Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The neglected members of The Bat Family, in adaptations at least

Stephanie Brown is the only wearer of the Robin mantle to never appear in an Animated DC movie.  And yes I'm willing to count appearing not as Robin.  Most she's had is a cameo on an animated series.

Cassandra Cain has likewise only had a cameo in a DCAU alternate universe.  Even the Arkham Games have ignored these two.

Those happen to be my two favorite Batman characters.  I really want to see them get their moment in the sun, which DC Animation has given to so many others now including characters less then a decade old.  And if Stephanie only appears as Spoiler that's fine.

Tim Drake is probably my favorite male Bat Family member.

Of the Robins that have gotten their moment in the sun in animation, Tim Drake has arguably had it the worst, even if his total screen time is second only to Dick.  He only appeared in the Timmverse where he is this much younger chibi Robin with Jason Todd's backstory and who's fate is the premise of Batman Beyond Return of The Joker.

And he appears as Red Robin in the Batman Unlimited cartoons, but in that universe they make him an idiot.

Dick Grayson has predictably gotten the most attention (being the only one to appear in Live Action so far, but Jason Todd is scheduled to show up supposedly in the DCEU).  But Dick, Jason Todd, Carrie Kelly and Damien Wayne have all gotten to be in (sort of) direct adaptations of Comics stories featuring them in the direct to DVD animated movies that have been going on for nearly a decade now.

They started basing the movies on more contemporary Comics right when they launched the most hated DC Continuity ever.  So the era where Tim, Cass and Steph had their best stories went almost immediately from being to recent to being to old to be the subject mater of one of these Animated Movies.

And now the thought of Teen Titans Judas Contract being rewritten to star Damien Wayne and not have Donna Troy really fills me with dread.

Now, Tim, Steph (as Batgirl) and Cass have been featured in stories with Damien Wayne, but those are the Damien dynamics being ignored by the current Damien Wayne worshiping animated canon.

Thing is their best stories were frequently in the spin off comics, ones that didn't actually star Batman.  Though you would need a big Batman Crossover event to find all three together.  The only one of those Steph was really prominent in was War Games, which I love but many hate.

If DC asked me for a Batman script.  I'd basically write my own alternate follow up to Under The Red Hood/Infinite Crisis/52.  Where Cass never goes Evil but maybe still becomes The Black Bat.  Tim still graduates from being Robin to take a new mantle and Steph becomes the permanent 4th Robin  And if someone new takes on the Batgirl mantle it'll be a sidekick for Kate Kane as Batwoman.  And no lame Batman RIP or Final Crisis story-line, (or Sinestro Corps/Blackest Night either),  Damien Wayne will not exist.  And StephCass will become Canon.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Let's ship ShowerThing

That's my main thoughts leaving the latest episode.

Sara Harvey's look in this episode had me thinking she could play a Live Action version of Gankusuou's Eugenie Danglars.

Next week it looks like A. D. may very well be going Fantomas.

Monday, July 18, 2016

It would have been bad if Anakin's fall was a slow descent

I keep hearing things from Prequel bashers like, "The Vader of the original trilogy was a man who emanated the feel of decades of slow slips down a slope of self justification and small concessions, until it was too late to look back. ".  And it makes me wonder what movies they watched.

Number 1, Obi-Wan said he was "Seduced" by the Dark Side.  You don't use that term to describe a slow descent, you use it to describe someone being offered something and accepting it.

In ROTJ, the tension of the final confrontation is predicated on the idea that Luke could enter that room good and come out evil, simply by what happens in that room.  I would be more sympathetic to Prequel haters if their complaints came from the opposite direction, if they claimed that Anakin's fall had too many factors to it utterly undermining the ablity to claim Luke faced and resisted the exact same temptation.

But Luke was demonstrated as having the same basic weakness, he really couldn't handle the thought of losing those he cared about either, as his leaving Dagobah in Empire demonstrates.  Leia possibly didn't as much, when she lied about where the base was while Alderan was threat, she had to know that cold have only stalled the threat, regardless of her not for seeing Tarkin blowing it up anyway.

