Wednesday, September 28, 2016


As of this writing, next week begins one of my favorite events of the whole year - NEW YORK COMIC CON! While a lot of people might prefer a small Con like Steel City Con in Pittsburgh or the BIG one in San Diego (maybe you've heard of it), I've been to a few in my life and New York is always my favorite. It started relatively small and now it's become a gigantic thing! In fact, it's the largest Comic Con on the East Coast. My first time going was in 2007 and I've gone almost every year since. While going to this one and various different Comic Cons over the years I've learned something - they're all very different but very similar in some regards.

The trouble with going to a big Con like NYCC is that there is SO MUCH TO DO! There are dozens of panels a day, tons of celebrity guests, tons of comic book creators, not to mention the hundreds of vendors littering the place with all kinds of cool stuff! If you have a four day pass you'll think "Oh this is plenty of time to do what I want to do!" Actually . . . it may not be. You'll definitely get your money's worth, but you got to make sure that you make your trip fun, safe, and successful. I'd like to think that over the past 9 years at Comic Con I've become an expert. I'd like to share my advice and dare I say it, have a CONversation with you . . . HA!

Anyway . . .


The thing about cosplay, that I never realized, is that it's incredibly liberating. It's one thing to wear a Batman t-shirt or carry a Spider-Man backpack. It's quite another to dress up as Batman, Spider-Man or any of their allies or villains. If you love Batman but you're an African American man still do it! If you're Asian and you're favorite character is Buffy the Vampire Slayer, then do it! Fans come in all shapes and sizes and I encourage you if you have the time and money to put into a costume then go for it! Cosplay is a great way to get noticed at Comic Con. My friends and I attended Steel City Con in Pittsburgh a few months ago and we dressed as the Batman villains. We were immediately recognized and everyone wanted our picture. It was a huge compliment that our hard work had payed off. I love seeing people dress up as their favorite characters, even ones that aren't comic book characters like Effie Trinket, Jack Skellington, Quailman! Oh man, it's so much fun to see! And in my opinion,the more unique the better. You love Cheshire Cat? What about Steampunk Cheshire Cat? Go for it, dude! 


Are you the type of person that gets grumpy when you get hungry? I sure as hell am. I always make sure to pack some snack with me. When you're standing in a line for 2 hours, it can get boring and of course you don't want to lose your spot just because you got hungry and wanted to find a vending machine! The other thing is that the machines and food vendors at Cons, because they are in a convention center, don't mind a little bit of price gauging. I don't know about you but a small bag of Doritos isn't really worth $4 to me. However, when you're in a jam or just that hungry you might be willing to put up with it. My advice is to bring a cereal bar, bag of chips, whatever your preference might be. Something to tide you over until dinner time after the Con. My sister and I figured out early on to bring sandwiches with us so we could have lunch in line.


Ok so I'm going to be your mom here! But this is great advice for anyone at a Comic Con - stay hydrated! There is a lot of walking, a lot of standing around, a lot of sweating, and, if you have a big day planned, not a lot of time to stop and grab something to drink (again, lots of lines). The best thing you can do is bring a water bottle from home or your hotel and fill it every chance you get. True, this is a good tip for your daily life, but at a Con, especially if you're stuck in line, it will prevent you from getting dehydrated. This is especially important if you are cosplaying. If you have a complicated costume, you'll want to make sure you drink plenty of water to stay healthy and happy during the day.


The really awesome thing about going to a big convention like NYCC is that there are literally hundreds of events throughout the weekend that you can do. The really frustrating thing about going to a big convention like NYCC is that you can't do all of them. I've gone with my sister and we've had to split up in order to do all the things we wanted to do. Even worse, there were several times when we had to choose which events we were going to do and which ones we were going to skip. That's a tough decision but we both could leave Sunday evening feeling like we had made the right choices. It's a tough call! Again, it all boils down to how long the lines are. You'll want to get into a line at least an hour early, for example if Stan Lee is signing at 12:30PM, you'll want to jump in the line between 11-11:30AM. Unfortunately, you'll still find that not only are you not the first person in line but there are hundreds of people already there. So that's an hour to wait, assuming he's on time (they rarely are) and then maybe another hour to wait for your autograph. Granted, it usually ends up being worth it because he's a cool guy and it's fun to see him and have the bragging right of "I met Stan Lee!" But you have to be sure that's what you want to do! I've waited in lines for several hours before. Honestly, I've never regretted it. I chose to do it and I was happy with my choice. You might think differently. But the same thing goes for the panels. There are only so many seats in the rooms and the main stage. You want to be sure that you get in line and get to your panel in enough time. And trust me when I tell you there are no good seats, unless you get there like 3 hours early. 


