Sunday, June 28, 2020

Agents of SHIELD S07E05: A Trout in the Milk

Daniel Sousa MVP!!
by Brandon Coulson

Yes, yes, yes! This week’s Agents of SHIELD hit in all the right ways. With that pitch perfect 1970s opening, the cheesy credits sequence with a suitably cheesy voice over alone would have won me over but every scene that followed was just so fun and surprising taking things into directions I didn’t predict (mostly) but still felt completely natural and fitting for the plot.

Agent Sousa was a standout through the entire episode, starting with his reluctance to dress in the style of the times and his general awkwardness over everything “modern”. He even brings up whether his “death” might have always been the team pulling him out of time and how could they ever know what is a result of their meddling or was the original timeline. Mostly they do this to wave it away and tell him, and us, just go with it.

After going back to the bar set redressed once again, very economical mind you, we find out the biggest ripple to come from their mission yet. The Chronocons have kept Freddy Malick and his son Nathaniel alive years past their original death date. We also meet a perfectly creepy young Gideon Malick, and this whole family is pure garbage. Seeing Daisy and the team try to dance around avoiding or playing off the Malick boys was lots of fun but thankfully Freddy still remembers them so we got the the action pretty quickly. After a brief moment of hostage taking of the younger Nathaniel Malick, the team escapes and unknowingly give the Chronocons ideas for later…

The one element that I’m hopeful pays off but gives me a sinking feeling it won’t is Gemma and Fitz’s mystery. We see a strange glowing object in Gemma’s neck which could be left over from her capture from the Chronocons, or something else entirely. I’m still leaning on her being an LMD type replacement of a long dead Gemma but with all the lead up it better be a hell of a pay off.

Another blast from the past was the return to the Lighthouse, a set which has been so reused and redressed it's paid for itself ten times over now. I didn’t mind a bit though since the location completely lends itself to the big plot of the episode. That plot is actually a throwback to Captain America: Winter Soldier. The Chronocons have given Malick the satellite tracking weapons that was the crux of that film and in the same vein are planning to kill prominent SHIELD agents and even future heroes like young Bruce Banner. Super clever and interesting way to go!

So many little things to enjoy throughout the episode, like May getting a contact emotional high walking through the bar, her alias as Chastity McBride, every moment of Patrick Warburton as General Stoner. Enoch throwing us a Terminator reference was not quite period appropriate but still adorable. Then the next big twist was when the Chronocons changed the rules.

Knowing the team would have to follow anytime they jump, the Chronocons decided to jump early and directly to the day of the launch three years later, putting the team in a serious bind. Going forward this could also mean the Chronocons could try and jump when they know team members aren’t near the ship, stranding them in time.

In addition to this smartly written twist, they also captured Mack’s parents and have them in the Lighthouse so the plan to flood the base and stop the launch gets scrapped by Mack entirely. For a second however I thought the show was being lazy as they merely used the Zephyr’s missiles to blow up the launching satellite which seems like an easy “why wasn’t this always the plan?” type moment. Until you realize that by attacking they have revealed themselves to the Chronocons and with the rest of the team captured on the ground things seem pretty dire for the Agents of SHIELD.

All of this added up to one amazing episode. After finally killing Freddy, Nathaniel seems poised to be the next obstacle as he puts in a call to Daniel Whitehall to ask for the secret of transferring abilities, likely from Quake to himself. My biggest wish has been a Whitehall cameo so here’s hoping that’s coming soon.

This season is absolutely killing it though. While admirably reusing sets and locations to keep costs down you never feel like corners are being cut and with great character moments for almost everyone (Yoyo is still feeling quite flat) this was a super fun outing. Sousa was the MVP and reminded us how fascinating an iPhone is! Just a killer season so far.

Purchase Agents of SHIELD from FandangoNow
Purchase Agents of SHIELD from FandangoNow

Friday, June 19, 2020

Movie Review: 7500

© Amazon Studios
‘7500’ isn’t a deep or crazy tale, but it has a charm of an old-school thriller.
by Jeremy Fogelman
Rating:  ★★

Recently I mentioned in a review that I’ve seen and reviewed a lot of movies by first time writers/directors, and that such things are a mixed bag -- more likely so when they also star in the movie. Thankfully this is a case of a movie of one and not the other, and also a case when one creative aspect elevates the other.

