Tagged: Batman

Emily S. Whitten: News and Fun from NYCC!

Whitten Art 131015I love visiting New York City, and New York Comic Con is one of my favorite shows. I always have a great time, and this year was no exception. One other thing that remains consistent every year I go is that it all goes by in a total whirlwind blur, and I can barely remember all the things I saw and did, or when they occurred.

But for you, my faithful readers who may not have been able to attend, I’ll try to remember some of the best parts of the weekend, and, as Inigo Montoya would say, “sum up.” So here we go! In no particular order, some of the coolest experiences I had in NYC:

I saw First Date, the Broadway musical starring Zachary Levi, and it was fantastic. I also interviewed Zac at The Nerd Machine booth during the con – so stay tuned for my review of the show and my interview, coming soon! While at the booth, I saw some cool celebrities come by to donate their time for charity pictures with fans, with all money going to benefit the excellent cause of Operation Smile. I think that whole concept is pretty awesome; and it was fun to see Seth Green (who liked my Harley Quinn dress (thanks, Seth!) and showed us his new S.H.I.E.L.D. badge), Greg Grunberg, and David Duchovny all stopping by at various times to donate their time for a good cause.

I went through Artists Alley, which remains one of my favorite parts of NYCC. There I visited with some of the fantastic creators on hand, like Greg Pak, who has a new project called Code Monkey Save World which features characters from Jonathan Coulton songs; Jeremy Dale, whose creator-owned all-ages series Skyward has really hit the stratosphere; and Reilly Brown, who’s working on a new Marvel Infinite (digital only) Deadpool series with series regular writers Gerry Duggan and Brian Posehn, to launch in January 2014. I also chatted with Mark Brooks and learned he’s the new Deadpool cover artist starting this month; and with Georges Jeanty, who will be doing the art for the upcoming Serenity: Leaves on the Wind miniseries that Zack Whedon is writing for Dark Horse (yay!).

Because I hadn’t walked enough already (eep!) I then walked the con floor, which literally took an entire day, and was, as usual, chock-full of cool merchandise I coveted. I tried to exercise restraint, but did come away with a couple of must-have Marvel exclusives (like the Skottie Young Deadpool glass and the Asgardian Periodic Table shirt) and other little collectibles (like the Littlest Lego Star Wars Rebel Pilot Ever, at 2 cm tall!). I also got some fun freebies from the Marvel booth (like Thor #1, Ultimate Spider-Man #1, an Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. poster, and Guardians of the Galaxy trading cards); snagged a couple of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire posters of Katniss and Peeta; picked up the preview issue of Dean Haspiel and Mark Waid’s new project, The Fox; swung by the Dark Horse booth and finally met long-time Twitter-friend @VictorGischler and picked up the first issue of his new series, Kiss Me, Satan, which I’ve been wanting to read; met Richard Clark and picked up the first issue of his new miniseries with Corey Taylor of Slipknot and Stone Sour, House of Gold and Bones; stopped by the Unshaven Comics booth and picked up their Samurnauts Genesis issue; and caught up with awesome Walking Dead artist Charlie Adlard.

Along with all of the cool comics stuff and people to see, some of the most stellar voice actors working today were at various booths doing signings for fans; so of course I said hello to some of the great voice actors I’ve interviewed for ComicMix, like John DiMaggio (who signed a cool Fry and Bender pic a fellow fan gave me); Billy West; and Rob Paulsen, who was at the ShiftyLook booth talking about Bravoman. Stopping by ShiftyLook was cool, because I also got to meet Shiftylook creator Dax Gordine and editor Ash Paulsen (yes, he’s Rob’s son) and chat with them about the upcoming Bravoman shows, which will also feature Jennifer Hale as new character Bravowoman, who has cool superpowers and is not being brought into the show as a love interest for Bravoman (thank goodness, because that trope is so tired).