Again, I'm gonna sound like your mom here but hear me out! A few years ago I went to Comic Con by myself. I stayed with a friend of mine in the city. I went to the show for two days and had a good time and met up with my friend after the show on Saturday night, we had planned on seeing a play together. We met up for dinner and she said, "so did you have fun?" I went on and on about the fun things I did and how excited I was. She added, "You must have met a lot of cool people." I scoffed, "Well no. I didn't really talk to many people." She laughed at me, "Well that's ridiculous! You're surrounded by people that like all the things you like! Why wouldn't you want to meet new people and make new friends?" She was absolutely right. The next day when I went I started talking to people in the lines I was waiting in. I ended up making a few new friends! It was fun to go and be able to meet new people and it's something I've strived to do every year since then. I've made some great friends and we still talk on facebook, twitter, instagram, all that social media junk. It's something I encourage everyone to do while at a Con. It's true isn't it? You're there to geek out and really express yourself. So is everyone around you! Enjoy their company!


The best thing you can do at a convention is take lots and lots of pictures. If you see someone cosplaying as your favorite character and their costume looks awesome, ask if you can take their picture! Like I said before, they've put a lot of time and money into their costumes. They want to be recognized for it. I know I did when I cosplayed. It's a huge compliment that someone will want to take their picture and then show it off to their friends. Also, that fits in with the making new friends. If you see someone cosplaying as Captain America and you're a huge Marvel fan, well then you've got something in common! Now of course there is the off chance that they are just cosplaying for fun and don't care about comics, but hey! You can still be friendly.

But not just the costumes! Take pictures of the different vendors, stages (if they allow it), and all the crazy props that are hanging around the main floor. A few years ago it was Superman's 75th anniversary so there were lots of costumes and props that DC Comics had out to take pictures with. The following year it was Batman's 75th anniversary. Oh man . . . I could have stayed at that section all day. I just stared at the different Batman costumes and gadgets. Of course, I got my picture with each one of them. I was in nerd heaven! So yes! Bring a camera and take all the pictures you want!

I would advise you to take pictures responsibly. This has never happened to me, but I have seen people's cameras or phones taken away because they were trying to get pictures of something they shouldn't have like exclusive footage or a celebrity when they've asked not to. It's all about respect! And please . . . please do not take pictures of women in their costumes without their permission. Comic Con is supposed to be a safe place for all of us to hang out! Don't ruin someone's day by taking their picture without their permission.


This is another example of something you should be doing on a daily basis, but trust me when I tell you Con Exhaustion is a real thing and it's a bitch! The first time I went by myself to a convention I started to get a headache, felt dizzy, and could barely stand up. I stumbled into a K-Mart to buy some ibuprofen and then finally collapsed when I reached my friend's apartment. Don't worry! I was at the couch! Basically, I had not slept well the night before, wasn't eating much during the Convention, and of course being on my feet all day with no break didn't help. It's really easy to get Con Exhaustion. I was so excited to be there that I didn't realize I wasn't fully prepared for how tough the day was going to be. The same thing actually happened to my sister when she went. Luckily, it's something that goes away pretty quickly but it's also totally preventable. Make sure you get a good night's sleep the night before and take breaks during the Con as much as possible. The worst thing you can do is party all night and then think you're ready to go the next day. Trust me when I tell you . . . It ain't that easy.


This kind of only applies to you if you are not cosplaying. But if you are then please figure out a way to make your costume as comfortable as possible. This goes back to the Con Exhaustion thing. You want to have comfortable clothes so you can get around the convention center with ease. If your costume is complicated it might prevent a necessary bathroom break and no one wants that! So be comfortable and it will make your experience so much better. 

Really the most important thing to do is have fun! Cons can be incredibly stressful but it's important to be prepared. The better prepared you are the more fun you can have. I know that might sound crazy but trust me it's worth the time to be ready. There is so much to do it won't be hard to pick what you want. Have fun! 

Till next time! 

JJ - the Comic Junkie!  

Tuesday, September 27, 2016


During San Diego Comic Con this past July it was confirmed that Ben Affleck is going to direct a stand alone Batman film. Not too long ago it was confirmed that Joe Manganiello will be playing Deathstroke as the antagonist. This is all pretty exciting stuff!


As a lifelong Batman fan, it's always thrilling to see serious directors and great actors come together for a new film. I was so excited for what Christopher Nolan and Christian Bale were going to do with Batman Begins. I was definitely not disappointed. Now, seeing Ben Affleck come take the reins of the Bat-franchise is definitely worth getting excited about all over again. One thing that Affleck is great at is casting his films. As an actor, he knows that a quality actor will take the words off the page and give them life. Manganiello is definitely a great choice for Deathstroke. One can't help but wonder who else might show up in the film? Since it's been well documented that Geoff Johns will help write the film, I'm sure we'll get something interesting and different. 

