Monthly Archives: March 2009

My "Scott & Jean": You Can't Spell "Dark Knight Detective" Without "Dark" and "Detective"

Yeah, so this is it, cats and kittens: The Big Secret Final Invasion War of the Clone Crisis Saga Blog Crossover Event.  Or, as we like to call it, “What’s Your ‘Scott & Jean’?”  For those new to the party (where the hell have you been, anyway?), your “Scott & Jean” is your geek sacred cow–the one thing that you are so passionate about that you just can not discuss it rationally.

I was trying to think of a logical introduction for this extravaganza, when one of my fellow Crossover bloggers pointed out that the very notion of a “Scott & Jean” eschews logic and, therefore, I should just feel free to rant.  So, here goes:

I love Batman.

There’s really no other way to put it.  I don’t mean I want to have Batman’s babies…well, mostly (but, let’s be honest: Batman’s one true love is Justice, so what chance do I really have?  Unless Talia has some spare Wayne-gravy laying around).  When I was a little kid, I had Batman action figures, Batman Matchbox cars, a Batman cape–please note: I did not say a “superhero cape”, this was a Batman cape…this sumbitch was scalloped.  One of the first superhero comics I ever bought was Detective Comics #603.

Anyway, my point is this: I.  Love.  Batman.

But, y’see, it’s really not that simple, especially when you’re dealing with a character who’s about to hit his 70th anniversary.  In the past seven decades, there have been numerous interpretations of the character.  Some good.  Some bad.  But only one correct one.

That’s right.  You heard what I said: for me, there is only one correct way to portray Batman.  (Hey, I warned you this was going to be a logic-free zone.)

First of all, Batman is dark and broody.  He watched his parents get gunned down when he was a little kid, for Christ’s sake…you’d be a bit cranky, too.  This is the point when “my Batman” kinda snapped.  He’s driven by this event.  He devotes his entire life to both avenging his parents’ murder and making sure that no one in Gotham City ever has to suffer the same kind of tragedy.  He figures this out on his own.  He doesn’t need Joey-effing-Potter to clue him in.  So, when you take into account that he’s a guy who watched his folks get gunned down in an alley, you can understand why these are just wrong:

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This, however, is more like it:

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I’ll get to all those non-Batman people hanging around Ol’ Bats in a second.

Now, we’ve established that the right tone for Batman is dark and broody.  His costume is to be dark to reflect this: black or dark grey bodysuit with either uber-dark blue or black boots, gloves, cape and cowl.  Accept no substitutes.  This guy runs around at night, why the hell would he wear bright blue anything?  He doesn’t smile.  He rarely jokes.  If he ever utters the word “chum”, he better be talking about shark fishing.

You’re probably asking yourself, why the hell would someone like that go out of their way to surround themselves with friends and associates?  Now you’re catching on, Eugene: my Batman does not have friends and associates.  With the exception of loyal Alfred (who’s been on thin-ice a few times, himself), my Batman is too practical and paranoid to worry about something as useless as friends.  Friends don’t keep the criminal scum off the streets.  No.  But, tools do.  If Batman spends more than five seconds in your company, he clearly needs you for something and, when that task has been accomplished, you better get the hell outta Gotham, because Bats doesn’t take kindly to interlopers in “his city.”  Oh, and you better not expect a “Good job” or a “Thanks, pal”…Batman doesn’t have time for that, crime’s afoot.  Oh, and did I mention he’s a paranoid freak?  Odds are, if you can run faster than the speed of light or bend steel in your bare hands, he has a file on how to take you out should you ever “go bad.”  What’s that you say?  What about Robin and Batgirl?  Please.  The second they mouth off or show the slightest bit of independent thought, my Batman brooms his sidekick and gets another pliable young mind to warp.

My Batman is also a freakin’ genius.  He’s called the “Dark Knight Detective” for a reason.  Hello, he premiered in a book called DETECTIVE Comics.  Did Bruce Wayne study martial arts?  Sure.  But, he also studied criminology, psychology, forensic science.  He’s been trained as an escape artist and a master of disguise.  Christopher Nolan will have us believe that Batman is just some thug in a cape who beats the snot out of gangsters and needs Morgan Freeman’s help to come up with an antidote for Scarecrow’s fear gas.  Um, no.  Sorry, Mr. Nolan, but you are wrong.  Batman does not need anyone’s help coming up with an antidote.  He can come up with an antidote in his sleep, while he does the crossword puzzle and designs a new Batmobile.  Why?  Because Batman is a freakin’ genius!  That’s it.  End of story.  And do you know what else Batman can do?  He can break into a skyscraper all by his lonesome, as well, thank you very much.  I don’t care if it’s in Hong Kong.  I don’t care if it’s on the Moon.  He’ll get there, he’ll break in, and he’ll do it without your help.

Finally, if it hasn’t been made clear by this point, only Bruce Wayne can be Batman.  I don’t care what hack writer DC throws at us…what dumb-ass “event” sends Bruce Wayne back in time or to Never-Never Land or wherever the bloody hell we’re expected to believe Batman’s been sent…Tim?  Dick?  Jason?  They are not, nor ever will be, Batman.  Only Bruce Wayne can be Batman, because Batman is Bruce Wayne.  The Wayne persona is the mask that Batman wears to conceal his identity, not vice versa.

That’s who Batman is.  It’s who he’s always been.  It’s who he’ll always be.  If a writer or an artist portrays Batman in any other way, they’re wrong.  End of story.  Thanks for playing.

Here endeth the rant.

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In a World…

Coming to this blog on Monday, March 30 is an event so huge, so life-changing, so unbelievably awesome, so legen-wait for it-dary that it could only have been born on Twitter.

