Critical Hits & Misses #231

For today's musical hit, check out this Epic Disney Villains Medley from Peter Hollens.

Today's critical rolls: If you woke up tomorrow as a Disney villain, who would you be and why?

Critical Writ has a super-duper strict comment policy that specifies a single rule above all others: we reserve the right to ban you for being a terribad citizen of the internet.

Critical Hits & Misses #230

For today's musical hit, we have the official Hamilton version of "Immigrants: (We Get The Job Done)"

Today's critical rolls: Have you ever encountered sexism or racism (or some sort of prejudice) in the workplace? Whether it's happened to you or someone you know, if you're comfortable, let us know the story and what it was like.

Critical Writ has a super-duper strict comment policy that specifies a single rule above all others: we reserve the right to ban you for being a terribad citizen of the internet.

Critical Hits & Misses #229

For today's musical hit, we have Kendrick Lamar and "ELEMENT."

Today's critical rolls: have you ever had to deal with some form of prejudice (sexism, racism, religion, orientation, etc)? If you're comfortable doing so, share about those experiences and how it was resolved... or how you wish it had been resolved.

Critical Writ has a super-duper strict comment policy that specifies a single rule above all others: we reserve the right to ban you for being a terribad citizen of the internet.

Critical Hits & Misses #228

For today's musical hit, we have Chance the Rapper and "Same Drugs"

Today's critical rolls: Who are some of your favorite women characters from video games? Tell us who and why!

Critical Writ has a super-duper strict comment policy that specifies a single rule above all others: we reserve the right to ban you for being a terribad citizen of the internet.

Critical Hits & Misses #227

A cast that looks like this can make Hollywood some serious money, if they can just wake up...

For today's musical hit, we have Trina and "If It Ain't Me"

Today's critical rolls: What was your weekend like? Do anything fun? Or was it too hot to do anything but stay inside? Let us know!

Critical Writ has a super-duper strict comment policy that specifies a single rule above all others: we reserve the right to ban you for being a terribad citizen of the internet.

Martian Manhunter/Marvin The Martian Review: Isn't That Lovely?

In the realm of Looney Tune antagonists, Marvin the Martian is something of an odd duck. While all of the other foes that Bugs Bunny has faced are fairly harmless, he's one of the only ones that can actually be considered a credible threat. Let's be honest, Elmer Fudd is a perpetually-clueless dope, and he's not even good at that. At times, you almost feel sorry for him. Yosemite Sam has more weapons and confidence, but he's easily tricked and almost all bluster.

Marvin, on the other hand, can actually pose a very real danger to Bugs. I wouldn't go so far as to say that he projects an aura of menace, but there's a reason that so many entries into the franchise have positioned him as the villain. For the most part, he wants to commit genocide by destroying Earth for his own petty reasons, the most common of which is that it "obstructs his view of the planet Venus."  He utterly enjoys hunting smaller creatures and mocks Earthlings for being primitive. He also has a soft-spoken and gentle nature, making the true nature of what he aims to do even more disturbing, as much as that word can be applied to a slapstick cartoon.

With all of this in mind, it comes as no surprise that Steve Orlando and Frank J. Barbiere manage to turn what could be a ridiculously mismatched story into a touching cosmic tale. The heart of the crossover comes from Marvin and J'onn's shared Martian heritage. Despite having completely different views of society and coming from separate dimensions, they still share a bond, as slight as it may be. J'onn even pronounces Marvin's name in the distinct Martian dialect, trying to connect with him.

I'm also glad that Aaron Lopresti kept Marvin's ant-like structure in the art. It enhances the contrast between Marvin's puny gladiator design and the Martian Manhunter's distinctly more humanoid look. If we ever get a DC Rebirth series starring J'onn, then I hope Steve and Aaron are retained as the official creative team. The story has an effective grasp on keeping the standard Looney Tunes comedy, while also portraying the humanity seen in J'onn's worldview. Even though the chaos caused by Marvin's actions cause the populace to mistrust him, he still puts his hope in the essential goodness of human nature.

All the while, Marvin just has this smarmy tone of voice, and it fits with his character. In a way, he also does care about the Martian race, but he'll gladly prioritize them over others. One other thing that I really appreciate in the story is the inclusion of Area 52, where Marvin finds weapons to use against Earth. I'm fairly certain that it acts as a reference to the theatrical film Looney Tunes: Back In Action, where Marvin actually shows up in that government facility, later playing a key role in a spectacular joint Duck Dodgers/Star Wars homage.

The short backup story features the standard Looney Tunes incarnation of the character and a stylized version of J'onn. It's a cute story and packs a lot of jokes into a small amount of pages. In a way, it's very similar to the main feature, but features more references to the cartoons, such as Marvin's assistant K-9 and Duck Dodgers cameos by way of shape-shifting. Plus, cookies!

"Best Intentions" is written by Steve Orlando and Frank J. Frank J. Barbiere, drawn by Aaron Lopresti, inked by Jerome Moore, colored by Hi-Fi, and lettered by Carlos M. Mangual. "The (Next To The) Last Martian" is written by Jim Fanning, drawn by John Loter, and lettered by Saida Temofonte. Martian Manhunter/Marvin The Martian is available at your local comic book shop.

Zachary Krishef is an evil genius. Do not question his knowledge of Saturday Night Live trivia or Harry Potter books.

Josie And The Pussycats #7 Review: Arbitrary Honorifics Vs Charity

Josie And The Pussycats #7 focuses on the price of fame. Is it better to go to a fancy event and perform for a crowd of celebrities or attend a charity benefit and promote a good cause? Also, is it possible for Melody to transform into more superheroes? So far, I've compared her to Deadpool and she's blatantly referenced Sailor Moon. Considering that this issue has her using drumsticks as a facsimile of Wolverine's claws, I'd say it's definitely possible.

