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.


A Companion Reader

Time Masters 4, meet “The Return of Bruce Wayne” or vice versa. As I mentioned I was a little new to the comic “floppy” and I recently discovered that a mini series, recently finished, and written by Grant Morrison, was connected and inspired another mini series, Time Masters: Vanishing Point, “The Search for Batman.” I find it interesting that the very first in the series of “The Return of Bruce Wayne” deals with the idea of a “Quantum Leap” Bruce Wayne figure. Not to sound too cliche, but we find the characters, Superman, Green Lantern, Rip Hunter, and Booster Gold searching Batman, racing against time to help him back to the future.
In “The Return of Bruce Wayne,” Batman seems to suffer from a sort of amnesia, but still has all the detective, and battle instincts that he normally has. I found it particularly interesting that one of the characters in this part of the story mentioned the presence of a previous “Man of Bats.” I have not wrapped myself up in another series, although I must say that “Time Masters” makes a great companion guide to the “The Return of Bruce Wayne.” I also begin to wonder if these two series are questioning ideas of fate, does Batman, or Bruce Wayne control his future fate? Is his journey through the past the reason his future self is able to create the bat cave? As Batman travels through time, does he create a template for his future/past self to recreate the bat cave or even discover this world that transforms him into the Dark Knight? Is it a secret that he keeps from other Super Heroes? I know that the majority of these questions are just my own speculation. Although, I do find the story lines to be interesting, the art is similar and a little better in “The Return of Bruce Wayne.” I enjoy the way the two story lines have integrated themselves into one another. Although, I don’t think there is a seamless transition between the two story lines. I think this is due in part to the fact that one story is written by Grant Morrison while the other has been written by Dan Jurgens (He does a pretty damn good job here in this mini series.) Another aspect of the Morrison comic that I found to be intriguing was the use of identity. Bruce Wayne, or Batman, assumed the role of “Man of Bats” or Batman. I would argue that Morrison is attempting to suggest that Wayne would ultimately assume the role of Batman regardless of his time period to protect the weak. Although, as it turns out he has his own criteria of what is considered to be right and wrong. So I wanted to ultimately suggest that the writer’s own beliefs or morals emerge through the voice of Batman or Bruce Wayne in some fashion. While I enjoy reading these comics I cannot help but wonder if Wayne would always assume the identity of Batman, always using it as a sort of symbol, or if like the majority of the first in the series of “The Return of Bruce Wayne,” would he keep the identity of Bruce Wayne? Again, bringing me back to the questions of identity, which identity (Wayne or Batman) thinks the other is the “actual” or real identity? Let me explain briefly, does Batman think he is the real or the true identity, or does Bruce Wayne think he is the true identity?

(Until Issue 5…)

Questions of Continuity

Time Masters: Vanishing Point Vol. 3.

After a discussion on class based on the mythos or rather the continuity of a comic book, I wanted to look at the last installment of the search for Batman that has hit the shelf. One, the comic is considered a side story, or alternative timeline. It is also connected to the series written by Grant Morrison entitled, “The Return of Bruce Wayne.” I only want to ask one question before turning in for the night and perhaps having a chance to read the 4th volume of this series: Does playing with aspects of time allow for one to create discrepancies within the continuity of a stories overall story arc? Until next time-

Taking another rotten look at Apocalypse

I know already posted on Superman/Batman: Apocalypse,” so I want to avoid too much summary. So for that purpose I have posted a youtube clip and quoted Felix Vasquez Jr. who wrote a review on “Superman/Batman: Apocalypse,”

I really truly wanted to love “Superman/ Batman: Apocalypse” in the end, mainly because I really enjoyed the first film when it was released and thought it to be a great superhero thriller. This sequel is mainly aimed for the girls in the audience and that is made apparent by the fact that Supergirl is the primary character, she is deemed to be more powerful than Superman (that idea truly angers me), and Superman and Batman mainly just play bickering parents who either fawn over Supergirl and try to figure out what to do with her. Batman thinks she can be a horrible weapon and that she must be kept under control, Superman thinks she deserves to be given the benefit of the doubt and can be used for good, Batman doesn’t want her to have a cell phone since she didn’t do her homework, Superman wants her to have one since she did her chores. Okay, those last two sentences were false, but that’s mainly what it feels like whenever Superman and Batman are bickering over Supergirl, the gorgeous and often innocent young stalwart from Krypton who is mainly deemed as the new era of deity for Earth’s safety. Superman and Batman are just supporting characters this time around, tasked with imparting wisdom on young Kara who takes to Earth life instantly. Superman teaches her about junk food, Superman teaches her about fashion, Superman shops with her!

