Sunday, December 13, 2015

New Batman v Superman Trailer. What The Experts Missed.






By now many of you have seen the new trailer, or should I say trailers, since Ben Affleck had one of his own and we even had a Batman "unmasked" teaser.   Also by now you've read many of the myriad recaps and in-depth dissertations as to what these trailers reveal.

So we're done right?

Not by a long shot!

As I combed through all the recaps across the net I noticed they didn't pick out some of things I did and in fact, left out some doozies I thought were quite salient.  (I'm not patting myself on the back.  Just sayin' is all.)

So let's take a look at some of the things I thought were important and some general observations.  


The Hand

 

Jesse Eisenberg's Luthor goes through a lot of gesticulation in this trailer.  Too much say some.  A lot of complaints on the internet of Eisenberg's performance is that he is too much like The Joker.  What is he, a "Joker Lite"?  Too manic!




Amidst all this hand waving I thought I picked out something important.  A bandage on his right hand.

 

This bandage doesn't appear until much later in the trailer and if my spidey senses prove correct it could prove quite significant.  I'm also of the thinking if it wasn't of importance the wouldn't have shown it.

They showed it.



So what is the significance of the bandaged hand?  Well, it could prove to be the entry point of some sort of Kryptonian infection.  Especially since Luthor was seen marveling at a piece of krypotonite in the first trailer.  This infection may lead to his hair falling out as seen above or that could simply be do to radiation exposure from the rock.

Could it be something more sinister?


The Device






Please observe that bizarre looking sculpture as Affleck's Bruce Wayne drives up to the Luthor reception party.  It looks like a mass of discordant twisted tendrils.  (Silver twisty shape center of picture.)

Anything else like that in the trailer?




Indeed.  Take a close look at the "Trans mutative Kryptonian biological matrix device" that is throwing geysers of electricity across the room.  (And, yes, I just made up that device name.)

I see similar tendrils amidst the bolts of lightening  and I have no doubt this is the device that brings the resurrected General Zod to life as Doomsday. 

I'm thinking someone with the out-sized ego such as Lex Luthor would actually put a sculpture image of his greatest invention on the front lawn and no one would be the wiser.

The kicker?  (Here's where the bandage ties in.)

As Luthor begins to reanimate Zod into what we know as Doomsday a drop of blood escapes Luthor's hand and gets instilled into the matrix.

Doomsday is also part Luthor.

 

 Too crazy for you?  Hey, it's a comic book movie.  Run with me here!


Of Gods and Men


 

Superman is often compared to a god or at the very least possesses god-like powers.  In this particular trailer we hear these comparisons from not only Lex Luthor but Bruce Wayne too.

I thought it telling we see Greek mythological iconography muraled on the walls of Luthor's reception.

In keeping with this theme we see this iconography right behind Clark's head.  Both a man and a god.

I also have no doubt Luthor thinks of himself as a god among men  or at least a slayer of gods or beasts much like the Athenian heroes before him.  (Hmm, Athens, a Wonder Woman tie in?)

Nothing earth shattering here I just like the work from Snyder and his set design people. 


The Empty Chair

 

Here's a closeup of the Caped Crusader in the Bat-plane (Bat-wing?) as he bores in on Superman in what looks to be an epic air to air battle.  Tracers ring off the Man of Steel and in a moment, Big Blue looks to be firing up his heat vision.





Batman is set aglow in fiery orange as he is about to be incinerated by the aforementioned heat vision.

Actually, the way the trailer is edited, it looks to be Doomsday that is about to deep fry Batman.  Only the timely intervention of Wonder Woman and her shield saves the day.  (Although I would think Batman would have been immolated in the resulting fireball that is also in the trailer but I think we've run into more clever editing here.)

So what did I notice out of all this?

See that canister to the left of Batman's head in the "Glow" picture?  In the "in-flight" picture it is to the right of Batman's head.  (As we face him.)

Switching seats Batman?  Did you move from the Batmobile to the Batplane and we have more clever editing?  Why a two-seater?  Same old equipment from the time of the now dead Robin?  Saving the seat for a future Robin?  Jenna Malone is purportedly to be in the movie.  Is she the Carrie Kelly Robin that will fill that seat?

