Review: The Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of one Harley Quinn

I just saw The Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of one Harley Quinn, or simply Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey today. And I have to say that, I liked the film. Maybe I am just saying this out of bias because I am a fan of Batman and Harley Quinn is one of my favorite villains/anti-heroes. But there it is. I liked the film. It was fun and enjoyable.

Margot Robbie (Wolf of Wall Street), reprises her role as Harley Quinn (from the Suicide Squad), And in this film, there were a lot of dark but funny jokes. Plenty of smashing. A lot of campy scenes. Several scenes where the crime lord loses his mind every time his plans go awry.  I mean, it was really a fun movie.

Some people might have seen this film as a female empowerment propaganda being shoved down our throats. But what I have seen with this film is nothing new. There have been many depictions of Harley Quinn becoming her own person and standing up the the Joker, the man she fell in love with and who later on bullied her. This story has been seen in various comic books and there was an episode in Batman: The Animated Series where Harley broke away from the Joker and started teaming with Poison Ivy. Even the adult cartoon, Harley Quinn, voiced by Kaley Cuoco (The Big Bang Theory) elludes into Harley declaring her independence from the Joker despite trying to get a spot on the Legion of Doom.

In this film however, Harley Quinn is not the only one struggling to break away from the chains of her past. First, we have the Black Canary, Dinah Lance, played by Jurnee Smollett-Bell, who is trying to break away from the dangerous yet immature, and funny, antagonist crime lord, Black Mask (played by Ewan McGreggor, who also played the young version of the Jedi Master, Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars. Next, we have Helena Bertinelli, the Huntress, played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Scott Plilgrim Saves the World) who seems to be locked by her own vengeance against the people who murdered her family. Then we have Renee Montoya, played by Rosie Perez (White Men Can’t Jump, Pineapple Express) who is a brilliant cop that is bitter with her treatment at the Gothan City Police Department due to her partner taking all the credit for her hard work. Last but not least, we have Cassandra Cain, played by the young actress Ella Jay Basco, is trying to break away from a life stricken by poverty and a dysfunctional foster family. So, to me, the overall theme of Harley Quinn was breaking away. And this is what makes Harley relatable to all of us.

Some of us had to break away from the things in our life we knew held us back. For some people, it was someone they loved. Or for some people, it is that job that sucks the life out of them. Whatever is or was, something in our lives held us back and like Harley, we begin to question if we really could make it out on our own without that something anchoring us. To Harley, Joker was a sense of protection and security but as Benjamin Franklin once warned: those who desire security over freedom, deserve neither. Harley learned that the moment she decided that she was going to declare her independence from Joker. And that is one of the things I admire about her.

I will admit, there were times where the film went back and forth due to Harley’s narrating but at the same time, that was what made it fun. Again, I enjoyed the film and to me, Margot Robbie is Harley Quinn, without question.

I definitely would recommend anyone give this film a watch and yeah, maybe there are some themes in it, but in the end, its still a fun film and it has Harley Quinn in it. Enough said.

 

-Brian From Earth-16

 

My Letter to the Internet Wrestling Community

Dear Internet Wrestling Community,

Like you, I am a huge wrestling fan as much as I am a huge comic book fan. I think pro-wrestling is like a larger-than-life comic book. And I do admire the characters (heroes, villains, anti-heroes alike). After all, we do have qualities we like about them and then there are some qualities we don’t like about them. That is what I want to write to you about.

You are diehard fans of the World Wrestling Entertainment or the All Elite Wrestling product Or maybe there are other organizations you are fans of. I digress. Anyway, I wanted to bring up how you comment on other wrestlers or performers. More specifically, how you criticize certain wrestlers.

You go on the internet dirt sheets and make a comment about someone like John Cena having a limited moveset. Or you go on Youtube and talk smack about Charlotte Flair getting opportunity and opportunity because of her father being Ric Flair. Or how you make comments about Roman Riegns being the next Cena (And ceased when it was revealed he had Leukemia). I can go on.

But, I can also confess. I too did those same exact things you do on the dirt sheets and other social media. But I’ve stopped and it is because, I have realized that it is a waste of my energy and I would feel bad after the fact.

Now, dear wrestling fan, you don’t have to continue reading this post and you can keep doing what you’re doing. But I am writing this because I am letting you know that making these comments towards WWE or other wrestling performers not only dampens my energy, that I could use towards something else, but it can hurt others. If you are reading at this point, then awesome, because I need you to read this.

Do you realize how many days in the year an average performer spends performing in front of large crowds? Do you know that they rarely spend quality time with loved ones like their parents, brothers, sisters, cousins, uncles, wives, husbands or children? And do you know how MUCH of a toll that takes on someone? I am asking you, and myself also, to be put in the shoes of a pro-wrestling superstar.

