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Review: The Boys (2019)

the boysThere has been a trend in comics, television series and movies for superheroes to be darker. To look at the gritty, dirty parts of their world. While some fans are getting sick of this trend, it does lead to some interesting stories. 

The Boys is, once broken down to its core, one very interesting story. The show can be streamed on Amazon Prime Video. The origin story of The Boys can be found in comic form. Created in 2007 by Garth Ennis, this comic didn’t pull any punches, which is just what a fan can expect of any of Ennis’ work. The story was then picked up and revamped for not just the current times but for its current streaming format. 

The Boys starts off with one of the protagonists, Hughie, being dealt a harsh blow at the hands, well sort of, of a superhero. Not just any supe either, but a member of the most elite group in the world, known as The Seven. The Seven are treated like celebrities, or even more so like untouchable Gods. For the last decade, they have been molded by a huge corporation, so it is no surprise that when things go wrong with a supe, it is quickly covered up.

After learning this firsthand, Hugh is left angry and disenchanted. He is approached by Billy Butcher, someone who seems to know not just what really happened to Hugh, but also all about the dark secrets of the superheroes that the world adores. Hugh is then brought into a crazy series of twisted events as he tries to get revenge with the rest of the team.  

The soundtrack for The Boys is a great selection of music. The songs not only set the mood, but also give the audience hints about the overall tone of the scene. Sometimes they are used as juxtaposition against how dark of a twist is just around the bend. The sets are really amazing. The costumes are also well done. Even just looking at the supe’s suits, the viewer can see clues about the heroes. Really, the costumes are amazing and enough of a reason to watch the show in and of themselves. 

Would I recommend this show? That is, honestly, a really good question. I will say that I think that the show is so much better than the comic. The changes made gave characters a lot more depth and really helped the story flow. Without giving anything away, I want to stress that this is a VERY dark show. Pay attention to the rating and the warnings at the start of every episode. By the way, I am so grateful for the very thorough warnings they put up and am hoping that more shows will follow suit. 

It is a very interesting show, but it will not be for everyone. If you are a fan of darker versions of superhero stories, give it a shot!

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ALWAYS KEEP SPARKLING!

Review: The Umbrella Academy

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Everyone wonders what it would be like to grow up with superpowers. How would we be? How would we take those powers and make our own justice? We grew up inspired by the heroes of comic books and want to be like them.

Netflix’s new hit show, The Umbrella Academy, gives viewers a look into the lives of superheroes. The children of the Umbrella Academy were adopted as babies by an eccentric billionaire. He schooled them, fed them, clothed them and trained them to fight. These children have grown up in the spotlight created for them and the consequences that come with that. Some of them left, running from their demons, and some were lost. Now those that are left have been called back to their childhood compound by the one thing that unites them, their “father.” They will be faced with a mystery that will lead them to a crisis. Will this dysfunctional and emotionally stunted group be able to band together to save the world one more time?

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The Umbrella Academy started off as a comic which was rolled out by Dark Horse Comics. Written by Gerard Way and illustrated by Gabriel Bá this dark story took fans by storm in 2008. After rumors of a movie the title was picked up by Netflix as a series. We can all be grateful that Netflix did because The Umbrella Academy is almost too good. The line of dark realism and humor is straddled perfectly in this show.  

The casting is spot on and they give fantastic performances. The sets are masterfully crafted, really allowing the viewer to become immersed in this world. The soundtrack is perfection. It sets the mood for every scene and helps the audience to get to know the characters. The costumes were also perfection. Every character has their own look. It is clear that a lot of attention was put into giving us clues about the characters, both what they want to be and who they truly are, through their clothing. The cinematography is a thing of beauty.

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I would highly recommend The Umbrella Academy. I was blown away by the experience that is this show. Everything comes together to tell an interesting story. The characters are well thought out. You feel for them and root for them. My only words of caution are be careful about binge watching it, and you will, because when the ten episodes are over you will be left with a very real need for the next season. Seriously though, just go watch it.

ALWAYS KEEP SPARKLING!  

Recap Review: Arkham Asylum

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Here we have yet another game that’s been on my radar for a while, but I never got around to playing until now. And boy, did it live up to the hype!

Full disclaimer: my knowledge of the Batman mythos mostly comes from the Christopher Nolan films. I’ve started watching The Animated Series, and I’ve seen bits and pieces of Tim Burton’s Batman and the 1960’s Adam West show. Oh, and The LEGO Batman Movie and Batman and Robin (unfortunately). That’s about it.

So I knew I wasn’t fully appreciating Arkham Asylum the way that a diehard fan would. But I still really enjoyed playing it and it’s inspired me to finally start watching the beloved animated series.

If you haven’t played it yet, here’s the plot: Batman has captured the Joker and they’re off to Arkham Asylum. Shortly after they arrive, the Joker escapes, kidnaps Commissioner Gordon and Warden Sharp, and then traps Batman and members of the Gotham police force in the asylum. Naturally, you play as the Caped Crusader as he navigates the island to rescue Gordon and figure out the Joker’s real plan behind all of this.

To save the day, you’ll have to use a variety of skills and weapons. Sometimes, it comes down to a regular fistfight with the Joker’s hired thugs. Other times, you’re stuck in a room with armed men patrolling the area, and you need to take them out through stealth. Other times, you’ll enter Detective Mode to follow the trail of the Commissioner or whomever else you’re trying to find as the plot progresses.

