Tag Archives: Batman

Star Trek vs. Batman (Trivia Answer)

Trivia Question from Yesterday:

There were a number of notable actors who gave their voice talents to Batman: The Animated Series including at least 7 from the Star Trek films and movies. Can you name them all? Hint: As far as I know TOS, TNG, DS9 and VOY are represented as well as at least two actors from the movies.

Answer:

The Riddler (voiced by John Glover)

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Played Verad Dax in DS9’s “Invasive Procedures”

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Leslie Thompkins (voiced by Diana Muldaur)

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She’s actually been in two Star Trek series TOS and TNG. Her TOS episodes were “Return To Tomorrow” and more notably “Is There in Truth No Beauty?”

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But she’s probably best known (if not best loved) for her role as Dr. Katherine Pulaski on Season 2 of The Next Generation. Personally I like her McCoy-like personality in the TNG-verse and think she’s underrated.

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Red Claw (voiced by Kate Mulgrew). This one I didn’t know till I saw it on the Wikipedia page for Batman.

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Even before she was the first female Captain in a Star Trek show, Kathryn Janeway was a tough lady.

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And now she’s Red again (in Orange is the New Black).

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How colorful.

Ra’s al Ghul (voiced by David Warner)

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Portrayed Chancellor Gorkon in my favorite Star Trek movie “The Undiscovered Country”.

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As well as Gul Madred in the two-part TNG episode “Chain of Command”. There are four lights!

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Also he played an ambassador in Star Trek V, but that’s best forgotten.

Mr. Freeze (voiced by Michael Ansara)

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Portrayed Kang in TOS and DS9.

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But not this Kang.

Kang

Lucius Fox (voiced by Brock Peters)

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Played Admiral Cartwright in Star Trek IV and VI.

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As well as Captain Sisko’s father Joseph in DS9.

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Dr. March (voiced by Rene Auberjonois). He appears in the first animated series episode “On Leather Wings”

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And all the time on DS9 as Constable Odo.

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Never looks very happy.

Can you name any more that I’ve missed?

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Memories of an X-Millennial: Batman – The Animated Series

So I thought a good irregular feature here on the blog would be talking about something I remember from my childhood in the 90’s and looking into how it holds up now, as a guy in my 30’s. I’ll admit to owning more than my fair share of 90’s media on DVD and reading and watching things that are “technically” too young for me.

A word about the term X-Millennial. I’ve spoken before about not really feeling part of either Gen X or the Millennials. Technically speaking I’m probably a Millennial, though I’m not what most people think of when the use the term. And I’m not alone. There’s a group of us who have some of the values of the X’ers, and the idealism of the Mille’s. I’ve heard this called the “Oregon Trail” generation, but I’m trying on a new term today.

First up in the wayback machine … Batman – The Animated Series

Image Source: Wikipedia

Image Source: Wikipedia

According to Wikipedia this show ran from 1994-1995 (producing about 90 episodes), but I know it was in re-runs for years after that.

This show defined my early perception of the character and tone of Batman and his rogues gallery. It’s been pointed out to me that Joker is a little more impotent than his comic book form, the WB show didn’t allow for the depiction of murder which is kinda Joker’s thing. But any loss in tone is more than made up for in Mark Hamill’s gleeful performance. It’s not a coincidence that most of this voice cast showed up in the popular Batman games of the last few years starting with Arkham Asylum.

Watching the episodes now I can feel what might be perceived today as slow pacing in a couple of episodes, but this seems reflective of the Batman titles of the era. Indeed this was my first introduction to some classic tales by Frank Miller, Marv Wolfman and Max Allen Collins without even knowing it. I tend to favor a more light-hearted dark knight, without descending into full Adam West absurdity. We definitely see Batman’s angst in movies like Mask of the Phantasm and encounters with The Scarecrow. Guilt over believing he has broken his code of not killing it was destroys a Batman robot duplicate (from some of my favorite episodes involving the robo-cloning computer HARDAC).

