DC Comics Live-Action TV Master Post

For some time now I have been watching and reviewing various DC Comics-based live-action television series from a number of different sources. Although a few series, including notable ones, pre-date what eventually became known as the Arrowverse, the CW’s DC shows really started this trend of high-quality television shows based on DC Comics.

There are three broad categories of DC Comics shows: The Arrowverse, DC Universe, and Other. Also, some shows that would be considered other, such as Constantine have been retroactively folded into the Arrowverse. And Crisis on Infinite Earths actually implied that many earlier classic DC shows, such as the Adam West and Burt Ward Batman series (aka “Batman ’66”) take place in the same multiverse but on different Earths. So DC is big, it’s complicated and there’s a lot. And while I don’t profess to have seen every single DC show out there, although I have seen many. So this post hopes to clear up some of the confusion and provide links to my previous reviews in one big post.

The Arrowverse

Starting on the CW network in 2012 with Arrow, the Arrowverse has grown to include seven ongoing series and counting. and although Arrow itself ended in 2020, the universe spun off from it continues to grow and grow. A Superman series starring Clark and Lois and their children is now planned for 2021, and Arrow itself hinted in the final two episodes of Season 8 for a possible Green Lantern or Green Lantern Corps series and a possible Birds of Prey. And, Spoiler Alert, Crisis on Infinite Earths laid the ground work for a possible Justice League series. So the Arrowverse is not ending, despite it’s flagship ending after eight seasons.

Arrow

Based on Green Arrow, but modernized, Arrow follows millionaire Oliver Queen who returns to his home, Starling (later Star) City after being presumed dead for five years. The series saw several other DC characters both heroes and villains making appearances as regulars, semi-regulars, or in one-off and two-off appearances. The Flash and Legends of Tomorrow spun off directly from Arrow.

Read my Review of Arrow Season 1
Read my Review of Arrow Season 2
Read my Review of Arrow Season 3
Read my Review of Arrow Season 4
Read my Review of Arrow Season 5
Read my Review of Arrow Season 6
Read my Review of Arrow Season 7
Read my Review of Arrow Season 8

The Flash

Spun off directly from Arrow, The Flash features CSI Barry Allen who becomes a speedster after being hit by lightning during the Particle Accelerator accident in Central City. Barry uses his newfound ability for super speed to fight crime, stop evil metahumans, and help good metahumans. He works with his friends and teammates at Star Labs and continues to work at the Central City PD as a CSI. Like Arrow, The Flash brings in a number of DC Characters both as regulars and as usually one-off villains of the week.

Read my Review of The Flash Season 1
Read my Review of The Flash Season 2
Read my Review of The Flash Season 3
Read my Review of The Flash Season 4
Read my Review of The Flash Season 5
Read my Review of The Flash Season 6

DC’s Legends of Tomorrow (aka “Legends of Tomorrow” or simply “Legends”)

Also spun off directly from Arrow and The Flash in a two-part back-door pilot, Legends is an original series, bringing together a number of characters that had previously appeared on either The Flash or Arrow as well as new characters from DC Comics. Not only is Legends a team show, but the cast routinely rotates as new characters are added and older ones leave. The cast is different for each season. The general premise of Legends of Tomorrow is that a group of “B-list” and “screw-ups” who time travel for a purpose that, in general, changes each season. Their ship is the Waverider and it’s integrated AI is Gideon.

Read my Review of Legends of Tomorrow Season 1
Read my Review of Legends of Tomorrow Season 2
Read my Review of Legends of Tomorrow Season 3
Read my Review of Legends of Tomorrow Season 4
Read my Review of Legends of Tomorrow Season 5

Supergirl

The first season of Supergirl actually aired on CBS not The CW but it had one of the same producers (Greg Berlanti) as the previous CW Arrowverse series, and even it’s first season had crossover episodes with The Flash. Since the second season, Supergirl has been on the CW. Supergirl is Kara Zor-El, cousin of Superman (Kal-el, aka Clark Kent). When Krypton was about to be destroyed Kara’s parents but her in a pod (a small spaceship) to go to Earth to watch over baby Kal-el. But Kara’s pod was “knocked off course” (and stuck in the Phantom Zone) for a while before finally being freed. When Kara finally landed on Earth, Clark was all grown-up and unable to care for a teenaged girl. He arranged for Kara to be raised by the Danvers family. And even though Jeremiah Danvers disappeared and was presumed dead for years, Kara found herself being raised by the foster family of the Danvers including mother, Eliza, and sister, Alex. We join Kara in Central City, a young adult, and intern at Catco Worldwide Media, whereas her sister Alex works for the DEO. As with other Arrowverse series, a number of DC characters are introduced in Supergirl, including Martian Manhunter (J’onn J’onzz) who becomes a regular.

Read my Review of Supergirl Season 1
Read my Review of Supergirl Season 2
Read my Review of Supergirl Season 3
Read my Review of Supergirl Season 4
Read my Review of Supergirl Season 5

Black Lightning

Initially thought by many to be “separate” from the Arrowverse despite airing on the CW, the producers did say it was in the same general universe. With Jefferson Pierce (Black Lightning) appearing in Crisis on Infinite Earths the show is now officially part of the Arrowverse. Black Lightning was stated to take place on a different Earth. It’s not clear if Freeland has been re-located to Earth Prime like National City or if it is on one of the Earths that were spared like the DC Universe shows. Once upon a time, Jefferson Pierce was Black Lightning, an African-American superhero in the city of Freeland. But when he was injured too often, his wife divorced him, and he found himself raising two young daughters – Jefferson figuratively hung up his cape. Several years later, Jefferson again becomes Black Lighting. Over the course of two seasons, it becomes clear his daughters also have superpowers, with the older daughter, Anissa becoming Thunder and the younger daughter, Jennifer, slowly coming to terms with having powers. Black Lightning Season 3 aired in 2019-2020.

Read my Review of Black Lightning Season 1
Read my Review of Black Lightning Season 2

Batwoman

Batwoman is Kate Kane, Bruce Wayne’s cousin. She is a lesbian who is out and proud, but being outed at West Point torpedoed her dream of a military career. She returns to Gotham City, where Bruce has been missing for three years. Although initially hesitant like many superheroes on the CW, Kate becomes Batwoman and faces off against a season-long villain. Batwoman definitely takes place in the same universe as Arrow, Legends, The Flash, and Supergirl as Kate/Batwoman (Ruby Rose) has appeared in the Elseworlds and Crisis on Infinite Earths crossovers. The initial storyline is based on the graphic novel, Elegy by Greg Rucka. Unfortunately, due to the Pandemic Season 1 wasn’t completed. Ruby Rose, the lead actor, has left the series. The title role of Batwoman has been re-cast. It isn’t known yet if the new actress will play Kate and they will ignore the fact that it’s someone new or if she will be playing a new character. However, Season 2 will run on the CW in 2021.

Read my Review of Batwoman Season 1

DC Universe

Stargirl

Stargirl was originally transmitted on DC Comics streaming service, DC Universe, but also aired the same time (well, the day after) on the CW. The series is a transitional one, belonging to both DC Universe and the CW. In Crisis on Infinite Earths, Stargirl, Doom Patrol, Titans, and Swamp Thing were all shown to take place on their own individual Earths.

Stargirl follows Courtney, a teenaged girl in a blended family who has recently moved to Blue Valley Nebraska from California. Courtney discovers the Cosmic Staff which belonged to the deceased Justice Society of America hero, Starman. Courtney’s step-father was Starman’s sidekick, Stripey. Courtney and her friends from high school, over the course of the first season, become members of a junior JSA and face-off against the Injustice Society.

