Monday Morning SuperPro – Heroes in Crisis

MMSP HIC headerIn the recliner, quarterbacking on recently concluded series, events, etc.…. Heroes in Crisis was a nine-issue mini-series written by Tom King and illustrated by Clay Mann, Mitch Gerads, et. al….


Spoilers ahead…


The premise for Heroes in Crisis is just as advertised – the Trinity of Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman have established Sanctuary, a therapy center for heroes.  The series opens with the discovery of a massacre at this anonymous location – and the bodies of at least fifteen of Sanctuary’s patients scattered in the fields surrounding it.  From there, the series not only explores the questions of who committed the murders and why, but also examines the very sensible need for heroes who have seen and suffered the very worst of humanity to have a place to decompress, reflect, and heal.


I get the impetus behind King crafting this story around the themes of PTSD and mass shootings.  I understand that if our heroes really existed something like Sanctuary would not only be necessary, but welcomed.  None of that is what ultimately makes Heroes in Crisis so distasteful.  The issues arise with the story’s execution.


After the first few issues, where the sense of shock and loss are palpable for the characters – both the suspects and the investigators, the series descends into a series of quips and one-liners that wouldn’t be appropriate even if there hadn’t been a mass murder.  And worse, what follows is a study of disfunction, where all of the protagonists and the eventually-revealed murderer are acting as the definition of, “out-of-character.”


Batman and Flash, the premier detectives and crime scene investigators are fooled by a staged crime scene and the red herring of the framed main suspects.  This is made worse by the revealed culprit, whom despite the long familiarity with the methods of the aforementioned heroes, the reader finds it nigh-impossible to suspend disbelief that far.


The Trinity are depicted at almost amateur-level competencies.   Even if the reader believes that they had been distracted by the initial deaths, and an argument can be made that she may be quicker than Batman, there is no way that Harley Quinn is faster than Wonder Woman, nor Superman, for that matter.  This feeling is only compounded by the pair of “partnerships” that arise in pursuit of the investigation.


Yes, the history of the characters lends credibility to the thought that Blue Beetle would help his best friend Booster Gold clear his name, no matter the circumstances.  That Booster is able to incapacitate the Flash on his own?  Not so much…. And, regardless of a solid theory for why Batgirl would want to aid Harley Quinn, it just doesn’t hold up that Barbara Gordon would go to the lengths she does to aid the one-time paramour of the Joker – who shot (and once-upon-a-time paralyzed) her….


The worst is reserved for the killer’s confession and the resolution of the story.  The entirety of the penultimate issue depicts how Wally West accidentally killed his follow residents at Sanctuary.  It is very, very difficult to reconcile that the hero who discovered and was most in-tune with the Speed Force would ever lose control to the point that he would inadvertently kill the people around him.  Difficult, but not impossible, mind you.  Wally, since his reintroduction, has struggled with the loss of his beloved wife and children.  His speed unfortunately allowed him to absorb the pain and trauma of the Sanctuary’s residents, all at once.  In his own words, “it broke him.”


What is inconceivable, on every level, is what happens next. Wally West, who appeared for 27 years as Kid-Flash and 33 years as the Flash, not only covered-up his role in the deaths, but framed two innocent people, and in a convoluted, time-travel suicide, killed his future self and planted his own body at the scene.


To quote the vernacular, “nah, Son…”


Quick aside, which will make sense, in a moment. When Zack Snyder’s Watchmen movie was first screened, I had a friend who recounted just how horrible he thought it was.  I started to counter how, if he had read the books, it would make more sense.  He stopped me cold with the statement, “if you have to read something to make a movie make sense, it’s a bad movie…”  Tom King is a talented writer.  If you’ve been reading his work in Mister Miracle and Batman, you’ve been treated to masterful storytelling.  That being said, taking Heroes in Crisis in context, it’s clear that there is a larger narrative in and around it.  And that’s without even mentioning Doomsday Clock


Clearly, something is very wrong with Booster Gold. And odds are that his evil partner Skeets is responsible (maybe Mr. Mind again?).  Also, the series feels as if it’s just one more step in the deconstruction of King’s take on Batman.  In terms of storytelling, all of that is well and good.  In terms of a mini-series that has to stand on its own, its trash…. It’s bad enough that a fan-favorite character has been irreparably (as far as that goes in comics) tarnished.  But to realize that these actions have been forced upon that character to serve other characters and storylines is several steps too far.