Personally, I'd love to see Batman: Hush adapted as a feature length film. A few of those characters have already been cast such as the Joker (Jared Leto), Harley Quinn (Margot Robie), Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), Commissioner Gordon (JK Simmons), and of course Alfred (Jeremy Irons). It wouldn't take much to rearrange the story to have Deathstroke fit in as an adversary, but I'd love to see other Bat-rogues take the spotlight. Some we've seen, some we haven't seen in a long time, and maybe one or two that have never been in a Bat-film before. Here's who I would cast:


If you have seen Star Wars: the Force Awakens, and most likely you have if you're reading a nerd's blog, then you know this is a good choice. While Red Hood was played by Jensen Ackles in the great Under the Red Hood animated film, and he'd probably be a good choice for a live action film, I think Driver has what it takes. In Force Awakens, he showed us that he can play a conflicted villain. He made Kylo Ren unlikable yet sympathetic all in the same scene. Todd needs a quality actor that will one moment make us root for him and then the next moment despise his actions. Arguably, this could typecast Driver, but I think, unlike Kylo Ren, there can be a redemption story for Jason Todd. He might start off as the antagonist but eventually he'll want to rejoin Batman and fight the criminals in Gotham rather than joining their ranks. 


We've seen a lot of Selina Kyle in recent years. Yes there was Michelle Pfieffer's brilliant performance back in 1992 with Batman Returns. There's also Anne Hathaway's memorable take during The Dark Knight Rises and of course Camren Bicondova's Kyle running around Gotham. After watching Dexter, it became clear to me that Carpenter would make a fantastic Catwoman. During that show she progressed from shy, awkward police officer to confident, headstrong detective. She infused Debra Morgan with a lot of complex, troubling emotions and was able to pull it off. We may not have always agreed with her choices but we could understand her. That's the type of actress that is needed to bring Catwoman to life. Catwoman is arguably not even much of a villain anymore. She sort of "plays by her own rules." Plus, it helps that Carpenter is old enough that it would be believable that she has had fights and flirtations with Batman in the past. Plus, does anyone else want to see that purple costume? I do. I think it looks cool and it's something we haven't seen in a Bat-film yet!


Hey, I did say that I was going to come back to this didn't I ;) ? I truly do think that Harris would make a fantastic Riddler. Odds are Affleck and company will want to stay away from a campier performance like Jim Carrey gave in Batman Forever (although Harris could do it) so they'll want a more serious actor. Harris has proven time and again that he can play any type of character. Whether it's womanizing showboat in How I Met Your Mother or creepy loner in Gone Girl, Harris has the range to give us a charming, yet deadly Riddler. While I think that Cory Michael Smith is absolutely killing it (literally) on Gotham, there is definitely room for another actor with a different take. Plus it would be pretty awesome to see Harris, who's not much of a physical threat, stand up to Affleck's 6'4 Batman with no fear. Oh yeah . . . this needs to happen!


Oh come on! Just picture Brosnan saying, "Detective!" I'm sold! At 63 years old, Brosnan is still kicking ass. He was the James Bond that I grew up with. He was handsome, suave, and could kick anyone's ass in the room. And who is Ra's? He's suave, an expert martial artist, and looks to be in his early 60's despite actually being several hundred years old. Sounds like Brosnan to me! When Ra's enters a room, everyone takes notice of him. He is in control of everything around him. It's why he's so frustrated with Batman. Batman is the one thing he can't control. I think Brosnan could easily pull off the charming, yet menacing demeanor that Ra's shows the world. Also, he's a very tall man at 6'2. Granted, Affleck is a bit taller, but that's nothing that a few camera tricks and heels can't fix. I have no doubt in my mind that Brosnan would make a great Ra's Al Ghul. 


Ok . . . ok! I admit it! This one is probably on everyone's wish list. And truth be told, there are countless memes about Damon being in a Batman film in some capacity. 

I mean . . . he could do it!

While I appreciate the jokes and I can laugh at that image all day, I must say that it would make sense for Damon to be in Affleck's Bat-film. Probably not as Robin, but he would make an amazing Hush. Damon has never ceased to impress me as an actor. From Good Will Hunting to the Bourne films and even his comedic bits on Jimmy Kimmel Live, Damon has always impressed me. Hush is a more recent addition to the Bat rogues but he's also a great villain. He's someone with a personal history/vendetta against Bruce Wayne, stalked Batman to learn his weaknesses, and even reconstructed his face to try and take Bruce Wayne's place. That's some dedication! I think Damon is the kind of actor that could bring Hush to life and really make us hate him. I would love to see him in the next Batman film. The hero always need a great villain and Hush, played by Damon, would be something special indeed. 

While there are quite a few characters I'm missing, after all Batman has a HUGE selection of rogues and allies to choose from, these are the ones I would love to see in a new film. It's been a while since we've seen the Riddler or Ra's in a film, Red Hood hasn't had a feature film debut yet, Catwoman is always welcome in a Batman film, and of course Hush would be perfect to bring them all together. I have no doubt that Ben Affleck and Geoff Johns will give us a truly incredible Batman film. I CAN'T WAIT TO SEE IT!!!!

Till Next Time!

JJ - the Comic Junkie! 

