Dedicated to the great Adam West, who voiced Batman on this series. xoxoGreetings, citizens! It’s another Superhero Saturday here at Kinky Horror, so it’s time to turn on the signal and summon the Caped Crusader himself… That’s right, old chums! We’ve got an episode of The New Adventures of Batman to help in your never-ending fight against Saturday Morning boredom! The New Adventures of Batmanwas a ’70s cartoon produced by Filmation, the same studio behind motherfreakin’ She-ra: Princess of Power! Based on that bit o’ info, I’m sure you can guess that the series nothing but pure awesome! And it was! The series the kind of Silver Age-like craziness we don’t see that often these days. It was completely BATty (Ha! Suck on that, Joker!), but it was totally fun. The series is from a time when the Dark Knight wasn’t all that dark and crimefighting was just a jolly time. We wish to express our gratitude to the enemies of crime and crusaders against crime throughout the world for their inspirational example. To them, and to lovers of adventure, lovers of pure escapism, lovers of unadulterated entertainment, lovers of the ridiculous and the bizarre— To funlovers everywhere— This cartoon is respectfully dedicated.
If we have overlooked any sizable groups of lovers, we apologize.
(Submitted by Prince Adam…Thanks, Super Friend! 🙂 xoxo)
The Hanna-Barbera cartoon classic is re-imagined for a new generation in SCOOBY APOCALYPSE VOL. 1! When the world is tossed into chaos, it’s up to a group of meddling kids –Fred, Daphne, Velma, Shaggy, and their dog, Scooby-Doo– to solve the mystery and survive hordes of zombies! But can they save the day and cure everyone or will they become brain-eating zombies? The creatures of the night are among us, and the crew of the Mystery Machine has to fight to survive–because in the apocalyptic badlands of the near-future, the horrors are real! (DC Comics)
I was fully ready to channel my inner child and dive into this book with that frame of reference in mind. That’s not a slight on Scooby Doo, as I do the same thing when reading or watching Batman 66. Sometimes you have to put yourself in a certain headspace to get the full enjoymentof a property and there’s nothing wrong with that. Besides who wouldn’t want to mentally go back in their headspace and read this with child like wide eyed wonder? To quote George Takei; “Oh My” was I pleasantly surprised with what this story gave us. When the description says re-imagined, it’s 100% accurate, specifically where tone is concerned. This had more in common with a Robert Kirkman comic book instead of a Saturday morning cartoon. Sure the cartoon features our five some running from and battling monstrous creatures, but given its nature as a kid’s show, you really don’t get a sense of their fears or their desperation in the moments where they look to be overwhelmed by the monsters. In the cartoon, it’s always covered up or glossed over by humor. Again, this is totally understandable because it was geared towards children. With this book, you really sense their fear and the fact that the crew gets overwhelmed by this monster/zombie apocalypse. For example, the first time Daphne kills a monster, she has what equates to a nervous breakdown because she realizes that these monsters were once human beings with families. There’s also Velma, who wrestles with the role she played in this monster/zombie apocalypse. At first she somewhat places blame on her employers but as the story progresses, she realizes the role she played and suddenly has the weight and burden of that responsibility on her shoulders. These types of reactions are more adult and true to what the reaction to a monster apocalypse would inspire.
Fret not, despite the reimagining, the core essential elements and traits of the characters are intact. Velma is the brains of the group, with a particular fetish for science. For Daphne Blake, Keith Giffen an J.M. DeMatteis references both A Pup Named Scooby Doo and Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island by having Daphne be from a family of wealth, as well as being a TV reporter. The book does have Daphne under attack by monsters a lot; however, she’s no damsel in distress here. She’s the most badass warrior/gunslinger on the team. At times she’s almost a Rambo with boobs. Fred Is Daphne’s cameraman and best friend, who is also obsessively in love with her. He definitely takes the lead at times but also finds himself getting hurt or knocked unconscious in the strangest of ways. All the attributes that featured in the characters traits in the various interpretations are present here. Shaggy and Scooby-Doo are stuck together like glue. Scooby is still clumsy, still loves to eat, especially pizza, still has a speech impediment and manages to always come through and save the day, even if unknowingly. He’s the lovable Great Dane he’s always been. Shaggy also has a certain type of speech, specifically using a lot of filler words. He’s also a food junkie and also has a love for pizza. The character is aloof, but seemingly smarter in this iteration of the story. Shaggy always treats Scooby like an equal, while at first the other characters are more dismissive of Scooby, before eventually treating him like an equal.
What’s unique about this book is that the Scooby gang are not teens. They’re in their mid 20’s to early 30’s. You’d think we’d get even more history between the characters. Instead, the story goes in a different direction. What we have here is the first ever meeting between our five main characters. They are all brought together by a monster/zombie attack. The monster zombie outbreak, as I mentioned before was in part caused by Velma. The company Velma works for “The Complex”, infected humanity with a techno virus via nanites. The original intent was to weed out humanity’s baser instincts like greed, hate and violence, then reprogramming humanity to live in a more peacefully way. However, it is revealed that Velma’s employers, who happen to be her brothers, double crossed her and altered the nanites. The result is that a portion of humans have been turned into zombified monsters, in the form of aliens, werewolves, vampires and mummy’s. I loved that this book used classic monsters for this zombie outbreak. Although, how or why the humans manifested into these particular monsters wasn’t explained well at all. The way it was eluded to, it seems that either Velma was clairvoyant and foresaw this change or, that her brothers based these monsters off of their sister’s nightmares. I hope this is cleared up over the course of the second half of this story. One thing that is explained well, is the reasoning behind Scooby Doo’s ability to speak and why he has a speech impediment. Scooby Doo was the first dog in the Smart Dog program, an initiative that saw The Complex implant computer chips in him, to stimulate the language centers of the brain. These chips would also enhance the dogs’ protective instinct and killer instinct to have the dogs help and assist the U.S. military at home and abroad. However, Scooby doesn’t take 100% to the procedure and his verbal skills hardly advanced past that of a toddler. This is essentially the Christopher Nolan/Batman Begins explanation of Scooby-Doo and I love it!
