A Few Thoughts Concerning Gotham  

I absolutely believe a show like Gotham can survive without an adult, costumed Batman’s presence.  After all, I argue that Gotham City is one of literature’s most famed settings, on par with Narnia and Middle-earth.  Those prominent locations do not feature only one character, nor should Gotham City.

With that being said, Gotham’s debut last night on Fox made a good impression, but not a great impression.  I think it has a great deal of potential, but it seems as though it will need some time to find its soul.

Visually, the show stunned.  It has a cinematic quality that, at times, left me breathless.  They’ve got the “look” quite right.  Furthermore, it had even more action than I expected, and I expected much.  There are no super powers in this show (yet [if ever]), but that didn’t stop Gordon and Bullock from throwing fists, firing bullets, and sprinting down alleys.  In fact, I found myself surprised by the amount of violence of the show.  Even I didn’t foresee quite the amount of bloodshed.

Overall, the acting proved adequate.  I liked a few characters quite a bit, others turned me off, but most I simply tolerated.  James Gordon, a character I thought I’d love, fell a little short for me.  Ben McKenzie played him a little too stoic for my tastes.  They set him up as a war hero, a warrior cop, a righteous man, but for the most part he seemed content to smolder.  Donal Logue’s Harvey Bullock has just the right amount of immorality, and I happen to really like Logue, but the character also fell a bit flat.  I see great things ahead for Robin Lord Taylor’s Penguin—he came off both pathetic and creepy.  I like the approach they took with Bruce Wayne and I actually look forward to his storyline (even though there is great danger of traipsing over well-trodden ground).  Alfred came off as an unlikable stiff, but I think that was on purpose.  We all know we’ll end up loving him.

But the standout character for me, and this caught me totally off guard, is none other than Jada Pinkett Smith’s Fish Mooney.  I expected her character to be a throwaway, a placeholder for the Penguin, and it sounded from interviews as though she would be over the top in all the wrong ways.  This was not the case.  Smith played her perfectly, and I truly believe she stole the show.  I’m most interested in learning more about her character, believe it or not.

The show’s kryptonite, I’m afraid, was the dialogue. I cringed at some of the lines I heard, especially from Harvey Bullock and Barbara Kean.  It’s one thing to be a show about a corrupt police department in a city falling apart, it’s another to sound like a show focusing on a corrupt police department in a city falling apart.

I’m not crazy about the plot concerning the Wayne murders, but I understand why they are taking that approach.  It opens up some interesting doors, but, again, they are in danger of repeating things the audience has already seen.

The premise of the show is fantastic—a Gotham City before Batman.  I love Fish Mooney.  I am excited about the Penguin’s potential rise to power.  I loved the hints they dropped, such as with Edward Nygma and the comedian at Mooney’s club.  I think James Gordon could be a rich character if they make him a little more relatable, and I have great hopes for Harvey Bullock, a character who always wins over the audience despite his surly ways.

Overall, I say the show succeeded for a first episode.  It set the tone, laid the groundwork, opened up many potential plots, and touched on the major players.  Furthermore, it looked exquisite.  Is there room to improve?  Of course, but dialogue is an easy thing to fix, especially once the actors get better acquainted with the “voice” of their characters.

 

My Initial Impression Of the Twelfth Doctor

Last night Peter Capaldi properly debuted as the Twelfth Doctor.  I happen to really like what I’ve previously seen of Capaldi, both as an actor and as an actor being interviewed (I can’t claim to actually know him as a person).  I must admit that I rooted for Capaldi to have a fantastic first appearance.

But did I like him as the Doctor?  I honestly don’t know yet.  I imagine this is what a lot of people are saying, because the first episode is just that – the first episode.  I wasn’t sold on the Ninth Doctor or the Tenth Doctor when they first appeared.  The Eleventh Doctor won me over immediately, but how could he not when he was so kind to little Amelia Pond?  Most Doctors need a little time to bounce back from the regeneration, and most actors need a little time to really sort out their interpretation of the icon.  The good news is that I’ve ended up loving all the Doctors, and I have no doubt I’ll love Capaldi as well.

But, frankly, I don’t love him yet.

