Showing posts with label Batman. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Batman. Show all posts

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Batman Musical 2

So I got to looking, and there are actually several musical versions of Batman on YouTube.

From "Batman: Beyond". An aged Batman attends a performance of a musical based on his life.

Batman does the Batusi

Batman sings "Am I Blue"

Here's a whole site dedicated to a Batman Broadway show that almost happened. Seriously, this had Tim Burton and other big name people attached.

Which may have been canceled in the wake of this MadTV skit, which in turn was a direct response to where Warner Bros. and Joel Schumacher's inability to reconcile their ideas regarding Batman. See "Batman and Robin" for how that worked out.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Batman Sings!

If you didn't see "Batman: The Brave and the Bold" this Friday, woe unto you.

For the season premiere, the producers put together a musical episode, featuring NPH as "The Music Meister".

This is exactly the sort of place where your comic fans who get into comics to see "edginess" and myself part ways. I WANT to see NPH singing as a villain, Gorilla Grodd dancing and Black Canary belting out a tune. If I've one regret, its that the show has a moratorium on using Superman, who I would love to see lighting up the Great White Way.

If you see the episode "Mayhem of the Music Meister" as an option on your DVR, I highly recommend recoding.

By the way, Grey DeLisle did a fantastic job singing. Which I learned should come as no surprise as, in addition to her extensive voice-over career, she has several albums to her name.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Batman, Possible Power Shift, GL Promotion

Subject: Batman and Robin #3

Dear Rest of the Batman Books,

On the topic of Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely's "Batman and Robin #3".

decidedly not for kids

That is how you make a Batman comic.

Try harder.

That is all.


The League

Shifting Tides at DC Comics

Word on the street is that DC Comics, a subsidiary of Warner Bros., is shifting offices within the mega-corp that is Time-Warner. While remaining within the moive side of the business, rather than the print and publishing side of the business, it sounds as if DC will now be under Diane Nelson instead of Alan Horn.

I've not worked in Hollywood, but its my assumption that Ms. Nelson has got to be toughest of the sharks to have become head of a division at a company like Warner Bros.. This is all good news.

1) I don't know anything about Alan Horn, but I do know what DC Comics has been like as an entity under his watch, and the movie production schedule has been shoddy at best. As Marvel spits out 2 - 3 movies a year, DC is getting one every two years or so to the silver screen.

Not to mention WB's inability to exploit anyone but Batman for kids' entertainment. That is completely ridiculous.

2) Horn has said, under oath, that he doesn't think the character of Superman is worth anything. Ie: he doesn't know how to bring it to the big screen, so it must not be possible.

Hogwash, says I and a whole lot of other Super-fans.

3) DC is probably unaware of how contentious their relationship is with their female readership. What may pass unnoticed on comic covers, in the overt sexualizing of DC's female charatcers, etc... may get a very different read from Paul Levitz's new boss.

Anyway, I would not want to be the Publisher having to explain the Guillem March Power Girl covers to the new boss.

4) New bosses mean new blood. While I do like Paul Levitz, in so far as I can tell, it would be nice to know that complacency is not the go word at DC. At minimum, even with no risk of turn over, it seems likely that everyone will be trying a little harder, and maybe actually worry a bit about the new executive looking over their shoulder.

I do hope this news is true. DC could use someone from up top looking down on what they're up to. I don't want anyone in particular to lose their job, but it'd be nice to see DC try a little harder to make less of their line so easy to dismiss.

Blackest Night Ring Promotion

Okay, this tidbit of marketing news puts a smile on my face.

I'm enjoying the heck out of Geoff Johns and Peter Tomasi's epic over in the Green Lantern books "Blackest Night". In fact, as I type this, I'm wearing my official Blue Lantern shirt. Why, because these dudes are my new favorite dudes in comics.

Thus far, two key things have happened:

1) A whole spectrum of new colored Corps have begun to appear. Red = Rage, Blue = Hope, Yellow = Fear, etc...
2) The Black Lanterns have appeared. From an unknown source (so far) black rings have crossed the DCU, finding dead superheroes and those significant to our living superheroes, and raising the dead. Only, you know, EVIL.

It's some messed up stuff.

At any rate, DC will soon have a give-away promotion in which you can collect what will be cheap, plastic versions of the rings.

insert amazed/ delighted gasp here

In high school, I still remember DC putting out a Green Lantern ring, and I'm STILL mad I lost that thing (I bought one at a comic shop for $3 years later). So, yes, this sounds like a great idea to me.

Rings, please

I shall require, of course, a Blue Lantern ring for my everyday wear as well as one for display purposes.

Maybe when the new Flash ongoing materializes, we can see something similar for Barry's ring?

Friday, August 14, 2009

Someone let me come over and play on your X-Box

Back in high school I picked up a Batman original graphic novel called "Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth" that, honestly, freaked me out as I was reading it.

The concept of Arkham Asylum had always been a creepy one (a madhouse jail full of Batman's lunatic villains), but this writer guy I hadn't heard of (Grant Morrison) took the idea and amped it up to 11.

As with many other standalone projects (The Killing Joke, Dark Knight, etc..), the series did have an impact upon the mainline books, not just in informing the history of Arkham, and the terrifying atmosphere, but in taking the psychosis of the villains as something truly unsettling.

Add in the mixed media of Dave McKean, and you have a unique comic experience on your hands.

Anyhow, its worth reading at some point if you haven't taken a look.

I don't believe the new videogame of Arkham Asylum is based directly upon the comic, but it does revolve around a riot at Arkham, and it does seem they didn't steer away from the comic, either. It's got the comic's look, to an extent.

But clips seem to indicate a Batman game that focuses on "What Would Batman Do?" over just Kung-Foolery and stunts. Looks like its got some interesting strategy, etc...

But I'm also not really planning on buying an X-Box, so its all moot for me.

Unless, of course, you own an X-Box, were planning to buy the game and have a little mercy on your good friend The League and maybe invite him over. He can bring pretzels.

Thanks to Shoemaker for the link

Sunday, June 28, 2009

The League Talks Comics - Batwoman, GL and Superman

Editor's Note: Leaguers, I'm going to go back to occasionally talking comics around here. Feel free to ignore these posts, friends and family who don't care!

