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I Tried–and Now Have Canceled–My DC Universe Subscription

no_to_dc_universeI really have to “blame” fellow blogger Natalie (Stabbing Stardust) for getting me to TRY the DC Universe thing when I was initially adamantly intending to stay away from it for awhile*. With stuff she’d posted and said about it, I was curious enough to try it, initially thinking to breeze through Constantine in a week, and when I only got through a few episodes, decided to go ahead and go with a single month to start, figuring that’d give me time to finish Constantine, and poke around a bit.

(*This blame is not a bad thing, and IS one of the great things, to me, of being part of a comics/blogging community!)

I have YET to really in any way LIKE the interface–VERRRRRRY briefly on the computer a couple times to browse (nothing impressive) and mainly on a Roku TV app.

There’s no simple, alphabetical list of series, it at least SEEMS LIKE they keep changing stuff around for what’s grouped where in the menus/home screen, and with so little actual COMICS content available, even SEARCHING doesn’t do much.

The app even launched BEFORE even ONE of the new, announced series were ready to go–five weeks of ME using it, and NOW there are only THREE episodes of Titans available, and UNlike the Netflix model of dropping an entire season at once, it’s on a weekly-drop schedule, and NOT even at “midnight” (at 2am EST Thursday night into Friday morning, the app gave me a note saying the third episode of Titans would drop in “5 hours”).

Of all the tv content, really only Constantine (a single season) and Superboy seasons 2-4 are of any immediate interest to me; the former to catch up on the character as they’ve continued into the “Arrow-verse” and the latter for nostalgia and finding a certain scene that sticks out to me from when I was a kid.

The CW shows–Arrow, Flash, Supergirl, Legends of Tomorrow–are not available on it, nor is the ’66 Batman series. It seems a handful of “classic” cartoons–the ’40s Fleisher Superman shorts are available, and I think I saw some Super-Friends thing; but I don’t believe the ’60s/’70s cartoons are available, nor the RubySpears Superman.

There are several documentaries, but as I have at least a couple on DVD, even those aren’t a great draw, and none “justify” $8/month; I’d rather pay the $8 for a dvd and have that tangible product in my actual collection!

Most egregious–and what most directly led to me actually CANCELING–came Saturday night after I finished episode 3 of Titans. Finished with the episode, I decided to browse to find a comic or story to READ. I’d previously experimented with the navigation with Superman/Doomsday: Hunter/Prey #1, and Superman: The Man of Steel #18 (The Death of Superman/Doomsday! part 1) but hadn’t actually READ any full issues yet.

trail_by_fire

Amidst the stupid-loose categories (more “Raven,” more “Titans,” etc), looking at individual stuff, I spotted a SPELLING ERROR. Suicide Squad: Trail by Fire. Trail, as opposed to Trial. A simple, stupid typo, but extremely grating to me. Trail OF Fire would make sense as an alternative to Trial OF Fire. But the “by” would mean that a Trail (A-I) by fire is a trail running alongside fire…as opposed to a Trial (I-A) by fire being under fire, via fire, amidst fire, etc.

last_chance_to_read

Then I noticed one of the loose categories was “Last Chance to Read.”

LAST CHANCE…to read?!?

Not even TWO MONTHS and a crap selection of comics, and they’re ROTATING COMICS OFF the app ENTIRELY?!?

I understand, condone, and would even EXPECT them to rotate what they are ACTIVELY PROMOTING, what they are “PUSHING,” at any given time. Batman Day? Push the Batman stuff. New show about the Titans? Push stuff related to those characters. Halloween? Push the haunted stories. Etc.

But making EVERY SINGLE COMIC available essentially something on a TIMER, something FINITE and LIMITED…something INTRINSIC to their existence, to their having characters anyone cares about…but basically saying “hey, read ’em NOW or not at all!” is just a massive stomp on the foot, to me.

lonely_place_for_dying

While I was stewing on that, I then noticed ANOTHER typo, in the Batman/New Titans crossover A Lonely Place of Dying. A 29-year-old story…but they have it listed as A Lonely Place FOR Dying. Nitpicky? Yeah, but it’s extremely personal to ME, as that was the first story in Batman that I had a part 1 of as a kid (My very first issue of Batman was 439–the conclusion of the 4-part Year Three; my second-ever issue was 440, part 1 of Lonely Place OF Dying).

This thing’s been compared to Marvel‘s Marvel Unlimited, as an “answer” to that, as something potentially “better” (at least TRYING to be “better”) since DC hasn’t HAD anything REMOTELY similar.

