thehefner: (Batman: I Am The Night)
Note: I figure there are a couple people interested in the new Batman film here who also don't read [ profile] about_faces, which is where I usually now post all my Bat-fan stuff. Just trying to make your skimming easier, my non-comic-reading friends!

So, a couple weeks ago, I finally started a fan project wherein I looked at every single appearance of Hugo Strange, Batman's first arch-nemesis and Moriarty equivalent.

In my first post, I expressed my belief that one of Hugo's most famous appearances--1990's Batman: Prey, by Doug Moench and Paul Gulacy, one of the best Batman stories ever--would make an absolutely perfect basis for Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight Rises. Just pump up Catwoman's role as an origin, and boom, you have a great film that is pure Batman while not being in the shadow of Heath. Pure fantasy on my part, you understand. I figured and still do figure that Nolan wouldn't do that, because Prey and Hugo are just not well known to anyone but the most hardcore Bat-fans. Far as I know, I'm the only one to have this idea.

Literally days after I said that, rumors started popping up saying that Prey actually WILL be the basis for TDKR. In fact,, which usually avoids most of the 99%-bogus sea of Bat-rumors, just ran a story today with a source claiming that it'll be Prey plus Clayface (wha? How the hell would that work? And Clayface? This guy is so rigid in his "realism" that he can't imagine using the frickin' Penguin, much less someone like Mr. Freeze! No way would he use Clayface unless it was original Basil Karlo without powers), which still sounds bogus to me.

But damn, this is nuts. Did I inadvertently start this rumor by someone reading that scans_daily post and spreading that idea around as truth? With s_d's readership of a couple thousand people, I suppose it's not beyond the realm of internet possibility. More likely, I probably wasn't the only one to remember that beloved but little-known (and long out-of-print!) storyline, and make the connection to Nolan's films. Or, just as likely, it's just a weird damn coincidence.

Tangent: Heh, Henchgirl's actually hoping that Hugo won't be in it. Not because she doesn't like Hugo, but because she fears it'll ruin the character in fandom, much like Spider-Man 2 ruined Doctor Octopus in fandom. Seriously, try to find anything about Otto, and it's all Movie!Otto. And while I absolutely adore Movie!Otto as one of the best takes on the character, these fans clearly have never and will never read a comic in their lives. You can't talk with them about anything, because the adapted version dominates and obliterates all stories that created it. It's very frustrating.

Either way, hopefully it'll encourage people to get interested in the character of Hugo Strange. If you'd like, please feel free to check out the three Hugo posts I've done so far on [ profile] about_faces:

Part 1: The original Golden Age Hugo Strange trilogy, wherein his Moriarty influence is very apparent, and the character lays the foundation for subsequent villains like the Joker and Scarecrow later on.

Part 2: Hugo's return subplot in Strange Apparitions, one of the greatest Batman stories ever. It kills me that I had to edit out all the other great stuff from that whole story, including most of the Joker epic, "The Laughing Fish."

Part 3: the obscure Bronze Age classic, Interlude on Earth-Two, by Alan Brennert, a writer who I'm increasingly read to consider one of the best DC authors of all time, even though he only wrote nine stories, most of them just single issues. He deserves the Alan Moore treatment of getting a Complete DC Stories collection for tales like this one.

I have about seven more Hugo stories to come, particularly Prey. That's the greatest of those to come, but I have to work my way up, as every single Hugo story is directly influenced by the ones that preceded it. He's a character who seems to get dusted off and brought back only by the most hardcore, dedicated Batman writers, the ones who've read and clearly remembered his every single appearance, which I think speaks to what makes this character so great and essential to Batman.

So yeah. I don't think the Prey-for-Dark-Knight-Rises rumor is true, and I don't know if I'd want it to be. I've kind of liked Hugo as being a private joy shared by a handful of Batman fans and writers. But if they can do him justice, hell, maybe he'll finally get the status that geeks like me have known he's deserved for... well, seventy years.
thehefner: (Batman: I Am The Night)
First, Aaron Eckhart is "heartbroken" to learn that Nolan is definite on Harvey Dent being dead, and thus will not be in Dark Knight Rises. It's worth actually reading Eckhart's story of how he learned the news. I predict it'll launch a number of slash-fics.

For my part, I'm glad to hear it now than to hold out hope that maybe, maybe there'd be a surprise cameo in Arkham or in the twist ending or after the credits or in a deleted scene or maybe hell maybe in the fourth film yeah yeah maybe who knows *cries*. So, good to be spared that cycle.

