Joker and Harley Quinn- Wish Fulfillment for The Twilight Crowd

As I scrolled through instagram this morning, I came across a post by another user who was upset that people kept arguing that the Harley Quinn and Joker relationship is meant to be a manipulative and abusive one. The user is aware that the relationship is depicted like that in the comics, but argues that the movies don’t portray that. In her mind, the relationship is a case of two people with psychological issues being there for one another. I have previously discussed how people who actually know about the comics are still treated as basement dwelling virgins, since people believe the source material for their beloved films shouldn’t matter. Today’s first post on @moviegrapevine was inspired by my reaction to this delusional user, and I figured I would expand my thoughts here.

In the comics, Harley is often depicted as heavily dependent on the Joker, and arguably experiencing true love. Meanwhile, The Joker sees her as a prized possession or a tool to be used as he pleases. Deleted scenes from Suicide Squad reveal a more abusive relationship. This article describes a scene that was cut (SPOILER ALERT)

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…. from Joker’s helicopter rescue of Harley. In the movie, they share a kiss and it is a sweet moment. In the deleted scene Joker verbally scolds her. There is also  leaked set footage of another scene where The Joker slaps Harley.

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These scenes were cut partly due to WB’s concerns about the film being too dark, especially following the backlash BatmanvSuperman received for its tone. This serves as yet another example of how the “make it fun” mentality can damage a film. We do not have the proper Harley and Joker relationship without the abuse. They are not meant to be an ideal couple. The Joker is unpredictable, selfish and violent. His treatment of Harley should reflect that. Yes, he comes back to recapture her at the end of the film, but that is like a real-life abusive husband buying his wife something shiny after he beats her; It only serves to continue the cycle of abuse. Of course, Harley Quinn puts up with his abuse to her issues with dependency, but I am sick of people arguing their relationship is supposed to be sweet and romantic in Suicide Squad.

The marketing for Suicide Squad focused heavily on Harley Quinn, which was perfectly fine with me since it is her big screen debut. However, the focus on Harley and the related girl power also served to attract the type of audience that would not normally see a comic book film. Instead of female comic book fans or general action film fans, we also attract the woman who would normally pass on this movie to read or watch Fifty Shades of Grey or Twilight again. Wish fulfillment is a huge part of what makes these kinds of love stories so popular. Erika Leonard, better known as E.L James, admits that her writing was influenced by her own fantasies.

People flock to love stories to imagine themselves as the woman being chased after by the most popular guy in high school, or the woman hooking up with a millionaire. I have not read Fifty Shades of Grey, and I refuse to. I understand the relationship portrayed there is not an ideal one, but from what I understand the BDSM is a consensual part of the relationship. Women can still fantasize about being taken in such a way by a millionaire. It is harder to fantasize about being used and abused by a psychotic clown. So when they are confronted with the truth that their “bae” is actually abusive, they deny it by any means necessary. It ruins the illusion of this sweet relationship with the hot prince of crime (yes, a lot of girls think this Joker is hot). Their real boyfriends are either non-existent or don’t fit their laundry list of ideal traits. e.g. bad boy persona, tattoos. Grow up and take your wish fulfillment elsewhere.

 

Parasite

Hello everyone,

The below piece is similar to Worms, which is one of the first creative writing pieces I posted to the site.

***********

The pain kept building over the last hour,

It was an inconvenience,

Then an annoyance,

And then agony,

It forced me out of bed and to my bathroom mirror,

The pain seemed to move throughout the night,

But now it was firmly planted on my back,

I pulled off my shirt,

Twisting my torso to see what pulled me from my slumber,

Once I saw it,

I knew my next slumber would be my last,

There was a black lump to the left of my spine,

Pulsating,

I shuddered involuntarily,

The lump followed suit,

But it didn’t shudder,

It moved,

Gliding halfway up my back,

Until it was resting just beneath my left shoulder,

The mirror showed that my mouth was hanging open,

I wanted to scream,

But no sound would come,

I saw saliva drip from my mouth,

Yet I barely felt it,

I was hoping I would wake up from the nightmare soon,

It was a clichéd thought,

But a comforting one,

The lump started to disappear,

As if it was being absorbed into my skin,

Maybe my prayer was answered,

Once the lump was gone,

I held my breath for a few seconds,

Worried it would surface again,

I scanned the rest of my body for any signs of it,

Nothing,

I was safe,

For a few seconds,

The pain returned,

It was behind my eyes this time,

Pressure,

I looked in the mirror,

My vision was becoming blurry,

I could barely make out my eyes expanding,

Two white balloons that looked like they were ready to pop,

Everything went black,

Just before I felt my eyes burst,

Just before I heard them splatter against the mirror

 

