12 November 2009

Evolution of the Batman (and Robin) - Batman: The Animated Series

A few months after Batman Returned, one of the most revered versions of the character arrived in Batman: The Animated Series. The series' 85 episodes debuted from 1992 through 1995 and spawned a theatrical movie (Mask of the Phantasm), a Direct-to-Video movie (Sub-Zero) a direct sequel series (The New Batman Adventures) with its own Direct-to-Video movie (Mystery of the Batwoman) and a whole slew of spin-off series (Superman, Batman Beyond, Justice League, The Zeta Project, Justice League Unlimited) running through 2006.

Why did one show have such a lasting impact? It was not only good, but it really mixed up the way animation was done. First off, the stories were not made solely for kids. Each half-hour episode was made like a mini-feature film with decent production value and story that were accessible for a wide range of audiences. Batman was shown as being more than a guy with a bunch of gadgets and money. He was a highly trained fighter and a skilled detective.

The series had all the classic Bat-rogues with great portrayals from Joker, Scarecrow, Poison Ivy and Two-Face to Riddler, Catwoman, and Ra's Al Ghul. Even the Penguin was better than his Batman Returns envisioning.

Also, the series reinvented some of Batman's lamer foes, giving the likes of Mr. Freeze, Man-Bat, Clayface, the Clock King, and the Mad Hatter classic and tragic new origins better than anything that fans were familiar with.

The series even gave us new villains like the now classic Harley Quinn. There were really only a few misfires (the terrible trio).

The series also incorporated an interesting supporting cast. Gone was Bat-Mite, and in was an older Robin with a bit of depth, a driven Batgirl, and cops with varying degrees of questionable morals.

Over 15 years after its debut, The Animated Series remains to most the definitive version of the Dark Knight.

As an added treat, here is what is oft referred to as the Lost Episode - footage from a Sega CD Batman video game:

Part 1:

Part 2:

Up Next: Batman: Mask of the Phantasm

11 November 2009

Crisis Trailer Hits the Interweb

Check out the evil league of evil AKA the Crime Syndicate taking on the good league of good AKA the Justice League in this trailer for the upcoming Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths.

10 November 2009

DVDeels - Pixar's Up

The eels are back for another holiday discount. Just use this coupon to save $10 on Up at Walmart. This is for the Blu-Ray version which COMES WITH a DVD and a digital copy. So, for $9.96 you get a Blu-Ray and DVD for less than the $15 low price of the DVD alone. For the real entrepreneurs out there, you can just ebay off the unwanted discs. Or, you can hold on to the Blu-Ray for high def goodness when you get around to the upgrade. If you already have Blu-Ray, goodie for you.

Good hunting.

Has Spidey's Black Cat Marked Her Territory?

Rumors are swirling that casting for the Black Cat is underway for a lead role in Spider-Man 4. Since production on the film is ramping up, this rings a bit truer than far fetched stories last year touting Cher as the pick to play Catwoman in the next Batman movie. I guess I am fine with this as long as love triangles are kept under control.

One interesting side effect of this news is the possible impact it may have on DC's Batman franchise. It was never a sure thing that Catwoman would appear though it has been suspected, and it seems that fans would like it. But it seems unlikely that a pair of black clad cat-themed anti-heroines would appear in back-to-back comic franchises. In this showdown, Spider-Man may have beaten the Bat to the punch, though technically Catwoman has already appeared in Batman feature films (Batman'66 and Batman Returns) not even counting the Halle Berry abomination.

And just to set the record straight, although Catwoman predated Black Cat by nearly 40 years, the current version of Black Cat has been around much longer than the similar incarnation of Catwoman.

09 November 2009

Spotlight on the Wonder Twins

Sometimes (though probably erroneously) credited for inventing the "fist bump," the Wonder Twins first activated their powers in 1977 on the All New Super Friends Hour, the show for which they were created. The duo were created as replacement sidekicks to the Justice League AKA Super Friends for the non-powered teens Wendy and Marvin. The twins were subsequently adopted into the comic books.

When the two bumped knuckles, Zan (the male twin) could take the form of anything made of water. He could be anything as simple as a rain cloud or ice cube to a fully functional ice rocket. Most of the time, he just turned into a puddle of water and rode around in a bucket. Jayna (the girl twin) could assume the shape of any animal from dinosaurs to dragons to gophers. Her favorite seemed to be an eagle, a form she would use to carry around her puddle brother. Oh and they had their own sidekick - a "space monkey" named Gleek.

They were always coming up with ridiculous ways to use their powers, like burrowing a moat to stop a grizzly. Note in the picture, Jayna is the gopher, not the bear.

Elephant / ice bridge was another fun combo.

As was squid / ice boat.

After Super Friends, the duo were gone but not forgotten. They could be spotted by a keen eye in statue form cameoing in an episode of Justice League.

The Justice League Unlimited run paid homage to the twins as well as the "ethnic heroes" (sans El Dorado) that were created for Super Friends. The Ultimen were a government created team of heroes built as an contingency plan in case the League ever went rogue. Downpour and Shifter were wussy purple clad twins with powers very similar to those of the Wonder Twins.

Well, just like Speedy, Metallo, and Hawkman, the Wonder Twins is a coming to Smallville this season. The episode Idol will show the two fist bumping away with their signature purple attire. Hopefully, no bears will attack. No word yet on Gleek.

Lastly, here is a look at Adult Swims comical remixing of the classic "Gopher Moat" rescue.