Vasquez summarizes underlying aspects of the film, while also pointing out what he thinks are the bad qualities of this film. I feel the need to argue with him and would claim that these are actually some of the more admirable traits of the film. Many of the film reviewers on suggest that the film is too short with too many characters left bickering on the screen. I have to say that I am not interested in anything that the reviews actually had to say. I enjoy the action, especially the familial aspects. This is a side of the stoic Superman that readers are not normally exposed. Even in the films he is stiff and unemotional. In this feature Superman exhibits emotions and concern. The question becomes, is it because his family is present? I like the analogy that Vasquez utilizes in his discussion of the film and that is somewhat how the film plays out, but I think these are aspects of Superman that are often ignored. It is nice to have this relaxed and emotional setting present in the Superman mythos… even if it is not part of the continuity.

Great Power, Who wants the responsibility?

“Each of us fights with the hope of a better tomorrow.” -Superman (Superman / Batman: Apocalypse.)

The basic premise of the latest animated film from the DC Universe is based after the events of “Superman / Batman: Public Enemies.” Kevin Conroy and Tim Daly have reprised their voices as the Dark Knight and Superman. A ship or meteorite object crashes into Gotham harbor, at which time Batman goes to investigate the scene of the crash. During this time he chases a woman of unknown origins through Gotham. Although, the video does not go into so much detail I think it gives a good idea that there is another Kryptonian in the mix, Kara, Kal-El or Superman’s cousin. The next clip gives away more of the plot line. However, I was more interested in how this animated feature draws the viewer into the action. I also appreciate the use of the the same voices as Conroy and Daly have become well known for being cast into these roles. I don’t know if it was a dead giveaway for most, but the glowing red eyes screams Super-girl. This story is one that plays with the origins of the character. It explains how there was one Kryptonian that also survived during the explosion. Some might argue that Superman needs to be the last survivor of Krypton and as shown in the cover image, DC killed her off. Up until now, Superman has been alone. The origins are re-imagined, for the adults, and the children taking up the stories. It is interesting because much like classic Greek texts, these stories have been reinvented several times over the last seventy years. Superman has had a long history of changes within the DC Universe. In terms of the Superman continuity, Kara was killed off in the comic books during Crisis on Infinite Earths.

This discussion is the result of another, which happened earlier this evening. I was sitting in class professor Hatfield was discussing what the superhero genre represents and how those stories can mean more than just a passive agressive fanciful way of avoiding reality. We also read Spiderman for class this week and this triggers other thoughts to my mind. (If only at this point in my writing, were you a fly on the wall, it would make it all that much easier to explain.) I don’t want to go into too much detail but I am afraid that in order to give a lucid discourse I must. I will come back to Hatfield’s remark later.
Spiderman, primarily the movie has the famous saying, “With great power, comes great responsibility.” In the retelling of the Spiderman origin story. (Not to get too off topic, but since we discussed the trailer for Spiderman I have also added it among the clips.)

