Category Archives: batman

New Music This Week

The big music news is the release this week of The Marshall Mathers LP 2 from Eminem. Previewed a bit on iTunes and on “Saturday Night Live” this past weekend, this looks like another winner. He keeps coming back, even when we’ve thought we’ve had enough of him. And I say that with love, because I’m a fan. Several songs stand out in the colossal twenty-one track endeavor, some that peek back into the happily diseased head of Slim Shady.

The sampling of classic rock tunes may drive some older listeners away. I know more than a few folks my age that not only dislike rap and hip hop, but completely lose their minds when rappers sample music of their youth. I say, deal with it, and listen to how it’s been altered, re-imagined, and in same cases, improved.

One of the songs in question, “Berzerk,” takes on the groove of Billy Squier’s “The Stroke” to splendid effect. Also grabbing the classic rock rift of “Time of the Season” by the Zombies is Shady’s “Rhyme or Reason,” one of the better rap mash-ups in recent years. I also dug “Headlights” featuring Nate Ruess, “Desperation” featuring Jamie N Commons, “Baby,” and “Evil Twin.” A viable and hard new release, welcome back.

Tuesday also saw the release of the new album from Adam WarRock, The Middle of Nowhere. I love me some nerdcore, and Adam WarRock is my favorite of the genre. While he is the king of the genre sound, he’s also trying to break into more mainstream hip hop, but no matter how he tries, the nerd is still at the core, and I love it.

Tracks like “High School Reunion,” “Internet Crush,” and “Shoulda Beens” hit close to home in a essentially non-nerd way, but the real thrust here is comics as per usual (not that there’s anything wrong with that). “Sinestrocore,” “J.A.R.V.I.S.,” and “B.S.F.X.” fill the nerdcore void with flair and pizzazz, and Tribe One, MC Frontalot, and Schaffer the Darklord, among others, also drop by. Love this album, and can’t wait for more. Check out Adam WarRock at his website, Twitter, and YouTube.

And then there’s Skinn Jakkitt’s self-titled album, including the song “Epiphany,” seen below:


For more of Skinn Jakkitt, you can check them out on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

Arrow S02 E03: "Broken Dolls"

Before I start with the review proper, I wanted to mention what an amazing and tireless promoter and marketer of the show that star Stephen Amell is. If you’re looking for behind the scenes nuggets and goodies, insights and motivations, and especially what’s to come, you really should be following him on Facebook and Twitter. Just a tip, folks.

Last episode we had one hell of a cliffhanger. Our as yet unofficially named hero was visiting Laurel, who has developed a serious hate for him, at the police station. She doesn’t want to see him, so when he tries to pull his usual lights out getaway, he is set upon by cops. As they move in, Oliver is covered with red laser targeting sights. Cue credits. How will our hero get out of this one?

Shocker! How does he get away? A black leather clad blonde in a mask who moves just as fast, if not faster, as our ambushed archer, comes to his rescue. She smashes in through a window, disorients the cops with some sort of sonic device, then leads him outside to safety. Remember how I said sometimes the TV continuity is different from the comics? Well, whoever this Black Canary is, she ain’t Laurel… Thea, maybe? Hell, with the reveal this episode that Laurel’s father’s middle name is Larry, maybe the Canary is Mom?

This episode’s villain of the week is an intriguing one. The Dollmaker is another Batman foe, who many will recognize as the maniac who recently butchered, or caused the Joker to butcher, his own face. I don’t know the facts as I don’t like the more grisly Batman comics of the last two years. If I want a horror comic, I’ll buy a horror comic, not Batman. Just my two cents. Oddly enough, the villain’s origins may go back the old “Super Friends” cartoons where his more family friendly modus operandi was more similar the the Toyman, only with dolls.

The Dollmaker of the “Arrow” universe is more like the horror villain however. There’s no face cutting but he does make his victims like dolls. Same name, similar past, Barton Mathis is a serial killer who had messed with Quentin Lance earlier in his career, much like he has done with the young James Gordon in the comics. The most disturbing thing is that The Undertaking that leveled most of The Glades also broke open Iron Heights. The police are keeping that fact a secret, even from their own, like Lance. The Dollmaker is one of the escapees. Gee, I wonder who else got out…?

