Sherlock Holmes in Washington Review

hqdefault
It’s time to look at the next Sherlock Holmes film. This time he gets to take in the sights of America so that’s always cool. The movie made a point to show New York so I like to think that this was foreshadowing for a future film. That would definitely be a lot of fun. The Sherlock Holmes film series seems to be pretty consistent so far which is certainly a good thing. It’s an enjoyable film although one that also seems a tad darker than the last few Holmes titles as the heroes struggle to really protect anyone.

The film starts off with London sending in two agents to head to Washington in order to give a sensitive document to the Americans. Naturally they decided to be quite clever about this and so they didn’t bring any bodyguards in. Big mistake if you ask me. Well, there was a mole within the London ranks as always so they figure out which agent is actually holding the documents and murder him. Fortunately the agent saw that his end was at hand and gave the documents to another lady aboard the train without her even realizing it. Now Sherlock Holmes must find this lady before the villains do, but his opponent is fairly smart himself.

I always have to wonder why people would just casually go with the villains to their car. Lets be honest with ourselves, if a group of guys with guns ask you to come with them, it’s not going to end well. At the very least they will almost certainly murder you. The reason you are going with them in the first place is because you are worried that they will shoot you otherwise, but your fate will be the same either way so you may as well make a scene. They won’t have much time to mess with you in this situation so they’ll be forced to shoot you right there and then. A far less painful death than otherwise. Alas, characters in these films never quite understand this.

Sherlock Holmes looks very smart as always. He is definitely one step ahead of the villains most of the time. Once in a while he will trip up and make a questionable move like hiding behind the soda, but since he didn’t know where the secret door was it’s not something you can blame him on too much. He did call in for backup as well which was definitely a good move. I also like how Holmes makes sure to rub it in against the villains on how he was right. He may as well since they’re gonna be locked up for a very long time and this is his only chance to make them feel even worse about it. No sympathy for these murderers.

Watson unfortunately looks worse than usual here. I dare say that this was probably his worst appearance from any of the Holmes films and that is really saying something. I don’t know what was up with this, but he kept trying to talk about sports and such while everyone else was talking about the implications this kidnapping could have on the war. In the other films Watson may not have always realized the gravity of the situation right away, but he wouldn’t joke around about it either. It was a little forced, but at least Watson still destroyed one of the villains so he was still useful.

The supporting cast don’t get to do much. We have the American cop who tries to talk tough, but his team can’t seem to do anything right. They were holding the train car as evidence yet the place was broken into by the villains without them even realizing. I don’t see how this was possible unless the Americans actually didn’t think to guard the main exhibition of an active murder case. Not their best moment.

As for the main villain, he is all right. Definitely a big step down from Moriarty, but I’d say that he is better than the average crook. The film did make sure to point out several times that he is very intelligent and even Holmes knew of his reputation. That also speaks to how smart the dead agent was since his microfilm strategy was air tight enough that a villainous genius couldn’t guess it. Even Holmes would not have been able to reach this conclusion without consulting the witnesses of the event.

There is one part to this mystery that was a little too convenient though. At the very beginning the villains pull off the kidnapping by turning off the lights, knocking the guy out, and then kidnapping him into a car on the train until it departed. From there they forced him into pretending that he was with them. (Still should have ran once they were outside) How did the employees not know that the culprits were the guys who turned the lights off? I don’t really see how the villains pulled this off without completely tipping their hand. It would also be obvious if the staff quickly checked on the guy’s room to see if he was okay. Definitely some plot convenience here, but the rest of the film played it pretty straight.

Overall, It was nice to see Holmes get to work in America. To be honest, it’s not as if the scenery looks all that different in this film, but it’s still good to see him moving to a different place for a change. I also like how naturally the villains own a fake antique shop as nobody in America realized that they were buying fakes. Considering that the villain’s whole angle was built around him being the most trust worthy and reputable person in Washington I have to question why he took such a risk. If it was discovered that his whole store was full of fakes that would have really hurt his credibility don’t you think? I guess this guy just likes walking on the edge. If you haven’t seen a Sherlock Holmes film yet then I definitely would say that this is a fair jumping on point. It’s still in the WW II tie-in days so it’s not your standard Holmes case, but it’s a mystery nonetheless.

Overall 7/10

Advertisements

Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon Review

7a724ad5e7089b25d6595e1d4106e508
It’s time to look at the next Sherlock Holmes installment! Once again he is busy trying to help the world during World War II. As with the last film this one isn’t a traditional mystery as a result and plays out more like a thriller. You aren’t going to be given a list of suspects and then watch Holmes try to nab the culprit. The mystery here is simply finding out what Moriarty plans to do and why Tobel is so unintelligent despite being touted as a genius.