Peter Parker’s Uncle Ben, tells him this line from the first film and it becomes the “code,” much like Batman’s code, and even Dexter’s “code of Harry.” It is in these lines, that I am reminded of what one of my classmates said, “Peter is a whiney geek.” I say, good! He is in high school, he is a teenager. He is meant to be a whining teenager. I actually think by the time they made the third film, it was the closest that they came to capturing the whining pubescent teenager known as Peter Parker. Only I think they were a bit late with this telling of the story, and should have included it earlier on as it was a regression for the character. However, that is taking us away from the heart of this discussion, Super-girl. She, like the earlier whining version of Peter Parker likes having the power, but does not want the responsibility. At times she does not want to be a superhero. Without going back and doing an origin story (Which DC releases tomorrow as an alternate Year One story for Superman.) It is particularly interesting that she has more powers than Spiderman / Peter Parker, and yet she does not want to deal with the responsibility or the pressures. I will argue that it is because neither has a full grasp of their own powers yet. In the film Batman suggests that she is trained by Wonder Woman (Tutelage under the Princess of the Amazons, that is another discussion entirely, if anyone feels up to the challenge, by all means.) Batman convinces Superman that his cousin needs to be trained so that his enemies will not try and hurt him through his family. (Spoiler Alert: A few scenes later, enter Darkseid attempting to encourage young Kara to join him in Apocalypse.) Supergirl or Kara, is a reinterpretation on the question, “what if?” I propose the question, “what if” superman didn’t want to be the protector of Earth? What if he didn’t want the powers at all, and just wanted to be normal, what if the bad guys got to him first and manipulated him? Kara, falls into the category similar to Kal-El, having the help of good people. However, she is in a confused state of mind, a teenage mind. She is impressionable. It is the whining depiction of the superhero, something that deviates from the normal machismo. Here the viewers and readers encounter a superhero that struggles with the ideas and questions of normalcy. The question becomes, why do they choose to fight for the side of good? What compels them to be the protectors? Ernest Hemingway wrote that, “the world is a mighty fine place and worth fighting for.” The actions of the superhero resonate with this statement. The superhero has chosen to protect, to fight, because they believe that the world is worth fighting for. I struggled with the idea of this hiding behind a false identity, one that was not their own, but with the power, the responsibility, there is a time when the hero wants a break. I was lucky enough to find the first eight minutes of Pixar’s The Incredibles on youtube. The statements made by these characters demonstrate a lot of relevance to this discourse. They point out that it is indeed a great burden to not have a secret identity, to always be under the microscope, every action recorded, judged. Characters such as Iron Man that have put themselves in a position that has exposed their secret identities forces them to be placed under more scrutiny. I have to agree with the sentiments in the film when Superman / Clark says, “Secret identity is one of the most important things of being a super hero.” I don’t think he said it quite like that but I think it was something along those lines. I could continue this discussion, but I think I must end it there and with a clip from the Incredibles, because I think that it really summarizes the importance of a dual identity and perhaps shines some light on why they help people… because they want to.

Time Masters Volume 2: Passageway

Last I wrote I was reading Time Masters as my serial comic. As part of the catching up process of getting up to speed with the series again, I must say that the basic premise has been lost in time and space. Who exactly is RIP Hunter? What the hell does Booster Gold have to do with him (ie. why is he so important to him later on?) Will they ever find Bruce Wayne. The answers to these questions are being slowly teased out. I am enjoying the anticipation. I am already caught up but I just wanted to discuss the 2nd installment of the series. The second part of the story does not deliver a strong follow up to the first issue. I must admit that the storyline appears to be falling apart. I am impressed with the art, but there are times when the attention to the details in the art is a bit rushed. But then again, it gives guys like me hope that we could only hope to do something almost as good and if not better than the work being produced. This is irrelevant to the story and the discussion at hand. Time Masters presents questions that are more ideological, if questions. If you could change what you did in the past, would you? If you did, what would happen? I would normally think that time is set in stone, or for the most part I would think that the majority of people thought that way. In terms of the story, time can be tampered with. Hunter’s job is to protect events within time, and one such example as given was when Kal-El comes to Earth. We learn that RIP is being trained by his father (Unknown name and origin, however, the blue star and gold pants suggest that he is Booster Gold.) that it is his job to protect moments such as Superman’s vulnerable moments. It is also interesting to note that in this part of the story titled “Passageway,” there is a black and white cut away in the middle of a splash page when Booster and Hunter are discussing his involvement with the J.L.A. and how he can never tell anyone that he is protecting the multiverse because he would then make himself a target. Hunter (Not the characters real name, possibly could be something Booster, not sure quite yet.) understands that his origins must be kept a secret because it makes him a target… This thought is what made me want to look at the idea of secret identities once more in terms of Time Masters. In terms of taking on a persona, RIP Hunter assumes the role of Hunter, removing his alter ego, or original self entirely. In terms of Superman, Batman, or even Wonder Woman (Who assumes the mild mannered alter ego, much like Superman does.) one could argue that this would be less problematic for the hero, to just embrace the hero, and not have any other life to worry about. However, I was watching “Superman & Batman Apocalypse” and Superman suggests that having the two identities is the most important thing in his life, that without being Clark, he would not feel normal. Superman is Kal-El first, then he is Clark Kent as he grows up with the Kent family. Once he assumes the role of Superman he has progressively evolved into the third stage of his transformation. Although, these stages are removed from the story of RIP Hunter, there is still a faint element that exists, instead RIP hides the identity of his family. The question I am struggling with and will leave with for the evening is: Could it be more dangerous to have a secret identity to protect simply the self, or to have an identity that aims to protect the entire family? Batman and Superman essentially do not have these problems of family so that is why I raise this question. Until next time… (Coming up next time, I still have to talk about the Apocalypse and some Iron Man 2, as well as the Volume 3 and 4 of Time Masters.)

