Author: Karl Cramer

LEGO Batman Happy Meals

LEGO Batman Happy Meals

September 23rd, hurry up and get here already. All we ever seem to do is build up anticipation for the LEGO Batman videogame (coming to every now-gen game system). To forget about my lack Batman brick bashing I went to McDonald’s for a healthy salad. Really. I swear.

But what do I see spotlighted like the Batsignal, but Happy Meal toys based on LEGO Batman. I can’t escape their cute, grim visages. Offered toys include Batman with Batarang, Robin with Grappling Hook, the Batboat, the Joker Helicopter, Mister Freeze with Ice Blast, the Batmobile, the Penguin Submarine, and the Joker Surprise.

“Is this for your boy or girl?”

“Uhhh… My boy. Yes, my son. Whom I have at home. Waiting for his Happy Meal. By the way, which toy am I getting?”

See the McDonald’s promo page for the LEGO Batman Happy Meals here.


Get Committed To Arkham Asylum Contest

Get Committed To Arkham Asylum Contest


Remember the comic miniseries Arkham Asylum: Living Hell where a regular guy gets sent to the madhouse for Batman’s criminally insane enemies?Well, now that could be you. Gamestop is sponsoring a contest where your likeness will be put in the Batman: Arkham Asylum game. You’ll get to co-star with Mark Hammil who was recently announced as reprising his voice acting role as the Joker for the game.

The winner will have to patient because Batman: Arkham Asylum doesn’t come out until August 2009, but you can hold yourself over with these amazing screenshots seen below and after the jump that were posted for a short time on developer Rocksteady Games’ website.


Tech Report: E-Ink and Comic Covers

Tech Report: E-Ink and Comic Covers

A few months back I had heard that Esquire magazine was going to celebrate their 75 anniversary with an experimental  electronic ink technology. Basically batteries are sewn into the cover that power a flexible LCD screen. I was interested but wanted to see how it came out. Well, issues are hitting the stands now. Take a look at the video below:


The “animation” is limited. Kind of like web page banner ads, not television. (Yet.) But the first thing that sprang to my mind was how long before a comic company puts out a special edition comic featuring this? Back issues bins are overstocked with prismatic, die-cut, hologram, lenticular special editions from the 90’s. Collectors may have been burned but those suckers sold for the publishers.

What comic covers that come to my mind immediately are an Iron Man cover with lots of parts lighting up. Or the Batmobile with motion blur background. Or seeing that star field effect seen with Donna Troy, Alexander Luthor, Captain Marvel and other cosmic characters actually twinkling.

The only drawback is that the batteries only last 90 days. But hey, put an E-ink comic cover in a comic shop front window and see how fast they’d sell anyway.

Review: Invincible the Series

Review: Invincible the Series

During the 2008 San Diego Comic Con, MTV New Media debuted their new animated series based on Robert Kirkman and Cory Walker’s Invincible comic. Published by Image Comics, [[[Invincible]]] tells the story of Mark Grayson, a young man who inherits his father’s superpowers. It’s been released through various outlets: iTunes, Xbox, Amazon, MTV2,, and MTV Mobile.

Instead of creating brand new animation, the series has decided to use the latest editing techniques to “animate” Cory Walker’s actual comic book art. Just use existing comic art and let the camera to give the illusion of movement. To younger viewers this may seem innovative, but it’s been done as far back as the Marvel Comics based cartoons from the 1960’s. It was used again, very artistically by MTV, when they brought [[[The Maxx]]] to television. Even more recently [[[The Watchmen]]] has been done in this style.

While the story and art deserve all the critical praise that the Invincible comic has received over the years, [[[Invincible the Series]]]’ biggest stumbling block is its editing. The MTV produced show has the same pacing as MTV’s promo spots, wildly kinetic with lots of flashing graphics and texts. Never let the eye settle for minute. This is fine for 15-second ad, but watching a full show like that is taxing.

In a one step forward, two steps back move, the show decided to include the actual word balloons from the comic. But instead of letting people read it, the text has a subtle shake to it. To emphasize energy, I guess. While nothing sits still on the screen, you would expect the parts you want people to read to be motionless.

A good way to judge an animated show’s sound is to close your eyes and listen. Does the soundtrack still create images of the action? In Invincible’s case, the answer is yes, but barely. The voice acting and sound effects are serviceable. They don’t do anything cringe worthy, but neither do they stand out. No Kevin Conroy or John Di Maggio here.

If the production calmed down, this could’ve been a great show that brought quality comic books to video formats. But as it is, I couldn’t stand watching this for more than a few episodes. And like I said, I’m a fan. Imagine the effect to someone who’s browsing MTV2 late at night.

Watch the first episode for yourself below. Let me know if you think I’m right or wrong in the comments section.


Free Multiplayer Expansion for ‘The Incredible Hulk’ Videogame

Free Multiplayer Expansion for ‘The Incredible Hulk’ Videogame

Remember The Incredible Hulk videogame? Based on this summer’s movie, the game received solid reviews but the bulk of its sales happened around the movie’s release. Hulk smashed New York City, but we’ve forgotten about him since then. But what if Hulk was fighting another Hulk?

