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TONIGHT!!! Come have some fun with us at @TheNewParkway in #Oakland as we watch #FifthElement on the big screen!!! Plenty of prizes & EILFM swag to be had!!! It's gonna be Hot, HOT, HAAWWT!!!

#castaways #PodernFamily #MoviePodSquad #FilmTwitter

Why was all this needless drama this morning with #DCUSWAMPTHING? #Titans also lost an episode. If anything this is starting to be their M.O. rather than a cause for alarm. https://t.co/he87XCfjjK

Episode 0046: For Your Eyes Only
Guest: @chrisoakley of @KitblissNZ
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#NewComicBookDay
Imagine If... - Episode 128
The Power Of MARVEL!
#NCBD https://t.co/3rWnOem2wX

#NewComicBookDay
Imagine If... - Episode 128
The Power Of MARVEL!
#NCBD https://t.co/mmdh8gno2j

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Comics

Comic Culture With Rafa: #007

Doom & Justice: The Redemption of Lex Luthor

An Editorial From Rafa Encinas

I want to start this editorial by stating that Lex Luthor is a piece of shit. This is a bad man who has done some truly horrific and irredeemable things. However, I cannot deny the allure and magic of comic books, specifically when they do something crazy and exciting. Sometimes, comics try things that are too wild, but at other times, it is as if the sky aligns just right, and we are given something truly magical. Specifically, there are few things on this earth that are as magical or as masterfully written as the meticulous redemption of Lex Luthor.

Luthor is arguably Superman’s quintessential villain. Basically, he is that one kid in the classroom who calls you out for being too handsome, too intelligent, or too nice. That distrustful person who is convinced there is something wrong about you and will stop at nothing to reveal you for what you really are. Basically, Lex Luthor is a dick. Who else has made Superman’s life as miserable as a man who is always plotting to turn the world against its self-appointed champion; to take down the world’s symbol of hope and justice?

Lex has both been that figurative and literal thorn in Superman’s side for so many years! He’s taken on Superman at both physical and philosophical levels. Lex has tortured him. He has tried to destroy his image. He’s become president just to ruin Superman’s day. And he even had the gall to try and replace him when the Man of Steel died of kryptonite poisoning.

However, Lex Luthor, to me, is a stale character. He is a bitter man whose riches couldn’t buy the respect of other people, especially in a world where Superman would forever eclipse him. Over the years, he’s just been one dimensional and an egomaniac who has aimlessly tried to murder the Man of Steel. So, the idea of caring about this character never really crossed my mind. But, then Geoff Johns came along and the seeds of redemption and interesting character development were planted.

This was hinted at with the brilliant Forever Evil (2013) story in where Luthor assembles his own team of villains to take on the invading Crime Syndicate (an evil version of the Justice League from Earth-3). The Crime Syndicate systematically took over the earth, released all the villains from jail, and chaos erupted. So, Luthor takes matters into his own hands, and in a world without heroes, he assembles a team of killers to rampage and murder through the Crime Syndicate ranks which leads to some truly wicked scenes! It takes the approach that when all of the world’s heroes are gone, you have to fight evil with evil.

I’m not going to lie. Forever Evil (2013) is one of the highlights of the New 52 era of DC comics. This comic arc is straight up rock n’ roll! We get a bunch of bad guys being Earth’s last hope against violent invaders. This was super cool and fresh, and it began to paint Luthor in a different light. He was still a killer. We still see him fuck up some bad guys.

However, we also get a refreshing look into the sympathies and possible empathy of Luthor’s cold heart. We see him create Bizarro, and we see a hilarious, albeit tragic, story of father and son; Frankenstein and Frankenstein’s monster. This is some of the most humanizing and most beautiful work I have seen in comics in a long time. I mean, think about it, in a world plagued by darkness and where there is death everywhere, we have subtle moments shared between Lex and Bizarro that are both heartwarming and tear-jerking. We see truly heartwarming moments between characters who rarely have these moments to begin with. It is breathtaking.

