Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Legend/Blackout | Batman Black & White Motion Comics | vlog #10

"Legend" - By Walter Simonson. The legend of Batman as interpreted by a mother to her son in a futuristic Gotham.

"Blackout" - Written by Howard Chaykin, art by Jordi Bernet ("An Elseworlds tale, occurring in 1943"[5]) (Originally published in Gotham Knights #9). Batman encounters Catwoman stealing from Albion Price, who, she claims, is a Nazi spy. Incredulous, Batman stakes Price out and discovers that she was telling the truth. They take him down together, but Batman still doesn't allow her to get away with the Nazi's stash of diamonds

You can see all of my animated Batman series vlogs at: http://www.youtube.com/user/Chad9976/videos?view=50&shelf_id=8&sort=dd

Monday, December 30, 2013

In Dreams/Heroes | Batman Black & White Motion Comics | vlog #9

"In Dreams" - Written by Andrew Helfer, art by Tanino Liberatore. A woman seeks help for her recurring nightmares involving Batman.

"Heroes" - Written by Archie Goodwin, art by Gary Gianni (This story won an Eisner Award). A boy in World War II-era Gotham has a run-in with the Batman and learns something about his own father in the process.

You can see all of my animated Batman series vlogs at: http://www.youtube.com/user/Chad9976/videos?view=50&shelf_id=8&sort=dd

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Hands/Sunrise | Batman Black & White Motion Comics | vlog #8

"Hands" - Written by Scott Peterson, art by Danijel Zezelj (Originally published in Gotham Knights #31). Highlights two under-explored sides of Batman, those of forensic investigator and granter of absolution. Batman discovers an old death, and has to decide the path of least heartache when conveying the results of his investigation into the death of a young child to her surviving family.

"Sunrise" - Written by Alex Garland, art by Sean Phillips (Originally published in Gotham Knights #39). An elderly Gothamite encounters a recovering Batman, and muses on the importance of memories, mementos and the privileges and responsibilities of old age.

You can see all of my animated Batman series vlogs at: http://www.youtube.com/user/Chad9976/videos?view=50&shelf_id=8&sort=dd

Saturday, December 28, 2013

2013 vlog #12 | A Year In The Life of Chad

It's time for my annual recap of all the significant things that happened to me. 2013 was a pretty eventful year (as you can probably infer from the length of this vlog).

Did new videos showing off my collections: comics, video games
I got all these Think Geek iPhone accessories for Christmas. But they all sucked, so I started a review show which I intended to be an ongoing thing, but I gave it up after three or four episodes.
24 - Dogfish Head beer dinner at the Factory Eatery
26 & 27 - the Ruck's winter homebrew competition. I judged.

10 - the bud light platinum challenge
13 - ABC tries mama mia pizza beer
14 - Mahar's closed
16 - winter bottleshare at my house
19 - started P90X
20 - Beer dinner at Druthers
26 - Wild Game beer Dinner at Pump Station
Travelled to Virginia
bought a kegerator

16 - Heady topper vs Pliny blind taste test
17 - Guinness Gauntlet challenge
25 - start working from home

3 - KBS in bottles arrives
9 - 100% Beer Advocate free
12 - Chuck Miller and I try the Cult Moo McDonald's 10 Hamburger challenge
13 - KBS bottle vs draught
19 - started blogging for the TU Beer Nut blog
20 - met Scott veltman in person at the hudson valley hops beer fest
24 - had my fat frozen
27-28 TAP NY Beer Fest

12 - ran 19 miles on the treadmill
22 - finished P90X
26 - hosted beer tasting panel at the Hudson Berkshire Wine & food Festival

22 - Beer Diviner's taproom opening (ABC tabled)

1 - got corrected by Greg Koch
7 - Shmaltz grand opening
13 - Ruck's summer homebrew competition
26-28 Beer Bloggers Conference
31 - took first place the Sunshine Fair

6 - hit 1000 likes on facebook
13 - my nephew Luke born
18 - Stone Coconut R&R IPA
21 - book deal announced
25 - start my daily Batman TAS vlogs
27 - Retroist video podcast (pilot)
29 - second anniversary with my company
30 - ate a homebrew habanero

Sold my kegerator
6 - shaved my beard
8 - the great macro lager showdown
14 - interview with John Richards of the beer Hunter Movie
30 - started reviewing Y The Last Man with Peter

5 - epic bottleshare at Jason's house
11 - Chad'z Beer Reviews turns 5 years old
12 - met Matt Stewart in person at Albany Pump Station
16 - started writing for the TU Comic book Blog

1 - stopped shaving my chin
9 - judged KBOTB
16 - ran 15 miles (longest run outdoors)
18 - banned on beer advocate 2 year annivesary
23 - ran 17 miles
24 - interviewed Scott Veltman at Ommegang. Drank and reviewed Westy 12
29 - reviewed Batman Mask of the Phantasm with Rob Walker

1 - brewed beer with Scott
12 - finished Batman TAS vlogs
20 - destroyed a troll
29 - bottled homebrewed

Monsters in the Closet/A Game of Bat and Rat | Batman Black & White Motion Comics | vlog #7

"Monsters in the Closet" - Written by Jan Strnad, art by Kevin Nowlan. Batman uncovers a mad scientist in Gotham and his abominable creations.

