Thursday, March 29, 2012

Superman Returns... Again!

        As many of you should know by now, Superman has another movie set to release sometime next year, don’t worry though, it is going to have no affiliation with Superman Returns from 2006. So I ask you, is it a good thing to take another crack at a Man Of Steel movie after the worldwide disappointment the last one received? I say, it will be fantastic if done correctly. But there is quite a long list of do’s and don’ts that the creators of the “Man Of Steel” must consider, and even one slip up could give a bad impression on the entire film.

         Superman is arguably the most powerful character in all of comics and I don’t need to tell you why. The creators need to realize this, they are not just dealing with a “pretty strong” guy, they are dealing with the strongest person in the entire DC Universe (Boom!). By that logic, he should be given an incredibly challenging task to overcome. I’m not talking about reversing the rotation of the Earth in order to save two missiles; I’m not talking about lifting a krypto-island into outer space. A 21st century Superman needs a physical opponent, powerful enough to pose a deadly threat to him and the entire universe. This could mean Darkseid, General Zod, Doomsday; hell even Brainiac could make a great villain. But the creators gotta realize that Lex Luthor just wont cut it with today’s Superman and I must admit, I’m getting a little tired of kryptonite, at least green anyway.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Robin's Highlights In Comics

     Whether it was Dick Grayson, Tim Drake or any other boy wonder, the Robin character has a had a rich history in the DC Comics Universe and in that history he has had some memorable moments. I do realize that I’ve already dedicated an article to all of the Robins, but I couldn’t help myself, he’s just such an awesome character and he’s been in almost as many legendary Batman comics as the Dark Knight himself. So think of this article as a “tribute” to the greatest sidekick of all time, who is also one of my favorite characters in comics and he should be one of yours as well. I’ll begin with the original…

     When I think of Dick Grayson as Robin, I cant recall any big time stories that he’s been a part of, but I do know that, other then Batman, he’s been featured in the most Batman stories. Grayson left the role as Batman’s sidekick and became leader of the original Teen Titans for many years. Grayson did appear in the Red Robin persona in the Kingdom Come storyline and was the hero, Nightwing, for Knightfall, Hush and many other popular tales across the DC Universe. He recently took over the position as Batman during the Dark Knight's "death" but he has reverted back to the role of Nightwing after Bruce was brought back to life, but those Batman and Robin comics, with Grayson as Batman and Damian Wayne as Robin, sure were cool.

     Jason Todd: lead character in “A Death In The Family”, which you should all know about by now and if you don’t, you should definitely check it out. The character recently appeared in the Hush storyline and was revealed to be the Hush character himself. And in the return of the Red Hood he was revealed to have been brought back to life and took over the role formally played by the Joker.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Young Justice Vs. Teen Titans

       Young Justice, the new animated series that debuted last year, has pretty much wrapped up its first season and I’m very hopeful for a second season this fall. After original viewing of the show I couldn’t help but compare it to the Teen Titans series from a few years back. The characters, the plot, the animation; in my head I broke down the differences and similarities between the shows. But more importantly, I decided which series was better and I’d like to share that information with you.

Teen Titans
         A Japanese-style animated take on the comic book classics. The show tried to stay away from the stereotypical “sidekicks” of the big-time heroes and use of cast of characters well known in the comics, but new to younger fans, which is exactly who this show was geared for. With different animation the show was able to exaggerate on most of their movements and expressions. The creators were definitely trying to make comedy a large part of the series. With a character like Beat Boy they were able to make his many animal-like transformations fun and enjoyable for younger audiences. Even Cyborg could add some comedic with strange modifications, which he would often make to his robotic body.
         Though when it came to action, the show stayed as serious as possible in order to make the fight scenes fast-paced and exciting. The series offered a long list of villains and guest heroes from across the DC Universe. Guests of honors included: Slade, Trigon, HIVE, Terra and the Brotherhood of Evil. As for heroes, Aqualad, Speedy, Kid Flash and many more made appearances. With a large array of heroes and villains, the episodes stood on their own, meaning that each one was unique and original from any others.
         Out of five seasons choosing the top episode was very difficult, but my favorite episode would have to be “Titans Together”. The second last of the series saw all of the heroes that we’ve met over the five seasons work together to defeat the Brotherhood of Evil once and for all. That or “Lightspeed” with Kid Flash (its hard to just choose one episode out of five seasons, give me a break. Also, I’m just a big Flash fan).

