Fish and Cherries Productions

Creative content from a mad mind.


Reel Snippets of 4-15-19

All right, time to tackle Shazam! for real this time. It hasn’t been long since we’ve had a DC movie, so let’s see if it triumphs like Wonder Woman or eats pavement like Suicide Squad.


Posted under Reel Snippets

Reel Snippets of 3-29-17

I know a lot of you are thinking, “why aren’t you doing Power Rangers or something else that came out this weekend?” Well, I was actually out of town with my dad for the weekend and not in a position where I could catch a movie. Family time is important, after all. So to tide you over, I thought I’d give you all something I’ve been sitting on for a while. Hopefully someday soon, I’ll be back to regular Mondays.

The LEGO Batman Movie

Posted under Reel Snippets

And here I thought DC couldn’t sink any lower…

I’m no fan of underpaying creators or throwing the ever insulting “do it for exposure and be happy” at them, but outright cheating them out of their money is completely despicable. I choose to stand by my decision to boycott DC’s comics and movies and encourage you all to do the same. Also, I will not be covering any more of their animated movies in my Reel Snippets. It may not be much of a hit to their exposure, but at least it will be a weight off my conscience. The Outhousers don’t always have the best satire, but this isn’t satire. This is a call to action, one that needs to be answered.

Creators deserve better.

YOU deserve better.

Posted under Uncategorized

Ronin Reads – Gotham City Sirens

Title: Gotham City Sirens
Authors: Paul Dini (issues 1-11); Tony Bedard (issues 12-15); Peter Calloway (issues 16-26)
Artists: Guillem March; Andres Guinaldo; Jeremy Haun; Ramon F. Bachs
Type: Comic book
Genre: Superhero

Catwoman. Harley Quinn. Poison Ivy. Three of Gotham City’s deadliest ladies find themselves living together under one roof in the wake of a new Batman and other insanity. From alien plant people forming a bond with Poison Ivy to Joker wannabes trying to kill Harley to Catwoman dealing with her insane sister, the girls deal with the madness that only Gotham can bring. The real question is what will kill them first: the city or each other?

It may not seem like it from the morose description, but this series is actually a lot of fun and a lot of this comes from our three leading ladies. The three are such potent characters that all you have to do is put them in a room together and the scene just becomes electric. They can’t really be called heroes, but they’re still likable enough to keep following. That said, toward the end of the run when Peter Calloway took over, it felt like they were bickering because the script required them to, so that was disappointing.

For the first half, at least, there’s also a huge sense of fun to it, helped in no small part by the vibrant art of Guillem March. Apart from fighting wannabe superpowers in Gotham, we get to see how they spend their holiday seasons or searching for lost dogs, a plotline that has a darkly comedic payoff, which is well worth the detour. Things can get intense, for sure, but there’s still a sense of levity through it all. When Paul Dini was replaced with Tony Bedard halfway through the run, things took a darker turn with stories involving Catwoman’s sister going on a religious rampage to free her soul from “the cat demon” by killing her and Poison Ivy being seduced/taken over by a plant alien to prepare a landing zone for his people’s upcoming invasion. That’s fine, stories can go dark and the characters are still likeable enough.

When Calloway takes over, though, the art subsequently takes a nosedive and the girls’ bickering becomes more bitter and less fun. The stories get a lot less pleasant too. We have some dire stuff about people trying to extract Batman’s secret identity from Catwoman’s mind and Harley finally making off to kill the Joker, but it’s punctuated with some unnecessary stuff about someone’s murdered infant and it draws the comic into a very bittersweet ending. It’s still good in places, but it’s like following up a juicy t-bone steak with a dessert of plain water crackers. …

So why am I bringing up a five year old comic rather than a recent Saga book or something like that? Well, this comic, like many others, was canceled in DC’s massive reboot to make way for the New 52 and I wanted to highlight something we lost then. Most of the books now are overly dark and grim and severely lacking in anything fun. Before that, you could have a wannabe Joker midget that used to run with him kidnap Harley only for her to give him a verbal dressing down. But now we have bad futures that completely invalidate everything the heroes are fighting for, comedic characters and kids killed off with abandon, limbs are mauled and removed willy-nilly, and the subjects of consent and sexual orientation are handled with as much grace as a monster truck attempting to perform Swan Lake. In short, everything feels unnaturally miserable.

