me and Alex Segura on the Graymalkin Lane podcast talkin’ X-Men #65

The Graymalkin Lane podcast is a delightful podcast about all things X-Men, and one of their features is to do an in-depth look at an episode. Covering issue #65 from 1970, it’s the only X-Men collaboration between the super-team of Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams (best known for their runs together on Batman and Green Lantern/Green Arrow comics for DC). This issue also had the “resurrection” of Professor X, with the revelation that the person who died in issue #42 was really the shape-changing Changeling posing as the professor.

Discussing that issue, which also has the professor leading the X-Men in repelling an invasion by the alien Z’Nox, are myself, the host Chad, fan George Michael, and fellow word-slinger Alex Segura, author of the acclaimed mystery novel Secret Identity, and who is also in two new anthologies with me, Thrilling Adventure Yarns 2022 and Phenomenons: Season of Darkness.

Check it out!

more highlights from the periodic revivals of 4-Color to 35-Millimeter

Once “4-Color to 35-Millimeter: The Great Superhero Movie Rewatch” caught up to real time in January 2020, it went on hiatus, to be revived every six months or so to look back on the new live-action movies based on superhero comics. I already presented some highlights from the 2020 and 2021 revivals of the feature, and now here’s some bits from what I wrote in 2022 (and the beginning of 2023):

On It’s a Bird… It’s a Plane… It’s Superman!:

I grew up in the 1970s, and I love so much about the decade, but the era’s fascination with goofy-ass musicals has always been incomprehensible even to me. This is the same time period that gave us The Star Wars Holiday Special and Legends of the Superheroes and other bits of ridiculousness. This particular production was also done on the cheap, even by the standards of the time. Superman’s flying effects are klutzier than what they did with George Reeves twenty years earlier, and the backgrounds are probably meant to look like comic-book drawings, but mostly just look like they didn’t want to spend the money on properly painted sets.

What’s frustrating is that the basic outline is a story that could work. There’s a very good message about believing in yourself here, embodied primarily in Sydney’s “You’ve Got Possibilities” pep-talk song to Kent and later in Jerry and Joe’s urging of Superman to let his freak flag fly. And the notion of Superman being wracked by guilt because he failed to stop a crime is one that good stories can be built off of (and have in the comics). But it’s buried under a lot of nonsense.

On Mandrake:

This TV movie manages to drain almost all the life out of the concept, to ill effect. Lothar is still African royalty, but he’s no longer super-strong, and doesn’t actually do a helluva lot in the story—his one moment to show off his strength is just him almost getting run over by a car and failing to stop the bad guys. Similarly, Stacy’s one “action moment” is to get hit in the head while Jennifer is kidnapped. Otherwise, the pair only serve administrative functions.

The worst, though, is the treatment of the title character.

For starters, while everything around Mandrake is made less bombastic (and less interesting), they lean into the absurdities of Mandrake’s powers. Instead of inheriting the ability to wield magic from his immortal father, Mandrake instead learns it from Asian monks who take him in after his father dies—basically giving him the Shadow’s origin, wrapping it all up in the worst Orientalist clichés.

On Timecop and Timecop: The Berlin Decision:

Still, these are minor joys in two movies that manage the neat trick of short running times, yet take forever. These have to be the most plodding time-travel movies ever produced. Timecop at least has some fun performances in cliché roles from Bruce McGill as The Put-Upon Supervisor, Gloria Reuben as The Snarky Partner Who Turns On Our Hero, and especially [Ron] Silver as The Scenery-Chewing Bad Guy.

Sadly, those kudos don’t extend to the lead. As an actor, Jean-Claude Van Damme makes a dandy kickboxer. [Jason Scott] Lee is a better actor in every measurable sense, and he’s also got martial arts chops for the fight scenes, but where Timecop is bland, The Berlin Decision is clumsy and awful in its scripting. Though I do like the way the sequel film embraces the loopiness of history changing, with Doc going punk and O’Rourke with the eyepatch and such…

On Spider-Man: No Way Home:

One of the things I absolutely adore about this movie, though, is that it—in a kind, compassionate, not at all mean-spirited way—calls out one of the biggest flaws in the [Sam] Raimi and [Marc] Webb films, which was that most of the villains ended up dead in the end: Norman Osborn (both times!), Harry Osborn (only once), Otto Octavius, Eddie Brock, Curt Connors, and Max Dillon all die. Flint Marko is the only one of the five in this movie who is guaranteed to survive when returning to his universe. And that never sat well with me, especially in movies about a hero who won’t kill.

