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Saturday, 24 December 2016

Review: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)

Warning!: Contains Spoilers!
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
 Rogue One is the newest installment in the fantastic Star Wars franchise set in between the events of Episode III and Episode IV. Directed by Gareth Edwards and, written by Chris Weitz and Tony Gilroy we finally have a good prequel to the Original Trilogy. This review contains spoilers so if you wish to read my final verdict please skip to the end.

Plot
The Rebel Alliance frees former rebellion and criminal Jyn Elso (Felicity Jones) to get close to breakaway rebel leader Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker) who has information from a defecting Imperial pilot (Riz Ahmed) about the Empire's new superweapon. With Rebel pilot Cassian Andor (Diego Luna), a reprogrammed Imperial droid K-2SO (Alan Tudyk), spiritual warrior Chirrut Imwe (Donnie Yen), and a mercenary Baze Malbus (Wen Yiang) she finds out that her father, Galen Erso (Mads Mikkelson), has been forced by Imperial Lieutenant Orson Krennic (Ben Mendelson) to create a superweapon named the Death Star.

The plot to Rogue One is very well done and unlike the prequels it feels much more in line with the rest of the Star Wars universe. This may be because Rogue One was a more self contained story which directly leads onto the Original Trilogy contrary to the prequels which tried (and failed) to create an epic on par with the originals. Rogue One also makes the Empire seem more of a threat to the Rebel Alliance. The choices done with the plot makes the Empire seem an all encompassing, totalitarian regime and the Rebel Alliance a small force which can easily be snuffed out of existence. This made the story far more gripping. Spoiler alert but the ending seemed highly appropriate for the film. Although I did manage to more or less guess the ending by the last act of the film it was still fitting. The attack on the planet containing the Death Star plans did seem to be a suicide mission, and I am really glad that they went down this route of being a suicide mission. Also, I like the way it seamlessly transitioned to the start of Episode IV. When this is released I want to watch the two back to back to make the start of Episode IV seem even better.

Characters and Acting
Some of the Cast
Without a doubt the acting in this movie is really good. Particularly from Felicity Jones; I thought that she stole the entire movie. Especially her interactions with the other actors. None seemed forced and overall it seemed natural making it easy watching. Alan Tudyk as the droid K-2SO. I am a big fan of Firefly and really enjoyed him in it so it was a pleasure hearing him in the movie. Like Wash in Firefly he managed to create quite an amusing character which added some more light moments in a considerably dark movie. Forest Whitaker as always was good. He pulled off an extremist freedom fighter losing his mind very well and reminded me of his role in The Last King of Scotland where he played the Ugandan dictator Idi Amin. Ben Mendelsohn was surprisingly good, although at times in the final act his acting bordered on the overly eccentric. Diego Luna was quite good but at times when interacting with other actors his acting seemed somewhat off which was a slight issue. 

I liked every character in the movie. Jyn Elso by far was my favorite, and I thought she was well written and realistic. She was a very realistic character so with the additional superb acting from Felicity Jones it easily made her the best character. Also, I was very glad for the addition of Saw Gurrera from both Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star War Rebels. His addition in this movie was both a nice way to end his character cycle, and actually introduce characters from the Extended Universe into the mainstream movies. I'm hoping that this opens the doors for the introduction of other characters like Admiral Thrawn and Mara Jade. Galen Erso was a very good character being a Star Wars version of Robert Oppenheimer. He seemed someone who clearly wished to note aid the Empire but had no choice in the matter. Overall, the characters were really well written in this movie.

Effects
Like The Force Awakens the effects in Rogue One were fantastic. I am really glad that they have continued with the trend of mixing practical effects and CGI together to create a visually stunning movie. This creates another strike against Jurassic World now as that film only used CGI. I am hoping that this opens the door for more movies to combine practical effects and CGI. It was so good in fact that at one part I was watching an alien and wondering whether it was CGI, practical effects, or both. The superb effects allowed a greater level of immersion into the universe created by the film makers. Only the effects on General Tarkin and Princess Leia seemed off. What they did had actors play Tarkin and Leia and then use CGI to make them look like Peter Cushing and Carrie Fisher respectively. The Tarkin effect was alright most of the time but the Leia one seemed almost like it was from a video game. Not outright bad but compared to the earlier effects it was a bit disappointing. Overall the effects were very good.