Howard Porter is the artist of record on this book. I’ve had exposure to his work for years, as he’s been an artist for both Justice League and The Flash. The characters have gone through a slight redesign, but overall remain very true to their animated counterparts. Scooby, Velma and Fred look virtually unchanged, while Shaggy and Daphne have undergone some slight hairstyle and wardrobe changes, but in these cases there’s always a nod to their past, be it in color of clothing or whatnot. The character do seem built in more superheroic proportions. That could be in part because of the artists style, as well as the fact that the characters have grown up, no longer being in high school. Scooby Doo looks adorable and cuddly most of the book, but when he is protecting Scooby and or Velma, he looks epically fierce in growling mode. I also love that the monsters have the classic, mummy, devil, vampire and werewolf look. These characters are timeless. They are the Batman and Superman of genre. They can be done and redone and no one would ever get sick of them. My favourite images of the book are the Monsters hovering over the Scooby gang, while they are below them and totally unaware, or when the Mystery machine is attacked by the monsters and a “battle for your life shootout” begins.
No matter what, on some level, I knew I’d like this book. I had no idea I’d love it as much as I did. It’s respectful to the past, while reinvigorating these characters and this world. Truth be told, in some instances it tells a better zombie story then The Walking Dead comic book does. I know, that’s a controversial statement but it’s my review and I can say what I want and express how I feel. This book ended with a cliff-hanger, so I can’t wait to see how the story concludes. I also can’t wait to see what DC’s new take on The Flintstones is like. Of course, that is also a book I will be reviewing for you guys.
(Submitted by fellow Superman Superfan, Mr. Dr. Prince Adam…Super-Hugs, Super Ho-mie, and Happy #SuperheroSunday, Superfiends!! 😉 xoxo)
Superman Birthright is another re-telling of the Man of Steel’s origins. Ultimately, it is a modernization of a classic tale, a melding of old and new. Unlike Superman: Earth One, this was meant to be DC’s official incontinuity Superman origin story The tale begins on the planet Krypton, where chief scientist Jor – El, is testing a prototype rockets potential journey into space via computer. Jor – El’s wife Lara enters the room with baby Kal – El in her arms. Jor – El recounts to the Council of Elders that the planet Krypton is doomed. The only way to ensure the safety of their son and preservation of their race, is to rocket him into space to another planet. Jor – El is insecure of this, as he is yet to find a civilization as advanced as Krypton. Lara reassures him it’s the right thing to do. As the planet begins to tremor, the boy is placed in the rocket and Jor – El programs earth’s co-ordinates into the ship. Earth’s yellow sun will give Kal – El abilities far beyond those of mortal men. As the planet explodes and the ship departs, Kal – El’s parents wonder what will become of him. In the ship accompanying Kal – El are a hand held holographic projector embedded with all of Krypton’s history and a quilt bearing the symbol and colours of the House of El. While I prefer Earth being pre chosen as the destination for Kal – E, this version is just as good because the last minute finding of earth serves as hope for Jor – El and Lara for their son’s survival. Just as their son will serve as a symbol of hope for humanity.
The story then jumps forward 25 years. Clark Kent is in Africa working as a freelance reporter. He meets a man named Kobe Azuru, who is an activist against tribalism. Kobe advises Clark to embrace his heritage. One day while covering a story on Kobe, assassins make an attempt on his life. Clark intervenes and saves his life. Here we are first introduced to Clark’s super strength and heat vision. The heat vision looks like the special effect on Smallville. It seems to intensify depending on his mood. I like this aspect because it adds realism to the ability and differentiates heat vision from laser beams ala Cyclops. There is a majestic looking sequence in the book, where Clark flies over a herd of Zebra’s in the African plains. As we know, this scene was transplanted into Man of Steel and was equally as beautiful. This origin story gives Clark a new power, “soul vision”. Clark is able to see the soul or aura around any living being. In an email to his Earth mother, Martha Kent, Clark says that the aura is a multitude of colours and when a living creature dies everything goes dark. This is why Clark is a vegetarian in this version of the story. Many fans took exception with this, but I don’t because it makes sense in the context of this story and adds to Superman’s resolve against killing. Eventually, Kobe is killed in an assassination despite Clark’s efforts to prevent it, prompting Clark to return home to Smallville.
The Kent’s, Clark’s adoptive parents are younger than previous iterations. In both age and actions, they mimic their Smallville counterparts. Both have a hand in helping Clark shape his dual identity. The main reason for doing this is so Clark can maximize his full potential. He can help people and feel connected to humanity. After deciding to adopt the look of his birthplace, Martha uses the quilt that was in the space shuttle to create a costume. Then the family begins crafting the “mild –mannered reporter” disguise. They put Clark in clothes that are slightly big on him to hide his physique. They advise him to slouch, so he won’t stand out in a crowd and train him to speak in a higher pitch, changing his voice from when he’s in costume. Even after all this, his eyes still stand out so the decision is made for Clark to wear his father’s glasses. While they don’t change the colour, “the way the light refracts through the lens it cuts the colour.” Clark departs for Metropolis. This story gives Jonathan and Martha Kent a larger role in the creation of Clark’s dual identities rather than Martha just acting as his seamstress. The Kent’s are now an integral part of their son’s past, present and future. I also enjoyed the explanation of every aspect of the disguise, especially the glasses and how they can actually slightly alter his appearance. It is the most in-depth and realistically plausible explanation in any medium.
