It Came From Netflix!| Kung Fu Killer (2014)

 

KungFuKiller

And the winner for “Best Title for a Movie Ever” is….

If nothing else, that is an amazing title. Seriously, look at it! If there’s a movie that will make you sit down and watch it immediately, no matter what your doing, it’s a movie titled Kung Fu Killer. It’s exactly the type of title you need Don LaFontaine  intoning over the trailer.

Released as Kung Fu Jungle in its native Hong Kong for some ungodly reason, Kung Fu Killer is exactly the movie you get when you mash-up a modern-day martial arts film with the route serial killer narrative you’ve seen in every cop show ever made.  It’s Law and Order: Special Fists Unit; Criminal Martial Arts Minds; CSB: Crime Scene Bludgeoners. Okay, that last one kind of sucked.

The film stars Donnie Yen, martial arts superstar and one of the frontrunners in the “You Still Got It!” school of aging badasses (see also: Denzel Washington, Liam Neeson and Samuel L. Jackson). He plays Hahou Mo, a martial arts master serving time after accidentally killing a man during a brawl. When a man named Fung (Baoqiang Wang) starts killing people in relation to mastering the fighting styles of boxing, kicking, grappling, weapons and qi, Mo gets the cops (headed by one miss Charlie Yeung) to get him out so they can catch this….Kung Fu Killer.

(Dear God, I love that title! I want to date this. I want to have sweaty, filthy, obscene pig sex with it until it calls me daddy.)

The fight scenes in the film are all incredibly over the top. Not to the point of the Raid movies, mind you, but still over the top. The kicking fight, for example, is the first fight we see the killer go one-on-one with somebody, and it takes place on a giant skeleton replica the victim is working on. The final fight, in which Yen and Wang do battle on the highways of Hong Kong is probably the highlight of the whole enterprise, with both me going all out a trucks and cars speed by. It’s a real sight to behold, and makes me hope that Wang ends up with his own movie one of these days (Unless he has already; I’m not all that knowledgeable on the careers of Hong Kong film actors).

The actors do the game best with the material they’re given, which if were being honest, isn’t that much to begin with. When I said this was a route serial killer plot, I wasn’t joking; you got your driven mad by the death of a loved one (Wang’s wife died of cancer), the clues he leaves behind being of historical significance (the swallow pendants he leaves behind as an honor/insult to his opponents), obsession with classical music (in this case the a Chinese opera whose name I’m blanking on right now) and general unhinged ethical code. It says a lot that Baoqiang Wang can still sell the hell out of the demented serial killer thing even if its ground so well tread that it has become a three lane highway.

The rest of the cast are all uniformly good, carrying their stock characters with the charm and talent of seasoned pros. There’s also a bit of Cameo Bingo going on, and I’m pretty sure you could fill a whole card if you knew your former martial arts stars. Teddy Chan directs the whole thing with minimal flourish, basically understanding we’re here to see what he’s filming, and not how he’s filmed it.

Overall, you get exactly what you want out a film called Kung Fu Killer. Go forth and watch it yourselves.

It Came From Netflix!| Robin Hood (The Disney Version)

 

DisneyRobinHood

Oo-de-lally, Oo-de-lally, golly what a movie! (Not really)

After a week’s vacation and technical difficulties, we now return you to your regularly erratically scheduled blog post.

Somewhere, on some astral plane unknown to mortal man, some form of cosmic scorekeeper is chronicling every single adaptation of the legend of Robin Hood. Let us raise a glass to that poor creature now, for it must be a most taxing task.

But let’s not dwell on that right now. Released in 1973, the Walt Disney animation house’s version of Robin Hood was given a tepid reception upon release. Having just recently watched it, I can see why. It’s not a terrible movie in any respect, no…But it is an oddly middle of the road production for a company with the prestige of the Disney corporation.

There’s really not that much to recap for the story, since said story is already burned into the cultural psyche. But, for those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about: Robin Hood (a fox voiced by the recently departed Brian Bedford) lives in Sherwood forest during the Third crusade, robbing from the rich and giving to the poor with the aid of his best friend Little John (Phil Harris yet again giving voice to a bear). They particularly love robbing Prince John (a meek lion voiced by Peter Ustinov), hated ruler of England while Richard the Lionheart is off killing Saracens and Moors and other family friendly things.