 

 

 

 

 

Arkham Knight

Hello everyone,

Aside from comics, tv, and movies I am also a gamer, which helps to bring more diversity to my geeky repertoire. I wouldn’t say that I spend most of my free time playing and I purposely try not to. However, I do enjoy playing a few hours a week. Some of my favourite series include Halo and the Arkham games. I completed the story mode of Halo 5 and before I delved into the online play, I decided to finally start Arkham Knight.

I played Arkham City when that first came out in 2011 and I have been hooked on the series since. Arkham Origins was somewhat forgettable but still an enjoyable game. I did also like the fact that it added online challenge modes, where you could actually compete in real-time with other players. The only online options for Arkham City allowed your score on challenges to be ranked with that of other players.

I am only about 10% of the way through the story so far, not to mention all of the riddle challenges and trophies. However, there was one aspect of the game that I love and hate at the same time. After looking up my issue online it seems like a lot of people feel the same way. Getting to drive the batmobile is a great new feature, at least in theory. It offers something new to the gameplay while also giving players access to Batman’s full arsenal. The design is amazing and while the controls take a big of getting used to, riding in the batmobile can be a great experience. The only problem is that the batmobile isn’t only a cool side feature, it is an essential part of gameplay for many levels so far. Whether it is riddler challenges or puzzles in the main story, the batmobile is crucial. At times, the action/adventure game becomes a racing game for long stretches at a time. If you don’t like racing games, that’s just too bad.

Gameplay with the batmobile can get repetitive at times since its combat offers more limited options than Batman’s. There are three main weapons/ tools and that’s about it, compared to the myriad combination of gadgets and fighting techniques that Batman offers. There are entire levels or checkpoints that involve the batmobile taking on unmanned tanks. These entire levels will be the same combo of dodging and shooting. Those who don’t like shooting games, probably won’t like these parts. Of course there is nothing wrong with the game incorporating elements from numerous genres, but it does represent a pretty fundamental shift from the previous three games, which all focused on stealth or combat modes. Those who have become accustomed to this by now could very well be thrown off completely by the change. There is one level where the batmobile has to take on tanks and a helicopter at the same time. You must then eliminated about seven hostiles while trying to dodge a barrage of missiles.

After failing for the fifth time, I looked up a walkthrough for this part online and the comments reveal the same level of frustration I had. One person even said that they returned the game since they couldn’t get past this part to enjoy the rest. Of course, I didn’t do that. I was able to beat the level after a few more tries, using some tips I found online. However, I think a big part of why people might be so frustrated or willing to quit is because of the change in playing style that they might not have anticipated. Although we might want variation in stories, certain genres of games have conventions that many people might want a game to follow. If Halo 5 introduced more puzzles, people might be thrown off by that.

I’m still enjoying the game and I look forward to playing more, but I can’t help but think the combat sequences with the batmobile will only get more repetitive as the game goes on.

An Excerpt from The Visitor

Hello everyone,

I’ve been getting more rest to fight off a cold but I wanted to make sure I stay somewhat productive. Below is an excerpt from my second book, The Visitor, a story of inter-dimensional travel.

**************

Another cycle was complete. The teleporter successfully sent Adam from the lab to his home two months ago, and the tank came through the portal three days ago. Adam submitted every bodily fluid for testing and military doctors checked his vitals every night when the military came by for their closing sweep of the lab. For the moment, the teleportation didn’t appear to have any ill effects. Adam didn’t physically feel any different.

Mentally, he felt lighter and clearer than ever. He felt like a sprinter getting gold at the Olympics after years of trials and practice. Adam was never a good athlete, but it was the best metaphor. He was on his way to forging a legendary career, his name would never be forgotten by the scientific community, or the public. He would be a national hero.

“See you in three weeks Abel,” Dr. Rowan said as he extended his hand.

Adam froze for a few seconds, this was the first time Dr. Rowan offered a handshake. Adam doubted it was out of respect or courtesy, otherwise it would have come a long time ago. Dr. Rowan knew he would benefit from the work Adam did as a physicist and as a guinea pig. Dr. Rowan was simply the popular girl, showing some semblance of affection when Adam made himself useful. As much as Adam wanted to ignore the gesture, he knew it would be immature. He’d faced enough immaturity from the seniors around him.

