Right – let’s get the negative stuff out of the way first shall we?  Was this the best movie in the world?  No, I guess not, it had some flaws which I’ll detail below.  However, it definitely was not the horrible pile of steaming tripe that other reviewers are painting it as.  To be clear, I’d in fact normally agree with the opinions expressed on some of these sites & by some of these reviewers – one of them is our very own Valentin & his post: Batman vs Superman: Dawn Of Justice: Review.  Their thoughts and opinions generally echo my own, however, I think this time they were perhaps being a bit too harsh and critical and I think that might be a function of their own choice of fandom – DC or Marvel – vs. the quality of the film itself.  As an avowed Marvel fanboy, I have only a passing familiarity with the DC Universe so if I get anything blatantly wrong, please don’t hesitate to (politely) correct me!

  • The Dream/Fore-shadowing Sequences – OK I’ll agree here with the commentary that these were somewhat unnecessary.  I’d be the first to admit that I almost groaned out loud when the movie started with Batman’s backstory once again.  I really didn’t feel that it was at all necessary to watch his parents – once again – get gunned down in the street.  While I understand the juxtaposition of the names (now) it was annoying to see it as we’d already seen it so many times before and it just felt painful to go through it all once again.  Batman-V-Superman-Trailer-Flying-ParademonsMoving on from this is more visceral fight sequence in a destroyed world that sees Superman & his acolytes carving up Batman and his group of resistance fighters.  Now I’m not sure if the flying bug things are meant to be in actuality the minions of Darkseid?  I think they are & they are obviously presaging his eventual arrival as DC’s answer to Thanos in the Justice League Movie.  While we are led to believe that Batman’s dream is all about Superman, in reality based on the appearance of the Parademons – it’s really about Darkseid.  As the foot soldiers of Darkseid their participation in the battle clearly tells fans one things: Darkseid is coming. Now were they (the dream sequences) necessary for THIS movie?  No, probably not … they did however serve as a good tie-in to the larger DC Universe though which is I think the overall intent and purpose.
  • Lois & Clark – While this show from the 90s had our TV screens almost melting with the chemistry between the characters, the love story between our modern day iteration of Lois & Clark is nothing more than tepid.  Here too I’d have to agree with the sentiments voiced by others as surprisingly the most wooden elements of this film were the portrayals by Adams and Cavill.  Considering how vivacious Amy Adams is as a character and how she can literally bring the screen to life, it’s a real pity that she wasn’t given that opportunity here.  Henry Cavill definitely LOOKS the part of Superman … it’s just somewhat disappointing that in this movie he was not given an opportunity to portray a normal human being also.  In all honesty – DC could have gone the route of Marvel here quite easily when they removed Thor’s love interest in between movies instead of having her act as just a bit player.  While Lois’ role had some importance in villanizing Superman, the task could have been accomplished just as simply through another plot device, reducing the number of characters on the screen and also tightening the movie as a whole.

Parademons are the foot soldiers of the space tyrant Darkseid – think of them as the orcs in Lord of the Rings, a marginally intelligent, fiercely loyal to their overlord troop that’s bred only for war.  Either way, this is clearly saying one thing to fans: Darkseid is coming. 

  • Conflict but not enough  This was perhaps my own personal hate point and the one that I really think needs the most focus.  The whole movie was a set piece about how much Batman doesn’t trust Superman and fears that he is going to become a despot.  Despite Alfred’s continued insistence that he’s not actually done anything wrong, Batman states that his legacy will be the destruction of Superman.  When the actual conflict happens though … its stupid!  Not the fight itself – that seemed to take some elements from the classic Frank Miller book, but rather how and why the fight happens.  Superman travels to Gotham (by the way, did you know that the two cities are on opposite sides of the Bay?) to persuade Batman to help him search for his mother and after initially stating that he needs Batmans’ help, the instant that they are actually face-to-face, he proceeds to shove Batman across the roof?    They hadn’t actually even started talking yet and he’d already jumped into fisticuffs??  Proceeding further in the fight, Batman has Superman on the ropes and the instant Superman mentions his mom’s name (another aside here … I’d not really put the two Mom’s names together before … nice juxtaposition), all hatred against Superman is forgotten and they are instantly on the same team?
  • Wonder WomanLaughter is the best medicine! – Not really mentioned by too many reviewers, but something that I thought worth speaking to was the lack of humor in this film.  While the films in the DC Universe seem to (generally) be darker in tone vs. the Marvel films, I think a smattering of jokes sprinkled throughout the movie help keep the audience engaged.  They need to be the right ones of course and unfortunately the only one that I recall (“Superman asks Batman if he brought Wonderwoman and he replies that he thought Superman did”) just didn’t work for me.  It was forced and considering the threat they are facing, it didn’t make sense at the time.  I guess you could also include the introduction of Clark and Bruce by Lex but I feel that this was ruined by the trailers more than anything else.  By contrast the interaction between Iron Man and Captain America in both Avengers movies was flawless.  Guardians of the Galaxy had a ton of jokes and don’t even get me started on Deadpool!

Now to the positive!  While I think I’ve spoken to some of the complaints mentioned by others, I think the key here is to realize that DC really had no choice.  Marvel has created a Universe of films and is able to call upon all of their characters from decades of comics for stories.  If DC wants to remain relevant, they NEED to somehow bridge the gap between stand-alone features to a more cohesive and larger story arc.  Could they have done this slower over the course of many years?  Yes they could have, but in some ways they alluded to it by Batman witnessing the destruction caused by Superman in his most recent incarnation/debut in the 2013 feature Man of Steel.  I think that particularly, was well done as there have been many movies – Marvel included – where you’re left to wonder where all the other superhero’s are during the course of a massive slug fest.  When this movie had Bruce witness the destruction that Superman caused and in fact, be personally impacted by it – well that for me was one of the high points of the movie.

