Tagged: Batman: The Animated Series

Ed Catto: It’s A Bat, Bat, Bat, Bat, Bat World

I’m a big fan of Batman. Always have been. Just this past weekend my wonderful Great Aunt Margaret reminded me that I proudly wore a bat-cape as a young boy. Don’t worry, I think I outgrew that by the time I was 22. These days, I let my Batman fan-ness show through with things like my Bat-article in this year’s Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide, which focuses on the top Legend of the Dark Knight Batman stories. Jim Steranko provided a gorgeous Batman cover, so it’s a great honor.

But as my interest in comics has broadened, the focus on Batman, per se, has been pushed aside. There are plenty of fans to take my place. Batman attracts a lot of fans. It’s fine by me if it’s time for other fans to step up to the forefront. And it’s just as well. So many of today’s Batman stories, like the Christian Bale Batman movies or Playstation’s Arkham Asylum mythology, just aren’t my cup of tea.

And I know that at some point, there will be a special comic debuting or a reprint published that appeals to my vision of Batman. Recently I was surprised. I ended up having real Batman day.

This particular day started with catching a bit of HBO’s documentary, Starring Adam West. It showcases the actor, as you probably guessed. I only saw 20 minutes in the middle (I’d like to see more later) but there seems to be a healthy focus on Adam West’s role as Batman. The part I saw showed how he was invited to a Texas town and was honored as TV’s Batman.

There was a bit where someone announces him as the first Batman. Adam interrupts to correct him. The announcer adjusts and then refers to him as “the second Batman.” Many longtime fans, like those who read this column, know that two other actors starred as Batman in movie serials and three others voiced Batman in the long-running The Adventures of Superman radio show. It’s obvious that Adam knew that too. Instead of delivering a history lesson, Adam just offers the phrase “the Classic Batman” to the interviewer as a compromise. He’s clever and gracious, as he was throughout the documentary.

Later that very same day, the newest direct-to-DVD animated feature from Warner Bros. was scheduled for a special showing in movie theaters across America. It was one of those Fathom Events where they show something special in a movie theater on a slow movie night – usually a Monday or a Tuesday. My talented friends in the New York Metropolitan Opera, Gloria and Dana Watson, tell me that these Fathom showings have greatly expanded the Met’s audiences.

This animated adventure, Batman and Harley Quinn, heralds the return of creator Bruce Timm. It revisits the Bat-version of Batman: The Animated Series. This Emmy-award winning series has been celebrating its 25 anniversary this year. The recent San Diego Comic-Con found many opportunities to celebrate this ground-breathing series, with panels the famous souvenir book, and even debuting this animated feature.

While my Batman ’66 memories are firmly rooted in my childhood, Batman: The Animated Series reminds me of a totally different time in my life. For me, it’s more of a “young dad” thing. I clearly remember watching the debut episode one Saturday morning with my daughter Cassie. She was always a good sport, putting up with her crazy dad’s interests. I tried to tell her how the female characters from that first episode (Catwoman and Red Claw) were just like Disney heroines, but she was smart enough –even then – not to buy it. But she’d sit with me and we enjoyed so many episodes together.

I’m not sure if I am really a Harley Quinn fan. I’ve been pruning my comic collection and it was pretty easy to part with many Harley comics. But Batman and Harley Quinn offers a nuanced view of the character. Sure, she’s a nut, but this “episode” takes time to show many sides of the character. She can be sympathetic, clever, manipulative, annoying, frustrated and a showboat. And somehow, all these various aspects mix together to create a believable character.

The vocal talents shine in this feature. Kevin Conroy, for many the ‘real’ voice of Batman, is familiar but offers a few surprises along the way. Notable is Paget Brewster. You know her from her many TV appearances, and she brings something new to the villainous Poison Ivy.

It was kick to watch Batman in a theater with a bunch of fans. Batman & Harley Quinn offers plenty of insider jokes to long time Batman and DC fans, and we all laughed together.

Usually, I dive into select comics for my Batman fix. But It was a surprisingly enjoyable day to spend a little time with an old buddy: starting with the HBO documentary and then watching a cartoon… on a big screen. What a year for Geek Culture and Batman fans.