When the story hits Metropolis, the reader is instantly put in a post 9/11 world. A cab driver informs Clark that the armed copters overhead are anti-terrorist measures performing a test run. Putting this Superman origin in a world fearful of terrorism is smart because not only does it make the story more relatable, it allows the character to stay relevant in society. This is why the character has lasted so long and will continue because he changes with society. Everyone at the Daily Planet is status quo. Perry White is a driven editor who wants the best from his staff and paper. Lois Lane is the ever-feisty female reporter. She is respected by her peers and fights for the “little guy.” Clark first encounters Lois protecting Jimmy Olsen from a public humiliation from the Planet’s publisher. Clark sees this and is enamoured with her. I love the fact that Clark falls for Lois because of her personality, above and beyond her looks. During his interview with Perry White, Clark has perfected the bumbling, mild-mannered routine. He is jittery, soft-spoken and constantly looking at his shoes. The disguise almost costs him the job, until he makes a passionate argument as to why he deserves it. An anti-terrorist copter crashes through the window of Perry’s office, just as Clark pushes him out of the way. The confusion in the office allows Clark to leap out the window unnoticed and change into Superman. Whether on the printed page or on screen, the “shirt rip” that reveals the “S” insignia is always intense. All the copters have malfunctioned and Superman proceeds to dismantle and stop them. In an attempt to follow the story, Lois and Jimmy board the Daily Planet helicopter. A problem with the throttle causes Lois to hit one of the anti-terrorist copters. As the helicopter falls from the sky, Jimmy falls out while Lois is trapped inside. In an action packed two-page spread paying homage to Superman: The Movie, we see Superman holding the helicopter with Lois inside in one hand, while catching Jimmy with the other. After averting the disaster, Superman uses his super hearing and telescopic vision to discover that Lex Luthor sabotaged the anti-terrorist weapons. When he confronts Lex, Superman speaks as if the two individuals know each other. Lex seems confused by the implication. When the media arrives Lex puts on a show, calling the attacks horrible and thanks Superman for his efforts. Disgusted, Superman flies away. The reader is left wondering what Superman and Lex’s past connection is, and why Lex doesn’t remember it. The people of Metropolis seem to adore Superman after his first appearance. Lois also wins praise for her article on the Man of Steel and Clark secures himself a job based on his expose on Luthor’s connection to the attacks.
The books focus shifts to Lex Luthor. Not only is he a businessman, he is also a scientist. This is a melding of Lex’s pre-crisis and post-crises origins. This serves to satisfy all fans, while making Lex a better rounded complex character. Lex’s company, LexCorp, also funds a scientific observatory devoted to the discovery of extra-terrestrial life. All research is based on a discovery Lex made when he was a child. This fascination adds another layer to the relationship of Superman and Lex Luthor. Superman is the validation of Lex’s findings but cannot be used to achieve Lex’s motivations, which frustrates Lex. Thus, when he reveals his data on Superman’s powers and birth planet to Lois and Clark, he puts a negative spin on it. It is also revealed that Lex possesses a green stone engraved with Superman’s insignia. Back at the Daily Planet, Clark is forced to write an article chronicling Lex’s findings and wonders what impact it will have on the public’s perception of Superman. Later, when Superman stops a train from derailing and asks if there is a doctor available to help the injured driver, bystanders cower in fear of Superman. Lex’s plan appears to be working. An explosion on a Metropolis bridge forces Superman back into action. As Superman is holding the cables, Lex sets off another explosion to make it seem like Superman is tearing the bridge apart. Superman tries to save a civilian but he is weakened by radiation from a green meteorite. To escape its effects, Superman jumps into the water under the bridge. The public’s trust of Superman deteriorates even further due to these seemingly coward-like actions of leaving the scene in the midst of danger.
Clark returns to Smallville to re-group and recalls his first experience with the meteorite, which ties into his past with Lex Luthor. It turns out that Clark and Lex went to high school together because Lex was held back after doodling schematics for an invention on an aptitude test. Lex is a mere 3 years older than Clark. I like this take better than Smallville’s version because the T.V. version of his father being in town on business seems too coincidental and contrived. Clark and Lex befriend each other due to their mutual belief in extra-terrestrial life and their sense of isolation from the rest of society. One day, Lex shows Clark the wormhole device he invented that can communicate with past alien civilizations. Lex reveals the power source of the machine, the green meteorite. Exposure begins to make Clark ill and he cowers in pain. Lex misinterprets the reaction as fear and throws Clark out of the laboratory. Just as Lex makes contact with the Kryptonian civilization, the power source overloads causing an explosion. Not only is Lex’s research gone, his hair has been burned off his scalp, and his father is killed. Fast forward to present day, Lex has once again made contact with the Kryptonians, and uses the images to fabricate reports of an alien attack on earth led by Superman. Author Mark Waid understands that Lex is a threat to Superman because of his conniving mind. He is an adversary Superman must outsmart constantly, and due to Superman’s own moral code cannot be eliminated by physical means. In addition to Mark Waid borrowing from Smallville’s Michael Rosenbaum, Zack Snyder and Geoff Johns have admitted to referencing this Lex for BvS. This is obvious in his look and his machinations to discredit Superman to the people of Metropolis.
As the story progresses, Superman saves Lois once again, this time from mob gunfire. As he flies her to safety at sunrise, she tells him she trusts him and wants to help clear his name. This is one reason why Superman loves Lois; she is one of the few reporters who is concerned with reporting the truth, rather than selling a paper. Superman decides to confront Luthor. Here, due to his extremely large ego, Lex reveals to Superman information about his origins. He tells him about Krypton and its explosion and dubs the green meteorite that is lethal to Superman, “Kryptonite”. Lex enjoys the perverse pleasure of not only informing Superman that he is alone in the universe, but also revealing his plan to discredit and eliminate Superman. Superman vows to stop him and flies off. While Clark later reads a rival paper, which indicates the public fear Superman, one of Lex’s “Kryptonian” warships attacks.
Here’s where the story gets a little sour. The warship is a giant robotic spider. No, don’t get your eyes checked, you read that correctly. Does it sound familiar? Either Mark Waid was inebriated when he wrote this, or Jon Peters was an unaccredited story consultant. This is one of the reasons I can’t give this book a perfect grade. Why did Waid use a spider? He is so knowledgeable in Superman lore, yet he chose to take one of the most dreaded plot devices from an unused Superman script and insert it into the book. My suggestion, take Maalox or Pepto Bismol before reading this chapter of the story. Anyway, Superman confronts the war craft, but Lex found a way to disperse Kryptonian radiation into the air. Weakened and being chased by the police, Superman has lost hope and decides to return home. As Superman watches from the sky, his symbol is being burned into the ground as a brand. Upset, he decides to stay and defend Metropolis. Before he does so, he confides in Lois about Lex’s plot and the effects Kryptonite has on him. He tells her that it is the key to Luthor’s whole charade and asks Lois for her help to expose Lex. Superman rejoins the war zone severely weakened by Kryptonite. Still, he goes toe to toe with Van-Gar, the “Kryptonian” leader. At the same time, he manages to reveal to Metropolis that the “invasion” is a hoax. Nearby, Lois manages to pull the kryptonite out of the control panel at LexCorp and as a result, half of Van-Gar’s army disappears. As the citizens witness Superman’s heroism, they pick up make shift weaponry and stand in front of him, ready to defend their city. I’m glad this was included, because it shows that Superman is a symbol of hope and inspiration, not because of his amazing abilities but because of his actions in doing good and helping others first and foremost.
