Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Review: Batman '66 meets Wonder Woman '77 #5

This issue time jumps to 1977, and opens with Wonder Woman thwarting a heist by Killer Croc. It's revealed Barbara Gordon has replaced her father as Police Commissioner, and Chief O'Hara's never-before-mentioned daughter replaced him as Police Chief. The three women of law and order discover a clue that the League of Shadows may be back.   Wonder Woman asks Barbara to summon Batman, to which she replies Batman retired and Robin has taken his place ....as Nightwing.  OK, stop.  If you go back, since the beginning, I specifically asked DC not to have the 66 Robin become Nightwing. Unfortunately, I saw it coming with Jeff Parker's obsession to graft modern generic DC continuity onto the 66 Universe, the Nightwing thing was inevitable. But actually seeing it, it removes all uniqueness from the 66 Universe. This is no longer the 66 universe, it's just another kid-friendly remake of the standard generic DC continuity. As such, with this issue, the Batman '66 franchise is officially an utter failure. Canonically, this just doesn't work because of the 1979 Legends of the Superheroes specials, where Bruce is still active as Batman and Dick is Robin two years after this part of the miniseries takes place.  To continue with the review, Wonder Woman enters Bruce's study at Wayne Manor, where he is brooding over a photo of his father, which again, is out of step with the 66 Batman.  Bruce has graying temples... which Adam West did not have in 1977.  Anyway, Bruce and Diana embrace and go to the Batcave, where he explains The Joker became more deadly, discovered Batman's identity, invaded Wayne Manor, where Alfred died of a heart attack, and Bruce killed the Joker, thereby retiring as Batman. Diana tries to talk him into becoming Batman again, but he tells her to work with Nightwing. She meets up with Dick, who apparently has teamed up with a reformed Catwoman. The three brainstorm on figuring out Ra's plan at the disco Catwoman owns, while Bruce in the Batcave gives in to the urge, and also deduces the plan.  Once they have figured out Ra's is looking for the location of three Lazarus Pits, Talia emerges to kill Catwoman while Ras' emerges in the Batcave to kill Bruce. In all honesty, if this issue were a standard, generic continuity Batman story, it would be average.  But as a Batman '66 story, it betrays too much of its source material, and is a failure. This issue earns an F.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Review: Batman '66 meets Wonder Woman '77 #4

Issue 4 begins with Ra's emerging from the Lazarus Pit, witnessed by Batman, Robin, Catwoman and Wonder Woman.  Ra's shadow warriors attack the heroes in a fight scene that is much grimmer and darker than anything seen on either of the Batman or Wonder Woman TV series, and is off base.  Again, it's writer Jeff Parker's irritating trademark of forcing the 66 Universe to conform to generic modern DC continuity.  As Batman and Ra's sword fight, Talia, wanting to spare Batman's life, whom she knows is Bruce, uses knock out gas to render the quixotic quartet unconscious.  Ra's puts the heroes into quicksand, but it's Wonder Girl (Diana's kid sister Drusilla) to the rescue and Talia quickly frees Batman, Robin and Catwoman from the quicksand.  Wonder Woman flies out on her own power and helps Wonder Girl retaliate at Ra's.  He swims to the boat to escape, but Batman plays Green Arrow, forcing Ra's to dive back into the water.  Amazons arrive and search for Ra's in the ocean.  Then Batman unmasks revealing his true identity to Wonder Woman.  Robin and Wonder Girl batusi as Batman, Wonder Woman and Catwoman feast. The Amazons announce they did not find Ra's, but Talia is sitting in a locked cell.  As Batman and Robin are about to leave Paradise Island, Catwoman announces she is not going with them.  She asked for and was granted asylum from a patriarchal society. Batman asks Wonder Woman to return with him, but she decides to stay in Paradise Island. The story seemingly ends here, except the next issue blurb announces we will see Batman and Robin in the 1970s.  Parker and Marc Andreyko turn in another bizarre script that is all over the place, but has a few good moments. David Hahn turns in a solid, if somewhat generic art job. This issue earns a C+

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Review: The Three Stooges April Fools' Day Special

The latest issue of American Mythology's rather randomly scheduled Three Stooges comics features only one new story and one reprint.  The new story, "The Brothers Dim", has the boys reeking havoc at a Renaissance fair.  The Stooges believe they have actually gone back in time. The script by S.A. Check is average, but its the art by Brendan and Brian Fraim, who turn in another excellent job, that saves the story.  The reprint, "The Duped Deputies", from the August 1961 issue of The Three Stooges, like all the other reprints in this current series, has weaker and crude artwork, but actually a stronger script than the new story.  The boys are gunslingers in an old west town, and get deputized to stop a bank robbery. All in all, this issue earns a B. It is rumored this is the final issue.  Hopefully that is not the case and there will be more issues published sometime in the near future.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Review: Batman '66 meets Wonder Woman '77 #3