Yes, the premise of Heroes in Crisis is sound; the execution is horrible.


From the recliner, I have to ask: “did you really have to manage the game the way you did?”



And There Came A Day… A Reflection On Avengers: Endgame — DZI: The Voice

It’s been a week, and the “no spoiler” time limit is expiring, but for the moment, no spoilers… The most consistent remarks regarding Avengers: Endgame is that, “it’s satisfying.” And I agree. The film had the dual task of not only living up to the anticipatory hype that audiences were left with after the shocking […]

via And There Came A Day… A Reflection On Avengers: Endgame — DZI: The Voice

Free Comic Book Day 2019 Part Three: To All the Shops I knew before…

Happy Free Comic Book Day!!!  I hope that it’s been great!!!

In 1984, my Family was moving back to Columbia, SC, after two years in Little Rock.  My Father had accepted the Presidency at Allen University, and while we were getting settled, we stayed at the hotel on the corner of Main and Elmwood.  I’m not sure how I ended up finding it, but I can describe the utter Fanboy joy, when I did.

Almost directly across the street, at 1930 Main Street, was an almost two-story painting of the Amazing Spider-Man.  Directly underneath was a sign that said, ‘Nuff Said Comics.  And I knew that I was home, for good.

I spent many Saturdays biking up to ‘Nuff Said, and a good bit of time in Manifest Records, right next door.  I don’t remember exactly when I got the word that ‘Nuff Said was moving to Boozer Shopping Center (and ended up right next door to Manifest again.  How cool was that?), and that it had either been bought by or was changing its name to Heroes and Dragons.  But, that shop, with the giant Spider-Man painting on the building would be gone, soon.

A while ago, I wrote about my feelings on Silver City.  I clearly remember the day I came in and Ms. Angela pointed towards the sign that they would be closing.  I feel some sorta’ way every time I pass the building, with the Silver City sign and decals, still present, but the building clearly empty.  They always said, “Reality Stops Here,” and know I’m reminded of the reality that it’s gone.

All of this has made me remember that there have been a lot of other Shops that have come and gone in the Midlands, over the years.  So, to finish up Free Comic Book Day, if you’ll indulge me, here’s to all the Shops I knew before.  Thank you, for your presence and service to the Fanboys and Fanboys in the Midlands.


In Memoriam:


Silver City, on Knox Abbott Drive, in Cayce.

‘Nuff Said, on Main Street, in Columbia.

Silver City, Too, on Forest Drive, in Columbia (and whatever the name changed to on Meeting Street, in West Columbia).

Kel-Rin Komics, on Hard Scrabble Road, in Columbia.

Acme Comics & Records, on State Street, in West Columbia.


Gamma Comics, on Two Notch Road, in Columbia (and in Sumter).


Punk Monkey Comics, on Forest Drive, in Columbia.

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Apocalypse Comics, in Harbison, in Columbia (and Myrtle Beach, too).


Comic Nirvana, in Lexington.

(For a brief time, there was a shop on Devine, a couple of doors down from where Cosmic Ray’s was.  I cannot remember the name…)


Did I miss any?


… and what happened to that giant Spider-Man painting?

Free Comic Book Day 2019 Part One: Support your LCS!

Good morning, Fan Peeps!  And Happy Free Comic Book Day!!!


The annual celebration of Comics has come a long way from the four offerings at the first FCBD on May 4th, 2002.  From a suggestion by retailer Joe Field and the buy-in from Comics publishers and distributors, that initial FCBD coincided with the release of Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man.  And the event has grown and grown, with more and more shops and publishers participating, every year.

FCBD serves as a wonderful fan event, giving the dedicated, casual and new readers free access to characters, storylines and publishers they may or may not have experienced before.  There are a couple of notes that we all should take, as we venture out to get our free books, today.

