Batman and Harley Quinn Review

by Andrew Kiess

Many Batman fans are in agreement that Batman: The Animated Series is among the greatest comic book adaptations out there. For many of us, it has defined the character of Batman and his supporting cast. So, when co-creator Bruce Timm returns to the style and characters that first captured our imaginations, only greatness can happen, right?

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Batman and Harley Quinn is the latest DC animated feature film to get the one-night only theater treatment before being released on demand, following the success of The Killing Joke and Return of the Caped Crusaders. While I enjoyed Crusaders, neither of these one-night only showings featured what I considered to be the “best” of the recent animated films (I thought Judas Contract and Justice League Dark were fantastic), I was still excited to see what looked to be a long lost episode of The New Batman Adventures. What I got fell short of my expectations.

The opening few scenes of the films did not help my perception of the project overall. The animation looked cheap and the characters inconsistent. As the movie went on, the animation improved, but that’s when the story developed.

The plot of the film centers around Poison Ivy (voiced by Paget Brewster) and Jason Woodrue, the Floronic Man (Kevin Michael Richardson) plotting to recreate the event that turned Alec Holland into Swamp Thing on a global scale, transforming all humanity into The Green. Batman (Kevin Conroy) and Nightwing (Loren Lester) enlist the help of a reformed Harley Quinn (Melissa Rauch) to track down Ivy and save the world.

On the surface, this still feels like a new episode of Batman. But as has been the case with many of the latest DC animated film, there seemed to be an imperative to “adult it up.” In theory, I don’t think this is necessarily a good or bad thing. It worked extraordinarily well in both The Judas Contract and Justice League Dark, but failed miserably with movies like The Killing Joke and Assault on Arkham. Harley Quinn is no stranger to being sexualized, and when done right it can create empathy for the character as someone who has overcome objectification. When done wrong, it just feeds into the objectification that the character (and, let’s face it, the comic book industry as a whole) has been fighting against.

We meet Harley working as a risqué waitress, where she beats up a customer for attempting to grope her. When Nightwing later questions her about it, she explains that it’s the only job she can get due to her past with The Joker being on her record. Instead of this being a moment to create empathy, it is followed up by a ridiculous scene where it is not-so-subtly implied that her an Nightwing, to quote Marv from Sin City, “do the nasty.” From the way the scene is drawn to the absolute lack of any reason for this to be in the film completely disservice the character, and is, in one man’s opinion, the opposite of “adult”. It is pure adolescent fantasy, with no real appreciation for storytelling.

To make matters worse, the rest of the humor in the film is bizarrely sophomoric. There is not much I can write that would fully explain just how off-putting a fart joke is in a movie that is trying to convince me that it is an “adult comedy.” A ten minute scene in a karaoke bar with ridiculous dancing and singing did nothing but add to the ever-changing tone. The story progresses to an inevitable appearance by Alec Holland himself, which was simply the final disappointment in a long line of disappointments.

Perhaps I am being too harsh. I have seen several positive reactions and some middle of the road reactions from many outlets online. But for me, Batman and Harley Quinn was a failure on every level and never engaged me for a single moment. As always, I would recommend you judge for yourself if you are interested in seeing it, but I think this will join The Killing Joke as the second of the DC animated films to not have a home on my shelf.

 

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Batman: The Enemy Within Episode One Review

By Andrew Kiess

”The Enigma”

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Telltale introduced me to my second-favorite (behind comics) form for telling Batman stories. Put me inside of a comic book and let me define the type of character my hero will be. Season One of Batman: The Telltale Series was a spectacular display of just that. The game creators present you with a story that is not afraid to go off script in order to make you feel uneasy in your judgments, forcing you to question who you should allow as allies and who you should treat as potential enemies. Season One’s five episode arc did not disappoint me and kept me fully engaged to the end, and so I have been waiting impatiently for Season Two to get underway, and this month, it did just that.

“The Enigma” opens with the reappearance of a figure from Gotham’s past. Edward Nygma, also known as The Riddler, who we learn once terrorized Gotham long before Bruce Wayne took up the cowl. Bruce, while investigating a casino owner for potential illegal arms deal, witnesses the return of The Riddler and immediately steps into “Batman mode”. With the assistance of the newly-appointed Commissioner James Gordon, Riddler is stopped from killing his target, but escapes before he can be brought in. As it turns out, ARGUS is critical of GCPD’s supposed failure as Amanda Waller has taken a special interest in Nygma’s case.

