The Return of the Justice League

animation, conventions, television No Comments

Wednesday – 27 July 2016
For nearly a year, the folks at Cartoon Network and Warner Brothers have been dropping breadcrumbs about a new Justice League-related series that seemed like it would be called “JLA.”

Check out the far right end of the posters...

Check out the far right end of the posters…

Then this much less oblique picture popped up a few months ago:

Justice League Action

The Justice League is back…

The poster below came with the news that Kevin Conroy, the voice of Batman for over 20 years, would be returning to the role for this series.  We would later find out that Mark Hamill would also be reprising the voice of The Joker.

Justice League Action... and this time, they brought friends!

…and they’re bringing some friends…

 

Some of the faces - friendly and otherwise - that you'll see on Justice League Action.

…probably even more friends than this!

At Comic Con, last week, they even trotted out one more picture…

I like Wonder Woman's slightly edgier look in this one.

Just in case you forgot who the big guns are…

…and a synopsis…

Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman lead the DC Comics Super Heroes against their most infamous foes in adventures packed with relentless thrills, fun and action. No need to wait for the good stuff to start, each eleven-minute episode jumps in with lightning-paced action and heroics. Whether defending the Earth, facing invaders from space, or battling the bizarre forces of magic, the always-rotating team of Justice League heroes, are up to any challenge.

…before presenting an actual teaser trailer:

No premiere date has been announced, as yet.

Bandette

comics No Comments

Friday – 10 June 2016
This evening, I spent some time getting reacquainted with a series that caught my eye a while back: Bandette, from Paul Tobin, Colleen Coover and Monkeybrain Comics.

bandetteindiepromo_lores1

Bandette is… well… here, let’s just take a look at what Mr. Tobin had to say about it (excerpted from an interview on Comicsverse)1:

Bandette is a carefree teen thief in sort of a fake Paris. Its a very French comic, its very Tintin-inspired. Even though I do love things like Colder and doing really unsettling horror, there’s also a very carefree side to my writing, very whimsical. Bandette is that for me. She’s a thief who works with the police every now and then. She fights a secret organization of evil masterminds called FINIS. And she steals a lot of things! Basically, it’s as charming as we can make it.

And there you go. And that, along with the picture above, is about the best possible summation of Bandette. Ever.

But, just in case that wasn’t enough, there’s also the description on Monkeybrain’s Comixology site:

The adventures of Bandette, a young costumed “artful dodger”, leader of a group of urchins dedicated to serving justice, except when thieving proves to be a bit more fun. The story of Bandette treads a thin line between Tintin and Nancy Drew, with a few costumes thrown in. Bandette and her crew at turns join forces and cross swords with the mysterious master thief known only as Monsieur, and one B.D. Belgique, perhaps the most harassed police inspector of all time.

I don’t recall exactly how I first stumbled across the title, but I think that it might have been a Free Comic Book Day offering. However it happened, it was an excellent find. It’s light-hearted and fun, which is getting difficult to find in books that aren’t rated “All Ages.”2 It is also a welcome change of pace from the traditional cape-and-tights fare that most people think of when they hear the words “comic books.”

Bandette #3 (cover)

Bandette #3 (cover)

If you’re looking for something new – and fun – to read, I suggest heading over to Comixology and checking out the first issue of Bandette. She’ll steal your heart. (And your candy bars!)

1 – The interview can be read in its entirety here.

2 – This is not intended as a knock against “All Ages” books nor books for older readers. -Disclaimer Man

Review – Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice

movies, reviews No Comments

Tuesday – 12 April 2016 Monday – 18 April 2016 Monday – 27 April 2016
I finally saw Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice earlier this last week two weeks ago. I’ve been trying to write this summation of my thoughts since then. More or less. At times, it just felt like too much drudgery to finish. But, here it is.

I managed to avoid most spoilers, either in conversation or in the media, before seeing the movie. There was one nominally big one that slipped through the cracks, but I thought it might have been a misinterpretation. (It wasn’t.) I will most likely pick up that thread later in this post.

Like my Man of Steel review, this is going to be a two-part review:
The first part will be more of a synopsis and spoiler-free.
The second part will be more in-depth.
Consider yourselves duly warned.

Part One: Synopsis
I mostly enjoyed this movie.

