Category Archives: catwoman

Arrow: Muse of Fire

After a Thanksgiving break, “Arrow” is back, with the Huntress.

In the first part of this special Huntress double feature on “Arrow” we see the debut of a DC Comics super-heroine with a decidedly special pedigree.

History lesson time. Originally the Huntress was Helena Wayne, the adult daughter of the Batman and Catwoman of a parallel universe called Earth-Two. She was an extremely popular character, representing a next generation of crimefighters on that world.

When DC Comics decided to clean house in the 1980s, they effectively erased Earth-Two from continuity and rebooted the Huntress as Helena Bertinelli, the vigilante daughter of a crime boss. Notably this version lacked the charm of the original and was subsequently less popular.

When the CW (of was it the WB then?) decided to bring the comic Birds of Prey to the small screen about a decade ago, they featured the Huntress as once again the daughter of Batman and Catwoman. The show only lasted one season and was, while sometimes fun, mostly bad, and a mish-mash of comic continuity. It’s interesting that the show came up at dinner with friends the other night, and it was remembered with only contempt. You can read my thoughts from the time on the “Birds of Prey” series here.

Interestingly enough, DC Comics has returned to the Earth 2 concept and brought the Huntress back to her first origins. It’s a shame that “Arrow” has decided to use the Helena Bertinelli version for their show. Maybe they thought the Batman reference would be confusing? Well, then they’d better stop referencing Bludhaven is all I have to say.

I think it’s worth noting up front that in the comics, the Huntress and Green Arrow are two characters that have had very little interaction, despite their choice in common weaponry. The Huntress is an odd selection to show up here, just saying.

As “Muse of Fire” opens, Oliver’s mom is caught in the crossfire of a mob hit. She was having lunch at the time with the mobster. And the hitter turns out to be our lovely Huntress, as played by Australian Jessica DeGouw, not the most charming or likable or even talented actress. Disappointingly her character turns out to be simply a female version of Arrow, working through her own list. I could think of more interesting ideas than that.

This episode also features the return of Kelly Hu as China White, as the Triad is revealed to be a rival of Helena’s dad, crime boss Frank Bertinelli. The latter, scared, starts to rattle the cages toward a mob war. One incident leads to the first confrontation between Arrow and the Huntress. Great exchange between Diggle and Oliver follows as they try to figure her motives. I love Diggle more and more every episode. I just wish he wasn’t so ‘Alfred’ in this one.

Anyone else ever notice that Tommy Merlyn is always around? At the Queen house, at their job, at Laurel’s job, but he’s never there to see his best friend Oliver. It’s just odd. Did he just take his place with the family in a very creepy way while Oliver was on that island thought dead?

Tommy goes to dinner with Laurel, and Oliver goes to dinner with Helena. There is clever well written dialogue for both, and Stephen Amell does his best, acting against the cardboard wall that is DeGouw. Meanwhile Captain Jack Harkness visits Oliver’s Mom’s sickbed. It has been frustrating but I have admire how well the writers have concealed the identity of the character John Barrowman plays on “Arrow.”

Spoiler alert for those who have seen it yet, but the secret comes out here. He’s not Maxwell Lord, or John Deleon, or Count Vertigo. He’s someone rather boring, at least for the comics fans. John Barrowman is Malcolm Merlyn, Tommy’s dad. Of course, wouldn’t it be cool if Barrowman turned out to be Merlyn the Magician?

There’s a nice shout out to the co-creator of the comic book Huntress, Joe Staton, in the name of Helena’s late fiancé. Nice touch. He also gave her the cross she wears around her neck – as much a symbol for the second comics Huntress as the bat was for the first.

The episode ends with Oliver and Helena entwined in a kiss, kindred souls in justice, revenge, and an understanding of one another. What happens next? Be here tomorrow, same Arrow time, same Arrow channel.