Time Masters: Vanishing Point (Spoiler Alert)

I have not read a serial comic in a while. I cannot really say that I have ever stuck with one on a consistent basis for that matter. Most of the time I could not get past the fact that the art. Other times I was not sure what was going on in the comic book or I simply could not get into the story. Time Masters was a great springboard for me to get back into, or start reading comics on the week-to-week basis. I must admit that I am not fond of the suspense. I have already switched from watching television shows to avoid the unnecessary suspense and waiting for the next episodes. So Time Masters is an excellent comic for me since it is a mini series. I am currently on the first of six, the collection as a whole is currently on number 3 of the series, and number four comes out on the 26th! I don’t want to give too much away about the details and storyline of the book, but I do want to give a brief summary of the first book in the series since it may entice you to read the series.
Maybe I should start with why I considered the comic book versus other books that were available at Earth 2 Comics when my class went to visit. I had been browsing many isles in the local Barnes and Noble when I saw a graphic novel entitled, “R.I.P. Batman,” a comic that basically is about the death of Batman, or so I thought it was about his death. I haven’t read it yet; but then I saw Time Masters and made considered the connection between the books. The art, although not as amazing as what I had seen when I flipped through books like Hush or R.I.P. Batman, or even the book that Kevin Smith did with Walt Flannigan. I was drawn in by the supernatural idea that Batman, Bruce Wayne was lost in time. Even though I was unfamiliar with the character RIP hunter, I was still familiar with Superman and the Green Lantern. The layout was already considerably different from the original Batman that I was introduced to.
Yes, that’s right, before I took this class. I had never laid hands on a Batman comic book. The pages had split cells, some were small or cut different ways. Some images were laid out over a splash page or a larger image. The freedom of the layout was impressive and I enjoyed the story as hokey as it was at certain times. It was as though the comic was playing with time in terms of the text. Since the story skips around in time it is only natural to see old terminology, and the use of phrases such as, “Looks like I got here just in time.” It reminded me of the things Superman would say in the early Superman Chronicles. But I am getting off topic. I wanted to talk about the story a little bit before I stop for a moment.
So Batman died? Wait, what he’s not dead? Lost? Lost how? Let me get this straight, Batman is lost in time, now this guy I have never seen before, RIP, Time Master. RIP employs the help of Superman, Green Lantern (Protector of Galaxies), and Booster Gold (Who at this juncture has some importance to RIP, although I am not certain as to what that is quite yet.). It turns out that RIP Hunter has pin pointed that Batman has been ripped from his own time. The thing that has been drawing the majority of my curiosity is how Batman is moving in and out of time and who put him there to begin with. Right now, our heroes are jumping through time as well, trying not to cause a ripple effect that would undo history, as we know it. Next up is the Claw Unconquered…

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