The Universe
Lord Vader
Rogue One feels like it belongs firmly in the Star Wars universe. It adds to the movies and brings in aspects from the wider canon. Darth Vader has gone back to his formidable roots from his whiny Anakin persona of the prequels, and now we finally have a Vader which shows him as a powerful Sith Lord in both presence and fighting style. Much like Marvel's current Darth Vader comics we get a truly powerful Dark Lord of the Sith. The worlds we see seem to be natural parts of the Star Wars universe. Jedha being caught between the iron fist of the Empire and the harsh guerrilla warfare of Saw Guerrera among the ruins of a Jedi stronghold made a world which belonged in this franchise. The inclusion of Saw Guerrera and kyber crystals (which power lightsabers) has opened a potential to include the Extended Universe into the movies. Maybe Admiral Thrawn to appear in Episode VIII? Or for the First Order to be secretly working with the Yuuzhan Vong? Or maybe a prequel set during the events of the video game Knights of the Old Republic?

Conclusion
Rogue One is easily one of the best entries in the franchise and I would go as far as to say that it is my second favorite Star Wars movie (after Empire Strikes Back). For good acting, good characters, and fantastic effects which makes a movie which truly belongs in the Star Wars universe I'm giving Rogue One a 8.5/10. Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed it.

Friday, 16 December 2016

Comics Explained: Vulture (Adrian Toomes)

The Vulture
Recently the trailer for Spider-Man: Homecoming was released revealing the villain of the movie: the Vulture. The Vulture is the second oldest Spider-Man villain first appearing in The Amazing Spider-Man #2 all the back in May 1963. Although he is not the most well known of Spider-Man's villains, or the most powerful, he has a key place in the history of Spider-Man. Over the years there have been four people to take on the mantle of the Vulture, however, today we will only look at the first one, Adrian Toomes, as he was the one which will be featured in the movie, as played by former Batman Michael Keaton.

Origin
Vulture's initial appearance
Like many characters from the Spider-Man comics Adrian Toomes came from New York, more specifically Staten Island. With his parents dying when he was young Adrian was raised by his older brother Marcus until Marcus became paraplegic following a motocycle accident. Thereafter he spent his time caring for his brother. Toomes was incredibly smart, and after leaving school he helped found a firm called Bestman and Toomes Electronics where Toomes could use his engineering skills to make projects. His favorite project was an electromagnetic harness which improved muscle mass, and the ability to fly like a bird when in use. However, his continuous obsession with his pet projects distracted him from the fact that his partner had been slowly embezzling funds from the business, and buying Tomes's stocks in the company. By the time that Toomes had realized he was an old man and Bestman was the sole proprietor. He retired to work on his revenge. Soon he had perfected his harness and developed a costumed identity called Vulture. He immediately flew to Bestman's office and began to ransack it to find evidence to incriminate his former partner. When he could not he robbed the premises and then began a series of robbings across New York City. The thrill of thieving under the guise of a costume went to his head and he started to announce where he would rob. The big one was the Park Avenue Diamond Exchange. Everyone had believed he would attack from the air so the police had set guards to prepare for the Vulture's arrival from the skies. However, it turned out he had flew through the sewers, emerged from a manhole, and robbed the place. It was this which made him run in with Spider-Man. Like Vulture, Spider-Man was also a skilled engineer and to combat the electromagnetic harness which powered Vulture's flight he created an inverter which would stop the electromagnets in the harness. It worked and Vulture was captured becoming the second villain in Spider-Man's Rogue Gallery.

Sinister Six
Sinister Six
After being beaten by Spider-Man the Vulture ended up joining forces with five other members of his Rogues Gallery in Amazing Spider-Man Annual #1. Here Doctor Octopus realized that by working with other people who hated Spider-Man he could defeat the Web-Slinger. Other than Vulture he also hired: Electro (a man who can shoot electricity, farthest left on the above photo), Mysterio, (someone who can make lifelike images appear, second on the left), Kraven the Hunter, (an extremely strong man who hunts with his bare hands, farthest right), and Sandman, (someone who can turn into sand and use sand who was the villain in Spider-Man 3, second to the right). To try and take down Spider-Man their plan was to kidnap someone from the Daily Bugle, leave behind clues at locations, and hopefully wear down Spider-Man. They kidnap Betty Brant and Aunt May who happened to be visiting Brant as she was worried about her nephew and hoped that his colleague could help. Spider-Man managed to defeat Electro, Kraven, Mysterio and Sandman before taking on, (and defeating), Vulture. Eventually he also defeated Doctor Octopus. 

