Batman & Harley Quinn

BATMAN and HARLEY QUINN a refreshing update and nostalgic nod with a heavy dose of adult.

Batman and Harley had me at the title and I was even more excited when I noticed Kevin Conroy lending his voice once again to the Batman. What I wasn’t aware of is that not only did this look and sound like the animation I loved as a kid, with the super-long Batmobile and the super-flat Batwing… it sure wasn’t geared for the kid I was but for the adult I now am.

The things Nightwing does for Gotham

No, I don’t read about these things before I watch them, I like to be surprised and then write about it from a fresh perspective, so with the opening scene I realized this ain’t my weekday evening/Saturday morning batman. At first reaction I was all “WTF is this shizz, TIMM??” But I remembered that the previous movie with Timm’s style in it – Justice League: Gods and Monsters – had a healthy dose of adult themes plus robotic “nudity”, so…  I then stepped back and just accepted it for what it is. Not unlike what Genndy Tartakovsky did with the final season of Samurai Jack it looked as if Bruce Timm and Co. brought the nostalgia with all those staples from the series plus the bonus of being aged to the audience that it raised from adolescence.

Bird is the word.

I’m not really sure what to compare this to aside from what I’ve already mentioned but I feel it needs to be stressed that this isn’t for kids. So don’t expect to spend a weekend bingeing on the original series with your kiddos to have a smooth transition into this, it’s chock full of language and sexual innuendos and all sorts of adultsy stuff. But if you do spend that weekend bingeing on the series and the kids finally fall asleep it would be a nice late night cuddle and watch for the more conservative of us Xer’s.

  There are touching moments lending to mortality and humanity in general that I found flowed smoothly with the storyline and as ever when Poison Ivy is concerned there’s an eco-friendly albeit psychopathic message to be found ~ save the Planet at the cost of the people!

Fans looking for strong female characters may rejoice since all the good punches were thrown by the gals, so expect to see Bats and Nightwing get more than a little trounced most of the time – being highly trained martial artists with years of brawling experience – while Harley and Ivy steal the show.

Overall I enjoyed it. This was quite refreshing with its gags and pacing and overall tone. Seeing Bruce Timm’s artistic style back in animation again with the characters we love is one thing but giving them the kind of story and personality you always knew they had but could only hope to see made this one animated movie I’m glad to add to my collection.

I hope you put on some popcorn and give it a watch noting all the things I wanted to put into this blog post but for the sake of spoiler-whiners refrained.

Enjoy!

-VagueRant

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Forgot about Tim Drake

Hi there, it’s been a while. I’ve been fine, just busy in other areas of my life but that’s a story for another time – if I decide to get around to it.

Recently I’ve caught up on movies flying under the radar for lack of general interest in the superhero genre of entertainment. Anyone that knows me knows that if the train is full of passengers that are all going the same destination I’ll probably jump off, finding my path the long way. That’s definitely been the case now due to the super-saturation of super-heroes in nearly every facet of media these days.

Too much of a good thing I guess.

So the DC Universe Animated (not to be confused with kid-friendly, Saturday-morning DC Animated Universe) and most notably the Batman series of flicks have been fun and the detail they go into giving Batman a near flawless martial arts style is amazing (sometimes I catch myself re-winding the scenes just to watch them again in slow motion).

After binge-watching the movies Son of Batman then Batman Vs. Robin and the newly released Batman: Bad Blood I couldn’t help wondering: So, where the hell is Tim Drake?

Any reader of Batman comics should know that name, but if you don’t and you just happen upon this at random and decided to kill some time I’ll fill you in: Dick Grayson was the original Robin, then he grew up, got pugnacious toward his father-like figure and decided to be Nightwing instead. This left a sidekick void in the dynamic duo and soon a kid named Jason Todd found himself under Batman’s guidance becoming the next incarnation of Robin. Readers hated him so Todd, as Robin, was killed off by Joker. Batman, feeling guilty, went on a Robin strike for a while until a young Tim Drake decided to worm his way into the heart of the Caped Crusader and thus became the third and, boldly, best incarnation of Robin.

Of course with the re-tooling of the DC Universe, in the form of 52, things have changed for the character, nevertheless it makes me wonder about his absence in the animated films.

