Who Are You?

I spent my condom packing time the last two days catching up on this week’s Real Housewives of Beverly Hill (#lockherup, seriously,) and then Superman and Lois. I had missed an episode–I hadn’t been aware it had come back, and it expired on Hulu*–but I was able to catch up with the action pretty quickly, and before I knew it, hours had passed and I had finished watching everything available. I have to say–and I mean this with all my heart–the Arrowverse gets Superman in a way the movies don’t–and I don’t think ever will. Don’t get me wrong, I will go to my grave loving Henry Cavill (and thinking he is the perfect casting for Colin should the Scotty books ever be filmed or made into a television series–hello Netflix), and thinking he’s a great Superman, but the scripts and directors utterly fail him completely every single time. I mean, I got Man of Steel in a way most people didn’t, and I also appreciate the films for great casting; and the Snyder cut of Justice League did, in some ways, seem to get the character the other films chose not to; but this iteration of Superman is the character I grew up loving, and that Christopher Reeve embodied so perfectly (until that franchise went off the rails completely). It really isn’t that hard: Superman is a nice guy who cares about people and will always, always, do the right thing, even at great personal cost to himself. DAMN IT SUPERMAN IS THE EMBODIMENT OF A HERO AND THE CW GETS THIS. He cares.

I’m not ashamed to say that several times during Episode 11–the flashback origin story–I teared up a bit. Every single episode of this show has a moment where I think to myself, goddamnit this is how you do Superman. This show reminded me of every reason why I loved the character, why I read the comic books voraciously, why I have watched every TV show and every movie religiously–and appreciated almost all of them on some level. I watched both of the first two Christopher Reeve movies in the theater, and got goosebumps (I will never forget the ads for the first one: You will believe a man can fly! And I fucking did!)

I honestly never thought I would ever see a Superman adaptation again that would give me that same thrill–and Superman and Lois does, with every episode.

Superman was my first super-hero comic book when I was a kid, when I moved on from Archie and the Riverdale kids. There was a comic book dispenser machine at the Jewel Osco in our neighborhood in Chicago when I was a kid, and Mom would always give me enough change to get a couple of comic books (because I would then sit in the front of the store and read them while she shopped in peace; I don’t understand why my parents never completely grasped the concept I could always be bribed into good behavior with reading material) and I remember being tired of Archie and thinking–knowing–my father would be pleased if I read something more, well, boys-oriented. Some of the boys in my class at school were way into Superman and DC Comics; so I thought, what the hell and put my change into the machine, getting Action, Adventure and Superman comic books. I very quickly became a big fan, also reading the Superman-adjacent comics as well: Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen, Superboy, Supergirl, Justice League of America and Legion of Super-Heroes. This also led to reading all the Batman books, Wonder Woman, Flash, Teen Titans, Green Lantern/Green Arrow, and so on and so forth. As a DC Comics fan, I don’t thin I ever reached what would qualify me for “nerd” status; I loved them all, though, and also followed along with all the adjacent media adaptations–the Superman movies; the Wonder Woman television show, etc. I’ve seen all the movies, and started reading the comics again in my mid-twenties, and then again in my early thirties. I’ve kept up with them over the years; all the reboots and so forth, all the television iterations–Lois & Clark, Smallville, etc.–and enjoyed them all. When CW started adapting the various characters for television, I began following them as well–the first seasons of both Arrow and Flash were amazing…but we did eventually stop watching because both shows seemed to be repeating themselves, and I slowly began getting way behind on them all…and wasn’t really sure, to be honest, that I wanted to give Superman and Lois a whirl. As I said, love Henry Cavill as Superman, but the movies just weren’t quite there…

But being a fan of gorgeous Tyler Hoechlin from his Teen Wolf days, one afternoon while making condom packs, I decided to give it a shot.