Personally, I found Stealth/Predator mode to be the most challenging, but also the most fun. That’s when I really felt like Batman. You’ll often have to take out enemies one by one, because if the others see you, they’ll start shooting, and your health drops fast. Then the Joker will often add to the challenge, i.e. rigging explosives on the gargoyle statues to prevent you from hanging from the ceiling, or telling Harley to kill the Commissioner if she or any of the other thugs see you. It’s not unlike the kind of challenges that Batman would face in the movies, shows, or comics. Only this time, it’s down to you to figure out a way around them. That makes it feel all the more satisfying when you succeed.

Another fun element of the game comes from the Joker’s commentary as you navigate the place; he constantly mocks his henchmen as you take them out. Fans of the animated series will be happy to know that Mark Hamill returned to voice him, while Kevin Conroy and Arleen Sorkin also reprised their roles as Batman and Harley Quinn, respectively. They all do a wonderful job bringing their characters to life, as do all of the other voice actors in this game.

I won’t spoil the rest of the game, but I will say that you meet and fight several other major villains in Arkham Asylum besides the Joker and Harley, and they each contribute to the plot in some way. The Riddler also provides two sidequests for you: one to find the many hidden Riddler trophies throughout the game, and the other involves solving actual riddles by examining the right area. I feel bad that I couldn’t get as excited by some of the character cameos, since I’m such a newbie to the Batman franchise. But diehard fans will love them, and the game’s so well-written that newcomers will likely enjoy them too.

Arkham Asylum was originally released for the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and Microsoft Windows. It is now available as part of a collection with its sequel, Arkham City, on the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One. The collection is titled Return to Arkham. I wholeheartedly recommend it if you haven’t played it already.

The Importance of Black Panther and Movies Like It

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 Black Panther hit theaters with the might of a superhero. People have been flocking to the theater and taking to social media in support of this amazing movie. Pictures of fans in costume, sold out theaters and fans renting out theaters to help more fans see Black Panther are just some examples the influence that this movie already has.

However Black Panther is not the first superhero movie to feature a hero who is a person of color. There has been a long road to get us to this point and it is important to pay homage to some of those movies as well.

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1993’s Meteor Man is the first superhero movie to feature a primarily non-white cast. When a mild-mannered teacher gains superpowers, he tries to rid his neighborhood of gang activity. This movie did not do well at the box office, but it still broke ground for more movies to come.

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Not every superhero movie is going to be serious. Like most slapstick versions of this genre, Blankman did not do well in theaters but is considered more of a cult classic. This Wayans’ brothers movie featured a socially inept repairman who doesn’t gain superpowers but, instead, uses his brains to make his own gadgets. Maybe Blankman can teach us that we don’t need Batman’s money but instead just need some know-how to become our own heroes.

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Spawn came out in the summer of 1997 to modest box office success. One of the problems with Spawn is that even though it’s lead is a person of color, many of the other characters that could have been from the original comic were not. Still, it showed that a serious superhero movie could feature a non-white hero and still have a meter of success.

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Blade is probably one of the most successful film franchises in this article. The Blade Trilogy was a first for Marvel. It proved that a superhero movie could star a person of color and be a hit in the box office. Also, yay for vampires.

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Another well known movie that has done a lot to help pave the way for movies like Black Panther is Hancock. Hancock came out in 2008 and was a huge hit at the box office. It is a dark take on the superhero genre that audiences loved.

These movies helped make it possible for Black Panther to be taking its rightful place in the superhero genre. I think that Black Panther will now be able to help inspire and make the way for even more movies like it.

Black Panther has proven many things with its opening week. A cast that is primarily made up of people of color can be successful in the superhero genre. Fans have been wanting this movie. They have wanted this representation of culture and power. They finally have a movie where they can see themselves and they are flocking to it. Fans are showing how this movie has inspired them to lift up others in their communities to be able to experience it.

Black Panther‘s smart writing is truly a gift to the superhero community. We have a hero who is just trying to figure out how to do what is best for his people while finding his footing in his new role. His younger sister is a respected princess who has found her place in STEM. There are multiple women of power in different roles throughout the kingdom. There are strong allies and enemies who have complex reasons for their actions throughout the movie. The visuals, music, costumes and culture are a thing of pure beauty for fans to witness.

Black Panther and aforementioned movies have great roles of importance in the movie industry. Here’s to many more amazing films to come!

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Always keep sparkling! 

The Very Serious Question of Superpowers

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It should not come as a shock to anyone that we here at Real Women of Gaming love Superheroes and Supervillains. We play games, talk comics, watch television shows and even cosplay as them. They inspire us. Sometimes we even play at being heroes in our own way, like when we stand up to bullying or team up with the super force that is Extra Life Charities.

In December 2015, we gamed to raise money for Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) through Extra Life and far exceeded our goals, even if it was just so we would stop reminding our viewers that it was “for the children.” We were overwhelmed by the response.

Now, on April 9th, we will be joining Firelight Studios and  Sir Turtle Gaming to raise as much money as possible for the benefit of CHOP’s Art and Music Therapy Department. This time, it will be on a much larger scale. This marathon of gaming will be for twenty four hours, with multiple streamers and in multiple locations. If you want to know more information, it will be added to the end of this article.

Speaking of Superheroes, it got me thinking about what superpower I would want. I posed this question to the rest of the Real Women of Gaming. See our answers below:

“What superpower would you want and why?”

Read the rest of this entry