Showing posts with label batman. Show all posts
Showing posts with label batman. Show all posts

Sunday, November 8, 2015

George Barris Merges With The Infinite

A quick note to mark the passing of George Barris.  He's a designer of hotrods and cars for movies and TV, not the least of which was the classic TV Batmobile, literally my favorite car in all of TV and movies (but a close tie with the Enterprise, X-Wing and Millennium Falcon for favorite vehicle).

Friday, October 9, 2015

What About "Dark Knight Strikes Again"? - a follow up to the Frank Miller post

Someone online rightfully pointed out that in my previous post on DC Comics as a flat circle and why we should both be delighted and horrified by a new Dark Knight installment by Frank Miller, I forgot to mention the Dark Knight Strikes Again fiasco.  Their phrase, not mine, but, perhaps apt.

Let's discuss, shall we?

And, of course, that's right.  I literally forgot.  I knew what I planned to say, but I forgot to write it in there.*  So, look, here's a whole post, so I don't want to hear from any of you that I don't take feedback or get inspired by folks who do look at the site, Randy.

But, if I were to talk about Dark Knight Strikes Again, I'd have to do so in context.  So, here goes:

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Sunday, July 12, 2015

The New "Superman v. Batman" trailer exists, so here goes

Circa 2002, before Superman Returns, WB really, really wanted to do a Superman vs. Batman movie, and it even got a reference in a billboard in the background of I Am Legend.  This was just after the success of Spider-Man and X-Men, and WB was trying to figure out to jumpstart the DC heroes, something they'd sort of ignored in the wake of the slow death of the Batman franchise under Joel Schumacher.

As I recall, the storyline for the script was that Batman had been around for a while, gotten married, semi-retired, etc... but then along comes Superman who has a super-fight, and in the battle, somehow Bruce's wife is killed as a bystander.  In this version, in order to keep up with Superman, Batman makes a deal with Satan or something and gets magical powers in order to stay toe-to-toe with Superman until, of course, they had someone else to go fight.

Never make a deal with this guy
A script leaked a couple of years ago has a different version, but, again, Bruce loses a spouse but Superman just says "hey, don't kill nobody, okay?" which Batman totally wants to do.  It involves Joker clones and a lot of painting oneself into a corner, narratively

If you're keeping score, even WB - the people who brought us Catwoman, Jonah Hex and Green Lantern - decided against the green light on this script, maybe deciding we first needed to remind America what Superman looked like.

Well, when Man of Steel did pretty well, but word of mouth wasn't all that great and it wasn't clear WB could just roll out a Superman sequel and expect success, they finally went ahead and pulled the trigger on the Batman/ Superman meet-up, and - if nothing else - they hopefully finally got it out of their system and came up with a product that will give everyone the same entirely unsatisfactory match-up that's occurred in every superhero comic, ever, where neither wins and they become friends so they can go off and fight the other threat that was a bigger deal than their little misunderstanding.

Here's the new trailer, by the way.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

So, Miller is making it a Dark Knight Trilogy? All righty, then.

What do you even say when you see DC has signed up Frank Miller to create a third installment in the vein of Dark Knight Returns/ Dark Knight Strikes Again?  I think you say "DC needs a hit for the 3rd Quarter or Dan Didio will need a new jobby job."

And that's okay.  I'm a little past the point of hoping that DC Entertainment, a division of Time Warner, Inc., is really all that invested in the artistry of comics in 2015, but it's not like comics haven't recycled ideas before.  These sorts of short term stunts have generally paid off for Didio, and he's certainly running out of his usual bag of tricks now that he's exploited all of his predecessor's successes so many times over that he had to throw bags of gold at Frank Miller (or really pray Sin City 2 would do exactly what it did at the box office) in order to get him back at DC writing comics.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Birthday Gift: Taking It Back to the Beginning

For my 40th, Jamie got me the deluxe collector's set of the 1960's Batman TV show.

Thanks, Jamie!

