12th Level Intellects: June & July ’18

The 12th Level Intellects– a biweekly geeky podcast hosted by James Strecker and myself– released five more episodes in June and July 2018, so you could say that it has been a busy summer! We reviewed recent theatrical films like DEADPOOL 2 and SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY, and the trailers for AQUAMAN and SHAZAM! which were unveiled at Comic-Con International 2018 in San Diego, California. 

Per the podcast’s usual DCAU slant, we also analyzed the cartoons’ influence on modern comics and films, discussed fan theories for BATMAN BEYOND, and interviewed Matthew Valencia, voice actor of the second Robin, Tim Drake, from BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES. Check it all out at the embedded videos below, or stream on iTunes. As always, the podcast is hosted by the Watchtower Database.

12th Level Intellects: April & May ’18

James Strecker and I finally started reading the same monthly comic book series, so we can chat about them on the 12th Level Intellects podcast. We have enjoyed discussing METAL, written by Scott Snyder with art by Greg Capullo, the now classic team behind BATMAN comics over the last 5 years (starting in The New initiative with the acclimated “Court of Owls” storyline). METAL isn’t for the casual comics fan, but with many fun cameos by obscure characters, and easter eggs on a cosmic CRISIS Multiversal scale, the series is a joy for anyone familiar with such stuff. No, the thumbnail image is not a Batman Joker, but in fact a Joker Batman.

Steven Spielberg recently announced he will be directing a film about the Golden Age hero BLACKHAWK in a new DC Universe feature. The Blackhawks were a squadron of fighter pilots during World War II. This is not the first time Spielberg has attempted a film based on this character. An attempt in the 1980s with Dan Aykroyd eventually became the comedy classic 1941. In the world of animation, James Strecker and I review the latest DC animated movie SUICIDE SQUAD: HELL TO PAY, written by Alan Burnett, who we interviewed in a previous episode.

Of course we saw the new AVENGERS movie and had to talk about it. I thought it was everything you’d want in a comic book crossover event, now in a film format. Josh Brolin’s Thanos was a captivating villain, and the visual effects were not nearly as disorienting as last year’s JUSTICE LEAGUE with its poorly rendered villain Steppenwolf. Sure, we’ve seen SPIDER-MAN and IRONMAN in movies about a half dozen times now, but we’ve never seen them like this, pushed to the limits of their abilities, joined by all their Avenging allies. James and I also answer a questions pertaining to BATMAN BEYOND, and how Terry McGinnis’ Batman operates differently from the original Dark Knight, Bruce Wayne. Also TOY STORY puns.

BATMAN NINJA was hilarious. Truly a train wreck, but what I will recall as a fascinating chapter in the history of the Dark Knight. Almost no other character in comics is as adaptable for storytelling possibilities than Batman, so maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised to see a Voltron robot constructed of Joker, Harley, Penguin, and other Gotham villains fighting off against a golden monkey mecha fused with psychic bats. It makes a little more sense in the movie, but not really.

12th Level Intellects: February & March ’18

The 12th Level Intellects keep on keepin’ on through February and March with new episodes of the podcast every other week, available on both iTunes and YouTube. James Strecker and myself are the usual hosts, but were joined by a few other folks in some of the segments this round, who you’ll be introduced to shortly.

Comics writer Matthew Manning joined us on the podcast to discuss his work on last year’s BATMAN / TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES ADVENTURES series, and some various stand-alone issues for DC Comics such as JUSTICE LEAGUE ADVENTURES, THE BATMAN STRIKES, and BEWARE THE BATMAN, as well as his sole artist credit drawing a necklace on Mera in on a random 1990s AQUAMAN comic. Manning is a local to Asheville, so I was able to visit his home, record in the living room, and check out his amazing collection of Batman memorabilia.

For episode #11, James and I go back to the roots of the Watchtower Database channel and discuss something specific to the DC Animated Universe. Particularly, we take a look at the Flash, and whether Barry Allen existed in this world when all we ever saw was Wally West in the superhero role. Personally, I lean towards no.

Nothing more notable for the 12th Level Intellects than its twelfth episode. Mattie Washburn was our guest on this one while he and James were at the Emerald City Comic Con in Seattle, Washington. Unfortunately, my audio recording glitched, so James and Mattie navigate the main conversation themselves of what events happened ‘for sure’ between animated series JLU and BATMAN BEYOND. This episode goes out to all the fans who know the Plasma Rifle was invented in 2005.

