Innocence, Charm Create Stellar Superhero Debut for Stargirl

Stargirl Pilot

DC Comics debuts a new superhero to its ever-widening stable of page-to-screen transitions, and it couldn't be a more welcome one. With the bulk of CW shows floundering with the handling of their title characters, the introduction of STARGIRL comes with a refreshing charm and innocence that makes the show not only a pleasure to watch for fans of the character, but also makes it attractive to new viewers.


Kamen America: Stars and Strife

Kamen America Digital Cover

Like Linda Low in Rodgers & Hammerstein's FLOWER DRUM SONG, young Carly Vanders enjoys being a girl in an era where girls are told they should like typical girl things anymore. That's the peek we get into her mindset during an introductory scene from her childhood, before launching straight into her adult life singing and dancing for the USO. Carly's a fashion designer who loves to make her own things, and she loves to make them feminine.


Team Stargirl Filled with JSA Legacy Characters

Stargirl 2020 on the CW

After the CW's heavily watched CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS crossover, the showrunners made a point of merging the separate universes (SUPERGIRL had existed in a parallel Earth to FLASH and ARROW, largely because she originated as a CBS show before migrating to the CW). In current canon, the characters still believe there is now only one merged universe. But the viewers realize this is not the case, as multiple Earths were shown once more at the close of the event.

One of these Earths was Earth-2, originally the home of Jesse Quick and now the setting for the new CW series, STARGIRL, starring Brec Bassinger as young Courtney Whitmore who finds herself carrying on the legacy of a Justice Society of America hero. Whether or not this opens the door to Jesse Quick (Violett Beane) or her father, Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanagh)  is anyone's guess, but we can keep our fingers crossed.


Titans a Team of Lesser Criminals in DCU Second Season

Titans Season 2

The second season of TITANS picks up with -- and rapidly resolves -- the first season cliffhanger, which saw Raven's father, Trigon, take over all the Titans and begin his slow-walk of death to the world. With Gar Logan (Ryan Potter) being the only member unaffected he gets through to Raven (Teagan Croft) who in turn reaches out to Dick Grayson (Brenton Thwaites). One by one Trigon loses his grasp on their souls, as Raven takes out her father with a mighty release of her powers. 


What if Superman Landed in Soviet Russia? Superman: Red Son Releases on Blu-ray and Digital

Superman: Red Son

The Mark Millar Elseworld's tale gets an animated adaptation as DC Entertainment releases SUPERMAN: RED SON on Blu-ray this week.

The premise of the Elseworld's graphic novels was a genius concept, wherein all the elements of an event in the DC Universe would remain fairly the same save for one change that altered the course. With SUPERMAN: RED SON, that change was a half-day; twelve hours, in which the Earth's rotation made it so that Superman's rocket did not land in a Kansas wheat field, but in a wheat field within Stalin's Russia. This gave Millar the playground to test the ages-old argument of nature versus nurture, as Kal-El is raised to support the State and believe in the ideals of communism, while still having within him the innate desire to help people.


Best Film of 2019 Awarded to Iconic Villain: Joker

Joker Critical Blast Best of 2019 Film Award

In the category of Best Film of 2019, we had, perhaps, the most competition of any other category in terms of the number of nominations each vying for the vote of our readers. But there were only three films that cracked the barrier into double-digit percentages of the prize pie.

Coming in for the third place position was the Quentin Tarantino blockbuster with Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio, ONCE UPON A TIME... IN HOLLYWOOD, and its fictionalized account of actors who fell into the orbit of Roman Polanski and Sharon Tate, just before the Manson family murders.


Hickman's House of X Delivers Best Comics Story of 2019 to Marvel

House of X Best Comic 2019

Comics fans run both hot and cold. One of our favorite activities is kvetching about how some of the big comic stories are going in odd, strange, uncomfortable, or flat-out wrong directions. But ask us what our favorites are? Well, then we'll switch gears and tell you all why those exact same stories are captivating our attention and why you should be reading them too!

And so it that we had quite a number of votes for our nominees for Best Comics Story of 2019, starting with some independent titles who made some impressive debuts, like WHITE WIDOW (Absolute Comics) and BIGFOOT BILL (Doug TenNapel).


Drawn to Success: Best Comics Artist of 2019 is Ivan Reis

Ivan Reis Superman Best Comics Artist 2019

In the five years of running the Critical Blast Best Awards, we've never sweated bullets as much as we have over this year's Best Comics Artist category. Every day we peeked in on the results, the top spot would belong to someone different, and the margins were nearly microscopic! And while there was a minor skirmish going on at the lower end of the poll between independent crowdfunding publishers Doug TenNapel and Ethan Van Sciver (who won this award for 2017), the real battle was taking place between Gary Frank (DOOMSDAY CLOCK), J. Scott Campbell (BLACK CAT) and Ivan Reis (SUPERMAN).