Speaking of voice actors, pretty much all the panels I made it to this year were voice actor-related, since they’re always so much fun. I started with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles panel (and FYI, also interviewed TMNT executive producer Ciro Nieli and Michelangelo voice actor Greg Cipes, so stay tuned for that). The panel featured Nieli, Cipes, story editor Brandon Auman, Rob Paulsen (Donatello), and Hoon Lee (Master Splinter), and I was super excited when they decided to screen the entire first episode of Season 2, since of course I wasn’t near a TV to watch it on Saturday. The first episode was great, and shows a shift towards a slightly darker tone, as the Turtles accidentally loose a bunch of mutagen canisters on the city, mutate a friend, and realize their responsibility for the mess they’ve created and for fixing it. I can’t wait to see how all of that plays out. At the panel they also showed some great unfinished clips that highlighted both a few upcoming story details (like Michelangelo’s, erm, interesting cooking skills, and Master Splinter answering a cheese-wheel phone!) and the cool process involved in taking a show like TMNT from concept to full animation. And of course all of the voice actors graced us with bits of dialogue in their character voices – including Hoon Lee, who at the request of one of the other panelists, read a menu description as it has never been read before; and Greg Cipes, who sang a hilarious little song that accompanies Michelangelo’s cooking, and then a little booyakasha ditty with Rob Paulsen.

The next voice actor panel I went to was the I Know That Voice panel, about the voice acting documentary that John DiMaggio is executive producing, which comes out this December and premieres in Hollywood on November 6. I went even though I’ve already seen and reviewed the documentary, because I knew it would be a good time. The panel was fantastic, and packed to the gills. We only barely got in and had to stand in the back for the first half. NYCC definitely should have put it in a bigger room (especially considering the SDCC panel, which was packed with about 2500+ fans!). The panel featured John, Rob Paulsen, Billy West, and casting and voice director Andrea Romano, and John actually screened the first fifteen minutes of the documentary; after which he opened the floor to questions, and the usual voice actor hilarity ensued (one of my favorite moments was when John called on a Batman cosplayer standing with a Harley Quinn and commented on the pairing. The Batman quipped, “Don’t tell the Joker!” To which John responded, smooth as anything, “You just did!” Classic). John shared the moment when he first realized he wanted to be an actor, which was cool; and John and Rob shared jobs they’d like to get that they haven’t been called for yet (Rico in the upcoming Penguins of Madagascar movie; and Donnie in the new TMNT movie. Call them, movie folks!! I can’t imagine why you wouldn’t!). In the same breath John and Billy also hinted at Matt Groening’s future plans for either the continuance of Futurama, or perhaps a new Groening show on which Billy and John might work. (OMG!)

The last voice actor panel I went to was the Adventure Time panel, which was also a blast (and I have never seen so many Finns and Jakes in one place, I tell you what. The little kid Finns were the cutest). They showed some great show clips, featuring Lumpy Space Princess giving romance advice, Jake getting stuck in quicksand, and a truly harrowing fight with The Lich; and of course answered questions. John DiMaggio shared a cool story about creator Pendleton Ward’s childhood aspirations, and Ward shared some great insights about his creative process. Ward also talked about how much he identifies with Lumpy Space Princess. And then, because the panel wasn’t already awesome enough, DiMaggio sang the bacon pancakes song and had the audience sing it too; and Jeremy Shada sang the Baby Finn song. And then we all left a voicemail for Brian Posehn, because that’s how John DiMaggio rolls at panels.

Whew! So I think that about sums up my experiences at NYCC this year; and what great experiences they were. I hope you all enjoyed the recap, and if you feel like you still need more, then just check out all the cool pictures I took.

And until next time, Servo Lectio!




