Late to the party: The Killing Joke – NO SPOILER – review

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I was ecstatic, when I heard The Killing Joke was going to be made into an animated feature. It is easily one of the best Batman stories ever written and one of my favorites. To say that I was happy when I heard that Mark Hamill was going to play The Joker would’ve been an understatement. The DVD/Blu-ray release is set for August 2nd . My excitement was increased exponentially when I found out that there would be a theatrical release of The Killing Joke and it would be a week earlier than its release. I invited a few friends to see the movie with me, but they didn’t see the point in spending the money when it would be out next week. Seeing The Killing Joke in the theatre while eating raisinettes added another level of enjoyment to the experience for me. Not to mention, The Killing Joke isn’t a kid friendly story, and as a nerd dad, I would have to wait until I could watch it without the kids.

The flick seemed to stick close to the source material. Without spoiling anything, there are some other story elements involving Batgirl that starts off the film. I purposely avoided the internet speak about The Killing Joke so I could watch it without any preconceived notions. I enjoyed the Batgirl “backstory”. It addressed an issue that was a loose end in the Batman mythos. Still, while some were shocked and others were hit with a touch of internet nerd rage, I viewed the story as it was. As far as I’m concerned, it is one version of events, simply an adaptation and/or interpretation of a good story.

The animation was good. There were a few points that it could’ve been a little sharper. I thought the translation of the story was handled honorably. The story is a dark one and it’s kept that way. Conversely, the colors reflect the themes of the story, for instance sometimes getting brighter when focusing on the Joker. Voice acting was flawless. I’m delighted that the legendary Mark Hamill, Tara Strong, and Kevin Conroy returned to the roles of The Joker, Batgirl, and Batman respectively. I think they were born to play these roles. The music fit the mood through the story. The score put me in the mind of the Tim Burton Batman film regarding the quality of the music. Hamill’s contribution to the score was eerie and frenzied. I felt the madness trickle through each verse.

There were two featurettes that were also including in the viewing. Before the flick, we got a short reflection from Mark Hamill about playing the Joker. He spoke about how it he first got the role and how it would play out against his identity as Luke Skywalker. This didn’t take long and I didn’t feel like unnecessary stalling before the main attraction began. After the story, there was another featurette about the music of the movie. It was also interesting and I enjoyed hearing from the different professionals that added their expertise to the production.

I give The Killing Joke a solid A. It is a necessary part of any Batman fans DVD/Blu-ray library. I believe that fans of the graphic novel will get a charge out of the movie.

Why I’m collecting comics again

Two words… Rebirth! Okay, maybe its not two words, but its been awesome and worth saying two times! DC’s Rebirth may seem like just another comic “reboot” for DC. This isn’t the first time something like this was done, i.e. “The New 52”. Still, the writing has been impressive and the direction that they’re taking is interesting. Without giving too many spoilers, in the wake of the Darkseid War that happened in Justice League we find out that something has been wrong. Something before “The New 52” going back to “Flashpoint”. Some entity is messing with the DC universe’s continunity and I like where it’s going.

I haven’t COLLECTED comics in a while. I still bought books from time to time, but I stopped trying to preserve them. I was burned out since the comic market became so saturated with alternative covers and such during the 90’s. After I finished reading a comic, I’d just roll them up or throw them in a sack. Rebirth has got me putting books in bags with backboards and going to the comic shop once a week instead of once in two months.

The Rebirth special had a $2.99 cover price and is already selling for between $9 and $15 online and in the comic stores…if they have any copies at all.

My buddy Loose and I were talking about this story arc and how Marvel got the press going crazy with the controversy surrounding the new Captain America (I haven’t read it yet, something about Cap being a Hydra agent). he thought that Marvel did that on purpose to try to steal DCs thunder away from REBIRTH. I laughed about that idea…but who knows, maybe he’s right. What do you think?

Are you reading REBIRTH? What do you think? If you like DC comics like Batman or Justice League, I suggestion reading the REBIRTH story arc.