This conflict is the central decision of “The Enigma”. Do you stick up for Gordon or do you side with Waller? And when you do choose a side, just how much information do you share with them? Unlike the first season, where your decisions were simply noted as “remembered” or “noticed”, your decisions in this game can change the relationship you have with other characters, as opposed to simply triggering different conversations later in the game. This nuance adds a little more weight to subtle differences in responses.

These relationships are on full display with both Gordon and Waller, but we get hints that it will play a large role in the development of “John Doe”, who we all know will eventually become The Joker. But, in the meantime, he’s John Doe, a character who seems eager to help, and can prove quite useful as an ally. It becomes interesting as we push our knowledge of the inevitable because of our familiarity with the lore in order to further our agendas as Batman within this alternate canon. What will cause the least amount of problems for Bruce, trusting John Doe or brushing him off? I guess only time will tell.

If it’s not obvious by now, I love this game. From Troy Baker’s performance as Bruce Wayne, to the comic book-like design of the world, this is one of my favorite non-comic Batman stories ever told. It is bold and unafraid to challenge our assumptions as fans to keep us on our toes, and it works for me on every level. If the pattern holds from last season, we should expect season two sometime in late September, so if you haven’t had a chance to play through this series, you have plenty of time to catch up, and I could not recommend it highly enough.

 

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“I Am Bane” Review

By Andrew Kiess

Tom King is a brave man. Yes, he’s served America as a counterterrorism CIA operative, but his most recent challenge in life has been filling the role once held by the great Scott Snyder writing Batman. Snyder’s run as the lead writer on Batman lasted the entire fiver year lifespan of DC Comics’ New 52 line, and was its bestseller, as well as one of the most critically acclaimed books of the line. But, Snyder left shortly after the Bloom arc, and when DC was looking to relaunch the line, Snyder was moved to All-Star Batman, and King was asked to step up to the plate.

Spoilers for Batman #1-15 to follow.

King’s run debuted with I Am Gotham. This story, found in issues 1-6, featured the mysterious appearance of two super-powered beings called Gotham and Gotham Girl, who were being manipulated by the Psycho Pirate. In the sequel arc, I Am Suicide (issues 9-14), Psycho Pirate is being protected in Bane’s fortress, and Batman recruits a Suicide Squad from Amanda Waller in order to extract the Pirate so that he can cure Gotham Girl. The plan is successful, which obviously does not sit well with Bane.

batman-11-coming-november-16-from-writer-tom-kingIf I’m being honest, I have struggled to get into this new run on Batman. David Finch’s art has been great, and Tom King is a great writer, but it has felt like Batman has taken a backseat to the characters around him throughout the entire Rebirth line. And as great as Rebirth has been for most of DC’s characters, I have felt like Batman has not benefitted from Rebirth. That was until I read I Am Bane.

Bane is on his way to Gotham to exact revenge for Batman infiltrating his sovereign territory, and Bruce Wayne is preparing for war in a way that only Bruce could—by sending all of his soldiers away from the battlefield. Bruce warns Dick Grayson/Nightwing, Duke Thomas/Lark, Damian Wayne/Robin, and Jason Todd/Red Hood to stay out of Gotham until Bane is dealt with. But, his warnings fall on deaf ears for the Robins, and Bruce finds them hanging, barely alive, in the Batcave with the words “I Am Bane” spray painted across their chests. Bruce and Alfred must get Gotham Girl and the Psycho Pirate out of Bane’s path of destruction, and so they barricade themselves deep within Arkham while Bane’s warpath leads him through all of the inmates Batman has put there over the years.

Three issues into this run, I finally understood what King was doing. It’s no coincidence that the main three arcs of King’s run so far have been titled with the words “I Am…”. He was re-forging Batman’s identity as Bruce. Or Bruce’s identity as Batman. Either way, the end of the New 52 saw many changes for Bruce Wayne, not the least of which included being raised from the dead (kind of) and becoming the god of knowledge (really.) Despite all the good that happened for the character during the New 52, it didn’t leave the character with very many directions to go. Is Batman Gotham, or are there other heroes better suited for that task? Is Batman suicide, willing to sacrifice himself for the cause? Or is Batman like Bane, steeped in tragedy and loss? In the last half of I Am Bane, something beautiful happens with the character that I think that if you haven’t been paying attention, you might miss.