"A Game of Bat and Rat" - Written by John Arcudi, art by John Buscema (Originally published in Gotham Knights #7). A bunch of low-lives think they witness the death of the Batman, but a derelict claims that he saw Batman climb out of Gotham River and make his way to a warehouse, badly injured. Thet decide to make his death a reality, and find themselves under attack from an uninjured Batman. When their leader confronts the derelict, claiming that he deliberately set them up, the derelict admits that this is true - he is Batman in disguise, after all.

You can see all of my animated Batman series vlogs at: http://www.youtube.com/user/Chad9976/videos?view=50&shelf_id=8&sort=dd

Friday, December 27, 2013

I'll Be Watching/The Call | Batman Black & White Motion Comics | vlog #6

"I'll Be Watching" - Written by Ed Brubaker, art by Ryan Sook (Originally published in Gotham Knights #41). The janitor at Sprang Hall, Gotham's juvenile correctional facility, recalls the event that set him on his path to redemption and sees the guiding presence of Batman as a perpetual and comforting reminder of his new life. Meanwhile, Batman's inspirational second-chance offer is shown to be neither unique nor forgotten.

"The Call" - Written by Mark Schultz, art by Claudio Castellini (Originally published in Gotham Knights #19). Even when nothing is left to chance, accidents can happen. When the situation is desperate, Batman knows he can rely on someone even better equipped to deal with impossible situations than he is. Highlighting the differences between - and need for both - Batman and Superman in the DC Universe, while maintaining an implausibly high success rate, Bruce ultimately acknowledges that even one mistake is one too many.

You can see all of my animated Batman series vlogs at: http://www.youtube.com/user/Chad9976/videos?view=50&shelf_id=8&sort=dd

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Night After Night/Perpetual Mourning | Batman Black & White Motion Comics | vlog #5

"Night After Night" - Written by Kelley Puckett, art by Tim Sale (New material). Bruce recalls the murder of his parents every night, and uses it as his drive for Batman to stop the Joker.

You can watch this episode online at: http://youtu.be/Z5Kbh84rBg

"Perpetual Mourning" - By Ted McKeever (This story was nominated for an Eisner Award). Batman conducts an autopsy on a murder victim to help find her killer.

You can watch this episode online at: http://youtu.be/E-1-Dkq6L-U

You can see all of my animated Batman series vlogs at: http://www.youtube.com/user/Chad9976/videos?view=50&shelf_id=8&sort=dd

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Good Evening, Midnight/Hide and Seek | Batman Black & White Motion Comics | vlog #4

"Good Evening, Midnight" - By Klaus Janson. Alfred reads a note Thomas Wayne had written long ago for his son.

You can watch this episode online here: http://youtu.be/S5B2-Vhdp_0

"Hide and Seek" - Written by Paul Levitz, art by Paul Rivoche (Originally published in Gotham Knights #5). At the scene of a train wreck which may well be the result of malice rather than an accident, Batman seizes on the smallest of clues to follow someone's trail through the train system and up into the light. Here he finds a small boy and reassures him that he is now safe, telling him that he knows what it's like to be young and lost.

You can watch this episode online here: http://youtu.be/bRgbwmAk10k

You can see all of my animated Batman series vlogs at: http://www.youtube.com/user/Chad9976/videos?view=50&shelf_id=8&sort=dd

"Wanted: Santa Claus - Dead or Alive!" by Frank Miller

dc-holiday-special-1980-12Since it's Christmas, I figured this week's blog should be Christmas-themed, and what goes better with Christmas than Batman?

If you've been around comics long enough, no doubt you're familiar with the works of Frank Miller. One of comics' greatest - and most controversial - creators of the Modern Age. He's known for his game-changing masterpieces like Batman: Year One, 300, and Sin City, but his earliest work tends to get overshadowed (unless you're a big Daredevil fan, that is). A lot of people mistakenly think Miller's first Batman story was the landmark Dark Knight Returns, but that's not correct. Back in 1980 he penciled a 10-page short in an obscure Bronze Age title DC Special Series (issue #21, to be exact) called "Wanted: Santa Claus - Dead or Alive!"

dc-holiday-special-1980-14To describe this simply as "a Frank Miller Batman comic" really isn't accurate. Miller only provided the pencils for this short. He was inked by Steve Mitchell with colors by Glynnis Wein (though it was later re-colored by Richmond Lewis for the compilation book "The Complete Frank Miller Batman"). The story was written by Dennis "Denny" O'Neil - one of DC's most prolific writers, and one of my personal favorite Batman scribes.