Yoda's iconic "Fear leads to Anger" speech from Episode I lays out Anakin's path.  And in a sense he already went through all those steps in Episode II, it was just a matter of making the formal decision to become a Sith.  But when he killed Dooku it can be argued Sidous already achieved what he was trying to get from Luke in ROTJ.

I'm kind of tired of ends justifies the means always being the default reason for a Hero's fall.  And while you can kind of say Anakin's fall was Ends Justifies the means, it was an inherently selfish end, he was willing to kill many to save one or two persons.

Vader in the OT never came off at all like a villain who saw himself as a hero.  He and the Emperor both talked like card carrying villains.  You don't willingly call your side the Dark Side and talk about being fulled by Hatred when you think your'e the righteous ones.

It was always apparent that becoming a Sith Lord meant a concise decision to choose Selfishness over Selflessness.  I can somewhat understand not getting that from the OT alone though I see it there just fine.  But I really don't get the EU fanboys who couldn't figure this out from the EU available before Episode II came out, like KOTOR.

Even going off what we thought the story was in Episode IV, Anakin's "death" was around when Luke was born, so it'd been 20 years since Vader became fully Evil and Anakin was "dead".

If Vader had fallen because of just a slow descent of power corrupting him as he used the ends to justify the means.  I really would not consider his being saved by a desire to save his son plausible.  I know it might seem really offensive to some people to dismiss the inherent love a father is supposed to have for his son even when he never raised him or knew he existed till 6 years prior.  But if family wasn't why he turned I don't see it logical to be why he turned back.

What watching ROTJ with the Prequels in mind tells me is that what was important was that Luke, (and Leia), were what was left of Padme.  Saving him kind of meant saving Padme, Vader's fall isn't complete in ROTS till the NOOOOOO scene, because remember he would have assumed the child was dead too, that'd lost everything he sacrificed his Jedi oath for.

Another thing I like about viewing the OT after the Prequels is how it's not as simple as Luke is the heir of Anakin and Leia of Padme, though that works in regards to their basic narrative roles, in terms of personality both are a combination of both.  I've talked before about how I see Anakin in Leia, it's really Leia who inherited Anakin's arrogance and brashness.  I can't really verbalize what I see of Padme in Luke, maybe it's that in a certain sense he is more of an idealist then Leia.

Point is, seeing Luke being electrocuted brought him back to two things, one when Mace Windu was being electrocuted and he first made the decision to become a Sith.  But he also saw Padme in Luke.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Here is my real problem with the Wonder Woman movie being set during WWI rather then WWII

Others talk about how it seems like an obvious ploy to not seem like it's ripping off Captain America.  Others talk about how WWII is such an important part of this genre's history so it's a shame to miss out on the opportunity.  Others talk about how it might be a choice made because it overlaps with the Suffragettes, and whether that is good or bad.  But while I have moderate opinions on those things, my real issue is something far more real.

WWII is the ONLY War of the 20th Century where you can make a reasonable argument that one side was good and the other bad.  And the 21st Century has been even worse.  Now I've spent some time talking about how I question the traditional simplistic view of WWII, like my last Captain America post.  But at the end of the day there is no questioning that the Nazis were horrible and some good came from stopping them.

WWI is the Polar Opposite, WWII helped inspire the War of the Ring, but WWI inspired the Kinslayings of the Silmarilion.

No side has any real moral superiority in how WWI started, it was basically a rematch of the Franco-Prussian war.  It was something that many saw as an inevitable outcome of the irrational hatred European nations had of each other for decades before it started.  Not to mention the exact same Japan that was an Axis power was an Ally in WWI, the Emperor did change but it was the same Imperialist policy.  And this war factored into them expanding their Empire including their subjugation of Korea.  From the Pacific Theater's POV you could argue both were the same war.

My fellow Americans have convinced themselves that at least we had a just cause for entering that war, by painting the Lusitania the same as Pearl Harbor or 9/11.  But I view the Lusitania's sinking the same as I do the Main or the Gulf of Tonkin.

So the Wonder Woman movie will do 1 of 3 things.

1. WWI is just a framing device and not really what the conflict Diana is resolving is about at all.  Which will just make the decision seem pointless.

