“Batman: Arkham Origins” Looks Badass

Batman

Ladies and gentlemen, I am STOKED.

This series is not only some of the best Batman ever, it’s some of the greatest gaming ever. My love for it is already a matter of record.

And yet again a CGI game trailer shows that they really shouldn’t need to be waiting for Hollywood to get its head out of its ass to give us good flicks of Halo, God of War, or other great games, not to mention the possibilities for animated comic book fare.

Comics and Me

Comics

Yesterday was Free Comic Book Day. It got me thinking about my relationship to comics.

The comic above,  The Amazing Spider-Man # 119, is the first comic I remember buying. I know I had others before it, but perhaps I didn’t actually choose them myself, but had them given to me. Whatever the case, I remember going into the 7-11 and choosing this comic and reading it. The result was an obsession that lasted for years, and a strong love of the medium that I still retain today.

That said, I can’t recall the last single issue of a comic I bought. I still read bound collections here and there, like the recent “Court of Owls” storyline in the Batman comics. There are some things I buy for my library as soon as they appear, like the incredible cloth-bound library editions of Mike Mignola’s Hellboy, or the “Absolute” edition of Warren Ellis’s Planetary. But mostly, I just don’t bother with comics these days.

I still love them. But they’re like old friends who’ve drifted away. I keep up with them via gossip. “Oh, Superman is seeing Wonder Woman? Good for him.” “Oh no, Damian Wayne died? That’s terrible, Bruce must be in agony.” “Peter Parker’s dead? Oh my god, that’s…actually really fucking humdrum at this point, unfortunately. Tell me when he’s back.”

It’s not that I’m not interested in reading them, because I am. But the reasons not to are so compelling. They’re too damned expensive, for one thing; for ten bucks, I can get two or three comic books I’ll read in under fifteen minutes. But that same ten bucks will get me two hours of entertainment at the cinema, buy me a book or ten that will give me many hours of enjoyment, get me ten songs I’ll be able to listen to forever, or even pay for a month of Netflix. Comics just don’t offer much bang for the buck when they cost so much.

It’s also a chore to keep up with them. The big companies love crossovers, and to be honest, so do I. But I’m too busy and distracted to have to follow all related series, and read the issues every month in proper order, in order to keep up with a storyline. The latest Batman mega-arc may be incredible, but if I have to hop spastically from title to title, and research the fucking reading order online, to keep up, it’s too much work for too little joy. You can’t just buy a single title, in individual issues or trade collections, and get a coherent storyline.

So, these days, though I miss them, I’m fine following the lives of my favorite comic book characters through hearsay. And, of course, through other media. I’m re-watching The Spectacular Spider-Man cartoon at present, and it’s exceptional. Of course, it lasted just two seasons, and now we have Ultimate Spider-Man, which isn’t. DC’s animated efforts tend to be incredible; we watched the animated adaptation of Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns a few weeks ago, and it was great. And, of course, there are the movies. That’s where most people get their comics fix these days, and there, for the most part, the companies are getting it right.

Speaking of which, today we’re going to see the new Iron Man flick. Can. Not. Wait.

Superman’s Rash Solution

The Bottled City of Kandor

Today, in honor of Superman’s 75th anniversary, I’d like to share a story…

Not many people are aware of the fact that the Bottled City of Kandor actually uses kryponite-run nuclear reactors for power, and there is a (relatively) huge mass of the element beneath the city. Naturally, mining the ore can be very dangerous for those of Kryptonian descent, and early on even the best protective measures proved insufficient, as miners continued to develop terrible rashes even when wearing highly shielded suits. Superman ultimately solved the problem, of course, by developing a special cream which completely eradicated the rash and even had a mild pleasant scent. This salve is now sold in pharmacies in Kandor under the name “Kal-El Mine Lotion.”

Thank you! Thank you! I’ll be here all week…

CHASE ME (A Charming Animated Short)

Chase Me

This is for Nydia…

A lovely animated short from the creators of the classic Batman animated series, silent movie style, all elegant art and sleek action, with a great musical score.

Enjoy.

Two-Fisted Flickage (My Latest IMJ Pulp Column)

My latest column at Inveterate Media Junkies is up. It’s part 2 of my look at pulp adventure films.

Two-Fisted Flickage (Pulp On The Big Screen, Part 2)

And if you missed part 1 or earlier columns:

If Adventure Has A Name (Pulp On The Big Screen)

Column 1: I Am Doc Savage

Column 2: I Am Not Doc Savage

I’m Reading DC’s “New 52″ Comics (Part 2)

Thousands of readers haven’t battered me with messages asking what happened to my reviews of DC Comics’s “New 52” which I launched here. For those thousands, and the millions who also didn’t mention it, I figured an update was the least I could do.

Frankly, I burned out quickly. Writing even capsule reviews of all these comics proved a more tedious task than anticipated, especially as I started trying to read some of the bad ones. The first I read that I didn’t even remotely enjoy was Men of War, which was half a pound of machismo in a hundred pound box of don’t-know-what-manhood-is. It also tried to embrace the heroism of the military at the same time as it told us the best soldiers aren’t soldiers at all but bold individuals who ignore orders and thus always save the day. Crap.

But it wasn’t until I tried to read Legion Lost that I couldn’t even finish one of the comics. It wasn’t really bad, it was just there. Nothing about the thing, neither story nor art, was remotely compelling. It was basic, serviceable superhero fare, and I described it to a friend as “what people who have no respect for comics expect comics to be at their best.”

I lack the fortitude to force my way through all these books and bother saying anything about them. If you’re interested in reviews, though, the net is full of ’em. I’ve been enjoying Erik Mona’s thoughtful reviews which put my paltry earlier offerings to shame (even though he enjoyed the war comic). You can find them at his blog.

Now don’t get me wrong, the New 52 isn’t a failure, either creatively or financially (as a publicity stunt, it boosted DC’s sales a great deal). There are a lot of problems with it, from really shaky chronological consistency to some really egregious institutionalized misogyny. Also, Rob Liefeld.

But there are some good ideas too, and I particularly enjoyed the treatment of the big three, Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman. Each of their titles starts off strong, and I’ll be staying with those and a few others in the months ahead.

I’m Reading DC’s “New 52” Comics (Part 1)

As you may or may not know, this month DC Comics relaunched its entire line of superhero titles with a batch of 52 comics all starting at issue #1.

They’re doing this in a bid to increase their readership and market share in a time when comic sales are declining. They’re also fully embracing the digital market for the first time (something neither they nor Marvel have done previously), with every title available digitally on the day of release.

Creatively, they’ve decided to reset the timeline of the stories. The characters are (mostly) younger now, operating earlier in their careers. Some of the previous canon of events are still considered to have occurred (Barbara “Batgirl” Gordon was shot by the Joker, paralyzing her; Superman died and came back in that ludicrous Doomsday storyline used in a previous desperate bid for publicity), some did not (Superman hasn’t married Lois Lane). The mish-mash of what officially happened and didn’t happen, and when, is implicitly perilous to the goal of solid continuity for the DC universe, and could easily spin out of control as everything is juggled by the many creators involved.

The first batch of titles is out, and I’ve read them. Here are my impressions: Continue reading