC characters and concepts, many making their live-action debut. It’s one of the reasons Titans is such a big draw for me.

Titans premiered as the flagship show in the now defunct streaming service DC UNIVERSE. It was the first of multiple original series that the fledgling service rolled out over the course of it’s initial launch. It was followed by a Doom Patrol series, the resurrection of the beloved animated show Young Justice, Harley Quinn: The Animated Series, and a great Swamp Thing show that was cancelled before it even premiered, airing only one season (apparently it was WAY TOO expensive, but who really knows?). All of the shows were varying degrees of exceptional. They were all well received by both critics and fans, except for Titans. While the show was considered a success upon it’s launch, it was the only original DC UNIVERSE series that was met with a harsh critical reception. With DC and HBO both falling under Warner Bros ownership, along with the DC streaming service underperforming, Warner Bros was looking to invest additional content and resources and into HBO Max. Titans, Doom Patrol, and Young Justice all made the transition to the new streaming service. Doom Patrol Season 3 debuts in September and Young Justice Season 4 is currently in production.

The infamous “Fuck Batman.” scene.

Titans premiered in the wake of films like Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad. Both highly anticipated DC projects that were criticized for being overly dark and left many fans massively disappointed. When the first trailer for Titan’s dropped, the teaser infamously featured a very angry Dick Grayson, in his Robin uniform, giving some thugs a brutal beating, and declaring “Fuck Batman” at the end if the fight. I think that so many critics and fans were turned off by the sensibilities of the DCEU films and they saw Titans is simply an extension of what they disliked about the DC movies. Another overly serious, ultra dark, violent, superhero tale that takes the joy out of these classic characters. In my opinion, this point was one of the big reasons that Titans wasn’t greeted warmly by critics and certain fans, when it debuted. I personally don’t agree with that particular criticism, but I understand. Regardless, I enjoyed the hell out of season one, I couldn’t wait for season two and it easily surpassed season one by telling a fantastic Deathstroke story.

As much as I’ve loved this show, its biggest problem has always been the story. In the first two seasons, different storylines and character threads don’t always mesh and come together exactly as well as you would want them to, and it can leave the show feeling a little disjointed. I’m very pleased to report that with season three, it seems like Titans has really ironed out it’s storytelling problems to deliver a tight, compelling, and extremely entertaining narrative.

For a guy who is viewed as such a loner, Batman surrounds himself with a rather large surrogate family. He frequently opens his home to people with nowhere to go and in some cases trains and drafts them in his war to protect Gotham City. With the exception of Alfred, Dick Grayson is by far Batman‘s most well-known and interesting partner. Everyone knows who Dick Grayson is, whether they consciously know it or not. When people think of RobIn, the character they have in their head is Dick Grayson. He is the original Robin, but there’ve been many others to take up the mantle of Robin.

While Titans is ostensibly a team/ensemble series, this is the Dick Grayson show through and through. The series opens with a nice, little easter egg comic book reference, after his falling out with Bruce, Dick leaves Gotham and becomes a detective for the Detroit Police Department, he did something similar in the original comic book run. The first two seasons largely focus on his struggle to come to terms with his own personal demons and his complicated feelings about Bruce Wayne. Dick is a very angry young man, especially at the beginning of the series. He knows he has real darkness inside him, which he hates about himself, but he hates Bruce even more for nurturing those feelings and, as Dick sees it, weaponizing them for his own ends. This feeling is only reinforced when he meets Jason Todd for the first time, a young man who introduces himself to Dick as the “new Robin”. The fact that through Bruce just replaced Dick without a second thought, putting another young man in harms way, confirms what Dick has suspected for a long time. He loved Bruce as a father/brother figure and now he realizes he was nothing more than a soldier in Bruce’s insane war. It’s also important to remember that the mantle of Robin was Dick’s to give away, that was a persona, a hero, that Dick created to be Bruce’s sidekick. So it feels like an extra kick in the teeth, when Dick meets his own replacement, decked out in full, Robin regalia.

It’s a difficult and continuing road, but through his experiences with The Titans have put him on the path he was meant to walk. Dick is intelligent, emotionally well balanced, and compassionate enough, to work through these feelings by leaning on other people he cares about. Instead of trying to carry his burden alone, which allows him to become his own man and a hero in his own right, as Nightwing. Leaving Robin behind forever, but still fulfilling his destiny as a superhero. Eventually, he even manages to forgive Bruce, realizing that no matter warped and unhealthy it may have been, Bruce was only trying to help and protect Dick. He was trying to save him and help him in the only way he knew how.

Some of Bruce‘s “parenting” time with Jason.