The Dark Knight Rises

The Dark Knight Rises ~ In recent weeks I have developed quite an internet reputation as the guy who hated The Dark Knight. Exhibit A can be found here. That said, I actually liked Batman Begins, the first movie in the Christopher Nolan Batman Trilogy, quite a bit. Lucky for me, The Dark Knight Rises has more in common with the first movie than the second.

The Dark Knight Rises picks up eight years after the events of The Dark Knight. The unholy pact between Batman and Jim Gordon at the end of that movie, creating the deceit that Batman killed not only Two-Face’s victims but also Harvey Dent himself. This results in the Dent Act securing a crime-free Gotham City for nearly a decade, during which Batman has vanished.

Bruce Wayne has been a recluse, Howard Hughes style, but is brought out of exile by a slick cat burglar named Selina Kyle. Rookie cop John Blake figures out Wayne’s secret and wants to know what happened. Meanwhile the terrorist Bane plots the destruction of Gotham City. There’s your set up. I figure I could have saved myself the trouble of seeing the second movie and gone from one to three pretty easily.

The cast is excellent this time out. Head and shoulders above the rest are Gary Oldman and Michael Caine who get far too little screen time. Oldman’s subtle intensity as Gordon and Caine’s guiding worry as Alfred are the gold standard of the film. Similarly, Joseph Gordon-Levitt as John Blake is the star of this flick, he shines.

Tom Hardy is a suitably menacing Bane in both appearance and intelligence. Anne Hathaway, while never called Catwoman by name, is magic every second she’s on screen. I couldn’t get enough of her. Even Christian Bale puts in his best Bruce Wayne appearance so far in the series.

The story of The Dark Knight Rises borrows liberally from the comics, specifically Knightfall, The Dark Knight Returns and No Man’s Land – and that’s all right. It works. It’s a very complex story of epic proportions, unexpected plot twists and multiple endings and it works.

Oh, to be sure, there are problems here, but nothing like there were in The Dark Knight. I hated the mumble twins – Batman and Bane. Batman still growls, but it’s nowhere near as bad or ridiculous as it was in the last flick. Bane has a breathing mask that garbled his voice as well, but at least there seemed to be some improvement over how it sounded in early previews.

The third quarter of the film drags for me, and probably for everyone else who read Knightfall, but I did like the obvious and literal reference to the Lazarus Pit. I did love the endings, and the Bat was cool despite it bending director Nolan’s grounded-in-reality rule.

All in all, despite the tragedy in Colorado, The Dark Knight Rises is a great film, better than Batman Begins, and it more than makes up for The Dark Knight. See this film, don’t let anything or anyone keep you from going to the theaters.

The Indies First All Things Fun! New Comics Vidcast for 1-18-2012

The All Things Fun! New Comics Vidcast is shot live in a real comics and gaming store in West Berlin, NJ – All Things Fun! – co-hosts Ed (Crossed) Evans, Allison (Danger Girl) Eckel and Glenn (Lord of the Jungle) Walker discuss the new comics out this week in two fun video segments, now in high definition, and also available on YouTube. See it here!

The first segment includes discussion of the following topics: Earthquake, Indies first, Fables #113, Legend of Oz The Wicked West #2, Star Trek #5, Tarzan in Lord of the Jungle #1, Crossed Psychopath #7, Planet of the Apes #10, videogame comics, Grant Morrison’s Steed and Mrs. Peel the other Avengers, kids comics, Tiny Titans, redheads, and the secret oranges of Wonder Girl.

The discussion continues in segment two including: Scott Snyder’s Batman #5, Supergirl #5, fighting in armored bathing suits, DC Universe Presents #5 featuring Deadman, Catwoman #5 by Judd Winick, acid trip Batman, Walt Simonson on T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents and Legion of Super-Heroes, the big quiet, X-Men Blue, AVX, Ed’s Marvels, Mark Waid’s Daredevil #8, Avengers #21, and the trades of the week, with bonus sparkles.

Be sure to check out the outrageous new All Things Fun! website, and the All Things Fun! Blogs, by Allison and Glenn, and ATF! on YouTube.

