Saturday, December 31, 2016

Overall 2016 was a good year for me

It had it's bumps, and I sympathize with those who feel like this was the worst year ever.  We lost many people.  But if Trump is the disaster of a President many have good reason to fear he will be, that will make next year horrible, and many more to come.  So I'm going to end this year remembering it fondly.

If you look at my other 4 BlogSpot/Blogger blogs, you'll see that my views and ideology have shifted somewhat over the last year.  Much of it is changes the seeds for which had been planted earlier.  But the learning I did this year was vitally formative.  And I said much on those blogs I feel is very important.

On this blog also I wrote some of the most ambitious posts I've placed on it.  Most recently the Star Wars and Fascism one.  But also The French History of The Femme Fatale, The Mysteries of Gotham, The Night is Darkest Just Before The Dawn, the post about liking longer movies, the "Show Don't Tell" post, and plenty more.  However these have mostly failed to become the most viewed posts, perhaps I've been lazier about promoting them.

The majority of what I've done on my YouTube channel was posted this year.  At the bottom of this post I may put a few of my really recent ones.  And I created many Memes.

And for my fictional writing career, I shared what I wrote last year, and wrote it's sequel.

I was endlessly entertained by this Election, as much of a sad commentary as it was.  To a large extent following it has contributed to the above mentioned refining of my beliefs.  Of course there were points where it made me feel a little down, but I had plenty to pick me back up.

I have mixed feeling towards Batman V Superman, and the Animated stuff we got from DC.  But I loved Suicide Squad, and with a few reservations enjoyed what DC gave me on TV.  Ghostbusters was acceptable.  PLL was still great though my long honey moon phase with it is over.  The MCU films we got were not as fun for me as the first two phases but probably better then what we got in 2015.  And to top it all off we had Rogue One.

But the main thing I have to say about entertainment media this year, is that I've decided for the near future, with a few notable exceptions, I pretty much only care about what comes out of Japan.  Mainly Anime, and Video Games, but I started trying to read Manga for the first time ever, and watched the Live Action adaptations of Death Note.

Probably 75-90% of the total Anime I have seen I've seen for the first time in the last three years, it was some point in 2014 when I saw Madoka and Sailor Moon was revived and I decided to start regularly keeping up with Anime, sorta.  And this year I was indulging in it even more then I did the prior two years.

Only a small portion of that is Anime that came out this year.  High School Fleet, SMC season 3, Flip Flapper, Izetta, and some shows I started but didn't finish yet.  Three of those four examples mark the first time I ever followed new Anime as they originally aired, I've usually done this by Binge Watching.  Oh and movie wise the 3rd Rebuild film which took awhile to get Dubbed.

It's actually hard for me to imagine the fact that it was less then a year ago I first watched Lucky Star.  Because it has quickly become a pretty important part of how I define myself as an Anime Nerd.  But because of some online documentation, I know I hadn't watched it yet when the year started.  And that strange as it may seem I first watched Haruhi after I'd seen Lucky Star, likewise with K-On.

My second watching of Lucky Star, or at least second time watching it all the way through.  Was on Election Day actually, so I was amused by returning to Konata's election coverage interrupting her Anime comment.  Thanksgiving was the day I watched Dubbed Nanoha, both seasons, and I will always remember that fondly.

I don't think I could name all the anime I first discovered this year, and I may regret later some of what I'm considering it a priority to mention here.  But if you go over my blog, a good deal of what I mention was often stuff I only recently saw.  Particularly my comments on the Fate/ franchise and that High School of The Dead post, which were quite fresh in my minds when I felt compelled to comment on them.

Also the Dub of YuriKuma, and I think after that Penguindrum.  And Wixoss.

There a few I stupidly can't remember exactly when, Yuru Yuri was late 2015 at the soonest, I know it was strongly on my mind in April of this year, and I did some revisiting of it in the last couple weeks.

But a good deal of my Anime viewing this year was revisiting some of what I already loved.  Like Noir which I made a post on, and then after that watching it Subbed for the first time.  Also Engaged to The Unidentified, which in 2014 was the first Comedy/Slice of Life Anime I ever watched, I revisited it partly on my Birthday if I recall correctly.

Also just this last month has seen a huge increase in my PreCure knowledge.  Including a handful of the films, none of which I'd seen before.

I've also gotten into the wider Anime Fandom more.  Following Digibro, and other YouTubers, and being endlessly amused by Two Fat Guys Talk.  I should also shout out to Vrai and JosieNextDoor.

So I had a lot of fun this year.  But I intend to make next year even better if Trump doesn't kill us all.  Between New Anime that will come out next year, Anime I've deliberately kept on hold like SOA which I have low expectations for, PLL going out with a Bang, Wonder Woman and Justice League reforging the Superhero film genre, Star Wars Episode VIII, I may check out Kong.  And I forget if next year is the Jurassic World sequel or is that 2018?

So let's keep looking up.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Star Wars is about Fascism, but is it so in a way that is actually useful in opposing Fascism?

So my fellow SJWs at TheMarySue and LadyGeekGirl and on Tumblr have been going on and on about how Star Wars is obviously political.  What they mainly mean by that is it's obviously on their side, and want to use that George Lucas and the new directors are all mostly on the Left of modern American politics as proof of that.  But the Author Is Dead and George Lucas especially was like Tolkien in that he wanted his stories to have a universal appeal beyond his own personal views or context.

But I'm not making this to talk about any intentional room for interpretation.  But rather a far deeper issue of how society responds to the fiction they watch.  And to start with you should watch this video from KyleKallgrenBHH on YouTube.

From Caligari to Hitler: Imagining the Tyrant - Between the Lines

This premise goes back decades. But this particular video on it was made in November of 2016, after the U.S. presidential Election of that month but before Rogue One came out.  I had watched it when it was still pretty new and bookmarked it on YouTube.

Rogue One is a movie I loved and enjoyed.  But as I looked at a certain segment of Star Wars fans not so impressed with it, expressing how bothered they were by people in their theater openly cheering on Darth Vader at the end.  I was reminded of the above video.

Because this thesis was not mainly about heroes of German cinema who could be viewed as unintentional proto-Nazis, though that was a small factor.  It mostly came down to the tendency of the masses to be fascinated by Villains.  Star Wars has always had that factor, it is the TVTropes Trope Namer for Rooting For The Empire.  And recently The Fanboy Perspective did an editorial about how annoyed he is by movies who's villains are not sufficiently charismatic and Bad@$$ enough to satisfy him.

Now don't get me wrong.  That Vader scene is one you are supposed to "enjoy".  You are supposed to "enjoy" it the same way you "enjoy" a Slasher film.  But of course the fandom of Slasher films has this same problem, I keep seeing people try to say the Final Girl archetype is Feminist, but they don't sell action figures of Laurie Strode, they sell action figures of Michael Myers.

Now I was planning on making this post and saying what I am about to say before Carrie Fisher was even hospitalized.  But naturally I now find it even more important to say that the character people should have been standing up and cheering at the end of Rogue One was Princess Leia.

And of course I can't help but notice the clear correlation between this kind of Star Wars fan, and the Prequel Haters.  People who resent the Prequels for emasculating Darth Vader, and are oh so thankful now to Rogue One for restoring his Manhood, quite literally symbolized by the extending of his Lightsaber.

And we see that in the new Trilogy's haters also to an extent, not liking how whiny and pathetic Kylo Ren seems, they wanted a new Vader, not a Vader wannabe.

Now before you go "great Job invoking Godwin's Law in your ongoing Crusade against Prequel Haters".  I want to say, don't oversimplify my premise.  I'm not sawing you can identify Trump voters by tallying who cheered on Darth Vader, or who hated the Prequels.  On Tumblr I certainly know many Prequel haters who are Anti-Trump, and the most Conservative Star Wars fan I know is a relative who's pretty okay with the Prequels.  My point is that there is a basic cultural overlap between the mentality that leads to thinking the Villains are the best parts of Comic Book films, and finding Trump's style appealing.

And I know full well The Prequels also give us a Villain to be fascinated by, as they finally gave The Emperor an actual character.  Yet at the same time so much Prequel hate is tied to feeling Darth Maul and Count Dooku were under utilized.  And complaining about Anakin killing the Younglings.

Yes, that is an important comparison to the Rogue One scene.  Undeniably that should show the character's Evilness far more.  In Rogue One he's killing enemy combatants, not even a War Crime much less one against civilians, it's wrong only to the extent he is on the wrong side.  But it's not so easy to cheer on Vader massacring Younglings, which Lucas kept off-screen anyway.  More importantly then that though, is how it doesn't make him seem Bad@$$, it makes him seem Pathetic.  Sidious had basically just told him he needed to so some Evil for the Evuls to grow more powerful with The Dark Side, and so he did just that.  Reminds me of how Utena fans who hate the movie are so upset by Akio now being made to look pathetic, Ikuhara did that deliberately.

The massacre of the Seperatists leaders could have been far easier to cheer on.  But the way it's scored and shot, and how it's inter-cut with Palpatine's speech (Lucas cited this as his one Godfather Baptism moment) discourages the audience from doing so.  Topped off by seeing how even this killing of people who narratively had it coming had Anakin crying, showing he still has further to fall, and is certainly as Yoda predicted "Suffering".

I also noticed recently a problem in how all the universally praised Star Wars films, are ones where the "War" in question in unquestioningly a just one, for our Heroes side at least.  And in TFA and Rogue One even more so then the Original Trilogy, hesitancy to go all in on fighting it is presented as weakness.  While The Prequels which send the message that fighting an unjust war, one where our Heroes were the aggressors, is what created The Empire in the first place, get decried as not being simple enough.

2002 saw the release of both Attack of The Clones and The Two Towers.  That was also the year the Bush Administration was beating the War Drums on Iraq, so much so my mind still affiliates that War with 2002 more so then 2003.   Both films happen to have a theme of a War about to break out, which it does at the end.  Bizarre coincidence since it couldn't have been pre-planned.

The sad Irony is that Tolkien would certainly despise the Bush Doctrine as someone traumatized by WWI.  Yet the timing of when the Two Towers movie came out allowed many Bush voters in the theater to take Aragorn's "Open War is upon you, whether you would have it or not" as a take that to Anti-War liberals.  I know this because way back then I was one, a fact I'm deeply ashamed of.  Meanwhile AOTC clearly presents the decision to go to War as a mistake.  The Empire was truly Born in Episode II, as the score beautifully tells you that at the end.  It was just formalized in Episode III.  I wonder to what extent the Prequels are a factor in my ceasing to be Pro-War by 2006.

