Monday, April 29, 2019

New Evangelizers Post: Mercy is an Act of Faith

I have a new article up at  
Yesterday was the Feast of Divine Mercy. It is a devotion of special significance to me. The Mercy of God has been the focal point of my spiritual life since it truly began.

At the services yesterday, the priest preached about God’s great Divine Mercy for us. But he also emphasized that it does not end with God. We are called to be merciful to the people in our lives. This includes not only those who are sorry for hurting us, but also the unrepentant. This, the priest acknowledged, was a tall order.

I have written before about the distinction between justice and mercy as well as the relationship between the two. And while both are good, mercy is the higher and better thing. The great religious thinkers and saints always said that if you are to make an error, you should err on the side of mercy.

To be clear, our calling must sometimes include acting with justice. You need justice in order for mercy to make any sense. As a parent (or in my case a teacher), bad behavior must be tempered with just punishments. If not, the child will have a malformed moral center. You see this in those people whose parents do not discipline them or teachers who do not hold their students accountable. In both of those cases, the children are less prepared to be strong, responsible adults. And this principle can be applied to our system of civil laws and punishments. It would be irrational to simply empty all of the prisons in the name of mercy.

But when the decision is unclear or where either mercy or justice would be an appropriate response, we are called to act with mercy. This is difficult for many reasons. We often have to swallow our pride, deny our anger, and not brood over injury. But above all, giving mercy over justice is an act of faith.

You can read the whole article here.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Feast of Divine Mercy 2019

Very few feast days are as important to me as today.

Much of what is printed below I have written before.  But with each year I age, I become more and more aware of how much I need God's Mercy.

There is a story about Socrates I heard once.  A phrenologist came to Athens and claimed to be able to read people's souls by studying the contours of their head.  Socrates, being a person who was open to new ideas asked to be tested.  The phrenologist examined Socrates and said that his skull showed he was proud, lustful, greedy, wrathful, and other things like this.  Socrates' followers began to laugh at this diagnosis of their moral teacher.  But Socrates very seriously rebuked them and said, "This man is telling the truth.  I struggle with these every day of my life."

I bring this up because sometimes when I tell people that I am the biggest sinner that they've met, they think I am only giving some kind of pious hyperbole.  But it is far from the case.  The only soul I can see into is my own and I see much darkness there.  No, I am not about to catalogue all of my vices.  But sometimes when I receive compliments of a moral or spiritual nature, I burn a little inside.

This is partly my fault.  I have found that when people give you compliments the most gracious thing to do is to accept it and say thank you.  Otherwise, that person feels admonished.  Also, I think I put on too much of a holy exterior image.  That isn't to say that I am not spiritual.  But sometimes I feel like the charge Jesus leveled against the Pharisees applies to me:  "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness." (Matt 23:27)

Especially as a religion teacher, the weight is sometimes overwhelming (though I speak as a weak man).  I stand in front of others proclaiming Christ while I too often fail in following Him.  Every day I pray before Jesus, "Please do not hold my sins against my students, but help me to give them only You!"

I bring all of this up only to emphasize how absolutely important today's feast is to me.

The Feast of Divine Mercy reminds me that though my sins burn and blister my heart, Jesus has an ocean of Mercy to drown that fire.

I know that God owes me nothing.  Or rather, what He owes me is wrath.  But He wants to give me Mercy.  It would be just if I received punishment.  But He wants to pour out forgiveness.

If it were not for Christ's incredible emphasis on His Mercy, I think that I would fall into despair.  It takes so much faith to believe that God is not fed up and disgusted with my lack of progress in the spiritual life.  But even that is my own projection of my weak love onto the infinite love of God.

And even here in this struggle, there is a grace.  As 2 Corinthians 4:7 says, "But we hold this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing power may be of God and not from us. "

My own weakness is there to keep me from ever thinking that the good that comes about through me is somehow from me.  All the good that I have ever done is only by the power of God.  He is the treasure, I am the earthen vessel.  Glory be to Him.

So today, please turn to His Mercy.

It does not matter what your sin is, He wants to forgive you!  He wants to put that old life behind you and begin again.

It does not matter how many times you've turned back and turned away.  Today, return to His Mercy.

Yes, you have sinned.  Join the club.  I am a lifelong member who has not graduated from even the most basic lessons.  I say this not to minimize my sins or your sins.  Every sin is another nail to pierce the Flesh of the Lamb of God.  We must be truly sorry and accept responsibility for them and resolve to sin no more by God's grace.

