Archive for the ‘DC Comics’ Category

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One of the darkest chapters in Batman lore has received its very own adaptation from DC’s famed and often celebrated animation line. But does The Killing Joke live up to previous classic Bat-animations like Mask of the Phantasm, and the more recent Dark Knight Returns?

Seeing how this is a classic Batman-Joker story, with classic Batman and Joker voice actors, what could possibly go wrong? Right? That’s how I went into this one anyway. Unfortunately, my high expectations left me rather disappointed. I guess I’ll just get right to it. The screenwriters for this movie completely broke Alan Moore’s story. I understand that it’s a short story, and that it would have to be fluffed out to make a feature film, but if you’re going to make the commitment to film it, the least you could do is not screw it up. In Moore’s story, Barbara Gordon may have just been a side character to move the plot forward, but they’ve somehow managed to make that worse. The first thirty minutes of this movie is a kind of prologue to the actual story of The Killing Joke, and to be honest, it’s one that doesn’t work well at all. It feels like something completely separate, mostly because it is. That half hour could have been completely removed and the movie would have been much better for it.

Now for the good parts. As always, when you have such professionals as Kevin Conroy (Batman) and Mark Hamill (Joker), a large part of the story and quality of the film is going to hinge on their performances. Both do an excellent job here. Hamill’s Joker is as chilling as ever and Conroy’s Batman is perhaps his most stoic performance of the character. Sometimes Conroy even came off a bit too stoic for me with a few line deliveries that were kind of flat for my liking. Those minor few instances aside, the voice actors are what kept this from being a total travesty.

Overall, I was really disappointed with this one. The source material and the voice cast set my expectations pretty high, but the way the screenwriters totally butchered the story left a very sour taste in my mouth. I know Alan Moore is typically not a fan of his work being adapted, so much so that he refuses to have his name credited on the movie adaptations, this one was no exception, and honestly, I can’t say that I blame him.

The Verdict for Batman: The Killing Joke:
2 out of 5

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Until next time,
Stay nerdy, my friends.

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The first big superhero fight movie of the year has arrived, but is it the movie powerhouse that we all expected it to be, or does it crumble beneath the weight of its own hype? Guess you’ll just have to keep reading to find out.

Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice begins eighteen months after the events of Man of Steel. An aging Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) has been practicing his Batman style vigilantism in Gotham City for about twenty years. He also happened to be in Metropolis on the day that Superman (Henry Cavill) and General Zod had their catastrophic fight that leveled many city blocks. Bruce is fully aware of the destruction that these super-powered aliens can cause. Their immense power is also noticed by Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg), who views it as a tremendous threat to humanity, and actively searches for a way to keep such power in check.

Ok. Where to start. I guess the story itself. The plot and pacing for this movie are all over the place. Within the first ten minutes, we’ve already been whisked to at least four different settings and time periods. Scenes are obviously short, so there’s no real way to get a grasp of the characters. We only get vague notions of their motivations, mostly because we already know who these characters are from decades of other stories in other media. The movie tries to be a form of Batman origin story, but the attempt comes off half-hearted, mainly because it feels so rushed. The inspiration for Batman’s origin very clearly comes from Frank Miller’s iconic Dark Knight Returns mini-series, as do many other elements in the movie. I feel, if the storyline had been more focused on that work, rather than trying to merge it with another famous DC Comics storyline, and establishing the existence of other heroes in the universe, it may have been served a little better. Which brings me to yet another point, this movie is incredibly overstuffed. We already have the titanic figures that are Batman and Superman, but then Wonder Woman (played by Gal Godot) gets thrown into the mix, plus the introduction of other heroes, plus the plot of the antagonist. It’s just too much. It suffers from the same fate that ultimately doomed Amazing Spider-Man 2, too much going on, not enough substance and characterization. So many elements could have been trimmed down to make a tighter, more personal movie.

On to the acting. This was actually one of the brighter spots in the movie. Ben Affleck is definitely NOT the worst Batman ever, that honor still belongs to George Clooney. Affleck does a pretty good job in the role, to be honest. I just wish there were more of him AS Batman. Cavill reprises his role as the big blue boy scout, and plays the part about as well as he did the first time around, so no real complaints there. Godot as Wonder Woman holds her own, but again, the character felt kind of tacked on. Now to the one blemish, Eisenberg’s Luthor. I’m not really sure what he was going for with this portrayal, it kind of felt like a mash up of Heath Ledger’s psychotic Joker and Kevin Spacey’s own version of Luthor from Superman Returns. There are moments where Eisenberg is trying to play up sinister sarcasm or wit, and it just come off laughable.

There are two things at which director Zack Snyder excels; action and making a movie look good. It definitely has his signature style with its slick visuals and massive action set pieces. And to that end, the movie looks amazing. The fight scenes are spectacular and on a similar scale to the ones seen in 2013’s Man of Steel. Larger than life characters throwing haymakers across a cityscape and hurtling into one another makes for an interesting fifteen to twenty minutes, but over the course of a two and a half hour movie, it can’t really support the whole production on its own.

