The Best Kelley Jones Batman Covers #10

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Today am I looking at the work of one of my favorite Batman artists, Kelley Jones. Jones started as a cover artist on Detective Comics and then Batman and eventually to the interior artist of Batman. These books along with some other various side projects constitute one of the most dramatic looks for the Dark Knight ever.

At the time this was a departure from what a superhero was “supposed” to look like. Like Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman film, this dark atmosphere was very seductive. The horror overtones are evident and are probably best suited for Batman among the spandex set. With obvious influences from Bernie Wrightson and Frank Frazetta, Jones created a world unlike anything else being published by DC at the time.

Growing up, I loooooved Jones’ work (and still do). Even when he was just doing the covers I would study them for hours. He dramatically altered the course of my own personal artistic style at the time.

Following here are my picks for the 10 best covers he has produced for the Batman line of books.

10. Batman #506

2968

A take on the “Batman with lightning” theme, Jones creates a unique piece that stands apart from Frank Miller’s classic and other imitators. This cover actually is depicting Jean Paul Valley’s Azbats, but he is hardly discernible here from Bruce Wayne. The only thing that really gives it away are the clawed gauntlets.

The chimney is also pretty rare. As much as Batman travels around rooftops, a brick chimney is anachronistic in Gotham. The way Jones wraps the cape around it helps add motion to the scene. Meanwhile, the “negative” look to the bricks gives contrast to the lighter background. Batman’s shadow adds to that overall.

This cover also has an aspect of Jones’ work I’ve wondered about for a long time. The scallops of the cape under Batman’s arm appears to be where it is meant to stop. However, the cape continues down the chimney and off the bottom of the cover. Jones does little to show the cape linking together. The arc of the scallop between the legs seems to imply it flows into the lower portion, but it also looks like it could be coincidence.

Looking at pieces like this, I have wondered if Jones finished the cape and then decided that it wasn’t large enough and added another section. The mass of the cape implies that if this is all one piece, Batman’s cape is horribly asymmetrical and getting twisted up to the point of becoming a hindrance.

Sometimes this appears to be an afterthought added on and others it looks like a multi-layered cape with gothic overtones. The latter fits in perfectly with the dark ambiance of Jones’ art. It’s effect wavers depending on the piece, but it also leads to more of Jones’ beautiful capes.

The splattered ink technique used for the lighting is also notable for creating contrast for the lighting and adding texture to the background. It would have been easy to just create a black background for this cover, continuing what is at the top, but now it allows for more color to be brought in. While we get the complimentary purple/yellow scheme for the background it is evident that this is still a striking piece in the original black and white.

Speaking of, I’m aware that Graphitti Designs and DC Comics published a gallery edition featuring the original art pages of some of Kelley Jones’ Batman run. I believe it only included around 9 issues. A collection of this kind should definitely include a cover gallery. Since the art is scanned from the original pieces, this may prove impossible as Jones’ surely sold off the original covers to different collectors over time. However, a definitive collection of his work is incomplete without them. And no, I don’t own this collection because it was $125 when it came out and I have bills, yo.

Also seeing the original art with the brush strokes is sure to take away some of the mystery. The final printed pieces creates a void of darkness that leads to the viewer questioning what they are looking at. Most of Batman’s form is hidden in this cover with only silhouette and minimal details given. It is up to the reader to fill in the gaps of what is before them. This is a large part of the appeal of Jones’ work and plays into the horror style.

Well, that’s a lot more than I thought I would have to say about this single cover. So, next time I will be looking at another great Batman cover by Kelley Jones.

 

 

Worst of the Best – Flash Vol. 2, #61

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Welcome to Worst of the Best! This feature examines comics that are missteps, screw-ups, or just wtf’s of an otherwise perfectly good run. Today I will be looking at an issue that cut particularly deep for me when I was younger, Flash #61.

6712.jpg

Cover swiped from The Grand Comics Database at comics.org. Used without permission, but check them out. They’re great.

This issue is cover dated as April, 1992, so it would have come out a couple months before that. I had been collecting comics for a little over 2 years at this point. Also, The Flash tv show been on and gone (unfortunately) by this time. While Batman had gotten me into comics, I soon grew an interest into the Flash also.

Following the events of the DC event Crisis on Infinite Earths, Barry Allen’s longtime sidekick, Wally West, had taken over duties as the Flash. This volume was his book and since this was the one I read growing up, Wally will always be MY Flash.

The bulk of the run that I had read at this point had been written by William Messner-Loebs and drawn by Greg LaRocque and Larry Mahlstedt. Loebs had done a lot of work on expanding Wally’s supporting cast in the title. Sometimes in a franchise you have a solid protagonist with a colorful supporting cast that almost overshadows the main character. This happens occasionally with properties like He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. A good, heroic character that appears generic next to their creative supporting characters.

he-man-by-earl-norem.jpg

Oh yeah, what’s the blonde guy’s deal?

This is not what happened to Flash though. For the most part, Flash’s supporting cast was made up of civilians. Early on, Wally’s mother was in the book. At the time I was fine with that. A parent being a regular part of a superhero comic is almost unheard of even today. John Byrne had wisely decided to include Superman’s adopted parent, Ma and Pa Kent in his reboot earlier.

