Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Review: Batman '66 Meets The Green Hornet #6

The final issue opens with Batman and The Green Hornet about to detonate via Batzooka a missal launched by the Joker and General Gumm before it hits Gotham Park.  However, the bomb turns out to be a joke, shooting off postage stamps.  The four heroes deduce the villains are going to kidnap Franco Bollo.  After a Bat-Climb (with window cameo by Richard Nixon), the heroes discover they are too late.  As the villains try to escape via plane, the heroes arrive in a Bat-Hovercraft, neatly avoiding the gummy glue around the plane, preventing the police from arresting Joker and Gumm.  The heroes chase the villains away and rescue Bollo.  In gratitude, he offers to drop his lawsuit against the two cities for an out of court settlement of three million dollars.  After the payoff, Batman and his cohorts bust in, knowing that Bollo was really Gumm in disguise all along, putting an end to this case.  This final chapter is somewhat marred by rehashing a similar plot twist from the episode The Joker Trumps an Ace/Batman Sets the Pace, where the Joker impersonated the Maharajah of Nimpa, while the real Maharajah was on a secluded hunting trip.  This is the second issue in a row to "borrow" a scene from a Joker episode.  It makes you think that writers Ralph Garman and Kevin Smith were running out of ideas for a six issue story arc, and perhaps should have done a four issue arc instead.  Never the less, their script, and this miniseries, is an improvement over Jeff Parker's efforts in the regular series, albeit Garman and Smith seem more entrenched in the series' weaker second season, rather than the far superior first season (Parker, on the other hand, seems entrenched in the awful third season, although the one thing in his favor is he avoids using the TV show's all too rigid storytelling formula).  As usual, Ty Templeton does an excellent job on the art, although he could stand to get Burt Ward's likeness a little better.  Alex Ross' cover painting is a masterpiece, of course.  But it's the recycling of ideas in the last two issues that bring the miniseries down a notch. Even so, I would like to see Garman write some issues of the regular series.  This issue earns a B-.

On a side note, I was hoping to review Batman '66: The Lost Episode today, but all the issues received by my comic book store were damaged and sent back. So it will have to wait until next month.  Ironically, it is also noted the long awaited Batman DVD set has some errors: a missing tag on the episode Marsha's Scheme of Diamonds  and several missing "next week's villain" bumpers.  (I wonder if Chris Nolan and/or Zack Snyder is paying someone off to mess up these classic Batman items?)  I am sure Warner Brothers will be providing corrected replacement discs, as they have done so before, when the Superman movie box set included the bare bones version of Superman III instead of the deluxe edition, and when the Elvis movie box set likewise included the bare bones version of Jailhouse Rock instead of the deluxe edition.  Also, when a Popeye volume included a few cartoons with the old AAP TV opening titles instead of the restored Paramount titles.  Warners is actually very good about replacing discs.  But on the other hand, if they had better quality control, they wouldn't need to issue so many replacement discs for so many different titles in the first place.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Review: Batman '66 #16

This issue features Egghead.  Jeff Parker's script creates what could have been an epic third season episode.  Egghead evolves himself to the point of having several futuristic mental powers.  He is able to will Batman and Robin to devolve back into cavemen.  He then takes the spoils of crimes committed by Mr Freeze and the Riddler.  With such ease, Egghead realises nothing is a challenge for him.  When the cavemen Batman and Robin, who aren't grunting brutes, but still have most of their mental faculties, figure out Egghead's lair, and break in, giving a performance of stereotypical mindless cavemen, Egghead realises he needs Batman as he was for mental challenge.  He wills the Dynamic Duo back to their normal state, and collapses from the strain.  Batman then quickly reverses Egghead evolution, retuning him to normal also. It kind of off beat to see anyone with superpowers in this setting, as the TV series was fairly grounded in reality in regards to such things. While Parker turned in a better script than usual, it's still third season quality.  I cannot stress enough this series needs to get away from the second and third season it has settled in, and get back to first season style storytelling.  Parker can't seem to do that. Again I emphasize that Andy Fish should be brought is as the writer for this series. This issues artwork is by Brent Schoonover, and he turns in a better assignment than some of the more recent artists.  Overall, this issue earns a C+.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Shazam movie release date confirmed.

Today, Warner Bros announced the release date for the Shazam! movie will be in 2019.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Keaton says he would play Batman again

In an interview for Entertainment Weekly , Michael Keaton is asked if he would play Batman again. His response, "If it was Tim Burton directing? In a heartbeat."  He adds, “Tim, in movies, really invented the whole dark-superhero thing.  He started everything, and some of the guys who have done these movies since then don’t say that, and they’re wrong.”

