TV Review: The Punisher (2017- )

Original Run: November 17th, 2017 – current
Created by: Steve Lightfoot
Directed by: various
Written by: various
Based on: The Punisher by Gerry Conway, John Romita Sr., Ross Andru
Music by: Tyler Bates
Cast: Jon Bernthal, Ebon Moss-Bachrach, Ben Barnes, Amber Rose Revah, Paul Schulze, Jason R. Moore, Michael Nathanson, Daniel Webber, Jaime Ray Newman, Deborah Ann Woll, C. Thomas Howell, Shohreh Aghdashloo, Clancy Brown, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio

ABC Studios, Marvel, Bohemian Risk Productions, Netflix, 13 Episodes (so far), 49-58 Minutes (per episode)

Review:

This was the first of Marvel’s television series for Netflix that just didn’t resonate with me. Luke Cage wasn’t on the level of Daredevil or Jessica JonesIron Fist was a big step down and The Defenders was a pretty huge disappointment. Plus, Daredevil season two was nowhere near as good as season one. The Punisher, however, is the worst of the bunch.

The problem, is that I anticipated the Punisher doing what he is most known for, shooting the shit out of everyone and everything. The bigger the guns, the better.

Instead, we get a Punisher that just talks and talks and talks and talks and occasionally finds himself in a firefight. We also have to wait like ten episodes to see him wear the iconic skull logo again. Most of the time, he’s a depressed and brooding, angry brute trying to woo the wife of his partner.

Jigsaw is in this, which I was excited about, but I shouldn’t have been. I mean, he’s in just about every episode but he’s Jigsaw before Jigsaw and his origin isn’t even close to what its supposed to be. In The Punisher, we get Ben Barnes looking all pretty and shit. The show should have followed suit with the Punisher: War Zone movie, which featured Jigsaw and did a fine job with the character, even if they botched his real name.

The first season of this is also capped off with a shootout on a carousel. Wasn’t there a carousel scene with the Punisher in Daredevil already? Also, Bernthal had a massive shootout with the mob in Mob City. If you’ve seen that show, which luckily for Netflix, no one else really has, then this feels like familiar territory. Why wasn’t Bernthal on set going, “Guys, I’ve already done this scene before and it was a lot better!”… why?

The only thing I really liked about the show was Ebon Moss-Bachrach, who played Microchip. He was, by far, the best actor in this thing and his work made his character more interesting than it otherwise would have been. In fact, he was more interesting than the Punisher, who just mumbled and grunted through thirteen boring episodes.

I’ll watch the eventual second season but only if Marvel’s Netflix stuff starts getting back to basics and getting as good as it was in the beginning. Besides, I’m pretty close to cancelling Netflix anyway, as the shows I like are ending or falling off, other content is dwindling away and their price keeps getting higher.

Comic Review: Fight Club 2

About two decades after releasing Fight Club and then seeing it made into a film that most consider to be a classic, Chuck Palahniuk finally followed his most famous tale up with a sequel. However, instead of writing another book or working up a screenplay for a film, Palahniuk teamed up with Dark Horse Comics to make a ten issue comic book series.

The result is something really weird and I don’t mean that in a good way. Being that this is Palahniuk’s story, it is how he sees the future lives of these characters. But ultimately, Tyler Durden is just some powerful mystical being that possesses people and that’s not even the weirdest part.

What this story does, is it takes everything you thought that the original book and film were about and turns it on its head in favor of some insane random ass shit that almost feels like a big “fuck you” by the author, who may have just been annoyed by people asking for a follow up.

I don’t really know what the hell I just read. It started out pretty interesting but quickly unraveled into incomprehensible shit. And this is coming from a guy that loved the first half dozen or so Chuck Palahniuk novels. I know how shocking and surprising he can be but this is some next level batshit fuckery.

The art was good and I really wanted to enjoy this but it sort of just shits on Fight Club. That being said, I can’t really accept it and it has some bullshit non-ending that makes the whole damn thing pointless. But I’m glad I read this in one sitting over an hour and a half than issue by issue, over ten months. Had I spent that much time on it, I would have been pissed off. Right now, I’m just baffled and irritated.

 

Comic Review: Batman: Year One

Year One was a Batman tale written by Frank Miller, back in the late 80s when he was doing a lot of cool Batman tales. It originally appeared in Batman issues 404, 405, 406 and 407.