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Spiderman: The Animated Series, Top 10, Pt.2

      Here they are, better late then never. The Top 5 episodes from Spiderman: The Animated Series (in my opinion). Many are spectacular, but I have chosen what I think to be the “best of the best” from the best Marvel animated series of all time.

5. The Alien Costume
         In this 3-part adventure from the very first season, the classic tale of the symbiote is retold in spectacular fashion. Beginning with a mission to space, the black symbiote is accidentally brought to Earth where it finds it’s first host in Peter Parker. The Venom Saga from the comics was always one of my favorites and as cool as it was to read that adventure in a comic, it was a dream come true when I could watch it in spectacular animation on television. Venom is arguably Spidey’s greatest foe and the story of the symbiote is one of the best Spidey stories ever, so when the final showdown between Spiderman and Venom arrived, it became one of the greatest moments in the show’s history.

Favorite Moment: Peter returns from the space shuttle crash with “tar” on his costume. As he goes to sleep the symbiote latches onto him, creating an internal struggle between his classic red suit and the symbiote. The symbiote wins, and Peter awakens in his new, awesome outfit.

4. Carnage
         Just as he is a more powerful villain then Venom, his episode gained a higher ranking on the Top 10 list. Carnage is the spawn of the Venom symbiote, which attached itself to the criminally insane Cletus Cassidy. With the symbiote’s advanced abilities and Cassidy’s twisted mind, Carnage becomes a nearly unstoppable opponent. An opponent so powerful that Spiderman requires the assistance of his good buddy Ironman, and even Venom. This episode is very similar to the comic series that introduced Carnage. In both the comics and the cartoon Spiderman is forced to team-up with Brock and “keep his friends close, but his enemies closer”. The difference is that Dormamu and his henchman Mordo are helping Carnage. Carnage and Venom are eventually sucked into a vortex created by Tony Stark’s inter-dimensional gateway machine. Ironman then proceeds to destroy his machine, locking the two symbiotes inside forever.

Favorite Moment: Just when Spiderman and War Machine think they have won the fight against Venom, it’s “symbiote son” Carnage arrives and creates a whole new set of problems for the Web-slinger. Not even the combined forces of Spiderman and War Machine could stop this pair of symbiotes.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Spider-man: The Animated Series, Top 10, Pt.1

     There were many superhero cartoons in the 90’s that are considered some of the best-animated series ever created. Shows like the X-Men and the Ironman Animated Series revolutionized superhero cartoons in the Marvel Universe, but one show was the face of the Marvel franchise and that show was Spiderman: The Animated Series. It featured many guest heroes and villains from across the Marvel Universe, along with storylines from famous Spiderman comics. The show had spectacular animation and season long story arcs, which made it more enjoyable to watch, with most episodes ending on some sort of cliffhanger. The series lasted 65 episodes spanning over 5 seasons and within those 5 seasons we watched Peter Parker learn hard lessons and mature into the superhero he would need to become in order to takedown the world’s deadliest villains. Out of 65 episodes I have chosen my Top 10 based on the characters, plot and the best action scenes of each episode, so enjoy.

10. The Mutant Agenda
     The first “team-up” of the series came relatively close to the beginning of the second season when Spiderman has his first encounter with the Uncanny X-Men. After Spiderman’s neogenic mutation worsens, he goes to Charles Xavier in hopes to find a cure for his disease, but when Xavier refuses to help him, it causes a feud. I loved the entire second season and how its story arc was based around the growth of Spiderman’s mutation disease, which was expanded upon in this episode. Eventually, Spiderman is forced to work along side the X-Men to rescue Beat who has been captured by the Hobgoblin and scientists who want to exterminate the mutant race. With the X-Men as guest stars, the villainous plan of the Hobgoblin and the progression of Spidey’s deadly mutation, this episode has earned its place in the Top 10.