At first, I wasn’t sure how I felt about Elizabeth Tulloch’s Lois Lane, but I did like the entire idea of them being married and the parents of twin sons, Jonathon and Jordan–although I winced at the thought of the inevitable CW teen drama to come. But…Tulloch had completely won me over by the second episode, and I really enjoy the twins. Jordan Elsass and Alexander Garfin are perfectly cast, and look enough alike to be believable as fraternal twins. The family drama at the heart of the show–having to tell the twins their father is Superman when one of them begins to develop powers, how they deal with one being powered and the other not–is so incredibly well-written and well-acted that it sucked me right in. I also loved that Morgan Edge is the villain, rather than Lex Luthor or General Zod–which is how they always inevitably begin these types of shows/movies/stories–and I also loved that they waited until Episode 11 to actually give us the origin story, done in flashbacks. They are getting it right on every note, every level–and while we used to roll our eyes at Smallville with great regularity despite being completely sucked in…Superman and Lois gets it right. They understand that Superman and Clark are, at heart, incredibly decent human beings who will always put the needs of others first, no matter what the personal cost to themselves…and the caring about humanity and the greater good is there.

I absolutely love this show, and can’t wait for new episodes to come in July.

If you’re a Superman fan, you should be watching this show if you want to see it done right.

*I realized later I should have checked the CW app, and sure enough, there it was. Sigh.

And the Walls Came Down

When I was a kid and into comic books (and in all honesty, I never tired of comic books; getting out of them was generally an economic decision as well as one of time), one of my absolute favorites was Teen Titans.

The Teen Titans were all the sidekicks of the major super-heroes; kind of a junior Justice League: Robin, Wonder Girl, Aqualad, and Kid Flash, later adding more members like Green Arrow’s sidekick, Speedy. They were teenagers, and as a kid, I could relate to them more than I could to the adult super-heroes (which, of course, didn’t stop me from enjoying the adult super-heroes). Eventually, they were relaunched as the New Teen Titans, in the mid to late 1970’s (I could be wrong about these dates, but it’s what I remember). The News Depot on Commercial Street in Emporia had about four or five magazine racks (they didn’t sell hardcover novels, only paperbacks), and the last rack, closest to where the books started, was where they stocked the comic books. I remember The New Teen Titans from buying them in Emporia, which is where I get the dates from.

This new iteration of the Titans included non-sidekick heroes: Starfire and Cyborg and Raven and Jericho. In the early 1980’s Dock Grayson progressed from Robin to Nightwing, becoming an adult–and one of my absolute favorite heroes.

I love this new iteration of Dick Grayson. (I also remember when the news broke in the late 1980’s that DC was killing off Robin and being initially traumatized at the loss of Dick Grayson–and then remembered there was a new Robin–Jason Todd–and that MY Robin was now Nightwing and sighed in relief.)

I never watched any of the animated series–which I really need to correct–but I subscribed to DC Universe solely because they were launching an original, live action Titans series, and it was from the Greg Berlanti production team, which had done so well with the Arrowverse series. (I eventually stopped watching these shows, but will undoubtedly go back to them at some point.)

I watched season one during a period last year when I was going to the gym again–between New Year’s and Carnival–and watched an episode every day I went while walking on the treadmill. I enjoyed the show, but wasn’t sure if it would be something Paul would like–he tired of the Arrowverse before I did–and I have never pushed my love of super-heroes on him too much (he does watch the films with me). I liked the show, but it never really grabbed me; I thought it was incredibly well done, and of course, the actor they hired to play Dick–who was no longer Robin but also not yet Nightwing–was gorgeous.


That’s Brenton Thwaites in the remake of The Blue Lagoon. But don’t let the fact he appeared in that keep you from watching Titans–he’s actually quite good in it. And he’s not that baby-faced anymore.

Much better.

When Season One opens, the Titans have disbanded and scattered. Dick is now a detective with the Detroit police department, trying to distance himself not only from his teammates but from his own past, with Batman. But he still suits up from time to time and wreaks havoc on the criminals of the city–but he’s concerned that he can no longer control his rage, which is part of the reason he no longer wants to be a masked vigilante anymore.

