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

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Monday, August 15, 2016

DC Comics' Rebirth - DC Tries To Get It's Groove Back



I'm buying way, way more in the way of DC Comics these days then I have in a few years.  Not as many as I might have been back in the hey-day around 2007 (back when I was practically panic-buying comics, afraid I'd miss something), or even as many as I was in the days before DC's New 52 effort launched, but I'm back up from, like, 3 per month (I was picking up Action, sometimes Superman, Sensation Comics and Wonder Woman '77 when it came out).

But, back then, I was literally picking up about 25 DC titles per month, I think.  It was a lot, but I was a Wednesday comics guy, I liked keeping up weekly and monthly with all the ongoing characters and stories, seeing what would happen, good, bad, otherwise, and it was the constant decision-making of "is this comic worth picking up or should I try something else?".  At the core of all the titles I read were four characters - Superman, Wonder Woman, Flash and Batman (in a somewhat managed capacity as there was always too much Batman on the shelf).  The rest were usually up for debate.

With Rebirth, I'm picking up a few titles:

Action Comics
Superman
Wonder Woman
The Flash
Titans
Justice League
Superwoman
New Superman
Supergirl (not yet released)
All Star Batman
Trinity (not yet released)
and probably the Super Sons title or whatever it's called, which will come out this Fall.

I'll be waiting on word from folks to see if any of the Green Lantern titles are worth it, but I'm not holding my breath.  When they quit making the book about the Corps shattering and reforming and shattering and reforming, somebody wake me up and alert me.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

50th Anniversary of the premiere of Adam West's "Batman" here in sunny Austin, TX


Fifty years ago today, Batman premiered at Austin's own Paramount Theatre!  Above, you can see Adam West in person addressing the crowd and Congress Avenue completely blocked (something I don't even think happens during SXSW).

The Paramount was showing the movie today, but I had something I had to do during the day and couldn't make it (and I've seen it about 7 times, at least).

Here's a write-up from when I went to see the movie at the Paramount in June of 2010.

Here's a video you can watch at the Texas Archive of the Moving Image of Jean Boone interviewing actors from the movie inside The Paramount.

The Batboat - which appears in this movie, was also manufactured right here in Austin by Glastron Industries.

I didn't learn of Batman's Austin history until about 2009, and I am certain, had I known about all the bat-ties to Austin as a kid, it would have melted by brain and I would have seen way, waaaaayyy too much symbolism in Austin's gigantic bat population.

What's perhaps strangest is that Monday, two days from now, is the 50th anniversary of the UT Tower shootings.  The UT Tower sits at about 23rd Street, about 15 streets away as the crow flies (the Capitol and several other obstructions mean you can't drive straight through).

Kind of freaky.


Saturday, May 28, 2016

We Finally Read "Rebirth" and Here Is What We Think (SPOILERS)



I did not love every living word and panel of DC's mea culpa in comic form, but it made me realize how long it has been since I've read a new comic book from DC and didn't feel like I needed to just put it down and walk away.  If Rebirth succeeded on any level - it did not make me kind of sad while I was reading it, nor think "well, this is what they're doing these days, and the kids seem to like it, so I guess this is DC Comics now".  I got to just mostly enjoy a DC Comic, even enjoy the familiar frustration of "well, now how is THAT going to work?" as I looked at some of what the book was pitching as the new direction for DC Comics publishing line.

It's been a few days, so I really don't think I need to explain what Rebirth is, except to my brother - so, Jason:  That New 52 thing I've been whining about the past few years?  Turns out sales have been plummeting line-wide for DC since the first year or so, and they've decided that maybe they went too far in the "grim n' gritty" comics direction, and now they're remembering that the idea behind superheroes is that they're a force for positive change.  So, starting here, DC is trying to wrap up the New 52 as a direction for the publishing line while remaining basically in continuity.  They'll start by renumbering most series (again) and remember that it's kind of a bummer to read about people in tights running about feeling miserable every second of the day, so, maybe stop with the endless Pyrrhic victories and mopey heroes.

The "Rebirth" brand at DC was never one of rebooting.  In both Flash Rebirth and Green Lantern Rebirth, continuity remained intact, but DC brought back longstanding characters and principles to characters and concepts that had strayed from the sort of Platonic ideal of those characters.  In Flash, we saw the return of Barry Allen full time for the first time since Crisis on Infinite Earths.  Wally, Bart, Jay and everyone else would be around, but Barry was our focal Flash - complete with a new backstory that didn't reflect the pre-Crisis DCU continuity (Nora Allen was murdered).  Green Lantern saw the return of Hal Jordan to the land of the living, the Parallax storyline transmogrified into epic space opera that spun out the colored rings.  Both of these I enjoyed.

Rebirth is not another Crisis.   It seems to be retaining the New 52 continuity, so far anyway, and is really not so much an answer as a gigantic question mark both from a story and editorial perspective.  Or, rather, a series of questions marks or possible paths for all of us who walked away from DC to consider what teasers from the books we'd be interested in pursuing with our dollars.

