Thursday, December 27, 2018

TITANTALK 018: "Dick Grayson" is Up!

"If there’s a chance I can save him, I’m gonna try."
"And what if you can’t save him?  Have you thought about it?  If he lost his conscience—"
"He never had a conscience.  He had a code, a sense of justice.  I was the one with the conscience, which means he slept at night while I stared holes in the ceiling."
-- Dick Grayson and Kory Anders, Titans: "Dick Grayson"

Hello again, Titans fans!  My fellow TitanTalker Jesse Jackson and I are back with another new episode of TitanTalk: The Titans Podcast!  This time, we discuss "Dick Grayson", the Season One finale of the DC Universe series Titansfeaturing Seamus Dever as Trigon/Captain Frank Finney, Minka Kelly as Dawn Grayson, and Curran Walters as Jason Todd!


In this episode, Jesse and I discuss things like director Glen Winter, the Season One finale being only 40 minutes, not receiving enough closure in the season finale, Titans producer Greg Walker's official line on what happened to the 12th episode, the unofficial line on what happened to the 12th episode, Dick's idyllic fantasy life in California with his wife Dawn and son Johnny, Rachel having Raven's hairstyle from the New Teen Titans comics, Dawn telling Dick to confront Bruce because no one else can, not being able to fully see Batman and the Joker on Titans, Jason Todd getting Barbara Gordon's wheelchair fate, Jason telling Dick he's the real Robin, Trigon posing as Captain Frank Finney, the homage to the New Teen Titans comics storyline "The Terror of Trigon" by Marv Wolfman and George Pérez, wondering why Dick Grayson doesn't call the Hall of Justice and let the Justice League take Batman down, Batman villain the Ventriloquist, Batman killing Starfire, why there really needed to be a 12th episode after this one, the tease of Superboy and Krypto for Season 2, our favorite quotes of the episode, some Young Justice: Outsiders and Doom Patrol news, new feedback from DJ Nik in Milan and Anne Dieken on the Twitter machine, our upcoming Season One wrap-up episode, and more!

If you'd like to check out episodes of TitanTalk, you can find us on...

iTunes -- RIGHT HERE
Direct MP3 downloads/Libsyn --  RIGHT HERE
TitanTalk's Facebook page
TitanTalk's Twitter account

Be sure to come back next week for Episode 019 as Jesse and I are joined by none other than DJ Nik from Milan, Italy for our big Season One wrap-up of the DC Universe series Titans!  Look for more of TitanTalk: The Titans Podcast on iTunes, Google Play Music, YouTube, Libsyn, and the official Southgate Media Group website!

Friday, December 21, 2018

DAMN Good Movies -- AQUAMAN

At long last, I'm back once again with another movie take, this time on the movie Aquaman, the sixth film of the DC Extended Universe.  As always, if you haven't seen the movie yet and you don't want it spoiled for you, then please step back from your computer or whatever electronic device you're reading this on and stop reading now. If, however, you're wise enough to know that movie reviews with spoilers are always more interesting than the ones without them...well...you have permission to come aboard!

Aquaman is, quite frankly, the movie I never thought I'd see.  Considered a joke by many,  who dismissed the character simply because he "talked to fish", Aquaman had a serious superhero cred issue until writer Peter David came along in 1996 and had a bunch of piranhas devour his left hand in Aquaman (vol.5) #2.  From that moment on, David reinvented the character as a long-haired, bearded, undersea warrior king, whose derided ability to "talk to fish" seemed considerably more impressive when commanding a group of sharks or 300,000-lb blue whales.  Another comics writer, Geoff Johns, helped definite Aquaman even further in 2011, creating a personal connection between the superhero and his arch-enemy, Black Manta, and developing his love interest Mera as a formidable superhero worthy of sharing the spotlight.

In 2004, Sunrise Entertainment's Alan and Peter Riche planned to bring Aquaman to the big screen for the first time, with Robert Ben Garant writing the screenplay, only to see the project fall through.  Five years later, Aquaman was in development at Leonardo DiCaprio's Appian Way, but it wasn't until 2014 when things really got moving.  Warner Bros. hired screenwriters Will Beall and Kurt Johnstad to prepare two separate scripts, with the film being developed on dual tracks and only the better version moving forward.  Beall's script got the nod, then was rewritten, and the long-named David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick was brought in to work on it as well.  The Saw franchise's James Wan was tapped as director, while star Jason Momoa built up interest by appearing as Aquaman in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Justice League.

The film opens with Aquaman's father, lighthouse keeper Thomas Curry, who rescues Atlanna, the formidable princess of the undersea nation of Atlantis, during a storm.  These crazy kids soon fall in love and have a son, Arthur, who's born with the aquatelepathic power to communicate with marine lifeforms.  After Atlantean soldiers show up, Atlanna's forced to abandon her family and return to Atlantis, leaving Thomas to raise Arthur alone and trusting her loyal advisor Nuidis Vulko with training Arthur.  Under Vulko's guidance, Arthur becomes a skilled warrior, but is rejected by the Atlanteans because he's a half-breed and ultimately leaves Atlantis behind.