Overall, it’s not as bad as the other reviews are making it out to be, but it’s certainly not a movie that I would consider good either. For the most part, it’s all style with very little substance, kind of like firing blanks from a gun; you get the flash, you get the bang, but there’s no payoff at the other end.

The Verdict for Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice:
3 out of 5

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Until next time,
Stay nerdy, my friends.

Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason’s Batman & Robin series provides perhaps the most interesting premise in all four of DC’s “New 52” Batman centered books; however, it doesn’t seem to actually pull off that premise very well.

The story starts off in Moscow, where someone claiming to be an “ally of the Bat” apprehends a criminal, only to be brutally beaten a few moments later by an invisible force who calls himself “Nobody.”   From there we’re sent back to the familiar confines of Wayne Manor, in Gotham City.  Here we find Bruce Wayne sulking alone, as he has been known to do, staring at a picture of his parents and declaring that it is time for a change.  He wakes up his son, Damian, to go out a little early for their nightly patrol.  Yes, in case you were wondering, Bruce and Damian Wayne are Batman and Robin, respectively.  They’re starting a little early tonight, because Bruce wants to take Damian to the place where everything started, where Batman began, in Crime Alley, so that he can remember what happened there one last time before it is torn down and revitalized.  He also claims that from here on out, he will no longer remember the day his parents died, but rather celebrate the date of their wedding anniversary.  Damian does not seem to appreciate the Wayne legacy as much as his father does, which leads to some light bickering between the two.  When they arrive in the alley via the sewer system, Bruce has a mini memorial where he remembers how everything occurred all those years ago that made him who he is today.  This however, is cut short by a report of a disturbance at Gotham University.  Batman and Robin rush out of the sewer system to investigate, and find a very dangerous robbery going on.

For the most part, Peter Tomasi’s writing here is good, and as I mentioned, the idea of Batman and Robin being a father-son team is probably the most interesting part of this book because it adds a whole new dynamic to the relationship between the characters that we’ve never seen before.  To add to this, Damian/Robin is written as very sarcastic, often talking back to his father in a very harsh and disrespectful manner.  While this makes for an interesting story, it also seems as though it causes Batman to speak in some uncharacteristic and even childish ways.  It almost seems like Bruce is being brought down to Damian’s level, which doesn’t seem like something a character as strong as Batman would do.  On the positive side, Nobody seems like he’s going to make a very intriguing villain in the Bat-universe.

Gleason’s artwork is pretty good, although it doesn’t seem to be anything spectacular.  I would have liked to have seen a little bit more detail on some of the character drawings, but other than that I have no real complaints about the art.  It works well enough for this story.  The two page splash of Batman and Robin in the middle of the story is definitely the highlight of the artwork in this issue.

Overall, this is a pretty good book, but with the greatness that has already been put out there with the Detective Comics and Batman first issues, this one just doesn’t seem to compare to either of those.  On the other hand, I am looking forward to seeing how Tomasi fleshes out the villain, Nobody, and how he continues to write the relationship between Bruce and Damian but it would have to be a great story in order to make up for such an awkward and uncharacteristic depiction of Batman.

Scott Snyder & Greg Capullo’s take on Batman is fantastic.  The story glides with seemingly minimal effort to a cliffhanger ending that has me very much anticipating issue #2.

The issue starts off by taking a broader look at Gotham City and what it means to the people who live there, and then it quickly moves into a massive fight between Batman and some of his greatest enemies within the walls of Arkham Asylum, where it appears that one of the workers is involved in some less than legal activities.  During the course of the melee, Batman seems to recruit a very unusual partner to help him fight off the villains.  From here the story moves away from Batman for a short time and focuses more on Bruce Wayne at a dinner party, where he reveals to Gotham’s elite his plans to rebuild and revitalize the city from the decrepit condition it is currently in.  However, in the midst of the party he is pulled back into his detective work as the Dark Knight when he gets word of a grisly murder across town, and it only gets better after that with some key clues he finds at the crime scene.

Scott Snyder writes a brilliant first issue here, with wonderful pacing and just enough action in the first few pages to completely hook readers for the rest of the issue, if not the rest of this story arc.  The writing flows so well that I just kept turning pages and was actually surprised when I reached the end because I had lost all concept of how far I was into the issue.  Snyder has written Batman stories before, so it’s obvious that he feels very comfortable and at home with this character and his supporting cast.

Greg Capullo’s art isn’t incredibly realistic, but it is able to portray movement and action very well.  The large fight scene from the beginning of the book is a perfect example.  People are getting punched and kicked and generally just thrown all over the place, and even though they are just still pictures on a comic book page, at some points you really do get the impression that they are moving and there are bodies flying around in front of you.  The pages with less action do have a tendency to look somewhat cartoonish at times, but it still fits well into the story and the art seems like it belongs.

There really isn’t much more to say about this issue, except that I hope all of them are as good as this.  It’s fantastic; go pick it up as soon as you can.