Archive for the ‘Batman’ Tag

Dandar Dexdrer, I Dresume?   1 comment

Can’t remember as much of it as I’d like, but I wanted to share this dream o’ mine.

I was looking for someone.  Dexdrer was his last name, eventually, but I can’t remember anything about the first name except it starter with D (Dander, as mentioned in the title, is as close to it as I remember.  I went to brush my teeth saying the name to myself so I wouldn’t forget it, but stopped saying it to myself somewhere along the way, so now I can’t recall.)  This person used to be in a military unit, and I was scouring over an old military base that, in dream fashion, had an interior comprised of some places I know (or reminiscent of them enough for a dream’s production values) in real life.  I had some people helping me to look for them, but rarely saw anyone else.

Everything around the base was grey and washed out, taking on the appearance of winter even though it wasn’t covered with snow.  Like, snow-covered greyness, but without the snow to justify it.  The clouds were grey enough, though, so maybe it was just overcast.  It was flat enough that I think it was in some sort of desert.

Here’s the odd part: I started playing two roles in the dream, one as an actor and one as an observer.  I knew in my head that members of this military unit secretly developed the ability to fly.  The “title” of the dream suggested that to me, though I couldn’t tell ya what the title was right now.  And then i found a long, black-feather in the dream that really puzzled actor me but seemed a little too obvious of a clue to observer me.  There was a room dedicated to a member of the military unit, with a little plaque set up saying that the room was dedicated to them.  It was suggested to observer me that this person was very overweight and that somehow this might have prevented him from flying with the rest of the group, or at least not as well.

I should’ve mentioned by now that this military base wasn’t in the United States, it was in another country.  I keep wanting to say Tunisia in my head, but that doesn’t work.  If Canada had a Tunisian/New Mexican desert, I think it would almost fit everything I saw and/or felt about this place.  Chilly salt flats surrounded the base.  Maybe Utah would be a better comparison than New Mexico.

Anyway, I received word from another person looking for this Dexdrer fellow saying that he thought he’d almost found him, and then I knew I had to hurry.  I made it to where he was and saw the person we were looking for cornering the person who’d radioed me, and holding his fingers to his mouth like it was supposed to be a secret.  Then he looked really annoyed that I’d found them and dropped the whole “cornering the person looking for him” thing.  I then said the line I put as the title, “Dandar(?) Dexdrer, I dresume?”  Then I apologized for messing up what I was saying, and said “presume” and things moved on.

(It’s worth noting that the two people here were people I know in real life.  Both people I mostly know from gaming, actually.  They definitely weren’t “themselves”, though, they were actors in the same sense that I wasn’t playing myself unless I was being the observer me.)

Then I followed the person I was looking for while he gruffly tried to ignore me or brush me off.  I kept accusing him of crimes that he could demonstrate weren’t actually crimes, like stealing his company’s… industrial vehicle? (sort of like a salt truck or something)… to get to the base, only to learn that he owned the vehicle anyway because the company was entirely paid for by him.  “Personal seed money” was close to a phrase he used.

Anyway… I woke up shortly after that.  In the dream, he hadn’t revealed that he could fly, that was still a revelation forthcoming from the narrative of the dream itself, even though I knew it was a thing.  I expected (I the observer, that is) for him to be calling all of his old army buddies out to take over/move into this abandoned military base so that they could… relive flying? I don’t know why they couldn’t just fly anywhere, but they were definitely going to try to recapture some element of the past, and the fact that they could secretly fly was probably involved.

I’m not entirely sure where this dream comes from.  The grey, washed-out aspect of the world outside might have come from my hatred of the ridiculous use of light in Zack Snyder’s Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice movie, and a conversation I had with a friend after the fact about lighting in movies.  The fact that the other two seen characters in the dream were “played” by friends in real life sorta reminded me of the games of Cosmic Patrol I’ve been playing lately, though only one of the two dream people is a real Cosmic Patrol player.

All in all, an interesting dream and I’d have liked to see how it turned out (isn’t that always the way?  Well, except for nightmares…), but all in all it wasn’t an “interesting” dream so much as it was a “weird” dream.

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So I Finally… Watched Baby Doll   Leave a comment

Baby Doll

So, I finally watched an episode of the Batman Animated Series that a lot of people have recommended as being one of the best of the bunch.  From random friends in real life to the perpetually cantankerous-but-delightful reviews of Doug Walker’s Nostalgia Critic, Baby Doll is met with a lot of praise.  And, in truth, I’d seen the very end of this episode ages ago, and it seemed dark and poignant and surreal in all the ways that the Batman Animated Series does when it’s at its best.