But the ticking timer on comics mean the ENTIRETY of the app is “curated,” not just curating recommendations and themes or such. And if they’re rotating comics content, who’s to say they won’t decide to rotate other content? The animated movies? (I own those already, too; many of them also digitally that I can watch on Vudu with hundreds of other digital movies)

I’d THINK that (especially with Titans having a “TV-MA” rating) as a late-30s male who has been into comics–primarily DC over the years, for basically 30 years now–I should be the primary audience. Nostalgic for digital back-issues (to preserve sales of modern stuff), violent, dark tv (Titans), old enough to have kids to expose to the animated content, a family to share other tv content, and so on.

But again, I can only figure “I’m obviously NOT the target audience.”

And I can’t in good conscience feel as strongly as I do on all this and complain about it without backing it up with some sort of action. So, catching it a day before it would have renewed, I’ve cancelled my subscription, and with no subscription, will be removing the app/”channel” from my Roku devices (and never even got around to installing whatever app there may be for phones/tablets).

Maybe I’ll check back in later. I’ll probably wait to see how long the DC Universe “exclusive” shows will be available and in what form–are THOSE going to be “rotated” as well? Force you to–if you’re more than 5 weeks “behind”–resort to waiting for some sort of DVD/Bluray release (as even the “Netflix-Exclusive” shows have)? Or will I be able to re-subscribe later and watch the full season?

While this thing has “potential,” 1. the app being SO RUSHED that it was launched “only” a few weeks before new, original content was even ready to be launched; 2. the extremely limited, crap selection of “sampler”-like comics and 3. the rotating OUT/off of stuff, rather than simply ADDING TO an ever-growing “library” of content…that’s 3 strikes, in my eyes.

I’m so incredibly glad I opted to only spend $8, rather than $75+ for some annual thing. I feel strongly enough NEGATIVELY toward the thing as of this typing that I even considered re-upping with Marvel Unlimited on PRINCIPLE, even though I would ONLY be able to make easy use of that on my PHONE.

“Passively,” I very much do NOT recommend DC Universe at this time. I’m extremely discouraged and frustrated with stuff, but knowing I’m a bit of an anomaly having so much dvd content in my personal collection, I’ll stop just shy of actively recommending against the service, as far as the tv/animated content goes. Comics-wise, don’t waste your money, though!

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TMNT Forever? [Movie Review: Turtles Forever]

Though I largely lost track of the TMNT animated series the last several years, I’ve tuned in here or there to see where things are. I’d thought the series was nothing but re-runs at this point, and with the sale of the TMNT to Nickelodeon, hadn’t expected anything new to be aired. Thankfully, I was wrong, as this ‘Turtles Forever’ tv movie aired this morning.

The purple dragons find themselves under attack as they seek to rip off some high-tech equipment. Splinter finds his soap opera interrupted by news of four green individuals caught on camera–apparently turtles. However, his sons are all home and haven’t been out. Cue Hun, responding to the Dragons’ having captured the Turtles. Sure enough, four Ninja Turtles have been captured…but they’re not any Hun has ever seen before. Determining they’re of no worth, he orders them killed…but that’s when the “real” (2003) turtles burst in.

After a fight, the two teams of teenage turtles size each other up. One group–pudgey and goofy, the other taller, leaner, and more serious. Before long, the time-tossed turtles from 1987 are introduced to Splinter–who, notably, looks much different. The Technodrome is brought in, as is the bumbling Shredder, Krang, and even the robotic foot soldiers. Bebop and Rocksteady make their requisite appearance.

Realizing that there are other-dimensional versions of the turtles he knows, Bumbling Shredder (1987) uses the Technodrome tech to locate this dimension’s Shredder–not in the USA, Not on Earth, but significantly further away–and beams him into the Technodrome. This dimension’s Shredder, however, is not the human Oroku Saki, but an evil Utrom Ch’rell. The Ch’rell Shredder wakes, makes short work of Bumbling Shredder, Krang, & Co., and implements a new plan–retrofitting the Technodrome with Utrom upgrades, transforming it into a far deadlier, more effective “ultimate weapon” than any previously seen.

The two groups of turtles survive an attack by a mutated Hun (remember the pink mutagen that changed someone into whatever creature they were last in contact with?), and with a dimensional-portal-stick find themselves back in the 1987 world–reversing the groups’ disorientation. The 2003 turtles meet the Hamato Yoshi Splinter, who offers a calm, serious, yet compassionate air to the time-tossed teens.