I'm also going to mostly focus on suggestions for stuff I liked. It'll save us all a lot of time.

Detective Comics #854
Written by Greg Rucka; Art by JH Williams and Cully Hamner; Cover by JH Williams : Variant Cover by JG Jones

We're on issue #854 of Detective Comics, where Batman made his first appearance in 1939ish in issue #29. So, this is the first issue in quite sometime given over to someone other than Batman, or people standing around talking about/ thinking about Batman.

Instead, after 3 years of getting our chain yanked by DC with its sporadic appearances of the "all new" Batwoman (That's Batwoman, not Batgirl), DC finally committed to the character and gave her a chance to make it on her own. Apparently DC is also trying to make amends with novelist/ comic scribe Greg Rucka, with whom it seems things got crosswise during the "52" event of 06' - 07', by giving him "Detective" and then, just to be extra nice, assigning artist JH Williams III (of Batman and Promethea fame) to the storyline.

With karate she'll kick your ass, from here, to right over there...

Longtime readers will know I'm a fan of Rucka's work on Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, OMAC, and I spent a lot of time in Costa Rica reading his "Queen & Country" comics. Rucka does fetishize a certain type of female character, as evidenced by his similar treatment of Renee Montoya from Gotham Central/ The Question, Queen and Country and now Batwoman. Highly competent, jaded, and a personal life in shambles. And maybe he needs to shake that off a bit, which he's forced to do when he's handling characters he didn't manage from scratch (and which he handles quite well).

There's nothing wrong with the narrative here, and, in fact, Rucka does an amazing job of setting the stage for who Kathy Kane is and where we're headed. But Detective Comics just jumped page count and increased its price by 25% with a Question back-up feature by Rucka, that will probably remind readers a bit too much of how similar the two characters actually are.

I'm counting on the back-up feature intersecting with the main feature at some point. We'll see. But both characters have been tied up with Rucka's ongoing "Religion of Crime" storylines at different times.

I'd be remiss in discussing the new Batwoman as character if I didn't point out, like everyone else has, that she is part of DC's efforts at representing the world "as is", in that Kathy Kane has been established as a lesbian. It's not an overarching part of the plot, but its not hard to see that DC was trying to spread its wings a bit with the character intended to be part of its mainstream offerings. Which, I just realized, means that Detective Comics #854 features not one, but two gay heroes.

The art: Is phenomenal. I really don't know what else to say about JH Williams, other than that the man is one of the most wickedly talented people working in the comics business. His style is vastly different from, say, Frank Quitely, but I feel he's in the same category, and it'd be nice if he were a bit better recognized/ had greater influence on the comic art community. I suggest going here and then clicking "view preview" to see his stuff.

Green Lantern #42
Written by Geoff Johns: Art and Cover by Philip Tan and Jonathan Glapion; Variant Cover by Rodolfo Migliari

This is more an endorsement of Geoff Johns and Peter Tomasi's work on Green Lantern and Green Lantern Corps, two books I enjoy immensely. Johns and Tomasi have both been using the serial and ongoing nature of the books to lead to an event in "Blackest Night", which is hitting at the end of the summer. (And if you're reading GL but not GLC, you are crazy. Seriously.)

Johns and Tomasi have managed to greatly expand the conceits of the GL books of decades past, and have introduced a spectrum of colors and their varying allegiances, roles, etc... And its been a fascinating read.

The last few issues of GL have focused upon the Guardians' attempts to negotiate with Larfleeze, a being who seized the Orange Lantern (think Gollum, but with the power of a thousand GL's) millions of years ago.

As a single issue, it would be incredibly difficult to walk into GL #42, so The League recommends picking up with the Sinestro Corps stuff in trade paperback.

Every once in a while when you're reading a comic, it just clicks, and it becomes abundantly clear that the comic you're reading is going to be remembered and become essential reading for decades. It may eventually spawn movies, etc... And, most certainly, that's the case right now with Green Lantern, provided the whole ending for Blackest Night doesn't crater.

Superman #689

Written by James Robinson; Art by Renato Guedes and José Wilson Magalhães; Cover by Andrew Robinson

Like Batman disappearing from the pages of Detective, Superman hasn't actually appeared in "Superman" for the past few months as the "World of Krypton" mega-story has taken over the Superman wing of the DCU. Clark Kent/ Kal-El is off planet at the moment (a move I confess to thinking was nuts when I first heard it), and has left Metropolis in the hands of a fellow alien, Mon-El. Meanwhile, Action Comics is now featuring an all-new Flamebird and Nightwing, a Kandorian super-team hunting down Phantom Zone criminals.

Mon-El has appeared in the Superman-related comics since the early 1960's, first in Superboy, and then in the Legion of Super-Heroes. From the planet Daxam (and actually named Lar Gand, but given a Kryptonian name by a young Superboy) Mon-El has similar abilities to a Kryptonian. However, unlike Kryptonians, Daxamites are affected by the simple element of lead the way Superman might be affected by Kryptonite. In today's continuity, he was found by a young Clark Kent who was forced to place him into the Phantom Zone to save his life.

Freed from the Zone and given a temporary cure, he's taken Superman's place in protecting not just Metropolis, but, as this issue explores, Earth. Its a great story, showing how this very human alien relates to the planet and is trying to make the most of his time.

I'm not as enamored by Robinson's writing as some, and some scenes, such as The Guardian's defense of Mon-El to Morgan Edge feel simply rushed. Like Robinson had an item he felt he wanted to check off his list of narrative moments, but didn't quite know how to frame it, and so a fairly simple speech cleared up an entire storyline. It seemed almost quaint in this era of televised punditry. It also felt oddly like a call back to Superman's defense of Krypto circa issue 680.

But the issue is an overall enjoyable read, and a great beat in this ever-expanding storyline of World of Krypton, as it runs through the Superman titles.

Sure, its odd that DC has decided that Clark Kent himself isn't the star of his self-titled comic at the moment, but I'm enjoying the feeling of a broad, epic vision for the Superman comics at this moment. Superman's displacement doesn't feel artificial as it did in "Superman: Exile", and I feel that Robinson's stewardship on the title is sound.