REVIEW: Star Trek The Original Topps Trading Cards Series

Star Trek: The Original Topps Trading Card Series
By Paula M. Block and Terry J. Erdman
216 pages, $19.95, Abrams ComicArts

large-DCD617610Few fans today recall that Star Trek has been the focus of several trading card sets through the years, beginning with the Leaf Brands series prior to the better known Topps cards from the late 1970s, launching just prior to the first feature film. The far better card series came much later, but as a part of Abrams ComicArts’ series of books focusing on different genre sets from Topps, that series is the one receiving the focus in this attractive book.

The series, which began with Wacky Packages and has included the legendary Mars Attacks and Bazooka Joe, is a worthy examination of the oft-overlooked time capsules of earlier eras. Topps produced cards based on numerous television properties alongside their popular baseball cards since the 1950s, notably their four amazing Batman sets based on the TV series, so it is a reminder of how minimal Star Trek’s impact was during the 1960s by virtue of the fact they didn’t have cards for a decade.

When the card set was finally released, the 88 cads and 22 stickers were culled from whatever Paramount Pictures had lying around, not yet having a fully functioning licensing department with archival graphics. As a result, Topps worked with what they had on hand and that meant all 79 episodes were not represented. And in a bizarre turn of events, George Takei’s Sulu is never seen full-on, instead glimpsed at his station only once.

Paula Block and Terry Erdman, who have mined Star Trek lore in numerous other book projects, have little fresh to reveal about those episodes and wisely devoted their text, accompanying each card in the set, to a little contextually information and quotes from Gary Giani, who wrote the text for the cards and the headline for the front of each. His use of titles of obscure SF films or episodes of Twilight Zone and Outer Limits episodes is subtle and clever, so identifying their sources here makes for fun reading.

In their breezy introduction, they set the stage for the cards and Trek’s place in the pop culture firmament. Giani and Topps’ Len Brown provide context along with fans turned professionals such as Steven M. Charendoff, founder of Rittenhouse Archives.

After nearly 40 years of neglect, Takei gets his due as one of the several newly created cards packaged in the back of the book. This is a nice touch and makes the book all the more desirable. While you won’t learn much new about the show, this is a nice addition to anyone’s library.

Michael Davis: An Open Letter To Paul Levitz

davis-art-131008-150x187-1732919Dear Paul,

Paul, Paul, PaulPaulPaul, Paul.

I hope this letters finds you well.

You and I have had our differences over the years but I still remember when I used to hang out in your office and just talk to you and all the swag you bestowed upon me.

Clearly our styles have clashed and the differences we’ve had have been huge.

Like it or not Paul, you and I have a shared history that history includes your absolute undeniable contribution to Milestone Media. Without Paul Levitz Milestone would not have ever existed. I recently said just that at the Milestone 20th anniversary panel at the San Diego Comic Con. You have taught me a lot Paul and like I said rather you like it or not you’ve been instrumental in a lot of my career.

When I first became President and CEO of Motown Animation & Filmworks you and I were talking at a San Diego Comic Con event when a drunk colorist I trained and arranged his first professional job, rolled up to me in front of you and started talking shit about how horrible a human being I was because I fired a friend of his off a project. I was right about to do something very un-CEO like and put my fist in his throat when you lightly touched my arm and said softly “Michael you’re a CEO now, you will always have a target on your back, let it go.”

I did.

I know I’m a bit of a pill Paul, but no more than Todd McFarland, Frank Miller, Harlan Ellison or scores of other artists who have over-the-top take-no-shit-personalities.

Love me or hate me, I’ve earned respect. How many people do you know have a magnet school auditorium named them, were named Mentor Of The Year by Mentor magazine, has 12 count them, 12 Michael Davis day proclamations from 12 different cities because of my work with kids and education, a PhD… and on top of all that I’m cute as a button.

Paul, I am who I am.

You are who you are, one of the most influential people in comic book history if I hated your guts (which I don’t) I would still respect that. I don’t hate you, Paul. I miss you. I miss those Levitz talks, especially the ones that ended with me carrying out a huge Batman or Superman or Lobo statue.  All of which you’ve given me (when you liked me).