Over time though it just felt like the cast got muddied with characters that really didn’t have an impact and that were more suited to a soap opera than a superhero comic book. Honestly, the only one that made an impact was Chunk, a former supervillain that had made friends with Wally eventually. Also, I believe Chunk was the first regular black character in a comic that I read.

chunk.jpg

Now I really enjoyed this run on Flash, but the ever-increasing shift to a soap opera tone came to a head with this issue. Entitled “The Old Wedding Dodge” by William Messner-Loebs with Rod Whigham and Frank McLaughlin. This issue details Wally’s elderly mother getting hitched. Just what eleven year old me had been waiting for.

kids.jpg

No $#!%.

Now there is some superheroic stuff going on this issue, but it really feels like they had to put that in so their editor wouldn’t fire them all outright. Don’t get it twisted, the A-story here is the wedding.

firelady.jpg

“Look, it’s a naked fire lady! Kid’s will love it.”  I’m wise to your game.

There’s also a cameo from Flash’s teammates on Justice League Europe. Just don’t get your hopes up into thinking they do anything cool in this book, they’re milling around at the wedding party.heroes.jpg

How do you make Killowog look boring? And is Metamorpho auditioning for Chippendale’s? Is he wearing the bow tie, or did he form the bowtie at the last-minute while running late for the wedding? I would much rather have read that story.

Wally has to go get the preacher for the wedding who is being held up trying to talk a jumper down from a bridge. The preacher is able to talk down the man who happens to be Justice League baddie T.O. Morrow. The hell? Whatever. This is the only real speed action scene we get in the book so I’ll take it.

Later on back at the ceremony, some other geriatric couple decides to get married, so the decision is made to make it a DOUBLE WEDDING!!!

dontdoit.jpg

DON’T DO IT, MASON!

Who the hell is this comic for, 70-year-old little girls? Cause they don’t exist, son! It’s all right though, because all of this leads to what is probably the best splash page in comic history.

jackpot.jpg

Take that, Kirby!

Oh yeah, time for a dry, dry geriatric make out sesh. How’s that for a “climax”?

The only redeeming aspect I can find in this issue is at the end when Wally is contemplating about how everyone else at the wedding seems to have someone except him. Enter Linda “she’s just a friend” Park. Duh duh DUUUUUHHH. FORESHADOWING!

adventure.jpg

I don’t think you know what that word means, Wally because there is no adventure in this comic.

It’s rare that I can point out exactly when I wanted to drop a title, but in this case I am 100% positive, this is it. I had read this title since at least the tv show was on and I went back and filled in this run from the first issue. Flash was a good book that I enjoyed but this crap story was the straw that broke the back.

I didn’t pick the Flash title up again regularly until Geoff Johns’ run in 2000. And not before Wizard magazine started going on about how good the book was, because Wizard was never wrong, kids.

Not wanting to end on a downer, here’s the baller-ass cover to issue 50 when Wally got his awesome metallic costume! I wish he still had this texture on his suit to differentiate him from the other speedsters.

6701

But we know Skee-Lo used up all the wishes back in ’95.

 

You Should Be Watching Comic Trips.

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Hey, I know I haven’t posted anything in a while, so if you’re reading this, thanks. Real quick: I had some plans for this blog that didn’t work out and I wanted to do something special for my 100th post (that’s this one).  Eventually, I realized that the topic of that post should be something that was special to me. “What’s special to me?” A YouTube channel that I discovered a few months ago.

Screen Shot 2017-07-23 at 5.25.55 PM

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCPNrh7yrsDDLg2WGdiG1xGg

Comic Trips is the self-proclaimed “Best YouTube Channel You’ve Never Heard of.” The show recounts the adventures of Paul and Kat as they travel to various comic shops, conventions, flea markets, etc. All the while they search for comic books, toys, and other pop culture ephemera.

Most of my interests developed in ways that are now forgotten to me over time, but this one is recent enough that I can recall exactly how I discovered it. I’m detailing this here mainly for my personal benefit, so that when I get older and forget I will have this as a record. It’s my blog so whatev. A few months ago Kevin Smith (if you’re reading this, I don’t have to explain to you who he is) visited the Mile High Comics store in Colorado. He posted a walkthrough video of the store with owner, Chuck Rozanski. I have had a couple of dealings with Mile High online, but had never visited their physical store, so I was curious to see what it was like.

After watching the video, YouTube naturally brings up other videos you might be interested in viewing. I then started to watch a video by a YouTuber who was discussing Kevin Smith’s video. Now, this is the part I can’t remember. The channel I was watching THIS video on is lost to me and of course now I can’t find it again. However, the commentator was saying that Comic Trips also recently visited Mile High Comics.

“What’s Comic Trips?” I thought to myself. I looked it up and found a great new YouTube channel that I hadn’t known about. At the time, I believe they had 6 seasons available to view. Instead of just jumping to the episode where they travel to Mile High, I decided I should watch all of the episodes in order. This is what collecting comics for decades and being a completist gets you. Of course I then set about binge watching the entire catalogue.

Luckily, the show was great. Due to some personal circumstances of the last couple years I haven’t been able to travel to very many conventions and comic shops like I usually do. So, I was able to live vicariously through the duo of Paul and Kat as they journeyed to a plethora of comic shops and related events. (Yes I did just re-watch The Three Amigos the other night.)

In addition to just being a travelogue of their experience, the show is also a chronicle of their relationship. If I am remembering correctly (no guarantees), I believe they stated that they only dated for a short time before they started recording their trips. So you also get to see the development of them as a couple. This is a unique aspect to their show that adds a lot to it.

