Archive for The Joker

Lasso of Truth – Weekly Comics Round-up: 16th September 2009

Posted in Batman and Robin, Blackest Night, Brave and the Bold, Comics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 22nd September, 2009 by Adam Redsell

lasso_of_truth_4

Lasso of Truth is your weekly guide to what’s hot and what’s not in the DC Universe.  Each week, the Red Baron goes through his comics haul to tell you what’s worth buying and what’s best left alone.

Here’s the key:

Must havethere’s no question, you should buy this great book.
Buy ita high-quality read that won’t disappoint.
Check it outpick it up if you have some extra cash.  May be an acquired taste.
Avoida disappointing read.  Save your money and steer clear.


b&r_4

Batman & Robin #4
Written by Grant Morrison ǀ Art by Philip Tan
Grant Morrison shifts gears for his next story arc, while Philip Tan turns in his best work since, well, ever.  “Revenge of the Red Hood” trades day-glo for bold black and red.
Verdict: Must have.


blackest_night_3

Blackest Night #3
Written by Geoff Johns ǀ Art by Ivan Reis
I’m sorry, but if you’re not reading Blackest Night, you’re a damn fool.  First go back and read every single Green Lantern-related thing Geoff Johns has touched, then come back here when you’re done.  The Indigo Tribe make their true debut here, and they bring a lot of answers with them.  Of course, if they didn’t bring even more questions, then this wouldn’t still be the most intriguing event book in comics history, now, would it?
Verdict: Must have.


brave_bold_27

The Brave and the Bold #27
Written by J. Michael Straczynski ǀ Art by Jesus Saiz
Okay everyone, it’s safe to come out now – DC’s put a decent creative team back on the Brave and the Bold!  JMS turns in a rather poignant one-and-done story starring Batman and “Dial ‘H’ For Hero”.  Sounds like an odd team-up, but he really makes it work.  I’m not so sure I appreciate his take on the Joker, though…
Verdict: Buy it.

Advertisements

Detective Comics #855

Posted in Batwoman, Comics, DC, Detective Comics, The Question with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 9th August, 2009 by Adam Redsell
Batwoman in Wonderland.

Batwoman in Wonderland.

“Elegy Part 2: Misterioso”
Author: Greg Rucka
Artist: J.H. Williams III
Colorist: Dave Stewart
Letterer: Todd Klein
Assistant Editor: Harvey Richards
Editor: Michael Siglain
Variant Cover Artist: J.G. Jones

“The Question – Pipeline: Chapter One/Part Two”
Artist: Cully Hamner
Colorist: Laura Martin
Letterer: Jared K. Fletcher

It’s official: Detective Comics is the best Bat-book on the shelves at the moment.  Who would have thought that Batwoman would amount to anything more than a media publicity stunt?  Well, the media don’t really care anymore, but I sure as hell do.

So many great Batman staples make their return here: Carroll-inspired villainy, Gothic castles, mad monks, and bad opium dreams [see Arkham Asylum, The Cult, Gothic, Batman and the Mad Monk, and Venom].  It’s Rucka’s respect for these hallmarks that makes us accept Batwoman into the Bat-family, and as a worthy successor to the World’s Greatest Detective.

Batwoman’s new foil Alice is chilling and off-kilter to say the least.  In fact, she’s quickly establishing herself as Batwoman’s Joker, and honestly I think she’s interesting enough to pull it off.  Her exclamations are just like original Alice, but it’s her pragmatism and emotional detachment under the guise of curiosity and innocence that makes my skin crawl.

All of this is augmented by Dave Stewart’s striking colours and J.H. Williams’ beautiful pencils.  Williams’ panel layouts are once again experimental yet easy to follow, and their “otherness” only fuels the drug-induced surrealism that dominates the issue.  “Beautiful, like broken butterfly wings” is the best way I can think to describe it.  Batwoman’s flowing red locks, Alice’s running mascara, the falling autumn leaves, the psychedelic vines that cloud Kate’s memories: this comic is a visual feast.