“See you then, thanks for everything.” Abel said as he took the hand in his.

The other physicists followed, until Abel was left with Dr. Calvin as usual.

Cages of white rats normally flanked the left side of the lab, but the military removed them once human testing began. Adam had become accustomed to their scuffling in their cages, and the lab felt eerily silent without it. The only sound now was the air conditioning humming silently. All the tables were wiped down, and the teleporter was resting on one of them, waiting to be collected by the military. So much smaller than any bomb or missile, yet still more effective as a deterrent. It wasn’t just a weapon of war, it was a tool that would reshape the social and political landscape.

“Ready to go,” Dr. Calvin said as he hefted his bag.

“Yes, guess I could just teleport back home again.” Adam said.

“If anything, you should teleport me home. My body doesn’t cope with the long drives as well as it used to.”

“I’d have to keep your car then, how would you get back to work?”
“Good point,” Dr. Calvin said.

“I know they’ve tested you as well as they can but I always worry there could be some longer term effects of using the teleporter.” Dr. Calvin said.

“It’s been a few months for the rats now, still nothing there. Let’s hope my body doesn’t fall apart a few years from now.” Abel said.

“I’ll pray for you, metaphorically speaking.” Dr. Calvin said.

“Appreciated.” Adam said.

“On a serious note, I have some errands to run in the city. I was thinking of saving them for tomorrow since I’m dropping you back, but if you’re fine with taking the teleporter back I could take care of them today.” Dr. Calvin said.

“Sounds good to me.” Adam said.

He grabbed the teleporter off the desk and headed down the stairs to the testing area.

“I’ll call you once you’re through to make sure everything’s alright. If you don’t answer I’m going to send an ambulance to your house. I don’t mind driving you either.” Dr. Calvin said.

“I’ll be fine. It’ll be nice to get home early,” Adam said.

“Alright.”
Dr. Calvin took a few seconds to double check the coordinates before pushing the trigger. Adam took the time to savour the air conditioning, knowing that he would be entering a stifling home once he exited the portal. His eyes were closed when the portal opened, but he could see the white light filter through his closed eyelids, attacking the darkness as it made itself at home.

Adam opened his eyes to face his mentor, knowing that he wouldn’t see him again for a few months. Dr. Calvin was going to be tied up with speaking engagements once the project was officially announced in a few days. Adam didn’t have many engagements with news organizations, but he would be travelling to military bases to instruct the military on the use of the portal. Dr. Calvin assured him that this was standard, the youngest member of a group often received the least media attention. Dr. Rowan and the others might try to downplay Adam’s work but Dr. Calvin would be there, speaking with reporters, to assure the world that Adam made a valuable contribution to the project. Christmas break would be here soon and Adam could ring in the New Year as a world-renowned physicist. Things were finally falling into place.

“See you Dr. Calvin.” Adam said.

“Go home and relax Abel, you deserve it.” Dr. Calvin said. His smile revealed an unrivalled level of happiness.

Adam felt himself smile for the first time as well, and the smile was still on his face as he stepped through the portal. His smile vanished as he landed on the other side. There was no change in temperature this time. As Adam entered the hallway of his home, he could feel the air conditioning hitting his face and arms. Adam knew he always kept it off. Evelyn must have turned it on at some point, even though he had told her they couldn’t afford it. It was yet another thing they’d have to fight about.

Adam didn’t want to let the AC ruin his mood though, not after what he accomplished. He rushed towards the end of the hallway, making his way for the main unit to shut of the AC. As he glanced to his left he noticed that every piece of furniture in the living room was different. The worn black couch in his home was replaced by a brown one; the glass table in front of it was now marble. The television that normally sat on a table was now mounted on the wall, and appeared to be at least ten inches bigger. More importantly, the living room floor was covered in carpet, instead of wood.

Turning to his right, Adam saw the kitchen for the first time. The dining table was also covered in a plain white cloth, like the one in his home. The similarity ended there. The stainless steel fridge was an upgrade from Adam’s, and so was the marble countertop. Either Evelyn managed to get all of this changed today, or Adam wasn’t in the right house. Dr. Calvin must have made a mistake with the coordinates. Fortunately, no one was home.

