Killing Joke….take 2?

In light of the release of the great (and controversial) Batman: The Killing Joke animated movie, it got me to thinking again. Despite Alan Moore’s classic being hailed as the “definitive Joker origin” that also gave Batgirl much needed development outside her TV show mandate; it’s also a “dramatic” retelling Detective Comics 156, where Red Hood fell into that vat of chemicals  (on purpose, mind you, not accidentally like Killing Joke would have you believe) and became the Joker.

Of course, even a cow as sacred as Killing Joke isn’t safe from Joker’s multiple choice past. For you see, there’s a far different take with far greater implications buried among the obscure Gotham Knights series. Issue #54-55 in fact.

Here we see our struggling comedian and his wife, only this time his name is explicitly Jack. As in Jack Napier (or Jack Nicholson!) Jack is also honest with Jeannie about what he’s about to do, and she talks him out of it.

Joker actually manages to tell the guys off, and leaves with a clear conscience. Until the thugs get the idea to drive the message home in a more personal way.

Having no choice, he proceeds to help them rob the chemical plant, NOT the playing card company next door. Batman shows up to save the day and….

KICKS HIM INTO THE CHEMICALS HIMSELF!

Granted he’s trying to save him in the last panel, but it puts this moment from DC Legacies #3 in a cold new perspective…

MY WORK HERE IS DONE!

Granted that’s more in line with the Burton movie than any comic, but it does make me question if Batman really did try to save Red Hood at all.
So the dirty deed is done, and Joker sees his new face. He returns home only to find…

That’s a hell of an electroshock

Turns out Jeannie didn’t die by Freak accident, she was murdered! The explosion was to cover it up. How do we know this?

Because an up and coming Riddler saw it happen! Yes folks, Riddler is part of Joker’s origin story. He even memorized the name of the crooked cop, because he arrives at the scene like nothing happened…

Riddler sees Joker at the funeral, and puts two and two together. Why he felt he had to wait so long to finally tell Joker is anyone’s guess, but Riddler never passes up a bargaining chip.

Vincent Price is that you?

And as serious as Joker is about finding and killing this crooked cop, it makes me wonder if he genuinely believes this story, or if this is the real chain of events, since Killing Joke itself was never supposed to be canon.

What’s even stranger is Joker divulging such a “personal” story to the likes of Riddler and Penguin. Riddler just wants protection from Hush due to accidentally learning Batman’s identity when he used a Lazarus Pit to cure his cancer, but Penguin, especially now a days, is usually Joker’s sworn enemy. It’s certainly strange indeed.

Keep in mind this story was published in 2004. Which means this was 16 years after Killing Joke was published, and in comic time is still relatively fresh (until New 52 changed it all AGAIN).

Perhaps we will never know the true origin of Joker. I like it better that way, but it does make for some interesting stories.

Wayne of Gotham

image

So I’ve taken it upon myself to try and read some of the old Batman novels that have been printed over the years. I already have New Adventures of Batman and the novelization of the 1989 film (which adds some interesting build up to what Harvey Dent would’ve become had Sam Hamm’s plans went accordingly).

One I read recently, however, puts an entirely new spin on Batman’s origin and provides some pretty interesting depth to the Wayne family, who are hardly seen in the comics outside flashbacks. I’m not going to spoil any plot points, but will touch upon the differences.

While the comics did have Martha Wayne as a secret social worker, that seemed more forced to fit the moral of the story – a glorified PSA about child abuse – and not really anything to go off of beyond that special.

In Wayne of Gotham, however, things are extremely different in very interesting ways.

Thomas Wayne is a thirtysomething, fresh out of Harvard Medical School because he wanted to do something different with his life other than business. A kind of middle finger to his domineering father Patrick Wayne.

Remember how Green Hornet’s dad behaved at the beginning of that somewhat lame Seth Rogen movie? Patrick was kind of like that. His lectures about being a man and having a business to run in the future are punctuated by drunken abuse and dragging little Thomas to the batcave to shoot bats to make him him a man.

It’s worth noting that in the comics, Patrick was raised by a shrewd businesswoman of a mother left the Wayne Chemical empire by his father Kenneth. So this disposition is understandable to those in the know, while outsiders would just see a drunken ass.

A nice touch is Thomas’ graduation gift was his father’s car. Seems Patrick used his clout to commission a second prototype of the 1955 Lincoln Futura car. Bruce would later rescue this car from the scrap yard and repurpose it into a Batmobile in a certain TV show…

During his tenure at the University he meets the strange Dr. Ernst Richter, whose description puts him one monocle away from being Fearless Leader. He has wild, almost Hugo Strange type claims that he can end all crime by using a mind controlling bacteria. A virus that would reprogram their conscience.

Thomas is also enraptured by the beautiful Martha Kane. The comics almost NEVER touch upon Martha’s maiden name and even fewer actually know it. The Kane family has just as much history in Gotham as the Wayne’s, most of which was covered in the Gates of Gotham miniseries.

Martha Kane, much to Thomas’ frustrations, keeps him locked firmly in the friend zone. She’s also a hipster that throws her family’s money into charity work and drinking until she pukes on her shoes. Her current endeavor is an orphanage, and her current boyfriend owes money to some not so nice guys.

Thomas also meets Lew Moxon. Comic aficionados know this is the mob boss who put the hit on the Waynes after a botched robbery at their costume charity ball. Here, Lew owns his own coffee shop and wants Thomas to buy him out so he can get out from under his dad, mob boss Julius Moxon, and keep his hands clean.

After a terrible event, Thomas pulls some strings to save Martha’s boyfriend from jail, and gets him transferred to his and Richter’s project. Thomas vows to make him into the man Martha always thought he was.

The experiments go as expected, and the four subjects break free and kill Richter. Their moral compasses spinning out of control, they adopt personas and set about brutal vigilante justice on all crime, even if they’re innocent.

They become known as the Apocalypse, after the four horsemen. Fate finds her prey, Chanteuse uses her ability to mimic voices to call them out, Reaper (dressing and behaving like his comic version, not the one with the silver skull) and Disciple (Martha’s boyfriend) then kill them. 

The most interesting change of this whole story is what happens at that fateful costume ball. Thomas is ambushed by Disciple, who steals his poor man’s Zorro costume to go in his place. While Julius Moxon and his men, as well as every other mob in town, are engaged in all out war with the rest of the Apocalypse down at Amusement Mile.

It was Disciple kicking everyone’s ass at the party when a shot up Julius came to seek a doctor that would keep quiet, that made Martha swoon for Thomas. I love it!

How Batman gets caught up in all this, is not only are his beliefs in his parents shaken, but someone knows who he is and is using this info from the past to toy with him. He also learns Scarface the puppet might be a source of the mind altering bacteria spreading now, as one one of the Apocalypse was practically beheaded in an accident during execution at the gallows. The very same gallows Scarface was carved from.

Batman is also aging in this story, using a new type of power armor suit that, while this story was written in 2012, sounds amazingly like the new armor in the upcoming Arkham Knight game. Another element borrowed from Arkham is detective mode, here as a computer hud that activates when he closes his eyes, breaking illusions and mapping areas in 3D.

It even comes in handy driving the Batmobile, which now has no windows at all and relies on cameras, sensors, his computer hub in the cowl, and his ability to manipulate subway track switches to hide and get from place to place. One trick the car can do I want to see in a game, is it can latch onto the underside of bridges to bypass traffic.