It appeared to draw from the following sources, among others:

Some would contend that there were too many moving pieces in this film and that never works. I’d counter with a look at X2: X-Men United. That story took four storylines from over 20 years of X-Men lore and wove them into a compelling story. This, however, threw a lot at the audience in its two-and-a-half hour runtime and there’s still (at least) thirty minutes of footage that will be seen on the DVD/Blu-Ray release.

And, seventy-five years after her introduction, we finally got Wonder Woman on the big screen. She was introduced with an air of mystery that I hope will be expanded upon in her feature film, due out next year. For the in-costume screen time that she did have, I was pleased with how she was presented: She was a warrior and one, it seemed, who enjoyed a good fight.

I give this movie five SuperBats… possibly six:

Superman BatmanSuperBat!SuperBat!SuperBat!SuperBat!   (SuperBat! )

Part Two: In-Depth Observations
Now that the niceties are out of the way, let’s get to the heart of the matter.

This was a dark movie. Granted, Batman is in it, but I expected a Superman with a much lighter tone to juxtapose against the Dark Knight’s… darkness. That was not what audiences got.

This Superman was still rather aloof and somewhat removed from the people. Yes, there have been stories around that concept, but for the most part, Superman has seemed to enjoy not only being a role model, but also just being with and around people. Well, more people than just Lois Lane and Martha Kent. There was talk of – and a little lip-service towards – him being a symbol of hope for people… but it seemed more like they were just trying to convince the audience of that than anything else.

The Batman we saw could have been lifted directly out of The Dark Knight Returns: Older, world-weary, hardened. He perceived Superman as a threat to be negated and he also gave action to the growing sentiment of wariness and fear… even if he was pushed into this action through Lex Luthor’s machinations. That point, I’ll come back to in a few paragraphs. While I can understand Bruce’s rage-filled dream about Superman taking over the world, what I cannot fathom is why he would have any notion of parademons, the firepits of Apokolips, or Darkseid at this stage of the game. Hell, he shouldn’t even really have an inkling until Lex started ranting at the end of the movie… if even then.

Lex Luthor. There are many ways to get him wrong. Richard Donner didn’t do it. Bryan Singer didn’t do it. Hell, even the writers on Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman didn’t do it. But, this Lex… I don’t know. The genius was there, but there was something missing. Perhaps it was in the way that he came off as a bit manic in some/many scenes. Perhaps it was an attempt to show the smartest man in the room, whose mouth literally couldn’t keep up with all of the lines of thought going on in his mind. I don’t know. I think that he did morph a bit from a less manic Lex and more of the cold, calculating Luthor that I was used to seeing in scene on top of the LexCorp tower with Superman.

Once again, I found that I enjoyed Amy Adams’ Lois Lane. She was tenacious and willing to fight for the stories that she felt needed to be told. You could see that she truly cared for Clark, with his best interests at heart, but also saw the dangers in the shadows that he didn’t – or wasn’t willing to – see.

The brightest spot, in terms of characterization, was Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman. To be honest, I was worried about what we would get. This, they got right. We didn’t get a lot of backstory – that’s being left to next year’s movie. While I would have liked to have known a little more about what she does for a living – she’s an antiquities expert/dealer, a fact I discovered from the packaging of a Wonder Woman figure for the movie – I was happy that Snyder got the “warrior princess” part right. And that was done very well. I loved the fact that, once she got into the thick of the fight, you could see that she was enjoying it, almost reveling in the ability to cut loose.

A friend pointed out something that I hadn’t considered: Snyder used Diana to effectively stop the plot (or at least put it on “Pause) while she “…watched trailers for the next movies.”  True. For those who aren’t following: After Bruce Wayne decrypted Luthor’s file on metahumans and sent it to her, the story got derailed to show clips of the three unknown metas.

I mentioned Bruce Wayne’s buttons getting pushed by Lex Luthor above. Here’s where I come back to that point. I’ll grant you that Lex is traditionally considered one of the most intelligent characters in the DCU. What I would love to know is how did he figure out the identities of two of the most guarded figures in the DCEU?! Granted, if you watch Lois Lane’s movements enough, pick up on the fact that “where goes Lois, so too goes Superman.” Put that together with the fact that she started dating a guy – roughly Superman’s size and build – about the same time he showed up on the scene and it’s arguable that you could deduce that Clark is Superman, given enough time. In fact, Lex figured that out in comics in the second issue of Superman (1987), but rationalized it away, thinking that no one with Superman’s powers would waste his time pretending to be… just human. But, figuring out that Bruce Wayne is Batman? Nope. Can’t see it. And, being able to lead “the world’s greatest detective” on a snipe hunt for a man who not only doesn’t exist, but there’s a ship in the harbor that he’s been staking out with the exact same name and he can’t figure it out?! Nah, man. You lost me there.