Monday, September 12, 2016


You never forget your first love. While there have been many Batmen that have come and gone over the years on television, film, and in animation, I'll never forget the one that left a lasting impression on me. Michael Keaton. I've said this before but when I was a kid, Keaton's performance scared the living hell out of me. More so than any other Batman that came after him, or came before him, his Batman left a lasting impression. I watched the first two Tim Burton films, Batman and Batman Returns, dozens of times when I was a kid. I was analyzing and dissecting them before I could even read or write. And this was before the internet was a big thing you see (fuck I'm old).

Since then we've had several other Batman films. Believe it or not, every single one holds a special place in my heart if for no other reason than it's Batman on film. However, those first two films are the gold standard. Yes I acknowledge that The Dark Knight had a better plot. Yes I know that Batman v Superman had a much more comic book accurate costume. But like I said, you never forget your first love. I'd like to share with you why I still think that these first two films still hold up after all these years. Don't worry I won't be too terribly biased or nostalgic, or at least I'll try ;)


Without a doubt, one of the best performances in the original Batman films is Michael Gough as Alfred. While he plays Bruce Wayne's most loyal servant, he's also Wayne's most trusted confidant. In the first film Alfred has a great line that says everything about his character:

BRUCE - What's on your mind, Alfred?
ALFRED - I have no wish to spend my few remaining years grieving for the loss of old friends . . . or their sons.

Gough's delivery of this line says everything you need to know about him. While he may support Bruce's insane mission to clean up the streets of Gotham City, he still worries for him and doesn't want to outlive him. In Batman Returns, we get to see Alfred take a much more active participation in Bruce's mission. He helps him stop the Penguin's assault on the city. Before that he helps scramble the feed at Penguin's press conference and expose him as a fraud. Plus, Gough just nails Alfred's dry sense of humor. When Selina is trying to come up with an excuse for leaving Bruce, Alfred says he'll take care of it and lets Selina run out. In the first film, like a doting, loving father, Alfred tells stories to embarrass the hell out of Bruce in front of his date. If that doesn't scream Alfred Pennyworth I don't know what does. 


One could argue that the Batman villains are much more interesting than Batman himself. I've thought of that and in some cases, depending on the story, I would agree. Tim Burton certainly felt this way when he crafted his films. While there's a reason that Batman is overshadowed by his villains, more on that in a bit, it does make sense. Too many people these days complain about the villains portrayal in a comic book film. I myself have stated several times that I'm very disappointed with Marvel and how they constantly underdevelop their villains. With Batman and Batman Returns we get rich, interesting characters. Joker, Catwoman, and Penguin were all characters with little to no back story in the comic books at that time. Burton, Nicholson, DeVito, and Pfeiffer took the time to give these characters motivation and tragedy. If they're going to be going up against Batman, a totally not sane dude, then they better be just a little bit crazier.  While some would call the performances campy, and maybe they are, I still find them extremely entertaining. Speaking of the villains . . . 


Although I'm thoroughly enjoying Robin Lord Taylor's performance on Gotham, I must say that Danny DeVito will always take the cake for me. He scared the hell out of me as a kid and now as an adult . . . still scares the hell out of me. If you read this blog often then you know how much I truly love acting. I never really thought much of it before, but after watching It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia (which I love), I have to say that, and not just because of the make up, DeVito is completely unrecognizable as the Penguin. This version of the Penguin I thought had a much more interesting backstory and motivation. He's a truly complex character. At first you want to sympathize with him but it's clear that he's a monster and always will be a monster. He's someone that can throw on a smile and charm the people of Gotham City but behind closed doors he's truly evil and won't hesitate to kill anyone that gets in his way. Fantastic performance. And while we're on the subject . . .


I don't know about you but I've always been of the mindset that Bruce and Selina belong together. They just seem like such messed up people that it makes sense to me that they would eventually settle down together. This film probably cemented that idea for me. I loved Selina way more than I liked Vicki Vale (which wasn't much to begin with). The first film was showing how much Batman and the Joker are both insane in their own way. The second film was more about showing how damaged both Batman and Catwoman are. It helps that the actors had great chemistry. Pfeiffer's performance as Selina was completely unique and really inspiring to me. Like I said, Catwoman didn't have much back story in the comics (at the time). In the film she starts off as a mousy secretary (executive assistant) but then transforms into this powerful woman ready to take on Gotham City. Pfeiffer plays both sides of her personality with such ease. She really makes us all fall in love with Selina and hope that she decides to stay with Bruce in the end. Plus, if I'm being honest, it always really bummed me out that she didn't come back in the later films. Oh well. Maybe DC Comics will get their act together and do that Batman '89 comic book! Oh that reminds me . . .


While I loved that Christopher Nolan decided to make Gotham City look realistic in his films, let's face it - it's not a real place. It kind of makes sense that the city would look real but at the same time not real. On the first film, Burton and his production designer, the late great Anton Furst, designed Gotham to look like a clash of different architectures. It gave it an ugly, dark feel. It was a world that Batman could easily inhabit. In the second film, the production design fell to Bo Welch. They designed a much more post-modern Gotham City. In that particular film, the style works. Again, it looks real but it doesn't look too real. It's just outside the realm of what we believe. We recognize it as a city but can also recognize that it's a more comic booky type of city. While this particular style probably wouldn't work in a film that's made today, it fit the time period in which it was made. Also, it fits Tim Burton's quirky style of filmmaking. 


