12th Level Intellects: Mar-June ’19

12th Level Intellects— the geek news podcast co-hosted by myself, Ted Kendrick, and James Strecker– is continuing steadily forward on its bi-weekly schedule with the Watchtower Database, available for listen on Apple, YouTube, and several other podcast platforms. Ironically for this batch of episodes, we lived in a world where superhero cinema received two Captain Marvel movies in one month; the Marvel Studios entry with Brie Larson and DC Entertainment’s SHAZAM!, though the character stopped using the name Captain Marvel within the last decade.

We took a swerve in topic to discuss the launch of GAME OF THRONES season 8 with my friend and GOT expert John Morse, which ended up getting one of the lowest listening counts in the podcast’s history. I suppose the audience didn’t transfer into wanting to hear us talk about GAME OF THRONES. The rest of the world didn’t seem satisfied with how season 8 ultimately played out either. After that flop of an episode, we stuck to discussing AVENGERS: ENDGAME and going through THE NEW BATMAN ADVENTURES episodes like the fanbase truly wants.

X-MEN: DARK PHOENIX was the final chapter in FOX’s X-MEN franchise after its acquisition by Disney, the film landed with a more expensive flop after an attempt to recreate the same storyline from X-MEN: THE LAST STAND, regarded by many to be the worst installment of the series. On a more positive note, 12th Level Intellects tried its first livestream video podcast, which went pretty well after about 15 minutes of technical difficulties, to chat about the release of the latest LEGACIES OF THE DCAU webcomic issue, “Anno Domini: Prebirth”, the first installment of stories set specifically in the canonical year of 2019 in the DCAU.

LEGACIES Special // “Prebirth”

LEGACIES OF THE DCAU returns for a special six-pager entitled “Anno Domini: Prebirth”. Anno Domini means “the year of our lord” in Latin, which informs the AD in our society’s current calendar listing. The issue was released on June 21st, 2019, which the Watchtower Database team deduced was the exact canonical date that Bruce Wayne retires from being Batman based on a BATMAN BEYOND promotional comic issue retelling the events of the cartoon’s premiere episode “Rebirth, Part 1.” The issue was pencilled by Marcelo Millicay with the cover art by Rick Celis.

“Prebirth” occurs prior to the opening scene in BATMAN BEYOND’s first episode, and reveals what Bruce Wayne was doing mere hours before his final night as Batman. Between appearances by Jim Gordon, Veronica Vreeland, and Derek Powers, the issue is ripe with Gothamites whose stories could use a little more fleshing out before the beginning of BATMAN BEYOND. The issue was an absolute pleasure for me to write, and can be read online in its entirety at the link below.

Click the cover to read “Anno Domini: Prebirth”!

This particular issue of LEGACIES had various coloring duties shared by James Strecker and Mark Daniel Martinez, lettering by myself which insures my script stays in tact, with story editing input from James Strecker and Mattie Washburn. The promo video also featured music by Adam Mullen. “Anno Domini” is the overarching title given to special issues set within the year 2019. Provided all goes to plan, expect more chapters within the “Anno Domini” arc before the year is up.

Watchtower Database at ECCC ’19

The Watchtower Database met in Seattle during Emerald City Comic Con which occurred from March 14th through the 17th. The production team involves myself Ted Kendrick, James Strecker, and Mattie Washburn. Our YouTube channel is known for its video content such as the DCAU video essays, “Vanishing Point” timeline analysis show, “12th Level Intellects” podcast, “Legacies of the DCAU” webcomic, and “Graphic Content” comic book recommendation series.

We managed to conduct several interviews with writers and artists who were all loosely creatively involved in some capacity with the DC Animated Universe, the shared world and continuity that includes the likes of BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES, JUSTICE LEAUGE UNLIMITED, and STATIC SHOCK. We made connections with Will Friedle who provided the voice of Terry McGinnis, the hero of BATMAN BEYOND, which should lead to an exciting upcoming interview. Stayed tuned.

The gathering was a productive and celebratory experience, essentially a creative summit for the content creators. My wallet whined after an excessive stack of signed comics, but my heart was full from a super-charged weekend with cherished collaborators. Our series of interview videos from the convention floor are available to view on the Watchtower Database channel and embedded below.

Mattie Washburn and I met previously when he visited Asheville while based out of Savannah, Georgia at the time. He recently moved to Seattle, Washington, and served as the home base while we all met at the convention. James Strecker, who lives near Portland, Oregon, and I had never met in person before, despite being podcast co-hosts, artistic collaborators on the LEGACIES webcomic, and longtime internet friends from a history of shared comic book message boards. It was apparently a moment to document, and I recorded the video vertically like a jerk.

WDb // Trivia Tuesdays conclusion

TRIVIA TUESDAYS WITH TED has come to a close on the Watchtower Database YouTube channel as of February 13th with its 26th episode. Having retained a biweekly schedule, the milestone means that Trivia Tuesdays ran for exactly one entire year. I’m calling it a semi-permanent hiatus because you never know, it might return for a special one-off episode, but the show has mostly ran its course.

The last few episodes focus on DCAU subjects like spider things that coincide with SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE, YOUNG JUSTICE: OUTSIDERS character overlap, LEGO DC Comics movies’ voice actor reprisals, a look at all the times Batman has had a memorable New Year’s Eve, as well as a comparison between BATMAN BEYOND and THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS potential futures for Batman.

The last video sets the stage for my new Watchtower Database segment GRAPHIC CONTENT, where I review comic books and graphic novels that I’ve enjoyed. I’ll be doing a mix of new releases and old favorites, and speaking in front of the camera rather than as an omnipresent narrator, despite how soothing some might find it. (I’ve been told that I have a relaxing voice lately. I’ll take what I can get.) Also need to shoutout the video editor, James Strecker, for somehow stringing together my comic book babbles into cohesive video essays worthy of the YouTube generation.

WDb // website update

The WATCHTOWER DATABASE upgraded its website to serve as more of a landing board for all things related to the channel, including the YouTube video essays, 12TH LEVEL INTELLECTS biweekly geeky podcast, LEGACIES OF THE DCAU webcomic which bridges the gap between the JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED and BATMAN BEYOND animated series, and much more. Check it out at the link below.

http://www.watchtowerdatabase.com

Posted by Watchtower Database on Sunday, November 18, 2018

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.