Quick Fan Boy Scenario

At the end of the movie or in a post credit scene an exhausted Batman sits slumped in the Batcave.  Suddenly the (newly repaired) Batmobile appears, the doors spring open and out pops an ebullient Kelly.  "Aw, who needs a hug?" she teases.  To her shock and amazement she gets that hug.  Life has returned to the Batman.


Armored Up Batman 


 



Excellent shot of the Crusader of Steel.  What else is intriguing about this shot?

Note the graffiti on the wall behind Batman.


http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-lqoUlsTXNFI/VbT2VYm8GRI/AAAAAAAAJjw/jz-dJt-_drY/s640/Bat%2Bweapon.jpg


We saw graffiti much like this in the first trailer and as seen in the above photo.  One could easily posit that these scenes take place in Gotham City as it is often portrayed gritty, foul and unforgiving.

So where is the "gun" or "staff" that Batman is holding in the misty blue above?




It looks to be a gun (with kryptonite bullet?) in the above frame but Batman seems to be out of armor here.




The homage to Robin (replete with graffiti) stands with a staff before the remorseful Bruce Wayne.

Staff?  Gun?  What is it?  Why isn't in the second trailer?  It seems we get a good deal of fighting in Gotham City.  In fact, according to this movie Gotham and Metropolis are in close proximity to each other.  Something I never imagined from the comics.  Is the Gun/Staff the reason Batman is able to put such a beat down on Superman?

I for one want to see how much of the fight Superman brings to Batman on his home turf.  If Batman is as resourceful here as we think he is then bringing him to Gotham means he has the advantage.  Let's hope we see the staff or gun that used to be heavily hinted at.



Gloomy Gotham

 
 
Aside from a masked vigilante that roams the streets of Gotham, maiming his victims, it doesn't seem to be a very nice place to live.  Check out the sidebars in the above newspaper.  "Funding cuts to water board."  "Air, new safety regulations." And the partial at the very top, "Labor" and "Struggles."

I have a feeling that Gotham has one of those population counters on the sign as you leave the city.  Except it is always counting down.


 "Stay Down!"


 


"If I wanted it, you'd be dead all ready."


 


Batman doesn't seem to be doing too well in this scenario.  The upside?  He's definitely in Superman's head.  Superman had already killed Zod and that nearly crushed him.  Killing or at least threatening to kill a "lesser being" means he's really off his game.  That's the opening Batman is looking for.

Wayne already observed to Alfred in this trailer that Superman had "brought the war to us."  Which would be a nightmare of course.

Soooo, in keeping with that....


The Dream Sequence


 

Not a fan.

The above scene has been spoiled as a dream sequence.  That's too bad.  I was hoping Superman had been turned by Luthor by use of Red Kryptonite.  Or even better, converted to a Bizarro Superman complete with fascist acolytes.

The frame also shows "Parademons" which are minions of Darkseid.  So, purportedly, this is a dream sequence where evil Superman lords over the Earth as a disciple of the aforementioned Darkseid.

Odd that the "Super-Nazis" are outside the walled compound spilling from trucks above while the parademaons seem to be coming from the compound.  A helicopter also seems to be coming from the compound doing battle with the demons.  Hard to tell who are the good guys here.  Is the walled compound the last vestige of the good people or Earth or a base for Darkseid?  (Hmm, maybe this view is from inside the compound.)

Was Batman granted a look into the future or is he becoming so unstable this is what his sub-conscious has come up with?  Hard to believe he would know anything about Parademons let alone Darkseid.  Has Wonder Woman seen the future through an Oracle?  Will magic be introduced?  Justice League Dark?  Zatanna?  

Now that would be awesome.

"Here's a look at the "Unmasking" teaser part of the Nightmare" scenario.



 

I do love the way Superman looks at the empty mask.  As if it just a symbol of an empty man.


Rebuilding Metropolis

 

Seen above is the homage to Superman from the grateful people of Metropolis.  Note the cranes and derricks working in the background to repair the obliteration done by Zod and Superman.  

Memorials are often constructed with the pieces of the destruction in order to add emotional weight.  (I say memorial because we see a lot of flowers etc. laid at the base of this structure.)  I found the oval shape behind the Superman figure to be a little odd.  Is it seen elsewhere in the trailer?



