Batman Returns (again)

I have dreams of owning one of the amazing replicas produced by Hot Toys. From Star Wars to the Avengers and beyond, these replicas are stunning. Based on the second Michael Keaton Batman film, this model uses the redesigned costume complete with art deco touches
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Hot Toys takes collectors back to 1992, and the cinematic world of Tim Burton, with the unveiling of its 1/6th-scale Batman and Bruce Wayne collectible figures from Batman Returns.

These are actually two releases, one the Batman figure and the other the Batman and Bruce Wayne set. The former boasts three interchangeable lower faces that capture Michael Keaton’s expressions, nine interchangeable palms, a batarang, grapple gun, two napalm packets, a line launcher, a Batmobile remote control, a signal jammer, and an LED light-up figure stand.

The Batman and Bruce Wayne set, naturally, comes with two figures, with this Dark Knight also equipped with a broken cowl. His tuxedo-clad alter ego, meanwhile, comes with eight interchangeable palms, a figure stand and “movie-accurate” facial features, although some collectors are already questioning the latter (if you squint, it kind of looks like Michael Keaton).


Both releases are targeted for the third or fourth quarter of this year.

Via Robot6

This item can be pre-ordered here

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The Flash- ‘All Star Team Up’

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The Flash TV series on the CW has been a roaring success, joining Arrow in firmly establishing the DCU on the small screen. While Arrow has been slow to embrace the more colorful aspects of the comic book world, the Flash has proudly waved its superhero flag high. In its first season there have been several villains straight out of the comic, time travel conundrums and even callbacks to the 1990’s Flash series! Of course Arrow teamed up with the fleet-footed one in a special crossover story as well.

Team-ups are one of the staples of superhero comic books. It’s fun to see characters work together, blending or clashing in crime-fighting style and it’s also more value for your money! I recall hearing that Avengers was popular with some readers simply because it featured so many heroes in one adventure. The Brave and the Bold team-up series ran for many years on this concept alone, pairing Batman with another hero from Green Lantern to Adam Strange and even the Joker! One issue even chronicled the creation of the Justice League of America!

Hawkman, The Flash, the Atom, Green Lantern and Superman were The Justice League in the old Filmation series

In the Flash’s sister series Arrow, the Atom has been getting more firmly developed and will soon star in his own spin-off series that will take the team-up concept even further, making it a weekly event. As a precursor to The Atom, ‘All Star Team Up’ (another title from the annals of DC Comics) has given us a taste of what it will be like to watch heroes pair up against a common foe.

I will admit that I am not up to speed on Arrow so my knowledge of this version of Ray Palmer is very slim. As such I am confused as to why he resembles Tony Stark/Iron Man than the scientist adventurer from the comics. Whereas the comic book Atom uses dwarf star alloy to shrink yet maintain his mass, making him as powerful as a bullet, this Atom is… basically Iron Man.

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I understand that the original intention was for Brandon Routh (the former Superman Returns star who now plays Palmer/the Atom) to portray Ted Kord/Blue Beetle but am less clear on why that did not happen. In any case… that’s the situation. The Atom is a rich businessman who flies around in an armored suit he designed to fight crime.

Moving on…

Unlike some other weekly comic book programs, The Flash has plenty of visual appeal and has a high production value. That kind of attention to the look and feel of the show made All Star Team an enjoyable and memorable experience. In just an hour there was dramatic tension, humor, mystery and a diabolical villain-ess who overwhelmed the Flash, prompting Ray Palmer to don his costume and pitch in.

There were a couple of dud lines such as when Palmer admits that he is hoping for technical assistance from the STAR Labs team with his suit as he has trouble ‘keeping it up.’ This of course prompted his girlfriend Felicity to insist that their sex life is great (there was an audible thud there).

As a weekly installment of a superhero TV show, this was a fast-moving episode that was a lot of fun. I’m a big fan of Daredevil and Gotham as well which are of course much grimmer and more intense, but I am happy that in this modern world where comic book characters are such a hot commodity there’s room for a guy who can run really fast.

We’ve come a long way from Legends of the Superheroes.