And then we must embrace His Mercy.

As one website writes:

The Divine Mercy message is one we can call to mind simply by remembering ABC: 

A - Ask for His Mercy. God wants us to approach Him in prayer constantly, repenting of our sins and asking Him to pour His mercy out upon us and upon the whole world. 

B - Be merciful. God wants us to receive His mercy and let it flow through us to others. He wants us to extend love and forgiveness to others just as He does to us. 

C - Completely trust in Jesus. God wants us to know that the graces of His mercy are dependent upon our trust. The more we trust in Jesus, the more we will receive. 


And on this Feast Day, I invite you to pray with me not only the Chaplet of Divine Mercy (click this link to learn how) and pray with me the Divine Mercy Litany:

The Love of God is the flower—Mercy the fruit. 

Let the doubting soul read these considerations on Divine Mercy and become trusting.

Divine Mercy, gushing forth from the bosom of the Father,
I Trust in You.
Divine Mercy, greatest attribute of God, 
I Trust in You.
Divine Mercy, incomprehensible mystery, 
I Trust in You.
Divine Mercy, fountain gushing forth from the mystery of the Most Blessed Trinity
, I Trust in You.
Divine Mercy, unfathomed by any intellect, human or angelic,
I Trust in You.
Divine Mercy, from which wells forth all life and happiness,
I Trust in You.
Divine Mercy, better than the heavens,
I Trust in You.
Divine Mercy, source of miracles and wonders, 
I Trust in You.
Divine Mercy, encompassing the whole universe, 
I Trust in You.
Divine Mercy, descending to earth in the Person of the Incarnate Word,
I Trust in You.
Divine Mercy, which flowed out from the open wound of the Heart of Jesus, 
I Trust in You.
Divine Mercy, enclosed in the Heart of Jesus for us, and especially for sinners, 
I Trust in You.
Divine Mercy, unfathomed in the institution of the Sacred Host,
I Trust in You.
Divine Mercy, in the founding of Holy Church, 
I Trust in You.
Divine Mercy, in the Sacrament of Holy Baptism, 
I Trust in You.
Divine Mercy, in our justification through Jesus Christ,
I Trust in You.
Divine Mercy, accompanying us through our whole life,
I Trust in You.
Divine Mercy, embracing us especially at the hour of death,
I Trust in You.
Divine Mercy, endowing us with immortal life, 
I Trust in You.
Divine Mercy, accompanying us every moment of our life,
I Trust in You.
Divine Mercy, shielding us from the fire of hell, 
I Trust in You.
Divine Mercy, in the conversion of hardened sinners,
I Trust in You.
Divine Mercy, astonishment for Angels, incomprehensible to Saints,
I Trust in You.
Divine Mercy, unfathomed in all the mysteries of God,
I Trust in You.
Divine Mercy, lifting us out of every misery, 
I Trust in You.
Divine Mercy, source of our happiness and joy, 
I Trust in You.
Divine Mercy, in calling us forth from nothingness to existence,
I Trust in You.
Divine Mercy, embracing all the works of His hands,
I Trust in You.
Divine Mercy, crown of all of God's handiwork, 
I Trust in You.
Divine Mercy, in which we are all immersed, 
I Trust in You.
Divine Mercy, sweet relief for anguished hearts, 
I Trust in You.
Divine Mercy, only hope of despairing souls, 
I Trust in You.
Divine Mercy, repose of hearts, peace amidst fear, 
I Trust in You.
Divine Mercy, delight and ecstasy of holy souls, 
I Trust in You.
Divine Mercy, inspiring hope against all hope, 
I Trust in You.

To The Divine Mercy
I fly to Your mercy, Compassionate God, who alone are good. Although my misery is great and my offenses are many, I trust in Your mercy, because You are the God of mercy; and, from time immemorial, it has never been heard of, nor do heaven or earth remember, that a soul trusting in Your mercy has been disappointed.

O God of compassion, You alone can justify me and You will never reject me when I, contrite, approach Your Merciful Heart, where no one has ever been refused, even if he were the greatest sinner (1730).

[For Your Son assured me:] Sooner would heaven and earth turn into nothingness than would My mercy fail to embrace a trusting soul (1777).