After the Six
Two Vultures
Following his defeat as part of the Sinister Six Toomes was sent to prison again. It was in prison that he made friends with his cellmate Raniero 'Blackie' Drago (the one on the left in the above picture), in Amazing Spider-Man #48. Drago staged an accident which left Toomes hospitalized and close to death. Fearing he might die Toomes told Drago where his secret Vulture suit was. Drago's plan was complete and he managed to escape from prison as the new Vulture. However, Toomes found out that Drago had been defeated by Spider-Man quite easily he vowed to show the world who the real Vulture was. He managed to escape prison and create a new Vulture suit. To finally show the world who the better Vulture was he fought Drago and with his superior suit managed to defeat his former friend. Not until 1990 would anything major happen with the Toomes version of the Vulture. Introduced in Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man #47 a wheelchair bound retired vaudeville Nathan Lubensky had started a relationship with Aunt May. Lubensky had met Toomes and was unaware of his identity as the Vulture saying that life should never get him down. In Amazing Spider-Man #336 he had arrived at a casino yacht, (which May and Nathan had been attending), and during a fight with Spider-Man he tried to use May as a human shield. However, Nathan managed to get onto Vulture's back to try and stop him from taking May resulting in Lubensky having a fatal heart attack. Toomes became distraught and was soon caught. 

Throughout the 1990s the Vulture remained a secondary villain for Spider-Man with writers focusing more on Doctor Octopus, Green Goblin and Venom instead of his flying adversary. However, there was a brief time when he became a hero, but as always in comics he went back into his ways of being a villain. During the Civil War event he was beaten by Captain America in the early days of the Superhero Civil War. When incarcerated he was offered a chance by S.H.I.E.L.D to hunt down Spider-Man who had gone rogue and joined Captain America. However, when he went to fight Spider-Man he had a stroke and Spider-Man had to rush him to hospital. In 2014 in Superior Spider-Man Team-Up #5 Vulture was forced to join Spider-Man's Superior Six, (this was a weird time in Marvel).

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed it.

Saturday, 10 December 2016

World History: Taika Reforms and Heian Japan

An example of Heian Art
In studying history it is advisable not to focus solely on the elites and politics but to also focus on culture and the general masses to better understand the past. However, when looking at the Taika Reforms and the Heian period we hit a paradox: we focus much on culture and the arts but it is all centered around the elite. The literature, art, and system of governance created during the Heian period would drastically influence the rest of Japanese history, and the style of government set up at the end of the period in 1185 would exist in one form or another until 1868. Before we look at the Heian period we have to look at the Taika Reforms to see their influence on Japanese history.

Taika Reforms (and Japan pre-reform)
In the sixth century the first motions to a unified Japanese state started to emerge. From the Nihon shoki written in 720 we learn that after 550 Japan began a period of centralization. In 587 the Soga clan managed to impose Buddhism onto Japan. Key to this was Prince Shotoku whose history has been so romanticized that we find it hard now to determine what was fact about his life and what is just legend. Shotoku proclaimed principles to centralize the Japanese state under imperial rule borrowing from Chinese Confucianism. Buddhism was seen as a way to aid this. Indirectly the implementation of Buddhism helped define what Japan's native religion, Shintoism, was and in later years Buddhism and Shintoism would blend increasingly together so much so that Shinto and Buddhist shrines are often the same shrine. Unfortunately for Shotoku he died before his Confucian and Buddhist principles could be implemented, and the member of the Soga clan, Umako, who had been helping him died a few years after. In something straight out of Game of Thrones the Soga clan under Umako had been ruling and influencing the throne from behind the scenes. After the death of Umako his son and grandson decided to emulate Cersei Lannister and try to influence the throne openly. This proved to be their downfall in 645 when imperial prince Naka no Oe and head of the Nakatomi clan, Kamatari, had the Soga ousted in a coup. 