Johns' creative influence here is obvious, especially as we pick up with Aquaman after the events of Justice League.  One year after Steppenwolf's assault on Earth, Arthur confronts a group of pirates attempting to hijack a nuclear submarine.  Their leader, Jesse Kane, dies during the face-off, while his son, David, vows revenge against Arthur for not rescuing Jesse from being trapped aboard the damaged and sinking submarine.  Aquaman choosing to do nothing to save a bad guy from drowning -- right in front of his son -- is one of the movie's genuinely surprising moments, which becomes that awkward moment when you give your future arch-enemy a great reason to hate you for all eternity.

David later targets Atlantis under the orders of Orm, Arthur's younger half-brother and Atlantis' king, who uses the attack as a reason to declare war on the surface.  King Nereus of Xebel swears allegiance to Orm's cause, but his daughter Mera, who was arranged to marry Orm, refuses to help them and travels to the surface to ask Arthur for help.  Unfortunately, Orm decided that's a good time to send a tsunami crashing onto the Maine coastline, which strikes the pickup truck Arthur and Thomas are riding in.  Mera earns Arthur's trust by saving Thomas, so he reluctantly accompanies Mera to rendezvous with Vulko.  

As we travel down to Atlantis, Wan showcases his artistry to amazing effect.  Despite being heavily CGI, Altantis looks absolutely incredible, everything Aquafans could've hoped to see.  Wan goes all out with the visuals, which are practically overwhelming even in standard 2-D, and then starts overwhelming us with Atlantean politics.  Vulko urges Arthur to find the Trident of Atlan, a magical artifact that once belonged to Atlantis’ first ruler, in order to claim his rightful place as king and oust the power-tripping Orm.  They get ambushed by Orm’s goons, with Mera and Vulko escaping while Arthur is captured.

We dive into the Second Act, as Orm visits Arthur in captivity and announces that Atlanna was executed for the crime of having a half-breed son, blaming Arthur and the surface for her death.  He offers Arthur an opportunity to leave forever, but Arthur instead challenges him to a duel in a ring of underwater lava.  (Wouldn't lava just cool and harden into stone as it hits the water, because science?)  Orm, with his considerable training, soon gets the upper hand and nearly kills Arthur before Mera rescues him, forcing the two to make a hasty exit from Atlantis.  The movie goes a bit Indiana Jones, as Arthur and Mera travel to the Sahara desert, where the trident was forged, and unlock a holographic message that leads them to Sicily, where they retrieve the trident’s coordinates.  Orm hooks up David with Atlantean armor and weaponry and sends him to stop them.  After learning of Vulko's betrayal, Orm imprisons him and coerces the remaining kingdoms of Atlantis to pledge allegiance to him as Ocean Master and support his campaign against the surface.

In Sicily, David, now going by the handle Black Manta, ambushes Arthur and Mera and injures Arthur before being thrown off a cliff to his apparent death.  Well, so much for Aquaman's arch-enemy.  Arthur and Mera finally track down the trident’s whereabouts, and Mera encourages him to embrace his destiny as the Man of Aqua.  Wan's horror movie background gets used to great effect as Arthur and Mera are attacked by a legion of amphibious monsters known as The Trench.  After the Trench swarms their stolen boat, they manage to fend them off and reach a whirlpool that transports them to an uncharted sea located at the center of the Earth.  There, they are unexpectedly reunited with Atlanna, who seems not very dead.  It turns out she was sacrificed to the Trench for her crimes but managed to escape and reach the uncharted sea, where she's been stranded ever since.

Onto the Third Act, Arthur faces off against Karathen, an impressive kraken-like leviathan that guards the trident and speaks with Julie Andrews' growling voice.  Arthur states his intent to protect both Atlantis and the surface, proving his worth and reclaiming the trident, which grants him control over the Seven Seas.  Now rocking his shiny Aquaman uniform, Arthur leads an army of marine creatures in an insane battle against Orm and his followers, who renounce Orm and embrace Aquaman as the true king after learning that he wields the Trident of Atlan.  To the surprise of no one, Aquaman defeats Ocean Master in combat, but chooses to spare his life.  Orm accepts his fate and surrenders, after discovering Arthur has found and rescued their mother.  And just to give the film a nice, happy ending, Atlanna returns to the surface to reunite with Thomas, while Arthur ascends to the throne with Mera by his side to wait for the inevitable sequel.

The movie's cast give some decent performances, bringing a lot of humor and heart in the process.  Here are some things that stood out:

AQUAMAN/ARTHUR CURRY -- In this third outing as Aquaman, Jason Momoa seems even more comfortable in the role, if that's even possible.  He's clearly having a good time here, bringing his goofy, brotastic charm when needed and looking imposing even with his shirt off.  Even though he's not as perfectly cast as Gal Gadot's Wonder Woman, Momoa is the Aquaman the DC Extended Universe needed at this moment in time.

MERA -- After making an extended cameo in Justice League, Amber Heard finally gets to shine as Mera.  Her character starts off as a bit of a stiff, but gradually warms up and finally starts clicking when Mera and Arthur go adventuring.  Her best moment, though, is probably in Sicily, when she eats roses, thinking they're food, which encourages Arthur to do the same to put her at ease.  A silly moment, sure, but one with lots of heart.

