The Mix : What are people talking about today?

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Young Shadow by Ben Sears

Sometimes a creator’s different instincts and plans don’t always play nice with each other. For example, a costumed-hero story has certain standard tropes: the hero can always leave the bad guys tied up with a nice note for the authorities and the reader knows that means justice has and will be done.

But if the same creator wants to do a story about corrupt cops in what seems to be a deeply corrupt city, tying up those cops will not have the same expected result: it just means their compatriots will untie them, maybe make fun of them, maybe get angry on their behalf. Frankly, it would just annoy Certain People even more: that’s an event for the middle of the story, not the end.

So I’m not as happy with Ben Sears’s new graphic novel Young Shadow  as I was with the last book of his I read, House of the Black Spot . Black Spot had villains who could be dealt with by mostly offstage Forces of Justice, and heroes whose modus operandi was a bit more complex and nuanced than the costumed-hero standard of “run around the city at night, asking people if there’s any trouble, and then get into fights with people whose look you don’t like.” That’s very close to Young Shadow’s exact words: he’s the hero, so the book says he’s right to do so, but his actions are exactly those of a bully or criminal gang: find someone doing something you object to (in this case, “rebel against your rich parents by drinking in the park and not bathing”), use violence on him.

If I were being reductionist, I’d say Young Shadow is “the Jason Todd Robin in an ACAB world.” We don’t know what Young Shadow’s real name is, or his history: we meet him on patrol, in Bolt City. He’s in tactical gear, with a domino mask, and he’s good at violence but signposted to be on the side of righteousness – the first time we see him fight, it’s to help a maltreated dog. Sears’s rounded, clean art style isn’t great at communicating this, though: Shadow says the dog is malnourished and dehydrated, but Sears draws him exactly the same then as later in the story, or like any other dog, just with his eyes closed most of the time.

Shadow doesn’t appear to have any real home. Maybe a bolt hole or three where he sleeps, or stashes gear, or keeps whatever other stuff he has. It’s not a “this guy is homeless” situation; it’s just not important. What he does is patrol as Young Shadow. What he does is protect the city. Anything else he does is not even secondary.

Shadow has a network of friends, or maybe informants. They’re the people of this neighborhood, or maybe multiple Bolt City neighborhoods. A number seem to be the owners of small businesses: a “lantern shop,” places that look a lot like bodegas, an animal shelter. They would tell Shadow about miscreants in their areas, we think – but, in this book, they don’t talk about nuts dressed up like wombats planning elaborate wombat-themed crimes, but instead about the night shift of the Bolt City Police Department. Those cops are acting suspicious, searching for things in a more furtive way than usual for cops. It’s not super-clear if there are elements of the BCPD, or any aspect of Bolt City governance, that is generally trusted by the populace. My guess is no. There is definitely some generalized “never talk to the cops about anything” advice, as with similar communities in the real world.

We do get some scenes from outside Shadow’s point of view, to learn that there are Sinister Forces, and that they encompass both the young malcontents Shadow beat up in the early pages and those crooked cops. (Well, maybe not crooked: they’re not soliciting bribes. We don’t even see them beat up or harass anyone. It’s just that Young Shadow is set in a world with people who totally mistrust cops for reasons which are too fundamental to even be mentioned.) There is an Evil Corporation, as there must be, and both a villain with a face and a higher-up Faceless Villain. Their goals are pretty penny-ante for an Evil Corporation: get back a big cache of crowd-control weapons and tools, get some more pollution done quickly before the law changes.

Shadow spends a lot of time wandering around looking for these people. I’m not sure if Sears is trying to make the point that this is not a useful tactic, or that Shadow is good at the violence stuff, but not so much at the finding-appropriate-avenues-for-violence stuff. I thought he did make those points, deliberately or not. Eventually, another vigilante appears: Spiral Scratch. (At first in a closed helmet, which I was sure meant it would be a character we’d seen before. But nope.) The flap copy calls SS the sidekick of Shadow, but the opposite is closer to the truth: Scratch is more organized and planful, and Shadow wouldn’t get much done alone.

In the end, our two forces of righteous violence find the thing the Forces of Evil are searching for, and dispose of it with the aid of an order of robot nuns. (I do enjoy the odd bits of Sears’s worldbuilding.) And they tie up some of the henchmen, which, as I mentioned way up top, will probably not lead to anything like punishment for them.