Suffice it to say, Kate Kane’s beginner’s luck has run out and Alice – new leader of the Religion of Crime – shows her true colours.

A very strange cliffhanger is followed by The Question backup feature, with Cully Hamner ably assisting on pencils.  His art is like Weet Bix and warm milk; the cartoony style can’t prepare you for the gritty brutality that follows.  The Question teaches her adversaries a very valuable lesson: don’t bring a weapon against someone more proficient in that weapon – like nunchaku for instance – it’s just a liability.  After some persuasive interrogation, Montoya shifts back into detective mode, but finds more trouble than info.  The Question’s street-level view helps ground an otherwise fantastical cape story, which again begs the Weet Bix and warm milk analogy.

Once again, Detective Comics has cemented itself as the most beautiful, value-packed book on store shelves.  Issue 854 was a great new start to Detective with very little background required, so why not jump in while the time is ripe?

Review on the Run: Hancock.

Posted in Comics, film, Hancock with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 15th May, 2009 by Adam Redsell

I went in with fairly low expectations, and I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised with Hancock. Once you get past the five-minute slapstick opening (CG seagulls – you’ll see what I mean), it’s all smooth sailing. Probably the best performance was given by Jason Bateman, who plays a struggling PR man. He finds new purpose in improving the super-lout’s public image, but he certainly gets more than he bargained for.

There’s a few nods to other superheroes here and there, including Iron Man and The Hulk, mostly because Hancock’s always getting drunk and breaking things. But even if you’re not a comic-book nerd like myself you’ll find plenty to enjoy. CG seagulls aside, my only real gripe with the film is the lack of a real imposing villain. Of course, my points of reference are Lex Luthor and the Joker, so that comparison may not be fair.

The Darkest Knight Ever: A Dark Knight Review.

Posted in Batman, Comics, DC, Detective Comics, film, The Dark Knight with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 11th May, 2009 by Adam Redsell

The Gotham underworld is in ruins as it struggles to rebuild itself. Criminals stray from the shadows, and hide in the daylight, for the shadow is the Batman’s domain. Clawing desperately like rodents from flame, the mafia turns to a man they do not understand. An agent of Chaos, they call him the Joker.

The shadow of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight looms large over every Bat-film, nay, every superhero film before it. By the film’s conclusion, it struck me just how apt the title was: its darkness surpasses even Burton’s Gothic interpretation of the franchise. Nolan’s real-world Gotham makes the presence of a Joker all the more frightening. I’ve never thought about the Joker as a terrorist or even an anarchist before, but Nolan and Ledger gave me a real sense of, this is what the world would be like with the Joker in it, and this is what he’d do. It all seems so obvious now, but the truth is, there’s never been a Joker quite like this before. As Nolan has stated in various interviews, Heath Ledger’s Joker truly is a force of nature. He’s a hurricane that sweeps through each scene, stealing it and then destroying it for no other reason than that’s what he is. There is a tangible tension in the air; a siren sound builds in the background (courtesy of Zimmer and Howard), and neither the audience nor the Batman knows how to deal with him, because we honestly don’t know what he’ll do next.

Ledger's iconic Joker. There's no telling what he might do.

Ledger's iconic Joker. There's no telling what he might do.

It’s this unpredictability that propels the entire film for two and a half hours – no mean feat if you’ve ever seen Lord of the Rings. There are plot twists a-plenty here, and each one of them is a bold move on the part of Goyer and the brothers Nolan.

Like all good comic books, The Dark Knight is first and foremost a character drama. Christian Bale plays a brooding Batman, and a conflicted Bruce Wayne once again. But it’s clear this time that Wayne has moved beyond revenge, and is far more concerned with the repercussions of Batman’s actions, not only for his loved ones, but for Gotham City as a whole. One of the film’s major themes is sacrifice, and you’ll see plenty of moments where all of Wayne’s friends and allies pay high prices for the love of their city. I could really feel Bruce Wayne and Harvey Dent’s love for both Gotham and Rachel, and Jim Gordon’s love for his family as well. It is Harvey Dent’s inextricable importance to Gotham and all of its major players that makes his destiny all the more tragic. That Aaron Eckhart’s Dent won me (and Batman) over within the first few minutes only amplified the tragedy. Again, I knew what to expect, but I was continually surprised by the journey.