But, the issue is still relevant. Josie, Valerie, and Melody have to make a choice. Sure, the award ceremony is important, but it's also an event made almost exclusively for patting yourself on the back. Conversely, going to a charity benefit shows that fame hasn't made you too good to help other people, and you get to put on a show. Trophies or seeing the smiles on the faces of disadvantaged children, the eternal conflict.

I recently starting listening to an audiobook of Christopher Moore's Lamb: The Gospel As According To Christ's Childhood Pal, Biff. I hope that doesn't start affecting me.

The art is especially good in this issue. There's a particular scene where the group is performing on stage alongside a background video image. The shading is absolutely beautiful. Kelly Fitzpatrick and Audrey Mok did an excellent job of contrasting the screen with the physical characters. The screen itself is colored in a grainy style where you can see almost every individual dot of color. It's very impressive and I hope that future issues incorporate that style.

Along with the aforementioned moral dilemma, the story also features more crime-busting, this time involving a group of crooked backup dancers dressed as robots. It is precisely as funny and pun-filled as you can imagine. It's always great when a comic can teach you valuable lessons about helping out for charity, but also include scenes where musical instruments are used as weapons of war.

Josie And The Pussycats #7 is written by Cameron DeOrdio and Marguerite Bennett, drawn by Audrey Mok, colored by Kelly Fitzpatrick,  and lettered by Jack Morelli. You can find it at your local comic book shop.

Zachary Krishef is an evil genius. Do not question his knowledge of Saturday Night Live trivia or Harry Potter books.

Critical Hits & Misses #226

Alison Brie in Glow

For today's musical hit, we have Ellie Goulding and "Something In The Way You Move"

Today's critical rolls: I'm going to be seeing Stephen Amell (of Arrow) at a convention this weekend, and I am totally fangurling out. If you could meet your favorite actor/actress, what's the one question you would ask them, given the chance?

Critical Writ has a super-duper strict comment policy that specifies a single rule above all others: we reserve the right to ban you for being a terribad citizen of the internet.

Comics 100-Page Super Spectacular Review: DC Reprints 'Superman & Bugs Bunny' For A New Generation

Back in the Silver Age, DC Comics had a title called DC Comics 100-Page Super Spectacular that featured reprints of select comics, typically those related to special events that were going on. The issues had a diverse array of handpicked titles, ranging from the contemporary adventures in Young Love to the more standard Superman and Flash tales, with a splash of Batman thrown in for flavor. The nineteenth edition even had a selection of Tarzan newspaper strips. This week, the colorful characters in the Looney Tunes join in as DC reprints Superman & Bugs Bunny to promote the upcoming crossover specials.

To start off, I have read this miniseries before, many times. It holds particular nostalgic value for me because I first discovered it at my very first trip to a local comic shop. In my return visits to Argo's Books, I discovered the joy of reading comics and vintage books. The visits were brief, but I happen to go to a college that is a short walk away from the store. Getting the opportunity to officially review the special is a joy, and I'm delighted to share my thoughts with you.

The story starts off with a fitting pair of villains, Mr. Mxyzptlk and Yoyo the Dodo. In case you haven't heard of Yoyo, there's no need to fear. The Dodo himself describes his backstory, even including a recreated scene from his debut cartoon, Porky In Wackyland. Mr. Mxyzptlk and the Dodo soon bond over their shared love of the art of annoying people and conspire to help each other out. You see, DC's premiere imp (Sorry, Bat-Mite) is tired of superheroes and wants to go to a world where he doesn't have to deal with them, especially Superman. As for the Dodo, he wants to annoy people again. Society has gotten too weird for him in the Looneyverse. The Dodo agrees to send Mr. Mxyz to the world of the Looney Tunes.

You fool, don't look a gift rooster in the mouth! Wait...
The sequence that follows is utterly brilliant. Along with showing Mister M tangling with some of the weirdest characters that the universe has to offer, it's also something of a character study into how his mind works. For once, he's on the receiving end of some slapstick, and has a bit of a temper tantrum, unable to handle it. For all his talk of loving to annoy Superman and cause a bit of mischief, he can't even handle a pie to the face or an anvil to the head. At one point, he even says that this must be how Superman feels when he travels out of the fourth dimension. He's so petty that he can't even handle someone turning the tables on him.

This dovetails into the actual crossover, when Mr. Mxyzptlk decides to transport the Looney Tunes into the DC world, causing mass hysteria and talking cats and talking dogs living together. Or, more accurately, hurling cartoon sticks of TNT at each other. Once again, Mark Evanier, the author, takes this opportunity to create the best character combinations that are possible, used to maximum pun-filled effect. Take, for instance, Batman hunting Cobblepot and coming across a certain Playboy Penguin or the Flash having two separate encounters with Speedy Gonzalez and Road Runner.

It only gets weirder as Mxyzptlk and Yoyo start betraying each other, swapping characters into even more dimensions and combining various characteristics. This part does get slightly confusing if you don't know that Kyle Rayner was the Green Lantern or that Connor Hawke briefly took the mantle of Green Arrow at the time of the book's publishing. I wasn't confused when I first read it, but, then again, I had no idea that multiple people inherited the same title. On a similar note, some of the pop cultures make it clear that the comic is a product of the very early 2000s, but it doesn't hurt the book too badly.
Words can't describe how much I wish that we could have actually seen that happen.
Also, the running joke of Connor Hawke attempting to show people Michigan J. Frog's singing ability does wear slightly thin. It's still funny, but it does get a bit tiresome. It doesn't really adhere to comedy's rule of threes, instead sticking to the unknown 'rule of sixes.' Interestingly, now that I'm older, I actually recognized an alcohol joke in one of the sequences. Green Arrow first accuses and then gets accused of being drunk by a random person on the street. Still, seeing Batman gain the personality of Daffy Duck definitely makes up for it.