 

Molly Jackson: Classic Days, Sound Advice

It’s been an interesting week. Watching the news is almost akin to watching a horror film at times. At my day job, we usually talk about anything but the current events. Somehow, the other day our daily conversations turned to our childhood television shows. I spoke with glee about the past shows like Pete & Pete, Animaniacs, Ren & Stimpy, Aaah! Real Monsters, and Batman: The Animated Series. While a couple of these shows brought excitement to my coworkers, most did not. I was baffled, how could people not love Pete & Pete or Animaniacs?!

In thinking about it afterwards, I understand why they weren’t as excited as I was. In my day job, I am older than most of my team. This runs counter to the majority of my life, when I was always the baby of the group. It’s an odd feeling, to have to explain days gone by. In a way, I am finally starting to understand my parents.

However, I’m not one to let a chance at nostalgia slip by. It is, after all, the upcoming theme of the country. Since it was the first show I could find available on Netflix, I started rewatching the animated classic, Animaniacs. On the off-chance you haven’t seen it (you weirdo), it follows the misadventures of the Warner brothers Yakko and Wakko, plus the Warner sister, Dot. It runs like an anthology of shorts, with appearances by a wide cast including fan favorites Pinky and the Brain.

I tried actually writing this column while I caught up on Animaniacs (I blame Mindy for this). That was a mistake. It is still a really good show that frankly holds up to the tests of time and age. I was mesmerized by episodes I barely remember so everything felt new. A few things were dated, like anyone wanting to hang with Mel Gibson, but it hardly mattered to me. I felt the easy peace that comes with revisiting old, cherished friends. Yes, it’s been over 20 years but I still know that Bill Clinton can still play the sax, the Warner kids are still snappy and witty, and right now I’d take the Brain as the new world leader.

The next nine days will not be easy for anyone. The country is in turmoil, no matter what side you agree with. Taking the time to relax with your childhood memories can be reinvigorating and fun. So if you get a chance, put your feet up and give that a shot.

Mike Gold: Our Own, Personal, Joker

Dark Night DiniDark Night: A True Batman Story, written by Paul Dini, drawn by Eduardo Risso • Vertigo Comics, $22.98 hardcover, $13.79 digital.

Wow. This one is tough.

It’s tough to read, it must have been tough to write, and knowing that makes it even tougher to read. Of course, doing so is at the reader’s discretion. The writer had no choice but to live it.

Dark Night is subtitled “a true Batman story” and, well, it is. It is true, and it is a Batman story. And it’s Paul Dini’s story.

Paul is one of those people who needs no introduction. However, if I don’t give him one I’ll be taunting the ghost of my junior-year high school journalism teacher, and after reading this book I don’t want to piss off anyone in the ecto-sphere. Mr. Dini is the well-celebrated writer of animation, television, video games and comic books. He’s perhaps best known for his work on Tiny Toon Adventures and on Batman: The Animated Series. Oh, yeah, and he co-created Harley Quinn with animator Bruce Timm. Now that I’ve made the late Mr. Koerner happy…

Paul_DiniSome two dozen years ago, Paul was walking home in the dead of the Los Angeles night and encountered a couple of muggers who proceeded to beat the crap out of him. Surgery saved his sight and time put the rest of his pulped body together, although – of course – the psychological scars are far more enduring. Your brain scoops up all kinds of life-long memories and turns them up to 11, distorting them like two elephants mating on a wah-wah pedal. The inner-dialog never really ends, even while you try to figure out how to stuff it in its place. In this telling, Paul uses the characters of the Batman, the Joker, Two-Face, the Penguin and, yes, Harley Quinn as that inner-voice, all the while revealing the youthful neuroses common to those of us pop culture fans of baby boomer vintage.

It’s a harrowing experience made all the more horrific for the reader by knowing it’s a hell of a lot easier to read than it is to live. For those few who have never endured any degree of that experience, let me tell you this: releasing the story might be cathartic, but taking another peek into Pandora’s Box is risky to say the least.

Paul Dini is and has been one of the best comics and animation writers of the past 30 years and if all you’ve done is read and watched his stuff, you might not have known of his travails. While writing Dark Night might be his crowning achievement (after all, how you do top your own bloody, painful near-death experience?) in so doing he has taken American graphic novel writing to a whole new level, combining his life, his obsessions and his lifelong fictional posse to reveal a journey no one in his or her right mind would ever want take. People will be studying this book in writing schools forever.