2019's Best Comics Writer: Scott Snyder

Scott Snyder Justice League Best Writer 2019

Looking back over 2019, there were a number of high-profile comic arcs that caught the attention of the fans. Some of those were the annual event or non-canonical runs, like Tom Taylor's DCEASED, which brought a zombie apocalypse to the DC Universe. Geoff Johns' sequel to WATCHMEN, DOOMSDAY CLOCK crossed universes to tell it's tale, while Jonathan Hickman received critical acclaim for his remastering of Marvel's mighty mutants in HOUSE OF X. 

But there were also notable runs this past year in your ongoing series that focused our eyes on the people crafting the latest twists and turns in the lives of our favorite characters. Brian Michael Bendis stunned us by having Superman reveal his identity publicly to the world, while Donny Cates and Kelly Thompson enjoyed the increased readership on their titles, VENOM and CAPTAIN MARVEL thanks to the appearance of their characters in theatrical films.


Tom Taylor's DCeased Franchise is Unkillable, Launches Sequel

DCeased Unkillables 1

Tom Taylor's DCU Zombieverse marches -- or perhaps, I should say -- shambles on with this new chapter set in the strange new world of the zombie apocalypse...with superheroes!

After Darkseid released a corrupted anti-life equation (which killed him and all of Apokolips), Cyborg became the seed for infecting the rest of the Earth when it broadcast from him to every digital device on the planet. If you looked at a screen, you saw the equation. If you saw the equation, you became a zombie...who could, of course, make other zombies by scratching, biting or otherwise enountering another human being. Or Themysciran. Or Kryptonian.


Bird Flu: Femme-Flick Box Office Latest Victim of Coronavirus

Birds of Prey Sick

It cost 84.5 million to make.

It grossed about $81 million in its opening weekend.

Which has executives at Warner Brothers scratching their heads and wondering: Why is BIRDS OF PREY AND THE FANTABULOUS EMANCIPATION OF ONE HARLEY QUINN not making money?

It couldn't be the wordy title. It couldn't be that the movie posters had all the mass appeal of a 14-year-old girl's scrapbook project inspired by Botticelli. It couldn't be that the few ads that were shown revealed the well-known intellectual property characters to be even less like their historical counterparts than any prior DC Extended Universe or televised Arrowverse character. It couldn't be that the R rating shut out a large segment of a target audience that could be remotely interested in a superhero property (if, indeed, BIRDS OF PREY was intended to be one).


With Shades of Hush, is Batman's Latest Epic Planned Too Precisely?

Batman 88 2020

Bruce Wayne's plans for the revitalization of Gotham City get put on hold when five of the deadliest contract killers show up -- among them Cheshire and Deathstroke. (Sorry, Merlyn and the other two forgettables wouldn't have made y radar as the top five DC mercenaries.) Batman quickly captures them and has them put into the "Black Box" at Gotham PD -- a special holding cell designed by Batman and paid for by Bruce Wayne (really, the detectives at GCPD must have gotten their badges in a Cracker Jack box). Yes, Batman now has a "Pipeline" similar to that in THE FLASH, and it's super duper secure, even if Batman does have his own secret built-in entrance to it.


Catching Up: The Flash Episode 610, "Marathon"

Flash 610 Marathon

Welcome back to another episode of "Iris West-Allen and her Amazing Friends." Not that The Flash (GRANT GUSTIN) doesn't make an appearance -- it's his show, titularly. Yes, if a waitress drops another tray at CC Jitters, you can bet The Flash will use his amazing speed to make sure it doesn't hit the floor. He's good for that.

"Marathon" is the first episode post-Crisis, and I end up walking away from it with several questions. I'll try to parcel them out through this recap rather than dump them all at once, tempting as it is.


Villain vs Villain as Tynion Raises Hell at DC Comics

Hell Arisen 2

The fallout from METAL continues as the evolutionarily perfected Lex Luthor serves as a John the Baptist for the goddess Perpetua, paving the way for her conquest of everything. Only one person stands in his path -- The Batman Who Laughs, the evil Joker-fied Batman from the Dark Multiverse. TBWL has spread the dark infection to six heroes, five of whom attack Luthor at his safehouse -- which turns out to be one of his employee's apartments he long ago modified without her knowledge.

Lex is not only outnumbered, but he's up against the powers of Kara Zor-El (Supergirl), King Shazam (Shazam), Deathbringer (Donna Troy), Sky Tyrant (Hawkman), and Scarab (Blue Beetle). Anyone else would give up, but Luthor -- who was already the smartest man alive before his augmentation -- has already defeated all five of them while they were posturing. It's all over except for the actual doing of it, which proves to be simplicity itself.