Forbidden to interfere, Quentin turns to our emerald archer for help with the Dollmaker. His demotion has made him, like Oliver, try another way. Do we have the start of a Gordon/Batman relationship here? If it wasn’t so convenient, I would like the idea. Speaking of new alliances, the former Hood is looking to Roy as almost a snitch, maybe an assistant. How mant steps up is sidekick?

Quentin Lance and Oliver make an interesting dynamic duo themselves as they hunt the Dollmaker. I’d rather see Oliver working with Diggle or Roy. I just wonder how the two of them can be so close without Quentin getting a look at Oliver’s face. And isn’t it dangerous him knowing that Felicity works for the Hood? And isn’t it silly Felicity continuing to make herself a target. Perhaps she has a death wish?

The island flashbacks continue. Deathstroke is still there. Shado is still there. But not much else is going on. Knowing who these two are in the present day DC Comics universe, I really want to see what has become of them now, and when will the Hood meet Shado and Deathstroke in the here and now? The mother of Green Arrow’s son, and one of his deadliest opponents are just too juicy to ignore. Unless… Shado is the Black Canary? The island might be getting interesting now however, but only because Oliver’s leaving it. On a boat called Amazo!?!

Speak of the devil, Roy’s search for the Black Canary leads him to a girl named Sin. For those following the Arrow digital comic, we know that Sin is the Canary’s sidekick, and was once being groomed to become the next Lady Shiva. This is important because in theory, the digital comic is supposed to be in continuity with the TV show. Are Lady Shiva and the League of Assassins lurking in the background here? There’s an awful lot of Bat in my Arrow lately. Also I liked that Roy’s chasing Sin led to a watchtower, The Watchtower being the headquarters of the Birds of Prey, and the Justice League, of which both had the Black Canary as a major player.

Other namedrops this episode include channel 52, that number being so important, for multiple reasons too numerous and complicated to explain, to the DC Comics universe, and the Metamorpho Chemical Company, Metamorpho being the freakish superhero who can change his form into various chemicals and elements. We’re getting Black Canary and the Flash… why not Metamorpho too?

So who is the Black Canary? The closing may offer more questions than answers. A man dressed as the Dark Archer meets with her, but we find it’s not Malcolm Merlyn, but an emissary of Ras al Ghul. What did I say about too much Bat in my Arrow? Comics readers will remember that not only does Ras lead the League of Assassins, but that Merlyn the Magician was one of his operatives. This Black Canary kills the emissary, just as she did the Dollmaker earlier in the episode. Who is this woman??

Lego Batman: The Movie – DC Super Heroes Unite

Lego Batman: The Movie – DC Super Heroes Unite ~ I am always wary of movies, books, and even potato chips that have long titles and subtitles, and this one is a doozy. I shouldn’t have worried though, because it’s Lego, and Lego is always cool, even when I can’t play their video games.

From the get-go, this was good. The opening is a Lego take off on the opening credit sequence of Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman, and even uses Danny Elfman’s great score (and later John Williams’ Superman music). And if that’s not cool enough, it has Clancy Brown wonderfully reprising his role as the animated Lex Luthor. What’s not to like?

The story is simple enough, and accessible to new viewers perhaps not savvy to the DC Universe continuity. Luthor joins up with the Joker to defeat Superman, Batman and Robin, destroy Gotham City, and win the Presidential election. Throw in guest stars from the Justice League and Batman’s Rogues Gallery, along with that clever Lego sense of humor, and you’ve got a very entertaining flick for all ages.

Of course it has all the charm and wonder of the animated Lego stuff, that coolness of hey-I-could-build-that and a wink-wink slyness that the characters know they and their world are made of Legos. The cityscapes and sets of Gotham and Metropolis are stunning. The best part is Luthor’s weapon, which is a gun that literally takes Legos apart.

Watching this I can’t help thinking that this could probably not only be better than Warner Bros’ upcoming Batman/Superman movie, but quite possibly could serve as an excellent script or template. If only…

RIP Neil Armstrong

We have lost another great man. Last week, astronaut, explorer, hero, Neil Armstrong passed away at the age of 82. He was the first man to walk on the moon way back in 1969.