It didn’t seem like Dr. Calvin called him yet. Adam’s hand shot down to his pocket and pulled out his phone. No missed calls. It had been at least one minute so far, Dr. Calvin said he’d call as soon as Abel got through. Adam was considering waiting for a call for a few minutes, when he heard footsteps from the floor above him. The steps were muffled at first but soon became more noticeable as they hit the creaking wood of a staircase. The staircase sounded the same as Adam’s, and if this home had the same layout, the staircase, was in front of the living room. Once someone reached the bottom of it, they would see him As Adam’s head swiveled to the stairs, he caught a glimpse of a family photo hanging above the television. Four black faces were staring back at him.

“David, is that you?” A woman’s voice said. It wasn’t Evelyn’s.

Adam didn’t need any further prodding. He dashed back to the portal, and reemerged in the lab. He nearly slipped on the lab’s metal floor, seeing Dr. Calvin standing on the upper level with the phone in his hand. Dr. Calvin saw him and abruptly hung up.

“Close the portal, now.” Adam said.

“I wasn’t joking when I said I’d call an ambulance. Why didn’t you pick up?” Dr. Calvin said as he reached for the portal.

“I never got a call from you.” Adam said. Adam didn’t consider himself athletic but fear and adrenaline allowed him to bound up the steps. Dr. Calvin pressed the teleporter’s trigger as Adam reached the main level and Adam looked back to see the portal disappear.

“Look.”

Dr. Calvin looked at the phone’s display, obviously surprised to see that Adam was telling the truth.

“You’re number is 905-876-2999 right?”

“Yeah, you sure that’s what you called?”

“Positive, I tried three times. Are you getting bad signal at your house?”

“Got a call there his morning. Reception’s fine at my house, but I’m worried that I wasn’t in my house just now.”

“I made sure they were the right coordinates. I guarantee it.” Dr. Calvin presented the teleporter to Abel, and it was his turn to be surprised.

The coordinates were displayed on one of the teleporter’s surfaces, on a small screen directly above the keypad. The numbers were right. Adam was in the right coordinates for his house.

“What happened?” Dr. Calvin said.

“The furniture was different. The tv was different, and there was a family photo in the house that wasn’t my family. That wasn’t my house.”

“Could it have been a neighbours? Maybe the teleporter malfunctioned and sent you somewhere close by? We’ve had this issue before, I thought we fixed it but,”

“No. I’m not best friends with them, but I’ve seen them before. Neither of them are black and that family photo showed a black family.”

“Someone down the street?” Dr. Calvin said.

“How long since we’ve had that issue?” Adam said.

“Nearly a year,” Dr. Calvin said.

“Right, since then, we have teleported people a few feet away and even from other continents. We’ve spent entire days testing it. Every time, people end up exactly where we want them to. What are the changes that the teleporter has malfunctioned now?” Adam said.

“Low, but nothing is 100% predictable.” Dr. Calvin said.

Adam wanted to believe that the teleporter didn’t send him to different coordinates. The teleporter was hours away from being collected by the military for use. The military would be trained on how to use the teleporters and they would be the ones taking the time to carefully survey each world, enlisting the services of a field of scientists like botanists and geologists to study every world’s climate. The government already considered the project a success and announcing a setback now could lead to the governmental council becoming an enemy, not an ally.

If the teleporter was working, then that would alleviate one worry, but also lead to an even bigger question. If the teleporter did send Adam to the right coordinates for his home, why did he end up in someone else’s house? There was one possibility, but Adam had a hard time accepting it. Yet it was the only one that made sense. It made even more sense as he considered one detail that he ignored until this point. A calendar was hanging on the fridge, but the fridge originally took all of Adam’s attention.

The calendar had a variety of notes attached to it, but Adam couldn’t read them from where he was standing. What he could read was the date, displayed in bold black lettering: 2010. Adam realized that the calendar could be an old one, but it didn’t make sense to have a six year old calendar displayed, with dates marked all over it. If the coordinates were right, then there was only one explanation for where Adam just travelled to.

“Adam? What are you thinking?” Dr. Calvin said.

“I’m thinking we just made another breakthrough.” Adam said.

#

Comic Book Stigma

Warning: Spoilers for BatmanvSuperman

Henry Cavill recently posted a picture on Instagram that revealed a close up of a black Superman suit. Superman was killed by Doomsday in BatmanvSuperman, but the film’s last scene implied that Superman will return. Following his death in the comics in the early 1990s (also at the hands of Doomsday) Superman returns with a black suit, with a white S logo. This new suit allowed him to absorb more solar energy and regenerate faster, since he needed to regain his strength. I know this latter piece of information from comic book fans online, whether it was through comments on articles or on Facebook.