Even our mighty sirens don’t get off unscathed. Harley Quinn got a revamped origin that is a carbon copy of the Joker’s and a rather atrocious redesign, along with becoming the subject of an art contest where she was depicted in a “glamorous” suicide attempt. Catwoman lost all her memories of Batman’s secret and ended her first new issue having sex with him that was initially nonconsensual. Poison Ivy… okay, she didn’t get too much of a bad rap. And yet, despite their initial rocky start, there’s a bit of the old magic shining through. Poison Ivy and Harley connected and became more anti-heroes than villains. Same with Catwoman, who joined the Justice League of America for a spell before the Trinity War story. Harley even began forming her own female crime fighting team, which seems like it could be an attempt to reboot the old team. Hopefully that will be the case in the future. I’m not positive that they will keep the light tone, but I can certainly hope. Everyone deserves a chance for a new beginning, something I learned from a little series called Gotham City Sirens.

Posted under Ronin Reads

An Open Letter to DC Entertainment

DC Comics, we need to talk.

Oh, sorry, I forgot. It’s DC Entertainment now. Hmm…

I’ve been a fan of yours for a while ever since I picked up a copy of Blackest Night #0 at Comic Con. Remember Blackest Night? You know, that big mega-crossover between all of your stories where the dead superheroes came back and started an invasion of life itself? You remember, it had brilliant writing by Geoff Johns and stunning artwork by Ivan Reis. I do. That was the moment I got into comics. After that issue, I bought every comic that was leading up to it from big crossovers like Infinite Crisis to single comic lines like Green Lantern or Teen Titans. Ever since then, I was hooked on your stories and your universe. I was even a big defender of yours when you started most of your stories from scratch in 2011 in the infamous reboot. I figured if anyone deserved the benefit of the doubt, it was you guys.

Now, in 2014, I’m starting to wonder if I was wrong.

I can’t help but notice that there are some disturbing trends cropping up around you. There was the suicide art contest that turned out very poorly for you and the infamous comic where a previously fleshed out and prevalent female character asked someone for sex just because she was bored, but I’m not here to talk about how you treat your fictional characters. I want to talk about how you treat your creators and even fans.

Let’s talk about the sheer amount of talented writers and artists who have quit or walked out from DC. George Perez, Joshua Hale Fialkov, Andy Diggle, John Rozum, all of these amazing talents have left your company, all of them citing constant micromanagement and last minute changes to their stories as creating an unbearable working condition. That’s not even getting into when Gail Simone, one of the most universally loved comic writers, got fired from Batgirl over an e-mail by an editor and got rehired twelve days later after the backlash from fans. Personally, I think that firing someone over e-mail is about as wussy as breaking up with someone via text message, so suffice to say, not your most endearing moment.

But the big one I have to mention is when Batwoman talents J.H. Williams and W. Haden Blackman left the company after a last minute change banning Batwoman from marrying her girlfriend. The reason given behind said change was that heroes shouldn’t lead happy lives, which is a baffling argument in itself. On a conceptual level, since when are marriages automatically happy? And on a reader level, why should readers care about their heroes if they know that they can never be content? And did you not realize that you would get heat from LGBTQ groups over this?

But the real crime is how this was handled on an editorial level. From what I understand, stories are planned out months, maybe even years in advance, the writers submit their story outlines to the editors, the editors write out notes and changes that they want, and then the writers are free to go from there. These last minute changes are, in a world, unprofessional and unbecoming of a company that has been around for 75 years. What exactly is your plan? What was so important about this that you had to jump in at the last minute? Because this seems like the absolute wrong way to run a work environment.

But you know what? I was going to let it be water under the bridge and move on with my life. After all, most of the stuff I’m bringing up was years ago. I should give you the benefit of the doubt and assumed you learned your lesson, no? But then, come the end of last year, I looked over some facts and discovered that in the 3+ years you’ve been doing the New 52, you have canceled no less than 61 titles. 61 titles? That’s insane! You have gotten rid of more titles than you allow yourself to run. If you do the numbers, that’s as if you canceled a title every two-and-a-half weeks. Fish and Cherries may be a very young company, but even we know that isn’t how you run things. Forget heroes always being miserable, why should readers invest in any of your books when they could be canceled after only eight issues because of some obsession with the number 52?

