Scary news from Wilmington, NC’s local newspaper, where Swamp Thing was shooting:
The locally filmed television series “Swamp Thing” has found itself bogged down by some unexpected news.
The currently in-production project is being shut down earlier than expected as its producer, Warner Bros., evaluates the future of its DC Universe streaming service, on which the series was scheduled to premiere May 31, according to several sources within the local industry.
Matt Bomer talks about playing Larry Trainor, a.k.a. Negative Man, in the new DC Universe series Doom Patrol and how it differs from voicing (and nearly playing in real life) Superman.
People always say, ‘What about Superman,’ they bring that up constantly, and I think this character is just as, if not more, interesting… I’d never really seen a gay male superhero and what I love most about the character is that even though it’s a huge struggle internally for him, it’s not the sole thing that defines who he is, he’s such a multifaceted character, if it was just one stereotypical aspect of him I would have had reservations about it.
In the show as in the comics, Larry is a former ace pilot before an accident left him terribly scarred and with super powers; in the show, they’ve added a backstory of being a closeted homosexual with a lover on the airbase and a wife and kids back at home.
Followers of this column are about to do a double take. They will question my sanity, my constitution, and whether I’m now a pod-person. But, heed my words, for they are true.
I traveled a long and hard road from my suburban home 45 minutes north to a different suburb so that I could make a transaction I’d honestly figured I wouldn’t make for years to come. After giving up mainstream comics (and weekly comic purchases) for two years, I handed over three bucks and picked up DC Universe Rebirth.
And I loved it.
Stop laughing at me.
In all the lead up to the big epic oh my Rao event I may have said a few … ahem…embittered words over the whole announcement. And to be fair, a lot of my points will remain valid in spite of my newfound like of Geoff Johns’ epic apology for the New52. It’s still a return to event-driven sales spikes, resetting books onceagain to #1, and making all of comic book fandom play a rousing game of WTF when it comes to figuring out what actually happened in continuity and what didn’t. But it doesn’t serve me anymore to deal in the macro. Let me crack open the book and figure out how Johns served me a plate of raw crow and I lapped it up like… oh, whatever eats a crow quickly.
Geoff Johns made his career (in my humble opinion) on harnessing emotion and sewing it into the rich tapestry of DC’s long-standing continuity. As he elevated the JSA, the Flash, Green Lantern, and other then-off-in-the-margin players through the DCU, Johns maintained a through-line of optimism… until Flashpoint. As the start of the New52 directive, Johns helped usher in the new era of DC Continuity, one meant to gel better with various other media properties, update languishing characters, and scrubbing off the dirt of one or two many crises. But in doing so, the New52 embraced the dour side of the DCU. Suddenly everything seemingly needed to carry a hipster-sheen and a splash of fuck you to it.
Rebirth acknowledges this and takes a smart step back. We’re reintroduced to the lost Wally West, and are given him as the anchor to whatever this new future holds. Across four chapters and the epilogue Wally searches for a single soul who can actually remember him. As the speed force (a penciling, inking, and coloring nightmare of a deus ex machina if ever there was one) threatens to tear Wally apart and disperse him to the next would-be speedster, we relive his complicated backstory in between scenes and snippets in the current continuity. And as Johns has relished in it before, again everything feels earned, and intelligently aligned.
Wally feels as if the world has simply forgotten emotions, states of being, and relationships. His attempt at anchoring to Batman (the clear progeny of analysis and logic) fails. A trip to visit the once-wielder of the Thunderbolt is met with confusion and fear, proving that legacy is no tether either. We’re even goaded into believing in the power of love, only to see Linda Park rebuke a waning Wally. It’s almost gut wrenching. Wally West, once a ward, then the hero… finally gives abandons hope.
And then Wally heads home for a final goodbye with the man who’d started it all. Barry Allen.
What follows between the two of them is a scene so potent I can’t do it justice in description. Johns and his cadre of astounding artists produced tears in my eyes over the bond between fictional characters I don’t even care that much about. While I do love (and own) Johns’ entire run on The Flash I’ve never claimed more than a passing fondness for the scarlet speedster(s). But here, across 60 sum pages, I’m now looking for the local chapter of the Speed Force Anonymous.
Hello, my name is Marc Alan Fishman, and I think I love the Flash. All of them.
