Archive for July, 2014

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Batman Returns

Posted: July 28, 2014 in Movie
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The sequel to the 1989 Tim Burton Batman is better than the it’s predecessor. Michelle Pfieffer as Selina Kyle slash Catwoman is a far more interesting love interest to Bruce Wayne slash Batman than photojournalist Vicky Vale. Danny DeVito’s Penguin is as grotesque as you think it should be in a Tim Burton movie, and the movie has Christopher Walken as Max Shreck a second antagonist to Catwoman along with Batman. Christopher Walken is pretty much a real life comic book character already.

Origins of the Penguin aren’t to out-of-place for him. Oswald Cobblebot’s wealthy parents reject their disfigured baby, and send him down Gotham River one dark cold night in a basket. He floats down and grows up in the sewer rescued by Gotham City Zoo penguins.

Catwoman’s beginnings are a little on the dumb side. Selina Kyle is a secretary to Max Schrek, who is a real jerk to her. One night Selina’s in the office late and discovers something about her boss. When she confronts him, Max throws her out a window. Remarkably not dying from the fall, cats come and lick her wounds and transform her. Maybe they were mystic cats from magic land, the movie is a little light on those details.

One good thing about Batman Returns is, Batman actually fights one of his foes in this movie. The Joker and Penguin pose no real physical threat to The Caped Crusader, but Catwoman puts up a worthy fight. She, at one point, even gets close under the Batsuit and gets her claws into Batman’s side.

Then there’s this point in the fight were Batman is on his back and Catwoman climbs on top of him then says something and licks his face. As a child I thought that was weird, As an adult I think, yeah, no, that is gross.

Plot gets a little crazy. The Penguin runs for mayor with the help of Shreck. That gets up ended when the brilliant part of the Penguins feud with Batman leads him to take over control of the Batmobile, which doesn’t make The Dark Knight flinch at all, and instead when Penguin is prattling on about how stupid the citizens of Gotham are, Batman makes a record of the speech. Of which Bruce Wayne waits until Cobblepot makes a public speech and patches in the recorded audio, moving a CD back and forth, much like he was scratching a vinyl record. That bit seems out-of-place, and I’m seventy-nine percent sure they knew you couldn’t do that back in 1992 as well.The Selina Kyle romance part is alright. As Catwoman she allies with the Penguin to get rid of The Bat, and as Selina Kyle she dates Bruce Wayne. Selina gets double crossed by Cobblepot, as if that wasn’t going to happen, and at a Christmas party finds out Bruce Wayne is Batman during a dance with him. She then decides not kill him because Bruce has business deals with her boss. After that she decides to take it easy on Bruce and focus on Shreck, the man who tried to kill her.

In the end I thought this was a good movie, I still watch it every few years or so. If you liked the first Batman, I can’t imagine you havent seen this already, and if you have not seen either, you don’t really need to see the first one if you know where Batman comes from.

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Batman #33

Posted: July 23, 2014 in Comic
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photo Most times when I say to myself I should start reading more comics, or comics in general two things usually happen. The first is new books and I are rarely ever in the same place at the same time. There is a deli near my apartment that has comics, on a rack, and the newest ones are still older than my sister, who turned 21 last month. Seriously. The second being, when the planets do align and I get something from this decade it’s in the middle of the story and generally I can catch on super quick and enjoy what I get. 

Lucky for me that’s not really the age we live in any more, thanks to digital comics and comixology. Say what you will about recent changes, I have the same complaints, and I do prefer physical books still. Except it might be the most consistent source for new comics for me, so there’s that.

If my budget were bigger I’d read all the Batman books, and there are a lot of DC published comic books with or are within the whole of the Batman universe. So I started with Batman #33.

A red-haired James Gordon trying to help Batman save the city. Surely he'll be comissioner one day.

A red-haired James Gordon trying to help Batman save the city. Surely he’ll be commissioner one day.

Penned by Scott Snyder and Penciled by Greg Capullo, a duo I think who has been on the series a majority of the now 33 issues and I can see why.