And be back here every Wednesday morning at 11:30 AM EST to watch the new broadcast, and thereafter throughout the week!

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Batman Year One

Batman Year One ~ I need to preface this review of the straight-to-DVD feature Batman Year One with full disclosure. I have a lot of problems with Frank Miller, who wrote the comics this story is based on. He has very little regard for comics history or continuity, and I am pretty sure that he actually hates comics, and especially superhero comics. In fact, I am reasonably sure the only reason he works in comics is to destroy the industry and the artform from the inside. And I believe Batman is the character that he hates most, and has done the most damage to. Need proof? Consider exhibits A and B to be The Dark Knight Strikes Again and All-Star Batman. And don’t even mention the Spirit movie, damn him.

So, you can imagine I was already prejudiced when I slipped the DVD into my player. I also had not read the comics, as I was initially turned off by the very image of Batman with a gun in the ads for it. On second thought, it may have been Year Two, but either way, it put me off the Batman Yearbooks. For those not in the know, Batman doesn’t use guns, he abhors the use of them – because a gun was the instrument that was used to murder his parents. It has been part of the character’s history for decades. Despite the fact that early appearances in the Golden Age show Batman with a gun, it can be theorized that his origins had not been set in stone yet at that time. It’s like Superman came from Krypton, Batman doesn’t use guns. Put a period.

Year One is essentially the origin of Batman as re-envisioned by, yeah, Frank Miller, but it’s also a new backstory for Commissioner Gordon. There are a number of details that have been overwritten in this version, but I won’t dwell on them, what’s done is done. Suffice it to say, as he’s done with many characters, Miller has made Gordon a horribly flawed character. For the first twenty minutes or so, Gordon is not likable at all, and to be blunt, he’s only likable because the other characters are so much more unlikable. It serves to support my theory that Frank Miller doesn’t really know what heroism is at all. His is a world of dark grays and blacks, no whites allowed.

While Gordon is the only not completely immoral member of the Gotham City police, Bruce Wayne tries his hand, badly, at fighting crime, has his butt whipped by a suspiciously possible prostitute pre-Catwoman Selina Kyle, and gets shot by the police. Not a good night. Miller retells the bat coming through the window to inspire Bruce into becoming a bat-man, only without the famous “superstitious lot” speech and adding in more daddy issues than Bruce already has. See what I mean by terribly flawed?

Miller does flaw Gordon by giving him an affair with Detective Sarah Essen, something I can’t even imagine the character doing. He loved his wife, but what do I know, Frank Miller’s the genius, right. At least, unlike the comics, which may or may not have been represented by the ads I saw all those years ago, we get no Batman with a gun in this animated flick. We do however get a crazy gravelly voiced Ben McKenzie as Batman. Why go for the bad Christian Bale imitation when all know that Kevin Conroy is the only real choice for the animated Batman. Also in the voice department, the best thing in this feature is Bryan Cranston as Jim Gordon, brilliant casting and performance.

Catwoman shows up a few more times, once or twice in tailed grey outfit. She really doesn’t seem to add much to the plot, what plot there is. It really is just a cataloguing of events. Perhaps the Calendar Man would have been a better villain for the piece. Speaking of villains, we have Carmine Falcone and the Gotham Police in this one, and I really have to wonder, that if Gordon was in their way, why didn’t they just kill him outright. They didn’t seem to have any qualms offing anyone else. They seemed to almost wipe out a whole city block, MOVE style, to take out Batman.

The Catwoman short that accompanies Batman Year One is awesome. Catwoman of recent times is primarily about sex and style, and visually this short is perfect Catwoman. The pounding music score by Christopher Drake is the highlight here along with a very sexy, very daring strip joint scene where Catwoman shows villain Rough Cut that she is both beautiful lady and savage tiger. Maybe a little sexist, but it works well. And parents, be warned, this one’s not for the kids.