I’m super glad to see you are writing again. The Darkness Saga is on my top five ever-favorite story lines, the others being Watchmen, Dark Knight, Camelot 3000 and The Killing Joke. Paul, I’d like to invite you to my annual Comic Con party. We can sit down and swap Bob Wayne stories. I’ll tell you all about the time Bob took me dinner in Texas and how he continuously reminded me there were no black people within a-hundred miles. I wasn’t scared (much) it was all in good fun.

Again, I hope you and yours are well, call me, let’s do lunch, and bring some money so you can eat too. :-)




Martha Thomases, Goddess With Portfolio

thomases-art-131004-150x78-9976668You probably know me as a ComicMix columnist, someone with keen insights into the art and commerce of modern popular culture. My experience as a writer, a journalist, and a public relations professional give me a unique perspective on the various aspect of this subject. And also, you know, a fan and the mother of a fan.

I am also, however, a person with a job. That job is Vice-President, Corporate Communications, for ComicMix.

Which sounds really good, and made my father happy, but it means that I spend a lot of time telling people about all the cool stuff we do here at ComicMix, both on the site and behind the scenes. This week, we had a really big announcement.

A big announcement means I’m really busy, and don’t have as much time to tune into comics and television and movies and books (although Dr. Sleep is totally worth your time, and your weekend, and your peaceful dreams). Which means I don’t have a subject about which to opine.

This announcement is more important than whether or not Batman can ever get laid. This announcement is more important than who will be the villain in a third Thor movie. This announcements more important than what happens to Jesse after the end of Breaking Bad. This announcement is even more important than the real identity of the Dr. Sleep of the title of that book I just mentioned.

This announcement means more and better comics. For you, for me, for anyone who enjoys reading. A worthy goal, in and of itself, made even more important because it means the people who make the comics will have more control over their work, and more control over their contracts, and ultimately more control over their money.

This announcement is so important that I’m going to send you to another website to read it. Go ahead. We’ll still be here when you get back.

Coolness, right?

Maybe you have an idea for a story you want to tell, but never knew how to get it together. You can go get information about the nuts and bolts here.

Or maybe you want to show your support for truly independent comics in a way that guarantees a high level of production values and joy. In that case, definitely check out the first campaign here.

If that campaign isn’t your taste, don’t be discouraged. There will be more.

And that brings us to the most important part of this story. One of those upcoming campaigns will be for a book written by me. Martha Thomases. Media Goddess. Queen of Spin.

You’re welcome.

SATURDAY: Marc Alan Fishman

SUNDAY: John Ostrander


Mike Gold: R-E-S-P-E-C-T

gold-art-131002-150x150-2036334From time to time, I find myself in a sort of comfy-awe of our neighbors to the north. Of course, that’s pretty easy this week – Canada’s government is still in business and while it provides its share of amusement, at least it’s not littered with a handful of bratty children who decide to bring everything to a halt because they can’t get their way.

But, as we often say here at ComicMix, I digress. And another respectful shout-out to Peter David, who wishes he could have trademarked that phrase.

The good folks in Canada decided to honor one of its greatest innovators, Toronto-born Joe Shuster. My J-School training obligates me to point out he’s the guy who co-created Superman, but if you didn’t know that you wouldn’t be reading ComicMix.

To commemorate Joe’s existence and his contributions to our global culture, Canada released a limited edition set of silver and gold coins incorporating Superman art (not just Joe’s) and logos. There’s even some Kryptonian lettering on the coins; roughly translated, it says “Bite my Twinkie, Americans!”

The gold coin, which you see above, has an irrelevant face value of $75 (so it’s a real coin) and was put on sale for $750. 58.33% gold (14k), 41.67% silver, proof finish, about a half-inch across and weighing in at a little less than a half ounce. They made 2,000 of these puppies.