Everything from here below contains spoilers.  You're on your own if you keep reading.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Bat Watch: Batman Begins (2005)


I hadn't watched this movie in a few years, but I've got a shelf full of Batman films, cartoons and TV, and on Friday night - in the wake of finishing The Caped Crusade: Batman and The Rise of Nerd Culture, it felt like time to review some Batman again.

Not sure what to watch, I just gave Jamie some options, and she selected Batman Begins.


Monday, May 9, 2016

Signal Watch Reads: The Caped Crusade - Batman and the Rise of Nerd Culture (audiobook, 2016)



Here's what I know after reading Caped Crusade: Batman and the Rise of Nerd Culture (2016) - I would love to spend a couple hours at a bar with author Glen Weldon knocking back a couple of cocktails and talking comics.  

The book is a perfect compliment to the sort of discussion we've been having here at The Signal Watch the past few years, from our Gen-X Recollection Project (still ongoing!  Send in your posts!), to trying to contextualize what we see in movies of the past and present as seasoned dorks.  

As a matter of course, I've read a few Superman retrospectives, but very few feel like an honest conversation.  Les Daniels' works read like what they are - honest if fairly sanitary historical accounts of the rise of Superman in all media.  The very-well-selling Larry Tye book felt like a lot of research into something the author felt would move books but for which he had little personal affinity and seemed surprised that Superman wasn't the character he remembered from his years watching The Adventures of Superman.  Author Tom De Haven has the strangest relationship with Superman, having written a full novel re-imagining the character from the ground up (in ways that often seemed far, far off the mark), and then a sort of retrospective that made it clear - he kinda hates Superman.

But aside from Les Daniels and a few excerpts in books like Ten Cent Plague and Men of Tomorrow, I haven't read up as much on Batman.  I actually heard of author Glen Weldon when he put out a book called Superman: The Unauthorized Biography.  I purchased the book, but hadn't read it as I had a stack of books I was making it through.  Still haven't read it, honestly, aside from the first few pages, which had me cackling in recognition of someone who truly knew their Superman.  But, two days after I picked up the Superman book, Weldon announced on twitter his Batman book was coming, and as I'd just finished the Tye Superman book, I figured - I'll just wait for that one.

I really can't recommend Caped Crusade enough.  This is a "run, don't walk" sort of recommendation.  

Thursday, April 28, 2016

A "National Superhero Day" Tour of The Fortress


About three years ago I did a post where I took a bunch of photos of my collections.  But it's been a while, so I thought for National Superhero Day, I'd take some pics and show you where we're at today with the collections of The Fortress of Nerditude/ League HQ/ Signal Watchtower.


Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Frank Miller Takes Over the World



I have an employee who is into geek-culture stuff in a way that doesn't include actual comics.  She likes horror movies, Army of Darkness, and watches the TV shows and movies based on comics.  She just finished watching Daredevil (so say we all), and she was wearing a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles shirt with art from the 90's cartoon while she was talking to me about the show.

"You know," I said, "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is a by-product of Daredevil."
She eyed me, somewhat skeptically.
"Frank Miller made ninjas cool in comics via the Daredevil comics run they're adapting for the show.  After that, ninjas were everywhere in comics, but Miller did them best.  It was the 1980's and Eastman and Laird were drinking beer and figuring out what might be popular for a comic and, hey, NINJAS.  The 'Teenage Mutant' part is referring to some X-Men stuff.  New Mutants, I think."
The look of skepticism was giving way to a bit of fear.
"Yes, I think you can argue that Bruce Lee started the craze, but in comics, I point to Frank Miller."
"Okay."
"Yeah," I said, refusing to let it go.  "The crazy turtle uses sai, right?  Elektra!  That's Miller.  What's the name of the bad guys the Shredder works with?"
She felt a trap.  "The Foot?" she ventured.
"Uh huh.  And the name of the ninjas in Daredevil?"
"...the Hand?"
"Right.  Now... let's talk about how Frank Miller is responsible for Batman v. Superman."
She was not impressed.
"Directly or indirectly, Jack Kirby and Frank Miller are responsible for everything in media right now," I concluded.
I don't think she bought a word of it.

In general, I'd argue the conversations the comics kids are having online these days don't seem to talk so much about what's happening in their comics as they do the characters in broad strokes, undergrad 101 media criticism of race and gender (which I welcome) and the creators, like they're following demi-celebrities who might talk back to them.*

Monday, April 4, 2016

The Sensational Character Find of 1940



Most people don't know that, prior to selecting Dick Grayson as his sidekick, Batman briefly worked with Jamie.  Until he found out she just sort of uselessly windmills her arms in a fight and that she tires easily.

Monday, March 28, 2016

In Light of "Superman vs: Batman" - What is the Point of Film Criticism?


Batman ponders the Super Package


Although perhaps less so every year in a world of constantly sub-divided attention, movies and television are the modern cultural touchstones.  More than news, political figures or even war, there's nothing like a $400 million dollar movie to get everyone around the world doing the same thing on a Saturday.  International dominance of American cinema means that films transcend boundaries and political ideologies as Hollywood carefully crafts non-political films with standard "good v evil" tropes, without ever casting a particular point of view, aside from "evil menace" as the bad guy.