2. It will be a morally complicated story.  But I don't want that for the origin story, especially for the first big Screen Wonder Woman, since she's such a Feminist Icon I simply want to see her defeating the patriarchy.  The villains I want to have depth and maybe be redeemable like her Golden Age stories, but I don't want to question that Diana is on the right side.  Save the more ambiguous stories for the Sequels.

3. Or they will treat it the same as a WWII Superhero story anyway, German accents equal bad guys, ect.  And I simply won't be able to buy that.  When reading fiction written at the time in allied countries I can accept it, (Sherlock Holmes and Arsene Lupin both served as spies in fictional versions of that war,) because I get being caught up in a patriotic fervor at the time.  I remember how a younger more naive me reacted to 9/11.

But looking back on it now with a century of hindsight.  Part of me honestly thinks the world might have been better off if the Central Powers had won.  Hitler could never have risen without the trauma of Germany's defeat.  Britain and France wouldn't have redrawn the Map of the Middle East the horrible way they did.  And maybe Japan's imperialism would have been thwarted sooner.  But I suppose being an American saying that might inspire some to accuse me of treason.

Of course preventing the War from happening altogether would be best.  

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

I really want this Haleb/Spaleb triangle to end in a Threesome relationship

I know that seems like a lot to ask, but if any show on TV right now is unconventional enough to do it it's PLL.

And like BrosWatchPLLToo I have no desire to see Spoby back together.

#Spanaleb can be the Hashtag/Shipper Name.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Prequels are a long established part of Genre Fiction

An ongoing thing that comes up in discussing the Star Wars Prequels are arguments against doing Prequels in general.  I already did a post on Why I Like Prequels.

What I want to talk about here is that they are not some inherently new gimmick, devised by Hollywood executives who ran out of Sequel ideas.  They are just as much an established part of Literary tradition as Sequels are.

I could go on a long diversion about the ambiguities of applying modern terms like Sequel, Prequel and Reboot to ancient, medieval and renaissance literature, poetry and theater.  But I don't think that's necessary.

The Sequel in the sense of how we mean that in talking about modern Nerdy Genre Fiction was probably invented by Alexandre Dumas, as he and his French peers laid all the foundations of modern Popular Fiction.  He wrote sequels to many of his works but by no means all (he never did a follow up to The Count of Monte-Cristo).  But the ones that probably mark the birth of the modern Popular Fiction Sequel would have to be his sequels to The Three Musketeers.  In fact you could even call the D'Artagnan Romances the first modern Trilogy.

The Three Musketeers novels are among other things literary ancestors of Star Wars.  The Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon style serials that inspired George Lucas and the Pulp fiction they were based on were largely predicated on taking the tropes of the Swashbuckler genre codified by The Three Musketeers and placing them IN SPACE.  Star Wars Rebels I feel was very much acknowledging this.

The Three Musketeers sequels are at least to the English world not quite as popular and well known as the original.  Thing is Dumas also wrote Prequels, and it was his Prequels that had a tendency to surpass their original.

Le Chevalier de Maison-Rouge was the first written but chronologically last of what are called the Marie Antoinette Romances.  It was successful and influential enough on it's own to be a direct inspiration for The Scarlet Pimpernel.  But the first two books, Joseph Balsamo aka Memoirs of a Physician and The Queen's Necklace were a far bigger deal, as relatively unknown in English as everything of Dumas but his big two, but in the French World they have come to define the legacy of Count Cagliostro.  And like the Star Wars Prequels they were the story of a Villain more so then of a Hero, they played a vital role in creating the modern Super Villain, and I see much of Joseph Balsamo in Darth Sidious, (an argument can be made that Althotas is the prototype of Darth Plagueis).

Also The Whites and the Blacks is a prequel to The Companions of Jehu.

Next in line is Eugene Sue.  His Les Mysteries du People series was his intended magnum opus.  The volume set during the original French Revolution, The Sword of Honor, became also a prequel to both Les Mysteries de Paris and The Wandering Jew, setting up the hero of the former and villain of the latter.  Then the next and last book of the series set during the 1848 Revolution, became a sequel to both said novels.  So his main Prequel came before his main Sequel.