You’re making all this money but at the same time, the travel, the bumps, the sweat, the tears, the wrestling politics are taking a toll. You’re dealing with people asking you for an autograph while you are at the gym or eating a shwarma at a local joint. And worse, your are wondering how your wife or husband is doing or if your children are okay. How do you think a performer would feel about all of that while on top of that, you go on the internet and typing up derogatory comments about him or her?

As of this writing, I am no longer a part of the Internet Wrestling Community. I am just a regular wrestling fan. Pro-wrestling is up there with comic books, anime, and Star Wars as a favorite past time. I have no right to criticize a pro-wrestler because I do not know what it takes to be one. And I probably never will. And that’s okay.

Here’s my advice for the next time you think about negatively commenting on a performer (whether he or she be a WWE or AEW or whatever superstar): Don’t do it. Regardless of how you may feel about that performer.

Instead, if you don’t like what you see on WWE, AEW, Impact or whatever, change the channel. Or turn off the TV or the laptop. Go outside. Ask that special someone out on a date. Go see a movie. Go get an ice-cream. Go to the local school in your area to improve on a skill for that job you always wanted to do. If you have children, take them to Chuck E. Cheese or someplace fun like Disney World. Or go to a ball game. Or do what I do: attend comic cons (if you like comics) or start a podcast on the thing you are most (positively) passionate about.

Don’t go around spewing negativity. Wrestlers, managers, authority figures, producers, referees, announcers, and owners are human. Roman Reigns was diagnosed with Leukemia. Nia Jax struggled with being body shammed. Shawn Michaels had to fight drug addiction. Bret Hart had to deal with depression after the Montral Screwjob and the death of his brother Owen Hart. They are just like us. They eat, sleep, crap, repeat. The only thing that may be different from us is the size of their paycheck. That’s it.

So I hope that this wisdom I bequeath to you serves you well. Do what you want with it. But for me, I am going to enjoy the stuff about the product that makes me happy. And I am going to do things that excite me and be with people who love and uplift me. If I see something I don’t like, it’s time to do something else. I will be building a better life and legacy for myself.

So, let’s enjoy the lives we have, or improve them, and lets do what makes us happy.

Stay Ever So Awesome

Brian From Earth16

Review: Undiscovered Country

Undiscovered County

Written by Scott Synder and Charles Soule

Art by Giuseppe Camuncoli and Daniele Orlandini

Coloring by Matt Wilson

Lettering by Crank!

Publisher: Image Comics

When Undiscovered Country was announced during the fall of 2019, I knew I had to read this comic. After all, it is written by two of my favorite writers, Scott Synder (Batman, Dark Nights Metal) and Charles Soule (Star Wars and Darth Vader). And it is a story about my country and my home, the United States of America. So, how could I pass this up?

The story is about a United States from a future not too far from our present. A United States that has closed off its borders to the entire world. In addition, this is also a story about humanity on the brink of extinction thanks to a sky virus and the delicate armistice that could lead to yet another war. And at the center of it all? Seven strangers chosen to go on a diplomatic mission to get the cure for the sky virus after a message was sent over by a doctor by the name of Sam Elgin.

We are introduced to siblings who originate from the United States, Daniel and Charlotte “Lottie” Graves who are mere opposites of each other. Lottie is a doctor who is determined to get the cure of the sky virus and save as many lives as she can while Daniel is a hired mercenary on the run. Then we have Ace Kenyatta, a specialist in all thing United States including the history and society of the country. Valentina Sandoval, a multimedia journalist with a reliable drone name “Buzz.” Janet Worthington, a diplomat from the Western Alliance Euro Afrique and her Eastern counterpart, Enlou Chang, a diplomat from the Pan Asiatic Prosperity Zone. And Colonel Bukowski, a pilot from Poland.

When group arrives in America, they are ambushed by an odd group led by a mysterious man known as the Destiny Man, a xenophobe who does not want any foreign boots on American soil and the comic’s main antagonist. The group is eventually rescued by a masked figure revealed to be none other than Dr. Sam Elgin proclaiming himself to be Uncle Sam and telling Daniel and Lottie that he wants them to save America.

As the story goes further, it is clear that in addition to their expertise or talents, every single character has their own motives that led to them being a part of this expedition. These motives are mini anecdotes that flesh each of the characters out. And it is a reminder of why I enjoy Synder’s and Soule’s writing so much. Synder used a similar anecdotal style when writing the backstory of Lincoln March and ancestors of Bruce Wayne during his run on Batman. And with Soule’s writing, I feel there is a bit of that emotional element that every character expresses; I’ve seen this on his Vader work when the Sith Lord would reminisce about his days as Anakin Skywalker. Like with any awesome adventure story, Synder and Soile take us on a ride where we see some unexpected twists and turns in this comics and this is only just the beginning.

I also love the art drawn by Giuseppe Camuncoli and Daniele Orlandini. I remembered seeing Camuncoli’s work when reading Superior Spider-Man and Vader (he and Soule worked together on this comic) and I was hooked with the grittiness of the art which I see was perfect for Undiscovered Country. I did some research on Daniele Orlandini and saw that she did work on Marvel’s Darth Vader and I could see that same boldness into the art. In addition, the coloring by Matt Wilson was also a great tag team partner to that gritty art.