I get that Grayson is a great go-to for fans both burgeoning and long-time alike and he’s personally my favorite non-super-powered, non-Batman character of all time. They made a complete movie about Todd; three movies now with Damian all angsty and childish and mofo’s acting like they forgot about Drake.

I’ve tried doing searches on the topic and have come to no conclusion and it’s weird that these writers/producers and etc. of the films would introduce new Bat-people in the latest film – with an extra kick to the figurative balls of the fictional character in the last minutes of Bad Blood just before the credits. Not even Red Robin (yum!) but Batwing? I don’t get it. I mean if they were afraid of an over-saturation of bat-themed characters they really should have quit a few bats ago. It still doesn’t really explain Drake’s lack of presence and I can’t be the only person that notices this or *gulps* cares.

Maybe?

All this retcon and rehashing of tired themes and trite characters has taken it’s toll on this middle-aged dude. It’s probably one of the crappiest things about having grown up in the late 80’s-90’s reading comics (and their absolute worthlessness now saddens me but for the kindling it may someday provide).

Eventually I may do reviews on the movies. I’ll have to re-visit them and take notes. I’ve been meaning to do the same for the Direct-to-Video Justice League: Gods and Monsters; in short I liked it. The mystery is “why”.

Thank you. Come again!

-VR

NA = Ninja. Assassin.

This is fiction based loosely on reality. The fact that I would have to disclaimer this worries me.

The company I work for is not too far from being a cult. The only real thing lacking is doctrine. That’s ok because if you work for them they will change your life too. See they not only plan for inevitable change, they look forward to the possibilities. They are known for gasoline, but they know it won’t last forever so they started selling food like they’re a restaurant. Yeah, it’s a convenient store open 24/7, 365. I am an NA.

When hired on I didn’t know what to expect other than working my ass off cleaning a store all night long. What came after the ability to successfully maintain and detail a store was the classes they would send me to. When you walk into one of these stores everything looks normal, right? It all looks perfectly harmless in its uni-functionary way but what I’ve since learned is that everything is a weapon. From the type of mechanical pencils and generic pens to the hardware that rolls and warms taquitos, everything is a weapon. They teach us how to use them in special “skill school” sessions held at the division office dojo. It really is the only way to let off steam sometimes from dealing with the general newport-smoking populace and their need for original swisher’s and whether their random choice has a wood or plastic tip. They like to come in brandishing weapons sometimes and their attitudes are as unpredictable as the Texas weather. A daily allotment worksheet makes it to where we are in proximity to different “weapons” at all intervals of the shift.

I know what you’re thinking as you’re reading this and I want to put your mind at ease. Those of us they have chosen as NA’s have already been trained in various forms of martial arts and many of us even have military training. We are disciplined and will only resort to violence if any problem escalates violently out of control before the police arrive. It hasn’t been necessary yet. Even as I write this I wonder if it will lead some random punk to try something. Well, if it comes to that just know most of us aren’t afraid to die. You won’t get any money and you won’t get far. You will only succeed in shortening your own life as a free moral agent.

-VR

The Duplex Pt.1

A few years ago a boy and a girl met each other through average circumstances, happening time and again, that found them getting closer and closer to each other until the day came when they were holding hands. They married. It was a mixed reception – the news of their marriage, not the reception – because there wasn’t one: they had eloped.

Years later, trial filled years later, they brought into the world a baby boy. This baby, the culmination of the light and love his parents had for each other made manifest into the form of a human being they named Avery. The parents, though loving their son, suddenly found their once endearing differences being too difficult to live with and chose to split up. Not wanting the family to be completely separated the dad suggested selling their current house and moving into a duplex. The mother initially protested saying it would be too weird potentially seeing her once husband bringing guests home and she didn’t want it to be weird for him either, in retrospect. The dad, considering her thoughts, still pressed the practicality of the idea, how it will help their situation while giving their son a modern sense of family (though grumbling under his breath at the idea of dating again). Mom reluctantly agreed.Duplex

Many weekends wasted productively and one exhausted Realtor later the mom and dad found a place they could agree upon. It was two-story, had three bedrooms that mirrored one another, a sizable kitchen space and a joint laundry facility. They moved in, each parent to their chosen place of residence with the rearmost bedroom for their son. One day when the dad tried to install a wall-mounted shelf in his sons room on his side of the duplex he knocked a hole through the wall revealing a large square frame in the support structure that could be used to make a door or passageway between the two sides of the duplex. The mom wasn’t so happy about the mess of the discovery and though they fixed the hole into a passageway they covered it up with a bookshelf and some curtains. It remained so for many years until one day…..

