Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Review: Batman '66 #21

This issue features an excellent story by Jeff Parker featuring the Manga villain Lord Death Man. Parker's effort this time around is top notch, and deals with The Penguin's attempt at smuggling flower seeds to Japan leading to Batman and Batgirl (Robin has to take time off to recover from Pengy's vertigo umbrella) travelling to Japan to encounter the fabled villain.  Highlights of the script include the Penguin's death trap that opens the story, Batman and Batgirl fighting ninja, and a spooky trek through Death Man's cave. Add to Parker's clever script excellent artwork by Sandy Jarrell, and you have one of the best issues of this series in too long of a time.  This issue earns a solid A.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Review: Batman '66 #20

This issue features a new writer, Rob Williams, who turns in a story featuring the Joker seemingly becoming a crime fighter, which in reality is just an elaborate ruse to snake the loot of all of Gotham's other arch criminals.  Williams' effort is kind of uneven. He gets in some good moments, like a frustrated Bruce yelling "Blast!", only to apologize for his dark side. Contrast that with a Joker who really doesn't come across as the Cesar Romero version.  The art by Ruben Procopio is generally good, but there are some mystifying inconsistencies, such as the second half of the story sees Jokerman in a completely different costume and Jokermobile than the first half with no explanation.  Likewise, the first part of the story has Mayor Linseed portrayed as a generic white man (not looking like the actor who portrayed him, Byron Keith), while the second half of the story sees Linseed once again erroneously portrayed as the African-American mayor from Batman Forever. Despite Procopio getting credit, it almost looks like a different artist drew the second half. This issue earns a C+.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Review: Batman '66 #19

In this issue writer Jeff Parker brings back third season villains Lord Marmaduke Ffogg, his sister Lady Penelope Peasoup, and their finishing girls' class of crime students.  Parker comes up with a good script that in some ways is superior to the original three-part TV episode. Ffogg and his team have come to Gotham during an Old English festival to spread his new fog that drugs people into "seeing things his way".  Clever moments include Alfred saving the Dynamic Duo when Ffogg's daughter Prudence cuts their Bat-rope during a Bat-Climb, and how they handle fighting the all-girl gang without punching.  Once again, Mayor Linseed is incorrectly portrayed as the African-American mayor from Batman Forever, a continuity gaffe that puts it in conflict not only of the TV series, but of Ralph Garman and Kevin Smith's Batman '66 Meets The Green Hornet miniseries.  The art by Leonardo Romero is excellent, and ranks up there with some of the best of the series.  His only mistakes are drawing Batman's costume a little too baggy, and getting Robin's tunic wrong in several panels.  Overall, this issue earns a B.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Elvis' 80th Birthday

Today would have been Elvis Presley's 80th birthday.  To celebrate, here are the links to the Elvis articles I published on this blog.

The Best Elvis Songs You've Never Heard

Young Dreams: A Look at Elvis' Movies

What If Elvis Lived?

Of course, it needs to be mentioned Elvis was a big fan of The Marvel Family, specifically Captain Marvel Jr.  With the upcoming movie, hopefully the producers (and Dwayne Johnson- who is a self-professed Elvis fan) are savvy enough to be aware of this, and include several of Elvis' tunes on the soundtrack.

Happy Birthday, Elvis.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Review: Batman '66 #18

This issue has something different.  Two short stores.  The first story is written by Tom Peyer and is an effort drowned in the weaknesses of a typical season 2 episode. The Archer is back, to steal a computer, that he uses to form his own rival police force. The story is quite weak, featuring a weak villain, and weak artwork by Dave Bullock. This story earns a C-.

