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PCU: The Half Year In Review

So halfway into 2015, the Review Brew takes a look back at the first half to see what has made it interesting so far.  Was Age of Ultron what it could have been?  What about the return of Star Wars or Netflix’s move to nab Daredevil?  Come see below what made the 1st six months of 2015 so interesting.

John Amenta: 

2015 is half over, so what was good, bad or just plain ugly in pop culture thus far? In theaters, Avengers: Age of Ultron made bank but underwhelmed me as compared to the first. Mad Max rebooted after a 30 year absence from the big screen and delivered an action packed ride start to finish. The year’s biggest surprise for me was Kingsmen, a film based on a comic series that I hadn’t read. The best time I have had in theaters in a long time, and the use of Freebird in a pivotal scene made me kind of like that damn song.

Television watching was hard to fit in for me, but The CW hit another DC related home run with The Flash, which ended its first season with a bang, and a black hole in May. On the flip side, Constantine proved magical on NBC, as it’s poor adaptation of Hellblazer made me disappear after two episodes. It got canceled soon thereafter. Mercy killing.

Finally comics, where the Big 2 decided to pull yet another reboot, and I find myself getting ready for a slew of number ones again. This years new Ant-Man series has been fun, and if the first issues of DC’s Midnighter or Doctor Fate are a sign of things to come, good stuff is on the horizon.

The book I look forward to the most this summer is from small publisher ComixTribe, as they bring their villainous breakout character Oxymoron back in a limited series entitled The Loveliest Nightmare. Other than that we will have to wait and see what is coming for the rest of the year, I hear a pretty big franchise is dropping a new installment around Christmas, high hopes for that.

Adam Frey:

What I Liked:

Star Wars, comics and television.  I’m one of the few-but-elite who mourned when Disney nullified all of the Expanded Universe stuff that was published before 2015.  However, I’ll be the first to admit that the replacement EU is an adequate substitute.  Marvel put top talent on their Star Wars books and has introduced wonderful new additions to the Galaxy.  (The evil R2 and 3PO in Darth Vader are delightfully wicked.)  Rebels is a little hokey, but I’m still hooked.  Besides, a show that can bring back Frank Oz, Billy Dee Williams, and James-Earl-holy-moley-they-brought-him-back-Jones into Star Wars can’t be missed.
iZombie.  As the media continues to strip-mine comic books for new material, I have to admit they did a great job with iZombie.  It’s a bastardized version of the comic, having borrowed only the visual look and plot device of the main character, but it still works as its own thing.  It’s The Walking Dead meets Veronica Mars, something my wife and I can enjoy together.
Secret Wars.  Look, this is a cash grab–but it’s a good cash grab that has something for everyone.  If you loved Marvel Zombies, this has zombies.  If you loved the old Days of Futures Past, it has that too.  It has a married Spider-Man.  It has biplanes fighting dinosaurs.  You can enjoy the big event, or you can enjoy the pieces that you like.
What I DIdn’t Like:
 
– DC’s Weeklies.  All except Batman: Eternal, as I mostly liked that (though it did stretch on bafflingly longer than it needed to).  DC really needs to get its crap together.  I invested an entire year into The New 52: Futures End, only to get the worst cop-out ending possible that nullified the entire series in a way that made no sense, and did nothing but serve as setup for a poor man’s Batman Beyond.  I couldn’t even get into Earth 2: World’s End, but all indications were to stay away.  This all culminated into two months of Convergence, which contradicted everything we’ve ever read at DC Comics and left readers baffled as to whether we have an infinite multiverse now or just 52 planets.
– The Simpsons.  OK, it’s still funny in bits and pieces, but it’s universally agreed that the show isn’t what it was.  The fact that Harry Shearer–who does something like half of the show’s voices–is leaving should be a clear sign that the show is on its last legs…but no, it’s been renewed, and they’ll just get replacement voices.  Can’t we just get one last effort at a hilarious finale, and let the show end on a high note?

 

Harry Cee:

This year so far was a memorable year. It was a time to watch a DC’s Convergence event fall flat and left many comic stores with copies that they could barely sell. Also, DC fell under scrutiny for a controversial cover featuring Batgirl and Joker. It was a time to literally watch a successful Marvel product in the form of Daredevil take shape on Netflix and finally Age of Ultron came to screens as we see more of the MCU take shape.