Plus, I like the artwork.

That's it for the moment. I doubt this will be a weekly thing, but doing some comic-related writing felt like a good idea today.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Batman and Robin #1

Believe it or not, there has not previously been a comic entitled "Batman and Robin". Batman, Detective, Batman Confidential, Legends of the Dark Knight, Brave and the Bold, Robin.... sure. All of those. But on Wednesday, DC Comics released the first issue of "Batman and Robin".

the all-new dynamic duo!

Generally, for established talent, I prefer commenting on a storyline as it wraps rather than issue by issue, especially at the beginning. There's simply too much unknown in the early issues of a comic. Its not that you can't form an opinion (and a valid one at that), but in many ways its sort of like reviewing an album based on one or two songs, or running out of a movie after the first fifteen minutes and writing a review.

Grant Morrison took over the title "Batman" in late 2006 and proceeded to take two years to spin out what became clear was just part of a multi-year effort. He wrapped his run into DC's mega-event "Final Crisis" (in itself a 7-issue series with multiple tie-ins), culminating in the disappearance/ seeming death of Bruce Wayne.

Morrison then took a break to make room for what I'd consider to be some serious filler material in the way of the "Battle for the Cowl" storyline. Hey, at least I enjoyed Neil Gaiman's two-part stand in with "Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader?".

Morrison is also the author of such highly recommended works as "Invisibles", "We3", "Vinamarama", "New X-Men", "JLA", "Animal Man" and the most defining work on the character in a generation, "All Star Superman".

Art is penciled by the amazing Frank Quitely, whose work with Morrison elevates both talents. He's probably now most famous for "All Star Superman", but his "New X-Men" run is pretty stellar. My personal favorite of his work is still "We3", but he made his real mark with "Flex Mentallo" with Morrison. The work has never been collected due to a law suit from the Charles Atlas company.

The first issue begins with the new status quo of former Robin, Dick Grayson, in the Batsuit. Those unfamiliar to recent events in the comics will be surprised to learn that Batman's bastard son (both literal and figurative), Damian, takes on the mantle of Robin. There's enough exposition to catch up a casual reader or possibly explain to someone utterly unfamiliar with Batman as to what's going on.

Dick and Damian go for a ride!

Morrison does what he so often does, and injects a relaxed cool to the high octane proceedings (these superheroes don't flinch over something like an explosion). Dick and Damian have put together the first flying Batmobile, and are in hot pursuit of a Mr. Toad (who both physically resembles a toad and who is on a wild ride).

There's much in the way of exposition to catch us up, but which also fills in gaps for the reader who may wonder how we got from the end of "Battle for the Cowl" to this point.

But nasty things are afoot in Gotham City as the issue wraps, unveiling the first glimmer of bizarre goings on with the newest additions to Batman's rogues gallery.

All in all, its a great start to the series, and should give those who were left scratching their heads at the end of Batman RIP and Final Crisis a huge jolt of faith in Morrison. One also realizes how much Morrison's work is enhanced or detracted from by the art talent with whom he's joined. One saving grace for Final Crisis was that I felt he was lucky to land two great artists (I really dig Doug Mahnke's stuff), and I'm not sure Tony Daniel really did much to carry his part of the load in Batman RIP.

For myself... I was not at all a fan of the continuity-lite six issue runs that came out of the early 2000's. I was raised on Claremont X-Men and Alan Grant and Co. dominating the Bat-titles. So I very much appreciate DC's decision to let Morrison spin his web across the Bat-titles (just as Johns, Robinson and Rucka are building a phenomenal, multi-year arc on the Superman titles).

This is going to sound odd, but something about the issue vaguely gave me the same charge as those old Alan Grant and Norm Breyfogle issues of Batman and Detective used to give me. I think because there was so little distraction. No Dan Didio harping about "Batman RIP" for a year in advance. Just a story, great art and characters. There's not too, too much else in common, but it reminded me of the relentless insistence on the "event" that's been going on in Bat-books for a long time.

The book ain't necessarily for kids. Just felt I'd remind our eager-beavers in the interwebs to be careful what they put in the kiddos' hands.

Morrison said something about trying to mix the psychedelia of the Adam West Batman with some creepier aspects. Whatever he said, fine. The first issue was downright fun. It really is a gorgeous comic to look at, and I'm excited its out there and look forward to the next issue.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Superman/ Batman: Public Enemies

A few years back, DC launched a new series: Superman/ Batman.

It was in the spirit of the old comic series, World's Finest, which had been the series launched in the 1940's which put Superman and Batman in the same comic (it had originally been conceived as "World's Fair Comics", to coincide with the 1939 World's Fair in New York).

Comics are awesome. Oh, yes they are.

After 20 years of Dark Knight Returns inspired animosity, the powers that be at DC finally decided that just because Superman and Batman didn't always agree on methods, etc... they were more interesting as a mismatched pair of cops than they were as Batman being a jerk and Superman just standing there letting Batman rattle on (I mean, seriously... at what point would Superman not just start avoiding the guy?).

So was launched Superman/ Batman, with words and story by Jeph Loeb (the writer of Teen Wolf! and Commando!) and art by Ed McGuinness. McGuinness had come to notoriety through his work on Mr. Majestic, one of several Superman-like titles that popped up in the 90's explosion, and which was eventually folded into the DCU multi-verse (along with the entire Wildstorm Univere). He went on to pencil Superman circa 2001, and I actually have one of his original art pages from the "Our Worlds at War" storyline.

Super Pals

The first storyline was entitled Public Enemies, and drew to a close the long-running storyline set up in the Superman comics when Lex Luthor nabbed the 2000 election, becoming President of the United States. So what happens when he puts out a warrant for the arrest of Superman? And a bounty for his capture? Awesomeness. That's what happens.

Anyhow, I don't want to reveal too much, as DCU Animated is now bringing the story to DVD as an animated movie. The art style is probably as close as they could get to translating McGuinness's unique style to an animated form. They'll probably also have to drop a few elements of the comic tied to continuity, but I'm optimistic that this will be a really fun ride.

