Posts Tagged ‘The Joker’

The Killing Joke

Posted: March 2, 2015 in Comic
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  Alan Moore and Brian Bolland’s most popular oversized single issue of Batman.

The start of it has The Dark Knight going to Arkham Asylum, walking past inmates and members of his rogue’s gallery to have a heart to heart conversation with The Joker.

With the way Bruce acts, this story has to take place near the end of Batman’s era. You know the time in a relationship when one person realizes the whole thing is just a miserable unhealthy existence, so they try to be an adult and talk it over. Batman even starts out the heart to heart by saying, I’ve been thinking about us a lot lately. Of course in this case when he says that one day eventually either I’ll kill you, or you’ll kill me, sooner or later, The Caped Crusader is talking about literal murder and not just giving them a beating.

That’s partly the reason when the person sitting across the table “fnapping” playing cards amidst a game of solitaire turned out to be an impostor, Batman got real mad. Partially because an insane criminal had gotten loose, but also because that other person in the conversation he was trying to have wasn’t there.

The insane escaped criminal in question was out, buying an old dilapidated carnival as a place to carry out his

own twisted plan. Which is one of the most iconic events to happen in this book and resonate throughout other story lines. The Joker shows up at Commissioner Gordon’s home and shoots Barbara Gordon point-blank while she was opening the door, paralyzing her from the waist down. It happened so fast, that by the bottom of the page The Joker was already in Gordon’s living room telling him that his daughter was most likely never going to walk again.  I think this was done on purpose, to show how life can change in a blink.

One of my favorite things in Batman is when he gets shown as a detective. Sometimes writers won’t show Batman going through the puzzle and just skip to the end, or Robin will figure it out and Batman is two steps ahead of everyone. It is nice to see The Dark Knight go through some detecting work, in this case talking to some of the underbelly of Gotham to get leads, culminating in him driving the Batmobile up to the carnival where his arch nemesis is and trying to have that heart to heart conversation again.

The Joker, who at this point kidnapped James Gordon, and before leaving the scene at the Gordon’s home had stripped the defenseless Barbara of her clothes and taken pictures of her, just to see if he can drive her father into madness. Who The Joker had caged and naked, only to be brought out and tortured emotionally by being forced to face the pictures of Barbara. Because The Clown Prince of Crime thinks we’re all just one bad day away from turning out like him, that even the most level even headed person could be pushed to insanity.

All this is being juxtaposed by a few flashbacks of The Joker, and how he had a normal life at one point. Well, “normal” as anyone can conceive of, he has a wife and baby on the way trying to make it with his comedy act. It is not an act any of the clubs want to show, so to get money to provide for his family The Joker turns to organized crime. Things go real bad the day of the crime, both personally for The Joker and when the heist goes down. The chemical plant The Joker used to work at, and the target for his shenanigans, hired more security and Batman shows up. During the chase from the altercation, Batman helps create the green haired clown we know as The Joker. I’m not real keen on having a solid background for The Joker, but the slice we see works for the story.

In the present, we have The Joker projecting what happened to him and it is not working. James Gordon still has some sanity left when Batman arrives.

The hero arrives, he’s not diving into the fray to kick-ass. Batman enters the scene, confronting The Joker, and starts with his “we need to talk” speech. The two tussle and The Joker runs off into the carnival, but before Batman goes after him commissioner Gordon tells him to bring him in by the book, to show how ineffective his plans were.

Off Batman goes to find The Joker, with full intentions of completing the “one day one of us is going to kill the other, but let’s talk and see if we can get over that” talk. There is a bit of a battle, Batman tells his adversary what he’s thinking, how the Commissioner moments before hand told him to do things by the book, and after The Joker pulls a gun on Batman with intention ro shoot him, but it turns out to be the wrong gun, he tells one last joke, Batman starts laughing. Then the camera pulls both characters out of shot and the laughing stops.

The way Batman acts, says that one day one of us is going to kill each other, sooner or later, you could imply Batman took care of it right there and killed The Joker on the spot. I think the way batman felt he needed to have that discussion, he already made up his mind about what he was going to do, and in the flashback scene where The Joker first emerges as the clown, you can see his reflection in a puddle. At the end, there is focus on a rain puddle, but no reflection. Maybe to imply Batman caused this creature to be born, and was the reason he was taken out.