7500 comes from writer/director Patrick Vollrath in his feature film debut, and stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Tobias, a “young” co-pilot aboard a German airliner. The movie sets up a few little relationships here and there to start things off -- Tobias has a girlfriend Gökce (Aylin Tezel), also a flight attendant on the plane, and they also have a son together. There’s also the experienced regular pilot Michael (Carlo Kitzlinger), and he and Tobias have a decent, professional rapport quickly.

The world goes from normal to mad suddenly, when a bunch of hijackers attempt to take over the plan -- waiting for the moment when the cockpit door is temporarily unlocked. In the ensuing scuffle, both pilots are injured and only one hijacker makes it in, but is knocked unconscious. Thus begins an escalating set of circumstances, as an injured Tobias tries to make it to a nearby airport to land safely, while the hijackers try increasingly desperate methods to break in to the cockpit.

The specifics of the terrorists are not really important -- they are Muslim, and have a vague plan about mass damage, but it’s almost incidental. The story becomes the tale of Tobias, the only one who can fly things safely as he tries to de-escalate the situation. One of the interesting story threads is that Tobias tries to connect with the youngest, and less hardened of the hijackers (Omid Memar) which carries through the rest of the movie.

© Amazon Studios
It’s interesting, because the story is essentially a very thin, typical sort of one, with stock characters and vague characterizations. A lot of our concern about JGL is the way he can sell the injury and circumstances, which he does very well. The terrorists are a bit one note, but the young hijacker is an interesting idea, and he does help you get a sort of empathy, if not entirely to the level I suspect the movie wants you to.

So one of the strengths is the direction here, because you get a great sense of that sort of confinement increasing the stress of the situation, yet it becomes almost serene when Tobias is all alone and you hear only the sounds of the engine. There’s something there I really liked, a different style on the “trapped in a room” sort of thriller because the cockpit isn’t really a panic room at all, it’s a place of power.

I think there’s something more to the movie that could’ve been done with a sharper script and more time on the characters, but for a first time effort, it’s a pretty solid little thriller. With people starving for content these days, I think this a pretty decent time to spend, not that violent, not that crazy, but tense enough to be interesting.

Agents of SHIELD S07E04: Out of the Past

A beautiful Noir adventure
by Brandon Coulson

Right out of the gate I have to say this week had style, in major ways! Going full Noir with black and white, dramatic voice overs and great camera work, this episode was a ton of fun and great to look at. They really nailed the lighting and movements in this episode to capture that old Noir feel while still feeling completely at home inside of the usual SHIELD style. Making the whole thing a result of Coulson’s damage from the EMP, not seeing color and having his thoughts as a narrative in his head was a stroke of genius. Even threw in a little Sunset Boulevard for good measure too!

Lots of fun touches were all over the episode like the return of our man Enoch, or rather the team’s return to find him still slinging drinks and becoming a high tech phone operator for the team. The multiple calls all leading to the inevitable sad Enoch were set up and delivered with just the right amount of dry humor. We’ve already seen him rejoin the crew in next week’s teaser but I loved the way this thread played out.

My biggest complaint, and frankly it's not that big, was Deke and Yoyo discussing and then deciding to change the future. I think we all knew there would be something along these lines and we can already see where it’s gonna head. They will do something small that ripples and actually makes everything terrible and the team will have to fix it, pretty basic stuff.

The team's focus this week is helping Agent Sousa deliver a package to Howard Stark and fulfill his destiny of being the first agent killed in the line of duty. Of course Chronocons and Hydra get in the mix and Deke ends up captured while the team ends up with the package that was old school McGuffin as we never find out what the damn thing is or what it does.

Coulson uses his wits to get Sousa to believe he’s a contact for the drop and the two head off on a train for some old school spy stuff including a mysterious woman who turns out to be an enemy agent, and after a bit of fun they end up on the Zephyr with the rest of the team.

Simultaneously Deke is finding out who is pulling Hydra’s strings from within SHIELD as his captor is none other than our buddy Wilfred Malick, twenty years older and much more cold-blooded now. I did like showing the line of repercussions from their actions in the last episodes and getting to see Malick in his full blown villain mode. Though having him let Deke go because he saved Malick’s life only half worked for me. The idea a Hydra head wouldn’t think twice about Deke not aging for twenty years rang false. What would have worked is if he let him go but had him followed. A small gripe but it just felt odd to me.