I said this is Paul’s story, and that story is so overwhelming that at first reading you might miss the power and proficiency of artist Eduardo Risso’s work. Don’t worry; it’ll hit you once you wrest your nose from your belly button. Known for his work on 100 Bullets, Alien Resurrection, Wolverine and that other Dark Knight book released this year, his efforts are every bit as worthy as the story. Whomever put together that creative team – Paul, and/or editor Shelly Bond (who will be missed at DC) and/or others – hit the nail right on the head.

A non-fiction story co-starring Batman. Damn. This one was tough… and worth it.

Personal note: Really glad you made it through, Paul!

Marc Alan Fishman’s Top 10 Batman Cartoons of All Time*

Batman TAS

As we near the debut of Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Sepia Tones my mind races towards those pure gems of the Dark Knight that already exist in the ether of Animatia. Animatia is, of course, the fictitious country where all cartoons come from. Paul Dini is the dictator there – as he should be – and he rules with a dynamically drawn fist. And here, on this wonderful island, sit the tomes that built a generation of Bat-fans. Some (me) would say these tomes were truly the best generation of adaptations and explorations of Batman. I’d like to pontificate, ruminate, and extrapolate to you those episodes of Batman: The Animated Series (and The New Batman Adventures) that truly defined a cartoon legacy.

1 and 2. Two-Face (Parts 1 and 2)

Of all the designs Bruce Timm would bring to light for the Dark Night, it was Two-Face who took the prize in my mind for the most striking. Up to that point I personally had no knowledge of Harvey Dent. Being introduced to him a mere five episodes earlier, I’d figured the Gotham DA to be the fastidious order in Bruce Wayne’s reenactment of Law & Order. With this chilling origin story though, Alan Burnett and Randy Rogel show a deeply scarred man come to terms with is inner demons made flesh. The fact that Batman was just a step or two behind the explosion that would lose him a great friend to villainy was the kind of mature punch I wasn’t expecting in a children’s program. Keep that in mind as we continue our journey.

  1. Feat of Clay (Part 2)

Origin stories were B:TAS‘s most potent products of the series. While I could hit on so many points already listed with Two Face, here, it’s really the ending sequence of the second half of Clayface’s debut that earns it a spot on my all-time top ten. As Matt Hagen is confronted with a bank of TV’s mocking his present malleable form with the visage of a career’s worth of characters, he can no longer hold a single form. The muscle memory of his Clayface form jerks and contorts Hagen into a gloppy nightmare as a tenderized Batman seeks solace in the back of the bay. With no other option to stop the cacophony, Clayface electrocutes himself into unconsciousness – but not before he snarks to Batman that he would have killed for a death scene like the one he just performed. Natch.

  1. Almost Got ‘Im

Quentin Tarantino, eat your heart out! The key line here “And then I threw a rock at ‘im!”… “It was a big rock.”

  1. House and Garden

Simply put, if you don’t find yourself disturbed at Poison Ivy’s children mutating into plant monsters, then there’s just no hope for you. Again we’re presented with a concept no kids’ cartoon would touch prior, or frankly, afterwards. Was it all in service to megalomaniac super-villainy? Sure. But when you see the carefully placed seeds of doubt – that Ivy might have actually wanted normalcy at some point in her prior life – then you know that behind the ass-kickery is an artful commentary on the biological desire to procreate.

  1. Harley’s Holiday

While Mark Hamill’s Joker is the Joker of pop culture (in my opinion), it was the creation of Harley Quinn that deserves the recognition on my list. Here, amidst some obviously campy comedy, comes a deeper heart and message. That the broken Dr. Quinzelle still lingers somewhere beneath the makeup and madness. And while Mad Love would likely steal a spot on anyone else’s list, it’s the quick decent into villainy here that earns the episode my love. Harley truly tried to reform. But the universe had other plans.

  1. Deep Freeze

Mr. Freeze is forced to turn Walt Disney into an immortal life himself. OK, it’s not actually Disney, but… yeah. The final image of Grant Walker frozen on the ocean floor for eternity is frozen in my mind for the sheer ironic terror it invokes.

  1. Growing Pains

I think it should be clear: most of my favorite moments from the show all curtail towards the mature. Such is life. Here, Robin (Tim Drake, now), is duped into saving a little girl afraid of her evil father. The dad? Clayface. The daughter? Just an extension of malleable mud, played perfectly by the former actor. Robin? Never the same again.

