Justice League #14 Review

 

Justice League #14 - Comic Book Cover

Somebody better pick up that phone, because I f&$%ing called it.

 

This month’s issue of Justice League picks up where the last chapter left off, showcasing the League battling Wonder Woman’s arch-nemesis, the Cheetah, in the Congo. With Superman now under her thrall, Cheetah appears to be winning before the timely intervention of the tribe that worships the Cheetah deity.

Yeah, I know people have been complaining about this story’s Geographical fail in regards to where cheetahs (the animal, not the super villain) live. They are more prone to flat, grassy plains where their speed is more suited, not in jungles densely populated by trees. But this is a story where Amazons fight cat-women, so I don’t know why everyone is so hung up on one detail.

 

Also, for once I thank God Cyborg is with the League, because otherwise we have an entirely Caucasian League interacting with the “uncivilized” black natives of the Congo. I know it’s part of the larger mythology here, but Africa is a developed continent people. It’s not all jungles and spears.

Anyway, the story goes on to detail that the Cheetah was actually a benevolent protector Goddess for this tribe, before the last host was killed by a hunter wielding some sort of mystical knife capable of killing deities. As we now know, the knife eventually fell into the hands of Barbara Minerva, who became the host for the Cheetah spirit that was somehow trapped inside the knife (because magic, I guess).

And here’s where we come to the part where my theory was correct: according to the tribal leader, Barbara Minerva’s innate evil corrupted the Cheetah, not the other way around. In fact, they want to kill her in order to save their Goddess. I’m glad to see that Minerva’s agency has not been sacrificed, and that she didn’t just go “I cut myself, herp derp.” She clearly planned to become this monster, and that’s perfectly in line with her previous characterizations.

But then we get some other interesting tidbits that I was not expecting. Throughout the character’s long history, there has been more than one woman to don the Cheetah identity. Barbara Minerva was created in the 1980’s, and has been the longest lasting, but the original Cheetah was Priscilla Rich, who battled Wonder Woman in the 1940’s. There have been a few others of less renown in between.

 

 

Geoff Johns has solved the multiple Cheetah problem by deftly combining them all into one character. Minerva is revealed to be a criminal with a long and checkered past, who has assumed numerous aliases: Priscilla Rich, Deborah Domaine and Sabrina Ballesteros. Barbara Minerva is most likely another alias, and her true name is unknown. I thought this was a pleasant surprise, and effectively gives each Cheetah (particularly the two major ones, Minerva and Rich) a place in the new canon.

 

We also get a hint towards a larger plot. While trapped inside her cell, Cheetah converses with an unknown person through a transceiver, revealing that her capture was planned. She says she will wait for Black Manta (Aquaman’s arch) to arrive.

 

Do I sense a Legion of Doom plot? One can only hope, particularly if it means giving potentially awesome villains like Cheetah and Manta the spotlight. Knowing Johns’ affinity for the Superfriends cartoon, we may be seeing another of Wonder Woman’s classic rogues, Giganta, get a much needed revamp as well.

So overall, I have to say I’m mostly happy with the new version of Cheetah, and Johns has hinted that we’ll be seeing much more of her. I hate that we didn’t actually get to see her “friendship” with Diana and her descent into villainy develop, but maybe a future writer can flesh out that backstory if Johns doesn’t do it himself. And her motivation needs some work, because as of now she’s mostly just evil for the sake of it, though there are some hints that her feelings for Diana aren’t entirely a ruse.

Still, she’s hasn’t been portrayed as this competent a threat in a LONG time. Let’s not forget that before the reboot, she got punched out by Batman, among other things like-

Wearing this stupid outfit:

 

And having sex with this:

 

I mean, there’s nowhere else for her to go but up, right?

Among the other subplots and interpersonal relationships between the League, we get some cool moments. Aquaman comes up with a plan to save the day; Batman shows great concern for Superman, because BROMANCE; and the Superman/Wonder Woman romance continues, and I continue to pray that it will end sometime soon.

Look, I love both characters, but I do not love them together. Particularly since Superman seems to be receiving the most focus out of the two. Hell, some news pieces discussing the pairing have referred to Wonder Woman as “Superman’s sexy new sidekick.” It’s really annoying that the only plotlines focused on Wonder Woman in this book revolve around her relationships with men.

At least I can rest in the knowledge that it most likely won’t last. Anyone who thinks Superman is going to permanently be with anyone besides Lois Lane is deluding themselves. Same holds true with Steve Trevor and Wonder Woman, to a lesser extent.

