Tag Archives: Gotham City

Batman Mask of the Phantasm

Hello, I’m a unicorn. Yesterday was Batman day, and since I’m late to the punch on everything, I decided to celebrate the Caped Crusader’s 75th birthday today with my favorite Batman film ever out to theaters.

(Owned by DC comics)

(Owned by DC comics)

Batman Mask of the Phantasm centers around a new villain in Gotham, one who kills mobsters corrupt politicians. Batman is accused of these murders and must clear his name while also being confronted with a woman from his past. In flashback land, a pre-Batman Bruce Wayne struggles between his vow to avenge his parents and his budding romance with an heiress named Andrea Beaumont. The plot thickens when the Joker is involved in the present day murders, and we get a little backstory on his character; not much, but it’s there. This movie is one part film noir, one part tragic romance, one part gothic horror, one part superhero film, and all beautifully scored and animated.

The dynamic between the young Andrea and Bruce is really interesting because it’s a part of the origin we rarely see. Usually, when we flashback to a Batman early in his career, he’s completely convicted. He only struggles to decide on a motif and nothing else. Here, we see him nearly give up the mask before he even dons it because he has one shot at happiness that he’s afraid to squander. This leads the the most beautiful scenes in the movie where he’s at his parents’ grave, begging them to let him out of his vow because he’d never expected to fall in love and for the pain of their loss to lessen. It’s a genuine tearjerker that gave me chills even after I’d watched it for the third time. Everything about the scene works beautifully, the voice acting, the confusion and despair in Bruce’s eyes, the crackles of thunder, the sad and foreboding score, and the ending. The biggest tragedy in the movie is their romance. Bruce has one chance at happiness, but fate intervenes and their love is never meant to be. I also liked the symbolism of the World of Tomorrow. When Bruce and Andrea are young and visiting the fair, it is bright and shiny, much like their future together. In the modern moments, it it derelict and a ghost town, indicating the crushed hopes of the two lovers and how life has affected them. At the very end, it is destroyed, marking the point of no return for their relationship.

The Phantasm is your typical dark Batman foil character.You know the one: he or she dresses all in black or dark grey, seems ethereal and  supernatural, but unlike Batman, actually kills people. I don’t want to spoil the ending, but I will say that what makes Phantasm interesting is the twist and the motivations. It brings up great themes of revenge and how far one should go before it becomes harmful. It also paves the way for the beautiful speech by Alfred at the end. This and the last two lines of the film fully encapsulate the arc of the Phantasm and the bittersweet ending.

Overall, I’d definitely recommend this to any Batman fan, kid or adult. There are a few intense scenes, and a bit of a downer ending, but it is amazing. The animation is moody and beautiful, the action scenes are pulse pounding, young Bruce and Andrea’s romance is tragic, and, thanks to the fantastic VA director, Andrea Romano, the voice acting is amazing. Because of this, I actually like Mask of the Phantasm movie better than the Nolan trilogy.

You what?!

I like it better than the Nolan Trilogy. Shoot me.

With pleasure…*pulls out a tommy gun*

Where’d you get that gun?

It is the gun of fanboy righteousness that you just now decided to write me having. KNEEL BEFORE BOX!!

Uh Oh…*Dodges behind the bed as the gun goes off* So what are you waiting for? Watch it now, and Happy Belated Batman day!



Filed under Movies

Batman: The Black Mirror Trade Collection

Hello, I’m a unicorn. So, I’m back to reviewing scary stories, and this time, I promise that I’ll stay on topic.

That is, until you read another book you just have to tell the world about.

I’m sorry. Geez, what’s got your metaphorical panties in a twist?

Yeah, that’s right. Make fun of me for being a voice in your head, you pretentious brat.

Well, that was rude. What has gotten into you?

Nothing, just keep doing your stupid little review.

We’ll talk about this later. Anyway, once more unto the breech. And this comic, oh great Krypton, this comic. I’m not going to lie, this has to be the scariest comic I have ever read. I don’t actively seek out horror comics, so there are probably more disturbing stories that this, but, being a person who has only bought one comic in the horror genre on purpose, this has story has frightened me the most. It’s not like I don’t enjoy horror, I like a decent scare as much as the next guy. I just usually enjoy being able to sleep at night more. My point is, I simply stumbled on this trade in Books A Million and bought it out of curiosity. And I didn’t regret the terror I felt in the face of this story.