Following the coup the conspirators began a series of reforms called Taika or 'Great Change'. Despite being called a 'Great Change' the reforms did not turn Japan into a centralized state, and the reforms themselves had been started by the Soga. Starting with an edict on New Year's Day 646 over the next fifty years Japan would slowly be transformed. A major aspect of the Taika reforms was to make Japan more like China. China was seen as the ideal form of government for the fledgling Japanese state. Among this the Chinese alphabet was adopted, the book about the formation of the gods (kami) and the Japanese islands called Kojiki was written, Buddhism was used to create legitimacy, and it was decreed that the emperor was the true ruler rather than the clans. Also a new system of land ownership based off of Tang China's system was implemented called shoen, or manors. The various land reforms curtailed the large amounts of independence which local leaders had exercised, as well as creating an administrative service to implement the will of the central state. Buddhism was increasingly promoted with immigrant monks given gifts; Buddhist ceremonies were implemented at court; there were restrictions on hunting, fishing, and eating meat; and many Buddhist temples were built. In 685 provinces were informed that:
in every house a Buddhist shrine should be provided, and an image of Buddha with Buddhist scriptures placed there. Worship was to be paid and offerings of food made at these shrines.
Another key reform was the creation of an imperial palace. Beforehand the emperor would have several palaces in each region for himself, family, 'summer' residences, and various regional palaces for when the imperial court traveled. It was customary for a new emperor or empress coming to power to move to a new palace and make that their capital. China and the Korean kingdoms in contrast had one imperial capital. The Taika reforms started implement having one capital as it would help formalize political centralization, and it was expensive maintaining several palaces, especially as they were made of wood so had to be repaired more often than stone ones. However, it would take several emperors before having one capital was implemented. From here we can now start discussing the Heian period.

Heian Politics
1696 map of Kyoto
In 794 the fiftieth emperor of Japan, Kanmu, moved the capital to Heian-kyo, (in modern day Kyoto), and here the capital would remain until 1185 earning the period the name Heian. During Kanmu's reign and that of some of his successors the imperial court saw increased authority to the emperor with the household treasury office, (kurando-dokoro), being created in 810. From 794 the emperor also expanded his territorial rule as well by sending Otomo Otomaro and Sakanoue Tamuramaro north to conquer the Ainu on the largest island of Honshu. As a result the last remaining free Ainu lived only on Hokkaido until the nineteenth century. Otomo returned and was awarded the title barbarian-quelling-great-general (sei-i-tai-shogun). However, the strength of the emperor politically would soon be reduced and the Taika reforms of having no clans ruling the emperor would soon be undone. In a very Game of Thrones manner the Fujiwara clan managed to maneuver their way into controlling who sat on the throne. Fujiwara Yoshifusa managed to place his son-in-law Montoku on the throne, and eventually was made regent for his grandson, Seiwa, following Montoku's death in 858. The Fujiwara's had future emperors marry into their family allowing them to become regents. This system of rule lasted until 1068 when an emperor of non-Fujiwara birth came to the throne, Go-Sanjo. Go-Sanjo confiscated all shoens awarded after 1045, and had a system called insei (cloistered government) where abdicated emperors would help rule. This was done to curb Fujiwara power. Slowly a new clan named the Minamoto would start to replace the Fujiwara as the most powerful family in Japan but we shall speak of that later.