And… they sold out faster than a speeding bullet. A quick check at eBay shows them offered for between $1500 and $3700 dollars. That’s in U.S. currency. But, as a comics fan since the age of four (back when all the continents were just one huge land mass), I’m hardly one to bitch about collector’s pricing. Perhaps you’ll make the comparison between the price of these coins and the price Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster got for creating The Man of Steel, but, to be fair, we must do so in constant dollars. That means Jerry and Joe got paid approximately $2500 in 2013 dollars. So they could have taken that payment and purchased one coin. To share. Between them.

The United States doesn’t honor the creators of our culture in this manner. Oh, sure, a few get commemorative stamps, but thus far Jerry and Joe haven’t received their props. The rule of thumb is 10 years after death; Jerry Siegel died 17 years ago, and Joe Shuster went to his Phantom Zone five years before that. But a set of silver and gold coins – that reeks of permanence. It’s really cool.

It would be nice if the United States chose to honor its top comics creators in this manner. I don’t see the Treasury Department aping Canada, but I think a Jack Kirby coin would be in order. Maybe even a Batman gold coin, noting Bob Kane.

I’d buy that… but only if Jerry Robinson’s face was on the coin instead of Kane’s.




John Ostrander: Happily Never After?

ostrander-art-130929-150x151-9092045There was some discussion when the creative team on DC’s Batwoman, J.H. Williams and W. Haden Blackman, resigned after editorial decided that the title character, Kate Kane, would not be allowed to marry her fiancée, Maggie Sawyer. DC has tried to clarify that they are not anti-gay marriage but anti any marriage. Dan DiDio, DC co-publisher, stated at the Baltimore Con that heroes (at least in the Batman family) shouldn’t have happy personal lives, no marriages. They sacrifice personal happiness for the greater good. That’s what makes them heroes. Or so we’re told. DiDio said, “That is our mandate, that is our edict and that is our stand.”

That’s one viewpoint.

I can argue it both ways. Comics are fantasies and fairy tales tend to end with “And they lived happily ever after.” It is assumed that, after that point, the story gets mundane. It becomes about the ho-hum aspects of living day-to-day. The romance is gone. The tension of “will they/won’t they” no longer exists.

That has not been my experience. The living together, the commitment to one another, gets challenged all the time. The percentage of marriages that end in divorce or infidelity, according to some, is about 50%. Happily ever after is not a given.

I’ve discovered part of the challenge is seeing past who you thought the other person was and to see who they actually are. You discover much more about the person you love after you’ve become a committed couple. In addition, that love you share grows and changes (or changes and declines) as the people in that relationship grow, decline, and change. The love the two feel, for better or worse, may not be the same five years in. All of that can be very dramatic.

However, it’s not something pop culture tends to show. Most TV shows resist having their romantic leads become a couple, and certainly not married. Moonlighting famously teased about its two leads becoming a couple for way too long. Castle, of which I’m a big fan, is dealing with that now and we’ll see how that turns out. Every once in a while, you get a show or series that counteracts that – the movie series The Thin Man, based on the characters of Nick and Nora Charles created by Dashiell Hammett, were sexy and funny and had a wonderful marriage. They are, also, the exception in pop culture.

Marvel can be no less guilty of this than DC. The decision was made to have Peter (Spider-Man) Parker and Mary Jane Watson not just no longer married but to make it so they were never married. In order to do that, they had to employ the devil. That’s sort of convoluted.

I dislike DiDio’s edict because it is just that – an edict. It doesn’t allow for a story to follow through. It is dogma applied instead of thought, creativity and imagination. It’s the same rationale that the Roman Catholic Church applies to celibacy in its priesthood: that the priest/hero sacrifices their own personal happiness to better serve. It’s codswallop in both cases. The RC rule ignores the fact that other denominations have married clergy and it actually works out mostly fine.

Look, I can certainly see that Batman has no time or perhaps inclination to be married. That makes sense within the confines of who the character is. There were and are different circumstances for others like Batwoman. In storytelling, one size does not fit all.

