Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Waiting for Trade? – Superboy: The Boy of Steel

Creative Team: Geoff Johns (W) and Francis Manapul (A)
Price: $19.99
Available Now

I loved this Superboy story. Back from the dead (check out “Legion of Three Worlds” if you missed how that played out, it was a fun ride), Connor Kent is trying to figure out where he fits in. Half human and half Kryptonian, he’s torn as to which of his DNA donors he is more like, Superman or Lex Luthor. So he asks himself the questions “What did Superman do?” and “What does Lex Luthor do?” He tries to emulate Superman, but also finds that his actions sometimes stray toward the other side.

Ma Kent and Krypto are supporting cast (honestly, they had me hooked at Krypto) as he settles back into life in Smallville. We meet some new faces in Smallville as well. Along this personal journey we get to see his reunion with his best friend Tim Drake (currently Red Robin) and girlfriend Cassie Sandsmark (Wonder Girl). (His reunion with Red Robin was technically handled in the pages of the “World’s Finest” mini, but this one was better so I chose to conveniently forget about that one). Some other surprise cameos pop up as well, but I won’t spoil them for you here.

The art is AMAZING! I think I have found my favorite comic artist. The art is fresh and fun and seems softer than some of the other artists out there. And there is something about it that just seems to fit the small town setting. The writing is solid, as Superboy comes off as conflicted without getting angsty or emo about it. I’m sad that Geoff Jonhs has left the title and that the Superboy story he planned to tell (that I assume this was only the tip of the iceberg for) will be put to the side, possibly never to be told. The creative team has moved over to the new Flash monthly (and for the first time in my life I was tempted to buy a comic about a character I didn’t care about on the strength of the creative team alone. But I’m still bitter that Wally is nowhere in sight) so if you are a fan of the team and the character it’s probably worth a look (I’m still reluctantly considering that trade).

I will admit that, unlike the Batwoman trade I recommended, this one relies a little more heavily upon previous continuity. That isn’t to say that someone who has never read about Superboy couldn’t enjoy it. But if you are unfamiliar to the character you may find yourself jumping onto Wikipedia in order to fill in some gaps in the back story. Most everything is touched upon in the pages of the comic, but this may be a case where it helps to at least already be interested in the character.

The collection contains Adventure Comics 0-3, 5-6 plus a tale from Superman Secret Files 2009 (which leaves out the Blackest Night tie-in with Superboy Prime in case you were curious about the skip there). A new Superboy ongoing has been announced with a different creative team, but they claim that they will build off of the foundation set here. I’m willing to see how it goes, but am still disappointed that we won’t get more Superboy from this team anytime soon.

I seriously love Francis Manapul's art.  I cannot express this enough.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Fan Ramblings – Potential Batman 3 Villains

I’m not the first one to talk about this by any means, but I figured I’d better get my two cents out there while the topic is still relevant. Details are scare about the new Batman movie, but that has never stopped fans from having ideas and opinions on what they hope will happen. As soon as we walked out of The Dark Knight Returns my friends and I were already speculating about what the final chapter of the trilogy would hold.

At the end of the last movie, Batman is on the run from the law, the city turned against the man who wants to protect it. Once you decide that your masked vigilante is a problem, it makes sense to call someone in to help you to get rid of the problem.

Enter Bane. In DESPERATE need of a movie reboot after the Batman movie we all like to not talk about, Bane could be a great villain for this movie. In the previous two movies Batman has faced Scarecrow and the Joker both villains who taxed Batman mentally. But we haven’t really seen anyone pull out all the stops and drive Batman to his absolute physical limit. As the final movie in the trilogy some major fight scenes will be expected and this is a character that could deliver. Bane seems like a better choice than other physical villains like Clayface or Killer Croc as he seems to fit into the movie universe more seamlessly (since he basically uses drugs to power up). Bane as hired by the cops isn’t really a new idea as it worked very well in The Batman Animated Series. There is no shame in stealing ideas from cartoon series. Speaking of which…

Seriously badass

ALL of our villains up to this point have been male. I would hate to see the trilogy close out without showcasing at least one of Batman’s fantastic female rogues. And since our last movie heavily showcased the Joker it makes sense for elements of that story to flow into the final movie.