OK . . . Full disclosure - Heath Ledger is my favorite Joker. I felt that he captured the spirit of the Joker better than any other actor thus far (in live action at least, animation is another story ;) ) But like I said, you never forget your first love. Nicholson gave us a man that was just another ordinary gangster, with maybe one or two screws loose, who turned into a maniacal madman. Once he's the Joker, all his inhibitions are gone. He's now the wild man he's always wanted to be and he's loving every minute of it. It's clear watching the film that Nicholson is CLEARLY having the time of his life playing the Joker. To me, when you are playing an over the top villain, that's extremely important when playing a character in one of these films. While this is clearly Jack Nicholson going crazy with his creative freedom it totally works. He allows himself to give a wonderful performance as Batman's greatest foe. Because, and there's no denying this, if you're going to play one character completely abandoned and wacko and get away with it it's the Joker. Nicholson was the gold standard for so many years before Heath Ledger showed up and ruined it (in a good way). 


This is my all time favorite Batmobile. Maybe it's the nostalgia talking but more so than any other Batmobile this one feels like the one Batman would drive. It's got a very sleek, simplistic design. It is fully functional. Plus it's ready for battle. That's probably the best part about it. It might look unassuming but it's fully equipped with different weapons to fight the bad guys. I think the thing I like most about it, and this will sound silly, is that it looks good from all angles. 

Even when it was in that weird cocoon thing.

Yeah that! Weird looking. But it's still cool. Plus, just like the other actors that played Batman, it seems to fit the suit and the actor. Although I bet behind the scenes Michael Keaton rarely, if ever, drove it. However, when you watch the film, it's edited so well that it looks like he is driving this incredibly powerful machine with ease. 


When crafting the Batman character, Tim Burton had this idea, "Batman is a private character. So we should respect that privacy and not show him much in the film." While that might seem counter-productive, after all the films are named after him, it actually makes a lot of sense. In context of the film it works very well. Batman may not show up very much but when he does, it's unforgettable. In the first film, he shows up as this intimidating force that you don't want to mess with. In the second film, he comes in, kicks ass, and leaves. The Red Triangle Circus Gang aren't afraid of him at first, but by the end of the film, when they learn Batman is approaching they run and hide. By now they know they do not stand a chance of defeating him. 

Another interesting thing about Keaton's Batman is that he's the only live action Batman to not have his voice changed in post-production or "in film" by a voice modulator. His voice comes from the place he thinks that Bruce Wayne would live in when he puts on the suit. While Keaton was extremely uncomfortable in the Bat-suit, he channeled that into his performance. His Batman is incredibly intimidating. He's going to kick your ass and not think anything of it because that's what Batman would do. Even when speaking to his allies, he doesn't give them much time of day. He's going to do his job and then leave. That feels like Batman to me. 


It's sad to say that music isn't as memorable in a film as it used to be. People most likely think of John Williams and his wonderful scores for Indiana Jones, Jaws, Harry Potter, and of course Star Wars. If another composer comes to mind it's definitely Danny Elfman. Elfman has scored almost all of Burton's films as well as quite a few superhero films. Most of you probably know him best from writing, and singing, the music from The Nightmare Before Christmas (a Tim Burton production), but I'll always remember him as creating the best Batman score that has ever been produced. While Hans Zimmer killed it with The Dark Knight Trilogy and Junkie XL wrote some cool stuff for Batman v Superman nothing will ever top Danny Elfman's score from the original Batman films. It's clearly had more of an impact than most people realize. In the very first Lego Batman video game the only score that plays is Elfman's original Batman music. Years ago, I don't know if this is still the case, but while you waited for the Batman ride at Six Flags they played his Batman music. I remember listening to it in line and getting so excited to get on the ride. Of course it also made me think of the movie. Then I talked my family's ear off about how much I loved the movies and wanted to watch them when I got home. It was the type of score that really lent itself to repeat listenings. When I would listen to it, I could see the film in my head. I wish music was like that in more films. Because this definitely impacted my reaction to how much I loved Batman and Batman Returns


Ok. So we're finally gonna talk about it. This scene in the first Batman film, more than anything that's come after it, influenced my personal opinion of Batman as a character. Two thugs are celebrating their latest score. One starts to get nervous claiming that he heard that a friend of his was taken down by "the Bat." His friend thinks he's full of shit. While they argue, a dark figure descends behind them like a creature out of a horror film. They argue a bit more and then realize they hear something above them. It's HIM! The Bat swoops down in dramatic fashion. The two thugs immediately open fire and put it down. At first they laugh, thinking they've beaten it. They're wrong. It stands up, wings spread wide. It slowly makes its way toward them. With one swift kick, one thug is down for the count. The other runs for his life but is caught in the creature's web (so to speak). As the thug pleads for his life, the Bat responds, "I'm not going to kill you. I want you to do me a favor - I want you tell all your friends about me." Knowing that he's not talking to a human being, the thug shrieks, "What are you?" The Bat pulls him in close and whispers, "I'm Batman." Then it disappears into the night. 