And this movie pushes back against that tendency—which has been a trope of action movies forever, which has bled over into far too many superhero movies—by having Spider-Man work, not to stop the villains, but to save them.

On The King’s Man:

This is the fifth movie that [Matthew] Vaughn co-wrote and directed I’ve done in this rewatch, but the first where he didn’t co-write the script with Jane Goldman. After watching this film, I think Goldman deserves a lot more credit for the quality of the other four, because this script with Karl Gajdusek doesn’t have anywhere near the same life to it. There are some great lines, mind you, but the overall pacing is wonky at best, the characterization is hit-and-miss, and it feels like so many golden opportunities were passed up or mishandled. Perhaps the biggest example of that last issue is the stunt casting of Tom Hollander as each of the three ruling cousins, a stunt that utterly fizzles, because Hollander doesn’t bring any verve or excitement or distinctiveness to the roles. Indeed, Nicholas, Wilhelm, and George are three of the least interesting characters in the movie, which ruins the whole point of casting the same guy in all three parts.

On The Batman:

But Matt Reeves and Robert Pattinson actually give us the dark knight detective, as Batman has to think his way through a lot of this movie. There’s a great line from the comics, The Question Annual #1 from 1988, written by Denny O’Neil—one of the greatest writers of Batman, as well as one of the greatest editors to work on the Bat-titles—where the Green Arrow says, “I thought you just swung down from the rooftops and cleaned bad guys’ clocks.” Batman’s reply: “Occasionally, I do. That’s approximately four percent of my activity. The rest of it is finding out things.”

Pattinson’s Batman is always finding out things, and it’s great to watch. He’s also a Batman who’s still figuring stuff out, isn’t always together, occasionally makes mistakes, and sometimes bites off more than he can chew.

What I especially like is that Pattinson’s Bruce Wayne is young in a way that Christian Bale never was, even when he was doing Batman’s very beginnings. He’s still in seventeen kinds of pain from the death of his parents, and he hasn’t figured out how to balance his life just yet. But he’s working on it. It’s a stage of Batman’s career that we rarely see (though not as rare as [Ben] Affleck’s older version), and it’s a nice change from the prior iterations of Bats on screen. I particularly like the way he evolves from his “I am vengeance” declaration at the top of the movie—an appellation that both Kyle and Penguin make fun of him with throughout the film—to realizing that he needs to be a symbol of hope and justice, not vengeance.

On Morbius:

I will give [Matt] Smith credit for trying his best. He chows down on every piece of scenery he can get his hands on as Milo, and I particularly like his awkward white-guy dancing, showing us how Milo is reveling in being able-bodied for the first time in his life. And at least we know where he stands. [Jared] Leto’s Morbius winds up being neither fish nor fowl. He’s not edgy enough to be the rebel the script tries to portray him as, he’s not noble enough to be the hero the plot keeps trying to maneuver him toward (in particular his mass murder of a boat full of mercenaries is kicked under the bed in the hopes that we’ll forget it ever happened), and he’s not evil enough to be a bad guy (Milo gets to do all the cool bad-guy stuff).

On Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness:

Okay, this is the ninth paragraph of this review, and I’ve hardly talked about the title character at all. Benedict Cumberbatch is never not wonderful, and while I’m still not all that thrilled with his version of Strange taking over the Snarky-White-Guy-With-A-Goatee role from Tony Stark, he’s at least very good at it. Cumberbatch doesn’t get anywhere near the credit he deserves for his comic timing. (If you ever want to be blown away, check out the BBC radio show Cabin Pressure, in which Cumberbatch voices a screwup of a pilot. He’s absolutely hilarious.) I love Palmer’s line to him early on about how he always has to be the one holding the knife, and Strange’s control-freak tendencies are beautifully examined here. It’s something that has been true of the character in all his MCU appearances—even his cameo in Thor: Ragnarok—and [Michael] Waldron’s script does a good job of digging into what that means, and how it affects his personality and his performance as a superhero. We see three alternate versions of the character who pay the ultimate price for that arrogance just to drive the point home. And the question of whether or not he’s actually happy continues to be asked throughout the film, never with an adequate answer.