Wait a second. Didn’t he die last year? Groan. Is anyone else tired of these Twitter and Facebook delayed and fake deaths? How about those folks who read something on the internet and don’t check the date? Yeah, exactly. That said, Neil Armstrong was still a good man, a great man, and he should be remembered.

While I don’t precisely remember the event, Armstrong walking on the moon, as I was quite young, I was glued to the TV for all of the Apollo missions that followed. NASA, Apollo, space, the moon, astronauts – it was an American past time, it was hysteria, it was like Beatlemania, or Batmania, only real.

Some of my first and most beloved toys were space and astronaut themed. We were all drinking Tang and eating Space Food Sticks, and racing home from school to see the splashdowns. And to many of us, Neil Armstrong was the guy who started it. Godspeed. A year later, and forward.

PrinceLess on The GAR! Podcast

The latest episode (#21) of The GAR! Podcast features a special interview with writer Jeremy Whitley and artist Emily C. Martin of the awarding winning comic PrinceLess from Action Lab Comics.

In the episode we discuss PrinceLess, inspirations, publishing, art styles, teaching, Breaking Bad, Death, Prince, Batman, and the upcoming releases from Action Lab Comics – all that and more!

Check out the podcast here, and you buy PrinceLess online here, in the South Jersey/Philadelphia area at All Things Fun!, or at your local comics shop.

Ben Affleck Is Batman!

So Ben Affleck will play Batman in the upcoming sequel to Man of Steel, likely to be called Batman Vs. Superman.

The announcement came late last night while my friend Ray and I were recording this week’s GAR! Podcast. Had we known, we surely would have been discussing it. Instead you get the usual Prince, Dave Sim, Avengers, and French fries mix of goodness, lucky you. You can hear it here, shameless plug.

After the recording I got on Facebook and Twitter to watch the internet explode. Seemed like no one was happy with the casting.

Well, he’s no Michael Keaton. I mean, it could be worse. He could be Michael Keaton.

What’s that you say? Michael Keaton was one of the best Batmen, he was Batman. Yeah, right. Y’all got selective memories. I remember it quite differently.

I remember people screaming and whining that Mr. Mom/Beetlejuice was the worst choice for a serious version of Batman. The balding no-chinned comedian was no Batman. In the pre-internet world of 1988, this was a horrible mistake, and the angry fanboy letters burning the pages of the Comics Buyer’s Guide were proof of it.

And now, over two decades and two movies later, Keaton is considered one of the best Batmen. So why are people so riled up about Ben Affleck? Because Daredevil was a dud in the theaters? Hell, I liked Daredevil, and liked the director’s cut even more. I even liked Elektra.

And even if I’m wrong about that, what about Affleck’s Oscar and other awards and nominations for acting, writing, and directing? He even has comic book cred beyond Daredevil as an actor in the Kevin Smith films and playing George (Superman) Reeves in Hollywoodland. Talk Gigli and Pearl Harbor all you want, you can’t take Argo or The Town away from him. Everyone has hits and misses.

I think Ben Affleck can pull off Batman and Bruce Wayne like a pro. I dare say he might be a better Batman than anyone else we’ve seen. And yeah, I’m saying that based on his Daredevil performance. I stand behind Ben as Batman. If Michael Keaton could do it…

Beware the Batman

I approach this new Batman series with both trepidation and resentment. We’re getting this series as not only a replacement for the old “Brave and the Bold” series, which gave us an intriguing and entertaining new direction for the character, but also a replacement for the much loved, and inexplicably ended “Green Lantern” and “Young Justice.” I would have much rather had either of these series back, or a JLA spin-off from the later than anything else Cartoon Network is offering lately, especially the superdeformed mutilation called “Teen Titans Go!” or this newest version of Batman.

“Beware the Batman” is a bit of an oddity, with, in my opinion, very little to like. The animation is CGI style like the aforementioned Green Lantern series, and there seems to be very little reason to have it done in this method. There are no wild scifi elements that this style would benefit. Batman’s head is odd and his whole costume has a wet, almost slimy, vinyl rubber look.