Still, it's certainly put a crimp in my entire day. This is why I haven't actively thought about TDK for months. It just puts me in a frustrated, thinky mood for hours, going on with what I liked and what I wish wish wish they had done differently.

In related news [ profile] box_in_the_box posted the following, dubbing it the "Best Batman Theme EVER." It's a combination of the themes by Danny Elfman, Hans Zimmer, and Shirley Walker:

Oh my god. Okay, very mixed feelings here.

Whenever the theme went to Zimmer, I. Was. So. Bored. At least, I'm guessing the boring parts were Zimmer, because they were the parts that were neither Walker nor Elfman. Now, I didn't like Zimmer's theme in BB until I heard it used in the trailer for The Dark Knight, at which point I was like, "Okay, this is actually pretty badass, I like it now."

Here, it was swalled up by Elfman and Walker. Maybe it's just that the composer didn't effectively recreate the literally thirty seconds of good music from Zimmer's entire BB score, by which I mean the first thirty of this:

Those blaring horns and slamming beats are the only part that could have stood up to Elfman and Walker, and while it actually took me a couple listens to discover that the composer actually had included that part, he didn't successfully recreate the "grab you by the balls and PAY ATTENTION" urgency. I think that speaks more to Zimmer's production than composition skills, because without that factor, it really is a boring track.

Actually, I'm listening to that above Zimmer piece on its own, and I'm rather loving it. The best thing Zimmer can do with the soundtracks is give them a sense of urgency. But even this is two-dimensional compared to the sheer scope of Elfman and Walker's soundtracks.

And yet... maybe it's because of that that I actually felt gut-punched both times Shirley Walker's theme came in, and elevated the entire piece to greatness for those few seconds. Maybe it's sympathetic pregnancy (and dear god, I've wanted to kill somebody for chocolate on more than one occasion, so it well could be), but I was actually moved to tears when the Walker theme came on the second time. Amazing how hearing that theme over and over again in the most formative show of one's childhood can have that effect.

There's something so much more hopeful about that theme to counter Elfman's glorious darkness. Both are soaring statements about who Batman is. Zimmer's is more just what Batman does: just pure action, action, action, without introspection.

All in all, this was a fascinating and fascinating piece, one that was even moving in a couple occasions. I want him to do a second version down the line. Maybe a series. Hell, I'd love to hear him combine all three Joker themes. Ohhhh fuck yeah, do I wanna hear that. Screeching Hans Zimmer white noise of horrifying madness:

... giving way to a magnificent Elfman waltz...

... giving way to that whistling, happy, mischevious Walker theme (cue to 4:15)...

... and back again with little to no warning. Ohhh man, I gotta write to this guy and make a request.
thehefner: (Batman: I Am The Night)
EgoTV Online lists "10 awesome Batman stories you've probably never heard of."

This list makes me extremely happy, and not just because they've included my favorite Two-Face story, Eye of the Beholder (included with what I suspect is one of my own scans, no less!). I consider Prey to be one of the ten best Batman stories ever written, and one that--if they expanded the Catwoman subplot--would also serve as a perfect template for the as-of-today-named The Dark Knight Rises.

I'm slowly working on a series of posts focused upon Professor Hugo Strange for scans_daily and even [ profile] about_faces, just as a break from Harvey for a bit. I've come to believe that Hugo was intended to be Batman's Moriarty, and that's the role he should have now, up there on top instead of obnoxious wannabes like Hush and Dr. Hurt. Strange did what they're doing first, and he did it better.

Furthermore, I'm of the opinion that the Animated Series universe of comics are, pound for pound, the finest Batman comics of the past twenty years. There's so much great Harvey stuff alone that I could easily dedicate a couple weeks to Animated!Harvey posts.

So yeah, keep this list in mind next time you guys go scouring back issue bins, until such time as DC wises up and finally puts these gems (back) into print.
thehefner: (Batman: Freeze's Lament)
Chris Sims rates the 14 best title cards from BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES.

The title cards were one of my very favorite aspects of BTAS, and one of the big reasons why I thought the fourth and final season lost its way (an unpopular opinion, as luminaries such as my very own Henchgirl celebrate the final season as the show's greatest, but bah says I) is because they abandoned the title cards. Nothing gave a greater sense of each episode's atmosphere, mood, and style like their title cards.

That said, I raise an eyebrow at some of Chris Sims' favorites. "Mad as a Hatter"? It's just the Tenneil illustration, nothing imaginative about that other than some creepy coloring. "Harlequinade" and "Harley and Ivy" both pale to the wonderfully evocative Vargasness of "Harley's Holiday." The rest vary from good to excellent, but there were so many others more deserving of inclusion!