Of course you could say none of that happened, if there was an extra last page Batman just punched The Joker out because he was fed up with him  yeah, you could say that, the end does not put a definite cap on the situation. However. Having Batman take things into his own hands and stopping his greatest foe permanently is vastly more interesting than, say having the same Batman/Joker story end with the bad guy sent to be locked up, only to escape and have a never-ending repeating story.

Should you read The Killing Joke for yourself? Totally, it’s worth the read, and it’s not super long either so it won’t take that long.

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His name is Bane, and he likes to break things.
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The 1980’s was a good year to be a fan of the bat. The Dark Knight Returns, Long Halloween, and Year One all happened that decade in comics, and in 1989 Batman left his mark on the big screen as well.

Twenty five years later, to the exact day if the Internet Movie Database is correct, of course I’m talking about the Tim Burton directed movie Batman starring Michael Keaton as Batman/Bruce Wayne and Jack Nicholson as The Joker. I remember the first time I saw this film, it was a family pizza night in 1990, and we had invited my grandparents over to watch it with us because my grandfather liked Batman, so much so as he was the one to tell me there was no Robin in the movie because he had died in the comics recently. Thinking back, there might have been some wires crossed and maybe he thought Dick Grayson had died, not Jason Todd, but still, that was way more information than anyone had given me about current comics before, so I’ll give him a pass.

Being the seven-year old I was then I hadn’t seen or read many adventures of The Dark Knight, but the few episodes of Adam West as Batman I had seen I thought were enjoyable. My kid self thought the movie might be similar, or have some of the same tropes the show had. Even up to that night I first saw Batman, I had seen very little of anything about the movie, and by a small margin, knew it existed. Maybe I saw the Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson in full costume, that’s about it.

I remember enjoying the first time I saw the ’89 Batman movie. The rubber Batman costume looked better than the tights of the past, and now it looked more like comic book Batman. The Batmobile didn’t look like a modified version of a car Bruce Wayne had, it was a whole new design made for this new Batman. The Joker make-up was better than Caesar Romero’s, but I think what I didn’t like about the old make-up was Cesar Romero never shaved and it was literally white paint over a mustache, which I always thought looked foolish. It was a definite more serious approach than the almost satirical approach done in the 1960’s.

Now that I’m older and watched the movie multiple times over the years, my enthusiasm has gone down a bit. I do still like the movie as a whole, it is not exactly a Batman origin, that’s there in a flashback. I don’t like how they define an origin to The Joker, if he is there as an antagonist, in anything Batman, Joker can just show up, no need for unnecessary back story.

Michael Keaton does a fine job as both Bruce Wayne and Batman. There’s one scene in particular, when Bruce Wayne meets The Joker for the first time in Vicky Vale’s apartment. Bruce Wayne gets a little out of character into crazy territory and utters the line “You want to get nuts, c’mon let’s get nuts.” other than that, he’s a solid Dark Knight.

Jack Nicholson is up and down. He eats the scenery out of every scene, which is all well and good. There are a few moments where if you took the make-up off, it would just be a scene with Jack Nicholson and not the character Joker.

The rest of the cast is alright. Commissioner Gordon is forgettable, Robert Wuhl as the reporter in Gotham trying to make heads or tails of this Bat-Man phenomena is ok, as unneeded as it is. Kim Basinger as Vicky Vale never really does a good job. She gets moved along because of the plot. Jack Palance as criminal boss Carl Grissom, who double crosses Jack Napier is, well Jack Palance. Billy dee Williams as Harvey dent is great, and so underutilized, I don’t think I’m the only one who would have liked to have seen the alternate universe third movie where Tim Burton and Michael Keaton were still attached and Williams gets to play a major role as Two-Face, but I guess that was never meant to be.

Gotham City seen in the movie looks like it could be set in about four square city blocks. Either the theater, city hall, or a chemical plant is in every outdoor scene seemingly, and looks like you could even see all of them if the camera spun around to let you see the whole city.

All that being said, there are cases in which Batman which seem out-of-place.

The morning after Bruce and Vicky have a date, Bruce is hanging upside down on a contraption sleeping. I know it’s to show you that he’s taking his bat-persona too seriously, but it is a little ridiculous, especially to do that after a date with a woman he supposed to find attractive, and is still there not more than twenty feet away, in his bed still sleeping.