From there we get the usual: romance with Maid Marian (a vixen voiced  by Monica Evans), a shooting contest that’s actually a trap for Robin Hood, singing of merry tunes, fighting the Sheriff of Nottingham (Pat Buttram with the southern drawl turned up to eleven). It all ends with a prison break and a wedding between Marian and Robin.

One of the things I noticed during this, my first ever viewing of the movie(other than the large amount of Southern accents present in Medieval England), was just how oddly cheap everything feels. Robin, Little John Alan-a-Dale and Friar Tuck are there, but the rest of the Merry Men don’t even get a mention, probably because it would cost too much to animate them. Walking animations seem to be reused (the most glaring of which is  a walking animation that was used for the sheriff during two different scenes). The whole thing feels like a small affair as well, with a cast of probably only twenty or so characters, with only half getting speaking roles.

Oddly, this kind of smallness also works in the film’s favor. It makes the whole affair feel like very good made-for-TV movie…which, given the fact that this was a theatrical release in ’73, sounds a lot like damning with faint praise, really. The voice cast are strong enough personalities to carry the film, with Little John, The Prince and Sir Hiss (Terry-Thomas) being the MVPs of the entire thing.  And the ending is actually engaging, with the prison break/burning castle set providing some tension, at the very least.

For what it’s worth, Robin Hood works. Yes, it’s quite deeply flawed and somewhat generic in execution, but I can safely say that A. you won’t feel you time extremely wasted by watching it, and B. it’s a better Robin Hood movie than Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. That’s something at least.

Crap, now I just feel like I’m being an asshole to Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. I don’t hate that movie, I just think that the Disney version work better.

 

Please Support Pop Arena

Okay, this is gonna be a quick one since I don’t have much to say other than “support this guy, I like his work”. Like my of you, I consume a lot of reviews on YouTube. One of personal favorites is a channel called Pop Arena, run by a guy named Greg. He does Animorphs reviews (both the TV series and the 50+ volume book series have been completed by him) Doctor Who novel reviews, and a bunch of other stuff, usually on request. He’s recently taken the bold step of reviewing full-time, which I find pretty admirable…and a little crazy, but admirable none the less. So in order to help this guy out in my own miniscule way, I’m going to leave a link to his channel and links to three of my favorite videos that he’s done. Let’s help this guy out and help him avoid homelessness, alright?

The YouTube Channel itself

Cybersix: A Series Review

Breaking Spines #3: Croyd by Ian Wallace

Crossing the Wilderness, A Doctor Who Book Guide| Timewyrm: Exodus by Terrence Dicks

What Makes It Work: The Daleks

And now, we come to something that’s more of an expansion/reboot on another blog post that I did in October of last year. I love the Doctor Who series, both in its classic and revived forms. And in both incarnations of this classic show that and excites and infuriates fans over (sometimes even in the space of a scene!) my favorite villain has to be those lovable pepper pot fascists, the Daleks.

 

Sound FX Daleks

BUY OUR TOYS! BUY OUR TOYS!

 

And as such, I’ve spent the time I could be going out and having a life contemplating what truly makes the Daleks work. Not in any biological or mechanical sense, oh no. I’m not that much of a hopeless nerd yet. I mean in a character sense.

What makes the Daleks work, in my opinion, comes down to two important words: simplicity and versatility. The simplicity part is obvious, really: The Daleks, made to hate and kill all non-Dalek life forms from birth, are essentially the ultimate monsters. Psychotic blobs in personal near-indestructible tanks, they’ve proven time and time again to be dangerous and nigh-implacable foes for The Doctor and all life in the universe. There’s no real reasoning with them, no real bargaining or pleading with them. They’re evil incarnate, and they want you dead.

But from that simplicity, a sort of versatility can be had as well. That’s what happens when you’ve existed for fifty plus years and have had legions of writers and scripting your actions. Just ask any comic book superhero whose lasted longer than the decade they were created. Hell, entire books can be, and have been, written on the subject of characters that have lasted decades and how they’ve changed with the times, be it for  good or ill. Superman himself could probably sustain and entire book’s worth, just from the comics and the various other mediums he crossed over into.