Back at Lexcorp, Lex captures Lois after finding her with the kryptonite. Lex tries to “get rid “of Lois by pushing her out the window. However, after defeating Van-Gar Superman catches Lois just before she hits the ground. Following a battle with Lex at Lexcorp, Superman begins seeing “video” from Krypton. Superman is essentially watching his past, seeing Jor – El and Lara place him in the ship and rocket him to Earth. Prior to the end of the transmission Superman somehow breaks through the time barrier sending his parents a message. Kal – El tells his parents he is fine and made it to earth. Back at the Daily Planet, Lois and Clark share their first front-page story. Clark teases Lois about her feelings for Superman, which she denies while doodling Superman’s insignia on a blank sheet of paper. The book ends with one of the most poignant scenes in a comic book. As the planet Krypton is falling apart, Jor – El and Lara receive their son’s message. Their son is alive and living a prosperous life. They will live on forever through him. They share one final embrace. This scene started my penchant of crying while reading it the first time.
Superman: Birthright is an immensely satisfying Superman story. It has all the action, sci-fi, humor, and romance you expect from a good Superman tale. Mark Waid knows Superman lore well. The only thing missing from said lore in this story was the Fortress of Solitude, which could have been included instead of that ridiculous robotic spider, but I digress. Leinil Yu’s art is realistic and vibrant. It’s as if Yu tapped into the minds of Superman fans, and mapped out the artwork from there. Each character has a distinctly different look, a skill few modern comics artists have. Superman: Birthright is a solid beginning to an ongoing enduring saga.
Ho-stess’s PS- Speaking of Superman… 😉 #hehe#GOAT!!!!!!!! #SuperheroSunday for really reals!! 😉 xoxo
“GOTHAM CITY. From the Penguin to Killer Croc to Ra’s al Ghul and beyond, the caped crime-fighter called Batman already has his hands full protecting his city. Suddenly, a new enemy emerges—the Shredder and his ninja followers, transported to Gotham and unleashed upon an unsuspecting world. Now they’re on the hunt for the technology that will help them return home…and conquer Gotham City in the process with the help of Batman’s deadliest rogues. But heroes come in all shapes, and the Dark Knight does not fight alone. As the Caped Crusader joins forces with Leonardo, Donatello, Michelangelo, Raphael, and Master Splinter, can the Bat, the Rat, and the Turtles take down the most vicious villains from two dimensions?” (DC/IDW)
This is the crossover every child of the 80’s-90’s dreamed of. It took a couple of decades, but The Dark Knight & Turtles in a half-shell have finally joined forces. It took a couple of decades, but was absolutely worth the wait. A great aspect of this story was that it starts by hitting the ground running. The Turtles and Shredder are already in Gotham City and the explanation is simple and makes perfect sense. During their last altercation, the alien conqueror Krang teleported them away, so he could go about subjugating IDW’s New York and the world unopposed. I’m so glad they didn’t go with the mistaken coordinates while testing their teleportation device story hook. They did that in the crossover with the Ghostbusters and to go their again, would’ve been redundant. Even the way Batman comes into contact with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is very practical. They are both on the hunt for Shredder who is stealing tech that will power the portal to send him home. Of course, this story isn’t just about the Turtles and Shredder getting home. There’s a plot twist for both the TMNT and Shredder. The mutagen in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is not functioning properly in the DCU and the result is that if splinter and his green skinned sons don’t get back to their earth, they will revert back to their normal turtle and rat form, before eventually dying. Meanwhile, Shredder has designs on traversing both worlds and establishing a Foot Clan stronghold in both Gotham and New York. To do so, he first uses Penguin as his patsy to gain access to the tech he needs to go back and forth between worlds to gather a supply of mutagen. Upon his return he, aligns himself with Ra’s al Ghul, merges the Foot Clan with the League of Assassin’s, strengthening their power base. Then they storm Arkham Asylum and inject all of Batman’s heavy hitters with mutagen and turning them into super strong monsters. Sure the third act, the inclusion of April and Casey and the way the Turtles get home gets a little cliché, yet you won’t care. The final battle, specifically the massive brawl at Arkham Asylum and Batman and The Ninja Turtles working together, will wash away any blasé feelings you might get at certain points.
My favourite aspect of this book by far, is the character interactions between the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Batman. Firstly, I love that different universes is nothing shocking or groundbreaking to either of the characters. They’ve both experienced the phenomenon many times, so to force shock and awe would’ve been eye rolling. I love the reaction the Turtles had towards Batman. Michelangelo, Leonardo and Donatello essentially went full fanboy. Specifically over Batman’s costume and gadgets. Donatello loved the holographic 3D imagery and the Bat-Computer, while Michelangelo wanted to drive the Batmobile and ride the giant dinosaur in the Batcave. Meanwhile, Leonardo and Splinter were very impressed with his martial arts ability. Their reactions were absolutely hilarious. Their reactions would essentially be me on set of a Batman film, meeting Ben Affleck, while he was in full costume and still in character (Make it happen WB!) Raphael wanted nothing to do with Batman at first (typical Raphael). He sees Batman as a spoiled rich guy who only fights crime for the adrenaline and fun of it. He resents him because he and his brother were born in the way of the ninja and have to fight just for survival. To turn Raphael’s opinion around, Batman takes Raph to Crime Alley and recounts the story of his parent’s death. He tells Raphael that the reason he is Batman, is to prevent families like the TMNT from going through what he did. This was an incredibly emotional scene. When you actually read the dialogue and see the imagery, I guarantee you that emotions will flow. I also really liked the pairing of Shredder and Ra’s al Ghul. This version of Shredder has his roots in reincarnation and Ras al Ghul has the Lazarus Pit. So they both have that quasi eternal life thing going on. They are essentially the mirror version of each other on their respective universes.