Jason Todd, the current Robin, on the other hand, is nothing like Dick and doesn’t have any of Grayson’s positive qualities I mentioned a moment ago. He’s not particularly intelligent, he’s reckless, and unable to keep his emotions in check. He also has a big chip on his shoulder, as well as a serious inferiority complex. Sadly, anything Bruce may have learned during his time with Dick, certainly didn’t transfer to Jason, because that kid is a goddamn mess. Curran Walters who plays Jason, has absolutely crushed it since he was introduced mid-Season 1. He plays him like a mix between a live, exposed electrical wire and a lost, desperate puppy. Jason is a key character in Season 3 and Walters brings 100% to a complicated role.

Going into Season 3, Dick has finally come to terms with his past, to become the hero and leader he needs to be, as Nightwing. This new iteration of The Titans have have come together as a formidable team of heroes. They’re working like a fine oiled machine. The Titans have even become quasi-celebrities. Adored by the media and the public for their heroism. Whaddaya know? Turns out is you actually SAVE a few people and don’t level a city in the process, the public actually likes superheroes! Who knew? The active Titans, consisting of Connor AKA Superboy, Kory AKA Starfirfe, Gar AKA Beast Boy, Dawn AKA Dove, Hank AKA Hawk, and Super-Dog Krypto, are thriving as a team with Nightwing at the helm. While some of the mainstays of the team are off screen until later in the season, like Raven and Donna Troy. Things are looking great, which is of course when those old Gotham City demons show up pounding on Dick Grayson’s door.

(Minor Spoilers here, but nothing that hasn’t been shown in the trailers) Tragedy strikes when the current Robin, Jason Todd, is brutally killed by The Joker.

Anyone who really knows the character, understands that Batman handles the death of a loved one poorly, at best. Batman handles Jason’s death just about as badly as you’d expect. It’s a fucking train wreck. He callously throws himself into his work as The Dark Knight, hiding from his grief. The series first introduced Bruce Wayne in Season 2, played by Ian Glenn (Ser Jorrah Mormont from Game of Thrones) and he’s been great in the role ever since. We see a Batman that has serious problems processing grief and instead of dealing with it head on, in a healthy way, he dives headfirst back into being Batman. It’s like he’s escaping from his trauma into this monster of his own creation. Following the death of Jason Todd, we have never seen the character more mentally unhinged and emotionally broken.

There’s a fantastic moment in The Batcave between Bruce and Dick, Dick is horrified to discover that Bruce has already been researching possible “recruits” to replace Jason as Robin. When a furious Dick confronts Bruce about this, looking and sounding like a lost little boy, Bruce almost timidly asks “Do you wanna be Robin again?”. Dick’s reaction is a shocked mix of disgust, pity, disbelief, and genuine concern. The fact that Bruce would even ask him this, shows exactly how far gone, mentally, he really is. It’s almost as if Bruce is experiencing some kind of psychotic break and the gravity of the moment is not lost on Dick. Things get worse before they get better. With Batman off the deep end, a brutal and dangerous new player storms into Gotham’s underworld: The Red Hood.

He’s a compelling and genuinely threatening villain, and if you don’t already know the character, the less said the better.

Following the recent death of her father, former Batgirl, Barbara Gordon, has reluctantly taken on the thankless role of Gotham City Police Commissioner (mainly because no one else was crazy enough to take the job). Like Grayson, Barbara has her own less than perfect history with Bruce Wayne, she’s done with vigilantes and the questionable cycle of violence Bruce perpetuated. So the last thing she wants to do is pick up with Nightwing, where her father left off with Batman, but The GCPD is stretched to it’s limit. Dick isn’t thrilled with the situation either. He thought he put Batman and Gotham behind him to build something better with The Titans. Instead, he’s forced to “step into his Father’s shoe’s” and bring a still relatively green group of heroes into a city where mistakes put you in the morgue instead of the emergency room.

As Dick and Barbara re-establish their fragile partnership, the new Commissioner reveals that Dick and The Titans aren’t the only “consultants” she’s been forced to work with. Straight out of “Silence of The Lambs”, while currently incarcerated in Arkham Asylum, The GCBD has been utilizing the skills of one of the world’s best criminal psychologists and profilers, Dr. Jonathan Crane, better known as The Scarecrow.

Some might find the “Hannibal Lector” angle a little derivative, but the show manages to get away with it because it’s so damn fun to watch. Crane is played by Vincent Kartheiser, better known to audiences as Pete Campbell from Mad Men, Connor from Angel, and a slew of various roles on the big screen. Kartheiser really makes the role his own. We’ve never quite seen the popular Batman villain portrayed like this. I don’t want to SPOIL too much, so if you don’t want to know anything, skip down to the next paragraph where you’ll see “END SPOILERS”….