The film starts off with this Tobel character deciding to give his new invention to Britain. It is a new kind of bomb which is highly effective for Air Strikes. Over 10x better than the current option so naturally the government can’t wait to get it. The problem is that someone is after his life so Sherlock Holmes is in charge of guarding him. Making this even more difficult is the fact that Tobel isn’t keen on co-operating. In fact, he’s come to the country just to troll Britain as he won’t let them learn anything about the weapon. Tensions run high and Holmes might have to accept that he is being played once again.

I do have to say that this film did a better job of handling the rivalry with Holmes and Moriarty than the last time. For starters, it’s more of an even battle this time. Moriarty wins round 1 by getting to Tobel first and also securing the first 3 inventors. Holmes then strikes back in round 2 by cracking the final puzzle first and also for locating Moriarty’s stronghold twice. Holmes certainly has some very solid costumes up his sleeve. Of course Moriarty is able to figure them out, but he is a genius so it’s not like they were ever supposed to fool him. They just gave Holmes a good way to buy some time. The banter between the two characters is definitely on point as always.

Holmes never loses his confidence, but I do have to say that his plans are mighty risky. Quite a few of them revolve around waiting for other characters to come to his rescue. Watson can be reasonably trust worthy, but with the stakes this high I’m not sure I would gamble on him. Still, Holmes definitely lives up to his reputation in this film. Moriarty also still looked good. He may not have won the mental battle quite as well as the last time, but keeping it even with Holmes is still really good.

Meanwhile, Watson looks pretty solid so you feel bad for him when he messes up. In the beginning of the film he is quite ready when the two villains break in and even has his gun out. Unfortunately it just turned out to be Holmes in a disguise. Watson talks back to everybody in this film. The only scene where he really did look bad was when he fell asleep and allowed Tobel to escape. I can’t really make any excuses for him there. He was critical to saving Holmes twice though so he deserves some credit for that. His rivalry with the Police Chief is also a nice mirror to Holmes and Moriarty. All told, Watson definitely fulfills his role as the fighter quite well.

The Police Chief is quite good as I mentioned. He is supremely confident in his task force and while he defers to Holmes on the criminal matters, he keeps his dignity while doing so. Then there is Tobel who is the worst character in the film. His plan doesn’t make any sense at all. Holmes is guarding him free of charge, but then he breaks away to head home and write a letter telling Holmes the secret location of the 4 scientists? Why not tell Holmes in person? If he couldn’t trust Holmes, then why send the letter to him afterwards? I suppose he was desperate by that point, but there wasn’t even much of a point to keeping the invention a secret. It felt like he was playing cat and mouse with the government. The guy seemed like he just wanted to feel high and mighty compared to the others and there was nothing likable about him. If he had simply been a little nicer he would have spared himself a great deal of pain and time.

As expected the writing is very good here. All of the characters sound like they know what they are doing and certainly are smarter than the average underlings. Even Holmes has to back off after one of them takes out a knife, but fortunately Holmes had one as well. The film also has some nice humor moments as characters make sarcastic one liners. The quick pacing of the humor is really what sells it as opposed to dragging a joke out forever. The pacing is quite good, but that’s not really a surprise when you consider that this film is barely over an hour. The Holmes titles so far have definitely been quite short, but they always manage to cram in a good amount of story. I’d expect nothing less.

Overall, this was definitely a fun Sherlock Holmes adventure. It certainly beat the last one and the ending is a lot more satisfying. Leaving a certain trap in operation is just the kind of thing I’d expect from Holmes here since he is not the kind of character who takes prisoners. It may not be the standard mystery story, but Holmes is hardly a standard detective. I’d definitely recommend checking this film out if you haven’t already. I can’t see any reason why you won’t enjoy it if you like a good thriller or are a fan of Sherlock Holmes in general.

Overall 8/10

Sherlock Holmes and the Voice of Terror Review

sherlock-holmes-and-the-voice-of-terror-movie-poster-1942-1020143645
It’s time to look at another Sherlock Holmes film. This one definitely takes a very different approach as it deals with taking down the Nazi’s as opposed to the average crook. It is still a mystery adventure as always but one with the highest of stakes. Should Holmes fail to win the day all of England will fall. Considering that this film came out during World War II it definitely makes sense to have it tie in. While it’s a good movie, this one does feel like a step down from the last adventure.