Paul Feval's first significant success was Le Loup Blanc (The White Wolf), which is arguably the first masked vigilante.  Later Feval wrote a prequel to that called La Louve (The She-Wolf), which is pretty indisputably the first female masked vigilante.  So that is a pretty important literary innovation that was done in a prequel, he retroactively made his Heroine predate his first Hero.

Later Feval wrote Salem Street and The Invisible Weapon, to be Prequels to the main narratives of the original three novels of The Blackcoats saga.  However the continuity divergences make them more like an alternate continuity, or a different timeline created when Barry Allen went back in time to save his mother creating a Time Boom (and the disappointing Cadet Gang can be the New52 canon).  The Invisible Weapon is generally considered the best Blackcoats novel, by modern fans at least.

Emile Gaboriau created in his 1866 novel L’Affaire Lerouge the character of Monsieur Lecoq, in this first novel he was a supporting character but he became the lead in later stories, he was a French Master detective who predated Sherlock Holmes.  In 1869 he wrote a prequel novel titled Monsieur Lecoq about his first major case.  This prequel quickly became the most successful of his novels, so much so that many think the reference to Lecoq in A Study in Scarlet was based on this novel alone.

The Holmes stories were not written in chronological order ultimately.  So much so that all four full novels are set before The Final Problem though half were written later.  None are a prequel in the traditional sense since none give Holmes an Origin Story or set up any story-lines we'd already seen the ending of.  Still Hound of the Baskerviles tends to be labeled the best Holmes story, yet the reader knew even when it first came out Watson will live to witness The Final Problem, so he was never truly in danger.

The son of Paul Feval wrote a series of interquels to the D'Artangan saga, set between the first two novels.  Known as the In Between Years series.

However with Arsene Lupin we again have a prequel origin story novel, La Comtesse de Cagliostro, that becomes possibly the most popular of all his adventures, it's the main basis of the 2004 movie and a superficial influence on the Lupin III Anime film Castle of Cagliostro.  And fittingly this novel's lore is largely derived from Alexandre Dumas' most important Prequels.  I highly recommend the English translation done by Jean-Marc & Randy Lofficer for Black Coat Press titled Arsene Lupin Vs Countess Cagliostro.

Other Lupin books written after WWI were also set before some of his earliest adventures, like The Damsel with the Green Eyes.  But in fact the first Lupin Prequel was The Crystal Stopper, written after 813 but set before his major Holmes crossovers.

Now applying the term to Tolkien's Legenderium can be controversial because the first age stories were what he began writing just never published.   Regardless creating Numenor, then The Hobbit and then LOTR caused him to change things about the first age.  Sauron was really created for those later stories, in the oldest version of Beren and Luthien (the only First Age story Sauron is important to) his role was played a sort of WereCat.

Regardless the basic argument against prequels still applies, when they were finally published the readers knew Morgoth would be defeated in the end and that Galadriel wouldn't die, and that Numenor would end up being Atlantis.  And so on.  Because the LOTR books told us so.

All of these are parts of sagas and from writers that laid all the foundations of modern Popular Fiction, in more then one way I could argue we'd have no Indiana Jones without Arsene Lupin.  So Prequels were a part of the kind of fiction Lucas was making long before he made the decision to call his 1977 film Episode IV.

So let me clarify my premise.  Without certain Prequels that were popular and influential before George Lucas or his critics were even born, we would not have Star Wars or Indiana Jones at all.

Some sagas shouldn't have prequels because arguably doing a Prequel is a symbolic betrayal of what it's about, like Star Trek, I never supported Enterprise, or the 2009 film even before I heard it was an alternate timeline Reboot rather then a Prequel, nor the new series being set before TNG.  I want a 25th Century Enterprise with a Pansexual Korean Woman as the Captain.

But Star Trek and Star Wars are in many ways opposites (one is SciFi and the other is Fantasy) including on this very issue.

Star Trek begins with
"To boldly go where no Man has gone before".
Star Wars begins with
"Long Long Ago".
Star Wars is about the past, it always has been.  Therefore I never really cared about post ROTJ, hell I barely care about post ROTS.  The only spin-off idea thrown around I'm interested in is the Young Yoda film, because that can take us centuries into the past, to what was "Long Long Ago" to the people of Episode 1.  And Maz Kanata is older then Yoda, so you can throw her in there to appeal to the New Trilogy fans.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Many Golden Age Superheroes fell into the Public Domain.