Freddie Williams II is the artist on this book and his work is INSANELY fantastic. His art is more stylized, in the sense that the characters are highly muscular.
This is by far the best drawn version of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in comic book form in my opinion. I got all nostalgic because the turtles look a lot like the ones from the movies in the 90’s. Batman looks quite a bit like his Arkham Asylum counterpart. The longer ears and the more armored costume certainly point to that aesthetic. I really appreciated that the artist drew more than one Batmobile and that each one he drew was inspired by a previous Batmobile from the comic books, instead of the films. The Batcave was massive and all tricked out with Batman’s wonderful toys! Easily the best Batcave image is seeing Michelangelo ride the giant dinosaur. That image and the pure glee Michelangelo has on his face reminds you how fun and escapist comic books can be. As I said, the massive brawl at Arkham between Batman and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles against Mutagen infected inmates. It was chaotic, action packed, and very detailed. Every animal that the villains turned into fit their character. Seeing Riddler as a fox, Bane as an elephant/mastodon, and Joker as a snake made for some pretty wild imagery. My favorite animal transformation was Poison Ivy, who became a humanoid Praying Mantis, which is an absolutely PERFECT analogy for that character. A key to a successful Batman artist is his ability to draw Gotham City, the DC Universe earth’s most dangerous city, and make it look so good that I still want to live there. In that regard Freddie Williams II is an A+ Batman artist. The scene with Penguin and Shredder overlooking the Gotham Harbor was beautiful, even though it feature so much evil.
There’s a comic book trend, I’m noticing on a personal level. That is, that the crossover comic books I’ve been reading are the best of the comic books I’ve been reading. I’ll admit, I enjoy this crossover slightly more then the one with the Ghostbusters. However, that’s because Batman and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were absolute favourites of mine as a child. Read both and make up your own mind. There’s another TMNT/Batman crossover set in the animated universes, as well as a Justice League/Power Rangers crossover on the way. Look for my reviews on both here.
As you’re probably well aware, FXX is currently enabling our Thanksgiving-time bingeing tendencies by airing 600 eps of The Simpsons in a row.
In my humble Ho-rror Ho-sting opinion, The Simpsons was pure magic for over a decade or so. (As of this writing, they are only up to #235 or so, so still plenty o’ prime Simpsons viewing pleasure to be had. :)) It’s gone waaaaaaaaaaay downhill over the last few seasons, but that’s to be eXXXpected of any show that’s been on for centuries. (Literally…Look it up!!! ;))
I will always love the characters, but it’s no longer a must-watch show for me. Save, of corpse, for the Treehouse of Horror eps; those I will tune in for till the end of time. (Which seems to be their plan… ;)) I remember watching the very first ToH as a youngin’, and being terrified/mesmerized. From that moment on, Simpsons was mandatory viewing for me every Halloween season, and I know I’m not the only freaky fiend out there who feels that way.
Here to offer us his (enchanting! :)) take on the OG Treehouse of horrors is Mr. Dr. Anton Phibes…Thanks for this, ho-mie. Now back to the marathoning I go… 😉 xoxo
“The wind outside nested in each tree, prowled the sidewalks in invisible treads like unseen cats.Tom Skelton shivered. Anyone could see that the wind was a special wind this night, and the darkness took on a special feel because it was All Hallows’ Eve. Everything seemed cut from soft black velvet or gold or orange velvet. Smoke panted up out of a thousand chimneys like the plumes of funeral parades. From kitchen windows drifted two pumpkin smells: gourds being cut, pies being baked.”
“I love Halloween.”
It has been said that for horror aficionados, everyday is Halloween. There is a truth to this, but it undermines the majesty of Halloween and the black spell she casts. Halloween is the time for ghosts and ghouls, but we who love horror make time for those sorts all the time. What makes Halloween beautiful is that it is the time the world shares our love for the strange and macabre. Even the folks who generally don’t love all things spooky and kooky take time to honor monsters along side us. Pop culture makes no exception to this. It makes no difference if you are Elvira or Madea this season… all of us surrender to the eerie glow of Halloween.
One of my many traditions is to pay a visit to The Simpsons and their Treehouse of Horror. Ever since the second season of the long-running sitcom, the Simpson Clan has done a trilogy of terror-infused tales every season. Though there have been many fantastic tales over the years, the first Treehouse of Horror remains my favorite and was very much a major influence on my love of Horror. After Tricks or Treats, Bart and Lisa decide to tell horror stories in their treehouse, making this the only Treehouse of Horror… with a treehouse! The tales are quintessential Halloween fare starting with a haunted house yarn, an alien terror tale, and a surprising straight retelling of Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven. What is most impressive is that each of these segments are directed like “real” horror stories. Hitchcockian camera tricks and eerie lighting worthy of Mario Bava are prevalent throughout the special, as are some genuinely creepy moments. In Bad Dream House (the first segment), there is sequence in which the beloved Springfield family is under the influence of a malevolent presence in the house that used to genuinely unsettle me as kid.
This first special draws from EC Comics, the delightfully demented folks that gave us Tales from the Crypt, Vault of Horror, Haunt of Fear, and other fantastic comic titles. Executive producer James E. Brooks
stated, “The idea to parody EC Comics was really original and kind of shocking for a cartoon on network television.” EC was known to combine the humorous and the horrible to great effect, so this is an appropriate model for a Simpsons Halloween Special. From the fright scenes in which the entire frame is covered in garish light, to the macabre nicknames of staff members, to the pun-based segment titles, to the very idea of doing a anthology of fright fables, EC’s influence can be seen in every frame. Unfortunately, while some of this attributes would carry on to future installments, this is the only one that is overtly inspired by EC, though in Treehouse of Horror XVII, Mr. Burns would appear as the Cryptkeeper in a spoof of HBO’s Tales from the Crypt.