-VR

Prime pain.

Maybe you’re one of the lucky one’s, though if you’re reading this there’s a significant chance you’re not.

Transformers Prime
Free? Ha! We'll teach you the meaning!

This Easter weekend there is a buy-one-get-one[…] sale at Toys ‘R’ Us on several different items. What I’m interested in are the Transformers Prime Deluxe figures. I don’t know what it is about animated series’ and their figures but I have to have them all! ALL!! *insert crazy laugh*

When I rolled off the couch this morning and when I went out to the driveway to pick up the news paper from the next town over – somehow we keep getting them but I won’t complain – there was no idea in my head that I would be driving all over the place trying to get a free DVD.

Yeah, you read that right. Not only could I buy a figure at full price and get another for half the price but since the purchase would put me barely over $20 I could get a free DVD too. And heck, maybe 2 if I wanted!

Well it didn’t happen.

Seems Toys “R” Us got the sales paper all printed and the stores all ready for all the offers – and there are plenty, which reminds me… – without shipping Transformers Prime DVD’s to their stores. I guess the “free” part of the deal meant that you’re “free” of having them in your possession. Oh well.

Maybe it’s just a North Texas thing, maybe it’s an all-over thing. I only tried 2 local stores. But if you, random reader, have gotten the DVD along with your full and-a-half priced figures then count yourself among the elite.

-VR

Update: I got the DVDs!
A very Lucky employee at one of the local TrU called me Saturday morning with the news that they had finally gotten the DVDs in. I picked them up only to realize that you really do get what you pay for – sometimes less than what you pay for too – and “free” isn’t much to pay.

Now, let’s see if the Freebird’s/Edge Fest free tickets deal is something to be excited about.

Madhouse’s ::Redline:: High-octane Entertainment!

Movie Poster

It’s only just recently that I’ve even heard of this film and that was by some accident I can’t even remember. That totally knocks my fandom down to just below “avid”.

When I watched it I wasn’t sure why I was so out of the loop. Oh and it was amazing!

 After reading that Madhouse produced it I knew the animation was going to be interesting. Madhouse always manages to hyper-stylize their animations to a sometimes nauseating degree but always manage to pull it off with a story that keeps you watching. Redline wasn’t the exception and I found it enjoyable all the same. Oh, and it may come as no surprise that Redline isn’t for kids.

Alien child with parent.

The best way I can describe the movie would be to compare it to that of Episode I having been directed by Wachowski’s, i.e. Speed Racer and animated to boot.

Typical Redline fans.

  Redline appealed to the senses that mattered. The music fit the scenes, the scenes were interesting enough to cover up some weak parts of the story, the story was a typical lucky-reckless-underdog-beats-all-odds-gets-girl type love story. A little cliché. Sounds dull but they add a few sub-stories for an overall grasp of the Universe not to mention they do throw in a little nudity, if you’re into that sort of thing animated. It’s really only when the characters finally make it to the Redline races that all hell breaks loose and we’re able to kick back and enjoy it.

The racers that we want to succeed in this film are human while the other racers are alien. There are several eccentric humanoid characters like the violent Batman/Robin knockoffs (which I found pretty funny) and the undefeated Redline champion who modifies his body for direct interfacing with his car. Craziness!

The Action, the Suspense!

Since it’s based in a fictitious interstellar setting we’re slightly, visually graced with an odd assortment of creatures and cultures watching the live coverage of the races like so many avid NASCAR fans. But this is nothing like NASCAR. I actually enjoyed it.

That’s really all I have to say. Inspired, no?

-VR

Invincible… rabbit trails… Invincible!

Amid a world filled with tired themes and worn-out plot-lines

Invincible Vol.#8

it’s difficult to judge accurately a book that, for all appearances, looks like every other book out there. Ryan Ottley, illustrator for Image comic’s Invincible, summed it up nicely within the first couple sentences of the foreword published in the 8th trade volume of Invincible:

When Invincible first hit the stands in early 2002, I remember picking it up off the shelves at my local comic shop, and then setting it right back down. I said to myself “BAH, who needs ANOTHER super-hero book anyway?!?” And I passed on it.