Then there’s Zod Doomsday. I’m amazed at how quickly Lex not only wrapped his not-yet-bald head xenotechnology and took control of the ark/Fortress of Solitude, but let’s also give him a hand for mastering xenobiology in about 10 minutes. “Lex E. Coyote, super genius…

And the death of Clark Kent was handled even more ham-fistedly than in the comics. And that’s saying something.

I was struck by something that Christopher Tapley wrote in his review of the movie for Variety:

… given that Snyder is obsessed with iconography, a visualist more than a storyteller. 

That phrase triggered something for me. After reading it, I considered some of the movies that Snyder has directed: 300, Man of Steel, Sucker Punch, and Watchmen. While I enjoyed all of those films – and even purchased three of the four – I realized that Mr. Tapley was right. Snyder has a keen ability to make something look visually stunning… but, unless he is (more or less) directly adapting something – 300 or Watchmen, for example – the story is kind of thin. And this movie was no exception to that rule.

As much as I enjoyed Man of Steel for the things that it did differently with the character, I just couldn’t muster that same satisfaction out of this movie. Wonder Woman pulled a lot of this movie’s fat out of the fire for me. I am not disappointed that I paid to see it (in IMAX, even) for the spectacle, but I’m on the fence whether I’ll be putting down money to buy the DVD/Blu-ray… unless the extra footage seriously helps the story. And that’s a pretty strong statement, coming from the guy who saw Green Lantern in the theatre twice(!) and bought the movie on Blu-ray.

Worlds’ Finest: Supergirl and The Flash

reviews, television No Comments

Monday – 28 March 2016
Fans Supergirl and The Flash have been hoping for some kind of team-up between the heroes since Variety ran an article with Greg Berlanti – along with this picture, featuring Supergirl‘s Melissa Benoist and The Flash‘s Grant Gustin – last October.

Picture (c) Variety

Picture (c) Variety

But, there were a number of obstacles:

  • Supergirl had not been given a full season order,
  • The Flash had already scheduled their Season 2 episodes,
  • The shows, were on different networks1.

Then, something happened: Supergirl got picked up for a full season. Fans’ hopes got a little higher. But, The Powers That Be said that there was no time and that it couldn’t happen this season. Maybe something could be worked out next season.

On February 3rd, an announcement came out of CBS:

Supergirl’s world just keeps getting bigger—and more exciting.

CBS and The CW Network announced Tuesday that two of their respective shows will collide this spring. The Flash will appear in an upcoming episode of Supergirl, combining the two superheroes into one action-packed hour.

Fan reaction, not unexpectedly, was ecstatic. And then, the fan speculation started. Slowly, CBS released a few details: The episode title. Villains. The circumstances of Barry meeting Kara. And there were social media pushes, not just from the shows’ official sites, but also from the stars of the shows.

Just a couple of superheroes in the park... no big deal.

Just a couple of superheroes in the park… no big deal.

The episode aired tonight and it was fun. It was also reflective of the tone of both shows: Heroes doing the best they can, in both their heroic and civilian lives. It was also refreshing to see a hero team-up that didn’t involve the stereotypical trope of: heroes meet – heroes fight – heroes make up and resolve to fight bad guys trope.  It was just heroes helping heroes.

Oh, the episode had villains helping villains, too; I shouldn’t forget that part.

Livewire and Silver Banshee Picture (c) CBS

Livewire and Silver Banshee — Picture (c) CBS

Something that added to the fun of the episode was being able to watch it with – and explain it to – my daughters. To say that they are “big fans of superheroes” would be something of an understatement. (One daughter may or may not have been named for Wonder Woman…) They know a fair number of the DC heroes, with Supergirl being pretty high on their list. I’ve wanted to let them watch Supergirl, but it’s a bit mature for them – they’re four-and-a-half. They came down to the family and started watching with me… so I decided to see how they dealt with it. They had a lot of questions:

  • When is The Flash going to run fast? (They started watching after Barry had changed into civilian clothes.)
  • Why is Supergirl not wearing her costume? (Civvies, again)
  • Who’s that and why is she being mean to Supergirl? (Cat Grant)
  • Is [person] a good friend or a bad friend?
  • Did that bad friend break out of jail? (When Livewire escaped DEO confinement)
  • Why does Supergirl have blood on her fingers? (After being shrieked at by Silver Banshee)
  • Are they going to race?
  • Why can James not hear Supergirl? (Near the end of the episode)
  • Can all those people not hear either?