The other high point of course was Wonder Woman!  Portrayed amazingly well by Gal Gadot the scenes that contained her were excellent.  Her fight sequences with Doomsday were particularly well done as she attacked not just with strength but also with intelligence.  I loved the fact that she didn’t try to stab with her sword but rather sliced through tendons and muscles to weaken her foe.  I also loved the fact that when she got knocked down – she seemed to relish the challenge.  She almost had me grinning with her when she jumped back into the fray and her enthusiasm for the battle was infectious!  I could only wish that Lois had the same joie de vivre!

As an (already stated) Marvel Fan, I don’t know the DC Universe as well, however I think there are elements to this movie that could let DC have something special when they eventually build out their own creation. Affleck actually made a decent Batman and a particularly imposing (elder) Bruce Wayne.  While he doesn’t have the same brooding nature as Christian Bale, I think he’ll do well in the future as the leader of the Justice league and while we’ve so far only seen him as a fighter, perhaps we’ll eventually get to see him as the intelligent Detective he is also.  It’s a pity for DC that the Green Lantern didn’t do as well as it should have – although I guess in some ways I’m glad as if it had, we’d never have had the Deadpool we’ve all fallen in love with!  It does make me wonder though how the Justice League is going to fight Darkseid and all of his minions with only 5 members (6 when Superman returns)?  I mean from what I know he’s not HYDRA but rather more akin to a God!  It should be an interesting little tussle is what I say!

Starting from the exact moment the previous episode ended (see my post on SFFWorld), the team is stunned that Jay Garrick knows all of their names, and realize he has been spying on them. Jay explains that he is from another world, where he is known as The Flash.

In his own world, Jay’s version of The Flash fights another Speedster, Zoom. Zoom has won, and is about to deliver the killing blow when the other end of the singularity from Barry’s world opened over them. First Jay’s winged helmet is sucked in, then Jay is as well. He lost his speed, and has spent the last six months trying to piece together what happened. Barry is skeptical, and insists that they test Jay.

Flash (Jay Garrick)
Flash (Jay Garrick) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Caitlin begins testing him to see if he is in fact a speedster from an alternate Earth (Earth 2). The team discusses the theory of a multiverse; Stein and Cisco take the lead breaking it down. Joe is confused and takes his leave to use his skills and pay the bills. Zoom makes his first full appearance as he transports a metahuman — Sand Demon — onto Earth-1 via a dimensional breach. Zoom is a flickering, shadow=black horror, sporting blue lightning. He promises to return his pawn to Earth-2 if he kills the Flash. Newcomer to the series, Officer Patty Spivot, petitions Joe to allow her to join his meta-human taskforce. Joe is dismissive, refusing to hear her out and denying her request. Sounds like there are a few trust issues this episode.

Jay finishes his tests and tries once again, without success, to convince Barry to trust him. Barry is still unsettled from Wells’ betrayal. Barry locks Jay in a cell. Jay says Barry will need his help to defeat Zoom. They are interrupted by a call from Cisco, there’s a fire in town. Barry speeds off.

The Flash puts out the fire and is about to leave when he is attacked by a mass of sand. The sand gathers together and turns into the man Zoom brought through the breach earlier. The Flash tries to fight him, but every time he delivers a blow, that part of the man turns to sand and is unharmed. The Flash has to run away.  Barry and Joe investigate the scene of the fire with other police and firefighters. Barry can’t find anything to identify this new metahuman, but Patty shows up, she’s found something. She’s also quite a fan of Barry’s and his forensic reports. She’s collected some sand for Barry. Patty clearly hopes this has impressed Joe, but he still refuses to let her on the task force.

While examining the material left by Sand Demon, Cisco feels another vibe and catches a glimpse of Sand Demon’s activities here on Earth-1. Notably disturbed, he struggles to understand the changes happening to him. Team Flash determines Sand Demon’s real name, Eddie Slick, and Joe tries to track him down. Spivot beats Joe to the task, catching him as he tries to flee.  Back at the precinct Joe interrogates Eddie Slick.  While observing Joe interrogate Slick, Barry and Patty become fast friends.  Eddie’s alibi is confirmed, lending credence to the alternate Earth concept.  Cisco and Stein work on a method to detect the breach allowing Zoom to transport his assassins across the multiverse.

A depiction of several alternate Earths within...
A depiction of several alternate Earths within the Multiverse and the variations of the Flash inhabiting each Earth. Art by Dan Jurgens and Art Thibert (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

At S.T.A.R. Labs, only Barry still does not trust Jay. Iris asks to speak to Barry alone. Iris tells Barry that she does not recognize him. He’s someone else now, with major trust issues. Barry admits that Jay reminds him of Wells, who he trusted. Iris points out that they beat Wells because the team trusted each other. He needs to believe in the team.  At the Police Station, Joe and Patty release Slick. Joe asks why Patty wants to be on the task force so badly. They think they see Slick returning, but it is Sand Demon, who knocks Joe out. Patty tries to shoot him, but the bullets pass through the sand. He grabs her.  Learning of the abduction, Barry relents and asks Jay for help.  Jay, the Crimson Comet, teaches Barry to throw Speed Force lightning, indicating that it is the best shot for defeating his foe.  With the team unable to find where Sand Demon is hiding Spivot, Cisco rushes off to tap his new powers for a solution. Stein is getting suspicious of his behavior and follows him, arriving moments after Cisco has experienced another dimensional vibration. Unwilling to explain to the professor what is going on he rushes off to tell Barry.