Furthermore, Forever Evil (2013) gives Luthor an out. It gives him the perfect opportunity for good PR. We see him put a plan into action that actually works, to the chagrin of Batman. The world now sees him as a hero rather than the villain. And Lex, being the opportunistic genius that he is, grabbed this sentiment by the balls and just wouldn’t let go. Lex took his first steps toward heroism, though it can still be considered to be clouded in self-serving egoism & manipulation.

This was a special time in comics because it gave me something I never knew I wanted. It gave me riveting stories where we got to see the slow evolution of Lex Luthor from villain to hero. It was a snapshot of moments that truly showcased the magic of storytelling. Watching Lex join the Justice League and have an uneasy alliance with Superman was interesting to see unfold. I mean, it was comical to see this man, who was once hellbent on the destruction of the League, create a shaky PR image of himself fighting alongside Earth’s mightiest heroes.

But, fuck, it worked!

He was still a murderous despot. He was still responsible for the Amazo Virus. He still threatened to “blow-out” the spine of the Doom Patrol’s Chief Caulder.  But seeing the shimmer behind Luthor’s eyes change. To see his demeanor and voice change as he spent more time with earth’s heroes, and having more humanistic flaws, hopes, and weaknesses fleshed and made bare; to see the things that made Lex such a jerk (like his sister Lena), it made Lex a much more interesting and relatable character. I always think back to a conversation that Lex and Diana have in Justice League #34 (2011-2016)

Seeing Lex respond to genuine and kind human emotion is such wondrous writing because we get to see the inner workings of a man who thinks he is the “Superior Superman” actually have a chance to live up to the mantel. Something that he ultimately does take seriously by physically donning the symbol of Superman and trying to actually be Metropolis’ new titan after the actual Superman had died of Kryptonite poisoning during the events of The Final Days of Superman (2016).

Luthor experiences some truly insane things during his time in the Justice League (like taking over Apokolips, fighting the Anti-Monitor, and being shot by his sister). He has some truly life altering experiences that ultimately lead to the respect of the league which, for me, culminated in the shaky respect from Pre-Flashpoint Superman.

But is Luthor’s redemption necessary? Should it happen? And can he truly be a redeemable character? After all, he has done some truly diabolical things.

Some would argue that he is irredeemable. The crimes he has committed and his overall avarice make him a disgusting and terrible human being, no matter how many times he’s helped the Justice League. But, I argue that the fact he went through this positive character change made for some interesting and unique stories. I personally never felt more connected to the character until he started his redemption, and honestly, it’s fun to see what happens next.

Unfortunately, all good things must end, and it looks like Luthor has gone back to his menacing and conniving ways, most recently in Scott Snyder’s Justice League series (2018) where Lex went full super-villain and assembled the Legion of Doom to fuck up the Justice League’s day.

This is some exciting stuff because even though I am against Luthor’s return to villainy, there are moments in Snyder’s run where we see just how much Luthor’s turn surprises the League, especially Batman (Justice League #4). The fact that Batman was fully on board with Luthor’s reform, so his inevitable betrayal (all while inside Superman’s body by the way) was profound and chilling.

The redemption of Lex Luthor was a truly unique and interesting time in comics that I appreciated and enjoyed. Hopefully, once Lex is done breaking bad again, we will see something new. The fact that he returns to villainy because he believes it is within our nature to be evil (especially after the events of Dark Nights: Metal) and he honestly believes his time “playing” hero was all for naught is interesting, and I am excited to see what the Legion of Doom continues to bring to the table.

Maybe Lex Luthor can never be an actual hero. Maybe he will never be a Superior Superman, but none of that matters to him at this moment.  Luthor made his choice. He chose to embrace his true self. Fuck justice. He sided with doom.