Favorite Moment: Spiderman and Wolverine come face to face in a dark alley, but after a few punches here and there, the Hobgoblin interrupts their fight and forces the two to consider forming a temporary alliance to stop him.

9. The Final Nightmare
     The “Man-Spider” mutation has ended, for now, but Spiderman has a new set of problems with the emergence of the Vulture. The Vulture has always been one of Spiderman’s greatest and most famous foes with the ability to fly and the advanced weapons built into his wings, but I do feel that this series didn’t use him as much as they could have, seeing as he was only in about three episodes. This time around, the Vulture uses the Tablet Of Time to steal people’s age and essentially make temporarily young. Peter is forced to adapt to being a 60 year-old man with the powers of a spider when the Vulture uses the Tablet against him, but with the help of his old friend Curt Connors, Peter is returned to his proper age and was completely cured of his mutation disease. The Vulture did return to exact his revenge on Spidey, but that’s not for a couple seasons.

Favorite Moment: A very old Peter Parker runs into his Aunt May on the street and she doesn’t even recognize him. He helps her with her groceries and she says that he’s a “nice man” and that he “reminds him of her nephew”. And to think Peter had problems before.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

It Ain't Easy Being Green

     The Hulk is something else. It is safe to say that there is no other character like him in the entire Marvel Universe. He is difficult to define in the sense that he isn’t a villain, but he can’t be classified as a hero due to all the lives he’s destroyed. Whether it was due to the people he’s injured on his rampages or the money he’s cost them in property damage. But whether he has been defined as a villain, a hero or a monster, people still seem to enjoy him in comics, although I must admit that the Hulk has struggled over the years to become a fan favorite. What was an original and interesting idea when Stan Lee first created him has now “dried up” and doesn’t seem all too interesting anymore.

     In the early 1960’s, the Hulk’s debut comic hit the newsstands and was unlike anything anyone had ever read before. The Hulk wasn’t an alien sent to Earth from another planet, or an orphan whose parents were gunned down in front of him and a radioactive spider didn’t bite him. The Hulk was a gamma radiation scientist named Bruce Banner (the name varied between Bruce and David Banner). During an experiment involving gamma radiation, Banner is caught in a massive blast and the radiation infects him causing him to transform into a horrible monster whenever he feels anger or frustration. The story seems descent enough, and in the few years after the premiere of his first issue, the Hulk was a huge success. His famousness really skyrocketed when he became a member of the Avengers, and he became one of the elite “heroes” of the Marvel Universe. The Hulk had huge success when a television series, starring Bill Bixby as Banner and Lou Ferrigno as the Hulk, aired. He was the perfect character for a television series in the 70’s, with a low need for special effects, making it easy to fake his super-strength (just by recreating heavy objects using light materials). The show was very well liked by fans along with an animated Hulk series that aired shortly after the end of the Bixby/ Ferrigno series. This animated series was a good animated adaptation of the Hulk from the comics.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Anticipation Builds...

     The release date for The Dark Knight Rises is just months away and the anticipation is building everyday. Batman Begins was well received by fans because it redefined his origins for new audiences and gave us a unique glimpse at how he became Batman. Then the sequel was released and surpassed any expectations anyone had of it. With tremendous acting, a unique take on many characters and a story full of thrills and action, some might say that the Dark Knight is one of the greatest movies ever, like me, and the sequel to that movie is just a few short months away. Many fans are asking the question, “will it be as good as The Dark Knight or will be better”? And each of us has answered that question in our own way. As for me, I like to look at all the facts before I make my verdict.