The short is quit typical for a Batman story, especially of the Bronze Age. On Christmas Eve, Batman confronts mobster Matty Lasko, asking him why he's arranged to have a boat in Gotham Harbor that night. After a quick scuffle with Lasko and his goons, Batman learns the boat is for an ex-con named Boomer Katz. He then goes undercover to find out Katz's current location and learns that he's working as a department store Santa Claus. Batman concludes that Katz must be doing this as a way of pulling an inside job robbery, and sure enough his hunch is right. That is, until the Christmas spirit overtakes Katz who then refuses to commit the robbery. His co-conspirators aren't having it, and force him at gunpoint to let them into the store. Batman arrives and ambushes the goons, one of whom escapes with Katz. It ends on what is supposed to be a Dickens-esque note whereby a shining star from a Nativity scene reveals the location of the henchman  just in time for Batman to get the drop on him and save Katz's life. There's even a Biblical quote in the last panel.

wantedaIf you were to read this today without knowing the creative team behind it, you'd probably think "Wanted: Santa Claus - Dead or Alive!" was just another Bronze Age Batman story. And for the most part you'd be right, in my opinion. Though the story and dialogue definitely have Denny O'Neil's signature, the line art looks nothing like the blocky Frank Miller style we're familiar with from Dark Knight Returns, Ronin, or Sin City. Someone better educated in the styles of the time can probably speak to this better than me, so I hope they will in the comments section.

super-star_holiday_specialHowever, that's not to say it isn't a good-looking, stylized comic. While the overall look is rather "standard" comic book-style, I did notice a few interesting, though subtle, features to the art. Miller doesn't layout the panels of every page in a rigid, evenly-spaced format. There's a few borderless panels which really make the action pop on pages 3 and 7. Additionally, page 8 has no gutters between the panels at all, and they're all trapezoidal shaped, rather than straight rectangles (page 10 has a similar look). This is interesting, because Miller's most famous works are known for their grid-like layout to the pages.

If you're a Frank Miller fan or just a Batman fan, "Wanted: Santa Claus - Dead or Alive!" is worth adding to your collection. Believe it or not, DC Special Series #21 isn't all that hot of a back issue. You can pick it up at a comic book store, a convention or on eBay for about $10 or less. Though the version I'd recommend is the re-colored version from "The Complete Frank Miller Batman," but that book is out of print and quite the pricey collector's item these days.
Merry Christmas, everybody!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Black and White Bandit/Punchline | Batman Black & White Motion Comics | vlog #3

"The Black and White Bandit" - By Dave Gibbons (Originally published in Gotham Knights #12). A painter who has lost his sense of color due to toxic paint fumes exacts his revenge in a series of black-and-white themed crimes. However, he is soon fooled by Batman and the police who set up the possibility of stealing the Milan Shroud. Despite disguising himself as a nun, he is apprehended and taken away in a panda car, a concept which reduces him to helpless laughter.

You can watch this episode online at: http://youtu.be/rflnBU_Tm1A

"Punchline" - Written by Doug Alexander, art by Rob Haynes (Originally published in Gotham Knights #30). Told silently, Harley Quinn attempts to trick another criminal out of their ill-gotten gains by inspiring the fear of Batman in them. Her attempts to mimic the Caped Crusader, however, cannot match up to the man himself.

You can watch this episode online at: http://youtu.be/cprQgvfw6o0

You can see all of my animated Batman series vlogs at: http://www.youtube.com/user/Chad9976/videos?view=50&shelf_id=8&sort=dd

Monday, December 23, 2013

Two of a Kind/Case Study | Batman Black & White Motion Comics | vlog #2

"Two of a Kind" - By Bruce Timm. Two-Face has his face reconstructed and is seemingly rehabilitated, but is tempted back to the dark side by a femme fatale.
You can see this episode online at: http://youtu.be/2Dz1hLakegU