The comic was a big, ridiculous action flick sort of thing. Looks like the movie will be more of the same.

Check out a semi-legal trailer here.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Li'l Leaguers: Superman and Batman in Kid's Books!

Hey, I know there are a lot of Leaguers out there who've got young super-heroes of their own.

It seems Stone Arch Books is publishing a line of children's superhero books featuring The Man of Steel and the Caped Crusader. Art is in the style of the JLU/ Bruce Timm animated format.

Check them out here.

If you buy them and need help pronouncing villain names like Mr. Mxyzptlk, just lemme know. I would have freaking LOVED these as a kid.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Eartha Kitt Merges with the Infinite

Eartha Kitt, actor, singer and part of the Bat-firmament as one of three talented women to play Catwoman in the classic Batman television program, has passed away.

Kitt is also known for her version of "Santa Baby" (if you're hearing it on the radio or at the mall, that's Kitt's voice). She had a long and prolific career, including, I recall, cabs in New York on the 1990's using a pre-recorded message from Kitt asking you to buckle up (I still recall turning to Jason in the cab and blurting out "That's Eartha Kitt!").

Kitt never seemed to lose her joie de vivre, and never minded talking about either "Santa, Baby" or Catwoman. She'll be missed but not forgotten.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Batman + Braniff = Believe It!

I think if I were to tell you that at one point in the hsitory of DC Comics, Batman might hop in a commercial airliner, cape, cowl and all and enjoy a Sprite and bag of peanuts, even folks who never picked up a comic might find the idea sort of cockamamie. But there was a weird period in DC lore when such a thing was possible.

Anyway, the original dialog has been replaced, but there's a comic meme that's started featuring The Dark Knight flying commercial, seated with little-known 70's era, post-Bruce Lee Kung-Fu master Richard "Dick" Dragon.

Here's the first post (recall all dialog HAS been replaced).

Here's the second.

Friday, November 07, 2008


It is true that many League family members (despite the wide array of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Green Lantern, Spider-Man and Galactus related goods out there) do not know what to get me come the yuletide gift giving holiday. They often suspect that I'd just get it for myself as I try to calm the OCD voices in my head.

Not always so.

I say:

What better way to celebrate the Holiday Season than with the gift of the 2.5 hour harrowing Dark Knight experience on Blu-Ray?

This two-disc gift set also comes with a model of the Batpod, that motorcycle-y thingy that appears in The Dark Knight's stunning car chase sequence.


Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk and Batman Begins are always good.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

update, B&B, Changeling, Watchmen

Rudy Ray Moore RIP

This is pretty much for Shoemaker, but...

Yeah, dude. Dolemite is dead. Sorry about that.

Long live the Dolemite.


Hey, Leaguers. Not much to report. With the new job in hand, I've been taking it easy of late. Ran by Austin Books yesterday and picked up a mess of stuff (I recommend picking up the latest Superman books, including the New Krypton Special.

It's official. The Superman books are the best they've been in recent memory.

I' m getting to know people at work, and while the Austin branch of my team is small, at least I really like everyone. If it were a small team full of jerks... well... It'd be bad news.

I'm digging my office space (it's quiet, so ADD boy here can focus!). It's just a weird shade of green.

The weekend will be good. I'm going to the UT/ OSU game, and then hitting "Hops Fest II: The Hoppening" at Shoemaker's on Saturday. Sunday will be more of the bringing crap downstairs stuff we've come to know and love. I also need to take a look at my Supersuit for proper Halloween candy distribution.

I do find it odd that, aside from 1999, I don't know if I've ever been involved in anyone else's Halloween activities. Somehow that's the one holiday where my pals seem to wind up hanging out with friends where I don't fit on their Buddy Venn Diagram.

No worries. We like handing out the candy. Speaking of... I need to get:

a) candy
b) apples
c) caramel

Batman: Brave and the Bold

Here's the show's website (with audio... so turn down speakers if at work). The show premiers in November, I think. I saw images from ComicCon, and, yeah... Jamie, I'm buying the Blue Beetle toy they're going to make.

Here's Beetle fighting space pirate Kanjar-Ro.


That new Clint Eastwood movie with Angelina Jolie? It seems to have been written by J. Michael Straczynski. JMS is probably most famous for 90's era sci-fi show "Babylon 5" (which hasn't really done much on DVD or re-runs). JMS is also now a pretty popular comic writer, and had what I thought to be a good run on Spider-Man.

Anyway, good for JMS. Glad he's got movie work going on as well as the comics.

Watchmen Stuff

I recommend Television Without Pity's new feature "Trailers without Pity". Their Watchmen discussion is your perfect breakdown of what both fanboy and non-nerd alike may wish to know about the upcoming movie.

What Omar and Pedro either missed or oversimplified was their comparison of the Watchmen characters to DC characters (Dr. Manhattan to Superman). The fanboy in me must point out: this is wrong.

Moore had initially intended to use characters owned by Charlton comics, which DC had purchased in the 1980's. However, DC decided to fold those characters into the DCU rather than let Moore do his thing, so Moore just changed who was who. But if you know those characters, it kinda makes more sense than Dr. Manhattan equals Superman.

Night Owl = Blue Beetle (including the generational aspect)
Dr. Manhattan = Captain Atom
Rorschach = The Question (which, in turn, informed how the JLU Question was portrayed)
Comedian - Peacemaker (now in Blue Beetle at DC)
Ozymandias = Thunderbolt
Silk Spectre = Most likely "Phantom Lady"

May I get my nerd-card stamped and get my free sandwich? Thanks.

Also, Zach Snyder cut together another Watchmen trailer, which is pretty much the first trailer all over again.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Austin Books, Terminator, Job, Werewolves, Superman and Batman

Special Thanks to Brad @ Austin Books

Service, Leaguers.

It's not something you expect in this day and age of dead-end call centers and box-store "it's against our policy" wage-slave assistant managers (screw you, Target).

Anyway, a while back I mentioned to Brad at Austin Books that I'd like a copy of the Middleman collection, as Jamie and I were both fans of the TV show. Brad knew it was sold out in the store, and double-checked to find that it was also out at the distributor. Alas. What's a comic geek to do?