Superman-Suit-History-Return-Black

I avoid reading articles on Facebook since all the links to related material can lead to a social media spiral that takes up too much time. However, I gave in and finally decided to check out the comment section of one of the articles discussing Cavill’s picture. Since comic book films are so popular nowadays, I honestly thought that the stigma of comic books; the belief that readers are all basement dwelling, vampiric virgins was somewhat diminished. Obviously I knew the stigma still existed but the comments I read show the extent to which people still look down on viewers who actually know or care about the source material for their beloved films.

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Several people complained about the black costume as expected, some said it ripped off Batman, some said it only made Superman even darker (literally I guess, even though people complain about Superman not being “fun” enough). Comic book fans or people who were bothered to use Google, then advised the uninformed that the suit comes from a storyline in the comics.

The responses to this information? If I had to take a shot every time the word “virgin” popped up I would be passed out by the 25th comment. These people obviously care about the film enough to comment on the article, but they can’t take the time to use Google or heed the information they are given by comic book readers. To them, the comic books don’t matter. Who reads those things anyway? They are here about movies, the things that cool people watch.

This mindset reminds of me of Robert Downey Jr.’s character in Tropic Thunder, and the infamous “never go full retard” scene. In case you can’t watch the clip, and if you haven’t seen Tropic Thunder (get on that ASAP) Ben Stiller’s character is frustrated that his portrayal of a mentally challenged boy in one of his films was critically panned. Downey Jr. then explains that the critically lauded performances of mental disability, such as Rain Man, weren’t “full retard”. In more polite terms they didn’t have conditions that made them unable to function for the most part. In the case of Rain Man, Dustin Hoffman’s character was autistic.

It is now acceptable to love comic book films, but  actually reading and knowing about comics is deemed “full retard”. Never mind that the movies wouldn’t exist without the comics, and that the comics can often be better written than the films.

 

My Second Book

Hello everyone,

Swelling with Jamaican and Canadian pride after seeing Usain Bolt and Andre De Grasse both medal in the 100m final. Now let’s see if Bolt can get gold in the 200m and 4X100m relay.

I have been spending more time watching the olympics, but I try not to let it distract me from the work I need to do. One thing I have been putting off for a while is continuing my second book, The Visitor. I wrote the first few pages years ago, but never went further with it until I returned to it earlier this year. My original goal was to finish it by July, but I faltered there and I then set another goal to finish it by September and I am aiming to get it done.

I stalled on a certain part of the story, where I didn’t know how to proceed any further. I already wrote the ending, and needed to fill in the pieces to get there. After brainstorming I finally got an idea of how to continue and have been working on linking another thread of my fictional world. My biggest worry at this point is that the new ideas I have won’t take me to 80,000 words, which is the minimum that many agents and publishers will accept for a science fiction novel. If The Visitor ends up being less than 60,000 words once complete, then it will be a novella. Many publishers don’t accept novellas, especially not from debut authors. Getting published is hard enough as it is and I do not want to make it harder for myself. Especially since the plan was to try and get this second work published, seeing if I had better luck with the hunt for the 2nd one and could then try to publish Elseworld afterwards.

I am still trying to get Elseworld published as well but I am sure that I have nearly exhausted the list of agents that accept science fiction in Canada and the US. I could try other countries but foreign agents do typically take more commissions for foreign sales. Additionally, New York is a large publishing hub, which is why it is ideal to have an agent located in New York or close to it. As I learned from interning with a literary agency, the publishing and marketing process still involves a lot of physical mail; Increased distance can make things more time consuming and difficult.

It appears that my best bet for publication is to complete The Visitor. Once I fill in the remaining gaps in my story, there is the question of how long the book will be. Then there is also the question of whether or not I should add extra passages just for the sake of padding it to 80,000 words.

If I can complete it by September, I can then spend time editing it before I send out my first query. Even though agents can take weeks to respond about a query, I still want to make sure the manuscript is near perfect before I begin the process. I would hate to lose a chance at publication because I submitted a sloppy manuscript.

Who knows how all this will turn out, but I have to keep working and dreaming.

Dreaming

Hello everyone,

Had a dream a few nights ago that was by far the most interesting one I’ve had in a while. It was somewhat personal so I wasn’t sure if I should share it. However, checking analytics shows that sharing this story won’t expose it to too many people anyway.