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…. I wont go into specifics about the role of the character in the series. However, when it comes to the level of danger he presents, some fans tend to think of Crane as a pretty minor Batman villain. But anyone who’s played the video game, Batman: Arkham Knight, knows that Scarecrow is capable of being a massive, city-wide threat that we tend to only associate with characters like The Joker, Ra’s Al Ghul, or Bane. Dr. Jonathan Crane is not to be underestimated.

END SPOILERS

After 2 seasons largely focused on Dick Grayson’s journey from Robin to Nightwing. Now in Season 3, the series has come into his own and Nightwing’s return to his hometown, along with the rest of The Titans, couldn’t have come at a more difficult time. As Dick and his team try to live up to the legacy of Batman as Gotham’s protector’s, a violent and formidable new threat has emerged from the Gotham underworld. A criminal who may have a much deeper and more personal connection to Dick and Bruce than either of them could have imagined. If you’ve ever thought about giving Titans a chance, now is the time to do it, because the series has never been better.

Thanks for reading! Follow us on Twitter @PJWrightWBM, Instagram @worldsbestmedia2017, and our Facebook Page, Worlds Best Media. Those likes and follows, as well as iTunes reviews, go a long way to supporting World’s Best Media. We really appreciate the loyalty and support shown to us by our fans, so thanks again! Stay healthy and stay safe!

-Paul

Dark Nights: Death Metal #1 Review!

Hey Everyone,

Paul here…


Dark Nights: Death Metal #1

Written by Scott Snyder

Art by Greg Capullo 

  The long awaited and much anticipated new miniseries from DC Comics, Dark Nights: Death Metal, is finally here and today I’m reviewing the first issue! About once a year, usually in the summer, both of “The Big Two” comic book publishers, DC and Marvel, will put out an epic miniseries “Event”. These are the no holds barred stories, where seemingly anything can happen! Typically, even though one character or one particular team will be the focus of the story, these Events affect and involve the entire DCU or Marvel Universe. These stories tend to have casts of thousands! With huge, status quo changing moments! Whenever the publishers at Marvel or DC are talking about their latest Event Miniseries, they like to say things like, “After this story nothing will ever be the same!”. When you’ve been reading comics as long as I have, there are certain things that you tend to expect to see when one of these big stories come out. There are usually some major character deaths, surprise resurrections, heroes turning into villains and vice versa, things like that. Classic DC and Marvel stories like Crisis On Infinite Earths, Infinity Gauntlet, and Civil War are some examples of Event Comics. Like many things, some of them suck and other become classics.

One of the best superhero Events of the last decade was Dark Nights: Metal written by Scott Snyder and art by Greg Capullo. That story saw the DCU being invaded by the evil, cosmic forces of the previously unknown Dark Mutiverse. The Dark Multiverse is a nightmare realm where the deep fears of everyone in The DCU are made manifest. These are the worlds where everything that could go wrong, does go wrong. The Dark Multiverse was ruled by an evil god-like entity called Barbatos. When he came to attack and claim the DCU, his generals were all dark, twisted versions of Batman. 

   The most terrifying and formidable of the evil Bruce Waynes from across The Dark Multiverse was, without a doubt, The Batman Who Laughs. In his home reality, after The Joker killed Jim Gordon and a shit load of other people, Bruce Wayne finally had enough of the atrocities committed by The Joker and killed him by snapping his neck. BUT The Clown Prince of Crime had one last surprise for his longtime nemesis, The Joker created a toxin that would be released from his body at the moment of his death and turn whoever killed him into the next Joker. The insidious toxin burned  away Bruce’s humanity. Batman lost of all his morality, compassion, and empathy. Batman, under normal circumstances, is already as Superman once put it, “The most dangerous man alive.”.  This version Batman, without the moral code that stops him from going too far, is a terrifying and unbeatable cosmic horror. Now he’s the apex predator of The Multiverse. Because a Batman Who Laughs is a Batman who always wins. 