OCEAN MASTER/ORM MARIUS -- Patrick Wilson, best known to comic book movie fans as the second Nite Owl from Watchmen, gets to be the film's Big Bad as Ocean Master.  The contrast between Orm and Arthur is considerable, which makes Orm's surrender at the end all the more interesting as the two half-brothers finally find an understanding.  And with Orm in Atlantean prison, that certainly leaves him open for a future return appearance.

BLACK MANTA/DAVID KANE -- Yahya Abdul-Mateen II makes his debut as Black Manta and seems all but certain to be the Big Bad for Aquaman II: The Search for More Tridents.  His introduction in the early submarine sequence is strong, with his father's death becoming the prime motivation for his hatred of Aquaman.  Unfortunately, that potential gets wasted when he later suits up as Black Manta, in a costume that comes off more like a Power Rangers villain.  His quick defeat in Sicily doesn't help either, as Black Manta does a great impression of Homer Simpson falling down Springfield Gorge.  D'oh!

NUIDIS VULKO -- Willem Dafoe's background as the Green Goblin in Spider-Man and as Gill in Finding Nemo probably made him a perfect choice to be in Aquaman.  Here, Dafoe plays the role of Arthur's mentor and Orm's vizier, which could've made him more of a conflicted character than he turned out to be.  Essentially, Vulko is the Obi-Wan Kenobi to Aquaman's Luke Skywalker, although he certainly received a better fate...for now.

ATLANNA -- Even now at 51, Nicole Kidman is still a stunning on-screen presence.  As Arthur's mother Atlanna, she's an important part of Aquaman's origin and thankfully given more to do than just be the Atlantean woman Thomas Curry knocked up.  Her introduction to Thomas is a fun bit of chaos, as she freaks out and hurls a trident into Tom's TV set and practically trashes his lighthouse in the process.  Kidman even gets a solid action scene as she tries to fend off the Atlantean soldiers tasked with bringing her back to Atlantis.

TOM CURRY -- As Aquaman's father, Temuera Morrison is probably glad to have a decent, high-profile gig after playing Jango Fett in the Star Wars prequels and Abin Sur in Green Lantern.  He does a good job here, particularly in the bar scene with Jason Momoa and his scenes with Nicole Kidman's Atlanna.  Tom and Atlanna's long-awaited reunion at the end of the film is a solid Kleenex box moment, as proven by my wife's tearful reaction.

THE TRENCH -- Holy crap, how great did the Trench look in this movie?  Despite their limited screen time, these Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis creations were very nasty threats to Arthur and Mera.  As the two descended down into the darkened depths, the Trench looked even more frightening and helped make a simple transitional sequence tense and gripping to watch.

DR. STEPHEN SHIN -- Randall Park makes a couple of cameos as Dr. Stephen Shin, another Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis creation.  Shin's obsession with Atlantis is key to his character, and the post-credits scene revealing that Shin rescued Black Manta sets up his appearance in a sequel rather nicely.

KING NEREUS -- The last person you probably expected to appear in Aquaman is probably Dolph Lundgren, the original movie Punisher and Rocky IV Big Bad.  But here he is, and he actually does a decent turn as King Nereus, Mera's father, who ends up a pawn in the Ocean Master's masterplan.  Let's see if he's around to give the bride away at Arthur and Mera's eventual wedding.

All in all, Aquaman is a fun, visually stunning movie that demands to be seen in the theaters.  Ignore the Rotten Tomatoes critics, whose anti-superhero movie agenda couldn't be more obvious in their reviews, and just enjoy the undersea sci-fi/fantasy spectacle James Wan and his team delivered.  Yes, it's flawed, especially compared to Black Panther or Wonder Woman, but Aquaman feels like DC movies are finally moving away from Zack Snyder's grim and gritty broodfest and embracing some of what makes Marvel films so loved by fans.  It's another step forward for DC films, and an incredible achievement for a character that "talks to fish".

And for those who may be wondering, here's the updated list of my Top 20 Comic Book Films:

1. Superman (1978)
2. The Dark Knight (2008)
3. Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
4. The Avengers (2012)
5. Batman Begins (2005)
6. Logan (2017)
7. Captain America: Civil War (2016)
8. Black Panther (2018)
9. Man of Steel (2013)
10. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
11. Doctor Strange (2016)
12. Wonder Woman (2017)
13. Spider-Man 2 (2004)
14. Spider-Man (2002)
15. Aquaman (2018)
16. Iron Man (2008)
17. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
18. Watchmen (2009)
19. Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
20. Thor (2011)

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

GHOSTWOOD 046: "The Orchid's Curse" is Up!

"Are you looking for secrets?!  Is that what all this is about?  Well, maybe I can help you.  Do you know what the ultimate secret is?  You want to know?  Laura did.  The secret of knowing who killed you…"
-- Harold Smith to Donna Hayward & Madeleine "Maddy" Ferguson, Twin Peaks: "The Orchid's Curse"

It is happening again...My co-host with the most Xan Sprouse and I are back with a new episode of Ghostwood: The Twin Peaks Podcast!  This time, we continue our commentary tracks as we watch  "The Orchid's Curse," the fifth episode from Twin Peaks Season Two, featuring the introduction of David L. Lander as Tim Pinkle, Cooper and Harry's rescue of Audrey Horne, and Harold Smith's horrifying use of a garden rake!