We finally got answers on what’s going on with May. It turns out her time in that other dimension made her emotionless as a base but also able to feel the emotion of those around her, especially if they touch her. I’m still unsure of where this story thread is heading but I’m willing to give them some leeway to see if it leads somewhere interesting.

What was interesting was Mack’s decision in the end to kinda sorta change history but not really as the team switched Coulson out with Sousa to take his bullets and make his “death” appear real, cementing his place as a legend but then bringing him along to the future as what I can only guess is the show adding him as a regular for the rest of the series.

It makes perfect sense as the criminally underwatched Agent Carter was beloved by the few who did watch (this fella right here) and Sousa’s character was a favorite amongst those fans. Already Sousa has been more engaging than Mack or Yoyo have this season. By the way, someone get Mack his Axe Gun please! With the team moving into the 1970s and the tease of the Chronocons helping 1950s Malick, the season continues to be a joy to watch full with surprises!

Agents of SHIELD on FandangoNow
Purchase Agents of SHIELD from FandangoNow

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Bully. Coward. Victim. The Story of Roy Cohn comes to HBO

The gripping documentary exposes one man's evil
by Chuck Duncan

Just mention the name Roy Cohn and the general reaction from anyone even remotely familiar with the man is that he was pure evil. That specific word, 'evil', is the first descriptor people associate with him and that word comes up from pretty much everyone interviewed in the new HBO documentary Bully. Coward. Victim. The Story of Roy Cohn. June, Pride Month, may seem like an odd time to debut a film about a man who publicly denied his own sexuality but it manages to be engrossing and informative, especially how it relates to the man currently in the White House.

The documentary is directed by Ivy Meeropol, the granddaughter of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, the couple from whom Cohn made a name for himself in the world of criminal justice ... or injustice as it turns out. The film actually starts out as a sort of quest for justice for the Rosenbergs, whose sons had spent decades trying to prove they were not spies and did not give atomic bomb secrets to the Russians at the height of the 'Red Scare' in the United States. Ivy gives her father Michael a lot of screen time to give the family's side of the story, and shows archival footage of he and his brother Bobby in the 1970s trying to drum up support to have thousands of pages of documents from their parents' trial released to prove Cohn had witnesses commit perjury to frame Julius and Ethel. There is also footage from a talk show in which Michael had an opportunity to confront Cohn about the lies, but Cohn never admitted to any wrong-doing. With the documents finally released, Meeropol finally got some answers and they were more than a little shocking.

But the story of how Cohn put the Rosenbergs on trial is interwoven throughout with more details of Cohn's life told through interviews with people who knew him -- including a cousin who also refers to him with the word 'evil' -- reporters who interviewed him and others who just had minor interactions with him. Regardless of how repugnant Cohn was as a person -- and sadly the film doesn't really dig deep into why Cohn was so awful except to mention that his relationship with his father seemed to force him to want to prove himself -- the film does shine a light on some previously unknown facets of his life.

Cohn was a beacon to many in New York City, particularly in the 1970s, perhaps because of his power and definitely because of his connections, especially to the owners of Studio 54 which benefited greatly from Cohn's relationship with the police department, keeping the club free from any legal interference. We learn a lot about Cohn's connection to Senator Joseph McCarthy and how it was Cohn who pressed McCarthy to try and pull some special favors for Cohn's then boyfriend who had been drafted, which resulted in the Army-McCarthy hearings which led to McCarthy's eventual disgrace.

We hear Cohn's own words through a recorded interview with Peter Manso that reveal Cohn had a long-standing feud with the IRS and therefore he owned nothing. His lavish home, the cars, the artwork, none of it actually belonged to Cohn so that the IRS couldn't tax him and he'd have nothing to lose should he ever be sued. We learn how Cohn became Donald Trump's lawyer, representing Trump and others against accusations of racism by not renting properties to African Americans. Cohn was also responsible for introducing Trump to the Reagans and for getting Trump's sister a judicial appointment from President Reagan (from which she just recently resigned). The relationship between Cohn and Trump, who has famously said 'Where's my Roy Cohn?', shines a light on Trump himself. Cohn always went for a settlement in a court case. Trump always seems to settle his cases instead of going to trial. Cohn famously never paid a bill. Trump is infamous for not paying his bills. The subject of Cohn's avoidance of taxes makes one wonder if Trump himself has no actual assets to his name and is the reason why he fights so hard to hide his tax returns. Even Cohn's one friend, columnist Cindy Adams, reveals how she had to take care of an unpaid bill to an antiques dealer (she also reveals how she willingly planted misinformation in her newspaper columns for Cohn to help with any legal cases he was working on).