So I’m left wondering if there’s going to be a sequel: it feels like this story isn’t really over, that our vigilante heroes haven’t actually solved any underlying problem by punching a few people. And I also think I like Sears when his characters are detecting and talking rather than punching. But I like that in general, so that’s no surprise. People who like more punching in their comics may have a different opinion, and God knows they’re very common – if you’re one of them, give Young Shadow a look.

Reposted from The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent.

Catch the Red Band Trailer for Night of the Animated Dead
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Catch the Red Band Trailer for Night of the Animated Dead

The animated recreation of George A. Romero’s 1968 horror classic is coming September 21, 2021 to Digital and October 5, 2021 to Blu-ray Combo Pack & DVD from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.

In Night of the Animated Dead, siblings Barbara and Johnny visit their father’s grave in a remote cemetery in Pennsylvania when they are suddenly set upon by zombies. Barbara flees and takes refuge in an abandoned farmhouse along with stranded motorist Ben and four local survivors found hiding in the cellar. Together, the group must fight to stay alive against the oncoming horde of zombies while also confronting their own fears and prejudices. 

Night of the Animated Dead features the voice talents of Josh Duhamel (Jupiter’s Legacy, Transformers), Dulé Hill (The West WingPsych), Katharine Isabelle (Ginger Snaps), James Roday Rodriguez (A Million Little Things, Psych), Katee Sackhoff (The Mandalorian, Battlestar Galactica), Will Sasso (MadTV), Jimmi Simpson (Westworld) and Nancy Travis (Last Man Standing).

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Hypnotwist / Scarlet by Starlight by Gilbert Hernandez

I feel like we’re all just supposed to know how to read Gilbert Hernandez’s “movie books,” even though they’ve never been clear, and their publisher (Fantagraphics) has stopped even mentioning the movie connection. These days, it seems to be just the distinctive end-papers that give us a clue, and then we’re on our own.

You see, Hernandez has been writing stories, in the various comics mostly named Love and Rockets, about a group of people, originally centered on the residents of a small South American town of Palomar though in recent decades shifting to the extended Southern California family of a woman named Luba who lived in Palomar for a long time. Luba’s younger half-sister, Fritz, had a career as a film actress: not a great career, and not a lasting one, but she made a bunch of movies. And Hernandez has not just told stories about Luba and Fritz and others – stories in their world, meant to be “true” as much as any fiction is – but also told stories retelling those movies, telling stories that are meant to be seen as fictional from a fictional world.

It’s complicated and knotty, and not explaining it in the books themselves makes it even weirder and complicated. The most recent, and most major, Maria M. , was the height of convolution, telling the movie version of Fritz’s mother’s life (with Fritz in that “role”), which readers of Love and Rockets had already seen the “real” version of, years before. Prior movie books were from “earlier in Fritz’s career,” when she did pulpier, less ambitious….OK, let’s say bluntly bad and derivative and exploitative movies: Chance in Hell and The Troublemakers  and Love from the Shadows . (And I can’t explain explain clearly how Speak of the Devil fits into this schema, either — I think it’s the “real” version of a story not about Fritz and Luba and company that was also made into a movie with Fritz, and maybe we saw some parts of that movie made in the main series.)

Hernandez was most active with these stories just over a decade ago – the first burst came out roughly every year, 2007 and ’08 and ’09 and ’11. Maria M. took longer to gestate. And, along the way, Hernandez also made two shorter movie stories, which have now been collected together in flip-book format.

That is Hypnotwist Scarlet by Starlight , both of which “star” Fritz as a major role, though (and maybe this is meaningful?) she doesn’t speak in either story. One is a pretentious movie that I don’t think Hernandez expects us to take entirely seriously. The other is a pulpy genre exercise.

And I still don’t get the point of either book, or of this entire sequence. Is it meant to be some kind of parallax view of specific events in the “real” story? Are they just goofy, clear-the-decks stories that Hernandez wants to get out of his head, and this is a way to tie them in? Or what?

Hypnotwist is the longer story, 59 pages long: it’s some kind of art film with no narration or dialog that follows a woman who may be dreaming, or sleepwalking, or hallucinating, or something. A sequence of surreal things happen, some of them sexual and/or violent, with some other characters reappearing and a central image of a creepily smiling face. Oh, wait! I forgot the magic shoes! She gets magic shoes at the beginning, and that might explain it all. If anything can explain anything here.

(You might have gathered that I don’t get this at all. Hernandez has done a bunch of dream-logic stories in his career, and I like looking at them and appreciate the visual inventiveness but never get anything specific out of any of them.)

