Who Murdered Empathy?: Commanders in Crisis #2 Advanced Review

I wanted to thank my readers for your support of Stars and Monsters this year. It is now November, and despite this year being almost over, we still have a long way to go before we see real change in our world. With that said, I wanted to give a big thanks and shoutout to Steve Orlando for allowing me to write an advanced review of issue 2 of his new series from Image Comics, Commanders in Crisis.

Commanders in Crisis perfectly touches on intense themes that are timely during our very real political climate this year. Set in a universe where a diverse set of former U.S. Presidents with superpowers from other realities act as the line between patriotic heroes and vigilante outsiders, this second issue continues to touch on out-of-this-world ideas with powerful and thrilling new turns.

American Individuality – Better Than Our United States?

Mind Muggers: Stealing Our Hope 77 Years from Now

One of the things that makes this topical issue exciting for new readers is its release post-election season this year. The series delves deeper into a version of America where a politician is aiming to pass a bill for all 50 states to secede from the nation and become 50 independent nation states. Dissolving the entirety of the United States in this way is argued to allow citizens to feel safer about being considered “evil” for having other beliefs and disagreeing with others.

What I love about this narrative is it allows us to view our own world’s problems with ideological disagreements and consider whether forcing separation from those opposing of us would bring about the betterment of America. In Commanders in Crisis, the politician enacting this plan feels as though this bill of American Individuality create less opposition. Where we have failed to force Americans to be great by being the same, we will be better off by not being united.

What do you think, folks? Will that save our nation? I suppose you’ll have to pick up this issue to find out more.

God’s Quantum Eye and Rewriting Reality – Beyond Our World

Ridiculously Hot Former Presidents – Variant Cover #2

Okay, now, politics aside, Commanders in Crisis is so gosh friggin’ awesome. My absolute favorite element of this superhero series has been the grand scale of the abilities shown here; the sheer powerhouse of — with her Quantum Eye, and — using her articulate knowledge of vocabulary to rewrite reality itself allows for each issue to feel as climatic as any other comic book event series. The kicker is that Commanders in Crisis doesn’t hold back when it comes to characters utilizing their reality-bending; these characters are the main defense against threats from the entirety of the multiverse and its secrets. There’s no room for error as the stakes are big in this series. A heavy weight burdens our heroes, and seeing how much each one is capable of in these issues is more of a reason to see how the rest of this story unfolds.

Answering to the People, Not a Flag – Heroes or Menaces?

Commanders in Crisis #2 – Out Now at Image Comics!

The Commanders are some of the most interesting and impressive new heroes to strike against evil forces in comic lore in recent time. From cosmic warfare to multiversal secrets, Commanders in Crisis #2 is a must-read that should be on every comic reader’s pull list, both for die-hard comic fans and those hoping to jump into something brand new. Check out the new issue at Image Comics, currently out now!

Protecting the Multiverse Head First: Commanders in Crisis #1 Advanced Review

From Midnighter and Apollo to Wonder Woman, Steve Orlando’s upcoming new comic book series is one that pushes the boundaries of superhero stories in a fresh and exciting new way. From vampires to psychic thieves, this book throws creative new foes at this brand new superhero team. Do your favorite superheroes fight universe-ending threats during those big annual crossover events? The Crisis Command does that for breakfast.

Image’s Commanders in Crisis, written by Orlando and art by Davide Tinto, is a story that takes the expansive scale that traditional superhero comics slowly build towards, and give it all to you in Issue #1. As the mantra goes in Dan Didio’s introduction for this book, “Worlds Live, Worlds Die, and nothing will ever be the same.” Cosmic destruction is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to this ensemble of heroes, and Orlando manages to pace this book perfectly, balancing the rad action sequences with moments for each original superhero character to shine on their own.

This series debuts some of the coolest superheroes in this new epic saga. The Commanders, each with powers as diverse as the characters themselves, make up a united front that defends the world from reality-altering time travelers and blood sucking thieves. With the group’s collectively grandeur abilities like rewriting timelines and seeing the future to x-ray visions and super-strength, the Crisis Commanders are nothing short of powerhouses and strong leaders of their own worlds. It’s really fun to see the big-time heroes teaming up so early on in this big-stakes storyline. We get RIGHT to the good stuff in Commanders in Crisis.

Representation Matters

When it comes to our heroes, it’s the diversity aspect of it that sold me. Each lead is a character that comes from some marginalized community; Through representation of queer identities to BIPOC, this book becomes a lot more enjoyable for a reader like myself, because I see not just one character, but a GROUP of characters that all remind me of, well, me. As a biracial bisexual, that’s hard to say. Big props need to go to Tinto for not only helping bring Orlando’s vision to fruition, but also making everyone just so pretty. The character designs are also really cool, from Prizefighter’s stunning champion gear to Seer’s ethereal look. The art on these pages alone is enchanting enough to keep you hooked into the Commanders’ journey in this comic book.

C.I.C. #2 – Who’s Killing Reality?

Get ready for this series, folks. It’s the next big thing, but even bigger. The sheer scale of this book’s main conflict will surely excite new readers, and to back that up with an original team as fresh and unique as the Commanders, it’s gotta be the next thing you pick up. If you’re interested in getting your copy of Commanders in Crisis before the Oct. 14th launch, you may check out the order form below. Bring it to your local area comic book shop before the deadline on Sept. 21st to reserve your copy!

Artist Interview with The Artist J

Hi folks, back with another one! This week, I figured I’d share this little interview I got to have with this comic creator, The Artist J. He’s got a book out called Superhero University, and his artwork on the project, along with the other work he’s done, was just so dope, I HAD to do an interview. Hoping to put out a few more of these, and I hope y’all enjoy!

