Wednesday, August 29, 2012

When a Superman met a Wonder Woman...

With all the hoopla that’s been surrounding the release of the latest issue of DC Comics latest issue of Justice League #12 – yes the one with the big kiss between Wonder Woman and Superman, fans were wondering if the “event” would simply overshadow the book’s actual storyline. Fortunately it couldn’t have been further from the truth.

With mainstream media having a field day with the chemical combustion between two of its most powerful and iconic characters, you would have thought that a royal wedding was in effect. It could have come off as a tempestuous stunt to draw up readership for the still fledging new title under the New 52 brand, but instead it made important revelations on character development that will be rocking the DC Universe for the year to come.

The issue marks the final installment of a recent arc spotlighting a brand new villain who dared to challenge the world’s most powerful team. In “The Villain’s Journey” written by series co-creators Geoff Johns and Jim Lee, a plot to discredit the Justice League by a supernaturally gifted bad guy named Graves begins with the kidnapping of their government liaison and Special Forces agent Steve Trevor – Wonder Woman’s Steve Trevor. And in the new DC Universe continuity these two were once a hot item! 

Although that hasn’t been explored in much detail, since most of the characters’ backstories have been revamped in DC’s New 52 continuity it’s been hinted at and it will be revealed soon enough, but not it may be left to flashback elements...because seriously what chance does Trevor have against a superman?

Graves blames the superheroes for the death of his wife and children, even though he became an overnight media sensation as the author responsible for chronicling their debut and rise to popularity. The Justice League rescued Graves and his family from the invading forces of evil entity Darkseid that initiated their first meeting...five years ago. Since then, superheroes, aliens and gods on earth have integrated themselves into our everyday lives. Their fight criminals and powerful megalomaniacs...but Graves sees them as false gods among us – flawed.

His plot brings the seven members of the team to a mythical netherworld where they are confronted with images from their past...dead parents or friends that suggest they give up the fight. When Trevor reveals himself to Wonder Woman, Diana believes him dead and is spiritually wounded. Superman rescues her from her torment, but Diana is equally shaken when Steve is revealed to still be alive, and Graves sinister scheme unravels.

Our heroes of course emerge victorious, but not without several scars. Deeply wounded and shaken to the core, the members question their place as Earth’s champion – their image tarnished in the face of the world. The Emerald Guardian Green Lantern blames himself. A scene stealer; he lacks the ability to play well with others. Since the beginning Hal Jordan’s arrogance has more than once compromised the team’s credibility. Finding himself locked in combat with his teammate Wonder Woman and having it broadcasted to the world didn’t help.

Aquaman, the King of Atlantis, challenges Batman’s authority as team leader and sites that though the Dark Knight is a master strategist, he’s not equipped to properly inspire others to follow him. Green Lantern leaves the team, leaving the six remaining core founding members to decide the fate of the Justice League, but first they must consult with Wonder Woman and Superman.

Dejected by Steve Trevor, Wonder Woman finds herself alone...but not for long. Sensing her loneliness Superman shares with her his secret identity and reveals why he has chosen to lead a duplicitous life – one as Clark Kent and another as Superman in order to protest the lives of those close to him. Wonder Woman can relate and realizes that it can not be easy for him...the two titans on earth really have no one to turn to. The end up in this dark hour turning to each other.

What exactly this will mean to the rest of the team over the next several months is at present unknown, but one thing is for certain – the DC Universe has revealed that these new heroes they’ve created for a new generation with the New 52 are given now to face their flaws, realizing that with great power, comes greater compromise...and in a world that may not be worthy of their protection, what lengths will they go to and not feel hated, feared or alone.

The world just got very big for them, and the supers among us, don’t feel all that super at all. Right now all they have is each other and the journey has begun for them to prove themselves. The weight of their worth has begun to feel heavy on their shoulders and they have come to the realization that they may not be cut out for this job – cape and cowl – after all. 

What a great way to end a year in comics! Truly cinematic!

JC Alvarez is the Nightlife Editor for EDGE On The Net and a pop-culture columnist. He is the voice behind the nationally syndicated Internet Radio Show "Out Loud & Live!" broadcasting on 

Monday, August 27, 2012

The Coming of Madonna...This Girl Gone Wild!

This week marks, the millennium’s Mercurial Girl – Madonna’s return to the states when the infamously girl gone wild (who has been living up to her reputation) hits our shores with her globe trotting MDNA World Tour. It’s her ninth tour in a career that has spanned more than 3 decades, and her most ambitious. This from a pop-star that dared to title her 1990 tour Blond Ambition. And now into her 50’s, and still blond (but more brassy) the icon is still pushing buttons, raising eyebrows and pissing the shit out of Sir Elton John.