That. Is. Batman. He shows up, kicks ass, intimidates, and then leaves. I got so excited just typing that scene up! While I loved Christian Bale's Batman intro and Ben Affleck's was super creepy, this one will always have a special place in my heart. When people ask me why I love Batman so much I refer them to this scene. It's Batman at his most pure. He's taking on a couple of two bit thugs and he scares them half to death. That's who Bruce Wayne set up to become when he dawned the cape and cowl. As I said, this scene scared the hell out of me as a kid. Now as an adult it fills me with awe. If I were ever lucky enough to make a Batman movie I don't think I could ever top this scene. It's exactly who Batman is to me. Keaton and the actors playing the thugs perform the scene to perfection. While, like I said, Batman may live in a somewhat unrealistic world, this scene grounds it in reality for us. And I love it so much!

I like to joke that people have short memories when it comes to superhero films. Tom Holland is the best Spider-Man! Ben Affleck is the best Batman! That's probably easy to say when you're watching the movie right now. If you were to reflect on the context of everything that came before you might have a different opinion. While I think Ben Affleck captured the spirit of Bruce Wayne/Batman very well, Keaton gave us something else. Burton's films will always remain a special part of my life and my understanding of who Batman is and will become in my life. I owe a lot to these films as they helped shape me into the Comic Junkie. I'm getting all teary eyed now! Better go watch some Batman to give me nightmares!

Till Next Time!

JJ - The Comic Junkie

Wednesday, September 7, 2016


Anyone who knows me knows that I'm a huge Batman fan. Whether you can tell from my Batman tattoo, the Batman T shirt I'm probably wearing, or listening to me when I quote Batman lines when I think no one is listening, Batman has always been a big part of my life. I've stated this many times during this blog so this is obviously not news. My personal opinion of Batman was formed when I was a little kid, scared to death of Michael Keaton saying "I'm Batman!" Since then, I've absorbed almost any and all Bat related items I could get my hands on in my 29 years on this planet.

So there's Gotham. Like Smallville before it, Gotham chooses to be the origin of the Dark Knight, his enemies, his allies, and everyone in between. Smallville was a very different beast though. It was able to be a "coming of age" story for a young man learning his place in the world. The show was able to have a slow burn of Clark's powers, his understanding of where he came from, his enemies, his allies, his disguise, and ultimately, his destiny. A show like that simply wouldn't fly anymore (pun intended). Audiences are spoiled with binge watching, spoilers, and so called "shared universes." It's important nowadays that the stories get to the point and kick ass along the way. If there's going to be a slow burn of something, it better damn well be worth it.

How does Gotham fit in? Well . . . it's a little bit of both. There is the slow burn of Bruce Wayne becoming Batman. But then again, it seems like a good portion of Batman's rogues gallery is already starting to become well established in Gotham City. Wait . . . what? Yepp. We've seen the Penguin, the Riddler, Mr. Freeze, Hugo Strange, Firefly, among a few others. In the first season, the mantra seemed to be that they would hint at these different people and how they all had darkness inside them. In season 2, it was pretty much all bets are off. If there's a villain that will fit into our show somehow then let's do it! Surprisingly, it worked. And it worked really well.

Before season 2 premiered, I argued that there were certain characters I didn't want to see during Gotham's run. Post-season 2, and given how much I truly loved some of the new wrinkles that they added to the Batman mythos I'm willing to change my tune a little bit. Seeing as how the Joker's mythology and mystery is still (for now) somewhat preserved, Bruce is slowly but surely learning who killed his parents and his role in the city, Gordon is clearly being corrupted by Gotham, and this all started because the Waynes were murdered is really, really great. I mean . . . That's a Batman story!

True we're getting vastly different versions of certain characters like Matches Malone, Poison Ivy, Firefly, and even, arguably the Penguin, but these new versions still maintain the spirit of the original characters. In the Penguin's case, he is much more fleshed out then he ever has been in the comic books. Edward Nygma is another character that has been fleshed out much more in this series and, in my opinion, has become a much more rich and exciting character then he has been in years. In addition, Nathan Darrow gave us a Mr. Freeze to help us forget the awful Mr. Freeze from the live action film series.

There he is . . . 