Jay joins Barry in the field to fight Sand Demon. While Jay distracts his Earth-2 enemy, Barry scoops up Spivot, moving her a safe distance from the bomb. Tables turn on Jay and put him in mortal danger, since he’s been bluffing Sand Demon into thinking he’s still got his powers. Barry races in, throwing a powerful bolt of lightning that fuses Sand Demon’s body and shatters it. Arguably one of the Flash’s coolest takedowns to date.

Back at S.T.A.R. Labs, Caitlin bandages Jay’s wounds. He admits that losing his speed is harder than he thought. Caitlin talks to him about loss getting easier. They just have to find a new way to live. She calls him a hero.  Barry comes to apologize to Jay and thank him. He asks about Zoom. Jay explains that Zoom wants to be the only speedster. On any world.

At the police station, Joe tells Patty he looked her up. He asks about her connection to Mark Mardon. Patty says that a few months before the particle accelerator exploded, the Mardon brothers robbed a bank. Mark killed her father for a few hundred dollars. Murderers got super powers, and she wants to fight against that. Joe tells her she starts on the task force Monday.

Cisco and Stein find a way to map the breach, unfortunately they have discovered there are in fact 52 inter-dimensional breaches. This is a nice Easter egg for comic fans, referring to 52 different Earths present in the current DC Comics universe. Looks like Team Flash is going to be very busy this season. Mysteriously Stein collapses while discussing the breaches; his fate awaits us in the third episode of this season.   At another, active version of S.T.A.R. Labs, a group of children are lead around by a tour guide, who explains about the Lab’s impressive record. Suddenly, the guide becomes excited and tells the kids that they get to meet the savior of Central City. Standing before them is Harrison Wells. “Hello kids.”

We come to the end of the Best of Comic Book Battles. Arguably, I saved the best for last. The Dark Knight himself, Batman. I’ve read countless Batman comics and I can tell you that there are a lot of great battles among them. The problem is narrowing it down to five.  I don’t want to miss anything but surely I’ll look back at this list and say ” damn! How could I forget that one!” Nevertheless here is my final entry of Best Comic Book Battles.

5. Batman vs Bane part 1 & 2 ( Knightfall and Detective Comics # 701) By Doug Moench, Jim Aparo, Chuck Dixon, Graham Nolan & Scott Hanna

Okay, so I’m cheating a bit. Technically these are two different fights from two different story lines BUT they fit so well with each other! Most people know who Bane is thanks to the Dark Knight Rises film. The film actually borrowed heavily from both of these stories. Knightfall is the classic where Bane ‘ breaks” the bat, leaving him paralyzed. it’s not much of a fair fight really. Bane pretty much takes advantage of Batman after he’s been battling all the escape convicts from Arkham. By the time Bane shows up, Batman’s on his last legs. Injured and exhausted. Bane just pumps the Venom and beats the hell out of him. I think Batman gets one punch in. This is such an important fight because Batman had never been beaten bad enough that he was broken and humiliated. It also ended a story with the villain, essentially winning.  Plus it gave us this classic image…

 

Detective Comics #701 takes place during the Legacy story line where Bane teams up with Ra’s Al Ghul to unleash a plague all over the world. The story was okay, but it did give us the much anticipated rematch of Bane vs Batman. This time Batman was 100% and Bane was Venom free. The result was a much more balanced fight. I’d even say that Batman dominated most of it. There was a lot of hype for it from my perspective. I think fans really questioned ” could Batman actually beat a guy who seemed his superior in every way?” the answer was satisfying and awesome as hell.

4. Batman vs S.WA.T. teamn ( Batman: Year One) By Frank Miller & David Mazzucchelli

 

A fantastic fight scene from a fantastic story.  Miller and Mazzucchelli create a masterpiece in action with this one. As the title would suggest, this is Batman’s rookie year and he’s not used to having his back against the wall.  He’s injured and cornered by a corrupt police S.WA.T. team that wants him dead. The way Batman takes out each member one by one goes from desperate to methodical. He even finds time to save a cat. Another thing I love about this fight is that you get to see how much Batman relies on the shadows and uses it to his advantage. If you’ve played the Arkham games, you know just what I mean. You might say he adopts the dark. ( wink.) This is another fight scene that was adapted in animated and even, loosely in live action films.  It just goes to show the strength and enduring appeal of this battle.

3. Batman vs Manny ” The Fish” Cardona ( Batman:Prey – Part 2 of 5 – By Doug Moench & Paul Gulacy)

Definitely a childhood favorite of mine. I remember reading this issue over and over again. The artwork and the dynamic nature of the fight really caught my eye. Still does. I would say that compared to some of the other stories on this list, “Prey” is less known. It did get some exposure when it was theorized that it might be adapted as the third installment of Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy. It’s also known for being one of the best Dr. Hugo Strange stories as well. Again we see Batman in the early years of his crime fighting career. He goes one on one with a crime lord known as The Fish. It proves to be a more even contest than Batman expects. That’s what makes it even funner for me. Seeing Batman make some mistakes and have to fight his best adds a thrill to any fight. Paul Gulacy has a unique style that may turn off some but I love it for this particular story arc.  I urge you to check this story out and enjoy an awesome fight scene. It should be fairly inexpensive if you decide to hunt for it.

2. Batman Vs Joker ( Endgame – By Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo & Miki

 

As the cover would suggest, a battle that has lasted ages. You knew that the greatest rivalry of all time would have to make the list.  I think a quote from ” The Dark Knight” really nails it.