  1. Legends of the Dark Knight

Look, I know I put another anthology on this list, but c’mon. Dini and his crew were able to capture the essence of Frank Miller, Dick Sprang, and Bill Finger in 22 minutes. That’s not just a novel approach to presentation. That’s a master class in adaptation.

  1. Perchance to Dream

Laren Bright, Michael Reaves, and Joe R. Lansdale deserve the highest kudos. We drop into the episode in medias res (yet another mature presentation choice, for kids cartoon show). Things feel off. Bruce Wayne’s life isn’t as it should be. He’s happily in a romantic relationship.  But the words in the paper are illegible. Confused, he stares out to the skyline. And Batman swings past him. The tension reaches a boiling point. And then, Thomas Wayne gently offers his hand to his adult son, Bruce, in comfort. The needle scratches on the record of the young minds watching. The Mad Hatter has captured the actual Batman in a dream machine, whilst he pilfers and plunders Gotham City. Before the dream can end (with Bruce Wayne pitching himself into oblivion), the Hatter appears. “I was willing to give you any life you wanted… Just so you’d stay out of mine!” Consider my mind blown, and my heart stolen for an amazing moment captured in celluloid.

* Please note: I figured I should finally title my article with a super link-baity trap like this to lure the unsuspecting and angry public to my musings. Suffice to say the list above represents just my opinion. If you don’t share that opinion, clearly, you are wrong and you should feel ashamed that you’d dare disagree with me.

Molly Jackson: Binge On!

Young Justice

This week, I was totally stumped on a topic for this column. I turned to my fellow columnist, Joe Corallo, for help and he immediately mentioned the exact thing I’ve been chatting about for the past week. Not really sure why I blanked on it because it is such a big topic right now. So let’s talk about Young Justice.

Young Justice, in case you don’t know, follows a group of young DC heroes as they learn to work as a team and find their place amongst the Justice League. As the series grows through seasons 1 and 2, we watch the young heroes change into the heroes we always wanted them to be. Sadly, it ended on a cliffhanger. It is not based on the comic of the same name but does build off the DC universe.

The DC and Warner Bros. Animation partnership has put out some of the best animated shows to date. I’m confident in stating that Batman: The Animated Series is arguably the best animated show of all time. However, Young Justice is one of the shows that always pops up when people talk animation as the gone too soon. It’s like the Firefly of animated shows.

In the past few years, Netflix has been the resurrection hotspot for a lot of TV shows.  We got the final season of The Killing, a new season of Arrested Development and even the love-or-hate Fuller House. Netflix has the capability to track well trending shows and cherry pick the best ones to revive. And for the most part, they are good at creating original shows, like their stellar partnership with Marvel or their independent creations like Orange is the New Black.

The reasoning for Young Justice being cancelled was poor toy sales. I do understand that; this show appeals more to an older audience, so they are less likely to buy basic toys and more likely to buy higher end pieces. On the other hand, Netflix only cares about streaming numbers and if there is enough interest to bring in some new subscribers. In that case, I think we can do it. There were rumors that Netflix was already considering this, but those are probably not true. However, that momentum should not be lost.

The producers Greg Weisman and Brandon Vietti are ready to come back. Character designer Phil Bourassa sounds like he would come back. Illustrator Christopher Jones is supporting this push. Plus, a group of the voice actors have come out and said they are on board. We just need to show Netflix and the WB that it is worth it for them.

So for all you people out there who haven’t seen Young Justice, watch it. Don’t have Netflix? Find your friend that does and watch it with them. (Everyone knows someone with Netflix. Everyone.). Give this show a chance to grow again. #BingeYoungJustice

Marc Alan Fishman: The Voice of an Entire Universe

Let’s just get this out of the way now: Amongst we ComicMixers, the esteemed (and far prettier) Emily S. Whitten is a bigger and better fan of voice actors than I shall ever be. With that being said… aren’t voice actors amazing?

You see, in between bouts of crippling sinusitis and binge-watching Breaking Bad like I was addicted to meth, I opted to catch John DiMaggio’s documentary I Know That Voice. A fantastic little flick dedicated in celebration of a continually (mostly) unsung hero of the animated world: the voice performer. With interviews from some – if not most – of the current tribe of working actors and actresses who lend their larynx to the cartoons of the day, I simply must recommend watching it yourself soon if you haven’t already.