Scarlet by Starlight is tighter, a ’50s-style space opera movie in 37 pages of comics – though, in the world of L&R, I guess it was made in the late ’90s. Three Americans are on an alien planet, researching something or other, two men and a woman. There are two seemingly-sapient races here, though neither can speak: the human-height and furred Forest People and the dwarfish pinkies. The humans have befriended the Forest People – well, at least the couple Scarlet (female, Fritz’s character) and Crimson and their children. The pinkies, though they seem to be more organized – they have a village with buildings, and a much deeper curiosity about the human’s technology – are considered basically vermin.

But then Scarlet comes into heat, I guess, and tries to have sex with one of the Americans, and it all goes to hell. There’s a lot of Hernandezian violence until the survivors are able to regroup with a Hollywoodesque happy ending. Again, Hernandez is not trying to present this as a good movie: rather the reverse.

I get the sense that Hernandez makes these stories either to scratch an itch to tell junky stories or to comment on junky stories, but I have no idea which, or if it’s both, or if those are the only two possibilities. I enjoy the way he moves characters around and evokes junky movies without ever getting a clear sense of why he thought spending months of his time to do this would be worthwhile.

It’s weird, man. The “movie books” are just an odd sequence of stories, and these two are the very weirdest of that sequence. People who like weird should dive in here; this book is about as bizarre and random as Hernandez gets.

Reposted from The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent.

Snake Eyes Infiltrates Streaming Tomorrow
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Snake Eyes Infiltrates Streaming Tomorrow

HOLLYWOOD, Calif.  – Hailed as “the origin story we’ve been waiting for” (Joe Deckelmeier, Screen Rant) and filled with stunning action, SNAKE EYES: G.I. JOE ORIGINS arrives early for Premium Digital purchase and on Premium Video-On-Demand (PVOD) on August 17, 2021 from Paramount Home Entertainment. The film will subsequently be available on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD on October 19. Fans can also purchase a 4K Ultra HD Combo in a collectible SteelBook and complete their G.I. JOE movie collection with a 3-Movie giftset that includes G.I. JOE: The Rise of Cobra, G.I. JOE: Retaliation, and SNAKE EYES: G.I. JOE ORIGINS on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray or Digital.

The SNAKE EYES: G.I. JOE ORIGINS Digital*, 4K Ultra HD, and Blu-ray releases are packed with explosive special features that delve into the world of SNAKE EYES and the mysterious Arashikage clan.  Discover the secrets of SNAKE EYES’ legendary sword, Morning Light, in an all-new short film exclusive to the home entertainment release.  Plus, go behind-the-scenes to find out what it took to bring the iconic hero’s origin story to life, meet the fan-favorite heroes and villains of the G.I. JOE universe, dive into the elite warrior world of the Arashikage clan, and watch deleted scenes not shown in theaters.

The 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray Discs also boast a Dolby Atmos® soundtrack remixed specifically for the home to place and move audio anywhere in the room, including overhead, and the 4K Ultra HD disc features Dolby Vision high dynamic range (HDR), which delivers greater brightness and contrast, as well as a fuller palette of rich colors.**

SNAKE EYES: G.I. JOE ORIGINS 4K Ultra HD
Fans can enjoy the ultimate viewing experience with the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, which includes access to a Digital copy of the film, or the 4K Ultra HD SteelBook Combo, which includes an Ultra HD Disc with Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos and a Blu-ray Disc with Dolby Atmos, as well as access to a Digital copy.  Both 4K Ultra HD offerings include the following bonus content:

  • Morning Light: A Weapon with Stories to Tell – Discover the secrets of Snake Eyes’ legendary sword, Morning Light, in this all-new short film
  • Deleted Scenes – What you didn’t see in theaters
  • Enter SNAKE EYES – Find out what it took to bring the iconic hero’s origin story to life
  • A Deadly Ensemble – Meet fan-favorite heroes, villains, and new characters in the G.I. JOE franchise
  • Arashikage – Dive into the elite ninja warrior world of the Arashikage clan

SNAKE EYES: G.I. JOE ORIGINS Blu-ray
The SNAKE EYES: G.I. JOE ORIGINS Blu-ray is presented in 1080p high definition with Dolby Atmos. The Blu-ray includes access to a Digital copy of the film as well as the bonus content detailed above.   

SNAKE EYES: G.I. JOE ORIGINS DVD
The DVD includes the feature film in standard definition.