The tour started almost immediately after the release of her 12th original, studio album MDNA. The tour launched at the beginning of summer in May, from the Ramat Gan Stadium in Tel Aviv. Although MDNA, a darkly compelling, modern dance floor romp that reunited Madonna with William Orbit (her co-conspirator on the ground-breaking Ray Of Light) and brought in the equally talented, but relative newbies Martin Solveig, and the DJ remix producing dynamo Benny Benassi, it received a critically tepid reception. Fans of Madonna’s were clearly very excited that she had delivered an album that was more appropriately suited for underground circuit club scene.

It’s no mystery that the title of MDNA is an allusion to the party-drug MDMA, or ecstasy as it is more commonly called on the music festival circuit. It did not bode well for Madonna when she arrived at Miami’s International Ultra Music Festival and announced on stage during super DJ AVICCI’s set: “Has anyone seen Molly?” – which is a code term used among club kids in order to secure the drug of choice, but the crowd reveled in her appropriation of the term and danced to the premiere remix of her new single “Girl Gone Wild”.

After debuting MDNA’s first single, the declaratively obscure “Give Me All Your Luvin’” that united Nicki Minaj, M.I.A. and LMFAO, at the Super Bowl along with a medley of some of her greatest hits, it was clear that Madonna was intending on hitting the road to promote this album. A week later the MDNA World Tour was in full-effect.

Madonna doesn't do anything half-assed.

In traditional Madonna-style she would mount an excursion of nearly epic proportions in order to realize the set list of hits and new songs from MDNA. If Madonna is anything she is most certainly relevant and not prone to repeating herself, though the themes she would be exploring would be familiar and demons that the artist was still working on exorcising. The MDNA Tour would also shake-up her creative team, injecting the Madonna factory with younger, ambitiously wild and tempestuous talent. It was widely reported that the tour was getting off to a very “angry” start and that the usual organization expected from a production under the watchful eye of the world’s most scrutinized artist, was coming together by spit and gum.

By the time the tour hit the road running, it met every expectation that the fans had come to enjoy from their idol. Madonna emerged from a church-like cathedral, and with guns blazing proved she was still a rebel. The overall tone of MDNA as an album is dark and full of rage – Madonna having just come off of her highly publicized divorce to film director Guy Ritchie  was obviously dealing with those issues during this creative phase. That bitterness has somewhat translated to the stage, but like every show that Madonna has ever staged it’s a journey, and most often one of revelation. This tour is no less different, ending in a literally celebration amid the laser-lights of a futuristic club.

So elated it appeared the artist was by the audience’s reception that when in France Madonna decidedly scaled down the show’s blockbuster feel for an “intimate” performance at the famous Olympic. This gave her the opportunity to switch things up, try new tunes, and introduce some covers. As is expected, Madonna releases herself to the rhythm when she performs “Like A Prayer”. Even in popular columnist Tony Phillips less than favorable review of the show’s stop in Paris, he relents at Madge’s performance of this classic hit, saying: “After all the gunplay and the myopic travelogue through world religion, maybe this is the kind of ecstasy she was hoping to find. She drops to both knees, whipping her hair back and forth with abandon.” 

Madonna strips on this show. A shameless plug endorsing her new line of lingerie and worships at an alter surrounded with demonic representations – lustfully throwing herself in every direction and on any able sweaty body male or female. If the MDNA Tour is revealing anything it’s the chemical make-up the DNA of celebrity as experienced by Madonna. Perhaps this self-exploitation is what is ticking off fellow pop-star Elton John.

The other Queen of Pop has taken to lambasting Madonna in 2012, continuously calling her “talentless” and claiming that her career is “over”. Madonna beat out Sir Elton at this past year’s Golden Globes – the two were nominated in the “Best Song” category which went to Madonna for her song “Masterpiece”. Madonna has also gone onto to poke fun at Lady Gaga during her tour, which may also not be settling well with John who considers Gaga “the real deal” and is the god mother of his baby boy. Madonna has little acknowledged John’s attacks but before leaving Europe dedicated her last performance of “Masterpiece” in Nice to the rock star. Take that!

Madonna has perfected the art of pop concert as an event – she refers to her live concerts as “installations”. They are like pop-music blockbusters that come on with the fervor of any big studio picture, except that Madonna is the biggest special effect!