FCBD is, as the title suggests, absolutely free for the public.  It is not, however free for the retailers who participate.  While most publishers and distributors provide the books, at cost, the shops do have to pay for each book they offer.  The hundreds of participating shops are unsung heroes of FCBD, coming out of pocket, each year to give back to the Comics fandom community and hopefully to introduce new fans to the medium.

If you’re in the Columbia, SC area, definitely check out these Local Comic Shops:

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Heroes & Dragons – 1621 Broad River Road, Columbia.

Now the elder statesman of the Midlands shops, today will be their last day in Boozer Shopping Center (they’re moving to  1807 Bush River Road). Heroes and Dragons will feature the following local creators:  artist Corey “Roc Bottom” Davis, the creator of  Jet Boy (who has a lot of exciting things coming!);  Chad Bowers, writer of X-Men ’92, Guardians of the Galaxy, Deadpool, and more; and Golden-Age icon Vic Carrabotta, who worked as an artist for Marvel’s predecessor Atlas, will be doing sketches, commissions, and prints between 10 a.m and 3 p.m.

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Scratch N’ Spin – 513 12th Street, West Columbia

Check out Eric and crew for many creators, cosplay, trivia, and giveaways. Chuck Brown, 1/3 of the Bitter Root creative team, Mike Sudduth and John Pading from Frank Comics, Corey Mikellfrom Noir Caesar Entertainment, and many local and regional artists will be present for sketches and signings.  Scratch N’ Spin is a pop culture one-stop-shop, offering not only, comics, but also music, movies, games, toys and collectables.


Cosmic Ray’s – 4427 Devine Street, Columbia

Visit Ray for your free books, as well as many FCBD exclusives. They will be holding raffles for premium comics, toys and collectibles.  Cosmic Ray’s is great for all manner of books, collectibles and conversation.  And you’ll always be offered a bottle of water! Just don’t take anyone with you who will put comic books in their pants (go see them for the story)…  As they said in The State Article – Wanna cosplay? Ray is cool with that.

For further reading:


Enjoy Free Comic Book Day!!!

Free Comic Book Day 2019 Part Two: Silver City, in Memoriam

Happy Free Comic Book Day, again!!!


In the spirit of transparency, it’s taken a year-and-a-half to write this, because I haven’t been able to reconcile that MY LCS isn’t there anymore.  Silver City closed on Saturday, December 2, 2017, after serving the Midlands Comics Community for more than fifty years.  I, like so many other Fan Peeps that I know, really grew up with that Shop.


As I recounted to the ladies, as that day grew closer, I have tons of memories.


In 1988, while I was laid up and sick, my Mother graciously agreed to take a list of books to Silver City and pick them up for me. I had underlined one, in particular, and wrote, “important” by the title.  When my mother returned, she mentioned that the Lady at the counter had actually sold out, but pulled one out of reserve for me, since I was under the weather. Action Comics #600 has always meant a bit more to me because of it….


I recalled when they expanded and incorporated the small space, next door, and the Dungeon, for gaming and cards became part of Silver City.

I happily supported Silver City Too, on Forest Drive, for the brief time it was there.


When the Aaro Rental that was on the other side of their building caught fire, I was thankful that Silver City was spared.  But the smell of kerosene and the water damage was a constant reminder of how close we came to losing the Shop, then.


I was gone from Columbia for thirteen years. When I returned, I was dismayed to see that Silver City wasn’t where it was when I left.  I was overjoyed when I discovered it was down Knox Abbott, a piece, in the last original Hardee’s building in the area…


“Deadpool” (Tragic Fanboy, Jr.)

I was able to reconnect, immediately.  I kept a folder at Silver City from that day, until the end.  And more, my Family was welcomed with open arms.  My Wife was congratulated when she went to pick up my folder.  My son volunteered his participation at their Free Comic Book Day events.