Andrea RomanoBut that recommendation is not my singular premise of the week, kiddos. For you see, it was that fine feature that finds me floundering on someone who I particularly find perhaps even more incredible than the aforementioned performers – Andrea Romano, voice director.

A quick scan of her Wikipedia bio proved to me why she’s such a favorite of mine – Batman aside, which we’ll get to soon enough. After three years serving in LaLa land, Andrea landed the voice director role for a little show by the name of Duck Tales. For those not in the know, the best I could say is this: Duck Tales still holds up today, and puts plenty of what passes as entertainment now to shame. If you think Adventure Time doesn’t owe a debt of gratitude to Duck Tales, then you probably think dub step is real music. But I digress.

Duck Tales aside from wondrous writing – some episodes were adapted from classic Carl Barks stories – became a staple to my generation due, in part, to the strong direction in the vocal booth. For someone to be able to help her cadre of pros (and yes, we know Disney don’t fudge ’round when it comes to a good voice… save for Mickey, ha Ha!) produce pathos, angst, fear, pride, and greed in between daring adventures and slapstick? Well, it helped a show about anthropomorphic ducks and dogs going on worldly (and time-travely) jaunts feel like a show that could care less it was about ducks and dogs.

To wax poetic about every line-item in her IMDb profile would be a waste. Suffice to say, Ms. Romano’s resume is the tops. But the devil is in the details, there. Because no matter what else she was help produce in her tenure, Andrea Romano’s magnum opus lay across her impermeable casting and direction of the animated Bruce Timm DCU.

Close your eyes. Imagine Batman and the Joker trading a bit of banter before a major battle. If you’re not hearing Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill, I feel mildly sorry for you. Personal preferences aside, when Bruce Timm’s critically acclaimed Batman: The Animated Series debuted… it was not only the unmistakable visual identity of the show that captivated the world.

The casting was an unheard of coup. Legends of the stage and screen joined well-vetted voice-acting professionals to layer a soundscape that perfected the art of matching an animated presence to realistic voice. I take nothing away from other casts, and cartoons mind you. But I beg for someone to compare the sheer volume of wins Ms. Romano chalks in her column, if by the DCU alone.

Even when facing a recasting, like Superman (heard of him?), Andrea cemented her mettle with me. Tim Daly’s Superman, as originally cast, brought so much to the role. As cast and written, Daly was innocent, untested, strong, but jovial. But by the time we reached George Newbern’s brogue come Justice League: Unlimited, the character had changed. Andrea’s selection delivered one of the most potent speeches ever uttered over celluloid. When through gritted teeth we heard “I live in a world made of cardboard…” in the finale of the series (and the animated DCU-ala-Timm) we heard a Superman that shunted away from his once prentice prose… that was still wholly made of his former self.

Beyond the most recognizable faces she brilliantly cast, Andrea Romano even nailed the minor roles. Take the casting of B-movie mainstay Jeffery Combs as the kooky Question. As a Vic Sage fan since forever, I can’t get Combs’ odd gravelly whisper out of my mind’s ear when I read him. Or take perhaps the hilarious casting of Fred Savage and Jason Hervey as Hawk and Dove, respectively. A wink and a nod to those of us who once grew up with the Arnold brothers of Wonder Years fame, but correctly recast; with the more nasal Hervey cast as the lesser Dove to the now meatier range of Savage. Even when taken out of our times, Romano matched the bravado necessary for Sargent Rock himself with the Hunter, Fred Dryer. I could go on (like the perfectly cocky Tom Everett Scott as Booster Gold, ahem), but my point has been made. And damn it all, I haven’t even gotten to the villains!

As my son begins to gain interest in the animated adventures of his favorite heroes, I’ll be perplexed to find him a definitive Captain America, or Iron Man. Luckily for me, he knows Superman and Batman. So, for the while, I’m well covered.

 

Green Lantern: The Complete Animated Series Due March 18

GreenLanternBDWarner Archive Collection continues to treat fans to Blu-ray™ releases of popular animated television with Green Lantern: The Comlete Animated Series coming March 18. The complete 26-episode series – on Blu-ray™ to best display the series’ stunning CG artistry – is now available for pre-order via Amazon.