The chase that follows did bother me a bit however. I was distracted thinking that if her costume had to tear, would it tear like that? Catwoman’s costume is at least leather, and possibly Kevlar, or some other comic booky material. Would it tear at all? And finally, did it even have to tear? Also, it bugged me that Catwoman really doesn’t have a hand in taking out Rough Cut. She gets away, and he’s done in by bad luck. It just wasn’t satisfying for me.

Either way, this short is awesome and don’t miss stuff. Loved it. And it features a much much better Catwoman than the one featured in Batman Year One. I still despise Frank Miller. See this DVD for the Catwoman short, it’s worth it.

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The All Things Fun! New Comics Vidcast for 9-21-2011

The All Things Fun! New Comics Vidcast is shot live in a real comics and gaming store in West Berlin, NJ – All Things Fun! – co-hosts Allison (“I remember the 1980s”) Eckel and Glenn (“Hey you kids get off my lawn”) Walker (boss man Ed Evans returns next week!) discuss the new comics out this week in two fun video segments, now in high definition, and also available on YouTube. See it here!

The first segment includes discussion of the following topics: The New DC 52 including Scott Snyder’s Batman #1, the multiple Robins and their heights, iffy Teen Titans continuity, Catwoman #1, Wonder Woman #1, Birds of Prey #1, Blue Beetle #1, Supergirl #1, J.T. Krul’s Captain Atom #1, and the rest.

The discussion continues in segment two including: We forgot about Ed, Hawaiian hot dogs, the Fear Itself comics of the week including Avengers #17, Brian Michael Bendis’ talking heads and dissing 9/11, Allison’s kids comics, Kevin Smith’s Bionic Man #2, Tiny Titans and Young Justice, Treehouse of Horror, more Marvels, a pair of X-Factors, Ultimate X-Men in a bag, the indies, and the trades.

Be sure to check out the All Things Fun! website, and the All Things Fun! Blogs, by Allison and Glenn, and ATF! on YouTube.

And be back here every Wednesday morning at 11:30 AM EST to watch the new broadcast, and thereafter throughout the week!

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More Coming Soon…

The Dark Knight Rises, the final installment in Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, starring Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman and Anne Hathaway, opens Summer 2012.

The remake/re-imagining of Conan the Barbarian opens in August, in 3D.

And if you just can’t get enough Dark Knight, Batman: Year One is released on DVD and Blu-Ray this September.

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Eartha Kitt RIP


Eartha Kitt passed away Christmas Day after a long battle with colon cancer. The singer, actress and star of Broadway was 81. She was one of the stage’s most seductive entertainers whose trademark purr eventually landed her the role of Catwoman in the 1960s “Batman” TV series, for which she is known by many baby boomers. She recorded the original hit version of the Christmas classic, “Santa Baby,” and in her career spanning nearly six decades, she was nominated for numerous Grammys, Emmys and Tonys. We have truly lost of the great ones. Miss Kitt will be missed.

More Quickies

Sideways

Unimpressed.

Casino Royale (1954)

Other than Bond being American, much better than any of the 1980s and 90s Bonds.

Jesus Christ, Vampire Hunter

Blasphemous and hilarious.

Elektra

Pretty but pointless.

Finding Neverland

Another great performance from both Johnny Depp and Kate Winslett, see it.

Battle Royale

Fun and brutal, but nowhere near lives up to the hype.

The Caveman’s Valentine

The best film I’ve seen this year. Samuel L. Jackson is brilliant and Kasi Lemmons is one of the best and most underrated directors working today.

Catwoman

There’s a place in Hell reserved for everyone involved in making this film, but rent the DVD for “The Many Lives of Catwoman,” one of the best comic documentaries I’ve seen in a while.

*previously posted at Comics Uncovered

Who Is This Jerk And Where Has He Been?

Damn, I have a blog. I forgot all about it.

Movie reviews, huh? How about some random thoughts and snippets instead? Here goes…

National Treasure

Never film a movie in a major city if in the chase scenes you’re going to have characters go from one place to another that is nearly a mile away in seconds. Dumb dumb dumb, and I’m not even talking about the plot.