Jesus, Friend of a lonely heart, You are my haven, You are my peace. You are my salvation, You are my serenity in moments of struggle and amidst an ocean of doubts. You are the bright ray that lights up the path of my life. You are everything to a lonely soul. You understand the soul even though it remains silent. You know our weaknesses and, like a good physician, You comfort and heal, sparing us sufferings — expert that You are (247).

In Thanksgiving
O Jesus, eternal God, I thank You for Your countless graces and blessings. Let every beat of my heart be a new hymn of thanksgiving to You, O God. Let every drop of my blood circulate for You, Lord. My soul is one hymn in adoration of Your mercy. I love You, God, for Yourself alone (1794).

To the Mother of God
O Mary, my Mother and my Lady, I offer you my soul, my body, my life and my death, and all that will follow it. I place everything in your hands. O my Mother, cover my soul with your virginal mantle and grant me the grace of purity of heart, soul and body. Defend me with your power against all enemies, and especially against those who hide their malice behind the mask of virtue (79). Fortify my soul that pain will not break it. Mother of grace, teach me to live by God's power (315).

O Mary ... a terrible sword has pierced your holy soul. Except for God, no one knows of your suffering. Your soul does not break; it is brave, because it is with Jesus. Sweet Mother, unite my soul to Jesus, because it is only then that I will be able to endure all trials and tribulations, and only in union with Jesus will my little sacrifices be pleasing to God. Sweetest Mother, continue to teach me about the interior life. May the sword of suffering never break me. O pure Virgin, pour courage into my heart and guard it (915).

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Film Review: Avengers - Endgame

Sexuality/Nudity Acceptable
Violence Acceptable
Vulgarity Acceptable
Anti-Catholic Philosophy Acceptable

It has all come down to this.

11 years and 21 movies have led to the culmination here in Avengers: Endgame.  This movie feels like the finale to a TV series, but on a much larger scale.  And like a series finale, the goal has to be to give a proper send off to what has come before. 

So does Endgame succeed?

Emotionally?  Absolutely!
Character Arc?  Yes (for the most part).
Story?  A mixed bag.

This is an incredibly difficult movie to review because (if you haven't seen it yet) it is not the movie that you are expecting.  I have to hand it to Marvel's marketing department for keeping the main plot completely under wraps.  Some of the early decisions were bold and shocking and made me immediately re-adjust my expectations for what I was going to watch.

I am going to endeavor to avoid any spoilers here.  This is a movie where a great deal of the enjoyment comes from the myriad of surprises that are in store.  To give those away is to give away some of the joy that comes from watching this epic film.

The movie begins less than a month after Avengers: Infinity War (SPOILERS FOR INFINITY WAR BELOW).  Half of all life in the universe has been eradicated by Thanos and his Infinity Gauntlet.  Iron Man/Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) and Nebula (Karren Gillen) are floating in the Guardians' space ship, marooned and losing life support.  On Earth, the rest of the Avengers are dealing with the aftermath, trying to deal with their failure.  This is the first five minutes of the movie and I honestly don't think I can speak any more of the plot without spoiling some real surprises. 

There is so much to admire about this movie, but I am going to start with the negatives, of which there are a few.  This movie is not perfect.  And those who are expecting this movie to be like Infinity War may be disappointed.

The biggest issue is the plot and its structure.  Infinity War was a long movie with dozens of characters to juggle, but it had a really tight story that had a straight, strong through line.  Endgame meanders a lot in the first hour.  It feels like the writers were so constrained by the forward momentum of Infinity War's story that once they got past that, they felt like they could relax and make their scenes feel more leisurely, letting them scenes go on, some a bit too long.  The movie is over three hours long, but there was quite a lot that could have been trimmed, especially in the first hour.

The main quest is also incredibly complex.  In order to achieve their goals, the heroes have to do something bold, but there are some very specific rules that they have to follow.  The problem is that the rules are never adequately explained.  On top of that, the rules do not make much sense.  They are all immediately broken.  But when it really matters, the heroes refuse to break them.  The rules are there as a plot contrivance in order to complete some character arcs. 

And while the movie does an incredible job with some character arcs (more on this later), there are some characters that feel ill-treated.  The two who are brought to mind are Thor and Hulk.  In the original Avengers, these guys were the heavy hitters and had one of the best moments in the entire film.  In this movie, they have been reduced to comic relief.  This is particularly annoying when it comes to Thor.  I just rewatched the original Thor, and that character is nothing like the one found in Endgame.  Both Thor and Hulk have been tainted by Thor: Ragnarok, which was basically a full out action-comedy.  As a result, Thor is essentially a punchline throughout all of Endgame, which tarnishes his grandeur.