The dream starts with me sitting in a bedroom with a door to my left. The door is open, showing a living room packed with numerous people that are around my age. They are all partying but I am on the phone dealing with an impatient caller. Although I am not physically at work I recognize the issue as being one that I deal with frequently at my current tech support job. For some reason, the usual fix for the problem is not working, which just leaves me and the client more stressed out. As he continues to yell and swear at me, the party in the other room escalates. More drinks, more noise. I don’t talk to anyone in the dream, but for some reason I know I wasn’t invited to this party.

I shut the door, to filter out some of the noise. A few minutes later I am finally able to fix the caller’s issue. He is more polite at the end of the call, but it doesn’t negate what was said before.

The next thing I remember is being in the parking lot of a high school, surrounded by students leaving for the day. One of my best friends is there, I recognize his face and voice from my real life. I am telling him about my hunt for a new place, which is something I recently started in real life. He tells me that his girlfriend moved out of his house recently, and that he has a house that he can share with me. I remember feeling lighter, with one of my most stressful tasks finally taken off my list.

In this dream, there was a literal manifestation of my biggest worries and insecurities. The party I am not invited to, the stress and monotony of dealing with rude clients at work, and my hunt for a place. I woke up the morning after, knowing that I didn’t have to be a psychologist to interpret what I saw.

 

Alive: Part III

Hello everyone,

I’ve been posting more excerpts of Part I and II  on instagram and they have gained some traction with some users; a little more engagement through comments and likes than some other pics. With analytics now installed it seems I got lost in vanity metrics for too long, I’m not seeing much improvement in website traffic. However, I have already put a good deal of time into building my followers so I figure I’ll continue, while also putting in more effort to promote the site via the instagram accounts. I previously had the naïve mindset that any follower or anyone who likes multiple pics, will check my profile and view the site. Then I realized there are plenty of users I follow, who link to their website in the profile. I always think that I’ll check it out when I get time but then I never do.

Using excerpts of my pre-existing pieces has given me a bank of stories to draw from, but the excerpts are now running low. I don’t like reposting often and it seems like engagement and followers dip if I do it too often. Then again, instagram users unfollow faster than users of any other platform (from personal experience) so the loss of followers could be completely unrelated.

With that said, below is part III of the Alive series. I plan to tackle a novel or perhaps a novella for this story once I complete The Visitor and Hazard.

***********

I could feel the blood swirling through my chest,

My chest was still expanding, and the blood was making its way up my throat,

My white shirt was stained as the blood lapped over my tongue and made its way into my lap,

My spine continued to elongate, it always grew fastest,

My torso now dwarfed my legs, stretching six feet away from my waist,

I looked down in time to see my arms and legs break free of the straps,

I braced for the most painful part of the transformation,

There was a deafening crack as my legs split along the femur,

Once the bone split, it began to twist and reform,

My five toes merged into three,

My skin started to shed now,

The dark brown canvas snapped like an elastic band,

Sprinkling the ground with skin and blood,

With the old skin now gone,

The new came out of hiding,

It seemed to come from beneath my flesh,

Wrapping around my muscles,

Black, almost silver under the light,

The fur came next,

I could feel the rough bristles tearing through newly formed pores,

It felt like my skin was burning,

Yet I knew it wasn’t,

My nose was already picking up new scents,

Cleaning products used days ago,

The scent of five people on the other side of the glass

Cologne, Cigarettes, Alcohol,

The food on their breath,

It was all coming to me,

Forming an image clearer than anything my eyes could give me,

The world became a swirl of greys,

All with different hues and tones,

Colour was gone, but clarity improved,

I could see grains of dirt that were invisible to me before,

I could see every pore on my arm as I stretched it in front of me,

Looking at the ground, I felt like I was floating,

Ten feet off the ground,

Two hundred pounds heavier,

Yet feeling lighter,

Baptized by pain,

In order to achieve power

 

 

Suicide Squad Review- 6.5/10

suicide-squad-poster

Before I began, don’t be discouraged by the number that I have to give. Suicide Squad has a lot of things to love, but it also has a list of things that I thought could have been much better. It is an entertaining film, but falls short of being a great one.

The film follows Task Force X, a group assembled by government operative Amanda Waller (Viola Davis). Task Force X is assembled to tackle dangerous missions, in return for reduced sentences. With bombs implanted in their necks, the group are nothing more than pawns who can be used and blamed for any government failures if need be.