 

Wait, what was I talking about?

RedDalek

IF YOU GO OFF TOPIC AGAIN, YOU WILL BE EXTERMINATED!

 

 

 

Oh, right, the Daleks.

The Daleks are versatile in many ways. For one, they can function as a singular threat or as an oncoming army, like any good alien invader. They can also be their own type of threat or simply work as henchmen of a larger big bad (i.e. Davros). The Daleks can also manipulate they’re enemies by making them think they’re either docile or there to help (Power of the Daleks, Victory of the Daleks) can manipulate other sentient creatures to help them out (like the Dalek did to Rose in Dalek) and even on (not so rare now) turn to relative good (Evil of the Daleks, Dalek, Into the Dalek, Dalek Caan at the end of Journey’s End). They can even be genuinely sympathetic…in their own, mass murdering way.

With the Daleks set to show up again in season 10, the Daleks are seen by some as overexposed (thank you BBC and your refusal to make a deal with Terry Nation’s estate). I can’t say I’m tired of the Daleks just yet, though. They’re my favorite villain in the whole show, and I hope they can go on for as long as they can.

Ghostbusters (2016) IS NOT BAD

I’ve left you, my dear readers, completely without content for the last couple of weeks. I apologize for that, it was one of my frequent bouts of writer’s block and procrastination. And since I’ll be going on vacation next week, I’m going to do my best to give you some damn good content before I leave.

As such, let’s talk about the new  Ghostbusters movie.

Ghostbusters

Who you gonna call? A random asshole on the internet!

 

Alright, first off, I want you to know that the original Ghostbusters (1984) is one of my favorite movies of all time. I’ve loved it ever since I first saw that classic on VHS during the mid-nineties, and I’ve loved the franchise ever since. It is, to me, essentially perfect and there is no way in hell any other comedy is going to match up to it.

This all means I knew that there was no way in hell that this new one could stack up. But, this being the internet, every crazy mother*$%#er decided to blow up the “it’s not gonna be as good” to a bloody war crime, with an all female cast being burned in effigy for the crime of not being male. I basically avoided getting into any social media pissing bouts with anybody (a good policy for anyone who frequents the internet), but for those of you who want to know my opinion on the over the top reactions to something that is perceived at “ruining” childhoods, I refer you to here.

As for the plot, it focuses on Kristen Wiig’s Erin, a Columbia University professor looking for tenure. She gets a bit of a fright when she finds out that a book about the supernatural she wrote with her former friend Abby (Melissa McCarthy) is getting a reprint. She goes to convince Abby to pull the book, but a genuine haunting drags her back into the paranormal along with Abby and the engineering savant Holtz (Kate McKinnon). When another ghost sighting brings the New York Metro employee Patty (Leslie Jones) to their door, the four ladies team up to capture ghosts and prove to the greater world that supernatural phenomena exist.

Oh, and there’s this one guy who looks like the 20-something son of John C. Reilly (Neil Casey) setting up devices to give ghosts more power and trying to destroy the world. There’s that, too.

Okay, now that we got the recap out of the way, let’s get to the problems. The characters all feel a bit too immature and cartoony, for my taste. Don’t get me wrong, the actors have a great chemistry and make these characters work for them (especially Leslie Jones, who nails her part right in the head and is probably the most mature character of the main cast), but it just seems kind of off, especially given the fact that the original team all felt like functioning adults. There’s also a lot of what I’m calling Cameo Bingo, where you can’t seem to go twenty minutes without seeing a recognizable face. You can bet all the surviving cast is there to make cameos (save for Rick Moranis, which I found kind of weird), plus a bunch of guys you’ve seen elsewhere and some SNL talent, with the odd celebrity cameo here and there. And while I feel that all the jokes work in the original, there are several gags which fall flat in this one, particularly a running gag of the ladies being forced to look like frauds by the mayor (Andy Garcia) and his bitchy aide (Cecily Strong). Also, Chris Hemsworth’s Kevin is almost completely unnecessary throughout.