There’s a few things working against him, most of which are beyond his control.  For example, like most fans I worked myself into an anticipatory frenzy awaiting his debut – and it was a long wait.  Could his debut ever live up to that kind of prolonged excitement?  Furthermore, I didn’t really enjoy the actual story of his debut episode.  Let’s be honest – most Doctor Who episodes aren’t very complete from a pure story standpoint.  Oftentimes the actors outshine the story, so no one notices, and that’s totally find with me.  I’m there for the Doctor.  (Of course there are exceptions, and there have been some brilliantly written episodes.  I’m speaking in generalities.)  Lastly, I don’t think he got enough Doctor moments.  In fact, the episode seemed to focus on Clara more than anything.  I understand this approach – giving the fans an anchor for which they are familiar makes sense.

But, even with all that being said, the Twelfth Doctor had a few standout moments.  For example, describing his frown to the homeless man really proved a pleasing moment.  The final scene on the streets of Glasgow also proved effective and gave Capaldi a chance to show his range.

Speaking of which, I saw some wonderful acting from Capaldi, and I am positive he will probably be the best “actor” of the recent group, but I’m not yet certain he has that intangible charisma that made Ten and Eleven so dynamic.

But that’s okay.  Most of Ten and Eleven’s magnetism came from funny, sweet moments, or outright silliness, and that does not suit Twelve.  It’s already obvious that Capladi will not don goofy hats or sneakers.

Where will Capaldi take Twelve?  I don’t know, but I am of course along for the ride.  I’m sure by the year’s end I will be raving about Twelve, but as of right now, I’m just not totally enraptured.

Aquaman Confirmed For Batman v. Superman, and You Better Not Laugh!

So this will be the most geeky post you read today, if not the entire month.  Jason Momoa (of Game of Thrones, Conan the Barbarian, and Stargate: Atlantis) has been confirmed at Aquaman in the new Batman v. Superman movie, which is sort of the sequel to Man of Steel.

I can’t claim to be a Jason Momoa fan.  I’m really not that familiar with his work.  However, I am an Aquaman fan.  Yeah, I said it.

Aquaman gets no respect, and for the life of me, I don’t know why.  Peter David’s run on Aquaman completely won me over in the early ’90s.  This was when he grew a beard, lost a hand, replaced the hand with a hook, and donned gladiator armor.  Because it was Peter David, it worked.  (Check it out if you haven’t.)

Then, slowly but surely, they brought back the orange scale armor and green pants, lost the beard, shortened the hair, and even gave him his hand back.  But they kept the warrior attitude.

All too often people think of Aquman only as the guy who can talk to fish.  But let’s run down his powers and characteristics.  He’s the son of both a human and the queen of Atlantis.  He was raised by the father, but discovered his heritage as a young man.  After his father died, he went in search of Atlantis, and was named rightful king.  He is the king of the Seven Seas, which, as you know, accounts for 75% of the planet.  He can telepathically push aquatic life to do his bidding – this includes sharks, whales, etc.  His body is super dense which enables him to withstand the ocean depths, this gives  him incredible strength and also makes his skin impervious to most human weapons.  Furthermore, because of the dense muscles that allow him to swim hundreds of miles per hour, he can also leap incredible amounts of distance while on land.  Plus, during his current incarnation, he has an unbreakable trident which is a relic form ancient Atlantis.  Aquaman is more than capable of living outside of water for long spans of time.

Aquaman wants nothing more than to bring peace to both the surface world and his kingdom.  He is an environmentalist, a warrior king, and a hero when serving with the Justice League.

Let’s not forget Aquman’s queen, Mera.  Mera is a warrior as well, also an outsider of Atlantis, and a woman for whom you do not want to trifle.  She can control water, shape it as she wishes, move it as she wants.  She is a formidable character in her own right, a character more than capable of carrying her own series.  When coupled with Aquaman, they are irresistible.  I sincerely hope they cast Mera in Batman v. Superman as well, for she would amaze movie goers.

So, are you convinced?  Do you now see Aquaman as more than the guy who talks to fish?  A few years ago, DC Comics (sort of) rebooted their universe.  Geoff Johns, who is known for revitalizing old favorites, decided to make Aquman his pet project.  I’ve read the first four volumes, and I loved them.  Johns is building a mythology around both Atlantis and Aquaman like never before.  Check out the first volume – it’s called Aquaman: The Trench.

If done well, Aquaman could be like Lord of the Rings under water.  There is an epic story just waiting to be told.  If someone dedicated themselves to building a world for Aquaman like James Cameron did for Avatar, the potential is limitless.

 

 

 

My Knee-Jerk Reaction To the New Thor

Today we learned there will be a new Thor, and this Thor is female.  My first reaction to this news is, “Thank goodness they are not calling her ‘Lady Thor’ or ‘Thorette.'”  I also thought, “Hey, she’s fully dressed – good!”