But, even moreso, I love hope. Optimism. Love. Friendship. Kindness. Heroism. Everything I’d stopped seeing two years ago when I gave up comics. Here in Rebirth, I got it all back in spades, and I’ll be damned if I didn’t begrudgingly call the shop after finishing it to subscribe to a few books a month. More on that in future columns. Rebirth as a single stand-alone issue suffers only from the fact that it is meant as a one-and-done precursor, spinning off into 20+ books in the included checklist. This is where my review ends and the snark reemerges. Left to his own devices and narrative, Geoff Johns weaved a wonderful – dare I say masterful – tale. But in the context of the epic event, we’re still crushed under the weight of publishing profit mandates. The end of the issue is well earned, but truly to be continued. And ain’t no way I’m continuing it to the tune of that many new books.
But you see, fellow readers of Rebirth, you are likely asking… what of the 500-pound blue, naked elephant in the room – well, actually, Mars.
I’m going to leave you here, and politely toss the gauntlet of coverage to my ComicMix cohort, the magnificent Mindy Newell. Until next time, I’m your humbled and humiliated comic reader once again.
I’ve been reading Gerry Conway’s new Amazing Spider-Man mini-series (or whatever; contemporary comic book numbering would even baffle the ancient Romans who had no concept of “zero.”) and I’m enjoying it… but not in the way I expected. I expected Classic Conway, which is fine. What we got was a solid Spidey story written in a very contemporary style.
But that’s not this old dog’s only new trick.
Gerry’s been very busy standing up for creators’ rights; obviously, including his own. His efforts have earned praise from Neal Adams, the medium’s worthy and long-time leader in the ongoing battle for creators’ rights. Most recently, he’s been commenting on DC’s latest talent-relations habit where they would bonus comics talent for extra-media use of characters they created. If the creation was at all derivative, DC no longer feels the need (non-contractual obligation based upon decades of precedent) to write a check. For example, Gerry Conway created Power Girl – with artists Ric Estrada and Wally Wood – but, because Power Girl is “derivative” of Superman, no bonus. One would think the character is derivative of a certain soon-to-be-televised Marvel superhero, but that’s a story for a different legal team. DC can define derivative any way it wants, but the end result is that money that once went into creators’ pockets now stays in DC’s.
The fact is, any character created for the DC Universe is derivative at least in part simply because it must exist in the DC Universe and honor the DCU’s laws of physics. The old bonus thing is now meaningless because the creator has no recourse except to complain. There is no incentive to trust DC with your new creation because they feel you’re lucky to walk away with your page rate intact. Maybe.
From this point forward, only an idiot or a newbie would create a character for the company. The DC Universe, perpetually fighting eight decades of staleness, is going to continue to press the Reboot Button like some crack monkey in a lab.
This is hardly Gerry’s first rodeo at the Freedom Fighters’ Ranch. Way back in 2014, Gerry wrote a very impressive piece that was reprinted in Forbes Magazine about how Amazon’s acquisition of Comixology hurts comics creators.
This is so important that I’m actually putting it in a separate paragraph and italicizing it:
What hurts comics creators hurts comics readers, and hurts the entire comics medium.
I must make two disclaimers. First, I’ve known Gerry for, oh damn, almost 40 years. That’s frightening… for Gerry. Second, Gerry Conway has created or co-created the Punisher, Firestorm, Steel, The Deserter (my favorite; sadly, it fell victim to the DC Implosion), Killer Croc, Tombstone, Man-Thing, Killer Frost (if you watch The Flash teevee show, that would be Caitlin Snow) and just under a zillion others. So, yeah, it’s his ox that’s being gored, but when you’re right, you’re right.
And Gerry Conway is right.
By the way, you’ll note I called Gerry an “old dog” up in the second paragraph. For the record, he’s two years younger than I am. So I mean “old dog” in the nicest, Scoobie-Doo sort of way.
When was the last time a major comics publisher launched a new series of superhero comics? Of course, by new I mean “totally original characters.”
For example, both Dynamite and Dark Horse are doing quite nicely with their somewhat integrated lines of heroic fantasy. Dynamite based theirs upon well-known pulp heroes such as The Shadow, Doc Savage, The Avenger and Zorro. Dark Horse has resurrected golden age licensed characters such as Captain Midnight and Skyman and has been integrating them with their own Comics Greatest World (X and Ghost), brought back from wandering around the1990s. Nice stuff – some of it great stuff – but these are not new characters.
The same thing is true over at Valiant. They’ve resurrected their characters and did what amounts to the fourth or fifth relaunch of their universe, sans those licensed from Western Publishing (which are now over at Dynamite Comics after Dark Horse took their shot). This time the effort seems to be well-received and its worthy of that but, again, these are not “new” characters or original characters.