But like I said, this movie is not bad. The actors are all game for the material, especially Jones and McCarthy. Wiig and McKinnon are good too, even if their characters seemed slightly more annoying than and quirky than they needed to be. The chemistry between everyone works too, with Wiig and McCarthy working well with each other and believable as two former friends reuniting for a common cause. The action works well and the special effects (particularly the ghost’s designs) are all pretty damn good over all, with even the neon color pallet winning me over after a while. The cameos, while somewhat gratuitous, also work (highlights being Bill Murray as a debunker of the supernatural and Sigourney Weaver as Holtz’s mentor), with only Ozzy Osbourne’s cameo falling completely flat.  And the story is actually a pretty good spin on the original’s, even if the whole “evil mastermind” thing doesn’t entirely work.

Overall, Ghostbusters (2016) is a film that’s worth your time and not deserving of the mountains of hate heaped upon it for existing. Go forth and check it out yourself. Seriously, it’s better than you’d expect.

The Jordan Levells Way Of Writing a Blog Post

blogging

Hey, kids! Since I’ve given you nothing for about a week or so, I decided that I should give you a little insight my writing process. It’s How The Sausage Is Made: Obsessive Geek Blog Edition!

  1. Think up an idea for a post.
  2. Open Word to write post
  3. Get about halfway through the first paragraph before you decide the idea is garbage.
  4. Troll YouTube and forget about post for hours.
  5. Go to work/look for better job, ignoring the post even more.
  6. Get really obsessed over a certain topic and read other people’s articles and post about it ad nauseum.
  7. Realize it’s been three days since you last wrote anything.
  8. Marathon YouTube videos while making empty promises to yourself that you’ll get back to the post later.
  9. Actually get back to the post, start writing.
  10. Change the post to something big and topical news/political event.
  11. Come to the revelation that you’re severely underqualified to comment on said news/political event.
  12. Back to Youtube.
  13. Read comic books.
  14. Fall into deep depression and wonder whether to chuck the whole blogging thing into the bin.
  15. Remember you just started up this ne blog for a fresh start/not have Russian spam sites beefing up your blog views.
  16. Avoid post like the plague more and more.
  17. Wake up one morning and realize you have nothing to give your loyal audience.
  18. Desperately try writing the post again before deleting it entirely.
  19. Try to placate them with a list post that’s at least slightly humourous.
  20. Add superfluous/”random” thought to end to seem funny/ get the list to a nice even number.

And that’s all! See you all when I actually have something.

REVIEW| The Raid 2: Berandal (2014)

Raid2

Warning: This movie contains zero raids.

 

 

Gareth Evans is possibly the first director I’ve ever wanted to simply know.

 

I’ve been watching movies pretty much my whole life, and throughout all of them, I’ve never felt as compelled to get into the mind of a director as I have with one Welsh ex-patriot, apart from Ivan Reitman. This is what has compelled me to listen to the director’s commentary for The Raid (called The Raid: Redemption in the US for some damn reason) and why I’m listening to the commentary of The Raid 2 while I’m writing this.

 

The Raid 2 also came into the world with its own subtitle, Berandal. Unlike Redemption, it actually has a point to be here. Berandal was the title Evans wanted to produce as his next feature after Merantau, the first film he did with Iko Uwais. He couldn’t get funding for that, so he turned around, took inspiration for Die Hard, Assault on Prescient 13 and video games to create the first Raid.  With that film making near nine times its budget back, Evans was able to make the film he originally wanted to…with a few alterations here and there to make it a sequel to The Raid. This was more than likely for the best, since it gives a rich layer of continuity to the film and expands on all that police corruption business almost no one recognized from the first film since the fight scenes were kicking their asses so much.

 

Speaking of which, I’m going to be focusing on the Raid 2 exclusively here. You want know what happened in the first one go read David Demoss’ write up for it, which is how I originally was tuned to looking it up. Or better yet, go watch the Raid films (subbed is the best way to go, but we’ll get to that later). They’re both excellent examples of the action genre from people who know that there’s artistry to making an action movie. That’s something the genre (hell, every genre) needs more of.