All in all, the novel is a surprisingly good read. Tracy Hickman is better known for writing a crap ton of those Dungeons and Dragons “Dragonlance” novels that all steal from Tolkien, but here he really shows his knowledge of Batman by throwing in obscurities like Dr. Moon, Lady Spellbinder and Query and Echo. There’s even a great fight with Joker, who is at odds with himself from being infected too.

A Diatrabie Review of GOTHAM

Well, I broke down and watched Gotham. Twice, in fact, to catch all the subtle things I missed and… okay I can’t say that with a straight face. So, onward to the pseudo review!

We start with Selina Kyle in Chinatown. Chinatown sees to be a big deal nowadays, as it was recently hyped to be in Arkham Knight. Maybe all that talk Dixon was spewing about Chinese being godless heathens has some pathos in a city like Gotham.

She’s obviously inexperienced as she steals a jug of milk and.someone’s.wallet, though she manages to avoid capture with her cat-like reflexes, all to give a stray cat some milk. Here is the first problem. Selina witnessing the murder of the Wayne’s. So how old would that make her when she starts macking on Batman?

Well, to be fair her first appearance in the comics did make he look 40.

Though Neil Gaiman made her pretty 40ish in Batman's funeral...

Though Neil Gaiman made her pretty 40ish in Batman’s funeral…

Also, did we need the overtly dramatic scream of NOOOOOO to drive the point home? We then cut to the GCPD, taking design cues from Dark Knight by having the cells next to the desks. Here we meet fresh faced Jim Gordon, diffusing a hostage situation by doing some Harvey Dent ass kicking. Jim is a Vietnam Vet, well versed in the evil men do, but unbelieving a city could go to hell so bad.

He’s paired with corrupt nice guy Harvey Bullock, who already hates Gordon not playing by the “rules”.

Though I'd like to see Donal Logue do this...

Though I’d like to see Donal Logue do this…

They get saddled with the Wayne murders. An interesting thing about the comics is it seemed the police never investigated or never solved their murder, as it was up to Batman to finally confront Joe Chill in one of several ways as a test on if he would enact vengeance. One reality had him leave Joe Chill to be killed by his angry clients, while another had Joe killed by the Reaper while his son looked on.

In fact, a lot of people dislike Joe Chill ever being named, as it has more pathos to have Bruce never know who killed his parents and have all that rage pointed to nothing. Solving the murder means no.more reason to be Batman. Unless you go the route he feels he has to continue being Batman because the city has become so dependable.on him.

At the crime.scene, Jim consoles young Bruce with a dose of the Nolan Ray (who the fuck says “there will be light”?) which pisses Harvey off because he doesn’t need the hassle of a high profile killing. Jim reveals a drunk driver killed his dad in a car accident, which given the reveal at the end of the episode, I bet it totally not an accident. At least they didn’t give Jim the baggage of an abusive father too (read Night Cries). Jim learns the killer had shiny shoes, which means it’s not Joe Chill so maybe it’s fucking Joker, who knows.

Bruce is picked up by Alfred Pennyworth, who so kindly tells us his name since we don’t know who he is, played by the Third Doctor’s son Sean Pertwee. There’s a.crossover hook. Anyway, given his attitude from what we see of him, it looks like they’re going the no nonsense badass of Earth One Alfred. He snarkily tells Jim good luck, then tells Bruce not to let them see him cry. I like this portrayal of Alfred, so I wager much like Beware the Batman, we won’t see him for the rest of the fucking series.

Harvey gives Jim the low down on what they’re in for, and we meet Rene Montoya and Crispus Allen. Fun fact: Rene was originally created for the animated series, but since production times are different, she appeared in the comics first. She’s also a lesbian, which will.probably NEVER get explored because we can’t have that on television. So her character is stuck in the back of the bus with Alfred.

Funny thing, in the comics Rene and Crispus end up on opposite sides of the law, with her becoming the new Question and him the new Spectre. Rene is an asshole towards Harvey, which prompts him to keep the case from them. Harvey hates then flaunting their “goodness” and shit. We already know Harvey goes good in the end, so why ham up his asshole behavior so much? Harvey also hates that Jim has clout since his dad was a big shot DA back in the day, apparently Harvey Dent levels of do no wrong. Interesting character addition instead of making him a transfer from Chicago.

After shaking down some thugs, forensics gets a lead. Of course the CSI guy is fucking Edward Nygma, who looks so much like his Arkham Origins incarnation I wonder when Penguin will get a beer bottle shoved in his eye. And of course he has to do his riddle thing because we can’t figure it out on our own. Are they expecting the viewing audience hasn’t seen a single Batman movie in thirty years?

His resemblance...

His resemblance…

..is uncanny

..is uncanny

Turns out the killer used six dollar bullets in a fancy custom gun. I have no idea why they’re trying so hard to make this part of the story something different. Either Bruce knows who killed them or didn’t. There’s plenty of crime bosses around to take care of. Jim speculates a hit, which increases the odds of Deathstroke coming over from Arrow to liven thing a up. A lot of people don’t seem to like the idea of their.murder being a hit.

Obviously they never heard of Lew Moxon. It seems to me they’re going an odd mix.of Year One and Earth One, with Rene and Allen somehow being there from the start instead of coming in later.

Speaking of crime bosses, we meet the oddly named Fish Mooney, and given I’m sure half the shows budget was landing Jada Pinkett Smith, I have a feeling I’m going to be seeing this cannon foreigner every episode. She acts like she’s channeling Eartha Kitt half the time. We.also meet Oswald, who is called the Penguin despite not having any waddle, cough, or fat to be called as such. In fact, Penguin is somehow such a god damn woobie there there’s already fan girl art of him.

First it was The Batman's Penguin, now this... it's true all girls love bad boys

First it was The Batman’s Penguin, now this… it’s true all girls love bad boys

Never thought I’d see the day. It’s nice.to.see him.be someone else’s bitch for a change and work from the bottom, as opposed to Arkham Origins where he somehow had the clout and the capital to fund a giant boat full of weapons and cage fights, yet not be a known crime boss already.

Penguin takes a gleeful delight in beating someone in a back alley, while Fish and Harvey show they have a “history”. I hate OC love interests. Jim checks out the racket in the alley and the guy getting is add beat actually gives a thumbs up… unironically and without force. Now we meet Jim’s girlfriend (and I’m assuming future first wife and mother of James Jr) Barbara. Some believe she’s a mix of Barbara Gordon Sr and Betty Kane, the lesbian Batwoman. Given the way Rene and Barbara talk to each other later, there’s surprising shades of ho-yay that imply Barbara is bi-curious or Rene is just mad Barbara is straight. Who knows.

Harvey tells Jim they have a lead and to meet him on Grundy Street. Because, reference. Was it built on a Monday too? Do they have a Oliver Street? Or an Alfred Street?

GOD DAMNIT!

GOD DAMNIT!

Harvey also shows his heavy drinker side, and says a man named Mario Pepper tried to pawn Martha Wayne’s necklace. As if the slew of needless references and “hey looks” wasn’t bad enough, Mario’s daughter is named Ivy and she likes plants. Why not completely change a character for a forced reference?

Jesus Christ, the wedding reception in the Joker Blogs had more subtlety.