Before the modern era of DC Comics, Year One was considered canon but has since been retconned, as comic book companies feel the need to reboot things all the damn time. It’s still canon to me, as are all the tales I grew up with.

Like many of the comics created by Frank Miller, this one truly is noir, at its heart. And also like Frank Miller’s Batman stories, this is considered to be one of the best.

It actually isn’t one of my favorites, even though I like it a great deal. It’s very short, when compared to longer Batman sagas and even though it spans a year, it’s missing some meat and potatoes.

It starts with both Bruce Wayne and Jim Gordon arriving in Gotham City. It shows their stories parallel to one another, as Gordon moves up the ranks within the crooked Gotham City Police Department and as Bruce Wayne first dons the cape and cowl of Batman. It leads up to the two coming together and establishing a working relationship, just in time for the appearance of the Joker in Gotham City. The Joker doesn’t actually appear, however. In fact, the only real Batman villain in this is Catwoman with a few mentions of Harvey Dent, before he becomes Two-Face.

If you are a fan of Frank Miller, this will definitely be your cup of tea. Also, the art by David Mazzucchelli is some of the most iconic in Batman history. It’s gritty and it matches the noir vibe of the story.

Batman: Year One is a must own for any true Batman fan.

Video Game Review: Batman: Arkham Origins (PlayStation 3)

*Written in 2014.

*I played the PlayStation 3 version. The game is also available on Xbox 360, Wii U, Windows and OS X.

Having beaten Batman: Arkham City last week, I immediately wanted to jump into the next game in the series, Arkham Origins. This game is a prequel to the Arkham series of Batman video games and the third title, with the fourth to be released next year.

This game is incredibly consistent with the previous entries in the series and that consistency is why these games are so great. The first game worked so well, that they haven’t deviated from it too much and only tweak a few things here and there. When playing these games one after the other, the transition is seamless and it all meshes perfectly together like they are all just big beefy chapters of one big interlocked tale. In essence, that is what they are.

The thing that sets this game apart is the fact that it puts a lot of emphasis on some of the lesser known villains in the Batman mythos. Black Mask and Anarky are two villains that are a major part of the story. The Riddler is simply known as E. Nygma, which was a nice touch. Deathstroke, Deadshot, Firefly, Shiva and a bunch of other characters show up that aren’t as recognizable as some of the more famous villains. To whet the palate of the less initiated Batman fan, there are appearances by the Penguin, Bane and the Joker. Mr. Freeze also shows up in bonus content and the Mad Hatter takes Batman on a psychedelic Wonderland adventure.

Additionally, half of the massive Gotham City map is the same as the map in Arkham City. In fact, all the landmarks are still there except being that this is a prequel, they are pristine and nice and not completely overrun by henchmen and street trash.

This game gives the player a unique backstory on the Arkham series and establishes how Batman met the Joker and how the Riddler started out. It also gives one a sense of how things were when Batman was still a newbie and the bigger villains hadn’t shown up in Gotham City yet. It is a very mob driven town, a little less crazy than what it becomes but the introduction to the Joker brings a serious tonal shift to the game and pulls the player back into just how insane this ride would become for Batman.

I don’t know which game in this series I like most. They are all like really stellar seasons to a really amazing television show. They are different yet they are the same. Each is almost devoid of weakness and they all have their own unique strong bits that set them apart but make them all equally spectacular.

Ranking Every Episode of Batman: The Animated Series

*Written in 2014.

I recently reviewed Batman: The Animated Series. So I figured that I would rank every single episode of the series, as I just got done revisiting it and took a shit load of notes.

In this list I am including Batman: The Animated Series, The Adventures of Batman & Robin and The New Batman Adventures, as all three were really the same show with just some slight changes. Additionally, the creative teams on all of these variants of the show were comprised of the same primary people.

I will list these by episode name with the season number, episode number and the villain featured. Two-parters are ranked as one episode.

If you disagree or are puzzled with my picks, feel free to discuss in the comments.