Heian Art and Literature
Some Heian Art
Cultural historians who focus on Japanese history love the Heian period because of how rich the high culture was at this time. It is often regarded as a golden age of art and literature. Although it should be mentioned that only the elite could engage in this culture. Court culture best describes only those in the Heian court could engage in the culture. Historian H.Paul Varley even calls this period 'the court at its zenith'. The elite were expected to be interested and sensitive in the culture produced at this time with a quote from The Tale of Genji perfectly exemplifying this by showing what a man needs to do to be seen as a man 'with his gentle nature, his sensitivity and his wide range of artistic skills who represented the ideal of  the age and set the tone for the social and cultural life of the good people'. Melancholy and gloom were expected from the aristocracy as well as ideas of impermanence. This fit in perfectly with the rise in Buddhism as in Buddhist teachings life is suffering which one has to escape from. By pondering on the impermanence of life this fit well with these teachings. Although, a YouTube comment summed this melancholy and sensitivity up rather humorously 'So the Heian aristocrats were basically emos'. The best examples of Heian art happen to exist in Buddhist temples so already we see a connection to Buddhism which the Heian aristocrats felt. Again we see inspiration from China with them using curved lines, soft colors, and images of a religious style. However, linking this to a growth of a sense of Japanese identity in the later Heian period a distinctly Japanese style of painting called Yamato-e developed using angular lines and more decoration than the previous art style.
Depiction of Murasake Shikibu
Some of the most well known pieces of Japanese literature come from the Heian court, and all the major ones are written by women. The earliest are nikki or court diaries. One of the early ones include Tosa Nikki written by Ki no Tsurayuki around 935 where many entries are simply poems, haikus, or some brief comments. The better known one is The Gossamer Years written between 954 and 974, and unlike the Tosa Nikki there are large gaps between entries. It has been more like an autobiography than a diary of an unnamed woman calling herself 'mother of Michitsuna'. All we know is that she was married to Fujiwara no Kaneie who eventually became regent. The diary shows a sad tale of the author's husband initially loving her to the point of them having a child, (Michitsuna), and her late resentment and sadness over her husband's shifting attention to other women made worse by the sequestered existence at court. The final of the nikki reads: I thought of how quickly the years had gone by, each with the same unsatisfied longing. The old, inexhaustible sadness came back, and I went through the rites of my ancestors, but absent-mindedly. The Heian period also produced two of the most famous examples of Japanese literature: The Tale of Genji and The Pillow Book. The Pillow Book by Sei Shonagon is similar to a nikki but instead reflected on what she saw, heard, and did at court. What made the book famous was Sei's wittiness and distinct personality reflected in her writing. Written around the same time is The Tale of Genji by Murasake Shikibu which is possibly one of the oldest novels in not only Japan but the world. The novel is about Prince Genji going through life in Heian court dealing with his romances with women, and also his place in existence going from a lighthearted adventurer to a seeker looking for the truth. It deals with the impermanence of life, and relationships between the sexes as friends, lovers, sons, fathers, and protectors.

Women in Heian Court
Thanks to the nikkis, The Tale of Genji, and The Pillow Book we can grasp women's place in court society. Historians are lucky in the fact that women, and not men, are writing as we can from there grasp better what role women had in Heian society. Often people write about the world immediately around them so as almost all societies in history have been patriarchal women are often ignored from historical sources, or are subjected to a virgin-whore dichotomy. We know that women did have various rights. Many women ruled shoens and could be given a shoen on the same basis as a man. Husbands were also barred from hitting their wives, at least at court, which is quite significant in women's rights considering that at the time in Europe this was not the case. However, this was not an egalitarian society in terms of gender relations. Heian Japan was clearly patriarchal. Women were expected to be beautiful at all times which included having hair so long that it almost touched the ground, painting their faces white, dying their teeth black, painted their mouth red, and had to wear formal dress called a junihitoe which was a several layered robe which limited movement. Women at court were educated but only in 'feminine' subjects like calligraphy, poetry, and music where subjects like history and law were forbidden. Even how women could write was determined. Men were instructed to write in Chinese while women had to write in Japanese. At the start of Tosa Nikki the author opens with 'It is said that diaries are kept by men, but I shall see if a woman cannot keep one'. This speaks volumes about women's place in Heian society. Of course this is only the elite women. We have little sources describing Japan outside of the court to see what life was like for an average woman.

Hierarchy
As you can imagine Heian society was rigidly hierarchical. Again we have few sources discussing the world outside of Heian but we can make estimates about society based on later and earlier sources. Japanese society was partially based on a Confucian idea that society was structured in a hierarchical system. At the top would be the royals, below them the shoen and landowners, then the farmers, below them the artisans, at the bottom would be merchants, (at the bottom as they weren't seen as making anything just acting as parasites on the rest of society), and below the bottom were the 'eta' or 'burakumin'. These were seen as 'unclean' and consisted of homeless, vagrants, prostitutes, and people who did not 'fit in' with society. This system was seen around the world in one form or another: the Chinese Confucian system, the Estates in Europe, caste in India, the social structure of the Mayan city states etc. The court itself was also extremely hierarchical. The court was split into thirty grades where the top four were reserved for the royal family, and the top three, (the kugyo), had special privileges like governmental posts, land which produced more rice, the ability to send your children to university, and light sentences for crimes. These top four positions were reserved for barely a tenth of one percent of the population so the mega elite. To get into a higher position in society you had to be born into it. At court your position meant everything: what you could do, who you could speak to, and even what type of fan you could use. You now may perhaps be wondering why there are hardly any sources from outside the Heian court? The simple answer is they stopped caring; this is what we shall talk about next.