Here are my eight favorite BTAS title cards not includes in Sims' list )

And yet, of all these, there's only one title card in the whole series that I cannot forgive Sims' for excluding. When I think about my favorites, about the ones that burned themselves into my memory as the greatest indication of this show's power, this is the one that most comes to mind:

The episode itself might is certainly in my top three (or so) episodes of all time. It might be the best, if not my actual personal favorite.

One of these days, Henchgirl and I need to do our duelin' lists of the best eps, since our opinions differ in surprisingly big ways when it comes to the best BTAS (I don't think we'll ever see eye to eye over how I dislike "Judgment Day" and she dislikes "Almost Got 'Im"), even though it's the show that, in many ways, defined our mutual loves of Batman.
thehefner: (Batman: Rogues)
At a strip mall in PA, at a store I won't name (it rhymes with Shmot Shmopic), while I was totally not listening to Lady Gaga on the store's awesome headphones, I saw a guy there who happened to have the Best Tattoos Ever.

He claimed to have the entire TAS Rogues Gallery on both his arms. You can see a bit of Penguin (in a cloud of money), plus I also saw Clayface, Scarecrow (the second version, who was in the most episodes), and a Mr. Freeze outline that had yet to be colored in.

If I hadn't been so shy, I'd have wanted to get shots of them all, but at least I got the one that was most important to me, as well as most of the Riddler, which is the second most important. Third would have been Hatter, and man, I hope he had Hatter. Man, why can't Comics!Hatter be more like TAS!Hatter? I blame Grant Morrison and ARKHAM ASYLUM: A SERIOUS HOUSE ON SERIOUS EARTH.

But really, this kid was only about nineteen. How much money did these cost him, and how much would he be paying to maintain them for the rest of his life? Either way, I salute his dedication, and also his taste. Anybody can get a Joker tattoo (probably the Heath Ledger version, as I'd expect from someone who hangs out at Shmot Smopic), but to get all the Rogues, especially in their TAS versions? That's cred, man.
thehefner: (Batman: I Am The Night)
In my ongoing project to turn Henchgirl into a comic-stuffed foie gras of a girlfriend, I've organized an entire longbox of BATMAN issues from my collection: starting with all of NO MAN'S LAND through the entirety of Greg Rucka's run on DETECTIVE and Ed Brubaker's run of BATMAN (we can all just forget that Hama's run existed, cool?).

I'm curious to reread these issues and to see if I'm right in remembering that this might have been one of the very strongest eras of BATMAN comics ever. It's criminally ignored in favor of HUSH, which followed immediately afterward and went on to bring tons of new readers into BATMAN, saying that this was the first time in years that they read or were interested in BATMAN comics. Because Greg Rucka and Ed Brubaker weren't good enough for them. Sigh. Whate're.

We're back at the house in Rehoboth Beach. It's the first time either of us have been here since late December, during that strange and often-hilarious week and a half immediately following the death of Henchgirl's mother. Damn, we never finished that, did we? Not sure why. Dunno what we could do to follow that now. Maybe we don't have to.

Either way, it's good to finally be back, even during the insanity of Memorial Day weekend. I'm actively afraid of hitting the beach, even though I would go full on MDK for some caramel Fisher's Popcorn.
thehefner: (Batman: I Am The Night)
Every so often, I feel like I need to do a list weighing the things I love and hate about modern superhero comics, to figure out if it's really worth the emotional and/or financial investment anymore. I'm still very much in the pro camp, but damn, it's like every week, something else comes out to anger the blood.

Like, take this past week's BATMAN for example (and all of BATMAN from the past year, actually, including Winick's run), with a dash of Grant Morrison ranting... )
thehefner: (Batman: Jervis)
THE WOLFMAN was terribly disappointing, particularly because I feel like I could just see all the good intentions scattered somewhere inside the horribly-edited mess of a film. Could a different cut salvage it? I'd love to think so, but I doubt it. Sigh. In fairness, the original WOLFMAN wasn't that great either, what with the stalker-tastic love story which could have easily been called--as Henchgirl quipped--THE WEREWOLF WALKED ON TIPPY-TOES. But still! Sigh.

That said, I'm still not sure if crushing disappointment is better than intense horrified loathing. Which brings us to my thoughts on ALICE IN WONDERLAND.