While at ECCC, James and Mattie had the opportunity to chat with Phil Lamarr, the voice actor behind major DCAU characters Static from STATIC SHOCK and Green Lantern, John Stewart from JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED, as well as many other familiar voices in animation like SAMURAI JACK and FUTURAMA. While I missed the meet and greet with Mr. Lamarr, you can still hear me talk about upcoming movies and comics in the News and Comic Relief segments of the podcast episode.

LEGACIES Special: “Powers That Be”

“Powers That Be” is the latest issue of LEGACIES OF THE DCAU, now available to read online as of Saturday, February 24th. This special follows up plot threads established in “Asylum”, both of which were written by myself, with art by Marcello Millicay, James Strecker on composite effects, and covers by Robert Castellano.

The issue picks up mere hours after Killer Croc’s capture at the hands of the New Arkham security force. We reveal where he was taken, and why his appearance is more monstrous than the last time we saw him in the DCAU. Originally, the script was written as issue #5 with “Asylum” being the other half, but we split the story into specials to speed up the production process. “Powers That Be” also brings a few new characters into the DC animated universe, particularly Geri and Warren Powers, a husband and wife team with the entrepreneurial drive to force Bruce Wayne out of business, which sets up plot threads later seen in BATMAN BEYOND.

Click the cover to read “Powers That Be”!

The characters established in this issue will continue to appear throughout LEGACIES, and their connections to our other story elements will be revealed over time. Issue #5 is currently in production as the first part of a new arc called “Shadow Play” which will feature some of the DCAU’s more familiar villains, and show what they have been up to since the fall of the Secret Society, and their “five minute head start” at the end of the JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED series finale.

LEGACIES #4: “Destroyed, Part 3”

Another issue of LEGACIES OF THE DCAU dropped on Saturday, November 25th. Issue #4 concludes the first major story arc “Destroyed”, which takes place days after the conclusion of the JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED series finale episode “Destroyer”, and sets the stage for LEGACIES’ future as it ventures into uncharted territory, setting up a confrontation between the Justice League and black ops agency Checkmate, led in part by the political powerhouse Amanda Waller.

This issue is essentially a love letter and homage to the Fourth World characters created by comic book legendary creator Jack Kirby. After an action packed intro where Mister Miracle saves the day, Superman leads a peace treaty between the New Gods and the World Assembly of Earth. Orion is the focus of one sequence where he reclaims the throne of Apokolips after his father Darkseid’s apparent demise at the end of the JLU animated series, which was one of my favorite scenes to write so far. Read the full issue linked below on the webcomic’s official website.

 

Click the cover to read LEGACIES #4!

Six-page special “Powers That Be” is coming soon, following up on last summer’s “Asylum”, both of which were written by myself and drawn by Marcello Millicay. These Gotham based specials will culminate in a thematic series of issues leading into the eventual aesthetic of the BATMAN BEYOND animated series.

12th Level Intellects: November 2017

12th Level Intellects has maintained its biweekly schedule. Not that it should come as a surprise, but it feels good to be consistent. In November, we released our third and fourth episodes, embedded below via the Watchtower Database on YouTube.

Our third episode “Arrowverse vs DCAU” consists of an analysis between popular television adaptations of the DC Universe. We compare the CW’s “Arrowverse” from Berlanti Production (ARROW, THE FLASH, LEGENDS OF TOMORROW, and SUPERGIRL) with Warner Bros. Animation’s DC Animated Universe (BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES, BATMAN BEYOND, and JUSTICE LEAGUE), which is regarded by many as the most pure and distilled version of DC Comics’ characters.

The fourth episode “More DCAU Fan Theories!” discusses just that… more DCAU fan theories. James and I started this podcast by reviewing fan theories that present possible plot points that may have occurred behind the scenes in the DCAU, and then we weigh their plausibility. We particularly discuss how Gorilla Grodd may have induced visions of Brainiac in Lex Luthor’s mind in JLU season 3, the alleged supernatural powers of Andrea Beaumont’s Phantasm, and J’onn J’onzz getting replaced by the Justice Lord version from a dark parallel universe.

Ted & Daniel talk BATMAN BEYOND

Daniel Dockery, an editor for Cracked.com, approached me to start a “written podcast” looking back on the BATMAN BEYOND animated series by the legendary team of Bruce Timm, Paul Dini, Alan Burnett, et all. As one of the primary sources for the LEGACIES OF THE DCAU webcomic, I’ve already watched this series through many times, but it’s been a few years, and I have no doubt my memory needs refreshing.