 


Yes, that odd oval shape is now seen in the background of the statue bracketed by bolts of lightning.  

This, no doubt, is where Luthor is creating Doomsday.  (The lightning bolts are the giveaway.)  So this means it is a Luthor facility.  Even his buildings must have suffered some damage.

The significance of this?

I have no doubt Luthor paid for the Superman tribute/memorial.  Here Luthor is playing the long game.  What better way to tear down a figure than to build him up first.

All part of the plan.


One Last Word


 



The name of the movie, "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice."  What if it turns out to be Gal Gadot's movie?

Seriously,  her portrayal of Wonder Woman looks pretty astounding.  It's safe to say she's embraced the role.  What if she steals the show?

Oh, and the gun Batman is holding in the above frame?  Not the same thing as the first trailer one.  If it is a gun.  (Destiny Spear?)  Many have criticized Batman for having a gun at all.  What happened to the no gun rule? 

No doubt Batman comes up with a weapon for all occasions.  If it comes in the shape of a gun to stop Superman then so be it.  Kill Superman is another thing all together.  Additionally, the Batwing sure is packed with a lot of firepower.  Perhaps this aged more bitter Batman (can Batman really get more bitter?) has changed.  Snyder tweaked Superman and he may well do the same to the Caped Crusader.

Can't wait to see the Twitter firestorm on that one.

Well, that's a wrap.  Here's the "special" trailer that Affleck introduced for Good Morning America.





Sunday, December 6, 2015

Batman: Europa



Batman is finally taking that long awaited European vacation and he has brought a friend.  So fun.

"Batman Europa" has been a long gestating project.  By some accounts this project has been in the works for the past ten or eleven years. Fingers have been pointed at the artist Jim Lee but sometimes a talent such as his is hard to corral given the high demand for his work.

So how does it look after such a long wait?  Let's take a look.


The End?





Our story begins with a struggle between the oldest of foes, Batman and his arch nemesis, the Joker.  The reader may think they are locked in mortal combat but as the story plays out, we may actually learn this is but a prequel to the end.  And despite their grievous wounds they are actually trying to help each other out.


A Killer Beginning

Writers Casali and Azzarello have a few flips and twists in store for us not the least of which is the cold opening we were treated to.  The actual beginning is a bit of a flashback where the Dark Knight finds himself locked in a struggle with Killer Croc and the scales of this conflict aren't in Batman's usual favor.


 

Croc isn't necessarily a pushover, but Batman is having a harder time than usual subduing the toothy one.  This is what provides him with his first clue that something isn't right.




Alfred has called Batman back to the Batcave and to his astonishment the Batcomputer has been infected with a virus.  Simultaneously, Alfred deduces the virus on the computer mirrors the ailment that has afflicted Batman and the infection is likely fatal to both.

Casali and Azzarello do a narrative quick step here.  While seeming like a bit of a cheat to hurry the story along it also serves to highlight Lee's artwork and get us to those flips and twists I spoke of earlier.




With Batman under the weather, Alfred's intuition provides a break for the Dark Knight and his inference into the humor involved sets Batman across the globe.  (If you've read the comic not only does Alfred provide much needed detective skills but his reward is to prep the Batwing.  Anything else you need Batman?  Dinner perhaps?)


On To Berlin!



Thanks to the Batcomputer and the ever resourceful Alfred, the virus is traced back to Berlin.  Batman is forced to do some leg work on his own (Yes, that was a mild dig at Batman's over-reliance on Alfred.)

I shouldn't be so tough on Batman here.  This is one of the 'flips" I was referring to earlier.  Casali and Azzarello have Batman at about 75 per cent and it is refreshing to see Alfred provide the much needed brain work and help point Batman in the right direction.  

Alfred isn't a superhero, he's just invaluable.


Enter The Clown Prince



 
Easy on your manservant Caped Crusader, he's gotten you this far.

Batman enters a local night club trailing a lowlife hood.  What he finds is the not so funny aftermath to the Joker's handiwork.
  




We get a brief history lesson on the "duality" of Berlin, how two cities, Collon and Berlin, were forced together into an unlikely alliance that morphed into something no one could predict. 