However the stand out product of 2015 for me was Star Wars returning to Marvel. My biggest fear would be that Marvel would treat the property almost similar to how they did in the 70s as they really had no real direction but thus far I have been pleased with the direction that Jason Aaron has taken with the book. They have filled many of the holes left open between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back and even with Darth Vader, written by Kieron Gillen, the books have a great symbiosis I haven’t seen since Brian Michael Bendis’ run on Avengers and New Avengers. We have seen Luke’s first encounter with Vader, we have seen how Vader has tried testing his relationship with Palpatine, and we even learned that Han Solo has a wife. The only drawbacks I have with the book is that there will be an artist change staring in July on Star Wars which makes me hope that the quality doesn’t dip. Also I hope that with the wide range of story threads that can be picked up, that Star Wars doesn’t linger too long in that ‘in between’ era from ages past. I mean I really would like to see some cannon stories that came about after Return of the Jedi since of course the Expanded Universe is null and void. So, I have my fingers crossed that the next 6 months are as good as the last.

The one thing that has disappointed me so far this year however has been fandom.  I know that everyone has their likes and dislikes but I have really been concerned at how many ‘controversies’ have brewed due to comic book covers, attitudes regarding changes to characters and their race and gender.  This community has always been one where we are supposed to be accepting of everyone but sometimes I see that the community’s biggest fear is change.  I do have my fingers crossed that sometime soon, people accept change not as a money grab or a ploy to pull in new customers but as something that keep pop culture in general fresh and exciting.

Paul DiNello:

2015 is flying by, we are already at the halfway break and there has been so much to digest in the world of pop culture it would be impossible to highlight everything but I will touch on a few of my favorites, not so favorites and what I am looking forward to in the second half.

  • Daredevil- Netflix hit a grand slam with this staple of Marvel comics. Charlie Cox does a fantastic job as our visually impaired Superhero, Matt Murdock and Elden Henson brings wit and charm to the role of Foggy Nelson. However, the absolute standout of the series is Vincent D’Onofrio as Wilson Fisk, A.K.A. Kingpin. D’Onofrio portrays Kingpin as a true conflicted villain, a villain who really believes in his heart that every deed he does is for the benefit of his home town of Hell’s Kitchen.  With the announcement of Jon Bernthal joining season two as The Punisher, the sky is the limit for Daredevil.
  • Summer Movies- I have seen a number of movies in the blockbuster season and while Avengers: Age of Ultron & Jurassic World were visual effect wonders to behold I actually enjoyed prototypical “kid” movies much more than these behemoths. Tomorrowland was catching childhood in a bottle for every 40ish year old that dreamed of reaching the stars, living in a world where there are no boundaries and no one stands in your way of inventing the greatest thing the world has seen. The film also reminded me why George Clooney is such a highly regarded actor. But the best film I have seen in 2015 is Inside Out, Pixar’s latest creation. The story of a young girl that moves from her home state of Minnesota to San Francisco because of her father’s job opportunity is full of wit, humor and heart-felt emotion. You forget that you are watching a movie marketed to children. Inside Out will easily run away with Best Animated Film come next award season, but I honestly feel it could contend as best overall picture as well.
  • Star Wars: Rebels- The season two premiere was last week and I will tell you if you think that just because this series is animated that it is not to be taken seriously, think again. The hour-long episode featured the return of Anakin Skywalker’s Padawan, Ahsoka Tano, a cameo of the smooth Lando Calrissian (Billy Dee Williams) and of course the Dark Lord of the Sith himself, Darth Vader (James Earl Jones). When I tell you that one 45 minute cartoon on the Disney channel was better than all three prequels combined I am not exaggerating. Now that Vader has dispatched a new Inquisitor to deal with the rebels I am sure we will only get short snippets of everyone’s favorite Sith but I can’t wait to see how the rebellion formed and perhaps have a little visit from Ben. Kenobi that is.
  • Honorable Mentions- This season of Game of Thrones started slow but ended with the usual psychotic bang. The Walking Dead had one of my favorite seasons to date…until it reached Alexandria that is. Arrow continued to show that while Marvel rules the silver screen, DC Entertainment has the market cornered on the telly.
  • July and Beyond!- In no particular order the pop culture that I am most looking forward to is : Movies- Minions, Pixels, Fantastic Four, Scorch Trials, The Martian, Mockingjay 2, and of course Star Wars Episode Seven: The Force Awakens. Television- The Strain, Fear The Walking Dead, Supergirl. Books- Purity by Jonathan Franzen, The Bazaar of Bad Dreams by Stephen King.

That is our recap of 2015 so far. I’m sure that we missed some that are important to you the readers and that some of our favorites did not strike a chord but that is okay. We look forward to providing you our continued spin on pop culture, let’s uncover it together!

About Pauly D (671 Articles)
Paul hails from Central Connecticut where he was a child of the 80’s. A lifelong lover of all things Sci-Fi, Paul is particularly fond of anything to do with Star Wars and Star Trek. He is also a huge Stephen King Fan. When he is not writing for PCU he is spending time with his wife and two geeky daughters.
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