     Acting and character development is what helped make The Dark Knight such a great film, so the creators of The Dark Knight Rises were lucky that they maintained the majority of their main cast of characters. Christian Bale, Gary Oldman, Michael Caine and many others will be reprising their roles from the previous two films. But each sequel sees at least a couple new faces to keep the movie original and different from its originals; new faces such as Anne Hathaway as Catwoman or Tom Hardy as Bane. Many past writers and artists of various forms of Batman media have said that in order to create a successful Batman story you need good heroes, but more importantly, a creative cast of villains. With the death of Rachel Dawes in The Dark Knight, Hathaway’s Catwoman presents a new love interest for Batman, but as of this point we are not sure if her intensions are for good or for personal gain. I assume that they will stay true to the modern version of the character and have her classified as an “anti-hero” rather then a villain because she isn’t out to hurt anyone; she’s just looking out for number one. Hardy’s Bane on the other hand is most definitely the villain of the story. Other then Ra’s Al Ghul, no other villain in these lines of films has been much of a physical opponent for Batman. The Scarecrow used fear, the Joker attacked him physiologically and Two-Face was just mentally corrupted. Bane is more then a physical match for Batman in the film, which is apparently using the version of Bane originally seen in his early comic book career. I feel sorry for the fans that only know the mindless Bane from the 90’s Batman & Robin movie, because in the comics Bane was stronger then Batman, but just as smart as him as well as we will see in the upcoming blockbuster.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Batman: The Animated Series, Top 5 From Season Four

     Season four was a big one, the biggest actually. Dick Grayson has moved on from being Batman’s sidekick and has become Nightwing, Batgirl is shared with Batman’s secret identity and is welcomed into the Bat-family and young Tim Drake has become the new Robin. Rest assured though, the same villains remain, each with a new plan to takedown the Batman, but with a total of four heroes now watching over Gotham City, they don’t stand a chance. These 5 episodes are my favorite of the “New Adventures” and are iconic to the series, so enjoy.

5. Holiday Knights
     This episode features several different stories that involve Batman, Robin or Batgirl stopping a different villain. All of the crimes take place roughly around Christmas and New Year’s, hence the title. I enjoyed the different stories that were put into one. It made me feel as if I was watching a few episodes at once. The first features Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn who use a special potion to take control of Bruce Wayne and command him to buy them whatever they want as they take him on their shopping spree. Bruce eventually changes into Batman to put an end to their shopping spree. The second story involves Batgirl. Barbara is shopping in the mall when her quiet day is interrupted by the arrival of Clayface. She takes down the mud monster with the help of Officer Montoya and Detective Bullock. The final story has the Joker on New Year’s Eve as he plans to poison an entire crowd using his Joker toxins, but Batman and the new Robin arrive to put an end to his plan. An enjoyable story with a few individual stories featuring classic foes and a lot of action.

Favorite Moment: At the end of the episode Commissioner Gordon meets Batman at a diner for their annual holiday coffee. After about 30 seconds of talking Gordon looks away for a moment then looks back to find that Batman was gone and had left money for the bill. Gordon says, “one of these days I’m gonna beat him to the check”.

4. Judgment Day
     Judgment Day had action, mystery and great music and sound. A new vigilante arrives in Gotham calling himself “The Judge”. He works toward the same goal as Batman, a brighter and safer Gotham City, but he is much more violent and unforgiving then the Caped Crusader. The Judge attempts to kill three of Gotham’s most wanted such as The Penguin, The Riddler and Killer Croc, but was unsuccessful when Batman arrived to save them. The Judge’s next target was Two-Face, but Batman saved him as well. We soon discover that Two-Face was the Judge all along, and that his subconscious created a third identity that was so independent that Two-Face didn’t even realize it. The episode was great and I actually believed that The Judge had killed his victims because the music was so intense, which made the episode that much better.

Favorite Moment: The music grows more intense as The Judge closes in on his target, The Penguin. The Judge rolls a giant statue of a penguin towards the villain, squishing him between the statue and the wall. It was much more exciting then the way I just told it so you should just watch the episode.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Robin, The Boy Wonder

     The debuts of Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman are iconic, just like the debut of comics’ most famous sidekick Robin, The Boy Wonder. The privilege and honor of being partners with the World’s Greatest Detective has been passed down to a few new faces throughout the years. Since 1939 there have been four boys to wear the “R” logo on their chest. Each with their own origins and adventures, which helped make each of them as famous as Batman himself.