There is the story of a business partner whom Cohn screwed over and how his plan to get back at Cohn backfired spectacularly. Things get a bit lighter when John Waters is interviewed about seeing Cohn summering in Provincetown, offering some laughs as he describes his reaction to seeing Cohn in some of his favorite places in town. But as Cohn becomes ill with HIV, always claiming he simply had a brush with cancer, Cohn's popularity evaporates as only his most steadfast friends, like Cindy Adams (perhaps she was the only one), stuck by him ... and you really don't feel bad for him because he lived and died in a world of his own design. It even seems like Trump turned his back on Cohn, perhaps telegraphing his own fate in a world of loneliness.

The film also includes interviews with Alan Dershowitz (minimal, thankfully), Nathan Lane and Tony Kushner, who made Cohn a central figure in his epic play Angels in America, with scenes from the show featuring Lane in the role of Cohn. Bully. Coward. Victim. The Story of Roy Cohn is a gripping, eye-opening look into the life, death and career of a man who may not deserve such attention but the documentary finally sheds light on the Rosenberg trial, Cohn's influence on those around him, and how those lessons learned are impacting our world today. It is definitely worth a watch.

Bully. Coward. Victim. The Story of Roy Cohn premieres Thursday, June 18 on HBO.

DC's Stargirl S01E04: Wildcat

© DC Universe
Courtney recruits a new member to her new JSA
by Marcos Rivas aka @thesunsetkid56

Stargirl is a cheesier, light-hearted show that stands out in the sea of superhero content, however it doesn’t discount the fact they handled a current and relevant subject for today’s youth. Some will say it’s tricky to handle a strong subject like “slut-shaming”, but I think it was handled beautifully. We ultimately got a story filled with girl power and sisterly support.

The episode focuses on Yolanda Montez and the issues she's been going through in her own life. Once a bright, promising student, a simple picture that was stolen and then used to shame her has turned her life upside-down and made her a shameful outcast even in her own family. It's sad and shocking to see just how her life has changed, living with a family that is nowhere near ready to forgive her for bringing shame to them in the small town. What I didn’t get is where are the adults? This was more than slut shaming, it was more like revenge porn.

© DC Universe
Nonetheless, it's Yolanda that Courtney Whitmore chooses to make the first member of the new Justice Society. In a twist from the comics, all one needs to become the new Wildcat is to wear the old Wildcat's cowl. It' shows just how much Stargirl cares about expanding its world by introducing characters weekly instead of overreaching arcs. Though it takes some convincing, Wildcat and Stargirl finally become a superhero duo. They instantly bond both as friends and as superheroes with their very first mission at the hospital as they learn new information about Brainwave. There's also a lot of heart in this episode. Yolanda's confrontation with her family as she rids herself of her own shame is a moving scene.

Stargirl deviates from The CW model of showcasing moody, dramatic teenagers, instead letting them be genuinely flawed and awkward and hopeful. The series has shown that it's willing to tackle important problems facing teenagers today and having them come out stronger for confronting it.

Although it feels like we are a whiles away from getting a full blown JSA, Stargirl shines every week. Let’s hope it continues being a breath of fresh air.

DC's Stargirl S01E03: Icicle

© DC Universe

Courtney uncovers new dangers as a tragedy changes everything.
by Marcos Rivas aka @thesunsetkid56

After an action-packed start, Stargirl brings us a more character-driven storyline as various members of the Injustice Society are shown so we get more character development. It gives us a bit more clarity on Project America.

We start with a flashback to Blue Valley, eight years ago. Jordan’s wife Kristie is on her death bed and makes him promise to put the country first. “If anyone tries to stop you, destroy them,” she whispers, before passing away before him. Flash-forward, the victory over Brainwave has Courtney on Cloud 9, only for Pat to convince her that more danger is to come. At school though, things are crazier than usual following the sign being blown to bits the previous night. William’s son Joey arrives to do card tricks for Courtney but despite him choosing the wrong card, she plays along and lets him revel in the applause that follows.