I should mention, I looked elsewhere online afterward, and it was sold out. Everywhere.

Today I got an e-mail from Brad. I don't know how he did it, but he landed a copy for me and Jamie.

Once again, the hat is off to Austin Books.

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles

I'm still watching the Terminator TV show. It's still one of the better things on TV.

As per other shows like "Battlestar Galactica", mixing the episodic with the serial and an adult's perspective has led to a far more engaging, character driven show than, say, the original Knight Rider.

Shirley Manson (the singer from Garbage) is now on the show as a Terminator, and she's increasingly creepy. For someone without an extensive acting resume, she's impressing me.

In general, the whole show feels very well thought out. They haven't perfected the issues with time travel (which would drive JimD mad), and its occasionally a somewhat hopeless experience as, unlike T2, they're not trying to stop the future from happening, they've sort of accepted its an inevitability, so its much more about just surviving until they pass some certain point in the timeline when the Terminators won't be coming for John Connor.

The Job

A few people have asked what I'm doing for a living. I'm working for these guys as a program coordinator. It's not exactly too technical to explain, but I won't bore you with details.

It's a pretty cool project, and I feel lucky to have found something like this. Still getting my head around all the moving parts, and I have a LOT of people to meet and get to know across the great state of Texas, so the ramp-up is going to be interesting.

The Howling

Jason already mentioned we watched this movie over at his blog, but I also dug it. Sure, the FX are about what you'd expect for a 70's horror flick, but the story was surprisingly engaging and the movie well directed (story by John Sayles and directed by Joe Dante, so go figure).

It's always interesting to see a movie that you can point to as a start of a trend in genre, no matter how niche that genre might be, and even if modern creators aren't aware that's where the trend began. But... anyway...

Some Superman and Batman Stuff

Batsignal humor

A nice cartoon about why Superman is a bad fit for a Batman movie

Thanks to Randy for both.

With the Morrison/ Quitely All Star Superman wrapped, Grant Morrison does a multipart interview with Newsarama.

Here's part 1

I'm going to quote liberally here, so go to Newsarama and click on a bunch of ads so they don't sue me.

But, anyway, I see a lot of why my vision of Superman jives so well with Morrison's (and keep in mind, we both love Batman, too). There's also a bit of a spoiler, but... oh, well...

I immersed myself in Superman and I tried to find in all of these very diverse approaches the essential “Superman–ness” that powered the engine. I then extracted, purified and refined that essence and drained it into All Star’s tank, recreating characters as my own dream versions, without the baggage of strict continuity.

In the end, I saw Superman not as a superhero or even a science fiction character, but as a story of Everyman. We’re all Superman in our own adventures. We have our own Fortresses of Solitude we retreat to, with our own special collections of valued stuff, our own super–pets, our own “Bottle Cities” that we feel guilty for neglecting. We have our own peers and rivals and bizarre emotional or moral tangles to deal with.

I felt I’d really grasped the concept when I saw him as Everyman, or rather as the dreamself of Everyman. That “S” is the radiant emblem of divinity we reveal when we rip off our stuffy shirts, our social masks, our neuroses, our constructed selves, and become who we truly are.

Batman is obviously much cooler, but that’s because he’s a very energetic and adolescent fantasy character: a handsome billionaire playboy in black leather with a butler at this beck and call, better cars and gadgetry than James Bond, a horde of fetish femme fatales baying around his heels and no boss. That guy’s Superman day and night.

Superman grew up baling hay on a farm. He goes to work, for a boss, in an office. He pines after a hard–working gal. Only when he tears off his shirt does that heroic, ideal inner self come to life. That’s actually a much more adult fantasy than the one Batman’s peddling but it also makes Superman a little harder to sell. He’s much more of a working class superhero, which is why we ended the whole book with the image of a laboring Superman.

He’s Everyman operating on a sci–fi Paul Bunyan scale. His worries and emotional problems are the same as ours... except that when he falls out with his girlfriend, the world trembles.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Some other Stuff

Hurricane Ike

I actually DID do some prep in case we lose power. Obviously Austin isn't in mortal danger like Houston, but all it takes is a branch snapping and we could lose power for a while. Jason already told me if he lost power that he's "not even going to try. I'll be dead in fifteen minutes."

A worst case scenario, to be sure.

But losing power is a pretty real problem, so if I suddenly disappear from the internet, you know why.

I bought a Coleman lantern and some batteries. And ran to HEB to get some bread and peanut butter and odds and ends. The store was pretty crazy. All the JIF was gone. Even the "smooth" JIF, which only a crazy person would eat.

And the weather isn't supposed to hit until really late tomorrow or sometime Saturday.

I felt like I was overreacting, but if something DOES happen, and I didn't prepare, I'd feel like a heel. So the idea is to buy stuff to be prepared, but don't stock up like its the end of days.

KareBear is headed for Florida to be with my grandfather, who recently had surgery. The Admiral may or may not be headed to Austin. We'll see.

If he's here, I will have to find a way to entertain The Old Man. Which is going to be interesting in 60 mph winds and driving rain.

Jamie's Trip

Jamie has put up a post on her recent trip to Lawton. Her reunion seemed to go over very well. Which surprises me, because Jamie is a total jerk.

To see Jamie catch up with many people whom I don't know, go here.


Jason somehow managed to avoid politics (sort of) for three days on his blog. He (sort of) deserves a cookie, I think.

Little Problem at the Printers

There's a Frank Miller Batman comic out right now geared entirely toward adults (Parents, do NOT pick up "Batman and Robin, the Boy Wonder" for the kiddos).

Though its for adults, they do have some words they won't print.

This Miller Batman book is supposed to be kind of funny for its overly grim'n'gritty take on Batman, and so they decided to letter some pretty awful language in, and then, at the printer, have them black over it. It's crooks and the newly minted Batgirl talking like sailors, although our Caped Crusaders' language gets a little salty now and again. But he didn't get the black bars, I don't think

Apparently the lettering black was darker than the black bars, but nobody caught it from the printer until the book reached retailers.

Click here (sensitive viewers may not want to click there).