SNAKE EYES: G.I. JOE ORIGINS Synopsis
Discover the origins of the iconic G.I. JOE hero, SNAKE EYES (Henry Golding), in this action-packed, edge-of-your-seat adventure. Welcomed into an ancient Japanese clan called the Arashikage after saving the life of their heir-apparent, STORM SHADOW (Andrew Koji), SNAKE EYES joins the battle against the terrorist group COBRA. Pushing him to the limits, SNAKE EYES will become the ultimate ninja warrior. But, when past secrets are revealed, his honor and allegiance will be tested – even if that means losing everything he has been fighting for. Also starring Úrsula Corberó as BARONESS and Samara Weaving as SCARLETT.

*Availability of bonus content varies by digital retailer
**Dolby Atmos enabled devices are also required to experience Dolby Atmos at home. To experience Dolby Vision on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc, a Dolby Vision enabled TV is required with a Dolby Vision enabled 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player.

Superman: The Complete Animated Series gets Blu-ray Box Set
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Superman: The Complete Animated Series gets Blu-ray Box Set

BURBANK, CA – Warner Bros. Home Entertainment and DC are celebrating the 25th anniversary of Superman: The Animated Series with a fully remastered Blu-rayTM box set. Superman: The Complete Animated Series, which includes several hours of bonus features headlined by an all-new documentary detailing the creation of one of the most beloved animated Super Hero cartoons in history, will be available starting October 12, 2021.

Produced by Warner Bros. Animation (WBA), the Emmy Award-winning Superman: The Animated Series was the perfect follow-up to the landmark Batman: the Animated Series. Producers Bruce Timm, Paul Dini and Alan Burnett elevated The Man of Steel’s animated presence with an imaginative, heartfelt look at Superman’s adventures in Metropolis alongside Lois Lane and opposite the villainous likes of Lex Luthor, Brainiac, Darkseid and more. Premiering on September 6, 1996, the series continued WBA’s dominance in Super Hero animation, once again setting new standards for storytelling, art direction and acting performances – and garnering 11 Emmy Award nominations and two Emmy Award wins, including top honors as the Outstanding Special Class Animated Program of 1998.

The remarkable Superman: The Complete Animated Series box set features nearly 21 hours of entertainment spread over six Blu-ray™ discs, including all 54 exciting episodes, an all-new series-defining featurette entitled Superman: Timeless Icon, a special video commentary episode and three specially selected episodes with audio commentaries by the showrunners.

All 54 episodes have been remastered from the original 35mm Interpositive sources, giving special attention to extensive color correction, dirt and scratch clean up, and adding a grain reduction pass to create a pristine picture, all while making sure not to affect the original lines in the artwork of the animation. The audio was retransferred from the original audio masters, and the series is presented in its original aspect ratio (4×3).

The producing quartet of Bruce Timm, Paul Dini, Alan Burnett, and Glen Murakami headed production of Superman: The Animated Series alongside executive producers Jean MacCurdy and Haven Alexander. Shirley Walker and the Dynamic Music Partners (Michael McCuistion, Lolita Ritmanis, Kristopher Carter) composed the award-winning score, while eight-time Emmy Award winning dialogue/casting director Andrea Romano guided a star-studded voice cast. Curt Geda and Dan Riba served as animation directors for more than half of the episodes.

The Superman: The Animated Series cast continued the unrivaled presentation of guest stars that Batman: The Animated Series had initially established. The lengthy cast list is filled with luminaries, their laurels including one Academy Award and 10 Oscar nominations; 37 Emmy Awards and 186 Emmy nominations; 16 Golden Globe Awards and 54 nominations; five Annie Awards and 38 nominations; four Grammy Awards and 14 nominations; and nine individuals honored with stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, including Ed Asner, Mark Hamill, William H. Macy, Marion Ross, Malcolm McDowell, Efrem Zimbalist Jr., Michael York, Roddy McDowall and Paul Williams.

Tim Daly (Madame Secretary, Private Practice, Wings) led the cast as Clark Kent and Superman alongside Dana Delany (Body of Proof, Desperate Housewives, China Beach) as Lois Lane, David Kaufman (Danny Phantom, Stuart Little) as Jimmy Olsen and Clancy Brown (Dexter, The Shawshank Redemption, SpongeBob SquarePants) as Lex Luthor. The star-studded cast included series regulars – and their characters – Lauren Tom (Angela Chen), Victor Brandt (Professor Hamilton), Corey Burton (Brainiac), Joseph Bologna (Dan Turpin), George Dzundza (Perry White), Brad Garrett (Bibbo Bibbowski), Shelley Fabares (Martha Kent), Joanna Cassidy (Maggie Sawyer), Lisa Edelstein (Mercy Graves), Mike Farrell (Jonathan Kent) and Michael Ironside (Darkseid).