Going back to Lucas intent, yes he wanted to cosmetically reference the Nazis like everyone was doing at that time.  But in the Audio Commentaries the real meat when he's talking about Historical influences lie in his talking about Ancient Rome and of all people Napoleon III.  Julius and Augustus Caesar, and both Napoleons presented themselves as the Left Wing of the politics of their times, however odd that may seem to us looking at it now.  Lucas message in the prequels was about how Democracy can be subverted, regardless of the ideology of the one subverting it.

That he cited Napoleon III is interesting to me.  Years after I'd first enjoyed those Audio Commentaries, I started developing an interest in 19th Century French Popular fiction, the genesis of which was discovering Paul Feval and BlackCoatPress.  Brain Stableford talks much about the historical contexts of all these novels in his Introductions, Afterwards and Footnotes of his Translations, (interestingly in The Invisible Weapon he theorized Feval become personally disturbed by his own ability to write such compelling villains, that he became like Mliton, unknowingly of The Devil's Party).  And there too Napoleon III is unavoidable.  He may be a nearly forgotten figure today, but to his contemporaries he was very important.

And of course the shadow of Napoleon Classic Version is vital to that.  Especially since censorship meant any negative commentary on him had to veiled.  And he had critics from both progressives and old fashioned conservatives.  Seemingly any novel mentioning the original Napoleon in the 1850s, 60s or even to an extent 70s had Napoleon III in mind.  But not using OG Napoleon himself as the allegory, no they didn't want to grant him that.

The thing about the real Napoleon was that he managed to earn the respect even of those who most harshly opposed him Politically, from both the Royalists and Republicans, from Alexandre Dumas to Paul Feval.  Napoleon III couldn't do that.  And thus the contemporary fictional allegories for him lie in the Napoleon wannabes.  Like Henri Belcamp of Paul Feval's John Devil, or The Blackcoats: Companions of The Treasure, where Julian Bozzo-Corona disguised himself as his far more iconic Corsican Grandfather, Colonel Bozzo-Corona.

Of course it is this failed wannabe nature of how Napoleon III was fictionalized by his contemporaries that makes someone in the know like me a little disappointed in Palapatine as a character partly inspired by him.  And this informs what I in-spite of my issues with TFA love about Kylo Ren.  It is Kylo Ren's failure to be Darth Vader that reminds me of Napleon III's failure to be Napoleon.  And I now kinda hope Snoke is equally a wannabe Sidious, overcompensating in his hologram, so no one question the size of his.... hands.

I realize I kinda left the original topic a bit there.  But I wanted to show I'm not just being a hater who's now completely cynical to seeing useful Politics in Star Wars.  Because Donald Trump also wants to be something he is not.  The Alt-Right sees this as a second American Revolution, but Trump is no George Washington.

Some people might find it offensive to see any French Figure as a proto-Fascist when France was a nation victimized by 1940s Fascists.  But in their current Political Climate they should know they're no more immune to it then America is.

June 20th 2017 Update: Triumph of The Will

I just watched a YouTube video by Folding Ideas about Triumph of The Will. It didn't exist yet when I first made this post.

It was informative on a few levels, the key thing is the closing, that this film that defines how we think of the Nazis, is how the Nazis wanted people to think of them.  It really makes you rethink things.

Because the imagery of that infamous Propaganda film is also core to how fictional evil Empires and Tyrants are compared to the Nazis to demonize them.  Including in Star Wars.  And yet paradoxically I've also seen it observed that this movie influenced the Rebellion's award ceremony at the end.  You know, the one where the Blond White Male heroes get Medals but the hairy alien who can't talk properly doesn't.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Rest in Peace Carrie Fisher

Leia was not usually my favorite Star Wars character, yet I had teared up at the end of Rouge One on December 16th.

She was a multitalented woman, and will be greatly missed.

Also with SW on my mind, I feel I should again say Res tin Peace to Kenny Baker.  R2-D2 will always be the real Star of Star Wars.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Rogue One was fantastic

I don't want to spoil anything in this post.

But it was great, the ending was Phenomenal, I teared up.

I probably like this movie more then The Force Awakens.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Tales of the Shadowmen 13: Sang Froid is now availible to order


http://www.blackcoatpress.com/fiction-tales-of-the-shadowmen-13-sang-froid.html

Tales of the Shadowmen 13: Sang Froid

$23.95  
DEC16
In stock
 
 TALES OF THE SHADOWMEN 13: SANG FROID
edited by J-M. & R. Lofficier
cover by Michel Borderie
stories by Jason Scott Aiken, Matthew Baugh, Adam Mudman Bezecny, Nicholas Boving, Nathan Cabaniss, Matthew Dennion, Brian Gallagher, Martin Gately, Travis Hiltz, Paul Hugli, Rick Lai, Nigel Malcolm, Christofer Nigro, John Peel, Frank Schildiner, Sam Shook, Michel Stéphan, David L. Vineyard and Jared Welch.

US$23.95/GBP 15.99 - 6x9 tpb, 300 p. - ISBN-13: 978-1-61227-578-9
Sang Froid, i.e. Cold Blood! The ability to stay calm in difficult or even dangerous situations... as exhibited by French sleuth Joseph Rouletabille aboard the transiberian "Horror Express"... Or martial arts master Caine and Jed Puma confronted by an insane plan to seize the Wild Wild West... Not to forget the great warlock Quentin Moretus Cassave coming face to face with the Dark Gods, Doctor Omega determined to solve a most enigmatic temporal murder, Sâr Dubnotal battling Dracula, and Sir Wilfred Ivanhoe sworn to defeat the evil Bishop of Aquila...

All this, plus the return of Fantômas, the People of the Pole and the Enchanted City of Africa, Vampires in Berlin and Los Angeles, and a host of Frankenstein Monsters!

In this thirteenth volume of Tales of the Shadowmen, the only anthology dedicated to international heroes and villains of pulp literature, writers from Canada, England, France and the United States, pay homage to those great champions and master criminals who enchanted our adolescence.

Contents:
Jason Scott Aiken: Galazi in the Enchanted City starring Galazi, Queen Toulommia
Matthew Baugh: A Dollar’s Worth of Fists starring Kwai Chang Caine, the Black Coats, Jed Puma
Adam Mudman Bezecny: Harry’s Homecoming starring Harry Dickson, Doctor Ox
Nicholas Boving: The Aquila Curse starring Renaud the Montauban, Ivanhoe, Etienne de Navarre
Nathan Cabaniss: From Paris with Hate starring OSS 117, Fantômas, Diabolik
Matthew Dennion: A Purpose in Life starring Micharl Myers, the Black Coats
Brian Gallagher: The Berlin Vampire starring Captain Vampire, The Vampire Countess, Von Bork
Martin Gately: Rouletabille Rides the Horror Express starring Rouletabille, Sir Alexander Saxton, James Wells
Micah Harris: The Goat of Saint Elster starring Quentin Moretus Cassave
Travis Hiltz: The Island of Exodus starring The People of the Pole, The Wandering Jew
Paul Hugli: As Easy as 1, 2, 3... starring John Carter, Jean Saint-Clair, Nikola Tesla
Rick Lai: Eve of Destruction starring Dr. Mabuse, Fantômas, the Black Coats
Nigel Malcolm: Maximum Speed starring M. Lecoq, Loveday Brooke, Simon Carne
Christofer Nigro: Bad Alchemy starring the Frankenstein Monsters
John Peel: Time to Kill starring Doctor Omega, Bob Morane
Frank Schildiner: The Taking of Frankenstein starring Gouroull, Wu Fang, Dr. Xavier
Sam Shook: Bringer of the Outer Dark starring Hareton Ironcastle, Sâr Dubnotal, Chandu, El Borak
Michel Stéphan: One Summer Night at Holy Cross starring Bob Morane, Harry Callahan
David L. Vineyard: The Moon of the White Wolf starring Arsène Lupin, John Silence, Bulldog Drummond
Jared Welch: Styrian Rhapsody starring Eugenie Danglars, Louise d'Armilly, Mircalla Karnstein
Credits
As usual my story is last.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The Metafiction of Haruhi Suzumiya

There are many different ways for fiction to be Meta.  And I have an appreciation for all of them.  For example, Meta doesn't always have to be deconstruction or subversion.

Brian Stableford, in his Introductions and Afterwards for his translations of Paul Feval novels done for Black Coat Press, spends a lot of time talking about how Meta Paul Feval's writing often was. Even using the term Meta Metafiction.

The thing is, I often wonder how much of that Meta nature would be noticeable to a modern English reader who didn't already have it in their heads from what Stableford wrote.  Because the way Feval was Meta was not always the most obvious ways we're used to today.  It's not exactly like Venture Brothers or Rick and Morty, hanging an obvious lampshade on every bulb they pass.

Some of the reason for that however is because so much of the fiction Feval was commenting on has now fallen into obscurity, (as Feval himself has) and what is still well known isn't what most popular fiction today is usually directly emulating.

As someone who's been viewing a lot of Anime the last few years, as the Meta tendencies of Anime have escalated.  I've finally found something modern that I think is Meta in a similar way to Paul Feval's writing.  It's not at all the first Anime I'd think of for something with similar subject matter to Paul Feval (I feel a direct line can be traced from Paul Feval to Arsene Lupin to Lupin III).  But it's Meta I think can be viewed as similar to what I discussed above.

And that is The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya.   Haruhi was adapted from a series of Light Novels, light novels are serialized novels, they are really the Japanese equivalent to the medium Feval usually wrote in.  As a viewer though I've only watched Haruhi (and watched it Dubbed) while Feval I've mostly only read.

Haruhi is often viewed as the trend setter in how Meta Anime has been ever since.  However to my observations the followers of Haruhi have all been Meta in much more obvious ways.  The immediate successor was Lucky Star, which was basically Kevin Smith style Anime.  I say that as someone who admittedly has never watched a Kevin Smith film, but the general characterizations of his early ones seem to me like basically what Lucky Star is, a bunch of Nerdy characters just talking about random stuff.  Since I love Lucky Star so much maybe I should give Clerks or Mallrats a try.  Haruhi is to Lucky Star as Star Wars is to Kevin Smith.

Haruhi doesn't use the words Anime and Manga the way other notoriously Meta Anime does.  If Haruhi were to fall into obscurity for over a hundred years and be rediscovered by people who didn't live through it's cultural context.  It might seem like just a show about a character obsessed with fringe Pseudo-Science.  Aliens, Time Travelers and Espers are all things a significant number of real including educated people think do or at least could really exist.  It'd be much more obviously Anime is they'd been Magical Girls, Mecha Pilots and Notebooks that can kill people.

Haruhi is sometimes meta in more obvious ways.  And so is Feval.  The making of The Adventures of Mikuru Asahina is kind of similar to the subplot in the original Les Habits Noirs novel (The Blackcoats: Parisian Jungle) that involves a group of characters writing a play based on the events that are happening.  And Haruhi calling Mikuru Moe could be like Saladin literally being called a Cardboard Baby, in how it's kind of accurate and inaccurate at the same time.