So here’s the plot: Batman (Dick Grayson) and Commissioner Gordon are fighting the usual evil of Gotham when an all too familiar face returns to the city. It’s Gordon’s son, James Jr. who is the scariest monster I have ever read about. Imagine if Rhoda from The Bad Seed had grown up. That would be J.G.JR. in a nutshell. He knows he’s pure evil and revels in it, believing anyone with morals are weak. While I was  pretty unnerved by him at the beginning, I didn’t realize the scope of his evil until I was explicitly shown. And when I are shown what kind of monster he is, it’s still like a punch to the stomach. This is the first punches of many, because, not only is J.G.JR. a psychopath, but a psychopath with a plan. He has found a way to turn the next generation of destitute Gotham citizens into sociopaths like himself. And here’s the kicker: we don’t know if he succeeded.

James Gordon Jr. is now one of my favorite Batman villains. Not only is he a bigger monster than Killer Croc, but it’s also personal. Dick grew up with J.G.Jr, they were friends. He’s Barbara’s brother and Jim Gordon’s son. The story is primarily focused on Jim Gordon, and his feelings of failure as a parent. As told in pants wettingly scary  flashbacks, there was always something odd about his son, and he feels he could have done something to help him or his victims. The father and son aspect really makes this story stand out and makes J.G.Jr. unique. He isn’t just a monster that needs to be taken out, he’s the son of one of the major heroes in Gotham. You aren’t sure if you wanted him to die because of the devastation it would wreak on his father.

There are other great stories in the trade, like when Dick has to help the daughter of his parent’s murders, Sonia Zucco, the Mirror House, and the villain, Tiger Shark, but the arc with J.G. Jr. is what  really stands out.

To put things in perspective as to how freaky James Gordon Jr. is in the story, he scares off a child serial murderer to a point where the killer decides to leave the family alone. The weekend that I read this story, I had also just read V for Vendetta and the Blackest Night crossover, and he scared me more than emotion zombies and a totalitarian government. For a story about a man who dresses up as a bat, it felt very real. Junior looks as ordinary as you or me. If I were to pass him on the street, I’d never guess what he was capable of. And this scares me even more than a zombie, werewolf, or vampire ever could.

“Textbox, what was that all about?” Kirin almost yelled. She put her sheathed sword around her waist and searched the pantry.

“What’chu talkin’ ’bout Willis?” 

“You know exactly what I’m talking about! Why were you so rude in my review?  Honest, sure, but still,” she asked angrily as she pulled out a large tub of salt used to refill salt shakers.

“Huh? And they say I’m the crazy one. Dames I tell ya, always nuts,” Textbox replied. Kirin unlocked and tried opening the door. It wouldn’t budge.

“Oh, please, if you didn’t insult me, who did? I clearly heard your voice. So, again, what got into you?” she snarled.

“Wow, Kirin smash. Seriously, I really don’t know what you’re talking about. Are you sure you aren’t going nuts?” Textbox asked.

“Yeah, I’m sure. I was tested,” she answered dismissively and took a deep breath. “Look,  I’m kind of on edge right now, so let’s start over. Can you, in all honesty and without a shadow of a doubt, tell me you didn’t insult me during my review?” she asked, calming down a bit. She checked the backdoor and saw that it, too, wouldn’t budge.

“Yeah, I didn’t say anything. I was watching my stories the whole time. By the way, Mara told Mitchel that the baby isn’t his, Donny was finally caught laundering the money from Willy’s company, and Jen and  Kincaid finally got together.”

“Oh really? Good for them. I thought they made a cute couple, and–wait a second, I think we just got off topic. What were we talking about again?”

“You were mad at me because you thought I said something mean, which I didn’t,” Textbox answered.

“Right, gotta focus. I think that whatever is in this house is messing with us. It may be trying to turn us against each other, so be on guard,” Kirin suggested.

“Well, why don’t we just leave, hang out in a motel for a while. I hear Canada is nice this time of year,” Textbox asked. Kirin shook her head.

“Can’t. I tried the doors and they won’t budge. Same with the windows. And I can’t break the windows because the glass is bullet proof. Besides, even if I could leave, you can’t, remember?” she replied as she headed to her bedroom. She poured the salt in a circle around her bed.

“What’cha doin’?” Textbox asked.