Notable series guest stars featured Mark Hamill, Ed Asner, Dean Jones, Melissa Joan Hart, Robert Morse, Al Roker, Brian Cox, Jason Priestley, Peter Gallagher, David Warner, Michael Dorn, Christopher McDonald, Bruce Weitz, Andrea Martin, Miguel Ferrer, Ron Perlman, Bud Cort, Gilbert Gottfried, Robert Hays, Dennis Haysbert, Laraine Newman, Nancy Travis, Xander Berkeley, Jonathan Harris, John Glover, Sandra Bernhard, Jack Carter, Ernie Hudson, Henry Silva, and Robert Patrick.

Superman: The Complete Animated Series – Enhanced Content

Superman: Timeless Icon (New Featurette) – An all-new bonus feature, produced specifically for the remastered Blu-ray release of Superman: The Animated Series, reveals the complicated journey of the show and those who created the new mythology for The Man of Steel, as told by producers Bruce Timm and Paul Dini, director Dan Riba, writer Bob Goodman, casting/dialogue director Andrea Romano, and Tim Daly & Clancy Brown, the heralded voices of Superman and Lex Luthor, respectively.

A Little Piece of Trivia (Featurette) – So you think you know your Superman trivia? Wait until you hear about the series’ connection to Telly Savalas! A brain teaser to entertain every Superman: The Animated Series fan!

Superman: Learning to Fly (Featurette) – Get into the minds of the creative team behind Superman: The Animated Series as they detail the birth of this animated version of Superman and his incredible worlds. Featured speakers include producers Paul Dini, Bruce Timm and Alan Burnett, art director/producer Glen Murakami and directors Dan Riba and James Tucker.

Building the Mythology: Superman’s Supporting Cast (Featurette) – The characters around Superman get the spotlight in this in-depth look at everyone from Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen and Perry White to Maggie Sawyer, Lana Lang, and Ma & Pa Kent. Producers Paul Dini, Bruce Timm and Alan Burnett, art director/producer Glen Murakami and directors Dan Riba and James Tucker give viewers the inside scoop.

Menaces of Metropolis: Behind the Villains of Superman (Featurette) – Your hero is only as good as the villains around him, and Superman: The Animated Series has a rogues’ gallery of top-grade baddies, including traditional opponents Lex Luthor, Brainiac, Bizarro, Metallo, Mr. Mxyzptlk, Toyman and Parasite, as well as new villains created for the series – like Live Wire and Luminus. Producers Bruce Timm, Alan Burnett and Paul Dini, directors James Tucker and Dan Riba and casting/dialogue director Andrea Romano give us a tour of the villains.

The Despot Darkseid: A Villain Worthy of Superman (Featurette) – Darkseid takes center stage in this examination of one of The Man of Steel’s most vicious adversaries, plus other Fourth World characters that appear in Superman: The Animated Series. The featurette includes producers Paul Dini, Bruce Timm and Alan Burnett, art director/producer Glen Murakami, writers Rich Fogel and Stan Berkowitz, director James Tucker and Charles Hatfield (Department of English, Cal State Northridge).

Audio Commentaries

  • Stolen Memories – producers Bruce Timm, Paul Dini and Alan Burnett, director Curt Geda and art director/producer Glen Murakami.
  • The Last Son of Krypton – Part 1 – producers Bruce Timm, Paul Dini and Alan Burnett, director Dan Riba and art director/producer Glen Murakami.
  • The Main Man – Part 2 – producers Bruce Timm and Paul Dini, director Dan Riba and art director/producer Glen Murakami.

Video Commentary

  • Mxyzpixilated – producer Bruce Timm, producer/writer Paul Dini, director Dan Riba and moderator Jason Hillhouse.

BASICS

Blu-ray $69.99 USA, $79.99 Canada

Blu-ray Languages: English, Spanish, French

Blu-ray Subtitles: English

Running Time: 1,141 minutes

Rated PG

REVIEW: The Shadowed Circle
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REVIEW: The Shadowed Circle

Film and pop culture guru Steve Donoso successfully Kickstarted funds for a fanzine dedicated to the iconic pulp magazine hero The Shadow. The first issue of The Shadowed Circle was released in July and packs a lot in its 48 black and white pages. Billed as a thrice-annual publication it features pieces by experts and passionate fans of the hero and his world.