In our latest episode, Xan and I discuss things like Xan being the Sick Girl from "The Return", the first season of Mystery Science Theater 3000, the Lenny and the Squigtones album, the Great Northern Hotel parking lot, why Cooper shouldn't sleep with his gun next to his bed, Lucy going to visit her sister Gwen, the first appearance of Tim Pinkle, Leo getting Mr. Potter's wheelchair, Roadhouse Justice, Harold reading Laura's diary with some fava beans and a nice Chianti, Twin Peaks bookcases being filled with seeeeecrets, Donna going quid pro quo with Harold, Donna's dick move with Harold's agoraphobia, Leo's competency hearing, the recipe for Judge Sternwood's Yukon Black Sucker Punches, Wendy Robie on Quantum Leap, Cooper's ancient Tibetan duck call, Donna's floor plan of Harold's apartment, Jean Renault's springblade, Andy losing a battle with Post-Its, Cooper's floor plan of One Eyed Jack's, that awkward moment when Andy tries to reach Lucy and calls an abortion clinic, Donna telling Harold the story of her and Laura skinny-dipping with a group of older boys, Jacques' underage service charge, Donna being into mind games, Cooper's badass move of taking down Nancy, Hawk saving Cooper and Harry, Harold dripping fake blood on his face before dragging the garden rake over it, Twin Peaks being one of the original shows to kill off major characters, my getting over bronchitis, the 1908 murder that inspired Laura Palmer's murder getting a book deal and docuseries, Xan at the dentist, and more!

If you'd like to check out our latest episode, you can find us on...

iTunes -- RIGHT HERE
Direct MP3 downloads/Libsyn -- RIGHT HERE
Ghostwood's Facebook page
Ghostwood's Twitter account

Be sure to come back in two weeks as Xan and I continue our commentary tracks as we watch "Demons," the sixth episode from Twin Peaks Season Two, featuring Leo Johnson's homecoming party, the return of David Lynch as Gordon Cole, and Cooper's conversation with Mike!  Look for more of Ghostwood: The Twin Peaks Podcast on iTunes, YouTube, Libsyn, and the official Southgate Media Group website!

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

TITANTALK 017: "Koriand'r" is Up!

"What?  You’re not the only one with cool gadgets."
-- Donna Troy to Dick Grayson, Titans: "Koriand'r"

Hello again, Titans fans!  My fellow TitanTalker Jesse Jackson and I are back with another new episode of TitanTalk: The Titans Podcast!  This time, we discuss "Koriand'r", the tenth episode of the DC Universe series Titans, featuring the introduction of Seamus Dever as Trigon, along with Conor Leslie as Donna Troy and Rachel Nichols as Angela Azarath!


In this episode, Jesse and I discuss things like a special introduction from DJ Nik, wondering if Titans Season One works better by binging episodes, "Hank and Dawn" throwing off the momentum of the season's narrative flow, Seamus Dever on ABC's Castle, Titans needing to stop setting things up and get on with the good stuff, Kory finding out that she has a spaceship, Kory's religious icon X'Hal, our first glimpse of Starfire's home planet Tamaran, Kory finally changing her clothes, my wife Lori and I enjoying Five Guys burgers while watching Titans, Donna using her Lasso of Persuasion, Donna calling out Dick having a thing for dangerous women, Donna having her own cool gadgets, Trigon first appearing to Rachel in human form, getting a glimpse of Trigon's demonic form, wondering if Rachel has been Team Trigon all along, Beast Boy's emerging dark side, Trigon wanting to manipulate Dick and Gar, Batman going completely off the edge (or not), our favorite quotes of the episode, wondering what happened to Episode 12, new feedback from Michael Rotton, DJ Nik in Milan and Anne Dieken, our upcoming Season One wrap-up episode, and more!

If you'd like to check out episodes of TitanTalk, you can find us on...

iTunes -- RIGHT HERE
Direct MP3 downloads/Libsyn --  RIGHT HERE
TitanTalk's Facebook page
TitanTalk's Twitter account

Be sure to come back next week for Episode 018 as Jesse and I discuss "Dick Grayson", the Season One finale of the DC Universe series Titans, featuring Seamus Dever as Trigon, Curran Walters as Jason Todd, Conor Leslie as Donna Troy and Rachel Nichols as Angela Azarath!  Look for more of TitanTalk: The Titans Podcast on iTunes, Google Play Music, YouTube, Libsyn, and the official Southgate Media Group website!

STARGIRL Casts Henry Thomas as Doctor Mid-Nite

He goes out walkin' after midnight, out in the moonlight...

Entertainment Weekly has word that the upcoming DC Universe series Stargirl, based on the DC Comics superhero, has cast Henry Thomas as Dr. Charles McNider, better known to DC Comics fans as the Golden Age Doctor Mid-Nite!

According to the article, the role will be recurring and is described as "Also known as the introspective surgeon Dr. Charles McNider, Dr. Mid-Nite is a brilliant and forward-thinking medical pioneer, and a founding member of the JSA.  With his trusty owl, he acts as the team’s resident doctor and detective."

Stargirl is centered on Courtney Whitmore (Brec Bassinger), a struggling high-schooler who relocates to Blue Valley, Nebraska when her mom gets married.  After discovering her new stepfather was Starman’s sidekick Stripesy, Courtney uses his old Cosmic Staff to become Stargirl and inspire an unlikely group of young heroes to fight villains of the past.