Female Fury: Batwoman Episode 110, "How Queer Everything Is Today!"

Batwoman 110 How Queer Everything Is Today

Throughout its freshmen season, I have defended BATWOMAN as being a good series in the face of all the criticisms that it existed only for the purpose of establishing identity politics over storytelling and plot.

This week, I was rewarded by the Batwoman writers through their decision to establish identity politics over storytelling and plot.

Batwoman has a secret identity. (Psst. Don't tell anyone. It's Kate Kane, played by RUBY ROSE.) Not that secret identities last in the CW Arrowverse. Star City was told countless times that Oliver Queen was a vigilante, and kept forgetting, and so many people know Barry Allen is The Flash that one wonders why he even bothers with a mask unless it's to avoid windburn.


The Best Fight in Comics is in Batman #86 -- And It's All Off-Panel!

Batman 86 2020

It feels like it's been forever in the offing, but BATMAN #86 is a breath of fresh air after the prolonged storyline that bogged down the title for the past few years.

With his longtime confidante and manservant, Alfred Pennyworth, having been laid to rest, Bruce Wayne decides to take on a new mission to honor his friend, a mission presented to him on many past occasions and always turned down: a Gotham that didn't need Batman. To that end, Bruce has dusted of his plans for a revamp of the city and fast-tracked them through all the zoning commissions. With construction already underway, however, there are forces out there that want to see their own plans for Gotham come to light.


Action Comics 1018 Hits Bottom and Starts Digging

Action Comics 1018

It's been a while since I've poked my head inside the Superman universe of books, and with the news surrounding the impending release of Superman's self-reveal, I thought it might be a good idea to check in on the latest installment of the Man of Steel, by way of ACTION COMICS 1018.

To say the issue was a disappointment is to do a disservice to language.

Let's start with the cover. Advertising a guest appearance by the Justice League pretty much means that, in the background, you see their bodies strewn about as they have been clobbered. But that cover blurb is perhaps the best drawn part of the book's frontispiece. The rest of it is a sketchy mess, featuring Superman front and center and some hastily doodled Justice League members in the background -- plus what looks to be a frozen or electrocuted Starman in the lower left.

That should have been my first warning to back away, slowly, and put my wallet back in my pocket.


Catching Up: The Flash Episode 608, "The Last Temptation of Barry Allen, Part 2"

Flash 608

On the eve of the impending Crisis, Central City has its darkest night. Bloodwork (SENDHIL RAMAMURTHY) is making fast work of turning the citizens into mindless zombies -- fast work because he has a fast friend: he's infected Barry Allen (GRANT GUSTIN), aka The Flash.

But all is not lost as Black Lantern Flash... I mean, Dark Flash... helps terrorize the city. Because it turns out, Barry had a plan all along. And while Bloodwork has infected Barry, Barry in turn has infected Bloodwork, able to resist some of the commands and surreptitiously get coded communications to Iris (CANDICE PATTON) and Cisco (CARLOS VALDES), clueing them into just what needs to be done to defeat Bloodwork and save the city. It all hinges on the particle accelerator -- which also figues into Bloodwork's plans for infecting the entire city at once -- and newcomer to the team, Allegra (KAYLA COMPTON) and her radio wave powers.


Catching Up: The Flash Episode 607, "The Last Temptation of Barry Allen, Part 1"

Flash 607 Last Temptation of Barry Allen Part 1

With only two days before the predicted Crisis hits (that's two weeks for us in audience land), Ralph (HARTLEY SAWYER) finds himself suddenly confronted by Ramsey Rosso (SENDHIL RAMAMURTHY), a battle that takes them diving out a window to the street below. In the ensuing struggle, Ralph becomes infected with Rosso's sentient blood. It takes some fast action -- and some speed healing in order to save his life, thanks to a blood transfusion from The Flash (GRANT GUSTIN).


It's a Duel Identity Crossover in Absolute's White Widow #3

Gabby Garcia's problems have only multiplied since her father showed up and injected her with nanites right before being killed. Now the platinum blonde science student and volleyball athlete finds that she can manifest an exoskeletal armor that can alter its appearance at will.The result is, visually, Silver Sable with a symbiote, but the story bears no such similarities.

This chapter finds Gabby trying to find out more about The Group, the agency she believes killed her father, and discovering she has more untapped abilities. But when her solo investigations run into a dead end, her friend Regina talks her into approaching the city's resident superhero, Andromeda, for help. As luck would have it, Andromeda will be appearing at a masquerade ball, to which Gabby had previously found an invitation.


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