So there is a mysterious voice which goes on the air once a week to boast about how the Germans keep destroying secret British agents and supply trains. Many civilians perish as well. After the government has had enough of this they call in Sherlock Holmes. Naturally the high council isn’t thrilled as they mock Holmes quite a bit and state that a detective can’t stop such a threat. Holmes didn’t take the case to make friends so he doesn’t care about their chilly attitude all that much but he is determined to crack this case. To that end he will need to get the aid of the underground but will these criminals really band together to help him?

Seeing Holmes talk tough to all of the high ranking officials was definitely amusing. He is portrayed as being absolutely fearless here and that’s really the way that it should be. You don’t get to be the best detective in the world by playing it safe or beating around the bush so naturally he has learned to defend himself. This version of Holmes is a fighter and even at gunpoint he keeps his cool. He’s definitely the highlight of the film although his character doesn’t work quite as well for the emotional scenes.

The scene of him recruiting one of his old underworld contacts, Kitty dragged on quite a bit. We got long zoom ins of her reacting to the news and him trying to look sincere. That being said, the film probably just should have stuck to its guns with the serious mystery and some humor as the other emotional moment also doesn’t sail. We get a long speech from Kitty to the crooks where she attempts to mock them a lot which would theoretically make them want to help. Eventually they took the bait but the speech was a little cheesy.

While it may sound like Kitty just wasn’t a good character, these moments were the exception. She is actually the most important character in the film as she did all of the brain work while Holmes ironically did the leg work. Without Kitty finding out all of the important information off screen, Holmes would have been in quite the pickle. Honestly he didn’t do a whole lot of sleuthing in comparison to the average film. That’s why the conclusion to the film is rather disappointing. It comes across as rather unnecessary as there is no reason why Kitty couldn’t have a happy ending like everyone else. The heroes don’t even mourn much at all as they halfheartedly give one line in remembrance of her and go right back to cracking jokes and having a grand time.

This is especially mean spirited since Holmes is the one who gave her the very unreasonably dangerous job in the first place. He had her allow herself to be kidnapped and then she would be a mole from the inside. There are so many reasons why this could fail but at the very least she should be given an escape plan. At the very least don’t let Kitty be around for the final confrontation but what happened there was mostly just overconfidence on the part of the heroes.

I will say that the villain was pretty interesting. I’m talking about the true culprit who is revealed at the end. I like his smug demeanor and his plan was certainly long term. Waiting 10 years to actually make a move certainly takes a considerable amount of patience. The main underling isn’t quite as interesting. All things considered the guy is pretty generic. You won’t remember him much by the time you finish the film.

As always the writing is pretty good. The banter between the characters is always fun and it’s easy to root for either Watson or Holmes. While Watson may not be as smart as Holmes, he always sticks up for the lead. He is portrayed as more competent than usual here at the very least. Holmes does the talking and Watson always takes his gun out and stays prepared. They have a lot of teamwork here and it’s easy to see why the pair has lasted so long.

As for the council, they are the main suspects in this film. I mean, you could make the assumption that none of them are the villain, but then there wouldn’t be much of a mystery right? Always suspect every character in a Sherlock Holmes film. I feel like the film didn’t really leave any clues as to who the culprit was til near the end but one story was certainly more suspicious than the rest so I guess that is enough to go on. I enjoyed the council though. Sure, they were all fairly stuck up and really seemed to be out of their league all the time, but that always makes for good banter. Holmes definitely had the edge here right from the start though, but the council did their best.

Overall, This is definitely a unique take on Sherlock Holmes and it isn’t a bad one. The ending does slightly sour the experience though. Fortunately the writing is sound and the characters are interesting so there is still a decent amount of replay value here. The film is also quite short as well. If you want to check out a Holmes film for the first time then this isn’t the one to pick. However, this is still a solid film for fans who just want to enjoy a good thriller and for longtime Holmes fans to see him in a different environment.

Overall 7/10

Paths of Glory

013-51tdz1egvpl-big
It’s time for an old war film that takes place in France. It certainly doesn’t make the country look all that good though and it’s not exactly a feel good film. The movie is based on true events so I won’t be giving a rating on this post although you can probably get the jist of what I thought of it anyway. It’s a rather shady part of French history although every country seems to have a dark path at this point.

The plot of the movie is that France is unable to advance during a key battle. One of the commanders is pretty upset about this and orders that three French soldiers be executed for cowardice. Whether the charge is true or not is immaterial as he merely wishes to make a demonstration out of them to spur the rest of the force into action. One captain argues in their defense, but it is too late as the court hearing is just for show. Their executions are to remain and remain they do. It’s a rather somber ending to the film as a result and the captain has to head back to the barracks and prepare for more fighting.