Read my Review of Stargirl Season 1

Doom Patrol

Doom Patrol is one of the strangest and most surreal television shows I’ve ever watched. It’s not your average television show. The series also addresses psychological health conditions in a fairly direct manner. The team all have serious issues that go beyond their special abilities. In many ways, the only way to truly understand this team show is to watch it. Doom Patrol was transmitted on DC Comics streaming service, DC Universe. Future seasons will air on HBO Max.

Read my Review of Doom Patrol Season 1

Swamp Thing

Swamp Thing originally was transmitted on DC Comics streaming service, DC Universe. In the Summer/Fall of 2020 it was rerun on the CW network. The character of Swamp Thing started in Vertigo Comics, DC’s original “mature readers” imprint before being brought into the DC Universe proper. Dr. Abby Arcane is an infectious disease specialist for the CDC who is sent to the small town of Marais in Louisiana to investigate a new, dangerous, and possibly deadly disease they call the “green flu”. Abby meets Dr. Alec Holland, a discredited botanist, who is studying the local swamp for a businessman named Avery Sunderland. Holland needs to rebuild his reputation. But Avery sends his goon squad after Holland, causing him to fall into the swamp and become the half-Alec, half-walking, talking, living plant and Guardian of the Green. Swamp Thing is a horror series, but it’s also a Beauty and the Beast tale and in many ways, a mystery series – as everyone in Marais is hiding dark secrets, including Abby. Unfortunately, the series was canceled early in its first season. However, it gained fan and critical acclaim on DC Universe and it is doing well on the CW. With many scripted series on hiatus due to Corvid19, there is always a possibility that the CW or HBO Max will bring the show back.

Read my Review of Swamp Thing The Complete Series

Titans

Titans was transmitted on DC Comics streaming service, DC Universe. Future seasons will be on HBO Max. Titans is a more grown-up, darker, and grittier version of the Teen Titans animated series. In DC Comics both titles Teen Titans and Titans have been used for this team (as well as New Teen Titans). Led by Dick Greyson who eventually claims the superhero name of Nightwing, Titans also features Raven, Beast Boy, Jason Todd’s Robin, and Starfire. However, especially in the first season, this series is about building a team and the characters becoming the characters we know they will eventually be – which is why when we first see Dick, he’s a police officer, and when we meet Raven – she’s a runaway. I also felt like the two seasons actually felt like one long season. Titans is definitely worth watching but it does require some patience – don’t expect a team that’s worked together for years from episode one, but they are getting there.

Read my Review of Titans Season 1
Read my Review of Titans Season 2

Other

Batman (aka “Batman 1966”)

Batman starting Adam West and Burt Ward was the extremely popular 1960s series shot in Technicolor with two half-hour episodes (the first ending on a cliffhanger) forming each story. The show is bright and colorful, has a somewhat campy style but not quite as much as one might think. It’s also a very formula-driven show. Still, it’s a classic. 

Read my Review of Batman (1966) Season 1

Birds of Prey

Birds of Prey is loosely based on the various DC Comics comic book series about an all-female superhero team headed by Barbara Gordon. This series is set in New Gotham and features Barbara Gordon (Oracle), Helena Kyle (Huntress), and Black Canary’s teenaged daughter, Dinah, who is starting to develop her own powers. This series follows Dinah learning about her powers, Helena learning to control her metahuman abilities, and Oracle not only running the Birds of Prey. Oracle is a computer expert, hacker, and tactical expert, but she is an awesome fighter herself. Unfortunately, the series only lasted one season.

Read my Review of Birds of Prey the Complete Series

Constantine

The character of John Constantine comes from Vertigo Comics where he was first introduced in Swamp Thing. He was popular enough to be imported into regular mainstream DC Comics in various series (Constantine, Hellblazer, John Constantine Hellblazer, as a lead character in Justice League Dark, etc.). And although Constantine the series was originally on NBC for one short season, the CW brought the actor (Mark Ryan) and character back, first in a guest role in Arrow, then in a featured guest (semi-regular) role on Legends of Tomorrow, and finally as a regular on Legends. So, this is a character who is so popular he keeps coming back. John Constantine is a magician, spellcaster, exorcist, magic-user, and con man. He also tends to be very unlucky – magic always has a price and for John that often means losing the people he cares about, thus his rather gruff manner. The original Constantine series establishes who Constantine is, what he does, and explores his world. But it ends much too early.

Read my Review of Constantine the Complete Series

The Flash (1990)

This series aired on CBS and was the first attempt to build a show around the character of The Flash as a weekly television series that I know of and despite a good cast, the series watched now, definitely has its flaws. However, the lead actor, John Wesley Shipp, has been a regular on the modern The Flash series on the CW, playing that Barry Allen’s father, Henry Allen (an admirable character) as well as characters from various other Earths. Also, the Flash of “Earth-90” was an important character in Crisis on Infinite Earths, so in a way, this version of The Flash has been folded into the Arrowverse retroactively. On its own, though, this series is about the Silver Age Flash, Barry Allen, a police scientist who gains his super-speed in a lab accident and from a lightning strike. The first half of the series has Barry catching regular criminals and the second half introduces more supervillain type characters.

Read my Review of The Flash (1990) The Complete Series

Gotham

How did Bruce Wayne become Batman? Gotham attempts to answer that question, introducing Bruce as a young boy who has just lost his parents to a violent crime and is now being raised by Alfred Pennyworth. But the series quickly becomes about some of the most famous villains in the Batman canon and how they came to be who they are. And it’s the story of a time and a place, the story of a city – the city of Gotham. Gotham is stylishly directed – the show looks gorgeous and weaves together the old and the modern seamlessly (everything tends to look very historical – yet the characters carry cell phones). Gotham is also very much set in a different universe, with no connections to the Arrowverse or anything other than the next series on my list, Pennyworth.

Read my Review of Gotham Season 1
Read my Review of Gotham Season 2
Read my Review of Gotham Season 3
Read my Review of Gotham Season 4
Read my Review of Gotham Season 5

Pennyworth

Pennyworth is the story of Alfred before he was Alfred. That is, this is a young Alfred Pennyworth, just out of the army and the SAS. The series was created, produced, and largely written by Bruno Heller and Danny Cannon who developed Gotham and I consider Pennyworth to be a prequel to Gotham. It’s set in an alternate universe (World War II appears to be ongoing, even though it’s also the 1960s, we assume). Pennyworth is at times dark and violent, but I absolutely loved it, as I had really liked Gotham. Alfred Pennyworth is trying to make a name for himself, wants to start his own security business, ends-up working for Martha Kane (not yet married to Thomas), and meets Thomas Wayne though he doesn’t get along with Thomas at first. Alfred also seems to fall into situations that cause him to have to do the opposite of what he says he wants to do. That is, for a man who keeps saying he wants nothing more to do with violence and that he doesn’t want to work for spies or special operatives – he ends up doing precisely that. The show was brilliant.

Read my Review of Pennyworth Season 1

Lois and Clark

“Superman as a romantic comedy? Yeah, let’s do that,” is pretty much how this show seemed to come about. But it’s also incredibly fun, with a light romantic touch combined with SF plots that show a great amount of originality and fun. Lois and Clark is light, fun, enjoyable, funny, and full of high adventure. Even when they try to be serious, this show just has that feel-good, everything will work out feeling of a good romantic film.

Read my Review of Lois and Clark Season 1
Read my Review of Lois and Clark Season 2
Read my Review of Lois and Clark Season 3
Read my Review of Lois and Clark Season 4

Wonder Woman

It’s hard to remember just how important this series was. At the time it was made, there were no other female superheroes on television or in the movies. And there were few other superhero shows at all. The Wonder Woman series, starring Lynda Carter, taught a generation of women they could be heroes too – and that being a hero didn’t mean you couldn’t be kind. Diana is strong, principled, and more than anything, she is kind. And even though it looks a bit dated now, and the stories are largely stand-alone, it’s still something to see.