I am looking forward to more issues for this comic. I have read three issues so far and I read that Synder and Soule plan on making this into an ongoing series. If that is the case, I would love to buy an omnibus in the future because this has got to be one of my favorite series from a non-DC and Marvel title.  I recommend that you check out Undiscovered Country. To me, this story is as American as it gets. Not in entirely in a, as Lex Luthor from Superman: Red Son would put it, “Norman Rockwell, apple pie, Stars n’ Stripes, and the Fourth of July,” sense but close enough. I recommend that you all give it a read.

 

-Brian of Earth 16

#allcomicscelebrated

UPDATE:The Earth-16 Comics Wire

Hello everyone,

Due to my hectic schedule, I have been trying to keep up to date with the Earth-16 Comics Wire. For 2020, I promised myself to be utilizing more of my multimedia platform which includes my podcast, my Youtube page, and this blog that you are reading.

Sometime next week, you are going to see my latest Youtube video (which I am current;y working on right now) and I am also going to be doing a podcast segment with a comic book creator. I’m going to really make this happen and I am going to look cool doing it.

In addition, I am also going to be showing some other surprises along the way. I feel that I need to ignore the burnout and just…well in the wise words of Yoda: “do or do not, there is no try.” And man, does that make a lot of sense. (Thanks Master Yoda!)

And yes, you will be seeing more written comic book reviews and essays on this blog as well in the coming days, weeks, months, and years ahead.

Rest assured people, I am going to be trucking along and hustling. I figured despite my personal battles and burnout, I should be doing what I love. Period. Point. Blank. And that’s writing, vlogging, and talking all things comics and geekdom. Earth-16 style from yours truly.

And as I always say…#allcomicscelebrated!

 

 

-Brian From Earth-16

My Take On the Superior Spider-Man

This past week, I’ve read the Superior Spider-Man which was written by Dan Slott. Some of the issues in the series were drawn by Ryan Stegman and Giuseppe Camuncoli. The series first debuted around 2013. In the Amazing Spider-Man comic, the villainous Dr. Otto “Octopus” Octavius swapped bodies with the heroic Peter Parker to save his own life.

Inside the dying Otto’s body, Peter told Otto to protect those that he cared and loved and that with great power, came great responsibility. Otto decided to do just that but by his own means. Otto Octavius decided to become a better Spider-Man than Peter Parker ever was by christening himself as the Superior Spider-Man.

Such a move created a controversial buzz among Spider-Man fans. Many were upset that Slott had Peter and Doc Ock swap bodies. I had to admit, I too was upset and thought it was a rather odd move and did not bother reading the comic until this year. I even thought that fan backlash would force Slott to quickly drop the title. However, that never happened probably because Slott wanted people to see what would happen next.

What propelled me to read the comic was our of curiosity. I wanted to see what it would be like for a villain to take on a heroic role. And after reading the first issue, Slott’s story direction made me want to read more. And if that was Slott’s agenda, I’d say he did a pretty damn good job.

I saw that being Spider-Man made Otto feel that he had a greater power and a greater responsibility. From using that same intellect that made him a dangerous supervillain, Otto became a more lethal incarnation of Spider-Man. From the miniature spider-bots to the Spider-Man army he created, Octavius was not the Spider-Man anyone wanted to mess with. He was not the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man we all grew to know and love. He was every hero’s and villain’s worst nightmare. Just ask Kingpin or the Avengers.

One of my favorite moments in the comic was the real Peter Parker fighting to reclaim his life. There was a battle between Peter and Otto within Peter’s mind. This reminded me of the battle between the two Superman in Superman IV: The Quest for Peace where Superman’s light and dark sides fought. However, the Amazing Spider-Man lost and the Superior Spider-Man was victorious. But knowing Peter Parker, the OG Spider-Man is not one who gives up so easily.

Otto, now in full control of Peter Parker’s life, set out to rebuild his life. He earned a doctorate at Empire State University, used his genius and technology which helped drop the crime rate in New York City, he fell in love with a fellow Empire State student, Anna Marie Marconi who had dwafism, and started a company called Parker Industries.

As I read into the series, I saw some parts that showed Doc Ock’s past. As a kid he was bullied by both his father and the kids at school. The only love Doc Ock had was from his mother. It was here where I felt very sorry for Otto. All that he wanted to do was be a scientist and himself. And it was also here that I learned that Peter and Otto were not too different. Peter was also bullied but he lived in a home where both people loved him.

At the climax of the story, several tragedies and tribulations make Otto realize that Peter Parker was the Superior Spider-Man. The return of the Green Goblin, now christening himself as the Goblin King and terrorizing New York brought about this. The Goblin also knew that Otto had taken over the mind of Spider-Man thanks to reading the journal from Peter’s ex-girlfriend Carlie Cooper who was able to piece together why Spider-Man was acting unusual and gaining the resources for his extreme war on crime. After seeing a childhood friend get killed by saving Otto’s life, New York in chaos by the Green Goblin, and Anna Marie kidnapped, Otto knew that only one man could end it all: Peter Parker. The real Peter Parker.