Frank Miller, himself, found the whole thing pretty funny.

The comic community is even better than politicians at getting fake-outraged about certain things. This is turning into one of them.

Comix Sale

I forgot to mention this a while back, but Top Shelf Productions has a $3 sale going on. Sure, you pay S&H, but I managed to get some interesting stuff for the cost a floppy. That's a really, really good deal (plus, they throw in free stuff).

Here's the link.

Lynda Carter Fights a Gorilla

Building a Better League HQ

Thanks to the hidden entrance to the Batcave in the Adam West starring "Batman" TV show, I've always been a fan of hidden doors in houses.

There was some mention of panic rooms in another post today, and then Randy sent me this link on how to build a batcave entrance in your own home.

As a kid, I would literally lay awake at night trying to figure out how to build a secret door or install a fireman's pole into a house so I could make like Batman down to the garage. And at age 33, I've STILL never actually been down a fireman's pole.

The thing is, when you say "I'd like a batcave entrance in my house", people kind of think you're insane. I say to those people: you have no vision. Of course, I have a living room full of Superman memorabilia, and an office with even more of the same. And a very patient wife.

One day I honestly would very much like to turn the door to my office into a hidden door. I think that would rock. I don't think Jamie thinks it would rock, but, you know... And I have some ideas how to do it with reverse hinges.

I COULD add a batpole from my office that would drop me straight into the garage, but I think that... in sight of everything else I've already done to this house, its going to be hard enough to sell when they carry me out footfirst one day, anyway.

When we were moving from Phoenix back to Austin, I watched a lot of HGTV, which features an endless line of shows about people buying and/ or selling houses. And there are some truisms of selling a house. You really ARE supposed to de-personalize the house. But watching realtors on HGTV after more than twenty minutes makes you realize: these people have grown to disdain the fact that people actually live in their own homes while they're being sold.

I don't exactly blame them, as we all want our jobs to go as smoothly as possible. And, I know its a tough sell to many people if they walk into a house that's not done up in a way that they'd do it. And, yeah, a "hidden bookshelf door" revealing a two story brass pole into the garage... sort of seems to be the mark of insanity. And I did see one show where a realtor was horrified by some client's "batcave" room. but I just wanted to know more.

I'd done some similar customization to my office in Phoenix (royal blue paint, a Spider-Man border). And we just decided that maybe we'd be able to sell to a family with a young boy. The realtor told me not to even bother to repaint because it might actually be a selling point of sorts.

I don't know if I mentioned it, but a comic geek wound up buying the house, and I guess that room was going to be his office, too. So, you never know.

Now, if I can get Jamie to let me install those big crystals in the front yard to get that look I really want...

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Holy Overused Robinisms, Batman! (plus, Countdown to backlash)

Someone finally notices that newspaper headlines on Batman are dumb

When the mainstream press finally takes note of how worn out the Batman TV-series inspired Bat-headlines are (Ex: Holy Megabucks, Batman!), it is a ray of hope that the rest of the media will finally knock it off.

Check it out at the LA Times (blog section). Hat tip to The Beat.

Now, if we can just get the press to refrain from using the following: Bam! Whap! Zap! or Pow! in any other stories about super-heroes, there may be a chance for comics in mainstream journalism.

Backlash imminent

And for no other reason than that it seems time, and the movie is doing very well:
Prepare yourself for the beginnings of Dark Knight backlash, wherein many, many people take to the internets to tell you that Dark Knight wasn't all that great.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Dark Knight in IMAX and in Perspective

Jamie, Jason, Wagner and Wagner's brother, Jeff, and I all ventured out to see "The Dark Knight" at the IMAX at the Bob Bullock Museum today. The show was sold out, as, I believe, all shows were sold out over the weekend for the IMAX.

It's true this movie is doing gangbusters. And on a second viewing, and sort of pondering what else I've seen this summer, rightfully so.

A second viewing revealed some plot holes I missed watching the movie the first time. Mostly regarding stuff like "well how did Batman know to be there then?" I'd say I'd let that slip, normally. But I reserve Batman simply KNOWING where to be for Batman as supporting character and seeing how he creeps out even his fellow JLA'ers. In a comic, cartoon or movie about Batman, he's a detective, and him figuring those sorts of things out is often what the story is about.

But, you know... Batman is cool like that, so if he just knows where to be, then... awesome. But had they done too much of this, its the same sort of thing that usually makes me say "I have absolutely no idea what is happening in this movie..." What bugs me about that sort of thing is that Batman IS a detective. At least in the comics. So would it have killed them to say "how did you find me?" And then have Batman give some idiot simple explanation.

I actually think I followed the plot a lot better this time instead of just gritting my teeth and letting the movie knock me over like a rogue wave. And, I am happy to say, the Batpod was just as cool on a second viewing.

Given the stories on all the clams Batman is making for Legendary and WB (and hopefully the folks who worked on the movie), I looked up how its ACTUALLY doing in an historical perspective. You can see where it's currently sitting at Box Office Mojo's adjusted dollars comparison page. Unlike every entertainment reporter in the world, this site actually takes inflation into account when making hyperbolic declarations about the success of a movie.

Right now, Dark Knight has almost made as much/ sold as many tickets as... Batman. Go figure. That said, I recall seeing Burton's Batman in the theater about five or six times over the course of several months, and Dark Knight's been in release for about four weeks. So... we'll see.

But its also sort of fascinating to consider ticket sales for something like "Cleopatra" when you compare it to the actual population of the time, number of screens, etc... In a way, it makes you really realize how even movies are narrowcasting to such a degree that when a movie DOES make superstar money these days, its worth looking at why that's happening.

How was Dark Knight in IMAX? I have no idea. We were sitting so close to the screen that I know the effect was totally lost on me. Aside for being able to say "Oh, THAT'S what it would be like to be a microbe floating somewhere near Morgan Freeman's face!", I don't know if I got everything out of it I could have. Jason actually got up and moved to the back and had to tell me the screen changed aspect ratios throughout. I hadn't even noticed because I was sitting in the middle of the image.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Batman: Brave and the Bold Trailer

Oh my Awesome.