This serves as a narrative precursor into one of the major twists to the Europa story line but it doesn't exactly explain how Batman ultimately finds out where the Joker is.

Maybe I should ask Alfred. 





No worries, Batman finds the Joker and makes a grand entrance in his own particular idiom.

Batman and the Joker do their usual pas-de-duex.  Trading jibes, trading bullets and trading punches.

Actually, the punches are a little one sided with the Joker taking the recieiving end of many knuckle sandwiches which leads us to this little reveal.






Yes, the Joker has the virus too.




You may not be surprised to learn there is a woman involved.  What is surprising is the Joker got to her first.  (Another flip.)  After getting someone to spill his guts (literally) the Joker got him to spill the beans.  The young and lovely Nina came into a lot of money but when you stand up against Batman and the Joker you'd better come up with the truth.

She confesses she know where the trail leads next and it is Prague. 

Thus gives us our biggest twist of them all.


 

Batman and the Joker working together.


Conclusion

Overall I found the first installment of Europa to be an uneven but intriguing effort.  Having two of comic books most ardent antagonists teaming up isn't the most original idea but placing them out of their regular milieu and having the clock tick down on them is compelling.  

The way the narrative skipped ahead was a bit jarring at times but it can be forgiven given the captivating nature of the artwork by Jim Lee and his team.




I really liked the "Cyber-green" palette Lee and his colorist Alex Sinclair employed.  It made many of the panels a bit antiseptic and digitally cold.  It was also was evocative of the Joker and his hair.  Not to mention the reptilian menace of Killer Croc.

 

I always loved how Jim Lee has drawn Batman.  Here we get a unique look at Batman springing into action.  Arms crossed over the chest instead of the usual spread wing look.



    
Lee and Sinclair employ a watercolor and pastel aesthetic to some of the panels also.  Seen above is a good example.  The eye tends to linger on the panels adding depth to an otherwise thin story line.




Perspective is always appreciated.  Here we have the Bat perched high atop the "Siegessaeule" statue that dominates the Berlin skyline.  (At least we think it is the Siegessaeule.  Some of the details are off, but where else could he be?  Tip of the cowl to uber friend Eileen for her help.)


Part one of four "Berlin" get three out of five "Batwings" as a rating.  On to Prague and perhaps more depth and no doubt some great art.


 




(Another tip of the Cowl to artist "Jerhler" over at Deviantart for the Batwings.  Here's the link.  )

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Batman #46


Who are you Mr. Bloom?






Well, that's revealing.

How many iterations of Batman have you known Mr. Bloom? 

In Batman #44 Bloom was ret-conned into the series by Scott Snyder in a move that I initially dismissive of.  (Batman #44.)

Now, I am not so sure.  The above statement tells us at least Bloom is aware of others that have donned the cape and cowl in Bruce Wayne's absence.  Something even Commisioner Gordon only mused at when Dick Grayson took over for a spell.  (Gordon thought he seemed smaller and "happier.")

True, this is a post"Flashpoint," "New 52" and "Convergence" story line so Snyder can do anything he wants with the Bloom background.  But, despite all the changes to DC, there is always some commonality that preserves the major moments in DC mythology and particularly Batman mythos.

Who are you Mr. Bloom?  

In my review of Batman #43 I was sure Bloom was some sort of weird organic reincarnation of The Joker.  Maybe he is still and Scott Snyder has the most bizarre and twisted conclusion to this arc we have ever experienced.  

If not, who is this being that has such intimate knowledge of Batman?  Alfred?  One of the Robins? A long lost girlfriend seemingly dead and mysteriously resurrected?  I know it strains credulity but this is the comics so if we are going to go there let's go there all the way.

(Hmm, Bloom is kind of thin maybe it is Elastic man.  Nah, even I'm not that crazy.)

Want some evidence Bloom is someone we know?






Duke from the "We Are Robin" comic has infiltrated the Penguins new Iceberg Lounge and despite Daryl's warnings to steer clear of all things Bloom, he has stumbled across something anyway.

"But it doesn't make sense."  "None. "Bloom can't be...."

Of course Duke's revelation is interrupted by the Penguin himself.  We don't want to learn too much do we Mr. Snyder!