My favorite episodes still are Blind as a Bat in which a temporarily blinded Batman must face off against the Penguin, the aforementioned HARDAC episodes particularly His Silicon Soul which features robot-Batman, the whole Mr. Freeze saga (starting with Heart of Ice), Harley and Ivy featuring the Joker’s girlfriend (sort of) teaming up with Poison Ivy on their own crime spree free of men.

Watching these again I don’t think I realized how many recurring characters and elements ran in the background, particularly Rupert Thorne and the gangster elements. The origins of most rogues are told, notably Harvey Dent as DA and eventual turn to Two-Face. The show isn’t just a series of one-off adventures, but does build on one comes before.

Overall, these are good as remember them, maybe not as good as some of the best of the comics, but they hold their own nonetheless. And despite some deliberate pacing, there are other storylines that are told more tightly and dramatically than serial comics can manage.

Trivia Question: There were a number of notable actors who gave their voice talents to this show including at least 7 from the Star Trek films and movies. Can you name them all? Hint: As far as I know TOS, TNG, DS9 and VOY are represented as well as at least two actors from the movies.

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Review – Gotham Academy Vol. 1

Gotham Academy Vol. 1: Welcome To Gotham Academy

Writers – Becky Cloonan & Brenden Fletcher, Artist – Karl Kerschl

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School is back in session, and Olive Silverlock must contend with more than just her soon to be ex-boyfriend’s kid sister. She’ll have to be wary of the ghosts of dead Cobblepots, a weird bat cult, the mysterious sounds from the North wing, and that damn bat signal that keeps flying in the sky. And what happened over the summer that she can’t remember?

This has the feel of what the Runaways did for Marvel. We get a corner of the DCU that has connections to some of the familiar trappings, we have Batman, the bat signal, allusions to the Penguin and Arkham Asylum, but we also have a tightly focused narrative focusing on young children with stories and motivations of their own. It’s refreshing sometimes to read a comic that is superhero adjacent, but isn’t concerned with masked vigilantes. In fact, the main character of this book hates Batman for reasons that I won’t spoil for you, but that are completely understandable.

Not to keep comparing this to Marvel, but the art has the feel of titles like Spider Man Loves Mary Jane, or X-Men First Class, though with a darker Gotham edge. Characters are bright and effusive even when their surroundings are not. Oddly though, there’s one character here who is not as darkly portrayed as I’m used to seeing them (again I won’t spoil, but suffice it to say I’m not talking about the Joker). This character is usually shown as being somewhat animistic and viscous, but here is sympathetic and protective. This again reinforces the portrayal that Batman might be picking on would-be criminals, and that some people deserve a second chance.

I like the possibilities this series opens up, particularly the question of whether the main character will choose to be good or not? But it’s also just a solid mystery, with a lot of the charm that was appealing about the exploration of large old academies in the early Harry Potter books.

So, Runaways meets Harry Potter? Sorry DC, I’ll stop doing that. Volume 2 promises to incorporate Damian Wayne, so this title definitely has places to go.

(5 stars | Batman really is a jerk sometimes)

* I received a free ARC from NetGalley in return for my honest review

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Review: Grayson Vol. 1

Grayson Vol. 1: Agents Of Spyral

Writer – Tim Seeley, Artist – Mikel Janin

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Dick Grayson was the first Robin, then struck out on his own as Nightwing. Then Nightwing’s identity was revealed and Dick was thought murdered. Staying dead to protect his family, Dick infiltrates a secret spy organization known as Spyral. Spyral’s mission is to gather the Paragon organs which grant the ability to duplicate the powers of the Justice League, and determine their secret identities. He is partnered with Helena Bertinelli, daughter of a notorious Italian crime family, and assumed identity of the heroine huntress (who in reality is the Helena Wayne from Earth 2). Grayson must fight alongside Spyral, while feeding information back to Batman, his only connection to his past life and the only one who knows he is still alive.

This collection contains Issues 1-4, the Secret Origin story and a Futures End tale (this last was not included in my eGalley). The Secret Origins tale does a good job explaining where we are in the New 52 continuity for those of us not up to date on the latest developments of the Forever Evil storyline. However, because it is mostly plot exposition, interspersed with odd sixties psychedelic trappings, this leading part of the book drags a bit.