It was strange seeing the episode play out, though.  I was happy to see Paul Dini’s name in the opening credits, but after that the episode twisted and felt a bit generic.  I honestly think it’s because I knew where it was going.  The ‘punchline’, as it were.

The odd part, though?  As I reached the part of the episode I’d already seen… the episode suddenly got better.  I have to wonder if that scene was the moment that the rest of the episode was built around.  It’s a beautiful ending in a lot of ways, but the build up to it just didn’t quite seem to match.

So… everyone’s hype ruined everything, except the most hypable moment? Possible, but rare.  Ultimately, though, I did enjoy the episode, and understand why it keeps winding up on everyone’s Top Ten lists.

In other news: Gen-Con 2015 sent me through a wringer that’s made it tough to get back into the swing of things (I haven’t even done a post-Gen-Con report.  Almost seems too late at this point, despite having a fun picture to use for it.)  Also, the place where I usually record my So I Finally videos on Youtube has been uncharacteristically busy of late, and as such I’ve not been filming them.  Just when I thought I was getting the hang of YouTube, too.

Anyway, thanks for stopping by, and I’ll let you know the next time I have a magical monday, or the next time I finally see something new, or just the next time I have somethin’ to talk about.  Later!

Harley Quinn’s New 52 Hardcover: Hot In The City   Leave a comment

Harley Quinn Vol 1

As a kid growing up in the late eighties and early nineties, it should come as no surprise to anyone that Harley Quinn has always been a favorite Batman character of mine.  By far the biggest breakout character from the 90s Batman Animated Series, Harley Quinn went from a one-note henchwoman who assisted The Joker on occasion to recurring villain in her own right.  Paul Dini (and the other writers) gave her the complexities that a lot of the other characters had, but since she was created on the show she wasn’t stuck to any of the archetypal frameworks that the others had.  Eventually becoming best buds with (and according to Paul Dini, an off-screen love interest for) Poison Ivy and having it revealed that she used to be The Joker’s psychiatrist at Arkham (first in the comic Mad Love, followed by an episode based on the comic), Harley demonstrated an interesting flair for making epic and unapproachable figures a bit more grounded.  Her recurring infatuation with The Joker has run the spectrum from delightfully honest and truly romantic down to terrifying, abusive, and manipulative, and her occasional attempts to not be a villain anymore have demonstrated a lot of the complexities of the real life when our own plans don’t go the way we expect them to.  She’s even gotten Batman to warm up a little since Batman knows that not everything is her fault when things go crazy around her.  All in all, she’s a great character.  Does the series hold up to the legacy, though?

Short answer: yes?  It’s honestly hard to tell where this lands.  The comic is written by Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti as a zany comedy of the day to day antics of everyone’s favorite insane clown lady villain (not counting fans of The Joker’s Daughter).  The basic plot of the story is that Harley Quinn has had her old life sorta blow up on her, but an old client of hers from the Asylum has given given her an apartment building in Coney Island.  So, she packs her bags and leaves Gotham to travel to New York.  Her building is filled with a curious assortment of tenants, but she discovers that she won’t quite have the cash to keep the building running just from her rent money.  So she gets a couple of jobs: during the day she’ll be a psychiatrist and therapist at a retirement center, and by night she’ll work as a member of a Roller Derby team.  So, her new life is off to an awesome new start!  Harley’s gonna make it after all!

Mary Tyler Moore Hat Toss

Incidentally, I love this choice.  I’ve always wanted Harley Quinn to actually do something with her psychiatry training that wasn’t in her back story, so getting a job helping people during the day sort of answers the question for me of just why we never see her using all of this training she has (even if it’s sometimes suggested that she only did the bare minimum so that she could make a fortune writing self-help books and tell-all tales of Arkham’s more colorful inmates.)  As for the Roller Derby thing, something feels “right” about it.  My knowledge of roller derbies and the surrounding culture is limited to a single episode of Psyche, but from that limited amount of training it seems like a fitting place for her to ply the skills that she gained while being a super criminal and suicide squad agent.  It’s just wild and violent enough that someone of her skill set could thrive (even if she’d be prone to breaking rules) but still legal enough for her to do it and not get in trouble for it.  Plus, the Harley Quinn themed roller derby costume on the cover/first issue makes for an interesting counterpoint to her classic streamlined Animated Series outfit.  (Sidenote: at what point exactly did DC decide that Quinn’s skin color had been permanently bleached white like The Joker’s?  Was it just a quick blink-and-you-miss-it panel in Death Of The Family?  I’m not sure when that decision was made, or if I like it.  It doesn’t really hurt the story, but every time I see it I think “Oh, right.  That’s canon now.”)