(Also, I was a little peeved at Strange virtually ignoring the fact that he killed his counterpart late in the film. This is the same Stephen Strange who was livid at being forced to kill one of Kaceilius’ hench-mages in his previous movie and made it clear he would not be put in that position again if at all possible.)

On Barbarella:

Mind you, the movie is terrible, but it embraces its terribleness to a degree that is endearing as hell. It’s pretty much Flash Gordon, with the hero going from weird place to weird place on the alien planet, while fighting to bring down a tyrant. This sometimes results in a very disjointed film, not surprising for a movie with so many credited screenwriters, as well as many scenes that were apparently left on the cutting room floor.

It helps that the movie doesn’t take itself in the least bit seriously. Right at the beginning, you know we’re in something like a farce when Barbarella offers to put some clothes on, and the President tells her no, as this is an affair of state. It’s to Jane Fonda’s credit that she embraces the absurdity, never once winking at the camera or going over the top. A lot of why the movie works is the earnest sincerity of Fonda’s performance, even as everyone around her is hilariously over-the-top—particularly Milo O’Shea’s goggle-eyed lunacy as Durand Durand and Anita Pallenberg’s slinky-seductress act as the Great Tyrant.

On Vampirella:

Director Jim Wynorski has declared this to be the worst movie he’s ever helmed, and the depth of that statement is impressive given the other movies on his resumé: Sharkansas Women’s Prison Massacre, Dinocroc vs. Supergator, 976-EVIL II, Deathstalker II, and all three (!) Busty Cops movies. Yet he still lists Vampirella as the worst!

Not without reason, mind you. Talisa Soto was considered a terrible choice by most comics fans when her casting in the title role was announced, especially since her resumé was mostly leaden turns as a Bond woman in Licence to Kill and Kitana in Mortal Kombat. Vampirella’s iconic look was changed to what was probably a more comfortable outfit for Soto to wear, but which still made her look mostly like a low-rent stripper. And her performance here was just as wooden as it was in every one of her other roles.

In her defense, it’s not like anyone else in this movie is any good. Roger Daltrey’s a really good actor—he’s done Shakespeare! (No, really, he has! He played both Dromios in the BBC Shakespeare production of A Comedy of Errors opposite Michael Kitchen in 1983.) And he was superb in his recurring role of Hugh Fitzcairn on Highlander: The Series.

But holy crap, is he terrible here.

On Sparks:

The overall plot is generally fine, but the details are head-scratching to say the least. Probably the most confusing aspect of the whole thing is the spectacular inability of the title character to figure out that he has regenerative powers until he sees film of himself getting shot in the head. This is a guy who’s already survived hanging himself (he was in the noose for ages before his landlord found him), falling from great heights, and what look like at least second-degree burns all over his body, and he still doesn’t realize that he can’t die? And that’s just the biggest of the many plot holes, from the lengths gone to set up firebombing the hotel when they can just, y’know, firebomb the hotel, to there being absolutely no payoff for the revelation that Sparks’ mother was pregnant when she died, to the utterly unconvincing full recovery of Heavenly from being shot.

On Thor: Love and Thunder:

The movie put a bad taste in my mouth right from the start when Korg is providing exposition about Thor’s previous MCU appearances, specifically mentioning who has died in his life. Frigga, Odin, and Loki are referred to lovingly as his mother, father, and brother, and then the Warriors Three are fobbed off as three other people who don’t get names or listed as friends, just “that guy” and “whoever that is.” Then, neither Natasha Romanoff nor Tony Stark nor Steve Rogers are even mentioned as friends he lost for some stupid reason, and then we see that he’s back in fighting shape after Endgame in a cheap-ass training montage.

While I had some issues with aspects of how Endgame dealt with Thor’s PTSD (specifically the unnecessary fat jokes), in general it and Infinity War did a good job of showing Thor’s pain at losing Asgard and so many of his dearest friends. Here, it’s just him sitting beatifically on a planet wishing he had love, which feels reductive.