When we get the ongoing series Issues the pace picks up, as Dick deals with what it means to be a spy and not a hero. It’s obvious that Dick is having a hard time on this mission, enjoying the ability to stretch his legs without endangering his family, but he’s not comfortable with the compromises he has to make to get the mission done.

The third and fourth chapters are probably the best, as the series learns to drop the sixties affectations in favor of playing the story straighter. Issue 3 actually manages to make a character who can only see through the barrels of his guns human and relate-able and 4 is a playful tale, as Dick encounters the girls who are in the finishing school part of Spyral, training to be the next members of Moussad and other spy organizations.

I like the design of Bertinelli’s outfit, which hearkens to her alter-ego yet another person Huntress. Her relationship with Grayson should be interesting in future issues. However, the full page spread on issue 3 involving the correct usage of “Wing-night’s” name was unnecessary. There’s no reason to try to make this book Saga, and you can’t be naughty enough to get even close anyway. The alternate covers at the back (particularly the Lego cover) were a treat.

Overall, an interesting corner of the DCU. Titles like this and Gotham Academy give us a look at super-heroes from a more human scale level. Just with twisty faces.

* I received a free ARC from DC and NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

(3.75 Stars | Dinged it 0.25 stars for use of “You don’t know Dick” and “Dick!” said in ecstasy in Issue 3.)

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Gravel in a blender

Well I’m in week two of my second cold of the winter season. The first cold ended with a lot of sinus stuff and congestion (i.e. going through tissues in bulk). This new cold decided to be creative and go down further in my throat to manifest as a cough, which mainly likes to go off when I’m trying to get to sleep. I’m lying on my side, and suddenly I wake myself up with a fit of coughing. Why the cat decided to sleep next to me through this I’m not really sure.

During the day I don’t feel so bad, but this winter season has just been difficult to wake up and get the writing work done that I want to do. When I’m feeling bad I have a much more escapist mentality, sinking my time into TV or even better video games. Ironically this last cold kicked off almost immediately after playing a game. I was playing Batman: Arkham Asylum on my lunch break and was feeling fine, but as soon as I stopped playing I realized I felt like crap. During the weekend following I spent most of the time I wasn’t asleep playing the game just to distract myself from how I was feeling, which was remarkably effective. This is probably how people starve themselves to death, but that’s one of the benefits of being married, my wife keeps me alive 🙂

Fortunately I’m starting to feel better before the holiday, but the holiday season isn’t exactly the best time to be productive either. And it’s cold outside and I always manage to forget to defrost my car before I have to go.

This is all by way of saying sorry I haven’t been blogging here nearly as often as I should. My intention is to find a way to hit the reset button and get everything going in the new year. I have been building up some ideas for more of a structure that hopefully you guys will like, and will make this easier for me to sustain even when I’m feeling crummy.

That said I have been enjoying the time off. Those Batman games are ridiculously immersive (I’m now on Arkham City). I used to play shooters more in college, but I actually like action platformers a little better now. Still combat to be sure, but less focused on a linear narrative of mowing down waves of stuff. Batman forces you to think about combat rather than button mashing, but not in an excessively complicated way. And he doesn’t kill which is nice too.

How have you been coping with winter?

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Batmen and Bastards*

*Bastards is used here in the literal sense as you’ll see from my review of The Illegitimates. Actually, for that matter, Damian was born out of wedlock too unless you think Bruce Wayne’s marriage to Talia Al Gul is actually binding.

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Running a bit late on getting a manga NetGalley post together so maybe next week. Probably one of the only ways I’m going to read Jane Austen though. More on that next week. In the meantime I’m pleased to share my review of a couple of hero titles, all featuring the sons and daughters of well known heroes.

First up…

Damian: Son of Batman (Deluxe Edition) by Andy Kubert & Grant Morrison

91lK2HiBbeL._SL1500_Despite growing up with Batman via the animated series and some of the movies, it’s really only been recently that I’ve taken the trouble to read the comics in any serious way. I’ve quickly learned that not only are some titles better than others, but some require you to do a little homework before even being able to read them. Hence, I’ve developed a set of criteria for a good Batman tale that I’ll use to evaluate this book.