There are few words to describe just how much I loathed Burton's film (which he made, as I understand, without having ever read the actual books), and if I had the time/energy, I would rant about it wholeheartedly instead of doing this kind of cheap, unsupported drive-by complaint. But really, when it comes to a film that makes the Mad Hatter a badass revolutionary, tries (and utterly fails) to combine the Queen of Hearts and the Red Queen, and ends with a song by Avril Fucking Lavigne, what else do I really have to say? I mean, seriously.

That said, I want the soundtrack. The Hatter's dance music was the first time I've heard Danny Elfman write anything sounding like Oingo Boingo since even before Oingo Boingo broke up. Too bad it had to happen in the brain-meltingly-awful moment when the Hatter danced the Robot. I mean, seriously, do I really have to defend these points? Really? Whyyyyy???!?!

On the plus side, I now want to write my essay on why Batman's Mad Hatter, Jervis Tetch, is a woefully abused character who deserves more love.

Speaking of Bat-Rogues, I posted my first Two-Face Tuesday entry in two weeks, the first part of Harvey vs. the Robins, with a focus on the first appearance of Tim Drake. I'm kinda disappointed that it didn't get more attention at scans_daily, what with their adoration of the Robins and all, but hopefully that'll pick up with the next entry, focusing on Dick Grayson's ties to Harvey in PRODIGAL.
thehefner: (Harley and Ivy have funny hats)
While I'll almost certainly never write for DC Comics in the long term (I just don't have the stomach to deal with those kinds of inter-company politics and BS), working on this Harvey Dent novel has really whet my appetite for what I would do if they ever offered me a chance to play in their mighty cosmic sandbox.

In no particular order... )

The final five to come sooner or later. Quite possibly later. Or not at all. Life is eventful like that right now, as I pack up for the long drive to Cali-for-ni-aye.
thehefner: (Two-Face: ... FOREVER!!!)
Last week's post on Harvey's sides(s) in NIGHTWING: THE GREAT LEAP provoked some absolutely awesome discussion over at scans_daily (as well as on this very LJ), which was so great to see after all the work I put into that'un. I realize that most of these posts are catering to a specific niche, and will usually just get a handful of comments.

But hey, I love the character. And besides, when it comes to being the best damn comics-discussion community in the world... well, what can I say? I believe in [ profile] scans_daily (and, of course, all you fine minions--is that better, [ profile] lillbet--here on my flist).

That said, this week's entry is gonna be much lazier. No essays or opinion pieces, just a two-fisted double-feature of Harvey-centric short stories, both of which s_d old-timers will remember from the original community. In the first one, Harvey and his old buddy Commissioner "Jimbo" Gordon briefly reunite to track down none other than "Boss" Moroni himself (still alive in this story, natch).

In the second, Harvey fights a werewolf in Arkham. Because sure, why the hell not?

Unusual Two-Face pairings behind the cut! )

Finally, it seems only fitting to end this post with a preview of my upcoming entry on having finally seen Richard O'Brien's SHOCK TREATMENT, which I watched with Henchgirl. I find it hilarious to note that when this song happened, Henchgirl asked, "Do you know who this reminds me of?" And here I thought it was just me, the obsessed fanboy imposing his own fannishness into something that's not really there.

Why no, I didn't listen to this song (along with the rest of the SHOCK TREATMENT) soundtrack obsessively over my thirteen-hour drive back from Tuscaloosa. And I certainly didn't celebrate my memorization of "Duet Duel" by singing it as both Harvey and Two-Face. Heavens, no. *cough*
thehefner: (Donald Sutherland: J'ACCUSE!)

This story. Ohhhhhh, this fucking story.

Epic rant three months in the making behind the cut )

And that's what really burns me about BATMAN R.I.P. Because if Grant Morrison had simply used that character instead of creating an ambiguously one-note enemy with Dr. Hurt, then this truly would have been a Batman story that touched right at the roots of who he is and how he came to be.

That end of that last line is a reference, but it's okay if you don't get it. Because unlike Grant Morrison, I don't expect you guys to have read every single obscure Batman comic to understand what I'm writing.


God, it feels good to get that out, even if I'm still nervous about any backlash I might get from Morrison fans. Henchgirl asked, "You're just posting this to your LJ, right? Because if you post this at scans_daily, you're gonna get your ass handed to you."

I think many would agree with me, but I'm definitely not up for that level of fighting. Not with those kinds of fans just yet.
thehefner: (Batman: Rogues)
Few things bug me quite like missed opportunities. Stories that could have been brilliant, but due to a flaw or two, are rendered merely mediocre.