Next up is a Batgirl solo, written by Jeff Parker. The Bookworm makes an appropriate villain for librarian Barbara Gordon's alter ego.  Parker turned in an enjoyable script, and the archaic writings in the book the Bookworm is after is quite the in-joke. The only gripe about this story was, as with several other recent issues, treading too much into the supernatural, which does not suit the character of Batman in general, especially not the 66 version.  Bookworm uses the archaic spells in the book to transform his henchmen into giant silverfish to attack Batgirl. The art is by Richard Case, who does a great job, yet I can't help but wonder how Joelle Jones, who turned in some exceptional art for the Batgirl solo in issue 10, would have handled it. This story earns a B, averaging a C for the issue.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Review: Thunderworld Adventures #1

If you consider yourself a Captain Marvel fan in any way, shape, or form, you must buy and read "Captain Marvel and the Day That Never Was" in issue 1 of THUNDERWORLD ADVENTURES (and I really hope it becomes an on-going series).  This is the best DC Shazam book since Alex Ross' Justice.  And in some ways it is better, because at the end of the day, Justice was really a JLA story that had Captain Marvel in the spotlight for some perfectly crafted sequences. But the premiere issue of Thunderworld Adventures is a pure Captain Marvel story thru and thru.
Grant Morrison's script flawlessly captures both the Fawcett quality, and the E. Nelson Bridwell quality.  His script is clever and fun and superbly embraces the concept of alternate earths and time travel.  Morrison writes both Billy Batson and Captain Marvel perfectly.  This is the way both characters are meant to be.  A stark contrast to the meat head idiot Cyborg sidekick, the DCnU "Shazam" Geoff Johns' portrays in Justice League. Morrison gets in some nice, subtle shots at DC.  In one panel, there is a bank of monitors showing alternate earth Sivanas.  Front in center is one with a goatee and sunglasses, looking suspicioulsy like Captain Marvel's true number one enemy at the DC offices, Dan Didio.  Later, we see another alternate Sivana in a Hannibal Lector mask, obesseing over Mary Marvel, alluding to the Emo-Goth naughty Mary Marvel of the pre-Flashpoint New Earth... hmmm, Geoff Johns, perhaps?  We get to see Uncle Dudley, Mr Tawny, and the three Lieutenent Marvels.  And the Monster Society of Evil. Three of Sivana's kids, Magnificus, Georgia, and Junior, get Shazam-like powers, and the way Captain Marvel Jr defeats Georgia is one of the book's many highlights.  My only critiques of the story would be that Beautia wasn't included, and that the whole thing was just too short!  It could have and should have been at least ten pages longer.

Cameron Stewart's artwork matched Morrison's script perfectly.  He portrayed a style that was Fawcett influenced, yet modern. Every panel was art of the highest quality. My only critques would be that Mary Marvel's costume was white instead of the traditional red, and Stewart drew Freddy/Capt Marvel Jr with a kind of Beatle hair cut instead of an Elvis style more associated with the character.  All in all, I want Thunderworld Adventures to become an on-going series.  I want the upcoming movie to be inspired by this.  I want to see all future news items about the upcoming movie to use Stewart's artwork instead of the hooded DCnU artwork. Thunderworld Adventures earns an A+.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Bill Murray... Trad?

Since this is Advent, I thought I'd share an excerpt from an interesting interview with actor Bill Murray.  Apparently, a practicing Catholic (his sister is a nun), he prefers the Extraordinary Form Mass and dislikes modern pop style liturgical music, preferring chant.

You don’t need to ask if his faith is important to him. He talks about how 19th-century candidates risk not getting canonised because the church is keen to push ahead with the likes of John Paul II and Mother Teresa. “I think they’re just trying to get current and hot,” he smiles.

One new saint he does approve of is Pope John XXIII (who died in 1963). “I’ll buy that one, he’s my guy; an extraordinary joyous Florentine who changed the order. I’m not sure all those changes were right. I tend to disagree with what they call the new mass. I think we lost something by losing the Latin. Now if you go to a Catholic mass even just in Harlem it can be in Spanish, it can be in Ethiopian, it can be in any number of languages. The shape of it, the pictures, are the same but the words aren’t the same.”

Isn’t it good for people to understand it? “I guess,” he says, shaking his head. “But there’s a vibration to those words. If you’ve been in the business long enough you know what they mean anyway. And I really miss the music – the power of it, y’know? Yikes! Sacred music has an affect on your brain.” Instead, he says, we get “folk songs … top 40 stuff … oh, brother….”

 Jimmy Fallon has also recently lamented how the Church establishment is attempting to make the Mass more pop-culture entertainment with social worker values, and less a religious sacremental worship.