Category Archives: Four Challenges

From the Rubble a Superhero Walks.

If you were looking for something clever and insightful, you will have to look to the previous posts. This is just an update to what I have been doing. I wanted to do more, but I wanted to take a break for a week. I had several thoughts about what to write as a culminating blog for my 492 class. I decided that after the class finished, I wanted to continue on with this little side project of sorts. Mainly because it is pretty fun to read the new things out there and play the new games being developed. In the spirit of Christmas I was reminded of what my professor said before class was over. His son had asked him if there were any pictures of Batman in a Santa suit. I wanted to go one step further and see if there were any other characters that were featured in the spirit of the holidays. Here is what I found…

Perhaps, that is not exactly what you had in mind. I saw the character of the Joker as a twisted version of the Grinch, only he doesn’t become nice. The next series of images were just because I thought they would be fun.

I think the beard is an excellent addition to the bat suit.  It reminds me of the campy sixties television show. I enjoy the picture of the Hulk fighting Santa Claus. Does this mean that the Hulk is considering Santa to be evil? Or perhaps vice versa. This brings me to my final thoughts about Batman: Arkham Asylum. The game started off great, it had some intense moments. The gameplay was still amazing but the story had came rather rushed. I enjoyed the scenes in the final closing of the game but I just thought there could have been more. I know I am  a bit late with my thoughts, but still, the next installment looks promising.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Until next time…


Superheroes in culture: Toys and Politics

Toys, I just love toys. I am reminded of the Tim Burton version of Batman, when Jack Nicholson says, “Where does he get those wonderful toys?” The he punches his right hand man, almost as if to say, “Why don’t I have toys like that?” However, today is not about superheroes in television shows, games, or even other books that are spawns of their original counterpart, the comic. This discussion is about the toy and maybe politics…

This picture is from the FAO Schwartz building in Manhattan. The photograph was taken by your's truly, Sia Mozaffarimehr, in March of 2000.

How did we as a society become so obsessed with the comic book, so much so that we had to make inanimate objects that we could control and fly through the air or pound the villain? It started with television, at least for me, and I will not begin to speak for anyone else. The toy becomes a proverbial “comfort,” yes much like the food that we have became accustomed to our mothers making when we did not feel well while growing up. But let me direct your attention to the photograph that I recently discovered while rummaging through some old stuff while moving. This picture was taken inside the store, the life size statue of Batman, the Dark Knight, which upon closer examination looks to be a cross between the Joel Schumacher version (Look closely, you will see the nipples on the suit.) and Tim Burton’s Batman. Notice to the far right there is a small Superman doll in the corner of the picture. First, I wonder why Batman is held in higher stature than Superman, I didn’t see a towering statue, or flying statue in the store. However, there were numerous Batman toys that lined this particular floor from front to back. If you wanted the bat-mobile, it was there. If you wanted to get your hands on night vision batman, they had him too. Merchandising has taken another path, getting into the minds of children (or my mind.) convincing them that they need to have the latest and greatest Batman toy. Only it appears that Batman’s counterpart, the toy version anyway, does not appear to do things as portrayed in the commercials that market the product. It has reached the point that if the detail is good enough, I will buy it, that is to also say that if it is within my price range I will collect it. The toy franchise has grown so much so that if you want to emulate your favorite superhero, you can even be made into your own toy!

Comic books have not stopped at the toy market. No, they have also infiltrated political discourse. Recently with the Iron Man movies, taking place in a post 9/11 era, discussing the war in Afghanistan in a subtle fashion, the war on terror converted into a war for total world domination. Interestingly enough these messages have also made their way into films like the Dark Knight, the super deluxe Sonor vision gadget that eventually turns every cell phone into a way for Batman to monitor the entire city to pin point the Joker’s location reminds me of big brother watching your every move. Could it be commentary on the Patriot Act in so many words? It is possible. But I have noticed that many of us don’t look at our superhero movies and say, they are trying to tell me something. Most of the time I find myself escaping into a fantasy world, one that is not of my own, and has no hidden message. If one digs deep enough or just looks beyond the surface of the film or comic, one can see the writer’s message. These messages were as apparent in the 1960’s as they are now. Perhaps our ability to acknowledge or pin point the propaganda or anti-propaganda in recent works will eventually become similar to our ability to engage texts such as those found in the forties and sixties, comics such as “Fighting American,” “OMAC,” or even more main stream comics such as Batman, Superman, X-Men, and Captain America will be engaged in from a critical perspective as the culture moves on into a new realm. This is not a simple topic to discuss, and I must say that I wanted to speak just of toys, but it was too tempting to at least touch on some of these other aspects of culture and politics that are present within comics.

Until Next Time…

Batman: Arkham Asylum.

I mentioned in a previous post that I had been exploring the world of comics, specifically those of Batman. As I mentioned in my post “Batman, the origins, the myth, and questions unanswered…” as a side note, I had been playing the game Arkham Asylum. It is unlike any game that I have played before. I am going to assume that it is bias to say, this has to be one of the best comic book games ever, but I think that it is safe to say that I am in good company, another blogger Griffen McElroy stated, “Rest assured, I’m not being hyperbolic when I say that Batman: Arkham Asylum is unquestionably the best licensed game I’ve ever played. At the end of the day, however, that’s a fairly low hurdle to clear — it better reflects the game’s quality to say it’s one of the best stealth-action games ever made, and easily the best video game 2009 has had to offer thus far” in a review he posted on August 21st, 2009.

I know I am a little behind the great event and release of this game. However, I am fascinated with the stylized images of this game. No longer are we in the 2D era of graphics. We are now engaged in a fully engaging surrounding world that encompasses the character, one that draws the player in but most of all is not based on the campy colorful counterparts of the Caped Crusader. “Bats” as the Joker lovingly calls Batman is seen as more Millerized character, one that is aged in the gritty surroundings of the Arkham island. I have not made it that far into the video game yet, but I have found one aspect that I already love about this game. It is unlike many games that start with credits, or with a simple start up screen. It incorporates a playable starting point, as shown in the video images posted from youtube (See below).

The amazing part of the video game is that unlike earlier comic games, you don’t have to read the conversations, you get the voice talents of Mark Hamill (Joker) and Kevin Conroy (Batman).

Once inside the asylum, you reach the point of no return.

The game starts with a tutorial fight, getting a taste of the addictive action that ensues this third person gameplay. Meanwhile the Joker (Voiced by Mark Hamill) slowly lures Batman into his game along with the help of Harley Quinn. Along the way you run into Killer Croc, The Riddler, Poison Ivy, among many other Batman foes.

Rocksteady has made flawless gameplay, one can also collect character profiles along the way, which includes the first appearances of the characters within the comic book storyline. As with many interesting traits that Batman has, the story also includes the aspects of Batman’s credo, one of which is “Batman shall not kill,” although he is not prejudice of beating the hell out of his enemies. Other than lurking in the shadows and hanging people from the rafters, and searching for Riddler’s many clues, the game has a lot of depth for a superhero game. It is unlike anything I have encountered before and for that reason I have to give it praise. I also have to say that it is one that takes a while to get through if you do not have adequate time to just sit and play. As of right now I am only at the tip of the ice berg.

I can’t wait for what is to come in this game. Most of all, once I finish I am looking forward to playing the anticipated sequel, Batman: Arkham City.

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