It is here where Otto finally admitted that Peter Parker was the real Spider-Man and that in order to make things right, he had to erase himself from Peter’s mind just like he had tried to erase Peter. Peter and Otto parted on somewhat better terms and Peter returned as the Amazing Spider-Man. After Peter was able to defeat the Goblin, he slowly but gradually began to learn what Otto did while he was gone. But in the end,Peter began to have a new lease on life after his experience.

Overall, I really enjoyed the comic series. I grew to also like the character of the Superior Spider-Man. The Otto incarnation is another favorite Spider-Man next to the original, Spider-Man Noir, and Miles Morales.

I also have to say that for me, this series is up there with Batman: Year One, All-Star Superman, and Invincible. Spider-Man has always been one of my favorite Marvel heroes next to Captain America. Like Superman, Spider-Man is the epitome of never giving up even when shit is seemingly hitting the fan or during the darkest of times. And in this comic, Peter never gave up. Without a doubt, Dan Slott made this a true Spider-Man story. And I bet that it took great power and great responsibility to write it.

And as Stan Lee would always say, Excelsior!

Brian of Earth16

Shahrazad Kickstarter Event at Jesse James Comics

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This past Saturday was awesome. I took part in a a kickstarter event aimed at funding a  a comic book project called Shahrazad which is published by Big Dog Ink (which is also celebrating it’s 10-year anniversary) which is under Aspen Comics, which is based in Culver City, Ca.

The event was held at Jesse James’ Comics in Glendale, Arizona. This was the second comic book shop I’ve been in Arizona with the first being Gotham City Comics (One of my favorites) in Mesa.  I had the awesome pleasure of meeting story creator Tom Hutchinson and colorist Nei Ruffino (also a colorist at DC Comics) who were both very awesome.

Tom told me and another person about the inspiration behind creating Shahrazad. I learned that Shahrazad was an inspired by the tale of Shahrazad in the Arabian folklore, the One Thousand and One Nights, or commonly known as the Arabian Nights. In Arabian Nights, Shahrazad was given to a Sultan as a wife. Now this Sultan was known for killing women he married but once he married Shahrazad, she told him elaborate stories to pique his interest so that he wouldn’t kill her and the other women he planned on marrying. And as she told him so many stories night after night, that he ultimately forgot his plan to kill her.

Tom also told me that another one of those inspirations was from the resurgence of Doctor Who. As I read the comic, I could see some elements of Doctor Who, due to Shahrazad living through several life times and different incarnations. And as a Doctor Who fan, I was impressed with the creators adding that element to the comic.

After reading Sharazad Volume#1, I read from several letters to the reader from co-writers Kim Hutichinson and Kari Castor I learned that this was a collaborative project. I have read several of their own insights into creating the comic.  And after reading all of volume one in addition to those insights, I decided to offer my support to the kickstarter.

I met a lot of awesome people and also joined a Facebook comic book community group, snacked on a pizza slice and three M&Ms (trying to avoid having too much due to sugar), and I got my comics autographed by Nei and Tom.

Overall, it was a really fun event, and I encourage all of you to visit the aspen comics website to pick up a copy of Shahrazad, by clicking here. I also encourage you to give money to the kickstarter for Shahrazad: Sidequests-“The Geisha In King Author’s Court” here at this link.

-Brian From Earth-16

 

 

2020-The Year of A Better Tomorrow

When I started the Earth-16 Comics Wire, it was called the Boy Wonder Press. However, I decided to change the name of the site to reflect my love of both comic books and journalism. To me, those two things go together like peanut butter and jelly.

I also decided to make this a part of my everyday despite feeling burnout and making a crap load of excuses that could fill a journal.  Working on the Earth-16 Comics Wire is a cure most, if not a cure all, to burnout. 2019 had taught me that I have to pursue my creative goals regardless if I am out of gas.

2020 looks to be a fun year since my goal is to take the Earth-16 Comics Wire on the road or at least make it become a familiar to nerds, geeks and comic book fans. And because of that goal, I am very excited that this Saturday, Jan. 9, I am going to go to my first comic book related event of the year in Glendale, Arizona. The event involves a launch of a kickstarter for Shahrazad, which is one of the comics under Big Dog Ink, a subsidiary of Aspen Comics.  For those who are interested in the event, you can check it out here.

I am also going to be looking to do more podcasts for the Wire as well as the DC Comics Geeks Nation by reviewing the Flash on the CW. Currently, the platform is covering the monumental Crisis on Infinite Earth’s event.  I’m looking forward to doing more podcasts and discussions with these rattag crew of DC Comic junkies in the future. I miss those guys.