Me: “So, tell us about Superhero University and your time drawing for that comic series.”

Superhero University

J: “How I got that job is actually a really awesome story. Last year I was at a point were I was barely getting any commissions, and by barely, I mean none. I wasn’t getting any. So I went outside one night and prayed about it. I’m a Christian, and I told God that I felt like He called me to be artist, so if He had then I could really use some commissions to supply me with income. Literally the next day the author contacted me, and said he thought my art would be perfect for a big project he was doing called Superhero University. He asked me to be on board, and seeing as how God answered my prayer, I said ‘Yeah!’

His book is a 43 lesson manual on how to become a superhero. He hired me to create a comic section to go along with each lesson he wrote. The author is really cool and was super easy to work with. It was a blast because he gave me free reign! So I got to create and design all the characters, add in fight scenes (which are my specialty,) and write the comic’s story just as long as it tied into what the lessons he wrote were about. It took about 6 months to finish, and I did all the pencils, inks, colors, and lettering myself. I ended up doing a 110 comic pages I think, along with the cover and few other things. It was definitely a fun project that God used to help me out and hopefully the author and others. Since then I’ve have had constant commissions!”

The Bible Goes Hard

Me: “Where would you say your inspiration comes from?”

J: “So many different things and so many other artist! My older brother inspired me to start drawing in the first place. He would draw all the time, so I just followed his example and started drawing whenever I had the chance. Also just having a ton of stories in my head that I need to get out and put on paper so others can see them and enjoy them. Though my main inspiration to draw just comes from being able to. God has given me a talent for it and I love using it and want to do it, for His glory and to support myself financially at the same time. From there I would just say probably from watching cartoons and anime to reading comics and manga growing up is where most of the things I’m inspired to draw came from.”

Anybody Can Be Super

Me: “So would you saw your inspiration has also influenced your art style?”

J: “Well, I’ve found my own art style in mixing elements from both Western comics and anime style. My style is a unique mixture of both, and those elements were influenced by certain artists I’ve admired in comics, like Jim Lee and Joe Madureira, or a particular way that I liked how something was drawn in specific anime, like Dragon Ball Z. I was able to take those things I’ve learned by studying those artist and combine them into my own art style! I still do that, I don’t really change the general look of my art style now, but I still implement how things are drawn from other artist that I admire into my own style. There’s always room for improvement, and I’m always looking to get better!”

Spawn – Superhero for the Metal Fans

Me: “Do you have a certain creative process that you tap into to begin a project?”

J: “I’ve never been much of a planner. I’m about as laid back as they come, so my process is usually just thinking of a cool concept for a storyline or drawing, visualizing it in my head and being like “yeah, I think that would be cool. Time to make it happen!” I’m a simple guy! Haha! I do always start with a very loosely drawn rough sketch, just to get some poses down of what I thinking, and then begin drawing over that with the actual outline.”

Filling A Manga-Shaped Hole in my Heart

Me: “Laid back gets the job done, folks, y’all heard it here first! Any dream job you want to land as an artist?”

J: “I feel like most comic book artist’s dream job is usually to draw interior pages for Marvel or DC, but that’s not me. I’ve always wanted to bring out my own stories. Unless it’s drawing interior pages for one of my own comics that I’m trying to bring out, I actually prefer to do character designs and the comic covers for other people way more than drawing interior pages. So my dream job is literally to just be able to create and sell my own comics with original stories and characters I’ve made that people will love, and hopefully want to keep reading about. So I guess in short my dream job is to be a comic cover artist and to keep creating original comics of my own.”

Me: “Oh, that’s the dream, I feel that on a deep level. Here’s a heavy one; Where would you want to see comics go in the next few years in terms of direction?”

J: “Wow, that’s a tough one. Comic industry aside, all I know is the direction that I want my comics to go in. My goal is to provide good clean comics that everyone can read while still being action packed with interesting stories and characters to follow along with. My main focus has always been on the action and providing high quality fight scenes. To be honest, I’ve always been a little disappointed in Western comics fight scenes. I’ve always found them to be choppy and hard to follow exactly what’s going on. It’s more like random punch here, then random kick here in this next panel, with no cohesiveness between them. My mission is to make fights that have a fluidity to them. Like, you’re watching the fight play out on the paper as if it you were watching it animated. So that’s the direction I would like to see my comics go at least.”

Oh, how I LOVE sick action. Whether it flows well in comics, or is executed perfectly on screen for TV or film, I love a quality action sequence. Looks like J is the artist to look out for when it comes to the good stuff, am I right folks?

There you have it. A brief one, with more content coming at you soon. Just like J, I’ve got projects under wraps as well, and I’m working on getting them up in the air before announcing anything big. Thank you again, folks. Until next time, stay safe, and stay lovely.

Super-Gods, Sick Mixtapes, and a Surreal Universe: Leaders of the Free World Review (#1 – #2)

If Gods blessed you with powers, would that make you one? Or does that just place you on a tier-level below the source of your abilities? It’s okay, don’t dwell on the existential question for too long, because thankfully we’ve got the answers for you. Hi, folks, and thank you for being patient with this anticipated post (just getting back to the day job grind) and welcome to my first ever Official Stars and Monsters comic review!