DC and Marvel keep on altering their atlases as though somebody dared them to confuse M.C. Escher. Nothing new here outside of the occasional new-person-with-old-code-name gambit, sometimes followed by the old-person-returning-to-the-old-code-name variant.
So where’s the new stuff? Where are our totally new and original superheroes? I remember the thrill I felt when I fell across T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents #1 – the real one, done by Wally Wood and Reed Crandall and Steve Ditko and Gil Kane. Totally original stuff created by some of the greatest talent the medium has seen. They made such an impact upon baby boomer comics fans that they’ve been resurrected by such well-financed publishers as Archie Comics, Penthouse, DC Comics and, most recently, IDW. Even Marvel had a bid in on at least two occasions. And, as it turned out, the only thing these latter efforts were lacking were the likes of Wally Wood and Reed Crandall and Steve Ditko and Gil Kane… and the 1960s sensibilities that molded the property in the first place.
We’ve got brilliant creators wandering around out there today. Most are all well-employed, and their creator-owned stuff tends to be non-heroic fantasy. That’s completely understandable. If you spend most of your time doing The League of Uncanny Spider-Bats, you’re going to want your own stuff to taste different. Even the brilliant lads at Aw, Yeah Comics (the imprint, not necessarily their home-base comics shop) do that.
Nonetheless, it is 2014. We’ve got a whole different set of concerns. The DC Universe was born out of the depression and World War II. The Marvel Universe was born out of the nuclear arms race. Today we’ve got terrorism, plagues, a completely dysfunctional government, and a planet that has been savagely and perhaps terminally abused.
Traditionally, the last two weeks of August are the time when everyone goes on vacation. The chi-chi restaurants, the ones that don’t rely on tourists, are closed, which is fine because most tourists seem to prefer chains like Red Lobster, which I don’t understand at all. The kids are home from camp and taking two weeks to go to the beach, or the lake, or the mountains (whichever is closest to grandparents), and that seems like a fine idea.
When I was a kid, that was just fine. No schedules, plenty of new places to explore, or just plop down with a book.
As I got older and more pretentious, I wanted to explore the world on my vacations. I wanted to see the great nations of Europe and more. I wanted to see sites I’d never seen, eat food I couldn’t pronounce, and, maybe, fall for with someone who spoke a language I didn’t understand.
I still want to do that. But I also want flop. Is there anyplace to go on vacation that lets me explore and relax at the same time?
Of course there is! Comic books!
As a DC girl, I tend to think of escapes in the DC Universe. And, for the purposes of this column, I’m assuming I do not have a Time Bubble, so I can’t vacation with dinosaurs or Legionnaires. Even so, I’ve found three places that seem, to me, to be ideal.
3. Atlantis! No, not the resort. Not even the sunken continent of myth. The undersea home of Aquaman, king of the seas. It would have all the grandeur of a royal court on dry land, such as castles to explore, and probably cathedrals (or whatever Atlanteans call their communal spiritual structures) and museums as well. I imagine the food is like nothing I’ve had before, maybe sushi, maybe seaweed, but much, much more salty, since it is grown and prepared in saltwater.
Best of all, I bet that tourists would be able to play with the fish. I’ve fed stingrays, and I’ve swum with dolphins, and both have been so much fun. Sure, it’s for rubes, but it’s fun. I would entirely enjoy being exploited by tourist wranglers in Atlantis, and I’d tip as well as I could afford for the privilege.
2. Themyscira! Again, not the place of myth, but the home of Wonder Woman. Coincidentally, it’s also known as Paradise Island, which is also another name for the Atlantis resort. And I imagine it as a paradise, at least for women. Like the Canyon Ranch, but with optional hunting and sword-fighting, it would be all organic food and rejuvenating spa treatments. I have done neither archery nor horseback riding since I went away to camp forty years ago, but I bet the Amazons would tolerate my ineptness as long as I wasn’t an asshole and I tipped well. I can’t think of a better place to go for a Bachelorette party or a class reunion.
1. Kandor! I’ve saved the best for last. I would like to tell you that I want to go to Kandor, the Kryptonian city that Brainiac shrank and put in a bottle, because it would be educational to learn about a culture that is, literally, out of this world in origin. I’m sure that learning how Kandorians interact, their customs and habits and beliefs, would be fascinating.