Monday, November 28, 2016

The Night is Darkest just before The Dawn

Popular opinion seems to go in circles with whether or not it's good for fiction, particularly Superhero fiction, to be dark.  With endless debates on whether or not it's good to make a dark version of something not dark before, or visa versa.  Or whether some Darkness is just Dark for the sake of Dark without a real purpose.  And my general thoughts are each scenario is different.

For this post however I want to focus on how a key factor in whether or not something Dark appeals to me comes down to whether or not there is still something positive and hopeful in there, particularly in how it ends.  But I of course realize to an extent even that is subjective, Happiness is an emotion, and different people emotionally respond to different things differently.

Mirai Nikki aka Future Diary is an example of an Anime that gets written off as gratuitously GrimDark and Violent by people who didn't finish it.  But it had a happy ending, a very happy ending, I remember watching it I felt about the happiest I had all year (I first watched it earlier this year, 2016) up to that point.  It's happy even without the OVA but the OVA makes it even better and so I wish the OVA would get dubbed.

A Happy Ending can be made even better and more rewarding if the journey to get there was a dark and difficult one.  The Book of Ecclesiastes can easily seem like the most depressing book of The Bible, but it's end is positive and uplifting.  Romans chapter 8 has been called Paul's summery of Ecclesiastes.

Madoka Magica is another Anime franchise with a reputation for being "Tragedy Porn".  Do I consider that reputation fair?  It depends.  The original 12 episode series takes us down a dark and emotional journey that subverts many expectations of the Magical Girl genre.  But it ultimately ends exactly how a Magical Girl show should, with a positive ending.  Then came Rebellion and did the opposite.  It seems another Madoka Anime is coming, maybe this one will end happily again.  But even if it does I fear it just means we're going to get an endless cycle of this franchise going back and forth.

In a way this is part of how Madoka parallels Evangelion.  The original series of Neon Genesis Evangelion was a show who's central them was depression.  But the final two episodes ended with Shinji deciding he wants to live.  Then End of Evanglion comes to replace those last two episodes, and everything about it is debatable including if it was a happy ending.  The thing is it's ending didn't make me feel happy and no analytical analysis of it will change that.

Now what I'm talking about here can itself fit into two categories.

First is that even a very dark story can still have a completely conventionally Happy Ending.  Perhaps with something bitter sweet about it, some price had to be paid.  But overall good prevailed and everyone lived happier lives from that point on.

A great example of this would be Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's, the second Nanoha Anime series.  Some might say that Anime isn't truly Dark but just very Dramatic.  I suspect that argument would be based mainly on how no characters in the story are truly evil.  But to me the key to a truly dark story is to show that someone doesn't have to be "evil" to wind up doing things that are harmful to other people.  Morality isn't always that simple.  It's been described (by Digibro) as a War Story that doesn't take a side, in a sense at least half of every great Dark work of fiction I've liked can be described that way.  This series is an incredibly emotional roller coaster ride, one of the most brilliant I've seen.  And I watched it even more recently then I did Mirai Nikki and it managed to top it on emotionally uplifting me.  Anyone who can watch the whole thing and not shed a tear simply has no heart.

Batman Begins and The Dark Knight Rises could also fit in this category.

Second would be stories that do have truly Tragic endings, sometimes very tragic endings.  But still with some glimmer of hope for the future.  Maybe that hope comes from nothing more then clear evidence that the survivors have learned from the mistakes that lead them there, like how The Dark Knight (the film which provides the title for this post) ends.

Or maybe it's because it's a Prequel that essentially ends with the birth of the Messiah who we already know will fix everything in the future.  Like Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of The Sith or Fate/Zero.  Thing is though, in both of those cases I feel even when viewed by people not knowing it's a prequel, (which would be easier to test for the latter), the ending message that the seeds are already planted to set everything right in the next generation would still be apparent.

Now I want to talk about two films where my assessment on this issue would probably be much more controversial then every example discussed above.

Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice is a film I have very mixed feeling for.  The balancing scales of my feelings towards it have fluctuated several times, which is amazing for a film that still hasn't been out long enough for children convinced on it's opening night to be born yet.  My issues with it certainly come down in large part to feeling it was more dower then it needed to be.

But the issue of comparing it to the other big Superhero Versus film that came out a month and a half later is where I most consistently get defensive of it.

At face value Batman V Superman can easily be labeled a much darker and bleaker film then Captain America: Civil War.  But Civil War certainly had things about it that were dark.  And both films try to end on a positive note, but Civil War's positive ending feels inauthentic to me.

BvS earned it's Happy Ending.  Bruce Wayne's character development makes sense, no matter how much you may want to mock a key plot device of it.  And so does Wonder Woman's.  All the talk about how many people are afraid of Superman adds more meaning to how he earned humanity's trust with his final sacrifice.  The exact scenario that brought about why he had to use the Spear feels way to contrived, but emotionally it works.  In the Crisis to Crisis DC Continuity Superman was once told "The last time you inspired anyone was when you were dead", but in this continuity His death is the beginning of him being an inspiration, and that is why I reject the idea that they should have held off on that story-line.  Bruce Wayne goes from someone who is doing harm even though he's not Evil, to someone inspired by Superman.

Civil War however dedicates most of it's last act to subverting the same Versus movie trope BvS handled beautifully.  But then wants us to buy at the very end that now Tony's going to cover for Steve.  Well I don't buy it.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

The Zombie Apocalypse is my least faveorite genre

To be specific, I mean George A Romero style Zombie Apocalypses.  More fiction based on the original Voudoo concept of Zombies I think could be very interesting.

The only films of the genre I really like are the ones by George A Romero himself.  I've only actually seen the first four of them.  The first three are what are considered the Romero trilogy and thus the pillars and Trope Codifiers of the genre.  Land of The Dead I can agree does feel like less brilliant a film then the first three.  I think my enjoyment of it stems largely from how it bizarrely reminds me of the Super Mario Bros. movie, having at least two of it's lead actors, one in a very similar role, Dennis Hopper as a villain was always fun.

After that the first two Return of the Living Dead films work well as parodies, and I've enjoyed plenty other little short parodies.  But that's about it.

I'm someone who's all for retelling the same basic story in different ways.  But my experience with this genre has not yet convinced me that this basic story justifies this many variations in so relatively short a period of time.

The Dawn of the Dead remake is the only Zack Snyder film I don't like on at least some level.  The Walking Dead has never caught my interest, I'm certain I could never tolerate an ongoing American style LA TV show about just this premise.  My brother spends a lot of time watching cheap Made for TV horror films that air on channels like Chiller.  I've been strangely fascinated by quite a few, but never any of the Zombie ones.  And then Return of the Living Dead 3 felt like the most pointlessly bizarre thing I ever watched, this was supposed to be a parody franchise yet it had less humor then the films it's parodying.

Thing is, I'm someone who's spent the last few years turning almost exclusively to Anime for any new entertainment.  And there are a lot of times I've felt like Anime did something better then any modern Western fiction has.  Gankutsuou is the best adaptation of The Count of Monte-Cristo by far, (even though even it drops my favorite story-line). The Rose of Versailles is the best fictionalization of the French Revolution.  And the Fate/ franchise is the best usage of Arthurian Legend and the concept of a quest for the Holy Grail I've seen done in any modern literature.  Yes including Indiana Jones and that BBC show.

So because of all that, I decided the other day I ought to check out the most well known Anime take on this genre before I write it off completely.  And last night that's what I did.

Now going into High School of The Dead I was apprehensive for two reasons, my above expressed lack of confidence in the genre.  And that it was an Anime known for it's "Fanservice".  Anime style gratuitous Fanservice is to me the most frustrating thing about Anime.  I've enjoyed a lot of Anime in-spite of it having this problem.  But I also know there is far more that avoids this problem then Anime critics give Anime credit for, so I'd generally much rather draw attention to those shows.

However the good sign is that I knew it had the same director as Death Note and Attack on Titan.  Both very good and specifically very well directed Anime.  Neither of them are Fanservice heavy Anime.  All three of these were adapted from Manga, it seems this director's strength is his ability to crank up what makes the Manga memorable to make the Anime even more memorable.  So the difference between HOTD and those two in terms of Fanservice is in the Manga.

First warning I want to give anyone interested in watching it is all of the episodes have scenes after the closing credits, pretty important scenes too.

I shall also note that I watched the Dub not the Sub.  And also that I haven't seen the OVA yet.

So I watched it.  First episode kept my interest but hadn't exactly wowed me.  I noticed it wasn't playing up much the usual tropes of High School set Anime.  For me that wasn't a good sign, because as I already said, Anime tropes, even at their most cliche, entertain me more then Zombies do.  However I know many people out there are the opposite.

But the more I watched it the more I got into it.

For the first third the most annoying offense in the Fan-service department was the Nurse who's breasts make Powergirl's look realistic.  That wouldn't even have bothered me so much without the annoying sound effect they were given.  Other then that was a lot of pantyshots, but it's pretty justified given the situation.

Like many of my favorite fiction.  It has a lot of serious Drama while at the same time fully embracing the absurdity of it's premise.  In this case the absurdity is less the Zombies themselves and more how ridiculously Bad@$$ this random group of High School students are.  And at times the fanservice overlaps with that.

The fanservice somewhat increases as it goes on.  Plenty I found unnecessary.  But one thing that makes me more comfortable with it is how I've read the show is surprisingly more popular with women then with men.  The female characters are all pretty likeable and well written, so it seems many female viewers were able to look past the fan-service, and perhaps some even liked it.

During the latter half there is a theme of the adult characters continuing to took down on our main cast as kids in-spite of everything they've went though.  In a way it reminds me of The Blob.

The story-line involving Saya's parents had, in the Manga, a strong Nationalist vibe to it.  The Anime very much censored that, and the English Dub renders it nearly impossible for a Western viewer that doesn't understand Japanese politics to even detect it.  Saya's dad mostly just comes off as a typical stern military type.

So I would not exactly say this Anime is the key to how to make Zombies interesting again.  If you are a big fan of the Zombie Apocalypse genre I think it'd be pretty hard not to like it.  If you manage to have even less interest in it then I do (which would pretty much be not even liking Romero) then it's not going to appeal to you.

For me it's another of many examples of Anime making something seem fresher then the West has in a very long time.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Zelda Month post

I wish my mind was in more of a Zelda mode this month.  Every four years it's gonna be ruined by a damn Election, maybe I should have just written in Princess Zelda.

I haven't really commented on Breath of the Wild yet.  I'm excited for it, something that is both truly open world and fully 3D should be awesome.  I just hope they still find a way to tell a great story.