I was honored to be offered an opportunity to review the comic series Leaders of the Free World by one of the creative minds behind it, Corey Pruitt (better known as Task on Twitter) and quite frankly, it might have been the one of my most exciting experiences since the initial launch of this blog. Task is not only a comic writer, but also a podcast host on Supersuit Show, but also a major source of influence in the vortex that is the comic twitter community (Spider-Man fans hate Spider-Man, it’s the truth!) Task allowed me to preview his first two issues of his series, drawn by Elijah Johnson (also known as @artbyatlas0 on Twitter), and share some of my thoughts on Leaders of the Free World #1 and #2. So without further ado, let’s jump right into it!

Leaders of the Free World #1 – “A Surreal World”

I dove right into the first issue with the same initial thought that new readers to any series worry about; “Will I be overwhelmed by the world that was built before me?” I suppose the breakdown of the Free World mythos stems from the origin of the Godsend, a group of super-powered gods who arrived to the planet, each instilling themselves in one nation, and essentially committing to their nation’s image, government policies. In return, the Godsend provided tech and knowledge to help advance the world, which inadvertently birthed a new generation of super-powered beings: the Archetypes, a less powerful group of people who created more conflict than safety in the world. After a war killed a third of the world’s population, the Godsend issued laws to limit an Archetype’s activity to only their respective country. This is the lore of Leaders of the Free World.

This series starts with an excellent brief look at the world’s history in the form of a history class, narrated by Surreal, a teenage Asian-American descendant of the an ancient god known as the Monkey King. He fits every relatable aspect of being a teen whose heritage holds more power than they realize. With great power comes great responsibility, and thankfully, we don’t have another Uncle Ben-esque character to reminds Surreal of that. Instead, he meets Eco, the Son of Gaia, who is a superstar wrestler with abilities drawn from, well, Gaia. When these two characters meet and share scenes together, there’s definitely an undeniable chemistry between the two when it comes to the hilarity in their bantering back and forth, and Eco’s unconditional support towards Surreal. The young Monkey King doesn’t know his own true worth yet, and thankfully, the powerful and wise Eco stands beside him from the very beginning, showing a kind of trust that makes me reminisce about the days when Luke Cage and Iron Fist teamed up in Marvel’s Heroes for Hire series.

“Timber”, Eco’s wrestling signature move. Also named after my dog.

As I continued through the issue, I enjoyed the spotlight on these two characters a lot, while also finding myself more enthralled by the joy in seeing Surreal’s old school hip hop playlist scattered across text-boxes in the comic. It creates an entertainingly new and fun experience in a comic book that feels as authentic as a classic comic series as you go through each panel. It was one of the things I was most excited about discussing with Task. When asked where the inspiration for this came from, Task said, “I always listen to music when I write. So I thought ‘What if each issue had its own soundtrack?’ It’s a way for the reader to see where my headspace was at during the creative process.” Nicely done, Task. We love it.

One of my other favorite story threads in this issue specifically included the introduction of Moonshine, the wildly erratic and drunken female superhero whose abilities appear to rival even Superman. It was just one of the many things I enjoyed in this first issue, and I could easily list more, but I have LOTS more to gush about!

Leaders of the Free World #2 – The Beginning’s of Freedom

Aright folks, this is my favorite issue of the two for sure! In Leaders of the Free World #2, we are introduced to my absolute pairing of characters in this set universe. Like Ying and Yang, we meet Medic and Doctor Seance. Medic is, well…if God was a woman, to put it perfectly. As an angel of war and peace, she’s a balance between life and death. In nothing but merely scrubs, she manages to kick enough ass to make Jessica Jones second guess her career as a comic book badass. Alongside her is Doctor Seance, an evil necromancer whose character visual design homages aspects of Robbie Reyes’s Ghost Rider, with a symbiotic relationship to Medic like that of Venom, and a sinister and calculating villain mind that crosses between Lex Luthor and the Batman Who Laughs. These two characters, joined together by a holy and flaming halo over Medic’s head, embark on a quest to join the other lead heroes as they prepare for a crisis of epic proportions.

This, however, prompted me to ask Task about the bonds between the various characters, like the development between Surreal and Eco, or between Medic and Doctor Seance. Task’s response was, “When I came up with the characters I had to ask myself ‘Who would get along the most? Who would hate each other?’ Surreal and Eco are both mythical beings born into a life that they never asked for. So they relate to each other the most. Medic and Seance have history that will be explored throughout the series. I don’t want to reveal everything now but let’s just say you will be surprised.”

Comics can mend ya heart, kid.

As I continued on in this issue, completely enthralled by the concept of Medic and Doctor Seance (and Surreal’s Mix scattered through this issue as well to help set the tone), we soon learn more about the hardships that some of these characters hold in their personal lives. Medic, being a superhero and all that, is still a medical doctor, and has a duty to both the world she saves and the world she inhabits. When she turns to work from battle, she unfortunately fails to save her patient’s life. She storms out, completely broken, and her coworker consoles her by stating a sad, but accurate fact of life. She says, “You can’t save everyone all the time.” When I read this comic panel, it was then that I knew this was going to continue to become a really powerful story, with a really exceptional writer behind this stunning and beautiful line work. And, just as the moment on the page was beautifully had, it was interrupted by a beautifully nostalgic shot…

*CUE FREEZE FRAME*

FREEZE FRAME!

The story returns to the initial group, with Surreal. Eco, Tech-Neek, and Moonshine briefly meeting, but it’s just as an invasion brews in the sky above them. From that, to their hilarious first encounter with Doctor Seance, we get really funny dialogue, awesome action sequences, and super dope nostalgic homages to things in nature of, say, giant mechas, or Power Rangers, or maybe even Dragon Ball Z, or just plenty of West Coast classics to keep the action seamless like a swift breeze under Surreal’s feet. Another one of my favorite shots out of this back half of this issue is most definitely Eco’s greeting to the invaders, known as the ominous Outreach. We get some top-tier Samoan representation, some more amazing character moments amidst the action, and an epic finale shot that may tease an epic clash between two of the most powerful beings on the team. Both beautiful and strong women, might I add.