Even though this is the finale of the whole Zero Year story where The Riddler crippled Gotham City so hard it turned into The Walking Dead minus the zombies.

This being the end of the tale, I skipped everything and now Riddler has Batman in a laser trap where he has to answer riddles before the jets get to the city. I don’t know why presumably the government says, Gotham City is in total blackout better blow the thing up. But that’s the kind of knowledge you would have by NOT skipping to the end.

While Batman is dealing with The Riddler, the not-yet-commissioner Gordon and Lucius Fox try to block The Riddler’s signal to the city and get the incoming jets to not drop bombs on the city.

I won’t outright spoil the ending, but this is the final chapter to a story called Zero Year, and move on…

To the art, which is fantastic. I didn’t have a hard time flowing from one panel to the next. Ok, so maybe the guided view had a helping hand in that, but even then Capullo does some fine work with a decent amount of detail. For example, Batman in this “first appearance” has purple gloves. Which might go more to the colorist Fco Plascencia as credited in the issue, who did a good job as well. I’m just saying I like the way this looks.
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If you haven’t read any part in Zero Year, the finale is not the place to start. Ideally i wouldn’t have either, I just wanted to start somewhere and not wait another month for the beginning of the next Dark Knight chapter. Which now I can’t wait for.

 

[Spoilers, maybe if you’re into that] And because we both know this was going to happen.

The Music of Batman

Posted: July 21, 2014 in Other
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Batman has been the recipient of some iconic themes in his seventy-five year history.

Earliest piece I can remember is the ’66 theme. You know, “nananana Batman!” It’s uptempo simple and those highlights when the opening credits pull out a “BIFF”, or “POW”

For more than twenty years that was The Batman Theme. In 1989 Danny elf an put together the one they used in the Batman movie. Which if you’ve spent many hours watching the Animated Series it should sound the same, because it is, tweaked ever so slightly.

Batman: brave and the Bold had another fantastic theme tune. Much of the show takes place Ina succor to that old Adam West starring show, and has a similar jazzy start-up I think is pretty good.

Of course that Sunsoft NES Batman game had a great level-1 song as well.

Theme songs are all well and good,  but you know. Sometimes, you have to hear the man song himself.

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Someone at DC liked that LOST show…

Catwoman

Posted: July 14, 2014 in Character
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Selina Kyle is almost the exact opposite of Bruce Wayne. Her morals waiver, justice can be on both sides of the law, and she is, for the most part, out for herself.

Her background has been told a multitude of ways, sometimes she starts off as a prostitute down on her luck and goes into cat burglary. Sometimes she skips that first part and goes straight for the robbery. Then other times, she gets thrown out of window and her body gets licked by magic cats that bring her back to life. All of them have the part where’s she is the down trotted looking to get a leg up in life.

Unlike a lot of other Batman villains that amplify a twisted piece of The Dark Knight’s core, Selina compliments Bruce rather than be one hundred percent adversarial. Even in certain Batman universes like the 60’s Adam West show, where The Caped Crusader is very black and white the justice of the law, takes a second look at Catwoman. Of course in those cases it also comes off as a little bit sexist.
DC’s New 52 Catwoman has gone through some changes. She started out a friend-with-benefits with Batman. It got better for Selina, but not before her new origin was told, and they used the Batman Returns magic cats route. And Last time I saw, she was Gotham City’s underground Kingpin. Which at this point is either where she is now, or last week’s news. Selina Kyle went a long way from being Batman’s fuck-buddy, but she’s still not to the character she was in Hush, where Bruce told her who he was, her and Batman kept the masks on. The New 52 is still new enough, she might get better stories in the future that aren’t lame.

Catwoman’s has some good stories though, Selina’s Big Score I remember being a pretty decent, so give that a try.

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I was a little kid and didn’t understand technology all that well, when I’d describe the best Batman game ever, I came awfully close to Arkham Asylum.

Before this game, Batman in video games was in the range of kind of alright to just terrible. I remember this game being the type of wait and see how it goes deal as well. Especially when the combat system debuted, I was as unsure as anyone that style of fighting could work.