I'm disappointed that it seems we still won't get a Female Link option.  And I'm really annoyed that they added A Link Between Worlds characters to Hyrule Warriors but not Hilda.

I don't what to think about the possible movie or Netflix series speculation that has been floating around.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Here is my message to Donald Trump

As someone who didn't vote for you but is from the region chiefly responsible for your victory (Racine Wisconsin to be specific) my message is this.

If you are only going to keep only one of your campaign promises.  It better be ending the Free Trade Agreements, like NAFTA and CAFTA and the TPP, and stuff directly related to that.  Your strong turn out in Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota was chiefly because of people who voted for Bernie in the Primary (I voted for Bernie) and you in the general because they voted chiefly on that issue.  Because we are the most hurt the ramifications of those agreements.

They don't care if you build the Wall or even necessarily want that.  Or about your Muslim Ban, or defeating ISIS.  And certainly not any of the typical Republican positions you espoused.

I was unwilling to vote for because I didn't trust you on this, given how your businesses have themselves benefited from those agreements.  And because I was offended by the Xenophobia you appealed to.

IF however you actually do keep this promise, and the fears Mexicans and Muslims have of your turns out to be unfounded.  You might, just maybe might win my vote for 2020.

But if not, you don't keep that promise, you will lose the people who chiefly gave this victory and have no hope of reelection.

The second promise I personally care about (in the sense of would like you to keep it) is legalizing Marijuana.  But for that I see no evidence many people voted on that.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Here is my real issue with Civil War

When I first reacted to Civil War, I couldn't fully put my finger on what bugged me about it.  Now I can.

It's that it puts so much effort into setting up only to subvert the whole "of course they'll come together in the end" expectation of a versus story.  I know the comic didn't end with them coming back together, well I don't like the Comic either but at least the Comic didn't have a subplot dedicated to baiting and hooking fans who like that message.

And it's insulting to me in regards to how this movie is compared to Batman V Superman.  BvS may have a darker tone.  But BvS ended on a message of hope and unity that Civil War literally said "____ You!" too.

In BvS things were darkest just before the dawn.  Civil War was just another Marvel movie all about setting up future movies.  BvS had a couple scenes that were there just to set up future movies, but with Civil War the very plot itself was only made to be a cliff hanger.

Monday, October 24, 2016

DC TV fall 2016 reactions

I'm afraid I'm not likely to be regularly updateing my thoughts on the DC shows this season.  I shall share a few I have now.

I'm giving Gotham a second chance mainly for Jamie Chung, I love her.

Supergirl is still going strong, the first two episodes were perfect, the third was really great but I cringed at all the fawning over the President.

The Flash has me concerned, I've never been fond of Flashpoint and not just because of New 52.

I stopped watching Arrow.

Legends is hit and miss still.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The Mysteries of Gotham

I obtained the other day a Hardcover copy I ordered of Denny O'Neil's novelization of Knightfall.  As I often do I skipped to read the afterward before the actual book, in this case it didn't spoil anything since I knew the story from the BBC Radio Drama, and got a glimpse of the actual Comics in Robin Flying Solo, from various reviews I've read these adaptations of the story are improvements.

The afterward I'm assuming is also written by O'Neil since no one else is credited and it seems like what he'd say.  In it he suggests that the ability of a Bat like creature which used to be a symbol of evil to become a modern Hero perhaps has it's roots in how the way Cities are viewed changed in the middle of the 19th Century.  Dickens is the literary reference he cited, but I feel that theory provides good context for my desire to talk about how the roots of Batman and the genres he traverses stem from Eugene Sue and his French peers.

It was in Les Mysteries de Paris (The Mysteries of Paris) that Eugene Sue pretty much invented modern Urban Crime and Mystery genres.  But key pieces that came before were Vidocq's memoirs and Lamothe-Lagon's The Police Spy.

I'm hardly the first to compare the protagonist of Sue's novel to Bruce Wayne, an Aristocrat secretly fighting evil by night in the Streets.  Key factors of who Bruce Wayne is are missing of course, but still he could be described as the first Dark Knight.

One of the evidences of the Dick Tracey influence on the Golden Age Batman stories is the commonality of villains with hideous faces, often explained by an accident involving Acid or Chemicals, like The Joker and Two-Face.  Well that trend also begins in The Mysteries of Paris with le Maître d'École (The Schoolmaster) who intentionally scared his face with acid to conceal his identity.

That novel was a massive hit and thus naturally spawned a slew of imitators, the most obvious of which tended to be called "The Mysteries of _____".  Stephen Knight's book The Mysteries of The Cities: Urban Crime Fiction in The Nineteenth Century talks about many of them.  Not all will be specifically mentioned here.

Alexandre Dumas The Count of Monte-Cristo began from an editorial mandate to create another Mysteries of Paris.  But the final product is not really street level enough to make that connection clear.  I'd say the most Suesque novel Dumas wrote was probably The Mohicans of Paris.

There were two novels called The Mysteries of London.  One by an actual Englishman, George Reynolds, which was vital to kicking off the Penny dreadful craze.  And there was Paul Feval's Les Mysteries de Londres which actually began serialization sooner.  It was also an overlooked influence on tCoMC, and it had an abridged English Translation in about 1847/8.  And later Feval made it part of a shared universe with many other Crime novels he wrote, chiefly John Devil and The Blackcoats series.

But we also can't overlook Sue's own next project, The Wandering Jew, which was about equally as big a hit, and carried on some similar themes.  And later in the last couple novels of Sue's Les Mysteries du People saga he made them part of the same universe.

In the 1850s, Ponson Du Terril sought to emulate The Mysteries of Paris with his Les Drames de Paris series, which inevitably morphed into the Rocambole saga.

In John Devil, the character of Gregory Temple very much anticipates Sherlock Holmes, but the influence seems to be have been indirect.  The key middle man was Emile Gaboriou who started out working for Feval, but then wrote many detective novels of his own.  Chiefly the Monsieur Lecoq series, Lecoq is cited by name in the first Holmes novel.  Nick Carter who was created in America about the same time as Holmes also has about the same roots.

All of these French novels and writers were an influence on later writers like Gaston Leroux (Cheri-Bibi, Phantom of The Opera and Rouletible), Maurice Leblanc (Arsene Lupin) and Marcel Allain & Pierre Souvestre (Fantomas).  And in turn on early silent serials like the Fantomas adaptations, Les Vampires, Judex and Belphagor ect.

On the Penny Dreadful connection.  One character who's existence is probably just a coincidence but still worth noting is The Human Bat.

The known and confirmed immediate artistic influences on Batman were 1, Superman who DC wanted a repeat of, 2, Kane being visually inspired by Silent films like The Bat, and The Man Who Laughs which was in turn an adaptation of one of Victor Hugo's later novels (Brian Stableford suggests that novel owes a slight debt to Paul Feval).  3. Bill Finger who actually wrote the stories was mainly drawing on Sherlock Holmes, Zorro, Dick Tracey, The Shadow and similar pulp character like The Spider, and perhaps a bit from hard boiled Detective novels like those of Hammett and Chandler.

Zorro's name being a Spanish word for Fox is further evidence to me his roots go back to Paul Feval's Le Loup Blanc, and it's prequel La Louve.  The former had three English translations in the mid 1800s all called The White Wolf.  Other swashbucklers Feval wrote that are similar and had English translations were Le Bossu and The Three Red Knights: or, The Brothers' Vengeance.

I agree with Rick Lai that the immediate roots of The Shadow lie chiefly in The Phantom of The Opera, Arsene Lupin, and Judex.  But I'd also add Nick Carter.

Let's talk about Batman's villains a bit.  Professor Hugo Strange actually appeared first of the recurring villains.  In his very first appearance he wasn't mainly a Mad Scientist which modern depictions focus on.  He was explicitly a Professor Moriarty figure.  And Moriarty was inspired by criminals Lecoq faced and in turn by Feval villains.

I actually did a post about The French History of The Femme Fatale, in which I mentioned French predecessors for both Catwoman and Poison Ivy, chiefly Irma Vep of Les Vampires for the former.  Thing is though Catwoman didn't wear a costume at all in her first appearance, the original Catwoman has been described as being like a female Arsene Lupin.  The Lupin novels themselves arguably more then once toyed with the idea of a female Lupin, as I also hinted at in the Femme Fatale post.

The Penguin has also been compared to Dick Tracey villains like Broadway Bates.  But I feel a key predecessor of The Penguin was Gutman from The Maltese Falcone, who looks more like The Penguin in the 1931 film version then he does in the more well known 1941 version. 

Batman and Superman have both changed a lot from how they were in the earliest of their Golden Age stories.  I personally think that's for the best with Batman yet lament it with Superman.  I certainly love all the expansions of and addition to the Superman mythology to come from later writers, but I feel a core piece of the soul of Siegel and Shuster's character has been lost.  Which is why I still feel the best Live Action Superman is George Reeves and the best Animated the Fleischer Shorts, but even there what I'm referring to is already fading, The Champion of The Oppressed.

I think my justification for that different perspective is partly because Batman was a more blatantly derivative character.  Siegel and Shuster had to fight for years to get a publisher to take a chance on Superman, while Batman was the product of an editorial mandate to recreate the success of Superman, just like so many works made in the wake of The Mysteries of Paris.

Not to say Superman wasn't also influenced by earlier fiction/mythology.  Comparisons to Pulp adventurers like Doc Savage and the one Cracked.com accused Superman of ripping off are common.  And Siegel and Shuster's goal was partly to create a modern Samson but with an origin that was a SciFi version of Moses.  The connection to Samson in turn causes comparisons to other mythical strongmen from Herakles/Hercules to Machiste.  And the origin story I feel happens to resemble Sargon and Perseus more then Moses.

But the point is Superman was from the start clearly distinct from his literary ancestors, while Batman's distinctive characterization had to be developed by later writers.  Writers like Frank Robbins, Denny O'Neil, Marv Wolfman, Chuck Dickson, Jeph Leob, Greg Rouka and Gail Simone.  And while they're a mixed bag we can't overlook Frank Miller, Alan Moore and Grant Morrison.  And plenty of what's been done in other media was important too.

But of course it's not just the Golden Age writers who drew on earlier stories.  Later Batman writers first off drew on earlier Batman stories.  But also in the 70s there was a lot of James Bond influence, Ra's Al Ghl is a product of that.  And later Nolan cited James Bond influence for Batman Begins (which was also novelized by O'Neil), Heat and Clockwork Orange for The Dark Knight, and Joseph Campbell and Star Wars for TDKRises, and also A Tale of Two Cities, so Dickens was relevant after all.  But I feel the James Bond books themselves owe a debt to Batman, particularly the villain Goldfinger who has a very Penguin vibe to me, or at least based on the same earlier characters as The Penguin.