In the year 2019, I have let excuses take over my life. In 2020, I chose to not do that. My sister encouraged me to push past the whatever excuse came my way and reach for my goals. In addition, someone at work advised me of that same thing. And they were right. Even as I am writing these very words that you, dear reader, are reading, I feel the excuses using their power over me.

And as I write, several questions begin to evoke in my head: Would Stephen Amell make ascending to become Green Arrow if he made excuses? Would Keanu Reeves be kicking ass John Wick or as Neo from The Matrix if he made excuses? Would Han Solo beat the Kessel Run in 12 parsecs if he made excuses? Would Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson become the megastar that he is today if he made excuses? We all know the answer to those questions. And you know what? Excuses ain’t got nothing on me anymore!

You will be seeing a lot from me including my blogs, youtube videos, and my podcasts. I eventually want to make this a multimedia platform where I can showcase my passion for comics and also throw in an encouraging message to those who follow me. I owe it to myself and the people who support me.

Lastly, when I think of this year, 2020, I think of the mantra that was used by Superman’s grandfather Seg-El in now cancelled SyFy series Krypton: Keep believing in a better tomorrow. (by the way, #savekrypton)

Lets make 2020 the year of a better tomorrow!

-Brian From Earth-16

 

 

 

 

Book Review and My Take On-Scarred:The True Story of How I Escaped NXIVM, the Cult that Bound My Life

All that Sarah Edmondson wanted to do was self-improve as a human being and help others along the path. An aspiring actress from Vancouver, Canada, she was educated on self-improvement by her parents. And while she was struggling to get acting gigs, she came across an organization that seemed to align with her self-improvement mantra. That organization was NXIVM.

However, after 12 years of being a part of an organization that was aimed at changing the world, Sarah realized that she was living in a nightmare after she was branded (with a cauterizing pen) on her pelvic area with the initials of the Keith Raniere, the founder of NXIVM. And it is in the book, How I Escaped NXIVM, the Cult that Bound My Life, she tells a story of her ordeal and her eventual emancipation from a cult.

After reading this book, I often forgot that I was reading a book. It was almost like reading a letter from a friend.  And that was what I enjoyed about the book. I saw that Sarah’s writing voice is like that of someone genuinely writing to the reader. It is very personable and relatable. The writing style is used by Sarah is a mixture of questioning, since she was a part of a cult that turned out to be an organization aimed at sex trafficking, and imagery, since it showed many person-to-person interactions with family, friends, and loved ones.

As Sarah writes, it seems like she is warning the reader of what can happen if someone ends up walking into a cult by explaining her joys and horrors while in NXIVM. One of those joys being that she thought she found her purpose in life after struggling as an actress and found love. However, the horrors she experienced were NXVIM pulling her away from her family, being told to strip naked for a photo, providing collateral (in the form of false damaging information about her), and her eventual branding.

There is one thing that got me to almost say “Thank you!” aloud while I was reading the book (thankfully, I just said thank you in my head). It was the part where she beautifully, and somewhat hilariously, described Vanguard (the name NXVIM members called Rainiere) himself. One of the ways Edmondson described Raniere was that he talked in a way that reminded her of “word salad.” Word salad, according the Merriam Webster dictionary means “a string of empty, inchorent, unintelligible, or nonsensical words or comments. Before reading Scarred, I saw one of Rainiere’s conversations with Smallville actress, Allison Mack and I could barely keep up with what he was saying. I wondered if he was just trying to sound intelligent. Or was he just pontificating his opinions on the state of acting in a way that didn’t make any sense or perhaps to mind trick Allison Mack. Just check out that conversation here and you be the judge.

When her breaking point starts, we also see Sarah and her friend, Mark Vicente question Rainiere. Raineire was praised by many as one of the worlds smartest men and that he was a Judo champion, an excellent pianist, and among other accolades. Sarah and Mark questioned if Raineire really did accomplish those things. And if he really was smart, how come he lost so much money in the stock market? Money that he was given by Sara and Clare Bronfman, two heiress to Seagram Company and also a part of Rainere’s inner circle who would later get arrested along with Rainiere and Mack.

Another person that Sarah wrote a lot about was Lauren Salzman, the daughter of top NXIVM executive Nancy Salzman and also a member of Raniere’s inner circle. Sarah wrote that she saw her as an instant friend. Sarah was so close to Lauren that she made her a godmother to her newborn son and she was the maid of honor in her wedding. But when Lauren introduces Sarah to the women sorority DOS, an acronym for Dominus Obsequious Sororium (Latin term that translates to Master Over Slave Women), that was what led to the breaking point. To me, Salzman is seen as somewhat of a foil to Sarah. Even after Lauren had her strip naked, provide her with collateral (one that could damage her reputation), and get branded, it can be seen by Sarah’s writing that she hopes for Lauren to find peace and even seems to have started to forgive her.