 

Batman vs Superman – no spoiler reaction

If you’ve read a few of my articles, Facebook posts, or tweets, you know at least two things about me. First, I’m a nerd dad and second, I love superheroes. The latter being the most important part for this article. I’m calling this article a reaction rather than a review of Batman vs. Superman. There are enough reviews floating around so i thought I’d try something a little different. Still, watch for a review for the movie soon. But I digress…

If I said Batman vs Superman was disappointing, I think my buddy Loose would probably punch me in the teeth. He and I have had long discussions about how I liked the Fantastic Four reboot film by Fox. Yes you heard me right, I found some merit in that trainwreck of a film. To say that Batman vs Superman disappointed me almost seems like hypocrisy. Check out my article, “What the Fantastic Four Remake Taught Me,” for more details. Let me be clear though, I am in no way saying that I liked Fantastic Four better than Batman vs Superman!

Excited about this film for some time, I went into Batman vs Superman expecting DC’s A-game. My excitement caused me to mistakenly buy extra tickets online. The film was like begrudgingly giving an A student a C+ grade on an exam. That is what the student earned, but not what the teacher expected.  Batman vs Superman had all the tools it needed to be great movie, bankable actors, big budget, compelling characters, great costumes, and excellent effects; everything it needed to reach the top, and it fell short.

I will not say that Batman vs Superman was a bad movie. There was an valiant effort on my part to see the movie before reading any of the many negative reviews.  My first reaction on Facebook after watching the movie…”not sure how I feel about it.” The film had let me down on several levels which left me a little numb.  Much to my chagrin, there were points in the film that were frustrating; There were other points to the movie that were awesome. I’ll stay away from specifics for now to keep the spoilers out of this. Bad reviews or not, I don’t think that this film is a deal breaker for DC. Suicide Squad is on the horizon and a Wonder Woman film is in the works as well.

Batman vs Superman, Dawn of Justice was not anything special, and that’s too bad because it should’ve been.

How did you feel about the Batman vs Superman? Leave a comment, but no spoilers please.

My minute with comic legends

 I was fortunate enough to spend a day at Fantasticon in Lansing, Michigan. Fantasticon is a pop culture and comic experience that spans several locations throughout the year. These show locations include cities in Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio. This is the first of my articles on my time as Fantasticon. While there, I had the awesome opportunity to sit at the Comic Legends of the Bronze Age paned.  The panel consisted of Keith Pollard, Mike Grell, Arvell Jones, and Kurt Lehner. Each of these talented gentlemen have over a decade of experience in the comic industry. It was fascinating listening to their stories of how they “broke in” to the industry, who they worked with, and what they worked on.



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Keith Pollard and Arvell Jones, two artists from the Detroit area, told a story of how they worked together in comics. Apparently the legendary John Romita Sr. looked at both of their work and had issues. He said that Pollard’s work was good but lacked excitement. He said that Jones work was also good but lacked consistancy. THe faces Jones drew from panel to panel looked like different characters. So Mr. Romita did what any forward thinking Marvelite would do…he teamed both Pollard and Jones together. I suppose he figured that both these talented guys together would equal a great artist.

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Both Pollard and Jones had a hand in creating two of Marvel Comics baddest ladies. Jones co-created the bionic armed Misty Knight. Pollard brought  Felicia Hardy aka The Black Cat to life in the pages of the Amazing Spider-Man. Pollard and Jones also did various work for DC.




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Mike Grell, creator of the DC character Warlord has served as both artist and writer. Not only has he done work for DC but Grell has done several creator owned works for various companies.  This includes the series Shamans’ Tears. Among many of Grell’s accomplishments in comics was the Green Arrow limited series Longbow Hunters. This led to an 80 issue Green Arrow run for Grell. He is credited for changing the direction of Green Arrow making him an ‘urban hunter’ and focusing Green Arrow on more street level threats. During the panel, Grell said that his influences on the character earned him a small nod in the current CW television series Arrow. In the first season of Arrow Laurel stands before a Judge Grell. He also mentioned how he had to explain to his nephew that he didn’t get paid for that. I told Grell that I would check out the Longbow Hunters series. I’ll post a review after I’ve finished it.

kurt-lehner-webKurt Lehner said that he grew up following and emulating the other panelsts. He feels that where he developed his “modern-retro” comic art style. While he’s been involved for almost two decades in comics, he didn’t feel he technically was a legend of the Bronze age. Many of Lehner’s work involved design work for animated features and films including Disney and Marvel. Lehner shared an interesting story that he said was the one thing that he was most proud of. At the time Lehner was working with the legendary Stan Lee on The Marvel Action Hour; Stan the man told Lehner (after looking at some of his work) that if he had walked into (Stan’s) office in the 70’s, he would’ve hired him on the spot.

