Thursday, June 15, 2017

Millennials Didn't Create Superhero Movies

I had a bit of a rant tonight on Twitter about superhero movies after some guy 1) said superhero movies ruined Hollywood, and 2) that it was somehow millennials fault.

I decided to make that thread into a Twitter Moment because I've never made one before, and I've always wanted to go one one of those really cool multi-tweet thread things with the links and the "I have something to say."

Please enjoy below. (I've never made one of these, nor have I ever embedded one before, so I have no idea how it'll look.)

Monday, June 12, 2017

RIP Adam West: September 19, 1928 - June 9, 2017

Adam West passed away of leukemia a few days ago, and I am very sad about it.

I have extremely fond memories of Adam West as Batman from when I was a kid. I used to watch Batman when I was a kid. We loved it. When I went as Batman for Halloween when I was four or five, the costume was partially inspired by Adam West's Batman (also Michael Keaton's Batman as Batman Returns had come out just a year or so before).

I used to play Batman in front of the TV, and I have watched the 1966 movie more times than I can count. Eventually, it was basically impossible to adjust the tracking enough to make the movie watchable because we'd worn the magnetic tape out.

There is a certain segment of nerd--usually white men--that don't like the 60's take on Batman because it was silly. It was campy. They felt it was mocking this beloved character. To be fair, it kind of was, but it was a loving mockery and a daring experiment since comic books were considered children's stuff--this was long before comics became Things For Adults and Collectibles. And because white guys can't abide even an ounce of ribbing or mockery without shitting themselves in the cereal aisle, they turned as hard and as far from West's Batman as they could.

While this this led to some fantastic Batman stories--Scott Snyder and Tom King's recent runs on Batman in the comics, Nolan's Batman films, and Batman: The Animated Series--too often, Batman was turned Batman into a cruel sociopath--someone who wasn't so much trying to save a city as much as break anybody that dared step out of line. A fascist in a bat costume. Look no further than Frank Miller's take on Batman, especially The Dark Knight Strikes Again and All-Star Batman and Robin (which generated the infamous "Goddamned Batman" meme).

Pictured: the Batman people want...I guess???

Other people have written better, more eloquent or personal things. I highly recommend Glen Weldon's essay on Adam West on NPR. But I would like to take a moment to express that Adam West is one of, if not the, best Batman.

The show was cheesy, but West's performance was 100% serious. That's what made it work. To West's Batman, there is nothing more serious than trying to figure out how a raven is like a writing desk, or making sure that Robin buckles up in the Batmobile because safety first. This was treated with similar gravity as the Penguin surreptitiously buying nuclear submarine secrets from the US government.

Batman's gadgets were sort of wacky, but they demonstrated how clever West's Batman was. He developed these things to peacefully resolve conflicts. He didn't break bad guy's fingers. He tried to outwit them. Of course, there were always punching matches, but it wasn't Batman stomping on someone's skull after breaking through a skylight. West's Batman knocked the bad guys out and took them to the police. West's Batman would give bad guys a stern talking to and try to convince them to turn their life around rather than branding those bad guys with a Bat-Symbol and sending them to their inevitable death in prison.

To me, the best exemplification of West's Batman is from the 1966 movie. Batman has a giant, cartoonish bomb he needs to dispose of, but he's on a crowded boardwalk. If he tries to just throw it away somewhere, someone could get hurt. This scene, while comical, shows just how much this Batman cares. He steers the bomb away from nuns, from children, and when he tries to dispose of the bomb in a lake, he even abandons that plan when he sees a family of duckies. This Batman so values life that he wants to safe EVERYONE--including the animals.

West's show was silly, but sincere. It embraced the roots of comics--that they are stories for children, and they're meant to be fun. And West himself loved this character so much, he basically never stopped playing him. That, to me, is wonderful. Whether he's playing the Grey Ghost--the inspiration for Kevin Conroy's Batman in TAS, or clever references like playing the mayor of Gotham in The Batman from the 2000's, or even parodies of himself like Catman and the Fearless Ferret in the Fairly Odd Parents and Kim Possible respectively, he always appreciated his fans and his legacy.

Please enjoy this musical tribute to Adam West. And maybe check out his old show if you haven't. Or the fantastic Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders which just came out last year.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

My Comics Project Update: April and May 2017

As part of my on-going comics project, I update monthly with what comics I bought and anything weird or interesting I stumbled across. Each post will have a running list, and I'll update with the new titles and where they fall chronologically.

I came up with the order of the books from this comment of all the Batman trades in chronological order (up to Flashpoint), this trade reading order list for Superman, and this one for Batman. I judged the rest for myself based on release dates and what the story depicted.

I want this list functional and readable, so I didn't focus on perfect chronological order. I tried to keep decent chunks of individual runs together where possible, then backtrack chronologically if necessary for a chunk of a different title--except in cases where something important was introduced, like a character dying, coming back to life, etc.

Below you'll see the list of canon DC titles that I own at this point. The ones in bold are the ones that I got this month.