Particularly those that were neither DC or Marvel.

This website chronicles them.
http://pdsh.wikia.com/wiki/Public_Domain_Super_Heroes
Golden Age Comic Book Superheros aren't all it chronicles, but that was it's initial premise.

Some characters' names are under Trademark (sometimes only because of similarity to a different character's names).  But that only hinders the ability to put their name in the title or on the cover of the work.

So basically there are plenty of Comic Book Superheroes out there you don't have to be either Warner Bros, Disney, Sony or Fox to make a movie out of.  But unless a character is as Super Iconic as Sherlock Holmes or Dracula, major Studios would rather use characters they can have complete control over.

What I mainly want to talk about right now however is how many Female Superheroes the Golden Age had.  They may have been handled in ways unsatisfactory to a modern Feminist, but this myth that Female Characters are inherently less likely to sell does not really seem to have been as much of a problem back then.

Characters like Miss MasqueMiss America and Miss Victory.

One thing I've often noted in my mind is about Kid Sidekicks.  Most sidekicks are the same gender as their mentor, however there are many female sidekicks to Male Heroes.  But I couldn't think of any examples of a Superheroine with a male Sidekick, like society can't handle the idea of a woman being the mentor to a young man.

That was until this website made me aware of the Black Cat and Black Kitten.  So there is one known example of at least one Female Hero and Male Sidekick team.

There was an Australian bat themed Superheroine in the late 1940s called Vampire.

Legacy of The Masque is a web-series that uses PD Superheroes.  Here is it's Facebook page.  I'd very much like to see more people try similar projects.

Many Charleton and Fawcett characters fell into the Public Domain.  In fact it seems even many of their characters DC regularly uses are PD in their original forms, but you just can't use any post Golden Age elaborations of their lore (and they're Trademarked).  Even Captain Marvel is listed on this site.  (Black Adam isn't).  On the Superheroine subject that includes Mary Marvel, (but not Isis, she was a 70s creation).

Another character DC owns the later history of but is none the less in the Public Domain technically is Phantom Lady.  It is in the case of this character that we know DC may try to sue even if they don't have a case.  So it's definitely something to be careful about.

A lot of the Golden Age characters of Timely Comics (later Marvel Comics) fell into the Public Domain.  But not their big three, Captain America, Human Torch or Sub Mariner, and their major supporting characters.

One such character is Miss Fury.
One ongoing plotline was Marla's adoption of Darron, the abandoned son of Erica Von Kampf and Gary Hale(Marla's former fiancĂ©). Marla was unaware of the toddler's parentage but, she rescued him in Brazil from the brutal guardianship of Diman Saraf, who planned to use him in a deadly experiment. She was initially denied custody of the boy because she was a single woman, which broke her heart but, her courage and heroism in the rescue eventually won over the authorities. Marla was then, for the duration of the series, an unmarried woman with a child: a rather progressive scenario for a 1940s adventure strip
But the most interesting Timely character to me is The Blonde Phantom.

This was a post war character introduced in 1947, and her involvement in some Espionage related story-lines makes me feel it would have been very logical to include her in Agent Carter.  I suspect Marvel Studios and Disney don't want to make the PD Superheros of the Marvel Universe part of the insanely popular MCU because they want all the movie stars they make to be ones they can completely control.

Sometimes I suspect the Blonde Phantom's look may have been inspired by The Domino Lady, but that's probably just me.

Jean-Marc & Randy Lofficer choose to change the name of the Arsene Lupin supporting character The Blonde Lady (La Dame Blonde in French) to The Blonde Phantom for their translation, Arsene Lupin Vs Sherlock Holmes: The Blonde Phantom.  I haven't gotten to read the book yet so I don't know the significance of that decision, but I do know that they are aware of the Timely character's existence.  The story is set in 1904, so it's not possible to imagine it as exactly the same character, but they are fans of the Wold Newton Universe concept.  The original French Novel and it's oldest English translation are both pre-1923 so totally PD, but the Lofficer translation is not PD, it is published by Black Coat Press.