It's a pretty fantastic set with all the episodes cleaned up for BluRay and HD TV.  There's also an "Adam West scrapbook", episode guide replica set of Batman cars and a Hotwheels Batmobile.  All in all, pretty nice!

The picture and sound quality is top notch, so after all these years of not being able to get ahold of this show, it seems worth the wait.

The family lore is that, when I was a tiny kid my mom couldn't get me to hold still or be quiet when she was trying to make dinner for my dad and brother, until she realized I'd totally hold still and shut up if Batman and Robin were on the screen.  So, every weekday when the show was running in syndication (this would have been about '76), I was placed in front of the TV and would happily watch while she made Mac n' Cheese or whatever.  The legend goes on to swear my first words were "Matman", which I'm sure made my parents feel really appreciated.

My memory was of just being a huge Batman nut.  There are photos somewhere of me with a pacifier and cape.  Like a lot of kids, when the Tim Burton Batman movie came out and the press discussed the Adam West show, it was my first time finding out the show was a comedy.  On the strength of the Burton movie, Batman '66 came back in syndication, and has been aired off and on again since, but legal wranglings between Warner Bros. and 20th Century Fox prevented home video release.

All of that seems to have resolved itself and now I can enjoy the show once again.  And, hey, I look forward to sharing the show with my impending nephew when the time comes.  I hope he takes it as seriously as I did, because, dang it, this is a version of Batman worth loving, too.  And not just because of Julie Newmar.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Imaginary EIC Hat - Rules I'd Implement for Superhero Comics

If you've read comics for any length of time, there are tricks and tropes and storylines we've all seen, and worst and best practices for superhero comics.

Sometimes the worst practice stuff seems to get followed because things happen in the fog of trying to put a monthly comic out in a timely fashion, sometimes it's because you can tell the new writer hasn't done any homework prior to coming on and the editor appears to have a laissez-faire attitude regarding what their writers are doing, and more often than I care to admit, I look at comments online and am shocked by how many people really like the worst-practice stuff and are willing to say so out-loud.

I've considered a few things I find grating overall, considered their impact, and how often these could be used and still feel like, perhaps familiar ideas after a while, but to help keep them a little fresh or maintain their impact, we've given a rate for how often they can be used.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

In which we consider DC's June post "Convergence" shake-up and new costumes


I kind of want to be out of the business of thinking about DC's moves as a company, because it's equal parts equally unsatisfying and depressing.

In case you missed the interview with Co-Publishers Dan Didio and Jim Lee that was featured at places like Comic Book Resources yesterday, they're basically moving forward by going back to not tying every book in the DC line to superhero mainline continuity.  As comics were up through the 1980's, DC and Marvel surely put out Superman and Spider-Man, but we didn't need to worry how that fit in with Teen-Age Romance Comics or Katy Keene In Love or whatever made up title I just made-up.

And DC is going back to - maybe not putting out Teen-Age Romance Comics - but they are saying "not everything here is in the main DCU, so quit worrying about that".

Jim Lee, who I am pretty sure has no idea what an actual buyer of comics looks like or thinks, was quick to tell his core audience that we're mistaken for wanting continuity to work in an ongoing serial.  And we were also mistaken for expecting both the New 52 to make sense and the five year time jump to hold together after DC said "it all makes sense, we'll show you" and then absolutely did not do so.

Now, all of this is coming on the heels of Convergence, which is a munging of the DC Multiverse, and because it's been a few years, I think we all needed to expect Didio was going to once again reboot the DCU.  They're not saying that, but they are absolutely saying that the characters will have new, unheard of status quos.  So, practically speaking, a rejigger if not a reboot.

So, let's review the images for the solicitation copy, shall we?

Monday, February 2, 2015

Artist Norm Breyfogle recovering from stroke

If you're anywhere near my age and you read comics in the 1980's, then you know the work of artist Norm Breyfogle.  Norm Breyfogle and Jim Aparo were some of the definitive 1980's Bat-artists - Aparo leaning more to the Neal Adams illustrative mold and Breyfogle's work more impressionistic and visceral.

