Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Batman '66 #29

The penultimate issue of Batman '66 opens with a story featuring second season villain Ma Parker and her clan. The story, be Jeff Parker is sparse, but fairly enjoyable. The art by Dean Haspiel is typical of this series, somewhat rushed looking. Ma Parker has a motherly moment, where she helps Batman rescue two of her kids who can't swim when they fall into a lake after a car crash.  It stands out as a more unique moment.  Overall this story earns a C+.
The second story, a sequel of sorts to the first, features Catwoman. Parker gets more in this story, and overall is better written. Robin and Batgirl are captured by Croc, Grundy, and Killer Moth, who escaped from prison when Ma Parker broke her boys out.  Batman captures Catwoman, but when he finds out from a couple of kids, one of whom is wearing a weird green hood that stands out, about the capture, Catwoman volunteers to assist him in going after the trio. Parker gets in some introspective moments on the Batman-Catwoman relationship as they capture the trio and rescue Robin and Batgirl. For the first time in too long a time, Jonathan Case returns to do the art, and turns in an excellent job.  This story earns a B+, making the total grade for this issue a B.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Review: The Darkseid War - Shazam

So I guess I have to do a review of The Darkseid War: Shazam. As readers of this blog know, I am not a fan of the rebooted New52 Shazam. Frankly, I'm not a fan of the New52, period. The rebooted character has changed more than just his name from Captain Marvel to Shazam.  He's really a different character, to the point I think it would have been better all around, if Geoff Johns took that one extra step, and gave new names to Billy Batson, Dr Sivana, Freddy Freeman, and Mary Batson.  There's not much of a plot in this issue.  It's more or less one giant introduction to the new gods who will now give Billy his power in the wake of Darkseid's death. Why Darkseid's death was able to change Billy's pantheon, I have no idea.  I dropped Justice League -the only title the New52 Shazam appears in- from my pull list a couple months ago because I got tired of seeing this character in a couple panels each issue, just standing in the background and reacting to the main characters, like one of the lesser Bowery Boys.  That, or, he usually plays the role of Cyborg's idiot sidekick.  To paraphrase Green Arrow, "Geoff Johns, you have failed the World's Mightiest Mortal".  So, if this new pantheon is permanent or just for this Darkseid storyline, either way there's not much in this issue.  Written by Steve Orlando, I do give him credit for making Billy Batson the main focus of the story, even if it is just a "meet and greet". He still has the obnoxious New52 personality, which the Wizard Shazam comments on.  Or is his name now Mamaragan, one of the new pantheon, even though "Mamaragan" sound like someone is calling for Nancy Reagan. Apparently Darkseid's father is now one of the pantheon too, Zonuz. Kind of like the upcoming movie. Zonus is good news.  Really, who came up with these names? Ate? Yeah, I went to Burger Clown. Anapel? Is there a pail missing? H'ronmeer?  Come on, that's gotta be from a Three Stooges routine, with the Maha. S'ivaa? What?  All this book lacked was the Snap song "The Power" playing over and over, until the reader is driven insane. And guess what?  The story continues in JL #48, which I won't be buying, because I'm sure Shazam will just stand in the background like Benny Bartlett, and he'll have one line of dialogue directed at Cyborg that will include the word "badass".  The art in this issue is by Scott Kolins, and he does a good job, even if it's a bit generic, and Shazam has a downgraded costume. To contrast this issue with the spectacular Thunderworld Adventures and Convergence Shazam is more than frustrating. This issue earns a D-. 

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Review: Batman '66 #28

This issue features two short stories.  The first introduces the Scarecrow into the 66 Universe. Writer Jeff Parker turns in an acceptable script, but he misses some golden opportunities. It was established that Shame used fear gas in the TV series, so why didn't Parker, who loves to team up TV villains with comic book villains, allude to Crane getting his fear gas from Shame, rather than a hillbilly backstory, or Batman using a sample of Shame's fear gas to deduce the ingredients of Scarecrow's?  Batman and Robin's fear hallucinations come off as an attempt to conform this series with generic DC continuity. The art is by Lukas Ketner, and while not the best art in this series, it is much better than the recent, sloppy and crude art in this series.  This story earns a C.