Read my Review of Wonder Woman Season 1
Read my Review of Wonder Woman Season 2
Read my Review of Wonder Woman Season 3

And that’s everything up to this point for live-action DC Shows. I’m waiting for the DVD/Blu-Ray releases of Black Lightning Season 3, Doom Patrol Season 2 and Pennyworth Season 2. The Arrowverse shows will not air until 2021. Titans is apparently just starting to film again and moves to HBO Max.

Justice League Season 2 Review

  • Series Title: Justice League
  • Season: 2
  • Episodes: 26 (13 stories)
  • Discs: 2
  • Network: Cartoon Network
  • Cast: Kevin Conroy, George Newbern, Susan Eisenberg, Carl Lumbly, Phil LaMarr, Michael Rosenbaum, Maria Canals-Barrera (Credited as Maria Canals)
  • DVD: Widescreen, Blu-Ray (R1, NTSC)

The second season of the animated Justice League series is bigger and the stakes are higher. Again, most stories are two parts, except the Holiday episode, “Comfort and Joy” and the three-part season finale “Starcrossed”. The season opens with Orion attacking and defeating one of Darkseid’s attacks, but as Darkseid recovers, he’s attacked by Brainiac – Darkseid convinces the Justice League to help him. They work with Highfather to stop Brainiac’s attack, but it puts New Genesis in danger.

In “Only a Dream”, Doctor Destiny traps most of the Justice League in nightmares, but insomniac Batman is able to defeat Doctor Destiny.

In “Maid of Honor” Wonder Woman befriends the party girl princess of Kasnia. Despite at first complaining about the princess’s lack of responsibility, the two bond and have fun. The princess confesses she doesn’t even want to marry her fiancé but she must as part of her duty. When her father has a sudden “stroke” the marriage is moved up. Diana is shocked that the Kasnian princess’s new husband is Vandal Savage. The Justice League ends up interfering when Savage threatens the world with an orbiting rail gun satellite.

This season features an episode with the Justice Lords – an alternate Earth Justice League that became world dictators after the death of their Flash. The fight scenes in the second part are particularly good because our Justice League doesn’t face off against their own opposite numbers but fights other members. This allows them to succeed.

“The Terror Beyond” has Aquaman, Doctor Fate, and Solomon Grundy fighting off Cthulhu-like monsters. Wonder Woman, Hawkgirl and Superman stop Dr. Fate’s spell to close the gate that’s been opened to the horrific monsters. Eventually, Fate, Aquaman, and Grundy are able to convince Wonder Woman, Hawkgirl, and Superman that they must stop the creatures. While Fate and his group try to close the gate again, Superman and company go through it to stop the invasion from the other side. This two-parter is visually stunning, and the “mad” monsters from the Cthulhu-like beings are drawn well.

“Secret Society” features another group of B-rate super-villains banding together to drive apart the Justice League. However, by spying on the league their plan almost works and the league splits and each go their own way. It takes Batman, who discovers the surveillance to get the League back together so they can defeat the”Secret Society of Evil”.

In “Hereafter” it appears Superman is killed in a battle with Toyman. While the world deals with its grief, and tries to process a world without a Superman – Superman is actually thrust forward into the far future. He meets Vandal Savage who has finally figured out that ruling an empty, destroyed planet is no fun at all. Superman and Savage finish a time machine Savage was working on and send Superman back to his own time.

In “Wild Cards” the Joker (voiced by Mark Hamill) and the Wild Card gang take over Las Vegas. The Joker airs the chaos on TV, like some type of reality show. Joker has also placed a large number of bombs, some real, some fake all over Vegas – the League has to find and dismantle the bombs.

Finally in “Starcrossed”, an alien spaceship attacks Washington DC, but the ship is destroyed by Thangarian ships. Thangar gets world leaders to accept their “protection”. However, they later impose martial law. Later it turns out the Thangarians aren’t building a shield for the Earth to protect it from a Gordanian invasion – rather they are building a hyperspace bypass engine so the Thangarians can invade to Gordanian homeworld. Unfortunately, activating the hyperspace bypass will destroy the Earth. It also turns out Hawkgirl was an advance scout and spy for the Thangarians. She is also promised or engaged to one of the other Thangarians – which surprises Green Lantern. The League is upset that Hawkgirl betrayed them. But when Hawkgirl finds out Thanagar intends to destroy the Earth she jumps sides, frees the League from their prison on one of the Thangarian ships, and helps the League defeat the Thanagarians and destroy the hyperspace bypass engine. The League decides to take a vote as to if Hawkgirl will still be accepted in the League, but Hawkgirl leaves first.

Justice League Season 2 is bigger than the first season, and the Justice League faces bigger threats. This is still top-notch animation. There are again several notable guest performances. I highly recommend this season.

Read my review of Justice League Season 1.

Book Review – Bombshells vol. 4: Queens

  • Title: Bombshells vol. 4: Queens
  • Author: Marguerite Bennett
  • Artists: Mirka Andolfo, Laura Braga, Marguerite Sauvage (art & colors), Richard Ortiz, Sandy Jarrell, Pasqualle Qualano, Matías Jarrell,  J. Nanjan (colors), Wendy Broome (colors), Jerry Lawson (colors), Wes Abbott (letters)
  • Characters: Batgirls, Batwoman (Kate Kane), Renee Montoya (The Question), Hawkgirl, Catwoman, Vixen, Cheetah, Wonder Woman
  • Publication Date: 2017
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 07/12/2019

**Spoiler Alert** Bombshells is DC Comics’ alternative history World War II series starring an all-female superhero team. I love the concept and usually really enjoy the series, but I must admit that this volume was confusing and disjointed.

The first story is short and fairly straightforward. It features the Batgirls, the young girls and teenagers who were inspired by Kate Kane’s Batwoman to protect Gotham City, especially anyone who is dispossessed. They have taken in Harvey Dent, and the story opens with Dent and the Batgirls watching a baseball game. At the game, Dent is attacked by The Reaper. The Reaper makes it clear they want to kill Harvey, the Penguin, Killer Frost, and Dr. Hugo Strange. The Batgirls decide that as bad as those villains are they belong in jail and shouldn’t be killed so they go to warn them. They warn Penguin first, but Reaper follows the Batgirls (and Harvey Dent) and kidnaps Frost. The Batgirls are able to rescue Frost and to arrest Penguin who offers up info in exchange for Frost being rescued. But during a conflict with the Reaper they find out he is a she, and Harvey is attacked with an ice blast and his face is disfigured. But the Batgirls convince him it’s what’s on the inside that really counts. Lois goes after the Reaper who escapes and is after Dr. Hugo Strange.

The second story is about Vixen, Zambesi, and Hawkgirl. I had to read it several times because it was very confusing and hard to follow. In addition, there were several flashbacks which filled in the backgrounds of the characters – except the placement of the flashbacks were weird – characters would be in the middle of a battle and suddenly they are thinking of their childhood as an orphan. It’s like, huh? For example, towards the end, Wonder Woman shows up in the middle of a big battle between the Bombshells, some Thangarian mechs, and Nazis – but instead of seeing her battle everyone, we get a flashback to Supergirl on Thermyscira mourning Stargirl and Diana and Steve Trevor trying to figure out how to comfort her. It’s interesting and follows up to Supergirl losing Stargirl in the last volume but it has nothing to do with the current story, it interrupted the battle, and it really didn’t make sense to be in the book where it was. And the majority of the flashbacks were like that – they were interesting, and by themselves, I liked the mini-stories, but they interrupted the flow of the novel making it even harder to figure out just what was going on.