I’ve been doing some work for DC and I hope to do more and when playing in their sandbox, I’ll respect their rules, even if I disagree with them. However, Williams and Blackman had the rules changed on them at the last moment and I respect their decision to walk. I’d like to think I would do the same.




Batman: The Brave and the Bold to be feted at The Paley Center

comiccon_braveboldWarner Archive Collection and The Paley Center for Media, in conjunction with New York Comic Con, proudly present a special event celebrating Warner Archive’s upcoming Blu-ray™ release of Batman: The Brave And The Bold on Friday, October 11 at 7:00 pm. The popular animated television series will be celebrated with an episodic screening and a lively panel discussion featuring Diedrich Bader, the voice of Batman, at The Paley Center for Media in New York City (25 West 52nd Street).

Extremely popular on Cartoon Network, Batman: The Brave And The Bold teams the Dark Knight with some of DC Comics’ favorite and more eclectic heroes, including the Blue Beetle, Plastic Man, Green Lantern, Kamandi, Doctor Fate, Jonah Hex, Black Canary, Green Arrow, Mister Miracle and The Atom. The combinations create a perfect mesh of fast-paced action and humor for the first season, which spans 26 episodes.

Batman: The Brave And The Bold is Warner Archive Collection’s first-ever animated release on Blu-ray™ disc. Anticipated street date is early November 2013.

Fans attending the October 11 event will have the opportunity to watch an episode and select clips of Batman: The Brave And The Bold, and hear from a distinguished panel that will include Bader, producer James Tucker, 8-time Emmy Award-winning dialogue director Andrea Romano, and Warner Archive podcasters Matt Patterson and DW Ferranti. Moderator Gary Miereanu might even have some unique prizes waiting for a few lucky audience members.

A limited number of free tickets are available for the general public. Fans wishing to receive free tickets to the New York event on must RSVP via email to BatmanBATB@gmail.com.

The body of all fan RSVP emails MUST include the following:

  • Name of the entrant
  • A valid email address
  • The name of the media outlet/website by which the entrant learned of the screening

Tickets will be distributed on a “first come, first served” basis, and fans will be notified via email.

REVIEW – Scribblenauts Unmasked – a DC Comics Adventure

REVIEW – Scribblenauts Unmasked – a DC Comics Adventure

After months of anticipation the latest Scribblenauts adventure is out, taking the popular series in a new direction, namely into the DC Universe. Series hero Maxwell and his twin sister Lily have a debate over who’s the better hero, batman or Superman, and decide the best way to find out is to go there and find out.  So with the help of Maxwell’s magic notepad that can create anything he writes in it, and Lily’s magic globe that can transport them anywhere they like, they head for Gotham City, where things…so not go smoothly.

To answer the most important question first, the library of DC Characters the game can create is outrageously exhaustive. No Watchmen and no Milestone characters, but The Legion and the Substitute Legion, the Doom Patrol, the Challengers of the Unknown, the All-Star Squadron, and damn near member of the Justice League you can think of is in there – and yes, that means Ted Kord – all three Blue Beetles, in fact.  It’s not perfectly complete: Eyeful Ethel, a failed Legion of Super Heroes candidate didn’t make the cut. And while Ralph Dibny, The Elongated Man, is in there, his wife didn’t make the cut. Which is odd because Jean Loring, in Eclipso form, did. While I found a few characters who weren’t in there, I was far more impressed with the ones who were.

The Big Bad in the game is Maxwell’s long-time enemy, Doppleganger, an evil version of Maxwell who sides with the DC Villains. In a happy change from past adventures, Maxwell’s sister Lily plays an active, albeit support role, providing Maxwell with news and assistance from the Batcave.