It’s easy to see why a country like France didn’t do so well during the World Wars if they were engaging in these kinds of acts. They had the soldiers draw straws to see who would be executed in one division because none of them had actually run from battle. It was merely an empty charge, but one that had to be obeyed nonetheless. It’s a shame that none of the soldiers could be saved. They really got the raw end of the deal here and the rest of the soldiers would definitely be pretty bitter about this. If your only two options are a suicide run into enemy territory or being executed at home for not trying hard enough, it’s easy to also see how soldiers could just defect to the enemy side.

Making the movie even more somber is that one soldier’s friend is gunned down by the general by mistake and then the general submits him to be one of the soldiers to be executed so there are no witnesses. The general even ends up being one of the guys who gives the command to be fired. This was done intentionally to completely sow the seeds of the hierarchy. It showed that the soldiers had to follow any order, no matter how over the top and crazy it could be.

It goes back to the question of when it is acceptable to disobey an order. In the army, you are expected to listen to your commander without reservation, but anyone with a lick of common sense should know that this isn’t always the case. If you are given a morally wrong order, I should hope that you would not listen to it. Even if everyone tells you it is the right thing to do, it doesn’t mean that it is. Unfortunately, group think and mob mentality are two very real concepts and in the end nobody was able to step in to save these men in the film. It’s unfortunate, but they really didn’t have much of a chance. There was always going to be a scape goat in this situation and hundreds of soldiers died in vain. We try to forget these bleak moments in history, but there’s always another one around the bend. It’s why history is always fascinating, but depressing at the same times. The further back in time you go, the more tales of horror you will end up hearing.

Overall, I don’t know how faithful of an adaption this was, but it got the message across pretty smoothly. If you’re interested in history or strongly believe that the army was infallible back in the day, then this could be an educational watch for you. Just keep in mind that this film is very somber and since it is based on the true story, there is no happy ending. The situation just gets bleaker and bleaker until the film just ends. There are no winners in this tale and no perfect climax. You just see the soldiers grow saddened as their execution grows closer and closer. They panic and do everything that they can to get out of it, but there’s just no escape…and then it’s the end for them. The other soldiers go back to partying as their way of coping and you’re left to be reminded of why war is always a bad thing. It should also help you appreciate America’s democracy a little more. I like to believe that our Court System wouldn’t have allowed such a case to have gone so far and would have overturned the charges. I am somewhat bias for America though.

Invaders Classic The Complete Collection Volume 1 Review

1993130
The Invaders were a classic group of Marvel heroes from back in the day. I believe that a retcon turned some of their adventures into Earth II romps, but many fans remember them from back in the day. I also could be thinking of DC as retcons affected their old issues a lot more than Marvel’s. These issues helped people vent out their frustrations as the heroes took the Nazi’s down a few pegs and helped the US look quite good. It’s always a blast to see them winning battles and these retro comics never get old. There were more super threats here than I would have expected like the tricky Master Man.

There are quite a few issues are you would expect from such a large collection. For the most part, the issues are all stand alones and while there is certainly a continuity present, you don’t need to worry about it all that much. Some stories do go on for a little while though like Toro being shot, which pushed the Human Torch over the edge for a little while. The villains went too far that time and they certainly ended up regretting it. Another story arc, which actually lasted the longest involves Union Jack as he decided to come out of retirement to help the heroes.

His daughter was distraught about this as her father was quite old and would almost certainly perish in these battles. She wasn’t wrong as he was crippled very quickly and then she decided to fight with the heroes as Spitfire, after a blood transfusion from the Human Torch gave her the ability of super speed. Union Jack couldn’t fight anymore, but he gave his costume to his son who ended up inheriting it. Considering how old some of these comics are (Not as old as you would expect though as the issues actually came out in the 1970’s, but are made to feel like the 1940’s.) the story lines can be quite deep and intense. For the most part though, you’re just here to see the heroes beating the Nazi’s and you don’t need much of a plot beyond that right?

Another really fun pair of issues was when the mind controlled Invader’s had to fight the classic heroes like the Whizzer, Guardian, and a few others. It was like watching old heroes fight ancient ones and while the Invader’s had the massive advantage in skill, the old timers put up a good fight and showed that they can still fight. While the Whizzer and one of the other members were constantly bickering, they still had powers for the most part so they were useful in the fights. Team against team battles are always a blast.