  1. Blue Beetle: The Charlton Files
  2. Crisis On Infinite Earths
  3. Batman: Dark Victory
  4. Batman: The Killing Joke, Deluxe Edition
  5. Justice League International, Vol. 1
  6. Justice League International, Vol. 2
  7. Justice League International, Vol. 3
  8. Justice League International, Vol. 4
  9. The Death of Superman
  10. Batman: Knightfall, Vol. 1
  11. Impulse: Reckless Youth
  12. Justice League: A League of One
  13. JLA Titans: Technis Imperative
  14. Young Justice: A League of Their Own
  15. Birds of Prey, Vol. 1: Of Like Minds
  16. Birds of Prey, Vol. 2: Sensei & Stude​nt
  17. Superman/Batman Vol. 1: Public Enemies
  18. Superman/Batman Vol. 2: Supergirl
  19. JLA: The Hypothetical Woman
  20. Teen Titans Vol. 1: A Kid's Game
  21. Teen Titans Vol. 2: Family Lost
  22. Teen Titans Vol. 3: Beast Boys and Girls
  23. Teen Titans Vol. 4: The Future is Now
  24. Teen Titans/Outside​rs: The Insiders
  25. Teen Titans: The Death and Return of Donna Troy
  26. The OMAC Project (Countdown to Infinite Crisis)
  27. Infinite Crisis
  28. Teen Titans Vol. 5: Life and Death
  29. Supergirl Vol. 1
  30. Batman: Face the Face by James Robinson
  31. Teen Titans, Vol. 6: Titans Around the World
  32. Teen Titans, Vol. 7: Titans East
  33. Superman: Up, Up, and Away!
  34. Superman: Back in Action
  35. Superman: Last Son of Krypton
  36. Superman: Camelot Falls, Vol. 1
  37. Superman: Camelot Falls (Vol. 2)
  38. Superman: The Third Kryptonian
  39. Superman: Redemption
  40. Superman: Escape from Bizarro World
  41. Superman: Shadows Linger
  42. Blue Beetle (Book 1): Shellshocked
  43. Blue Beetle (Book 2): Road Trip
  44. Blue Beetle (Book 3): Reach for the Stars
  45. Teen Titans, Vol. 8: Titans of Tomorrow
  46. Blue Beetle (Book 4): Endgame
  47. Blue Beetle (Book 5): Boundaries
  48. Blue Beetle (Book 6): Black and Blue
  49. Batman: Batman and Son
  50. Batman: The Resurrection of Ra's Al Ghul
  51. Batman R.I.P.
  52. Final Crisis (New Edition)
  53. Batman: Battle for the Cowl
  54. Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds
  55. Teen Titans, Vol. 9: On the Clock
  56. Teen Titans Spotlight: Raven
  57. Wonder Woman: The Circle
  58. Time Masters: Vanishing Point
  59. Superman: Action Comics, Vol. 1: Superman and the Men of Steel
  60. Justice League, Vol. 1: Origin (The New 52)
  61. Batman Vol. 1: The Court of Owls
  62. Batman Vol. 2: The City of Owls
  63. Batgirl Vol. 1: The Darkest Reflection (The New 52)
  64. Batgirl Vol. 2: Knightfall Descends
  65. Batwing Vol. 1: The Lost Kingdom
  66. Justice League Vol. 2: The Villain's Journey
  67. Justice League International Vol. 1: The Signal Masters
  68. Aquaman Vol. 1: The Trench (The New 52)
  69. Aquaman Vol. 2: The Others (The New 52)
  70. Aquaman Vol. 3: Throne of Atlantis (The New 52)
  71. Batman Vol. 3: Death of the Family
  72. Batgirl Vol. 3: Death of the Family
  73. The Movement Vol. 1: Class Warfare (The New 52)
  74. Justice League United Vol. 1: Justice League Canada
  75. Justice League United Vol. 2: The Infinitus Saga
  76. Batgirl Vol. 4: Wanted (The New 52)
  77. Secret Six Vol. 1: Friends in Low Places
  78. Bizarro
  79. Cyborg Vol. 1: Unplugged

Well, it's been a moment since I've updated about comics, right?

Seriously, though, May was a crazy busy month. I actually don't think I bought any comics at all that month because we were saving our money for going to a convention in Kansas City to see my friend, Brooke Johnson, author of steampunky goodness.

With that said, as you can see, my books were mostly pretty straightforward. I continued collecting Teen Titans, the Batman stuff that leads into GraysonBat (BatDick?), and, of course, Blue Beetle.

The two biggest surprise twists for me were actually both birthday gifts. I turned 28 April 1st, and my at almost 30, the best thing to get me is still funny books apparently. I'm fine with this, to be clear.

My mom got me volume 2 of Gail Simone's Birds of Prey series, which I am all about. Gail Simone in general has never disappointed me, but that Birds of Prey series is fantastic. I miss Oracle. Gail did a great run on Batgirl that explored her post-chair life, but the fact it was undone at all still sits poorly with me.

The other super cool thing is actually a reprinting of all of the original Charleton Comics Blue Beetle issues. This means I now have comics that feature all 3 iterations of the Blue Beetle. This volume is basically the entirety of Dan Garrett's time as the Beetle. It's not all that important to reading and enjoying most of Ted Kord's time as BB, but when Jaime Reyes takes over, there's much more emphasis on legacy and the idea of handing down a superhero identity through the generations, so actually having, in print, the adventures they're's difficult to describe how cool that is.

This book is actually scans of the comics pages themselves (sans ads), so it's interesting to see the creases and folds from the old issues. I'm so glad I got it, though. It's not something I'll likely sit down and get super invested in since comics from those days were a bit doofier and disposable, but I'm so glad to have it, all the same.

My comic buying has slowed way down as money is needed for more important things, and I've gotten back into writing mode as I work on draft 3 of my novel codenamed "Werewolf Bar Mitzvah: Spooky! Scary!," but I've purchased a few things so far. Since coming out as bi, I've really been seeking out portrayals of bi and gay men in superhero comics. There's very few, but the ones that are there interest me. So I'll likely continue that. I'm also keen to start digging into Rebirth. I wanted to get some of the preliminary stuff first, but I don't think I'll be able to resist. It almost all looks good.

If you have any thoughts about, drop me a line in the comments. Want to discuss books I've recently purchased or read? Any suggestions for books I missed? Just please, no spoilers.

Happy reading!