Two pieces fill the bulk of the issue. First up is Will Murray’s accounting of how he and Anthony Tollin addressed packing the last handful of issues of the Shadow reprints that Sanctum Books completed in 2020. They lost their license with a handful of issues left to collect and as they packed as much as possible, things got left out. As a result, Murray includes the Intermission written for volume #150. The theme of that issue was the Women of the Shadow so we get a nice accounting of how women were depicted, including Conde Nast’s insistence that women be downplayed in the pulp, even though Margo Lane was a significant character on the radio series.

The other major section was an interview with James Patterson and a review of his first novel featuring a brand new take on the Shadow, set in a dystopian future. The first in the series was released recently and apparently resembles the source material in name only which is deeply disappointing. (That Patterson is also providing a new take on Doc Savage in 2022 is disheartening.)

The rest of the zine covers Universal’s short subject films narrated by the Shadow, a fan’s quest to obtain a classic cover painting, and other aspects of the character.

You have to know and love the character to appreciate the publication but thankfully, there are plenty out there. One fan, born in the 1990s, discusses how he found the hero and came to love him despite the Shadow being an “older” hero.

The magazine is nicely laid out and well-illustrated, including some good fan art. Clearly, this is a labor of love from Donoso and his pals. To learn more, they have a Facebook group.

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Room for Love by Ilya

This is a story about two people and about love. No, not that kind of story.

One of the people writes that kind of story, though. Pamela Green is a romance novelist, reasonably successful writing as Leonie Hart, with a fan club and what seems to be solid but unspectacular sales. But she’s in a bad patch of writer’s block, and has possibly soured on the entire idea of romantic love. Personally, she’s deep into her middle years, and alone: we don’t know exactly why and how when the book opens, but we will learn.

The other person is a young man: we actually meet him first. We don’t know his name. He travels to London from wherever, hitching rides and exchanging sex for money. He ends up on the street, with another young man. Things go bad.

Room for Love  is the story of Pam and that man — call him Cougar; he does when he gives Pam a name at all. It’s by a cartoonist of several names himself: credited as Ilya here, known to me previously as the Ed Hillyer who worked with Eddie Campbell on a number of Deadface stories .

Pam and Cougar meet on a bridge. It’s already a third of the way through this graphic novel, so we know their routines and lives pretty well at that point. Pam thinks Cougar is going to kill himself; we’re not sure but it seems plausible. She’s wrong, and she ruins what Cougar has. To atone, she offers, suddenly and surprisingly to both of them, for him to live in her house.

Cougar, we see, is the kind of man who takes every opportunity he can, so he agrees. He moves in with her, cleans up a bit. Opens up, not even that much of a bit. They end up having sex after a couple of days, and then regularly.

In retrospect, we realize that’s Cougar’s pattern: it’s how he gets close to people, how he transacts with people, how he gets what he wants. Maybe we realize that at the time: I didn’t. Pam doesn’t. Pam thinks this is a relationship.

Well, it is. But she thinks it’s a romantic relationship, when it’s a business relationship. Eventually, she learns better.

Actually, they both come out of Room for Love a little bit better, more able to handle the next big thing in their respective lives, the thing they were avoiding and trying not to think about. 

Ilya tells this story in contrasting colors: brown for Cougar and blue for Pam – panels washed with their respective colors when they’re separate, discrete highlights on their clothing when they’re together, dialog boxes outside panels in their colors. It’s a small thing, but a deeply comics thing: a clear visual representation of how separate they are, and a clean way to keep what are and are not two story strands separate. His art falls in that no-man’s-land: a little bit of cartooniness in his faces, to make them instantly identifiable, but mostly realistic, only in a slightly simplified, cleaner way. (I don’t have the language to talk very well about art; I’m a words person, mostly.)

This is a thoughtful story about two well-defined people. I have a few quibbles: there’s more than a bit of  psycho-babble near the end, and I think Pam’s agent is acting a lot more like an editor. But the quibbles are all on that level: minor, unimportant. Room For Love is interesting and resonant: it’s a book worth reading.

Reposted from The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent.

REVIEW: Batman: The Long Halloween Part 2
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REVIEW: Batman: The Long Halloween Part 2

The acclaimed maxiseries from Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale was wisely produced as two animated feature films. Batman: The Long Halloween Part 1 was a real treat, one of the best productions from Warner Animation in quite some time. As a result, expectations were high for a satisfying Batman: The Long Halloween Part 2, out on disc tomorrow. Unfortunately, it proved to be very much a letdown.