The heroes are all fairly likable. The Human Torch is my second favorite hero and he nearly passed Captain America for me, but the drama with Spitfire hurt his case a little. He was actually active as a hero long before Captain America joined the crew so he has the most experience and he’s certainly not afraid of fighting with Namor. He relishes the challenge and Human Torch will do whatever’s necessary to protect the US. It’s cool to see him from these days as he finally became a major player in the modern FF comics from not too long ago.

Captain America is true to character and essentially identical to his modern incarnation except that he’s far more heroic. He doesn’t need to make any of the tough calls here as he just fights for what’s right and makes sure that everyone else is in line. At one point, Bucky is kidnapped so Captain America declares that if he has been harmed, he shall commit cold blooded murder for the first time! The characters like to make very grand and bold gestures like this one and it shows that they’re finally getting serious. The heroes are all tempted to destroy Hitler at one point, but they decide not too. It’s all about showing that they will stick to their morals through thick and thin. Despite Captain America’s words, he didn’t actually destroy everyone, but Bucky was safe. If he hadn’t been, you could tell that Captain America meant business. Did this all sound contradictory? Good.

Namor is an interesting case as he is technically the strongest member of the group and makes sure to mention this as much as possible. He fought off the other Invaders when things got personal as one of his underwater troops decided to join the Nazi’s. He’s typically useful even though he threatens the rest of the surface dwellers a lot and aims to defect once the war is over. His true allegience is to the sea after all and the other members are aware of this. That being said, his weakness to any form of humidity is a big one and it takes him out of action very quickly at times. I don’t mind him disliking the humans, but Namor can be a little annoying at times.

Spitfire joined the group in the second half of the collection and her talents certainly come in handy. I could have done without the drama between her, Human Torch, and Captain America, (To his credit, he is basically oblivious to the whole thing) but her super speed instantly makes Spitfire one of the strongest members of the team. Who knows, maybe you could make a case for her being the most powerful individual on the team. It was cool that she got to help keep the family name going since her father retired. I liked the original Union Jack a lot so I was worry to see him go. The british catchphrases were a lot of fun, but the new Destroyer fellow should do a good job of keeping up the mantle. I was worried that the original Union Jack would be jealous for a while, but it only took him an issue to get over this ordeal.

Bucky is sort of like Robin from these days. He was really vocal when talking about how cool Captain America is and he never let anyone insult him, which made for a few fights between him and Toro. Bucky definitely has the edge in hand to hand combat, although Toro would wreck him in an all out fight. Bucky means well and was likable for the most part, but he did look bad in the comic where he assembled some heroes to beat the brainwashed Invaders. (Unlike the JSA, who never helped the Nazi’s, the Invaders were forced too) Instead of telling the other heroes about his plan or just waiting the extra 5 minutes to discuss it with the government, he decided to fight the Guardian on National Television and act like the bad guy. There was no reason for this and he comes off as a little insane to the viewers. What if the heroes had decided that he wasn’t good enough to lead them or that it was some kind of joke?

Toro got quite a few plot twists about his backstory which gave him some development. The twists weren’t really needed I suppose, but why not right? It’s better than nothing and makes him a more relevant character when you think about it. He’s no Human Torch, but he helps out in the fight. His bond with the Torch is so strong that when he was shot, the Human Torch instantly incinerated the guy who shot him. That was probably the only death in the comics where we saw the hero do it with the intent to destroy the guy. It was certainly a deep moment even if the comic tried to quickly brush it off.

There are a few named villains scattered throughout the comics, but there were really just two who gave the heroes a run for their money. One was the Master Man, who was essentially a Nazi version of Captain America. His ideals are the opposite of the American hero and he certainly means business in a fight. He can fly and his super strength is greater than Captain America’s. I always found that ironic since everyone wants the super soldier serum even though it has been surpassed so many times. Master Man’s definitely not a likable character, but as a villain he is certainly a threat. He was shown to easily be able to defeat the Invaders and the heroes can never win against him without plot devices. Seriously, you could call the guy overpowered as he just makes the heroes look bad whenever they fought.

Making matters worse for the heroes was the debut of the Warrior Woman. She took her own Super Soldier serum and her abilities were about on par with Cap’s. This meant that she was still a little too tough for most of the Invader’s. Hitler was still obsessed with showing off his power though so he arranged for Warrior Woman to marry Master Man instead of joining in the fight. She didn’t like this, but didn’t do anything about it. That certainly helped make sure that she wouldn’t be a likable character either. At least there were now two villains for the Invaders to fight, even if it meant that they really should not have a ghost of a chance! It was interesting to have two super villains in the WW II days and this certainly spiced up the fight scenes. Namor became the only hero who could fight these two opponents on equal ground.