"Case Study" - Written by Paul Dini, art by Alex Ross. When the Joker is once again captured and sent to Arkham Asylum, a doctor laments that all of his work has not pierced the Clown Prince of Crime's insanity. Another doctor offers up a report written years ago, which suggests that the reason the Joker cannot be cured is because he is not insane. The report outlines the Joker's history before his accident, and suggests that his "revenge" against Gotham for ruining him is to commit perfectly sane crimes under the guise of madness. The doctors are convinced, but Harleen Quinzel is then escorted past, commenting that she was the one who wrote the report prior to her personal sessions with the Joker. The doctors wearily put the report away, realizing that though it is plausible, its origin renders it worthless - it is just another one of the Joker's sadistic pranks, left where it would someday be found, examined, and ultimately dismissed; a spot of hope crushed just as it shines brightest.
You can see this episode online at: http://youtu.be/27hhPbYKNfo

You can see all of my animated Batman series vlogs at: http://www.youtube.com/user/Chad9976/videos?view=50&shelf_id=8&sort=dd

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Here Be Monsters/Broken Nose | Batman Black & White Motion Comics | vlog #1

"Here Be Monsters" - Written by Paul Grist, art by Darwyn Cooke (Originally published in Gotham Knights #23)
Madame X, attempting to poison Gotham's water supply doses Batman with the toxin, causing him to hallucinate and doubt that he isn't just as monstrous as the villains he pursues. In overcoming the accusation that he himself created the menaces which plague his city, Batman refuses to be corrupted by the villainy which surrounds him.

You can watch this episode online at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L_JdiWhUry8

"Broken Nose" - By Paul Pope (Originally published in Gotham Knights #3)
Alfred treats Bruce Wayne for the first broken nose he has sustained in his career as a crimefighter. It was given him by Mabuse, a 'geek in a trashcan', a suit of armor he made himself. Batman tracks Mabuse down to the scene of his next crime and fights a more creditable fight against him, finally doling out a broken nose once Mabuse has surrendered.

You can watch this episode online at: http://youtu.be/_CPgIW2yt5U

You can see all of my animated Batman series vlogs at: http://www.youtube.com/user/Chad9976/videos?view=50&shelf_id=8&sort=dd

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Y The Last Man: Vlog #10 - Whys and Wherefores

Even the best things come to an end, it's said; for example, with this book, the outstanding serial graphic novel Y: The Last Man. Five years after the sudden death of all male animals except callow but not stupid 21-year-old Yorick Brown and his pet monkey, Ampersand, Yorick is finally reunited with Beth, the fiancée with whom he was talking when the dying started. And with the other Beth, who has borne his daughter in the interim (this is news to him). The reunifications don't really work out, and Yorick decides he loves another—as it happens, too late. Then the story vaults forward 60 years and, in a long denouement strewn with flashbacks, affords glimpses of how all-but-completely-female society has progressed. A few other males have been cloned from Yorick (and Ampersand), and different DNA strands seem to be in the offing. Maybe one day one resulting male won't be sterile. Meanwhile, Yorick is still alive. Maintaining its plain good looks, the epic ends with a satisfyingly capricious whimper. Or is it a laugh? --Ray Olson

Check out Peter's channel at: http://youtube.com/themasterofhoppets

Y: The Last Man (complete series review)

YtheLastMan (1)YtheLastMan (2)Y:The Last Man was a comic book series written by Brian K. Vaughan and mostly penciled by Pia Guerra, with all inks by Jose Marzan, Jr. It was published by DC Comics under their "Vertigo Comics" banner. It launched in 2002 and concluded in 2008 after running 60 issues which are collected in ten trade paperback volumes.

The premise of the story is that every male mammal on the planet drops dead at the exact same moment, except for our main protagonist Yorick Brown and his pet monkey Ampersand. Yorick is a 20-something slacker and wiseacre who had been attempting to become a professional escape artist and magician (a skill set that will serve him well throughout the series). When "The Plague" hits, he does everything he can to stay alive. Fortunately for him, his mother is a Congresswoman with access to plenty of Federal privileges. He's assigned a bodyguard known only as Agent 355, a member of the mysterious Culper Ring. They begin an arduous Lord Of The Rings-style journey to determine why he was the only surviving man and also attempt to save the human race by cloning him. It's a quest that will take the main characters on a five-year journey around the world, all the while running into perilous situations. That plot summary probably doesn't do this series justice because it's a lot more complicated than that. It's like describing The Walking Dead simply as "a bunch of people trying to survive a zombie apocalypse."

YtheLastMan (7)This is the only dystopian-based story I know of that has a caveat to its cataclysmic event. Though I think it's a bit unfair to describe it as a dystopian fantasy since the story is told so earnestly. It's not intended to be science fiction or horror, but rather a drama that just happens to take place in a dystopian setting. Of course, there's a lot of action, adventure and suspense involved as well (plus a good amount of comedy).

YtheLastMan (5)It's clear early on that Brian K. Vaughan didn't set out just to write another post-apocalyptic sci-fi thriller. Y:The Last Man is a character-first story with the history and personality quirks of all the major characters fleshed out in detail. They all seem like they could be real people; they're not just stock characters. The dialogue and discussions flow extremely smooth and realistically. Nothing comes across as forced or trite.