Enter Harley Quinn. Untouched potential as far as movies go, Harley is a great character and I feel justified in calling her a fan favorite. Her origin could be tweaked for the movie universe if necessary, as the most important aspect is her obsession with and total devotion to the Joker. With the tragic death of Heath Ledger it would be impossible to film scenes of Dr. Quinsel, Arkham Asylum psychologist, working with the Joker, but I’m confident that the writers could come up with a creative way around that or a convincing origin for her. If the movie wanted to stay away from characters that had been previously used in movies, Harley is an excellent choice. She’s recently gotten some out of comics exposure with a very creepy appearance in the Arkham Asylum game, showing that she can be adapted to the needs of the media and can fit a more serious role. And while we’re on the topic of female characters…

Fan made poster of just how awesome it could be

With the death of Bruce’s main love interest at the end of The Dark Knight Returns the door is open for another woman in Bruce’s very complicated love life to step in.

Enter Catwoman. No powers, just a girl who likes nice things and is willing to steal to get them. Catwoman has had a ton of interpretations over the years from out and out villain, to gentleman thief, champion against eco-terrorism, to a sort of anti hero. She has a strong, complicated relationship with Batman. While Catwoman has been in a Batman movie before (as well as her own movie that we also don’t talk about) she is such a strong character that she could be interpreted a completely different way and still fit herself well into the movie universe. Depending on the rest of the cast Catwoman could fill the support to Batman role (since Nolan has said he will never include Robin ;_; ), or she could simply be a bad guy who flirts with him and tries to tempt him to the dark side. All in all, she is a comfortable character and one that many people probably expect to see. However, she isn’t the only woman to be romantically linked to Bruce Wayne.

Look at the possibilities!

With many trilogies you want to tie it all together as a nice little package. While it isn’t completely necessary to the success of the film it is often nice to bring up some unfinished business from the previous or first film. I already mentioned how Harley could tie into the events of the second film, but if they wanted to tie all the way back to the first film a different character could take the stage.

Enter Talia al Ghul. Ra’s al Ghul was a bit of a surprise in the first movie and Talia would be another character than many casual fans might not really know. Talia is probably not the first person people would think of when listing Batman’s rogues, and probably not even in the top ten, but she is full of potential. She is dangerous and sexy, which is probably very appealing to Hollywood script writers. Also, she doesn’t have a flashy costume to try to play with and her father is already well established in universe. Talia’s introduction as a love interest could probably be a bit more natural than other characters, as she would be there to avenge her father first and then things could get complicated or not. Either way, she is a great character who could really tie things together. With the city turned against him, it also makes sense for Bruce to look back into the darkness and reconsider the league of assassins.

I'll be happy as long as she doesn't replace anyone's spine

And lastly, in the previous movies we’ve seen Gotham’s mob families take a serious hit. It makes sense for someone to step in to try to fill the void that this has created.

Enter Black Mask. This underworld boss could quickly find his place in the movie universe. He has the creepy factor (his mask is made from the lid of his father’s coffin) and he is skilled in fighting, weapons, and strategy, making him a viable threat. It also helps that his initial rage was against Wayne Enterprises and Bruce Wayne for the amazing offense of bailing out his failing company (which he then took over of course). This could help show development in Bruce’s public image, maturing perhaps from the plucky playboy of the first film. Or that could be shifted to Luscious Fox; attacking Wayne Ent. is still going to get Batman’s attention either way. There is also his history with Catwoman, and while the movie wouldn’t want to exactly echo the events of the comics, there is potential there for an interesting relationship between the two if paired together in a movie. Unfortunately, Black Mask may not have the name recognition to really sell the third movie, especially with expectations as high as they are.