Batman is taken out of the tragedy that inspired him, while Bane is haunted by his own tragic past that holds him back. While the death of Bruce’s parents may have started his quest to rid Gotham of crime, it is now his own heroic nature that keeps him going. He is pulled out of the muck of being a crusader for justice, fighting an unwinnable war—he’s a man, who sees that being Batman and doing Batman things, saving Gotham Girl, stopping Bane, and doing these things with every drop of sweat and blood he can give, as the right thing to do. And because being Batman is the right thing to do, he is going to do it. This is Tom King’s Batman. And, even though I’m late to the party, I’m a fan

 

Gotham: Season 3 Episode 7

By

John McGee

 

WOW! What a night! Did you see all those Harley Quinns? Batmen and Supermen! Jokers and Jack Sparrows—but best of all, that Gotham episode! How did this year’s traditional scarefest top eating candy to your heart’s content? Read on to find out!

The good news:

Tetch is finally reaching the end of his rope. He grabbed his sister’s body and drained her of the last of her poisoned blood. The very, very little of the marketing I saw for Season 3 did nothing to whet my appetite for his character other than the fact that we’d be seeing a Mad Hatter. Now he’s easily become one of the most interesting villains we’ve seen. Ever rhyming (kudos to the writers for bothering with that) he schemes to poison the most powerful people in Gotham with his sister’s blood.

Jim Gordon has to come to grips with his messed up head (and boy does he deliver). He hallucinates facing his demons after lying to Lee about saving her last episode and even Bullock angrily asserting that Jim’s “scared” of the badge. He goes through an elevator with a completely seductive and even vulnerable Barbara. (I have to watch some season 1 episodes again—I’m forgetting what she was like before she was crazy). It was haunting and emotional to see Jim experience life with Lee and kids, failure to Bruce and a tear-jerking conversation with his dad. All hallucinations, all realistic and touching.

Jim Gordon returns as a detective to the GCPD following his soul-searching quest. Finally.

Tetch gets captured and fails to poison the Gotham power heads. Duh.

Penguin, instead of killing Nygma’s girlfriend, tells her that Ed was in Arkham in an attempt to break them up, but it only makes their relationship stronger. They’re made for each other, which means Penguin might ruin it by killing her. The cliché is that Penguin kills people and tantrums when he’s denied what he wants. So hopefully the writers avoid that.

I totally forgot in last episode’s review that Bruce kissed Selina. Now they’re having a little date that she’s late for because “it’s weird for me.” So now she’s in a relationship with a plank of wood. Because that sums up the acting skills we’re getting from Mazouz’s side of this thing. Honestly just watch her. She’s the only one who’s obviously taken classes or just has the talent to show range of emotions and enunciate, say her lines differently each time etc.

The bad news:

The guy seemingly bossing around the Court of Owls lady was wearing the ring that Jim’s dad was wearing in the hallucination. The Court is already being denied proper justice already; now we’re getting sidetracked into Jim’s dad. Great.

Best episode of the year by far. There’s no contest. What a Halloween treat.

9.5/10

Shanlian on Batman Episode 70 – Suicide Squad reviews

The gang is squading up to bring to you their review of Suicide Squad! Justin, Tom, Kyle, and Rheanna are all here to talk about the good, the bad, and the just plain ugly bits of the movie in their opinions. Is this another flop? Is the future of DC movies looking bright? Listen to find out

Batman-On-Film Shanlian On Batman Special Crossover

Batman-On-Film’s founder Bill “Jett” Ramey and his crew team up with the guys from Shanlian on Batman to talk Batman V Superman Dawn of Justice. At this point pretty much everyone has seen this film but in all fairness we must say, obviously, ***THIS PODCAST CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR BATMAN V SUPERMAN DAWN OF JUSTCE** Now with that being out of the way, come hang out with the BOF & SoB crews while they go over everything that they liked, disliked, would have changed, and interpreted from this film! Don’t forget to visit www.batman-on-film.com for more BOF and as always check SoB out at www.ShanlianOnBatman.com as well as www.PodcastEmpireNetwork.Com

Lords of Film episode 9

All of us got the chance to see the new, Star Wars The Force Awakens. Hear our reactions and thoughts as we run down the film to the best of our memories !!!!!!!THIS EPISODE OF LOF IS HEAVILY *SPOILERS* BASED!!!!!!! we suggest you not listen to this podcast if you have not yet seen Star Wars the Force Awakens. So hang out with Lords of Film as they talk Star Wars!