Vaughan doesn't just make stuff up for the sake of fiction, he's clearly done tremendous research on all the topics covered throughout the book's run. So much of what happens and what's discussed is based on reality, from Yorick's pop culture trivia to Agent 355's lessons on global politics and history. I Googled a lot of the claims made in the story and they checked out.

YtheLastMan (6)Additionally, the art throughout the entire series is beautiful. I really admire Pia Guerra's style, as it walks a fine line between realism and cartoony. She has a clean look to her work, with the majority of her focus spent on characters. Though she can draw good-looking backgrounds and inanimate objects, the subject of pretty much every panel is a character.

YtheLastMan (3)Special mention should be made of Goran Sudžuka and Paul Chadwick who penciled several issues. I'm not sure why Guerra didn't work on every issue, though the guest artists are perfect substitutes because their styles are so similar to hers. I'm not sure if that's a coincidence or if they were intentionally emulating her. Inker Jose Marzen Jr. seems to remain faithful to the pencillers' work, and is probably what accounts for the consistent look of the series.

I did notice that the book had a slightly monolithic approach to its coloring, whereby entire spreads would have one or two colors dominating the palette with just a few additional colors for details. The series is computer-colored, which makes it attractive to the eye, though it's missing a certain je ne sais quoi factor that comes with hand-colored pages.

I could go on about what makes this series so great, but then this blog post would turn into a dissertation of sorts (and I wouldn't doubt that you could write a dissertation on this series - it's that complex and intriguing). If you're familiar with works like Neil Gaiman's Sandman or Grant Morrison's Animal Man, you know it's not really fair to try to summarize and critique an epic series like this as a whole. Y:The Last Man is best discussed volume-by-volume and that's exactly how I approached it.
YtheLastMan (4)I reviewed one trade paperback per week via Skype with my friend Peter in Denmark. We treated it as a video podcast, rather than a formal review show, wherein we'd summarize the plot of that week's book and then talk about what we liked and things we noticed. We'd try to delve into some philosophical viewpoints, themes, motifs, and other stuff that only English major nerds like ourselves would ever discuss.

You can see all 10 episodes of our conversations below (NOTE: If you're not familiar with the series, I'd strongly advise against watching any of our videos until you've read the books yourself. There are spoilers galore.)

Friday, December 13, 2013

Batman: The Animated Series (complete series review)

1992-BatmanTheAnimatedSeries-keyartIf you grew up in the 1980s and 90s you were probably exposed to a lot of memorable animated shows. I've always had fond memories of cartoons like G.I. Joe, Transformers, He-Man, Thundercats, etc. The only problem is that when I go back and watch them as an adult they aren't nearly as good as I remember. In fact, many are just plain bad (though "cheesy" might be the more apropos descriptor). The glaring exception to this would be Batman: The Animated Series.

batman-villans-batman-the-animated-seriesThe show debuted in the fall of 1992, on the heels of Batman Returns. I had been into comics for about two years at that point and had been reading Batman and other DC characters pretty intensely. Frank Miller's Year One and The Dark Knight Returns blew me away and made me realize how powerful the medium of comics could be and what a great character Batman was. I didn't like either of Tim Burton's Batman movies that much (and still don't), and wondered why there couldn't be a movie or TV show that portrayed Batman the way I envisioned him. So when Batman: The Animated Series debuted, I was thrilled because it was the most faithful adaptation of Batman that I have ever seen.

I remember getting goosebumps the first time I saw the opening sequence. The opening is clearly an homage to the Max Fleischer Superman cartoons from the 1940s. There's no dialogue or lyrics, just music and action. Even though it's 60 seconds long, it works the same way a movie would. A setting is established (and what a beautiful, stylized setting it is), villains are introduced and a story engages. Batman drops in from the shadows, action ensues, and the conflict is resolved with the feeling that justice has been served. It's so much fun to watch because it's just good guy versus bad guy at the core, but the execution of it is anything but bare bones. Consider that the theme music is by Danny Elfman, who also composed the score to the Tim Burton movies. His approach is exactly the same with its sincerity and drama. There's nothing about the tone indicating that this is simply a show for children. My only complaint about the opening would be how it ends with Batman standing on a rooftop in an obvious god-like pose with a lightning bolt in the background. It's awesome the first time you see it, but after that it seems a little corny and forced.

Harley QuinnBatman: The Animated Series aired locally on Fox 23 weekdays at 5pm. In the winter, when the sun set at 4:30, I would turn off all the lights and watch it in the dark for a cinematic effect. Those were the days.