The last complaint I have is a minor one, since it is a major part of the movie.  But now that the this film series is coming to a major endpoint, the filmmakers feel like they can insert subtle political messages in Endgame.  They are free to do whatever they want with their story, but it is annoying, because it immediately takes me out of the movie and causes me to roll my eyes.  One of the standards of film criticism I have (adopted from the mighty John Nolte), is that a movie should cast a spell on you and never let go.  If the movie causes you to breaks that spell for any reason, it is a problem.  And these moments were like that for Endgame.  Though thankfully, those were few and far between.

I lay out these criticisms, because I think it is important to note that Endgame is not perfect.  But it is still a great movie. 

Directors Anthony and Joe Russo, as well as writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely understand that the core of this movie is the emotion.  The opening scene is completely devastating and that is tone for most of the film.  We sat at the edge of our seats because the filmmakers make us care deeply for these characters.  Think about this: people graduating high school this year have been growing up with Iron Man since the first grade.  The filmmakers tap deeply into this vein and let the emotions flow.

The plot structure is simply the connective tissue that leads to some truly amazing moments.  I cannot share any of them with you, but there are so many wonderful scenes that I cannot remember them all.  There are callbacks to some of the best moments of the MCU.  It also constantly reminds us how utterly expansive this film franchise has been and the cinematic miracle of bringing them all together.  There were moments I laughed out loud and cheered.  There were others that twisted my guts and broke my heart.  There was one moment in particular that had been oh-so-subtly hinted at in an early Marvel film that comes to fruition during the climactic fight.  And it was pure comic book fanboy joy!  And based on the reaction of the people in the theater with me, most people felt the same way.

The Russo Brothers once again prove that they were the correct choice as directors.  As a big CGI spectacle, they know when to move to Steadicam work to make the emotions feel more raw and upsetting.  But then they can immediately flip the switch and create an amazing hero pose moment that stays with you in your memory.  Yes, they choose not to tighten the story with editing, but they decided fans who have taken this journey over the last eleven years would want more, rather than less time to say goodbye.  And the action set pieces are incredible.  There are many of these types of movies where the long clash at the end goes on too long.  But as long as the final battle is, I never felt it drag.  In fact, they dot the scene with so many small but emotional character moments that each of those snippets were like sweet chocolate chips inside of an already sweet cookie.

But the three characters who are at the center of this movie are Tony Stark, Steve Rodgers/Captain America (Chris Evans), and Natasha Romanov/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson).  The emotional stakes for all of them are the heaviest, even though the movie balances most of the other characters incredibly well.  This might be Downey Jr.'s best performance, not just in a Marvel movie but of his career.  He reaches emotional levels I have not seen, all the while trying to cover it with Tony's cool veneer.  Downey Jr. can devastate with a single look and express more with his eyes than with a page of dialogue.  Because the Oscars don't take this genre seriously, they will not give him the Best Actor nomination he deserves.  Evans also brings his A-Game, as we see the weight of his failure crushing him as he is expected to be the pillar holding everyone up.  The same is true of Johansson, who takes a reluctant leadership role.  We can see how the responsibility has drained her spirit and the desperation she feels to set things right.  The other person who deserves note is Gillen who has to do a number of complex performance moments all while keeping within the confines of Nebula's cold exterior.

Once again, we see laid out in a super hero film what Pope John Paul II called the war between the Culture of Death and the Culture of Life.  Thanos (Josh Brolin) is the perfect embodiment of the Culture of Death.  The lives of others are weighed only in proportion to their value to "society" and can be extinguished for the sake of convenience.  And when the perfect result does not occur, the solution is more death.  The Culture of Life values persons and does not look at anyone else as disposable.  In this Culture of Life, death is an accepted reality.  But instead of something to be taken from others for my gain, life is something given away for others their gain.  This very Catholic idea of Christological giving has been present throughout the superhero genre and we find it again here in Endgame.  This is both emotional and inspiring.

One of the best compliments I can give is that this movie is sticking with me days after I left the theater.  I am replaying the scenes and refeeling the emotions.  I will see this movie again in the theaters because I want to spend a little more time with these characters that I love.

