Updated: Mar 23, 2021
Welcome to the first issue of the Nerd's Corner! In my attempt to turn nearly every aspect of my life into content, I've decided to create this column to talk about everything that peaks my interest in the world of comics, games, and anything pop culture-related. In this column, I'll be talking about any major releases and announcements from your favorite franchises, my most anticipated comic releases of the week, and whichever other rabbit holes I find myself down.
This past week was a big one for fans of both DC and Marvel on the small screen, so without further ado, let's get right into it!
SPOILER WARNING: If you have not watched the Snyder Cut nor the first episode of The Falcon and The Winter Soldier, get out of here and come back when you've checked both out!
Zack Snyder's Justice League
Before I get into the movie, I'd like to issue a slight disclaimer: I am not a fan of Zack Snyder as a director and was not a huge fan of Man of Steel nor Batman v. Superman. Additionally, I did not see the Whedon Cut of Justice League.
With all that being said, I had a lot of fun with this movie, nearly all four hours of it. Zack Snyder is at his best when he can lean into bombastic, large-scale storytelling. In its four-hour runtime, Justice League taps into a massive reservoir of DC Universe lore in order to depict Earth's fight against Darkseid in as epic a manner as possible, and in many ways, it pays off.
Performances were also pretty solid all-around for the main Justice League members, especially Ray Fisher's performance as Cyborg. Framing a majority of the movie through Cyborg's perspective was an interesting choice, as we got to see how he gained control of his immense informational powers amongst legends like Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman. Fisher also brought great intensity to the character, as Victor Stone wrestled with his power being a gift or a blessing.
While I was not, to put it lightly, a huge fan of Snyder's decisions with Batman in BvS, I actually enjoyed Ben Affleck's Bruce Wayne in this movie. I especially enjoyed his scenes with Gal Gadot's Wonder Woman while they were trying to put the team together.
However, this was far from a perfect movie. While I enjoyed a lot of the extra worldbuilding, it was a lot for anyone who'd be unfamiliar with the source material. Even as someone with a decent understanding of DC Comics, I had to check a wiki a few times to make sure I knew what was going on. While this movie was done for the fans, a major comic blockbuster shouldn't be this alienating for anything less than a die-hard DC fan.
If anything, trimming some extra bits off the end would have helped a lot for accessibility. After the main story ended, we got an extra glimpse at Batman's Injustice-inspired dream sequence, along with a teaser scene for a Batman movie that will never happen to feature Joe Manganiello's Deathstroke. Additionally, we finally get to see Martian Manhunter, who kind of just pops in to talk to our heroes. I understand that these were added in to give a glimpse of what was planned, but they really just elongate an ending that was already pretty satisfying. These scenes would have been better off as extras on HBO Max.
Basel's Score: It is great to see Snyder's final vision, but could have used some trimming.
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier-Episode One
The first episode of the Falcon and the Winter Soldier set up a lot of storylines for one episode, and while it was a bit shaky, the series going forward is set up pretty nicely.
First, we've got Sam Wilson, as he wrestles with taking up the mantle of Captain America while trying to support his family back home. We're finally starting to get answers to questions we've had about Falcon since his first appearance, as well as answers to questions we never thought we had. For example, while it looks like we're going to see more of how the Falcon was used by the military, we're also seeing how Sam regains his footing as an Avenger, Veteran, and Black man in America. In the late 60's comics, this dichotomy was intensely explored as Sam dealt with the Civil Rights movement in Harlem.
Next, we've got Bucky, who deals a similar man out-of-time struggle as his friend Steve, yet with a darker twist. Virtually cured of the Hydra-induced brainwashing that made him the Winter Soldier, Bucky attempts to make amends with those he hurt as a sleeper agent. The relationship he builds with Mr. Nakajima in the first episode perfectly illustrates Bucky's struggle. While Bucky carried out his missions brainwashed, it was still his fingers that pulled the trigger on each target, forcing him to seek out forgiveness. While the therapy sessions seemed to try too hard to emulate the Sopranos, I hope they become a solid way to frame Bucky's development.
Third, we've got the Flag Smashers, who seems to be a terrorist organization dedicated to preserving life in the 5-year "snapped" period. Just like with Monica Rambeau in WandaVision, I'm glad to see more plot points that deal with the aftermath of Bruce Banner's snap-in Endgame. We've seen from guys like Director Hayward that those left from the snap dealt with a lot of survivor's guilt-related trauma, so it will be interesting to see two returned heroes deal with what has happened to the world in their absence. There wasn't a ton of Flag Smashers content in the first episode, but hopefully, we'll get a better idea of their ideology in the upcoming episodes.
Finally, we've got John Walker, who was given the title of Captain America by the government at the end of Episode One. While Sam was given first dibs on the Shield from Steve Rogers, he made it clear that the title of Captain America was one that should be retired, to which the government seemed to agree. Likely out of fear of emerging groups like the flag smashers, the Shield was brought into action again and given to John Walker, known as U.S.Agent in the comics. It's hard to tell whether John Walker will become a literal villain in this series, or rather a foil that further motivates Sam and Bucky.
In summary, while this first episode set up a lot, I think each plot point will blend together nicely once we see Sam and Bucky unite to take down their personal demons together.
Basel's Score: A bloated, yet compelling episode that potentially sets up Marvel's best character study in years. 8.5/10
My Pull List
For those of you unfamiliar with the concept, a Pull List is a reserved list of multiple titles that you make with your local comic store so that you have your favorite issues on time every month. With that out of the way, here are the three comics this week that I'll definitely be snagging a copy of.
Batman: Black and White #4- A super fun anthology series that's perfect for new and old Batman readers. The monochromatic style of this series allows the artists of this series to truly push the boundaries of their medium, resulting in some of the best-drawn comics I've read in years. (Out March 23rd)
Harley Quinn #1: I just finished the Harley Quinn show on HBO Max, so in part, I'm probably starting this series to fill the void until season three gets a release date. I love how Harley has evolved across multiple mediums to be a comical commentator on the absurdness of the DC Universe, and I'm excited to see where Stephanie Phillips takes the character. (Out March 23rd)
Alien #1: I'm a big fan of when the big two superhero publishers dip their toes outside of their own universes, so I'll definitely be picking up this first issue from Marvel. This series will follow a former Weyland-Yutani employee as he tries to patch up his personal life, while also dealing with the looming threat of another Xenomorph attack. (Out March 24th)
What I'm Into This Week-Star Wars: Ahsoka by E.K Johnson
If you're a fan of the Clone Wars or Rebels, this is a must-read. Detailing the events of what Ahsoka did between Revenge of the Sith and Rebels, we get to see our favorite runaway Padawan on some solo adventures through the newly established Empire. I'm currently listening to the audiobook, which is narrated by Ahsoka's voice actor Ashley Epstein. If you're a true Clone Wars junkie, this book is definitely worth checking out if not only for giving us our first canon look at the Siege of Mandalore.
See you next week!