"They're called m-m-m-male rompers or something, I dunno!"
The best part of the story, by far, comes in when the Looney Tunes characters and the DC superheroes actually team up to stop the Toyman and get everything back to normal. The sheer absurdity of seeing the Looney Tunes fight crime alongside iconic heroes is something so wonderfully, dare I say it, loony and amazing. I definitely recommend reading the special or the miniseries, if you can get your hands on it. It's a joy to read and behold.

DC Comics 100-Page Super Spectacular (otherwise known as Superman & Bugs Bunny) is written by Mark Evanier, layed out by Joe Staton, finished by Tom Palmer and Mark DeCarlo, lettered by Phil Felix, and colored by Trish Mulvihill. You can find it at your local comic book shop.

Zachary Krishef is an evil genius. Do not question his knowledge of Saturday Night Live trivia or Harry Potter books.

Archie #21 Review: Shaking Up The Status Quo

Warning: This review contains massive spoilers.

Archie #21 contains the second part of the highly-anticipated "Over The Edge" storyline. Despite having more of a comedic tone than the first installment, it might just be the most devastating chapter yet. When the last issue left off, Betty, Reggie, and Archie's respective cars experienced an accident and plunged over the side of the highway, leaving their fates in question. This issue reveals that Betty Cooper is fighting for life in the hospital.

I appreciate Mark Waid's reasoning for why he chose Betty to be the one in trouble. In an interview with Comic Book Resources, he explained that Betty has touched the lives of so many people in Riverdale in such a positive way. Seeing something happen to such a beloved figure would definitely strike a chord. I have to agree. Reggie does have occasional moments of goodness, but he's still not going to have a crowd of people coming to the hospital and rushing to his aid.

As for Archie, even though he's the main character, a lot of people in town have their issues with him, so it wouldn't make sense for him to be the one clinging to life. There's also the fact that he primarily narrates the series, so it wouldn't make sense from a writing standpoint. Although, as this issue demonstrates, you don't necessarily need a narrator for this particular story.

Jughead, the consummate professional.
Most of the issue does focus on how much Betty means to the town in a roundabout way, as the revelation that she is the injured one isn't actually revealed until the end of the issue. The bulk of it has several short stories about the residents of Riverdale going about their daily lives until they receive a phone call about the incident and immediately leave. For his part, Jughead is trying to pay off his tab by working at Pop Tate's, and celebrating with a burger after his disastrous shift. It actually shows him leaving the half-eaten burger at the table as he rushes off to the hospital. For a foodie like Jughead, that's major.

Other characters have similar moments of that magnitude. Dilton and Moose are working on a scientific experiment, but they immediately rush off to the hospital after getting the phone call. Ironically, that particular gadget was meant to help Betty. Also, we all know that Mr. Weatherbee is committed to discipline, but he stops in the middle of chewing out Raj and Sheila after getting the call. On a side, note, I'm happy to see more of Raj's movie-making exploits.

It's an effective way to keep the initial mystery going and portray the normal exploits in Riverdale. The story is set to shake up the town's status quo, and it's already demonstrated here. Finally, on a lighter note, I like that the character-focused chapters have the classic pun-based titles. Just like the eleventh issue of the title, it's a fun way to call back to the original universe.

Archie #21 is written by Mark Waid, drawn by Pete Woods, and lettered by Jack Morelli. You can find it at your local comic book shop.

Zachary Krishef is an evil genius. Do not question his knowledge of Saturday Night Live trivia or Harry Potter books.

Critical Hits & Misses #225

For today's musical hit, let's go back to the 1980s, with Debbie Gibson's "Only In My Dreams"

Today's critical rolls: I was an 80s kid myself, so I grew up watching things like womens wrestling on tv, and American Gladiators, and I was fascinated by these powerful women. What kinds of media do you remember from your childhood that was a breakthrough for women? (TV, movies, music, etc are all valid here)

Critical Writ has a super-duper strict comment policy that specifies a single rule above all others: we reserve the right to ban you for being a terribad citizen of the internet.

Critical Hits & Misses #224

For today's musical hit, we have Beyonce's "Run The World (Girls)"

Today's critical rolls: Who are some of your favorite female comedians and why?

Critical Writ has a super-duper strict comment policy that specifies a single rule above all others: we reserve the right to ban you for being a terribad citizen of the internet.

Vambrace Yourselves: The Great Wonder Woman Roundtable

Despite being one of the three most important characters in the DC universe, it's taken Wonder Woman an inordinate amount of time to get a movie adaptation worthy of her. Until now, the only adaptations of the Amazon Princess's adventures were the Lynda Carter-starring 1970s TV show and the 2009 animated movie.  Otherwise, the character was generally either part of an ensemble or worse, given a side role. It felt like Wonder Woman will never get the chance to shine her fellow Trinity members Batman and Superman got. Even the announcement that WB is making one that'll be a part of their cinematic universe didn't inspire confidence, especially due to the controversial nature of the DCEU, influenced by the general depressing tone and quality of already released films.

But all our fears turned out to be unfounded, as Patty Jenkins's Wonder Woman turned out as well as it did, gaining outstanding critical acclaim and love from fans both old and new —  breaking box office records all over the world. After this undeniable success, the future of female-led superhero movies is looking brighter than ever.

Naturally, we here at Critical Writ have our own thoughts about Wonder Woman. We've already released our review of the movie, written by our own Elessar and now it's time for our other members to discuss how the film affected them.

Warning:  We do discuss spoilers below!  

Let's begin by sharing our personal history with the character. Are you a new-fangled fan, or were you already very familiar with Wonder Woman?

Tova: I’m very new to Wonder Woman. I borrowed the Sensation Comics anthology with Wonder Women stories from the library just before the movie premiered and had read some of that, and I read the first volume of DC Bombshells, but that’s the only experience I have with the character outside of hearing and reading about her. I’ve also frequently used the GIF of Lynda Carter smashing the patriarchy, of course.