Back when Invincible came out I was still a big Wolverine fan. Don’t ask me why but there is a significant appeal to a short, moody, hairy Canadian berserker bad-ass with metal (or bone) claws coming out of his fists… if you’re an angry teenager. My Wolverine obsession only began diminishing by the time the second movie came out.

Around that time Image comics didn’t have anything that truly interested me and if they did I couldn’t find it anywhere, i.e. BRASS Sure, they cornered the supernatural market with books like Witchblade and The Darkness and even Spawn had managed to eventually tie into that whole magical/supernatural genre and I wasn’t interested at all. The art in Savage Dragon looked drawn by an eleven year old and even after a decade it hadn’t made much progress in the way of story. Nor was I interested in seeing superhero archetypes in homosexual relationships/situations either. I knew what I wanted to know about all those books and it seemed likely that Image just couldn’t cater to my needs.

So when I saw Invincible No.1 sitting on the shelf it initially drew my attention but only slightly and very similar to Ottley’s reaction in the quote above; I thumbed through the book and, looking back, remember thinking, Well… let’s see how long this title lasts and maybe I’ll give it a try.

Yes, that’s a horrible way to think.

I know. *sigh*

Especially about a comic book!

I said I know! Sheesh!

Since then I’ve humbly come to learn the error of my ways. And my practice – when I can afford them and am so far behind in the storyline – is to buy the trades.

But back then I was single and didn’t mind dropping so much on Marvel’s MC2 books like Spider-Girl and The Buzz and enjoying Deadpool/Agent-X – among many others – that it just didn’t seem right for me to start another potential flop superhero book from Image. Plus my closet space was slowly being taken up by several, large long-boxes.

My experience with ill-fated books goes a little something like this, though only slightly varied by titles and circumstances….

There’s a book called Iron Wings of which Image published only two issues

Wizard dude
Kaa-meh!.... Haaaa-meh!....

around a decade ago. The artwork was fantastic; the story was leading into something epic and I looked for more but there was none. Maybe Jay Juch was too lazy to keep it going a few more issues; maybe the higher-ups just didn’t want to take a risk on something even Wizard seemed less enthralled by – since I don’t ever recall reading about it within their pages. I don’t know what happened to it. At one point I did email the author when I found his address in the back of an issue, asking him if there are more books in the works only for him to say he had “moved on to other projects”. I sure haven’t seen anything, whatever they were (to be). Image has a lot of comics that just… vanish… after a couple of issues if Half Price book stores haven’t proved that much to me over the years. It happened with many books, titles and publishers not solely with Image but that was the image I had of Image, I’m sad to say.

Invincible….

I’ve just finished trade volume 9. I’m a fan.

This is a really well-written book. Even the villains grow on you.

It’s groundbreaking.

Yeah, I know that’s a major thing to say but it’s a comic book and when I read a book that has this much violence it’s only natural to expect all the characters to be d-bags or the main character to be a whiny, reluctant loser and that’s not the case at all.

The main character – Mark Grayson aka Invincible – isn’t written with a cocky attitude. His powers haven’t gone to his head. He makes mistakes but works through them and his supporting characters really do lend him support. The teenage drama he faces is relatable and the super-heroics, although not on the sMarkGrayson-Invinciblecale of other more seasoned super-type books, have built up with every issue obviously destined for some unknown outcome.

Robert Kirkman has essentially re-created the sandwich in comic form. I’m not talking PB&J here but a real sandwich, something like what you would order at Subway only to realize after the second or third bite that it is the most awesome sandwich you’ve ever eaten and you’re a freaking genius.

Now I will admit it took me a while to adjust to all the nauseatingly bright colors within the book and the repetitious panels seemed a bit lazy at first but for certain scenes the simplicity fits perfectly. At first the art was a little hard to take in but that’s when I began to focus on the story, using the artwork solely for reference. Before I knew it I was five trades in and I’ve been sucked in nearly five trades more. I can’t say whether the art has improved much or not but at this point I really couldn’t care any less.

I’m way behind other readers and fans of Invincible and I’m fine with that. Unlike other books I’ve read that are just as addictive I don’t mind waiting. I’ve even managed to score some really cheap trades off Amazon so that has been really nice – more bang for my buck.

Yeah, says you! Everyone’s a critic. 🙂

-VR