 

Shanlian On Batman Episode 49 Trailer #2 Break Down

On this Special Edition of Shanlian on Batman, we are coming to you the NIGHT OF with a SoB exclusive trailer break down. Make sure you sync up your internet browser with ours on the new trailer and lets do it again, the “and stop game”! Follow along with the guys while they break down everything they can for the new trailer.

We Are Robin #2 Review from Kim Gaines

They started this one with a bang.

The story picks up right where we left off, smack in the middle of a fight between Duke and the Robins, against a bunch of creeper sewer warriors. And the banter between the Robin team is great. It’s so fun and witty, and has the whole teenager feel about it, without being annoying or feeling too rehearsed.

Those first six pages are an awesome ride. Tons of action and every panel delivers. The whole scene is one you won’t forget quickly, and you get lost in the chaos of it all. One of the best parts about finally seeing the Robins in action, is equally awesome in both art and writing. The unique signatures of each uniform is great, and they speak to the differences of each character. There’s an attitude about each funky belt buckle, a story behind every hood. The little quirks of each costume are so much fun, and set each character apart.

The attitude of the Robins comes in the dialogue. They feel like kids you want to know. Like you want to play video games with them on a Saturday night, but you would totally go fight bad guys with them too. They take shots at each other, laugh about funny stuff, drop pop culture references, all of that good stuff, and it makes them feel real and concrete.

In this issue we also got a glimpse of the man who might be behind this whole operation, which helped open up a lot of interesting questions about what’s really going on. Who is this guy? Why are Duke’s parents so important? Can he be trusted? I mean, we didn’t really get any answers, but it’s important that the questions were put out there. It solidified that fact that there’s something bigger going on here.

And I for one, want to find out exactly what that is.
These guys are laying groundwork, and I’m looking forward to see what comes up. 4701583-warb_2_2-3

We Are Robin Issue #1 Review by Kim Gaines

Raise youtumblr_njd48wcT7q1qfy3nuo1_500r hand if you had a few doubts about We Are Robin.

Hand in the air, like I just don’t care.

I take my Batfam seriously. Casual associates included,. And I wasn’t sure I could get behind what appeared to be a bunch of street kids, running around repping the  most important ‘R’ I can imagine, after a long, honorable, and in many cases, tragic legacy that had come before them. Who are these kids? Who said they could do this? Can they fight? Do they realize how important this is? Are they ready for the weight of the this?

Aside from that, it seemed a little cliche. The adoption into this vigilante life, has been done a million times before, half of them occurring in the Bat universe alone. I felt like it might be a story we’ve seen already.

Lee Bermejo and Jorge Corona promptly shut me and my whole life up.

This story is wonderful.

For starters, Corona’s art is bomb. It’s funky and weird, and a little bit twisted. The amount of attitude and emotion he can carry through the lips of his characters alone, is unbelievable. Curvy side smirks, annoyed pouts, wicked grins, it’s all there. And it gives a life to his faces. The angles of his scenes are awesome and every new page jumps out at you.

Lee Bermejo’s throws out words like weapons. I was in love with Duke Thomas before I knew his name.

“Someone told me that the problem with youth is the inability to accept your own morality. I wouldn’t consider this one of my problems.”

Oh, come on. Don’t you want to see where this is going?

Bermejo jumps in and out of Duke’s consciousness flawlessly, and no matter how interesting it gets outside, you keep wanting back in Duke’s head. His entire narrative is snarky, funny, intelligent, and if you listen hard enough, vulnerable. The entire story is action packed from beginning to end, and it doesn’t take from the story at all. The characters are solid and engaging, and the art just takes it to another level entirely.

I will spoil nothing about this series so far, because I want you get the same rush I did. This whole issue was just fun. The characters are easy to get behind, the humor keeps it interesting, even the references to pop culture make it feel like a universe you’re a part of. The bigger mystery at play makes it all the more enticing, as you’re eager to discover what really going on in Gotham right now, and who’s really holding all the strings.

I really hope youguys give this one a shot. It’s so worth it. Some people worry about messing with the Batfam legacy and all its twisted glory. I wouldn’t consider this one of my problems.

Well. Not anymore.

We. Are. ROBIN.