Twenty Percent Cooler

Chris Sims, senior writer of ComicsAlliance, co-writer of Down Set Fight and Subatomic Party Girls, and the Teen Tycoon of Rock

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ComicsAlliance Reviews ‘The Dark Knight’ (2008), Part Three
David: Welcome back to Cinematic Batmanology, for part three (!) of our look at Christopher and Jonathan Nolan’s The Dark Knight. When we last left the movie (part one, part two), Jim Gordon had seemingly died in the line of duty protecting the Mayor from the Joker at former Commissioner Loeb’s funeral, and this left Batman really pissed off. Harvey Dent had also absconded with one of the Joker’s henchmen from the scene of the crime. That henchman was wearing a nametag with the name Rachel Dawes, signaling her as the next to die.
Chris: In other words, things were pretty grim, even by Gotham City standards. And that’s saying something.Chris: We didn’t really talk about Eric Roberts much in the earlier scenes, but he’s seriously great in this. Through all of his interactions with Dent and the Joker, he’s able to project this amazing smugness, and the scene in the nightclub really underscores that. I love that he’s sitting there with this goofy half-smile as he listens to house music.David: “We can’t hear each other talk!” “What makes you think I want to hear you talk?” He’s an absolute douchebag to the girl he’s with, and it really underscores just how cocky he is with his mob influence.Chris: Exactly, and he sells that cockiness really, really well. He’s a guy who is just flat-out not afraid of Batman. For now, anyway.David: After working out his aggression on a bunch of thugs in a nightclub and grabbing Maroni, we cut to Rachel Dawes in the Major Crimes Unit, when Harvey Dent calls her to tell her she’s been tagged as the next victim and that MCU isn’t safe. Somewhat to Dent’s dismay, she says the safest place in Gotham right now is Bruce Wayne’s penthouse, and goes there.Chris: That’s another great example of how sharp this script is. This is a super-tense scene with a huge threat hanging over Rachel, and we still get the comedy of Dent’s absolute disbelief that Bruce is trustworthy, or that he’s even remotely capable of keeping Rachel safe. Apparently, he still has no idea who choked him out at the fundraiser.David: We then go back to Batman and Maroni, and Batman kicks off his interrogation by dropping him from a balcony just high enough to break his legs but not kill him. What’s great is that Maroni recognizes this and calls him on it, and Batman just goes “I’m counting on it” and drops him. I really have to wonder how they filmed this, since it really does look like Eric Roberts drops like five stories and breaks his ankles. I guess there’s a cut right between him falling and landing, so they could have used a harness or a doll.Chris: Roberts does this great little immediate shift right after he drops where he starts spilling what he knows about the Joker, but it only lasts a second before he’s able to compose himself. Even being dropped and breaking his legs just reinforces what he knows about Batman: That Batman won’t kill him. So you get this great moment of Batman being just as ruthless as he can be within the moral structure set up by the first film, and it just does not work when it’s put up against what the Joker’s doing.David: Batman asks Maroni where the Joker is, and Maroni says he has no damn idea. Batman continues to completely misunderstand the Joker by asking if he has any friends. Maroni points out that nobody’s going to turn on the Joker, since they know Batman won’t kill them or their family, while the Joker truly has no moral limits. At this point, Batman’s don’t-kill limitation is being tested like never before for him.Chris: It’s this great bit of irony. Even the criminals now feel safer around Batman than they do around the Joker.Andy: Batman’s interrogation of Maroni addresses something that you have to ignore in order to enjoy the comics after so many years, which is that eventually the criminals of Gotham will realize that the Batman will never murder them, but the Joker — and maybe even the cops — will. In a finite story like The Dark Knight, it’s a powerful moment and a turning point in Bruce’s mission. The Plan is no longer working, and if Maroni can figure it out, so can the Joker.Read more at ComicsAlliance.
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comicsalliance:

ComicsAlliance Reviews ‘The Dark Knight’ (2008), Part Three

David: Welcome back to Cinematic Batmanology, for part three (!) of our look at Christopher and Jonathan Nolan’s The Dark Knight. When we last left the movie (part onepart two), Jim Gordon had seemingly died in the line of duty protecting the Mayor from the Joker at former Commissioner Loeb’s funeral, and this left Batman really pissed off. Harvey Dent had also absconded with one of the Joker’s henchmen from the scene of the crime. That henchman was wearing a nametag with the name Rachel Dawes, signaling her as the next to die.