In addition to reading this book, I have been following the NXVIM story for sometime through watching documentaries and reading Frank Parlato’s blog, The Frank Report. One of the things that got me interested in this story was Allison Mack’s involvement. As a Superman and Smallville fan, I was flabbergasted and I felt betrayed. I admired Allison Mack who beautifully played the intrepid and dauntless Chloe Sullivan, friend and confidant to Tom Welling’s Clark Kent. As I watch reruns of Smallville, I saw that Chloe was a reliable friend and someone who would go to bat for Clark. Perhaps, Allison went to bat for Raniere, a real-life supervillain that would make Michael Rosenbaum’s Lex Luthor seem like a choirboy.

I didn’t want to believe that it was Mack that joined DOS and was responsible for carrying out Raniere’s disgusting mission but, it was her. I even had a crush on her but after finding out what she did, I felt repulsed. In a sense, this was almost like a warped real-life episode of Smallville. I could picture poor Clark finding out that his friend did something so terrible and against everything they stood and fought for. Its very safe to say how Clark would react because, I can tell you how I was feeling when I first learned the news.

Years ago in Los Angeles, I almost joined an organization similar to NXIVM but, I left at the very last second due to them trying to pressure me into purchasing one of their self-help curriculums which was a whooping $800 USD (Probably as cheap as rent would get in Westside Los Angeles). And after seeing Sarah’s account on an interview with ABC News, I feel that I might have dodged a bullet by not joining that organization and giving them my money.

This past Sunday, I spoke to my pastor about NXVIM since he knew I was reading the Scarred. We talked about just how easy it can be for anyone to get ensnared into a cult despite intention or emotional state.

Sarah Edmondson wanted to help herself and anyone out. Even when she she began to detox from NXIVM, she did just that by helping people find a way out and being the very person who helped put Rainiere behind bars. She became like a North Star to those who were lost in the dark. To me, she is more of a hero than Allison Mack. She was intrepid and said no to Rainiere despite the collateral that he and his NXIVM cronies had on her. And many people who once carried the NXVIM flag followed suit and all that culminated to the arrests of Mack and Rainere.

As someone who once admired Allison Mack, I hope that Mack find peace and rebuilds herself to be a better person.

I definitely hope to meet Sarah Edmondson one day and just tell her how brave she was. She is a real superhero and one that even Clark Kent would praise for her mission to help others and seek justice.

I see this book not only as a warning but as a healing for Sarah and many others who had to endure the hell and torment NXVIM had put them through.

This book taught me that even people with the best intentions can get mindtricked into something that is seemingly wholesome while in reality, sinister. I encourage anyone who is going through, or even suspects, a similar ordeal to read this book. You will learn about loving yourself, helping others, and forgiving yourself and others.

For those of you who are reading this, especially if you had went through the crap NXVIM dished out or something akin to it, please understand that you are not bad or evil. You are loved no matter what and to not be afraid to seek those who truly love you and want to help you. You have my support.

-Brian From Earth-16

sarah
Sarah Edmonson: Survivor and the Real Superhero of the Story

 

 

 

A Decade of Fun and Self-Discovery

As 2019 draws to a close, I look back and realize how grateful I am. I live with people who support me and my aspirations. I have a flexible job. I live in the greatest country on the planet, the United States of America. I am in good health despite having to deal with Von Hippel Lindau Syndrome. I have a roof on top of my head and food to put on the table. I also have this awesome growing side hustle I am doing that lets me blog, vlog, and talk about comic books. Despite many twists and turns, I have to say, the 2010s was a a crazy decade but one of fun and self-discovery.

In the 2010s, I slowly but gradually developed a visceral view of the man I was becoming. During the time when the economy was in the crapper, and Justin Beiber was basically being seen and talked about as if he was the Second Coming, I wasn’t quite prepared for what this decade was going to throw at me. I was on a long road to self-acceptance, I was beginning to understand one of the true meanings of creative writing, I had to comprehend the trajectory of my purpose, experience living with a disease, meeting new people, trying new things,  moving to a different state, and learning self-love.

First off, I do not describe myself as an “Aspergian” or an “Austic” man. I see myself as someone who has to live with Aspergers or High Functioning Autism (HFA). I do not believe in the idea of labels. I am not Aspergers or Autism. Aspergers or Autism is not me. Some people who have Autism may not agree with me and may see themselves as an “Autistic” or “Aspergian” and that’s okay. I just don’t put the label before me. However, this notion has also gotten me to push aside that side of myself and even deny that I have Aspergers. I would barely tell even those who I was closest too outside my family that I had to deal with HFA. It was not until stress at my current job that the jig was up and I disclosed that I had autism. My disclosing was analagous to Superman revealing his identity in Brian Michael Bendis’ Superman #18. It was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life and looking back, I should have done the same in college. I write that because the people that I work with were very understanding and supportive. I have no doubt that my peers and creative writing professors back in UC Riverside would have been just as supportive if I really let them know about me. I do suspect that some could tell that there was something about me but I regretably hid that part of me.