The second story introduces Croc to the 66 Universe, after an origin tied to King Tut from an earlier issue, and Parker's script seems very rushed. As with other recent issues, the inclusion of this modern character into the 66 Universe just doesn't work, and feels forced by corporate mandate. The art by Dean Haspiel seems crude in some panels, but overall has a moody tone that rises above its shortcomings. This story earns a D, giving this issue a C-.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Review: Batman '66 #27

This issue continues the trend begun in issue 25 of fast tracking modern Batman characters into the 66 universe, this time Bane. As with the previous two issues, this issue is lacking. Readers of this blog will note I have lamented that the main villain of the 66 universe, The Riddler, has not been utilized much in this series. Writer Jeff Parker finally brings the Riddler back, but in a very haphazard way. Our first view of him is with John Astin's likeness, proven to be merely a mask.  From there, Bane is worked into the plot as a Mexican wrestler in what can be best described as a sequel to the third season episode "Ring Around The Riddler". I just don't understand Parker's determination to base this series on the extremely weak third season (and a good helping of Schumacher). Its almost to the point I'm ready to throw in the towel on this comic, but DC beat me to it, announcing that this series has been cancelled, with issue 30 slated to be the finale with at least two Batman '66 miniseries slated to take its place (Batman '66 Meets the Avengers and Batman '66 Meets the Man from UNCLE). There has to be a shake up in the spin off miniseries, bringing it back to the first season roots, and I doubt Parker is the guy to do it.  Also, this issue continues the trend of weak, sloppy, and rushed-looking artwork, this time by Scott Kowalchuck.  This issue earns a D. 

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Monkees to come to HD BluRay

A few months ago I asked my readers to petition Rhino to transfer the Monkees TV series to HD and release it on BluRay.  Well, mission accomplished.  Today, Rhino announced The Monkees will be coming to BluRay in HD in January. Thanks to everyone who emailed Rhino. The set will include "Head", "33 1/3", the unaired pilot, screentests and outtakes. Hopefully, the 1997 ABC TV special will also be included.  And hopefully there will be an un-numbered retail version for those who do not have credit cards. A few more emails to Rhino may help.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Review: Batman '66 #26

This issue, written once again by Jeff Parker, introduces Poison Ivy into the 66 Universe. Poison Ivy was created shortly before the TV series went into production, but never made it onto the show, instead doppelganger characters like Marsha Queen of Diamonds and Louie the Lilac were created for the series. Unlike Harley Quinn or Clayface or Croc, Poison Ivy is a character that could really fit naturally into this continuity. But my problem is Parker, true to form, is only about 50% inspired by the 1966 Batman, and 50% inspired by Joel Schumacher's Batman movies.  His take on Poison Ivy seems to be more in harmony with Schumacher than William Dozier and Lorenzo Semple Jr.  What also hurts is the art by Jesse Hamm, like so many artists on this series, turns in art a little sloppy, a little raw, and a little too Mad Magazine satire style.  This issue earns a C-, and another plea from me to DC to bring in better artists, and to bring in Andy Fish to write the scripts.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Review: Batman '66 #25

This issue has two stories.  First is an introduction to the Harley Quinn character into the '66 Universe, written by Jeff Parker with art by Lukas Ketner.  Since the beginning of this series, I have not been a fan of incorporating aspects of the generic DC Batman into this universe, despite it most likely being a corporate mandate from the powers that be at the DC offices.  Harley Quinn, or Harlequin, as she's called in this continuity, is perhaps one of the worst of the lot. I know Harley is reaching new levels of popularity thanks to Margot Robbie portraying her in the upcoming Suicide Squad movie, but the character is just so unnecessary in the '66 Universe.  Parker does his best to make this version of Harley as different as he can (like giving her a Roller Derby motif) while still being essentially the same character, but it ultimately falls flat. The artwork is average with nothing really standing out.  At the end of the story, Harlequin asks if she has achieved Catwoman level or even Egghead level.  The answer for me is Lord Marmaduke Ffog level. This story earns a D.
The second story is simultaneously better and more frustrating. Written by Gabe Soria, the premise is brilliant. A Mad Med parody where the United Underworld (Penguin, Riddler, Catwoman and Joker) go to an ad agency, where Barbabra Gordon just happens to have started a temporary job, to re-brand themselves. Brilliant premise, but a flawed execution. First, Batman and Robin do not appear. Technically, Batgirl doesn't even appear except for a brief daydream sequence. The fearsome foursome are portrayed as being virtually harmless and inept, being outwitted at every turn. This story could have and should have been so much better. The art by Ty Templeton is is excellent, as he's one of the best artists to work on this series.  However, even though the feature film's United Underworld is used, Templeton used Eartha Kitt's interpretation of Catwoman instead of Lee Meriwether's, whose likeness he did use in a one-panel flashback to the feature film in Batman '66 Meets the Green Hornet. The premise and art gets an A while the execution gets a C, averaging out to a B-. That averages out the entire issue as a C.