On this day, a number of like-minded individuals will post a blog that answers this burning question: What’s your Scott and Jean?  Now, I know you’re thinking “Scott and Jean…yeah-buh-whaa?”  Essentially, a “Scott and Jean” is sort of your personal geek sacred cow–that one topic that, no matter how rationally it’s presented to you, you can not discuss without starting to twitch and foam at the mouth within seconds.

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Most of us have a “Scott and Jean”, and come March 30 you’ll get to read about mine, as well as those of my friends over at Alert Nerd, Fantastic Fangirls, and Geeked.

Rorschach's Journ–Ah, Screw It: My Thoughts on Watchmen

Yes, the rumors are true: I have finally seen Watchmen.  In brief, I liked it.  I liked it quite a bit–maybe more than I thought I would.

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For the purposes of this review, I think I should first let you all know about my relationship to Watchmen.  I have read Alan Moore’s opus.  While I enjoyed the book, and acknowledge the influence it had on the comic book industry, I do not consider it to be Holy Scripture.  In fact, given the choice, I’d probably choose to re-read Chris Claremont’s Dark Phoenix Saga before I’d choose Watchmen.  That’s actually one of the reasons I waited so long to see the movie.  If it sucked, I did not need to get trampled in a stampede of rabid Alan Moore fans as they charged out of the theater to set cars on fire.

Turns out I really didn’t have much to worry about.

What worked?  Well, for starters, the cast.  I’m pretty willing to accept other rorschach2people’s opinions about things–especially since I expect the same in return–but, if you’ve read Watchmen and do not think that Jackie Earle Haley totally nailed Rorschach, then you obviously hate puppies, candy, and America.  Sure, Haley’s “I’m the Goddamn Batman” growl isn’t exactly how I imagined the character would sound, but all other things being equal, it worked pretty well.  Haley might have walked away with the movie, but Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Patrick Wilson were also quite good as The Comedian and Nite Owl, respectively.  I’m willing to admit that I might be the only person on the planet who was excited to see Matt Frewer playing Moloch and Rob LaBelle as Wally Weaver–possibly the first time since Taken that these two fine character actors have appeared in the same production–but, I did “squee” internally when I saw them both for the first time.

Now, what can I say about Malin Akerman?  Correction: What can I say about Malin Akerman that won’t get me smacked by every woman I know?  Yes, Akerman’s Silk Spectre was pretty easy on the eyes.*  She also kind of looks like an adult version of Violet Parr, which is not a bad thing:

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If I have one negative thing to say about Akerman’s performance it’s this: she comes off as too young.  Unless my math is off, Jupiter was about 27 when the Keene Act was passed, which would make her 35 in 1985.  Akerman, god bless her, looks at least a decade younger.  Not a deal breaker, just an observation.

For the most part, I think Billy Crudup did a pretty good job as Doctor Manhattan, although there were times when he came off as childlike, as opposed to disconnected.  I think the real weak link in the cast was Matthew Goode.  For someone who’s supposed to be the perfect human, Goode’s Ozymandias comes off as excruciatingly bland.  Maybe I’ve misread him in the book, but I would have expected him to be much more charismatic and a lot less…dull.

From a storytelling standpoint, both David Hayter and Zach Snyder did a good job of cutting down the massive text of Moore’s original, without losing too much of the core story.  The decision to use the opening credit sequence to tell a large chunk of the Minutemen backstory was a brilliant one, as were the decisions made regarding which aspects of the main characters’ backstories to include, and which to cut.  I was blown away by the adaptation of “The Abyss Gazes Also” and “Old Ghosts”–my favorite chapters–although I must agree with the overwhelming sentiment that the bathroom scene between Rorschach and Big Figure came off as a bit odd.

Personally, I didn’t miss the squid.  Again, this could go back to my whole “I don’t worship at the altar of Watchmen” thing, but I think the change works.  From a storytelling point of view, there wasn’t nearly enough time to fully explain Ozy’s giant mutant brain-squid.  However, we were shown the destructive nature of Doctor Manhattan’s powers throughout the entire film.  (It just struck me this morning that the Watchmen film basically used the “exploding man” story that Heroes did at the end of its first season, a storyline that was attacked for “stealing” the idea of destroying New York to create world peace from Moore’s Watchmen…and I found the whole thing pretty funny.)

Oh, and was it me or was Archie’s flamethrower the greatest ejaculatory metaphor ever caught on film?

What didn’t work?  The slo-mo.  Stop with the slow motion action scenes already, will ya!  Enough.  Once or twice, maybe, to prove a point or show something particularly awesome, but you don’t have to do it every time someone throws a punch.  I fear that the “Superhero Slo-Mo” may soon ruin films just like Bullet Time did.

Overall, I’d give Watchmen a 9 out of 10, with most of that last point going in the “Not bad, but not what I would have done” column.

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*: Seriously, have you seen Malin Akerman?!?

"A Towel Has Immense Psychological Value."

Which science fiction writer am I?

E.E. “Doc” Smith

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“The inventor of space opera.  His purple space war tales remain well-read generations later.”

These quiz things are always fun, at least for me.  I also find that they tend to be oddly accurate (or, at the very least, quite reflective of who I am).  For example, “Doc” Smith is frequently called the “Father of Space Opera.”  Now, when it comes to sci-fi, I’ll take a good rippin’ yarn of a space opera over your deeper, more philosophical allegories any day of the week.  Also, Smith’s Lensman series has a good deal in common with DC’s Green Lantern Corps., of which I am a fan.

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So…which science fiction writer are you?  Go on, take the quiz…I’ll wait.