Ever read a story you wish you could rewrite? A story with awesome potential that's undone by fatal flaws? I have a couple. GANGS OF NEW YORK, for example, should have been purely about the struggle between Bill (Daniel Day-Lewis) and Priest (Liam Neeson), who was far more interesting in five minutes than DiCaprio and Diaz were the whole film.

But have you ever read a story that could have been vastly improved if they used a different character?

Here's what I mean. Take Matt Wagner's BATMAN: FACES for example:

In this story, a strangely theatrical and purple-prosed Two-Face kills off plastic surgeons, gets together a gang of circus freaks, and steals a blimp to take them all to a private island where disfigured people can have their own utopia.

Yeah. Doesn't really sound like the sort of thing Harvey would pull, does it? But imagine if Wagner used this guy instead:

Holy hell, not only would that have fit so much better, but it could have given poor Ozzie Cobblepot a much-needed awesome story! Because the Penguin is one of the most iconic Batman villains, and yet nobody seems to know what to do with him! Name me a brilliant Penguin story. It's hard, isn't it? That's not because he's a bad character by any stretch, as many fools mistakenly think.

The problem is, no one seems to write him consistently. Too many make him an ugly thug, a crass, nasty little wannabe Kingpin, when at best, the Penguin should be a master manipulator, a grandly theatrical criminal, capable of incredible cruelty but never losing his impeccable dapperness. But underneath it all is a deeply insecure little man who still burns with rage at the "slings and arrows of outrageous youth," one who would dearly love to strike back at the "beauty merchants" (as Two-Face called the in FACES) and create a place of peace for people like him.

Because Harvey's insecurity and vanity doesn't run nearly so deep as the Penguin's. And what a tragedy it would be for poor Ozzie, to say those climactic last lines to one of the disfigured men: "You cannot have a normal life! You're a freak! A freak!!!"

And how cutting it would be for him to simply hear, "But I am not a monster."

See? Would've been brilliant. But no, instead you have a story that wastes both Two-Face in a misused role and deprives the Penguin from an unusually fine story. Sigh.
thehefner: (Two-Face: ... FOREVER!!!)
So this was to be a post about the "Hal Jordan tries to fix Harvey Dent" issue of THE SPECTRE, but that's gonna require a lot more essay writing than is possible right now. I'm gonna actually have to bring in a special guest commentator (i.e. my loyal Henchgirl) to parse out that particularly frustrating story.

So instead, let's tie in the new and old years with this Two-Face Tuesday two-parter on a guy named Paul Sloane... AKA Two-Face.

"A-bwUUUHHH?!?!?!" I hear you gasp?

Actually, Sloane is one of five different Golden Age iterations of Two-Face. [ profile] superfan1 was kind enough to post the original Paul Sloane story at my request a couple weeks back, along with another non-Harvey-Dent Two-Face. But Sloane is notable in that he's the only other Two-Face to actually return to modern continuity!

In Part 1, I present excerpts DETECTIVE #580 an #581, by Mike W. Barr (who writes one of the corniest Two-Faces ever, full of terrible, smackable puns) with art by Jim Baikie.

The return of Paul Sloane: the OTHER Two-Face )

The idea of a new Two-Face is an intriguing prospect that should have been utilized while Harvey was "healed" in the years between HUSH and FACE THE FACE. A new Two-Face shouldn't be a carbon copy of the original, but should rather be used to explore themes of duality, fate, and justice in ways that Harvey Dent can't (or shouldn't), while Harvey himself could have gone on to have much more interesting character development as a wild card antihero. Not just for Harvey, but for Sloane as well, as you'll see soon enough.

Next week, Part 2: the great Ed Brubaker re-imagines Paul Sloane in 2003, published in a story that nobody noticed because everyone was reading HUSH instead.
thehefner: (Harvey Dent: I Believe In Harvey)
I have returned from Tuscaloosa with a Henchgirl and a stomach flu, to discover that the teaser trailer for the video game sequel to BATMAN: ARKHAM ASYLUM has made the rounds.

I couldn't actually play B:AA, so perhaps I missed out on a lot of the game's much-lauded appeal. I was expecting a lot more from it, between the Holy Trinity of Conroy, Hamill, and Sorkin united under the usually-superior pen of Paul Dini, and the rave reviews all-around. Instead, I found the dialogue to be far beyond Dini's usual standard, with the Joker being not that funny and Harley sounded rather more like Grant Morrison's tone-deaf Squeaky Fromme take from that abysmal BATMAN (purple) prose issue. I was holding out hope, that maybe it was all going somewhere really awesome. And then, yeah, not really.