One of my last questions, more of a fanboy-gushing moment, was me asking about what could be teased to other fans of this series, whether it be epic shonen-styled fight scenes between certain highly powerful characters, or the brief tease of the mysterious Mr. Excellent. Task answered with, “I’m trying to make this world seem as big and alive that I can. And that there’s more going on than what is happening in the books. Mr. Excellent’s story will lead to another story arch that I am excited to share. And it’s funny how you brought up the fights with Lunar because let’s just say she’s not entirely sold on the idea of this team up yet. Where she comes from she reigns over these beings, not collaborate with them. Issue 3 is on the way folks. Stay tuned.”

Well done, Free World. You have a special place in my love for comics now, and I cannot wait to see what an amazing franchise this becomes soon.

A Cybrogi. That’s it. ‘Nuff Said.

No weekly plugs this week, folks. Not like I usually do, I mean. No, all I want to suggest to my readers is to check out this new comic book ASAP. This is seriously one of the most enjoyable comic reads I’ve had in a very long time, for sure. It’s pretty amazing, and the series is available on Comixology right now, or, if you’d like, you can follow the writer @uptotask, or the artist @artbyatlas0 on Twitter.

Keep Your Eyes Peeled for Leaders of the Free World #3!

Switchin’ up my outro like I usually do too, folks. This time, I’m quoting Gamer Presidential Candidate, Mr. Ace Watkins.

*ahem*

Not solo; squad.

Harley Quinn: Chaotic S-Tier Heroine

Hi there, folks. I’ve got another one for you, and this one is all of the fanboys. That’s right; I’m calling on all DC comic, movie, and television fans, because I’m about to gush about the DC comics breakout star, Harley Quinn. Whether you’re familiar or not, Harley Quinn was famously known for her debut in Batman: the Animated Series, where she started off as the psychiatrist-turned-villain who teamed up with Joker who commit crime in Gotham, yada yada yada. Since then, the character has evolved beyond that, by standing out as own character outside of that shadow, and became one of the most fun and bad ass characters since Deadpool (a shout-out for any Marvel fans).

The character has been sweeping her way across all DC content this past year. She debuted in mainstream media and theaters this year with Margot Robbie as the titular character in Cathy Yan’s film Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey (don’t worry about the really long name they gave it at first). Harley Quinn also stars in the self-titled animated series that launched on the DC Universe streaming service. Both of which were so successful, that Warner Bros. already green lit a sequel for the film, and the animated series received a second season only a month or two after the first season aired. Harley Quinn’s animated series is already being brought to the Syfy network, and the film has already been released for video on demand, and both were highly praised by critics and fans. If we’re being quite honest, the only people who didn’t enjoy either iterations are the fans who view Harley Quinn’s character arc as SJW propaganda. That being said, I am not here to discuss that flawed logic, because even from an objective standpoint, Harley Quinn, film or television iteration, is a character that kicks ass in every aspect.

Many Sides to Harleen Quinzel

In the 2020 film Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey, we see Harley Quinn at a very interesting point in her character’s development. Margot Robbie plays the character in a point in her life in which she has left her psychology practice, became a part of Batman’s rogue gallery alongside Joker, was placed in a government sanctioned task force for expendable criminals, and finally gained her freedom in all sense of the word. As she descended into a downward spiral of insanity, the Joker took advantage of her devotion and love for him (granted, a delusional love, maybe even a distortion of Stockholm syndrome) and abused her physically, emotionally, and mentally, all for the sake of having another clown-themed lackey by his side. Even in the animated series that ran during the 90’s, we see examples of that abuse, despite the context shifted towards a younger audience; the abuse is apparent. The 2020 film shows the long-term effects of that abuse, after she finally breaks up with the Joker and embarks on her own solo journey.

Her True Origin Was Never at Ace Chemicals

In this live action iteration, she begins to learn what it’s like to step out of one’s shadow, and discover her own potential, from picking up roller-derby, getting her own cozy apartment in Chinatown, and exorcising her inner demons and tackling her trauma head-first by blowing up Ace Chemicals, where her ex bathed her in the acid that made them the way they are today. You know, typical post-breakup stuff. Of course, the film follows some other story threads, introduces the characters that would soon form the female-heroine group known as the Birds of Prey, and pits Harley against the infamous Black Mask (played by Ewan McGregor, for any Star Wars prequel trilogy fans). This film showcases exactly why Harley deserves to stand out on her own, way beyond being Joker’s sidekick, and way beyond being a part of the Suicide Squad. Hell, she received her own comic book series at DC more than a handful of times. She not only single handedly unites a cop, an assassin, a meta-human enforcer, and a thief together as a team in the film, but she also takes down the most terrifying and unhinged crime boss. Harley Quinn is a character whose origin was never based on the acid bath, or even her meeting, treating, and falling in love with Joker; her origin was always her earning her freedom. From Joker, from the law, from the crime world, and from the rest of the misogynist men who claim to own her.

“Because I’m Harley F*ckin’ Quinn!”

A true queen in every right. Margot Robbie reminded me why a character as chaotic and daring as Harley Quinn always deserved more exposure. Thankfully, after the success of her role in the movie industry, DC decided to push forward with an animated iteration of Harley Quinn in her own series on the DC Universe streaming service. With the humor and fourth wall breaks that make any Rick and Morty fan cackle in laughter, this version of the character not only highlights the character’s best traits, but justifies why she should’ve had her own series long ago.