Adrian: I’m very familiar with the comics and animated stories! I’m a fan of Greg Rucka’s various runs, Gail Simone is my hero, but the Justice League cartoon stands out as having the most on-point Wonder Woman. Susan Eisenberg’s voice work epitomizes Diana much like Kevin Conroy is the definitive voice of Batman. I love Diana so much that once aspiring to write a Wonder Woman screenplay served as a catalyst for growing my creative writing skills.

Rosario: I am very familiar with the character, insofar as “half-remembered fragments of Lynda Carter’s show” and being a long-time fan of the DCAU. Even now, getting comics in my country is a tall order, so I never got into them. But Diana was always one of my favorite heroes. My love of all things mythological just cemented my love for her.

Megan:  I’ve been reading Wonder Woman now for almost ten years; it was Gail Simone’s The Circle that really made me a fan.  I wanted to get into her earlier, but I always thought her costume (the one with the star spangled panties) was utterly ridiculous.  Terry Dodson drew her to make her look so powerful, so it was when I saw the cover for The Circle that I felt I could really get over that.  Ever since, I felt like DC had the greatest superhero ever on their hands that they just weren’t promoting well.  If you’re a longtime Wonder Woman fan, it’s the same as being a long suffering Wonder Woman fan.

Ivonne: I’m pretty new to Wondie. I mean I know Lynda Carter’s Wonder Woman, and that’s about it. I never read the comic books before last year, and I’ve only read a smidgen of stuff since. Mostly, everything I know about Wondie I know from the DC animated movies/series, and word of mouth.

What are your overall feelings on the movie?

Adrian: Relief. It’s been a rough five years or so for DC fans. The comics went through a contentious period with the New 52 and the DCCU has been struggling to find its footing. It had grown hard to imagine that DC fans would ever “get to have nice things.” Patty Jenkins delivered a fun, tonally-accurate, and explosive adventure. I feel, for once, hope for the DCCU.

Tova: I’ll answer this question in a very literal way: Many and intense! There’s a lot of joy simply in seeing a badass heroine at the centre of a story, but when empathy is one of the central characteristics of that heroine, that joy turns much stronger and bigger. Perhaps the sadness in the movie was also heightened as a result, because I felt that more intensely than usual with epic adventure movies as well. And a strange kind of protective love for mankind that most of the type of humans and human actions we see in this story really shouldn’t inspire but which Wonder Woman is full of. It was definitely an inspiring movie. I’m aware I’ve likely ignored many issues with the plot because of all these emotions and the awe it made me feel, but that seems like minor details when a movie gives you this kind of experience.

Rosario: I agree with Tova, I am probably being more forgiving of the film due to the sheer excitement of seeing Diana in the big screen. Do understand, that for me has been a really, really long time. The other DC animated film about her I keep hearing about? I don’t even think it’s dubbed, there are no DVDs of it being sold here, it hasn’t been aired so far as I know… It has been a really, really long time. The hype has been so real here, with people going multiple times to the cinema for Wonder Woman. This is not something we do here. When I sat in the cinema and saw Themyscira for the first time it felt—wow.

Megan:  Like Adrian, relief.  You’ve come a long way, Diana.  I’m so happy that not only did she get her first big budget film, and not only is it a critical darling and box office success—it is a movie that is in love with Wonder Woman and everything she represents.  Despite the changes from the comic, the movie gets to the heart of what makes her so damn lovable.  I feel vindicated, and I am so happy that millions of people now have a chance to love her too!

Ivonne: Relieved that it didn’t suck! This was the one movie DC needed to get right, and they did, apparently more by accident and lack of care, than by design (they gave Jenkins pretty free reign, and seemed quite surprised by the success of the film). I’m a Marvel fangurl first and foremost, but I needed WW to do well, for the express reason of kicking Marvel in the ass so they start acknowledging their female fans… and so that they don’t screw up Captain Marvel. As for Wonder Woman itself, I loved it. It was inspiring, visually beautiful, and one of the only movies I’ve seen come out of Hollywood that wasn’t male-gazey. It was, in a word, wonderful.

How did you find the plot? What do you think about the the movie's version of Diana's origin?

Adrian: I feel great affection for the clay baby origin, but the New 52 ret-con establishing Diana as Zeus’ daughter opened up a whole new, exciting wing of her family tree that was previously non-existent. So much potential here! And yet, it seems they scuttled all those possibilities in the few minutes of Wonder Woman, establishing that the entire pantheon of gods were eliminated in Zeus and Ares’ great conflict. The plot perfectly serves Diana’s character growth and while I’m thankful for that, I mourn what could have been, and hope for a return of the gods in sequel.

Rosario: I am extremely ignorant of the comics. I know the broad strokes, and with all the controversy the New-52 retcon drudged up it was all but impossible for me to ignore, so… This is the first time for me encountering Diana’s origin, so I am… blasé, maybe? It’s a good story as any. It is suitably mythological for me because of the incestuous undertones: The Amazons were created by Zeus, so kind of like his daughters, then Zeus and Hippolyta had a clay baby. To me it was more important how the film emphasized how it was the Amazonian society that gave Diana her morals, and how it was Antiope’s and Hippolyta's love what shaped her into the woman who became a heroine.

Tova: I really liked the idea that Diana doesn't have a father, even in the biological sense, but only a mother. Her entire history and heritage being female is just so appealing to me, especially considering no one ever suggests there's something missing there — her family and childhood is whole and full. Like Rosario says, the film still emphasizes the women around Diana, and it's clear they're the ones who shaped her. But you don't go "By the way, you were told a lie about your origin and Zeus is actually your father" and then not examine what that means for the character. I'm not looking forward to that examination (sorry!).