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I had a chance to sit down and talk one on one with both Arvell Jones and Keith Pollard. Look for those follow up articles soon. It was awesome meeting these gentlemen and I hope to see them again.

Did CWs Flash jump the KING Shark?

I’ve already said before that when it comes to superheroes, I’m rather bias. So when my buddy Loose asked me about this week’s episode of the Flash on CW, I was ready to talk it up. The meta of the week was King Shark and the Jaws references were awesome!

SPOILER ALERT! if you haven’t seen the episode, you are about to enter spoiler land…

The after the final act of the episode we see the continuation of the scene from the last episode where Zoom reaches through the breach and apparantly kills Jay Garrick and pulls him through the breach. Ok, first thing here… why is he so close to the breach? I know its about to close, but still that just seems silly. Its not like he wasn’t spending most of the episode trying to stablize them…but I digress.

So Zoom carries Jay’s body and drops it in his layer as the mysterious man in the metal mask looks on from his cell. Then Zoom takes off his mask and reveals that he is Jay.

Ok. So if you saw the episode, then you saw Zoom’s face. While I kind of figured that was coming, having my chat with Loose got me to thinking. He said that he was disappointed in the reveal of Zoom and that Flash had “jumped the shark!” If you don’t know the expression, GOOGLE it. While I appreciated his pun (King Shark/jumped the shark…try to keep up), I asked what he meant. I liked the episode. The Jaws references like “I think we need a bigger Flash…” were cool, the guest appearance of Diggle and Lyla, while we watched Barry, Cisco, Wells, Wells’ daughter, and Catlin deal with the consequences of their Earth 2 visit, Jay’s death, and the fact that all the breaches were closed. I even enjoyed how the CW had Wally West continue to be a cocky jerk when dealing with Barry. So I liked the episode and I didn’t know what he was talking about… then he said Zoom… And then it made sense. Zoom’s reveal was almost a parallel to the Reverse Flash’s reveal. Wells/Thawne was a mentor to Barry, kept secrets and manipulated others, and as the Reverse Flash he overpowered and outclassed Flash. So Jay Garrick/Zoom is the basically the same. He’s someone that the team trusted and he’s been manipulating things.

Still though, I think a better Zoom reveal would’ve been Barry’s dad or Wally West maybe. For Zoom to be Jay at best seems like lazy writing and at worse is bad writing. Eventhough I concede that Jay Garrick being Zoom wasn’t the best writing choice, I’m still going to watch the Flash. And while I think there were better choices, its not a game changer for me at this point. I still love Cisco enough to watch the show for just his nerd commentary.

What do you think? Did the Flash jump the shark or did he just kick King Shark’s butt? Leave a comment about your opinion.

DC Legends of Tomorrow in 4 words

Four words…
Strong characters…weak story

SPOILERS WARNING!!!  If you haven’t seen the DC Legends of Tomorrow pilot parts 1 and 2, you might want to stop reading.

Ok. Thanks to the CW shows The Flash and Arrow we have a cast of interesting character interpretation for this time traveling super team show. I say interpretations because all of the heroes in the Legends show aren’t original, but versions of comic book characters. Unfortunately for the show, it suffers from having so many cool characters that it can’t seem to get out of its own way.