Thomas, 47, is best known as Elliott in E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial and recently as Young Hugh Crain in the Netflix series The Haunting of Hill House.  His other films include Cloak & Dagger (1984), Fire in the Sky, Legends of the Fall, Suicide Kings, All the Pretty Horses, Gangs of New York, Dear John, and Ouija: Origin of Evil.  His television appearances include episodes of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Better Things, The Mentalist, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Without a Trace, and Masters of Horror.

Created in 1941 by Charles Reizenstein and Stanley Josephs Aschmeier, Doctor Mid-Nite first appeared in All-American Comics #25 as Dr. Charles McNider, a surgeon, who was called one night to remove a bullet from a witness set to testify against mobsters.  A mobster threw a grenade into the room, killing the witness and blinding McNider, with the injury causing him to believe his career as a surgeon was over.  One evening, as he was recovering, an owl crashed through his window.  Removing the bandages covering his eyes, McNider discovered that he could still see, but only in perfect darkness.  McNider developed a special visor allowing him to see in the light and "blackout bombs" capable of blocking out all light, becoming a costumed crime fighter.  He adopted the owl, naming it Hooty, and it became his "sidekick."

As Doctor Mid-Nite, he later joined the Justice Society of America (JSA) and the All-Star Squadron.  In 1942, McNider enlisted in the U.S. Medical Corps as a physician during World War II, rising to the rank of Captain.  Ten years after his debut, McNider briefly assumed the role of Starman after the JSA disbanded when Ted Knight, the original Starman, suffered a nervous breakdown as a result of his participation in the development of the atomic bomb.

In 1953, McNider suffered a devastating event when the girl he loved, Myra Mason, was murdered by the Shadower, a foe who had learned Doctor Mid-Nite's secret identity.  McNider apparently had no children, but at one point McNider rescued a pregnant woman from an attack in Sogndal, Norway, and delivered her baby, Pieter Cross, who later became the third Doctor Mid-Nite.

McNider rejoined his comrades in the Justice Society of America, when the cosmic entity known as the Anti-Monitor threatened to destroy the Multiverse during the Crisis on Infinite Earths event.  Immediately following the Crisis, the Justice Society embarked upon an adventure that cast them out of this reality, placing them into a Limbo dimension, where they found themselves fighting the Gods of Nordic legend – seemingly for all time.  A few years later, however, the super-being known as Waverider brought the JSA back to Earth and they came out of retirement once again to fight their old adversary, the Ultra-Humanite.

Following that battle, Doctor Mid-Nite shared in one final adventure with his lifelong brothers-in-arms.  The villain known as Extant had sought to remake the entire universe and began manipulating multiple time streams to suit his own ends.  The JSA, as well as dozens of other heroes, banded together to stop him.  Doctor Mid-Nite, the original Atom, and the futuristic android known as Hourman lost their lives during an event that has come to be known as Zero Hour.

Thomas will be the second actor to portray Doctor Mid-Nite in live-action, after Kwesi Ameyaw in the CW series Legends of Tomorrow.  The character has also appeared in the animated series Batman: The Brave and the Bold (voiced by Corey Burton) and Justice League Unlimited.

Stargirl is currently expected to debut on DC Universe sometime in August 2019.

Friday, December 14, 2018

TITANTALK 016: "Hawk and Dawn" is Up!

"What happened to my mom, to everyone we love who was hurt and killed, it was an accident.  It’s not fair.  It’s not fair that it wasn’t anyone’s fault…that there isn’t anyone out there to blame.  To go after.  To hate."
"Life isn’t fair."
"Why not?  Why can’t we make it fair?"
-- Dawn Granger and her support group advisor, Titans: "Hawk and Dawn"

Hello again, Titans fans!  My fellow TitanTalker Jesse Jackson and I are back with another new episode of TitanTalk: The Titans Podcast!  This time, we discuss "Hawk and Dawn", the ninth episode of the DC Universe series Titans, featuring the return of Alan Ritchson as Hawk and Minka Kelly as the second Dove, along with Marina Sirtis as Marie Granger and Elliot Knight as Don Hall, the original Dove!


In this episode, Jesse and I discuss things like wanting a little more effort into the generic episode titles, wondering why "Hank and Dawn" aired in the episode order that it did, writer Brad Meltzer not being able to enjoy many "whodunnit" stories anymore, Star Trek: The Next Generation actress Marina Sirtis, Hank's brother Don talking him into becoming Hawk and Dove, the original Hawk and the Dove comic book series by Steve Ditko, Hank being sexually molested as a child by his football coach to protect Don, Hank and Don's prototype Hawk and Dove costumes and their first outing fighting crime, Dawn trying to convince her mother Marie to leave her abusive husband, some background on Dawn's sister Holly Granger, Hank and Dawn's fateful first meeting, the second Dove being created by former OG TitanTalkers Barbara Kesel and Rob Liefeld, more Hawk and Dove easter eggs, Hawk and Dawn developing their relationship out of their shared tragedy, wondering if Hawk is addicted to painkillers, wondering why Titans' Hawk and Dove don't have superpowers, Dawn going after the coach who molested Hank as a child, Rachel trying to contact Hank in his dream, our favorite quotes of the episode, new feedback from DJ Nik in Milan, Italy, and more!