I originally studied creative writing to help me get a career in journalism. However, I look back and I am starting to understand why the field gravitated towards me. I don’t think that it was neccesarily the career aspects that drawn me to it. It was that it was just fun to not only write but create a universe or a view of a universe through one’s lense. Creative writing has had helped me develop a vicarious view of other people’s lives and to remind myself to not see things in black and white. Plus, another reason I did it was because in my first year, several of my hallmates were doing it and they had such joy in their faces discusing many aspects of a story: characterization, plot, imagery, style, voice, theme etc. And I have enjoyed taking part of the workshops where I learned from both the professors and peers. However, that all ended around 2011 after I graduated.

As a result, I abandoned my creative aspirations and tried out careers in the education, medical, and financial fields due to not getting an opportunities in the journalism field. I wanted to work in a “real job”  and just make money. And because of that notion, all endeavors had ended with little to no success.

In the year 2011, I worked as a substitute instructional assistant for children with special needs. While the position was rewarding, I knew that I wanted to do something creative. Although I was promoted to a full-time instructional assistant in 2012, I did not last long in the position since it was not really for me and got let go. I was back on as a substitute but left around 2013 to move back with my family in Los Angeles. However, the most reward aspect of that experience was that it, along with watching Smallville (mentioned from a previos blog post), had positioned me to slowly helped me accept my autism.

While working as an instructional assistant, I also decided to pursue a career in the medical field by studying sonography. However, I had zero interest in the filed and I failed physics, which was a pre-requisite for the program.  Apparently, I did learn my lesson from my previous experience taking chemisty from my first year in college; I was legitimately not a science guy. While I was in physics, I paid very little attention and bombed two midterms. I did do some studying, but I was not getting the material. I ultimately did not take the final and abandoned the class on June 2013, the same time I left to go back home in Los Angeles.

After struggling financially, I took several computer programming courses and decided to get back into journalism. I eventually found a job working at a credit union which was emjoyable since it was near the beautiful beach of Santa Monica. As a result of that, I thought I could pursue a career in accounting. While I did manage to get an accounting job in addition to taking several courses, I ended up getting fired due to incompetence on the job.

It did not take me too long to rebound back to employment. I have gotten a new job which is the place I currently work at now and it has been a good experience. There is a great amount of customer service involved in this job but it has also helped me learn how to communicate well with others in a tactful and vicarious manner. The position is also great since it allows me to leave earlier than 5pm. As a result, I have enough time to do my side hustle and pursue freelance journalism.

Those experiences, although most have lead to failure have taught me that I am a creative and that I needed to realize that the world owes me nothing. It did not matter if someone was chosen over me to get a position, if I had all the qualifcations under the sun, or if I was not liked for who I am. Only I owe myself all the love and support that I need; the rest can (or doesn’t have to) fall into place.

There were other experiences that had me take a hard look at who I was becoming. Around 2014, I joined a Toastmasters in Santa Monica called Club 21. I learned a great deal about public speaking and also the importance of listening. It was there that I slowly started to embrace my creativity and a sense of myself. I learned that I was not afraid to go infront of a crowd and speak.

Another huge moment in this decade was learning that I also had a rare condition called Von Hippel Lindau Disease. This disease can cause tumors to develop on the eyes, brain, spinal cord, pancreas, kidneys, and reproductive organs. So far, I have had several surgeries but I have been doign very well. I have doctors that look at my case periodically to make sure that I am on track. I also learned a valuable lesson when it came to worrying about this diease from a brain surgeon. He told me that I need to focus more on my “why,” or my purpose. It made a lot of sense. My purpose, my reason for living should be my focus over even the seemingly scary things in life.

Moving to Arizona was one of the craziest things that happened to me in this decade. I didn’t think I would ever move out of California but I did. If I were to steal the Doctor’s TARDIS and go back in time to tell myself from 2010 that six year from that year, he would be moving to Arizona, he’d laugh his ass off. And that move was amazing. It was a scenic drive as my family and I drove through the desert from Los Angeles and through Riverside County. Other experiences included going on several stops for food. One funny experience involved my cat crapping in her travel carrier and me having to clean her up as well as the carrier.

After settling in Arizona, I have also learned about self-love and how integral it is to ones life. This goes back to accepting myself for who I am: a man who has Aspergers and Von Hippel Lindau Disease and yet is creative, gregarious, intelligent, and awesome (did I mention handsome to all you ladies out there? *Laughs!*) But yes, I have been learning how to love myself more by listening to myself and even learning to say “no” to some people. Even as a Christian, I had to understand that if I am to love God and Jesus most high, I need to also love myself because God made me.  And self-love also taught me to not blame others or anything else for my failures or mistakes. I am the reason for my failures and mistakes. No one else.  Furthermore, self-love reminds me to never look back into the past but learn from it and move on.