Suicide Squad was one of my most anticipated films for this year and my most anticipated comic book film. We would get the first live-action, silver screen Harley Quinn and a new take on The Joker, one of my favourite fictional characters. Since so much of the film’s hype surrounded these two I figure I will start with them. Not only were they prominent in the marketing but they are also two of the film’s biggest highlights.

As a disclaimer, The Joker does not have that much screen time. I am not faulting the film for this since he is not a central part of the story. His screen time fits the grander narrative without overloading it. However, it appears many people felt misled by the marketing and see the short screen time as another fault of the film. A good portion of The Joker’s screen time comes from flashbacks, showing the transformation from Harleen Quinzel to Harley Quinn. These scenes are some of my favourite ones in the film. I can’t say whether I like this Joker as much as Heath Ledger’s but it is a tough comparison since I only have about twenty minutes to judge from this film. Additionally, this version of The Joker is much different.

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The tattoos and the grill aren’t explained here, but I hope they will be in future installments. Maybe there won’t be one cohesive explanation, maybe this version of The Joker is simply one that gets tattoos. While Heath Ledger’s was an anarchist who was willing to light a mountain of money on fire, this one appears to own a club as a revenue stream and a front for more illegitimate business. Brian Azzarello’s graphic novel Joker also had its main character involved in club management for revenue, so this change didn’t bother me. When it comes to this Joker’s appearance, you can either accept it or you can’t. If you can’t accept the look you’ll probably view the performance through a biased lens.

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From the limited screen time I did enjoy Leto’s take on the character. With the time we get, The Joker is more serious than some may be used to, but we have to realize that the Joker’s moments of pure insanity are best when they are balanced out with calmer ones. We get calm and we get mayhem. Deleted scenes will likely show more as well, there were about ten more minutes of Joker footage cut from the film from what I have heard.

Since The Joker’s plotline is intertwined with Harley Quinn in this film, we needed a strong Harley Quinn in order to strengthen the arc for both characters. Robbie delivered. Some people seemed worried that she didn’t have a Brooklyn accent but I can assure you she does. Also, she delivers much more than a Brooklyn accent. She is captivating, charismatic, funny while also displaying the violence and psychosis that makes her a villain. The Joker and Harley relationship has often been portrayed as one where Harley genuinely loves The Joker, while he often manipulates or abuses her. We get hints of that here and I look forward to seeing what the filmmakers do with the characters from this point on. While this film does still leave me excited for future DC films, it stands as a solo film better than the theatrical version of BatmanvSuperman does. Cameos and references to other DCEU characters are much more streamlined than some of the ones we had in BvS.

Aside from Harley, Will Smith is also great as Deadshot. People complained about a black actor getting the part, but as I’ve discussed before, people always defend whitewashing. If you don’t like white characters getting taken away, don’t just sit on the sidelines and tell me “It’s just a movie” when white actors portray minorities. Will Smith brings the same charisma and attitude from early roles like Men in Black and Independence Day, which may annoy some viewers. However, he still inhabits a new character well and doesn’t simply turn Deadshot into another role we’re used to.

Jay Hernandez is another memorable addition as El Diablo, who has one of the most interesting backstories in the film. Jai Courtney, who receives his fair share of hate online, also provides a great take on Captain Boomerang.

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Viola Davis is the reason I started watching How To Get Away With Murder and she is pretty good here as well. I loved how her character was written, embodying the Machiavellianism I remember from the Justice League television show.

Aside from these four, a lot of the other main characters are somewhat forgettable. I loved Joel Kinnaman in The Killing and House of Cards but he falls flat here for the most part. Katana is a cool character but has very little screen time. She is not a villain here, but is a bodyguard of sorts for Rick Flagg. Despite this association with the main group of the film, her and Killer Croc both have few lines. Most of their screen time comes in the final battle of the film. Speaking of Killer Croc, he was almost a caricature of a black person.

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Of course, Croc is mutated but the comics depict him as being a mutated black person. In this film we get a “black” character who calls Harley “shorty” and makes only one request from the prison guards, “BET”. Yeah, more pressing issues in the world but could not help notice.

Like X:Men Apocalypse, this film brings up the issue of how to introduce and handle multiple characters in a team film. Apocalypse struggled with developing The Four Horseman (with the exception of Magneto) and the younger versions of Jean, Jubilee and Nightcrawler. Suicide Squad struggles with Croc, Katana and its villain. Many people expected Enchantress to be the main villain. She is one of them, but there is another one introduced who is poorly developed and also sports the worst CGI in the film.

