Thursday, February 25, 2016

Realism in Comics

I've been thinking, recently, about the term "realism" as it applies to comics and comic book properties. Now there are some genres where being more realistic. The Walking Dead (if you remove the whole zombie thing) or Strangers in Paradise only work with realistic portrayals of humans and technology. Superheroes don't, regardless of who the publisher is. Any genre where a man who dresses as a bat in order to fight criminals, and isn't immediately shot, has no basis in reality.
Yes, Batman is basically a man in a Halloween costume. It looks alright in a comic form, though.
Don't get me wrong, I love it when superhero comics use real science or technology to solve a problem, and especially when they explain it to the reader. However, basing your whole comic/movie/tv show around a "realistic portrayal" of a superhero concept is just inherently flawed to me. It's kind of like the most common complaint of Alex Ross that I hear, which is his portrayal of Batman is "too realistic" since it literally is just a man in a suit.

Alex Ross and his "too real" Batman.
"Then you must not like any superhero movies, since they are all just men in Halloween costumes," you're probably saying. Nope. In fact, when you have a movie that embraces the genre, rather than feeling the need to explain every single thing, it makes for a more enjoyable experience. Since we're on the subject of a rich man running around in his PJ's, let's look at two different movie versions.

Batman (1989) starring Michael Keaton presented Batman as already being around with minimal origin story flashbacks. The Batcave, Batmobile, Batwing, and all the utility belt objects have been developed before the movie. No time is taken, except for a brief scene during the party, to explain where any of this came from.

Batman Begins (2005) starring Christian Bale, spends almost the first half of the movie, after an origin story, explaining where and how Bruce Wayne gets all of his equipment, costume, vehicle, and headquarters. Every piece of it has to be explained, to the point of having a conversation about dummy corporations purchasing two halves of the mask.

Both are good films and I could watch each one at any time, but I enjoy Batman much more than Batman Begins, simply for the fact that it doesn't feel the need to explain what doesn't need explaining. I've already accepted the premise that a man is dressing up as a bat, you don't need to go any further.

That's probably why I like the Marvel Studios films more than just about any other superhero movie, because they accept the comic book world that they are playing in and fully embrace it. Heck, they even made Batroc The Leaper a good character!

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Thursday, February 18, 2016

The Podcast in 2015

The other day I went over to the Two True Freaks website and checked out the download numbers of the podcasts that I'm involved in. When I looked at the compiled numbers, I was floored. Just in 2015, the episodes of my shows were downloaded over 9,000 times! (9,127 to be exact.)

Here's the breakdown by show and by episode:

The Hammer Podcasts!
Episode 1 - Star Trek - 174
Episode 2 - Comic Books - 164
Episode 3 - Mythology - 189
Episode 4 - Feedback - 185
Episode 5 - Changes - 196
Episode 6 - The Greek Gods - 210
Episode 7 - Role-Playing Games - 216
Episode 8 - Star Trek: The Motion Picture - 261
Episode 9 - A Christmas Carol - 270
Episode 10 - Son of Feedback - 327
Episode 11 - Star Wars Rebels - 343
Episode 12 - Conway's Corner - 354
Episode 13 - Norse Mythology - 291
Episode 14 - Zorro, The Gay Blade - 273
Episode 15 - Cartoon TV Themes - 262
Episode 16 - The Muppets - 174

Legends of the Superheroes
Swamp Thing - 172
Batman - 197
The Incredible Hulk - 66
Green Lantern - 271
The Crow - 274
Reb Brown - 296

The Quantum Cast
Episode 1 - Quasar #1 & #2 - 303
Episode 2 - Marvel 2-in-1 #73 - 295
Episode 3 - Quasar #3 - 298
Episode 4 - Quasar #4 - 273
Episode 5 - Quasar #5 - 237
Episode 6 - Quasar #6 - 220

Comic Book Fight Club
Galactus vs Unicron - 308  (These people can be forgiven, since they didn't know what they were getting into)
Hulk vs Doomsday - 286 (Everyone from here down is a horrible person for knowing what they were listening to and coming back anyway)
Suicide Squad vs A-Team - 226
TMNT vs Thundercats - 141

Anime Freaks
Episode 1 - Star Blazers Monthly Monday - 150
Episode 2 - Nova Stalkers - 122
Episode 3 - Star Blazers: In Character - 117
Episode 4  - Pluto Destruction Directive- 50
Episode 5 - We Will Be Regular! - 129
Episode 6 - Project Spata-Ro - 136
Episode 7 - Skype Wants Nothing To Do With This - 180
Episode 8 - Creeeepy Robot - 156
Episode 9 - he's Not Heavy, He's My Sandor - 115
Episode 10 - Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me! - 109
Episode 11 - You're Going To Put That Where?!?! - 111

So the point of all this is for me to say a huge "Thank You!" to everyone who has listened to my ramblings on the internet. Stay tuned, there's more stuff on the way, including a new series that's in the works.

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Thursday, February 11, 2016

The Great Experiment

Like the Falcon when Lando's done, we don't have a dish anymore.
Most of you probably don't know this, so I figured that I would clue you in. Due to a variety of factors, not the least of which was an attempt to save money, we got rid of satellite TV in mid-December. Since then we have been using streaming services (Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime) which we already had as well as HD antennas that I got for a fairly reasonable price on Amazon. I am pleased to announce that, two months in, we're not missing it a bit. No, we don't get to watch all the programs that we used to, but we're watching a lot (and I mean A LOT) of old school programs, such as Hill Street Blues.

Now, I'm not a huge sports guy. I watch the occasional sporting event, if I'm in the mood, so those that absolutely MUST follow their team might not want to try this. However, if you are willing to deal with limited broadcast TV and already have streaming services, then I would highly recommend this. Get yourself an indoor HD antenna and you might just find some interesting sub-channels out there.

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Thursday, February 4, 2016

Robin Hood

One of my favorite old movies is "The Adventures of Robin Hood" starring Errol Flynn, among others. Not, it's not super accurate, historically, but then neither is Robin Hood.

I do love the music, which gets stuck in my head for days after watching it. It's got a great rousing theme but also some nice comedic beats when the mood needs lightening.

Something that you'll notice in this, however, is that Robin is not flawless. He loses to both Little John and Friar Tuck (more of a tie, really) in their initial meetings, and it's through those interactions that they decide to join him. He didn't win and thereby showed him as the superior, but he managed to win them over through personality and the fact that he's already famous.

One thing I truly love about the film is the depth of the casting. You have Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland, Basil Rathbone (relishing playing the villain), Claude Rains, and Alan Hale (Senior, not Junior), among a host a character actors. Everyone gives it their all, and it makes for a great, and fun, film. Don't just take my word for it, though, why not watch it for yourself?

The Adventures Of Robin Hood (1938) by FilmGorillas

Rob Kelly was nice enough to have me on The Film and Water Podcast to discuss this movie, so you can hear more of my thoughts over there:

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