 

Our story centers on Rama (Iko Uwais) idealistic rookie SWAT officer who just escaped the worst day of his life (i.e. The Raid: Inexplicable Subtitle). He’s able to take himself, one other surviving SWAT officer and a corrupt senior officer to Bunawar (Cok Simbara), the head of a special task force dedicated to routing out police corruption. Sadly, Bunawar is that special breed of Obsessed Cop™, wanting Rama to come in and go deep undercover for him. To this, Rama says “F#%& that noise! I’ve got a pregnant wife at home and there’s not a damn thing you can say to keep me from her!”

 

Thankfully (for the audience), Rama’s given motivation by Bejo (Alex Abbad), gangster and winner of Jakarta’s Obvious Super Villain awards, killing Rama’s brother Andi (Donny Alamsyah) in the opening minutes of the film. With that old motivator Lord Vengeance moving him forward, he joins Bunawar’s team and goes deep inside one of Indonesia’s finer correctional facilities… for several years, much to our hero’s surprise and dismay. While in stir, Rama buddies up with Uco (Arifin Putra) pretty boy hothead and son of Bangun (Tio Pakusadewo), boss of bosses for at least half of Jakarta. Problematically, Uco has all the whininess of an uptight rich boy and the violent tendencies of a sociopathic would-be king, making him an easy target for any smooth talking man in a suit who, I don’t know, wants to start a gang war between Uco’s family and the local Yakuza representatives the Gotos (Kenichi Endo and Ryuhei Matsuda, respectively). Will a war break out and throw Jakarta’s underworld into chaos? And will Rama be able to survive it all long enough to exact his revenge?

 

As you can tell from the fact that it took two paragraphs to describe this film  in minor detail, this is a much more obviously complicated plot than The Raid 1, which boiled do “One poor bastard must fight his way through an apartment complex to both survive and see justice done.”  I haven’t even mentioned Oka Entara’s Eka or Yayan Ruhian’s Prakoso or the three super assassins that Bejo has under his command. But I don’t want this to run any longer than it has to. I will say that the whole thing, which I’ve heard compared to combining Infernal Affairs and a kitchen sink martial arts movie, does fell a little over-stuffed at times. An extra half hour would have been appreciated by me, but I do suspect that the pacing would probably be shot. And besides, the movie’s already two and a half hours long; I know that I’d be up for a three hour Raid film, but I don’t know if the rest of the world could stand that.

 

As I stated before, there is artistry in making an action movie, and these people have an understanding of that in way most mainstream action directors don’t seem to. They know that we’re not just here for fight scenes or scores of stage blood. We’re here to see those fight scenes staged well, with characters we actually give a crap about. Since Uwais and Ruhian are back and functioning as choreographers as well as acting in it, we can safely say the former is going to be a given. Since its Rama we’re following throughout this picture we can safely say the latter’s accounted for as well. Seriously, special props need to be given to Iko Uwais for portraying possibly the most human nigh-superhuman protagonist of an action movie outside of Steve Rogers. When, for example, he sees Bejo for the first time while spying on Uco’s late dinner with him, you can just feel the rage and pain from just how he acts. It’s a damn fine performance, and makes me wish that the guy would get ridiculously big.

 

In fact, the entire cast is damn good. Everybody involved, from the main guys to the super assassins to the special guest Yakuza are all professional cats, knowing exactly what to bring to the table. Special mention goes out to Arifin and Yayan, who give their characters the right amount of humanity for a whiny/violent jackass and lonely hit man, respectively. Tio and Kenichi play the part of old gangsters with the kind of gravitas that can really only come from guys who’ve been in the acting game for years.  And sweet hell, does Alex Abbad sell the hell out of his proto-supervillain Bejo. I could literally see this guy trying to establish himself in Marvel’s Hell’s Kitchen…or Gotham City.

Speaking of Batman’s stomping grounds, I can safely say this: Dave if you’re reading this, the feeling you had was right. Jakarta in these movies essentially is a pre-Batman Gotham City. With all the pervasive corruption, ultra-violence and near total domination of the mob going on, you’ll feel that ol’ Gotham wind blowin’ on you even before the super assassins (played by Very Tri Yulisman, Julie Estelle and Cecep Arif Rahman) show up, busting out their claw hammers, baseball bats (and baseballs) and those curved knives that I don’t know the proper name for to kill wave after wave of men. If a little bit of that kind of … “hyper reality” I think is the word… isn’t your bag, well go somewhere else. We don’t like your kind ‘round here.