Jeph Leob's The Long Halloween was in Batman canon a simultaneous sequel to Miller's Year One and reworking of aspects of Eye of The Beholder.  But he was also drawing on The Godfather films, Raymond Chandler novels like The Long Goodbye which inspired the name, and Silence of The Lambs.  And Tim Burton shared Bob Kane's love of old German Expressionism Silent Films, thus we see plenty of Cabinet of Dr Caligari in Batman Returns.

And even those influences can still be traced back at least partly to these French Authors I'm seeking to draw more attention to.

I haven't read Gotham by Gaslight yet, but from the premise I'm already disappointed.  Things like using Jack The Ripper rather then normal Batman villains isn't what I want.  For starters I would like these 19th century literary roots of Batman to be looked at in how to adapt him for a period piece.  And then the fact that Teddy Roosevelt was once New York police Commissioner makes using him as inspiration for Gordon seem natural.

But also I saw Gangs of New York a few weeks ago, and it has some things in common with how I'd imagine a 19th Century Batman story.  Daniel Day Lewis character could make a good model for The Penguin, and Cameron Diaz for Catwoman, and Twede for Rupert Throne.

Years ago I saw a documentary on The History channel about Crime in Ancient Rome, the main host/narrator of the show seemed similar to me to Keith Scott from One Tree Hill, but I don't know if it was really the same actor.  That naturally got my mind spinning about how you could do Batman in Ancient Rome.  But now I'm well off the main subject of this post.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Noir, my favoerite Anime, or up there.

Noir held the title of my favorite Anime for a long time.

It was not exactly but kinda my introduction to Anime.  A 90s kid can be into Pokemon, Sailor Moon and Dragonball Z without being a proper Otaku at all, they were really mainstream.  Noir was the first Anime I watched that the kids I went to school with probably hadn't.  And it's theme song probably the first time I ever heard singing in the Japanese language.

Until like 2 or 3 years ago there were probably less then 10 Animes I was intimately familiar with.  Then I watched Madoka Magica and Utena, and Utena became my favorite Anime, and since then I've watched a lot of Anime, I'm getting to the point where Anime is almost all I want to watch anymore.

Sometimes though I go a long time without watching the very things I consider my favorites.  And so this last week I watched Noir again for the first time since I discovered Utena and Madoka and for awhile before that really.  And I quickly found myself wondering if it has regained the top spot.

Utena is much more ambitious and intricate as a work of high art.  But Noir is much more re-watchable for me personally.  Back in the day I would restart right after finishing, and now I find myself in that place again even as I have a wider variety of Anime to choose from.

I still haven't watched Noir in the original Japanese.  Maybe it's time I did view it Subbed rather then Dubbed if I'm going to re-label it my favorite.

Utena however requires my undivided attention far too much for me to ever feel the Sub is worth investing my time into.

First thing I noticed about Madoka when I watched it the first time was how much the Music felt conceptually similar to Noir, and indeed I learned it had the same Music director.  Madoka is also closer to Noir then Utena in how re-watchable it is for me.  I've still gone though all of Utena only once.

Maybe it's simply that I'm just Nostalgic for Noir and Madlax in a way I can't be for any Anime besides the 90s big three.  It wasn't brand new when I first watched it, it was like 2005 or 2006, but that's a decade ago now.

I'm disappointed Bee Train's Girls With Guns trilogy hasn't gotten the kind of Youtube attention many other Anime has.  There was one Abridged series of Noir that covered only the first 4 episodes, and that's it from the abridgers.  And there are some AMVs and a couple reviews.  But no YTPs or Crack videos, or Mash Ups to the trailers of The Dark Knight films or Star Wars films or Mean Girls.  I frankly think Friday-Monday would make a perfect to mash up to Ledger's Joker.

Maybe they're just in a bizarre place where they kind of predate the births of many of those trends and yet for most still don't have the Nostalgia value of 90s Anime?

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Benevolent Dragons and Tolkien.

Tolkien's mythology as he wrote it being very Western had only Evil Dragons.

Contrary to how some may make it sound it's not solely because of The Bible the West tends to view Dragons/Serpents as Evil (in fact there is overlooked Biblical support for good Dragons). It comes also from Ophion, Hydra and Ketos of Greek Mythology, Jormungander and Niohoggr of Norse Mythology, and the Grendles and Dragons of Beowulf.

Eastern Mythology usually has Dragons as Benevolent, though Japan has some evil ones too. Many are Dragon Kings who rule the seas.

Since we  readers and writers of Fan Fiction are always interested in expanding and diversifying Tolkien's world, (as detailed as he was he did leave plenty to the imagination). I've contemplated how hypothetically possible it could be to put Benevolent Dragons in Arda.

The origins of the Dragons that served Morgoth are not directly explained, a common theory is the originals were fallen Maia who Morgoth then bred. That Glarung seems to be equal in rank to both Sauron and Gothmog, (both Maia, one a leader of other Maia), suggests to me he's probably also a Maia. Which has me thinking that if an evil Maia could take that form, there is no reason a good Maia couldn't take a similar form.

So perhaps there could be Benevolent Dragons known in the far Eastern lands of Arda, to the East of anything seen on LOTR's maps. Perhaps something like Valoo from The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. In one scene Valoo and the Rito pretty much serve the same function as the Eagles.

Someone already wrote one Fan Fiction for that concept.


If you're curious about my Biblical statement. For Starters Jesus used the Brazen Serpent that Moses raised up in the wilderness as a symbol of himself in John 3.   The Hebrew word Seraph is used in that account where it is made a synonym for Nahash (Serpent in Genesis 3), in fact the word "serpent" may come from Seraph ultimately.  Isaiah described Seraphim circling the Throne of Yahuah, leading many to think of the term as a synonym for Cherubim. Also in Job, God speaks of Behemoth and Leviathan as creations he's very proud of.  All these words can also be linked to Satan (except Behemoth), but Satan was one of 5 Cherubim, the other 4 didn't fall.

When comparing Ezekiel's descriptions of the Cherubim with John's in Revelation 4.  It seems like each one is particularly associated with one of the 4 types of animals, yet at the same time they each have traits of each, Eagle's wings, cloven hoofs, human eyes and bodies like lions.  If Satan is the 5th Cherub and the Serpent/Dragon one, that the other 4 could also have some serpentine association.  And it was in this form that Isaiah saw them.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

The BlackCoatPress website was revamped a couple months ago

So I realized I should provide some new linked to the Tales of The Shadowmen volumes I have stories published in, since the old Links don't work anymore.

I've had Three Published already in Volumes 10, 11 and 12.  So far my story has always been last thanks to my surname.

http://blackcoatpress.com/fiction-tales-of-the-shadowmen-10-esprit-de-corps.html

http://blackcoatpress.com/fiction-tales-of-the-shadowmen-11-force-majeure.html

http://blackcoatpress.com/fiction-tales-of-the-shadowmen-12-carte-blanche.html

And it seems likely my new story will be in Volume 13 which comes out this December.

http://blackcoatpress.com/forthcoming-tales-of-the-shadowmen-13-sang-froid.html
TALES OF THE SHADOWMEN 13. Sang Froid

edited by J-M. & R. Lofficier
cover by Michel Borderie

US$23.95/GBP 15.99 - 6x9 tpb, 300 p. - ISBN-13: 978-1-61227-578-9

Contents:
Jason Scott Aiken: Galazi in the Enchanted City
Matthew Baugh: A Dollar’s Worth of Fists
Adam Mudman Bezecny: Harry’s Homecoming
Nicholas Boving: The Aquila Curse
Nathan Cabaniss: From Paris with Hate
Matthew Dennion: A Purpose in Life
Brian Gallagher: The Berlin Vampire
Martin Gately: Rouletabille Rides the Horror Express
Micah Harris: The Goat of Saint Elster
Travis Hiltz: The Island of Exodus
Paul Hugli: As Easy as 1, 2, 3...
Rick Lai: Eve of Destruction
Nigel Malcolm: Maximum Speed
Christofer Nigro: Bad Alchemy
John Peel: Time to Kill
Frank Schildiner: The Taking of Frankenstein
Sam Shook: Bringer of the Outer Dark
Michel Stéphan: One Summer Night at Holy Cross
David L. Vineyard: The Moon of the White Wolf
Jared Welch: Styrian Rhapsody
Credits

Sang Froid, i.e. Cold Blood!

Doctor Ardan meet the People of the Pole! Doctor Omega teams up with Ki-Gor to find the secret of the Yeti! Maigret, Father Brown and Dr. Watson face a terrifying supernatural threat! Felifax ends up on Dr. Moreau's island. Sâr Dubnotal and the Werewolf of Paris fight the vampires! Arsene Lupin duels with Raffles! Captain Vampire defies the Reds! Rouletabille is trapped on the Mysterious Island! Spiridon investigates a vampire murder in Paris! The Phantom of the Opera finds death in Persia! Sherlock Holmes meets Lecoq and Mephista Leonox!

In this thirteenth volume of Tales of the Shadowmen, the only anthology dedicated to international heroes and villains of pulp literature, writers from Canada, England, France and the United States, pay homage to those great champions and master criminals who enchanted our adolescence.
This one again stars Eugenie Danglars and Louise d'Armilly, this time they encounter Carmilla, The Lesbian Vampire.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Stephanie Brown and Chuck Dixon's politics

I made a post on this blog where I observed how surprisingly sometimes conservatives writers treat women better then male liberal writers, which was a follow up to one of my Paul Feval posts.  This post is essentially me adding one more example to that observation.  Once again, I'm making these observations as a Liberal of sorts, a Left Leaning Libertarian-Communist SJW.

Chuck Dixon is one of the more notorious examples of a rare conservative Comic Book writer, probably the most notorious example of one to write for Batman (calling Frank Miller a conservative is a massive oversimplification).  Rumor has it he used to have heated political arguments with Denny O'Neil, I imagine Gun Control is the only issue where I'd side with Dixon over O'Neil.

Chuck Dixon created my favorite Batman character, who is obviously then also my favorite female Batman character, and second favorite Comic Book character over all.  Stephanie Brown aka The Spoiler, formally known as both Robin and Batgirl.

In addition to creating Stephanie, there are other women he didn't create but who largely become how fans of my generation and a little older remember them mostly in comics Dixon wrote, from Sarah Essen to Helena Bertinelli.  The earliest Bertinelli stories were pretty much writing her the same as the later Helena Wayne stories (they had the same writer I've heard), it was Dixon who made her distinct.  He was also heavily involved in the early success of Birds of Prey before Gail Simone took over and they reached their height.  He also co-wrote Batgirl Year One, which I heard Gail Simone tried to convince DC/WB to make an Animated Movie for.