Jordan arrives at the hospital and calls William, eventually meeting and discussing Brainwave’s plans and how he was never a team player. Jordan decides to deal with Stargirl himself, starting with arriving at the office where Barbara happens to be working and settling in to oversee the project. It's here he learns that Courtney is Barbara’s daughter. Understanding what this means, Stargirl and ST.R.I.P.E. both work together to confront Icicle. The battle ensues and we see Pat immobilized. Pat manages to free himself just enough to save a school bus from certain doom. This is where the episode gets dark. While the fight is happening, we cut to Joey just as he fails to see a rushing car coming his way. Joey gets hit by the car which brings the fight to an abrupt close.

© DC Universe
In the wake of this turmoil, William is overcome by grief while Courtney and Pat talk together about the different heroes that are now gone, including Easter Eggs like Wildcat and Flash. Courtney decides to try and recruit new faces to fill the boots of who’s come before and sets to work doing just that.

William full of anger and grief confronts Jordan, threatening him the process, which leads to Jordan freezing him to death, leaving behind a widow and grieving parent. Cameron returns home and it's here we learn he’s actually Jordan’s son, making his friendship with Courtney more intriguing than ever. Project: New America continues to move forward while Courtney decides she can’t do it alone. She ends the episode with “Let’s do some recruiting,”

This week’s entry into Stargirl’s world was filled with more character development and a change of pace. DC Universe and The CW delivered what is said to be the darkest episode of the season. It hits on all marks. Stargirl continues to be a shining star for both the DC Universe and The CW.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Welcome to the DC FanDome!

Join fans from all seven continents for the largest gathering of talent, announcements and content reveals in the history of DC

Save the date and prep your cosplay!  On Saturday, August 22, starting at 10 a.m. PDT, Warner Bros. will welcome fans everywhere into the DC FanDome — a free virtual fan experience where no badge is required.

Imagine all the Super Heroes and Super-Villains you’ve ever loved finally coming together in one place to celebrate DC’s past, present and future. Accessible for 24 hours at, the global event will immerse fans into the DC Multiverse, with new announcements from WB Games, Film and TV, and comics, as well as an unprecedented opportunity to hear from the casts and creators behind your favorite feature films and TV series, including: Aquaman, The Batman, Batwoman, Black Adam, Black Lightning, DC Super Hero Girls, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, DC’s Stargirl, Doom Patrol, The Flash, Harley Quinn, the SnyderCut of Justice League, Lucifer, Pennyworth, SHAZAM!, The Suicide Squad, Supergirl, Superman & Lois, Teen Titans GO!, Titans, Watchmen, Young Justice: Outsiders and, coming this fall to theaters worldwide, Wonder Woman 1984.

The DC FanDome is the place to hear highly anticipated announcements and the latest news, see exclusive footage, and venture into themed worlds designed to entertain everyone from movie and TV superfans to gamers and readers, to families and kids. With special presentations to engage fans in every time zone across the globe, you’ll have the opportunity to have an experience that’s all your own. Inside this virtual world, fans will also get access to localized events, featuring the faces and voices from countries around the world in their local language. No matter where you live, your age or your level of fandom, there is something for you.

Ann Sarnoff, Chair and Chief Executive Officer, Warner Bros., said, “There is no fan like a DC fan.  For more than 85 years, the world has turned to DC’s inspiring heroes and stories to lift us up and entertain us, and this massive, immersive digital event will give everyone new ways to personalize their journey through the DC Universe without lines, without tickets and without boundaries. With DC FanDome, we’re able to give fans from around the world an exciting and unparalleled way to connect with all their favorite DC characters, as well as the incredible talent who bring them to life on the page and screen.”