“Oh, you. You just couldn’t let me go, could you? This is what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object. You truly are incorruptible, aren’t you? You won’t kill me out of some misplaced sense of self-righteousness. And I won’t kill you because you’re just too much fun. I think you and I are destined to do this forever.” – Joker

Endgame “seems” to give both combatants the end that only they deserve. It’s eerily similair to Frank Miller’s Dark Knight Returns but it’s meant to be. It’s shockingly brutal and impossible to take your eyes off of. Like any realtionship it’s hard to keep things exciting and fresh between the two after so many years. I can say that , Snyder and Co. succeed in doing so.  A lot of fans were divisive in regards to Snyder’s last venture into the mind of the Joker ( Death Of The Family) but this time I think he nails it. The last issue/ chapter is worth it alone thanks to this glorious fight. Courtsey of Greg Capullo & Miki’s art, check out this page…

1. Batman vs The Mutant Gang Leader – Both fights – ( The Dark Knight Returns) By Frank Miller, Klaus Janson & Lynn Varley

 

This time it’s less cheating because both fights happen in the same story… a flimsy excuse perhaps, but I digress. Both these fights get mentioned a lot and while I’d love to be more original, the thing is too damn good. This particular comic WAS the first time you see Batman get his ass, more or less, handed to him. This time against the leader of the Mutant gang. He’s essentially an earlier version of Bane, full of brute strength and in the prime of his life. Batman? Not so much. In his fifties and just out of retirement. It’s a well known story and it too, inspired the Nolan movies. In fact, the entire story was adapted in an epic animated movie. It does a fantastic job of bringing this epic fight to life. One thing that is missing from the animated version is Batman’s inner monologue. You get to read the way he assesses each blow as he tries to outwit his opponent. Eventually you start to read the fear and desperation as he realizes he’s losing.

 

The rematch is a bit of a different story. This round Batman tries to use strategy rather than matching his opponents savagery. Batman manages to lure the Mutant leader to a mud pit and even the playing field. The result is one of the coolest, most quotable lines in the whole story.

“[Fighting the Mutant Leader] You don’t get it, son. This isn’t a mudhole… It’s an operating table. And I’m the surgeon.” – Batman 

Amazing.  Frank Miller has always been a masterful visual storyteller, and here we get Frank in his prime, with a big assist to Mr. Klaus Janson on inks.

There you have it. My picks for Batman’s greatest battles. Who knows? maybe in a few months I’ll tackle a new set of characters to showcase.

Television seems to go up and down in waves with different types of shows being popular at different times.  At one point, we had Space SciFi as a popular medium with shows like Star Trek, Stargate, BSG, Babylon 5 and others all on at the same time.  Similarly we had a slew of reality television shows – some of which are still extremely popular whereas others have fallen out of favor.  We now seem to be in a time of comic book nirvana however with some of the greatest characters and stories appearing on both the small and big screen!

Superhero movies have become the real BIG thing at the box office and there are several studios scrambling to get a slice of the big pie it is and create some lasting legacies. Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D and Agent Carter which pick up from the Marvel Universe are perhaps more procedural in focus and deal with spies and intrigue, whereas The Flash (read my Season 1 review on SFF World), Arrow & Gotham (built around the DC Universe) are definitely more comic book focused, but they’ve each taken it so much further and yet in completely different directions!

Since there are so many good things I can say about this show and in honor of Flash’s return to our screens, here are my top 5 episodes from Season 1.  I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

5. Episode 15 – Out of Time

A real game changer of an episode here with Harrison Wells admitting his real identity to Cisco just before he proceeds to kill him (!) and Barry and Iris declaring their mutual love (finally) for each other.  However Barry’s trip through time (another key point to this episode it must be stated) to stop the tsunami managed to reverse all of these elements for everyone except Barry.

4. Episode 17 – Tricksters

When a show goes out of its way to pay homage to what came before and does it in a way that is not only respectful, but also interesting, well when that happens you have to give it credit and in Episode 17, the Flash did exactly that.  With the reappearance of Mark Hamill (James Jesse) reprising his role as the Trickster from the original 90s version of the Flash and with Barry’s dad having some key scenes it was definitely old home week!

Of course, that probably wasn’t the best part of this episode – it was (in my opinion) the reference to Star Wars that completely pushed it over the edge, causing me to almost fall of my seat!

Other huge surprises this week included the real face of Eobard Thawne – not Harrison Wells as we originally thought but rather someone that took over Harrison’s body.  Talking about faces, we also have Barry revealing himself to both his father and Eddie.

3. Episode 8 – Flash vs. Arrow

While a fan of both shows, my preference here is definitely for the more light-hearted Flash and while I know that Arrow has faced some foes with a bit more ability, his primary enemies have seemed to be more of the thuggish variety vs. the super-powered.  As such I thought that this fight was nothing more than a foregone conclusion with Arrow being quickly and easily defeated by Flash.  I couldn’t have been more wrong!

https://youtu.be/i6Il9y9PwVY

2. Episode 21 – Gorilla Grodd

I’ll be honest this was a toss up for first place for me as I think it was just done so well.  Gorilla Grodd could have been nothing more than a caricature and a man dressed in a gorilla suit, but by contrast he was exceptionally well written and shown.  He was fierce and scary and the looks on the faces of the characters as they confronted this monstrosity were just spot on.   This was a risky episode … it could have gone either way as you wouldn’t expect a telepathic, super strong, super intelligent Gorilla to be a viable character, but it paid off for sure.  The graphics (especially for a Television show) are excellent and Grodd delivers in spades!

1. Episode 1 – Pilot

Most pilot episodes are nothing more than filler and spend most of their time introducing the character and his supporting cast but with the Flash we got so much more.  We understood his motivations and reasons for being, we found out about some of his greatest villains and we also discovered how he got his powers.  To say that this show “hit the ground running” would not be untrue at all!  Perhaps most importantly though, this show gave us a comic book hero that wasn’t afraid to use super-powers!  Unlike Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D which focuses only on the people, the Flash gave us glitz and glam right from day one and it was such a refreshing change!

https://youtu.be/dbWIiRAE1Cs

 

I enjoyed Batman growing up, reading comics and watching the cartoon show. I had never seen any more than novelized adaptations from the movies, so I was interested when I found this one, hanging out like a sore thumb at the book store.