We focused primarily on the first two episodes “Rebirth” which set the stage for the series. We discuss the growth of Bruce Wayne, changes that have happened to Gotham over the years, and the new villains such as white collar criminal turned glowing green skeleton Derek Powers and his scarred henchman Mr. Fixx.

Read the first post on Daniel’s blog Daniel Is Funny entitled “Great Villains Need Cool Eyeball Scars” and watch the classic theme song embedded below with music composed by Shirley Walker and animation by Darwyn Cooke.

LEGACIES OF THE DCAU // webcomic

A few years ago, artist and filmmaker James Strecker of JTS Entertainment was deliberating on the relaunch of the WATCHTOWER DATABASE, his fan-made tribute to everything regarding the DC Animated Universe (DCAU), a series of interlocking cartoons which began with the Emmy award-winning BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES, and continued into SUPERMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES, BATMAN BEYOND, STATIC SHOCK, and JUSTICE LEAGUE to name a few.

After seeing James’ designs for how characters may have appeared during the time period between JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED and BATMAN BEYOND, I proposed an ongoing webcomic on the lost years of the DCAU. This concept grew into the LEGACIES OF THE DC ANIMATED UNIVERSE webcomic, written by myself, illustrated by James Strecker, and hosted by the WATCHTOWER DATABASE.

Though the tribute website is still in development, the WATCHTOWER DATABASE has since become a hub for all fans of the DC Animated Universe on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. We’ve grown in notoriety from our recent interviews with industry professionals like Matthew Manning and Alan Burnett.

As long as our followers enjoy reminiscing about the DCAU as much as we do, I’m sure the content will keep on flowing. Over the last year, we have released three installments of LEGACIES with more to come. Find the issues linked below:

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WDb interviews ALAN BURNETT

Earlier this month, James Strecker and I had the amazing opportunity to conduct an over-the-phone interview for the WATCHTOWER DATABASE with writer / producer Alan Burnett, one of the main forces behind the DC Animated Universe.

We discussed Alan’s history in animation on shows like SUPER-FRIENDS and SCOOBY DOO! as well as fond memories from his time working on projects like BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES, STATIC SHOCK, and BATMAN BEYOND.

It was such a trip to speak with one of the people responsible for some of my all-time favorite stories, most notably BATMAN: MASK OF THE PHANTASM, which I still believe is the best Batman film yet, animation, live-action or otherwise.

12th Level Intellects // recap

About a year ago, I participated in an extensive discussion with James Strecker on fan theories regarding the DC Animated Universe (or DCAU, if you will) which was a series of interlocking cartoons that began in 1992 with BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES and concluded in 2006 with JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED. The DCAU started one of the first shared universes, a concept that Marvel Studios has now popularized over the last decade.

Since the DCAU experienced such a lengthy run with spin-offs like STATIC SHOCK and BATMAN BEYOND, these versions of DC Comics’ classic characters were truly streamlined to the bare essentials that made them work without all the baggage of 75 years of comic book history. Because of this, some characters were occasionally taken into new, unfamiliar territory, such as the romance between Green Lantern and Hawkgirl as well as a glimpse into the twilight years of Batman’s career.

The DCAU never ceased to surprise even long term fans of the characters and the internet took it upon itself to push the realm of possibility even further. The aforementioned discussion on these fan theories became the 12TH LEVEL INTELLECTS podcast, a continuing segment featured on the WATCHTOWER DATABASE YouTube channel, named for a term in the DCAU meant to describe the smartest beings in the universe. That would naturally be the hosts of the podcast.

We’ve discussed various ideas such as whether the Teen Titans belong to this universe, if Gear and Brainiac bonded to create a lineage in the far future, if villains such as Harley Quinn, the Scarecrow, Penguin, or Lock-Up ever had children, and the possibility that the Justice Leaguer Warhawk was actually the son of Hawkman rather than Green Lantern, among so many more discussions to come over the next few months.

Our biggest success was the Harley Quinn video, linked below, which went viral shortly after the premiere of David Ayer’s SUICIDE SQUAD. As of this writing, the video has gathered over 160,000 views on YouTube and countless comments debating who was actually the father of Harley’s children. Expect additional installments of the 12TH LEVEL INTELLECTS podcast at least once a month as it does take a moment to splice together such a video essay.