New kid-friendly Batman cartoon coming this fall. Batman: Brave and the Bold

And did you see the guest stars? Plastic Man? Green Arrow? BLUE BEETLE!!!?

I know there will be many more guests, as I've heard Aquaman will be on the show. I think the idea is the same as the 70's-era "Brave and the Bold" comics. Batman + guest star, rotating almost every week.

I am quite psyched for the kids (and me). This looks like so much fun, and the design work on this clip is really spectacular.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

The League finally saw Dark Knight

I think this is Part 1 of 2

So... Let us discuss The Dark Knight. This is relatively spoiler free, I guess.

Jamie and I got up and went to the 11:35am show at The Alamo. And, really, there is a heck of a lot of material out there for The Alamo to pull from for their pre-show. I highly recommend hitting one of the Alamo locations, for no other reason than seeing Prince's "Bat Dance" on the big screen.

It's actually an interesting contrast to see some of the decades' worth of Bat material prior to the film, as a reminder that Batman has changed so much, so frequently over the years, and how those different versions are so embedded in the public memory, a bit like different versions of King Arthur hitting TV, movies, the Broadway stage, what have you. All of them work (to a degree), and all of them serve a purpose.

Dark Knight throws off the last remnants of the Tim Burton era of Batman, and is able to take Bale's Batman into a world that is much, much closer to our own than any previously seen in any medium. And the movie is that much more powerful for it. There's still Batman's fantastic toys, but we've moved past the world of ninjas from Batman Begins, and the world no longer looks as if the director let the artistic director go kooky. It's an aesthetic choice that I think informs the viewer of the presentness of the characters and the very human dilemmas they face.

I won't go into discussing the performances of the various actors. Yes, they're all devoid of camp or irony. Yes, it is a pleasure to see Ledger's mad dog Joker, Bale's Wayne/ Batman, and Caine as an Alfred with a bit more mettle than most.

There's something exhausting about the new film, clocking in at over 2.5 hours with wall-to-wall story, and nary a quiet moment. But it was a familiar exhaustion. The kind I get when I kick back with a graphic novel or trade paperback collection that doesn't mind taking you through the ringer. Think "Long Halloween", "Watchmen", the original "Sin City"... stories that you can read in a single shot or two, but that are fairly densely packed and leave no one unscathed by the end of the story.

As much fun as I've had with super-flicks coming out this summer, its best that the super-offerings ended with Dark Knight rather than started with this movie. And I'm not saying this lightly, but Dark Knight has changed the game for superhero movies, just as Burton's Batman did in 1989. As I've mentioned on this site a few times, when Burton's Batman appeared, people were still thinking "Bam! Pow! Ziff!" when they thought superhero comics and movies (despite several Superman films, each of which still had no small amount of camp and humor tucked in for good measure). Nicholson's playfully deadly Joker wasn't necessarily frightening, but he was a darn sight more interesting than Romero's cackling criminal. And, more in spite of Keaton than because of him, it gave the public a new and far, far different take on Batman than Adam West.

Batman Begins acts as a great transition, setting up the newly pragmatic take on Batman, while still keeping him with a toe, if not a foot, in the fantastic.

I may be alone in this, but I felt The Dark Knight isn't just a huge leap for the Batman franchise, its a quantum leap for superhero movies in general from popcorn action flick to serious (crime) drama. Perhaps it's not Godfather II, but the movie operates on such a completely different level from this summer's other flicks such as "Hulk", "Hellboy II" and even "Iron Man".

This isn't:
-Hero has to stop Doomsday device (Superman, Spider-Man II, X-Men)
-Hero has to fight his equal (Superman II, Spider-Man)
-Hero has to explore their origins to solve the mystery (Hellboy)
-or some combination of the above (Superman Returns)

As much as I liked Hellboy II and Iron Man, they were both pretty pat stories that worked in the easy morality that usually makes up summer flicks. And, in fact, made up Batman Begins, in its way.

Nolan and Co. set out to push the boundaries of the accepted superhero norms of white hat heroism, and looked at exactly the way you make those involved pay. Structurally, it balances between superherodom and movies from guys like Michael Mann, De Palma or other film makers who've successfully delved into the morally gray territory of criminal and crime fighters. At least that's the basic world the film emulates far more than one of Bat-nipples and the possibility of anyone mistaking Alicia Silverstone as competent enough to drive a car, let alone act as an unlicensed crime fighter.

What's interesting is that the film does what I sort of suspected from the trailers: it manages to bring to the screen the busted, broken, fever dream of Gotham that I've known since middle school. Since the post COIE launch of Batman: Year One, this is the Gotham I've seen on the page, this is the Joker I've seen (in the more memorable stories), this is Harvey Dent (crusading DA), and this is the Batman I've known. For the first time, I white knuckled, both knowing exactly how this would play out, and having no idea what to expect next...

But more than that, its a Batman that makes sense on the screen, with walking, talking humans rather than humans trying to emulate a cartoon, and believing their story fits within the confines of children's entertainment. All while keeping the essence of Batman intact.

And after years of people in Batman costumes who weren't really Batman, and a promising start with Batman begins, its positively rewarding.

It's a unique thrill to feel the genre of superhero film being taken as a bit more than escapist fantasy (even when, like Iron Man, it has some interesting underpinnings). And it gives me hope for the future of superhero films. Can they move beyond the usual mad scientist schemes and doomsday devices? The comics all too rarely manage to do so, so it seems a bit premature to think that the next Hulk movie will do much more than open a can of whup-ass on some other over-sized muscled mutant, or that if they do a Flash movie, it will be about much more than the joy of moving far faster than the speed of sound. And I certainly don't think all superhero films NEED to go this direction, and Batman is uniquely posed to do so. But the fact that the window has been opened...

I don't want to overstate all of this, and I know I'm at risk of doing so. Dark Knight isn't going to ping on the cultural radar in the same manner as something either like Godfather or Star Wars. Because parents may wisely avoid taking their children to see Dark Knight (and I recommend this movie only for kids 12 or older) it's going to miss out on the humongous box office numbers of something like Spidey 3 (which, by the way, wasn't very good and mostly rode the goodwill of Spideys 1 &2 ). But I do see it as a shifting point for superhero movies.