One of the issues was a lot of fun because the Invaders were warped to the future to fight the Avengers. The story had already happened in the Avengers title so this way we got to see it from the Invader’s point of view. That was definitely a neat experience and it helped to remind the readers that this is still relevant to the rest of the universe. To be honest, I was definitely rooting for the Invader’s this time and while it’s safe to say that they were losing, they put up a good fight. Dealing with foes like Vision and Black Panther can just be a little dicey. I can see Captain America beating the Black Panther, but he had his old shield and was likely tired from his adventure. Yellow Jacket would be doomed against anyone, but Vision’s the true threat. Either way, while it may have been a little out of place in the down to Earth WW II stories, it was a very fun issue.

The art is quite good as you would expect from a retro Marvel comic. All of the character designs are on point and the simplicity of the art allows you to read through the comics very quickly. The fights are also pretty engaging and are actually drawn at length rather than being rushed into a page or two. The colors are not quite vibrant as they’re purposefully pale, but they work in this context.

As always, the writing is one of the strengths of the issues. I particularly like the subtle USA vs Britain debates that the heroes have as Captain America uses his American jokes and Union Jack purposefully uses his Britain slang to get his point across. Cap asks him if he’s half American at times, which Jack always denies very quickly. They’re both proud of their countries and it makes for some nice team ups. I still wince a little when the UK characters call the heroes “Yanks” but I suppose that it was an acceptable nickname at the time. I dunno, it just feels unrefined and I prefer “chap” to be honest. (That used to be the British slang for pal or person anyway)

You can also tell that this is an older comic as all of the heroes bow their heads and pray in the final comic as the original Union Jack says to leave it in the hands of the one who will really decide his fate. You likely won’t see everyone praying like that in a modern comic. It’s really good to see and scenes like this show that despite their super powers, all heroes can still acknowledge God and his sovereignty. Definitely a great way to end the main issues.

Overall, This Invader’s collection was actually a lot of fun. I just eat this stuff up and I’ve always had a soft spot for the old comics. They were just pure popcorn entertainment that you could read at anytime. If only the modern comics would take a few pointers from these issues right? I actually didn’t know that there was a volume 2 for a while as I didn’t notice the large one on the cover, but hopefully the library gets that part soon. Either way, I definitely recommend checking this comic collection out. It may be around 500 pages, but maybe that’s a good thing since this way you get more value for your purchase! There is a lot of commentary from the writers throughout the issues as well, which is definitely a lot of fun! You won’t regret this read.

Overall 8/10

America vs. The Justice Society Review

61qr9iLdS-L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_
It’s time to look at a very interesting Earth 2 story. I haven’t read almost anything with these guys except for the very old comics from way back in the day. This was an interesting way to find out about a lot of their adventures since then as the danger comes very close to home in this personal arc. I always root for America in films, but can I really root for them over my favorite heroes?

The plot is fairly straight forward. Shortly before dying, Batman gave his diary to an old scientist, who gave it to the newspaper to publish. The diary told a very frightening story about how the Justice Society actually worked for Hitler and the Nazi’s in World War II and have been covering it up ever since. Naturally, the Americans are outraged and decide to take the heroes to an unofficial trial to hear both sides of the story. The Justice Society decides that the best way to clear their name is to start from the beginning and recount their entire history to counter the diary’s lies. The thing is…are they lies? Robin isn’t so sure!

Naturally, this is Earth 2 so you should definitely expect some changes. This world seems to be farther in the future than Earth I so Superman and Wonder Woman are already quite old. Likewise, the Green Lantern and Flash have always been old in this place. The team isn’t exactly young anymore and the Sand Man has had a few strokes recently. They’re not in their prime, but they’re still tough enough to handle a villain or two when they pop up. That being said, old age has also changed them a little. Superman mentions a few times how he will probably abandon Earth so that he can finally retire with some peace and quiet. Wonder Woman wants to go back to the Amazons to take care of Steve Trevor, who’s in a pretty critical position after being injured recently and she does make a few outbursts in the comic.

This stresses the point that these aren’t the happy go lucky heroes that you are used too. Superman is even tempted to burn the diary several times even if it meant destroying something that could have been very important. Luckily, the heroes don’t take the easy route and even get a lawyer to help their case. That’s where the story really gets interesting and I was pleasantly surprised to see just how long the court case lasted. I’ve always been a big fan of seeing the courts so mixing that in with the superheroes was a winning combo.