  The Justice League managed to defeat Barbatos and his army of evil Batmen (The Batman Who Laughs managed to stick around The DCU), but it came with huge unforeseen consequences. In defeating one dark god, they unknowingly unleashed another: Perpetua, The Mother and Creator of The Multiverse. However, when Perpetua was freed, it took time for her to regain her full power. She needed help and a certain bald, alien hating, billionaire businessman/scientific genius was just the megalomaniac for the job…

Perpetua: Creator of The Multiverse

   One of the major ongoing stories in DC Comics over the last few years has followed Lex Luthor (with the help of The Legion of Doom) as he attempted to pull off his most ambitious cosmic power grab to date. Luthor set out to unlock the hidden powers of the universe and restore Perpetua to her full strength. Luthor’s endgame was to help Perpetua regain control of The Multiverse and rule over all of creation alongside her as her right hand and most trusted disciple. Everything was going according to Luthor’s plan, that is until The Batman Who Laughs showed up. He managed to make the case to Perpetua that he, not Luthor, was the one worthy of becoming her most valuable acolyte. Luthor had done all the work and The Batman Who Laughs snatched everything right out from under him. Perpetua agreed, and Luthor was cast aside.

    Dark Nights: Death Metal is not only a sequel to Dark Nights: Metal, it also builds upon many of the major stories Scott Snyder and others have been telling in the DCU since the end of the first Dark Nights: Metal. Elements from Snyder‘s Justice League run, Doomsday Clock, Snyder’s Batman Who Laughs miniseries, The Flash, and more are all at play. I think one of the things that the story does really well, is that despite all of the groundwork the story has been built upon, it doesn’t feel like you need to have read all of those other stories to understand this one. It’s a more accessible tale than you might think. The story starts very much in the middle of the action, so even if you have read every single DC Comic Book that’s connected to this story, you’re still going to be playing catch-up. Everything in the story is so insane that, part of the fun is figuring out how the hell our heroes have found themselves in this crazy situation.

Without going into major spoilers, Earth has been pulled into The Dark Multiverse. The planet has become a terrifying nightmare-scape, ruled over by the cruel and sadistic Batman Who Laughs. Countless twisted and evil versions of Batman from throughout The Dark Multiverse act as his lieutenants and help enforce his will. Our heroes have lost so badly that to keep what’s left of humanity alive, heroes like Swamp Thing, Aquaman, Wonder Woman, and others are forced work for The Batman Who Laughs and do his bidding. He’s given his version of the Justice League different roles to play in his new kingdom. They know that they can’t beat him. He holds all the cards in such a way that, the only way our heroes can protect the people that are left is to play his sick game and grudgingly work for him. The Batman Who Laughs is essentially holding a gun to the head of what’s left of humanity, to keep the former Justice League in line. It’s sort of reminds me of something out of Game of Thrones where noble characters have to bow down before a despicable ruler in the name of serving a greater good. Of course Batman, the real Batman that is out there somewhere, fighting almost like a guerrilla insurgency, desperately trying to pull off whatever ever he can to save whatever’s left of this broken Multiverse.

Despite the fact that the whole story is wrapped in Batman iconography and there are evil Batmen everywhere, Wonder Woman is the central character in this story. Themyscira, Wonder Woman’s former home, has literally become Hell, a jail for people that The Batman Who Laughs wants to keep out of the way and imprisoned. With Swamp Thing (who’s seen better days to say the least) as her right hand man and confidant, Wonder Woman has become Hell’s Jailer, The Warden of her desecrated homeland. Despite her dark circumstances, Wonder Woman is pretty fucking cool in this story and I love the choice to make her one of the central characters. She’s really the main character, at least in this issue.  but considering what goes down in the first issue alone, I think it’s fair to say she’ll probably be taking center stage for the whole story. If this issue is any indication, that’s a fantastic idea. As cool as Batman is, as smart as he is, and is tough as he is, no one will fight to their last breath like Wonder Woman. She is not content to play her fucked up role in The Batman Who Laugh’s wasteland. Bruce thinks the fight is already lost and all they can hope to do is save whatever good is left. Wonder woman is not having that shit, she knows there must be a way to make things right, to put the universe back together again. And when a very important prisoner is sent to her by The Batman Who Laughs, Diana thinks she may have found her last chance to save the world.

To say anymore would spoil the fun. I will say this, they are not fucking around with this story. Snyder and Capullo have pulled out all of the fucking stops. This is only the first issue and there were at least three or four jaw-dropping moments in this comic book. I was fucking blown away. It’s impressive that while so much of what is going on in the story is dark and bleak, the story never loses it’s thrilling sense of fun. The heroes of the DCU are in rough shape, but it looks like watching them try to set things right is going to be a blast!