Gary Oldman’s Jim Gordon is a comic fan’s dream come true. His resemblance to the character in the classic Year One is uncanny, both in personality and visage. Maggie Gyllenhaal was the perfect choice to replace Katie Holmes as Rachel Dawes – not only does she look similar; she plays a stronger character with more substance than a pretty face. Take this from someone whose pet hate is changing casts between sequels – that the first four Bat-films featured the same Alfred Pennyworth, yet three different Bruce Waynes irked me to no end! Speaking of Alfred, Michael Caine shines through as Bruce’s mentor and friend. I was initially wary of his casting in Begins, mostly due to his rustic speech, but he has captured the essence of a butler who oversteps his role, and cuts straight to the heart of the matter. Morgan Freeman reprises his role as Lucius Fox, Batman’s ‘Q’ and now-CEO of Wayne Enterprises.

The movie’s other major theme is Chaos. Chaos is the Joker’s modus operandi, and he sees himself as the necessary Yin to Batman’s Yang. Bale underscores this notion in playing the thinking-man’s Batman. While there is little emphasis on Batman as the World’s Greatest Detective, he is certainly portrayed as an inventive and rational force. Joker, on the other hand, is all kinds of insane. He simply doesn’t care what happens, as long as something happens; his life an amoral dance of cause and effect. It’s almost refreshing to see the Joker’s sheer abandonment and wanton destruction, as it represents a way of life so different from our own.

Nolan and company cottoned on to the character’s greatest strength: his mysterious origin. Nolan makes no attempt to explain the Joker’s origins definitively; a wise choice that not only saves valuable screen-time, but enriches the character as well. A wry smile crept across my face every time Ledger licked his lips to recount a different origin story to his victims. Indeed, there is a certain black comedy that permeates his dialogue and the film at large. Heath Ledger’s mannerisms are clever and understated, simultaneously manic and aloof. His performance chilled me to the bone, and yet I couldn’t wait to see him return for the next scene. It represents a fitting swan song to his career, and I would love nothing more than to see him win that posthumous Oscar.

The Dark Knight definitely comes off as a self-contained film, and no expense was spared to give it all the dramatic weight possible, with almost complete disregard for sequel potential. As lofty as they are, comparisons with the likes of The Empire Strikes Back and The Godfather: Part II are apt. With such a take-no-prisoners approach, where do we go from here? Disheartening, though it may be, it’s a beautiful problem to have.

There are so many more things I could say about The Dark Knight, but nothing that hasn’t already been said more eloquently by someone else. To give you a detailed account of every happening would only diminish its profound impact. Needless to say, it distills some of the greatest elements in Batman’s rich history and combines them to create a thrilling, multi-layered narrative. With Iron Man and now The Dark Knight, its refreshing to see the medium of the comic book movie treated with such maturity and respect for the source material. More than that, The Dark Knight actually transcends the genre of the superhero movie. It’s not for the faint of heart (or for children), but anyone can and probably will enjoy this movie on its own merits. Run, don’t walk, to your nearest video store and catch The Dark Knight.

Riddle Me This: Batman Three.

Posted in Batman, Batman Three, Comics, DC, Detective Comics, film with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 9th May, 2009 by Adam Redsell

This one seems to have flown beneath the buzz radar. But I’m chomping at the bit at the prospect of having Johnny Depp take on The Riddler. Problem is, these early casting rumours rarely ever come to fruition. My other problem is: has the story treatment for Batman Three even been written yet? I don’t like the idea of The Riddler and Penguin being shoe-horned into a Batman story [though I surmise this is what happens with most comics, we’ve already established that ‘The Dark Knight’ has transcended its source material].