Avengers: Endgame may be a bit confusing at times.  But if you let it, it can make your heart glow like Iron Man.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Film Flash: Avengers - Endgame

15 words or less film review (full review to follow soon)

Not the Avengers movie you are expecting. Complex to the point of convoluted. Amazing moments!

image by Yasir72.multan

Heroes in Crisis # 8 - The Worst Comic Book I Have Ever Read

Image result for heroes in crisis 8

The first comic book I ever bought was Cosmic Odyssey #1 in a Waldenbooks in 1988. I was soon a regular at my local comic book store. So I have
been a serious comic book reader for over 30 years. I share this with you to emphasize the
gravity of the follow statement:

Heroes in Crisis #8 is the worst comic book I have ever read.

It is a failure on every level as a story.

But it is also a slap in the face to most of the loyal DC fan base.

Back in the mid-1990’s, Hal Jordan’s comic book was not selling well. So DC decided to turn
him into a murderous villain. There were a number of people so upset by this that they actually
called for the writer to be fired. I remember being upset, because I liked Hal, but I didn’t understand
the level of anger that people had.

But I do now.


Writer Tom King began this series by sticking a thumb in the eyes of the fans. He demonstrated
the divide between his readers and himself in that first issue. The difference is this: the readers
care about these characters and Tom King does not.

Mr. King would probably object to this and he would probably claim that he knows these characters
and their histories. But that is not the same as caring about them. He lacks compassion for them
and that is demonstrated by the lack of empathy he has for the readers. We are emotionally tied
to these heroes in ways that King does not understand. That is why he cannot write them well.

That first issue began with the deaths of several heroes including Roy Harper (the original Speedy)
and Wally West (the Flash). I wrote about how horribly this was done in that issue. But things got
so much worse.

The last six issues have been incredibly boring. On top of this, none of the characters act or speak
like themselves. It is a common problem for some writers when they make all of their characters
speak with the author's voice. This is particularly annoying when it comes to Booster and Harley,
who don't ever sound completely human. Tom King is writing dialogue in a way that is supposed
to show off his wit instead of giving opening up a window into the characters. His use of the
"confessions" is a cheap shortcut to this, but it never feels humanly natural.

But the big reveal this issue is what has many fans like myself up in arms: Wally West is the killer.

There are so many problems with this that it is hard to know where to begin.

From a purely marketing standpoint, DC's decision here is quite insane. After the fervor for the
New 52 waned, Geoff Johns initiated the "Rebirth" wave at the company which saw the return of
fan favorite Wally West. The story of his return was so emotional that I found myself choking up
while reading it. Then, it seemed that he was once again dispatched for no reason other than
shock value.

But now it turns out that he is a full-on villain. Since the New 52 erased him from the timeline, i
t also took away his marriage to Linda Park and erased his children. So Wally went to Sanctuary to
get better. This issue we find out what happened. Not only is it a betrayal of the character,
but nothing, and I mean NOTHING about this story makes any sense.

Wally feels like the therapy isn't working. Rather than speaking to Barry Allen or Batman or
someone else, Wally's solution: peep on everyone else's therapy confessions. Since these
conversations are deleted immediately, Wally uses his speed powers to put all of the data back
together and watch the videos. It is watching this that causes Wally to say, "It broke me."

Okay, let's take a breather here before we get to the truly bad parts of the book. First of all, who
would think that listening to other people's confessions would help them with their own problems?
I have never stood in line in Church, waiting for the sacrament of Reconciliation, and thought "
You know, my sins really trouble me. Maybe I should spy on the person confessing now and that
will help me get better." You could argue that Wally is not in his right state of mind. Fair enough,
but to do something this drastic, we have to come up with a compelling reason, and there is none.

Second, there is zero chance that this information would break him. The only way this would work is
if the confessions were so emotionally devastating that Wally couldn't process them. Tom King has
spent the last seven issues showing us these confessions. If any of them made the reader feel
anything, then there might be the slightest chance that this story beat could work. But the
confessions were boring. BORING! There was nothing in them that made an emotional
connection to the reader. I am not alone in this analysis. Not only that, but there is nothing in the
content that could possibly "break" Wally. The heroes confess how they are scared or insecure or
damaged and... that's it. Tom King seems to think that his writing is so good and so emotionally
scarring that if you were to read it all at once instead over the last six months that we would be

We wouldn't.

We aren't.

Now, after being "broken," Wally runs out into the field. The other people there try to help him.
Wally says that every speedster is holding back their lightning energy. But because he was "broken"
he lost control for a moment and shot lighting out around him, killing all the people there to help him.