When the turtles check back in with their home (2003) dimension, they see Ch’rell’s upgraded Technodrome causing loads of destruction, withstanding the best the Military can throw at it…and they realize the box of anti-Technodrome gadgest they have isn’t gonna cut it.

Upon returning to rescue Splinter (2003), the turtles are all captured, held to particular points in a massive chamber, their essense to play a role in locating “Turtle-Prime,” the SOURCE of Ninja Turtles in the Multiverse. (And reminding me a great deal of Alexander Luthor’s tower from DC’s Infinite Crisis).

The Ch’rell Shredder shares what he’s learned, displaying images of virtually every other incarnation of the turtles out there–The 1990s movies, various incarnations from Mirage, and Archie, the newspaper strip, the 2007 movie, and so on. All are branches coming from the source being sought–destroy the source, and all the others will cease to exist. (Destroy a branch and others will continue to flourish).

Before the turtles can be completely dismantled by the device, Karai beams them away, saving their lives, as the Technodrome fades away to this Prime dimension. Another encounter with Hun as the world turns to black and white and then whites out of existence leads the turtles to modify their dimensional stick and they, too, fade out to the Prime dimension.

Arrival there introduces black and white turtles–the ORIGINAL Mirage TMNT. Accurately, the “source” of every other incarnation of the turtles.

The three groups team up to face the threat Ch’rell now poses to the multiverse.

As the story draws to a close, the other turtles return “home,” and the Prime-turtles are left to reflect on what they’ve just been a part of. Finally, they leave with Leonardo’s narration seeing them out. “We are the Teenage Mutant Ninja TUrtles. We strike hard, and fade away…into the night.”

I wasn’t sure what to expect of this when I first discovered it. A friend posted a link to the wikipedia page on my facebook, and I researched a bit from there, ultimately recording the movie and watching it this evening. A blending of the old and new/current cartoons was interesting as a concept, but I figured it would be some goofy, hokey thing that wouldn’t really be much more than “fanservice” or such.

However, goofy as it was at points, I really greatly enjoyed this. The movie REALLY accentuates the differences in the turtles’ incarnations. The “classic” 1987 turtles are goofy, hokey, and not very serious on the whole. The 2003 turtles are far more serious (though Mikey remains a bit of a goofball–but not nearly on the level of all the ’87 turtles). And of course, both incarnations are significantly “lighter” than the original 1984 Mirage turtles.

As far as I could tell, the voices of the 2003 turtles are the same as the long-running series. None of the voices for the classic turtles seemed at all familiar–which was disappointing, though I’d’ve been shocked if they could reassemble those regulars 20ish years later. Still, the attitudes of the characters showed through.

I did feel that the Splinters, as well as April and Casey (2003) got shortchanged…though I could’ve done with a little less than the brief bit we got with the 1987 April. I must admit it was sorta cool seeing Bebop and Rocksteady again, though they, too, were really shown to be the goofy caricatures they were.

Though brief overall, the Prime-turtles were rather cool to see–and it may just be my own prior comparisons of the incarnations that made it stand out for me–but they seemed all the more dangerous and deadly appearing alongside the colorized counterparts.

The movie ending with these turtles first striking the pose on a building that should be familiar to anyone who’s seen the covers to the original TMNT #1, TMNT #50, and so on. Then the thing closed out with Leo’s narration from the ending of that original TMNT #1…

Which truly brought things full-circle. Even though mere glimpses were provided of the numerous versions of the turtles through the years, that technically means they were included here. And so this capped off–“series finale”-style–the animated series that’s been running since 2003, as well as referencing/capping off the 1980s-1990s series, and everything that’s come before in the extended multiverse of TMNT.

I loved the references to past elements of the series. The classic lines were all there. Familiar nuances to voices were present despite different voiceactors–from Bumbling Shredder’s frustration to Krang’s gurgling/burping. The visual styles were consistent at least with what I remember of both series. The Prime turtles seemed a bit off, but the visual cues were absolutely unmistakeable.

This whole thing reminded me a bit of that Batman: The Animated Series episode with the kids relaying their different versions of the Batman, that included the various visual styles of the silver-age Batman, Miller’s Dark Knight, and so on.

All in all, it’s hard to capture every last detail or every last thought and such from the movie. Suffice to say that there are a number of other specific touches that pushed all the right geek-buttons for me.

I sincerely hope this gets released on DVD, whoever puts it out (provided it’s not vastly over-priced for being only about 75 minutes of content).

One of the commercials indicates it’ll be airing again over the next 3 weeks, so if you have not had a chance to see it, and you’re a fan of (particularly) either of the animated series, this is incredibly worthwhile.

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