While the game is adorable to see, the characters chosen are not all cutesy-tootsie.  One of your first missions in Gotham is to transport serial killer Mr. Zsasz to a prison helicopter. Oh, the fun as I had to explain to The Kid who he was and how he came to be…

The mechanics of the game are largely the same as usual for the series – presented with a number of puzzles to solve, you must surmount obstacles by creating items with your magic notepad.  So, if standing before a cliff to have to scale, you could write “ladder” and a ladder would appear. Similarly, you could write “Grappling Hook,” “Jet pack” (at which point it would ask if you wanted Adam Strange‘s jetpack, Space Ranger’s, or a choice of several others), all of which would get you up the cliff equally successfully.  Special bonus missions with special limitations offer extra bonuses.  More than anything else, the game rewards creativity, both in the point values, and the sheer joy of success when you need to call for a doctor, and Dr. Mid-Nite appears.

In this game, a lot of the challenges are more combat based. Random villains will be causing mischief, and you are required to either arm yourself, or crate a hero to combat the spandex-clad menaces. The game has hundred of mini-missions to beat, and the missions change every time you enter a new location.

And WHAT locations – Starting in Gotham City, you slowly earn the chance to travel to Metropolis, Central city, Atlantis, and even Oa.  More and more characters and props become available as you pregress, allowing you to wear gear and costumes of dozens of heroes.

The story is the same in both the Wii U and 3DS versions of the game, with small gameplay differences on each platform. The Wii U version allows other players to interact with the game by using a Wii Remote while the main player uses the Gamepad. The 3Ds version uses streetpass, allowing players to unlock special uniforms and gear by exchanging data with other players automatically, just while walking around.

An already fun game series will get an introduction to a whole new audience who will not be disappointed with the story, or the selection of characters. Easy to pick up, and just as easy to stop and save when the real world beckons.Well worth your time.


REVIEW: Arrow The Complete First Season

Arrow Season OneWhen originally conceived by editor Mort Weisinger, Green Arrow was merely a pale imitation of Batman, a stigma that wasn’t lifted until Bob Haney and Neal Adams revamped him more than twenty years later. As a result, his background and origins were largely static until the Green Arrow Year One miniseries where writer Andy Diggle posited that Oliver Queen wasn’t entirely alone on the island where he washed ashore after a boating accident. It was this fairly late revisionist history that appears to have become the new template as it continues to be used in the New 52 era and became the foundation for the CW smash hit Arrow.

Oddly, Green Arrow arrived on prime time first in Smallville (a tangential nod to Weisinger, who also guided the Teen of Steel’s adventures for the first few decades) and where Justin Hartley was a nice fit for that show, he was a little too pretty for this new take on the vigilante. The new show, returning for its second season in a few weeks, totally ignored all the mythology established in the other series and is forging a new path that is also designed to create a television universe as witnessed by the backdoor pilot for a Flash spinoff coming in November. And whereas Smallville started with the basic concepts introduced by Jerry Siegel back in the 1940s, it rapidly veered onto an original path to accommodate modern day audiences and an aging cast. By the end, the show barely resembled the source material.

Over the course of 23 episodes, Arrow started vaguely near the source material and continued to chart its own course further and further away. As a result, you can’t really compare the two as the new series now has no resemblance to the comic. That said, it makes for compelling television watching thanks to a strong writing staff anchored by Marc Guggenheim who has one foot in each world. He was aided by Greg Berlanti and Andrew Kreisberg, no slouches at television production although Kriesberg’s run as GA writer didn’t quite work.

Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) was a shallow, stereotypical rich boy, playing fast and loose with women, living the highlife and refusing to accept the coming responsibilities of adulthood. Then came the disastrous boat accident where he watched his father take his own life to save Oliver’s and in so doing, passed on a book containing the names of sinners in Starling City. After a series of escapades that forged him from callow youth to super-hero, Queen has returned to his hometown to mete out justice.  His mother Moira (Susanna Thompson and sister Thea (Willa Holland), nicknamed Speedy; are delighted to see him but aren’t sure what to make of the man they barely recognize. Similarly, his lover, Laurel Lance (Katie Cassidy);, has to forgive him for cheating on her with her own sister, who also perished on the boat. Then there’s his best friend Tommy Merlyn (Colin Donnell), who has taken up his place in Laurel’s heart and has daddy issues of his own.