1. “Heart of Ice” (Season 1, Episode 14 – Mr Freeze & Ferris Boyle)
2. “Mad As a Hatter” (Season 1, Episode 27 – The Mad Hatter)
3. “House & Garden” (Season 2, Episode 5 – Poison Ivy)
4. “Mad Love” (Season 3, Episode 21 – The Joker & Harley Quinn)
5. “Growing Pains” (Season 3, Episode 8 – Clayface)
6. “Sideshow” (Season 2, Episode 1 – Killer Croc)
7. “What Is Reality?” (Season 1, Episode 48 – The Riddler)
8. “Sins of the Father” (Season 3, Episode 2 – Two-Face)
9. “Never Fear” (Season 3, Episode 6 – The Scarecrow)
10. “Batgirl Returns” (Season 2, Episode 20 – Catwoman & Roland Daggett)
11. “Deep Freeze” (Season 2, Episode 19 – Mr. Freeze & Grant Walker)
12.  “Feat of Clay: Parts 1 & 2” (Season 1, Episodes 20 & 21 – Clayface & Ronald Daggett)
13. “Heart of Steel: Parts 1 & 2” (Season 1, Episodes 38 & 39 – H.A.R.D.A.C.)
14. “Birds of a Feather” (Season 1, Episode 47 – The Penguin)
15. “The Demon Within” (Season 3, Episode 18 – Klarion the Witch Boy)
16. “Cold Comfort” (Season 3, Episode 3 – Mr. Freeze)
17. “Two-Face: Parts 1 & 2” (Season 1, Episodes 10 & 11 – Two-Face & Rupert Thorne)
18. “Beware the Gray Ghost” (Season 1, Episode 18 – The Mad Bomber)
19. “Old Wounds” (Season 3, Episode 17 – The Joker)
20. “On Leather Wings” (Season 1, Episode 1 – Man-Bat)
21. “Over the Edge” (Season 3, Episode 12 – The Scarecrow & Bane)
22. “Double Talk” (Season 3, Episode 4 – The Ventriloquist)
23. “Judgment Day” (Season 3, Episode 24 – The Judge, Two-Face, Killer Croc, The Riddler & The Penguin)
24. “If You’re So Smart, Why Aren’t You Rich?” (Season 1, Episode 40 – The Riddler & Daniel Mockridge)
25. “Harlequinade” (Season 2, Episode 7 – The Joker & Harley Quinn)
26. “The Demon’s Quest: Parts 1 & 2” (Season 1, Episodes 60 & 61 – Ra’s al Ghul)
27. “Beware the Creeper” (Season 3, Episode 23 – The Creeper, The Joker & Harley Quinn)
28. “Joker’s Favor” (Season 1, Episode 22 – The Joker & Harley Quinn)
29. “Robin’s Reckoning: Parts 1 & 2” (Season 1, Episodes 32 & 33 – Tony Zucco)
30. “Avatar” (Season 2, Episode 4 – Ra’s al Ghul)
31. “Tyger, Tyger” (Season 1, Episode 42 – Emile Dorian)
32. “Harley and Ivy” (Season 1, Episode 56 – The Joker, Harley Quinn & Poison Ivy)
33. “Legends of the Dark Knight” (Season 3, Episode 19 – The Joker, the Mutants & Firefly)
34. “Torch Song” (Season 3, Episode 10 – Firefly)
35. “Read My Lips” (Season 1, Episode 64 – The Ventriloquist)
36. “Time Out of Joint” (Season 2, Episode 8 – The Clock King)
37. “Mean Seasons” (Season 3, Episode 13 – Calendar Girl)
38. “Harley’s Holiday” (Season 2, Episode 16 – Harley Quinn & Boxy Bennett)
39. “Shadow of the Bat: Parts 1 & 2” (Season 1, Episodes 57 & 58 – Two-Face, Rupert Thorne & Gil Mason)
40. “The Last Laugh” (Season 1, Episode 4 – The Joker)
41. “Catwalk” (Season 2, Episode 9 – Catwoman & The Ventriloquist)
42. “Baby-Doll” (Season 2, Episode 11 – Baby-Doll)
43. “Vendetta” (Season 1, Episode 23 – Killer Croc)
44. “The Laughing Fish” (Season 1, Episode 34 – The Joker & Harley Quinn)
45. “Pretty Poison” (Season 1, Episode 5 – Poison Ivy)
46. “The Man Who Killed Batman” (Season 1, Episode 51 – The Joker, Harley Quinn & Rupert Thorne)
47. “Cult of the Cat” (Season 3, Episode 15 – Catwoman & Thomas Blake)
48. “The Worry Men” (Season 1, Episode 65 – The Mad Hatter)
49. “Joker’s Millions” (Season 3, Episode 7 – The Joker, Harley Quinn, The Penguin & Poison Ivy)
50. “Animal Act” (Season 3, Episode 16 – The Mad Hatter)
51. “Showdown” (Season 2, Episode 13 – Ra’s al Ghul)
