Andrés – Humble Artist by Day, Super Rock Superstar by Night

Heroes, Villains, and all that Jazz – Andrés

When you think of rock, who comes to mind? When you’re browsing through Spotify, or Apple Music, who comes up in your shuffle rotation? Forget your mainstream artists who release the same music and perform at those annual cringe-fests; you need some flavor in your life. You need a little funk, a little jazz, and a charming rock star to swoon over. Ladies and Gentlemen, allow me to introduce y’all to Andrés Aparicio.

My first exposure to Andrés began sometime last year, and the more I listened to his music, I could tell that Andrés was gonna be a rad up-and-coming artist. Once I managed to reach out to Andrés, I realized how much of a super down to earth guy he is, and with his sense of taste and style, I knew I’d love to ask him a few questions about his work.

Last year proved to be massively difficult for a lot of people, and it definitely took a toll on musicians who lost world tours, or performances at music festivals. I asked Andrés how last year went for him personally and as an artist. Andrés said, “Honestly, it was a breath of fresh air. I was stoked that I had plenty of time to write a new album!” Writing a new album is impressive, but that isn’t all that Andrés has been up to. Since 2020, Andrés has also managed to put out new original music, new merch (facemasks included), held some socially distanced performances, and even conducted his own Q&A session live on Instagram! Andrés managed to make the most of the year, as the chaotic year was a blessing in disguise in some ways. “To be completely honest, I’m very grateful for the break,” Andrés said. “I just want to use it as a time to write and record a new album and take the time to make new music videos.”

High School – Andrés

When it comes to music videos, Andrés has the most fun with it. A lot of his music videos are references to cool media from pop culture, like where Andrés dresses up as Archie Andrew and brings the whole gang from Riverdale to the movies in his music video for High School. He does another where his friends jam in a car in a That’s 70s Show style of fashion for his Bad Boy music video. His videos are fun, and you can tell the man has fun putting out content like this for his fans, both for the die-hard fans of his music and fans of the shows he dresses up for!

Archie and Fez aside, his alter egos aren’t the only things that make his music stand out. It really means something to me when another Latinx artist manages to delve into the rock music genre, and really rock at it. It’s more than inspiring; it really brings me hope for what music will be like for young kids that come from Latin heritage. I asked Andrés what it was like to sort of create a barrier-less genre and collaborate with former lead singer of the rock band Dance Gavin Dance not once, but twice.

“I just kept working hard at my own music, and eventually I gained the interest of a few fellow peers,” Andrés said. “Ultimately, it’s always been a process of working hard and putting out music that you’re proud of and working hard to promote it via shows, tours, videos, and the internet.”

Bad Boy – Andrés
New 52’s Teen Titans – Superboy, Wonder Girl, and Robin

After getting to listen to more and more of his music, I found myself jamming to his album Heroes, Villains, and all that Jazz the most. I wondered a few things; firstly, how fun would it be to wear a spandex supersuit for an album photoshoot? Secondly, how BIG of a superhero fan is Andrés?

I asked the hard questions; pulled zero punches. I asked what superhero team he’d prefer to have travel alongside him in a tour bus as a security team (hypothetically, you know, post-pandemic). His response?

“Man…Teen Titans all day. But, more importantly…Tim Drake as Red Robin, Cassie as Wonder Girl, and Conner Kent as Superboy. Those Teen Titans.” Andrés is a DC fan! That’s rad! “I’m a huge DC fan. Shit, Red Hood, Starfire, and Arsenal, that would be tight too.”

Hell yeah, it would! I also managed to ask Andrés if there are any upcoming projects or music that he’d be willing to tease. Turns out, he had something! That’s right, an exclusive here at Stars and Monsters! “I plan on releasing a new album this year! The DIY Astronaut!”

There you have it folks! Stay tuned for the new album by Andrés, The DIY Astronaut, and in the meantime, check out his music and merch here.

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!

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. ✨🙏🏽💫

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