Megan:  The plot, overall, is fairly in line with what we’ve seen before in the comics.  Unfortunately, the goddesses involved in her creation are gone, boo.  But it’s not the New 52 origin, which I was dreading.  The clay baby origin is always my favourite, and while there was a quick line that suggested that wasn’t true, that person wasn’t under the sway of the lasso yet, I don’t think, and so I’m choosing to ignore it.  I just wish there was a cinematic of the clay baby coming to life and the Amazons crowding around the one child they ever had, or that they included that they were reincarnated from abused women.

Ivonne: I’m not a fan of all the goddesses having been killed, but I don’t mind Diana having a father. Although, not going to lie, when it was revealed that he had sired Diana on Hippolyta, my immediate thought was to wonder what animal he turned her into to rape her, since Zeus is kind of known for that. I know, pretty awful, but there you have it. Zeus was very… clean in this version of Greek mythology. But I guess he’s dead, so whatever. I’m fine with not having him present in her life.

How did you feel Gal Gadot fared in the role?

Tova: Great! She has such an expressive face, and I love how you get to see the outside world reflected through her eyes when you watch her watch it. Like when Diana first encounters soldiers wounded in the war, or the people in the French village they reach after going through No Man’s Land. I’m ashamed to admit it, but I’ve grown somewhat immune to similar scenes showing war after so many movies have used them, and they don’t pack the same emotional punch anymore. But thanks to Gadot’s acting (and probably the writing and directing as well) these scenes do work, and it makes the whole story more engaging, as it gives us great insight into Diana’s motivations in her quest to end the war. Then she puts on her warrior face, and the determination behind Gadot’s eyes is just as convincing as the compassion.

Adrian: I’ve been a fan of Gal since her work in the Fast & Furious franchise. Gisele and Han OTP! I think she did a good job in accurately expressing Diana’s warmth, determination, conviction, and purity of heart. I don’t feel like Gal’s talent as an actress has grown much past her days in Fast, but I think I’m in the minority on that assessment: after all, she did make millions of people cry!

Rosario: She pulls off the naïvety so well. I don’t remember much of her prior work, thus, I cannot comment on that, but when she runs up, excited at seeing a baby, when she was eating the ice cream and thanked profusely the vendor… Gadot was amazing. The way Diana marveled at her own power was also very good acting. She was occasionally weak when she had to be more serious, but maybe that could be interpreted as Diana being somewhat confused at the stupid morality of Man’s World, so I don’t give much weight to it.

Megan:  Fantastic.  There were a few lines I thought were clunky, particularly the narration at the beginning and at the end, but it could have just been how it was written.  Those were my only gripes, and I quickly forgot it once the film got going.  When she was cast I was disappointed that they didn’t go with an actress who was more muscular; yes, I was one of those people!  And I will admit I was wrong.  Gadot looked powerful and strong.  I totally believed she could lift a tank like it was nothing.

Ivonne: Back when Gadot was introduced, I wasn’t sure I liked her. And on a political level, I don’t, because her politics regarding Palestine is typically Israeli. That said, and setting dubious politics aside, I thought Gadot was fabulous in this role. She really owned it, she seemed to revel in it, she looked gorgeous and powerful. She was so expressive in her wonder when Diana is first running around London, and yet she never comes off as naive or stupid. Gadot ended up being perfect for the role despite my initial misgivings.

What are your thoughts on the film's supporting cast - the characters adapted from comics (Steve, Etta) and the original ones (Sameer, Charlie and Chief)?

Adrian: Etta was exceptional; we need more of her. In the past, Steve has pointedly been Diana’s damsel in distress, but in the film they succeeded in making him more than a mere love interest, but a friend and an inspiration. Diana deserves no less. I really enjoyed the original characters, but much like Etta, I’m saddened that we can’t expect to see more of them.

Rosario: Steve was so charming, I truly hurt for Diana when That Scene happened. Because of how much the trailers featured Etta, I was disappointed that we didn’t get more of her in the film, so I hope there is a director’s cut or extra scenes or something when we can appreciate more of her, as well as have more of the trio. Overall, I thought the supporting cast was great, especially their interactions with Diana. My favorite was Chief, mainly due to the potential of his character. In a universe where the gods existed, could it be really that he is a demigod? I sure hope so! I hope he appears in more films! Also, I liked how the Soldier Trio represented something about war. Sameer is the person with no other hope than to join the war, Charlie is the soldier who struggles to try to make something of himself in a war he doesn't know what it stands for anymore and that has damaged him, and Chief is the one so hurt by conflict that he is just numb to further conflict. That’s what they are until Diana comes along.

Megan:  I love Etta!  More of her please!  If her sequel is modern day, can she have been reincarnated?  Same actress in the role of Smetta Smandy? Steve was great.  The animated movie kind of poisoned his character for me (he’s a chauvinist pig in that one), and Chris Pine is kind of a similar character in the first Star Trek film so I was anticipating something similar.  But Pine did a fantastic job and I really loved him in the end.  Sameer, Charlier and Chief were great; I really love that the film didn’t shy away from the fact that this was a war of colonial powers that brought men of colour from around the world to fight in a war they had no real stake in.  I also hope the theory that Chief is a demigod himself is true, I’d love to see him in the sequel.

Ivonne: Chris Pine was another surprise for me (along with Gadot). I thought he did a fabulous Steve Trevor. He was never over-bearing, despite probably thinking Diana was a little bit crazy, and ultimately he proved himself to be respectful of her and her power. I was pleased at how well Chris Pine, a leading man normally, seemed to naturally take to the role of supporting actor to Gadot. As for the Howling Commandos Lite, they were pretty good. If I have any complaints, is that we maybe didn’t get enough of them. They grounded Diana, humanized the faces of this terrible war, and they did it well.

Tova: I don’t think there’s much to add here! I always like a good ragtag team of misfits, and then one here did not disappoint. Like the others have said, I would have liked to see more of them, and more of Etta Candy, so I’m a little sad the sequel will take place in the present.
I’ll also miss Steve, who really was a pleasant surprise.

What are your thoughts on how the movie handled its human and supernatural villains?