This novel, No Man’s Land, is fairly unique among a lot of typical Batman material and delivers on some noir-type moments, framed in a post-emergency setting. The story picks up just after Gotham is devastated by a powerful earthquake. Much of the population decides to evacuate, only the brave and desperate remain behind. The GCPD is officially disbanded, leaving no one to guard the prisons and leading to Two-face and Joker’s escape. Jim Gordan and other detectives remain behind to bring order to the wasteland.

After his defeat at the hands of Bane, Batman has been forced stop his vigilantism, which revives the mystery surrounding him when he finally returns in the midst of Gotham’s disastrous remains. The story follows a variety of characters, not just Batman and Jim Gordan and I was impressed with the depth of some of them.

Two-face had a dramatic scene at the ruined courthouse. Outside of his split personality, I’ve always felt that Two-face’s character is difficult to define, but this scene here digs far under this villain’s skin. Another scene that deserves focus is when Batman needs to take on the personality of Bruce Wayne, but he had been serving as Batman in the city’s ruins for so long, he was out of practice for portraying his true identity. The internal dialogue during this shift in personality is truly revealing and entertaining.

 

Through much of the book, Two-face and Penguin are working to wind up on top and control Gotham, now that the city is vulnerable. Joker, however, mostly keeps to himself, hoping that rumours about Batman’s return are true. This story also has Joker’s first encounter and inevitable team up with Harley Quinn, who provides a lot of mischievous charm.

Toward the end, when Gotham is about to begin its reconstruction, the Joker finally launches a major heist and puts the entire city into panic. The story ends shortly after a confrontation with Joker and leads to a satisfying conclusion, but on a slightly sad note.

I enjoyed this story, there was a lot of the classic villains, but some left out. Several scenes were easy to enjoy, which made flipping through four hundred and sixty pages a breeze. It follows cannon from the series, but also does its own style of Batman at times and I’m impressed with the author’s knowledge of the series characters and of Gotham. Definitely recommended for anyone with the faintest interest in Batman. There is also a comic version of this story, so check it out.

 

Long over due doesn’t begin to cut it. Bill Finger was instrumental in creating the Dark Knight and his world but never got the credit for it. Since Batman’s inception Bob Kane was the only creator associated with the character. Even Kane admired on a few occasions that Bill finger had a hand in Batman’s creation.

I can’t help but feel lukewarm about this news. On the one hand, it’s good that current and future generations see the name Bill Finger attached to , arguably the most popular superhero of all time. On the other hand, it feels much too late. Bill Finger passed away in the seventies with not a lot of money to his name. This would become the case for, the even more ripped off, Jack Kirby. There was even a time when Superman’s creators ,Siegel and Shuster ended up the same as Jack Kirby. It wasn’t until ” Superman: The Motion Picture”, came out in the Seventies that DC awarded both men some money and their name as creators. However, that is still a legal mess to this day.I’m not even to clear on what the official terms are. Siegel and Shuster both passed away, but their families continue the battle in their name.

It seems a normal occurrence, historically speaking. Reward the creators when they are either dead or too old and sick to really benefit from the money. At the very least Bill Finger’s family will be compensated. Here is DC’s official statement.

DC Entertainment and the family of Bill Finger are pleased to announce that they have reached an agreement that recognizes Mr. Finger’s significant contributions to the Batman family of characters.  “Bill Finger was instrumental in developing many of the key creative elements that enrich the Batman universe, and we look forward to building on our acknowledgement of his significant role in DC Comics’ history,” stated Diane Nelson, President of DC Entertainment.  “As part of our acknowledgement of those contributions,” Nelson continued, “we are pleased to confirm today that Bill Finger will be receiving credit in the Warner Bros. television series Gotham beginning later this season, and in the forthcoming motion picture Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.”  

Source: The Hollywood Reporter

I can’t help but wonder if this will help to shed some light on Spider-Man and Steve Ditko’s situation. It’s not entirely to late. For those unfamiliar with this story, it parallels Bill Fingers quite a bit.

 

Stan Lee is the face of Marvel and often referred to as. the creator of Spider-man. Throughout the years much has been made as to, how much Stan Lee was even involved in the creation of Spidey.  Rumors began years ago, along with many sources stating that artist, Steve Ditko was the main mind behind Spider-Man. No legal source, mind you. Considered more, opinion rather than actual fact. As fate would have it, Steve Ditko faded into obscurity without the issue ever being resolved. Fairly destitute as I’ve heard.  Not exactly the kind of destiny you want for a legendary artist. The point is that Steve Ditko can still have his chance to be given his due, but how long can the powers that be, afford to wait?

Regardless of what happens with Mr. Ditko, when Batman day comes this year ( Sept 26th) raise a glass for Bill Finger.

 

Woo Boy … OK, lets finish the first season of Arrow off shall we?  As mentioned in my previous posts, I’m aiming to get the first season done this month and will then try to get all caught up prior to the launch of the new season in the fall.  If you’ve not seen the show or read my previous updates, I’d urge you to start there first as not only would you not understand who the characters are, you’d also not understand their motivations and reasons for their actions … of course, I’m also guessing though that if you’d not seen the previous episodes, you’d probably not be reading this post either! 🙂

The Huntress Returns

If you recall from the previous post, the Huntress wanted to kill her father whom she blamed for killing her fiance … while Oliver tried to rehabilitate her and get her to understand that murder wasn’t the way to redemption, she was unwilling to listen.  When Helena learns that her father is planning on striking a deal with the Feds though, she realizes she needs to do something now, or he will be able to get away scott-free as with the witness protection program in place, she’ll have a very hard time tracking him down.