Green Lantern: The Complete Animated Series is Warner Bros. Animation’s latest take on the intergalactic missions of Hal Jordan and his comrades in the Green Lantern Corps. Beautifully rendered on a breathtaking scale, Green Lantern: The Complete Animated Series is Warner Bros. Animation’s first completely CG-animated series.

Josh Keaton leads the way as the voice of Hal Jordan/Green Lantern, alongside voice-acting stars Kevin Michael Richardson (as Kilowog), Grey DeLisle (as Aya) and Jason Spisak (as Razer). The stellar guest cast includes Robert Englund (A Nightmare on Elm Street), Ron Perlman (Hellboy), Clancy Brown (The Shawshank Redemption), Wayne Knight (Seinfeld), Juliet Landau (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), Kurtwood Smith (That 70s Show, Resurrection), Phil Morris (Smallville), Brian George (Seinfeld) and many more.

Executive produced by Sam Register (Batman: The Brave and the Bold, Ben 10), and Bruce Timm (Batman: The Animated Series), Green Lantern: The Complete Animated Series is produced by Giancarlo Volpe (Star Wars: The Clone Wars) and Jim Krieg (Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox).

In addition to Blu-ray releases of Beware the Batman and the upcoming Green Lantern: The Complete Animated Series, Warner Archive Collection (WAC) has also recently distributed a DVD collection of Marine Boy, Season 2. WAC is also set to distribute The Jetsons: The Complete Third Season on DVD later this spring.

Win a Copy of Marvel’s Iron Man & Hulk: Heroes United

IMH Box ArtIn case you missed it, Marvel’s Iron Man & Hulk: Heroes United was released last week and we’ve got one giveaway package of the Blu-ray Combo Pack along with an exclusive Iron Man MiniMate courtesy of our friends at Shout! Factory.

In order to win, tell us who would win a fight — Iron Man or the Hulk — and why. Your entries have to be received by 11:59 p.m., Saturday, December 14. Open only to readers in the United States and Canada. The judgment of ComicMix‘s judges will be final.

Synopsis:                         

Marvel makes history again with one of the greatest Heroic team ups in the universe. Hulk’s brute strength and Tony Stark’s high-tech intellect come together to create a powerful duo necessary to face off against one of the most dangerous enemies.

When “Zzzax,” a seemingly invincible, energy devouring monster threatens to destroy the planet, these two Avengers are mankind’s only hope. Alone, neither can defeat the awesome power of Zzzax. As a team, they just might have a chance – if they can find a way to work together without smashing heads before time runs out!

Packed with explosive action, loaded with bonus features and presented in groundbreaking Marvel CG Animation, Iron Man & Hulk: Heroes United is a must-own movie event that will blow you away!

Iron Man MiniMate InfoVoice Cast:                       Adrian Pasdar (TV’s Heroes, Marvel’s Ultimate Spider-Man) and Fred Tatasciore (TV’s Marvel’s Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H., Marvel’s Ultimate Spider-Man)

Supervising Creative

Director:                           Eric Radomski (TV’s Marvel’s Ultimate Spider-Man, Batman: The Animated Series)

Supervising Director:      Leo Riley (TV’s Mad, The Rickey Gervais Show)

Writer:                              Henry Gilroy (TV’s Animatrix, Batman: The Animated Series, Batman Beyond) and Brandon Auman (TV’s Iron Man: Armored Adventures, The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes)

Executive Producers:       Alan Fine (Marvel’s The Avengers, Thor, Iron Man 2), Dan Buckley (TV’s Marvel’s Ultimate Spider-Man, Marvel’s Avengers Assemble, Marvel’s Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H.) Joe Quesada (TV’s Marvel’s Avengers Assemble, Marvel’s Ultimate Spider-Man) and Jeph Loeb (TV’s Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.)

Bonus Features:              

Marvel “Inter-missions”

Marvel puts a humorous twist on their old-school original animated series. What better way to take a break from fighting villains than hitting pause and enjoying a little comedy with Marvel Mash-Ups.

Marvel Team-Up with Ryan Penagos and Joe Q.

Super Heroes are larger than life on their own. But when they join forces with another, they become a force to be reckoned with.  Marvel’s Chief Creative Officer, Joe Quesada, joins Ryan Penagos (Agent M) in an intimate and lively one-on-one conversation about these Marvel Team-Ups.

