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.

WDb // Trivia Tuesdays (cont’d)

A few Tuesdays have passed, and with them, new episodes of my Trivia Tuesdays segment on the Watchtower Database channel on YouTube. I narrate a fact related to the DC Animated Universe, such as easter eggs or behind-the-scenes info on cast and crew. Clips and pics are edited in accompaniment by James Strecker and Mark Daniel Martinez. All are roughly one minute long, and drop every other week.

First, we take a walk on the dark side, and dive into the similarities between the SUPERMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES episode “Legacy” and SUPERMAN: THE DARK SIDE graphic novel from the Elseworlds imprint. Both stories feature a Superman who never grew up on Earth, but was raised by Darkseid on Apokilips instead.

Next, we analyze the actors who have portrayed DC Comics characters in both the DC Animated Universe and CBS’ THE FLASH from the early 1990s. Most notably would be Mark Hamill, who played the Trickster on THE FLASH, and also reprised the character in JLU. Hamill also played Solomon Grundy in JUSTICE LEAGUE, and his most famous role as the Joker, which Hamill has provided for over twenty years.

Last, we look at BATMAN: THE LOST YEARS, which was a comic book tie-in to the BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES. Several chapters of the series were later produced as episodes of THE NEW BATMAN ADVENTURES. Though the art from THE LOST YEARS used designs from the previous incarnation of the series, the comic was actually based off scripts for the show, and not the other way around.

SUICIDE SQUAD Podcast Review

Last month, I was a guest on JTS Entertainment‘s “Pleasantries” where I discussed SUICIDE SQUAD, the newest entry in DC Entertainment’s budding cinematic superhero universe featuring Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn, Will Smith’s Deadshot, Jared Leto’s Joker, among an assembly of all-star actors.

Between myself and the host, James Strecker, being fans of the source material, we spent a lot of time nerding out over what was faithful and what wasn’t. It’s a lengthy conversation with a silly intro skit but fun times all around. I gave the film a 7/10 because I left the theater with such a sense of enjoyment, though as someone with an eye for cinema, I’ll be the first to admit there were problems with character development and pacing that deserved the scathing reviews it received from critics.

Personally, I suspect I’m too invested with the DC Universe to approach their characters objectively and without bias. For 2 hours and 10 minutes last month, I was simply happy to be alive in a world where I get to see characters like Deadshot, Harley Quinn, Killer Croc, Captain Boomerang, and Katana on the silver screen rather than the funny pages.