Mari McCabe, Vixen, competes in the 1936 Olympics – beating the Nazis super soldier, despite said soldier trying to trip her during the race. That night, she and Hawkgirl break into Hitler’s office and are attacked by a mechanical hawk. Mari steals Hitler’s dog, Blondie, and some plans and heads back to Zambesi with Hawkgirl. Mari remarks they have about five years to figure out a plan. Later, at a dig in Zambesi, Kate Kane, Catwoman, Renee Montoya, Hawkgirl, and Mari (Vixen) are investigating another mech – this time a giant rhino. It seems inactive, but then Cheetah shows up and it goes on a rampage.

The Bombshells are set against Cheetah, the Baroness, the Snakegirl (Whisper A’Daire), the mechs – which turn out to be from Thanagar, and miscellaneous Nazi troops. The primary characters are Vixen, Kate Kane (Batwoman), Renee Montoya (the Question), Wonder Woman (at the very end), Hawkgirl, Blondie (the dog), and Catwoman. When Cheetah, the Baroness, Snakegirl and the rest show-up, Catwoman briefly appears to be still working for the Nazis – but it’s a ruse. We also briefly see Alexander Luthor, who gives Wonder Woman Kryptonite and seems to be controlling the strings, especially in the case of Catwoman.

The Bombshells defeat the Thanagarian mechanical beasts – and Wonder Woman offers the recipe for Greek Fire to truly destroy them rather than bury them again. The Nazis and their allies are driven out of Zambesi.

I like the Bombshells series – it’s just fun to see so many female heroes working together. And I really like the friendships between the various characters. I did like the background stories in Volume 4 – Queens. And the modern-day story of extremely old alien tech being uncovered and causing trouble for everyone (the Nazis and their allies think they can control the Mechs – they are wrong) I also liked. But the presentation was extremely confusing. The time jumps were hard to follow, and as interesting as the background information was – it often seemed to interrupt the “present day” story rather than add to it. I still highly recommend the Bombshells series. This is an excellent series for teenaged women to read and to get introduced to comics too.

Justice League Season 1 Review

  • Series Title: Justice League
  • Season: 1
  • Episodes:  26 (12 stories)
  • Discs:  3
  • Network: Cartoon Network
  • Cast: Kevin Conroy, George Newbern, Susan Eisenberg, Carl Lumbly, Phil LaMarr, Michael Rosenbaum, Maria Canals-Barrera (Credited as Maria Canals)
  • DVD: Standard, Blu-Ray (R1, NTSC)

Justice League was the first of the DCAU series that I ever saw and even nearly ten years later the series still stands up. The members of the Justice League are: Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern (John Stewart), Martian Manhunter (J’onn J’onzz), Flash, and Hawkgirl. The individual episodes of Justice League are 30 minutes (well, 22-25) but in this season every story consists of two or three parts. This means that it’s more like watching a series of short movies than a normal animated television series. The stories have plenty of time for characterization and in-depth storytelling. Justice League also doesn’t waste time on traditional “origin stories”. The first episode, “Origins” has Batman and Superman confronting an actual alien invasion, including a first shot of the tripod-like invading machine that’s reminiscent of George Pal’s War of the Worlds. Superman is telepathically attacked but finds Martian Manhunter being held in a military prison. He and Batman free Martian Manhunter and learn his name is J’onn J’onzz and that he’s the last survivor of Mars. J’onn tells him the beings that threaten the entire Earth had attacked Mars and destroyed their entire civilization. Other leaguers-to-be, including Green Lantern, Hawkgirl, Flash, and Wonder Woman join the fight against the alien invaders, eventually defeating the alien menace. Batman proposes building a satellite Watchtower to warn of future invasions. Superman proposes a permanent league of superheroes. Flash asks, “What a type of superfriends?” to which Batman replies, “More like a Justice League”. This sets the stage for the series.

Green Lantern is given an in-depth story, “In Blackest Night” in which he is put on trial for destroying an entire inhabited alien planet while in pursuit of a space pirate. Once the league discovers what’s happened, they rush to his defense. Martian Manhunter and the others are able to prove the planet’s destruction was an illusion orchestrated by the Manhunters (different Manhunters than on Mars, these are androids from Oa the home of the Green Lantern Corps, and the Guardians first attempt at a benevolent galaxy-wide police force). The league frees Jon Stewart Green Lantern and the Flash, who acted as his advocate, clears John’s name, then defends Oa from the Manhunters with the aid of the Green Lantern Corps.

“The Enemy Below” is a modern Aquaman story, and although Aquaman doesn’t formally join the League, he is recognized as the King of under the seas.

“Injustice for All” has Lex Luthor bringing together a group of supervillains to fight the Justice League, especially Superman. It doesn’t go well for Lex.

“Paradise Lost” sees Felix Faust attack Thermyscira, turn all the Amazons to stone, and bribe Wonder Woman to find a McGuffin in three parts – the Key to the Underworld. Wonder Woman and the League find the key but are very worried about what Faust will do to it. Faust releases Hades, who then drains him of life (not the reward he was expecting). The Justice League is able to defeat Hades and return the Amazons to life. But Hippolyta decides to follow Amazon law to the letter and banishes her daughter for bringing men to the island.

“War World” is a slugfest with Superman forced to fight in the War World arena for Mondo.

“The Brave and the Bold” has Gorilla Grood taking over Central City after a scientist accidentally reveals the location of Gorilla City.

“Fury” has a refugee who was raised as an Amazon on Thermyscira reviving Luthor’s Injustice League and launching a biological attack on the world’s men. But Hippolyta reveals that Aresia was actually rescued by a man who got her to Thermyscira before dying.

“Legends” has the League transported to a parallel Earth where the heroes resemble Golden Age comics heroes and John Stewart (GL) recognizes the heroes as heroes from the comics he read as a kid. The “Justice Guild of America” is locked in battle with the “Injustice League” but something doesn’t seem right. J’onn J’onzz keeps having telepathic flashes of a disaster. One of the League members finds the graves of the entire JGA. Eventually, they discover the entire dimension was destroyed in a Nuclear War and a telepathic mutant had re-created the “perfect” world of years ago. The story works both as a story and as a comment on the good and the really bad aspects of older Golden Age comics. After the illusion is broken the League members are able to find a way back to their own Earth.

“A Knight with Shadows,” tells the story of Jason Blood, Etrigan the Demon, Morgaine, Merlin, and Modred. It’s as close to a traditional origin story as season 1 of Justice League gets. But it’s also a great story full of Arthurian lore, magic, demons, etc. For the most part, only Batman is in this story, though the rest of the League lend a hand at the end. I enjoyed the story very much.

“Metamorphosis,” tells the story of Rex Mason who is turned into the Element Man – rather than an archeologist, he works for Stagg Industries and is rich and accomplished, but when he and Sapphire Stagg decide to marry, her overprotective and cruel father decides to use Mason as an unwilling human subject in his plan to create artificial workers who can withstand any environment. Mason and John Stewart are also old friends, having both been in military service together. Although Mason’s origin is substantially different, it’s a great story, and very enjoyable.

The final story in season one is the three-part “The Savage Time”. All of the Justice League but Batman are returning from a mission in space when there’s a flash on Earth below them and the Watchtower disappears. Green Lantern lands the Javelin spacecraft (which was apparently out of power because he’s towing it with his Ring). The Justice League discovers the US is now a dictatorship under the power of a mysterious Leader. They walk into a resistance attack on the military police of the leader and run into a different version of Batman who is the leader of the Resistance. Working with Batman, they discover a time tunnel anomaly. The League, minus Batman, enters the anomaly and finds themselves in World War II. There they join the allies, the Blackhawks, Easy Company, Steve Trevor and other forces to help the allies and defeat Savage before he can become a world dictator. “The Savage Time” is a brilliant story, and also a lot of fun to watch. (Savage in the future sent a laptop and plans for weapons and communications equipment to Savage in the past.) This is a much more menacing Vandal Savage than the one in Season 1 of Legends of Tomorrow.