Two years ago, I suggested Burton and Keaton reunite to make a third Batman movie, based upon Frank Miller's Dark Knight Returns altered somewhat to fit the existing continuity of Batman and Batman Returns. With Keaton's statement, perhaps such a project has a glimmer of hope. Sadly, due to Zack Snyder and Ben Affleck grasping all the remaining Dark Knight Returns material for Batman v Superman that wasn't already commandeered by Christopher Nolan in The Dark Knight Rises, such a Burton-Keaton project seems like all it will be is a glimmer of hope.  Unless, of course, Batman v Superman bombs at the box office like Amazing Spider-Man 2 and Kick Ass 2.

Keaton goes on to reminisce about bowing out after Burton was removed as director of the third movie by WB execs who didn't like the dark direction of Batman Returns, and brought in Joel Schumacher, “I hadn’t been stupid about it. I always knew it was a big machine with a big studio and corporation behind it. But the simple answer was, it wasn’t any good. I was nice. I said to them, ‘This is a really interesting character with a dual personality.’ I tried to make them understand. But when somebody says to you, ‘Does it have to be so dark?... I thought, are we talking about the same character? So finally I just said no.”

On his portrayal of Batman, he says, “Now I can say this, because for many reasons, I never allowed myself to say it at the time: It was never about Batman for me. It was always about Bruce Wayne. He’s funny! He’s screwed-up! The guy is the coolest motherf—-er in the world, and he’s messed-up!”

At this year's New York Comic Con, three Batmans have made appearances.  Adam West to promote the DVD release of the 1960s Batman TV series. George Clooney, who privately apologised to Adam West, and publicly to the fans, for Batman & Robin. And Michael Keaton, who went on to say he's still proud of his Batman movies, "Having played Batman and being very proud of playing Batman. I never back off that. The idea was bold, interesting, and cool when Tim made it.  When I took the original, I was unfamiliar with comic books. I wasn’t a comic book reader. [Reading the script he thought], this isn’t the way that I see the character but am glad to read it. Then I met Tim the next day, I’m saying [Batman] is this and this, and he was nodding in agreement. So I asked, are they going to make this? Tim said, 'I don’t know. Let’s find out'.”

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Review: Batman '66 Meets The Green Hornet #5

This issue starts with the Hornet and Kato deciding to change tactics on how they are working with the Dynamic Duo.  Cut to  Batman and Robin, in a death trap set by Joker and Gumm that is a little too similar to the one from The Zodiac Crimes episode, and the escape is likewise similar.  After which, the Duo are summoned to Gordon's office, where they are met by The Hornet, Kato, and District Attorney Scanlon (who knows the Hornet's secret identity), to set up a backstory so that Batman can work freely with the Hornet.  Meanwhile, Joker and Gumm, in Joker's jet plane hide out, drop a bomb on Gotham.  The four heroes, warned about it via Batmobile detect-a-scope, begin evacuating Gotham Central Park, where the bomb is targeted.  Batman and the Hornet stay in the park with the Batzooka in an attempt to shoot the bomb out of the sky.  Smith and Garman get deducted a point for the rehashed death trap, but they more than make up for it with the bombing of Gotham Park sequence which is the very first time since DC initiated the "Batman '66" franchise to come close to the tone and excitement of the first season episodes.  The first half of the book has the usual splendid art by Ty Templeton, but the second half is by Jon Bogdanove, who does a better job than most of the recent artists over in the main Batman '66 title.  And, of course, there is the Alex Ross masterpiece cover. This issue earns a B+.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Review: Batman '66 #15

This issue features a somewhat bizarre premise.  The Penguin and the Black Widow team up to destroy a new process for creating fuel, and then they rob a bank.  Once Batman and Robin discover their hideout and are captured in a giant spider web, Batman is able to convince Penguin, by planting the idea the Black Widow will kill Penguin once she's done with him, to free them and to join them to take out the Black Widow.  Jeff Parker's script, as usual, is cemented in the weaker aspects of the second and third seasons of the TV show.  But what stands out this time is his reworking of the Black Widow.  On the TV show, she was portrayed by an elderly and feeble Tallulah Bankhead. The character itself had quite a pedigree.  Originally called  The Scarlet Widow, she was Superman's enemy on the 1940s radio program, and, much like Bankhead, described as an old hag, gaunt and ugly.  Revamped as The Spider Lady for the 1948 Superman movie serial starring Kirk Alyn, and played by Carol Forman, she was young and sultry.  Finally, in 1967, reworked as The Black Widow, appeared on the second season of Batman. Parker's take seems more in tune with the Spider Lady from the serial, although still older and gray.  The art by Wilfredo Torres is above average in some panels, below average in others, never outstanding.  This issue earns a C.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Popeye test footage released



This is only the test footage, not an actual scene from the movie, which has yet to be officially green lighted.  My impressions are that it is better than the Popeye's Voyage DVD, and Tartakovsky certainly seems knowledgeable and qualified for this project... but where are Popeye's pipe and tattoos?