“According to mythology, a circle of salt protects anyone within the circle from evil spirits. I don’t know if it works, but It’s worth a shot,” she replied. She heard a crash in the living room.

“What was that?”

“I don’t know.” Kirin sprinted to the source of the noise. When she saw what had happened, all she could say was, “By Odin’s beard.” All of the light bulbs in the room had shattered. The lamps were turned off and unhurt. After a few moments of stunned silence, Kirin resolved herself to get a broom and swept up the broken glass. Once she got everything cleaned up, she silently walked to her room.

“Kirin? You okay?”

“Yeah, just a little freaked out. It’s one thing to read ghost stories and another to experience it first hand. I just need some time to think.”

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Filed under Comic Books, Storylines

My Opinion on Batwoman

Hello, I’m a unicorn. Let’s talk about marriage! Why? Well, five days ago, the creative team on Batwoman walked out on the project because the editor decided last minute that she couldn’t get married to her fiance Maggie Sawyer. I’m going to be breaking my usual form today so that we can talk about this idiocy.

First off, two disclaimers. One: I’m not going to discuss Gay rights here. Not because I don’t support Gay rights. I just don’t think that her cancelled wedding was cancelled only because she is Lesbian. Otherwise, why have her openly Gay in the first place? It’s something bigger than just that, and I’ll get to it in a minute. Two: I have only read one issue where Batwoman appears and that was from 52. She was really cool in it and I like the idea of her, but I can’t tell you about the relationship of Batwoman and Maggie. From what I’ve gleaned from Amazon though, her stories are excellent and she has achieved a pretty big fan base. Instead, I’m going to talk about the main reasons why this refusal to let them marry is asinine. So let’s begin.

The main is reason is that this is the same attitude behind One More Day. And we all know how much everyone loves that story. Co-publisher Dan Didio said in response to the criticisms, and I quote, “Superheroes shouldn’t have happy personal lives. They are committed to defending others at the sacrifice of their own interests. That’s something we reinforced. People in the Bat Family, their personal lives basically suck.”

Oh great Krypton, where to begin? Comic book writers seem to be under the impression that we want to see our heroes fail and be miserable all the time. We don’t. We want to see the characters we love grow and change. We want to see them move forward, not just stay static; perpetually failing at relationships and at life. We want to see them with the person they love or to find a better job or to raise a family. Writers seem to think that marriage is the end. As the fifteen year marriage of Superman and Lois, the twenty year marriage of Spider-man and MJ or the forty-eight year old marriage of Mr. Fantastic and the Invisible Woman can testify, this is obviously not the case.

My first review, The Amazing Spider-man #648, was a part of an arc called Spider-man–Big Time. For all of its flaws (believe me, there are many,) the writers did understand that Peter Parker needs to have things go better for him in his personal life at least once at least once. From a dramatic standpoint, the happiness of a character makes their fall to rock bottom even farther. What another tragedy to someone who is always miserable?

And it’s not like marriage is a walk in the park. They could cheat on each other, grow apart, feel neglected. One could get hurt or kidnapped. If there are any comic book writers reading this that writes for a married superhero, just put forth effort and use your imagination! Is that too much to ask?

Like I said before, I really doubt that she’s not allowed to get married because she’s Gay. They openly supported a Gay Green Lantern and that was very publicized. Her orientation probably plays a role in it, but, like I said, is a symptom of a bigger issue. Like Gail Simone, (a writer best known for her awesome portrayals of women in comics) said, “It’s more of a marriage thing in general.” DC also seems to think that we’re angry because we think they’re homophobes.

No, DC, we’re not angry because we think the mandate has something to do with her orientation. We’re angry because you have become so out of touch that I’m wouldn’t be shocked if you tweeted “Let them eat cake” in response to us voicing our frustrations. You have every single fan at your disposal and thousands if not millions of blogs like mine voicing our ire. All you need to do is listen and not speak to us like we’re the ones with problems.

Another tip: An editor is not a writer. Sure, they’re supposed help make the stories better. Help. Not write. Help. They’re there to catch typos and point out inconsistencies. They don’t write the story. That’s what writers are for. Nothing good ever comes from the editor writing the story instead of the writer.

You’re the guardians of your characters and you aren’t doing your job. And a part of your job is listening to what the majority of your fans have to say. And I don’t think you’d like it. We fans are the best at what we do. And what we do is voicing our rage. All you need to do is listen.

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Filed under Comic Books