Seeing as how this solid (if somewhat bland) little two-parter reinvigorated one of my favorite villains, I may stick around for the upcoming “Throne of Atlantis” epic that will be crossing over with Aquaman.

Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers Season 1, Part 1 Review

So I was at Target the other day, browsing through the DVD section, when I came across this:

 

To say I had conflicting feelings is a bit of an understatement. Here it was, the show that had largely defined my childhood, finally getting a complete DVD release and sitting on a shelf in front of me with a very reasonable $15 price tag. Did I dare let nostalgia cloud my judgment and force me to buy it? Would the show be as good as I remembered it? Would it be worth it in the end?

The answers to those questions would be a guilty “yes,” a resounding “Hell no,” and a pleasantly surprised second “yes.”

 

For any kid who grew up in the 90’s, or any parents unlucky enough to have raised their kids while this show was on, I don’t have to remind you how this quirky little series took the country by storm. The faces of the six young stars were literally plastered everywhere, and action figures, costumes and video cassettes (remember those?) sold by the bucket loads.

Desperate parents literally trampled each other to get the toys their kids demanded, and the show proved to be one of (if not THE) most successful shows on the Fox Kids block. And looking at the show, it’s easy to see why. It combined colorful costumes, martial arts, giant robots and dinosaurs, all the ingredients necessary to get young children (particularly boys) eating out of the palm of your hand.

 

But like I said, the show does not hold up well at all unless you’re wearing nostalgia goggles. Watching it now as an adult, the show is cheesy beyond belief. For those not in the know, the show was created by taking footage from the Japanese show “Kyōryū Sentai Zyuranger” and splicing in original footage of American actors. The footage of the Rangers were then dubbed over by the same actors, and while the illusion worked incredibly well when I was 5, it is painfully obvious now that I’m watching two different shows. The Japanese clips are more grainy than the American shots, and the dubbing for the villains (particularly Rita Repulsa) does not match up with the lip movements of the Japanese actors.

 Moving on to other elements, the main characters are not well developed, at least at first. In fact, they all fall into certain High School stereotypes. Jason, the Red Ranger and leader, is the typical All-American jock hero, while Billy (Blue) is passed off as the awkward nerd (despite being built like a tank).

Kimberly, the Pink Ranger and the first childhood crush for most of the boys (and some girls) in the audience, starts out the as the typical, shallow valley girl. But perhaps most offensive of all were the characters of Zack and Trini. Yes, the Black Ranger was played by an African American actor, and the Yellow Ranger a Vietnamese American actress. What’s more, their entire characters were based around those racial stereotypes. Zack enjoyed dancing and Hip Hop, and Trini often imparted little pearls of Asian wisdom to her white friends on many occasions, mostly revolving around martial arts.

Now, the creators of the show later admitted that they made a mistake, and didn’t even notice it until after they filmed 10 episodes or so.

Let that number sink in a little bit. Geez, how oblivious were these people?

 

What’s more, the Rangers don’t seem to have any discernible flaws. When not saving the world, they perform charity events, preaching about the dangers of pollution, bullying, the importance of teamwork, and all that saccharine crap. The villains don’t have much motivation either besides being evil for the sake of it, though they are quirky enough to be entertaining anyway.

 

But all these flaws, while always present, started to lessen upon the arrival of Tommy, the Green Ranger, in a five episode arc. There’s no denying that Tommy was quite the badass to us kids back then, and I can’t deny that he still is now (in an extremely narmy way). Watching his episodes again, I found that he was much less insufferable here than I remember him being later on. Once he became the White Ranger, he became the focus of EVERYTHING, but here, the creators seem to be adhering the “less is more” rule of entertainment.

In addition, things began to click for the series, such as it was, once the Green Ranger showed up. The characters began to develop more out of the stereotypes they started as, and the plots became a bit less stupid. It was still dumb, but not quite as much as before.

 

Overall, the series does not hold up well at all by today’s standards, but I still can’t help but love it. I think a part of me always will, especially with the original group. The show doesn’t have any pretensions about what it is, and never takes itself too seriously. In that way, it kind of bypasses the whole “so bad, it’s good” mentality and just ends up in the “weird/dumb” category.

 

But for $15, this DVD set isn’t a bad bargain for a trip down memory lane. I imagine it’s especially fun to watch with friends who were also fans of the series, and just laugh at all the things we thought were cool back when we were kids. I may even spring for the second half of season 1 when it comes out, albeit after the price get’s reduced a bit.

Now if I could just find a drinking game to go along with this, I’d be golden.