All misgivings aside, if anyone has a decent chance of one-upping Ledger’s Joker, it’s Depp. Not necessarily because he’s a better actor – and he is – but because he’s a great character actor, equally adept in Hollywood blockbusters as he is in obscure thrillers. That he’s worked with Tim Burton on more occasions than anyone else [with the possible exception of Danny Elfman?] damn-near infuses Mr. Depp with a biological connection to the Batman mythos. Whether or not you appreciate Burton’s Bat-films is entirely beside the point, one thing is clear: Burton has an innate sense of the Gothic, and the Comic.

Can the Joker be beaten?

Can the Joker be beaten?

I could care less that Philip Seymour Hoffman was approached to be the next Penguin. He looks like he could be a Penguin, but that’s merely an aesthetic consideration at this point. Without a doubt, he’s a fine actor, but a fine Penguin? Not so sure. I suppose that’s because conceptually, I hold Burton and DeVito’s Penguin on a pedestal nearly as tall as Ledger’s Joker [that and it marked the first and last occasion that DeVito played a character other than himself]. In a real-world context – that is, Nolan’s context – the Penguin simply bores me as nothing more than a mobster with a disfigurement. The Penguin of the comics has never been compelling. Ever. And I’ve read a lot of Batman comics.

But I can see The Riddler working, particularly in the hands of Depp. My story treatment goes something like this: Edward Nygma [surely they will need to change his name, who wouldn’t guess that this guy is secretly The Riddler?!] is the detective charged by the GCPD to track down the Batman and incarcerate him. When he clocks off, though, he becomes the terrorist known only as The Riddler, putting the Dark Knight through his paces with a series of life-or-death riddles, designed to trap and expose him. Here is a pragmatic force, determined to unravel the mystery of the Batman at all costs, even at the cost of civilian lives. This effectively fuses two of the most popular [and tenable] interpretations of the character: a villain obsessed with the mystery of Batman’s identity vs. a rival detective and GCPD informant, as he has appeared most recently within the pages of Paul Dini’s Detective Comics. It’s also a scenario that fits well with the Batman-as-Enemy-of-the-State theme alluded to in The Dark Knight’s final act.

So, The Riddler and the Penguin in Batman Three?  Certainly a possibility.

So, The Riddler and the Penguin to feature in Batman Three? Certainly a possibility.

“Superman, FINISH HIM!!”

Posted in Comics, DC with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 7th May, 2009 by Adam Redsell

I’m sure many of you have experienced or seen the Most Ridiculous Crossover in Recent Years [I won’t say ‘Of All Time’ because you and I both know that won’t be true in a year’s time], Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe. Being the highly critical person that I am, I thought I’d take this blogging opportunity to pick their picks to pieces. I’ll address the Mortal Kombatants first, because I’m happy with their choices, by and large. EXCEPT

  1. Jax is quite possibly the most ill-conceived Mortal Kombat character ever devised. Not only does he reek of ‘token black guy’, his one and only claim to fame is a couple of bionic arms. As if one wasn’t enough. The man has no personality! Just put Wesley Snipes in and be done with it.
  2. Where’s Goro? Where’s Motaro? Any four-armed freak of a creature will do. Here’s a mathematical equation to illustrate: MK + 1 four-armed-felon = MK + 10 cools, therefore 1 four-armed-felon = 10 cools.


10 cools. It’s science.

Here’s the rest, for those that are interested:

Scorpion
Sub-Zero
Sonya
Shang Tsung
Liu Kang
Raiden
Kitana
Kano
Baraka
Shao Kahn

Now, as a comic book nerd and DC fan, the solemn duty of criticising the crap out of the rest of the character selections has fallen to me. And what a heavy burden it is – but somebody’s gotta do it:

Batman
Batman suits well enough, aside from the ‘no killing clause’ that most DC superheroes subscribe to. From what I’ve seen, though, he looks too ‘blue’. It’s certainly the dominant depiction these days, but I think they should have opted for the ‘black’ Batman – you know, the one who is so damn shadowy you can only see his pointed shape with some eyeballs painted on…

Superman
I know he’s DC’s flagship character and everything, but there’s no justifying Big Blue’s involvement in a Mortal Kombat game. He’s just too squeaky clean for this kind of thing. Perhaps if Brainiac was in the game, or some other colossal cosmic threat, it might give his presence a bit of context [then again, preaching context to a developer that’s putting MK and DC characters in the same game is probably an exercise in futility].