That being said, it did come at the expense of the action as there are no real fight scenes to speak of in this collection. It’s all about trying to make a solid case and convincing the US that the heroes are for real and weren’t working for Hitler. The very premise is a little hard to swallow as you can’t imagine this ever being true and even the US acknowledges this except for the fact that Batman wrote it. That’s the only reason why anyone actually buys this.

Naturally, everyone reading the story probably figured that he had some kind of reason for doing this. Naturally, he did, but it was only a half reason. In the DCAU, it is acknowledged several times that Bruce Wayne actually believes himself to be Batman with Bruce Wayne as his alter ego. That seems to be the case here except it’s even more extreme as both of their personas now believe themselves to be completely separate. Bruce Wayne had gone crazy and was now completely suspicious of the League while Batman was still sane, but dying of cancer. It led to some interesting developments and Bruce making a lot of mistakes, which forced Batman into the ring. The plan was really convoluted and it’s hard to actually picture it succeeding, but this is Batman so we have to trust his plans.

If you haven’t read many Earth II comics before, then this can also be seen as a very large wrap up of just about everything that has ever happened on this planet. I believe some of the events may have been created for this arc, but I also think that most of them had simply happened and this worked as a nostalgia trip while reminding fans why they liked Earth II so much in the first place. It was definitely a pretty cool DC continuity even if the current Earth II is in shambles. This is really how Earth II should always be portrayed. An alternate Earth with similar heroes so that we can have more inspiring adventures!

Of course, due to the nature of the issues, there’s not really much to discuss. The heroes certainly saved the day very efficiently in all of their past cases and they won in the court setting fair and square. It was neat of the Spectre to offer to destroy this Earth though. A nice reminder of how powerful he is. Unfortunately, Robin did not look so good. He wanted to know Batman as a mentor who always took the right path so he decided to believe the diary. He mostly just spent every issue flinching, crying, and wondering why the heroes were trying to make Batman look so bad. It was their lives or Batman’s legacy and one has to hold more weight than the other.

I will admit that Batman’s version of the story was a lot of fun to read though. It was almost like an abridged version of a show as he showed many true events, but tried to make them look sinister by adding his own commentary. Batman essentially summarized all of the stories into one comic and then the Justice Society would expand upon that for the next 3 issues. It took a while to clear up the shadows that Batman had left, but the Society was certainly ready for the task. Superman and Wonder Woman were not really left in any danger since they weren’t accused of the same crimes (Even Batman couldn’t pull that one off) but they stuck around to support the team. All for one and one for all right?

The art is fairly solid as you can expect from a classic DC arc. The art definitely carries that retro feeling across while also being modern enough where you can picture it having some real action scenes. I definitely would not have minded a game changing villain for the ending to have a quick bout, but with the League members so old, the villain could not have been made to be That powerful. This League is definitely not as strong as the main one. Still, the good art just added another positive to the collection.

Overall, America vs. The Justice Society is a great DC collection. Finally, we get a full length court case where Superman and the rest of the League has to debate against the US. It would have been even better if Batman was here, but I suppose that the plot would have been completely different in that case. Still, the art is good and the writing is exceptional. You’ll be on the edge of your seat during the debate as the Judges continue to give the heroes a lot of time. You will need to be prepared for a lot of reading though as the collection is certainly very text based. Each page will take you about as long to read as 3-4 in the average comic. There is text everywhere as dozens of the team’s adventures finally come to light and we learn why they did not end the wars sooner. I’m going to miss the DC comics as I may not be checking one out in a while, but if you wanted to see a Superman who felt like Superman…this is definitely the comic to check out! It’s an AU future that actually feels fairly realistic and it could work with some mild tweaks in the New 52 someday.

Overall 8/10

Hellboy Seeds of Destruction Review

9781593070946
I’ve seen both of the Hellboy films, but I had not read any of his comics before now. I had to change that and now I can safely say that I have delved into the comics where it all began. Hellboy’s a good action title so far and we can be sure that he’ll face off with a lot of demonic beings before the day is over.

This comic naturally goes over Hellboy’s origin a little. The Nazi’s summoned him during World War II, but the allies found him first and trained him to be a hero. Hellboy joined a group of other supernatural fighters and he now aids them in the war against crime. It’s been 30 years, but the villains are still around. The main plot is about a family who constantly climbs a mountain in the hopes of getting rich. For 9 generations they have kept on trying to reach the top, but they continue to fail and all who travel the mountain eventually die. Hellboy’s father figure was the latest casualty in this quest so Hellboy and his team go to the family’s mansion to investigate. They may run into more trouble than they bargained for when they realize that an evil group is around..the same one from Hellboy’s origin!