Why they keep hammering Mario Pepper was an innocent man when he assaulted officers remains a mystery. Ivy is mad at the death of her dad, who she stated earlier that he’s mean, and I guess becomes part plant in a future episode? What the fuck guys? Harvey shows that he’s not such a bad dude when he saves Jim’s life. So why play up the bad parts if we know he’s not a bad guy? Is it all an act? I wouldn’t give them that much credit.

Penguin meets with Montoya and Allen and squeals that Mario was framed. Penguin seems like such a fruit here. I wonder if he’ll turn into the Jokers Asylum/Pain and Prejudice Penguin where if you look at him sideways he’ll kill everyone in your family.

For some bizarre reason, Montoya tells Barbra that Jim was in on the frame job. Why she felt the need to.say anything to her is beyond me unless it’s to get her to dump him so she can get in her pants (again, from.the dialogue). Harvey doesn’t want to lose their jobs and tells Jim to keep his mouth shut. Jim goes to see Fish and end up.strung up in a slaughterhouse of dead pigs. At this point I’m amazed that Profesor Pyg didn’t fucking show up as another “hey look!” Harvey shows he’s not such a bad dude.by coming to the rescue only to get strung up as well.

Fish gets a private show from a.comedian whose totally not a reference to Joker you guys, really!

What’s really hilarious is this is Johnathan Beavers, better know as Twist from the kids show Fresh Beat Band.

cl44c

Penguin shows some disturbing mommy issues with Fish, until she beats him with a table leg for snitching. What? The comedian isn’t going to suggest a crowbar? You know you want to! Fortunately the dynamic doofuses get a free pass from.Carmine Falcone himself. Here we get the implication that the death of Jim’s dad was no accident. Gotham needs swift justice to keep the peace, blah blah blah.

Harvey takes Jim to the docks and orders him to kill Penguin to show he’s with the program. This is war, and maybe someday you’ll have someone like me, to plunge their hands into the FILTH… wait wrong Batman… um… Penguin is spared and talks of Falcone losing his grip to others (implying his own rise to power and perhaps others like Black Mask?) Gordon comes to Bruce and admits his failure, after getting Bruce off the roof, and Bruce tells Gordon to keep working. Oh look, Catwoman is going to be another childhood friend of Bruce who does bad like… every other villain Batman has faced.

We end with a dramatic sting of Penguin eating a sandwich.

And not a single police blimp… What the hell?

All in all I was expecting better from Warner Bros in this regard. This is the movie company that pioneered the mobster films of the 40s, and the noir of the 30s, both aesthetics that would work perfectly with Batman. There’s even shades of 70s cop show grit, keeping with the old adage that Gotham is a city lost in time and has no specific era. Some of the art direction was nice, making it hard to identify which city was photoshoped to be Gotham, while the funeral scene had a neat shot of the towering headstones blending into the skyline. It’s the kind of directorial subtlety that Frank Miller needs to learn.

I want to give this show a chance if it’ll stop with the ham-fisted “hey look who it is” bits and the odd bouts of Nolan-itis. But, seeing as how the next episode will feature Dollmaker, a villain from the terrible New 52 that was responsible for cutting off Joker’s face in one of the dumbest editorial moves in the last ten years…. I’m not holding high hopes.

I guess everyone was expecting Law & Order Gotham with the rise and fall of Harvey Dent. Or maybe the ill fated Gotham Central that was planned for years but never panned out. Instead we get ANOTHER origin story with changes that make no sense. Why not go further back in time and show Gotham during the 1940s, where Alan Scott fought Solomon Grundy and Sportsmaster? I’d watch that!

3 Batman Villains That Started Out Cool Then Wound Up Sucking

I’ve ranted several times about Grant Morrison ruining whatever good story he had by giving Dr. Hurt a stupid backstory that rendered all his deeds and mystery completely pointless. But Hurt isn’t the only one who started out with potential only to have it squandered away by bad decisions or just general stupidity.

So here, in no particular order, are some Batman foes that started out with enormous potential, but wound up being just another face in the crowd.

 

KGBeast:

Hasta la Vista, Broski!

Hasta la Vista, Broski!

Hailing from Mother Russia, KGBeast was every bit a product of his time. Hell, his debut in the comics had him trying to assassinate President Ronald Regan! Bred and modified to be the ultimate super-soldier working on behalf of a super top secret KGB branch of black ops, KGBeast went rouge to complete his mission given to him years ago, and managed to rack up a body count over one hundred in just 9 days! Not even Joker could claim a goal like that. He was cold, calculating, and always one step ahead of Batman, going so far as to cut off his own hand to escape, which he later got replaced with a gun.

Hardcore!

Hardcore!

Batman knew he was no match for him physically, so when deep in the sewers of Gotham, KGBeast challenged him to a man to man fight to the death. Batman told him not today, and WALLED HIM UP IN THE SEWERS TO STARVE!

Fuck yo shit

Fuck yo shit

 

What happened to him:

I knew it was a bad sign when later on, Batman’s “no kill” rule popped up as an excuse to have him call the police to rescue KGBeast after a certain amount of time.

One throw away line about Batman going insane after Jason Todd's death, and BOOM! Instant villain reuse!  What a pussy...

One throw away line about Batman going insane after Jason Todd’s death, and BOOM! Instant villain reuse!
What a pussy…

Even more confounding, was his debut comic explicitly stated that if he were indeed arrested, he would just be shipped back to Russia and re-purposed to kill again. So WHY did the regular police take him and toss him in Blackgate or Belle Reeve depending on what comic you read?

He ended up worse off then Bane, hanging around just trying to be useful. His last well known crime was when he and two other Russian villains attempted to bomb America with a nuke shaped like a baseball. Cue Adam West hitting a home run here. Surprisingly, the story wasn’t all that bad in how he was portrayed, but he was still nowhere near as brutal as he was before. Also, his stilted Russian speak is almost cartoonish. Like, Jumba from Lilo and Stitch bad.

But you got to admit, he does look pretty wicked here.

But you got to admit, he does look pretty wicked here.

Even more hilarious is KGBeast himself bemoaned how he used to be awesome!

I used to be somebody, damnit!

I used to be somebody, damnit!

Not only that, he finally got killed off in the comics in the lamest way possible. Getting shot by the Tally Man trying to frame Two Face.

Well to be fair, we had no use for him as an offensive stereotype anymore

Well to be fair, we had no use for him as an offensive stereotype anymore

Even worse, in the newest animated movie Assault on Arkham, his head gets blown off before the Suicide Squad is even mobilized! Not to mention they actually show his face, which is:

Hoagan

Crusty Russian Hulk Hogan?!

 I don’t care if the assassin list in Arkham Origins would’ve wound up a sausage fest! I would’ve put this guy in place of Copperhead any day!

 

Mr. Whisper:

This foe is obscure to say the least, but he did have potential. Debuting in one of the many story arcs in the Legends of the Dark Knight series (which was collected in the trade Batman: Gothic), Mr. Whisper went around killing various senior mob bosses in Gotham, which led to the mob to seek Batman for help.

"Why yes, I do watch X-Files. How did you know?"

“Why yes, I do watch X-Files. How did you know?”

In a story inspired by the classic German expressionist film M, the mobsters took it upon themselves to kill Mr. Whisper because his child killing antics were putting the heat on them to the point business couldn’t be done. Only problem was, Whisper wouldn’t stay dead. Naturally, Batman doesn’t believe any of this and leaves to investigate on his own.