Other than just being a great reality style collectible show, there is another aspect to it that is really important to me. Paul and Kat’s enthusiasm for what they are doing is very endearing. After collecting comic books for nearly 28 years, sometimes you hit a rut in your hobby. Numerous events, reboots, and stagnant creativity takes it toll over time. Due to the monthly nature of comics it’s easy to coast along for quite a while just out of habit. There are books that I will always get automatically and there is always something that is “good enough” and like anything in life, you go through the motions at times.

Being a jaded collector of almost 3 decades can put a damper on your view of collecting, but that is not the case with Comic Trips. The energy they put towards their collecting feels genuine and not inflated like most reality shows. (I’m looking judgingly at you, Comic Book Men.) Now their burgeoning relationship is probably also a factor in this, but it doesn’t take away from the overall positivity of the show. Something that is in decline in the nerd community in general.

While watching Comic Trips, my own passion for collecting was revitalized. This year I  knew I would be able to attend some local cons and visit some more comic shops in my area. Suddenly, I couldn’t wait to go to some of the local conventions in my area, that were still months away. Now, I’m talking about small, cons with mostly local guests, not San Diego Comic Con. However, I was now pumped for the convention season to start and planned out my itinerary with my homie, Kreative Assassin. You can check out his blog here: http://www.kreativeassassin.com/

Over the course of the summer my homies and I have traveled to various local cons and shops and had a great time. We’ve found so many comics, toys, and various things and had a blast. Without Comic Trips I doubt we would be as gung-ho with our travels as we have been this year.

cee7fd711b9936e1e0be84f500537133

Yeah, this accurately describes how I’ve felt this summer.

The day I am posting this, July 24, 2017, is also the day that Comic Trips’ eighth season is to premier. So now would be an ideal time to jump in and check out the Best YouTube Channel You’ve Never Heard of.

 

And I do like Comic Book Men, so don’t be hatin’.

#keepinit100

Merry Christmas!

Hey, I’ve been gone from here for a while now. I’ve been working on some other projects and dealing with more work at my day job. However, I wanted to go ahead on and share my Christmas card with my followers who are still around. Thank you both for sticking around.

My next post will be my 100th so I’m wanting to do something special for that. Hopefully, I will be able to do that around the beginning of the new year.

So, thanks for checking out my nonsense this year and I hope to have more for you soon.

For my Christmas card, I wanted to create a trading card, as opposed to a greeting card. This is the inaugural entry in my “Holiday Heroes” series. I’ve wanted to do this for a while now and hope to make this an annual tradition. Someday, you’ll be able to brag to everyone how you got in on the ground floor with Snowbot X-25 before anyone else.

SNOWBOT CARD

SNOWBOT CARD

So, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Cordial Kwanzaa (I don’t know, I’m trying), and Lucky Life Day.

See you next year, homies.

 

Counting Cards: Ranking the Live-Action Jokers

Today’s article continues this week’s theme of the Joker, with a look at the actors who have brought the Clown Prince of Crime to life. Below, I am ranking the on-screen portrayals of Batman’s greatest nemesis. The criteria here are live-action, not voice over performances. Theoretically, an actor who has had “Joker” listed on their resume.

Honorable Mention: Andrew Koenig

batmandeadend-456

The late, Andrew Koenig played the Joker in the now classic fan-film, Batman: Dead End by Sandy Collora. Since Dead End was not a sanctioned Batman project, I am not counting Koenig in the official count. Koenig’s Joker however, was memorable and a true-to-the-comic performance. Plus, I believe he is the only one to appear on-screen wearing a straight jacket. Koenig created a noteworthy character, even if his Joker couldn’t overcome a Xenomorph.

If you’ve never seen this, what the hell is your deal? Check it out:

 

6. Roger Stoneburner/Mark Hamill

latest

On the short-lived tv series, Birds of Prey, the Joker appeared on the pilot and one additional episode. Which episode, I’m not sure. I am not digging out that dvd set to research this. I barely watched this show when it was on, and I’m not about to now.

Roger Stoneburner was in the pilot’s Oracle origin sequence. He was blurred out ala Superman in CBS’ recent Supergirl series. Part of that may have been to help with the lip sync. Stoneburner was dubbed in the scene by everyone’s favorite Joker, Mark Hamill. It was a unique, and maybe too ambitious choice. Hearing Hamill’s Joker in live action was novel, but you instinctively know that it’s not coming from Stoneburner.

Weird note: everywhere online lists the pilot to this show as unaired. That’s totally wrong. I remember watching this when it aired. Back then, there is no other way I could’ve seen it. Not sure what lead to the confusion.

 

5. Curtis Armstrong

boogerjoker

Around the turn of the century, Onstar created a series of ads featuring Batman using their service in the Batmobile. In one commercial, he is chasing after the Joker, with footage added in from the 90s Batman films. Here, the Joker is brought to life by Revenge of the Nerds’ Booger, Curtis Armstrong. Armstrong, gives a quick, but colorful portrayal of the Joker. Since he was heavily covered in makeup for this role, it would have been interesting to see more of Armstrong’s face coming through.

 

4. Jack Nicholson

latest

This may be a controversial decision to some, to feature Nicholson this low on the list. Especially since he is the Joker a generation, myself included, grew up with thanks to his outing in the 89 Batman movie. At the time, for me at least, he was the greatest Joker ever. As the years have gone by though, and other actors have taken on the role and made it their own, Nicholson’s take doesn’t hold up as well as it once did. Looking through more sophisticated eyes now, a lot of Nicholson shown up in the acting. Too much “Jack Nicholson as the Joker”, not enough “Joker.”