Chris’ Comic Book Corner: Uncanny X-Men #14

A Review From Christopher Franey

“The faster the end comes, the more everything seems to slow down.  I am watching my life’s work slip away in slow motion.”  There is that opening narrative in red box with black background.  Now my money is on it being Scott Summer’s words, but it would be interesting if they did belong to someone else.  So here we are talking about issue 14 of Uncanny which is part 4 of This Is Forever.  This story arc has been very dark and dramatic, with action that has consequences.
The issue starts off with cops in pursuit of a mutant (who is later revealed to be Reaper) and while that is playing out we have cuts to Scott and Logan having drinks with Valerie Cooper at Harry’s Hideaway, new HQ to the X-Men.  Madrox winds up finding Reaper after he shakes off the cops, but then Reaper does manage to get away from Madrox who decides to let he “Spooky Kids” get him; those kids being Magik, Wolfsbane, and Mirage.  The meeting between Val, Scott, and Logan does go good as they all realized they can use each other for beneficial times later on, despite being Mutant or Human.  Reaper is captured and taken to the X-Men where they learn he has invited to join the Mutant Liberation Front by Hope herself, they figure they can use him to find out more about the group later.  

I do like the humor that is injected into the serious moment, gives that “Never say die” attitude back to the X-Men.  Yet that only last for so long as we come to find out the X-Men are using Dark Beast to work on a secret project.  Luckily Dark Beast does help the team by giving up the whereabouts of the Marauders.  The team does teleport over ready for battle to an empty warehouse.  Scrambler is in the warehouse and uses his powers to effect Wolfsbane and her TO Entity to go wild, which does get in the way and helps Scrambler escape.  Wolverine doesn’t care and tells Havok to make a hole, then jumps out from the fourth floor; and then we are treated with this:

Now we know Callisto and the Morlocks are on the scene as well.  Turns out that Scrambler and the other Marauders have been hunting Morlocks and killing them in the tunnels.  Turns out no one is safe, even from other Mutants.  Chamber (aka Jono) calls out Cyclops and the X-Men on how no one is safe even after Scott’s promise, but this time Scott does plan to make it right.

We are now taken to Chernayan’s Northern Border and we see the fruits of Scott, Logan, and Val’s conversation.  The area is willing to help but does have some issues with a coup since the bad guys have lots of tech from S.H.I.E.L.D. and Latveria.  The X-men take down some of the rebels and it looks like the X-Men are back at it, old school style:

After the battle Scott lets the Morlocks know they can find safe refuge there and should be able to live their new home.  Small Victory but at least more Mutants are safe.  The X-Men are finally celebrating when Captain America comes to talk with Scott…looks like the party is over…
Once again I can’t say enough great things about this arc.  I love the fact that the X-Men are back to being heroic and I also enjoy their shadowy style too.  This reminds me of the 90’s show first two episodes.  The X-Men are going to do the right thing, but sadly most of the time the villains in their story are Humanity or the Government, but that won’t stop them, they are fighting for their survival in this world.  I enjoy their tactics and I wonder how things will come out in the end; like what is Dark Beast working on and what will they do with him?  Next issue should be something…Scott vs Cap again…AVXII?  Probably not that big, but it’ll be interesting since Steve is having his own issues with the Government as well.  I rate this issue 5 out of 5 Morlocks and recommend you join the team asap!  As always read on and Excelsior!

Imagine If… – Episode 125 Green Lantern Month Part 4 Marvelous Ring Bearers

Chris, Rafa, and Mitch continue Green Lantern Month talking the spinner rack for #NewComicBookDay and recapping their time at the Mission Viejo Library Comic-Con, then they challenge themselves to give marvel characters their own lantern rings. So if you ever wonder”What If?”, or utter the words “Just Imagine”, or love to argue “Who Would Win?” then this is the podcast for you. Let Chris and Mitch take you to another world, another time, and instruct you to “Imagine If…”.

Chris’ Comic Book Corner: Spider-Man Life Story #1

A Review From Christopher Franey

Get your Eisner ready…yea I’m calling it early, but this is a highly recommended series and this issue was…Amazing!  I’m a huge fan of Elseworlds, What Ifs, and Imaginary Stories…this just hits that spot perfectly.  I also love that in this issue we find out that it won’t just be Spider-Man going through time, but the rest of the Marvel Universe as well.  Now get ready for SPOILERS!!

So 1962 young Peter Parker gets bit…becomes Spider-Man and we know the history, here though we will see if unfold in real time, so Peter will be 15 years old in 1962.  The story starts off in 1966 and we are treated to a great one page origin/recap by the talented Mark Bagley and he is just as amazing as he was on Ultimate Spidey and the books back in the 90’s, his style is timeless and perfect.