Although, right from word go I had high excitement. The main writer from the Animated Series, Paul Dini, was heading the script. Equally as important, both Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill were reprising their respective roles, as well as a few others. Rocksteady Games knew where they set their target at. Sky high.

Arkham Asylum is as fun playing Batman as you think it is. Just walking around as The Dark Knight started making me feel like I was Batman. The next thing was you beat down a group of thugs with a simple set of buttons, in the combat tutorial. Which throughout the game get expanded on with the gadgets and adding in extra combo moves you unlock. That first section ends and throwing fists and batarangs seems easy, while jumping through a number of enemies. And then the best part comes.

Batman walks into a hospital ward with several of The Joker’s henchman patrolling the grounds with firearms. Batman being easily susceptible to death by bullets in this game doesn’t mean those thugs aren’t going down. I went through a vent leading to the first victim, sneak over and a blow to the head takes him out. His friends get alerted to his demise by The joker over a loud-speaker, and come rushing over to see, and as Batman I fired my grappling hook to a gargoyle above on the ceiling, then swing around to be on an adjacent wall and perch, watching the “guards” freak out. Now when they patrol, the buddy system is in place, and the couples split off. Scared the twosomes look around wildly swinging their guns shaking, calling out in desperation, “we’re gonna get you”. I sat in my nice safe place, waiting for them to pass by. When they do, the first one gets let go for now, but as soon as his back is turned the second gets scooped up from above and tied up. The enemies converge again, but this time I already have the high point, and one noble fool decides to run across a bridge in the middle all alone. leaping from my position and using Batman’s cape to glide a bit, the lonesome man gets a face full of boot. The others go down one by one, getting more panicked each time one of their comrades fall. Eventually they start firing the guns aimless into the air, sometimes they get smart and destroy the hiding places up above. No matter, when the last one remains and the hunt draws to a close, I toyed with him by following him for a bit, staying just outside his vision. The thug’s pattern leads him around to a vent on the floor, I make my way to it before he does. When he walks right over me, calling for Batman in a last-minute attempt to sway what he already knows is going to go down, and before he finishes I leap out and choke him out.

That’s it. That is where the game went from, oh it’s Batman punching fools in the face, to, these men are simply antelopes grazing on grass while Batman is a lion ready to pounce on his prey. And you are Batman. Being either evenly matched or overpowered in video games happens a lot. The feeling of being outnumbered and outgunned, while still feeling like you have the upper hand happen far less, if at all. Arkham Asylum takes some of these story moments out to a separate challenge section on the main menu so you can do them again, and compete for high scores. It’s cool to see who can be a more efficient hero. Some of the people at the top are crazy good.

The game also has sections of detective bits. Mostly following particles like blood, or in one instance the type of smoke from Commissioner Gordon’s pipe to get from one section of game to the next. It may be a contrivance leading you around places, but it does make a more complete Batman.

There are more weird video games tropes as well. Such as Batman calls in to Oracle and gets extra equipment sent to him, at one point by the Batplane crashing into the roof of the Botanical Gardens. Which makes you wonder, why an ASYLUM has a separate building for botanical gardens, then you realize it’s probably because of the patient who can control them. The Dark Knight should always be prepared and not need to do that. The spots where it feels super video gamey is where you get experience and level up Batman, to show player progression. I’m sure a man does not gain more health, nor does his gadgets get more a more diversified way to use them by beating people up. Not that it’s a real complaint. Being a few hours into the game and you get a new gadget, or combat maneuver is a good way for you to mix it all up at the end.

Even death is entertaining, and all that happens is the villain gets up all in Batman’s face with a game over type quip on a black background. Every main boss has multiple sayings, and sometimes I’d die on purpose just to see what the likes of Poison Ivy would say if she ever beat Batman.

At this point, if you haven’t played any of the Arkham games yet and like video games I don’t know what to tell you. Maybe you’re waiting for the batsignal to lead you in the right direction. Or a Steam sale, which this game does from time to time, and you can get this extra cheap. You won’t get disappointed.

 

 

 

Batman v. Batman

Batman v. Batman

 

I think this is how that would end…