Heads Up, Chaotic Clown Babe Comin’ Your Way!

This animated series takes a vastly similar approach when it comes to developing Harley’s character. It starts her off as Joker’s “partner” (I use that term lightly, seeing as they were never equals), committing crimes and fighting Batman in the name of love for Joker, only to find herself locked up in prison for a year, awaiting her clown prince’s rescue, which never happens. Instead, her best friend and one of Gotham City’s Sirens, Poison Ivy, breaks Harley out of jail. However, with any person in any toxic relationship, Harley goes right back to joker, to find herself making the same mistake she’s made over and over. After all, isn’t insanity just repeating the same thing, expecting a different end result each time? I’m sure Harley could tell you, since she’s got a degree in psychology anyway.

“Mistakes Were Made, but We Love You Anyway.”

Despite all of that, she eventually learns the same lesson that Margot Robbie’s Harley learns, in that with self-actualization of her own self-worth and potential, she can become her own top-tier villain in the DC Universe (for evidence, check out Sam Humphries Harley Quinn #45 from 2018, where she takes on Darkseid, the literal DC version of Marvel’s Thanos). She decides to break up with the Joker in an appropriate slaughtering of his clown goons, and teams up with her closest ally Poison Ivy, alongside Clayface, King Shark, and other goofball DC rogues. She grows, she evolves, and she continuously kicks ass in the show, embarks on the craziest set of journeys (more than was possible in the realistically grounded Birds of Prey film), and manages to earn her own freedom and respect as her own villain, or even anti-hero, the same way Robbie’s portrayal did. With the same support that the live action iteration found strength in allies and friends, the animated series shows Harley at her strongest when she has people she loves, and who love her too, backing her up.

This is What We Call “Growth.

So for anyone who believes Harley Quinn is just a character pushing some sort of feminist agenda, or can’t stand the sight of a Harley Quinn that isn’t sexualized by James Gunn or something, they are wildly misguided, and quite frankly, missing out on a hell of a fun time. Cathy Yan’s Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey shows the character’s independence from the Joker, and from outdated source material, to bring a fierce and gratuitously violent heroine to the big screens and mainstream media, for fans of action movies, comic films, or maybe just really tough and strong women. In the same way, DC Universe’s Harley Quinn series shows us a similar development of her character’s arc, while also providing genuine laughter and humor, proving that raunchy and adult humor is just as good, if not better, than other adult animated shows. Both at least deserve to be on your radar. I said 2020 would be an artistic renaissance, and this is just one of many examples of that truth.

Share This If You Stan Bisexual Villains, because I know I Do!

Thank you for coming to my Ted Talk, folks. Hope y’all enjoyed this piece. If anyone would like to spread some love to other artists and creators, I encourage y’all to check out a good from of mine who is making her own clothing, done entirely with crochet! Check out @beas_artesania on Instagram. Products are being hand-crafted as we speak, so if you’re interested, place your orders soon! If you’re in the Texas area, and you’re having your seasonal withdrawals from not seeing the Gypsy Dance Theater girls belly dance over at the Texas Renaissance Festival, then feel free to follow those lovely ladies on Instagram as well, over at @gypsydancetheatre. And, lastly, if you’d like to support your fellow freelance writer, and are unsure how to go about that, then I’d like to humbly welcome donations over at PayPal, which aren’t required whatsoever, but would drastically help improve the quality of the content I’m working to start up and create, from digital comics to an animated series, and of course, help keep this blog alive. Thanks again, readers. Much love comin’ your way. ✨🙏🏽💫

Another “May the Fourth Be With You” Post

Hello, America! Trying out new greetings during this time, and I admittedly also have reruns of the Bernie Mac show on in the background, so I choose to believe my intro is just me channeling the Return of the Mac (cue comedy rim-shot! *ba-dum-tst*🥴). Today also marks the first day of me officially launching this blog post on my site as a freelancer! So, we’re off to a great start this month as well. Taxes got filed, papers got processed, and the oil in the weird little machine mandating both resistance and compliance is, ya know, running. But it’s time we take another break from the heaviness and denseness, America, because today is a holiday. It’s Star Wars Day!

That’s right, folks, this is for all of the Jedi Padawans, Jedi Masters, or even the few Sith Lords who are “just misunderstood” (looking at y’all, Reylo shippers 🙄). Today, we are observing the impact of a franchise that started off as a sci-fi flick that even George Lucas himself expected to fail. Star Wars, starring Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, and the late Carrie Fisher, was meant to be a one and done deal for Lucas, but fans were enthralled by world that had been built, the conflict that had been struck, and the battles won by the mystic monk-like space wizards known as the Jedi.

Now, I’m an avid sci-fi fan and casual Star Wars fan. I loved the original trilogy, mildly enjoyed the prequel trilogy, and I genuinely liked the sequel trilogy up until everyone became divided over the last film in the saga. At that point, I just didn’t bother watching it, and I had already been spoiled on the ending, and I truly am just impartial to it. In the words of the Han Solo himself-

May the Fourth Be With You, from Harrison Ford and I.

That being said, there is something I would love to highlight and talk about today, on this gloriously wonderful Star Wars Day. Whether or not you were a fan of the films, the extended universe created in novels and comics, or the amazing television shows, one thing fans could agree on is that Star Wars was always strongest when its driving force was family. Luke Skywalker was only able to become a fully powered Jedi, and go on the galactic journey that he did because of his friends and family. They were his support system, so to speak. Han was the strong, yet cynical friend who believed in Luke more than the Force itself. Leia was, well, his long-lost sister who’s Force-sensitivity helped guide the Rebels and the Resistance in the war against the Dark Side. Then you’ve got RD-D2 and C-3PO. They’re just two little robots that, in my head-canon, are in romantic relationship. Star Wars is a love story between these two droids and nobody can tell me otherwise.