Even as a lego he is going to kill you

And there you have it. Since the villains have been playing in pairs, it’s also important to look at who each villain could work well in a story with (not necessarily working together on a plan, but making sense in the same story). My ideal choice from the above? All things considered, I’d really like to see Bane and Talia. There are clearly lots of possibilities, and they may come way out of left field with someone and completely surprise us.

What do you think? Who would you love to see in the third and final movie of this Batman trilogy?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Fan Ramblings – Villains I doubt we’ll see in Batman 3

Before we start thinking about who we might see in the third Christopher Nolan film, let’s talk about the character we probably won’t be seeing. Quick, grab a pen and paper and write down as many members of Batman’s rogues’ gallery as you can think of. I’ll wait.

With two movies under his belt, Christopher Nolan has fairly well established his big screen Gotham City. The movies have a dark and dangerous mood to them, much like the city itself. The tone is fairly serious and plays to a more realistic idea of Batman (at least as realistic as a dude in a suit fighting crime can be). It seems pretty certain that they will want to keep with the same mood and tone in the third movie. As such there are some villains that I just don’t think can fit into this version of Gotham.

Cross off of your list:

Anyone with “powers”

The movies have played it pretty straight with the villains they have chosen. So far they have all been incredibly resourceful dudes who use weapons and violence and mind games to battle the caped crusader. None have had special augmentations or abilities (it was never stated whether Ra’s had any life sustaining powers or not, only that his “idea” was immortal). Suddenly throwing in a character who can shoot mud from his hand or command plant life is going to be jarring for an audience. If you can explain the powers away with drug use or technology, we may still be in business, but if it’s a part of you you’re probably out.

Anyone who doesn’t look like a person

So far all of our rogues have looked like more or less like normal people. Two Face had his scarring, but it wasn’t anything that helped him. It was just half of his face blown off. Scarecrow had a mask and Joker had his makeup and Ra’s had his beard. They all look like someone you could potentially see in the real world. This has nothing to do with costumes, as a good wardrobe department could take the most ridiculous costume and make it work within the story. I’m doubting the third movie will throw in a giant man-bat, a walking pile of mud, or an alligator man.

Anyone with a distracting gimmick

All Batman Rogues have a gimmick. Some characters can downplay them, and some really can’t. They are that gimmick and if you take it away they don’t really make sense anymore. Scarecrow worked because his gimmick is fear. That’s a basic human emotion. Not distracting. The Joker’s gimmick is being a clown. This was only touched on with his costume and his playing cards. There were no acid spitting flowers or circus hideouts. It was downplayed so that it wasn’t distracting. Two Face’s gimmick is duality. In the past this has gone as far as twin henchmen and always robbing things with names like Deuces Wild and the Second National Bank. But at its core it is all about that coin, and that’s what the movie focused on. Now let’s think about another villain, the Mad Hatter. His gimmick is Alice in Wonderland. His entire motive revolves around looking for his Alice and he often quotes Lewis Carol. His gimmick isn’t something that can really be boiled down into a simple emotion and without it the character just doesn’t work. You could have a guy who uses mind control hats, but without the Alice stuff it’s just not the Mad Hatter anymore. And this movie is about Batman, not Alice in Wonderland. We don’t want the audience’s minds wandering to other movies or other Mad Hatters.

So with those things in mind, who do we have left? Any who of those villains could be the best fits for the next movie? See my picks tomorrow! And if you wish to amuse yourself in the meantime check out the Wikipedia page for the list of Bat Family enemies (you know, in case you had trouble making a list of your own) and enjoy the insanity of the foes of lesser renown.

By the Numbers – August

Total comics for the month: 55
Change from last month: +3

Company Run Down
DC: 30
Vertigo (DC): 5
Icon (Marvel): 2
Marvel Authors: 1
Image: 3
Ape: 2
Aspen: 1
Boom!: 4
D. E.: 2
IDW: 3
Oni: 1
Zenoscope: 1

Average price I paid: $2.05

First Issues: 5
Last Issues: 4

Ongoing: 33
Mini-series: 22
One shot: 0

Batman Issues: 15
Brightest Day books: 6
Books with a number in the title: 3