Catwoman
Now, this one makes sense. I can’t help but feel that they slutted her up too much for this, though. How can you fight and do backflips when your boobs are falling out? I suppose nobody cares so long as they do fall out.


Speaks volumes.

Green Lantern
Green Lantern’s powers are a little too fantastic for a gritty, oatmeal-textured fighting game like Mortal Kombat. The ring constructs just aren’t hands-on enough for this type of thing, though we know the hot-headed Hal Jordan isn’t averse to throwing a punch or three when the situation calls for it. Again, without context, he runs the risk of Fish-out-of-water Syndrome.

The Joker
I’m starting to think that they should have done a Mortal Kombat vs. Batman game instead. Another great choice – I just hope they go with a Ledger/Grant Morrison-style interpretation of the character, smiling from ear to ear.

Shazam
Captain Marvel is even more out of place in a Mortal Kombat game than Superman. He’s a young boy that transforms into a magical superhero with a magic word for crying out loud! If Supes is squeaky clean, then Shazam is polished, buffed and lacquered.

[Having said that, I would’ve taken this if it meant the presence of Black Adam, but sadly it doesn’t.]


Say cheese!

The Flash
How does super-speed work in a fighting game? Handling Sonic in SSBB was hard enough – imagine controlling the Scarlet Speedster, who’s faster than the speed of light. Technically, he should be able to round up the entire cast in a few seconds, but that doesn’t make for good gaming now, does it? This may not be reality, but a comic or videogame needs to follow its own logic. Between the super-speed and the gaudy costume, the Flash just doesn’t fit here.


Wonder Woman: Warrior Princess.

Wonder Woman
Diana Prince, on the other hand, fits surprisingly well as the Amazonian Warrior Princess. If they emphasise her battle armour and weapon skills, Boon & Co. might just pull it off.


Deathstroke
I have to admit, I didn’t see this one coming at all. While Deathstroke is seemingly obscure compared to the likes of Lex and the Joker, his presence in a Mortal Kombat game makes a lot more sense. Deadly assassin? Check. Physical deformity? Check. Cool get-up? Check. A freakin’ samurai sword? Check, check and check.
Protip: Deathstroke once had his own series in 1991 called Deathstroke the Terminator. He was referred to exclusively as the Terminator for a good four years until Arnie hit the scene. Now he’s just called ‘Deathstroke’.

Lex Luthor
Love Lex as I do, I fail to see where he fits in the fighting game space. He’s essentially a bald scientist/tycoon in a suit, and while he’s not bad with the fisticuffs, he’s no match for the Scorpions, the Raidens, or even his most familiar foe in a fist-fight.

I suppose the purple-green Apokoliptian battle-suit will be making an appearance, then...

I suppose the purple-green Apokoliptian battle-suit will be making an appearance, then...

Darkseid
Well, one out of eight ain’t bad, is it? There’s not much I can say that I haven’t already said, but Darkseid currently stands as the most important villain in the DC Universe, and brings the necessary level of cosmic to give Supes and Hal some much-needed context…Brainiac would’ve been nice, though.

Compare that to some of my picks, and you have a chalk-and-cheese situation that dwarfs even the ridiculousness of Soulcalibur IV:

Darkseid
Manhunter
Copperhead
Mongul
Bane
Ra’s Al Ghul
Solomon Grundy
Black Adam

Notable (and disappointing) omissions include the likes of Mongul, Bane, Ra’s, Grundy, and especially Black Adam.

Hopefully DC Universe Online actually turns out to be a good game and balances out the universe.