But what was it about the show that made it so good? Well, there's a lot of reasons for that. First and foremost, it didn't take a dumbed-down approach just because it was a cartoon. If you compare Batman: The Animated Series to previous generations of superhero cartoons like Super Friends, you'll see there's a world of difference in the maturity of their stories, the darker atmosphere, and the quality of animation.
Secondly, it stayed true to its roots with many episodes done as near verbatim adaptations of individual comic books. You didn't have to have read the comics to follow the episode, but if you were familiar with them it made the show even better because you knew it was being produced by comic book fans and not just executives trying to launch a toy line.

Thirdly, it was a great mixture of the action and adventure you want in a Batman story, but kept in check by the light-hearted nature of a cartoon. In fact, many of the episodes were pure straight-up comedies and really funny, witty comedies at that (the Joker and Harley Quinn were comic gold).

Lastly, the voice actors weren't just reading lines but were true actors that could emote. Kevin Conroy was perfect as Bruce Wayne/Batman as he knew how to speak with grit and seriousness without going overboard (Christian Bale should've emulated his style). Mark Hamill was absolutely sublime as the Joker. That voice was always the voice I heard in my head whenever I read the comics and is still the voice I hear today, even though the cartoon Joker isn't quite as viscous as his comic book counterpart. Plenty of celebrities guest starred and took their roles as seriously as any live action part. It's also interesting hearing performances of some people who weren't well known at the time, but are pretty big names now (Ron Perlman as the voice of Clayface being the best example).

Earlier this year I undertook a mission to watch and review every episode of Batman: The Animated Series, The Adventures of Batman & Robin, and The New Batman Adventures. Beginning on August 25th I recorded a vlog of my thoughts on each episode and uploaded them to YouTube daily. I even had some guest reviewers. I finished the run on December 12th, and I'm proud to say that I never missed a day.

JokerMHBTASWhat was most fun about this project was these shows were just as good as I remember. While not every episode was absolutely amazing, the series as a whole was consistently high in quality. Watching it now through the eyes of an adult, I can tell it was aimed at a younger audience. Still, those three series took the Pixar-like approach of making what should be children's entertainment fun for all ages.
There have been several Batman cartoon shows since the last episode aired in 1999, and I plan on reviewing all of them, too. It's hard to believe they could equate or surpass the first three series from the 90s, but who knows. There are also a few animated films based on the series I plan on reviewing, as well as several movies based on the comics. I'll try to put together a list of the best episodes at some point.

Here's links to my vlogs on YouTube. I'd love to hear your thoughts on these shows. It's always fun to converse with fellow fans of the genre.

SEE ALSO: Batman Movie Month | Batman: Mask of the Phantasm
Batman: The Animated Series (65 episodes)
The Adventures of Batman & Robin (20 episodes)
The New Batman Adventures (24 episodes)

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Judgement Day | The New Batman Adventures | vlog #24

A mysterious new vigilante dressed as a judge appears in Gotham City. But this is no ordinary judge for he targets the rogues' gallery of villains with vicious fury. Batman is the only one person who must discover the Judge's identity and stop him before he crosses the line.
Originally aired: 10/31/1998
Written by: Rich Fogel & Alan Burnett
Directed by: Curt Geda

You can watch this episode online at: http://dubbed-scene.com/new-batman-adventures-episode-24-judgment-day

You can see all of my animated Batman series vlogs at: http://www.youtube.com/user/Chad9976/videos?view=50&shelf_id=8&sort=dd

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Beware the Creeper | The New Batman Adventures | vlog #23

Exposure to a weird mixture of chemicals, including the Joker's laughing gas, changes straitlaced newsman Jack Ryder into the crazed Creeper. He looks to kill the Joker, and develops a much unwanted crush on Harley.
Originally aired: 11/7/1998
Written by: Steve Gerber
Directed by: Dan Riba

You can watch this episode online at: http://dubbed-scene.com/new-batman-adventures-episode-23-beware-creeper

You can see all of my animated Batman series vlogs at: http://www.youtube.com/user/Chad9976/videos?view=50&shelf_id=8&sort=dd

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Chemistry | The New Batman Adventures | vlog #22

Bruce Wayne, along with other wealthy denizens of Gotham, fall in love with their ideal mate, who all happen to have green eyes. Bruce decides to marry, and gives up being Batman forever. However, an old enemy's latest plot is being set into motion...
Originally aired: 10/24/1998
Written by: Stan Berkowitz
Directed by: Butch Lukic

You can watch this episode online at: http://dubbed-scene.com/new-batman-adventures-episode-22-chemistry

You can see all of my animated Batman series vlogs at: http://www.youtube.com/user/Chad9976/videos?view=50&shelf_id=8&sort=dd