Chris: In other words, things were pretty grim, even by Gotham City standards. And that’s saying something.

Chris: We didn’t really talk about Eric Roberts much in the earlier scenes, but he’s seriously great in this. Through all of his interactions with Dent and the Joker, he’s able to project this amazing smugness, and the scene in the nightclub really underscores that. I love that he’s sitting there with this goofy half-smile as he listens to house music.

David: “We can’t hear each other talk!” “What makes you think I want to hear you talk?” He’s an absolute douchebag to the girl he’s with, and it really underscores just how cocky he is with his mob influence.

Chris: Exactly, and he sells that cockiness really, really well. He’s a guy who is just flat-out not afraid of Batman. For now, anyway.

David: After working out his aggression on a bunch of thugs in a nightclub and grabbing Maroni, we cut to Rachel Dawes in the Major Crimes Unit, when Harvey Dent calls her to tell her she’s been tagged as the next victim and that MCU isn’t safe. Somewhat to Dent’s dismay, she says the safest place in Gotham right now is Bruce Wayne’s penthouse, and goes there.

Chris: That’s another great example of how sharp this script is. This is a super-tense scene with a huge threat hanging over Rachel, and we still get the comedy of Dent’s absolute disbelief that Bruce is trustworthy, or that he’s even remotely capable of keeping Rachel safe. Apparently, he still has no idea who choked him out at the fundraiser.

David: We then go back to Batman and Maroni, and Batman kicks off his interrogation by dropping him from a balcony just high enough to break his legs but not kill him. What’s great is that Maroni recognizes this and calls him on it, and Batman just goes “I’m counting on it” and drops him. I really have to wonder how they filmed this, since it really does look like Eric Roberts drops like five stories and breaks his ankles. I guess there’s a cut right between him falling and landing, so they could have used a harness or a doll.

Chris: Roberts does this great little immediate shift right after he drops where he starts spilling what he knows about the Joker, but it only lasts a second before he’s able to compose himself. Even being dropped and breaking his legs just reinforces what he knows about Batman: That Batman won’t kill him. So you get this great moment of Batman being just as ruthless as he can be within the moral structure set up by the first film, and it just does not work when it’s put up against what the Joker’s doing.

David: Batman asks Maroni where the Joker is, and Maroni says he has no damn idea. Batman continues to completely misunderstand the Joker by asking if he has any friends. Maroni points out that nobody’s going to turn on the Joker, since they know Batman won’t kill them or their family, while the Joker truly has no moral limits. At this point, Batman’s don’t-kill limitation is being tested like never before for him.

Chris: It’s this great bit of irony. Even the criminals now feel safer around Batman than they do around the Joker.

Andy: Batman’s interrogation of Maroni addresses something that you have to ignore in order to enjoy the comics after so many years, which is that eventually the criminals of Gotham will realize that the Batman will never murder them, but the Joker — and maybe even the cops — will. In a finite story like The Dark Knight, it’s a powerful moment and a turning point in Bruce’s mission. The Plan is no longer working, and if Maroni can figure it out, so can the Joker.

Read more at ComicsAlliance.

comicsalliance:

10 Good Things About the DC Relaunch (So Far) 
By Chris Sims
With the recent reviews I’ve written of Justice League, Batgirl and Suicide Squad, some of our readers might have gotten the impression that I’m a crabby misanthrope who’s dead set against the DC Reboot. Despite appearances, that’s simply not true — or at least, the second half of it isn’t. As much as there are books spinning out of the relaunch that I haven’t enjoyed, there’s a lot of good stuff going on too. That’s why today, ComicsAlliance Editor-in-Chief / Wise Earth Mother Laura Hudson has challenged me to balance things out a little by offering up Ten Good Things About the DC Reboot (So Far)!
#1. The Return of Obscure CharactersI’m not quite sure that I understand DC’s irrational attachment to the number 52, but as we’ve said before, that’s a lot of comics to launch at one time. As a result, even if they’re putting out fourteen comics about Batman and his various illegitimate children, sidekicks and assorted hangers-on, there’s still a lot of room left on the roster to shine a spotlight on the more obscure characters like Resurrection Man and Mr. Terrific. As much as they want to draw in readers who already like the big-name characters thanks to movies and video games, it’s nice that they’re trying to pull them into a bigger, deeper universe.Read the other nine at ComicsAlliance.
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comicsalliance:

10 Good Things About the DC Relaunch (So Far)
 

By Chris Sims

With the recent reviews I’ve written of Justice LeagueBatgirl and Suicide Squad, some of our readers might have gotten the impression that I’m a crabby misanthrope who’s dead set against the DC Reboot. Despite appearances, that’s simply not true — or at least, the second half of it isn’t. As much as there are books spinning out of the relaunch that I haven’t enjoyed, there’s a lot of good stuff going on too. That’s why today, ComicsAlliance Editor-in-Chief / Wise Earth Mother Laura Hudson has challenged me to balance things out a little by offering up Ten Good Things About the DC Reboot (So Far)!


#1. The Return of Obscure Characters

I’m not quite sure that I understand DC’s irrational attachment to the number 52, but as we’ve said before, that’s a lot of comics to launch at one time. As a result, even if they’re putting out fourteen comics about Batman and his various illegitimate children, sidekicks and assorted hangers-on, there’s still a lot of room left on the roster to shine a spotlight on the more obscure characters like Resurrection Man and Mr. Terrific. As much as they want to draw in readers who already like the big-name characters thanks to movies and video games, it’s nice that they’re trying to pull them into a bigger, deeper universe.

Read the other nine at ComicsAlliance.

chrishaley:

I had an email this morning from Joel Priddy that was titled, “HAPPY GODDAMN BIRTHDAY”.
This was contained within it.
I love it.

chrishaley:

I had an email this morning from Joel Priddy that was titled, “HAPPY GODDAMN BIRTHDAY”.

This was contained within it.

I love it.

(Source: thechrishaley)

comicsalliance:

War Rocket Ajax #13: Jess Fink on Steampunk Robo-Erotica ‘Chester 5000’ [Podcast]

This week, ComicsAlliance’s podcast is as pleased as it can be to welcome the incredible Jess Fink to the show to talk about Chester 5000 XYV, an erotic tale of Victorian robotics and bare-chested science, newly released in print from Top Shelf! Plus, we have a truly ridiculous amount of Spin Doctors related content — and you can listen to the show right here at ComicsAlliance!

NOTE: We’re in the middle of some server issues, so the iTunes feed may not update on time. Stream it above, or visit WarRocketAjax.com to download this week’s episode in mp3 format.

In addition to Jess Fink, Chris and Matt also welcome a pair of special guests to this week’s show: Awesomed By Comics hosts Evie and Aaron, who are celebrating their 150th show this week! They drop by, and as is the case with our show, things quickly get off track with a discussion of the Spin Doctors before coming back around to a brief report on South Carolina’s Cola-Con and a great deal of discussion of the first week of DC’s New 52.

Once Jess arrives, she gives us some insight into how she decided to start doing erotic comics:

I’ve gotten comments before where people are like “Oh, you’re so brave, you’re so brave to draw sex and penises and vaginas and stuff.” I don’t feel like that’s the stuff I’m really brave about, because I always wanted to draw that type of stuff. I was always interested in doing it, and when I was in college, a teacher of mine sort of encouraged me to do it. He told me that I could actually make money for doing stuff for Fantagraphics, and I was like “Oh, I can make money doing it! That would be great!”

So I started doing stuff for Fantagraphics, and then I kind of just decided I’d like to do something that was longer form, maybe put it on the web.

Much more from Jess Fink in the War Rocket Ajax podcast on ComicsAlliance.

(via superheroeswearingjackets)

comicsalliance:

FunkyWatch: August’s Most Depressing (and Confusing) ‘Funky Winkerbean’ Strips

By Chris Sims

Thanks to Josh Fruhlinger at the Comics Curmudgeon, I started reading Tom Batiuk’s long-running newspaper comic strip, Funky Winkerbean. For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, what started as a strip full of wacky high-school hijinx has slowly transitioned into being an inescapable quagmire of despair. It is, without question, the single most depressing long-form work in comics history.

And I am completely obsessed with it.