Maybe it was more fun to play than to watch. Either way, I felt like the only person to be rather disappointed by the game.

That said, the trailer fills me with giddy geek glee. Hamill's laugh STILL makes my heart go aflutter, especially the way it's done there. The hints at the other villains to be included also pleases me gr... oh fuck it, if you watched that, you know exactly why *I'm* excited:

On one hand, I'm nervous about how this game might cock-up the character. On the other...*fingers crossed* get Richard Moll, get Richard Moll, ohpleaseohpleaseohplease get Richard Moll...
thehefner: (Two-Face: House of Cards)
I can actually find someone to have an epic discussion about adapting THE BROTHERS KARAMAZOV with Batman characters, starting with the Robins onward.

I originally came up with the idea for THE BROTHERS ROBIN with [ profile] surrealname back in college, even though he'd never actually read the book. Since then, I've been dying to find a Bat-fan who has! I just thank god I don't have the energy to actually write the fanfic, because let me tell you, it's now more tempting than ever!
thehefner: (Venture Bros: Theatre People)
Coming at this a week late, but whatever...

Everything about the much-publicized musical episode of BATMAN: THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD--starring Neil Patrick Harris!!!--should have resulted in an utterly delightful episode tailor-made for the showtune-loving-superhero-fan in me.

Henchgirl and I were giddy at the prospect, squealing with glee when Black Manta pirouetted in the first couple minutes. But then it was all downhill from there. The story, and everything involving Black Canary* was bad enough, but what really did it were the songs.Oh god, I hated the songs. Hated them. They were like every lame showtune that comes on the Broadway radio channel, the kind Henchgirl and I listen to for about a minute before going, "Wow, this sucks," and changing the station.

Then again, we have particular tastes when it comes to showtunes. Henchgirl summed up our dislike of the episode by saying, "Well, we live in a post-WICKED world." Which is to say, neither of us have actually seen WICKED, but every time we hear one of the songs on Broadway radio (and I make it a point to listen to them all the way through), we're just shocked by how much we hate them.

Blasphemy, I know. I tried to give it a shot, I really did! Henchgirl always wanted to change the station, but I said, "No, we need to listen to this all the way through to give it a fair shot!" And maybe, maybe it all works better in context, so perhaps I need to actually see WICKED on stage to judge it properly. Still, you should have seen my face as we listened to "For Good" and "Defying Gravity." I'm told that my contorted look of disgust was pretty epic. Henchgirl says, "It looked like you were melting. It was amazing."

So maybe TB&TB's musical episode was actually "good" in the sense that it successfully tapped into the kind of popular musical like your WICKEDs, your RENTs, your LES MISERABLES/MISS SAIGONs, and--of course--your Webbers (pretty much all Andrew Lloyd Webber, save for JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR). You know, the musicals I hate.

But me, I was hoping for a different kind of musical style to ape. I'm not asking for Kander & Ebb or Sondheim,** but good lord, with NPH in tow, I was at least hoping for a Bat-flavored DR. HORRIBLE. And this is ME talking! The Joss Anti-Fan! I disliked BUFFY, yet the BUFFY musical episode was enough to hook me into the series! Why couldn't we have that kind of quality for BATMAN, even if it's just the "kid-friendly" version?

Really, the only song that I found even decently enjoyable is this one. And even then, it's mainly for the cameos.

But hey, it could have been worse. At least it wasn't the aborted Tim Burton BATMAN musical by Jim Steinman. I don't know if even the delightfulness of NPH could have pulled off songs like this:

Not that I wouldn't pay good money to hear Mark Hamill try. For a minute.

*The prospect of a Black Canary voiced by Grey DeLisle--and looking like Veronica Lake drawn by Darwyn Cooke--should have been far, far more wonderful than what we actually got: a lame "I love Batman" motivation, a series of dry "Will he ever love me?"songs, and a fickle inexplicable turnaround to loving Ollie (like she should have done all along).

**I just showed Henchgirl SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE (after already showing her INTO THE WOODS and the Hearn/Lansbury SWEENEY TODD, which is the *only* SWEENEY TODD in our estimation) and spent 2/5ths of the film sobbing. God, it's getting worse. I just need to hear three specific notes to make me burst into tears.