Again, this makes no sense.

There is nowhere in any of the Flash lore that says that any speedster is holding back this energy.
But even if there was, it makes no sense that this would be the place where he would lose control.
At one point, Wally's unborn children were killed by Zoom. If that moment didn't "break" him and
cause him to lose control, then watching Batgirl show her bullet scar or Arsenal talk about addiction
wouldn't either. This would also mean that Barry Allen is a ticking time bomb that will explode if he
ever gets too stressed. All speedsters should now be considered an immanent threat.

So far, so terrible, but now this is where things get worse. Instead of calling to the Justice League for
help (or even Barry Allen who would understand about the lighting discharge), he decides to cover up
the crime and frame two people.

First, he makes it so that the only two residents he didn't kill, Booster Gold and Harley Quinn, think
that the other person is the killer. Second, he stages the bodies in a way to fool Batman and the
Flash into thinking someone else killed everyone. But the third part of his plan is quite possibly the
dumbest thing I have ever read. To throw suspicion off of himself, Wally time travels 5 days into the
future, kills his future self, and brings the body back to place it among the victims.

Okay, I have a question: if Wally was going to time travel, why didn't he go back in time to stop
himself from exploding or stop himself from putting together the confessions or stop himself from
going to Sanctuary in the first place? You could say that this would mess up the time stream.

Of course, none of this matters to Tom King. Wally West doesn't matter to Tom King.

Tom King had a cool idea for a story: super heroes going through PTSD and one of them breaks.
It didn't matter who. It didn't matter how. It didn't matter why.

Wally was going through an emotional crisis, so he would do. It didn't matter what his crisis was.
Wally was the sacrificial lamb on the altar of Tom King's story. Tom King shows he lacks even the
most basic understanding of the character. It reminds me of what Mark Hamill said to Rian Johnson
when they were filming The Last Jedi: "I fundamentally disagree with your entire take on Luke Skywalker." Tom King just through out thirty years of character development because he thought his idea was cool.

Tom King is currently writing a run on Batman that is alternately amazing and wretched. He has no middle ground. Imagine if someone where to suggest to Tom King that he end his run by having Batman be so enraged at losing Catwoman that he punches Alfred, killing him, and then framing Tim Drake for the crime. Tom King would most likely say, "No. That would ruin everything about the character and it would be impossible to fix." He would be right, too. The difference is that Tom King clearly cares about Batman. Tom King does not care about Wally West.

So many writers in comics do not understand that they do not own these characters. They are stewards of these characters that have been handed to them and one day they will hand them on to others. Again, this isn't about taking characters into a dark place or even killing them. Geoff Johns took the character Connor Kent to an incredibly dark place and then eventually killed him. We were okay with this because Johns understood Connor and the steps that led to this end flowed organically from the character. Aristotle was correct when he said "Plot is character." Tom King says, "Plot is whatever I say it is, even if it is out of character for these characters." (You can see this in other moments in the series, as when Booster callously tells Barry that Wally is dead or Harley defeating Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman).

I once had a group of friends over for a get together. One of them picked up a comic book I had been reading. He pointed to the form-fitting outfit of the super heroine on the cover. He said to someone else, "Look at this smut." He then proceeded to throw the comic across the room, ruining it. Because he was my friend and he was going through stuff, I let it go. But I was hurt because he took something that was important to me and treated it carelessly because it was not important to him.

That is what Tom King has done to Wally West.

The only way Wally can be fixed is if we find out that he was possessed by some outside force like Hal Jordan was by Parallax. Barring that, Wally West is ruined and his legacy is destroyed.

All because Tom King had a cool idea for a story.

The story ruins a character loved by fans.
The story is based on motivations that make no sense.
The story requires an emotional crisis that the confessions cannot provide.
The story invents potentially fatal problem for all speedsters going forward.
The story uses time travel in the least effective way imaginable.
The story fails at all of its goals: logical and emotional.
The story makes me less likely to buy the next issue.
The story makes me less likely to buy more DC comics.
The story makes me less likely to buy anything by Tom King.

Perhaps this article will be dismissed as fanboy rage. I have no control over how this will be received.

But I believe I have laid out the case as to why Heroes in Crisis #8 is the worst comic book I have ever read.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Spoilery Early Screening of Avengers Endgame

Avengers: Endgame officially comes out tomorrow, but I was lucky to get into an advance screening.