Ms. Angela and Ms. Susan

Silver City was a home away from home for many generations of us, for many, many years.  Ms. Ann, Ms. Angela, and Ms. Susan made it so, every time.  I am so appreciative of what you built, and I miss Silver City more than I can say…


Ms. Ann Hart

Black History Month Musings: Having a Point, doesn’t make You, “right”

In the waning hours of Black History Month, a confession: I’ve been sitting on these comments for about a year…

A few things made this timely for me.  During the first week of February, AMC mounted free screenings of Black Panther, so I took my Son for collective viewing number fifteen.  Make no mistake; the film is still the enjoyable, AfroFuturistic wonder that it was last year.

I also couldn’t ignore the history-making Oscar nominations and wins, and the announcement that Michael B. Jordan would be reprising the role of Killmonger in the sequel.


Michael B. Jordan as Erik “Killmonger” Stevens

Finally, I was reminded of viewing number four, where Mrs. Tragic and I sought to talk through the deeper themes, especially regarding the Killmonger character, with Tragic Son.  The gist of his response was that he viewed the character as heroic, because every action he took was, “for Black People…”

I was very hesitant, a year ago, to label that character, “a villain.”  I empathized with the tragedy of his background and the overriding motivations of why he wanted to level the playing field for the African diaspora.  I asked, “If Wakanda existed, would you be T’Challa or Killmonger?”

And, my regard for the spirit of what he voiced, completely overrode the reality of his actions…



Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa, dueling with Michael B. Jordan as Killmonger

In reaching Wakanda, he killed and destroyed, without compunction.  He murdered a person who believed that they were partners and a woman who believed that he loved her.

During the duel that won him the throne, he admitted to being a proficient killer and marked his body to commemorate (celebrate?) each life that he had taken.

He killed his “uncle,” and savaged his cousin, attempting to kill him by throwing him from a cliff.

He assaulted an elder and destroyed the physical link and spiritual legacy that tied his newfound kingship with all those who had preceded him.

He dedicated the resources of Wakanda, not to helping or healing, but to more death and destruction.

He damaged relationships between the Men and Women of Wakanda, turning them against each other.

In early viewings, I completely overlooked his statement: “I’m going to make them pay for what they did to me.”  That is the totality of his motivations, not wanting to elevate Africa’s descendants, as the right thing for Wakanda to do.  He would make the world burn for leaving him fatherless in a racist society.  And, clearly, he held just as much anger towards Wakanda itself, for the very same reasons.

Most of us wanted Killmonger to be about the empowerment message that he espoused. If I, as a Person of Color in the MCU, was made aware of the existence of Wakanda, I’d be pissed, too.  The solution to the diaspora’s many concerns is not, “kill them all and let’s take over.”  Especially when spearheaded by a scarred individual who ranks that empowerment as secondary to the bloody retribution that they believed they were due.


Killmonger maskMany more conversations can be had about the damaging effects that trauma, be it institutionalized racism, the lost of loved ones, etc., can have on the psyche of People of Color.  The anger, sorrow and scars are borne by too many (Jordan himself sought therapy to deal with that anger:…  It is attractive to see the marvelous (see what I did there?) resources of a place like Wakanda as the solution to those ills.  I contend, however, that no matter the loftiness of those ideals, the means by which they are accomplished are fundamentally important.

Because, here’s the thing: having a few, excellent points, doesn’t always make you, “right.”  And they damn sure don’t make you a hero.

‘Black Panther’ Review: Build Bridges, Not Walls

DZI: The Voice

Let’s get this out of the way: Black Panther is worth all of the hype; go see it.

Director Ryan Coogler has created a unique installment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe; the super-hero action, dramatic confrontations, and ideological character juxtaposition, against the backdrop of the ongoing Marvel narrative is present and forefront. They have created an Afro-Futuristic epic that is intelligent, complex, and filled with so much commentary, blatant and Meta, that DZI would have to give me a few months to unpack it all. There was a taste of the potential of both T’Challa, as Black Panther, and his homeland of Wakanda during Captain America: Civil War. Although we anticipated the wonder and spectacle, we are wowed by the grandeur of the film.

cooglercs Director Ryan Coogler with Chadwick Boseman, as T’Challa

Chadwick Boseman is charged with the gargantuan task of portraying a man of many simultaneous emotions and…

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May the Fourth be Luminous

May the Fourth Be With You, this day that everyone, from casual Star Wars fans, to lifetime devotees celebrate the wonder one of the greatest science-fiction franchises.  Reverberations of sadness are felt throughout the force, however.  Today is our first May the Fourth without the woman who portrayed Princess Leia Organa, actress Carrie Fisher.