On Samaritan:

Unfortunately, I saw the big revelation at the climax coming a mile off. In fact, I saw it coming from the very top of the movie when Sam’s voiceover established that Samaritan and Nemesis were twins who both had the same powers. From that moment, I figured that Joe was Nemesis, because that was the obvious “twist,” and twenty-first-century dramatic fiction writers are never happier when they’re pulling a twist out of their posteriors.

It soured my entire viewing experience, unfortunately, because I was wondering why it never occurred to anybody that Joe could be Nemesis. After all, every argument that he could be Samaritan also applies to him being Nemesis, including guilt over being responsible for the death of his brother causing him to give up his costumed identity. I mean, it’s probably better that they established that they were twins right off, as saving that fact for near the end of the movie would’ve been even worse, but still, one wishes for a way to make that revelation less blindingly obvious.

On Black Adam:

But what absolutely makes the movie are the performances of Aldis Hodge and especially Pierce Brosnan, who knock it out of the park as two of DC’s most venerable heroes. I first noticed Hodge in two episodes of Supernatural he guest-starred on, and he has since gone on to be amazing on Leverage and City on the Hill and any number of other places, and his Hawkman is superb. And that’s as nothing to how perfectly Brosnan inhabits the weary sorcerer. I especially like the rapport between the Hawkman and Fate—you immediately realize that these two have been friends, colleagues, and teammates for a very long time, and the comfortable bond they share is a joy to watch.

If only it was in service of a better movie.

On Black Panther: Wakanda Forever:

Finally, we have [Angela] Bassett, and what the hell were they thinking killing her off? I was wondering for four movies why Ramonda wasn’t the one who took over ruling Wakanda when T’Chaka died, and this movie just proves that I was a hundred percent right to ask that question, because she’s phenomenally good at it. In fact, she’s demonstrably better at it than any of the other four members of her family we saw in the job (T’Chaka, T’Challa, Killmonger, and Shuri). The scene where she owns the UN, punctuated by the Dora Milaje dropping off the zip-tied mercenaries, is truly epic, her ranting at Okoye for losing her other child is devastating, and she generally brings a tremendous gravitas to the proceedings.

Killing her off doesn’t even make story sense, because the last thing Namor would want is a martyr. He wants to demoralize Wakanda, not piss them off. And then they gave Bassett a (deserved) Academy Award nomination, making the decision to kill her even stupider, in retrospect.

4-Color to 35-Millimeter: Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

A movie about death, about grief and mourning, about hidden nations and people who want to take what you have. Introducing the Sub-Mariner and Ironheart to the MCU and also requiring a massive rejiggering of the entire premise due to its intended star’s untimely death, the great superhero movie rewatch concludes its latest semi-annual revival with Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.

An excerpt:

Thrust unexpectedly into the lead role by the death of her costar, Wright shines in this movie as a person in a thousand kinds of pain and no idea how to deal with it. One of the themes of several of the Marvel movies—particularly the ones featuring Thor and the Black Panther—is that being a political leader and being a hero are almost mutually exclusive callings. We already know that Shuri is a capable hero when she’s in her right mind based on Black Panther and Infinity War, but as a leader, she fails pretty spectacularly—for the same reason that she fails as a hero for a portion of this movie. She’s hurting so badly from T’Challa’s death—and her own sense of guilt over not being able to save him—that she’s not thinking straight. This results in a spectacularly wrong-headed assault on Talokan in which Wakanda nearly loses. Indeed, were it not for Shuri’s direct triumph over Namor, Wakanda’s forces—who are not pushovers—would’ve had their heads handed to them. Attacking someone who breathes water from a small ship (small, that is, by comparison to, y’know, the entire friggin’ ocean) in the middle of the Atlantic is not a well-thought-out strategy. Nor is it wise to choose a battleground where you can’t use your battle rhinos. (Yes, this makes three movies in a row with no battle rhinos. What the hell, people? I WANT MY BATTLE RHINOS!)

4-Color to 35-Millimeter: Black Adam

Black Adam is introduced, not in a Shazam! movie, but in a solo movie in which Shazam does not appear. Because that totally makes sense. At least we get the Justice Society, and Hawkman and Doctor Fate are two of the best things about this incredibly uneven film. The great superhero movie rewatch looks at Dwayne Johnson’s vanity project, Black Adam.