If you'd like to check out episodes of TitanTalk, you can find us on...

iTunes -- RIGHT HERE
Direct MP3 downloads/Libsyn --  RIGHT HERE
TitanTalk's Facebook page
TitanTalk's Twitter account

Be sure to come back next week for Episode 017 as Jesse and I discuss "Koriand'r", the tenth episode of the new DC Universe series Titans, featuring the introduction of Seamus Dever as Rachel's father, along with Conor Leslie as Donna Troy and Rachel Nichols as Angela Azarath!  Look for more of TitanTalk: The Titans Podcast on iTunes, Google Play Music, YouTube, Libsyn, and the official Southgate Media Group website!

Thursday, December 13, 2018

SWAMP THING Casts Ian Ziering as Blue Devil

Swamp Thing is about to encounter a weirdness magnet.

Deadline reported that the upcoming DC Universe series Swamp Thing, based on the DC Comics humanoid plant elemental, has cast Ian Ziering as Daniel Cassidy, better known to DC Comics fans as the superhero Blue Devil.

According to the article, the role of Blue Devil will be recurring and is described as "Stuntman turned movie star, Daniel Cassidy became semi-famous after playing the demonic Blue Devil.  But now, eight years later, Cassidy finds himself living out his days in frustration, pining for his former fame while on a collision course with destiny."

In addition, DC Comics released the following movie poster for The Adventures of Blue Devil, which features Cassidy as Blue Devil along with his Blue Devil comic book series supporting characters Sharon Scott and Wayne Tarrant.  Tarrant appears as the supervillain Bolt in the poster, possibly hinting at the character's appearance on Swamp Thing.

Swamp Thing follows Abby Arcane (Crystal Reed) as she investigates what seems to be a deadly swamp-born virus in a small town in Louisiana but soon discovers that the swamp holds mystical and terrifying secrets.  When unexplainable and chilling horrors emerge from the murky marsh, no one is safe.

Ziering, 54, is best known as Steve Sanders on the TV series Beverly Hills, 90210 and as Fin Shepard in Syfy's Sharknado series of TV movies.  In addition, Ziering has voiced the role of Harry Osborn in 2003's Spider-Man: The New Animated Series and Mason Forrest in the animated series Batman Beyond.  His films include Endless Love, Savate, No Way Back and Domino, and he's appeared in episodes of The Muppets, Defiance, CSI: NY, Biker Mice from Mars, Son of the Beach, JAG, Godzilla: The Series, Parker Lewis Can't Lose, Married...with Children, and Melrose Place.

Created in 1984 by Dan Mishkin and Gary Cohn, Blue Devil first appeared in The Fury of Firestorm #24 as Daniel Cassidy, a special effects wizard and stuntman hired to create and play the title character in the movie Blue Devil. Cassidy created a full-body costume with a hidden powered exoskeleton and built-in special-effects devices.  When two of his co-stars accidentally freed a demon named Nebiros, Cassidy used his costume to drive the demon back, but not before being blasted with mystical energy.  After the fight, Cassidy found that the blast had permanently grafted the Blue Devil costume to his body.

Cassidy quickly found himself embroiled in repeated adventures and conflicts with supervillains, as his newfound status turned him into a "weirdness magnet".  After failing to find a way to remove his costume, Cassidy started to enjoy his new lifestyle, and became more and more comfortable as a superhero, even accepting a place in the Justice League of America.  He gained a sidekick when Eddie Bloomberg, his former gofer and devoted fan, designed a suit similar to his own and became the teen superhero Kid Devil.  Eventually, Cassidy moved into "The House of Weirdness" with Cain the Caretaker as his superintendent.

Blue Devil was later employed as a bouncer at the Oblivion Bar, an interdimensional place for magical beings, and there he was recruited by Ragman, Enchantress, and Detective Chimp to fight against The Spectre in the event series Day of Vengeance.  With his enhanced demonic strength, he was the heavy hitter of the Shadowpact, a team of magical heroes devoted to fight for every "lost cause".  Feeling necessary for the first time in a long time, he devoted himself to the team.  One of their goals is to help look over the wild magic of the "Tenth Age", a direct result of the events of Day of Vengeance.

In 2011, DC Comics rebooted its continuity with a new timeline known as The New 52.  In this new timeline, Blue Devil was reintroduced busting up a drug deal and running into Black Lightning, who was also there for the same reason.  The two heroes both revealed they were trying to take down crime lord Tobias Whale, but Black Lightning didn't believe Blue Devil.  A fight ensued, with Blue Devil quickly getting the better of Black Lightning.  He attempted to make him listen, but was interrupted by the Los Angeles police, who were ready to open fire.  Black Lightning took the opportunity to run off and Blue Devil managed to escape as well.  During the Forever Evil storyline, Blue Devil was among the magic users that were captured by Felix Faust and Nick Necro in order to use them as part of a weapon that would defeat the creature that destroyed the Crime Syndicate's Earth.

This will be the first time the character will appear in live-action, although Blue Devil has appeared in the animated series Justice League Unlimited (voiced by Lex Lang), Young Justice and Justice League Action.

Swamp Thing is currently expected to debut on DC Universe sometime in May 2019.