 

(It also makes me hope that The Raid 3 will go the full superhero route, forcing Rama to take up the fighting crime as Jakarta’s own dark knight.)

 

This brings us back to the directing, and my shameless tongue-bathing of Gareth Evans. In the commentary of The Raid 2, Gareth claims to actually not be a fan of ultra-violence. If so, the man at least knows how to use ultra-violence to his advantage; bringing it up when he wants the audience to feel the chaos of the bigger fight scenes, like the prison riot scene. Same thing goes for his use of shaky-cam. He also knows when to pull back be breathe for a while, letting either the true tragedy of a character’s situation (that scene when Rama finally gets to call his wife after three years inside) or the horror at what a character’s done (Uco’s scene in a restaurant bathroom near the climax). Hell, with the one car chase scene at near the two hour mark, the man makes a more exhilarating movie than any of the Fast and Furious movies I’ve ever seen.  This man is possibly the best action directors working today and most definitely needs to be working more.

 

Before we go, let me tell you about a certain scene. It’s the one where Prakoso is sent to kill “the asshole son of an asshole politician” as Bunawar puts it. As he goes in for the kill, we see a bloody machete run through a wood fence… then we see the bloody wound that said machete made. As my mind was calling out “100% Jason Voorhees Approved”, the wound leaves frame as the asshole son falls limp to the ground, moving past the hole in the fence, leaving only Prakoso to be seen through it. I can’t ever say I’ve seen something like that before. And honestly, just makes me want to know even more about this wild Welshman.

 

Oh, and P.S., AVOID THE DUBS! The actors they got to do them all sound like escapees from a late Nineties OVA. I mean really Sony, there are plenty of hard working voice actors out there who could have delivered this dialogue with some talent! Why not drag them here instead of some rejects from Manga Entertainment’s heyday?

 

 

REBITH FILES: Catch-As-Catch Can Edition

Aaaand, we’re back! Sorry it took so long to come up with a new post earlier. It was just a small bout of writer’s block that I’m hopefully over now. Anyway, I’m still going through DC’s new Rebirth initiative and I like what I’m seeing. So, instead of extensive reviews for each of the books I’ve managed to pick up, I’m gonna give a quick hits to what’s going on. Without further adieu, here’s the Rebirth Files: Catch-As-Catch Can Edition.

 

ACTION COMICS & SUPERMAN

I’m lumping these two together because I get the feeling that, even though both books have two different creative teams on them, that they’re gonna have a lot of cross–pollination between them. Superman is basically a recap for the events of Nu52 Supes’ death and implying that he may not return, while Action Comics lives up to its name by giving us several big reveals (Luthor running around playing superhero only being the first one) and setting up for what I’m pretty sure will be an event. While I’m not sure that’s the proper way to go, I can’t say I’m not interested.

STATUS: Enjoyable

 

BATMAN

Bruce Wayne, the crazed loner in a bat costume we all know and love, has yet again decided to bring in some kid as a sidekick. Not as Robin, though, but as, from what I can tell, as the Mighty Morphin’ Yellow Bat. Otherwise, it’s all basically set up for the new creative team, with no hints of nay bigger threat yet (unless Calendar Man turns out to be the big bad)

STATUS: Interesting, but feels just a bit same-y

 

THE FLASH

In essentially DC INIVERSE REBIRTH: the Deleted Scenes, Barry has visions of events (Are they of the past or the future? I have no idea) from his life while investigating a murder that’s eerily similar to his mother’s murder t the hands of retcons Professor Zoom. Then, after a CW approved talk with his old man, he meet’s pre2011 Wally and they agree to investigate the massive retconning that’s going on. This is possibly the most heart-warming of the Rebirth books, and definitely has me pumped for what happens next.

STATUS: Excited

 

GREEN ARROW

Here’s the start (or restart) of the Ollie/Dinah relationship. There’s some other stuff about mole people kidnapping the homeless and masked one-percent dudes bidding to own them, but the main thrust is Ollie and Dinah meeting, arguing and parking their attraction to each other. It’s good, but not anything that can be labeled “must read”.

 

STATUS: Good, Not Great

 

GREEN LANTERNS

Already went over it on in its review.