But that’s not why I want to go.
Kandor retains Krypton’s environment, which includes red sunlight and massive gravity. Unless I took extra precautions, I wouldn’t be able to get up off the ground.
Slide a mattress under me first, and let my lie there in a lump for my two weeks. Now that’s a vacation.
BURBANK, CA (May 7, 2014) – Batman, one of the world’s most valiant super heroes, faces a villainous squad of criminals in an epic battle of good vs. evil in the DC Universe Original Movie, Batman: Assault on Arkham. Set in the world of the best-selling Batman: Arkham video game series, this action-packed film takes place between the Batman: Arkham Origins and Batman: Arkham Asylum video games.Available on August 12, 2014 from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, on Blu-Ray™ Combo Pack, DVD and Digital HD, this hit is one DC Comics fans won’t want to miss.
Gotham is in great danger when the government assembles a group of villains — code named the Suicide Squad — and forces them to break into Arkham Asylum to retrieve top secret information stolen by the Riddler. Things take a turn for the worse when one of the Squad members (Harley Quinn) frees the Joker, who is intent on blowing up Arkham Asylum and Gotham City. Batman must use his super hero wits and strength to thwart the wicked plans of the Joker and the Suicide Squad.
“Batman: Assault on Arkham is a thrill-ride with everything a fan would want — a courageous super hero, depraved villains, and suspenseful plot twists,” said Mary Ellen Thomas, WBHE Vice President, Family & Animation Marketing. “Featuring voice talent from some of today’s hottest television actors, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment is proud to release this as the next DC Universe Original Movie.”
“Working on a new Batman story is always exciting,” said Sam Register, President, Warner Bros. Animation and Warner Digital Series. “As a fan of the Arkham video games, I know this movie is going to entertain all Batman groups, from comic book and super hero fans to the most dedicated gamer.”
Kevin Conroy (Batman: The Animated Series) voicesBatman, and joins forces with several Hollywood greats to bring the legendary characters to life. Adding to the celebrity-laden cast is Neal McDonough (Justified, Desperate Housewives) as Deadshot, Troy Baker (The Last of Us) as Joker, Matthew Gray Gubler (Criminal Minds) as Riddler, CCH Pounder (The Shield, Warehouse 13) as Amanda Waller, Greg Ellis (24) as Captain Boomerang, and Giancarlo Esposito (Breaking Bad,Revolution) as Black Spider.
Produced by Warner Bros. Animation and DC Entertainment, Batman: Assault on Arkham is directed by Jay Oliva (Man of Steel,Justice League: War) and Ethan Spaulding (Son of Batman) from a script written by Heath Corson (Justice League: War). Sam Register (Beware the Batman, Teen Titans Go!), Benjamin Melniker (The Dark Knight Rises) and Michael Uslan (The Dark Knight Rises) serve as executive producers. James Tucker (Son of Batman) is Supervising Producer.
Batman: Assault on Arkham has tons of exciting enhanced content. The Blu-ray Combo Pack will include:
Arkham Analyzed: The Secrets Behind the Asylum – This is the documentary that traces the strange, demonic history of the location where horror is mixed with the extremities of the criminally insane. A place where Batman must keep his watchful gaze, to insure that what goes in does not come out …. ever.
The Joker’s Queen: Harley Quinn – If The Joker were to have a girlfriend, what would she be like? This featurette covers the story of the deviancy and often provocative side to The Joker’s greatest ally, Harley Quinn.
An advance look into the next DC animated feature film with the creators and cast.
It’s always interesting to see your children grow up. In my case I don’t have any flesh and blood children; I have the offspring of my imagination, of my heart and mind – the characters I’ve created in my stories, especially in my comics. By growing up, I mean seeing them in other media. And occasionally their sending money home.
In that regard, the most grown up of my offspring is, without a doubt, Amanda Waller, a.k.a. the Wall. She first appeared in the DC miniseries Legends but was created for my version of the Suicide Squad. For those of you who don’t know, the Suicide Squad was a covert team that Waller put together using jailed supervillains. They were sent on secret missions pursuing American governmental objectives and, if they succeeded and survived, they were set free or had their time significantly reduced. If they died – no loss. If they failed or were uncovered, they could be easily disavowed – hey, they were bad guys doing bad guy things.