End of the Heian
Minamoto no Yoshinaka
After 850 with the conquest of the Ainue, the end of Ainu resistance, and the reduction of contact with China there were no issues facing Japan. The Fujiwara clan at this time were efficient rulers and the shoen were loyal so there were no political issues. People accepted society, and the shoen ensured that there were no issues. No issues in a 'Medieval' society means you have little to do so the Heian court started painting, writing, and pondering existence. No problems emerged until the next century. By the mid 900s population growth, food shortages, and competition for resources between the great families  undermined the authority of the Fujiwara clan. By the eleventh century the Fujiwara, Taira, and Minamoto clans had started to fight over land, and Emperor Go-Sanjo's replacing of the Fujiwara regency meant the Minamoto clan could easily replace them as the dominant family in Japan. In 1156 there was a clash between the Fujiwara and, the Taira and Minamoto resulting in the Fujiwara's power being destroyed. Although in 1159 the Taira managed to almost destroy the Minamoto like the Fujiwara they got complacent and the Minamoto started to gain more power. In 1183 the Minamoto attacked Kyoto. The Empress Dowager tried to drown herself and the seven year old emperor but only succeeded in drowning her son. Head of the Minamoto, Yoritomo, created a new emperor but he created a new system of government. Called the bakufu the emperor would technically be ruler but Minamoto no Yoshinaka would be the real leader, called shogun. The shogun would appoint lords called daimyo to rule, and they in turn would have samurai fight and collect taxes for them. A new system of government, called a shogunate, had been established in Japan and this system would exist in some form until 1868.

Conclusion
Heian Japan shows us a new way in studying history. By studying literature, art, and poetry we manage to better understand a society centered on the court, where Game of Thrones style political maneuvering was a reality, and how people fit into this society. Often people refer to this time of history as 'the Dark Ages' based on the apparent lack of culture going on in Europe. Although this idea is in of itself untrue by looking at Heian Japan even if there was a 'Dark Age' it is exactly the opposite case in Japan. Thank you for reading and next World History we will be back in Europe looking at Vikings.

The sources I have used are as follows:
-A History of Japan by R.H.P. Mason and J.G. Caiger
-Japanese Culture by H. Paul Varley
-A History of Japan by Conrad Totman
-https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZnZEoOJ-cxE

Saturday, 3 December 2016

Comics Explained: Invasion!

Invasion!
Invasion! was a three issue crossover in DC comics in 1989 and was the basis of the crossover event between the TV shows Supergirl, Arrow, Flash, and Legends of Tomorrow. It featured the Alien Alliance, lead by a race known as the Dominators, invading Earth to wipe out humanity through fear of metahumans, (superpowered beings). First, we have to look at who made up the Alien Alliance.

Alien Alliance
Dominators
The Alien Alliance wished to invade Earth, wipe out humanity, and with it wipe out Earth's metahumans. The organizers of the Alliance, and later the de facto leaders, were a species known as the Dominators. The Dominators were experts in genetics and lived in a caste based system where the size of the red spot on their forehead determined their place in society. They managed to discover that the reason why Earth had so many superpowered beings, metahumans, was because of a gene called the 'metagene'. Thanks to the metagene accidents which should have killed a normal human gave superpowers to individuals having this gene. The Dominators feared the unrestrained evolution of this gene so they built a coalition of races to wipe out the gene before it became a danger to them. Another race which was part of the Alliance was the Khund, an aggressive species whose world was united by the threat of the Superman villain Doomsday. Thanagarians also took part in the Alliance. Thanagar was the homeworld of Hawkman which had become a fascist, police state and took part in the Alliance to recapture Hawkman. These were the most significant races but there were also the Gil'Dishpan, Durlans, Warlords of Okaara, Citadelians, Daxamites, and Psions. 