This is the first volume in the Hellboy comics so we’re still in the process of getting used to the cast. Hellboy’s allies from the films to get a role, but we mostly only get to know about them through Hellboy’s exposition since they tend to get knocked out of the fight pretty quickly. Abe is a water fighter who can breathe under it. This makes him a good ally to have for tactical missions and he appears to be the smartest member of the group. That being said, he’s not much of a fighter and he doesn’t get much of a role here. He seems like a good character although he’s not particularly interesting.

Liz gets a lot of hype as her fire abilities have not been fully explored yet. It seems like nobody can fully contain them at the moment so she has to always be careful not to cut loose. She is knocked out fairly early on in the story so it’s hard to comment on how likable she is, but Liz is decent for now. As with Abe, she doesn’t have a lot of character development and I’m worried that she will be all hype and no action, but she does have good reason to be confident considering that her abilities are easily the most impressive out of all the heroes around.

Hellboy is the lead, but I would argue that he is not the strongest. He has basic super strength and his right arm is impervious to pain. This means that he is definitely stronger than the average human, but he is only as strong as the average monster of that size. He’s pretty experienced and he always seems to have a plan. His narration can sometimes differ with that thought, but at least he never gives up. He’s pretty likable and easily the best character in the volume. It’s always good for the main character to end up being the most likable one because he/she is guaranteed to have a lot of screen time. Hellboy gets into quite a few close shaves, but that’s why he has allies to back him up right?

The villains didn’t seem to have thought things over very carefully. There is one main villain here and he’s the guy who summoned Hellboy in the first place. Since Hellboy will not comply with his demands, he will have to force him to use his right arm for something. The guy has summoned the legendary monsters and his plans are vague, but deadly for the planet. He talks a very good game as he admits that he could wipe Hellboy out if he chose to do so. Little did he know that he should have held nothing back since it comes back to bite him.

The art is on the grim side to fit the tone of the volume. That being said, it’s not meta at all, which is always a good thing. It’s not quite as polished as what you tend to see in today’s Marvel/DC comics, but it still looks good overall and doesn’t hold the series back. Hellboy’s red design certainly stands out here since there isn’t a lot of color to be found. It’s an art style that you may find nostalgic or associate with some comics from back in the day. It’s a little similar to the Hawkeye/Daredevil series, but not nearly as cartoony or undetailed, which is a good thing.

This series definitely has a lot of text in it and it works in some ways while hurting it in others. On one hand, I like the fact that Hellboy is constantly thinking. His thought bubbles can certainly be amusing and it lets you get to know the character better than if he didn’t think that much. On the other hand, the series does have a lot of exposition and I think some of it could have probably been cut out. At the very least, I would have liked to have made the text a little bigger so that it would be a little easier to read.

The main reason why this volume ultimately didn’t crack a 7 is just because it didn’t have enough popcorn entertainment or interesting characters needed to make it reach the next level. A 6 still means that it’s good, but that I simply have some more reservations than the average 7. For example, this comic likely wouldn’t have a whole lot of replay value compared to the average superhero adventure. As the series goes on and the characters get more likable, it could easily rise up to 7 status. Due to the dark atmosphere of the series, the writer/artist will still have to be careful to keep the atmosphere as it is without going too far. I’m sure that the series can pull it off though and hopefully we’ll see more cool monsters for Hellboy to fight.

I’m not sure if the series will keep the mystery aspect that this volume had, but hopefully it will. A good mystery can always make a comic more exciting and mixing action with mystery is brilliant. Why do you think Batman is so popular? This was a good start and the series should stay episodic for a little bit so that we can really see how the agency fares against everyday threats. After that, then I expect to see some real organizations or at least a really powerful villain. Hellboy may need a power up soon.

Overall, Hellboy starts us off on a good note. He’s definitely a good lead and the art works for the series. It’s an action with some elements of horror, but we haven’t seen anything that goes over the top in either direction so that’s a good show of restraint considering the title of this comic. The supporting characters do need to improve a little, but they’ll certainly have time for that. I recommend checking out this comic if you’re looking for a new action title. Watching Hellboy take on demons is pretty fun and the writing is good. We’re still waiting for Hellboy 3, but this will help to tide you over until then.

Overall 6/10