While that may be splitting hairs to some, rest assured, that if Nicholson had been the last film actor to play the Joker, he would be remembered as the greatest.

 

3. Cesar Romero

jokerromero

Cesar Romero played the Joker over the course of 3 seasons of the 60s Batman show and the tie-in movie. Now 50 years later, Romero’s accurate to the comics of the time, portrayal stands up today. Easily the most colorful version of the character on this list, Romero also had arguably the most range in his signature laugh. With this show still in syndication and finally on home release, Romero’s Joker may end up outlasting them all.

 

2. Jared Leto

jared-leto-joker-suicide-squad-trailer-2015-billboard-650

The newest portrayal on the list, is of course Jared Leto from Suicide Squad. While also having less screen time than most of the others. Leto’s version leaves me excited to see him show up later, hopefully in one of Ben Affleck’s forthcoming Batman films. Hopefully, this will be the first in a series of Leto’s appearances and possibly the first actor to have a second chance to play the Joker on the big screen.

For more of my thoughts on Jared Leto’s take see my Suicide Squad review from a couple of days ago. https://detective651.wordpress.com/2016/08/15/suicide-squad/

While not only appearing in the recent Suicide Squad, Leto also has the distinction of being the first Joker to appear in a video with Rick Ross and Skrillex, but hopefully won’t be the last.

 

1. Heath Ledger

latest-1

Be honest, this is what you were waiting for. Ledger’s Oscar-winning portrayal of the Joker in 2008’s The Dark Knight has become the gold standard. Like Nicholson before him, anyone who plays the Joker after him will be judged against his performance. While Leto may eventually supplant Ledger as the best, his limited time in Suicide Squad is not enough to do it yet.

Ledger’s take combined various incarnations from the comics and created something new altogether. Despite the initial vitriol his casting caused among fans, he was embraced almost immediately after the film premiered. To this day, his influence is felt and his untimely passing has led fans to wonder what might have been.

 

Bonus Wish Casting: Tilda Swinton

SWINTON JOKER UP

Before Jared Leto was cast for Suicide Squad, my personal choice for a new Joker was Tilda Swinton. Her unique look could lead to an androgynous, alien take on the Joker. Seeing how she throws herself into her characters surely would have led to a new version of the Joker and avoided comparisons to other actors.  To clarify, the character would be male, just played by Swinton.

Unfortunately, it seems that Marvel saw similar potential in Swinton, hence her upcoming part as the Ancient One in Doctor Strange. So it’s unlikely that we’ll ever see her take on the Joker.

Batman: The Killing Joke: The Deluxe Edition

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , ,

Continuing this week’s Joker theme, today I am looking at a graphic novel from a few years ago. Back in 2008, DC Comics released a hardcover version of the classic Batman: The Killing Joke to coincide with the book’s 20th anniversary.

61z2HFmt6TL

What is notable about this version is that original artist, Brian Bolland has gone back and re-colored the book himself. Therefore, all of John Higgins’ colors from the original release have been tossed out and redone by Bolland.

batman-the-killing-joke-youre-going-mad-1

You’d think so, right?

Higgins’ original garish, visually aggressive colors provided a perfect tone for what is the darkest Joker story ever told. Apparently, according to Tim Sale’s introduction to the 2008 version, many took exception to Higgins’ colors the first time around. Why this is I don’t understand. Following his use of a predominately secondary color scheme on Watchmen, this seems like the perfect evolution for a Joker story.

watchmen

8p0dj7u

Considering what Joker does in this story, coloring that is offensive to the eyes is right in keeping with the story. I never read this comic and wondered why these choices were made. It never looked like a mistake to me, and always seemed appropriate to this book. Would this work on every comic? Of course not, but not every other comic is a reprehensible Joker tale.

Obviously, Brian Bolland also took exception to the original look and attempted to rectify it with this edition.

tumblr_l2od86ee3Q1qzvnpdo1_1280.png

I’m getting there.

Presumably, with this deluxe edition, the colors are closer to what Bolland had in mind twenty years previous.  As an artist, I can understand how he probably envisioned the book looking one way and not how it was ultimately produced. Every artist has a vision of their work that should be respected. Unless that artist is John Higgins, I guess.

Ultimately, Bolland’s colors are definitely more realistic, but was less expressive. This gives the book a much flatter, muted look. The only improvement over the original that I can see in this volume, is that the flashbacks are now predominately black and white with a specific colored item.

17646789._SX540_.jpg

If the 88 edition had been published this way, it would have provided even more contrast between the current setting and the flashbacks. Other than that, I don’t really see an advantage to this new coloring.

In the 08 version, Bolland details how he also took this opportunity to go back and tweak the art. Even adding in a new figure for the readers to find. The most notable difference is the lack of the yellow oval around Batman’s symbol, the standard at the time. When looking back at a finished work, artists usually have something they would have done differently, or go back and fix. Part of being an artist though, is moving on and letting the work exist in the frame it was created. At the end of the day, I don’t need a “special edition” of the Killing Joke.

A better solution, would have been to have Higgins come back and digitally re-color the book, expanding upon his initial themes. DC’s printing quality has only improved since the 80s and reprints usually needs updated coloring anyway. Why John Higgins was not invited back to participate in this anniversary volume, I don’t know. From Bolland’s afterword, it seems that the conversation never got that far as he desired to re-color the book. Of course, I wasn’t there, so I don’t know. For some reason no one ever calls me up to get my input on these things.