The primary driver of the Season One plot is Rachel, a young girl with strange powers she doesn’t understand and she’s afraid of; in the first episode her mother (or so she thinks; played by Sherilynn Fenn from Twin Peaks) is murdered and she’s been having dreams in which she sees the death of Dick’s parents…and with her own mother murdered and going on the run, she tries to track Dick down. (Rachel is, I assume, eventually going to become Raven.) Teagan Croft plays the part well.

Teagan Croft as Rachel Roth

Kory Anders, a gorgeous and perhaps the best written part on the entire series, is chasing Rachel as well–but cannot remember who she is or why. As a long-time Titans fan, I knew she was Starfire–and she forms a great bond with Rachel, as well as Dick–they sleep together; I do remember them as a couple from the comics. Brilliantly played by Anna Diop, she also gets the best lines, and perhaps the coolest super powers.

Anna Diop as Starfire

We also meet Beast Boy, aka Gar Logan, when Rachel escapes from some villains trying to capture her and winds up at the mansion where the Doom Patrol live (this is kind of a backdoor pilot for The Doom Patrol series; I am interested in watching the show, which was produced after some recasting–and they brought in some big names: Brendan Frasier, Timothy Dalton, and Matt Bomer); after Dick and Kory catch up to her there, Gar leaves with them and they continue their adventures.

Gar quickly becomes my favorite character on the show.

We also meet Hank and Dawn, aka Hawk and Dove, who now live in DC and are a couple–Dawn used to be with Dick (which plays out more in backstory in season two) and both are great characters, played very well by Alan Ritchson and Minka Kelly.

Hawk and Dove

Those who are paying close attention will recognize Ritchson–he guest starred on Smallville a few times as Aquaman. He’s also gorgeous.

We also get to meet Wonder Girl, Donna Troy, played quite well by Conor Leslie.

Conor Leslie as Wonder Girl

The entire first season really revolves around the mystery of who Kory is, and why so many people are out to either capture or kill Rachel. Oh, I also forgot, we also meet new Robin, Dick’s replacement, Jason Todd.

Curran Walters as Jason Todd, Robin 2.0

He’s pretty–almost cartoonishly so–both Paul and I thought that he actually looks like a comic book character.

So, the Titans essentially reunite, Season One ends with a cliffhanger involving the big bad, and Season Two begins with not only the big bad being defeated, but an evolution of Rachel’s powers–the former Titans take off, while Dick brings the new Titans (Gar, Rachel, and Jason) to Titans Tower in San Francisco to train and become the new team. Not a bad first season, not bad at all.

But Season Two? Season Two is epic.

I won’t spoil anything–but there are two big bads–CADMUS Labs (aka Lex Luthor) and Deathstroke–played by Esai Morales (in the Arrowverse he was played by Manu Bennett; not sure why the switch, or if the two universes aren’t connected after all, despite Greg Berlanti’s involvement). We also meet Conner Kent (Superboy), Rose Wilson, Jericho Wilson, and Bruce Wayne/Batman.

Even better? KRYPTO.

I think this is from one of the recent reboots of the comic book universe, but Conner is a clone, developed from a combination of Superman’s DNA and Lex Luthor’s and grown at CADMUS Labs. I’ve always loved Superboy–which is one of the reasons I watched every season of Smallville–and was very happy to see this addition to the cast.

I also greatly loved the mute character of Jericho from the comics, and was delighted to see him added to the cast, and played by Chella Man–and even cooler, the actor is trans.

Chelsea Zhang is pretty badass as Rose, too.

We also all too briefly meet Aqualad, played by Pretty Little Liars’ Drew Van Acker.

Season Two not only has the two big bads, but also explores in greater detail–which we didn’t really see much of in season one–the two great tragedies that led to the break-up of the original Titans team, and why Dick was questioning being a caped crusader in the first place….plus we see Dick transition back into being a hero, being reborn as Nightwing.

It’s very well done, and I highly recommend it, if you’re into super-heroes.

Special Lady

Happy Sunday everyone.

