Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Superhero Media: Batman Vs. Two-Face

I'd be hard pressed to find an actor whose legacy really compares to Adam West, at least outside of Doctor Who alumni, so in a perfect world, his final performance would have been something a bit better than Batman Vs. Two-Face. That's not to say that Batman Vs. Two-Face isn't good, but it never manages the heights of Return of the Caped Crusaders and just comes across a little more flat and not quite as fun. The draw for this animated outing is the casting of William Shatner as a '66 version of both Harvey Dent and Two-Face, which is, of course, absolutely brilliant. Have you seen those images and lists that work around social media with things like "Casting the Avengers in the '90s" or "If Doctor Who was American"? You may have noticed that these images have no real basis in reality, but are just exercises in fan-casting; who is and was cast in various roles is more complex than someone having been around at the time. This isn't the case with Shatner as Two-Face, as during 1966-7, he was using the fame he had garnered from Star Trek to work across television, trying out new roles and shaking the legacy of Kirk. Batman may just have been a good fit. 

The, delightfully bonkers, premise of Batman Vs. Two-Face is that Hugo Strange has invented a device to extract all of the evil from some of Gotham's greatest criminals, something goes awry and District Attorney Harvey Dent is horribly scarred, turning him into Two-Face, the duplicitous duelist! The majority of Two-Face's crime spree plays out in the opening credits, with Harvey Dent's face eventually restored and the plot settling in to a mystery about a series of crimes. Yes, Batman Vs. Two-Face borrows heavily from both The Dark Knight Returns and Hush, but it's such a fun mash-up with the '66 Batman style that any comparison kind of glosses by without mention. I get the feeling that many of the ideas for fun references were used in Return of the Caped Crusaders and not a lot was left for the follow-up. In fact, I get the feeling that there wasn't really an initial intention to make Batman Vs. Two-Face, that, perhaps, Return of the Caped Crusaders was a surprising success and a quick sequel was stamped out to cash in on the wave of empathy resulting from Adam West's death. 

The, kind of, sad thing is, that even though Batman Vs. Two-Face isn't great, it still rates more highly than any live-action Batman film since The Dark Knight. I think, outside of the death of the second greatest Batman we've ever had, that's the tragedy of this film and the current state of the DC films. A blatant, nostalgia-baiting, tie-in to a television programme that went off the air before the 1970s started is a better film than almost every big-budget, Hollywood-produced, live-action DC superhero epic that has come out since a wannabe auteur take on urban blight and objectivism through the lens of Batman. No, I'm not letting that go. But doesn't that sound completely insane to you? I'll admit that I have more Marvel comics on my shelf, but I so have All Star Superman, The Dark Knight Returns, 52, Blue Beetle, Knightfall and countless other DC trades and graphic novels on my shelf, so I was really hoping that I'd have seen Animal Man, Nightwing and/or The Question in a live-action film before I'd seen Scott Lang or Man-Ape. At least I have Warner Premiere putting out entertaining films like this one.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Miniatures Finished: Polished Turds

Needed some MCU Dark Elves for my SS4RPG campaign but I didn't like the Heroclix offerings. With a bit of scrounging, I came up with some 3rd Ed 40K Dark Eldar and went about making them less terrible. I now have a decent "force" for SS4 or maybe some smaller Sci-Fi games. 

 The full force, seven "characters" for SS4. 

 The Dark Elf Sorcerer is flanked by two Kursed. The Sorcerer is converted Reaper Bones with a spare GW Squig as her familiar, Kursed are Heroclix.

 Dark Elf squads are supported by heavy weapons. 

 In the tradition of all great (and not so great) Science Fantasy, NCOs are armed with melee weapons. 

 The new heads look a lot better than the ones in the kit, mostly GW Dark Elves and Eldar. 

 Far from my best work, but good enough to have hordes of minions for the heroes to defeat.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Superhero Media: Judge Dredd - America

I think a great many fans tend to forget that 2000AD comics and Judge Dredd in particular are intended as satire, or at least parody in the case of the less cleverly-written stories. At it's best, parody is intended not only to amuse, but to communicate a contention, usually negative, about the thing being parodied. The America of 2000AD is a radioactive wasteland punctuated by "Megacities" where crime, unemployment and violence are rampant. For those too young to remember the crime-ridden New York and LA of the 1970s, 80s and 90s, this critique may be lost. I'll put in in simple terms; in the world of 2000AD, when faced with the collapse of capitalism and nation-wide social unrest, the USA resorts to creating a police state where law enforcement has not only the right, but the duty to execute people in the street for minor infractions. Get it yet? Sure, you can say I'm just "another loony leftie" (Anarcho-Communalist and Anti-capitalist) reading too much into media, or you can just read the comics and see what I mean. 

The America story centres around three characters (four if you count Dredd); America Jara, Benny Beeny and America Beeny, their lives and how they intertwine with the story of Megacity 1. The daughter of an immigrant family, America Jara grows up jaded with the oppression of the Judges and the lack of individual freedom in her new home and falls in with the dangerous "Democratic" terror movement; hey, just because the satire is obvious doesn't mean it's not clever. America's childhood friend Benny finds success as a musical comedian, able to insulate himself against the suffering of others with his wealth, though America is never far from his thoughts. When their worlds collide again, America is trapped in plan to destroy the Statue of Liberty and Benny desperately makes a deal with the Judges to try and save her. Things go south, America is killed and then the story takes an odd turn. Because Science Fiction lacks many of the logical constraints of other literature, narratives can take truly interesting turns and end up somewhere unexpected. Benny has his brain transplanted into America's body after impregnating her so that he can give birth to their child.

On the surface, there is more than the suggestion of rape about that move, but the continuing narrative is so damn good, I tend to let it slide. After being diagnosed with a terminal disease, Benny is embroiled in a Democrat plot to stage a mass-murder at an awards ceremony and turns to the Judges for help. Things go awry and America is orphaned, Benny is forced to place her into the Judicial Academy to prevent reprisals from the Democratic Terrorists. As she grows into a Judge, America investigates the people responsible for her mother's death and gains a reputation for leniency. America has inherited the Democratic ideals of her mother, but seeks to change the system by example, from the inside, which brings her into conflict with other Judges. Despite their ideological differences, Dredd defends and respects America, because her beliefs are honestly held and informed by first-hand knowledge, rather than idealism. America is a great Judge Dredd story, clever, poignant and subtle in ways many other aren't. If the overt silliness of the Dredd comics has you hesitating about getting into them, this is a great place to start. 

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

400 Posts - A Visual Celebration

A big thanks to all my followers and readers for keeping me going this far. I have to apologise for the (new) presence of ads on the site, but I'm not doing great financially right now and am working every hustle I can. Without further delay, let's take a look back. 

Plus a bit of fun: 

Thanks again for the continued support, I hope you stick around and keep reading in the future.