Overall, I really enjoyed Justice League (the animated series). The regular and guest casts are wonderful, and the series features many well-known and excellent guest actors. The animation is hand-drawn and beautiful and has that traditional DCAU square-jawed look. I highly recommend this series. Even if animation usually isn’t your thing, or you’ve tried the live action DC film Universe and been unimpressed, this series overcomes many of the faults of other versions of DC Comics in both older animation and in live action.

Note: For some reason, the Blu-Ray discs auto-play the first episode whenever a disc is put in the player. You can get a list of episodes by pressing the “Top Menu” button and then choosing the episode you want to watch, but it’s still annoying and results in a lot of unnecessary wear and tear on the disc.

Wonder Woman Season 3 Review

  • Title:  Wonder Woman
  • Season: 3
  • Episodes: 24
  • Discs: 4 (Double-sided)
  • Original Network:  ABC
  • Distribution Network:  Warner Brothers
  • Cast:  Lynda Carter, Lyle Waggoner
  • Format: Standard, Color, DVD, NTSC

The third season of Wonder Woman starts with several very weak episodes. It’s almost as if the creative team didn’t expect the show to get picked up and they had to use whatever they had available to produce as scripts – including ones rejected from the previous season. The series starts to pick-up with “Skateboard Whiz”, which, despite the awful title is actually a pretty good episode. Diana goes on vacation in California to visit a former IDAC agent and her teenaged daughter. The daughter is into skateboarding, thus the title. Anyway, Diana is really there on vacation, not an investigation, but a shady casino owner is trying to buy up the town and using nefarious means to do so. When an old friend of Diana’s, a police officer who is now working security for the casino owner, spots Diana, he meets with her to find out why she’s there. Diana tells this former police officer that she thinks is her friend she’s “on vacation”. No one believes her. For once Diana really is on vacation, but the bad guys assume she must be undercover – so they go after her. They even kidnap the teenager at the skateboarding championship she’s entered. Diana as Wonder Woman spins into a skateboard outfit (basically her swimsuit but with elbow pads and a helmet) to rescue the girl. It’s better than it sounds.

As with “Skateboard Whiz” there are several average to good action-oriented episodes in the third season. There’s an episode with an SF convention as the backdrop, which, although it uses some of the negative tropes about SF fans isn’t wholly offensive. Diana accidentally meets up with an old friend while on assignment and he has a moon rocks exhibit at the convention that is interesting (though his idea of bright flashing lights and a tilting floor to simulate being in space makes most people nauseous). “The Starships are Coming” seems to be inspired by Orsen Welles 1938 “War of the Worlds” broadcast as a small town in Pennslyvania experiences a rash of UFO sightings followed by a series of faked broadcasts of an “alien attack”. However, the entire thing is arranged by a Conservative politician who uses the attack to convince an Air Force General who worked on Project Blue Book to launch a nuclear warhead at China. Fortunately, Wonder Woman stops the Air Force general and reveals the entire thing to be fake.

There are two two-parter episodes in the set, including the final story. Both are pretty good, simply because with more time they can breathe a bit more and the stories are more fleshed out. Oddly enough, the first one, “The Boy Who Knew Her Secret” concerns an actual alien invasion. In a very Doctor Who-like story, 99 pyramid-shaped rocks land near a small California town. When someone finds one of the rocks and picks it up they are taken over by an alien force. But it turns out the aliens are interstellar police looking for an escaped convict – a shapeshifter responsible for thousands of deaths. Once this becomes clear, Wonder Woman has to help find this shapeshifter, which isn’t easy, and then deal with the teenaged boy Diana’s befriended accidentally finding out who she really is.

The final story is a two-parter set at an amusement park. A nefarious property developer wants to buy the park, but the owner won’t sell. It turns out the owner has a secret, his twin brother who was horribly scarred by napalm burns in Vietnam is hiding, with his permission, in the tunnels beneath the park. Diana, and an orphaned teenager help the burned man come out into society and foil the attempts of the property developer to cause accidents at the park that would shut it down. Yes, it’s better than it sounds – the story just plays out in a very sweet, well-done, respectful way.

Overall, Season 3 of Wonder Woman is OK but not great. It starts off very weak, but it does get better through the season, with a few stumbles here and there. I’d say pick it up if you want the complete Lynda Carter series, as it is not terrible.

Read my Review of Wonder Woman Season 1.

Read my Review of Wonder Woman Season 2.

Favorite Female DC Heroes

The Mary Sue website recently published a list of The Ten Most Powerful Female Villains of the DC universe, then challenged readers to list their favorite female DC heroes. So here we go.

1 – Birds of Prey

The Birds of Prey are not a single hero, but a group. Specifically, they are a team of female superheroes. First created by Chuck Dixon in the 1990s. The original group included Oracle (Barbara Gordon who also gets a place on this list herself), Black Canary (yes, she also gets her own listing), Huntress, and others. The team was rebooted in the New 52 and again in Rebirth. The membership of the team tends to rotate, but Barbara Gordon, Dinah Lance, and Helena are usually members. The series has been written and drawn by women as well.

2 – Zatanna

Originally a “joke” character who appeared in Justice League International and cast spells by speaking backward, Zatanna has emerged as one of the most powerful magic users in the entire DC Universe. At one point in New 52 – John Constantine describes her as the most powerful magician on Earth because she can bend reality itself. This after John discovers she cast a spell on him to make him a better person. Zatanna has been a member of the Justice League and Justice League Dark. She’s also one of the main characters in the animated series Young Justice and a supporting character in Justice League Unlimited. Zatanna is also one of the main characters in the recent mini-series Mystic U.

3 – Barbara Gordon (Oracle, Batgirl)

My favorite version of Barbara is Oracle. After she was shot by the Joker in Alan Moore’s famous The Killing Joke, Barbara doesn’t curl up and die. She doesn’t become bitter and decide to be a villain. Barbara goes through intense physical therapy, learns to use a wheelchair, returns to grad school and gets her MLS – Master’s of Library Science, and gets a job at the Gotham City Library. All of that would make her an admirable character, and representative of a very under-represented group: those with physical disabilities. It is not easy to get a master’s degree. It is not easy to get a good job when one has physical disabilities – discrimination is alive and well. But for Barbara, this isn’t enough, she uses her computer skills and becomes Oracle – running the Birds of Prey single-handedly (for much of Birds of Prey the other Birds don’t even know who the “voice in their ear” is), she also became knowledge gatherer for Batman and his allies, especially Nightwing. Barbara is strong and admirable for all that. New 52 retconned her back to Batgirl, and personally, I felt that was a step back for the character. There are plenty of tough female superheroes, how many superheroes in a wheelchair can you name? Rebirth has Barbara as Batgirl, but back in charge of the Birds of Prey, and keeps her computer skills, so that’s something.

4 – Black Canary

Black Canary is more than the girlfriend/wife/ex-wife of Green Arrow. She has been a member of the Justice Society of America (back in the 1940s), then Justice League International, Justice League, and the Birds of Prey. Her main power is her Sonic Cry, which is strong enough to kill someone. She also is a gifted martial artist, and at times has lived in the dojo where she teaches self-defense to at-risk women. Dinah is strong in more ways than one, and she remains one of my favorite characters.

5 – Jessica Cruz, Green Lantern

Jessica Cruz is one of the newest female DC heroes on this list, as she was introduced in the Rebirth book, Green Lanterns, with her partner, Simon Baz (a Muslim man). Jessica is Latina and suffered such severe acrophobia that she didn’t leave her apartment for two years. This is the woman who gets a power ring for overcoming great fear. Although Jessica is at first unsure of herself, she grows and becomes the hero her ring knows she can be. She and her partner, Simon, have a great relationship that is entirely platonic, a refreshing change for a story essentially about two cops. Jessica also is, by default, a member of the Green Lantern Corps and the Justice League, meaning she also goes on missions in space, and world-saving missions, as well as her “normal” work as Earth’s Green Lantern.