Maybe it was a feature that didn’t make it in time for the street date. Maybe it’s hype for the game as we near The Incredible Hulk movie’s DVD release. But Sega has released a Hulk Multiplayer Expansion Pack. For free!

This multiplayer expansion pack for The Incredible Hulk adds additional online, two-player missions that will test the speed, strength, and skill of even the biggest Super Hero fan. The missions take place in one of 5 large arenas, each one a dynamic and fully destructible environment packed with non-stop action and ruthless enemies.

Hulk can fight Hulk, or grey Hulk, or Maestro, or even Hulkbuster Iron Man. The PlayStation 3 version has an exclusive Green Scar version, while the Xbox 360 has Hulk’s Mr. Fixit persona. Now we can really find out who is the strongest there is.



LEGO Batman Becoming TV Show

LEGO Batman Becoming TV Show

“Where does he get those wonderful toys?” Batman gets them at the LEGO store, Joker.

At last week’s Games Convention in Leipzig, game developer Traveler’s Tales confirmed that the upcoming LEGO Batman videogame will be transformed into a 20-minute animated cartoon with an eye towards creating a series. The show will be produced using the same in-game engine used to produce the game. No details about when the show is coming out or who’s producing.

It’s kind of like licensed merchandising version of the childhood “pass it on” game. LEGO Batman cartoon is based on the LEGO Batman videogame which is based on the LEGO Batman toys which parodied the Batman comic books. Let’s see if DC Comics will continue the chain with a comic based on the LEGO Batman show.

And just because it’s so cute, here’s the latest clip featuring LEGO Alfred kicking bricks.


Photosynth Hulk Demo

Photosynth Hulk Demo


I love tech. Especially new technology. Twitter, iPhone, Media Centers, etc. So I was reading about Photosynth from Microsoft Live Labs. It’s a new way of displaying photos.

Photosynth analyzes each photo for similarities to the others, and uses that data to build a model of where the photos were taken. It then re-creates the environment and uses that as a canvas on which to display the photos.

Basically, it creates a 3D model of a room or a subject from multiple photos of the same subject. An easy way to give a virtual tour or show a piece of merchandise from any angle a buyer could imagine.

Of course my first thought was, ‘This would rock if someone had a ton of pictures of the Watchmen Owlship from San Diego Comic Con.’ Sadly, I didn’t. But I could imagine it being a great tool to show off your action figure. So I grabbed my Smart Hulk action figure and tried it out.

Editor’s note: Evidently, this stuff won’t run on a Mac. It’s Microsoft; go figure. Anyway, you PC guys should follow the above link and Hulk-out.

‘The WB’ Returns With Smallville

‘The WB’ Returns With Smallville

Remember The WB? Time-Warner’s attempt to copy Fox’s entry into network television. It birthed some of our favorite shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Smallville, and Supernatural. Then they merged with Paramount’s UPN network to create The CW. The history gives me a headache.

Well, The WB is back. This time it’s Time-Warner’s answer to NBC and Fox’s Hulu online network. Before I get another headache explaining that, let’s just say we can watch some of our favorite shows online for free and leave it like that.

The big one for comic book fans is Smallville, the hit show that depicts Clark Kent’s life before becoming Superman. You can even share episodes, like the pilot episode I added to the bottom of this page.

I could also mention that Buffy is on there as well, but it’s also on Hulu. Here comes that media business headache again. Owww.



Kotaku: “Where Are Our Comic Book Games?”

For hardcore videogame fans, Kotaku is like an online CNN. They almost always get the news first. And they cover everything. From Halo 3 to weird Japanese titles that will never be released elsewhere. That obssessiveness has made them one of the top gaming websites.

So it was with great pleasure, that I read Luke Plunkett’s “Screw Comic Book Movies, Where Are Our Comic Book Games?” feature and see it become one of the most popular stories on the site. He argues that the gaming industry is ignoring a gold mine of great concepts and visuals for licensed games. Ignoring the heavily franchised superheroes, he cites Hard Boiled, Planetary, and The Goon among others. And made some nifty looking imaginary box art.

Since Kotaku is heavily read by both fans and the industry, I’m hoping his cry for more comic based games yields some results.

I would like to point out that he forgot to mention The Darkness, which basically falls under the type of game he’s talking about. It got good reviews and was a solid, if not runaway, seller. And there was a game released based on Bone. Which didn’t fare as well.

And if I could throw my 2-cents in, I think Mark Waid and Barry Kitson’s Empire would make a wickedly deep Japanese style RPG. Or ComicMix’s own Hammer of the Gods. ComicMixers, give us your suggestions in the comments.


‘Mortal Kombat Vs. DC Universe’ Joker: “Want to see a magic trick?”

‘Mortal Kombat Vs. DC Universe’ Joker: “Want to see a magic trick?”

At the Liepzig Games Convention, Midway had revealed the latest characters to appear in Mortal Kombat Vs. DC Universe. And is cool as it was to hear that Deathstroke the Terminator will be getting his videogame debut (we’re not counting the animated Teen Titans game), nothing beats game producer Hector Sanchez demonstrating the Joker’s fighting moves for the Game Trailers television show.

Proving once and for all that some DC characters will have finishing moves, the Joker shows how to end a fight with style. See for yourself below. (Warning: It’s rated “M” for a reason.)