52. “Almost Got ‘Im” (Season 1, Episode 46 – The Joker, Harley Quinn, Two-Face, Poison Ivy, Killer Croc and The Penguin)
53. “Terror In the Sky” (Season 1, Episode 45 – She-Bat)
54. “Trial” (Season 2, Episode 3 – The Joker, Harley Quinn, Killer Croc, The Mad Hatter, Poison Ivy, The Riddler, The Scarecrow, Two-Face & The Ventriloquist)
55. “A Bullet for Bullock” (Season 2, Episode 2 – Vinnie the Shark)
56. “Love is a Croc” (Season 3, Episode 9 – Baby-Doll & Killer Croc)
57. “Riddler’s Reform” (Season 2, Episode 14 – The Riddler)
58. “His Silicon Soul” (Season 1, Episode 62 – H.A.R.D.A.C. & Duplicate Batman)
59. “Joker’s Wild” (Season 1, Episode 41 – The Joker & Cameron Kaiser)
60. “Mudslide” (Season 1, Episode 52 – Clayface)
61. “Be A Clown” (Season 1, Episode 9 – The Joker)
62. “Christmas With the Joker” (Season 1, Episode 2 – The Joker)
63. “Perchance to Dream” (Season 1, Episode 30 – The Mad Hatter)
64. “The Strange Secret of Bruce Wayne” (Season 1, Episode 37 – Hugo Strange, The Joker, Two-Face & The Penguin)
65. “The Mechanic” (Season 1, Episode 55 – The Penguin)
66. “Holiday Knights” (Season 3, Episode 1 – The Joker, Harley Quinn, Clayface and Poison Ivy)
67. “Dreams In Darkness” (Season 1, Episode 28 – The Scarecrow)
68. “The Clock King” (Season 1, Episode 25 – The Clock King)
69. “Blind As a Bat” (Season 1, Episode 59 – The Penguin)
70. “Bane” (Season 2, Episode 10 – Bane, Killer Croc & Rupert Thorne)
71. “Girls Night Out” (Season 3, Episode 20 – Poison Ivy, Harley Quinn, Livewire & The Penguin)
72. “Zatanna” (Season 1, Episode 54 – Montague Kane)
73. “I’ve Got My Batman in My Basement” (Season 1, Episode 13 – The Penguin)
74. “Fear of Victory” (Season 1, Episode 24 – The Scarecrow)
75. “See No Evil” (Season 1, Episode 17 – Lloyd Ventrix)
76. “Nothing to Fear” (Season 1, Episode 3 – The Scarecrow)
77. “Eternal Youth” (Season 1, Episode 29 – Poison Ivy)
78. “You Scratch My Back” (Season 3, Episode 5 – Catwoman)
79. “Off Balance” (Season 1, Episode 50 – Count Vertigo)
80. “Make ‘Em Laugh” (Season 2, Episode 18 – The Joker & The Mad Hatter)
81. The Ultimate Thrill” (Season 3, Episode 11 – The Penguin & Roxy Rocket)
82. “Appointment In Crime Alley” (Season 1, Episode 26 – Roland Daggett)
83. “Cat Scratch Fever” (Season 1, Episode 36 – Catwoman, Roland Daggett & Professor Milo)
84. “The Cape and the Cowl Conspiracy” (Season 1, Episode 31 – Josiah Wormwood)
85. “Lock-Up” (Season 2, Episode 17 – Lock-Up)
86. “Second Chance” (Season 2, Episode 15 – Two-Face, The Penguin & Rupert Thorne)
87. “Chemistry” (Season 3, Episode 22 – Poison Ivy)
88. “The Cat and the Claw: Parts 1 & 2” (Season 1, Episodes 15 & 16 – Catwoman & Red Claw)
89. “Night of the Ninja” (Season 1, Episode 35 – Kyodai Ken)
90. “I Am the Night” (Season 1, Episode 49 – The Jazzman)
91. “Moon of the Wolf” (Season 1, Episode 43 – Professor Milo & The Werewolf)
92. “Paging the Crime Doctor” (Season 1, Episode 53 – Rupert Thorne)
93. “It’s Never Too Late” (Season 1, Episode 12 – Rupert Thorne & Arnold Stromwell)
94. “The Terrible Trio” (Season 2, Episode 6 – The Terrible Trio)
95. “Day of the Samurai” (Season 1, Episode 44 – Kyodai Ken)
96. “The Lion and the Unicorn” (Season 2, Episode 12 – Red Claw)
97. “Prophecy of Doom” (Season 1, Episode 19 – Nostromos)
98. “P.O.V.” (Season 1, Episode 7 – A drug lord)
99. “Fire From Olympus” (Season 1, Episode 63 – Maxie Zeus)
100. “The Underdwellers” (Season 1, Episode 6 – Sewer King)
101. “Critters” (Season 3, Episode 14 – Farmer Brown)
102. “The Forgotten” (Season 1, Episode 8 – Boss Biggis)