6 – Batwoman

Kate Kane is Bruce Wayne’s cousin, a lesbian, and a kick-ass superhero. Raised in a military family, when she was young and the family abroad, she, her sister and their mother, were kidnapped. Her mother and sister were killed, and Kate was raised by her father. As a young adult, she enrolls in West Point – and is kicked out when it’s discovered she’s a lesbian. She goes wild for a year but then returns to Gotham as Batwoman. For much of Rebirth, Kate has been the leader of the Batfamily in Detective Comics, but after a few serious arguments with Bruce (lets just say Kate is more pragmatic than Bruce, and she doesn’t feel as strongly about his “no kill” rule as he does), she’s currently on her own. Kate is a strong fighter, has the intelligence common in Batfamily members, has military contacts through her father, and has her mother’s money. She’s basically Batman but a woman, which makes her awesome.

7 – Huntress

There are two versions of Huntress, and I really like them both. The Earth 2 version is the daughter of Batman and Catwoman. (Bruce and Selina both grow older, retire from their respective “night ” jobs, and then marry.) The newer version is the daughter of a mob boss, who gets disgusted by her family’s violence, especially after her boyfriend is killed. She seeks revenge by killing mobsters. Bruce decides to bring her into the fold and gets her to agree to non-lethal ways of curbing the mob in Gotham. Both versions of Huntress have the first name, Helena, with the Earth 2 version being Helena Wayne and the modern version Helena Bertinelli. Helena is usually in a purple costume (sometimes black), and has strong fighting abilities, intelligence, and loyalty. As mentioned above, she’s frequently a member of the Birds of Prey.

8 – Fire and 9 – Ice

Fire was a Brazilian woman who had green fire powers. Ice was a Nordic Ice goddess. Both were characters in Justice League International. Both really need to be brought back!

10 – Wonder Woman

What new can one say about Wonder Woman? Diana is an Amazon princess, originally she brought American airman Steve Trevor back to America during World War II (which was contemporary with the times of her comic which was first published in 1940), where she stayed to fight Nazis, evil, and supervillains. She has the strength of Superman and the intelligence of Batman. Diana is part of DC’s Trinity of superheroes (the other’s being Superman and Batman) and is a member of the Justice League.

Wonder Woman – Season 2 Review

  • Title:  Wonder Woman
  • Season: 2
  • Episodes: 22
  • Discs: 4 (Double-sided)
  • Original Network:  ABC
  • Distribution Network:  Warner Brothers
  • Cast:  Lynda Carter, Lyle Waggoner
  • Format: Standard, Color, DVD, NTSC

The second season of Wonder Woman feels almost like three different seasons. The first ten episodes or so feature an animated opening sequence, though the pilot brings the series into “the present day”. The “present” is 1977. Season 1 was filmed in 1976-1977 and set in 1942, 34 years earlier. Since it is currently 2018, which is 41 years after 1977 – the “present-day” episodes of Wonder Woman feel almost as historic as the episodes from World War II. This means that there are some incongruities of watching an older program: everyone uses payphones, though towards the very end of the season a few car phones show up; cars are rear-wheel drive, long, and handle very badly (there’s a scene with a police car where it fishtails unbelievably – and it isn’t even snowing); and as was common in the 1970s even though the show is technically set in or at least based in Washington, DC, most of the stories take place in Los Angeles and surrounding areas. During the first ten or so episodes Steve and Diana report to Joe Atkinson and receive orders from an unseen voice. It’s all very Charlie’s Angels. After a few transition episodes, where we barely see Steve, Joe retires (or is promoted out of the show) and Steve takes his job. For the middle run of the season, Steve sends Diana Prince, his top agent on various assignments. Finally, at the end of the season, Steve and Diana seem to be taking their assignments from IRAC, a talking computer. At the very least, IRAC will be consulted at least once per episode. IRAC is a talking box of lights, not very impressive looking, and totally unrealistic as a computer. Oh, and my smartphone probably has more computing power. Welcome to the 1970s!

Most of the episodes in the second season of Wonder Woman are very formulaic. Diana and Steve are given an assignment by Joe’s unseen boss, or Steve gives Diana her assignment once he’s promoted, Diana travels to wherever her assignment is – usually California, Diana investigates and finds clues, and at least twice per episode, she spins into Wonder Woman. Diana is kind, courteous, sweet, and gets along well with children and animals. The series has forgotten about her mimic power, but she seems to have the ability to mentally speak to animals, especially horses. Steve is much less sexist in his treatment of Diana – but she runs into sexist attitudes while doing her job as a government intelligence agent. Diana’s reaction is to grin and bear it – which was very common in the 1970s and 1980s.

My favorite episode of the entire season was “The Queen and the Thief”, which is absolutely delightful. Diana is awakened in her apartment early in the morning and spins into Wonder Woman basically to get to work on time for an emergency meeting. When she arrives, she, Joe, and Steve are told notorious jewel thief Evan Robley (David Hedison) has arrived and he’s after the crown jewels of a small country no one has heard of. The country’s new Queen (Juliet Mills) was an American citizen who married the country’s prince and when he died, she became Queen. (Never mind that monarchy doesn’t actually work like that. She’d be a princess by marriage, later a consort to the King (possibly with the title of “queen” but only out of courtesy) and only her children would be in the line of succession, not herself.) Anyway, if the jewels are stolen she will lose her position as Queen and the counts or something will take over. Steve and Diana are despatched immediately undercover to help the Queen and prevent the theft. Steve is almost immediately captured, and Wonder Woman explains to the Queen he’s “safer where he is” and leaves him there. Diana and the Queen then have to ensure the jewels are not stolen, only to discover they’ve been stolen – but the ones that were stolen were paste (fake). Then things get really interesting as the theft, Diana, and the Queen work together to recover the real jewels and expose the Queen’s ambassador (Played to perfection by John Colicos) as the person behind a plot to steal the jewels, expose the Queen, and place his own traditionally-minded puppet on the throne. It sounds like a typical plot for the show, but it’s played with an incredibly light touch, and the Queen and the Theif are excellent guest stars (they need their own show). John Colicos is brilliant as always as the bad guy. And Diana’s involvement is pretty much talking to the Queen to convince her she and Diana Prince, have her interests at heart – and a brilliant jewel-heist scene which takes place in a set that looks like it was borrowed from The Avengers, that’s the British TV series starring Patrick MacNee and Diana Rigg. The episode has a light touch, great costumes and sets, and a brilliant cast. It felt like it should have been a movie with Cary Grant and Grace Kelly (and in some respects was probably inspired by To Catch a Thief). And it was glorious!

Here and there, other episodes of season 2 of Wonder Woman are at least enjoyable, escapist entertainment, largely due to Lynda Carter’s excellent performance as Diana Prince and Wonder Woman. Lyle Waggoner’s Steve Trevor definitely takes a back seat, which is a shame – he has pretty good chemistry with Diana, especially when they are friends and colleagues, and since Diana needs someone to talk to – she’s usually paired with the guest star of the week, which sometimes works and sometimes doesn’t. Unlike season 1, in which the show featured well-known guest stars, season 2 features familiar-looking actors of the 70s and 80s (especially if you watched The Rockford Files), but few “big stars”. And for some reason, a lot of children. No, seriously, several episodes revolve around young kids – which works if the kid can act.

Overall, I enjoyed season 2, but I also found it gets repetitive quickly. I’m going to hold off on watching season 3, but I will watch it at some point. Still recommended, if only for Lynda Carter.

Please also read my Wonder Woman Season 1 Review.