But I mainly want to talk about Stephanie.  Chuck Dixon wrote the three part story that introduced her in 1992 in Detective Comics, and wrote the Tim Drake Robin title for the first 100 issues, he may have took some months off, I'm not sure, but he was the main writer in charge.  Stephanie never got to be Robin in a story Dixon wrote, but behind the scenes he had been championing her becoming Robin for a long time.  That the very first Robin Comic after Dixon left featured an alternate reality with Steph as Robin is probably still the influence of where Dixon wanted to go.

Steph's pregnancy storyline is possibly the only time Dixon's politics seemed to influence his writing.  The narrative doesn't outright condemn Abortion, but he heavily stresses how Steph was firmly opposed to taking that option.

In general Dixon's Batman writing is considered the best of 90s Batman.  Though it's perhaps not a coincidence that many's main criticism of him is being unwilling to give villains sympathy or depth, which is especially egregious when he wrote Two-Face.

The friendship between Stephanie and Cassandra Cain also started on Dixon's watch.  I wonder what thoughts he'd have on the popularity of shipping them?

Almost immediately after Dixon left, the direction Stephanie's story was going took a sharp turn.  She was finally officially being trained by Batman, then out of the blue he tries forcing her to quit.  Helena and the Birds of Prey were in good hands with Gail Simone, but for Stephanie all her fans feel she was horribly mistreated from now till she got her Batgirl run, then she got screwed over again by Barry Allen's Time Boom.

The War Games storyline (and others connected to it) is one I happen to really like, the premise is one I can't believe it took Batman writers so long to think of, and it's filled with wonderful character moments and a sense of escalating tension that anticipates The Dark Knight.  But the treatment of Stephanie is horrible, it's textbook fridging, and most of my fellow Stephanie fans are incapable of forgiving the story for that.

And even during the build up to that story, it seems DC was obsessed with foreshadowing the idea that Stephanie will be the next Jason Todd.

I wonder how many Stephanie Brown fans who lament Dixon's exit know he's a Conservative?

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

I saw Captain America Civil War finally

It was entertaining.  But like any versus movie it frustrated me, and it not being as endlessly dark as BvS isn't enough to make this movie based on far inferior source material a superior movie.

Here's what I find funny though.  Age of Ultron had a lot of material dedicated to assuring us there were NO Civilian Casualties, all for the purpose of sticking it to Man of Steel and appealing to that film's haters, and I criticized that aspect of it at the time.  And now they did this storyline which is entirely dependent on there being civilian casualties.  So it's like they are reveling they lied to us before.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Some predictions about upcoming Comic Book adabtations

I'm not claiming to have any inside info, these are just my wild guesses bases on the evidence available to everyone.

The Flash Season 3.

1. I think we'll learn that on Earth-Three where JWS is Jay Garrick, that Dinah Drake, Laurel and Sara's mother from Arrow, is The Black Canary.

2. I think at the end of season 3 Barry Allen will "die", and Wally West will take over as The Flash.  I think WB will want that so while their featuring Ezra Miller's Barry Allen in two movies that will come out during season 4 the TV Flash will be different.  But regardless I think that would be a good move, because that's part of the Comics history of The Flash.  Obviously a door will kept open for Barry to return, perhaps in the 100th Episode in the middle of Season 5.

Wonder Woman

1. The woman with the weird face in the trailer is Paula Van Gunther.

2. Bookend scenes set in the present will revolve around Diana talking to Carol Ferris (Christina Wren), where reference to Hal Jordan disappearing might be made.

Justice League.

1. Superman will return in about the middle of the film, but he'll instantly assume leadership, not unlike in Reign of The Supermen.

2. Green Lantern will show up at the very end, with maybe hints of his existence being made earlier.

3. Deathstroke will be in Justice League, he's who Batman will fight while the Superpowered characters fight aliens form Apokolips.  That's what the footage we saw is from.

4. Enchantress will appear, that's why Bruce also got her file also at the end of Suicide Squad.

5. We'll learn the father of Eisenberg's Luthor is still alive, but probably not see him yet.

Spiderman Homecoming

1. Zendaya is Michelle Gonzalez and/or White Tiger, not Mary Jane.

2. They will wait till he's in Collage to have him meet Gwen or MJ.  What I want to see when we get there is Gwen and MJ being friends.

The Flash movie

Will flop and not get a sequel

Aquaman

Will be a hit and get a sequel

Batfleck

1. The first movie will be a version of Under The Red Hood with Arkham Knight influence.  Harley and Joker will both appear.  Mat Damon will play a villain replacing Black Mask's role, maybe Hush, and he'll hire Deathstroke.

2. Then in the second Justice League movie.  Bruce will be "killed" by the Omega Sanction and the next Batfleck film will be Battle for The Cowl with aspects of Knightfall.

Update: The Official Deathstroke announcement came out right after I posted this.  It kinda doesn't change anything, we know he'll be in Batfleck now, but I hope he's not the main or only villain.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Trade Paperbacks DC needs to do

You'll be surprised how many story-lines DC hasn't done Trade Paperbacks for.  I'm going to list some I really want to see.

The Battle of Metropolis/Fall of Metropolis story-line that spanned 9 issues of Superman comics in 94.

The 3 part story that originally introduced Spoiler/Stephanie Brown from 1992 in Detective Comics.  Throw some other stuff in to elaborate on it, like early Cluemaster stories to explain him, or later Stephanie centric stories from various Secret Files and Origins books, like the one where she sums up her history to her new born child.

Dead Reckoning, a Batman story that was going on in Detective Comics about the same time Hush was in the Batman title.  One that has similarities to it but that some fans liked better.

The Noctruna Arc from the Pre-Crisis 80s Batman Comics, that would take more then one Volume.  And then one including the Batman story of Detective Comics 566 and Batman 400, the last Pre-Crisis Batman story.

The New Teen Titans/Tales of the Teen Titans comics that deal with the aftermath of The Judas Contract, issues 45-55.

And I'd like to see a sort of prequel Trade for Bruce Wayne Murderer/Fugitive chronicling his relationships with Vesper Fairshild and Sasha.

I'd also like some Infinity Inc and Wonder Woman story-lines from the 80s.

And some Bronze Age Supergirl story-lines.

I could also complain about how many TPBs have left out things they should have included.

I wish the Who is Donna Troy TPB had also included the original Origin of Wonder Girl story from Teen Titans 22 in 1969 which was also written by Marv Wolfman.

Even the new two volume collection of War Games that includes many things the old trades didn't left out Batgirl 54 which is the last time we see Stephanie before the in-sighting incident.  Also Catwoman 33 and 37 should have been included for the Prologue and Epilogue parts.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Amalgam characters in Comic Book Movies

I used to complain when a Comic Book movie would have come character who really combines the roles of two or three or more characters from the Comics long history.  Feeling like it's just lost opportunities.

Thing is, I've been putting more and more thought into how Comic Cook characters to begin with are an amalgamation of older character archetypes.  The Batman was basically a combining of The Shadow and Zorro, with a little bit of Sherlock Holmes and Dick Tracey.  And the visual motif coming form that old Silent Film, The Bat.

In that context, I realize it's another natural part of how mythology develops, and how stories are retold.

People complain about how different Bane is in The Dark Knight Rises.  Thing is that character is also an Amalgam.  He is Bane with direct references to Knightfall,  I've also observed aspects of Deathstroke in him.  But in the way TDKR draws on DKR he is very much the Mutant Leader, with Alfred giving a similar speech to Bruce about how he's in his prime and Bruce isn't.  And then Bruce loses but later beats him in the rematch by using his head more.  And it works for the story that TDKR tells.  And also to go outside the Batman universe he's an admitted Vader Clone.

I may edit this post in the future discussing more examples.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

"Show don't Tell" isn't a universal rule

There are times when many people seem to think it is, or at least in a visual medium like film and animation it is.  I see it in Fanboy-Perspective's defense of Batman V Superman and Clark's lack of dialogue in it.

But there are times when I do feel telling is better then showing. Especially if you're someone who wants less Origin Stories in Superhero movies, what you basically want is to be told not shown.  Likewise if you don't like overuse of Flashbacks, you want to be told not shown.  And I'm annoyed how many fans feel that dead Robin easter egg means some DCEU film HAS to flashback to when that happened, how about we just leave that to the imagination for a change?

If you are the opposite of me on the issue of if movies should be longer or shorter, or if you feel the same.  Sometimes telling is shorter and sometimes showing is shorter, it depends on what you're trying to communicate.

But the thing about any medium that has acting as one of it's story telling tools.  Is what you can do by showing how a character tells something, and how others react while listening.  When trying to understand Shakespeare, it's import to know that Elizabethian audiences would care more about what they heard then what they saw.

In the 70s TV Miniseries Jesus of Nazareth, there are many things I don't like about it (mainly the White Washing) but also things I think it did well.  One of it's highlights was showing Jesus tell the parable of the Prodigal Son to a room full of people, it was a far better choice then cutting to a dramatization of it.

I enjoyed Suicide Squad, but yes it is a flawed movie.  One of it's highlights is El Diablo telling his backstory in the bar scene.  I feel that could have maybe been improved by not having any flashbacks, but just having him tell the story.

If a movie is ever made of Paul Feval's John Devil.  I do not want any "Flashbacks" or whatever you might call a Dramatization of the stories Henri Belcamp tells about his adventures in Australia and on St Helena.  One reason is because none of those stories are entirely true, and the audience of a movie tends to assume anything we see play out must have happened.

But also because I want to see Henri Belcamp be an Orator.  I want to show how he plays his audience and how they are suckered in by it.  Same thing if a movie was made out of The Vampire Countess, another Paul Feval novel translated into English by Brian Stableford.

So no, what I'm saying is we don't need to see everything, it sometimes works to just tell us.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Pretty Little Liars, Season 7A

I enjoyed it, don't feel I have much else to say.




Spoilers Ahead








Spencer being Mary's kid is illogical, why then was it Aria's file stolen with Noel's?

I think ALi is lying about being Pregnant to get with Emily.  It came completely out of no where, and no I don't think that one scene of her puking is sufficient foreshadowing.

I know people are trying to deny that Toby is dead, but that steering wheel was embedded deep in his skull.

I think A.D. is Charlotte.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

In the Comics Rupert Thorne was a politician not a Mob Boss.

Yet Rupert Throne continually becomes a Crime Boss in adaptations.

Batman The Animated Series seems to be largely responsible for popularizing it, yet they didn't do it first, first was Sam Hamm's original Script for the movie that became Tim Burton's Batman, where the Carl Grissom role was played by Rupert Thorne, (and Eckhart was Harvey Bullock).  But since then we've seen it in the Cold Open of the pilot of The Batman animated series, and in The Joker Blogs season 2, and other fan films.