This ultimately makes the third act somewhat dull in comparison to what came before. The third act does have some highlights, mainly from El Diablo and The Joker. However, it left me underwhelmed the same way the third act in BatmanvSuperman did.

Suicide Squad also brings up the issue of forcing a film to be lighter or more “fun”. The company that edited the trailer was brought in to make the film less somber, and the film ends up bloated with songs, especially in the first hour. When I say songs I don’t just mean the score. A good chunk of the film ends up being a music video. There is a ten minute stretch where there are two different montages with two different songs. First, there is Eminem’s Without Me, and then The White Stripes’ Seven Nation Army. It honestly might have been less than ten minutes. This frequent song use continues for the most of the first half of the film, dying down to a reasonable level near the climax. It was entertaining at first, but became excessive pretty quick. My friend wondered if the film spent half its budget on song rights. I could not help but think that some scenes would have been better without music blaring over them.

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The use of purple Lamborghini was perfect though, that song is fire.

Coming from someone who loves musical interludes in films, I have to say that this work of post-production editing damaged the final product. The same thing happened with BatmanvSuperman. It seems like the studio needs to have more faith in its directors.

There is a lot to love in Suicide Squad, but also a lot that needed to be improved. Maybe I am a fanboy but I am still excited for Justice League. I only hope that it doesn’t have the same issues with post-production that BatmanvSuperman and Suicide Squad had.

100 Bullets

Hello everyone,

My latest blog post for comicommand is up on their site and it is copied below.

100 Bullets

100 Bullets

Written By Cadeem Lalor

After reading the much hyped Joker by Brian Azzarello’s much hyped Joker, I found myself somewhat disappointed by it. The concept was great and since The Joker is my favourite villain, I was happy to explore his madness more, but the ending felt incomplete and the overall story wasn’t as engaging as I hoped. 100 Bullets was highly recommended and I figured that I would give it a shot. The entire series runs for 100 issues and I purchased the first volume, which includes issues 1-19.

Now I have a better idea of why Azzarello is a revered author. The concept was what motivated me to buy the comic, revolving around separate stories where people are given an opportunity to take revenge on someone who has wronged them, armed with irrefutable evidence and a gun with 100 rounds of untraceable ammunition. This revenge is facilitated by a man known only as Agent Graves.

While the concept is interesting, the comic could easily falter with poor execution. The toughest thing to initially accept was the artwork, which I felt paled in comparison to works like The Walking Dead or Transmetropolitan. Like Joker, some panels are amazingly detailed and well-rendered. Meanwhile, several others looked poorly done. I remember that I felt the same way about the art for the first few issues of The Walking Dead, and I wondered if I might get more used to the art as the story progressed. For the most part I did, but I still feel like the artwork is one of the weaker aspects of the comic.

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Another issue that seemed to carry over from Joker is the way that minority characters are generally depicted. Most of the characters we meet in 100 Bullets are poor ones, so I initially tried to dismiss the ebonics and the stereotypes as being indicative of class, since it also crosses racial lines. However, Killer Croc (who is black) also has similar lines in Joker. Maybe we can argue Croc also grew up poor but the dialogue ends up sounding stale and forced when the writer shoehorns slang into every other sentence. One of Elmore Leonard’s rules of writing is to use regional dialects and slang sparingly, but that isn’t the case here. Series like The Walking Dead handled such dialogue better with characters like Tyrese and Axel, making it flow more smoothly.

With the negatives out of the way, I can say that Azzarello still manages to craft a great story. As the issues continue, the different storylines and characters become more connected. We learn more about Graves, his allies, his enemies and it starts to become clear that the people getting their shot at revenge are likely pawns. Since each issue generally revolves around a different character, with appearances or references by others, one of the biggest challenges is to keep each story as engaging as the previous one. Azzarello accomplishes this well, introducing our new character and their predicament quickly. The stories then snowball from there, from a case study of one person, into a larger exploration of this world. The dialogue is well written when it’s not weighed down by slang. Azzarello also allows the plot’s full details to be revealed slowly. We know who our character is and why they want revenge. Everything else, such as Grave’s goal, is only hinted at piece by piece. We get the feeling we will know all at some point, but we also know that we won’t be learning until near the end of the tale.

The series isn’t perfect and since it won an Eisner award, my expectations are high. However, I am excited to see how the story wraps up.

Travis Clevenger