Her next stop...the US of A (and Canada, and Mexico, and so on...)

Poised now for her US invasion which begins at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Madonna has not confirmed rumors that the US setlist may be revamped some. Certain imagery that was deemed too controversial was recently dropped from the show’s video backdrops. Will some of those images return, or will they be replaced to reflect the politically heated season we’re now entering – Madonna after all doesn’t shy from controversy. Perhaps that’s just what American needs at the moment – a healthy dose of MDNA.

JC Alvarez is the Nightlife Editor for EDGE On The Net and a pop-culture columnist. He is the voice behind the nationally syndicated Internet Radio Show "Out Loud & Live!" broadcasting on 

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Would You Survive the Hunger Games?

It's a very interesting premise. To appease the peace, after a war that nearly collapsed civilization, the nation of Panem sacrifices two of its citizens - a young male and female from each of the 12 districts is chosen to compete in the most watched televised competition. The fight to the death – for unfound celebrity. All in a false effort to maintain order and prevent civil unrest.

The dystopian future of Suzanne Collins best-selling book The Hunger Games when realized to film didn't appear as far-fetched and one would imagine. In a valiant effort to protect her younger sister, the story's heroine Katniss Everdeen volunteers to take her place when she is called to participate in the battle. Although considered an honor to represent one's district, it is a hopeless endeavor – and one that only guarantees a single victor fame and riches beyond their imagination.

Sound familiar? Little more than a decade ago American audiences were introduced to the dueling "real life" personalities assembled to compete on the television show "Survivor". Back then it was taken as a novelty, tuning in every week to watch regular folk behaving badly in tasks created to test their strength and weaknesses. But truly everyone tuned in to watch each player sell the other one out for the winning pot of $1,000,000.

Cut to the present and one of those "survivors" sits on a panel with Barbara Walters and is the conservative voice of her generation. Elizabeth Hasselbeck was given a platform and she took it and ran with it. Soon every talentless socialite on every coast was having the cameras snap up their antics, and like gravy we watched the brainless Paris Hilton become one of the country's most profitable personalities. When her contemporaries including Nicole Ritchie and Kim Kardashian sought out their piece of the pie, we rewarded them also in kind.

It only took a sex tape to turn Kim Kardishian into a star. And talk about hungry? The ravenous pop-culture has hardly yet satisfied its taste for Kim K and has since kept begging for me. It's only cost her a soul, but considering was it really at much of a loss to begin with?

In a culture that promotes the privileged and celebrates the mundane, marketeers profit from the apparent apathy that is created when all anyone has to aspire to in life is achieving a role as the latest member of the cast of "The Real World". Do you think that you'll really find true love among 32 desperate for attention singles who are only excited to nab their 15 minutes on "The Bachelor" and turn it into a media empire all of their own? Yet every year countless of wanna-bee-somethings line up to find their soulmate or (preferably) have their heart broken on national television. It's a sure way that you'll get to sit in the center seat for the following season.

And while "Dancing With the Stars" rescues some from obscurity, it comes at a cost of somewhat some public humiliation. Just think...the first man on the moon was booted off the show for not being able to keep up on the fox trot. Note: Buzz Aldrin walked on the moon. He's got nothing to prove to anyone.

Like The Hunger Games everyone is seeking to set themselves up comfortably for the slaughter. It's just what's become of our culture, but does it have its limits especially when it doesn't seem to come at any compromise. We made multi-millionaires of the casts of MTV's "The Jersey Shore" – and we know that they can't do much of anything. We bought into the Kardashian wedding and are now drinking the Kanye Kool-Aid. It's like we're never gonna get enough. Olympic swimmer and gold-medalist Ryan Lochte won the highest honor of any athlete on the planet in his respective sport.

What's Lochte doing next? He moved to Hollywood with the hopes of landing a gig on any reality-television series that will take long as he takes his shirt off.

How far are we from establishing our own real-life Hunger Games? Or have we already begun to go down that road? Can I suggest that as the well begins to run dry and the names and faces of everyone that is seeking stardom reaches its fever pitch, why not set those supposed celebrities up in an arena and have them fight it out – to the death. To the winner...we'll make them a star. At least long enough to feed them to the next round of lions.

How do you think you'd fare in the arena?

JC Alvarez is the Nightlife Editor for EDGE On The Net and a pop-culture columnist. He is the voice behind the nationally syndicated Internet Radio Show "Out Loud & Live!" broadcasting on