We aren't all just film viewers, we are all film reviewers.  We see a film, we consider that film against other films, source material and our particular perspective.  Sometimes we write that thought down.  The job requires no credentialing, and while some people are paid to look at movies, sum them up and say a few words about the relative merit of a film, others do this endlessly, fruitlessly on their own (cough), but it is something we all do mentally.  We are all ready to write a column for the local paper.  We all have the best, most nuanced of opinions.

Most of what you see in the press I think of as "reviewers" more than "critics".  Somehow, someway, those folks parlayed an interest in going to a bunch of movies every week into a job where they then must writer 1000 words about that movie.  A review contains a synopsis, who stars in a movie, and some sort of opinion about the movie.  Some make it colorful - and in this era of  anyone with a keyboard having the ability to publish, you gotta write some colorful stuff to get clicks.

How to separate a critic from a reviewer?

Well, a reviewer is a person with a local newspaper column or a website.  It's me.  It's you.  Your aunt who posts things to facebook.

There are two definitions of critic, I think.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

No Country For Old Men: Let's talk about Superman vs. Batman (and initial reviews and whatnot)

All right. The first reviews are in for Superman vs. Batman: Dawn of Justice, the much-hyped sequel to Man of Steel that, just there in the title, tells you how little faith Warner Bros. had in their desire for a stand-alone film franchise after making a terrible Superman movie in 2013.

Thanks to Randy, today I've also been thinking about actor Tommy Lee Jones.


How does one wind up with a face like Jones'?  There's a lot going on in that mug.  A lot of years written in the lines, the burned in look of disappointment.  How does one look that tired, that certain he's seen it all, and... yet... still confused how it keeps happening?  And, more so, the certainty it's going to happen again etched upon his brow.

Randy sent me a quote from an interview with Howard Stern, discussed in this article at Cinemablend, that detailed how much, apparently, Tommy Lee Jones hated Jim Carrey, who worked with him on Batman Forever.  Upon meeting Carrey, with whom he was to work the next day, Jones told Carrey:

"I hate you. I really don't like you…I cannot sanction your buffoonery."

That is a man with nothing left to lose and no time for antics.  And that was 20 years ago.

At best that's tangential to why I'm thinking of Jones and his face.  But it informs it.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Why You're Wrong About Batman, and Why Superman Would Win Every Time

the product of a Google Image Search for "Batman dumb"


Superman would win.

Superman
  • can fly
  • is bulletproof/ invulnerable
  • is able to push around an oil tanker, maybe even lift one (while full)
  • has eyes that
    • can see through anything but lead
    • see microscopic detail
    • provide telescopic vision
    • shoot lasers
  • has ears that 
    • can hear Lois's heartbeat on the other side of the country
    • can hear radio frequencies
  • has super-breath
  • can run almost as fast as the Flash (who runs so fast he runs through time)
  • has a dog
  • is mostly only vulnerable to kryptonite and magic
Batman
  • took some martial arts classes
  • still thinks throwing stars are pretty keen
  • has a hard time keeping friends
  • buys his way out of trouble
  • verbally abuses his butler, who is his only friend
  • puts children in mortal danger
  • spends nights beating the mentally ill
  • somehow never trips over a gigantic cape
  • might have a rock of kryptonite he'd never get out of his pocket before Superman took it away with a lead oven mitt

Yeah, yeah.  Batman plans ahead.  We've all heard that one.  Including Superman.  So, wouldn't Superman just plan on Batman planning ahead and just knock him over with his super breath from far away, then cover him in, say, piles of shag carpeting until Batman passes out?

Your argument is silly.

You are a silly, silly person.







This bit of internet trolling brought to you by:  Superman v. Batman - Dawn of Justice!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Batman! The 50th Anniversary!


Longtime readers will know - Batman, the TV program, is probably ground zero for everything you see here at the ol' blog.  Born in '75, obviously I was too not-yet-in-existence to catch the show when it premiered in 1966, and I think my dad was in Vietnam and my mom was in college and not watching TV when the show hit the airwaves.

Family history says my first words included "Batman".  Or, more specifically, "Mat-man", as I couldn't quite work that "b" sound quite yet.  The story is that my mom needed to fix dinner for my brother and myself, and at some point she figured out I'd hold perfectly still for half an hour each week night when she'd point me at the TV while Batman played in syndication, and the rest just sort of played out.

As big as Star Wars may have been in my early childhood, so, too, was this version of Batman - or so I am told.  But I have almost no memory of watching the show at this age, I just remembered the characters and sounds of the show.  It fell off the syndication wagon in my local viewing area for a number of years, and didn't return until 1989, when the popularity of the Michael Keaton Batman meant someone decided to cash in.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Your Obligatory "Batman y Superman: Something Something Hey! Wonder Woman!" trailer post



Yup. That is definitely a trailer for a movie that is coming out.

And, yup, WB finally (finally!) got Doomsday on-screen as a Lex Luthor product. They've been wanting to do that since I was in college.