I had these initial reactions because these are two issues that bother me to no end.  I have two very young daughters, and we love super heroes.  But it irritates me that most of our super hero toys are male – Superman, Batman, Iron Man, etc.  In fact, my oldest daughter asked me when she was four if there were female super heroes besides Wonder Woman, Supergirl, and Batgirl.  Of course there are, we all know there are, but I started coming up with names like Spider-Woman, Batwoman, She-Hulk, and something dawned on me.  By and large, most of our female super heroes are derivatives of a male counterpart.  Those who are original, such as Wonder Woman or Black Canary, tend to wear little clothing or fish-net stockings.  I think this is a bad message to my daughters.

I want my daughters to know that they can and should rely on themselves.  I want them to be original, innovative, and free-thinkers.  I don’t want them assuming that they should only take an existing idea and alter it.  They need to always strive to break the mold, to do things their own way, and to avoid letting gender come into the issue at all.

Marvel Comics is a corporate entity.  I’m thrilled that they’ve allowed Black Widow to shine in their cinematic universe, but in the comic book universe, there is much room for improvement.  But, because they are a corporate entity, oftentimes their books are determined by the bottom line – profit.  Why not give this new “Thor” her own identity and let her float?  Because there is a good chance she would sink.  Don’t get me wrong, I would constantly take chances on new, original characters – both male and female.  Unfortunately, I’m not in charge of Marvel, and if I was, I’d probably drive them out of business pretty quickly (or take them to soaring new heights).

You take a female character, put a very well-known brand title on her (Thor), and she will make money.  From Marvel’s perspective, they are doing something initially perceived as risky and progressive, but there’s really no risk at all.  Comic books are largely a male dominated field on both the production side of things as well as in regards to the readership.  Plus, we all know the male Thor will be back before Avengers 2 comes out.

I’m the first to admit this is all speculation.  We don’t know much of anything about the new Thor.  It’s a knee-jerk reaction and I addressed that fact in the title of this article.

But I wish I didn’t have to settle.  I wish I didn’t only feel good about the fact that they aren’t calling her “Lady Thor” and that she’s fully clothed.  I wish my daughters had heroes that matched their imagination and independence.

 

Picture taken from Women You Should Know‘s Facebook Page

Keep the “Wonder” In Wonder Woman

Against my better judgement, I’m playing the old comic book fan card.  You know the one: the “I’m quitting this comic because of a creative change!”

Let me explain.  A few years ago, DC Comics (sort of) rebooted their universe and called the (sort of) reboot “The New 52.”  In the (sort of) new DC Universe, super heroes have only been around for about five years.

Some of the (sort of) rebooted titles have languished due to the change, but others have flourished, such as Wonder Woman.

You should know before The New 52, I never bought a Wonder Woman comic book in my life.  Truthfully, I wasn’t very excited about buying it for the first time ever as a thirty-something, but the fact is that Brian Azzarello is a master storyteller, Cliff Chiang is a fantastic artist, and I could not resist their combined talent.

Their Wonder Woman is rooted deeply in Greek mythology, which is totally in keeping with her history.  The Greek Gods are important characters in her title, but they are nothing like you’ve seen before.  Azzarello revitalized an already wildly popular character by making her appeal to a larger audience.  Azzarello’s interviews before the title’s release describing his plans for Wonder Woman and the Gods’ incorporation proved the main reason I came aboard.

Furthermore, Chiang draws an attractive, respectable Wonder Woman.  I’m not embarrassed for my wife to see my Wonder Woman books lying around.  I’m not worried about my small daughters’ sense of body image when they look at Chiang’s Wonder Woman on the covers.  Chiang draws her beautifully.  She is large and feminine.  She is powerful and graceful.   Her costume could be manipulated into something skimpy and trashy, but Chiang makes it appropriate and even regal.

Wonder Woman has been an intelligent, exciting story concerning Wonder Woman and her Greek God family with dynamic, attractive art that celebrates Wonder Woman’s heroism.

I worry that all that is going to change.

Azzarello and Chiang are leaving the title.  They said in the beginning they had a three-year story to tell, and that third year is about over.

A few days ago, DC announced the new Wonder Woman team.  I at first felt pretty good about it.  The writer is Meredith Finch, who is, of course, a woman.  A woman writing Wonder Woman is always a good thing in my book.  Meredith’s husband, David, will be the artist.  Uh-oh.  David Finch is an engaging artist, but his women tend to appear more like pin-up models.  My red flag is going up.