Anyway, I digress; Star Wars is a series centered around families that support each other, and as the story branches out, we see how love and kindness, or rather lack of it, can shift an entire dynamic between a mentor and his pupil, like Obi-Wan and Anakin. All Little Ani needed was practice more unconditional love, and he wouldn’t have become the space nazi dark lord that he was, right? Or perhaps we see it in the lack of compassion that his Anakin’s son, Luke, showed for Ben Solo, aka, Kylo Ren of the Knights of Ren and the space neo-nazi dark lord. As the story shows the heroes prevailing on the side of the Jedi and the Force, those who were corrupted by greed, anger, and power, were victims of inherited trauma, essentially. Anakin is shown rejecting unconditional love and kindness in his hear, but finally opens his heart to compassion when he dies in the arms of his son. Fast forward chronologically in the Skywalker Saga, and that very same son, Luke, is now rejecting unconditional love and kindness to Anakin’s grandson, Kylo, who essentially channels the same anger and thirst for power that his grandfather fell victim to. Luke doesn’t find that unconditional love until he meets Rey, the new hero in this story. She also ends up saving Kylo’s soul the same way Luke did for his father, sort of breaking a chain or a cycle in the Skywalker lineage.

But you already knew all of that, didn’t you? Yeah, unless you’re a nerd like me, then this might’ve been a hell of a lot to digest. Fear not though, because this May the 4th can still teach everyone one thing; use the Force! Channel the Force, and reject anger, and greed, and power. Instead, open your heart up to love the same way Jedi open their heart up to the Force, and perhaps then you will find your support system as well.

The Sickest Fight in the Entire Saga. Period.

Anyway, that’s all I’ve got for y’all today, folks. I’m using the theme of family to work on my upcoming story, The Dark Within Us, and in the meantime, I hope everybody enjoys whatever Star Wars fun y’all are having today. May the Fourth Be With You! 💫 Be safe, and stay lovely, folks. Until next time. Peace.✌🏽

“Stars and Monsters: Tales” Announcement

Hiya, folks! I’m finally back! I wanted to post an update about some things on this blog, with how I’m going to organize things here and how regularly I’m going to post. I only realized I needed to do this because I had two weeks where I had started posts for Stars and Monsters, one Arrow related and one Bojack Horseman related, and failed to finish either, and have spent what free time I do have working on these projects that I’ve hardly mentioned. That being said, this post will also address what these projects exactly are and such!

In regards to the weekly post format, I may have to just start posting whenever I’m available instead. I found myself struggling to meet my “post-every-Wednesday” schedule and end up posting, you know, weeks later or something. Also, I don’t always post on Wednesdays either, so posts will just start coming periodically. And with that, I want to share what has been keeping me busy these past few weeks!

The Dark Within Us is my upcoming fantasy sci-fi story on Wattpad. It follows 17 year old Ronnie Reid, a kid from Chaseville, California, as he joins a band of monster slayers on a journey through a hidden dark world. It’s sort of going to be like a novella, one that touches on what it means to find a family, and to discover the truth about your life for the first time ever. This is going to be the first part of a trilogy that follows Ronnie and the rest of his family as they encounter entities of darkness and evil in the world. So far, part one of this trilogy is in its early stages of development, with a prologue available to read on Wattpad for free right now!

Beat Inside My Soul is an upcoming sci-fi animated series that follows a group of teenage ravers who gain the ability to weaponize sound from a new deadly party drug. The teens, led by by thriving DJ Simon Bates, unite their abilities and efforts to stop a drug epidemic. With the story in the final stages of development and in the early draftings of the screenwriting process, I am also reaching out to animation designers, musicians, dancers, and other artists to help develop visuals for the animated series. My hope is to have a finished script for the pilot pitched to animation studios or streaming services like Netflix.

“Anomaly” is an upcoming sci-fi superhero comic series that follows Seth Gibson, along with his best friend Jordan, and his little sister Reina, as he learns to harness his newly discovered ghost-like abilities, and fights to take down a local street gang called Erebus and their leader, Adonis. This crime action series touches upon trauma, sexuality, addiction, and other themes. Once I’ve secured artists to work on at least the first comic issue, I hope to pitch the series to some comic book publishing company, or perhaps just post online as a web comic, maybe on Webtoons.

These stories all take place in different points in time, with The Dark Within Us having early 2000s setting, Beat Inside My Soul taking place in the 2010 era, and Anomaly taking place in the 2020s. At some point, these stories will address their connections with one another.

With these projects being lined up, along with this blog, I’m going to start posting updates on each of these stories through this blog, with the occasional fanboy posts about other stuff being released! One that I’m excited to write about is Harley Quinn – both the new movie AND her animated series in DC Universe. We’ll also talk about other stuff, other music, shows, and Doctor Who too! OH GOSH Doctor Who is so good right now.