Arrow CastAn appealing cast with dark undertones makes this the quintessential CW show and a fun look at super-heroics. Queen’s journey is twice-told, first as the returning survivor turned vigilante and also through flashbacks as we watch him learn how to fight, think, and accept responsibility for one’s actions.

Dogging his heels is Laurel’s father, the nearly alcoholic Quentin (Paul Blackthorne), who also hates Oliver for the past and then there’s Tommy’s father (John Barrowman), who is a darker image of the green hooded hero and just as fast but deadlier.

Add in Queen’s bodyguard John Diggle (David Ramsey; yes, named after the writer), Felicity Smoak (the hot Emily Bett Rickards; lifted from Fury of Firestorm of all places), and Roy Harper (Colton Haynes), you have numerous touches of the DC Universe present, elements to keep the pot stirring. The season also saw the mobster daughter turned vigilante Helena Bertinelli (Jessica De Gouw) and in a nod to the Mike Grell era, Shado (Celinas Jade) plus Deathstroke/Slade Wilson (Manu Bennett).

Week by week, we saw the soap opera antics of the civilian cast although, as the season passed, the civilian and costumed worlds grew closer until they formed a Venn diagram of where the trouble in Starling City truly lay. Names were crossed off and the law collected their share of criminals. But something was festering deeper, underneath the city and Queen had to piece the clues together before the Glades, a dangerous and poor section of the city was about to be destroyed. Friendships were formed or betrayed, alliances formed and perceptions altered. By the final episode, it was clear that the city needed a champion and Queen was the man fate had selected. Thankfully, he knew the loner approach wouldn’t work and has been forming a team that may be all that stands between a brighter future or a bleak outcome.

arrow-olicityThe box set comes with four Blu-ray discs and five DVDs along with codes for the Ultraviolet edition of the first season. The high def transfers are clean, crisp, and reproduce the darker tones of the series quite nicely. An episode guide is a handy touch.

As for extra, there are a handful that are more middle-of-the-road than anything special. You begin with a bunch of Unaired Scenes; the behind-the-scenes Arrow Comes Alive! (29:35) with cast and crew gushing over the creation process; Arrow: Fight School/Stunt School (18:53), shows how important the action and stunts sequences are plus how several were accomplished.

DC’s chief creative officer Geoff Johns hosts the 2013 Paleyfest (27:26) event where the Arrow: Cast and Creative Team talk about how they lifted elements from the source material and greater DCU along with how they adapted to fan buzz and turned Felicity from one-shot into a welcome regular; and, finally, there’s a brief Gag Reel (2:26).

CineFix Celebrates Batman Month on YouTube

CineFix Celebrates Batman Month on YouTube

CineFix, the ultimate destination for true movie buffs & filmmakers on YouTube, is celebrating the Caped Crusader with“Batman Month,” a month long series of original programming throughout September that includes swedded remakes of iconic Batman scenes, 8-bit video game recreations, countdown lists, contests to win The Dark Knight Trilogy and more!

Batman was recently named the most popular superhero ever on YouTube with over 3 billion views of 71,000 hours of video.

For example, check out the newest video that launched today on CineFix at:


Other Batman Month Programming on CineFix includes:

8 Bit Cinema – Batman The Dark Knight


Hottest Batman Girls


Conspiracy Cinema – Ben Affleck Lands Batman by Flexing Irish Mob Muscle

[youtube] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xPAOiTNZQQw&feature=c4-overview-vl&list=PL1AXWu-gGX6JMQywOErmWJCsY0m8RD3Zj[/youtube]

Tune in on Friday, September 27 when “CineFix Now: Best Batman Villans” goes live.