I don't know what the hell it is about this damn musical that affects me so. Henchgirl says it's because it's about the struggle of being an artist. Makes sense, but I don't see why that should be any reason I ought to get misty every time I hear Bernadette Peters sing.
thehefner: (Batman: I Am The Night)
Baltimore Comic Con has thrown me off the wagon. Hard. I am now scouring eBay to find:

-- 1.) Every single issue of the Timmverse animated Batman comics. That's THE BATMAN ADVENTURES, BATMAN AND ROBIN ADVENTURES, BATMAN: GOTHAM ADVENTURES, and BATMAN ADVENTURES (I have no interest in BATMAN BEYOND). Because at their best, these really are some of the finest Batman comics I have ever read, period. Time and again, I read an issue that makes me go, "YES. *THAT* is what I love about these characters." There's more consistent quality from these runs than almost anything else I see in canon DCU, and it pains me that these aren't better known nor loved by kids and adults alike.

... and...

-- 2.) Every single major Two-Face appearance ever. Well, at least some of the more obscure ones from around 1976-1990.

Here are some cover scans of the ones I'm looking for specifically, for parties interested in old back issues. )

I'm totally doing that Two-Face-centric blog at some point. I managed to salvage the old essays I wrote for [ profile] scans_daily (my three-part Gilda retrospective! "The Ballad of Harvey and Renee!" "Harvey Dent: Comic Writer?" And the classic, "It Sucks to be Harvey Dent!"), and I plan to revise them accordingly with more insight and whatnot. Ooh, ooh, I can finally have an excuse to do that essay about how Harvey has been the trial by fire for all the male Robins. I'll say it again, he's the Wacky Uncle of the Bat-Family!

Of course, none of that will happen until I've finished the first draft of a new show for Fringe 2010. Such geeky self-indulgence shall be my reward. And this, ladies and gents, is why Heffie never does NaNoWriMo.
thehefner: (Batman: I Am The Night)
But back to comic book stuff for the moment.

So I'm finally starting to read Grant Morrison's BATMAN run in trade form. I had only ever skimmed the issues in the store and read whatever was posted on [ profile] scans_daily, and was regularly left feeling either cold or frustrated. But it wasn't fair to judge until I'd actually sat down and read the bloody thing, right?

So from the library, I've picked up BATMAN AND SON and THE RESURRECTION OF RA'S AL GHUL* and read them quite thoroughly. Well, except for the goddamned Joker prose issue. That shit was more purple than Mr. J's wardrobe. It was like bad fanfic, and I never realized just how horribly out-of-character Harley Quinn was until the Henchgirl read Harl's dialogue aloud.

Here's a rule of thumb Henchgirl taught me in regards to reading Batman stories: if you can't hear a character's lines being spoken by their BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES voice-over counterparts, that means they're badly written.

But that's the thing about Grant Morrison. He doesn't at all seem interested in writing Batman stories. All he cares about are writing Grant Morrison stories.

Nothing wrong with that, really. After all, a lot of people love that. Morrison is one of the biggest rock stars in comics today (for reasons I honestly don't entirely fathom, tbh). Many people who love Grant Morrison's run say things about how they haven't been this excited for a Batman comic in years, that this is the first time the Joker's ever actually been scary**, all this stuff that indicates to me that these people never really liked Batman in the first place.

But they like Grant Morrison, who only ever writes Grant Morrison stories, and I can't fault anyone for that (much as my passive-aggressive tone would indicate that I really would like to try anyway). It's a personal preference.

But when it comes to superhero comics... well, by and large, my preference is not for the writer, but for the characters. When I read a Batman comic, it's for the characters first and foremost, not the writer. Morrison is a writer who uses characters to serve his own ideas, rather than letting the characters serve the story (in the way that Paul Dini does, on his best days). And it drives me bloody bonkers.

To make matters worse is his obsession with obscure Batman stories, particularly from the silly and cracktacular Silver Age. Now look, I know full well that if I were writing comics, I'd mine material directly from, say, some utterly forgotten issue of THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD by Bob Haney and Jim Aparo. My love of these stories fuels my writing of them, and I'm a great believer in employing the richness of continuity and past stories.

But you know who else is? Geoff Johns. He gets a lot of shit for this, but the real genius to his method is that he actually takes the time to catch new readers up to speed with who these characters are without bogging the story down. And it can be relatively subtle too. Take his reintroduction of Arisia, how he managed to bring her up just enough to make her revelation actually mean something to the newbie reader.

Morrison doesn't give a shit about that. He plucks out characters like I-Ching, the Sensei, and the entire Zurr En Arrh bullshit, and just throws them in there with no explanation nor reason for anyone to care if they aren't as well-versed in DC Comics circa 1955-1975. It gives off the impression of elitist arrogance, a smirking fuck-you to people who aren't hip enough to see all the clever, brilliant shit he's doing.