Anyway, out of the two projects, I do have one chapter up for The Dark Within Us and a link to music for Beat Inside My Soul, which also just features my music made under SyckBeat. There is one song, a mashup, made for the animated series posted on there as well, so check that out! Will post again soon when I can. Thank you, everyone, for keeping up with my erradict posts and all that jazz! Stay amazing, folks! ✨

Fanboy Hour – A Look Back At the Pre-Crisis Multiverse

At the time of this posting, we will be pretty much one week away from the start of the Crisis of Infinite Earths crossover event on the CW network. We’ve got crossovers with the main Arrowverse shows that debuted here; we’ve got Arrow, The FlashSupergirl, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, and the newest edition in the lineup, Batwoman. Aside from those five series, we’ve got a tie-in with characters from Black Lightning, along with cameos from other DC tv show properties like Smallville, Birds of Prey, The Flash from the 1990’s, and even big characters debuting, like Kevin Conroy as Batman from the Kingdom Come comic series, Brandon Routh as Superman from his 2006 film (which is also canonically Christopher Reeve’s Superman character and Kingdom Come Superman), with other appearances rumored for the crossover. Some of those names include Lynda Carter and Burt Ward in an undisclosed role, and others that I can’t keep up with because this event is HUGE!

I’ve got my theories and speculations about what we’ll see out of the crossover, and as much as I’d love to go on about those thoughts, that’s not what I’m going to do with this post. That being said, I did make a bingo card in preparation for Crisis with all of my major theories used as the spots. It’s posted on my Tumblr, and y’all can check it out here!

Now, without further ado, let’s get caught up on these shows and see where we’re going from here on out! SPOILERS follow!

We’re, uh, actually skipping  DC’s Legends of Tomorrow. It premieres after Crisis, so…

“Better, Gayer and Edgier Than Batman”

Let’s start with Batwoman! It debuted this year, which I was mega excited for because IT WAS SO DOPE TO GET THE TEASE FROM THE ELSEWORLDS CROSSOVER OMFG! There was a lot of backlash for Ruby Rose being cast as, like, the one lesbian in Hollywood, which I would’ve been more upset about if I hadn’t seen her kick ass in John Wick. My biggest thing when it comes to action series is having the actors and actresses be bold enough to pull off the stunts on their own without stunt doubles. Not that it’s bad to use doubles, but I’m just more impressed as shows having their own actors do stunts. That being said, the stunts on this show aren’t the most exciting, but it’s a good thing the show has been making up for it with Rose just KILLING it as Kate Kane. I had skepticisms about the villain, but Alice proved to be a really good arch enemy for Batwoman, so I’m down with it. The will-they-won’t-they between Kate and her ex is okay, but like, I’m waiting to get past that and for Kate to find real potential love next season or something. The writing has been really good with Caroline Dries from The Vampire Diaries working on the series. We’ve got a good Batwoman adaptation, solid drama, and so much queer representation to make my recently out-of-the-closet queer heart melt. Love the series. Can’t wait for post-Crisis Batwoman to do some gnarly things and expand on their lineup. I’d love to see Red Hood, Orphan, or even Bluebird show up. Not much else to say, considering this series JUST debuted with its first season. The other shows have a LOT more to go through.

“PANTS!”

Let’s go to Supergirl, now! We’re five seasons in, having reached episode 5×08, right before Part 1 of the Crisis starts. At this point, we went from an entirely different network version of the show, having started on NBC, with massively different set pieces, cast and crew, and writers doing different things. The show moving to the CW left us with a loss of, who I thought was a dope villain, Maxwell Lord, along with gorgeous characters like Lucy Lane, and the enigmatic Cat Grant. In that move, we did happen to gain OTHER set pieces, new cast and crew, and, like, OTHER writers. From the purest origin story we could get for Kara, to the cutest queer coming out arc for Alex, to gaining the Legion of Super-Heroes (I would’ve loved, like, Lightnig Lad and Timberwolf and Triplet, but…we got Brainiac 5 and Saturn-Girl, so we’ll take the dub where we can). Villains like Manchester Black, Reign, and Lex Luthor came around, and then we’ve got MY personal favorites, Lena Luthor and Nia Nall. 

Out of all of the arcs we’ve gotten during these seasons, I’d have to say season four was my favorite. We didn’t have Mon-El being trash (yeah, I didn’t like him at all), we got our lovely trans representation debut in Nia, who was the purest little bean of a character when she debuted, to someone who has kicked ass alongside our heroes, but for some reason has been a little absent in our most recent episode, and I really don’t remember why. The storyline between Kara and Lena really got amped up after season four, going from acquaintances to best friends to PRACTICALLY GIRLFRIENDS, to this seemingly broken relationship. This is the one thing that keeps drawing me back to the show, and I would love to keep them at the core. Manhunter stays being a cool father figure, but Martian Manhunter’s storylines are less exciting now that he’s been focused on this random brother that Monitor brought back. With that arc coming to a close, we can prepare for Supergirl’s involvement in Crisis, bringing in Superman and Lois Lane, along with their baby AND LEX LUTHOR AGAIN! Can’t wait for where the show goes post-Crisis. I don’t know if they’ll continue this Leviathan arc, which aired around the time that Event Leviathan was being released by DC. It was a conspiracy espionage with a masked villain who was taking down the government to basically build a new world order, because according to Leviathan, everyone else has been saving the world wrong. I was expecting season five’s arc to go down that route, but it’s been…NOT that. We got an Earth Bender from Avatar trying to kill Supergirl, and it’s been okay, but I’m hoping that isn’t the villain post-Crisis. Hopefully we’ll drop the queerbaiting subtext between Kara and Lena, and just LET OUR BABIES BE HAPPY. That’s all I want, is for the two of them to be happy.

