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.

Trivia Tuesdays with Ted

In an effort to create steady and ongoing content, the Watchtower Database has tapped me for its new Trivia Tuesdays segment. Every other week, we release a one-minute video relating a random fact about the DC Animated Universe, usually pertaining to behind-the-scenes elements such as voice acting or production.

Our first installment was entitled “Tim Drake, Boy Wonder of Many Voices” where we look at the five different voice actors to lend their talents to the second Robin.

Next, we look at Superman and his cheekbones of steel, digging into why Superman’s appearance changed so drastically between his look on SUPERMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES and JUSTICE LEAGUE, and the subsequent redesign for the latter series’ second season, and beyond into JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED.

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.

LEGACIES Special: “Asylum”

The next issue of LEGACIES was released, a special 6-pager titled “Asylum” which was written by myself, pencilled and colored by Marcelo Millicay, composite effects by James Strecker, with a gorgeous cover by Robert Castellano. Serving as a companion to the issue’s release, Strecker animated a 20-second teaser trailer with voice acting from Brizzy Voices as Batgirl and Zizzoro as Killer Croc.

“Asylum” is set in Gotham City, shortly after Darkseid’s siege destroyed Arkham Asylum off-screen, resulting in the early release of its inmates with Robin and Batgirl the only ones around to clean up the mess. I thought it was important to put all of Batman’s villains back on the table for LEGACIES after they were noticeably missing in the JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED animated series due to the studio imposed Bat-embargo. Many familiar Bat-villains will return in future installments. 

Click the cover to read LEGACIES!

“Asylum” was originally written as the first half of issue #5, but we split the issue into two 6-page specials instead. Expect the next special entitled “Powers That Be” to follow up on similar plot threads that will continue to unfold over the series.

LEGACIES #3: “Destroyed, Part 2”

After a few months of prep work, James Strecker and I released our latest issue of LEGACIES OF THE DCAU on Saturday, February 25th. Issue #3 is the second part of the “Destroyed” story arc which takes place days after the conclusion of JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED in response to the series’ final episode “Destroyer.”

After an international black-ops agency called Checkmate launch a revenge strike against the planet Apokolips, they realize the necessary devastation would affect its innocent neighbor of New Genesis as well, something seen as the wrong move.

The last issue had too many talking heads, so I wanted to ramp up the action for this installment, especially in regards to the Fourth World characters and concepts created by Jack Kirby, the King of Comics himself. Peacemaker and Agent Chase were also fun to include, though a bit of a gamble since neither character appeared in any of the animated series source material, but I believe readers were genuinely interested by their presence in the chess themed spy agency Checkmate.

This issue was also my first attempt at lettering a comic book. James walked me through the motions at first, and after a few weeks of close attention, I think I got the hang of the procedure pretty well. I enjoyed the process and plan to continue in the future, both on this webcomic as well as my other work in the medium.

Click the cover to read LEGACIES #3!

Issue #4 is in production now, along with a few smaller side stories that could be published more sporadically between main issues. I’m sure I’ll be speaking more about these in detail as they continue to come together. If you enjoyed reading LEGACIES, let us know by commenting on one of our various social media pages!

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.

12th Level Intellects on TEEN TITANS

Over the last year, I’ve been heavily involved with the WATCHTOWER DATABASE, a specialty YouTube channel focused on the DC Animated Universe, a series of interlocking television shows that ran from the early 1990s with BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES to the mid-2000s with JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED. The DC Animated Universe (or DCAU, if you will) is notable for being one of the first major shared universes, a concept only recently made popular by Marvel Studios. The DCAU remains dear in my heart to this day thanks to its mature storytelling, top notch direction, and stellar A-list voice talent.

12TH LEVEL INTELLECTS, a term from the DCAU used to describe some of the smartest people in the universe, is also a series of podcast discussions by myself and webmaster / editor James Strecker where we nitpick certain hot topics from the DCAU. Most of the time, this entails dissecting fan theories. Around the end of July 2016, James and I were joined by Mattie Washburn, who is known for his comprehensive DCAU Timeline Tumblr page, for a special installment of 12TH LEVEL INTELLECTS where we discussed whether the TEEN TITANS animated series belongs in the same universe as the rest of the DCAU.

Despite differences in animation and whatnot, there was evidence on both sides of the argument. Though to be fair, we definitely entered the conversation planning to debunk the theory from the start. The three of us spoke for nearly an hour and a half, yet somehow James was able to dissect 15 minutes of compelling conversation into an interesting and highly informational video. At the time of this post, the discussion has gathered nearly 1000 views over the span of a week. Not too shabby for a such a niche YouTube channel!