It is also quite violent. I was surprised at how violent, and I’m pretty desensitized to that sort of thing, especially when it comes to superheroes and cartoons. This is also a very different concept for Batman. He is, once again (groan), early in his career and therefore inexperienced. Why can’t we have the confident and competent Batman? That’s the one we like, not the bumbling amateur.

I said this was a new concept, well, young and dumb isn’t what I was talking about. Alfred is very different. More than a butler, he is an Australian ex-spy who looks like cross between Lex Luthor and Vin Diesel. It’s an intriguing idea, but I don’t like it.

Also in the way of change, I understand that the standard rogues gallery is being jettisoned for this new series. I think this is a very odd decision as Batman’s bizarre enemies are as much a part of his popularity as everything else. In the opener, he fights the very strange Grant Morrison creations, Professor Pyg and Mr. Toad. I was not impressed.

Also featured in the episode were a non- Mr. Terrific Michael Holt and a decidedly pre-Metamorpho Simon Stagg. Was this just for the Easter egg name drop then? Let’s face it, Mr. Terrific and Metamorpho are what makes these characters interesting, without them, why use them?

I’m giving this series a wait and see option. I haven’t really decided yet. It could go either way after watching just one episode, but I really don’t know.

I did however like the DC Nation short featuring the Tarantino-esque Aeon Flux style retro Wonder Woman short. Can’t wait to see more. Instead of another Batman, why not a series based on this, of one of the other better shorts like Amethyst, Sword of the Atom, Plastic Man, or Thunder and Lightning? Or if you insist on Batman, how about Batman of Shanghai?

Behind the Candelabra

Behind the Candelabra ~ I remember Liberace from my childhood. I remember him from the 1966 “Batman” TV show (in syndication, I’m not that old), where his appearance as villainous twin brothers equaled the series’ highest rated episodes. Such was the power of Liberace. He was not only a fabulous piano player, and a faaah-bulous showman, he was a huge star, and a serious draw when it came to stage and screen. When Liberace was on TV, for various reasons, you had to see it, and his stage show, whether in Vegas, New York, or LA, it was always a sensation.

While it wasn’t talked about back then, I think everyone knew Liberace was gay, it was oddly accepted he was different in that way. Liberace was wholesome entertainment. When I heard HBO was making a movie about him, I feared the worst. Especially after recent hack jobs on Phil Spector and Alfred Hitchcock. HBO knows how to make quality television series, but the folks who make their movies are out of control.

When I heard it would be about Liberace and his last lover, Scott Thorson, I knew it would be another smear piece. Thorson’s book of the same name was a memoir in much the same vein as Mommy Dearest.

Then I heard about the casting, and I was intrigued. Michael Douglas as Liberace, and Matt Damon as Scott Thorson. Wow. Boggles the mind, doesn’t it? Here’s the thing, they pull it off, they pull it off mind bogglingly well. When I see a flick with a big name star, if I can stop calling them by name, and believe they are the character, that’s impressive to me. For instance, Meryl Streep and Mel Gibson are always Meryl and Mel to me, but here, this was Liberace and Thorson. The actors’ performances are stunning.

True or not, those performances are scarred by the outrageous and flamboyant story. It may have happened that way, and they may have worn those clothes, but the absurdity of the situations take away from the quality of Douglas and Damon.

It also doesn’t help that the rest of the cast is filled out by comedians and actors doing their crazy best. Rob Lowe, Dan Ackroyd, Scott Bakula, and Debbie Reynolds, among others, are at their insane peak, equal to Douglas and Damon.

Should you watch it? Definitely. Behind the Candelabra is both time capsule and freakshow, and most importantly a manic showcase for the actors involved, and nowhere near the usual trainwreck we have gotten recently from HBO Films.

Free Comic Book Day 2013

Don’t forget, tomorrow is Free Comic Book Day 2013!

What is Free Comic Book Day? Shame on you for not already knowing, but if you don’t, the details are here.

If you would like a rundown of what’s going to be available, here’s the official preview video from the All Things Fun! New Comics Vidcast crew:

And if you’re in the South Jersey/Philadelphia are, the place to be is All Things Fun! in West Berlin NJ, where there will also be games, sales, and a live appearance from Batman! All that and more, doors open at 11:00 AM sharp. Be there!