Adrian: Dr. Poison was very intriguing, another character who I desperately want to know and see more of. Ludendorff and Ares were a bit two-dimensional, but I felt like Dr. Poison could carry a whole film. Could we get extras and vignettes like they did for the MCU? Ares serving as a violent muse to mankind has some interesting tendrils to explore, but ultimately it seemed to diminish the depth of the human villains.

Rosario: We definitely need to see more of Dr. Poison. Elena Anaya’s interview with The Verge uncovers so much I am thirsty. And I didn’t even know it! That said, while I agree that Ludendorff and Ares need to be explored more, I think I may be one of the only people who disagree with the assessment that the film did not serve itself by having Ludendorff and Ares be stereotypical villains. I actually liked that Ludendorff was like a human version of Ares. It really set up that Man is the best (as reflected by Steve and Etta) and the worst.

Tova: I think it was necessary to have human villains, for the reason Rosario describes, to show personifications of the worst as well as the best of humankind. I do not agree about Dr. Poison. To my, admittedly limited, understanding of the DC world of heroes and villains, one of its biggest issues is that villainy there very often comes from mental illness. It’s so full of mentally unstable villains that an asylum for the “criminally insane” is one of the main locations of DC stories, and a large share of Batman’s enemies have been patients there. Along with that there’s also the more widespread trope where disfigurement or disability (the two often being intermixed in pop culture) either serves as a sign of evil or itself leads to evil.

One of the clearest examples might be Two-Face, who is driven insane and adopts his villainous persona after being severely scarred on one side of the face, and is often portrayed as suffering from schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and/or dissociative identity disorder.

With this in mind, to have a villain who is obsessive, sadistic and “a maniac”, and whose “hideous” facial scars are described as proof of her sadistic side (all descriptions from the Anaya interview) seems to me to reinforce all those harmful tropes. I think Dr. Poison is a step up from characters like Two-Face, but then, why use that category of storytelling device at all? There are so many better options out there.

Megan:  The villains just weren’t developed well, but I think that was okay for the story they were trying to tell.  It wasn’t really about who the big bad was, because the real danger is the potential for evil that is in every human.  That said, what I like about Wonder Woman comics is that she really gets to the heart of her villains and often wins them over to her side.  Part of me wishes we saw that with Dr Poison, the last big fight could have been cut down and we could have had some resolution between them.  On the other hand, an unrepentant female villain is so rare, outside the femme fatale trope.  She’s scarred, she’s mean, she’s not sorry, and she’s not not going to fall for a pretty face, Steve.

Ivonne: I really wanted more of Dr. Poison. I felt like there was a great deal of development left at the table with her. But she was convincingly evil, and I was glad she didn’t fall for Steve’s shenanigans at the party. The actress needed more room to shine, because honestly, she was fabulous.

I thought the use of Ludendorff was a strange choice, seeing as he is an actual historical figure from WW1 that survives that war to get somewhat involved with Hitler prior to WW2. Making the choice to kill him was odd, to say the least. They could have called that character anything, made up a name of a fictional general, so why use a real historical figure? Add to that, I guarantee that most American audiences don’t know the name. It’s not that he’s obscure--he’s not--but American history courses are woefully short when it comes to anything before WW2. European audiences probably knew Ludendorff quite well, though, and especially his history.

Ares was… okay. The final battle was all kinds of cool CGI, but it was weird to see Professor Lupin as the god of war. For all that Ares was the boogeyman that Diana chased the entire movie, he wasn’t particularly frightening. That said, I will give kudos to the fact that I never saw it coming that this particular character was Ares. Normally superhero films are fairly predictable, so it was nice to be surprised that way.

What did you think about the movie’s use of the World War I setting, as opposed to WW2, more traditionally connected to Wonder Woman’s origin?

Rosario: I thought it was brilliant, actually. It’s one of the best settings to learn about the murky world we live in, at least for an Amazon warrior. The War is one of the murkiest conflicts ever. The War was arguably started by the Black Hand, an extremist Serbian separatist group, when Gavrilo Princip killed Archduke Ferdinand. It is a prime example of a “your terrorist are our freedom fighters” scenario. The whole thing was magnified by allies dragging each other into war, treaties falling apart all over the place—just look at how the Kingdom of Italy went from the Allied side to the Triple Entente side. It’s really tragic as well how it strips away Diana’s conviction that we are so inherently good. Yet, she chose chose to fight that final battle, anyway. Had I not known from hearsay her comics’ origin is in World War II, I would never have guessed, since The Great War feels so thematically appropriate for Wonder Woman.

Tova: This is where I have to admit I thought the movie took place during WWII all through watching it. Quite embarrassing, but also regrettable for the dimension clearly lost on me because I wasn’t aware of the context! I love Rosario’s analysis here, and in hindsight it truly does enhance the themes of human nature of good and evil and, especially, the grey area in between.

Adrian: There's a lot of thematic symmetry between Diana's first experiences with Man's World and mankind itself coming to grips with the new horrors of modern warfare, so I think the setting world worked beautifully. One of the trailers that ran before Wonder Woman was Dunkirk, the story of a massive rescue operation to save Allied soldiers from the Germans in WWII. A rescued soldier, fearing for his own life, balks at prospect of returning to Dunkirk to save more lives, when the ship’s captain tells him "There's no hiding from this, son. We have a job to do." It's that same call to duty that soldiers faced in WWI, and in a way that had never been experienced before. You won't have trouble finding exceptionally bloody episodes throughout history, but the first World War set a gruesome new standard in suffering, appallingly prodigious in death count; something the world had not previously seen or imagined. Life in the trenches of Verdun was so deadly, so bleak, it's what directly inspired J.R.R. Tolkien's vision of Mordor in Lord of the Rings. Indeed, the never-ending battle of attrition that is “No Man’s Land” set an ideal landscape in which Diana could arise, crossing the chasm that no man could, establishing not just to the audience but to herself, that she can make a difference, even when the task before her is an impossible one.