It’s not like they would ever color something like this today after all. Certainly not for a big marketing campaign or something mainstream.

suicide-squad-cast-poster

While I was writing this, I got to wondering if the original version of The Killing Joke was still available. Apparently, the Deluxe Edition is the only one still in print. So, to get the 80s version, you would have to find a back issue. Fortunately, DC did a ton of printings of that over the years so one shouldn’t be too difficult to find. If you haven’t read the Killing Joke, it’s worth seeking out the Higgins colored version first.

It turns out that DC did just release a new, alternate version of Killing Joke, though.

409369._SX360_QL80_TTD_

Batman Noir: The Killing Joke showcases the story in the original black and white art. Is it possible for a fictional character to scheme against you? This has got to be a better punchline than anything at the end of the Killing Joke.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And no, Batman doesn’t kill Joker in this story. It’s in continuity, dummies.

Suicide Squad

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Today I am kicking off Joker Week here with my thoughts on the Clown Prince of Crime’s latest cinematic appearance.

suicide-squad-poster-big.jpg

BTW, if you haven’t seen this yet, you shouldn’t be reading this yet. Go see it though.

SPOILERS

Let me start off by saying that all these haters can suck it, this is a good movie. Is this going to win best movie next year in the Oscars? No, but that doesn’t make it the terrible wreck everyone is making it out to be. You know what else isn’t going to win best picture? Captain America: Civil War. That doesn’t mean that either is a bad movie.

Am I biased for this movie? Yeah, I am. I’ve been a DC guy for most of my life. I picked up a Suicide Squad comic when I was 10 because Batman was in it. It’s a great concept that can translate to the theater. It also features characters that I’m a fan of. That, coupled with some great trailers that have been released got me excited for this.

Now, that doesn’t mean I’m going to fawn over a movie if it’s bad, even a DC one. I still remember when my friends and I left the theater after seeing Batman & Robin. Never have a group of people and I been so quiet when leaving a movie. Like we were trying to reconcile what we had seen and trying to find something positive about it, but coming up short.

This is not that movie.

It’s possible that this is the best movie so far in the new “DC Cinematic Universe.” To me it feels like it is, but I would want to live with it for a little while longer before deciding that. That may just be a knee jerk reaction to the film.

Since this is the first in a superhero movie franchise, we are of course shown the obligatory origin of the team. The interesting part of that is this is one of the few comic book movies where that isn’t necessarily needed. It’s a black ops team put together by the government. They could have just started with the team already formed and filled in backstory as they went. It’s really only needed as a reaction to the death of Superman in BvS. Amanda Waller’s justification for the squad is the impending metahuman threat.

The conflict the Squad is called in to resolve concerns Enchantress going rogue and attacking Midway City. As Enchantress was under the control of Amanda Waller, Task Force X discovers that their mission is to clean up Waller’s mistake.

Long story short (even though I wouldn’t have minded a longer version), this group of outsiders comes together and overcomes their differences to save the day. Plus, since it’s the Suicide Squad, a couple of them die along the way. Pretty much what I expected from this movie.

Will Smith as Deadshot

Deadshot-Poster

For real you guys, I thought I was going to need a targeting eyepiece to fix my peepers when they rolled so hard at the news of this casting. I love Deadshot. He is a great character and is underused outside of the Suicide Squad comics. Deathstroke seems to be taking all his work in the DC Universe.

So when I heard that Big Willie Style himself was going to be playing one of my favorite hitmen, I was disappointed. To me it just looked like Smith had picked the biggest role and said “that’s who I’m playing.” Whether this was the case or not, we’ll never know.

However, he was a lot better in this than I thought he would be. Maybe because I had such low expectations for him, I was pleased with what I got. Perhaps since Smith is a father, he was able to bring that to the role. When they announced Deadshot was going to be in this, I knew they would bring in his daughter to give him some humanity. This is Hollywood, that’s what they do. Smith pulled it off though.

Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn

PHegBTgmDg3jhh_1_l

This is why we came to see the movie, right? Everybody loves Harley Quinn. I haven’t seen Robbie in anything yet, (no, I haven’t seen Wolf of Wall Street, fuck Leonardo DiCaprio) so I wasn’t sure what I was getting. She’s great though. Despite any previous fan castings over the years, I don’t think anyone else would’ve done a better job.

Despite all the hate for this flick, I haven’t heard a bad word about Robbie yet. She’s great and you can see why Warner Bros are considering a solo film.

Jai Courtney as Captain Boomerang

suicide-squad-poster-boomerang-1

If I was disappointed with anything in this movie, it’s that we didn’t get more of the Captain. A longtime Flash villain that’s been a joke for decades, shouldn’t have been this good, but here we are. Hopefully, some of those deleted scenes everyone’s bitching about has a little Captain in them.

Bonus, his inclusion also led to a great cameo that I avoided online like it was the Zika virus before I went to the theater.

Jay Hernandez as El Diablo

Diablo-Poster

When I was El Diablo was in this, the first thing I thought was “fodder.” You expect some of the team to die in a Suicide Squad story like it was in the title or something. What you don’t expect is for them to be this good. Diablo is a villain I know little about and don’t care any about. Hernandez turned this into a good character with a well-developed arc.

While watching this I felt something familiar about Hernandez, but couldn’t place what I had seen him in before. As if his face was covered up or something. Checking his listing on IMDB though, I haven’t seen anything else he’s done. Any familiarity I felt towards his character must have just been a well-rounded character that exceeded my expectations.