Monday, December 9, 2013

Mad Love | The New Batman Adventures | vlog #21

Harley reflects on her first meeting with the Joker as she plots to eliminate her main competition in his attentions -- Batman. She captures the Dark Knight and she wants to gain Joker's favor by doing away with him. But of course, the crazy clown's massive ego would never allow anyone else the "honor" of doing away with his mortal enemy.
Originally aired: 1/16/1999
Written by: Paul Dini & Bruce Timm
Directed by: Butch Lukic

You can watch this episode online at: http://dubbed-scene.com/node/10040

You can see all of my animated Batman series vlogs at: http://www.youtube.com/user/Chad9976/videos?view=50&shelf_id=8&sort=dd

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Girls' Night Out | The New Batman Adventures | vlog #20

Livewire escapes during a prison transfer and wreaks havoc in Gotham. She also joins forces with Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn. With Batman and Superman away, Batgirl and Supergirl must team up to face the terrible trio and bring them to justice.
Note: This episode is the first, and only, of the Batman/Superman crossovers to take place the batman animated series. Many fans do not consider this a part of the season.
Originally aired: 10/17/1998
Written by: Hilary J. Bader
Directed by: Curt Geda

You can watch this episode online at: http://dubbed-scene.com/new-batman-adventures-episode-20-girls-night-out

You can see all of my animated Batman series vlogs at: http://www.youtube.com/user/Chad9976/videos?view=50&shelf_id=8&sort=dd

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Legends of the Dark Knight | The New Batman Adventures | vlog #19

A group of Gotham City youths tell their stories about what they believe the Dark Knight to really be like. One story is reminiscent of the style of 1940s Batman artist Dick Sprang. A second is inspired by Frank Miller's 1986 limited series The Dark Knight Returns.
Originally aired: 10/10/1998
Written by: Robert Goodman & Bruce Timm
Directed by: Curt Geda

You can watch this episode online at: http://dubbed-scene.com/new-batman-adventures-episode-19-legends-dark-knight

You can see all of my animated Batman series vlogs at: http://www.youtube.com/user/Chad9976/videos?view=50&shelf_id=8&sort=dd

Friday, December 6, 2013

The Demon Within | The New Batman Adventures | vlog #18

Batman and Robin assist occultist Jason Blood when Klarion the Witch-boy takes control of Blood's alter-ego, Etrigan the Demon.
This episode was the final performance of actor Stephen Wolfe Smith (Klarion), who died shortly afterwards.
Originally aired: 5/9/1998
Written by: Rusti Bjornhoel & Stan Berkowitz
Directed by: Atsuko Tanaka

You can watch this episode online at: http://dubbed-scene.com/new-batman-adventures-episode-18-demon-within

You can see all of my animated Batman series vlogs at: http://www.youtube.com/user/Chad9976/videos?view=50&shelf_id=8&sort=dd

"Violent Cases" by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean

2013 hardcover edition with new coloring by Dave McKean
There's a lot more to comic books than tights 'n fights, and probably two of the best creators to prove this are Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean. Though I don't consider myself a fan of the fantasy/magic/paranormal genre, I've always found Gaiman's stories and McKean's artwork to be fascinating. There was a point where I would buy any comic either worked on, though much of their older and more obscure work like Violent Cases always alluded me.

Yesterday I was at Aquilona Comics in Troy browsing the graphic novel section when this brand new hardcover re-issue caught my eye. This comic was originally published in 1987 by Escape Books and, as far as I can tell, was never widely distributed in the United States despite being re-issued in 1991 and 2003. This brand new edition features re-coloring by McKean in an oversized hardcover format that includes plenty of extras. You'd have no idea this book is actually 26 years old if you were to judge it by the glorious packaging.
Left: 2013 re-colored edition. Right: original 1987 edition.
page 6I wasn't entirely sure of the premise, though going by the name, the cover, and vague recollection, I thought it was some kind of crime noir story. If you're familiar with Gaiman's comic writing you know he rarely tells a story from Point A to Point B, nor is he too concerned with executing a plot. He delves into the surreal and the abstract, focusing more on mood and characters to the point of intimacy. And there's no artist better than Dave McKean to bring his words to life. It's almost a metaphysical experience.

page7So what is this book actually about? Well, the entire story is told as a flashback by a man who looks suspiciously like Neil Gaiman in his 20s or 30s. He's an Englishman reminiscing about when he was a little boy and he hurt his arm. His doctor, or osteopath as he's constantly referred, was Al Capone's osteopath in his heyday. Even though the story is narrated by an adult, he's able to convincingly tell the tale through the eyes of an adolescent. He describes nearly everything in detail, from the look on the faces of people, to the outfit he was wearing at the time.