And this decade was also where I discovered how much love and passion I have for comic books, Star Wars, pro-wrestling, and anime. I eventually ended up going to my first comic convention in Los Angeles where I met Hayley Atwell, the actress who played Agent Peggy Carter from Captain America, and got her autograph. Three years after moving to Arizona, I started to go to Pheonix Fan Fusion where in 2019 this year, I met Ray Park who played Darth Maul, Amy Jo Johnson, who played Kimberly the Pink Ranger, and comic book writer Christopher Priest. Later that year, I also met actress and gamer Felicia Day.  My passion for comics made me start this very blog, the Earth-16 Comics Wire (Previously known as the Boy Wonder Press) and the Flashcast podcast with the DC Comics Geeks Nation.

In closing, This decade was an adventure and one I would never forget. It was a helluva decade. I’ve started to learn how to accept myself for who I am. I have no idea what the 2020s will bring but I am certain that it is going to be full of adventures and happenings worth writing about. Heres to a good decade to all in the multiverse!

 

-Brian From Earth-16

My Thoughts on the Candice Patton and J.R. Smith Controversy

I am a regular viewer of The Flash on the CW Network. Even before the show premiered in Fall 2014, I have read some comics in which the Flash was in. As a kid, I watched the 1990s Flash TV series starring John Wesley Shipp. When the CW annouced that The Flash would return to the small screen, I was excited. A couple years after the show premiered, I joined the DC Comics Geeks Nation Podcast to run the Flashcast, a podcast dedicated to The Flash. As I watched the show, I became devoted to it and it’s characters as much as I did when I watched Smallville.

Ever since its inception, The Flash has gained so much buzz alongside comic book based shows like Arrow, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Gotham, and The Walking Dead to name a few. The Flash, along with Arrow, has also been a part of several crossovers. Notably, it has been a part of the live action adaptation of Crisis on Infinite Earths, a major DC Comics crossover event in which heroes and villains from various Earths in the multiverse congregate to fight an evil that threatens their existence. Crisis has been gettiing a lot of buzz, probably as much as Avengers: End Game. However, there is another crisis that has been getting a lot of buzz.

This crisis involves the alleged affair beteeen married NBA basketball player J.R. Smith and Candice Patton, the actress who plays Iris West-Allen, the wife of Barry Allen, the Flash.

The news hit around the beginning of this week and fans were obviously very shocked. I have to admit, I was having an myriad of emotions when I saw news of the alleged affair. I also saw the now infamous Instagram video in where Smth’s wife Jewel Harris prayed about the affair and her husband and Candice Patton.
I talked to several of my cohost on the podcast who also were shocked. Then I began to give my two cents on the situation. However my two cents became a little judgemental which made me decide to write this piece. I am wrting this piece to advise you to not judge Candice Patton, J.R. Smith, or Jewel Harris for their actions.

We may be fans of The Flash or the NBA but that does not give us the right to cast stones on these three people who are human beings. They are no different than we are except their bank account. They eat, breathe, crap, work, sleep, repeat just like we do. They are human.

Candice Patton fell for a married man who somehow charmed her. Evidence of this was from several Instagram pictures that show Smith walking her puppy and with just him and her. However, to judge her for this would be wrong. Wrong because we do not know what was going on in her head or her heart. Maybe she was mind tricked? Maybe she wanted to break up a marriage? We don’t know.

Jewel Harris took to Instagram to pray about what happened. Some people praised her for praying. Others bashed her for doing a public prayer and Bible thumped her by saying that she should do the prayer in private. Whether she prays in public or private is her perogative. As a Christian, I can say that the people who are bashing her are not Go. If she prays on Instagram, great! It’s a free country and it is none of our business.

And for J.R. Smith? I am definitely not going to judge his character. However, I will write this. I feel that if someone that I swore to be with for the rest of my life cheated on me, I would want to end that union immediately. If the cheating allegations are true as Jewel Harris says, then she should divorce Smith and go after his money. Smith is going to have to learn from his mistake not as NBA star J.R. Smith but as J.R. Smith the man.

Now I am in no way sugar coating this issue. What transpired this past week was not okay for anyone involved. Jewel Harris made a good point when she said that she, her husband and Candice were all hurting. I think that another take away from this is that we as humans make mistakes.

Yours truly has made a lot of mistakes. You have made mistakes. The people we look up to have made mistakes. Not too long ago, The Flash himself Grant Gustin got kicked off an airplane for vaping. It wasn’t right but he made a mistake and owned up to it. Hulk Hogan uttered the N-Word and had to pay for it greatly by getting stripped of his WWE contract and Hall of Fame status until he got it back last year. And mistakes make us reflect on what we can do different.

Instead of judging Candice Patton, J.R. Smith, and Jewel Harris, we should hope and pray that they learn from their mistakes. We are all human and well all make mistakes. Its okay.

And in the words of Jay Garrick, the Flash of Earth-2 (Earth-3 in the Arrowverse), we can only learn from our mistakes and go forward.

Jewel-Harris-J.R.-Smith
JR Smith and Jewel Harrris