Realizing that she’ll be unable to remove him from F.B.I custody by herself, Helena demands that Oliver help her.  When he initially refuses, she retaliates by kidnapping Tommy but is captured by the police who’ve set a trap for her.  Oliver manages to break her out to protect his secret, but when he demands that she leave Starling City, she refuses and instead grabs Felicity who’s able to tell her where her father is being held.  Oliver manages to track her down in time and stops her killing her father, but in the scuffle, Officer McKenna (Oliver’s love interest at the time) is shot.  In the hospital, McKenna reveals to Oliver that she plans to move to Coast City for her rehab, effectively ending their relationship. Meanwhile, Tommy struggles with his knowledge of Oliver’s secret, which in turn affects his relationship with Laurel.

While Helena’s father is on the “list” this episode didn’t really serve to drive the underlying story forward too much and while the action was fast and furious it was more of a filler than anything else again.

Salvation

OK this one is definitely a doozy and makes up in a very significant manner for the filler episodes we’ve seen previously.  While the primary part of the episode is about another vigilante calling themselves the Savior, the underlying story arc advances significantly and really helps to move the story forward.

The Savior believes that he’s “helping” the citizens of Starling City and more specifically The Glades which is a very poor part of the city by targeting those individuals that take advantage of the weak.  His first target is a slum lord that he coerces into confessing his crimes on a live broadcast.  He follows this up by targeting the District Attorney and while Oliver attempts to stop him, he’s unable to catch him.  Felicity however realizes that he’s actually using an abandonded subway car and subway line to travel the underbelly of the city so when he next grabs Roy (Oliver’s sisters “friend”) he’s able to track him down and stop him.

Travelling in and through the Glades however Oliver realizes that this is actually the target of the secret organization, and while he doesn’t yet know what they’re planning on doing, he does know where!

Malcolm meanwhile has reached out to the Triad who have been surprisingly accommodating in providing information on who tried to assassinate him. Moira realizing that Malcolm would quickly come for her and her family throws Frank Chen at Malcolm as the actual conspirator and Malcolm in his archer attire removes Frank from the board.

On the island meanwhile, Oliver and Slade manage to rescue Yao Fei’s daugher from Fyers.

Unfinished Business

A bit of filler wrapping up some loose ends here as we don’t really get any further into the whole conspiracy and end up only rehashing old villains and stories.  However in a nutshell, Vertigo is back – this time in a new form and when it reappears on the streets, Oliver determines that the Count must be behind it.  Breaking into the psychiatric hospital where the Count is being kept, Oliver finds that he seems to have lost his mind from the drug overdose that he received months previously from Oliver and guesses that someone else must be behind the drugs reappearance.  When it is reported that the Count has escaped from prison however Oliver suspects that the Count was faking it the whole time and sets out to hunt him down.

Felicity however does some analysis of the new drug and discovers that there are some new chemicals present that have changed the formulation.  When she relays her findings to Oliver, he realizes that the Count’s psychiatrist is actually behind the resurgence of the drug and he was only using the Count as an unwitting patsy and dupe.  Oliver manages to stop the doctor and save the Count – unfortunately the Count really has lost his mind and was unaware of anything that was going on!

Home Invasion

Another action packed but filler episode here that doesn’t really advance the underlying story too much.  It seems (for obvious reasons) that whenever Laurel involves Oliver and the Vigilante in one of her cases there is only a peripheral tie in if any to the overall conspiracy & while I like her as a character, I regret spending time on these episodes as they don’t really do anything for me!  Anyways, long story short, Laurel is representing the Moore family that were bilked out of their life savings by a corrupt businessman.  When a hit is put out on the family, the only survivor is the couple’s young son, who is unfortunately a witness to the crime.

Laurel decides to take the boy home so that she can keep him safe, but the assassin knowing that he’s been identified decides to hunt him down there.  Oliver steps in and helps to rescue to Laurel and the boy and when Tommy who now knows Oliver’s secret identity declares that the safest place for Laurel and the boy is Oliver’s house, Laurel takes him there.  Once again however the assassin attempts to kill the boy but this time, Oliver is able to kill him before he can get to Laurel and the boy.  Unfortunately while Oliver might have done the right thing in saving the boy, he’s betrayed Diggle as he did not help him in his search for Deadshot which is what he promised to do.  Diggle decides to leave Oliver as he accuses him of always choosing Laurel over anything else (which I have to agree with!).

During a flashback to the island, Shado teaches Oliver to shoot a bow but before his skills can be used as their cover, Yao Fei brings Fyers’ men to their hideout to capture them all.

The Undertaking

Walter’s back!!! Yay!!!

Ooops, sorry for letting the cat out of the bag, but this is a good one that ties up quite a few open loose ends and brings things together in a very tight, neat and organized fashion … you absolutely must watch this one as it answers lots of different questions.

In a bit of a comedic twist, Felicity finds details of a money transfer that ties back to Walter’s kidnapping … unfortunately when Oliver confronts the individual responsible, he claims that Walter was killed.  When Oliver informs his family of this detail, Moira immediately confronts Malcolm.  Malcolm shows her that Walter is still alive, but by doing so, he makes it clear to Oliver that he is the mastermind of the whole organization & he has Felicity hack his phone to determine Walter’s location.

Oliver then breaks into the facility where Walter is being held and in a very awesome fight sequence, manages to free him and return him to the family.

