Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Wicker Man Vs. Wax Works

Last night I received an interesting little treat and got to watch Batman: Under The Red Hood (**** ½ out of 5) the newest DC Animated Movie. I’d never read A Death In The Family nor had I read the return of Jason Todd in Under The Red Hood so I went into this tale rather blind as to just how the hell the 2nd Robin returned to life. I’ll try not to spoil too much, but here’s the gist;
- Jason Todd was the 2nd Robin
- He was an ass-hat
- He was SO hated that DC allowed fans to dial a 1-800 number to decide if he lived or died
- He died in brutal fashion beaten with a crowbar by the Joker and then blown up
This is where I thought the story ended. Batman had yet another tragedy in his ‘family’ and it added an even greater layer of loathing to the Batman/Joker dynamic. Then a bunch of years later Jim Lee and Jeph Loeb do a little story called “Hush” (*** ½ out of 5) and in it a red herring of a resurrected Jason Todd is a big part, fandom goes crazy. So crazy in fact that soon after Jason Todd does resurface, as the Red Hood. So Batman’s 2nd Robin, who is sort of nuts and merciless, comes back to Gotham to “clean it up” and get his “revenge”. That’s the basics, and the basics are brilliant. It takes Batman’s tragedy, one of his greatest failures and puts it front and center for his enemies, Ra’s al Ghul & Black Mask, and allies, Dick Grayson & Alfred, to see. Jason Todd is messed up. He’s a runaway, a street rat, who finds purpose and “family” with Bruce Wayne, only to die in a horrible way. Upon returning he finds that not only has he been replaced, but also the man who murdered him is still alive. Its betrayal at a core level, almost Shakespearean in nature. Batman loses his son and never avenges his death due to his moral code.

Which brings me back to the animated version, it’s wonderful. It’s dark, brooding, shocking in spots, and the voice work is amazing. Jensen Ackles as Jason Todd is superb as the tough guy, the deserted son. N.P.H., yes Neil Patrick Harris, steals every scene he’s in as Nightwing aka Dick Grayson, the 1st Robin. Bruce Greenwood is a good Batman, not Conroy GREAT, but good. The big surprise for me was John Di Maggio as the Joker. The best word I can use to describe it is chilling. His portrayal was pitch black. It didn’t have the register of insanity that Mark Hamill brings to the Clown Prince Of Crime, but it brought it from somewhere else, somewhere nastier. When he gets rolling in this flick, the animation helps convey it he is frightening. Especially those eyes. I can’t recommend this one enough it’s just a great Batman story done spectacularly.

After laughing and “whoa”-ing for an hour and a half I sat down, applied myself, and finished Pilgrimage To Earth by Robert Sheckley (***** out of 5). The sheer amount of imagination and genius poured into the page in Sheckley’s short stories is astounding. I have to say I am fascinated by his idea of dystopian future being less of a post-apocalyptic setting and one more of Orwell’s 1984 (***** out of 5), total submission to state/religion/corporation. With emotions being at a premium, sanity, and social conformity and enforced norm makes these older tales just as relevant today as they were then. I feel compelled to read more of this man’s work, and for that I thank you Dave.

Heavy stuff, so heavy all I can carry is


- Mel Gibson is bat shite insane.
- I’m halfway through the first Dresden Files book and have a date with it tonight to finish it. It’s been fantastic thus far.
- I listened to the audio book of Marquis De Sade Reader (*** ½ out of 5) last night. Interesting stuff. De Sade was a kooky guy in a country full of kooky dudes, the only difference is he made little attempt to hide his disdain for God, morality, and society, all of which he say as a façade. If you have a strong stomach and wish to challenge social morays it’s definitely an interesting perspective.
- My brain is fried from lack of sleep; it’s not a bad thing to live in a daydream like state.
- If you haven’t yet, go read Zak Sabbath’s blog (Playing D&D With Pornstars, the blog is entitled; Completely Spoiling The Haiku-Like Elegance of That Last Post), check the right side column, about how DC comics are Old School D&D and Marvel comics are New D&D. It’s one of the best things I’ve read in some time, and encapsulates my feelings on the subject so well you’d think the guy was a mind reader. As always a brilliant blog.
- I’m thinking about maybe doing up a Superhero RPG group every two months. Anyone have any thoughts, ideas, or interest?
- Speaking of Batman & Jason Todd, if you have even an inkling of Comic-Lovin’ in your soul do yourself a HUGE favor and pick up and read the Grant Morrison run on Batman & Robin. While I would also recommend just about anything Morrison has written, I can’t express in words how much I love what Batman & Robin has become. It’s the Post-Modern Batman book. Dick Grayson as Batman, Damian Wayne (Bruce & Talia al Ghul’s son) as Robin dealing with the insanity that is Gotham. The story with Jason Todd, I believe it’s called Return Of The Red Hood, is excellent. In fact I’d hazard to say that Morrison’s Batman run into Batman & Robin is rivaled only by his X-Men, JLA, & All-Star Superman runs for sheer four-color superhero brilliance. Give it a try, and you will NOT be disappointed.

- I haven’t read Shadows Over Baker’s Street by I desperately want to find a copy so I can.

And with that I have things to do…

“Hard bony limbs covered in leathered skin
Behind his eyes with the rage of ten warped men
Without a sound he steals right through the night
The sign of death to him brings grim delight
Those marked for death can feel him coming near

Some stand in fight and some just cry in fear
On a horse black, the dark lord takes to flight
But no one forgets the Highlander rode tonight

Cant you hear his call
The Mightiest will fall
He will control your destiny
Many mortal screams out of agony
The Highlander has come for me

There's no white spell to best this Earth Pig born
Against his kind an eternal oath was sworn
All kinds of men will fall beneath his blade
Women and children, the choice it has been made
You see him fighting across the field

Some Stand and fight and some just cry in fear
On a horse black, the dark lord takes to flight
But no one forgets the Highlander rode tonight “




  2. I may have to, but first I have some other things to tend to...