STARGIRL Casts Joel McHale as Starman

There's a Starman waiting in the sky.

Variety is reporting that the upcoming DC Universe series Stargirl, based on the DC Comics superhero, has cast Joel McHale as Sylvester Pemberton, better known to DC fans as the Star-Spangled Kid and later Skyman.  However, it seems in this series, Pemberton will be a version of the "Golden Age" Starman.

According to the article, Starman will be a recurring character in the series and is described as "a courageous and confident superhero, Starman is a member of the Justice Society of America.  He wields a mysterious anti-gravity weapon called the cosmic staff and has a longtime sidekick named Stripesy, who is better known as Courtney Whitmore’s stepfather, Pat Dugan."

Stargirl centers on Courtney Whitmore (Brec Bassinger), a high school sophomore who inspires an unlikely group of young heroes to stop the villains of the past.  The series comes from executive producers Greg Berlanti, Geoff Johns and Sarah Schechter, based on DC comic book characters created by Geoff Johns.  Johns, who created the character of Stargirl in 1999, inspired by his late sister, is also set to write the premiere episode and will serve as showrunner.

McHale, 47, is best know as Jeff Winger on the NBC/Yahoo! sitcom Community and as the host of the E! series The Soup.  In addition, he's appeared as Tad O'Malley on episodes of The X-Files, and in episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000, Drunk History, Rick and Morty, Sons of Anarchy, Pushing Daisies, CSI: Miami, and The Fugitive (2000).  His film appearances include Spider-Man 2, Spy Kids: All the Time in the World, Ted, and The Happytime Murders.

Created in 1941 by Jerry Siegel and Hal Sherman, Sylvester Pemberton first appeared in Action Comics (vol.1) #40 as a young man who became the Star-Spangled Kid in order to battle Nazi spies and fifth columnists during World War II.  He operated with an adult sidekick, Stripesy (a.k.a. Pat Dugan), and the two were both superb acrobats and had sufficient training in hand-to-hand combat.  They devised a series of acrobatic maneuvers that allowed them to build upon one another's strengths -- the Kid's agility and Dugan's prowess.  They also built the Star Rocket Racer, a bubble-topped limousine with the functions of a rocket and helicopter.

The Star-Spangled Kid and Stripesy were members of the superhero team known as the Seven Soldiers of Victory as well as the All-Star Squadron.  The Seven Soldiers were lost in time in 1950 and rescued decades later by the Justice League of America and the Justice Society of America.  Aquaman, Wildcat and Green Lantern (Hal Jordan) rescued the Star-Spangled Kid, who was 50,000 years in the past and hiding in a cave so that his flu would not wipe out humanity.  Sylvester then joined the JSA, at which time a then-injured Starman loaned him his Cosmic Rod, wanting the young man to become his heir as neither of his sons expressed interest in carrying the mantle.  Soon afterwards, the Kid refined the technology of the Rod, devising a belt with similar powers, such as energy projection, flight and matter transmutation.

Eventually, Sylvester temporarily retired from superheroics to reclaim his inheritance and his father's business and movie studio Stellar Studios, from his corrupt nephew, who was using those funds to run his own evil organization, Strike Force.  In addition, he patched up his long-neglected relationship with Dugan and later became the hero known as Skyman after founding the superhero team known as Infinity, Inc.  During this period, he formed a partnership with the city of Los Angeles to commission the team as for-hire protectors.  He also purchased property to revitalize related movie production facilities.  He later confronted Solomon Grundy, who was under the control of the third Harlequin, Marcie Cooper.  During the incident, Solomon Grundy used the fatal touch of Mr. Bones to kill Skyman.

McHale will be the second actor to portray Sylvester Pemberton in live-action, after Jim Shield in the Smallville TV movie "Absolute Justice."

Stargirl is currently expected to debut on DC Universe sometime in August 2019.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

NEXT STOP EVERYWHERE 128: "The Battle of Ravskoor Av Kolos" is Up!

"None of us know for sure what's out there.  That's why we keep looking.  Keep your faith. Travel hopefully.  The universe will surprise you...constantly."
--The Thirteenth Doctor to Andinio and Delph, Doctor Who: "The Battle of Ravskoor Av Kolos"

My partners in time Jesse Jackson and Karen Lindsay join me once again for a new episode of Next Stop Everywhere: The Doctor Who Podcast!  This time, we review "The Battle of Ravskoor Av Kolos", the Doctor Who Series Eleven finale, featuring Jodie Whittaker as the Thirteenth Doctor, Mark Addy as Paltraki, Phyllis Logan as Andinio, and the return of Samuel Oatley as T'zim-Sha!