The Ogre terrorizes Gotham

The latest DC Entertainment TV series Gotham has established a horrifying crime-riddled world. But apparently the worst of the worst is yet to come. The deadliest and scariest villain will be revealed for the season finale… and he is called the Ogre.
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The Ogre, played by Milo Ventimiglia, will make his debut in “Beasts of Prey,” the April 13 episode of the show, and drive the series as it heads toward its finale. As the video explains, he’s a serial killer who has managed to avoid capture by targeting the loved ones of cops who’ve investigated him in the past, but that’s not enough to scare off Gordon (Ben McKenzie).

“This extremely dangerous man will do something terrible to someone that Jim loves — and there’s going to be hell to pay,” McKenzie teases. But with Morena Baccarin, who plays Gordon’s current love interest Leslie Thompkins, reportedly on board for the show’s second season, that doesn’t necessarily mean that a death is in the future — or, at least, not Leslie’s death.

Gotham returns with new episodes April 13 on Fox.

Via THR.com

I have been pleased with Gotham so far and feel that it has a strong presence on the small screen alongside the more lighthearted Flash (though that can be intense too). A prequel that establishes Gotham before Batman sounded like an odd idea on paper, but the writing and strong cast has made it entertaining.

A character over 75 year old, Batman has many different iterations, each with its own tone. The current comic book by Scott Snyder seems to be influencing the TV series with its gritty and violent feel. While Gotham has been criticized for delving into the caped crusader’s rich history for ideas, the Ogre is all new. It will be interesting to see what kind of lasting impact this latest villain has on the city and the legacy of Batman.

Visit the most happening nightclub of the 60’s, Wayne Manor

Stately Wayne Manor…
Wayne-Manor
Was never like this!

The hottest place in the San Francisco suburb of Sunnyvale is Wayne manor, named after Batman’s straight self, Bruce Wayne. At the Manor, the Dynamic Duo of Batman and Robin are painted in throbbing colors on the walls, and villains cackle in fluorescents. Behind a plate-glass screen girls dressed like Robin lead the crowd in the Batusi. Batman sells tickets at the front door, the maitre d’ is the Joker, and drinks are served by Wonder Woman.

I was clearly born in the wrong decade. A nightclub built in an old bank, Wayne Manor was initially created as a South Bay Whisky A Go Go. The owner Joe Lewis’s son suggested a Batman theme (listen to your children, nightclub owners) and he went all out with wild colors on the wall, costumed staff and such. It became a huge hit when the 1966 TV series launched a year later and soon attendees were doing the Batusi!

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Things like this just blow my mind. While today superheroes are marketed to young and old alike (with varied results), to hear of a nightclub based on the caped crusader is just amazing. But what better time than the 1960’s? Musical acts included Sly and the Family Stone, Music Machine and the Coasters.
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Batman and Robins

For more info and images, visit this site.

Meet Aquaman

Late last night, Batman V Superman director Zack Snyder debuted the first image of Jason Momoa as Aquaman from the upcoming Dawn of Justice film.

(read all about Aquaman here)

Aquaman

The movie will further develop DC Entertainment’s plan toward a Justice League movie (which is likely the meaning behind the ‘unite the seven’ message, referring to the seven key members of the Justice League of America; Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, the Flash, Green Lantern and Martian Manhunter).

The Justice League of America gather for the first time (as drawn by Alex Ross)

The Justice League of America gather for the first time (as drawn by Alex Ross)

DC has a long way to compete with Marvel’s Avengers and seems to be trying to make up the difference in big leaps rather than small measured steps. Dawn of Justice will see a new Batman played by Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, Ray Fisher as Cyborg (instead of Martian Manhunter), and possibly Ezra Miller as the Flash. For anyone who remembers being annoyed or frustrated by the kitchen sink of characters in Amazing Spider-Man 2 or Spider-Man 3, imagine amping that up to 11 and you get the idea.

Production woes and an overstuffed cast of heroes could make Dawn of Justice a massive flop. But it could also overcome those handicaps and be the major hit that DC/Warner has been looking for. In any case… doesn’t Jason Momoa look awesome?

Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice will premiere on the 25th of March, 2016

The cinematic history of Batman in one video

From the Saturday matinee serials to the Dark Knight Rises, Batman has worn many guises but always retained that otherworldly (and oft-times absurd) air of a vigilante. This video serves as a time capsule of these variations that is an interesting experience and a tribute to the dark knight.

(keep watching till the end for a special treat)

DC Comics’ New New New Look (is an ‘all-ages/back to basics’ approach… with lotsa skin)

In the 1956, the superhero comic book landscape was reshaped and revamped with the arrival of the Flash… a character first introduced in 1940. The decision was to make the character more dynamic, more of a sci-fi/fantasy hero appealing to a new young audience. It worked and Green Lantern was released (who was also first introduced by Martin Nodell in 1940), Hawkman (created by Gardner Fox and Dennis Neville in 1940), the Atom (created by Ben Flinton and Bill O’Connor in 1940)… you can see where I’m going here.

Everything old was new again. In some cases, very little was retained and the new characters bearing the classic heroic names were brand new. The Silver Age (as it became known) made the superhero comic book a major success again and it has been moving steadily along ever since. However, DC Comics realized that they were losing to their competitor Marvel Comics, so in 1985 they launched an epic story that collapsed all of the various colorful worlds into one more accessible to a new young audience.

Since 1985, DC has been in the habit of collapsing and relaunching their iconic heroes in either a new or ‘back to basics’ look in order to increase sales and their readership. The problem here is one of consistency and continuity. Most comic book fans are devoted readers, stopping by every Wednesday to pick up their stack of comics. They are involved and engaged online and in person (at conventions, in fanzines or at the comic shop talking about their shared obsession). The storylines that are presented as important by the publisher are regarded as continuity which is the life blood of many a fan. Their knowledge is a valuable currency.

So when something like the Crisis of 1985 comes along and says ‘that never happened,’ it angers fans. Sure, the Man of Steel by John Byrne, Batman Year One by Miller and Mazzuchelli, Wonder Woman by Perez and Justice League by Giffen/DeMetteis and Maguire attracted a new excited group of readers but it also drove off readers who had stuck by their monthly books for years (and the fans of the 1985 line would similarly be pushed away in good time when their comic book reality was dissolved).

In 2011, DC Comics relaunched all of their titles with their New 52. In most cases it was chance to revamp old characters, ‘fix’ others and alienate or attract the fabled fickle new readers.

Titles were launched and cancelled in a quick fire fashion. It has been a mixed affair and the few successes have gone sour (Wonder Woman) while others were cancelled far too early (OMAC, Frankenstein, Agent of SHADE, Dial H).

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This June, DC Comics will once more be relaunching their comic book line, introducing many characters who are already familiar with a new or ‘back to basics’ look.

There are some things on here that are very appealing such as the Bizarro book, a new Dr. Fate (created by Gardner Fox in 1940) book and the revamped Black Canary (created by Robert Kanigher and drawn by Carmine Infantino in 1947) by Brenden Fletcher of recent Batgirl fame. While others already look like misfires especially since fans have asked for more diverse comics and scantily clad buxom females abound in these previews (not that I’m complaining, but I’m also not buying). And after killing off Robin so many times, it’s downright bizarre to launch a book called ‘We Are Robin.’

Also, after the aforementioned skewering of Robin, the faceless Joker and ‘pot-scented’ Harley Quinn issue… why is DC now moving toward an ‘all-ages’ approach? Why divorce yourself from that demographic for several years only to try and win it over?

So, after my grumpy old fan rant, I have to ask… will you be giving the new new (old) DC a try? Or are you annoyed that your investment is possibly nullified in an attempt to retain or regain readership?

Via Comics-X-Aminer:

Beginning June 3rd, the DC Comics line of comic books will consist of 24 brand-new series that will begin at issue number one, as well as 25 on-going, bestselling fan favorite series that will continue without a break in the issue numbering. The total number of periodicals in the DCU will be 49, with additional new titles debuting throughout the year.

“This heralds in a new era for the DC Universe which will allow us to publish something for everyone, be more expansive and modern in our approach and tell stories that better reflect the society around us,” said DC Entertainment Co-Publisher Dan DiDio. “Whether you’ve been a DC fan your whole life, or whether you are new to comics – there will be a book for you beginning in June.”