Marge’s warning at the beginning of the episode masterfully sets the tone of the episode while paying homage to the Edward Van Sloane’s warning at the beginning of Frankenstein. From there, the Simpson children begin to weave their ghoulish yarns. Bart begins with Bad Dream House, a tribute to haunted house tales of all shades. As I mentioned before, this segment did give me the willies and I’m sure I’m not alone. The atmosphere is as thick as fog, essentially building up to two punchlines. For the most part, this is pretty creepy tale. The House itself is modelled after the Addams Family mansion… but the Addams home never changed its interior to match its mood, a brilliantly creepy touch. Though most of you have probably seen this episode, I dare not risk spoil the ending.
Next is Hungry are the Damned, a tense take on The Twilight Zone’s To Serve Man. As with that episode, the Simpsons are taken in by benevolent aliens… but are they as benevolent as they seem? For the most part, this is one that is primarily on the horror side… until the show reveals that we’ve been played like a fiddle. The twist on the twist is both hilarious and clever, with a final thought reminiscent of the best of sci-fi literature.The aliens Kang and Kodos first appeared in this segment. Their designs are brilliantly grotesque, calling to mind the aesthetic of ,50s sci-fi while managing to be wonderfully gross within the world of The Simpsons. Since this first appearance, they’ve become a staple of the Treehouse of Horror series.
The final segment is the one that had the biggest impact on me… The Raven. Edgar Allan Poe’s words are treated with reverence rare for any sitcom. The Gothic gloom of Poe’s poem is visualized beautifully in a way in which the gothic and the goofy dance together gracefully. There are visual gags, but they never distract from the mood Poe was so brilliant at. Having seen this at a young age, it opened my eyes to two things: the power of Poe and what perfect partners Horror and Humor can be. I’ve since devoured all of Poe’s work and I’m always in awe of work that can capture the dark of Horror and the light of comedy in one magnificent moment. Creator Matt Groening was concerned that this segment would be perceived as “pretentious”, but it seems to remain a favorite of not just myself, but many Simpsons fans.
Treehouse would become an annual tradition, producing many wonderful segments to come. However, it would eventually give rise to stories that would have less-and-less to do with horror the holiday they should be celebrating. This previous episode had little to do with Halloween, even spoofing spy films, a decidedly non-spooky subject. Despite this, I will always turn to The Simpsons for Halloween thrills. No matter how long they continue to make these Halloween specials, this first one is will always put me in a cheekily ghoulish mood.
(Submitted by our Ho-mie in Ho-rror, Mr. Andrew Peters. Thanks, Friend Till the End!! 😉 xoxox)
During the mid ‘80s, for some reason we latched on to two foot tall, creepy dolls with lifeless eyes that we could dress as the toy we all just had to have. Be it a Cabbage Patch Kid or a My Buddy, these things were everywhere. They even had their own cartoons. I was more of a Teddy Ruxpin guy, until one night I was listening to it and it started eating my tape and the voice sounded all demonic and warped. I threw that thing in the bottom of my closet and never touched it again. My Buddy and Cabbage Patch Kids though… never trusted them. They always looked like they were watching you with their emotionless gaze and they were enough nightmare fuel to get me through my childhood.
My Buddy looks eerily familiar…
So, of course someone saw this and thought, “hey, a movie about a killer children’s toy is a great idea!” If we’re being totally honest, it is and I would do the same thing. Having a doll come to life and go on a murderous rampage isn’t exclusively scary to kids, it’s also scary to adults. In fact, I think it’s more frightening for adults, because you lack a child’s imagination. It’s because of movies like Child’s Play that we had to live in fear of our toys and question what exactly it was that we were hearing when we heard something go bump in the night. Director Tom Holland seemed to have a knack for this, previously having directed Fright Night, a vampire movie that explores a young teenager who suspects his neighbor is a vampire and lives in constant fear of this. Noticing a trend in his films? Tom Holland likes to frighten you where you think you are safe, which is how good horror works.
So, we’re gonna be jumping right into the action here. What was happening? What were they doing? Who knows, but something is going down. After his partner Eddie bails on him, notorious serial killer Charles Lee Ray (a combination of Charles Manson, Lee Harvey Oswald and James Earl Ray) has finally been put down by detective Mike Norris after a shootout in a local, um, Chicago (?) toy store, but not before Charles Lee Ray, aka Chucky, does some sort of ritualistic voodoo chant on a Good Guys doll, which is this movie’s equivalent of something like a Cabbage Patch Kid or My Buddy. I know, this sounds ridiculous, but the guy was dying and he had to try something. Lightning strikes and blows the whole toy store to hell and propels Det. Norris out the window with nothing more than a few mere scratches. All in a day’s work when you’re in an ‘80s movie.
But now we are introduced to the movie’s central character, little Andy Barclay. He’s just a six year old boy who wants nothing more for his birthday than a Good Guys doll. Unfortunately for him, his single mother can’t afford it, because she’s too preoccupied working her ass off to keep a roof over their heads and food in their stomachs. She does manage to scrape together a few bucks and get him some clothes for Andy, since he does need them after all. That. Heartless. Bitch. How dare you give your growing boy what he actually needs instead of what he wants! Luckily, some hobo just so happens to be selling a Good Guys doll behind her work, so she risks her job and snatches it up to bring home to Andy, who couldn’t be happier with his new gift.
However, Andy’s mother has to work late, so her friend Maggie volunteers to watch him. Andy and his new friend Chucky are watching the news when they are sent to bed. Chucky wants to continue watching the news, but that bitch Aunt Maggie won’t let him, so Chucky stalks her around the apartment before whacking her in the head with a toy hammer and sending her falling out the window and crashing onto a car below. Worst babysitting gig ever.