Maybe it’s the union worker in me talking, but I’ve seen things like this happen before at Wal-Mart, Sears, Dish Network, and countless others. If there was some sort of union in comics, do you think this sort of thing would stand? For crying out loud, this is exactly the sort of thinking that led to the incident with the Bangladesh factory. Haven’t we learned by now that when we treat our workers workers badly, everyone, including the employers, suffer for it? Famed comic writer Neil Adams told me that comic companies sometimes lose money unless they print a license that ties into a movie, but I don’t see how keeping your creators on such a tight leash is going to help you make a few extra bucks. I can also assure you: there has never been a time where mistreating the staff for profit has ever ended well for a company.

So where does that leave me, a once proud fan? Hard to say. It’s hard for me to continue to support you knowing the work conditions that you perpetuate. The big question is, since my dollars are important to you, how do you plan to keep me around and paying? What’s to stop me from, say, giving my money to small comic companies like Mark Waid’s Thrillbent, which was made after he left you guys, or other comic companies like IDW or Pantheon who both create great, forward-thinking stories? I’ve been picking up Image Comics’ stories as of late and I have to tell you, I’ve been more invested, enthralled, and challenged than I have with your books in a long while.

Brian Heinz, a video blogger known as the Last Angry Geek, accused DC Comics of not caring about what the readers want, but rather telling them what they want. And really, he has a point. Few people outside of your staff would say that they want a story with no marriage or personal connections or heroes that are constantly unhappy. So, in response to twisting your creators around, as well as firing then rehiring the most beloved woman in comics, botching an art contest in which suicide was sexualized, refusing to let dissenting bloggers interview your creators until they posted more positive things about you, and making poor marketing decision after poor marketing decision, I ask you the same question I ask myself when I think about picking up a DC book:

What’s the point?

Posted under Musings

Reel Snippet – Batman: Assault on Arkham

The following film was viewed at an official screening at San Diego Comic Con 2014 and was in no way involved with any illicit obtainment of the product.

Batman: Assault on Arkham takes place in the universe of the Batman Arkham games and has a fun premise: a group of supervillains on the government’s leash called the Suicide Squad is ordered to break into Arkham Asylum while Batman is in the peripheral focus in an Ocean’s Eleven-style heist story. Unfortunately, the movie drops the ball quite heavily, particularly when the plot gets essentially hijacked by Batman and the Joker in the second half and the characters we’ve been following have to fight for relevance. Also, the “fun” in the premise is quickly lost with all of the pointless shock deaths that occur, some of which include a rather endearing character or two, for the sake of being “serious” and “mature.” In fact, I’m not even sure whether or not one of the characters died or not. It was rather confusing. Also, I hate to beat the DC Comic and women horse even further, but dear GOD, I don’t think either of women in this movie were treated as anything other than sexual desires or counterbalances to a guy in the movie. Badass and combat capable sexual desires, but that bonus can only take you so far. There’s one scene where Killer Frost has to pass as a corpse to get into Arkham and one of the guards straight up leers at her naked body. I’m not making this up. The guy straight up leers at a CORPSE. This is not a human reaction unless the guard is a necrophiliac and if that’s the case, why would anyone, even an incompetently guarded place like Arkham, employ them in the morgue. Furthermore, the opportunity to have the numerous personalities on the squad play off each other is wasted by having the movie mostly go through action scenes constantly and having almost zero character development. There’s one entertaining quiet scene between Deadshot and Captain Boomerang near the beginning, but that chemistry doesn’t hold throughout the movie. The logic’s a bit dodgy in places too. The animation and action scenes are beautiful to look at, but that’s the standard for the DC Animated movies. There’s also no point talking about Kevin Conroy as Batman and C. C. H. Pounder as Amanda Waller, since they are rarely anything other than excellent and this was no exception, but I will say that this is where Troy Baker really shaved off the rough edges and came into his own as the Joker. Overall, though, I wouldn’t give this a glowing recommendation. The genius of Bruce Timm is well missed in these latest animated movies and the dynamic characters are all but lost amidst poor handiwork and a muddled and far too grim script. If you were looking for a fun action heist, I think this will leave you dry. But if you’re looking for a grim and serious Batman animated movie, then I would recommend putting in Batman: Under The Red Hood instead.

Posted under Reel Snippets

Ronin Reads – Green Lantern: Wrath of the First Lantern

Title: Green Lantern: The Wrath of the First Lantern
Author: Geoff Johns, Peter J. Tomasi, Tony Bedard, Peter Milligan
Type: Comic Book
Genre: Superhero, Space Opera

Summary: Let me tell you about a man named Geoff Johns.