A lot of comic book writers that have worked on Batman over the past almost 80 years will tell you that the villains are arguably much more interesting than Batman himself. They each have some sort of quirky personality, a goal that they are trying to reach, and an unwavering determination to accomplish their goals. In a strange way, they are probably more relatable than Bruce Wayne. That's hard to deny, isn't it? We all would like to think that when the going gets tough we would stand strong like Batman and fight back. However, as much as we would like to deny it, it's kind of fun giving into the dark side of our personalities once in a while. On Gotham, it hasn't taken much for these characters to become the villains. Like the man said, "All it takes is one bad day . . . "

Personally, I can't wait to see what they do with season 3. I was impressed with season 1 but 2 absolutely blew me away. While it's kind of strange seeing some of these villains rise up without a Batman to stop them, it still works. I like the idea that the story is reversed - instead of Batman inspiring all these freaks and weirdos it seems like they will end up inspiring him to take drastic measures to fight crime in Gotham City. Or maybe they will surprise us and Batman will show up sooner than expected . . .

Till Next Time!

JJ - the Comic Junkie!

Friday, September 2, 2016


You know what I love? Actors with versatility. An actor that can embody any given character and bring them to life seemingly with little effort is astonishing to me. One such actor that I truly admire is Neil Patrick Harris. Now, I'm sure most of you reading this are going "What? Really?" But yes . . . Really! Arguably, Harris's two most famous roles are Doogie Howser of Doogie Howser, M.D. and Barney Stinson from How I Met Your Mother. One was a boy genius that became a doctor, which seems completely ridiculous and the other is a shameless womanizer, which seems rather ordinary in today's world. What you may not know is that Neil Patrick Harris has actually voiced quite a few comic book characters over the years on various TV shows and animated films. Every time I see Harris's name in the credits, which sadly is fewer these days, I get excited. I'm confident that he will bring that character to life and I won't be thinking of Barney or Doogie. What characters has he played you may ask? Well . . . I'm glad you asked! Well ok . . . I assume you asked . . . Whatever, you're reading it so here it goes . . .


In one of the most memorable, if not somewhat frustrating, episodes of Justice League, a few members are transported to an alternate Earth that's protected by the Justice Guild of America. I say it's frustrating because apparently the producers were not allowed to use the Justice Society characters. Which is . . . fucking stupid. I mean . . . Really. ANYWAY! In the episode the Justice League starts to suspect that something is fishy on this parallel Earth. They soon discover that the JGA was killed decades ago and the city they're living in is a fabrication created by a little boy. The boy, Ray Thompson, was horribly deformed during a nuclear war but was also given psychic abilities. He's recreated the world from when was a child where the heroes save the day and everything is perfect. Hard to blame him, isn't it?

Harris plays the part of Ray Thompson. In the first part of the episode, he's a normal looking boy. He's pretty much the mascot of the Justice Guild. Later, when it's revealed that he's turned into a monster, his entire demeanor changes. Harris effortlessly switches from earnest young lad to psychotic, desperate monster. It's actually pretty frightening to listen to when watching the episode. Like I said, I love the versatility. Truthfully, when I first watched the episode I had no idea it was Neil Patrick Harris. I was totally blown away. That's the mark of a good voice actor!


This one may come as a shock to you seeing as how there's a good chance you've never heard of this series. The animated series premiered on MTV in summer 2003. It was meant to follow the first Spider-Man film, which is why not many of Spider-Man's usual rogues appear. However, it did have the awesome idea to recast the late, great Michael Clarke Duncan as the Kingpin. The show only lasted 13 episodes. In my opinion, the show was very good, even if the animation was really weird. It was trying to have a traditionally animated feel but it was a CGI series. Looked odd to me. Perhaps it was a little ahead of it's time. If it were to premiere this year as a live action TV series I'm sure it would be a hit. Sadly, we may never know, even though I'm constantly saying Spider-Man should totally get a TV series. 

Something like this!

Harris played the title role and absolutely killed it. He's got that innocent quality to his voice that's perfect for Peter Parker. But when he puts on the suit he becomes super-confident and shoots out quips as fast as he shoots webbing. Harris is the kind of actor that can do both of those things. Sound innocent and still confident I mean, not the shooting webs part (so far as I know). Again, like I said, perhaps the show was a little ahead of its time. It was on MTV and tried to be more mature than the usual cartoon follow up. Basically, it was a live action series disguised as animation. At the time, people probably weren't ready for that. Hell, we just became OK with things like Arrow, the Flash, and Daredevil for crying out loud! Oh well . . . Maybe one day Harris will get another crack at Spidey. In my opinion, he was perfect in the role. 


Quite literally one of Joss Whedon's greatest creations, Dr. Horrible was one of the very first low budget web series made by famous people right around the time when iTunes and YouTube were starting to really become normal things people used every day. If you've never seen it, and if you haven't stop what you're fucking doing right now and watch it, the basic plot is that an up and coming super-villain is trying to make his way into the Evil League of Evil. His plans are constantly thwarted by the egotistical hero Captain Hammer and Horrible's crush on Penny, who he sees every week at the local laundromat. 