Waller created this version of the Squad and was herself created to do that in the DCU. Len Wein and John Byrne are credited as co-creators since she first appeared in Legends but Amanda originated with me. (The same way that Tim Truman is, rightly, co-credited as GrimJack’s creator although the character also originated with me.) As conceived, Waller was middle-aged, black, heavy set, on the short side, and with no super-powers; just an iron will and a terminal bad attitude which is why her nickname is “the Wall”. I’ve always said that some aspect of the characters we write exist within us; it’s been pointed out to me that would mean that I have an angry middle aged black woman inside of me. Maybe I’m just channeling Tyler Perry.
She’s also one of my favorite characters to write; actually, I don’t so much write her as just take dictation and pay attention to where she wants to go. She gets the job done and doesn’t care what she has to do along the way; she is morally a gray character by design. Some think of her as an anti-hero; the site IGN listed as her 60th Greatest Comic Book Villain of all time. For my view, she’s not a villain but she is deeply flawed. Just the way I like my characters.
Waller has appeared all over the place – in video games, in animated series (Justice League Unlimited as one example), animated movies, television shows, and movies. I find seeing the different variations of her interesting and gratifying, especially financially. I have what is called “participation” with Amanda; DC licenses her out and I get a taste of the money that comes in because she was an original character. I don’t have the same deal with the Squad itself; there was an earlier version. Amanda, bless her, sends some money home every now and then.
Both Amanda’s appearance on Arrow and in the New 52 DC Universe is changed; rather than older, stouter, and shorter, she’s now model thin and young and, well, sexy. I’ve always thought of Amanda as many things but “sexy” was not one of them.
I don’t control what happens with Waller or where she goes or how she looks; she is owned by DC Entertainment and Warners. I knew that going in. She is their property. That said, I think the changes made in her appearance are misguided. There were and are reasons why she looked the way she did. I wanted her to seem formidable and visually unlike anyone else out there. Making her young and svelte and sexy loses that. She becomes more like everyone else. She lost part of what made her unique.
Still, I look forward to the Squad episode of Arrow and not only because of the eventual check that it will bring in. It’s interesting to see how your children turn out and to see how much of you is in them whether they are flesh and blood or just the children of your imagination.
Batman in media has often been a victim of budgets and a fickle public’s tastes. His success or failure has also impacted the comic book incarnation. For example, after the camp live-action series crashed in 1968, the comic sales plummeted, freeing editor Julie Schwartz to take things back to the beginning and reinvent the gothic look and feel which evolved into the 1980s’ grim and gritty comics. Similarly, after a successive series of dark, moody and brilliantly execute animated series, it was most definitely time for something fresh.
Along came Batman: The Brave and the Bold, a bright, colorful, action-packed series that was a sheer delight to watch. This was a Caped Crusader who worked well with others, didn’t brood a lot but took his job far more seriously than his costumed companions. He operated in a universe where heroes and villains from across the DC Universe operated, letting animators stick in brilliant cameos and actually reinvent some of the characters most in need of a personality. Among the latter was the bearded blowhard Aquaman, ready to tell a fish story, naming the adventure with an ego-centric flourish.
Warner Archive has done us all a favor by collecting the 26-episode fist season and putting it all on two Blu-ray discs for an affordable price. The premise often involved a pre-credit sequence as the Gotham Guardian finished a case with one hero before moving on to another escapade with another. As with eponymous comic it was based on, some characters reoccurred more than others thanks to their popularity such as Green Arrow, whose rivalry with Batman for gear and gadgets made for nice humor. The current incarnation of Blue Beetle was seen as an amateur in need for tutelage and we could see him grow in confidence across the run.
Clearly the writers, directors, animators, and voice cast had a marvelous time and it came through with every episode. The character designs came from across DC Comics’ decades long run so Black Canary look as Carmine Infantino first drew her in the 1940s while Plastic Man was at his loopiest. It was refreshing to see the JSA heroes fighting as veterans (notably the pugilistic cracks from Wildcat) while long-simmering character bits such as those between Batman and his wards rang true.
A standout episode was the musical “Mayhem of the Music Meister!”, with the incredibly talented Neil Patrick Harris voicing the title villain. And like so many other installments, this one featured not just one partner but a small army including Green Arrow, Aquaman, and. Black Canary.
Given the Earth-3 villains now running amuck in Forever Evil, it’s fun to see their animated counterparts in the two-parter that closed out the first season — “Deep Cover for Batman!” and “Game Over for Owlman!”.
By some chance you missed this when it aired on the Cartoon Network, or you want a break from the sturm und drang of the current New 52, this is a treat you want.
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.