But he was originally in the 70s and early 80s Comics a powerful corrupt politician, a member of Gotham's City Council.  Mayor Hamilton Hill was a corrupt mayor who worked for Throne, and Peter Pauling was a corrupt cop they arranged to have replace Jim Gordon as Commissioner.

I have no idea what caused this character to be so consistently changed in adaptations, it's not like the Comics don't provide enough Mob Bosses to work with.  In his most notable BTAS appearance he replaces Maroni in Two-Face's origin story.  And for a Mob Boss used only to be one Batman takes down in the prologue right before the rise of The Joker, Falcone would have made more sense.  And for the Batman89 script, a Mob Boss employing the guy who shot the Waynes was Lew Moxon in the Pre-Crisis Earth-One continuity.  And The Joker Blogs was using him in it's version of the Mask of The Phantasm story, which in turn was adapted from Year Two.

Seeing the political corruption in Gotham City would be a refreshing new subject for a Batman movie or Cartoon.  And you could easily connect him to a Mob Boss if you wanna keep that element going.

If I were in charge of the Court of Owls story-line, I might have connected Thorne to them.

Friday, August 19, 2016

I love watching Fan Trailers on Youtube

Most of the ones I've watched are DC based with a heavy bias for Batman.  I have a playlist on Youtube of many of my favorites.  The first video on that Playlist is one I wrote myself, I had the idea in my head for awhile, but I have no real video editing skills, but because I made a thread on the subject on IMDB SolyentBrak1 wound up editing the idea together for me and he did a great job.  I have other Brak fan trailers on the playlist as well.

Most in that playlist are Fan Edited trailers, but there are a few full on Fan Films that are really just trailers like Grayson.

I first discovered them in the era of trailers being made to speculate what the third Nolan movie would be, The Riddler was popular.

I've seen many more then what I've put on the Playlist.  I want to mention a few things some do that for me personally at least take me out of it, and so I'd recommend avoiding.

Using any audio from Animated projects, whether voice over, dialogue or even music.  Even if I haven't seen the animated project being used it always sounds like a cartoon to me.  Plus I want the voices to match the physical actors.  Whether it's using voices from the Dark Knight Returns cartoon, or Flashpoint, or even Amanda Waller from Assault on Arkham or the DCAU, that actress could be a good live action Waller, but from those projects her voice always sounds like animated voice acting.  So for DKR or Flashpoint it may be an easy way to get direct quotes of the Comic in your trailer, but it's just not worth the awkwardness.  The worst offenders are those Batman/Dracula trailers that use the narrator from the commercials for The Batman vs Dracula.  The best Batman/Dracula trailer is the one in my playlist with Burton's Batman and Hammer's Dracula.

Every rule has one or two exceptions they say.  In this case a lot of people would like to see Jensen Ackles as a Live Action Jaosn Todd/Red Hood, and in fan trailers based on that premise using Jensen's voice work from the Under The Red Hood animated film tends to work.  The voice does match the actor, and I think also Jensen simply wasn't doing it like usual voice acting, which would normally tick me off in an animated film but his performance was good.  However even in some of those if any other actor's voices from that same movie is used it ruins it, I like Bruce Greenwood's Batman voice, but I don't wanna hear that when I'm looking at Ben Affleck or Christian Bale.

Also using visuals from Video Games like DC Online or Injustice, or the Arkham games.  Unless it's something that absolutely would be fully CG in a LA film anyway like a Darkside or Doomsday, or maybe Brainiac, that just never looks right.  And even then it needs to be a really high quality graphics video game, PS3 level at least.  But I've seen trailers do it for Batman and The Flash.  And using the Black Mask or Deathstroke from the Arkahm Origns trailer is really popular.  To me it always stands out awkwardly.

It amazes me how often someone makes a bad decision in the music/score department.  There are now a few Superman/Batman trailer premised on it staring Christopher Reeve and Michael Keaton.  Most use neither's Iconic score, one uses the Williams score but for Batman uses the Nolan theme, that simply doesn't match.  Keaton without the Elfman score works sometimes, but if that specific nostalgic crossover is the gimmick, I wanna hear both Iconic scores.

Those are my constructive criticisms.  Now I'm going to throw out into the ether some ideas I'd like to see that haven't been done yet, not that I can find anyway.

The potential is out there to make a decent Dark Knight Returns trailer using material from the Nolan Batman films and Batman V Superman.  They all take some elements.  Begins has thanks to the fear toxin the mot surreal moments, TDK has the gun touting Batman copycats.  Rises has the cop saying "you're in for a show tonight" line, and Alfred talking about Bane being in his Prime is similar to what Alfred says in DKR about the Mutant Leader.  And BvS has Batman fighting Superman with many of the same elements, and a nuked Superman being healed by the Sun.

In costume which Batman you use shouldn't matter, but I'd favor Affleck who looks older for Bruce Wayne, yet Michael Cain for Alfred due to the line I mentioned.  And Snyder's take on the killing of the Waynes and falling into the cave fits better, just leave out him flying.  Only appearance of Harvey Dent I'd put in the trailer is him saying "There is no Escape from this".  Also throw in stuff from the Gotham Tonight special features segments to help get the whole Batman in the news vibe going.

Leto's Joker would fit this more then Ledger's.  Use scenes from Suicide Squad trailers, or that Music Video.  Use the Gotham skyline from Gotham on Fox since it has those twin towers similar to yet distinct from the World Trade center.  Include stock footage of Ronald Reagan as President on TV.  And throw in the Bat Demon from the bat-cave in Batman Forever and it's deleted scenes, also use Forever's establishing shots of Arkham.  And you could make a pretty convincing DKR live action trailer without any need to cheat by taking audio from the animated movies.

A few cool Teen Titans fan trailers have been made, they can show us where to start.

But my main disappointment is none are able to include either Wonder Girl.  You'd have to be creative but you can find a way, there was a time when we had Gal Gadot as WW in fan trailers when we hadn't seen her in costume yet.  I want a trailer that looks like either the Wolfman/Perez 80s Teen Titans, or the Geoff Johns 2003-2006 Teen Titans line ups.  (I don't want just the animated series line up.) Cyborg, Raven, Beast Boy/Changling and Starfire (and maybe Jericho) are part of both those, they go from being the new team members to the older ones.

Troian Bellisaro has become an ideal pick to me for Donna Troy.  I haven't seen much of what she's done outside Pretty Little Liars (just the two episode of NCIS).  But I know on that show in Season 4 Episode 1 we see her investigating a burned down building, in a TT fan trailer that could easily make fans think of the orphanage in Who Is Donna Troy?

There was a TV spot for that old Cartoon Network show that had what looked like a convincing real life Titan's Tower.  Perhaps you could throw that in.

But you have to use the Arrowverse Deathtroke over Smallville's horrible one, (or maybe the DCEU one that is now coming soon, but on Arrow he interacts with potential Titans characters).

The existing trailers have a tendency to mix and match the line up, I'd prefer to avoid that also.  If the Robin is Dick Grayson then Donna should be Wonder Girl, Wally West should be Kid Flash (we have him in Costume now from the Flash season 3 previews) and Roy Harper as Speedy/Arsenal, and only this older lineup should have Terra.  If Tim Drake is the Robin then Cassandra Sandmack should be Wonder Girl, Bart Allen should be Impulse/Kidflash, Mia/Thea for Speedy and have Conner Kent/Kon-El/Superboy.  Bart and Conner would have to be taken from Smallville.

I used to think the ideal Batman Beyond fan trailer needed Clint Eastwood as Batman, but he's more DKR Batman, which I do prefer to see as distinct.

There is a trailer on my Playlist for a Dark Knight Returns film starting a contemporary Michael Keaton.  It's cool but doesn't feel like it references anything specific from the comic.  And Keaton simply isn't a harsh enough character in any role for that.

But it got me thinking that a version of Batman Beyond with Michael Keaton could be cool.

I still like Stephen R McQueen for Terry McGinnis (and maybe Chad McQueen for his father), Malese Jow for Dana Tan but perhaps Janel Parrish for a second choice.  And either Jessica Parker Kennedy or Zendaya for Max Gibson.  And Sasha Petierse for Chelsea Cunningham.

Angie Harmon for Barbara Gordon because she played an authority figure on Law and Order, so maybe she could be the second rare exception after Jensen Akcles.  In case you don't know she voiced Barbara in Return of The Joker.

Not entirely sure what to do for The Jokers.

Perhaps Cameo Appearances from modern Kim Bassinger, Michelle Pheifer, and Billy Dee Williams, or the actor who played Knox if he's done anything recently.

I don't have a compelling suggestion for Derek Powers or his son just yet.

I like the idea of taking the original The Dark Knight teaser trailer and replacing it's blue tint with red.  The Nolan bat-symbol is similar in shape to the Beyond one.

Some Batman Beyond fan trailers have already started using Beyond Fan Films for Terry in Costume.

Last but not least, Crisis on Infinite Earths or Infinite Crisis or anything vaguely like that.  Multiverse ideas.

These became more popular over the last year, Season 2 of The Flash provided the key exposition source material needed.  And some made already I quite enjoy.  But none have used George Reeves.  I want him as the Earth-Two Superman, he was in color in the latter seasons.  Earth-Two Superman is the most important, he, Kara and Barry make the key heroic sacrifices.  George Reeves was a WWII vet and had the right basic look by the time the show was in color.

And Lynda Carter is naturally the Earth-Two Wonder Woman.

Some more of my thoughts on the DC Cinematic Multiverse I discuses in my last Batman V Superman post.

And with no particular idea of what fan trailer to feature her in, I've recently thought of Ashley Benson for Stephanie Brown.

So those are some ideas I'm throwing out there.  Feel free to use them.  Let me know about any Fan Trailers you've made or seen you think I might like and if I do I'll add em to the Playlist and promote em.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Harvey Dent can have a happy ending.

We're used to thinking of Harvey Dent as having no hope for redemption. This starts with what Frank Miller did in Dark Knight Returns, which was a very powerful scene.  Then continues with BTAS consistently making sure every villain's attempt at redemption fail, and then it's clear Nolan wants us to think Harvey Dent died at the end of TDK, I still choose to imagine otherwise however.

But it wasn't always this way.  The Golden Age Two-Face, the Harvey Dent of Earth-Two (sometimes called Harvey Kent) did find redemption and a happy ending.

He was introduced in Detective Comics 66 in August 1942 "The Crimes of Two-Face".  The origin story part really isn't drawn out how modern re-imaginings do it, he's scarred at the start of the story.  His second appearance is in Detective Comics 68 where he is still conflicted.  His third story was in October of 1943, Detective Comics 80 and in it he's redeemed, and the Earth-Two Two-Face never relapsed or reverted.