Yesterday was a bit of a revelation. The other day (yesterday? Who knows? My memory has more holes than Swiss cheese) I was talking about how the Internet is such an enormous distraction, and one of the terrific things about the old dial-up modems was the process of signing onto the web was such an irritating process that it wasn’t a big deal to shut it all down when I had other things to get done and couldn’t be distracted. So, yesterday I did precisely that: I closed down both browsers when it was time to work, and guess what? Not only did I get some work done on the Scotty, I got the page proofing for Survivor’s Guilt and Other Stories form filled out, cleaned the apartment (the living room still needs work) and made shrimp creole for dinner. I also wound up watching the final three episodes of Titans last night (which were quite excellent, I might add), and read some more Walter Mosley before going to bed. So, this morning I am going to finish writing this blog post before cleaning out my email inboxes, after which I am going to shut down my browsers and get to work. I want to finish cleaning the living room, have some dishes and laundry to do, some minor touches need to be done in the kitchen, and then I am most likely going to make potato leek soup for dinner in the slow cooker.

Pretty cool, huh? I felt really good in getting that work on Scotty done yesterday, and I think it’s good work. I am most definitely pleased with myself. I also need to make a list of things that need to get done this week.

I have to say, shutting down the Internet on my desktop was a pretty genius thing to do. I couldn’t believe how much free time I had yesterday to get things done. I will admit I occasionally checked my phone every few hours or so, and last night while I was watching television I also pulled out the iPad occasionally, but over all it was terrific. I had already, years ago, came up with a new rule to not answer emails over the weekends (emails always beget emails), and limiting the Internet is actually kind of genius.

I was very pleased with the entire first season of Titans. This is how you launch a television series about a super-hero team; a continuing story arc where you get to know the characters as they work together or meet each other, with back story episodes mixed in here and there to deepen and enrich the viewer’s understanding of the characters. The actors are all good in their roles–they are gorgeous and can act–and the main character arc–the growth of Dick Grayson from sidekick Robin into himself as an individual rather than what Bruce Wayne/Batman wants him, has been grooming him, to be–is very compelling, as is trying to solve the mystery of who amnesiac Kory is, and who Rachel actually is and what the source of her power is. Kudos for an excellent first season.

Friday night I watched two episodes and resisted bingeing the rest…and discovered that the pilot for the Aquaman series the CW had considered doing during the run of Smallville was available on DC Universe, starring the incredibly handsome Justin Hartley as Arthur Curry/Aquaman. (He now stars on This Is Us.) The pilot is terrible, really terrible, and I can see why the CW didn’t pick it up. Hartley went on to play Green Arrow on Smallville, which was how I came to be a fan of the handsome actor with the phenomenal body. But as I watched Titans, the actor who plays Hank/Hawk (of Hawk and Dove), Alan Ritchson, looked familiar. Last night it hit me: he played Aquaman on Smallville! After the Aquaman pilot failed and the show cast Hartley as Green Arrow, when they brought in Aquaman he was played by Ritchson, who now plays Hawk on Titans–and does a great job of it, too. And of course later, when Greg Berlanti (also involved in Titans) rebooted Green Arrow as Arrow, he cast Stephen Amell as Arrow rather than spinning Hartley off, which also worked. So, how confusing is all of this? Pretty confusing. Hartley played Aquaman and then Green Arrow; Ritchson played Aquaman but now plays Hawk; Amell now plays Green Arrow. Whether Titans will cross over with the other DC Universe shows on the CW–Arrow, Flash, Legends of Tomorrow, Supergirl–remains to be seen.

But I have to give it up to this rebooted television DC Universe. And this isn’t even getting into the film DC Universe.

Right? It’s a lot.

The nice thing about the DC Universe subscription is you can also read comic books on the app for free, so I don’t have to buy them anymore. Also a really good thing, because I still haven’t read all the comics on my iPad that I’ve bought. There’s never enough time, quite frankly.

All right, on that note, Constant Reader, it’s back to the spice mines. Have a lovely Sunday.

18622395_1360312434016817_8305637407244611997_n