Wonder Woman – Season 1 Review

  • Title:  Wonder Woman
  • Season: 1
  • Episodes: 13, plus pilot
  • Discs: 5
  • Original Network:  ABC
  • Distribution Network:  Warner Brothers
  • Cast:  Lynda Carter, Lyle Waggoner, Richard Eastham, Beatrice Colen
  • Format: Standard, Color, DVD, NTSC

There are some technical issues first to discuss regarding the DVD set for the first season of Lynda Carter’s TV series version of Wonder Woman. The first season, set during World War II, only has 13 episodes, yet it is spread out on five discs, with only two or three episodes per disc. As this series runs short, only 42 minutes, and is in 3×4 ratio and standard definition – they could have easily put four or five episodes per disc and reduced the number of discs to four. Since the only special feature is a short documentary – everything would fit and the package could be slimmer. Also, the episode menus refer to episodes “on the other side of the disc”, when these are standard single-sided discs and not double-sided ones. And all five discs were stacked on a single spindle. I hate that, it begs for the discs to get scratched or broken. I repackaged mine. The menus and cheap packaging made me wonder if this particular copy was legit, even though I purchased mine at Barnes and Noble during their sale on everything DC last year. Also, the copy quality leaves something to be desired – it really does look like a direct transfer from videotape. In short, if a cleaner, more compact “complete series” was offered, I’d definitely consider replacing this set, even though I seldom replace DVDs I’ve already purchased.

On to the series itself. This is the Wonder Woman that I remember watching as a little kid. Even back then, I knew that, at times, it was silly. The pilot has a great guest cast – of comic actors, including Kenneth Mars (The Producers), Henry Gibson (The Blues Brothers and Laugh-In), and Cloris Leachman (Young Frankenstein). It’s somewhat difficult to take actors known for playing “comedy Nazis” seriously. Lynda Carter does her best though – and I must say, the series steadily improves. Every episode of the first season features at least one actor I recognize, and frequently more than one. And it isn’t simply 70s talent either, as actors from the 50s and 60s make guest appearances as well.

Set during World War II, Diana rescues Steve Trevor after his plane crashes on Paradise Island. Diana’s mother, the Queen, played in the pilot by Cloris Leachman (and in the series by Carolyn Jones) holds a contest to choose the Amazon who will escort Steve back to the US. Diana wins the contest and heads back to America. She defeats some Nazis and ends up as Diana Prince, Yeoman First Class in the WAVEs, and secretary to Steve in Military Intelligence at the War Department, which makes her perfectly placed to find out about threats to the US and the world and to protect the country and even the planet as Wonder Woman. Diana’s only friend at the War Department is Etta Candy. Etta is a bit man-crazy, but she has a good heart.

In the first couple of episodes, Diana changes into Wonder Woman by doing a slow spin, ending up with her naval uniform on her arm – which she carefully puts away in a closet or storage locker. Later they sped up the spin and added the explosion – and her clothes disappeared. Diana also, besides her super strength, her magical lasso which forces people to tell the truth, and her bullet-proof bracelets, has the ability to be an incredible mimic – able to exactly duplicate a voice over the phone or a radio. She has her invisible plane as well.

In the first season, episodes range from foiling Nazi plots (many of which involving the Nazis trying to capture Wonder Woman) to the unusual (such as the two-part “Judgment from Outer Space” in which a guy (played by Tim O’Connor of Buck Rogers in the 25th Century) from another galaxy has to determine if Earth should be destroyed or not) to an episode involving cattle rustling in Texas and Wonder Woman at Beauty contests and in Hollywood. The series improves starting with episode four, “The Feminum Mystique”, which introduces Debra Winger as Wonder Girl (Diana’s younger sister, Drusilla) and Carolyn Jones (from The Addams Family television series) as Queen Hippolyta. Although the plot of the two-part episode is similar to earlier ones, with the Nazis out to kidnap Wonder Woman to learn the secret of her bullet-proof bracelets, the story is better developed, and both Drusilla and Hippolyta are wonderful.

The first season of Wonder Woman mixes the silly with great adventure. Lynda Carter’s Wonder Woman grows from an innocent, totally perplexed by life in Washington, to a competent, professional woman. When her young sister arrives, she also is innocent and confused – but she learns without becomes harsh or cynical. The stories in the back half of the season tend to be better, with some interesting changes in location (despite the fact that absolutely every place they are looks like Southern California, including Washington, New York, Nazi Germany, Argentina, and Texas). Lynda Carter brings it as Diana – she is kind, thoughtful, understanding and caring – without being overly sweet or a “mary sue” character, which is difficult to pull off. Over time her end of episode speeches improve from sounding like Maxwell Smart’s “if only he could have used his genius for niceness” to something that approaches being more realistic, given this is a show from the 1970s that seems to be aimed at children.

Overall, though there are technical issues with the actual DVD set, and at times this show plays like a comedy or parody of the Superhero genre, considering when it was made – it is still worth watching and enjoyable to watch. Because season 1 is set during the war and everyone is in uniform, it looks less dated than other programs from the 1970s – though it is also very obviously set and backlot-bound. Lynda Carter is awesome in this. Lyle Waggoner is wonderfully dippy as Steve. Steve Trevor is incredibly dumb in this (he reminds me of the Ghostbusters (2017) secretary), though by the last couple of episodes of the season he’s not quite so stupid. Still, he spends a lot of time getting knocked out, kidnapped, tied up, and dropped into traps – so Wonder Woman can rescue him. I like Diana’s friend, Etta, even though she gets to do very little.

Wonder Woman was made in the 1970s – the same time as Charlie’s Angels and the Bionic Woman, and it some ways it reminds me of those shows more than any superhero TV show or film from now. Even the sound effect for Wonder Woman using her super strength is similar to the Bionic Woman. Still, this show is worth watching if you remember when it was made. Recommended with minor reservations.

 

Book Review – Bombshells vol. 2: Allies

  • Title: Bombshells vol. 2: Allies
  • Author: Marguerite Bennett
  • Artists: Mirka Andolfo, Laura Braga, Sandy Jarrell, ML Sanapo, Juan Albarran, Marguerite Sauvage, J. Nanjan (colors), Wendy Broome (colors), Jeremy Lawson (colors), Wes Abbott (letters)
  • Characters: Batwoman, Wonder Woman, Mera (Aqua Woman), Zatanna, John Constantine, Amanda Waller, Stargirl, Supergirl (Kara Starikov)
  • Publication Date: 2016
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 06/23/2018

**Spoiler Alert** Bombshells, a series based on World War II-era Bombshell-style statues (don’t judge), is an incredibly good series. Volume 2 opens with the Smoak family being evicted from their tenement apartment by a racist landlord who doesn’t want Jews and their “illegal immigrant” family in his building. The Batgirls, a group of young women, arrive to help young Felicity and her family escape, taking them to a safe house to start over. I believe this is the first time we’ve seen the CW’s Arrow’s Felicity Smoak in the DC Universe – even if it is in a historical timeline.

The Batgirls are leaving when one spots a corrupt cop, who’s rounding up young children and handing them over to an orphanage for payments. One of the Batgirls recognizes the name of the orphanage as being the one she and her brother were sent to – a prison for kids. She got out and intended to apply for guardianship of her brother as soon as she was old enough. They run into two more young women, both of whom have connections with the orphanage and organize a break-in.

Upon entering the orphanage, they find horrible conditions – children forced to work in a basement sweatshop – creating instruments of war, a headmistress who is a racist xenophobe who supports the Axis and is sending her weapons to them – and a horrific giant war robot to boot. But the Batgirls succeed in releasing all the children. The next day, one of the new Batgirls, Bette Kane, takes her majority at her family’s company – she clears out people like her aunt who ran the evil orphanage, and promises her company will help Gotham – from building real affordable housing to re-settle refugees from the horrors in Europe to helping unfortunates in the city, and beyond.