An excerpt:

But what absolutely makes the movie are the performances of Aldis Hodge and especially Pierce Brosnan, who knock it out of the park as two of DC’s most venerable heroes. I first noticed Hodge in two episodes of Supernatural he guest-starred on, and he has since gone on to be amazing on Leverage and City on the Hill and any number of other places, and his Hawkman is superb. And that’s as nothing to how perfectly Brosnan inhabits the weary sorcerer. I especially like the rapport between the Hawkman and Fate—you immediately realize that these two have been friends, colleagues, and teammates for a very long time, and the comfortable bond they share is a joy to watch.

If only it was in service of a better movie.

4-Color to 35-Millimeter: Samaritan

Sylvester Stallone’s production company picked up a 2014 graphic novel called Samaritan, which started out life as a film spec script, as a starring vehicle for the erstwhile Rocky Balboa about an old man with great strength who may or may not be a presumed-dead superhero. The great superhero movie rewatch is mildly entertained by the somewhat predictable Samaritan.

An excerpt:

Javon “Wanna” Walton does a very good job of playing an obnoxious thirteen-year-old kid, which is both a strength and a weakness of the movie. Martin Starr is tremendous fun as Casler, while most of the rest of the cast reads their lines perfectly competently. Pilou Asbæk’s wide-eyed demeanor and perfect diction make him rather less than convincing as an American inner-city gang leader, but at least he’s having fun chowing down on the scenery.

posts people talked about on

I wrote a grand total of 102 posts for this year, which included my weekly Star Trek: Enterprise Rewatch, my regular reviews of Star Trek: Discovery, Star Trek: Picard, Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, and Star Trek: Lower Decks as their new episodes were released, my occasional looks at Star Trek: Prodigy, my semi-annual revival of “4-Color to 35-Millimeter: The Great Superhero Movie Rewatch,” and, finally, a review of The Umbrella Academy season three.

Sixteen posts broke 100 comments, and 15 of those 16 were reviews of either Picard or SNW. The one exception was the rewatch of Enterprise‘s “The Andorian Incident,” which is something of an outlier, as most Enterprise rewatch posts have between 20 and 60 comments. (The other Enterprise Rewatches that had more than 60 comments were “Dear Doctor” and “Carbon Creek.”)

As a general rule, though, there seem to be three tiers of average comments on the Trek stuff. SNW and Picard get the most, with Discovery and Lower Decks in the middle, and Enterprise on the bottom.

I’m surprised by the number of comments on the great superhero movie rewatch revivals, as I expected Thor: Love and Thunder, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, and The Batman to have more comments than they did. The real shock, though, is Venom: Let There Be Carnage, which has only elicited five comments, which is I think the fewest number of comments on any post I’ve made to in eleven years I’ve been writing for the site…

Here’s the full list:

  1. 194: “Must it always have galactic import?”—Star Trek: Picard’s “Farewell”
  2. 157: The Terror of Balance—Star Trek: Strange New Worlds: “A Quality of Mercy”
  3. 151: “Welcome back and welcome aboard”—Star Trek: Strange New Worlds: “Strange New Worlds”
  4. 141: “How much worse could it possibly get?”—Star Trek: Picard’s “Two of One”
  5. 141: The Semblance of a Point—Star Trek: Picard’s “Hide and Seek”
  6. 124: Giant Gas Cloud of Death—Star Trek: Strange New Worlds: “Memento Mori”
  7. 115: Secrets and Lies—Star Trek: Strange New Worlds: “Ghosts of Illyria”
  8. 113: “We’ve got a planet to save before breakfast”—Star Trek: Strange New Worlds: “Children of the Comet”
  9. 113: ARRRRRRR!—Star Trek: Strange New Worlds: “The Serene Squall”
  10. 109: Star Trek: Enterprise Rewatch: “The Andorian Incident”
  11. 109: “Now is the only moment”—Star Trek: Picard’s “Assimilation”
  12. 109: “Hijinks are the most logical course of action”—Star Trek: Strange New Worlds: “Spock Amok”
  13. 107: “Top shelf or hooch?”—Star Trek: Picard’s “The Star Gazer”
  14. 103: “I’m not myself”—Star Trek: Picard’s “Penance”
  15. 102: Sledgehammer Metaphors—Star Trek: Picard’s “Watcher”
  16. 101: Childhood’s End—Star Trek: Strange New Worlds: “Lift Us Where Suffering Cannot Reach”
  17. 89: Star Trek: Enterprise Rewatch: “Dear Doctor”
  18. 81: Fairy Tale Fanfic—Star Trek: Strange New Worlds: “The Elysian Kingdom”
  19. 80: The Not-So-Triumphant Return of Peanut Hamper—Star Trek: Lower Decks: “A Mathematically Perfect Redemption”
  20. 75: “It’s not my job to be interesting”—Star Trek: Picard’s “Monsters”
  21. 75: Assignment: Picard—Star Trek: Picard’s “Fly Me to the Moon”
  22. 72: Sophomore Slump—Star Trek: Picard Second Season Overview
  23. 71: The Adventures of Captain Daddy and the Gang—Star Trek: Strange New Worlds First Season Overview
  24. 69: The Chase is On as Star Trek: Prodigy Returns
  25. 68: “I’ll do my best not to kill us”—Star Trek: Discovery’s “The Galactic Barrier”
  26. 68: All the News that Doesn’t Fit—Star Trek: Lower Decks: “Trusted Sources”
  27. 66: “Just keep circling…”—Star Trek: Lower Decks: “Hear All, Trust Nothing”
  28. 65: The Pursuit of Happyness—Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness
  29. 64: Star Trek: Enterprise Rewatch: “Carbon Creek”
  30. 64: “The Cerritos kicks ass!”—Star Trek: Lower Decks: “Mining the Mind’s Mines”
  31. 62: The Wrong Kind of Retro—Star Trek: Strange New Worlds: “All Those Who Wander”
  32. 60: Star Trek: Enterprise Rewatch: “Judgment”
  33. 59: “Fly good!”—Star Trek: Discovery’s “Rosetta”
  34. 58: Back Into the Spider-Verse—Spider-Man: No Way Home
  35. 57: Star Trek: Enterprise Rewatch: “Breaking the Ice”
  36. 57: Star Trek: Enterprise Rewatch: “Marauders”
  37. 56: Star Trek: Enterprise Rewatch: “Fortunate Son”
  38. 56: Star Trek: Enterprise Rewatch: “Vox Sola”
  39. 56: Emptiness and Fear—Star Trek: Picard’s “Mercy”
  40. 56: “We kicked impossible’s ass”—Star Trek: Lower Decks: “The Stars at Night”
  41. 55: Star Trek: Enterprise Rewatch: “Cold Front”
  42. 54: Star Trek: Enterprise Rewatch: “Shockwave”
  43. 54: Star Trek: Enterprise Rewatch: “Regeneration”
  44. 53: “The horsey’s going to bite you now”—Star Trek: Lower Decks: “Crisis Point 2: Paradoxus”
  45. 51: First Contact Revisited—Star Trek: Discovery’s “Coming Home”
  46. 51: Back to Basics—Star Trek: Lower Decks: “Grounded”