Exploring the DC FanDome

The epicenter of the DC FanDome is the Hall of Heroes, where you can experience special programming, panels and content reveals from a wide variety of films, TV series and games, available in several languages, including Brazilian Portuguese, Chinese, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean and Spanish. From there, navigate deeper into the DC Multiverse, exploring five additional satellite worlds, each with its own localized content and unique activities and one world fully devoted to our younger fans:

  • DC WatchVerse: Here's where you grab a seat, sit back and join our virtual audience and become completely engrossed in hours of must-see content from around the world. Everything from panels and exclusive screenings to never-before-seen footage, featuring cast, creators and behind-the-scenes crew from across DC Films, TV, Home Entertainment and Games.
  • DC YouVerse: Venture into this world where the FANS are the stars to see the most amazing user-generated content, cosplay and fan art from around the world, including, perhaps, your own.
  • DC KidsVerse: Need a way to entertain your kids for hours on end? We’ve got you covered inside a special world, which can be accessed directly at This area features a broad range of family-friendly activations for our younger fans.
  • DC InsiderVerse: This creativity-based world contains a centerpiece video featuring legendary artist and DC CCO/Publisher Jim Lee, President of DC-Based Film Production Walter Hamada, and creator of the DC TV Arrowverse, Executive Producer Greg Berlanti, welcoming fans with a 101-style introduction to the DC Multiverse. From there, go behind the scenes with the master artisans who bring DC to life in all its forms, from comic books to games, TV, movies, theme parks, consumer products and more.
  • DC FunVerse: Take your DC FanDome experience and gather cool shareables; check out our comic book reader; DIY cool WW84 Golden Armor and Batmobile kits; plus digital giveaways and a store filled with merchandise, including some limited-edition exclusives.

Pull Up to the Blerd & Boujee House

Where my Blerds at? The second annual celebration of Black nerd culture returns with the all-new Blerd & Boujee House at DC FanDome, bringing Blerds, LatinxGeeks and all nerds “party-with-a-purpose” vibes. As anyone lucky enough to get into the first-ever Blerd & Boujee boat party (featuring DJ D-Nice) at San Diego Comic-Con 2019 can attest, fans will not want to miss connections and conversations designed for the culture.

Calling All Fans!

There’s nothing more important to DC than our fans, and we want to showcase you! In partnership with Talenthouse, DC FanDome has launched a call for your best DC Fan Art & Fandom displays.  Show us your cosplay, makeup, tattoos and even your own Batcave! Be sure to submit your best at for a chance to be featured inside this virtual world event, and demonstrate to people in your home country and across the globe that you are the ultimate DC Super Fan. Selected artists on the day of our event will be voted on by the community in each of our two competitions in order to help our judges pick selected artist winners. Selected artist winners will receive part of a cash prize pool courtesy of DC and Talenthouse.*

Be sure to check back at our official site,, frequently for additional updates on what will be happening inside the DC FanDome, including exciting new content on our new blog, the Daily Star, which kicks off with a welcoming note from Jim Lee himself.  Also, follow the social channels below for frequent updates about participating cast members, creators, writers, artists and game developers you can expect to see.



*Each competition is subject to its official rules available at, which include eligibility and entry requirements, judging criteria, and an explanation of how sponsors may use your submission.

Monday, June 15, 2020

DC and HBO Max Announce New Original Digital Comic Series

© HBO Max
Published By DC With Exclusive Cover Art By Jim Lee, Amanda Conner And Jorge Jimenez
from HBO Max Press Release

Three new comic book superheroes are taking it to the “max” in the brand-new original digital comic book series titled To The Max, published by DC, in collaboration with HBO Max. To The Max features stories about ordinary people achieving their maximum potential when they transform into extraordinary superheroes with the help of another new character, Max the dog.

These new comics also celebrate the recent launch of the new HBO Max and are chock-full of 'Easter Eggs' and fun nods to much of the ten-thousand hours of premium content currently available on the streaming platform such as Friends, HBO’s Game of Thrones, The Big Bang Theory, HBO’s Sex and the City, Scooby-Doo and more. Can you find them all?!

Free to download starting today, this initial launch of the digital comic includes three 8-page chapters featuring everyday people, Hector, Brian and Olivia (HBO), who meet Max the dog, gain access to different superpowers and become able to teleport, shape shift, fly and save lives around the world. The comics embody the theme that HBO Max has something for everyone and that everyone can be their own superhero and take themselves to the max!