DC Comics will be keenly focused on going back-to-basics with its legendary characters, like BATMAN, SUPERMAN and WONDER WOMAN, while also reinventing key characters, such as BLACK CANARY, BIZARRO, CYBORG and STARFIRE, with a new contemporary tonality to ensure a diverse offering of titles. Top writers and artists, as well as emerging fresh voices, are on board to help create an expansive lineup of comics that appeals to a broad audience of fans.

Depicting some of these iconic characters in a more contemporary light include National Book Award finalist Gene Luen Yang who will join artist John Romita Jr. in the ongoing adventures of SUPERMAN. Comic superstar artist Bryan Hitch will write and draw new tales of the world’s greatest heroes in JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA. The pitch perfect team of Garth Ennis and John McCrea returns to DC Comics for a limited series called SECTION EIGHT featuring characters from their popular Hitman comic. VERTIGO creator Ming Doyle will be lending her talents to DC Comics, penning CONSTANTINE: THE HELLBLAZER along with newcomer artist Riley Rossmo.

“More than ever before, DC Comics fans are being exposed to our rich portfolio of characters through multiple sources, including an unprecedented number of highly successful TV shows, video games and upcoming major motion pictures,” said Co-Publisher Jim Lee. “We are looking to extend that experience within publishing to ensure there is a comic book for everyone. For example, fans of the ARROW television show may want more stories about BLACK CANARY. Now they can find modern, fresh takes on the character in the pages of her standalone series both in stores and digitally.”

Breakout star, Brenden Fletcher, co-writer behind the all new, highly successful BATGIRL book will also be writing the new BLACK CANARY series launching in June. Fan favorites Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti will be the creative team on new titles STARFIRE and HARLEY QUINN/POWER GIRL and will continue to helm the perennially bestselling HARLEY QUINN.

“Beyond character and creators, the June slate will showcase different styles and approaches to storytelling as we add offbeat, irreverently funny titles such as BIZARRO, BAT-MITE and PREZ,” said Lee. “Truly there will be something for everybody as we simultaneously celebrate our rich legacy while embracing new voices and concepts.”

A first look at upcoming storylines will be the focus of DC Entertainment’s Free Comic Book Day issue – DC COMICS: DIVERGENCE – available Saturday, May 2, featuring three 8-page previews for the June releases of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s BATMAN, as well as Geoff Johns and Jason Fabok’s launch of the Darkseid War within JUSTICE LEAGUE featuring the biggest villains in the DCU – Darkseid and the Anti-Monitor, and Gene Luen Yang’s DC Comics debut with celebrated artist John Romita, Jr on SUPERMAN. More than half-a million free issues of the DC Entertainment sampler will be given away at comic book retailers globally.

Get ready for Grodd in the Flash

The scarlet speedster has been rocketing along on the small screen in the weekly TV series The Flash. The popular program has developed a marvelously wild and dangerous world of mad science and high adventure along with the usual doses of high drama. I’ve been happily keeping up with the series and in my opinion it’s the finest of the new comic book tv shows (though I do enjoy Gotham and Arrow as well). The_Flash_TV_Series_Poster-6 In the comic book realm, the Flash is highly regarded for his rogue’s gallery. Captain Cold, The Top, Weather Wizard, Heatwave, Mirror Master, Captain Boomerang and more make Central City a tough place to live for any law abiding citizen. Ask any fan of the medium and they will confirm a good villain can make a book that much better. Batman and Spider-Man may top the Flash, but neither has a giant gorilla from a secret simian civilization with mind-shattering abilities. Oh yes… the Flash has Gorilla Grodd. And the ape is coming to the small screen very soon.