Breyfogle's lines in Batman evoked energy and action, something he also brought to page layout and panel management.  He has a keen sense of design that even the better illustrative artists couldn't always bring to the page.  It's something a lot of artists could stand to study a bit.

a pretty awesome 2-page spread

Friday, May 10, 2013

Your Humble Blogger and His Next Ride

P5041141 by thekgb2010

P5041141, a photo by thekgb2010 on Flickr.
from the Central Texas Toy and Comic Expo

Jason and I went to San Marcos on Saturday.  I don't collect much Batman stuff as there's so much stuff out there with the Bat logo on it.  But I have always been fascinated with the various iterations of the Batmobile, largely because of the Batman '66 version, the 1989 version and the various looks from Norm Breyfogle when I started reading comics.

You will never not get me to get excited over a well manufactured replica.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

DC Comics Leadership - Still Finding it's Way 18 Months into DCNu

These days I'm only reading a few DC Comics, so it's a bit harder to see what's going on in the halls at the company.  Certainly looking at the release of the monthly solicits is an excellent indicator.

The Beat already did a nice breakdown of some things that really stand out.  Todd Allen points out:

  • The $2.99 line seems to be getting crossed
  • We may not be looking at 52 titles anymore

Batman: One More Time, With Feeling (by Scott Snyder)

This news came on the same day DC announced a storyline called "Batman: Year Zero" to fill in all those gaps you had (right?) about what happened after Batman: Year One.   The story shall be about The Bat-Man, who he is and how he came to be!  Snyder's promise that the series will tell us all the things we've never seen before, like Batman's first run in with a super-villain, is true if you're 20 and just got into comics, abut less true if you dropped all the Batman books but Morrison's because you realized that maybe, in his current comics form, the Bat-fellow is getting pretty repetitive (for first super-villain meetings, we recommend the superlative Batman: Snow by Dan Curtis, JH WIlliams III and the late, terrific Seth Fisher).

I don't know what's more surprising: that Snyder's modus operandi with Batman has been to largely keep digging up the bones of well-loved, well-worn storylines done by some of the name-iest names in comics, or that this seems to be a real draw for the Bat-audience.  I'm old, so I was good with Batman: Year One, A Death in the Family, and every story that wanted to goof on Thomas and Martha Wayne from Hush to Death and the Maidens and was thinking maybe we were ready to move on.  But, short of another gang-war or serial killer story, it seems that all DC has to offer re: Batman these days is another whack at the same worn out Batman origin stuff and tilling about in the same soil of Batman's family history and early years.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Killing Robin. Again.

I think I'd been reading Batman comics for all of a year when DC had the famous dial-in vote where readers got to choose whether or not Jason Todd, the second Robin, would die.  I was a Jason Todd fan, and I was also a kid just getting into comics, so I didn't want to see the character get it, but I was buying comics at the grocery store and book store back then, so any comics were catch-as-catch can.  Finding issues of A Death in the Family, the storyline where all this took place, were incredibly scarce, and only one of my friends got a copy.

Long story short, I didn't get my hands on the comic with the phone number until months after the event when I sat on my pal's bed and read the comics of the storyline in one, long read while he and my brother listened to Van Halen albums.  I never got to cast my vote.  And as close as the vote was, I always wished I'd gotten my chance to save Jason Todd.*

Then, around 2004/2005, Stephanie Brown took Tim Drake's place as Robin just long enough to get fired for reasons and then get killed (only not really) by Black Mask.

And, of course, it never actually happened, but word on the street is that DC head honcho Dan Didio really wanted to kill off Nightwing at one point during Infinite Crisis.