Over the past month, Batiuk has reached new highs (or lows, as the case may be) in chronicling the wretched, godforsaken lives of his cast of characters, and if you’re a regular reader of this column, you’ll know that he had to pull out something special. Something even more alarming than Les Moore’s romantic entanglements. That’s right everybody — we’re talking about cross-time head trauma.

Before we get to that, though, there are still plenty of other misery-filled plot threads left over from last month that need to be resolved, specifically Les getting a movie option for the book he wrote about his wife dying of cancer. And don’t worry, just in case you forget that’s what the book was about, Batiuk offers plenty of reminders.

Anyway, you’d think this would be good news — if nothing else, Les could maybe bank a little bit of that option money for his daughter’s college fund, what with her dreams of a basketball scholarship maybe getting crushed with a painful knee injury back in February — but in Westview, there is no good news that cannot be twisted to result in still more suffering. As evidence, I give Les Moore’s glum face as he hears that having someone make a movie out of his book is an event not unlike watching someone feast on the flesh of his offspring. Welcome back to Funky Winkerbean, everybody!

Read more at ComicsAlliance.

chrishaley:

Kanye + Comics: Spider-H.A.M. Edition
thevolcanoplays:

Lyrics: H.A.M.
Art: Mike Wieringo - Amazing Spider-man #528 

chrishaley:

Kanye + Comics: Spider-H.A.M. Edition

thevolcanoplays:

Lyrics: H.A.M.

Art: Mike Wieringo - Amazing Spider-man #528 

(via thechrishaley)

comicsalliance:

ComicsAlliance Reviews ‘The Dark Knight’ (2008), Part One

Each week, Chris Sims and David Uzumeri take a look back at one of the most successful and influential comic book movie franchises of all time, in ComicsAlliance’s in-depth retrospective on the Batman films.
 

This week, the guys are joined by ComicsAlliance editor Andy Khouri for an exhaustive but entertaining discussion of the latest Batman film, The Dark Knight. An uncommonly rich and densely plotted film regardless of genre, part of 1 of their commentary comes in at over 11,000 words and only covers the first 25 minutes of the film.

An excerpt:

David: So we kick off with the frankly virtuosic bank robbery sequence.

Chris: It’s a pretty amazing heist, with this beautifully compact set-up and like five twists before it’s all over, and it’s the first six minutes of the movie.

David: The movie makes one thing completely clear from the get-go: the Joker is an absolute criminal genius, and we learn this from the point of view of his goons. The heist kicks off with two teams: the rooftop crew, which is two goons, and the three who enter in the front and do the entire “let’s shoot AKs in the air and scare people” thing. Except that absolutely NONE of this is as it seems.

Chris: Not just a criminal genius, but a meticulous master planner.

David: We get this in the very beginning, when one of the two goons cuts the silent alarm from the rooftop (after using a grapple launcher to get there from an adjacent building), and not only does he comment (very importantly) that the silent alarm is going to a private number rather than 911, but then his compatriot caps him in the back of the head, on the orders of the Joker himself. The Joker claims to be all about chaos, but that’s all bluster, and this opening sequence proves it: every single action he takes is brilliantly calculated. And credit to the Nolan brothers for being smart enough to write a villain this damn smart.

Chris: It’s the manipulation that sells it. He’s able to manipulate these guys into killing each other — presumably with the promise of a bigger cut of the take — but at the end of the sequence, he’s even able to position himself so that the last robber is actually standing in the right spot to get taken out by the schoolbus. So not only does he get all the money, but there’s no one left to tell everyone how he plotted everything, instead of just being the raving, mass-murdering lunatic that he wants everyone to see him as. That’s his disguise, as much as Batman is Bruce Wayne’s.

David: Yeah, let’s just get this out of the way: the silent goon is the Joker, and this entire heist is an elaborately constructed human Rube Goldberg machine made of social psychology and criminology rather than candles and bird cages. But here’s the thing: every single plan the Joker makes here is predicated on the innate selfishness of human beings. And when you’re dealing with four hired goons and the security force and managers of a mafia bank, that’s a safe bet.

Andy: Right, he plays the systems: human self-interest, human rules and authority.

David: As we’ll see as this movie goes on, the one thing the Joker absolutely cannot predict, and does not plan for, and doesn’t understand, is altruism.

Chris: He and Lord Voldemort have so much to talk about, including their intense hatred of self-righteous orphans.