“We are thrilled to partner with the amazing team at DC to present this creative, personification of HBO Max as a team of powerful comic book superheroes,” said Robert Greenblatt, Chairman, Warner Media Entertainment and Direct-To-Consumer. “These fun, original stories depict a diverse range of ordinary individuals who are symbolic of the depth and breadth of programming that is available on the platform, driving home the message that HBO Max has something for everyone.”

“DC and HBO Max both share in the belief that great storytelling is one of the most powerful ways to engage and connect with people,” said DC Chief Creative Officer and Publisher Jim Lee. “We are excited to share these new and original stories of Hector, Brian, Olivia and Max with the DC fans, and all fans of great entertainment content. These are superhero stories at their core, but they are also a pop culture scavenger hunt for the most media savvy!”

© HBO Max

To The Max Comics Available for Free on Digital Retailers Starting on June 15:

  • To The Max: Hector - When a schoolteacher finds a mysterious device, it sends him flying into an incredible outer-space rescue mission. Cover art by Jim Lee, penciled by Scot Eaton, and written by Ivan Cohen.
  • To The Max: Brian - A scuba instructor is transformed into a superhero who must save innocent people from a deadly storm in Singapore. Cover art by Jorge Jimenez, penciled by Hendry Prasetya, and written by Ivan Cohen.
  • To The Max: Olivia - A down-on-her-luck standup comic is all that stands between her audience and gun-toting criminals who plan to rob a Las Vegas casino. Cover art by Amanda Conner, penciled by Laura Braga and written by Ivan Cohen.

To The Max digital comics will be available for free with participating digital retailers, including DC UNIVERSE,, Apple iBookstore, Google Play Store, Kindle, Nook, Hoopla, Overdrive, and in the DC Comics app, ComiXology app and Madefire app for iOS and Android.

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Agents of SHIELD S07E03: Alien Commies from the Future!

Laughs aplenty
by Brandon Coulson

Hopping from the 1930s to the 1950s this week, Agents of SHIELD embraced the sci-fi kitsch of the time in the opening credits and carrying through the episode. Having Area 51 as a SHIELD testing facility made perfect sense and allowed for several fun little jokes about the Zephyr as a “flying saucer” including the opening featuring a young couple “star gazing”.

We got a clearer look at the hierarchy of the Chronocons this week as we see what they refer to as a Predictor and Hunters with the Predictor clearly in charge. This Predictor named Sibyl seems poised to be our main antagonist on the Chronocon side.

Back with the team there was some fallout with Mack towards Daisy and Deke disobeying orders last week though I expected Mack to take a much harder stance than the slap on the wrist the two got here. I also got the distinct feeling that Daisy did not get the message and there will be more attempts to change history going forward.

I really enjoyed the explanation of the terms and time limits on their jumps that we got here as it is described as drifting in the Chronocons' wake, no real control but just trailing them to where and whenever they go. Still a lot of questions to be answered but a nice start.

Our main crux this week was a test at the Area 51 base of a new ion fusion engine with SHIELD big wigs from all over coming to attend the test. A prime target for stamping out what at that point was still a fledgling organization.

Now last week I complained that the time period was an afterthought and I was pleasantly surprised to see this episode took full advantage while staying thrifty on the budget. Basically keeping the entire episode on the Zephyr, the base, and a diner set. Yet still giving plenty of opportunities for social commentary and biting humor at how backwards people in the past were.

The main ways they did this were at the Diner where the looks from the waitress to Mack, as well as a look at the separated bathrooms for blacks and whites, gave some contrast to Coulson’s comments about a golden age of innovation.

Another source of both comedy as well as commentary came from the head of the DOD, a typical racist. sexist, every -ist there is kind of guy. The interrogation moments with the bulk of the team were pretty hysterical. Some more drawn out like Mack’s and then having May just walk in and drop a “he called me Oriental” line with her deadpan face, just perfect. Having them send Deke in to try and when he realizes it's because of his whiteness, just perfectly played by the whole cast.

Add to this how Coulson and Simmons go undercover to sneak into the base with Simmons passing herself off as Peggy Carter? I loved this episode! Simmons' glee at playing one of her idols and then being discovered by Daniel Sousa was a joy. He even calls her “fake” accent bad. Though it’s sad not to have the real Carter, they made the best of it here.