We also learn that Robert Queen while initially in agreement with Malcolm’s plans for the Glades, ends up disagreeing with what he intends to do.  Malcolm ever the man of action decides that continued conversation on this topic is not the solution, but rather it would be better to kill Robert so he has a bomb planted in the Queen’s Gambit just before Oliver and Robert set off.

Darkness on the Edge of Town

You can tell we’re getting to the end of the season now as the secrets and revelations are coming at us fast and furious!  Malcolm as the other archer goes to Unidac Industries and ties up the loose ends remaining there – namely killing the scientists responsible for building his device.  Oliver is unable to stop this but confronts Malcolm as the Vigilante himself, but is once again defeated by him.  This time Malcolm learns Oliver’s secret and in typical villain fashion expounds on his reasons for doing what he is doing.

Walter realizing that Moira was involved in his abduction and possibly in the death of Robert also, issues her with divorce papers and Tommy witnesses Oliver and Laurel “making up” prior to Oliver’s battle against Malcolm.

In a flashback, Fyers reveals that he plans to cripple the Chinese economy by blowing up aircraft going into China. Fyers then murders Yao Fei (gasp!!!) after forcing him to take credit for the attacks via video recording.  That was seriously unexpected!!

Sacrifice

Wow … definitely not the end that I envisioned as basically our hero fails!  Very, very unexpected and quite poignant.

In a nutshell Oliver manages to escape from the chains that Malcolm had left him in & after speaking to his mom about the Undertaking she holds a press conference to let the whole city know what’s about to happen.  Detective Lance with the help of Felicity manages to find and defuse one of the weapons targeting the Glades but after Oliver finds and defeats Malcolm he learns that there is still another one which he proceeds to set off in the process demolishing the East side of the Glades.

Tommy meanwhile has learned that his father is the other archer and also what his plans are for the city.  Rushing to save Laurel who is trapped in her office at CNRI, he arrives in time to rescue her, but in the process is caught and crushed by falling debris before Oliver can save him.

So to end this season, we have Yao Fei dead, Tommy dead and it looks like Malcolm is dead also!  While Deadshot came back from the dead, I fear that we might not be as fortunate with some of the others. 🙁

Overall a really good first season … it was engaging and the storytelling and action sequences were excellent.  I’d like there to be less filler episodes but I know all shows have them so I can’t complain too much.  Even the fillers had some good action!  Really looking forward to Season 2 and beyond.

Mark Millar‘s “Superman: Red Son” is an alternate universe tale that presents to its readers what the Superman-verse would be like if he was landed in Soviet Russia instead of the United States. Thus, we are introduced to a world where Batman’s parents are murdered for their political views and transforms Bruce Wayne into a freedom fighter, who leads a coup against Superman, to overcome Superman`s Orwellian “Big Brother” approach to saving the world. What Mark Millar effectively delivers is essentially a narrative about the cold war and an insight into the minds of our superheroes, and how they relate to the world around them.

In Millar’s universe, Superman grows up in a farm in Soviet Russia, and falls in love with Lana, who, after having been witnessed by Superman lining up for food with her children, inspires him to accept the responsibility of leading the country in solid dictatorship.

Superman’s rise to fame is what spurs the Cold War to shift from nuclear weapons to the building of super humans. What comes out as a result is a horrifying league of super mutants – creatures that lack the motivation and back story that creates super heroes. Thus, the mutants created in defense of the United States becomes the physical manifestations of the fear and apprehension so dominant during the Cold War, an effective tool in demonstrating the effects the Cold War had on its people.

Lois Lane is a tragic heroine married to Lex Luthor, an obsessive S.T.A.R. labs scientist whose sole purpose in life is to defeat Superman. Though she is still a reporter for the Daily Planet, her non-existent romance with Lex Luthor highlights the isolation and lifelessness of this universe. Similarly, going along the trajectory of tragic heroines, Diana aka Wonder Woman is presented as Superman’s loyal companion in keeping everyone in line with Superman’s beliefs, and whose love is perpetually unrequited. Diana’s sacrifice towards the end of the story in order to help Superman defeat Batman is what clarifies the true nature of Superman’s intent: power and control beyond any means.

Superman’s inability to give the citizens of whichever universe he is written into, whether or not it’s in Metropolis or Soviet Russia, agency and independence in choosing the world they want to live in, is what keeps him fallible, and whats spurs Batman into action. Batman, a hero motivated by a flawed, humanistic trait – vengeance – is always going to be contrasted against Superman’s “good” intentions.The conflicts presented in this alternate universe tale is one that is inherent within the traits of Batman and Superman. Superman`s demi-god abilities is exactly what disconnects him from the creatures he protects – it is both what makes him heroic, and his hubris. Superman is the perpetual outsider, whose good intentions are thwarted because of his disconnect.

Perhaps what is most interesting in the Red Son is that it does not follow the standard morality concept of attributing communism to evil, and capitalism to good. The political views of the story are rooted in intent: Superman is not evil because he`s a Communist or because he`s Russian. His intent is grounded in altruism; it was his execution of his ideals that casted him as the villain. Similarly, though Lex Luthor`s actions pitted him as the hero, fighting for freedom against oppression, his intent is still grounded on his selfish and egotistic obsession of defeating Superman.

Thus, Red Son allows its readers to reflect on the fluidity of morality, and what that means when the responsibility of instilling morality falls in the hands of ultimately flawed characters, and what actions they perform that cast them into the roles of super heroes. This stand-alone story is both political and philosophical, but it also full of Superman lore that will keep its fans satiated. Truly a wonderful read, and amazing illustrations to boot, Red Son is definitely a must-read.