It might be a lot to say that Harris gives a "career best" in this series, given that he technically worked for free, but I'd be willing to at least throw that notion out there. He has to play evil genius, innocent, love smitten young man, to everything in between. By the end, it's fair to say that the Dr. Horrible we met is not the same man. Although the last frame does leave a lot to the imagination. Plus, Harris gets to sing! Something you may not know about me is that I'm somewhat of a theatre buff. I did a lot of plays/musicals in high school and college. I have a great fondness for actors that can dance, sing, and act all at the same time. Harris is one of those actors and any time he gets to sing makes me so happy. I doubt I could ever be at his level but he's someone I definitely look up to as an actor. VERSATILITY!


Based on one of DC Comics' most popular graphic novels, The New Frontier is basically the story of how the Justice League came together. Written and illustrated by the late, great Darwyn Cooke, the story takes place during the 1950s after the Korean War. The government has stopped trusting superheroes, effectively banning The Justice Society of America. Heroes like Superman, Wonder Woman, and Batman, unless they work with the government, are seen as outlaws. When a new threat emerges it's up to a new generation of heroes like Martian Manhunter, the Flash, and Green Lantern to stop it before the world is destroyed. 

In Cooke's mind, the Flash would be a very insecure young man. Sure he's very fast and therefore very powerful, but he feels nothing compared to the likes of Superman and Wonder Woman. Harris captures that perfectly in his performance. He plays Barry as a young man trying to do good in a world that seems filled with hate and distrust. One of the best parts of the comic and in the film is when the Flash faces Captain Cold for the very first time in Las Vegas. You get to see Barry's cockiness come through as he fights his foe. Harris does a great job of giving Barry that tough sounding voice but it's laced with Harris's usual innocence. It makes for a great performance and, at that point, not seen yet in a Flash performance. I'm always hoping that he'll get to play the character again because, in my opinion, he was one of the best Flashes. 


I admit, I'm not a big Robot Chicken fan. Most of the time, the bits aren't that funny to me. However, when they do the longer form episodes like the DC Comics Special or the Star Wars parodies I think they're a lot funnier. Harris has played Two-Face in a few episodes and he's actually quite funny in them. Like I said he's a versatile actor! He can play a serious version of the Flash and then easily switch to a Two-Face parody. That's gotta be a fun job . . . Sigh . . . 


While some super villains are trying to steal a satellite, the Justice League shows up to stop them. Suddenly, everyone bursts into song. They've come under the influence of the Music Meister! He's a brand new villain capable of controlling anyone within range of his singing voice to do his bidding. It's up to Batman to stop him from using the satellite from broadcasting all over the world, giving him control over everyone on the planet! 

Remember when I said I look up to Harris and his wonderful singing? Remember also, in a past post, I said that the best Batman stories are tragedies? Well . . . we get a little bit of both in this episode. Harris gets to sing ridiculous, yet catchy songs while Batman chases him. The tragedy is that Black Canary confesses her love to Batman and he turns her down due to his ongoing mission of fighting crime and preserving justice. Seriously, this might be my all time favorite Neil Patrick Harris performance. It allows him to sing like there's no tomorrow while playing a totally over the top, campy Batman villain. There are rumors of Harris reprising this role in the upcoming Supergirl/The Flash crossover (with Joss Whedon directing). That would simply be sublime. I mean . . . I can't put into words how excited I am about that. The Music Meister is such a great villain, simply because it's so ridiculous but Harris really nails it. Mainly because he's literally one of the greatest singers ever. Doogie Howser, this guy ain't!


Based on the graphic novel of the same name, Under the Red Hood tells the story of the return of Jason Todd, the second Robin, to Gotham City. He has turned himself into the Red Hood and is hell bent on getting his revenge on the people that wronged him, namely Batman and the Joker. This definitely goes back to the theory that the best Batman stories are tragedies. Lucky for us, Neil Patrick Harris is there to lighten the mood!

While the rest of the film is very dark and depressing, as it's supposed to be, there is some comic relief in the form of Neil Patrick Harris as Nightwing. Unlike his roles as Spider-Man and the Flash, we don't hear Harris's trademark (?) innocence. Nightwing is 100% confident. Harris even goes so far as to speak in a lower voice than he is normally known for. This definitely adds to the character. This version of Nightwing is mature and somewhat arrogant. However, more than once, he proves himself to be Batman's greatest ally. Plus, it's believable that Nightwing would be one of the few people that can (playfully) bust Batman's chops and get away with it. It's great! 

As I said, Neil Patrick Harris is one of my favorite actors. I remember hearing that he was on How I Met Your Mother and thinking that it was funny that Doogie Howser grew up to be such a douchebag. Also he's a total womanizer, but in real life he's homosexual. It was such a funny juxtaposition to me. After watching many episodes of HIMYM I started to appreciate how much he was adding to the character. Quite a few of the Barney centric episodes became favorites of mine. It probably helps that I saw him as The Flash from the New Frontier before I became a fan of HIMYM. Who knows! Either way, I certainly hope that Harris is not done playing comic book characters because, as this list as shown, he's fantastic at it. 

Seriously - he needs to be the Music Meister in real life. That would make my life. Or maybe . . . 

But that's a post for another day ;)

Till Next Time!

JJ - the Comic Junkie!