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.
In the latest batch of Trivia Tuesday videos hosted by the Watchtower Database, I provide narration and reveal a few more facts about little known topics within the DC Animated Universe. The goal is to transition between episodes with the next subject loosely connected to the previous. Research is provided by James Strecker.
These episodes look at voice actors who worked on both BATMAN and SUPERMAN animation, Efrem Zimbalist, Jr.’s character career, Zorro’s inspiration for DC’s western hero El Diablo, who had a namesake in the SUICIDE SQUAD feature film but not the censored group in JLU, and a list of SUPER-FRIENDS nods in the DCAU.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
12th Level Intellects, the bi-weekly geek entertainment podcast hosted by James Strecker and myself, is now available for streaming and download over iTunes!
The podcast will continue to retain its affiliation with the Watchtower Database YouTube channel where all episodes will be uploaded per usual. The iTunes platform will allow for a smoother streaming experience on mobile devices, especially since iOS users already have the Podcast app included on their phones. Be sure to subscribe, give us a 5-star rating, and write a review if you feel inclined.
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.
With episode #6 scheduled on New Years Day, we decided to run an interview that we conducted a few months ago with Scott Peterson, editor on THE BATMAN ADVENTURES and writer on BATMAN GOTHAM ADVENTURES, both ancillary comics series to the legendary BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES. Peterson has worked on countless other projects in the comics realm, and his interview is well worth the listen for its inspiration and look behind the initial creative process.
For episode #8, we appropriately discussed STAR WARS, EPISODE VIII: THE LAST JEDI. I must admit that I was a little rusty since I had only watched it once, and it had been a few weeks since my viewing, but James and I managed to cover the gist. There were aspects to both appreciate and critique, from the production to the plot. When you get down to it, Mark Hamill’s return to playing Luke Skywalker was a big deal, whether you thought director Rian Johnson approached that correctly or not, an argument that will be sure to permeate among fandom for years.
Another guest joined the show for episode #9 where we discussed the Marvel Cinematic Universe with Jesse Dellea, a rabid MCU fan who digests every piece of content you can find from MARVEL. We talked about recent films like last year’s SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING and GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2, NETFLIX series THE DEFENDERS and THE PUNISHER, content on other channels such as AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. and RUNAWAYS, as well as shows from FOX’s X-MEN universe like LEGION and GIFTED. The future looks bright for MARVEL as they prep for INFINITY WAR and beyond to phase 4, which could possibly be fantastic.
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.
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 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.