A few years back Grant Morrison took over Batman and introduced Damian Wayne, the son of Bruce Wayne and Thalia al Ghul.  Right out of the box, Damian seemed fully realized as a character, and - unlike most modern new inventions of characters - was in no way an awkward teenager riddled with self-confidence issues nor a Mary Sue.  Pompous, brutal.  Desperately in need of approval from a father figure.  Everything you'd expect out of the grandson of Ra's al Ghul.

Morrison removed Bruce Wayne and put Dick Grayson in the cowl for over a year, during which time Damian put on the domino mask and the "R", and it was actually a great run on the Batbooks.  Bruce returned, as comic characters hurled through space/time/realities are want to do, and we've been able to enjoy Damian and Bruce as Robin and Batman for a while.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

No Post Thursday - Superheroes on TV

I watched the first 2/3rds of What Ever Happened To Baby Jane? for the first time since college, and its even better than I remember.  Saving the rest for tomorrow, but, man, everyone in that movie is so good.

Anyway, we'll talk about that movie later.

And, we really need to find me a copy of Straight Jacket.

Also watched a PBS show, Pioneers of Television, that I think Randy originally sent me the link for.  Anyway, the topics was superheroes, and featured Batman, The Hulk, The Adventures of Superman, The Greatest American Hero and (sigh) Wonder Woman.

You can watch the whole thing on the PBS site, so go nuts.

Watch Superheroes on PBS. See more from Pioneers of Television.

Here, Lynda Carter has had enough of your nonsense:

Here's, like, 9.5 minutes of Diana Prince turning into Wonder Woman.  It's kind of weird.

 And, as a reminder, The Adventures of Superman is a terrific TV show.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Super Watch: Dark Knight Returns, Part 2

There isn't much to say about the plotting of this second installment of the direct-to-video adaptation of Dark Knight Returns that a generation of comics fans grew up with via the comics page.  The dialog, often the framing, the depiction of characters...  It's likely the closest adaptation I think you'll ever run into that doesn't fall into whatever trap Peter Jackson fell into with his The Hobbit Part 1 that felt like a checklist of scenes with no real narrative push or (dare I say it) heart in its desire to lovingly recreate each beat and scene.  Nor is it the Zack Snyder slavish recreation that misses everything about why Watchmen worked, and figures that showing the same stuff we saw on the panel is good enough, even if all the directorial decisions - like casting, emotional beats, musical selection and cinematography - were completely misunderstood.

In this second installment, as an audience we've had the opportunity to get used to Peter Weller as Batman (and he's actually pretty great), and we get Michael Emerson as a giddy, cerebral Joker (God bless you, Andrea Romano).  And, somewhat like the 3rd chapter in the Dark Knight trilogy from Nolan, Batman actually takes a back seat to some of what else is happening in the story.  World War III is seething to break out, Superman's relationship with the government is filled in, and against that backdrop, Batman is still running around concerned with cleaning up the streets of Gotham.  You can almost understand how it got ignored for all those years until he retired.

I recently saw a quote from comics creator Faith Erin Hicks noting how dated Dark Knight Returns felt on a re-read.  She's not entirely wrong, but I sort of also sort of rolled my eyes.  It's a work of its time with undercurrents that remain relevant and resonant.

Comics weren't really intended to have a shelf-life when the book hit the direct market, they were commenting on the moment, and Watchmen is no less a piece of the Cold War than DKR.  And we were so ready to forget about the cloud of nuclear annihilation when Gorbachev instituted Glasnost, I'm not surprised that a generation had grown up without the context, and doesn't quite get what it felt like to do duck and cover drills until everyone admits that it's kind of pointless when you're in about 3rd grade.  Nor has the era of street crime that pervaded the big cities been seen in Gen Y's lifetime (although Chicago spent 2012 doing it's damndest to recreate the era that made "Bloods" and "Crips" household names).

Friday, January 4, 2013

Movies 2012 - The Final Commentary

As mentioned before, I watched and blogged movies 147 times, sort of.  Anyway, the point is, I watched John Carter 3 times, and never regretted it.  Process everything in the rest of this post* with that in mind.