Megan:  For the story they’re trying to tell, it was a perfect change.  With WWII, you have the Nazis vs the Allies and I think we can all agree that while Allies committed war crimes too, it’s largely accepted that it was a war against evil.  WWI wasn’t about that.  It wasn’t good versus evil, us against Nazis and genocide.  It was empires with stolen lands forcing men to fight over, essentially, nothing.  It wasn’t a war any side can really feel good about.  It was a terrible, pointless  war that should never have happened at all.  I really liked that in the British war council, the general was all for sacrificing soldiers, and on the German council before Ludendorff attacked would not stand for any more lives being lost.  The Germans weren’t any more to blame here than the British.  That and you know, the reveal about Ares, really hit that home.

Ivonne: It was a nice change of pace to have WW1 be the setting, but for all of that, this movie still felt a great deal like Captain America: The First Avenger in the entire latter half. Also, I heard that there were American audiences who were puzzled on which war it was, but honestly, that says more about the public education in this country than anything else. The movie “placed” the setting quite well, between the language Steve used to try to explain it to the Amazons, and the trench warfare. Costumes, props, and things like the planes were gorgeously done to make this period piece work.

What did you like the most about the film? And what you thought was its biggest failing?

Adrian: I have some minor quibblings around Diana’s naiveté (a bit overdone) and the mythology (for instance, they didn’t cover why she wears the bracers or the nature or purpose of their power), but the biggest failing of the film was a lack of representation. Many have rightly said Wonder Woman is inescapably a feminist film, which is why the film is remiss regarding intersectionality. Anyone not hopelessly insulated recognizes the Amazons of Themyscira as queer, yet this is never represented on screen. While the racial diversity could have been worse (I love that Artemis, of an African Amazon splinter-cell Bana-Mighdall, was played by Ann Wolfe!), many Amazons' scenes were cut. With the core cast of Amazons being blonde and white, we’re left with the same old story: white women elevated to the forefront of modern feminist ideals, with women of color unobtrusively shuffled off to the side. While Gal Gadot provides much-needed representation for Jewish women in superhero films, we cannot ignore that “Hollywood perceives her in terms of unspecified whiteness.” Otherwise, I will forever love Wonder Woman for simply getting Diana’s character right. The depiction of Themyscira and the Amazons was otherwise near perfection and the proper tone of the film could serve dividends for the whole future of the DCCU. Wonder Woman is a great movie.

Rosario: I don’t have much to add to this, since I mostly agree with Adrian in failings and strengths. More explanations, more diversity in the Amazons is needed. That said, the combat scenes were well done, the slow-mo was in all the right places.

Tova: If it’s not already clear from the amount of words I used to criticize the character, Dr. Poison is one of my least favourite parts of the film. Anaya plays her splendidly, but I can’t disregard the problematic elements, which are really at the foundation of the character.
One other thing that has kept tugging at my mind since I first thought of it is: Why the hell is there no mention of Wonder Woman returning, or not returning, to Themyscira at the end of the movie? It’s almost like the Amazons are forgotten. That doesn’t fit the tone in the first part of the movie, and certainly not the parting of Diana and her mother. Themyscira is such an important part of Wonder Woman’s story, and I would have liked to see that acknowledged as this first story wraps up.

As for what I liked the most: The feelings! The feminism! The wonder! I suspect everything that has made people love Wonder Woman for decades

Megan:  Not to correct you Tova, but Hippolyta says to Diana as she leaves that she can never come back.  This is a thing in the comics; once she leaves, she may never return.  Of course, in the comics she eventually does, and since Amazons are going to be in Justice League we should get an answer.  I do agree with Adrian about representation, could have been better.  I also really wish Diana was less confused by sexism and more outraged by it.  I suppose that would have clued her into the evils of man sooner, unless she would just conclude the patriarchy is a tool of Ares as well. As for what I liked most….Themyscira!  It was everything I wanted and more.

Ivonne: I loved the way this movie made me feel. I loved seeing a powerful woman who was still feminine and beautiful. I loved that she wasn’t filmed under the male gaze. I loved Themyscira and wanted more of it. More Amazons, more Amazons of color, especially. And as Adrian has already pointed out, the film’s biggest failing was how powerful the white feminism was, but how short it was on representation of anyone else. Yes, we saw black Amazons, and some brown ones too, but they didn’t speak, and one of them was even the Mammy stereotype when Diana was a child. Oooo boy… as a feminist piece, this one has major failings on intersectionality.

I’m not sure if this is a failing or a strength, but I did feel like someone at WB looked around, asked why MoS, BvS, and SS were so critically panned while Marvel has had a dozen hits, and decided “screw it, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.” Wonder Woman felt, emotionally, like Captain America: The First Avenger to me, and it pretty much even ended the same way. When the movie ended, my husband leaned over and whispered, “Steve will be back in Wonder Woman: The December Soldier!” But seeing as how The First Avenger still remains one of Marvel’s best films, I suppose this isn’t a failure for Wonder Woman. And well, it’s no accident that so many folks, including critics, loved this one, as opposed to the first three DC films.

Finally, let's make a wishlist for the future sequel, which is obviously coming thanks to the movie's reception. What would you like to see in it, aside from the return of Patty Jenkins in the directorial chair? What are your biggest hopes and greatest wishes?

Adrian: More women of color, more Amazons, more gods, more magic! Villains! Cheetah, Circe, and Medusa (see: Wonder Woman: Eyes of the Gorgon by Greg Rucka) would all make great villains for the sequels! Sidekicks! Can we get Wonder Girl Donna Troy and/or Cassie Sandsmark? An Artemis and Antiope buddy warrior movie?! I want all the things! Also, it’s implied the canon that there is a lineage of Amazonian Wonder Women throughout history. Can we get a Hippolyta as an ancient world Wonder Woman prequel? Can we see Nubia, Diana’s twin sister as Wonder Woman? There definitely were Wonder Women before Diana; what else would the suit have been made for?