Unlike many other reviewers and critics, I am not going to completely pan Green Lantern. I agree that it had the potential to be so much more, but most Superhero movies have that same potential and when the studios are forced to spend a significant portion of on screen time to the introduction of the character and the whole universe, a movie is bound to be somewhat stilted. I think if the studios had gone into this in a similar fashion to the first Resident Evil movie – simply leapt into the action and story without wasting time introducing all the mythology this could have been a much more powerful and enjoyable film.

With the above being said however there was much to like and enjoy in this movie – not least the special effects which are really well done. The uber-villain is perhaps a bit too powerful (and gets defeated a bit too easily) however Hollywood does that fairly frequently in their Superhero films and it is somewhat to be expected.

Irresponsible test pilot, Hal Jordan (Ryan Reynolds), has been labeled a disappointment his entire life. His childhood friend and love interest, Carol Ferris (Blake Lively), believes he walks away from everything he starts. This changes when he encounters a dying alien named Abin Sur, who presents him with a mysterious ring.

Green Lantern (film)
Green Lantern (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

With his dying breath, Abin Sur tells a confused Hal that the ring chose him, and that with it comes great responsibility. Shortly after this strange encounter, Hal discovers the ring’s true power while fighting three men in an alley behind a pub. He is then transported to the distant planet Oa, home of the Green Lantern Corps.

Upon his arrival, Hal is trained by the leader of the Green Lanterns, Sinestro (Mark Strong), and two of his intergalactic soldiers, Kilowog and Tomar Re. They warn him of an evil entity known as Parallax, who recently broke free from imprisonment and swore vengeance upon the Lanterns. When the evil scientist Hector Hammond (Peter Sarsgaard) acquires powers of his own and summons Parallax to Earth, Hal must find the courage to face the two villains and protect his loved ones.

A standout performance is delivered from Peter Sarsgaard as the troubled scientist Hector Hammond who goes through a transformation from meek mild mannered scientist to evil megalomaniac once he has been infected by Parallax. In addition, Hal’s tricks with the ring are really well done and I especially like the fact that as soon as Carol Ferris saw Hal Jordan up close in his costume she was able to recognize him in his Green Lantern costume and there were no games with a pair of glasses acting as a disguise!

Overall – there is room for improvement, but as a first entry into a new franchise (if one is green lighted <- see what I did there? :)), Green Lantern has some decent legs and Ryan Reynolds can definitely make this role his own.Enhanced by Zemanta

Scott Snyder & Greg Capullo’s run on Batman is quickly becoming the stuff of legend among many fans. Their latest arc titled Endgame is perhaps their most anticipated of all. It’s the return of the Joker after his last encounter with Batman that took place in the Death Of The Family storyline, also by Snyder & Capullo.

Endgame takes place from issues 35 to issues 40 in Dc’s Current Batman title. Judging from their last encounter we all knew the ante would have to be raised. Does this story achieve that? let’s dive right in and find out.

 

The initial issue was presented in a fantastic way because no knew that it was the return of the Joker until the very last page and we didn’t even have to see him at all to know it.  All you need to know is that based on their previous encounter, Joker’s love/ infatuation with Batman has now turned to more of a Hate/ Obsession.

The next few issues really ramp up the story and show us just how much the Joker has ” changed” and how far he’s willing to go to actually make Batman suffer and ultimately kill him. Another intriguing and bold thing that Endgame does is delve deeper into the possible back story for the Joker. The funny thing is that it goes in a supernatural direction that I don’t think most people would expect. It poses the question has the Joker always been here? Is he some kind of immortal?

There has always been a shroud of mystery surrounding Joker but it’s certainly interesting to see how it plays out in this story.

Nearing the climax of the series you get the sense that this is not going to be any random encounter and that things will change very much. Ultimately, they do.

One thing becomes abundantly clear here. ( SPOILERS)  Joker knows who Batman is and where he lives and how to get in. Basically, he knows everything. Joker uses that knowledge to its fullest potential wreaking havoc on Batman and Gotham City in the process.

Naturally Joker knows that the way to hurt him most is to hurt the city that he loves and protects but this story is not about that to me. It’s simply Batman Vs Joker. It deals with a rivalry so intense that it boils over in the last issue. This week’s #40.

There’s so much to say about this last issue. First off, it was delayed an extra month which made the anticipation almost too much to bare. The wait, however was worth it. The art in particular benefited greatly from the delay. This is the issue where we get what we’ve been waiting for. The confrontation that is set up is THE fight of fights. It’s almost the equivalent of the Manny Pacquiao vs Floyd Mayweather Jr. fight. It has that kind of impact and you feel it when you watch this epic battle play out. There’s an incredible sense of danger and finality to every strike or cut.

It’s truly Batman’s last stand to save his city and vanquish his foe. The beautiful thing about, not only this story but all of Snyder & Capullo’s run is the attention to detail. You quickly realize that most anything Snyder throws at you, no matter how obscure has a point. Endgame connects to Zero Year and even the Court Of Owls saga. Especially playing on the fact that Batman doesn’t know Gotham as well as he believes he does.

There’s even tiny thread that perhaps foreshadowed everything to come in the Superman Unchained series.( it could be considered a spoiler so be forewarned.)

It’s that incredible attention to detail that is a testament to the greatness of Snyder & Capullo’s run. Another wonderful example is his homage to perhaps the other great confrontation between Batman and Joker in Frank Miller’s Dark Knight Returns. One thing I will say is that the comic is extremely dark and graphic at times. Much has been made of DC’s dark tone these days but I think it suited this series very much. Particularly this issue.

By the end of it all it’s clear that major changes are coming to the Batman universe and the consequences may be felt for a long time. I strongly urge you all to pick up the issues or wait for the eagerly anticipated trades.

9.5/10