The FFOW! series takes a look at that vast library created by the proud and the passionate: fan films. Whether the budget and talent is astronomical or amateur, FFOW! celebrates the filmmakers whose love of comics, books, movies, video games, and TV shows inspires them to join the great conversation with their own homemade masterpieces.
Writer/director Hisonni Johnson made a splash in 2013 when he premiered Grayson: Earth One, an online pilot that centered on a gritty version of Nightwing. It asks the question, “What if Dick Grayson was never adopted by Bruce Wayne but, instead, fended for himself on the streets of Gotham and Blüdhaven?” Since then, it has won top prizes at Dragon Con, Phoenix Comic Con, and recently at the GeekFest Film Fest.
Now, there’s Episode — or, technically, Episode 1.5, since the story is now branching out and finding other Robins in Gotham and what their lives would be like if they never encountered the Batman. So, in honor of the Dynamic Duo, let’s look at both episodes!
Grayson: Earth One takes place in a Gotham City decimated by urban decay. Though Richard Grayson (Stephen McCain) merely plays heavy metal music at seedy underground clubs, he maintains a fierce reputation against the gangs that run the city. Meanwhile, a kidnapping ring abducts young women for Dr. Victor Friese (Daz Crawford) and his experiments. When Barbara Gordon (Angela Gulner) disappears, Grayson tracks down and challenges the traffickers. In doing so, he stumbles upon a greater destiny in store for him, one under the wing of a guardian angel.
Episode 1.5 – The Boy and the Bullet introduces Jason Todd (Jono Cota), a teenage car thief who gets by any way he can. Thrown out of his home by his mother, Todd’s only chance for survival lies in joining the clown-faced street gang of Mama (Tania Nolan), a maniacal woman with a righteous vendetta. But, the initiation is more than Todd bargained for . . .
WHY YOU SHOULD SEE THEM
Let me take this time to officially rename this article:
“DEAR NETFLIX: PLEASE HIRE HISONNI JOHNSON FOR DAREDEVIL: SEASON 2”
There’s everything here for the fan of mature comic stories: a distinct, threatening mood; revisionist versions of established canon; and fast action coupled with suspense; however, what is most striking of each episode is the performances from the actors. Their commitment to translating the characters’ psychology makes the audience believe each scene in what is essentially a heightened reality. Tania Nolan mesmerizes as Mama, comparable to Vincent D’Onofrio in a certain Netflix series. Her scene with Jono Cota at the end of the second episode keeps the viewer on the edge of their seat just because of performance alone. This is the strength that a superhero series always has over a single film, even a short fan film: it can take its time and let the characters breathe. There will be future episodes in which to explore and develop every dimension of the heroes and villains. Supposedly, there will be Episodes 2 – 6 coming, and I can’t wait. Johnson is a promising director who is ready for more.
WHERE YOU CAN SEE THEM
Both episodes are available on YouTube. At the time of this writing, Hisonni Johnson is also gauging interest in a John Stewart/Green Lantern film and has posted a trailer. If you like it, comment on the page and tell him to Kickstarter that baby!