But then, maybe I'm just projecting those feelings after years of having Morrison fanatics telling me that I don't like Grant Morrison because I don't "get" Grant Morrison. No, I get Morrison all right. I just happen to have much less interest in stories about wacky ideas and wanky concepts over actual character.

That said, god damn me, I think I actually kinda like Damian. If I'm understanding my HP well enough without having read any, I dare say he's kind of like if Batman adopted Draco Malfoy. Oh god, I feel doubly dirty for admitting that. But yeah, [ profile] nymphgalatea, I'm totally seeing it now.

I may post further thoughts once I've properly read THE BLACK GLOVE and BATMAN R.I.P. Or maybe I'll just fume with frustration in silence, venting only to my poor Henchgirl who must suffer this experience with me. Even if fandom and DC are turning to Morrison's Morrisonny vision at the expense of true Batman stories, at least I know I have a girlfriend fangirl with whom I can always commiserate. And that's priceless.

*Wow, so the editor in charge of coordinating this multi-title crossover was totally asleep, right? Because how else to explain the jarring changes in scene and lack of character depiction? Like, aaaaand suddenly Ra's--who has suddenly gone from being a bald monk to looking exactly like his classic self--is strangling Damian in the middle of an epic battle that somehow just started happening while no one was looking?

WTF is up with Alfred defending Damian in that RA'S AL GHUL story? Yes, Tim's attacks on Damian are unprovoked, but, um, didn't you forget that this is the same little psycho who tried to fucking murder Tim a few days earlier?!

**Do NOT get me fucking started. Morrison's Joker, and the love of so many fans for it, drives me up the frelling wall.
thehefner: (Joker: He stole my balloons!)
Holy crap, but turning your TV color settings to black and white makes Tim Burton's BATMAN movie ten times more awesome than it ever was. Good call, [ profile] bitemetechie!

Watching this with Mom, she put it best: "Why the hell wasn't it always like this???" It just all fits so well, especially in the scenes were you see the architecture and set design of Anton Furst's Gotham. I used to feel like those looked dated and stagey, but in B&W, it becomes a true classic throwback to German Expressionist cinema. Seriously, speaking as someone who has fallen entirely out of love with the Burton films over the years, just the simple act of changing color settings on my TV has reinvigorated the entire viewing experience.

Not to say that it's a still a good movie. Egad, no. Maybe having it edited as a silent film, accompanied by just Danny Elfman's amazing soundtrack and give it the full Fritz Lang/F.W. Murnau treatment, thereby playing to the film's true strengths without the distractions of things like the Prince soundtrack and Vicki Vale.

Ugh, god, how did any of us stand Basinger's character? She's worse than Katie Holmes' Rachel Dawes. She's so insufferably vapid and shrieky, it's hard to believe that three characters (Bruce, Joker, and Knox) are infatuated with her. Also, when she's not screaming, she's making quick little yelps like a chihuahua. Anyone else notice this?

Man, Michael Keaton's career never recovered from these films, did it? The guy was magnificent, a powerhouse of intense mad energy, but ever since these films, he's been... where? I honestly don't know! He deserved better. Even if, whatever it was he was playing here, it wasn't Bruce Wayne nor Batman. He plays Bruce like a shifty awkward nerd who can't even talk to girls, like a creepier version of Christopher Reeve's bumbling Clark Kent. And his Batman... well, Batman doesn't kill, plain and simple.

Burton's BATMAN films--especially BATMAN RETURNS--have always worked best as films about the director's own visions. If they were about original characters, I might well enjoy them more than I do. Or maybe not. Maybe I never would be able to take the style over the substance, or the lack thereof, but god damn if watching 'em in black and white doesn't go a long way to help. Maybe someday, I'll try it on RETURNS and see if it bestows some beauty onto that unremittingly ugly film.

Also, every single second Billy Dee Williams was on screen as Harvey, I thought, "Never before has heartwrenching homicidal angst been so smoooooth."
thehefner: (Two Face: A Lonely Place of Dying)
So how did I celebrate getting the Winnipeg Traffic Authority to forgive my $50 ticket for parking illegally on their ill-marked and confusing streets?

Why, by going to an awesome used book shop and blowing $100+ on old comics! )

So yes, a pretty awesome haul, all considered. Even the bad stuff has given me food for thought, which is the best one can hope for when it comes to bad stuff. If you've read any of the above, do post your own impressions and recommendations as to where to go from here!

September 2012

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