Violent_Cases_p40The unnamed narrator was quite inquisitive as a child and recalls wanting to know everything about this Al Capone character his doctor remembers. The doctor obliges, but his individual anecdotes are rather short and scant. Despite the name of the book, Violent Cases really isn't crime noir. It's an Inception-esque approach of flashbacks within flashbacks and characters within characters. It manages to tell nearly two stories simultaneously with thematic overlaps between the two, without ever becoming muddled or confusing.

Violent-cases-3What's also interesting is the fact that Violent Cases is not especially vulgar or violent. There is one scene that is rather disturbing for its mostly implied maliciousness. As great an artist as McKean is, he doesn't have to use gore to convey the viciousness of the scene. His ability to establish mood through his artistic design and style goes much further to affect the reader than any kind of modern day "torture porn" could dream of.

Critiquing the plot is rather moot since this book isn't so much about telling a suspenseful mystery, or even human drama; but rather the storytelling experience itself because it's so unique and stylized. It's not exactly what I would consider a fun read, but definitely an interesting one. Fans of Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean should definitely give Violent Cases a look, as well as anyone that wants a great example of comics as art and literature in a well-synchronized package.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Y The Last Man: Vlog #9 - Motherland

The latest adventures of Yorick Brown, last man on earth, consist of one standoff after another. Yorick stands off girlfriend Beth--in his dreams. Then Yorick's sister, Hero, and the only baby boy on earth stand off a gang of amazon archers. Then Yorick's guard, agent 355, stands off the mysterious ninja who has been hot on Yorick's heels all along. Then geneticist Alison Mann, Yorick's personal researcher, stands off her father over Yorick. (Her father? Yorick's not the only last man?) In the end, Yorick's off to Paris and, he hopes, Beth. A terrific, tangential flashback story rounds out the volume.

Check out Peter's channel here: http://youtube.com/themasterofhoppets

Old Wounds | The New Batman Adventures | vlog #17

When on patrol on his own, Robin runs into Nightwing and he tells Robin the story of how he and Batman grew apart. The story reveals how Batgirl discovered Batman and the original Robin's true identities, and also explains some of what went wrong with Barbara and Dick's relationship.
Originally aired: 10/3/1998
Written by: Rich Fogel
Directed by: Curt Geda

You can watch this episode online at: http://dubbed-scene.com/new-batman-adventures-episode-17-old-wounds

You can see all of my animated Batman series vlogs at: http://www.youtube.com/user/Chad9976/videos?view=50&shelf_id=8&sort=dd

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Animal Act | The New Batman Adventures | vlog #16

A series of thefts is being committed by circus animals in a town where Nightwing's old circus is performing. Is it an old friend that is training the animals to steal, or someone else?
Originally aired: 9/26/1998
Written by: Hilary J. Bader
Directed by: Curt Geda

You can watch this episode online at: http://dubbed-scene.com/new-batman-adventures-episode-16-animal-act

You can see all of my animated Batman series vlogs at: http://www.youtube.com/user/Chad9976/videos?view=50&shelf_id=8&sort=dd

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Cult of the Cat | The New Batman Adventures | vlog #15

Batman tries to help Catwoman, who is being chased by a cat cult due to a statue she stole.
Originally aired: 9/18/1998
Written by: Paul Dini & Stan Berkowitz
Directed by: Butch Lukic

You can watch this episode online at: http://dubbed-scene.com/new-batman-adventures-episode-15-cult-cat

You can see all of my animated Batman series vlogs at: http://www.youtube.com/user/Chad9976/videos?view=50&shelf_id=8&sort=dd

Monday, December 2, 2013

Critters | The New Batman Adventures | vlog #14

A genetic engineer goes overboard in creating bigger livestock and loses all his money. A year later, an army of mutant farm animals terrorize Gotham City.
Originally aired: 9/19/1998
Written by: Steve Gerber & Joe R. Lansdale
Directed by: Dan Riba

You can watch this episode online at: http://dubbed-scene.com/new-batman-adventures-episode-14-critters

You can see all of my animated Batman series vlogs at: http://www.youtube.com/user/Chad9976/videos?view=50&shelf_id=8&sort=dd

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Mean Seasons | The New Batman Adventures | vlog #13

Batman pursues an ex-model, who is now looking for revenge and calling herself "Calendar Girl".
Originally aired: 4/25/1998
Written by: Hilary J. Bader
Directed by: Hiroyuki Aoyama

You can watch this episode online at: http://dubbed-scene.com/new-batman-adventures-episode-13-mean-seasons

You can see all of my animated Batman series vlogs at: http://www.youtube.com/user/Chad9976/videos?view=50&shelf_id=8&sort=dd