  47. 50: Slight of Hand—Mandrake
  48. 50: Star Trek: Enterprise Rewatch: “Dead Stop”
  49. 49: Star Trek: Enterprise Rewatch: “Silent Enemy”
  50. 48: Star Trek: Enterprise Rewatch: “Two Days and Two Nights”
  51. 47: Expected Utility—Star Trek: Discovery’s “Rubicon”
  52. 47: A Gods-Awful Mess—Thor: Love and Thunder
  53. 46: Star Trek: Enterprise Rewatch: “Fusion”
  54. 45: Star Trek: Enterprise Rewatch: “Shockwave, Part II”
  55. 44: Star Trek: Enterprise Rewatch: “Vanishing Point”
  56. 43: “I don’t wear a cape”—Eternals
  57. 43: Vengeance is Mine, Sayeth the Bat—The Batman
  58. 43: Star Trek: Enterprise Rewatch: “Future Tense”
  59. 42: Star Trek: Enterprise Rewatch: “Acquisition”
  60. 42: Star Trek: Enterprise Rewatch: “Stigma”
  61. 42: Star Trek: Enterprise Rewatch: “Cogenitor”
  62. 40: “You engineered a workaround to your own stress-meter?”—Star Trek: Lower Decks: “Room for Growth”
  63. 39: Star Trek: Enterprise Rewatch: “Shadows of P’Jem”
  64. 39: Star Trek: Enterprise Rewatch: “Minefield”
  65. 37: Star Trek: Enterprise Rewatch: “Cease Fire”
  66. 36: The Triumphant Return of Glow Worm and Right Hook—Star Trek: Discovery’s “All In”
  67. 36: Bold Boimler—Star Trek: Lower Decks: “The Least Dangerous Game”
  68. 36: Star Trek: Enterprise Rewatch: “Horizon
  69. 35: Star Trek: Prodigy Arrives at Mid-Season with Hope and Fear
  70. 35: Star Trek: Enterprise Rewatch: “A Night in Sickbay”
  71. 35: Star Trek: Enterprise Rewatch: “Bounty”
  72. 34: Star Trek: Enterprise Rewatch: “Sleeping Dogs”
  73. 34: Star Trek: Enterprise Rewatch: “Shuttlepod One”
  74. 34: “Let’s get to it”—Star Trek: Discovery Fourth Season Overview
  75. 33: Star Trek: Enterprise Rewatch: “Fallen Hero”
  76. 33: Star Trek: Enterprise Rewatch: First Season Overview
  77. 33: Star Trek: Enterprise Rewatch: “Dawn”
  78. 32: Star Trek: Enterprise Rewatch: “Rogue Planet”
  79. 30: Going Boldly—Star Trek: Discovery’s “Species Ten-C”
  80. 30: Star Trek: Enterprise Rewatch: “Desert Crossing”
  81. 29: Star Trek: Enterprise Rewatch: “Precious Cargo”
  82. 29: I’m Not the Me I Used to Be—Star Trek: Lower Decks: “Reflections”
  83. 28: Star Trek: Enterprise Rewatch: “Singularity”
  84. 27: Star Trek: Enterprise Rewatch: “The Communicator”
  85. 26: Star Trek: Enterprise Rewatch: “Detained”
  86. 26: Star Trek: Enterprise Rewatch: “The Breach”
  87. 25: Star Trek: Enterprise Rewatch: “The Seventh”
  88. 25: Star Trek: Enterprise Rewatch: “The Crossing”
  89. 23: Star Trek: Enterprise Rewatch: “Civilization”
  90. 23: Star Trek: Enterprise Rewatch: “First Flight”
  91. 22: The Few Against the Many—Morbius
  92. 21: “We need him, we need him”—It’s a Bird… It’s a Plane… It’s Superman!
  93. 21: “Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori”—The King’s Man
  94. 21: Star Trek: Enterprise Rewatch: “The Catwalk”
  95. 21: Star Trek: Enterprise Rewatch: “Canamar”
  96. 21: The Good, the Bad, and the Interesting—Star Trek: Lower Decks Third Season Overview
  97. 19: “I better adjust my tongue box”—Barbarella and Vampirella
  98. 19: The Worst American Hero—Sparks
  99. 17: Star Trek: Enterprise Rewatch: “Oasis”
  100. 15: Waste of Time—Timecop and Timecop: The Berlin Decision
  101. 12: “A little strategic violence”—The Umbrella Academy Season Three Continues to Bring the Bugnuts
  102. 5: “Lethal protector, my ass!”—Venom: Let There Be Carnage