In part one, we have a Batman (Jensen Ackles) still in the early portion of his career, learning to think and be a detective as he worked with Commissioner Gordon (Billy Burke) and DA Harvey Dent (Josh Duhamel) to find the Holiday Killer, who used celebrations to mask a series of murders. The Caped Crusader was aided by Catwoman (Naya Rivera), who was more sidekick and romantic interest than foil. The murders exacerbated the rivalry between Carmine “The Roman” Falcone (Titus Welliver) and Sal Maroni (Jim Pirri), the top two crime bosses in Gotham City, recognizing their time was rapidly fading with the arrival of the colorful crazies that followed in Batman’s wake.

Part two picks up immediately with Falcone’s son Alberto dead and Holiday still on the loose. However, Batman has been absent for nearly three months and oddly, Bruce Wayne has been deeding over properties to Falcone. We learn this a result of Poison Ivy (Katee Sackhoff) and it finally takes Catwoman to free him only for Batman to almost immediately succumb to the Scarecrow’s (Robin Atkin Downes) fear gas so she has to save him again.

The biggest problem in Part Two is that Catwoman is more the proactive hero than the title character. Batman is reactive throughout until the final quarter and it undercuts his mystique.

Also, Part One did a nice job contrasting the marriages between the Gordons and the Dents and that’s all missing here. Instead, the focus is on one criminal after another interfering in the investigation, ultimately teaming up for mayhem but not with a lot of logic. Along the way, Dent is scared and has a mental break making him Two-Face, which becomes important as events progress.

The Falcone family could have benefitted from some more depth, especially as Sofia (Laila Berzins), The Roman’s daughter, comes on the scene to lend a hand.

It’s a lot less interesting and complex than Part One and therefore, ultimately disappointing. Tim Sheridan’s script started off so well but suffers here. Visually, Sale’s distinctive design work is once again largely absent except for the title sequence.

The movie is out in a Blu-ray/Digital HD code combo pack with a 4K Ultra HD to follow. Overall, the 1080p presentation is perfectly satisfactory for the limited animation. The shadows and somber color palette work just fine. The DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio is equally solid.

The supplemental features are lackluster, with the exception of the brilliant DC Showcase: The Blue Beetle (15:30). Designed to be a 1960s-style animated adaptation of the Charlton Action Heroes, this Jeremey Adams-written short is a sheer delight as Beetle (Matt Lanter) and The Question (David Kaye) investigate a crime, leading them to their old foe, Dr. Spectro (Tom Kenny), who has Captain Atom (Jeff Bennett) and Nightshade (Ashly Burch) in his thrall. The only other new piece is the obligatory A Sneak Peek of Injustice (7:48), adapting the video game and comic series. The disc is rounded out with From the Vault – Batman: The Animated Series: “Two-Face – Part One” (22:27) and “Two-Face – Part Two” (22:30)

Batman Goes AR in new Global App
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Batman Goes AR in new Global App

BURBANK, CA, Aug.5, 2021 — DC today announced the release of the ultimate Batman mobile experience for kids ages 6-12, the DC: Batman Bat-Tech Edition app, a one-of-a-kind free mobile app available today on the App Store and Google Play stores in 13 different languages around the world. Immersing kids in narrative-driven, technology-inspired activities, the new app lets kids join Batman’s crime-fighting team, the Knightwatch and experience the world of Batman, learning how to use his Bat-Tech to fight crime and help defend Gotham City from his evil adversaries. The DC: Batman Bat-Tech Edition app is COPPA compliant and free to download and play. 

Developed in conjunction with Warner Bros. Consumer Products, the new DC: Batman Bat-Tech Edition app features first-of-its-kind augmented reality (AR) technology to engage kids and immerse them in the world of the iconic DC Super Hero who uses crime-fighting tech to help him foil the evil deeds of The Joker, Mr. Freeze, The Riddler and other DC Super-Villains. In addition to learning about Batman’s technology through the app’s AR storytelling features, kids can play mini games, transform photos with AR face filters and stickers, read exclusive digital comics, watch Batman Bat-Tech themed video content and gain access to the Batcomputer, the super-computer where Batman’s tech secrets are stored.  

“Batman is one of our most important franchises, so bringing together the DC and Warner Bros. Consumer Products teams to develop this app featuring his fan-favorite gadgets and crime-fighting tech was a chance for us to give fans yet another way to engage with a favorite DC Super Hero,” said Pam Lifford, President, WarnerMedia Global Brands and Experiences.  “The app creates a truly unique experience that gives kids around the world a chance to immerse themselves in the DC Universe — there’s no other app like it available today.”

“The Batman mobile app showcases Batman’s innovative technology, using augmented reality like never before, and gives kids a way to unlock the mystery behind Batman’s crime-fighting gadgets,” said Kevin Morris, Vice President, Franchise Management and Marketing, Warner Bros. Consumer Products. “Kids can now experience being a DC Super Hero alongside Batman, and while learning and playing they can also help save Gotham City.”