Stands Alone: To me, a good Batman tale doesn’t require an extensive knowledge of the current Bat continuity (which has gone through several iterations as a result of the crisis and The New 52). This book gets about a medium grade on that score. I was vaguely familiar with Damian from Batman: Son of the Demon (which apparently is only half in the continuity since it is an Elseworlds tale) and the first volume of Batman and Robin (new 52 variety). This book stands outside current established continuity (since Damian died sometime last year in the comic though you know how these things go, since there seems to be an event to bring him back this year). It didn’t do a great job of clearing up for me that Dick Grayson (the original Robin and later Nightwing) was Batman at the beginning of this tale. So when Batman is killed and Damian is avenging his death, for a long time I thought we were talking about good old Bruce (who shows up later). My understanding of this tale was greatly helped by reading Grant Morrison’s Batman and Son (though issue #666 seems apart from the rest of the material and only makes sense if you know the Batman and Son context).

Keeps the DC Universe out of it: I’m a bit of a purist. I know Batman lives in the same world as the likes of Superman and Green Arrow, but I don’t think it helps a good Batman tale when they show up (an exception being The Dark Knight Returns). The Long Halloween is a great example of a Batman only tale. Damian stays entirely in Gotham, where he should be.

Violence has a cost: Batman does not kill, but Damian as Robin sure does. It makes a little sense since he was raised by the league of assassins, but his violent tendencies force Bruce to come out of wherever he was hiding (seriously thought he was a ghost for a second) and challenge Damian’s right to wear the Robin or the Batman costume. It takes understanding Batman’s creed to really make Damian a worthy successor, though truthfully in Morrison and Kubert’s portrayal he still seems willing to kill. He just gets a little more upset about it and feels guilty when he has to.

Except no substitutes: Just as Damian is taking on the mantle of the Batman, someone is taking up the purple coat of the Joker. Bet the real Joker’s not gonna be too happy about that.

Summary: Like Morrison’s work, Kubert’s telling seems to leave out some crucial information, and makes some jarring plot leaps at times. But some of the humor, particularly in giving an origin story to Alfred the cat, does help to lighten the tale. Kubert’s work is the better part of this collection. Not a very good collection for people who aren’t more familiar with Damian or Grant Morrison’s Batman work. (3 out of 5).

DC provided me with a free electronic copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

The Illegitimates by Taran Killam and Marc Andreyko

81kn9lt0gAL._SL1500_You might recognize Taran Killam from SNL (or from being married to Cobie Smulders), but apparently he is also quite the James Bond aficionado. So much so that he’s written his own “tribute” comic.

With a title like The Illegitimates I wasn’t expecting very much, but Killam displays a surprisingly good knowledge of Bond pastiches, even in his choice of mothers for his five … er …  successors to the Bond franchise. Well, okay not Bond, but Jack Steele, but you get the point. Agent Steele is killed by his arch enemy Viktor Dannikor in what I have to say is  unfortunately gruesome fashion given the tone of the rest of the book (think fighting on top of a train with a sudden stop from a tunnel and actually seeing the results). Now Olympus (Steele’s MI-5) must replace Steele with his five children out of wedlock, because his skills are genetic apparently.

Given Steele’s jet-setting lifestyle we’ve got a good ethnic variety of progeny, and most fall into particular stereotypes. We have the country hick\marksman, the Mexican Mama’s boy, a Japanese car enthusiast, an African espionage agent, and a computer expert because y’know, the story needs at least one techie. Can this team of misfits live up to their father’s legacy and defeat Dannikor? And who is the mysterious traitor inside their ranks?

Actually, quite enjoyable except for the bits of uncharacteristic violence, and a few unfortunate incest attractiveness jokes, but these are more than made up for with smart nods to the whole scope of Bond films including dams, space stations, and gadgets. (4 out of 5).

Have a good weekend!

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See you next week

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I’m here but I’m a little exhausted. Gonna read some Batman to recharge and work a little on the book before Easter. See you all next week. Happy egg seeking, chocolate rabbit consuming, and family time spending.

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