Shallow & Pedantic 8 – Comic Books and Other Shenanigans

There’s probably a thousand podcasts meeting that description, but whatever. This one is ours. And we run through a host of topics, some silly, some deeply silly. And we go on for the length of a Bible on them.

I’m using the YouTube embed because WordPress is being every more exponentially garbage at embedding what Spreaker gives me. WordPress’ Podcast Player block refuses to embed my RSS url, and for some reason known only to God the episode permalink, a hack which worked just fine last month, will not embed now. The lengths to which WordPress is willing to go to hobble embeds for paying customers feels like emotional abuse. I’m not going to pay another $300 for your Business Plan so I can have plugins just so things that aren’t YouTube embed normally, WordPress. You can go pound sand.

Merry Christmas.

You Ever Dance With the Devil in the Pale Moonlight? In Praise of the First Batman Movie

Yes, I know. The first Batman movie came out in 1966, and was filled with moments of epic hilarity such as “Some Days You Just Can’t Get Rid of a Bomb!” I watched it a little while ago with my oldest. It’s grand, campy fun. We all know what I’m talking about, nerds.

Red Letter Media, casting about for horrible movies to mock, as they do, settled upon supplying a commentary track for Batman & Robin, the ne plus ultra of ridiculous cartoony nipples-on-body-armor dreck that sank the franchise like a filagreed Batmobile at the bottom of the harbor until Nolan made art out of it.

And I suppose that said moldy pile of creative leavings deserves the mockery. I say “suppose” because I was wise enough not to see it, having been warned by my brother how bad it was. I wasn’t really that interested anyway. The franchise had been declining since the first sequel. Yeah, I said it. Batman Returns, the one that still had Keaton as Batman and Burton directing, is a confused, sloppy pile of whatever that people got excited about at the time because it had Michelle Pfeiffer in a tight leather suit with a whip (once, in the before time, in the long long ago, that was a thing). It has Penguin as some kind of drooling special-needs freakazoid rather than the most intellectually astute of Gotham’s rogues, and the actual bad-guy is Christopher Walken, as some kind of non-canon business dude. It’s boring, and it’s to Batman what Corpse Bride is to The Nightmare Before Christmas.

And Batman Forever is overwrought and underwritten, with way too many threads in the air and none of them given proper time. The silly Schumakerness of it replacis the Goth-ish Burtonic dread with a weird nod to the 1966-style camp, while trying to make us take it seriously. Only Jim Carrey’s over-the-top rubberface Riddler stands out (which is saying something). So overall, anyone would be better off watching the Nolan series, grim as it may be.

But there was that first movie. A movie that stormed the box office in the summer of ’89, proving that they could be successful. A movie that seems to smell like the 1980’s. A movie that was purple and black and bloody and may still be better than anything that followed it.

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Comic Book Post #5

Being the continuance of a series abandoned…

I never read any of D.C.’s New 52, because I objected to it on principle. The whole point of comic books is that they provide the balance of new tales as part of a coninuity. I get that managing said continuity can be a challenge. But re-booting is pointless. Every issue is a reboot.

Plus, stop “killing” characters. It’s lame.

But D.C. Has abandoned all of that, and given us Rebirth, which is supposed to restore everything as it was without erasing the New 52 stuff. So …


This doesn’t mean I haven’t read anything. I checked out the first few issues of Marvel’s Star Wars reboot, and that was fine. Decent Luke storylines, anyway. I stopped because they started spreading the storylines over five or six separate titles, so I have to buy Princess Leia #8 to continue Darth Vader #11 to continue Star Wars #9. And that’s too damn nerdy for me.


I also kept up on Dark Horse’s Conan titles. Conan the Avenger had a wry humor to it, occasionally at the expense of the title character, while Conan the Slayer is tonally more in line with the original Robert Howard stories.  Both are enjoyable, if you’re into that sort of thing.

I also got this:


Because Deadpool is funny, and he makes Spider-Man funnier, and I have the Erik B. And Rakim album this cover references. You got me, Marvel. You got me.

But what finally broke me from my D.C. boycott was a little documentary I caught on Hulu, Batman & Bill, which chronicles the campaign to get D.C. to officially credit the man who created much of the Batman universe, Bill Finger. Bob Kane, who claimed all the credit as the creator of Batman, apparently came up with the name, and not much else. Everything around the name, from the costume, the villains, the secondary characters, even the death of Thomas and Martha Wayne, was Bill Fingers work. But Kane made the deal with D.C., so every Batman comic and movie and TV show has “Batman created by Bob Kane” in the credits. Kane died a millionaire and Finger died in poverty and obscurity.

But the truth will out. As early as the 1960’s, people whispered the truth that Batman was not a solo act, but Kane vigorously stuck to the legend. And after he died, so too did D.C. Finally in 2015, after generations of Finger’s heirs and the nerd community shouted loud enough, D.C. agreed to change the credit, starting with the Batman vs. Superman movie.

So I picked up Batman #23, a Swamp Thing crossover with an interesting nihilist villain. It’s well-drawn and appropriately gloomy. And on the first page:

That’ll do, Bats. That’ll do.

December Comic Book Post: No, Batman is not Fascist.

I picked up the new Three and The Star Wars yesterday. They’re pretty awesome, but I’m saving my discussion of them for a later post.

Today I’m going to pick up a gauntlet cast down last month, and talk about Superman: Red Son, which will dovetail nicely into this piece by Chris Yogerst in the Atlantic, “Stop Calling Superheroes Fascist”.

supermanredson

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November Comic Book Post: The Geek Returneth

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Yesterday I finally did something I’ve been meaning to do for years, organize and file my comic books. It took me the better part of a morning, but I’m terribly pleased with the general sense of imposing order on chaos.

I am no more than a dabbler in comic books. I read them sporadically as a kid – Mostly Batman, in the wake of the 1989 film (although I do have a vintage, wrinkled Transformers comic, from that long plotline when Optimus Prime had had a core dump or something and Ratchet was leading the Autobots).

In recent years, I’ve put my money in large-scale graphic novels, to the idea of getting more for my buck. I’ve got the Alan Moore masterpieces (Watchmen, From Hell), a few of the “classic” Batman Graphic novels (The Dark Knight Returns, The Killing Joke), a few lesser-tiered (Dark Victory, Hush), and some of the USE-ALL-THE-DC-CHARACTERS tomes, Infinite Crisis and such.

I also have the Batman that was on the shelves in November of 1976, when I was born. Birthday present from my wife, who – bless her – encourages my nerderies.

Yeah, I’m a DC kid. Deal. Read more

Let Us Now Discuss Anne Hathaway as Catwoman

I mean, I have better things to do, but I’m low on the energy right now. Plus, I feel the need to provide a palate cleanser after posting that Leann Rimes picture.

Foredoomed it was that when the Dark Knight Rises decided to make the obvious move from the Joker to Catwoman and Bane, that controversy would result from the casting. Bane is one of the newer Bat Villains, so anyone would do for him. But Catwoman may be as important to the Bat Universe as the Joker. Alone among his foes, the Cat brings out something good in the Bat, and reminds him that he’s a man, rather than merely a shadow with extensive MMA training.

"Hush" was a good series.

So the chatter I’ve picked up is that Hathaway won’t be half as good as Michelle Ppppfeiffer was in Batman Returns, on account of being too “nice” and “girl next door” and whatever. This may end up being true; I don’t know. But I have a couple of objections to it: Read more