Adam Beach as Slipknot

suicide-squad-poster-slipknot-1

You know what feels great? When your predictions come true. Why would a character who’s part of a team not be featured in group shots in a trailer? You know, like scenes that are obviously from later in the story when the shit is going down? Gee, it’s almost like something was going to happen to him.

The only issue I have here is that the plot doesn’t set up Slipknot enough to make you care, or even surprised when he gets taken out. The only purpose it serves is to motivate the rest of the team to fall in line. I know that’s not new to SS tales, but it should have been developed more.

Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje as Killer Croc

Suicide-Squad-Comic-Book-Inspired-Poster-Adewale-Akinnuoye-Agbaje-as-Killer-Croc

Ok, I’m going to quit checking now and assume I’ve spelled his name right. The problem is, this guy should be a household name now. He does a great job with Croc. I’ve gotten over Killer Croc’s first movie appearance not being in a Batman movie. (Something I’ve wanted since I was like 11.)

The only issue here is that maybe more than Boomerang, Croc doesn’t get as much screen time as he should’ve. Naturally, with an ensemble cast, some people are going to get the short end of the stick, but I could’ve used more Waylon Jones here.

My only issue with Croc in this movie is the scene in which Enchantress is trying to tempt members of the team with showing them their deepest wishes, implying that she can fulfill them if they join her. Harley Quinn’s shows her desire to live a normal life with Joker. In this dream sequence, we see Leto, sans makeup. You know who that would’ve been better used for? How about the guy that Ray-Parked this whole movie. Is it that hard to believe that Croc’s would wish for being cured of this affliction and lead a normal life? Why not throw a bone to the actor who was covered up for this entire adventure and show his real face?

Karen Fukahara as Katana

suicide-squad-characterposters-batch1-poster4

Hey, we got Katana in a movie! Again, a character that doesn’t have as much on-screen time as some of the other players, but I don’t think she needed it. The more mystery the better with her.

My only issue with her is that they kept mentioning her Soultaker sword.

cap0008.3.jpg

No, not that Soultaker.

You can only remind me so many times that her sword captures the souls of her victims before I expect it to pay off later. It did not.

Cara Delevingne as Enchantress

Enchantress-2

Honestly, if there’s a weak link in this movie, it’s Enchantress. I don’t care about this character in the comics, and I really don’t in the movie either. It’s revealed that Amanda Waller set up Rick Flag as her handler knowing that her host, June Moon, and Flag would sleep together and that would be another level of control over the Enchantress. Even with that I don’t really care about Moon. If they’re both so easily manipulated how strong can their relationship be? Plus, it could be argued that Moon is only the host of the Enchantress due to her carelessness.

Oh yeah, the Enchantress’ brother, Incubus. Who is he? Hell if I know. I’ve been reading DC Comics steady for over 25 years and I’ve never heard of this guy. I kept trying to figure out who he was over the course of the movie. Later on, I had to look it up to see that he was from a 2 issue run in the 80s Suicide Squad book. I’m all for deep cuts, but c’mon.

While I was watching I kept holding out for a film version of Eclipso to show up. Explain to me how that wouldn’t have been better.

Jared Leto as Joker

suicide-squad-poster-joker-1.jpg

So this was the character I was the most interested to see. The first cinematic Joker after Heath Ledger’s performance. We all know the expectations were high for this. Then, the shots on the internet of Leto in character with a bunch of weird ass tattoos all over. That did not look good.

As we’ve learned time and time again with casting in superhero movies, wait to pass judgement until you see the movie. Leto is fantastic in the movie. He had created a new take on the Joker.

Online, a lot has been made of how little Joker is in this movie. I felt that it was the perfect amount. This isn’t a Batman movie, it’s Suicide Squad. I think people let the “Joker is the villain of the movie” theory get away from them. Just because some jack-offs on the internet have an idea, doesn’t mean it’s true. Sorry to blow your mind just then.

There’s also the issue of Leto claiming that he filmed a lot more than is actually in the finished release. Oh man, I guess we’re never going to see that footage, huh? That’s too bad. If only there was some medium where we could watch the movie later on with a bunch of ancillary material. Possibly even an expanded version of the movie with all this stuff put back into it. The other side to that is that all that extra stuff could’ve sucked. The guy was sending rats to his co-workers. Who knows how smoothly his process worked.

Another ridiculous criticism I’ve heard is that Leto’s Joker is too “Riff Raff.” As if there is such a thing. The character has been wearing purple suits since the 40s and now he’s too outlandish for you?

riff-raff-dolce-and-gabanna

Full disclosure: I’m totally down with the Neon Icon, so no harm, no foul as far as I’m concerned. If James Franco can use him for character inspiration, so can Leto. Sorry, he’s not subdued enough for your clown crime boss.

Crime boss is my issue with this take on the Joker though in this story. If the Joker is so entrenched that he is hanging out in a club and meeting with tattooed, White House visiting rappers, why hasn’t Batman shut that shit down? It really plays up Batman’s ineffectiveness if Joker operates with that much impunity. Unless, the Dark Knight just loves crashing through a skylight and kicking everyone’s ass on a nightly basis, it doesn’t make much sense.

I don’t know why everyone’s hating so much on this movie. I really enjoyed it and will probably go see it again. That said, it’s not a perfect movie, but tell me what the last movie you saw that was. What was the last superhero movie you saw that was “perfect?”