Dick Grayson
     Detective Comics #38 saw the premiere of America’s first official superhero sidekick. After an unfortunate accident involving his parents at the circus, young acrobat, Dick Grayson, was left an orphan until Bruce Wayne adopted him and trained him in the martial arts in order to become Robin, The Boy Wonder. Fans were in love with Robin, who added lightness to the story and was a character that many kids could see themselves being. They thought to themselves, “I couldn’t be Batman, but I could be Robin”.
     Throughout Detective Comics Dick Grayson’s origins were examined more closely and he was featured in more issues and even eventually received his own comic series about his solo adventures. In The Silver Age of comics Grayson joined the Teen Titans and was proclaimed their leader, a role he would have for many years, until he decided to “grow up”. In Tales Of The Teen Titans #43, fans saw the birth of Nightwing. A darker, edgier, grown up Dick Grayson who left the role as Batman’s sidekick and assumed a new one as a new hero. No more walking in the Dark Knight’s shadow.
     Shortly after his career with the Teen Titans Nightwing was given his own series, which followed his adventures as a lone crime fighter in a new city. The writers did feature him in Batman storylines such as Knightfall or, more recently, Hush, but he would still remain a solo hero for the most part.
     Dick Grayson appeared in the Batman Forever and Batman and Robin films in the 1990’s, which received bad reviews, but I wont get into that, and he is featured as Nightwing in Batman: Under The Red Hood. He is most famously recognized from Batman: The Animated Series. He begins the series as Robin and remains in that role for the first three seasons, but in the “New Adventures” he becomes Nightwing, arguably the coolest character of that entire series, besides Batman of course.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Batman: The Animated Series, Top 5 From Season Three

Batman The Animated Series Season Three saw the birth of new characters to the show such as Bane, Scarface and even Ra’s Al Ghul and his daughter Talia, who appear in a number of different episodes. This season also saw the story of how Barbara Gordon became Batgirl and how Batman and Robin eventually came to trust her as their ally. With a new sidekick and classic foes, season three is a treat to watch.

5. Time Out Of Joint
We last saw The Clock King at the end of the first season when he was arrested after an attempt on Mayor Hill’s life, but he’s back and he has acquired a high-tech device that makes him move like the Flash. The episode really got interesting when Batman and Robin were given a pair of devices of their own. They use the devices on their motorcycles to create a high-speed chase. To me, the Clock King was one of those lesser-known foes like Calendar Man (guy obsessed with special dates through out the year…exactly). But in this episode he proved to be quite a handful for the Caped Crusader, due to the fact that he could move faster then a speeding bullet. Eventually Batman did save the Mayor from an exploding bomb. Looks like this was a day he could get ride of a bomb (reference to the 1966 Batman).

Favorite Moment: The Clock King has set a bomb on Mayor Hill’s podium so Batman uses the device to speed his movements to grab the bomb. We see the bomb exploding in his hands as he runs it to safety in a nearby river. Its not too often we see Batman with “superhuman” abilities.

4. Riddler’s Reform
Batman’s previous encounter with the Riddler left the villain’s brain fried, but the Riddler has returned and appears to have turned a new leaf. He claims to be selling “riddle-like” toys to a toy company, but he cant resist leaving the dynamic duo a few riddles to lead them to his real plan. Like the previous episodes featuring the character, The Riddler continues to impress me as a fan. Every show is a combination of a thriller and a mystery story. He also makes the episodes more enjoyable for us fans because whenever he leaves a clue or a riddle, we can solve it in our heads as Batman does on the show, its nice to get involved with the story.

Favorite Moment: The Riddler has trapped Batman inside a warehouse with no escape, the bomb goes off and the entire building explodes, but Batman escapes and stops the Riddler once again, but how? For this riddle to be solved, you’ll just have to watch the episode.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Earth's Legendary Green Lanterns

From the Golden Age to the Modern Age of comics there have been literally thousands of recorded Green Lanterns, but there have only been a handful from Earth. They are all great legends of the Green Lantern Corps and I feel that an honorable mention of their greatest achievements is required.

Alan Scott
While the original Green Lantern story was very different from the one we know today, when talking of the greatest Green Lanterns in comics, Alan Scott is a name that is heard. A mystical “green flame” fashioned into a metal lantern is placed into the hands of young Alan Scott, a railroad engineer at that time. The lantern creates a ring for Alan, giving him amazing powers and a colorful costume as well. Though he had no real archrivals, Alan Scott stopped his fair share of crimes back in the 40’s and was also one of the founding members of the Justice Society of America, along with Hawkman and the original Flash. It is said that without his great achievements and success, the creation of further Green Lanterns would not have been possible.