Meanwhile, in Greece – Steve Trevor and Wonder Woman confront Baroness Paula von Gunther and her Tenebrae troops.

Stargirl learns from her mother who her father really was – a British Lord who did a tour of Russia in 1923. Kortni’s mother met him in St. Peterburg and the two fell in love. But their relationship wasn’t approved of – the young Lord returned to England, and Kortni’s mother was sent to Siberia where she met and fell in love with Kortni’s adoptive father. The flashback panels are beautifully drawn and colored. This comes up because Kortni’s mother has heard from her father and wants her to meet him. Kara feels a bit left out in all this – but wants to be happy for her sister. Kortni, who now knows her name is Courtney Elizabeth Whitmore, meets her father, Samuel Whitmore. But Samuel Whitmore has grown rich by selling arms. Furthermore, he must have had an inkling of his daughter’s existence – because he has a pink princess room for her, filled with toys. Kortni is having none of it, though, because she was an experienced fighter, even before joining the Bombshells. When Whitmore threatens to keep Kortni locked-up to “keep her safe” she rebels and leaves to find her sister.

Meanwhile, Mera is called to investigate a disturbance under the sea – it’s a Kraken-like creature, with god-like powers, and it’s in league with the Tenebrae. Mera fights and nearly loses but is rescued by Supergirl. They proceed to London, along with the other Bombshells to stop the Tenebrae attack on the city (the Tenebrae allies include the Kraken, Edward Nygma, the Baroness, and the like). Even Zatanna helps, although still stuck in the Joker’s Cabaret in Berlin – with encouragement from rabbit-form John Constantine, using her magic to win the battle for the Allies. The Bombshells succeed – but not without cost. Mera is missing, presumed dead, and also lost her powers by attacking the Titan Kraken, Kortni sacrifices herself to save her sister, and although Zatanna’s spell works – she and John are caught by the Joker’s daughter. At first, it appears she strangles rabbit-John. But John is rescued – and both he and Zatanna lose their powers.

Bombshells is a wonderful book – great story, great takes on the characters, a wonderful ode to female empowerment. But the book also has beautiful art throughout, especially on the full-page splash pages, and incredible, incredible color. I’m enjoying this series very much.

Highly recommended.

Read my review of Bombshells vol. 1: Enlisted.

Book Review – Bombshells vol. 1: Enlisted

  • Title: Bombshells vol. 1: Enlisted
  • Author: Marguerite Bennett
  • Artists: Marguerite Sauvage (Art and Colors), Laura Braga, Stephen Mooney, Ted Naifeh, Garry Brown, Bilquis Evely, Mirka Andolfo, Ming Doyle, Sandy Jarrell, ML Sanapo, Marc Derring, Wendy Broome (colors), Doug Garbark (colors), Kelly Fitzpatrick (colors), Wes Abbott (letters)
  • Characters: Batwoman, Wonder Woman, Mera (Aqua Woman), Zatanna, John Constantine, Amanda Waller, Harley Quinn, Poison Ivy, Catwoman, Stargirl, Supergirl (Kara Starikov)
  • Publication Date: 2016
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 05/08/2018

“I would do the right thing. I cannot sit idle, awaiting the next blow… I would not be indifferent to the suffering of strangers.” – Wonder Woman

DC Comics’ Bombshells is awesome. This is the first volume of the series, and I certainly hope there is more because I absolutely loved it! The simplest way to describe Bombshells is that it’s like an alternate reality Birds of Prey set in World War II, but with Amanda Waller in charge (as in Suicide Squad; rather than Oracle/Barbara Gordon being in charge as in Birds of Prey). This particular volume is all about set-up, showing our women as heroes in their own right before being recruited by Amanda, or finding their way to Amanda’s “Bombshells” group. Kate Kane is the Batwoman, interpreted a bit too literally as she is on the Gotham Knights Women’s Baseball team, and in her off time she beats-up criminals in Gotham with her baseball bat. Interestingly enough, she also saved the Waynes, preventing Mr. Wayne from being killed by a street thug. Kane is, also, as in the current DC continuity, a lesbian. Kate also inspires a very young Barbara Gordon to become a heroine, since she witnesses her actions.

Wonder Woman’s origin is the traditional one, Steve Trevor, an American spy, crashes on Paradise Island, and despite the warnings of her mother, Diana decides she must join him and fight great evil in the war against Hitler’s intolerance, hatred, bigotry, and racism. It’s Diana who recruits Mera, the “Aqua Woman”. Steve informs Amanda, and she asks the two to join her Bombshells group.

Meanwhile, Amanda has already sent Kate into the lion’s den in Europe to find out more about La Contessa Selina Digatti – The Catwoman. It’s Alexander Luthor who picks up Kate and takes her to the Contessa’s party, all the time trying to convince Kate how war is good for business but that America shouldn’t challenge Hitler. Luthor basically is just as xenophobic and racist as ever.

In Russia, two very special women are joining the “Night Witches” – female Russian pilots who specialize in night raids. These two women, Star Girl (Kortni Duginovna) and Super Girl (Kara Starikov), have special powers – Star Girl with her staff of power and Supergirl basically like the Supergirl we know: super strength, immune to bullets, the ability to fly. The two, however, discover that the “enemy camp” they were sent to destroy is actually a Russian Prison Camp for political prisoners staged to look like a Nazi forward camp. They realize this and stop the attack, then discover their own parents in the camp. The women’s father had been a scientist and cosmonaut and now was speaking out against a particular general who was too zealous in his persecution of anyone who disagreed with what the Russian government was doing. Unfortunately, they are attacked during their escape attempt and the women’s father is recaptured. Supergirl, Stargirl, and their mother escape and find the English ship where Mera is meeting with Steve Trevor and Amanda Waller. Diana, Wonder Woman, is also nearby, but in custody, because she insisted on a group of captured Nazi soldiers stand trial rather than be executed by Steve’s men immediately. Amanda has her doubts about recruiting two Russians, and the Russians do not want to wear a uniform of American iconography, but one gets the feeling all that will be worked out and the two recruited as Bombshells.

Zatanna is trapped in Germany, working at a Cabaret, run by the Joker’s daughter. John Constantine is in the audience, though he is turned into a rabbit (who talks, smokes, and whose yellow fur resembles his trench coat). The Germans have raised a demon, who asks for the dead in return. The demon can make zombies. John both warns Zatanna of the dangerous supernatural “stuff” going on, and encourages her to escape Germany. Zatanna has no love for the Germans – but she’s trapped, in no small part because with a Jewish mother and Romani father – she’s dead without the Joker’s daughter’s protection.

Speaking of the Joker, Harley Quinn is working as a psychiatrist, when she learns “Mr J” may be alive. She meets up with Poison Ivy and the two set off to find him.

I loved this book! The art is truly beautiful. The writing is strong and meaningful. The story is very much an introduction to all the characters and their own environments and theaters in what will no doubt be a very far-reaching story. I just simply loved it and I want more. I hope future bound volumes are forthcoming.

Comics these days are very much a cross-medium media, with ideas from films and animated media crossing over into on-going books, and ideas from books becoming animated and live-action movie, and Bombshells is no different, as the origin of this series was actually a series of collectible statues of well-known DC female heroes done in the style of World War II pin-up girls. And while some of the art has that style – this is not an exploitative series at all! It’s brilliant – these are all strong women in extraordinary circumstances who will no doubt be fighting the war just as men would. I think it helps considerably that not only is the first volume written by Marguerite Bennett, one of comics’ most talented female writers, but the art and colors are also, for the most part, by women. This no doubt put a check on any possible exploitative aspects of the story, given the inspiration, and gave power to these extraordinary female characters.

Highly Recommended, and I simply cannot wait to get more!