We don't need no, education

We don’t need no, education

What he finds, is Mr. Whisper used to be his old schoolmaster Mr. Winchester. Bruce always suspected he had killed one of his friends, and he enjoyed giving Bruce the cane on more than one occasion. But to young Bruce’s horror, Winchester had no shadow. A sure sign he was the devil.

It's not the strangest thing Bruce will ever see in his life.

It’s not the strangest thing Bruce will ever see in his life.

 

What happened to him:

In the end, Mr. Whisper devolved into a cackling madman who stored his shadow in a piece of string to protect it from the demon he made a bargain with. Turns out, he got 300 years of life to survive the Black Death, but had to pay up when his time was up. So in an elaborate plan of insanity, had Gotham Cathedral built to act as a secret weapon to kill pretty much the entire populous of Gotham to give their souls in exchange for his.

Yes, a rope to bind his shadow. Clearly the type of stories for Batman.

Yes, a rope to bind his shadow. Clearly the type of stories for Batman.

So someone who had all the potential in the world to be an enigmatic figure, ended up being a Hell puppet super villain. I thought Simon Hurt had it bad. Sheesh. Unsurprisingly, Grant Morrison wrote this story as well, using the likes of Don Giovanni and Faust for inspiration.

 

Professor Pyg:

Don't cha wish your boyfriend was hot like meeeEEEEEE

Don’t cha wish your boyfriend was hot like meeeEEEEEE

Grant Morrison’s most prolific creation was new villain Professor Pyg. He was bizarre, disturbing, gross, and generally unpleasant to witness. Hard to believe he’s been a part of the gallery for almost ten years now. In comic time, he’s still a rookie. His main hobby was kidnapping people and mutilating them into his perfect little Dollitrons. Given his psycho-sexual ramblings, it’s safe to assume he molests his victims and mutilates their genitals as well.

 

What happened to him:

STOP IT! YOU'RE MAKING SENSE!!!

STOP IT! YOU’RE MAKING SENSE!!!

Apparently it took DC ten years to realize that maybe Professor Pyg wasn’t the kind of guy to have in comics that are normally read by children. In light of the New 52 and their last big gimmick Gothtopia, Pyg started making more sense, if not talking at all, and all his disturbing charm was gone. He was just another stock baddie to stand in the crowd shot of “evil doctor type” villains. Also, his unmasked face makes him kind of look like the love-child of Chunk from the Goonies and Bling Bling Boy. Even his dapper gentlemanly self in Beware the Batman has more personality than this.

 

Don't feel bad, Pyg, everyone else looks bland as hell too

Don’t feel bad, Pyg, everyone else looks bland as hell too

 

 

 

 

Writer Rants Number One: Stories Should Never Truly End

So, as an aspiring writer myself who dabbles in Friendship is Magic fan fiction (stop laughing!), and currently working on several Batman story ideas (DC call me! You need help!) I began to notice things.

We all develop our own writing style, and derive our opinions from those established ideals. Thus, when we read the work of others, we can make a mental note of what NOT to do to be like that guy or girl.

While reading through my copious collection of Batman comics I obtained by questionable means as research, I noticed a recurring flaw in some of the stories, namely those by Grant Morrison.

I love the guy, I really do. He tells some wonderfully bizzare stories and gave us such villainous delights as Professor Pyg and Mr. Toad. But for all the amazing Grant has done, I feel he can’t help but tell too much sometimes.

To me, a good story is one you keep coming back to again and again. Not just because you like the idea, but rather you want to draw your own conclusions. To this day people argue about the meaning of Alice in Wonderland, but I doubt in a hundred years we’ll have scholarly debate on Twilight or Hunger Games.

To me a story can’t have a concrete ending. Something or somethings have to be left open to debate otherwise people will just remember how it ends and never read it again. We all read the fairy tales at one point, but do we ever willingly read them time and again unless it’s to children? No. Because we know how they end and its not open for discussion.

To use the Grant Morrison example, there was a five part Batman story that ran in Legends of the Dark Knight back in the 90s. In it, Bruce has a recurring nightmare about a strange event during his days in a posh British school, and begins to find connections to a man killing mob bosses in the present. A man the mob bosses killed twenty years prior.

All this makes for an intriguing mystery, but at the end when all is revealed, this mysterious figure ends up with an origin story that is the complete opposite of what the story was trying to establish, and ends up making a cool character into just another cut-out villain.

Yes, the supernatural does exist in the DC Universe, but to me, using it in Batman is a delicate balance. Unless we know from the start he’s fighting demons or magic, the supernatural needs to have an air of mystery about it. Is it real, or all in his head?

A good Batman story that uses this to full effect is Dark Knight, Dark City. In it, Riddler finds a tome detailing the ritual of summoning Barbatos the demon, and goes off the deep end in trying to do so himself. Even though the story ended with Batman saving the day like always, it never firmly established if Riddler just got too into the moment or if he really was possessed by Barbatos. It keeps you coming back to try and find clues to support your theory.

As opposed to the fate that befell another Morrison creation, Simon Hurt. Here you had a man of many faces, claiming to be Thomas Wayne back from the dead, and in the end you’re left wondering if he was the devil himself. A few issues down the road, however, all his mystery and supernatural possibilities are rendered null when Hurt is revealed as a time lost Wayne ancestor who worshiped the devil and believed himself to be Barbatos’ weapon.

Unlike Riddler, who we don’t know if he was possessed or not, we know from the start Hurt is just batshit insane. If Hurt’ s story would’ve ended at the end of R.I.P. and he was left out of the picture for a while only to resurface later with no explanation, that would’ve kept his credibility. But bringing him back so soon after such a gripping story and make him a mere mortal after all he had done, just ruins the magic.

This is why most writers chalk the Red Hood up as one of many origins Joker crafted for himself to hide a bigger secret. Despite the comics insistence Red Hood is the defacto origin of Joker, the majority of fans and writers don’t accept that. Hence why in the classic Killing Joke, we get the immortal like “If I’m going to have a past, I prefer it to be multiple choice.”

By having someone like the Joker do the things he does then reveal him to be just a man, it makes him into a Gary Stu. Giving Joker an air of mystery and the strange ability to always survive near death experiences makes him far more interesting than saying he’s a failed comedian we should all feel some sympathy for.

Even Scott Snyder knows this, as in Death of the Family, Batman ruminates that the chemicals Joker fell into should’ve killed him. Would’ve killed any normal man. They almost killed Batman, and yet Joker lived. This laid groundwork for a theory that Joker could be something more, but didn’t dwell on it to the point it got old or stupid. It never outright said Joker was insanely lucky because that would be stupid. Nor did it say Joker was a ghost or a demon, as that would break the mood and be totally out of place.

Spider-Man’s infamous One More Day would’ve been a lot more tolerable had it been presented in a way that didn’t go “Hey, the devil is real in the Marvel universe so let’s stick him in the one comic that doesn’t have a basis in or recurring elements of supernatural happenings. He’ll fit right in!”

It’s not just Batman or Spider-Man, but I prefer all writing to be like this, and unless I’m intentionally going for a happy ending, I try to craft my stories in a way that there’s some element of lingering doubt.