…but they took the episode in stride – it was easy enough for them to follow (mostly) and came down to a heroes putting the villains in jail, a concept they understand. As an added bonus for me, I got to watch them as they watched a show featuring heroes they know.

Thank you, CBS and The CW for giving viewers a fun show that didn’t feel too weighted down by the story arcs of either character’s respective show. It was enough of a one-and-done that someone who didn’t watch “the other show” regularly could enjoy for the sake of what was presented.

Now, how about renewing Supergirl for Season Two and getting Kara onto either The Flash, Arrow, or Legends of Tomorrow2?

1 – Okay, yes, CBS does have 50% interest in The CW, but they are still different networks.

2 – Legends of Tomorrow would provide an easy (re-)introduction of Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes. Just putting that out there.

World’s Finest

comics, movies No Comments

Wednesday – 02 March 2016
For those who don’t know: the name “World’s Finest” or “World’s Finest Team” is usually applied to the pairing of Batman and Superman.

World's Finest Team

Batman and Superman: World’s Finest

If we look at the way the trailers have presented the introduction of the Dark Knight to the Last Son of Krypton – antagonists rather than reasonably amicable crimefighters –  it is (somewhat) understandable why Warner Brothers chose to go the “Batman versus Superman” route.

That said, YouTube user Adeel of Steel has created a mashup of Tim Burton and Michael Keaton’s Batman teaming up with Richard Donner and Christopher Reeve’s Superman to take on The Joker and Lex Luthor (Jack Nicholson and Gene Hackman, respectively). And it is fun. See for yourself…

 

“Alone and bored, on a 30th Century night…”

animation, comics, movies, television No Comments

Tuesday – 01 March 2016
For a team/comic that hasn’t had their own title in nearly two-and-a-half years, the 30th Century’s  Legion of Super-Heroes has been popping up in a bit of comics-related press in the past few weeks. (As far as I’m concerned, this is far from a “bad thing.”)

There was a cover shot of LSH #300 in DC Comics’ press video for the upcoming “Rebirth” event/non-event

30th Century super-team

LSH #300

…apparently, there was a nod to the Legion in last night’s episode of Supergirl

Some of the 30th Century's finest technology...

Legion Flight Ring

…and the team – or, at least, the founders – are featured in the upcoming LEGO Justice League: Comsic Clash… which means it’s pretty much a shoo-in that I will watch this video.

After watching the above clip, I went to heat up my lunch. Waiting for the microwave to do its thing, I noticed I was humming Madonna’s Material Girl. In and of itself, that’s not so bad… but not really Legion-related. The thing is: I caught myself reparsing the lyrics from:

‘Cause we are living in a material world
And I am a material girl

to

‘Cause we are living in a material world
And I’m an immaterial girl

…referencing Phantom Girl and her abilities.  Thankfully, I stopped before I started changing the verses to fit a 30th Century theme. For now.

Send help.
Please.

Robots!

comics, news No Comments

Monday – 29 February 2016
The New York Post offered up this article today: Robot secretaries are a real thing now.

They’re only 30 years late with this one – the Fantastic Four has had a robot receptionist since 1982:

Roberta

Better late than never, I guess…

Tim Miller + Justice League = Deadpool ?!?

animation, games, movies, news No Comments

Wednesday – 17 February 2016
Today is “New Comics Day” across the land. Amen.

Today is also the day that I learned a bit of news that I found interesting. Over the past week or so, people have been flocking to see Fox’s Deadpool. (Yes, some people have even taken their kids to see it, but that’s story/issue for another time.) Tim Miller, the film’s director, has also gathered accolades for not only bringing Marvel’s “Merc with a Mouth” to the big screen, but also for not pulling the punches (um… sorry) and bringing an R-rated superhero movie to the screen. What I did not know, until earlier today, was that Miller directed a short film featuring the Justice League that attracted the attention of the-powers-that-be at Fox and put him on their radar as a candidate to helm Deadpool.