   I think it’s safe to say at this point that Snyder and Capullo have established themselves as one of the best writer/artist teams in the history of comics. These are two guys operating at the absolute top of their game and it shows in the story. When Greg Capullo’s name is on a comic book, it’s a given that the art inside will be fantastic, but he really knocked it out of the park on this one. It would be easy to take Capullo’s incredible art for granted, because his work has produced so many phenomenal stories over the years. In Dark Nights: Death Metal, literally everything on each page is something totally new, even all of the classic DC heroes in this story are sporting completely new looks. There are so few artists that could pull off a story like this, with the level of excellence that Capullo delivers. Then there’s the coloring by FCO Plascencia (another long time collaborator of Snyder and Capullo’s) which is gorgeous in this issue. The way the bright, vivid colors of Wonder Woman contrast with the dark, more muted tones of the desolate wasteland that surrounds her, is beautiful to behold.

I’ll definitely say this I loved Dark Nights: Metal and this is a much better first issue than that story. I’m sure Snyder and Capullo would be happy to hear, that the comic book is definitely “Metal”. It rocks the fucking doors off, blows out the windows, and leaves you desperately wanting more. I cannot wait for the next issue, because Dark Nights: Death Metal fucking rules! 🤘

Dark Nights: Death Metal #19/10

Note: DC has put out a prelude story that takes place right before issue #1 begins. You can read it for free on instagram! It’s pretty cool, so I definitely recommend checking it out. Read for free right here: https://t.co/vIJ8HkiZ23

Check out this art from issue #2 hitting stands in July…

FIRST LOOK: DOOM PATROL TV Series On DC Universe!

Hey Everyone,

Paul…

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Last week, the DC UNIVERSE Streaming Service wrapped up the first season of it’s flagship original program, Titans. Considering that, initially, there was some negative buzz about the project, Titans turned out to be a damn good superhero show with a unique take on the DCU and a killer teaser for Season 2. There really isn’t a superhero show quite like Titans airing at the moment.

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One of the coolest parts of the season was how the show alternated episodes by focusing on the overarching, season-long story in one episode. While the next showcased great, but more obscure characters from DC lore and giving them time to shine. We met characters like Jason Todd (the new, borderline psychotic Robin), Hawk & Dove, Donna Troy aka Wonder Girl, and Doom Patrol.

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Doom Patrol popped up around the 4th episode of Titans and was a early highlight in Season 1. Raven is rescued by Garfield Logan aka Gar aka Beast Boy in his tiger form and then takes her to see the rest of his “family”, The Doom Patrol. The Doom Patrol lives in a mansion under the eye of The Chief whose real name is Dr. Niles Caulder. Each member of the Doom Patrol had been in some kind of sever accident and Dr. Caulder’s very bizarre methods saved their lives. However, though his strange methods saved their lives, the side effects of his treatments gave them special abilities. Some are so extreme that that they see themselves as freaks and become more or less shut ins. When Raven is ready to leave, Beast Boy decides to strikes out on his own with the Titans. The Doom Patrol will always be his family, but he needs to start his own journey. As happy as the rest of the Doom Patrol are for him, there’s a sense of tragedy because none of the rest can ever do that themselves. Gar’s the only one of them who can remotely pass as human. They want Gar to have what they can’t: Freedom to live his own life. Basically Doom Patrol is really, really, fucking weird.

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I can’t say I was much of Doom Patrol fan or knew that much about them besides Grant Morrison’s acclaimed Doom Patrol run from the comics years ago. Seeing an episode with those characters front and center made me kind of like them. They’re kind of goofy, but if you don’t take it too seriously the Doom Patrol characters are a lot of fun.

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For the moment, the plan for DC UNIVERSE is to make at least one episode of an original series available on the app each week. Of course, all of the the content the app provides, like free comic book downloads from DC’s library, DC films, and more.

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Young Justice: Outsiders (Part 1) will be available on DC UNIVERSE January 4, with 3 episode blocks coming out each week. Young Justice returns for Part 2 of the season  this summer.

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Shorty after Part 1 of Young Justice: Outsiders finishes up, the Doom Patrol series will premiere on February 15th. Even though these are the same characters, in the same universe, there are 2 big differences from the Doom Patrol series and the Doom Patrol episode of Titans. The Chief, the somewhat menacing Dr. Caulder, will be payed by Timothy Dalton.  While Cyborg has been added to the team in Beast Boy’s absence. Out of the many comic book series premiering in 2019, this has the potential to be a very fun and weird superhero show, so make sure to keep an eye out for this one.

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“Remember when I was in The Mummy?! (Sigh) Better days…”

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“I’m Timothy Dalton For Christ’s Sake! What the FUCK am I doing in this thing?!”

Check out the teaser below and these cool character posters in our first official look at the series. I’ll sat this it looks weird as hell and I really dig that.

What do you guys think of Doom Patrol? Are you going to give it a try? I’d love to hear your comments below.

-Paul

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