Now, her perfect life isn’t so perfect.  Apparently, someone’s put a massive amount of money on her head, and that money keeps increasing.  Bounty hunters and assassins keep arriving to collect the big bucks.  This provides some fun side stories, but I never quite feel like she’s actually in danger from any of these murderers out to kill her.  Worse, I feel like the revelation of who’s hiring the bounty hunters isn’t handled quite as well as it could be… don’t get me wrong, it’s a fun idea, but I think it could’ve been pulled off better on some level.  However, to the credit of the writers, they use the revelation of what’s sending the bounty hunters her way to exacerbate other issues in the story, and that almost makes it worth it.

That’s the main plot of the book, but it’s worth pointing out that the collection includes some things that aren’t part of that overarching plot.  There are a few one-shot side adventure issues tossed in (including the fourth-wall breaking Issue #0, a Valentine’s Day special (and who better to have a story talking about Mad Love?), and some other issues surrounding her new places of employment), and  a good portion of the middle of the story features a secondary tale where one of Harley Quinn’s patients turns out to be a former cybernetic spy who wants to enlist her help in tracking down some secret agents who’ve been living in the States for decades.  I felt a little uncomfortable at times with how zealously Syborg (the secret agent) and Harey pursued these other secret agents, but then I reminded myself that I wasn’t reading about a hero per se.  I was reading about a villain, one taught by The Joker no less.  I actually found this story more interesting than the main plot surrounding the mysterious assassins, though I’m glad that it wasn’t stretched out for much longer than it was.

Before this comic series came out, the creators talked about how they would plan on getting Harley into some different outfits since it’s unrealistic for someone to wear exactly the same clothes every day.  I spoke a little earlier about how I thought her Roller Derby outfit worked…but a lot of the other outfits don’t feel like they work as well.  Some of them do, sure.  Some of them, though, felt a little too much like they were drawn just for the purpose of having Harley wear something revealing.  Fortunately, this problem didn’t come up so often that it got in the way of everything else that was happening.

Ultimately, it was an interesting read, though I don’t think it was for me.  It’s definitely meant to be a goofier, sillier comic than most of DC’s line-up, but I was hoping for an edge of seriousness akin to Paul Dini’s Zatanna comic from a while back.  The good news is that the series is doing a great job of mixing its stories and weaving together different plot elements (and it left a lot of unresolved hooks for the future.)  I look forward to seeing more about where this series is going, but for right now I’m going to be reading them one collection at a time instead of as a monthly series.  The series is still finding its sea legs, I think, and has the potential to be awesome, but isn’t quite there yet.  Here’s hoping!

Gaming Drought   Leave a comment

On Thursday, my computer went through an odd sequence of updates that left me feeling unsettled.  First, it asked me to let the laptop restart so that Windows could apply some Windows Updates.  I figured sure, why not?  Shortly after that, I noticed that Toshiba’s onboard program wanted to update my BIOS.  That seemed riskier, but I went with it.  The update to the latest version of BIOS seemed to go off without a hitch, though.  That was all at work.

After work, I went to the library to return two books and pick up one that they were holding for me.  While there, I hopped on the Internet to catch up on one or two things that I couldn’t do at work, and my virus scanner said it needed to restart my computer for an update.  I figured one more wouldn’t hurt.  Oh, what a fool I was.

It downloaded its update from AVG and restarted.  As it restarted, a screen came up and said that there was a problem loading Windows, and that it would try again.  And then it tried again.  And then one final time.  Finally, it said that the problem was apparently bigger than it anticipated and might need some more serious solutions.  It asked if I would rather do a few options, and if I wasn’t sure which one to take I should consult with someone I trust.  However, I’m usually the friend that people trust with computer issues so that last option seemed irrelevant.

The option I picked would basically restore Windows, and keep all my files secure while uninstalling Apps that weren’t loaded onto the computer before I got it.  As a courtesy, it created a document on my desktop describing what apps were removed.  It was a very long process that allowed me to read a notable portion of the book that I was picking up (a graphic novel, so that sounds like a bigger accomplishment than it is.)

The true horror was revealed after this update finished: all my games are gone from the laptop.  All of them.  I knew going into this process that all my applications would be going away, but losing all my games just didn’t occur to me.  Worse, all of my gaming programs are gone from the laptop.  I’ve been steadily adding games to this laptop since Christmas through Steam.  Not only are all of those gone, but Steam is gone.  Steam is gone.