He appeared in three stories involving other people taking on the Two-Face mantle, the most interesting one being Paul Salone in Batman 68, he was the middle one of the three.

Then in Superman Family 211 we see him attend Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle's wedding. in 1955

So the original version of the character was never meant to be hopeless.

The Golden Age Batman comics are often alleged to be what most inspired Tim Burton.  Lately I started imagining in my head a version of Batman Beyond that followed the Burton films with Michael Keaton as Batman.  And figured It'd be cool to do an episode with Billy Dee Williams to show he had became Two Face but also found redemption.

With that animated Batman Return of the Caped Crusaders cartoon coming out starting Adam West, Burt Ward and Julie Newmare.  It has me thinking about similar things you could do, an animated return for the Lynda Carter Wonder Woman I think would be fitting next year.

And also, since Billy Dee Williams seems to like to do animated work as Lando Calrissian.  Perhaps he'd be up to returning to the role of Harvey Dent?  Even if he's the only actor from the films to return it'd still be worth it to me.  Two-Face is the main Batman villain to not get a spotlight in an animated film yet.

So, who agree?

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Movies being too long, vs movies being too short.

One common criticism of certain movies I'm not inclined to agree with is criticizing a movie for being too long.  It is my biggest disagreement with the film reviews of James Rolfe (The Angry Video Game Nerd formally known as the Angry Nintendo Nerd).

I like long movies, I like things fleshed out, I prefer adaptations that add (like Prince Caspian) to adaptations that remove.  Those are general rules though and there are exceptions, I do feel there are times when a movie can be longer then it's story justifies.  And I do think a over 4 hours is too much to be watched in one uninterrupted sitting.

But thing is I tend to lean towards being interested in the movies that justify longer lengths to begin with.

The reason studios want shorter movies, considering 90 minutes enough to qualify as feature length, making 2 hours about the average and rarely allowing any blockbuster with a high budget because of action, adventure, SciFi or Fantasy elements to near or pass the 3 hour mark, is purely financial.  They want movies shorter not because they think audiences will like them less but because a shorter movie can have more showings on the same screen.

But it seems simply that being the standard has conditioned audiences to think that's how it should be.  But Gone with the Wind, Sound of Music, Wizard of Oz, Mary Poppins, The Ten Commandments and Ben-Hur were long movies that audiences were willing to sit through.  Not to mention most of Shakespeare's plays were written to be 3-4 or even 5 hour experiences. But now prices to see movies have gone up while longer films have become less common.

To me if a movie's story doesn't justify 2 hours it doesn't justify the Big Screen, that should be a 2 part episode of a TV series or a made for TV/straight to DVD movie.

And it annoys me that Oscar Bait kinds of movies are allowed 3 hours far more often then Comic Book or Pulp inspired movies.  I feel it is the action and adventure that helps justify a longer length.  I'm more likely to be bored by a movie without that stuff going on forever.  None the less I like The Godfather films.

But to show that even I have standards, I will list the handful of examples where I felt a film was longer then it needed to be.

The Hobbit movies, mainly the second and third, the first was relatively fine.  LOTR was absolutely worthy of 3 three hour Theatrical films and 4 hour extended edition DVDs.  But The Hobbit is a very different kind of story, you can maybe justify splitting it in two films.  But this length issue overlaps with wanting it more like LOTR in tone also, The Hobbit is a simpler more fun and comical story.  It gets dark at a certain point, but it really stands out when that darkness happens.

Related to that, but I can't judge entirely since I haven't watched any of them.  But I feel like anytime a YA novel series last book gets split in two for the adaptation it is simply going to cause it to drag.  Whether it's Harry Potter, or Twilight Breaking Dawn, or The Hunger Games, or Divergent, though I don't recall if the Divergent films did that or not.

Also Peter Jackson's King Kong from 2005.  And again I have other issues besides the length, and overall I like it.  But such a simple story didn't need LOTR length.  Now I'm all for making it longer then the 1933 original film.  Most of what I'd remove is probably stuff from before we first see Kong, 40-50 minutes before we see him works, you do want to build that up, but over an hour is too much.  After that I'd cut the voice over quoting that really racist novel, and do what I could to trim the overblown T-Rex battle, 3 T-Rexes was overkill.

Once again, I'm forced to mention the existence of Superman Returns, I don't like being a hater.  A shorter length would hardly save this film, but it's notable that it is the only film that is under 3 hours that is still able to make me of all people think it was longer then it's story justified.

A Superman movie absolutely could justify being that long or longer, but not without an actual super powered villain for him to fight.  A remake (disguised as a sequel) of Superman The Movie doesn't need more screen time, especially when it lacks the mini movies about Krypton and Smallville.  It's also the biggest offender in my book in going on too long after it's climax.  It's justified for ROTK because it's the end of 3 movies not just one.  Batman Begins was a little shorter and it felt like more happened.  The Dark Knight was the same length and it's my favorite movie, it felt like a 5 act play, not 3 stretched out acts.

Last, let's discus a movie that I am on many levels conflicted towards.  Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice.

It's Ultimate Cut is 3 Hours, how do I feel about that?  For the DVD it's fine, like the LOTR extended versions or Watchmen, that extra stuff on the DVD versions aren't needed but they are fun.  For home viewing you can pause the movie to take a break, to use the restroom or eat something, or in this film's case watch funny YouTube videos to relieve the stress.  You can also skip scenes you personally don't like but that others might appreciate.

But theatrically, no.  A Batman/Superman crossover film absolutely could justify three hours in my opinion, if it had some levity and brightness and overall more variety in the emotions in evokes.  At one time I felt like The Dark Knight Returns would have needed 3 and a half hours, but upon watching how well it was done as two 70 minute animated films, I now feel it wouldn't need more time then The Dark Knight Rises even if you made a point to do more then those Cartoons combined did.

However what I would cut and keep for the theatrical version would be different.

As much as I love the Injustice like Future Vision and then immediately The Flash trying to tell Bruce something from the Future.  We don't need that, what it tells us about Bruce's motivations we more then got from seeing his experience at the beginning and what he says to Alfred.  So I'd cut that or at least trim it down to a 30 second montage.  Also when Diana opens the file Bruce sent her taken from Lex, I'd show the three logos, that's all the Justice League tease we needed, I'd save her watching the three videos for the DVD extended edition.

What isn't in the Theatrical version and that I'd still keep out is first the Steppinwolf scene, it looks cool but isn't needed, and only a subset of even nerds recognized the character.  And I'd keep Batman confronting Lex in Prison as it was theatrically, adding the reference to Arkham is cool for Nerds but wasn't needed.  That scene as it was theatrically gives us all the future movie threat set up we need.  And since she wound up not being a comics character, Jena Malone's scenes weren't needed, they just elaborated on Lois's story-line which was handled fine in the theatrical cut.

What the Theatrical Cut absolutely did need was the additional Screen-time and Dialogue for Clark Kent/Superman, the actual main character, especially his investigation of Batman.  It needed the elaboration on what happened in Africa at the beginning as much as I hate confirming that CIA agent to be Jimmy.  It needed showing that the branded criminals being killed in prison was orchestrated by KGBeast presumably on Lex's orders.  And it needed the additional stuff with the woman from Africa and the Senator, and her being killed.

I could go either way on the football game.

That hypothetical edit might still be longer then the theatrical cut we got, I'm unsure.  And it wouldn't save the film's joylessness problem.  But it would be a far better film.

But I ultimately feel like there are far more films that needed more time to flesh out their details, then there are films that dragged too much.  In general I feel if you want the film to end you're simply not enjoying it, and if you don't want it to you are enjoying it.

For some reason the first example of one to pop in my mind is usually The Haunting of Molly Hartley.  It's not exactly a film others would think of in terms of run-time debates at all.  But I really like the premise, it's an Omen like tale but with a young woman, and I enjoyed most of it as is.  I would end it's narrative sooner actually, the ending graduation and putting in her dad in the institution scenes I didn't need.  I wouldn't add anything to the first act or maybe even first half, but it does need more fleshing out and development before we reach the climactic sequence.

Batman Forever is a movie I like as is, but could be a much better film if you add all the DVD deleted scenes and re-arrange the first act so the sequence of events is more like in the novelizations.  I've heard there are Fan-Edits that have done this, I haven't gotten to view them yet because torrents are to complicated for me.  I wish there were streaming sites like pirated Anime has for Fan-Edits of Hollywood films with available deleted scenes and/or disputed length issues.

Superman IV The Quest for Peace could be similar, but not all it's deleted scenes are found and many lack needed polishing.  I also had an imaginary ideal edit of Superman II in my head once, which may be longer then either the Lester or Donner cut.  I'll need to watch them both again to fully remember what it was.  The deleted scenes that made neither cut were also a factor, though I wouldn't add all of em.

The movie version of the Les Miserables Musical is as it is in my top 10 movies of all time easily.  But the thing is I like everything added that wasn't in the original Musical, but lament that other stuff got removed because they still wanted the total run-time to be the same.

Every movie version of The Count of Monte-Cristo.  I think it's an uphill battle enough as is to try telling the story as a stand alone single movie rather then a more serialized format.  But every attempt becomes more pathetic then it needed to be by not allowing itself to go over 2 hours, while at the same time not skipping the Origin Story part.  If you are going to include the backstory, it should be a 3rd to a 4th of the story, not half of it.

My opinion of Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of The Sith is interesting, it is overall by far the best of the Star Wars movies.  Yet it is also the only Prequel, in fact the only George Lucas produced Star Wars film, I have any real criticisms of at all.  Those issues mostly relate to it's handling of female characters.

Much of that could be fixed by adding not all of the deleted scenes, but just the origin of the Rebellion plot-line.  It gives Padme Amdiala, the female lead of the trilogy, something to do in the first half.  Same with Bail Organa so his becoming a main protagonist during the second half doesn't come out of nowhere.  And Mon Mothma being in the film would give it more female representation.  It would give context to when Padme tells Anakin about feeling like they might be on the wrong side.  And the last scene that also adds another Palpatine and Anakin scene has him plant the seed to distrust Padme giving more context to his getting paranoid and force choking her at the end.

Many old movies of the 30s and early 40s, like some Warner Gangster and Universal monster films, I feel are kept from true greatness only by lacking more time to flesh out their stories.

I could and might make a separate post on the issues many DC Animated movies have from being limited to 70 Minutes.

I think there is a chance The Incredible Hulk could have been saved by adding some of it's deleted scenes.  Many including the suicide scene didn't even make the DVD special features, and I now think that is best left as a story he tells in The Avengers.  I really like the movie as it is.  But it particularly annoys me anytime a Superhero film is under 2 full hours.

I'm sure I'll later think of more examples that I'll be mad at myself for not remembering now.