This issue starts with Batman, Robin and Catwoman flying to Paradise Island.  Even though Catwoman III (Eartha Kitt) was featured in issue 1, it is Julie Newmar's Catwoman that appears here with no apparent explanation. Catwoman is being brought along because men visiting Paradise Island need a woman chaperone.  Wonder Woman, in her invisible jet (even though last issue had her flying on her own power) meets the Batplane in the air to guide them in.  The next few pages are the Dynamic Duo and Catwoman getting a guided tour of Paradise Island.  On second look, David Hahn's art is so vague, this might actually be the Lee Meriwether Catwoman. Batman informs Wonder Woman of the stolen book, and she laments she should never have left Man's world. They get a report of an attack and the four head off in a small sailboat. The sail has the modern Wonder Woman emblem on it, a tiresome Jeff Parker trademark of forcing the 66 Universe to conform to modern, generic DC continuity.  Upon hitting land, Batman makes a reference to Catwoman being set up in issue 1.  So wait, this is all the same Catwoman?  I'm getting confused. They enter a maze only to find a mythological griffin.  Meanwhile, on the other side of the maze Talia and a feeble Ra's al Ghul are entering.  Wonder Woman fights the griffin, as Robin and Catwoman meet a cyclops. Wonder Woman uses the "speaking to animals" power from the previous issue to tame the griffin.  She then rescues Robin from the cyclops as Batman rides the flying griffin.  Things are getting very trippy, as red hearts float around Robin's head whenever he looks at Wonder Woman. They get to the center of the maze, where Ra's enters the Lazurus Pit, and exits restored to health and strength.  Jeff Parker and Mark Andreyko turn in a bizarre script riddled with inconsistencies and contradictions. Likewise, David Hahn's art seems very rushed and is weaker than his usual efforts.  It is issues like this that make me wish DC would do the right thing and bring in Andy Fish onto the Batman 66 franchise. This issue earns a C-.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Review: Batman '66 meets Wonder Woman '77 #2

This issue picks up where the last left off, back in the 1940s, with Ra's trying to strong-arm the "Lost World of the Ancients" books from young Bruce. Ra's is able to get one of the books, as Wonder Woman and Talia search for Bruce and Ra's. Ra's meets up with Wonder Woman, and she fights some of his goons.  Then she flies off to find Bruce.  Wait... Wonder Woman didn't fly in the TV series, unless it was in the invisible plane. Ra's and Talia take off, and a Nazi captures Bruce.  He breaks free and falls into a cave, in what amounts to just a remake of Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins. Wonder Woman fights off the Nazis holding the Waynes hostage, as several bats from the cave fly into the house and "tell" Wonder Woman where Bruce is.  She flies off to get him.  It's revealed the book Catwoman III stole for Talia contains the location to Paradise Island. Back in the present (or 1966... or more precisely 1968, since this whole franchise seems to follow the 3rd season episodes) Batman and Robin prepare to head to Paradise Island to warn Wonder Woman.  A slightly above average script by Jeff Parker and Marc Andreyko, where the Parker trademark of forcing generic, modern DC aspects into the 1966 Universe include the mentioned Batman Begins riff, and Wonder Woman having the ability to fly, predictably mar what could have been a better story. David Hahn's art is also a bit on the generic side in regards to actor likenesses, but otherwise well done. This issue earns a B-.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Do we have a director... and for which film?

Collider is reporting that David F. Sandberg is in talks with New Line and Seven Bucks to helm one of the Shazam movies.  It is unclear if he will direct Black Adam or World's Mightiest Mortal. Considering Brad Peyton was a lock for Black Adam, it is very likely Sandberg may direct the Captain Marvel movie.  If so, it seems probable World's Mightiest Mortal and Black Adam will be released a few months apart.  On the other hand, Sandberg seems more natural for the Black Adam film, so maybe he's edging Peyton out in the negotiations. Once verified, we can expect casting announcements to start coming at a fast pace.  This is what we've been waiting for... unless of course the project derailed again, which considering its history, is not out of the question.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Black Adam Bombshell

On January 19, 2017, The Hollywood Reporter broke the news of what went on during those meetings between Dwayne Johnson, Seven Bucks Productions, and DC:  Black Adam will get his own solo movie, which will have priority over the Captain Marvel movie. It is speculated Beau Flynn has jumped on as a producer and Johnson's recurring collaborator Brad Peyton will be announced to direct the film from a reworked and rewritten version of Darren Lemke's script.  I knew it was time to worry when it was revealed Geoff Johns was in on the meeting. Black Adam is sure to go on to be a major player in the DCEU, as Johnson has often hinted at Black Adam's arc going from slave to superhero to villain to anti-hero.  Things started to solidify when Johnson's manager Dany Garcia made comments about insuring the Black Adam character be developed perfectly, and then a social media pic of Johnson with Garcia's other client, Henry Cavill, sharing a New Year's drink, sent the internet in a frenzy of a Superman-Black Adam showdown.

But what of Captain Marvel? It was announced Henry Gayden has taken over as script writer for the World's Mightiest Mortal movie, and that Black Adam will be mostly absent from the film, if he appears at all.  Optimistically, Sam Raimi may still be in play to direct, and Alex Ross brought on as creative consultant.  I'd like to see the neophyte Gayden teamed up with a seasoned writer, like perhaps Dan Schneider (Henry Danger).  This is a great development in that Dr Sivana (who was missing in the rejected John August script) and Beautia will be the main antagonists, with possibly an appearance by Ibac, who was Captain Marvel's evil counterpart in the original Fawcett comics rather than Black Adam.  And, of course, without Black Adam hogging the spotlight, the focus will surely be on Billy Batson and Captain Marvel, and we should have plenty of screen time to develop their characters properly. But pessimistically, and more realistically, the Captain Marvel movie may continue to hit roadblocks and be pushed back, until the decision is made that Black Adam can fill Captain Marvel's role in the bigger DCEU, and the Captain Marvel movie is finally and officially cancelled. I kind of see it going that way.  Considering how divisive and poorly the DCEU has performed to date, it may actually be a blessing in disguise that Captain Marvel sit it out. Besides, if Geoff Johns has any say, and it looks like he does, they would probably give us New 52 Shazam instead of Captain Marvel, and I really don't want to see that.  Stay tuned for the official announcements.