So, the actual experience of deciding to blog every movie for a year was sort of in line with other "for a year I shall..." plans I've had.  Like the year I went vegetarian, just to be difficult. Yes, I did this.

Honestly, I think I was probably way down on number of movies viewed this past year.  I don't know how many movies people normally watch, but I know that for the first time in 5 years, my attendance at the Alamo and Paramount this summer was significantly lower than usual.

All that also took a financial toll in past years, and I've been cutting back on Alamo visits to try to better maintain our finances.  I'm guessing I still hit the movies more than the average bear, but it did feel like a down year for being at the theater, but maybe I made up for that in Cable viewership and watching home video.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Animated Watch: Dark Knight Returns (Part 1)

When I was in 6th grade, I walked into Austin Books and Comics and had some birthday or Christmas money to spend.  I don't remember much about my early days of comics collecting, or chronological order of events, but I most certainly remember standing in ABC, flipping through the pages of a collection of Dark Knight Returns and not buying it.  I've always regretted the decision.

Because it was a whole 3-6 months later that I bought a trade paperback of the comic that changed everything for me.  And I could have read that comic much, much earlier.

Today that copy of Dark Knight Returns is in a sealed bag with a board.  It's worn from wear from the literally dozens of times its been read cover to cover, not counting the hundreds of times it was simply picked up and leafed through, nor the times it was handed off to friends (even as they were told: do not lose this, do not tear the pages, do not read it while eating, do not in any way harm this book) and, when I was making some early decisions about Jamie, she took it with her as assigned reading.

Flat out, I have most of the book memorized.  Like some people spent their middle-school years memorizing baseball stats or all the words to their favorite sci-fi movie, I (and a lot of you, I'd guess) were memorizing every caption and thought bubble in Miller's comic attributed to Batman.  I was a Batman nut.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Nobody has been killed more ways or for more reasons than Thomas and Martha Wayne

editor's note:  I had called this post something about "Batman: Court of Owls", but it's not really about that, so I went back to my original title.

Many months ago when I was thinking I'd probably continue to follow DC Comics in the wake of the Nu52, I made a decision to just read the collections of Batman comics rather than single issues.  Actually, I'd been doing that for a while as I found I really could stand to wait for the trades when it came to the often ill-paced thrills of a Batman mystery unfolding.

To that end, I am now reading the first Batman New52! trade, The Court of Owls.

Thanks to Adam West, I've been a Batman fan literally since before I could talk.   Like most kids, I was somewhat unaware of the death of Thomas and Martha Wayne as a motivating factor for Bruce until I started picking up Batman comics in middle school.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Happy Birthday, Mr. Adam West

Happy Birthday to Mr. Adam West, most famous for his role in the 1966 movie and TV series, Batman. he was born this day in 1928.

Mr. West as Batman inspired me to my first word: "Batman", and fueled me with a deep desire to both do what's right and say ridiculous things in a completely earnest tone. I continue to enjoy the TV show, lo' these many years later.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Signal Watch Reads: Batman - Earth One

Let me get this out of the way:  I've always enjoyed the artwork of Gary Frank that's come through my buy pile, and here I felt like he somehow trumped his previous efforts and delivered the Gary Frankiest artwork that ever Gary Franked.  That's a compliment, y'all.  Beautiful illustrative linework, an ability to capture expressions that's somewhere approaching Maguire, a great sense of panel layout and page management...  In my book, this is just gorgeous work, including the inking and colorist work.  This level of quality is the sort of thing that can give a casual buyer at the book store a chance to seriously consider buying a comic even if that's not their usual thing.

I appreciate that DC seems to have tried very hard to up their game in the art department.  When you're putting a package together like this for a book store audience, and you need yet another take on the Batman origin story to sell inside comic shops, you might as well go crazy putting out terrific looking superhero art.

Unfortunately, the book isn't just about the art, and at some point you have to also tell a story.