As a whole experience, I think it was better than Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. That may just be due to less studio interference though. For me anyway, these DC films are getting better and hopefully will continue next year with Wonder Woman.

You Should be Watching Stranger Things

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

ouos14xohz62qr1dydb4.jpg

…but don’t tell me anything about it because I haven’t watched it yet.

For the last week I have had too many people ask me if I have watched this new, hit series available only on Netflix. Monday alone I had 5 co-workers throughout the day ask if I had seen this incredible show.

It turns out that the window for me watching this show is closing. Every person who tells me about how good this show is chips away at my interest a little more. Over time, more and more and more people will talk to me about it.

My casual interest in this show will deform into something darker. Any goodwill I have towards this series will callous over in an attempt to deflect any mention of this groundbreaking TV experience.

Eventually, I will not be able to hear anything else they say about it. My rage will drown out their words until I can only hear their screams.

This has happened before. Previously, it was Napoleon Dynamite. I had a slight interest in it, but once it came out on dvd, that was it. For two weeks straight, I had someone come up and start talking to me about Napoleon Dynamite, every single day.

To this day, I haven’t watched it because I got so sick of hearing about it. The constant one-liners and out of context references still burn in my ears.

For me, this is the flipside of marketing. If I see the same thing over and over again, I get sick of it. It’s not just movies. Recently, this happens with comic books. Books are promoted for months before they come out and by the time they end up on the shelf of my local comic shop, I’m tired of seeing them. With the resurgence of variant covers, I have found myself picking up alternate covers as opposed to the regular to alleviate this.

Also, with the tidal wave of superhero movies currently being produced, this has carried over to those as well. When Captain America: The Winter Solider was released I got tired of the multiple trailers that were being released. Eventually, I just want to see the movie. I’m going to see it, so don’t force it down my throat.

I’m fine with maybe two trailers for an upcoming movie. After SDCC this year and the plethora of clips released for the upcoming Suicide Squad movie, I feel like I’ve seen half of the movie so far.

With Stranger Things, it’s only a matter of time before someone I interact with is going to spoil something for me. They’ll assume “he’s surely seen it by now” and ruin it for me. That will be the last straw. After that I won’t watch it. Thanks, anonymous acquaintance. Now I can never enjoy it.

Oh well, maybe I’ll watch it this weekend. It’s sure to be the best coming-of-age-alien-conspiracy-E.T.-meets-the-Monster-Squad-meets-the-Goonies-whatever-the-hell-this-show-is-supposed-to-be-about show ever made.

Superhero Playlist: Old School Batman

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

When I’m reading my comics, I like to listen to music. Since I haven’t been able to find very much information online of other people’s musical choices while they read, I’ve decided to detail mine here. Hence, Superhero Playlist.

Today’s installment is my Old School Batman playlist.

sprang.jpg

Now, this is not what I listen to when I’m reading my new Batman books I picked up this week at the comic shop. This is when I’m reading older Batman back issues or collections. Pretty much anything from 1939 up to Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams’ run. Anything newer is a separate, dedicated “modern” Batman playlist which I will probably go into another time.

First up is the Batman 60’s Television soundtrack.

maxresdefault

I cannot stress enough that this is an OLD SCHOOL Batman mix. The backbone of this list is made up of music released around the classic television series. This is the actual themes from the show and the first time the Batman tv theme pops up on the playlist. Trust me when I say that it won’t be the last.

41GQpoNysFL

Up next naturally, is the soundtrack to the 60’s movie made in conjunction with the tv series.

R-3420325-1329716519.jpeg

Then followed up by Batman and Robin by Sun Ra (the sensational guitars of Dan & Dale.) There are a lot of nice instrumental surf guitar tracks on this that go great with more lighthearted silver-age stories without distracting from them.

$_35

Next is Batman and Other Super Men by The Revengers. This one features other themes besides Batman, but I decided to include them because they all fit the tone of the list. Plus, how great is it that I can put a band called The Revengers on a Batman mix. Revenge is like what Batman is all about!

d41ca37597187b481386eb2533059afa2538dba7_l

After that is The Batman Theme Played by The Marketts. This is another one that showcases some good instrumental tracks that are great for reading to. I’m pretty sure it is the only one, maybe in existence, that features a track named for Dr. Death. That’s an old-school Batman reference even for back then!

batmania-songs-inspired-by-batman-tv-series

Next is probably the crown jewel of this list. Batmania Songs Inspired by the Batman TV Series. As far as I’ve been able to learn about this, is that it’s a compilation of songs released around the time of the show. It features Adam West, Burgess Meredith, and Frank Gorshin SINGING ON IT. Take a second, read that last sentence again. Now take a breath and realize how astounding this album is. Not just a soundtrack, this also acts as a time capsule of the popularity surrounding the 60s show.

12325_379332-1

Now we get to what is easily the most contemporary entry on the list. Batman The Brave and the Bold Mayhem of the Music Meister soundtrack. This is the music from the Music Meister episode of the amazing Brave and the Bold cartoon series. Even though this is a modern album, the tone of the show in general harkened back to the silver-age Batman stories of the past. All of these tunes feel like they could have been produced for an old Batman story. It is also superior to the others here in that Batman actually sings on this! Oh yeah, Doogie Howser is on here too.

R-8065491-1454469600-1396.jpeg-1

There’s just no way I’m compiling an old-school Batman playlist without throwing The Ventures interpretation of the Batman Theme on here. It’s just not done.