This isn’t a huge deal, of course, but it’s an annoyance.  Reinstalling Steam requires an Internet connection that I don’t have at home, and don’t have an easy way of getting.  All the places I can go for free Wi-Fi (with one exception) have a very slow connection, and so installing Steam is a bit more complicated than spending a couple minutes on a resinstallation.  I had hoped that a quick run to a fast food restaurant with free WiFi would let me at least get the program in, but it wasn’t to be.  So, I wasn’t able to quickly toss a small game like FTL or Long Live The Queen onto the laptop to tide me over until I could have some time to dedicate to redoing what has been undone.  I’ll just have to somehow pass the time between now and then without video games.

Fortunately, this calamity didn’t strike until I was at the library, if you’ll remember.

I know which games will be a quick installation and which ones might take a while, so I’ll plan accordingly.  The difficulty will be the larger games that took a while.  I still need to play Mass Effect and Dragon Age, games that I’d downloaded for that purpose; Portal, Portal 2, and Half-Life 2 should go on eventually, but they won’t be priorities; Team Fortress 2 needs on there quickly, though, as does DC Universe Online (even though that’s not a Steam program when I play it.)  The two Batman games are escpecially frustrating, though.  I’d just installed Arkham Asylum again (seriously, like on Wednesday), so that needs to be redone.  And Arkham City?  Well, I was just wrapping up all the things to do in that game.  And I’d just learned that Calendar Man says different things on different days of the year.

And these games all went away on Thursday.  Thursday the 13th.  Of February.  One day before Valentine’s Day.

Well played, Calendar Man.  Well Played…

Pneumonia And Me   Leave a comment

This last week’s silence was not one that I planned, though in some ways I welcomed the respite.  Magical Mondays missed its regularly scheduled appearance due to Non-Magical PneuMonia, and a lack of Internet access at home caused that to become something I couldn’t easily tell people.  On Sunday night I was miserable but telling myself I could power through whatever I was dealing with.  On Monday I was so far beyond miserable that I couldn’t really do anything about it.  My family took note of my plight and made the doctor appointment for me that afternoon and drove me to see the doctor who told me that not only did I have pneumonia as I assumed, but also a fever of 102.  That, of course, was just a result of the pneumonia, but I found the number to be impressive.  I’ve not been that sick in a long time.

Five days of antibiotics later, and I was so much better.  It only took two days for me to stop waking up in the middle of the night with feverish chills, and that’s almost the thing that I’m most grateful for.  I had experienced a few instances of shortness of breath while the disease was mounting (thanks to the extra shifts I had at the radio station this week I had more chances to talk for long periods of time), and so they also gave me an inhaler.  Unfortunately, during the four or five times that I should have used it I didn’t take the chance, so I still can’t truly claim to have ever used an inhaler.

The good news is that while I believe my pneumonia is entirely gone, I might still have some residual bronchitis.  I’m recovering from that slowly, but there are still a few things that make me more out of breath than they should.  If I really push myself, I might get out of breath enough again that I feel like I could justify using the inhaler in the name of science, though I’m pretty sure that I’m beyond the point where I can say that it’s something from which I would truly benefit.

Ultimately, it’s time for me to admit that I’m better and start forcing myself to work again.  Next on my task list: I need to update my resume and send it out to a few places that look like they might benefit from my years (Two!  Count ’em!) of newspaper experience, and work on a few spec scripts now that I’m more familiar with that process.  I also need to work on stories of course, and the looming specter of this coming Magical Mondays post draws ever nearer.  I plan on talking about something inspired by historical thoughts on magic, one of those wonderful things that makes history feel more mysterious even though nowadays the topic feels a bit more mundane.

As a final note, there was one big benefit to being sick and without Internet access this week.  I’ve finally played Batman: Arkham City.  I didn’t think that Arkham City would be able to easily surpass Arkham Asylum, but I think it did.  Making the game’s main villain the relatively unknown Hugo Strange was a nice touch, Dr. Strange dating back to even before the first issue of Batman.  The nice references to some of Paul Dini’s work in the Batman comics were nice, such as the references to The Broker.

And now, I’m only behind on Arkham Origins.  The cycle of video gaming never ends, does it?

The Graysons: Prediction   Leave a comment

I’m ordinarily a perpetual optimist about such things…but this? This just…this just seems like a bad idea. 

http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117993158.html?categoryid=14&cs=1

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m a fan of Smallville. I love its cheesey monster-of-the-week episodes. I love its neverending forrays into increasingly melodramatic angst and intrigue. I love the implausible changes to characterization brought about by machiavellian scheming, lies, betrayal, secrets, and the inevitable ravages of time. With the premise that Smallville started with, it all fits in. I’m not even really a Superman fan and I like it.But…the life of Robin before his parents died? It’s just…what can you really do with that?