And I what I saw will blow you away!


I was so shocked by all of the bold choices that Marvel made in this last outing with the Avengers.  The movie begins where our last movie left off: most of the Avengers on Earth with Tony and Nebula out in space.  The people on Earth are incredibly bummed because half of the people are gone.  But then Ant-Man shows up.  He returned from the Microverse via something called the "MaGuffin Bridge" that bonds all necessary parts of the MCU together.  They use the MaGuffin Bridge to bring Tony and Nebula back.  They then have Captain Marvel arrive.  It was weird when they went on a 5-minute digression about how little had changed in gender relations in the last twenty years.  It didn't help much that Tony started hitting on her in front of Pepper, talking about how he and his fiancĂ© have "an understanding." 

The heroes come up with a plan: get the Infinity Gauntlet away from Thanos and then undo everything from the last movie.  But in order to do that, they need allies.  With most of the Avengers gone, our heroes get into a spaceship and cross the MaGuffin Bridge.  They enter a nexus shaped like a fox.  I was shocked to find that the Avengers then landed at the X-Mansion.  Wolverine came out and started fighting with everyone, but then Magneto disarmed Cap, Iron Man, and Thor (though I didn't know his mutant powers would work on Asgardian metal).  Professor X scans them and says that they are there to save their universe.  Hawkeye was weireded out to see Quicksilver and had to explain how his sister in their universe was in love with a robot and also dead.  So all of the X-Men join them on the jet and they fly to the Baxter building where they pick up the Fantastic Four.  I was really surprised to see that they went back to the cast for Rise of the Silver Surfer.  Although it was funny when Johnny Storm said that Cap was the only good looking person in the group.

Our heroes then flew to Thanos, but he was ready.  As soon as they attacked, Kylo Ren activated his new Death Star and attacked the heroes' ship.  Cap used his shield to deflect it onto the Infinity Gauntlet.  This caused the the Infinity Stones to fly all over Thanos planet.  The heroes and the villains then go on a quest to find them.

While up at the northern pole, the Avengers bump into members of GI Joe, who are there looking for a section of the Weather Dominator that also was flung into the north.  The blending of the live action actors and animated Joes was flawless.  This was especially important as they were suddenly attacked by Elsa from Frozen, who had been recruited by Thanos after the two sang a heartfelt duet about loneliness called, "No One Understands the Genocidal." 

On the seas, the Avengers are almost stopped by Ursula the Sea Witch, but Captain Jack Sparrow seduces her and they acquire another stone.

It goes on like this for a while until they once more confront Thanos, this time he is flanked by his father, Grimace (also known as "Grimace the Unkillable), and the Purple Pie Man.  Thanos told the Avengers to kneel before him and his "Purple Reign."

Due to a failed attempt at an alliance with Leader One of the Go-Bots, the Avengers are short-handed against Thanos, the stormtroopers, Scar's army of hyenas, Magica De Spell, Master Control Program, and Mary Poppins (who it turns out is the daughter of Loki, god of chaos).  Condorman is killed early in the battle, but no one seemed to care.  Elsa tried freezing everyone but was promptly eaten by Pete's Dragon. 

Finally, Captain America reached put the Infinity Gauntlet together, but instead of restoring everyone, he went back in time to the moment before Thanos snapped his fingers.  He lost the Guantlet in the time stream, but luckily Bill and Ted arrived with Socrates and Sigmund Freud to return the Gauntlet to him.

Cap snapped his fingers again and then all of the characters came back.  He then snapped his fingers one more time.  Thanos' skin was changed to blue and he was imprisoned in the Gauntlet, which Cap shaped into an oil lamp and sent back in time to be discovered by Aladdin.  Everything then ends in a gigantic dance party, headlined by Cherry Bomb from Howard the Duck.

But the most shocking part of all was when it turns out that the entire MCU is really made up of a bunch of action figures in Andy's room.  The movie ends with Woody and Buzz Lightyear joining the Avengers.

The post-credit scene showed the Justice League (with Michael Keaton back in the role of Batman) coming to the MCU, setting up the crossover in the next movie (which, for some reason, involves Energon Cubes)

All in all, I was impressed with how much Marvel and Disney was able to keep this under wraps until now.  I'm telling you, you won't believe it!  You'll be at the movie after reading this, thinking to yourself, "This can't possibly be true!"