David: And man, the score during this sequence is amazing. The sense of building tension is perfect.

Andy: I have to tell you guys about this bank set. It’s actually a building called The Old Chicago Post Office, and it is even more grand and impressive in person than it seems in the film. The amount of detail they built into it was incredible. Around the set you could see things that would never appear on screen. There are automatic teller machines whose screens display the name of the bank and its logo, there were brochures and deposit slips with the same. The building was built in 1921, and I can tell you the giant hole in the wall was real.

David: When Bozo is the last clown standing (thanks, subtitles), it’s especially clear that something’s wrong, especially when the bank manager starts yelling at him about how he’s just gonna get capped by his boss like the others. He doesn’t have any idea who he’s dealing with. After everyone’s dead, the Joker reveals himself to the mob boss, who just doesn’t understand the concept of criminal anarchy. He goes on about honor and respect, tenets of omerta that just don’t apply to the Joker. Apparently the Joker is a big Pearl Jam fan, because he has no code.

Andy: The power of the bank heist scene is also enhanced by Nolan’s prodigious use of the IMAX format. Nolan is a classic filmmaker in the sense that he loves big, beautiful, high fidelity images, and the IMAX format is that kind of filmmaker’s best friend. He’s aware that you are going to see this film on a big screen, and he wants to fill that screen with as BIG and visually rich an image as he can, it’s part of Nolan’s mission to pull you into the world of this film and believe in it utterly.

Chris: I love the look that the bank manager gives the Joker, and how — again, as part of his meticulous plan — the Joker totally lets that guy stay free until the end, letting people see who he’s dealing with and what the differences are between the Old Crime of Gotham and the New Crime that’s rising in response to Batman. Old Crime doesn’t have a chance.

Andy: I think the key exchange here is the mob banker asking “What do you believe in?” He is profoundly offended by what’s happened, it’s like a religious war happening in this bank. He cannot believe what he’s seeing. The Joker defies his most sacred beliefs. Beyond being brilliant, the Joker is brazen. He’s attacking a mob bank the way a kid would shake an antfarm. I don’t think the exchange with the mob banker could be any more powerful. It is a religious moment. It is first blood in a religious crusade. “What do you believe in?” is a question that comes up throughout the film.

David: The Joker drives off, blending in perfectly with a passing convoy of school buses (again, that meticulous planning), and then the grenade goes off, and it’s just gas. In an open space. It’s harmless. To show the manager that the Joker is unpredictable, and also because the manager being alive to send a message to the mob about who the culprit was is a crucial step in the Joker’s plan. As a matter of fact, it’s THE crucial step, because this heist wasn’t performed for the money, it was performed purely to send a message.

Read much, much more at ComicsAlliance.

comicsalliance:

Analysis: Carlos D’Anda’s ‘Arkham City’ Concept Art Shows the Evolution of Juggalo Harley Quinn

By Chris Sims

Ever since Batman: Arkham Asylum hit consoles in 2009, I’ve been a pretty big fan of what Rocksteady’s been doing with the franchise. The one exception has been the character design they’ve gone with for Harley Quinn. Every time I look at it, I just can’t figure out how they got from the original version designed by Bruce Timm to a character who looks like she’s on her way to catch a once-in-a-lifetime Dark Lotus show at the Gathering of the Juggalosio9has posted a series of concept art revisions by artist and character designer Carlos D’Anda, showing exactly how they got there. Whether you like the redesign or not, it makes for a pretty interesting look at the process — and how they almost went even more over the top! 

The concept here was clearly to put Harley in a “Sexy Nurse” costume to reflect what was going on with the Joker’s takeover of the asylum. Personally, I like the simplicity of the one on the left quite a bit. What we ended up with, though, was a little closer to the one on the right — minus the hat that I think she cribbed from Lemmy’s collection of Nazi memorabilia. So for all intents and purposes, that’s our starting point, but keep an eye on the elements in that middle version. As it stands it may have been way too over the top to get in the first game, but we’ll be seeing those boots, gloves and garters in a few minutes.

Read much, much more at ComicsAlliance.

chrishaley:

Since it was DCnU Superman’s first appearance, I went ahead and fixed the dialogue.
View high resolution

chrishaley:

Since it was DCnU Superman’s first appearance, I went ahead and fixed the dialogue.

(Source: thechrishaley)