Another hysterical sequence was the interviews to out the Chronocons by causing emotional responses in the scientists on base. This was just such a fun and funny episode that the fact the few action scenes were a little less than impressive didn’t bother me a bit. Not that they were bad per se but definitely a little sloppy and not as well choreographed as we’re used to.

The main attack being a twist to turn project Helius into a bomb was a clever angle and gave the different groups focus as one tried to stop the countdown and the other fought the Chronocon responsible. With an EMP eventually saving the day and frying the two Chronocons as well as Coulson, for now of course.

Really just a super fun and wonderfully comic outing that fired on nearly all cylinders, giving May and Yoyo some brief but needed vulnerability while still keeping it witty and light, the writing was just on point and a perfect example of how this series shines.

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Friday, June 5, 2020

Agents of SHIELD S07E02: Know Your Onions

Taking a shot for the team...
by Brandon Coulson

SHIELD this week wrapped up our 1930s storyline and made a significant tie into the larger MCU, though did it in a way that is more tell than show. The main crux of this week was saving, or rather whether to save, Wilfred Malick and thereby secure the origins of Hydra.

The mystery substance he is delivering turns out to be a key ingredient in the super soldier serum that created Captain America and of course his rival, the Red Skull. The lead up to this felt a bit over convoluted with Simmons' lengthy testing to identify the element, though how does she know what to test for as no one is supposed to know how to make the serum anymore? Saving the scene from itself was Patton Oswalt’s brilliant delivery and telling her to cut to the chase and skip all the jargon.

I was hoping for something that more directly connecting our story to the MCU other than a line of dialogue, like the man who was picking up Malick. Why not make that Arnim Zola or some other character who could tie things together more? As it was this felt like a cheap way to make this part of the bigger Marvel story.

It was still a ton of fun though, action was solid especially a standout fight between May and Enoch. That fight got downright brutal and nasty in parts, ending with poor Enoch’s human facade cracked open revealing the robot underneath. May in general has me perplexed as I don’t know what is driving her actions, I’m sure all will be revealed, but I don’t recall her injuries last season being used to set up any deep changes to her personality so the lack of empathy and stone cold nature she’s adopted will need a hell of an explanation.

Actually odder than her violence or even disregard for Coulson’s LMD return, the way she immediately submits back to her healing pod when the team returned was eerily complacent suggesting there is something definitely wrong with our Agent May. Perhaps when Simmons “saved” her there was some tinkering done under the hood.

Oddly even with everyone split up on their own little missions this episode felt smaller than last week. So much less interaction with the world occurred and most of our scenes were each group in a room or as with Mack, Deke and Freddy in a train car. The part of the first episode that really had me all in was seeing them clash with the culture of the past but that just wasn’t happening here. You could have had this episode in almost any time period with very little changed.

Who had second week before the team basically threw away the rule book about changing the past or letting their cover slip? Almost everyone who could spill the beans did so and with no concern for affecting the timeline. Koenig got brought on board their ship they dump the whole World War II and Red Skull stuff in his lap. Hell, Enoch even tells him he will be a friend of SHIELD’s parent organization.

Staying on the Koenig stuff, he is the one to make a last stand for Freddy’s soul in the end and gets shot for his troubles. For a moment this felt like a nicely earned death. Show Freddy really is a monster already and give Patton a heroic send off … but no, shot in the shoulder shrugs it off, he’s gonna be fine folks! In fact after a last minute addition of a closing time window (that’s a thing apparently) We see Enoch left behind and tending bar for Koenig. Enoch has lived centuries already so I’m sure he’ll be popping up later.

This time window means, much like Sliders, the team has to achieve their goals in a set time or risk being stranded in the past. This ticking clock is a fine addition but Simmons neglecting to tell anyone feels out of character and the randomness of it will hopefully be explained.

This episode was fun, very fun even. But it was not a particularly memorable outing for the series. Whether budget constraints or just writing was the cause I’m unsure, but when you’re doing time travel take advantage of that setting to get as much interaction as you can with the fish out of water aspects. Luckily we were teased with a big cameo next week as Daniel Sousa, Peggy Carter's partner, is coming to SHIELD! We all are hoping for a Peggy cameo but my heart tells me it isn’t happening so maybe as a consolation prize we can wrap up some hanging threads from the fantastic Agent Carter series.

Agents of SHIELD airs Wednesdays at 10:00 PM on ABC.

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