Issue #1
The story begins with the Dominators and Khunds performing tests on humans to see if they develop superpowers. Upon finding out the unpredictability of the metagene they see it as a threat which must be preemptively destroyed building the Alien Alliance to do this. They also build the Starlag, a gulag for captured metahumans and dissenting members of the Alliance, in preparation for the invasion. The Khunds managed to invade first with them invading Australia (insert obligatory joke about Australia's Liberal Party and Malcolm Turnbull) and immediately destroying Melbourne and the Australian armed forces. For fun the Khunds wipe out the surrounding civilian populace. Meanwhile, the Daxamites, descended from Kyrptonian colonists, discover that they have immense power from Earth's red sun. One of the most powerful individuals in the DC Universe, the Spectre, (the literal embodiment of God's vengeance), is instructed not to interfere by the Lords of Order as by doing so it would bring the Lords of Chaos into the conflict escalating it from a planetary invasion to a universe wide battle between good and evil. To avoid the Lords of Chaos intervening all mystical heroes are forbidden from aiding Earth meaning all of Earth's supernatural heroes cannot fight the Alliance. The Dominators offer an ultimatum to the UN: give up the superheroes or face total annihilation. After a round of debating the UN responds to the ultimatum:
The War Begins
Issue #2
The world responds
Faced with annihilation from the Alliance heroes start working with villains and the world's various governments put their differences aside to prevent humanity's extinction. Russia is invaded by the Warlords of Okaara, the aquatic Gil'Dishpan from their base in the Artic Ocean battles the Atlanteans, the Khund turn Australia into one large concentration camp, an army invades Themyscira, home of the Amazons, and the shapeshifting Durlans invade Cuba and secretly replace Fidel Castro and the leading members of the Cuban government and army. President Ronald Reagan places Amanda Waller in charge on intelligence, Captain Atom in charge of the superheroes, General Wade Eiling in charge of the armed forces, and Maxwell Lord as the Justice League's adviser and liaison. Waller even offers the use of the Suicide Squad to help the heroes. As the heroes wonder why the Alliance does not simply destroy Earth the Dominators start planning to betray their allies once they learnt the secrets of the metagene. Various heroes start fighting the Khund in Australia, including Power Girl, as Superman takes the fight directly to the Alliance, and Aquaman manages to oust the Gil'Dishpan from the Arctic Circle. Meanwhile, the Flash and the hero Manhunter manages to free Cuba from the Durlans restoring the government. Lex Luthor learnt that the Dominators were kidnapping individuals with the metagene so used this to his advantage, (and the Earth's), by placing bombs in fake heroes which would explode with the Dominators cut it open devastating their ships. Superman starts battling the Daxamites given new powers by Earth's sun until the Daxamites start suffocating thanks to lead in the atmosphere. For Daxamites even the smallest amount of lead can kill them. However, Superman flies them into space allowing them to breathe once more earning their respect for the Man of Steel. Instead of resuming battle with Superman they opt to join Earth's defenders. As this is happening riots brake out in the Starlag. With the Warlords defeated in Moscow, Gil'Dishpan in the Arctic, and Durlans in Cuba the only remaining invaders were the Khund and Dominators. The Khund and Dominator armies, however, keep receiving orders to retreat, or orders leading to their defeat, causing rifts between the two forces. With the Daxamite alliance this greatly aids Earth who manages to push them beyond the Moon. The Dominator leader announces that they surrender. However, they secretly prepare to use a doomsday weapon to destroy the Earth until they turn on one another and start decimating the remains of their own forces. It turned out that the spirit hero Deadman had secretly been possessing the leader of the Dominators. Just as the Earth appears to be saved we learn that a young Dominator aspiring for power had been investigating with the metagene, learnt how to exploit it, and managed to create the Gene Bomb...

Issue #3
The final issue
The now rogue Dominator scientist fired the Gene Bomb at the Earth which causes every metahuman to lose control of their powers. Captain Atom starts to go into a meltdown in New York as other heroes like the Flash, Ice, and Fire go berserk. Reagan orders the military to put down the heroes but this is ignored by General Eiling who asks the Justice League for help. Meanwhile, Maxwell Lord asks Lex Luthor for the same thing. Non-metahuman heroes such as Batman and the Green Lantern Corp start to neutralize metahumans. They realize that the only way to save Earth's metahumans is to track down the scientist which created the Gene Bomb. Several heroes, including Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter and Superman, are sent to the Dominator homeworld to secretly search for the scientist to only discover that he had been arrested and tortured by the Dominator government. They wished to use the metagene so his use of the Gene Bomb to eventually wipe out metahumans would ruin their plan. Martian Manhunter manages to shapeshift to sneak into the prison, use telepathy to find out how to reverse the effects of the Gene Bomb, and get out. After narrowly creating the cure in the Starlag, which was soon after destroyed by the Khunds, they return to Earth and Superman managed to release the cure. 

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed it.