For example, long before season 3 destroyed it, I had an idea for a My Little Pony (STOP LAUGHING!) story in which Twilight Sparkle had to deal with Discord haunting her as an imaginary friend. Things happen to prove he’s really there, yet other things happen to claim he’s just imaginary after all. Twilight thinks he’s real, her friends think she’s nuts and Discord himself says he’s just an embodiment of a guilty conscience. In the end, we never know which is the case, and readers want to come back to prove their stance.

I’m curious on what you all feel about my position in storytelling and if you have any differing opinions.

Melanin Collie and the Infinite Butt-rage

There seems to be a disturbing trend going on in comics and comic movies lately that everyone either accepts or ignores. Normally this would be the lack of minority superheroes or those who have different sexual orientations or religions. Nowadays, however, it seems that the opposite is true. We’re seeing more black heroes than before.

Problem is, some of them are just repaints of already white heroes. Even worse than the distaff counterparts like the “girl” versions of heroes. There’s a reason the Justice League cartoon picked John Stewart as their Lantern, because he hardly had any development in the comics to go against. They made him more awesome than the other Lantern’s combine in the process.

But I’m talking about the recent announcements and rumors that are making sites like Newsaramma explode with comment wars and even more unsettling, cries of racism. The same thing happened when the rumor mill said they wanted Will Smith as Captain America. Now it’s happening again with Michael B. Jordan (of The Wire) rumored to be Human Torch in the Fantastic Four reboot. Even more telling, is his sister Susan will remain white.

This opened a giant can of worms that shows just what’s wrong with this country, and the world as a whole. Racism will never die, because it’s always there in the back of your mind, coloring (no pun intended) your perceptions of things. So, of course, when anyone speaks out against something of this nature, they are a racist.

The way I see it, this disturbing trend of what I dub “Random Blackness” is kind of self-defeating. Making a white hero black for no reason either comes off as trying to appeal to a demographic, or at the very least point at the screen and yell “Look! I’m progressive!” Either way is not the reason you make someone historically white into black.

Look at Patch Adams, who turned his best friend in real life, a man, into a woman he fell in love with. It’s the same principal.

A simple handwave of “alternate universe” would even work, as then we wouldn’t be scratching our heads wondering why this change was made with no reason given.

Going back to Will Smith as Captain America, at least that could have a reason to exist. The time period wasn’t really kind to blacks in the first place, and who better to test an experimental, possibly deadly, serum on than the “negro”? I would’ve accepted that, because now we have a Captain America that not only goes against the grain, but has a chip on his shoulder that most of the audience wouldn’t fully understand. Hence, deeper characterization.

Look at Miles Moralies, the new Ultimate Spider Man. He’s half black, half Mexican. Never before have I seen a bigger shoehorn of diversity in comics since… well… anyone. Yet, everyone loves him because those traits make him an interesting character. He has a different set of problems than Peter did, and makes everything fresh. A good writer would know that, while a bad writer would write him as Peter Parker.

If more comics created minority heroes instead of making white heroes into magically black heroes, this wouldn’t be a problem. It’s not racist to think that changing someone’s skin color is offensive to both sides of the argument. It offends whites because they see it as pandering and “Look! I’m not racist!” while blacks see it as the industry has no faith in a black hero and needs a legacy name attached to make him relevant.

When it was announced Jessie L. Martin of Law & Order fame was going to be cast in the upcoming Flash series, everyone responded with nothing but praise. No one cared that they were making Flash black, because a good writing team and a good actor can make it work. He may even be a recolor of Wally West! Wally West might be black!

And no one cares.

So what makes Wally West’s race change acceptable, but Johnny Storm not? Maybe it’s because Fox has already made two trainwreck Fantastic Four movies and everyone assumes the worst. Maybe it’s because they don’t trust the writers to make it work. Maybe they just want the whole project to fail so Marvel can get the rights back and make their own movie.

I end this rant with a note: Not everyone who hates the idea of “random blackness” hates black people. It’s how its applied and how its handled that makes it such a hot topic.

I hate the idea of random black Human Torch. But, if they announced that, say… Danai Gurira (Michonne of Walking Dead) was going to be Wonder Woman, I’d be all over that shit.

Bat-Manga! Part 4 The Mutant

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Everyone thought Proto was just a novel excuse for an Adam West cameo. Only now do we realize Batman programed him with the voice of his father. That’s deep man…

The Man Who Quit Being Human!: Parts 1-4

 

Now that I’m three stories away from reviewing the entire Bat-Manga! book, do we get into the “atomic scare” sci-fi the Japanese were known for back in the day. Unlike Dr. Faceless, Clayface and another villain (my favorite of this series who is the last on the list), this story is not a re-purposed storyline or villain from the American comics, rather one of an original creation like Go-Go The Magician (except he stole from everyone else). So without further ado, let’s see what Japanese science fiction does to Silver Age Batman!

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Oh no! It’s the beginning of the Super Mario Bros Movie!

We begin with a brief introduction from Mr. Kuwata himself about the dawn of life and the next stage of human evolution. As we know from Bane of the Demon, the Japanese are godless heathens who don’t need your creationist bullshit.

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Apparently they’re also as racist as we are

So we begin the real story with a man named Governor Warner having fits and walking in his sleep. His somnambulism leads him to the local nuclear research center where he tries to pry open one of the parabolic chambers. Batman and Robin respond to the disturbance only to be attacked with a chair before Batman dispatches him with a tranquiler dart.

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Just like Tommy Elliot, Selina Kyle, Harvey Dent, Ethan Bennett…

Governor Warner awakens in Gotham Hospital with no memory of what happened the night before. Batman suggests a psychoanalysis anyway and he agrees. The same professor from Go-Go The Magician, however, makes a startling discovery. Governor Warner has a “mutant gene” and that is probably what drove him to the plant to accelerate the process.

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It means if he goes over well, he’ll be plastered on every comic cover rather he’s in it or not

Governor Warner, faced with this life changing news, decides to participate in an experiment to accelerate the process to evolve him so he can be studied. If there are others like him, humanity needs to know if they pose a threat. But if he does turn evil, he wants Batman to kill him.

 

 

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“If Superman turned evil, I’d have no problem killing him with a kryptonite bullet. But… killing my best friend if he turns evil? I don’t know…”

A week later, the experiment is set up, and Warner requested a giant laser to kill him should things go wrong. He demonstrates the lasers power on a two ton metal ball he just happened to have lying around, and gets Batman to agree to do the deed if need be. Just as he’s about to go through with it, Warner’s daughter Liz bursts into the room. Unaware that he had a family, the professor urges him to reconsider and go through with the operation that would remove the gene… somehow…

Warner refuses to pass up this once in a lifetime opportunity, and goes through with the experiment. Liz watches in horror as her father is transformed, and he croaks out for Batman to kill him. Naturally, Batman can’t do it, and we get to see his terrifying transformation.

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Yep… wouldn’t look out of place in Dragonball Z would he? What did I tell ya?

Now imbued with a vast array of psychic powers, he shrugs off a shot from the laser, deflects Robin with a shield, then teleports outside to escape. Batman and Robin go to console Liz and the professor confirms his fears. She has the gene as well, but it’s too deep to safely operate. Liz returns home under Batman and Robin’s watch while the professor presents his findings to the board of scientists. It goes as well as expected.