Hopefully Dark Knight will give WB and DC the courage to take more chances on their own properties, mining them for the stories and characters that they already own.

Now, if the Superman team can figure out how to get that level of action and drama with their already developed story telling...

So, what'd you think? Chime in!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Batman (1966)

As much as I consider myself a Superman nut, as much as I dig the Green Lantern Corps and Wonder Woman... my love of superheroes, and, in fact, my life is indelibly linked with Batman. In fact, it all started with the 1960's TV show featuring Adam West and Burt Ward.

As a very young kid, I was Bat-crazy. There are stories that suggest that "Batman" was my first word. Apparently, when I was very tiny, they re-ran the old Batman episodes on a local affiliate every day at the time my Mom would start on dinner. And for whatever reason, as a VERY tiny kid, putting me in front of Batman would keep me from freaking out and doing the things kids of that age can do to distract nice Moms who are making dinner.

Its also Steans family lore that as soon as I could put words together, I was tying my blanket around my neck and singing the Batman theme song. This was followed by collecting what must have been Mego Batman dolls, Batmobiles, etc... And, in all honesty, it never really stopped.

And I've never quit digging the old Batman show. Sure, when I was little, I had no idea it was being played for laughs. Adam West seemed not unlike my Dad in unflattering tights, and it seemed reasonable that The Admiral was off fighting crime in much the same way. Moreover, it seemed reasonable that crooks and criminals were brightly dressed weirdos with themed criminal plots, who really weren't going to hurt anyone.

Today Jamie and I went to see the 1966 movie of "Batman" at the Alamo, which was playing a free kid's matinee.

I was pleasantly surprised to see the theater was very full, and full of kids. Prior to the show, they played an episode of the most recent animated Batman series. Then, just before the lights went down, an Alamo employee addressed the audience from behind a convincing Batman mask, and informed the kids that only bad guys talk during movies. Heck, I was convinced.

The movie was released theatrically between the first and and second seasons of the TV show. I'd always thought it to be created prior to the series, so it goes to show you: You learn a new Bat-Fact every day. And, apparently, had its world premier here in sunny Austin because, it seems, the boat was manufactured in Austin. Possibly at the Paramount (I'm looking for photos to confirm)!

Jason and Reed: ready for a night on the town

The movie and series hold up pretty well, all things considered. There's something off-kilter about the show that I've always liked, as if every was hanging out and smoking a Kool about ten seconds before the cameras rolled, and then threw themselves headfirst into the insanity.

West's Batman has become iconic since the show first aired. Utterly serious, while delivering the awesomest dialog ever.

Batman: We've been given the plainest warning. They're working together to take over...
Chief O'Hara: Take over *what*, Batman? Gotham City?
Batman: Any *two* of them would try that!
Commissioner Gordon: The whole country?
Batman: If it were three of them, I would say yes, but *four*? Their minimum objective must be... the *entire* world.

Really, I hesitate to seriously ponder how much of my personality is imprinted from Mr. West.

Burt Ward's Boy Wonder is great, as is Alan Napier's Alfred. But what really sells the film is the cast of villains.

My favorite of the Bat-villains from the TV show was always Frank Gorshin as The Riddler. I particularly like Dini's take on Edward Nigma in recent issues of Detective, but its hard to beat Gorshin's sheer joy at befuddling the Caped Crusader. Plus, those costumes are iconic.

Villainy abounds!

Burgess Meredith and Caesar Romero are good as The Penguin and Joker are pretty good, too.

Topping the list, however, is Lee Meriwether as Catwoman/ Kitka. Apparently Julie Newmar had a prior commitment during filming, but I think Ms. Meriwether more than fills the catsuit. Yowza.


Apparently I'm not the only one who appreciates Ms. Meriwether as Catwoman. Mr. Romero is very "hands on" with Catwoman in several scenes, particularly in the Penguin submarine. Seriously. With that make-up, its a little creepy.

The movie also features one of my favorite aspects of Batman in all his incarnations: the vehicles! Batcopter. Batcycle. Batmobile. Awesome.

The Batman TV series left an amazingly deep impression upon the public's concept of the superhero. I still remember going to see Burton's "Batman" on opening weekend and the theater had decorated the lobby with all of these hand-made "Bam! Wap! Pow!" signs all over the place.

To say that the show wasn't a fairly accurate representation of the comics of the time is a bit of a stretch. The comic was very light kid's fair at the time, and was mostly Batman and his pal Robin in light scrapes. And while not exactly Tolstoy, it wasn't necessarily set up for laughs the way the TV series was.

It seems the post Spider-Man movie world has finally shaken off the Batman TV series impression of how superheroes should be viewed. And, in fact, it's sort of a game in the comics' blogosphere to highlight articles where the writer uses phrases like "Bam! Pow!", or comments that comics aren't as silly or childish as they'd assumed. (That's been a staple of mainstream journalism since Burton's Batman bowed in 1989, yet writers in search of a fluff article keep re-discovering this same topic.)

From anecdotal evidence, I think most parents today grew up with Burton's Batman, Donner's Superman and had the whole experience capped with Raimi's Spider-Man. So the legacy of the 60's Batman isn't the pervasive thing it was. And I think that's actually, as it should be.

The 1960's Batman is very good at what it does. The cast is terrific. Its a fun show (especially the movie). And I think there's room for all sorts of interpretations of Batman, from Bale's grim Dark Knight to West's philosophizing playboy on the town. And I think it's a fantastic part of the legacy of Batman.

Mostly, I was pleased with how the kids seemed to like it, if their silence throughout the film was any indication.

I did mention to Jamie, as we were leaving and I was processing the film in my mind "You know, about two-thirds of the way through, I felt like I had been taking crazy pills." The kaleidoscope colors, rapid pacing, nonsensical plot and, really, haphazard pacing of the thing just sort of adds up to a unique and strange whole. As pointed out by a kid leaving the theater...

Mom: Did you like it?
Kid: Yeah! (pause) It was weird...
Mom: Well, it was supposed to be.

That is one hip, hip mom.