Now, I know that I’m probably overreacting a bit. I’m imagining the show as “Smallville, but with Robin instead of Superman!” And I doubt the producers and writers tricked themselves into thinking that that’s what they’d be dealing with.

But…still.

I wish ’em well, but it’ll take some really stellar writing to pull this off.

 

Cat Tales: Fan Fiction Worth a Look   5 comments

When people talk about Batman around me, I always like to participate.  Discussion about the character is fun, ranging from how ridiculous the idea of a guy dressing up like a bat to punch criminals is, to how awesome he is as the world’s greatest detective and one of the world’s greatest martial artists.  Heck, even Dr. McNinja recognizes Batman’s level of training and expertise.

Then people always start listing their favorite takes on the dark knight, and someone will mention Frank Miller.  That’s when I start ranting and raving like a lunatic.  And the worst part?  So few people that I talk to really understand why I dislike Frank Miller’s take on Batman so much (about half of the people who don’t understand think they do understand, which makes it even more frustrating.)

One tiny aspect of my ire involves Selina Kyle, more popularly known as Catwoman.  I try to explain just what Frank did to Selina and why I don’t like it, and people just…they just don’t get it.  They don’t see the big deal.

And then I discovered Cat Tales by Chris Dee.  Chris Dee is a writer who understands Catwoman very well.  I would venture that he understands Catwoman, and most other Batman characters, a great deal better than the writers and executives who decide what the people of Gotham will be facing in the comics.  And you know everyone who talks about how much writers and executives mess up the Batman comics?  Chris Dee probably understands these characters even more than most of those people.

Mr. Dee is also becoming a very capable story teller when he uses these characters in his Cat Tales stories.  While his initial forays into his little fictive universe were a tad generic when compared to other fan fiction on the Internet, the progression of Chris Dee as a writer, and of his characters in the stories, is very clear.

I haven’t read all of Cat Tales yet myself, I have to confess.  I’ve read the first 42 stories, though, so feel free to correct me if things vastly change in story number 44.  (My first story was Riddle Me-Tropolis, though, in the early 50s.  What can I say, the Riddler will always be my favorite character.)

Now that I’ve heaped praise onto these stories, I want to toss out a few caveats.  First of all, some of the website is NSFW.  In fact, barely a story goes by without at least a little swearing, violence, or sexual innuendo.  Not quite Vertigo territory, but still, use caution.

Next, the obvious gorilla in the room: the work is fanfiction.  It’s very good fanfiction, don’t get me wrong!  But there are still distinctive aromas of fanfiction that don’t show up as often in other textual stories.  While the characters that Chris Dee respects are all treated rather fairly, certain other characters become, for lack of a better word, Flanderized.  Talia al Ghul is a good example; in Cat Tales her obsession with Batman as a potential beloved has grown beyond Amy Rose’s fanatical devotion to Sonic the Hedgehog.  Now, I will admit, I do keep seeing signs that she might possibly break out of that mindset and become a skilled villain (or just a more rounded character) in her own right.  Every time I see that, however, those hopes get dashed.

Chris Dee also falls into a pattern that isn’t entirely uncommon in the world of fanfiction: he allows his characters to take those actions that appear to be the one thing blocking their route to happiness.  I’m not sure I can explain this phenomenon well (I’m a terrible writer…) but the more extreme cases of this involve characters breaking character enough to get together with that romantic interest that the fans want him or her to get together with, or to just stop putting up with whatever they dealt with in the original material.  The characters stop being the characters from the series, and start becoming the idealized imitations that the writer is hoping the original characters might eventually become.

Chris, I think, is aware of this in his own writing, and when it comes up he handles it well.  No instantaneous solution comes without raising its own consequences (demonstrating why the problems existed in the first place), and the flat characters are called on it by the characters with more depth.

If you’re a fan of Batman, I strongly recommend that you take a look at Cat Tales.  I don’t recommend starting with the beginning initially, however.  Scan his archives, and find a story or two that feature characters that you enjoy (you’d be surprised who does, and in some cases doesn’t, show up here and there.)  As I said above, I’m a hopeless Riddler fan, and the Riddle Me-Tropolis story sold me on the archives.  The Riddler was presented very well, and while he didn’t tell quite as many riddles as I’d hoped, the amount (and complexity) of the other puzzles presented were more than enough to satisfy me that Chris was the guy to look to for worthwhile Riddler fiction.

But I digress.  Stop reading this blog post, go meet Sly and Greg Brady, and listen to a few Cat Tales.  I think you’ll be glad that you did.