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Must be one of them there Death Panels

Batman and Robin get the sad news, but there’s no time to lament as Warner had teleported into the house and kidnapped Liz! Surely they would’ve remembered he could do that? Now with her in tow, Batman surmises he has to walk back to the plant, which gives them time to head him off. But first they have to escape his golden force field. Batman figures out that inanimate objects can pass through, and comes up with an ingenious plan.

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Sadly, he didn’t ask Robin to join him

They head to the plant and give a cal to Inspector Gordon, guess he hasn’t been promoted yet, to slow him down/ Batman surmises that because the first objects he teleported to were green and his force field was gold, that it was some shred of Warner’s humanity giving a coded message about how to defeat him. Sounds legit. So a light made green by being shown through gold foil kills the monster, and also magically cures Liz of her gene. And because of his noble sacrifice to better mankind, Warner is given a heroes buriaL… in SPACE!

The ending to this one seemed kind of rushed, and the whole coded message about light killing him was kind of lame. Even with four parts to stretch out, it seemed a bit too hurried. The mutant himself could’ve been cool, but the design works against him, making him look more like something Ultraman or Kamen Rider or even the Super Sentai (aka Power Rangers) would fight.

So until next time, dear readers, I leave you with another nightmare mutant: TROLLFACE BATMAN!

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sweet dreams

 

 

The Wolf Among Us

I admit, much to the asured derision of comic snobs and the like, that I have never read Fables. The gritty comic series under DC’s “adult” Vertigo line told a story about how all the characters from all the fairy tales and other works migrated to the real world and took on lives in New York. 

Think Once Upon A Time only with enough swearing and blood to be on HBO.

That being said, Telltale’s new episodic series does a great job of getting noobs interested in the world and characters. That’s a good product, one that doesn’t need homework to understand.

Telltale Games got their start by ressurecting good old Sam & Max for three hilarious seasons, but recently branched out into other properties. Chief among them was their excellent handling of The Walking Dead. Using unique cell-shaded 3D models that had the art style of the comic but the washed out grit of the AMC series, the game forced players to make hard decisions that would actually affect the story In later episodes.

The only problem was those decisions didn’t mean all that much. Who cares who likes or hates you when they’re all dead by plot anyway? Some of the other decisions had the same outcome regardless of you being personally involved. 

So this time around, Wolf Among Us uses the same style, but this time the colors are neon bright, partially to contrast with more shadows than a Todd MacFarlane cartoon. Add the almost motion comic like backgrounds in cutscenes and the imagry really is something to behold.

Another step up is this time you’re going solo. Walking Dead suffered in its moral choices because the rest of the group still had to be part of the story. You could play as a dick to everyone and by episode 4 it wouldn’t matter because they’re all dead. Here, your decisions have more weight because the plot can’t contridict you.

Now one thing that amazed everyone with Walking Dead was how do you do zombie combat in a point and click environment? When you think zombie games, you think something like the original Resident Evil games, or at the very least the shitty Walking Dead FPS that came out recently.

Amazingly, it works. Fights are basically quicktime events only require more percision than hitting a single button. Wolf Among Us makes the combat more varried and throws you into how the system works right from the start. The cursor allows you to choose which body part to strike or which piece of furniture to ram someone into first.

Now that the mechanics are out of the way, exactly what is this story? Well you play as Bigby. Bigby is the sherriff of all the characters and works under Mayor Ichabod Crane and deputy mayor Snow White. Bigby has a troubled past he’s trying to put behind him, and it becomes apparent most of the others don’t like or are afraid of him.

Turns out Bigby is none other than the Big Bad Wolf. The same wolf from 3 Little Pigs AND Red Riding Hood. Bigby apparently got his huff and puff powers from his father the North Wind, who fell in love with a white wolf then left her to die of a broken heart. 

After breaking up a domestic disturbance between the peice of shit Woodsman and the very obscure Donkeyskin Girl, Bigby is soon on the case of a fairy tale serial killer who likes leaving severed heads on his doorstep. Since Bigby goes warewolf when he gets pissed, I’m wagering HE is the killer and has no idea. Typical. I hope Telltale proves me wrong.

It strikes me as odd because the fight with Woodsman shows they can take a lot of abuse and are damn near immortal. Maybe the whole beheading thing works like Highlander.

The rest of the game is standard point and click fare, with the catch that some items won’t be used until later. The bulk of decisions are based on how you interact with everyone, and according to my comparison to others who played, a good majority play Bigby as truly repentant of his past and trying to make right. You can still be a dick, but it still doesn’t affect the outcome much. 

The first episode had two decisions of who to go for first. Much like the Walking Dead gave you a choice of who to save in a zombie attack, only this time you know who you chose won’t be dead by plot come next episode. At least I hope not.

Ya know, Mass Effect tried a choice system like this too, which didn’t mean squat come the ending of 3. It seems choice based games can’t cater every variable.

The characters are all varried in style and personality. Woodsman is a dick, Mr. Toad is a hilarious Cockney slum lord, Ichabod doesnt like excuses and his office almost looks like something you’d find in Hogwarts, complete with Magic Mirror and an alcholic flying monkey librarian.

Of course, the irony of a series of beheadings isn’t lost on Ichabod, and you have several choices to say some colorful things to him when he berates you.

My favorite side character is Colin. As one of the three little pigs, he can’t take a human form so has to live on The Farm with the giants and goblins and the like. Since he thinks of it as a prison, he sneaks out and couch surfs, usually ending up on Bibgy’s. After a drink and a smoke, he just might give you shit about blowing his house down.

 

Another new feature is the “rewind”, which can let you replay chapters on a new file so you can see the other outcomes without losing your initial progress. This is required for one of the achievements and will probably be in later episodes.

You can also swap chapters for their counterparts, but I don’t know how that would affect the carry over.

Now after all this success and deep gameplay, I can’t want to see this system implemented in Sam & Max Season 4. Make it happen!

Bat O Ween

My friend Jabber W did an article about Halloween type Batman stories. I felt compelled to do the same.

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Ace the Bathound in: Night of the Scaredy Crows

Not all Halloween stories have to be gothic masterpieces. Nor do they have to be trope laden pap. Sometimes the best kind of fun is the good, clean kind.

An entire generation of fans know of Krypto, Ace and Streaky by way of the childrens cartoon Krypto the Superdog. But what few didn’t know, was that it also spawned a fad of giving everyone animal skdekicks if it made sense or not. Most of them are forgotten to casuals (much like the Myxilpltz and Batmite phase resulted in Aquaman having Quisp, who was not the same as the cereal), but the cartoon brought the trend to a self aware forefront.

This led to a revival of sorts with the children’s novel series DC SuperpetsKrypto, Ace, and Streaky are still there, now joined by ridiculous ani-pals like Plastic Man’s frog and Wonder Woman’s kangaroo.

As most will remember, most of Krypto’s rouges gallery were Bat-villain pets like Catwoman’s cat and Joker’s hyenas (Bud and Lou, not Chuckles). Things that made sense. But one pet was never touched upon even though he has been seen in a few main Bat Books (notibly Haunted Knight). That is Scarecrow’s pet raven.

This novel names him Croward and gives him an army of Scaredy Crows to fear dust all of Gotham. The goal of their diabolical plan? To make children to afraid to trick or treat so they can have all the candy!

Of course, with Halloween being Ace’s favorite holiday, he’s not going to take this lying down. He saves the day, and we’re treated to a Bat Family photo that includes a Bat Cow.