Gorilla_Grodd_0008(via Hollywood Reporter) Barry (Grant Gustin) had his hands full in Tuesday’s episode, with Peek-a-Boo (Britne Oldford) teleporting all about town, Pied Piper (Andy Mientus) escaping from S.T.A.R. Labs, and Linda Park (Malese Jow) helping Barry’s dating life speed along. But the final scene, set beneath Central City, teased a beast that could put Barry’s life in true danger. Following the episode executive producer Greg Berlanti tweeted “What did you all think? #theflash #groddlives.” That’s a reference is to Gorilla Grod, who in the comics is a genius gorilla with the ability to control people with his mind. The Flash team hasn’t revealed when Grod will make his appearance, but Barry will have his hands full in the meantime.

Familiar to fans of the comic as well as anyone in my age bracket who can clearly recall the mad monkey from Chaallenge of the Super Friends, Grodd is truly a horrifying and distinctive monstrous foe. While we may not know when he will pop up, we do have this glimpse of the villain to get our imaginations going… Grodd_FlashGorilla Grodd animatronic head via KDramastars Recommended: 

Click to order!

Click to order!

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Green Arrow – The Kill Machine/Outsiders War

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The emerald archer may be a superhero of the small screen today, but Green Arrow has been kicking around on the small page since 1941, a creation of Mort Weisinger and George Papp in the pages of More Fun Comics. A rich playboy stranded on a deserted island, Oliver Queen had to find his inner hero by innovating with the most basic tools, a bow and an arrow. When he returned to civilization, he decided to use his newly found survival skills against the criminals that he found preying on the innocent.

The TV series version of the character in Arrow is a deviation from the printed superhero, but that should come as no real surprise to any comic book reader. Not only does every TV program and film take liberties with the source material, the comics have been in flux since the Crisis of 1985 which saw the collapse of several fictional realities into one. Since then, DC Editorial has kept obsessively revising their creations every few years in an attempt to reach a new audience. Each time, the origin stories of these time-honored heroes have been revised and altered to the point where any connection to the source material is marginal at best.

This brings us to the New 52 (about to get over-written shortly in favor of the DC Convergence). Returned to an earlier point in his career, Queen was still a billionaire playboy who prowled the streets in a green costume armed with high-tech weaponry and ‘trick arrows.’ But editorial struggled in finding a personality for this GA and a revolving door swung open and closed on various creative teams.

Enter Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino who brought a new mythology and style to the series (just in time to cash in on the success of the TV program). Queen Industries was attacked. Green Arrow became a fugitive from the law and a blind sage rescued him from a deadly assassin with a mission to utterly destroy Queen and Green Arrow. Thus began a ‘from the ground up’ rebuilding of GA’s crime-fighting career and a journey that would uncover a vast sprawling epic with the focus being the very island where he found himself.

Pretty nifty, right?

This series of stories (spanning issues 17-33) firmly established a gutsy, all action comic with eye-catching visuals, a strong supporting cast and interesting threats. It also fleshed out GA’s home of Seattle, rife with criminal families and blood-thirsty vigilantes as well as The clan of Outsiders who secretly vied for world domination. It got a bit too much at times as Oliver’s back story became more interesting than the hero himself, but it was fun and entertaining. It even included am archer with a sharply-coiffed goatee who was not dissimilar to the classic Green Arrow of old.

Sadly, like all things in comics, the hard work of Lemire Sorrentino in The Killing Machine/Outsiders War did not last and they moved on to other things (so did the comic). But for a while there, Green Arrow was must-read monthly book that attracted attention from new and old fans, critics and those unfamiliar with this daring archer who was all but unknown from 1941.

Highly recommended…



Collected in print:

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Who’s your Batman?

It may seem absurd today, but back in the day it was something of a shock that when a Batman feature film was planned for a summer 1989 release, actor Adam West got passed over. He was hardly happy about the situation. He wasn’t even asked to make a cameo!

Today there are many iterations of the caped crusader with more on the way. Everyone has their favorite (or favorites) and their most hated actor to don the cowl.

So who is yours?

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Adam West in Batman the TV series

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Michael Keaton in Batman

Kevin Conroy, the voice of Batman in numerous cartoons and videogames

Kevin Conroy, the voice of Batman in numerous cartoons and videogames

Val Kilmer in Batman Forever

Val Kilmer in Batman Forever

George Clooney in Batman and Robin

George Clooney in Batman and Robin

Christian Bale in Batman Begins

Christian Bale in Batman Begins