Rating:                              PG
Feature Run Time:           72 minutes
Aspect Ratio:                    1.78:1
Audio:                               Dolby Digital Surround Sound: English 5.1 – Spanish 5.1 – French 5.1
Languages:                       English, Spanish, French
Subtitles:                          English: ESL, English: SDH, Spanish, French

Marc Alan Fishman: Jump In, Let’s Save the World

Fishman Art 131026Erik Larsen, of Image Comics fame, said on his Facebook wall (and I’m paraphrasing and ignoring some of his sluttier words…) “Every comic is a jumping on point. Why are you so scared?”

Those words hit me like a brick house. As many of you know, I write a weekly review of a single comic book over at MichaelDavisWorld . The cool part (aside from Michael Davis calling me “his fourteenth favorite cracker just behind the Ritz”), is that with this new mantra instilled in me it was as if a veil had been pulled from before my eyes.

As many of you read last week, the era of collectability is all but dead. With that logic, combined with Larsen’s standard flapping in the wind… I decided that for the next good-long-while, I would review issues I’d never read before; ones that caught my eye for no personal reason like a love a particular character. While it’s not been a perfect plan that’s opened me up to worlds I feel like I’ve been missing all my life, it has given me plenty of new perspective. But I digress.

Larsen’s point makes sense when you apply it to other media. You see, this is how I tackled my initial fear. I didn’t start watching (and loving) The Cosby Show, Dr. Quinn: Medicine Woman, or even Batman: The Animated Series from their very beginnings. I’ve certainly stumbled into movies playing on cable a quarter, a third, or hell, three-fifths into their running time, and saw them to their conclusion – and later got myself caught up. My first CD was Aerosmith’s 12th studio album. Guess what? I didn’t immediately run out and purchase 1 through 11. I bought their greatest hits album. Zing!

As I noted last week, prior to the Image renaissance of the early 90s my generation didn’t have “jump on points” clearly labeled on the covers of our favorite comics. You want to like the X-Men? Good, go get Uncanny #197 and dive in. Think Superman might be your speed? Action Comics #643 is right there for the taking. Enjoy! One simply couldn’t wait for the volume to end, reboot, or reset. I’d abstained from the monthly comics throughout high school, for the very fear Erik rails against. “How could I possibly enjoy Detective Comics #546 without knowing what happened 20 issues ago?” Hence, I purchased trade paperbacks instead. It didn’t take long of course to note that they were in fact collections of pre-existing issues. Tada!

A single comic book, yes, even Watchmen #11, is small slice of entertainment. A solid fifteen minutes tops, if you’re a slow reader or Brian Michael Bendis is doing dialogue. And if a comic is written well, and drawn well, you know it regardless of subtext. Hence, if you jumped into any comic off the shelf and it was worth its salt, you could catch up and have a new series to enjoy. If the comic doesn’t work for you, then a few bucks are wasted, and you have some glossy toilet paper next time you head to White Castle.

My hunch is that the whole “death of the collectible comic” stems from this ideology of having to be there from the beginning. Hell, let’s be honest, kiddos. When a book starts to get hot it’s fast-tracked to tradesville and then your local comics shop makes it all-too-easy to get in before it’s too late. I know for a fact I would never have followed Irredeemable, Y: The Last Man, or the current Hawkeye had it not been for that fast-track-treatment.

The rush-to-trade happens, I largely assume, when the printed single issues are selling fast enough to warrant the collection. The rub here of course is that for every big publisher able to push things like that to the racks, there’s tons more being left at the station because it’s not exactly a great business move to dump a ton of trades on a store that isn’t selling out dozens of copies of The Atheist.

Much like Community is beloved by critics and a group of rabid fans but doesn’t garner the ratings like Friends, at the end of the day the argument is moot: a #1 excites the fans to buy more than #2, 3, or 237. But that’s been discussed. What Erik suggests, and I concur, is simple: Go buy that #2, 3, or 18. If the cover looked cool, buy it. When you flip through it on the rack and you chuckle a bit at the dialogue, buy it. If your friend at the gym told you he’s been on the book for months now, and says you’d love it, buy it.

You don’t know until you try. You’re smart enough to connect the dots, even when they’re scattered. Our industry doesn’t always need to slam on the reset button in order to get you back into the fracas. Take the leap. You might actually stumble across something that really puts the pep in your step.

I mean seriously… what are you… scared?

SUNDAY: John Ostrander!

MONDAY: Mindy Newell!