A Bat… Cow…

Well, Shaggy and Scooby know where Bat Milk comes from now.

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The Doom That Came To Gotham

Take Batman, pit him against H.P. Lovecraft’s ultimate creation, and have it written by Hellboy’s creator Mike Mignola.

That’s the basis of this Elseworld tale, where everyone is reimagined in the vein of Chutulu. Cobblepot wanders naked with the penguins in the Artic. Mr. Freeze melts without his suit. Even Ras al Ghul wrote his own Necronomicon which he uses Tailia to come back from the dead.

Toss in Green Arrow as a crusading Templar and help from the other side with good old Etregan, and you have a very surreal tale. Anything that ends with Batman becoming Man-Bat to stop Chutulu from emerging from the gateway formed from Harvey Dent’s head can’t be all bad.

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Chill of the Night

There is nothing greater that a man can lose than his own soul. So what happen’s when Batman’s hangs in the balance?

This episode of Brave and the Bold had Batman in a moral quandry. After Lou Moxton confesses on his death bed he put the hit on Bruce’s parents, Batman hunts down Joe Chill to make him pay.

Such a cusp of morality draws the attention of two powerful figures. Spectre, the embodiment of God’s vegeance who happily murders criminals in Freddy Krueger type ways (such as turning a mad scientist into chesse and releasing the rats, or entombing Dr. Light in wax); and Phantom Stranger, whose motivations are as mysterious as his origins.

Spectre wants Batman to sucumb to revenge while Stranger wishes to save him from hell. Both try to sway him, but in the end Batman leaves Joe scared shitless and living with the guilt his careless actions made his worst nightmare.

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Batman: Inferno

Another fun aspect of Halloween is dressing up as someone else. So here in this novel,

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e have just that.

Gotham is a hell on earth with blazes roaring out of control. The capstone of this rampage is the complete destruction of Arkham Asylum. The fires are being started by Enfer, a new evil to Gotham who is basically an expy of Firefly.

Enfer is a retired firefighter turned demolition expert and was the subject of one of Dr. Crane’s experiments in Arkham. The way he’s described I imagine The Archetect from Gates of Gotham only in full firefighter gear.

Anyway, the torching of Arkham leads to Joker’s escape. Figuring it smart to stay underground, he stumbles into the Batcave, kicks Alfred’s ass, then gets an offically licenced Batsuit and steals the Batmobile.

What’s jarring is that this novel and the two it accompanies, claim to be part of the Nolan-verse pre-Rises. Yet Joker is clearly based on his Animated version, so much so that the actor in the audiobook tries to sound like Mark Hamil. They even mention his very first caper being the docks from his first comic appearence!

So Joker sets about doing things to ruin Batman’s reputation while he struggles to unravel the mysteries. The narration is great, especially for the Joker scenes. And a midget anarchist named Coup de Tat appears as well.

Batman_Scarface_A_Psychodrama

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carface: A Psychodrama

Scarface has always been an interesting villain. Before all the nonsense with Sugar and New 52, Arnold Wesker seemed to be just a troubled man with an uncoventional outlet. But subtle actions here and there seem to imply otherwise.

This story tells Scarface’s origin. Carved by a prisoner in woodshop, he was crafted from the wood of Blackgate’s Gallow’s Tree. Thus the unsettling implication that this dummy is pulling a Chucky hangs over the tale.

Wesker muders the man on a whim and adopts the puppet for himself, and the rest is history.

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Dark Knight, Dark City

This proves that not only does Batman work in a good old fashioned ghost story, but that Riddler can be more than Diet Joker. 

It also proves Grant Morrison has a hard on for obscurity, as DC had to reprint this and several other stories as homework for Batman R.I.P.

We begin with a group of well to do Freemason’s, two of whom Grant calls out as Thomas Jefferson and Simon Hurt, as they attempt the ritual sacrifice to summon the bat demon Barbatos.

Unfortunately, they think they succedded, shit their pants like the whimps they are, and walled up the room with their sacrifice still inside.

Flash forward and Riddler is acting

strange. This is the way Frank Gorshin always potrayed him, whimsical yet always on the knifes edge of madness. He kills people moreso than usual, forgoing all his death trap pagentry. He even almost kills a baby.

The reasons for his actions are devilishly clever, and the lingering doubt if Riddler lost his shit, is off his meds, or is indeed possessed by Barbatos, makes a strange tale. The ending is surreal too.

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Simon Dark

Jabber W mentioned the Batman/Frankenstien Elseworlds story and that got me to thinking about Gotham’s own Frankenstien Monster. No, it isn’t Solomon Grundy.

Simon is just an average teen who lives in an abondoned chuch in Gotham’s equilivlant of the Bronx. He just wants to be left alone with his books and cats. He slips into the local stores for supplies and always leaves proper payment. Hes a fixture and yet an urban legend.

When a cult comes aroubd in his turf to perfom an execution, Simon lops one of their heads off with piano wire. Soon he winds up on a journey of self where we learn his true nature.

In a last ditch effort a desperate medical genius turnedto a cult for help. Simon was cobbled together from 20 boys and given a blank manniquin head that shifts between the faces of the souls that possess him.

A few were made in the same manner, but Simon was created to stop the cult once and for all. He’s not afraid to get dirty but can make friends as well.

While not a Batman story, it is amazing to see someone kill people and NOT be detected by Batman.

Beware The Batman

Cartoon Network has no doubt made some strange decisions over the years. Namely the unceremonious cancelling of anything remotely resembling a hit show. Unless you’re Adventure Time, don’t count on lasting too long even if you got high ratings.

The first casualty was Teen Titans, who were resurrected into the hit or miss Teen Titans Go! that tries and fails to be Tiny Titans. They were replaced with two new shows. Young Justice and Green Lantern The Animated Series.

Young Justice got a lot of positive reviews (I never watched it because I couldn’t understand how and why Braniac was a good guy) while I’m sure Green Lantern was quickly ditched from lack of viewership due to association with the godawful movie.

So with the void left to fill again, we get Beware the Batman. Not only is it darker and edgier (or so it claims. It’s rated TV-PG so we’ll see if it lives up to that mantle), it’s also the most bizarre mashup of Bat-Elements I’ve ever seen.

Let’s see if Batmite cancelling Brave and the Bold was worth it.

http://www.tubechop.com/watch/1352441

The first thing you notice watching this show is that none of the characters wouldn’t look out of place in Nickelodeon’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles revival. I’m wagering it’s the same company. The art style is certainly different but some elements are just… off. Batman having visible lips is one of them.

So we begin the first episode with two guys robbing a bank. Pretty standard fare so far. The show’s rated TV-PG for violence, yet the guy’s gun fires energy bolts. SIIIIGH. Anyway, Batman quickly dispatches him only to encounter another thug with robotic hands to increase his strength. We all know what happens when Batman gets one of those.

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We then see billionaire Simon Stagg being chased by the shows main villains. When they said Grant Morrison’s creations Professor Pyg and Mr. Toad were going to be the main antagonist, I was skeptical at first. I mean, even in a PG rated cartoon you’re not going to see this:

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Seriously. What the actual fuck?!

And sure enough we don’t. Professor Pyg looks like Kingpin from Spider-Man by way of Hoggish Greedly from Captain Planet. Oh, and he talks with a proper posh British accent. Like, the lead pig from the Animal Farm movie accent. Go on, read that scene up there in a British voice. I’ll wait…

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Maybe if he sounded more like Nigel Thornberry?