The character lives on, but so much of what Leia became in our consciousness is due to the actress that embodied her.  A princess of two worlds, a rebel leader, a general, sister, wife, matriarch and Jedi… none can be separated from Ms. Fisher.  There is a palpable sorrow attached to Leia, now, even though I will always celebrate her.  I liken it to the feeling when Christopher Reeve was paralyzed, and, later, when he passed away…

Leia defied conventions.  The layman might mistake her for the stereotypical damsel-in-distress.  Sure there a moments, where she appears to need the rescue.  But how quickly and thoroughly does Ms. Fisher show herself to not only be her male counterparts’ equal, and then go forward to be THE if not one of the most capable people in the ensemble?  Over the course of the films, Leia becomes the central strategist and heart of the Rebellion.

70138746ac66d0914c4b4982f4ac40d6The skeptics will cite, “Slave Leia,” and the metal bikini, the objectification of those scenes. She’s treated as eyecandy, as property to be possessed.  Move forward just a bit… how did that situation end for the slaver?  Throttled by the same woman he underestimated, with the very chains that bound her.  Probably not an intentional feminist moment, but its there.  She’s never again treated as anything less than the determined, capable leader that she is.

I appreciate Ms. Fisher, in real life, just as much as her most famous role.  She was unabashedly straight-forward, sharing struggles with substance abuse and mental illness with surprising candor… surprising for anyone else, that is.  That type of bravery, showing vulnerabilities to the world, was the hallmark of her character.  The BBC shared the following quote, in their obituary: “There’s a part of me that gets surprised when people think I am brave to talk about what I’ve gone through,” she once said. “I was brave to last through it.”

May the Force be with you always, Carrie Fisher.  This May 4th is not the same, and never shall be, again, with your absence.  Many of us take comfort in the words of Master Yoda: ” For my ally is the Force, and a powerful ally it is. Life creates it, makes it grow. Its energy surrounds us and binds us. Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter.”  A truly luminous being, indeed.  Rest well, Princess…


This Feeling Will Get You Hooked; “Guardians Of The Galaxy” Review

DZI: The Voice


Before this past weekend, the Marvel Cinematic Universe consisted of nine feature films and an accompanying television show. For the most part, the properties have been successes, so it is understandable that for the tenth feature, the studio felt confident in using a lesser-known property.

Director James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy takes us on our first foray away from the Earth (no, Fanboy, I’m not counting Asgard, nor alien invaders) and utilizing a wide and varied collection of cosmic Marvel characters from their publication history. And what a ride it is!

The first scenes give you the obligatory set-up and background of Chris Pratt’s Peter Quill/Star Lord. From there, he literally and figuratively takes control of the narrative. His easy, infectious charisma pulls together not only his allies, but also the antagonists and supporting characters, alike. Star Lord is the glue that holds this film together, and you are…

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“Hi-yo, Silver, away!… Never do that again…”: ‘The Lone Ranger’ Review

DZI: The Voice

Johnny Depp as Tonto and Armie Hammer as The Lone Ranger Johnny Depp as Tonto and Armie Hammer as The Lone Ranger

I have a confession to make.  I like Tarzan.  What does that have to do with The Lone Ranger?  Bear with me…  Some of the properties that I grew up on can seem, in retrospect, let’s say, “racially insensitive.”  So, there is more than a bit of consternation on my part when, periodically, Hollywood produces a new take on certain properties and, more specifically, characterizations that were offensive even when they were first presented.

I knew that Disney was producing a new Lone Ranger movie.  I was dubious, but hopeful that this could be an opportunity to introduce the character to a new generation, while avoiding some of the more unfortunate depictions of Tonto, the Native American partner to the Ranger.

Then I started seeing the trailers. Sigh.

But, still, I wanted to like this movie, because, however troubling…

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