Comic Review: Penguin: Pain and Prejudice

The Penguin is a character that has been a major thorn in Batman’s side since he first appeared in Detective Comics #58, which was published in December of 1941. In that time, he has had some great moments and iconic stories.

Although, none of them really hit the nail on the head as well as this story does, at least in regards to who the Penguin is, underneath his sinister personality.

This examines the psychology and the origin of the character. It is dark but it is a necessary read for fans of the character that want something more intimate.

In fact, after reading this, it’s obvious that they borrowed some bits when developing the character of the Penguin for the television show Gotham. Specifically, the parts about his relationship with his mother. Granted, they replaced his abusive father with the kindhearted one, played by Paul Reubens, in the show.

Pain and Prejudice is well written and the art is superb. While Batman appears in the story, it is nice to see the Penguin as the main character. It follows his past family issues, mixes them with a current love story and weaves it all into a tale where he loses his shit and decides to attack the children of Gotham City. This, of course, brings Batman into the story in an attempt to foil the Penguin’s insane plot.

This trade paperback also includes a bonus, a one issue comic where the Joker tells his version of a Penguin origin story. The Joker tale is just a small part of this book and it isn’t a fleshed out origin like the Pain and Prejudice tale but ultimately, this collection is a real tribute to the Penguin character and just how human the inhuman villain is.

I read good things about the main story before buying this. The praise for it was justified, as this is one of the best Penguin stories I’ve ever come across in my long history of reading Batman comics.

Video Game Review: Batman: Arkham City (PlayStation 3)

*Written in 2014.

*I played the PlayStation 3 version. The game is also available on Xbox 360, Wii U, Windows and OS X.

It has been a while since I have played the first installment of this series, Arkham Asylum. In fact, I played it when it first came out in 2009. It was an amazing game and I wanted a sequel. Unfortunately, it took me this long to get around to it. In fact, the 4th game is coming out in the near future. That’s actually what motivated me to get into this one, as I realized I was falling behind in video games in general. Life is busy and shit.

Arkham City is a much larger game in scope. Instead of being trapped within the walls of Gotham City’s iconic mental institution, you are now free to roam a section of the city that has been retrofitted as an urban prison for psychos and hard criminals.

Gameplay is virtually the same as the previous installment, the graphics are amazing, the plot is pretty solid and there are enough villains and other characters in this game to make it a who’s who of Batman lore. The main villains who drive the plot are the Joker, Hugo Strange, Ra’s al Ghul, Mr. Freeze and the Penguin. There are side quests and other minor missions that bring in Harley Quinn, the Riddler, Two-Face, the Mad Hatter, Poison Ivy, Bane, Solomon Grundy, Hush, Deadshot, Victor Zsasz, Calendar Man, Black Mask, Killer Croc and Clayface. Batman’s allies throughout the story include Catwoman, Talia al Ghul, Alfred Pennyworth, Oracle, Robin, Commissioner Gordon and after some disagreements, Mr. Freeze. Nightwing also appears as a playable character in bonus content.

There is a lot of meat and potatoes in this game. It is truly a total package of pure awesomeness in that it is a near perfect game play-wise, it does a magnificent job expanding on a fictional universe that has existed for over 75 years and it keeps this world fresh, new and exciting. If you are a Batman fan, this game is an essential experience and must be played – that really goes for this whole series.

I had more fun playing this than most games over the last few years. It is actually hard to try and find any flaws within it. I cannot recommend Arkham City enough. I guess I better go out and pick up Arkham Origins (the third game and prequel to the series).