Image result for the flash season 6 poster

“Season 6 of ‘Monster of the Week’ ft. Preparations for Crisis”

We are six seasons in for The Flash, caught up on 6×08 right before Crisis, and we’ve gone FAR! I’m talking naive little me watching Arrow’s second season and thinking, “gee, Barry Allen might be a side character on Arrow’s next season” to the first Arrowverse spin-off debuting and teasing Crisis on its premiere. From that point, we got one of the best first seasons of an Arrowverse show, with Reverse-Flash posing as one of the dopest villains on the show, with season two pushing epic boundaries with the Multiverse being introduced. Season three debuted Flashpoint, one of the things I was most hype about, but it being an episode long was the biggest buzzkill. It was a little too dark and depressing, so it’s sort of part of this repressed part of my mind. Season four was when they said, “gee, let’s get funny again,” and became borderline tacky in some instances. Ralph Dibny, the funnier guy, debuted at this point, and the tone of the series shifted dramatically. The villains, in all honesty, started absolutely sucking from this point onward.

The show kept its “Monster of the Week” formula intact, but with its villains no longer being speedsters, after everyone got annoyed with season three’s Savitar disaster. We had an uber-smart handicapped technophobe, an awfully voiced and unthreatening meta-serial killer (and his future niece or whatever, which nobody cared for), and this season’s villain. Now, what I love about the recent seasons is that they took more liberty pulling from the Rebirth canon, similarly to Supergirl pulling from Event Leviathan. We had Godspeed make an appearance (although it was definitely way more lackluster than it should’ve been), and Bloodwork show up as this season’s main villain. I’ll be honest, his gimmick makes sense, being a villain who offers immortality to Barry to help survive Crisis. It would’ve made sense for last season’s Cicada to be immortal, but what do I know? That being said, Bloodwork’s thing was basically just spreading a bad zombie infection. Like it wasn’t all that complicated, but it wasn’t interesting at all. Barry has a mind trip when he’s infected, and with Dark Flash showing up, it was just gunk in his mouth. Like, I really wanted to like this villain, and this whole season, but it was mostly just “fight a villain while we think about Crisis” but not really do anything about Crisis. I guess that’s the point though, with Barry having to accept his fate of dying in Crisis. I really hope that we don’t see Bloodwork past the first half of this season. I say “first half,” because once Crisis is done, I’m expecting a major shift in everything going on throughout a majority of the shows, especially with The Flash. It’ll be the first time we see a future past the looming headline that’s been haunting Barry since the premiere, and hopefully cool things in terms of structure will go down. 

“Every Mission Has An End”

That leaves us with Arrow. The Big Papa of the Arrowverse, having just aired 8×07. Each episode this last season was meant to be an homage to the series as a whole, with each episode being reminiscent of its corresponding season. We got through seven episodes, seven seasons, of the best and worst of the Arrowverse, from seasons one and two being Arrow’s peak, with it dying down during season three and four, and the remainder of the series having both highs and lows. Season five ended the five-year story of Olive being on the island and becoming the Arrow, only for those flashbacks to become super convoluted, so, you know, whatever. After that, season six became a lot more grounded and ended with a big gamechanger: Oliver outing himself as the Green Arrow. Season seven led to a dope prison arc, with more Rebirth villains coming in, like the Ninth Circle, and the Longbow Hunters debuting Silencer.

Again, highs and lows. Ricardo Diaz was, like, cool for being the first villain to survive a season and continue being a villain, but he got old really quick. Emiko Queen was also really dope, but her whole “villain-or-hero” thing was just as annoying as it was with Laurel from Earth-2. Yeah, Earth-2 Laurel’s “villain-or-hero” thing was ALSO one of the major lows of the show. It lasted, like, three seasons? I don’t know. Hated it. Hated Lance’s off-screen death, Ragman disappearing, Felicity growing from adorable to annoying, and blue balls (or, green balls) with all of the Green Lantern references for Diggle. But we got highs, like the 150th episode of Arrow being a really dope documentary styled episode, the flash forwards giving us baby Mia and William being the best siblings ever, and more ROY HARPER, the love of my life! I’ll admit, this last episode really chopped his arm off, which hurt SO much, but like, Roy has always been written as the DC character to be hurt the most, next to Wally (who is annoyingly absent from The Flash right now. We got Roy back before Crisis, why couldn’t we get Wally? Shame the writers don’t know what to do with him). Anyway, we had a very good run anyway. Stephen Amell killed it as Oliver Queen this season, with the entirety of the season being a big buildup for Crisis, while it also sort of being Oliver’s internal battle with himself, as he was sort of in denial about dying. We got fan favorites that came back for the final season, from the Merlyns to Moira and Thea, Adrian Chase and the OG Deathstroke (no Nyssa or Ragman or Artemis, also mad about those). But in terms of the final season wrapping things up, it did so in a way that made it feel like an entirely new show, both fresh and familiar for Arrow fans. It’s been great, honestly. Loved it.

And with that, you have caught yourselves up on the Arrowverse with me, and are a week away from witnessing one of the biggest events to happen with DC. I’m talking altering the canon of not ONLY the CW shows, but shows and films and canons that have been around for decades and have just now debuted. We are IN FOR A REAL TREAT, FOLKS! Get ready.

Stay Lovely – ya boy

A Blog by Sameer Diab

Hey there! It’s like the blog says. My name is Sameer Diab, and if you stumbled across this page, you’ll see what I’m all about. I’m a freelance writer and musician. I’ve been making content for almost ten years, but after all this time, I have finally gotten around to placing all of my original content in one place. All of my writing, both fictional and fan-fictional (some of you will eat that up), and all of my music, both original tracks and bootleg remixes, will be found here on this site. On this blog, I’ll be posting my creative content, but old and new, and also cover new shows, movies, books, and a whole lot of good stuff. Stay tuned!

Stay Lovely – ya boy