DCUO-Wallpaper

What was the short film?

This:

That’s right. Miller, during his tenure at Blur Studios, directed the promo trailer/intro cinematic for DC Universe Online, a long-time favorite game of mine.

The Hand of Nefer-Tem in Metropolis

The Hand of Nefer-Tem in Metropolis


 

The Hand of Nefer-Tem in Gotham City

The Hand of Nefer-Tem in Gotham City

For more information on how the Justice League helped Miller get the Deadpool job, check out this article on Comics Alliance.

Faster than a speeding… waitaminute!

news, television No Comments

Wednesday – 03 February 2016
First there was Arrow.

arrow_poster

With this, they gave viewers (and DC Comics fans) a plethora of heroes and villains on the small screen.

Then, they expanded the “Arrowverse” to include The Flash. With this we got even more heroes and villains. (Let’s be honest: I never expected to see Firestorm on TV in anything than an animated form.)

The_Flash_promo_poster

This year, DC’s trenchcoat-wearing occult detective – and con man – John Constantine was officially brought into the Arrowverse.

CONSTANTINE -- Pictured: "Constantine" Key Art -- (Photo by: NBCUniversal)

(Photo by: NBCUniversal)

The powers-that-be even put together a supergroup: Legends of Tomorrow.

legends

As if all of that wasn’t enough, today it was announced that there will be a Flash/Supergirl crossover.

Flash-Supergirl-1-600x795

Yep, that’s right: Supergirl – and I’d take it, by association, Superman (as he’s appeared a couple of times on the show) – is officially part of the Arrowverse.

Supergirl_poster

Congratulations and well done CW and CBS for creating a cohesive, cross-network television universe!

Thoughts on the latest ‘BvS’ trailers

comics, movies, television No Comments

Sunday – 24 January 2016
I just finished watching the latest trailer for Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice.

BvS_Who_will_Win

Yes, I was watching the football games in which they aired. However, I didn’t sit through many/most of the commercials, so yes, I just saw the newest one online. But, that’s not the point. The point is, with this trailer…

…something in the way that Ben Affleck’s Bruce Wayne spoke to Alfred about the threat that Superman posed struck me as sounding very similar to the origin of the protocols that Batman developed in the pre-New52 DC Universe, as seen in Mark Waid’s “Tower of Babel” (spoilers) storyline in JLA (and whose story was the basis of the Justice League: Doom animated feature):

Tower of Babel deals with Batman‘s perceived betrayal to the superhuman community by keeping and concealing hidden records concerning the strengths and weaknesses of his allies in the JLA, which include plans to neutralize his allies in a fight. His files are stolen by the criminal mastermind Ra’s al Ghul, who uses them to defeat the League through a coordinated attack in order to prevent them from interfering with his latest scheme, the reduction of the global population.

There appears to be a lot of pent-up rage in Affleck’s Bruce Wayne, but it sounds like all that he wants to do is find the key to defeating the heir-apparent to the “most powerful being on the planet” title… and then retire to the Batcave for a Bat-beer. Corollary to this thought, I can’t help but wonder if we will see Batman taking notes on other members of the League (as we meet them) and compiling methods to best neutralize them, as well. As much as I think I’d enjoy a live-action take on “Tower of Babel,”” I think that we will see the League taking on Thanos Darkseid as the main villain of the Justice League movie.

Something else just dawned on me about the Clark Kent/Superman side of the equation… and I’m a little bothered by the fact that it didn’t occur to me sooner. I’ve seen this trailer before:

…but I didn’t think of it in the same comic book terms as I did the Bruce Wayne one. Until now. Listening to Clark and Perry’s discussion after watching the Bruce Wayne clip, I was almost immediately reminded of Man of Steel #3 (1986) in which Superman goes to Gotham City to take on – and take down – a certain “bat vigilante”:

mos3_bvs

Let’s just say that their first meeting was “strained,” at best. It was also very well written and included a couple of twists that made the not-quite-a-team-up work under the tense conditions. Clark’s comments in the trailer seem to resonate with one of Superman’s internal monologues from MoS 3, in which Superman goes over what he knows about Batman.

As I said, just a couple of quick thoughts. What do you think?

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