STATUS: Excited

WONDER WOMAN

This is, hands down, is the best of the Rebirth books so far. I’m not going to go into it all since I will be reviewing it in depth later. So go read it.

STATUS: Must Read

And that’s all I got for now, people.  I didn’t pick up Aquaman or Detective Comics, since money’s tight and I have other books I want to pick up. See you next time.

REVIEW: Green Lantrns: Rebirth #1

GLs_RB_Cv1

And the Lord said “Let there be…a buddy cop comic!”

 

The Rebirth initiative is on at DC! With a whopping four books released this week, It’s time to get to what’s going on with our favorite characters and what new twists and turns they’ll face going onto the next big event. So let’s start this off for our new segment, The Rebirth Files, your unofficial stop for all things Rebirth related!

…Actually, no. You see, I was going to this whole  Rebirth Files thing, until I found out that my local comic book store had sold out of Superman: Rebirth #1, Batman: Rebirth #1, and Green Arrow: Rebirth #1. While I do plan on finding and reading each of those, the realization of how much hunting I’d have to do to make the Rebirth Files work as a concept (along with the more tactile financial necessities of such a project), I’ve decided to scrap that and generally play “catch as catch can” with DC’s Rebirth. As such, let’s talk about Green Lanterns: Rebirth #1 and see if it’s a bright light or a long dark tunnel.

The story is this:

He’s a headstrong Muslim man just recently cleared of bunk terrorism charges! She’s a neurotic Latina formerly possessed by the power of the life sucking Green Ring! Together, Simon Baz and Jessica Cruz are the protectors of sector 2814: the (5th and 6th, respectively) Green Lanterns of Earth!

Well, together in the “they’re both Green Lanterns” sense, no in any “they’re close knit partners” or “they even know the other exists” sense. After and encounter with a Manhunter android is revealed to be a test they both failed, Hal Jordan (first Earth member of the Green Lantern Corps) merges both their power batteries together and gets them to work as a team, with the Justice League as their trainers since the Corps is MIA and Hal’s off to look for them.

Oh, and there’s some talk from Atrocitus about a lost Guardian and a mysterious new ring that can grant him his greatest wish, but I’m sure that’s not important.

Now I never read any of the New52 Green Lantern stuff until I randomly picked up Green Lantern #51 because it had a cover by John Romita Jr. As such, I don’t have the whole story on Simon or his struggles with the Feds or how Jessica became a Green Lantern and freed herself from the Green Ring’s influence. And honestly, I don’t care. Neither does Green Lanterns: Rebirth for the most part. We get some catch up with Simon and the penitent G-man who accused him of terrorism and Jessica meeting her sister and getting out of her apartment, but this issue is essentially all set up.

From what we see of Simon and Jessica though…I think this’ll work. It strikes as slightly cliché (one hard-headed with anger issues, another completely unsure of their new power) but this “buddy cop” dynamic, for lack of a better word, is something that has plenty of potential.

Also, I think it was the smart choice to go with the two newest Green Lanterns for this book. They’re both new enough that not much has been done with them, so it’s a chance for taking these characters in new and interesting directions. Plus, speaking as a black man, it’s always nice to see people of the non-white persuasion headline a book.

The writing is pretty good all around. Johns doesn’t seem to be leaning so heavily on the cheese or the exposition this time round, though that may just be because he has a writing partner in Sam Humphries. The “Red Dawn” and mysterious new ring are pure Johns, I have no doubt about that. I don’t know Sam Humphries as well as Johns, but I suspect the dialogue of Baz and Cruz is certainly him, since they have a different flow from how Johns writes, if that makes any sense.

The art is good but nothing too spectacular. I know Ed Benes from his work on the Justice League of America: The Tornado’s Path, and his work here is as, well, “serviceable” , for lack of a better word, as it was in that book. And I’ve been a fan of Ethan Van Sciver ever since Green Lantern: Rebirth, and he brings just the right amount of slickness and detail he did there. It’s just sad he only did about a few pages and not all the book.

All in all, I give Green Lanterns: Rebirth #1 and 8 out of 10. It’s got me excited for how the Green Lantern books are going. That hasn’t happened to me in a very long while, and I hope I’m not proven wrong.