Hell, in the comics, his real name is Lazlo Valentin. Does that sound British to you? I’ve never seen a Brit named Lazlo. Pyg is as British as Bane is Spanish! At least they kept him being a doctor… I guess.

Mr. Toad on the other hand, is just an anthro frog with a sonic ribbit. I mean, in the comics he was a circus freak so I assumed he was just malformed like Killer Croc. But here, he’s just a fucking anthro frog. Well, I’ve seen stranger in Batman, I’ll roll with it.

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“Badger hates society, and invitations, and dinner, and all that sort of thing.”

Mr. Toad dresses exactly how you think he would if you’ve ever seen or read Wind in the Willows. I’m not talking that fucked up one JabberW loves either. He’s the Muttley to Pyg’s Dasterdly in a way. Oh, and they drive a jalopy with a cannon that fires cartoon bombs. Am I watching the right Batman show? Where’s Adam West?

Anyway, I only assume Simon’s last name is Stagg so Pyg can make a joke about a Stag Hunt while whipping out his blunderbuss. At least his last name wasn’t Mike. We see Toad’s sonic ribbit in action and Stagg is captured and tied to the hood like a trophy buck.

Meanwhile, Bruce is actually sleeping instead of his micro-sleeps, and is attacked in his bed by another armed thug. Bruce quickly dispatches said thug, only for us to learn that it’s:

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Agent 47?!

 This, ladies and gentlemen, is Alfred. Former MI6 agent and Bruce Wayne’s butler and bodyguard. While the whole former MI6 is from Earth One Batman, his look and role as bodyguard are completely new. In fact, he’s more like Race Bannon than Alfred. He figures Bruce and Batman are one in the same, and he has to protect both, and If that means a rigorous ass-kicking every now and again to keep him on his toes, so be it.

Now, most of the viewing audience will say, “Wait a minuet! Alfred is supposed to be the loyal butler who disagrees with Bruce gallivanting around in pajamas but helps him anyway!” Well, technically you’re right.

But Alfred had always been implied to have a military history even in The Dark Knight. Though I can’t imagine what MI6 would want with Burmese tangerine rubies.

No this whole MI6 thing was from the original Alfred, now known as Earth One. Most of the viewing audience probably only heard the phrase “Earth One” from one of Batman’s outfits in Arkham City. But from Alfred’s makeover into his mustachioed self up to 1985 when the multiverse collapsed for the first time, this was his back story.

This was the same Alfred who was killed off to make room for Aunt Harriet from the 60s TV show. The same Alfred whose body was dug up and accidentally turned into the Outsider.

Told you this was a strange concoction.

This Alfred is none of that save for the MI6 bit. This Alfred is a take no shit badass that’s about equal to if not better than Bruce. I can’t wait to see what they do with his character!

Anyway, Bruce and Alfred argue over how Alfred wants a more active role but Bruce knows as long as he’s just protecting Bruce Wayne he’s safe. At least this isn’t Frank Miller’s Alfred where he’s gay for him.

Alfred casually point out the news of Stagg’s abduction. Bruce turns on the news and here is where we learn Pyg and Toad are… Eco-terrorists….

SIIIIIIIIIIGGGHHH!

So, not only is Pyg NOTHING like how he is in the comics in any way shape or form, he’s also got a bit of Ras al Ghul in him? Right, okay… maybe this show will do something awesome… keep calm.

So Bruce and Alfred espouse a little history on Wind in the Willows and equate the original inspiration to Pyg’s master plan. Batman deduces Michale Holt as the next victim. Alfred calls in a favor from an old friend to obtain Stagg’s finical records.

Meanwhile, Michale is on the run from Pyg and Toad’s jalopy, and Batman intercepts. Pyg tells Toad to respect their enemies and… okay… this isn’t the same Pyg at all. I bet Morrison is screaming and cussing.

Pyg and Toad ram Batman off the road, and he ducks into an alley to heal. They duo capture Holt and drive off. Here we see Batman’s form of communication is with the transparent iphones from Real Steel.

We see Alfred’s old friend is an Asian chick half his age. Alfred asks if she thought anymore about his offer and… wow… um… Alfred is a creeper? Alfred calls Batman with the information but he’s attacked by Pyg and Toad. Toad thought he was Bruce Wayne and Pyg chides him for his onset blindness.

Batman finds the connection between Stagg, Holt and Bruce Wayne about a land deal that destroyed some Gotham wetlands for development. We then see Pyg holding his captives at the very same building, announcing that they will be chained together and given a five minuet head start before he hunts them like the animals they so carelessly hunted.

Serious Captain Planet vibe here. So he’s a mix of Ras al Ghul and Catwoman? Then why bother using him at all? Why not make an original villain? Filmation did it!

Speaking of Filmation, we now see that either the Batmobile or the Batcomputer is sentient, as the Batmobile talks like KITT. At least JabberW got his wish of seeing a return of the sentient computer from the Filmation cartoon.

Alfred takes charge of the group and guides them past the booby traps. He rallies them to fight back while Batman makes his own way through the traps. A couple bombs roll in and Alfred saves the others at the cost of breaking his ankle. Stagg opts to be a dick and leave him while Holt is the good Samaritan paying it forward. And Alfred broke his ankle.

At least Pyg his his affinity for cutting off limbs for no reason. Toad sonic ribbit’s the others into the cage. Batman saves the day and dopes Alfred up on painkillers and gives him a cattle prod that we never see him use. They make their way out while Batman deals with Pyg.

Here, when he’s swinging around the handsaw, do we see a bit of the real Pyg. They escape via blowing the building up and Stagg bitches about how they were almost killed. Batman leaves pretending not to know Alfred, and Pyg and Toad live to fight another day.

Later on the news we see Lieutenant Gordon. Oh, so this is Year One continuity now? Why do they care what he has to say, shouldn’t they be asking Commissioner Loeb? Bruce made an anonymous donation to give the wetlands back to Gotham, as he had no idea he was even involved. Real smooth, Bruce. This is how Bane was able to steal your shit.

And so, all this time spent developing Alfred as a badass that can kick ass, and Bruce finally admitting that Batman needs Alfred’s help to. So what do they do? They use his broken ankle to make him third wheel to the Asian chick and the sentient computer.

Fuck you…

So we learn that the Asian chick is none other than Tatsu Yamashira. Yes, that’s right. Katana from the Outsiders. She’s Alfred’s replacement bodyguard while he’s laid up, which means Bruce has his own Merci now. Later on we learn that she’s Alfred’s godchild from his MI6 days with her father who was uneventfully killed in a car crash.

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Most Excellent Superbat! Me love you long time! Happy Ending?

So yeah, other than looking like Ninja Turtles and being the strangest assortment of Batman elements I’ve ever seen, it’s not bad. It has some growing to do, sure, but I want to watch more out of morbid fascination than rapt curiosity.

Especially after what I saw which Anarky they chose:

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A recolored Spectre? Seriously? That’s it?

Granted the original Anarky wasn’t easy on the eyes, looking like a red Musketeer with a bad case of jaundice. It’s no wonder I fell in love with his more Guy Fawkes inspired look in Arkham Origins.

http://www.tubechop.com/watch/1352449