Alfred, for as good as he is in this movie leads Vicky Vale right into the batcave. It’s like she showed up at Wayne Manor, asked to see Bruce and Alfred just nodded and took her through whatever maze it takes to get to the batcave. Right to a more bewildered than angry Bruce at a giant bat-computer. To be fair Bruce had a conversation with Alfred about telling Vicky, but never told Alfred one way or the other, Alfred just assumed Bruce had told her. Which could have turned out real bad if Miss Vale decided to not like Bruce.

Near the end when Batman is flying his Batplane and captures the deadly Joker-toxin filled balloons, he just releases them filled with deadly Joker poison into the night. What happens when those eventually land somewhere? Not to mention Batman in a showdown with the Joker on the ground, and Batman still in his plane opens fire onto a Gotham street, which a moment ago had a crowd of people running around grabbing cash before the Joker started releasing Joker venom. Not only is Batman firing a gun like that out of character, but the fact Joker took pulled a hilariously long-barreled pistol and took down Batman, in one shot is at least a little eye brow raising.

None of these observances are new in the two and a half decades since the movie came out, and honestly they don’t even bother me any more than anything the 1960’s television Batman did. They are just weird inconsistencies with the vision I have of Batman is in my head. And in the end that’s okay, because that’s where new ideas come from.

All in all, I’d say give the movie a watch, it did more good for Batman as a whole than the negatives that are in there.

Batman: NES

Posted: April 28, 2014 in Video Game
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Batman on the NES from Sunsoft might not have been the first video game to feature The Dark Knight, but it is the earliest Bat-game I can recall playing.

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Title Screen!

Loosely based on the 1989 Tim Burton Batman movie, this is a 2D side-scrolling platformer that has five stages with multiple levels and culminates in a battle with The Joker.

The graphics are decent for 1990 Nintendo Entertainment System. The Batman sprite looks like what it’s supposed to, although maybe a little blue-purplish for my taste. The Joker looks like his namesake as well, albeit he is bigger than Batman, which isn’t far from expected in an old-school video game

Batman and Joker are apparently not the only two named characters in the game. There’s an enemy that has a gun and just stand there shooting at you in regular intervals, that’s supposed to be Deadshot. The charging foes that come at you sometimes in twos and threes is Maxie Zeus, and the first boss is Killer Moth while the boss before the final showdown with The Joker is Firebug. You might not have ever known that if you didn’t look it up, and you can also mistake one of the bigger foes on the third stage as Killer Croc. Which is understandable, because that’s what I did. They are actually mutants The Joker made and sent them after Batman.

Killer Croc? Nope just a mutant…

The game has a nice added ability to the jump from one platform to the next routine in the minor addition of a Ninja Gaiden like wall jump. It doesn’t add much, but it does make it so the game has harder platforming puzzles. They get harder towards the final stages, you might have to repeat certain sections, because the jumps aren’t as precise as you would like. Especially when you have to make a blind jumps to reach the next part and you fall back to the start of the zone.

Jumping around like a fool isn’t the only thing you can do. Batman has a few gadget/weapons you can use to take out the bad guys. First the most common is his fist, because you need to pick up ammo for the others, but a punch in the face is an effective close-combat strategy. Then fast enough after a you smack a dude or robot to dispatch them they will drop batarangs, that look like regular boomerangs, but whatever, they are fast and effective. The two other projectiles you get seem weird and out-of-place for Batman. The rocket/spear gun, which is just a gun that fires rocket like projectiles, and a shuriken like disc attack that splits into three of itself before flying off-screen. The latter is super useful, but uses three ammo per shot. Which makes me think why they didn’t just try combining the batarang and the disc to make a more Batman-esque weapon set, but they also put a gun in the game so Batman-esque is close enough.

If you’ve never played the game before it’s worth checking out, however slow and frustrating at times your first progress might be because of the tricky jumps. Of course the excellent music in the game doesn’t hurt either. You hear the level one theme a lot, if you’re bad, like I was. The rest of the stages are equally as good and there are variations of the main theme throughout them, And maybe, if you make it all the way through taking down The Joker after you watch the credits, you’ll have the same question I did. Since when can The Joker control lightning.

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Final showdown. The gun is probably as long as his leg…