To make matters worse, Meredith Finch is on record as saying she wants to veer away from the Greek mythology and focus more on Wonder Woman’s interactions with her fellow Amazons and the Justice League.

Here is where I play my comic book fan card and scream, “I’m out!”

Here’s why: I don’t want the overly sexual Wonder Woman that Finch will most likely depict in his art.  I certainly don’t want a Wonder Woman title where she is primarily interacting with the Justice  League.  You know where I can get that?  The Justice League books.  Or the Superman and Wonder Woman book.  When I read a Wonder Woman book, I want it to be a unique experience, something specific to the character that sets her apart from her shared universe.  The Finch team seems intent upon returning Wonder Woman to the status quo.

I get it.  Wonder Woman is going to be in the new Superman movie.  It will also have Batman with probable appearances by Aquaman and Cyborg.  I suspect the rest of the Justice League will show up as well.  They want to position Wonder Woman to capitalize off of the movie, and they want to position the movie to capitalize off of Wonder Woman.  I think they call that corporate synchronization.

I understand their intentions, but it’s a shame.  Azzarello and Chiang made a character I previously refused to read my favorite DC title, a title I regularly told people who don’t read comic books to check out.

So I’m playing the comic book fan card: I’m out.

Chiang vs. Finch

For a Guy Who Doesn’t Watch a Lot Of TV, I’m About To Watch a Lot Of TV

I’ll be honest, I don’t consider myself much of television guy, but when thinking about my DVR settings I realized that next season I will be a full-0n couch potato.  Here are the shows I currently watch …

  • Doctor Who
  • Sherlock
  • Orphan Black
  • Mountain Men
  • Arrow

The good news is that most of those shows have very short seasons, so I don’t have to commit too much of myself to them.  Unfortunately, that’s all about to change.  Here are the shows I want to add to my viewing …

  • The Flash
  • Gotham
  • Constantine
  • Scalped
  • Preacher
  • DMZ

Yes, these are all shows based on comic books, and if that surprises you then you don’t really know me at all, do you?  But hey, The Walking Dead came from the comic book realm, and it seems to be doing okay (even if I did quit it).

Oh, by the way, the list would be even longer if I had Netflix.  You could add Daredevil, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, and AKA Jessica Jones.

Which of these new shows will I stick with?  I can pretty much guarantee The Flash (lifelong fan), Gotham (lifelong fan), and DMZ (amazing Vertigo comic series).  The others are “wait and see.”

Honestly, added on to my love of NFL football, this is just too much TV.

 

My Initial Impression Of the Affleck As Batman Photograph

Today Zack Snyder released the first image depicting Ben Affleck as Batman for the upcoming Man of Steel sequel, tentatively titled Batman Vs. Superman.  Though the movie does come out until May 6, 2016, it’s never too early to get the fans worked into a frenzy, and this photograph has apparently done just that.

You know I love Batman.  I love all iterations of the character.  There’s enough love in my heart for the character to accept most interpretations.  And concerning this image, honestly, I like where they’ve taken him.  It’s already been established that this Batman will be an older and wiser, battle-hardened version, such as the Batman depicted in the critically acclaimed Batman: The Dark Knight Returns graphic novel, and this costume does much to evoke that series’ imagery.

For example, I love that they have finally got a cape and cowl that seem attached to one another and organic to the man beneath.  Best of all, his head doesn’t look huge because of his mask.  It looks very sleek and form fitting.  It’s good.

I also like the over-sized bat symbol on his chest. Again, this looks like the one from the graphic novel, and that’s okay by me.  The belt looks cool and useful.  I love the little nuances of the costume/armor – the little lines and details.  Snyder is an extremity stylized director, and the costume reflects that.

Ironically, the costume is also far more simple than I expected.  It does not look clunky with plates of armor, it does not appear awkward due to gargantuan headgear.  Even the ears are more subtle.

In fact, quit honestly, this looks like the most “comic book” version of the costume we’ve had perhaps since the 60’s television show.  I hear rumblings that it would appear as though Jim Lee drew it, and that seems to be the case.

Are there some things I wish they’d done? Sure.  I’m a little tired of the all black Batman.  Some kind of grey and black contrast would have been nice, or even grey and dark blue.  I also miss the yellow oval included with the bat symbol as well.  Finally, the white eye slits like in the comics would be so cool, but I get that they want us to recognize the actor beneath in some capacity.

But, even having said all that, I am satisfied with this look.  To me, it’s the most loyal to the source material we’ve had yet.  I’m excited to see more during the next two years.