4-Color to 35-Millimeter: Thor: Love and Thunder

The MCU has its second straight blunder as the fourth Thor film has no Loki, and manages to make a complete mess out of two great comics stories from the 2010s. The great superhero movie rewatch is massively disappointed by Thor: Love and Thunder.

An excerpt:

But then that’s followed by the worst part of the movie. While Waititi and the production staff deserve credit for getting the psychedelic look of Eternity right, Waititi and fellow writer Jennifer Kaytin Robinson decide for reasons passing understanding to turn Eternity into a genie who grants a wish to whoever makes it to Eternity’s realm. (We won’t even get into how “Eternity’s realm” makes no sense, since Eternity is the embodiment of all reality, but whatever.) Of course, when I first saw the movie, I thought to myself, “Self,” I thought, “this is how Foster will get saved. Thor will go to Eternity’s realm and be granted a wish and he’ll wish for Foster to be restored.” We then get there, and Gorr gets his wish—which, true to what we saw at the beginning of the film, is to bring his daughter back—and I’m waiting and waiting and waiting and nothing. Foster just dies in an abject failure of Screenwriting 101.

So here we go again. Natasha RomanoffMay ParkerWanda Maximoff. And now Jane Foster. The MCU keeps killing off its strong female supporting characters, and it’s a really really really bad look, and one that needs to fucking stop. (And it won’t, as I’ll be making this complaint again before this rewatch segment is out.) Yes, we see Foster in Valhalla with Heimdall, which at least opens the possibility of her returning, but there was no reason to have her die here, and the means to keep her alive was right there in the script with the ability of Eternity to grant wishes.

4-Color to 35-Millimeter: Sparks

In 2008, William Katt–the Greatest American Hero his own self–created a comics company and co-created the inaugural title, Sparks, a noir superhero story taking place in the 1940s. In 2013, a movie adaptation came out, and it’s, um, not very good. The great superhero movie rewatch takes a gander at Sparks.

An excerpt:

The dialogue is atrocious, feeling not so much like a noir movie as a badly written parody of a noir movie. The costumes are goofy, though appropriate for the time period, truly, as every “super” looks like they stepped out of an issue of Adventure Comics or the like. However, not a single character has an era-appropriate haircut or fashion sense in their civilian garb. The fight choreography is dreadful, from the Archer-Sparks training montage that is quite possibly the worst example of the breed to the introduction of Lady Heavenly. Sparks’ voiceover declares that she has “power, beauty, and one helluva back kick.” And to demonstrate that, Ashley Bell then delivers a really mediocre back kick on a bad guy.

4-Color to 35-Millimeter: Barbarella and Vampirella

The semi-annual revival of the great superhero movie rewatch kicks off with two 20th-century movies I missed on previous iterations, both based on comics starring heavily sexualized women, one of which is a cult classic and the other of which, um, really isn’t. “4-Color to 35-Millimeter” is back with a look at 1968’s Barbarella and 1996’s Vampirella.

An excerpt:

In comics form, both Barbarella and Vampirella are sexualized to the max. Barbarella leans into that, so much so that it almost falls over, while Vampirella pretty much avoids it. Both characters have a major sleaze factor, and that was completely missing from the Vampirella movie. Which would’ve been fine if there was a good movie to replace it, but there really, really isn’t. It’s just another low-budget sci-fi flick with bad acting, worse effects, a mediocre script, and absolutely nothing to recommend it.

two more of my 1990s Marvel short stories are on audio!

Audible has been releasing a whole bunch of Marvel prose stories — of which there have been a ton going back to the late 1960s, including a huge line that I edited from 1994-2000 — in audio form. My 2005 Spider-Man novel Down These Mean Streets and my two Spidey short stories in 1994’s The Ultimate Spider-Man and 1997’s Untold Tales of Spider-Man have already been released, and two more that don’t feature the web-head are now apparently out….

In 1998, I wrote “Playing it SAFE” for The Ultimate Hulk. This anthology — which covers the Hulk’s career from its earliest days to the present-day at the time I wrote it in the late 1990s — is read by Jeffrey Kafer. “Playing it SAFE” features the Hulk facing the U-Foes, aided by an organization we created for that 1994-2000 line, Strategic Action For Emergencies, or SAFE.

The second anthology we did in the series in 1995 was The Ultimate Silver Surfer, which has the unfortunate distinction of being the worst-selling book in the entire line we did. My boss, the late Byron Preiss, was a huge Surfer fan, and really pushed for this. Sigh. My story is called “Improper Procedure” and, typically for me, has the Surfer teaming up with the NYPD. The anthology is read by Andrew Eiden.

Amusingly, Kafer pronounced my last name right; Eiden did not.

Still waiting for X-Men Legends (with my Changeling story “Diary of a False Man”) and Spider-Man: Venom’s Wrath (which was my first ever novel, written with Jose R. Nieto) to be audio-ized.