It’s actually a really creepy scene and uses POV’s effectively, because you already know what Chucky looks like, so what exactly are they hiding? You do get a glimpse of him from another angle as he darts past an opening in a hallway and appears to be about child height, so could it actually be Andy? The police seem to think so, but Andy’s mother has a hard time believing he could be capable of such a thing. You know, until Andy’s caught cutting school after Chucky tells him to go to an old hideout where his partner Eddie is hiding and the place ends up exploding. You think you know your own child and then they are the prime suspect in two murders.
That scene was also cleverly shot, using POV, except this time it’s a little more clear that it’s not Andy, since he’s wandering around outside looking for Chucky. This charade can’t go on much longer, so the film has Ms. Barclay pursuing this Chucky character and finds out that his real name and tracks down the hobo who sold it to her and learns that it was from the toy store the night Charles Lee Ray was murdered! What a string of unfortunate coincidences. But a talking doll? That’s crazy, right? Well, only way to find out is to ask the doll himself and that’s when this movie really becomes what everyone knows.
They spent about half the movie making you question that it may not be the doll and then he begins screaming and swearing at Ms. Barclay, pretty much clearing up any doubts you may have had. Director Tom Holland spent half of the movie setting this up, so when you actually see Chucky come to life, it’s shocking and scary… which it is. The first time I ever saw that, it scared the crap out of me and to this day, it still gives me goosebumps. Of course, that’s also due to the incredible special effects by Kevin Yagher and crew. Oh, and Brad Dourif’s malign voice. One moment, he can be speaking to you softly in such a trusting way and the next, he’s thundering from the depths of his throat in such a way that will permanently haunt you. That’s why his voice works to well for Chucky. As a doll, or a killer in a doll’s body, he can be deceiving and trusting, but when you cross him, he will send chills down your spine.
Chucky believes he’s invincible, until he goes after Det. Norris and gets shot and finds out that it hurts and bleeds. Figuring that the person who taught him the voodoo spells would have an answer, Chucky finds his old friend only to find out some bad news; he’s actually becoming the doll. That’s right, he’s been spending far too much time in that body and the only way to get out of it is to transfer his soul into the first person he revealed himself to. Looks like Chucky’s got a date with a six year old boy… wait, that sounded wrong. But again, you start to see a change in Chucky’s look, becoming more human looking in his doll form and it’s unnerving and weird. But that’s exactly what we want. Anyway, the hunt for Andy is on and Chucky is running out of time. But then again, so are Det. Norris and Ms. Barclay!
The original Child’s Play, I feel, is a film that’s hurt by its sequels. Sure, Chucky cracks jokes in this and there are funny moments, but the sequels really took off with that idea and even sewn him back together which took away from him actually looking scary. It’s like when people try to make a scary looking clown that they are missing the point that normal looking clowns are scary on their own. Most people today probably think of the “Hot Topic” Chucky that doesn’t care about getting a new body back, that doesn’t look scary, that has elaborate murders and a goofy sidekick. But there was a time when he was actually frightening and had a purpose. You know how when you go into an old store or your grandparent’s house and there is that creepy looking doll just sitting there and it’s just a normal doll? I really enjoy this movie for that reason. Chucky was something we were all terrified of as kids. He was that toy we all wanted, but then feared because we knew it was truly sinister.
It was nice to see this movie in a new 2K transfer from Scream Factory. They always do such a nice job cleaning up the prints instead of just giving you another digital transfer that doesn’t look all that great. They even invited director Tom Holland to do a brand new audio commentary (finally!), which all other releases kept passing on for whatever reason. It also includes two other older commentaries with Alex Vincent, Catherine Hicks, Kevin Yagher, David Kirschner and Screenwriter Don Mancini. There’s even select scene commentaries with the man, er, doll himself, Chucky! Scream Factory also threw in some new old footage from Howard Berger that goes behind the scenes of making the Chucky doll and there’s even an all new interview with him as well. The final new featurette is an interview with Ed Gale, the actor who played Chucky when the animatronic doll couldn’t do the trick. You got a few other older features and your usual original theatrical trailer to round off this two-disc set that any boy would be happy to get for their birthday.
Child’s Play is a really cool concept that wasn’t played that much with back in the day and helped bring an slasher icon to the ranks of Freddy and Jason, even if they continued to take him in the wrong direction with each sequel. I will never say this about any role in any film, but I honestly could never picture anyone but Brad Dourif doing his voice. It’s that iconic.
Director Tom Holland and Star Charles Lee Ray.
(Director Tom Holland and Kinky Ho-stess Derpy Diana.;))
(Submitted by our Superheroic/SciFi buddy, Mr. Prince Adam…Thanks, Superfriend! 🙂 xoxo)
“Collects Ghost Rider (2005) #1-6. He’s paying the price for his deal with the Devil – is the Ghost Rider condemned to ride the highways of Hell for all eternity? His saving grace could be in the form of an unlikely ally – an industrious angel with a deal that would free Ghost Rider once and for all!” (Marvel)
I’m not well versed in the character of Ghost Rider. I’ve seen the two movies starring Nicholas Cage, which I liked by the way (reviews for those coming soon). When it comes to Ghost Rider comics, I’m a newbie. Ghost Rider: Road to Damnation caught my eye because it was a miniseries that reintroduced Ghost Rider into modern continuity, and was written by Garth Ennis, the mastermind behind Preacher. Garth Ennis does go over Ghost Rider’s origin. Johnny Blaze sells his soul to the devil, in order to save a loved one from a terminal cancer diagnosis. In exchange, Johnny becomes the devils soul bounty hunter with a flaming skull and a cool motorcycle. While Johnny’s friend is cured of cancer, but dies in a stunt accident, as the devil screws Johnny Blaze into becoming the Ghost Rider anyway. The main difference between this origin and the movie version, is that the loved one stricken with cancer in the movie is Johnny’s father, where’s here it’s his best friend. The change doesn’t alter the impact, or gravity of the situation, or Johnny’s reasoning for making the deal and is largely an unnoticeable change. Where the book does dovetail from the film, is that the forces of hell do catch up with Ghost Rider, and he is brought down to hell, where he is subjected to the torture of trying to race his way out of hell, only to be caught and torn to pieces by a horde of demons, night in and night out. The repetition of the torture, and the frustration of Johnny Blaze almost being able to break free, but ultimately being beaten down, is like watching a twisted version of groundhog day, really emphasizing how hellish, an eternity in, well… hell would really be.