Speaking of Snyder here is what he said about Bloom in a recent interview with Newsarama,  "Bloom, literally and figuratively, is the thing that kind of comes up in those cracks that happen between all of those things that are supposed to be sewn together by the city." 

You mean like a weed Scott?  (For the whole interview go here.)  This statement doesn't exactly point to someone we already know in the Batman mythos but it could just be Snyder keeping his cards close to the vest.  (Joker card?)




So, readers of Batman #46 may have noticed I skipped a little ahead here.  Let's catch where Batman #45 left off.

Bloom had captured a Bat Blimp and set it against the movers and shakers of Gotham.  He picks off the fundraisers one by one and  taunts Geri and Commissioner Sawyer.  The Gordon Batman comes out of hiding and nearly manages to capture Bloom in clever fashion.  Equally, Bloom counters Batman's moves and makes his escape.




All a bit campy and a little too predictable.  But it does move us along to what the real Batman is doing which is...


Shower Time!




Yep, the currently oblivious Bruce is enjoying a nice morning shower.  It is "the morning after" and instead of looking deeply into his own mind, Bruce wants to know what is going on with Jules.

This post pillow talk does have some significance in that in provide an ever so subtle crack into the mind of Batman and his history.

To wit.






While Bruce is by and large totally unaware of his former alter ego as Batman, he does know that Jules' father had a sordid past and he is not beyond putting the pieces together.  Despite her father being the man that sold the gun to the man who murdered his parents he blithely wants to carry on and marry Jules.




Woof!  Things that are said in the shower!  Bruce is so far removed from the most pivotal moment in his life he nonchalantly pops the question and fits in a little naughty time.  (BTW, a hint was dropped by Jules that something is going on with her, probably something physical.  Cue future heartbreak.)


Oh Gotham, why?




Fortunately we have the hubris of an arrogant city to distract us.

Despite being easily menaced by Bloom earlier in our story Gotham continues on its path of self delusion.  Geri shows Gordon her army of Bat robots that she is utterly convinced will protect Gotham.  This from a city that once considered Batman a pariah.  Now they are telling themselves they have the better solution and are using the symbol of the Bat as their shield.



 Sheer hubris dear readers.  Sheer hubris.

Snyder has positioned Bruce Wayne as a small picture man that can't see what role he plays in Gotham.  Alternately, Gotham has been positioned by Snyder as a city that is seduced by the big picture that can't see the small picture.  

The devil is in the details Gothamites.


Wake Up Call


 

The only man on the planet with a grip of what is going on is Gordon.  In true Batman fashion he wants to go it alone.  He correctly assumes an army of Bat battle-bots would only lead to a large scale disaster.



 The man that should truly be on the ball is Bruce Wayne and he is still playing catch up.  His wake up call comes in the form of a child's drawing.   The urgency of the situation is starting to dawn on him (Bat-sense tingling?) and he realizes he can no longer find that seed Bloom left behind.  

Here we have another tie in to the children of Gotham.  Snyder seems to be focusing on Wayne's forgotten childhood and future of Gotham's kids.   If they have a future that is.


 
Gotham used to be a thriving community with the emphasis on "community."  Where once was charity and a populace that took care of its own, now stands arrogance that has created a divide where a path (Blossom Row) once brought people together.  Through that crack evil blooms.  (See what I did there?)





Bloom has proved to be formidable foe.  As our story closes "Bat-Gordo" is in the grip of his machine "Rookie."  One can assume the rest of the Bat Battle Bots will soon be in service to Bloom.

Better hurry up and snap out of it Wayne!


Okay.  Who is up for a little spoiler?

You're going to have to scroll way down.






Lower.







A little lower.  








Last spoiler warning!






Want to see what Bruce Wayne looks like when he finally realizes he's Batman?


Here it is..



The horror.

Yanick Paquette will be sitting in as illustrator for Batman#49 as Greg Capullo will be taking a break.  (Capullo will illustrate Batman#50.)  

I love Paquette's take on "German Expressionism" especially in the style of F. W. Murnau.  Wayne seems to be reacting as if he is in the thrall of some demonic presence.

I certainly hope so! 


See you back here for Batman #47.   Bat Battle Bots anyone?