Geoff Johns is a writer at DC Comics who is currently the Chief Creative Officer at the company. But back in 2004, he was just a writer who was brought on to the Green Lantern book to fix a horrible mistake made a decade prior. See, there was a story where the Green Lantern known as Hal Jordan was turned evil and killed off as a publicity stunt that went over horribly with the critics and the audiences. Geoff Johns was given the opportunity to fix this and he struck gold.

After his Rebirth story, he knocked it out of the park again with the Green Lantern story Sinestro Corps War and again in 2009 with the company-wide crossover Blackest Night. Now, with his final story in his run of Green Lantern, Wrath of the First Lantern, Johns has shown us that lightning can strike four times.

Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps had just defeated the Third Army, an attempt by their overseers the Guardians’ at creating a completely subservient force – but their destruction led to a reawakening of Volthoom, the first of the Lanterns under the Emotional Spectrum. Fueled by his anger at the Guardians for imprisoning him for eons, he strives to tear down everything they have built and presided over, which pretty much means all of reality.

But Volthoom doesn’t strike down his foes with swords, lasers, or armies, rather with their own inner demons, forcing them to relive painful memories and even twist them to have different outcomes that feel just as real, all the while draining their emotions to slowly become godlike. It’s up to Hal Jordan, John Stewart, Carol Ferris, Guy Gardner, Kyle Rayner, Simon Baz, and even their former foes Sinestro and Atrocitus to fight back and stop a mad god.

What people have to understand before going on is that this is actually a collection of four different comic lines tied together in the same story: Green Lantern, Green Lantern Corps, Green Lantern: New Guardians, and Red Lanterns. As such, it alternates between the titles after each issue. Unlike Rise of the Third Army, which was a far less pleasant story, this one actually makes the story seem much more grand and connects to make the narrative feel fleshed out. This is especially amazing when you consider that not a lot happens in this story, but that gives them time to give all the characters the focus they need and make their struggle truly meaningful.

Sadly, the weak link comes in the form of the Red Lanterns title. The events concerning Volthoom have to share time with a subplot involving Rankorr – the first human Red Lantern – discovering his purpose and I will freely admit, I don’t care about this character. His plight does not match the epic tone of the series or hopeful feeling at the end and feels like an unnecessary afterthought, like the writer was only half committed to the events of this title-shaking crossover. All in all, it’s a malignant tumor on what was nearly a perfect book.

Framing a good chunk of the story as a cross between a clip show and a collection of what if scenarios was a brilliant way to bring the continuity of the past ten years to the forefront to lead up to one final, gratifying hurrah. I will admit that I wish that the final epilogue of what happened to all the characters was the last thing we read in the book rather than the Red Lanterns issue, but given the way the book was structured, I understand that was impossible. While the epilogue is a feel-good masterpiece, a big part of me worries that DC will do something that contradicts it, killing or mentally scaring one of the characters to make a big story seem gritty and adult.

But what DC does in the future is not important. This is about Geoff Johns – the greatest of all the Green Lantern writers. The inspiration he left behind continues to burn bright. He was the spark that started the everlasting fire.

Posted under Ronin Reads

Reel Snippets – The LEGO Movie

The LEGO Movie took me completely by surprise and blew my socks off. By all rights, it had no right to be good, as it seemed like a complete complete cosh cow movie. But somehow, it turned out to be the one of the most imaginative and fun movies for the whole family that takes a twist into straight up meta commentary by the end. The big thing that makes the movie run so well, apart from the really fast comedy coming at you most of the time, comes from the fact that it is, in fact, a LEGO movie, thus everything is based around LEGO physics, motion, and logic. This leads to a lot of jokes and clever use of the set pieces, which I mean quite literally. Honestly, I don’t think the movie would have worked if it took itself completely seriously, but since the plot runs on complete irony, that’s not a problem. Oh, and the acting is superb too, including Charlie Day, who I never would have recognized were it not for the credits. I’m not sure if anyone who hasn’t played with LEGOs or had a kid who did so would enjoy this movie as much apart from the subtle adult jokes that would slip past the kids, but maybe they could. It’s one of the most upbeat, charming, grin-inducing movies that I’ve seen in a while and I think it deserves a watch. Go out and feel like a kid again.

Posted under Reel Snippets

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