 Hal Jordan
Recreated during the Silver Age of comics, Hal Jordan is the second Lantern, after Alan Scott. Along with the recreation of Earth’s Lantern came the creation of the Green Lantern Corps. An army of “space cops” who use the green power of will to defeat evil across the universe. The Guardians are the ancient aliens that combined their powers to create the power rings for their soldiers to use. Jordan was the first human to join the Corps and quickly became a legend among their ranks. He was also one of the founding members of the Justice League along with Aquaman and Wonder Woman, and had a large group of rogues including: Evil Star and Sinestro. 
Jordan’s character has lasted from the Silver Age to the Modern Age of comics, but has had some odd changes throughout his history. In 1994, Jordan absorbed the power battery’s energy and became consumed with power and rage. He then became the villain Parallax and proceeded to destroy the majority of the Corps. After many years of being the most hated Green Lantern, Hal returns from his exile as Parallax and contributes to the rebuilding of the Green Lantern Corps. It would take time but he is eventually considered a hero once again.
On a positive note, Hal Jordan had some of the greatest Lantern stories of all time, stories that took him to new galaxies, parallel dimensions and teamed him up with other DC favorites such as Superman, The Flash and his best bud Green Arrow. Jordan has lasted the longest out of all of his Lantern comrades, which is just one of the reasons why he will go down as the greatest Green Lantern of all time (minus the whole Parallax ordeal).

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Batman: The Animated Series, Top 5 From Season Two

     The second season of Batman: The Animated Series was almost as good as the first. Maybe the overall episodes weren’t as good, but individually it had some spectacular moments. Whether it was seeing Robin’s origins, how Bruce Wayne received his martial arts training, introducing Dr. Hugo Strange to the series and learning how he discovers Batman’s secret identity or the introduction of the Riddler, this season had it’s highlights. So here are the highlight episodes, the top 5 of season two.

5. Laughing Fish
     Having no episodes in the top 5 of season one there was no way I was going to leave this character out of season two’s best moments. This particular episode gives us “classic Joker”. An evil scheme involving fish with his twisted smile, poisoning his victims with his infamous Joker toxins and, of course, trying to kill Batman. Like I said, Joker was at his best in this episode, beginning with one of his classic plans and ending with his apparent death. If you ask any fan of the show they’ll tell you that the biggest reason why Joker was as favorable a character as Batman himself was because of the tremendous voice work by Mark Hamill. In a way, it is part of the reason why the character has become such a fan favorite. Who ever thought Luke Skywalker would end up as the Clown Prince Of Crime (figuratively speaking).

Favorite Moment: The greatest showdowns between Batman and the Joker are the most intense ones. A rooftop battle laced with a horrific thunder storm, which eventually ends with the Joker falling to his seemingly demise in the tides below, but we all knew he’d be back.

4. Almost Got’em
     Along with action, comedy and a diverse number of Batman adversaries and adventures, Almost Got’em will go down as one of the best Animated Series episodes ever. It begins with a little “get together” of Batman’s rogues, including: Poison Ivy, Penguin, Killer Croc, Two Face and The Joker. One aspect of the show that made it interesting was the different interactions between the five villains. When else are we going to see these villains playing an unfriendly game of poker? The conversations between them made for some great comedy. The action came from the four different stories of almost killing Batman, and one weird comment made from Croc about hitting him with a rock. The twist came at the end when they discovered that Joker currently had Catwoman captured and was about to kill her. Turns out that Batman was disguised as Killer Croc the whole time, so as he goes to the rescue of Catwoman, police officers surround the four villains at the poker table.

Favorite Moment: After the villains share their “Almost Got’em” Batman stories, Killer Croc shares his, which was that he hit him with a rock, leaving an uncomfortable silence between the rest of the criminals. Not as creative as Poison Ivy’s toxins, Two Face’s giant coin or Joker’s electric chair, but effective nonetheless.