To get Ghost Rider into the land of the living, he is thrown into the midst of a war between heaven and hell. An evil entity known as Kazaan escapes to Earth with the intention of bringing hell to Earth. To stop him and send him back to hell, God has sent the archangel Ruth, while the devil has sent a low level grunt in Hoss. Ghost Rider is called to the battle from a lower level angel Malachi, who promises to set Ghost Rider free from hell and restore his soul, if he can defeat Kazaan and send him back to hell. I thought it was unique to see an angel enlisting the devil’s bounty hunter, in aiding in the return of a demon back to hell. That’s been nonexistent in the various comics dealing with this conflict before that I have read. Kazaan was an incredible force to be reckoned with. The way he cons a rich oil tycoon into collecting humans for him, so that he can create a body to assume on Earth. He then uses that billionaire’s technology and manpower to drill a hole in the heart of Texas and open up the hell mouth on Earth. Kazaan is built up as such an evil bastard; you’d think he was the devil himself. I loved that Ruth was the most badass of characters and it was she, who was God’s spirit of vengeance. I’ll speak more to her badassery when discussing art but girl power was definitely on full display. Ruth’s power and importance is stressed by saying that only heaven’s highest ranking angels have bible chapters and verses named after them. There’s a big twist in this book, which is that Malachi and Kazaan are actually brothers, who have orchestrated all this to gain power in both heaven and hell. The book actually comes full circle with Ghost Rider’s origin, as once again Johnny Blaze is screwed over by a celestial being. Despite successfully defeating Kazaan, Malachi reneges on his promise and refuses to free Ghost Rider from hell. However, Ghost Rider gets his revenge by dragging Malachi down to hell on the back of his bike, forcing him to also experience the same torture as he does, night after night. I would’ve liked more story detail spent on the hierarchy and battle for power within heaven and hell but the book focuses on hell erupting on Earth and the apocalypse taking place in the third act. What’s up with Garth Ennis and making Texas the epicenter of hell on Earth. He did so in Preacher and now here. Is he trying to tell us something, or does he not like Texas?
The art for this story is by Clayton Crain. Clayton Crain is someone whose work I had never seen before this, and I must say, it’s some of the best comic book art I have EVER seen. He’s so good, that after one view of his work, I easily put him in my top 3 artists with Alex Ross and Jim Lee. His art balances life like realism and comic book fanaticism. All the imagery of Ghost Rider on his flaming bike looks incredible. It gets the testosterone pumping, that I can’t’ help but grunt like Tim Allen during an episode of Home Improvement. The art featuring Malachi overlooking humanity is also a standout. It’s such a classic artistic depiction of the angel. Kazan’s Earthly form looked quite interesting. It wasn’t humanoid at all. At one point he looked like a bull made up of chains and at another point he looked like the world engine from Man of Steel. The devil’s lackey made me laugh, as he looked like a Wild West version of the Austin Powers character Fat Bastard. There is plenty of violence, most of which is perpetrated by God’s archangel Ruth. The best example is when she rips the rich tycoon in half and beats Hoss with half of the body, as if it were a baseball bat. It had a Tarantino esque vibe to it and made me laugh. The art coupled with colour gave this book a sort of claymation like quality to it at certain points.
If you are a fan of horror or super heroics, you definitely will be extremely entertained and content after buying and reading this book. Ghost Rider is a fantastic character and is finally getting some attention over at Marvel. A version of the character currently appears on Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD, as well as just recently launching a new ongoing comic book series. Yet, I want more. The character would be a much better fit on Netflix then he is on ABC. So let’s keep showing the character love by buying his comics. Hopefully continued interest and sales, will spur Marvel to give the character his own Netflix show.
Happy Thanksgiving to all you Groovy Ghoulies and Cool Ghouls out there! In honor of the occasion, I would like, if I may, to take you to 1989, the year in which the Berlin Wall came down, the very first episode of The Simpsons aired, and Tim Burton’s Batman soared onto the screen. In the wake of the latter, the Nation experienced an unprecedented wave of Batmania, a startling epidemic that was unheard of since the outbreak in 1966. Burton’s take was, in its day, a radically dark take on material that the average person had previously been associated with comic-style onomatopoeias superimposed over fight scenes and Hollywood stars playing costumed crooks presumably themed the first object they saw. This incarnation of the Dark Knight actually lived up to that title, with a Gotham City that was sprawling Art Deco Hell and a truly monstrous Joker with no qualms about killing folks for the sake of a punchline. This Joker, as portrayed by Jack Nicholson, is a mafioso-turned-homicidal clown with a knack for terrorism and mayhem, all delivered with a twisted grin and maniacal glee. In the film’s climatic scene, The Joker, in a truly horrific turn, throws a parade in which promises to give away free money and unleashes a gas that leaves the victims dead with a ghastly, cold grin.
With the success of Batman in the summer, it only made sense that the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade would want to pay homage to this grisly act of mass murder with a parade float! Much like the movie, this Joker throws money into the crowd. That’s about where the similarities end. This Joker is dressed in outfit that looks like what a “Joker” in a Mexican bootleg action figure 4-pack might wear. Accompanied by pirates for reasons, The Joker breaks out into a gloriously wretched song and then proceeds to do random impressions. Curiously enough, this Joker sorta predicts Arnold Schwarzenegger’s appearance in the franchise years later! At the beginning of the clip, the announcers dare us to guess which famous entertainer is under the make-up… the answer is obviously Fred Travalena, part of the elite Who’s Who of “Who?”.
This rather odd appearance is actually quite spectacular. Not only is its inherent weirdness delightful, but it is a testament to how popular Tim Burton’s Batman was. In our lifetime, there have been more Batmen than Presidents, so I think people forget just how influential the Burton picture was and just how special that film really is. This appearance, for all its goofy weirdness, does remind me of the greatness of that particular film and has a quirky charm that embodies the time it was made perfectly. I am thankful for this Joker oddity.