Tova: More Amazons, which should naturally lead to more WOC and queerness. And it’s not enough to show that other Amazons are queer, I want an unambiguously pan- or bisexual Wonder Woman as well, and I want it treated with the same subversion of the male gaze that much of this movie showed. If I can dream big then bigoted straight men will watch the sequel and feel annoyed and let down, and cool men, women and non-binary folks will leave the theatre feeling empowered. I want a movie that truly deserves the label “cultural Marxist SJW propaganda”. Because we’re worth it.

Megan:  I think as long as China bans any movie with outright LGBT representation, we’re not getting it in a Wonder Woman film.  That would be my greatest wish though. But more Amazons, Nubia, Smetta Smandy, Chief, The Holliday Girls, and Ferdinand please.  Also, WB, email me about my amazing Wonder Woman RPG idea.  The lasso mechanics alone will be worth it.

Ivonne: More Amazons, more women, more women of all colors, goddesses returning, some of Wondie’s classic female villains… and that’s to start! Also, needs more lassoing, and definitely an invisible jet (I’m kidding, that’s stupid). But seriously, I just want more Wonder Woman, and more Patty Jenkins, and LOTS MORE FEMALE DIRECTORS AND STARS. And I want it right now!

Adrian Martinez is a graphic designer, comic book letterer, hobbyist writer, and all-around geek living in New York City.

Dominik Zine is a nerdy demisexual lad from northeastern Poland and is generally found in a comfy chair with a book in hand.

Ivonne Martin is a writer, gamer, and avid consumer of all things geek—and is probably entirely too verbose for her own good.

Megan “Spooky” Crittenden is a secluded writer who occasionally ventures from her home to give aid to traveling adventurers.

Rosario is an early-twenties, outspoken woman, who likes to burrow between piles of books, and store miscellaneous trivia in her head.

Tova Crossler Ernström is a bisexual Swede, feminist, socialist, INFJ, Hufflepuff, HSP and Taurus. She is fond of personality tests, labels and lists.

Critical Hits & Misses #223

For today's musical hit, we have Selena Gomez and "Bad Liar"

Today's critical rolls: Besides The Color Purple, what are some other significant films featuring black women leads, can you think of that are worth a watch (or a rewatch)?

Critical Writ has a super-duper strict comment policy that specifies a single rule above all others: we reserve the right to ban you for being a terribad citizen of the internet.

Critical Hits & Misses #222

  • Harpers Bazaar has a piece by Cameron Glover on why Wonder Woman is bittersweet for black women, since the film, as good as it is about female representation, is very much a celebration of white feminism, excluding women of color besides a few background moments during the Amazon scenes. 

  • Yesterday was father's day, and in celebration, Huffington Post has a list of nine things we should stop saying/assuming about fathers. More and more fathers are involved in the upbringing and care of their children these days, but society persists in maintaining strict gender roles, making assumptions that fathers don't want to be involved in the direct care of their kids. 

For today's musical hit, we have Sia and "To Be Human" from the Wonder Woman soundtrack

Today's critical rolls: Yesterday was Father's Day in the west! How did you spend Sunday? Did you call your father? Did you take him out? Was it just another normal Sunday for you?

Critical Writ has a super-duper strict comment policy that specifies a single rule above all others: we reserve the right to ban you for being a terribad citizen of the internet.

Critical Hits & Misses #221

For today's musical hit, we have The Julie Ruin and "Oh Come On"

Today's critical rolls: Happy Friday! What's on your agenda for the weekend?

Critical Writ has a super-duper strict comment policy that specifies a single rule above all others: we reserve the right to ban you for being a terribad citizen of the internet.

Critical Hits & Misses #220

For today's musical hit, we have Amanda Palmer's "Runs in the Family"

Today's critical rolls: Of course there are plenty of women in history, and throughout the world, who we don't teach about in school. What are some of the unsung women heroes, in any field, that you wish people knew about?

Critical Writ has a super-duper strict comment policy that specifies a single rule above all others: we reserve the right to ban you for being a terribad citizen of the internet.

The Unbelievable Gwenpool #17 Review: A Spectacular Second Chapter

It's official, The Unbelievable Gwenpool has transcended genres and turned into a cosmic horror story. Oh, it started innocently enough. We all laughed at the wacky adventures of someone from the real world wreaking havoc in a fictional universe. In the beginning, we were entertained by some lighthearted crossovers and stories rife with in-jokes. The art felt playful and the comic was a gentle escape from life's woes. Not anymore.

I wish I could just set aside a chunk of time and have a roundtable discussion with Christopher Hastings, Gurihiru, Clayton Cowles, Heather Antos, and everyone else involved of the production of this arc. Even just being a fly on the wall during the initial discussions would suffice, as it would allow me a glimpse into just how this arc was conceived. It's honestly one of the most innovative Marvel arcs that I've read in a long time, possibly with the exception of Jeff Lemire's Moon Knight. Even so, it never reached the levels of metatextual plots brought into play here.

Gurihiru's art enhances the story, adding whole new dimensions of meaning to the issue. At the issue goes on, you'll see what I mean, especially in regards to the Marvel multiverse. The art and lettering styles could be taught in comic classes as a lesson on how to properly write a comic. Back when I was lucky enough to interview Christopher Hastings, he described this arc as 'bananas' and I have to agree. It's fantastic on a number of levels. I'm not going to describe any plot details, you have to read it for yourself. It's worth an immediate read.

The Unbelievable Gwenpool #17 is written by Christopher Hastings, drawn by Gurihiru, lettered by and VC's Clayton Cowles. You can find it at your local comic book shop.

Zachary Krishef is an evil genius. Do not question his knowledge of Saturday Night Live trivia or Harry Potter books.