That first page is perfect as it captures Pete’s thoughts and I like how he is still haunted by Uncle Ben’s death and his own un-sureness, very nice for a young Spidey.  We see Spidey realize that he needs to get back to being Pete as he is missing his college classes.  We see Harry and Norman Osborn running into Pete and this is the first time Norman and Pete are meeting in this history.  Sure enough Norman comes off as just the same sleeze as he was/is in the 616 universe as well.  The vibe is very stalker like of Norman but Pete is a scientific genius so why not if you scouting for your company…right?
Next up Pete finally gets to class and his partner Gwen, she even calls him out on his lateness and convenience of excuses.  I like that Professor Miles Warren is here to warn Gwen about being dragged down by Parker; as we know from the 616 Warren becomes the Jackal and is the creator of the clones, best one of all…Ben Reilly.  Parker shakes it off and is reminded that they have Flash Thompson’s going away party (heading to Vietnam for the war) later in the evening, so that means Pete will need cash, enter JJJ.  It’s nice to see the way Pete and JJJ used to interact and I live the dated dialogue as well.  What is interesting is the upcoming charges against JJJ with his involvement with the Scorpion and the Spider-Slayers, so expect more of that as the series progresses.  

As Pete is cashing his voucher with Betty Brant we catch the news and find out that Iron Man is already in the Vietnam War helping our soldiers fight the fight.  Which also brings up the question, should Super Heroes be automatically drafted?  This really hits Pete hard and he questions his actions towards the war.    

Next day Spidey is out on patrol and sees a fight with Cap and some thugs, he comes in to assist and it is an easy clean up for the two.  They get to talking about the war and Cap even admits that it is a lot to process.  Spidey admits he wonders as well, but Cap assures him that everyday Spidey fights the good fight for responsibility and is doing the right thing.  Which also gets Pete to realize that he needs to turn in Norman and put the Goblin away.  Pete makes an anonymous call, we see Norman locked up, but the scary part is when Norman is put in the back of a patrol car he sees Spidey swing away..stay tuned True Believer!
Pete realizes he is going to miss Flash leave by way of train.  He books it over and is still late again, to which Gwen lets him know that he is being a jerk and is wondering about what is wrong with Pete to which she sees: 

We now all arrive at the going away party and Pete and Flash have it out at first, Pete admits he has some pent up issues from their high school days and takes it out on Flash saying he is excited for the war with his bullying ways.  They do make peace because Gwen reminds Pete this could be the last time they see each other and you don’t want to leave it that way.  Norman buys Pete a soda and nudges him to leave the party so everyone will be safe.  Pete puts it together that Norman knows, so we get our classic Spidey vs Green Goblin fight with Spidey as the victor and Norman conveniently losing his memory.  The story is now that Norman was at a costume party and then mugged, which works for Pete as his secret is safe.  

So the next issue is called Fathers and Sons and set in the 70’s.  This issue was great and I highly recommend you pick this series up, don’t wait for the trade help support it now and enjoy it as well.  The art is amazing and Chip Zdarsky is killing it, he just gets his characters and does such a great job here.  His Spider-Man is very spot on, he just gets Parker and delivers.  This will be a fun world to explore in the next five issues, watching the Marvels grow in the real time line as well.  

Once again I can’t say enough great things about this issue and I look forward to the rest of the mini-series.  I give this six out of five Spideys and also a money back guarantee…you buy it and don’t like it, I’ll buy it off you.  So give it a risk all you can lose is the time and you won’t with this Life Story.  As always read on and Excelsior!

Whats also fun about this “What If” is that the time line, so far, fits into a potential DC/Marvel cross over with a story called Batman & Captain America by John Byrne which was a DC Elseworld that also tied into Superman & Batman Generations.  Those two stories take comics and place them in real time as well, so this is super exciting to see a Marvel version as well.  

Now its 1967 and do you know where your Captain America is?  Hmmm…maybe the Civil War will come earlier too.