171227380655

Same goes for Link Wray. How are you not putting this on here?

So the tone of this list is fun, fast-paced Batman music. I’ve lucked out that there was a time when there was a demand for this music and a LOT was produced. I wasn’t intentionally limiting this list to only Batman music. It turned out I didn’t really have to go outside that though. When I was compiling this I contemplated adding some Man…Or Astroman? to this and some other more modern surf music. Eventually, I decided to just keep it in the Batcave and include the soundtracks listed here.

I usually listen to this and other playlists on random while I read. I feel it helps keep the music fresh. Plus, some of the albums feature narratives and that prevents it from interrupting the story I am reading.

So, if you’ve been jonesing for some musical accompaniment for your older Batman comics, here you go.

Let me know in the comments if you have any suggestions for this or what you listen to. Also, you can always holler at me @detective651 on Twitter.

 

 

Justice League Trailer

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

At this year’s San Diego Comic-Con we got our first look at footage from the upcoming Justice League movie.

Justice-League

Thankfully, learning from last year’s issues, Warner Bros. decided to upload the clip to the internet. Thereby bypassing all the low-res cell phone footage we all would have watched while they made up their minds on how to react.

If you’ve been too busy watching Stranger Things, here it is.

At the beginning of the trailer is this disclaimer.

Screen Shot 2016-07-26 at 9.39.57 PM

That’s great. Be upfront that this isn’t finished. Let’s all get on the same page and enjoy some Justice League. While watching it’s apparent that this isn’t a movie that’s finished with all it’s effects shots in place. That’s ok. Be happy we’re getting a look at a movie that’s a year away.

Screen Shot 2016-07-26 at 9.41.55 PM

BATMAN

Yeah, Batfleck is back! He looks pissed chucking that batarang at Not Grant Gustin. The story seems to revolve around him gathering the League in the wake of Superman’s death in BVS. You know, like he said he was going to do at the end of the movie.

Affleck’s Batman is sure to be a high point of this movie. After the reaction to his part in BVS, the only issue could be that he gets too much screen time and some of the newer characters get the short end of this ensemble.

Screen Shot 2016-07-26 at 9.43.41 PM

It’s hard for me to pinpoint, but the costume looks a little different here. By now I should expect costumes to alter by outing, but it still surprises me sometimes. With the great costume he donned in BVS, it’s sort of “if it’s not broke…” However, there could be a story element of him going up against larger threats with the Justice League and so he has to adapt.

Screen Shot 2016-07-26 at 9.45.31 PM

WONDER WOMAN

Like Batman, sure to be a highlight of this cinematic adventure. With Gadot stealing the show in BVS, she is sure to get some great scenes in this one. Here’s hoping for some more character development, but that’s probably going to be taken care of in her solo outing.

Screen Shot 2016-07-26 at 9.44.41 PM

CYBORG

If you told me when I was 9 that someday I would see Cyborg in a live-action movie, I would be pumped. Not much of him in this “not-really-a-trailer”, but that’s understandable. Every shot of him is going to involve CGI, so there’s sure to be a lot more to come. Can’t wait to see him unleashed and kicking ass.

Screen Shot 2016-07-26 at 9.42.53 PM

FLASH

Ezra Miller, a.k.a. Not Grant Gustin has an uphill battle here. There’s already a Flash that people know and love. He’s going to have to work harder here to get people to forget about TV Barry Allen and get them excited about his character. Not that it can’t be done, but is “loser Barry” the way to accomplish it? If they set him up as the p.o.v. character in this group it should help audiences relate to him and hopefully get him over the hump.

The comics have shown that there can be more than 1 Flash, hopefully Justice League shows us that there can be more than 1 live-action one, also.

Screen Shot 2016-07-26 at 9.44.23 PM

AQUAMAN

Oh boy, this trailer wants you to know how much of a badass Aquaman is. He’s a hard-living, hard-drinking, aquatic philanthropist. I know that you can do different takes on characters, but I never thought I would see a live-action Aquaman so clearly based on the 90s harpoon-handed version.

Obviously, they want to get away from the pop culture portrayal of the character that has been around since Super Friends. That’s completely valid. It would be weird if they didn’t. However, why is the closing shot of the clip a “talking to fish” joke? It’s not like he had a cool comeback for it, it just ends. If there is no rebuttal, all it’s going to do is remind people of that.

It’s almost like Aquaman went and grew his hair out and got all tatted-up in a mid life crisis kind of way to be taken seriously after Super Friends. What’s the oceanic equivalent of a Lamborghini?

 

SUPERMAN

Is not in this trailer. He’s featured prominently in the promotional image, so he’s definitely in here somewhere. Assuredly, the story will involve his coming back from death by Doomsday. No way are they doing a Justice League film without the Man of Steel.

Screen Shot 2016-07-26 at 9.44.55 PM

THE LOGO

Simpler than I thought it would be. It’s bold and stands out. Probably by the time of the movie’s release, there will be a more overly-rendered version of this popping up on all the merchandise. Not sure what to think of that star placement. It’s eye catching, but I’m not sure if it’s for the right reasons. It might get my attention because it’s in such an awkward location.

Overall, I like this “trailer”, but I’m not as excited about this as I should be. I’ve wanted a Justice League movie for decades. Perhaps it’s just the unfinished nature of the footage. I have a lot higher expectations for the full “real” trailer that will be released.

It’s good, but it doesn’t give me the “I CAN’T WAIT FOR THIS!” feeling a Justice League movie inevitably should have.