Catwoman

You know that feeling of having to throw up while you’re driving, and you know you really can’t throw up, so you you swallow what’s already in your mouth? Yep, that’s this film.

Lady Death

What if the animated Pax program “Greatest Heroes of the Bible” were done by horny thirteen year old boys obsessed with Dungeons and Dragons? That’s this film.

The Great Muppet Caper

Lots of great tributes to the old 1930s and 40s Hollywood musicals, some grin-worthy Muppet moments, not enough pig jokes, too much Charles Grodin and a special effects overload on Muppets riding bikes.

Maybe I’ll do more later…

Birds of Prey

A Television Review of “Birds of Prey”
Episode: “Pilot”

Copyright 2002 Glenn Walker

Batgirl, the Huntress and the Black Canary? Birds of Prey the comic book this is not.

This very loose comic book adaptation by the folks who brought us “Smallville” (there’s a line about meteor showers thrown in that’s hilarious) is visually stunning. The action sequences (if they could just get rid of that cat howling sound when the Huntress does her stuff they would be perfect) and CGI shots of New Gotham are amazing. You should see it just for that, but there’s more, some of it not so good.

Dina Meyer (Johnny Mnemonic and sooo sexy in Starship Troopers – the scene where she takes off her shirt is permanently engraved in my head) is Barbara Gordon alias Batgirl, crippled by the Joker and now called Oracle, master computer hacker chick. Ashley Scott (A.I., “Dark Angel”) tries really really hard to act as Helena Kyle (hold on, it’s complicated – well, not for comic readers – but most tv viewers are much thicker than comic readers), the Huntress, the daughter of Catwoman and the Batman, who has metahuman strength and reflexes. Rachel Skarsten, a relative unknown plays the role of teenage Dinah Lance (not called the Black Canary – although rumor has it Lori Loughlin, formerly of “Full House” will be appearing as her mother who as the Black Canary was a former ally of Batgirl) who has strange telepathic abilities – woefully unexplained in the pilot.

Rounding out the cast are Ian Abercrombie (Mr. Pitt of “Seinfeld” – which is why I can’t take him seriously) as Alfred, Bruce Wayne’s butler and heartthrob Shemar Moore (“The Brothers,” “Young and the Restless” and if you want to see the website of a man whose ego is completely out of control, check out http://www.shemar.com) as Detective Jake Reese, the David to the Huntress’ Maddie. Mia Sara (Legend, Time Cop) plays the series’ villainess psychiatrist Dr. Harleen Quinzel (known in the comics as the Joker’s main squeeze, Harley Quinn) who was originally played by Sherilyn Fenn. All of Fenn’s scenes were re-shot with Sara.

Oracle, the Huntress and Rachel join forces to stop a fear-inducing metahuman from killing innocents (as much as it sounds like the Scarecrow it ain’t). Discounting the complicated backstory this is real simple. The backstory, told in flashbacks (and way too few of them) that are the best part of the show, has the Joker killing Catwoman, crippling Batgirl and driving Batman out of Gotham City. The daughter of Bats and Catty, the Huntress, is taken under Barbara Gordon’s wing where she learns to be a crimefighter. The flashbacks, with the voice of the Joker by Mark Hamill who has perfected the part on the Batman animated series, and the actor from the On Star commercials playing Batman, are by far the best thing about the show. Especially Dina Meyer in the Batgirl costume. She outsexes Yvonne Craig and leaves Alicia Silverstone in the dust, no contest.

If they get rid of the howling, teach Ashley Scott to act, get her a real costume (instead of the Victoria’s Secret get up she wears in the pilot), clear up the convoluted backstory and maybe write some decent scripts this might not be that bad. Rule number one for watching “Birds of Prey” is the same as “Smallville,” forget the comics and it’s enjoyable.

Want to read more of my opinions about comics on television? Check out Comic Widows at: http://www.comicwidows.com.