Arrow: Home Invasion

Deadshot has been a growing threat in the world of “Arrow.” While a minor Batman villain and Suicide Squad superstar in the comics, here he is a one-eyed super-assassin for hire. His most twisted attribute, besides the weird red eye piece, is his penchant for tattooing the names of his victims on his body.

His biggest claim to infamy on the series is that he killed John Diggle’s brother. Diggle is now obsessed, perhaps ever more so than Oliver. Not only is revenge biting his ass, but Diggle’s can’t really move his relationship with his sister-in-law (his late bro’s wife) until Deadshot is dealt with.

We open on Diggle training with Oliver, while Deadshot makes another hit. Felicity has hacked into ARGUS and is tracking Deadshot. I really have to wonder where this is going with ARGUS. Is there a Justice League in Oliver’s future? Probably not, as this ARGUS acronym isn’t the same as the comics.

Diggle’s contact in ARGUS has a little more fire. Named Lyla in the show, she’s given the surname Michaels in the Arrow companion comic. Lyla Michaels is the real name of Harbinger, a power player in DC Comics’ Crisis on Infinite Earths way back in 1985. Harbinger was missioned with the task of collecting the superheroes who would then save the universe/multiverse. Harbinger is even her codename in the show. What an interesting connection.

The opening shoves a whole lot of plot, subplot, and information into a very short amount of time, so much so, my head began to spin a bit. The current dynamic of Oliver, Diggle, and Felicity is counterpointed by the flashback dynamic of Oliver, Deathstroke, and Shado. We also learn Oliver is lunchdating Laurel even though he’s on the outs with Tommy. Bad, Oliver, just the first of many bad decisions this episode.

This is all under eight minutes, before the credit sequence. We are also introduced the main plot/subplot of this episode. Laurel is working with a family who were testifying against a bad man, List-worthy, but surprisingly not on it – it could be his dumb name, Edward Rasmus. His hired killer, Mr. Blank, gets the parents but misses the seven year old son. Laurel takes the kid in. Don’t think the thought hasn’t crossed my mind that most times when you add a kid, you’ve jumped the shark.

This is all in about ten minutes. The episode hasn’t really even started. It doesn’t get less complicated as the episode continues. After a few awkward moments between ex-friends Oliver and Tommy, some bonding between Tommy and the kid, and a fairly cool scene where Mr. Blank attacks Laurel, the couple and the kid move in with the Queens to enjoy the heavy security there. I found that puzzling. Besides Diggle, Queen security has seemed extremely lame. Obviously it’s The Hood who will protect them, but Quentin Lance shouldn’t have agreed to it.

It gets very predictable at this point. There are newborn kittens who knew Oliver will be distracted with Deadshot the next time Mr. Blank attacks, letting everyone down, duh. Or the other way around, although it should have been the former. As one would expect, Oliver makes the bad choice. The worst choice, and we lose Diggle over it. At this point, the only thing that could make this worse would be an appearance by the Huntress.

Speaking of bad choices, on the island, while being trained in archery, Oliver kisses Shado. For comics fans, we know how that works out. The cliffhanger here finally means forward motion on the island at least.

Mr. Blank is an intriguing villain, played by J. August Richards, formerly of “Angel.” He reminds me a lot of Chiwetel Ejiofor as The Operative in Serenity. He’s very calm, very precise, and likes to make conversation with his prey. He was a very suitable foe for this version of Green Arrow. His clash with Oliver is perhaps one if the best of the series so far.

As if there’s not enough going on, Roy Harper, who is apparently dating fellow Speedy, Oliver’s sister Thea, is trying to track down The Hood. There is a good scene where finally it’s addressed that The Hood is a murderer. Finally. Thea agrees to help Roy find The Hood. More shark jumping in the form of idiotic 1950s secret identity protection? I hope not, cuz that’s what breaks up Tommy and Laurel. Worst case scenario – Oliver takes on a teenage sidekick (or two) to replace Diggle. I know it’s the natural progression, but damn it, I liked David Ramsey’s Diggle a lot.

This was a very uneven episode, save some great character bits, a throwaway Wonder Twins reference, and of course, Mr. Blank. Only three more episodes to go, I wonder how it’s going to go…