In this episode, Jesse, Karen and I discuss things like Next Stop Everywhere being a Whovian support group, BBC America's Doctor Who ratings improving 20% over Series Ten, the BBC chipping away at the number of episodes per season, Jesse not recognizing Mark Addy from Game of Thrones, Karen geeking out over Mark Addy in World of Warcraft, the Thirteenth Doctor geeking out over something to provide background exposition for the audience, wondering how the Ux reproduce, T'zim-Sha abusing the Ux's faith for his own advantage, criticism that the Thirteenth Doctor isn't "authoritative" enough, Series Eleven having a midseason lull, wondering what the Doctor actually looks at on her Sonic Screwdriver, Graham and T'zim-Sha's respective attempts at vengeance, Bradley Walsh being the MVP of Series Eleven as Graham O'Brien, Ryan finally giving Graham the fist bump and telling him that he loved him, Chris Chibnall not knowing what to do with Yaz, the return of the Sniperbots, T'zim-Sha having 3,407 years to plan and getting defeated rather easily, T'zim-Sha running out of face real estate for more teeth, our favorite quotes of the episode, a quick Reverse the Polarity segment, a special guest appearance by my cat Keiko, some feedback from Jo Wendi Karelja, Fred Firestine, Holly from Wisconsin and Paul from Australia, getting a positive response to our positivity, filling in the gap of not having a Doctor Who Christmas Special this year, wondering if "Resolution" isn't the full episode title for the 2019 New Year's Day Special, all of us getting on Podchaser, and more!

If you'd like to check out our latest episode, you can find us on...

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And hey, if you'd like to pick up the officially official Next Stop Everywhere t-shirt, you can find it on TeePublic right HERE!  Help support the show and feel free to post pictures on our Facebook page of you or some other cool person you know wearing the shirt!

Be sure to come back next week as Jesse, Karen and I help fill the void of not having a 2018 Christmas Special with "A Christmas Carol", the Doctor Who 2010 Christmas Special, featuring Matt Smith as the Eleventh Doctor, Karen Gillan as Amy Pond, Arthur Darvill as Rory Williams, Michael Gambon as Kazran & Elliot Sardick, and Katherine Jenkins as Abigail!  Look for more of Next Stop Everywhere on iTunes, Google Play Music, YouTube, Libsyn, Soundcloud, Stitcher, and the official Southgate Media Group website!

The Arrowverse Confirms CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS as 2019 Crossover Event

Worlds will live.  Worlds will die.  And the wait for Fall 2019 is going to be excruciating.

Last night's episode of The CW's series Supergirl, "Elseworlds, Part 3", concluded with a major announcement for fans of DC Comics and the CW's Arrowverse shows -- Next year's crossover event will be an adaptation of the classic DC Comics saga Crisis on Infinite Earths.

Written by Marv Wolfman and drawn by George Pérez, Crisis on Infinite Earths was a 12-issue maxiseries that ran from April 1985 to March 1986.  In the story, the Anti-Monitor (the Monitor's evil counterpart) is unleashed on the DC Multiverse and begins to destroy the various Earths that it comprises.  The Monitor tries to recruit heroes from around the Multiverse but is murdered, while Brainiac collaborates with the villains to conquer the remaining Earths.  However, both the heroes and villains are eventually united by the Spectre.  the series concludes with the Earth-2 Superman, Superboy-Prime, and Alexander Luthor Jr. defeating the Anti-Monitor, and the creation of a single Earth in place of the Multiverse.  Crisis on Infinite Earths also featured a high death count, with hundreds of killed DC Comics characters died, including DC icons such as Supergirl and Barry Allen.

As the third part of "Elseworlds" ended, Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) and Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) shared a drink while discussing their latest adventure.  They were soon interrupted by Oliver getting a call from Batwoman (Ruby Rose), who said that Doctor Destiny/John Deegan (Jeremy Davies) had become an inmate at Arkham Asylum and made a new friend, the Psycho-Pirate (Bob Frazer).  Rather ominously, the Psycho-Pirate tells Deegan, "Don't worry, Doctor...Everything is as it should be.  The stage is set.  Worlds will live.  Worlds will die.  And the universe will never be the same."

Old-school DC fans quickly recognized the familiar line from this 1985 DC Comics house ad promoting Crisis on Infinite Earths:

And sure enough, viewers soon saw the stylish worlds "COMING FALL 2019", followed by an equally stylish version of the Crisis on Infinite Earths logo, which confirmed next year's Arrowverse crossover.

The "Elseworlds" crossover introduced LaMonica Garrett as The Monitor/Mar Novu, a very important character in Crisis on Infinite Earths, who revealed that he was testing champions to face a powerful, future threat, hinting at Crisis' big bad cosmic supervillain, the Anti-Monitor.  

The Psycho-Pirate also has a significant role in Crisis as an accomplice to the Anti-Monitor, who manipulates a captive Barry Allen after the Pirate's powers are briefly enhanced so that he can control three alternate Earths—Earth-4, Earth-S, and Earth-X—to provoke their heroes into attacking the teams sent to rescue them.  After the resolution of the Crisis, the Psycho-Pirate is one of the few to have full memories of the event.  Driven mad by these memories, the Psycho-Pirate was shown in the last few panels of Crisis in a straitjacket, as the scene pans out from his eyes to a full view of Earth from space.

Other characters who probably will play a part in next year's Arrowverse crossover are The Flash from Earth-90 (John Wesley Shipp, reprising his character from the 1990-91 TV series The Flash), who was last seen being teleported away by the Monitor in "Elseworlds, Part 2", and John Diggle (David Ramsey)'s wife Harbinger/Lyla Michaels (Audrey Marie Anderson), who served the Monitor in Crisis on Infinite Earths as his assistant and helped him prepare for the battle with the Anti-Monitor.

In the meantime, though, The Flash and Supergirl might want to take care of any necessary arrangements...just in case.