At launch, the DC: Batman Bat-Tech Edition app features:

  • Augmented reality (AR) missions: Through the new app’s AR features, kids become a member of Batman’s new Knightwatch team and immerse themselves in original Batman crime-fighting missions. The amazing AR provides a realistic 3D experience that draws upon engineering and design concepts to make Batman’s Bat-Tech come to life.
  • Mini games:  Users can play a Batman-themed mobile driving game where players test their skills at driving the Batmobile; Batarang Practice where players face off against the clock and find out how many targets they can knock down; and the Grapnel Launcher game where players must run and jump while utilizing Batman’s abilities to overcome obstacles. 
  • AR face filters: Kids can transform into Batman, The Joker, Batgirl and more of Gotham City’s most iconic characters using these fun filters and can save photos and share them with friends and family.
  • Sticker packs: Users can decorate photos with a variety of Batman-themed stickers, turning an ordinary shot into a cool Batman story.
  • Batman Bat-Tech video content: The app connects to the extremely popular DCKids’ YouTube channel.  A new series, entitled “Batman Science Lab” will launch this fall exploring the real-world applications of Batman’s technology. 
  • New missions, games, filters, sticker packs, and video content will be added and updated on a regular basis to keep the app experience fresh and fun for kids.

Additionally, launching exclusively on the DC: Batman Bat-Tech Edition app is a digital comic series, Batman – Knightwatch, where kids can explore how the Knightwatch program was created and follow along with Batman and his Super Hero team as they take on Gotham’s City’s Super-Villains following a massive breakout at Arkham Asylum. Additional digital comics will be added to the app on a regular basis.

Fans can download the DC: Batman Bat-Tech Edition today and help Batman save Gotham City.  Available for free on the App Store and the Google Play store, the app is playable on both tablets and smart phones. The app is available globally and is localized in 13 different languages.

A Clockwork Orange Makes 4K Ultra HD Debut Sept. 21
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A Clockwork Orange Makes 4K Ultra HD Debut Sept. 21

BURBANK, CA – Warner Bros. Home Entertainment announced today that  A Clockwork Orange, Stanley Kubrick’s 1971 classic dystopian film, will be released on Ultra HD Blu-ray and Digital on September 21. Adapted from Anthony Burgess’s 1962 decline-of-civilization novel, A Clockwork Orange received four Academy Award® nominations; Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay (Based on Material from Another Medium) and Best Film Editing. 

Directed, written and produced by Kubrick, the film stars Malcolm McDowell as Alex DeLarge, Warren Clarke, James Marcus and Michael Tarn as his droogs, Patrick Magee and Michael Bates. 

In 2020, the United States Library of Congress selected A Clockwork Orange for preservation in the National Film Registry, finding it “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”

The 4K restoration was conducted by Warner Bros.’ Motion Picture Imaging (MPI).  Kubrick’s former right-hand man Leon Vitali and the Kubrick Estate worked closely with the team at Warner Bros. during the mastering process.

Ultra HD* showcases 4K resolution with High Dynamic Range (HDR) and a wider color spectrum, offering consumers brighter, deeper, more lifelike colors for a home entertainment viewing experience like never before.   

A Clockwork Orange will be available on Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack for $24.99 ERP and includes an Ultra HD Blu-ray disc with the feature film in 4K with HDR and a Blu-ray disc with the feature film and special features. Fans can also own A Clockwork Orange in 4K Ultra HD via purchase from select digital retailers beginning September 21.  

About the Film:
In an England of the future, Alex (Malcolm McDowell) and his “Droogs” spend their nights getting high at the Korova Milkbar before embarking on “a little of the old ultraviolence,” while jauntily warbling “Singin’ in the Rain.” After he’s jailed for bludgeoning the Cat Lady to death, Alex submits to a behavior modification technique to earn his freedom; he’s conditioned to abhor violence. Returned to the world defenseless, Alex becomes the victim of his prior victims.

Ultra HD Blu-ray and Blu-ray Elements
 
A Clockwork Orange Ultra HD Blu-ray contains the following previously released special features:

  • Commentary by Malcolm McDowell and Nick Redman
  • Still Tickin’: The Return of Clockwork Orange [2000 Channel 4 Documentary]
  • Great Bolshy Yarblockos! Making A Clockwork Orange
  • Turning Like Clockwork
  • Malcolm McDowell Looks Back
  • O Lucky Malcolm!