The show’s premise, time traveling to stop the evil Vandal Savage. Ever since the tv show The Voyagers or the Back to the Future movies, I didn’t mind time travel as a backdrop/plot device for a story. Its been done before and it will be done again. Unfortunately the CW has done time travel with The Flash so much that its getting a little old. In fact several members of the team faced Vandal Savage in the series prequel episodes of The Flash and Arrow and were saved due to The Flash traveling back in time. DC Legends of Tomorrow time “expert”, Rip Hunter, talks about the ramifications and problems with corrupting the time line…case in point As our team of heroes travels back to the 1970s, Professor Stein almost misses meeting his wife for the first time and thus erasing their marriage. Also a piece of the Atom’s suit falls into the hands of Vandal Savage which could’ve provided him with 2016 tech if he managed to reverse engineer it. Then Rip Hunter proceeds to help his heroes kill Vandal Savage’s troopers in an all out but utterly pointless battle at the episode’s climax. While admittedly fun to watch, I wonder what effect on the time line their deaths will have…oh its okay though I guess because they’re evil.  Is the team going to have to have Atom sit out on missions due to how easily his technology fell into the wrong hands and nearly corrupted time? Still, for as easily as they got it back, maybe that’s something that will happen every episode.

They figure out a way to kill Vandal Savage, but they don’t succeed because Hawkman isn’t the one who has to deal the final blow, its Hawkgirl who must do it. Information that while the Hawks didn’t know seemed to be clear to Rip Hunter who chose not to tell them until after Hawkman was killed.

Vandal Savage is immortal, but when did he develop the super powers that all the campy slasher film villains have? The disappear without a trace power.

The battle at the climax wasn’t the only seemingly pointless battle for our team within both parts of the pilot.

What’s even more interesting is that our team fails at every turn. Vandal Savage is one step ahead of them and if that’s not enough, our heroes just can’t stop messing up. These are the folks who are going to save the world?

Still the show is visually stunning and stimulating to every superhero loving bone I have. I’m really surprised that I found so much fault in the show actually. If I found merit in the Fox Fantastic Four remake it says a lot about DC’s Legend of Tomorrow that I had any issues with it.

What did you think of DC Legends of Tomorrow?

Justice League: Gods and Monsters REVIEW – SPOILERS

SPOILER WARNING!!!
Years ago, one of the first comic book titles I collected was Marvel’s WHAT IF series. How they changed outcomes or had characters make other choices that affected their lives. I loved how the writers took established characters and flipped the script on them. When I began reading DC Comics, this love increased exponentially. DC had the multiverse, countless alternate universes with characters whose lives changed while seemingly slightly…ended up monumental. Elseworlds stories have for the most part been awesome. Stories Superman Red Sun, The Nail, Flashpoint, The Dark Knight Returns, and Kingdom Come are just a few titles that came from our favored heroes choosing the other option or fate taking another path and those choices made for epic stories.







Justice League: Gods and Monsters was an equally impressive addition to the Elseworlds fiction. The animation for the feature was well done and was fine for telling the story. While DC Animation has yet to disappoint me with the art from their projects, the involvement of Bruce Timm (creator of Batman: The Animated Series) was apparent. Reimagining DC Comics trinity (Superman, Wonder Woman, and Batman) made for an interesting tale.  I really enjoyed how other heroes and villains are present in this reality, but are on the cusp of getting their powers. One of the best parts of watching the feature was looking at characters and figuring out which hero or villain they were destined to become. We see glimpses of Cyborg, The Atom, and Mr. Freeze to name a few. There were a few names that were dropped that I didn’t recognize and had to look up after the movie. Fed right into my nerd nerve….I think I had a few nerdgasms during the flick and for sure at least one afterwards.


I liked the villain of the story as well. It’s often said that DC comics has the most interesting bad guys. Whether you figured out who the big bad was early in the film or if you didn’t see it coming; the villain worked well for the story. You’re almost meant to think Lex Luthor is the antagonist, but that’s a little too obvious. Will Magnus and his Metal Men was an intriguing villain in motivation as well as action.
Perhaps the best part of Justice League: Gods and Monsters isn’t the art or the story but the fact that like the Elseworld stories Kingdom Come and the Dark Knight Returns… the Gods and Monsters universe isn’t stopping with the single feature film. Prior to the animated release there were three online short episodes that featured each of the main characters (Gods and Monsters Chronicles). I watched each one and they were well done…cool, interesting, and each gives a brief look at each characters personality. There are several follow up comic books being published as well as an action figure line.

For Justice League: Gods and Monsters, the future continues to look bright. With all the follow through and follow up on the universe through various media, I give the flick a solid A. It’s a must see for any DC comics, DC animation, and general super hero fans.