Tag Archives: batman

Letters to the Internet

Dear Chaos Collage,

I’m so sorry I have neglected you for this long, but I simply could not find the time to write between my job, the fiction piece I am currently working on and the four hours of Street Fighter IV I play per day. Since we have so much to talk about I will do my best to keep this entry well organized and to the point, much like the wonderful entertainment section in my local newspaper.

I. Television

With Batman: The Brave and The Bold on mid season hiatus and new episodes of Battlestar Galactica a thing of the past, I have not been paying much attention to episodic fiction recently. What I have been watching (aside from wrestling) is the wonderful “reality” based programming on Spike TV. This includes such shows as Vice Cops Uncut (which is of course very cut), DEA and the new king of Discovery Channel style investigation, Deadliest Warrior. What historical investigation could be more satisfying than one focused on how adept different warriors from different eras would be at killing each other. Have you ever wondered how a Viking would fair against a Samurai? Me too! Finally, we have a resource to find out! What a relief.

II. Movies

…So, Drag Me to Hell comes out in May. Okay, so we aren’t in 2008 anymore and things have slowed down. I guess that writer’s strike finally hit cinemas. The aggravatingly disappointing Watchmen came as quite a downer, probably the first film I was truly disappointed with since before the release of Iron Man. Aside from a couple of decent comedies, it looks like things won’t be picking back up until the edge of June with Sam Raimi’s return to horror Drag Me To Hell. From there we have numerous films to look forward to such as Michael Mann’s Public Enemies, JJ Abrams’ Star Trek and Quentin Tarantino’s long awaited Inglorious Basterds (I know how to spell, that’s just the name of the movie). With these films on the horizon and promises of Iron Man II, Green Lantern and Stallone’s The Expendables for 2010, I’m sure we can make it through The Revenge of the Fallen and The Rise of Cobra. In order to keep hope alive, I will provide a trailer to watch and enjoy.

III. Those Comic Books that rot your brain and/or turn you into a Commie.

Bruce Wayne is gone and it is all Grant Morrison’s fault. He’s not dead though, just gone for the time being. I will not spoil  his replacement for the following reasons A) I think this story will be better if its integrity is kept intact and B) I have no idea who his replacement will be. What I do know, without ruining it for the TPB crowd, is it seems like it won’t be Tim. On the other side of the DCU, the lead-up to Blackest Night is picking up and boy does it look like its going to be good. Geoff Johns’ events lack the rarely deserved self importance of Mark Millar’s or the progressively less satisfying introspection of Bendis’ big story work. Both Morrison and Johns posses the rare ability to not only create inventive plots for beloved characters, but to distill what made us love them in the first place. It is this difference that has defined the best of DC in recent months. That said, Marvel has perhaps the 3rd best writer for this, Ed Brubaker. Both Daredevil and Captain America have rarely missed a beat since his run began and the stories are far from small.  On the Mighty Marvel side, Norman Osborn has taken control of the United States and things are not pretty. I mean this in both a philosophical and editorial sense. Yes, great books that deal directly with the issue are coming out (Thunderbolts being the strongest at the moment, though I have a soft spot for the in-continuity Punisher) but there are way too many stunt books or books that are becoming stunt books (Bad Avengers, sorry I meant Dark Avengers, Mighty Avengers, New Avengers, Avengers: The Initiative, Dead Avengers, X-Avengers, Bad X-Avengers, X-Forcevengers, The Secret Avenger-Defenders, The Force Works Avengers, Two-Gun Kid and His Westvengers, Iron Man and The Reb-Bot Avengers, Rick Jones’ Rockin Avengers and of course Kevin Smith’s Late Avengers Annual). Okay, I made most of those up, but you get my point. Yes, events are made to be exploited but when you can’t even keep continuity between books referring to the same events, you really need to slow down. Take that sales department! On a happier note, all three of the IDW GI Joe books are a lot of fun and should counter act the damage the upcoming film may do to my brain. Dynamite’s current licensed properties and Ennis’ The Boys are still kicking monthly.

IV. Rasslin’

WWE’s Wrestlemania was worse than the next night’s Raw, TNA is a joke and ROH appears to be rotting from the inside. I unfortunately have very little to say aside from that. I am seriously disappointed in both the E and TNA’s inability to create great product with fantastic rosters. In happier news, it looks like there will be a new Hart Foundation on ECW.

V. Music

Typically I isolate an aspect of music or the music industry through an artistic lens, but for this entry I figured being more practical would be better. What I would like to note is the amazing amount and quality of live music hitting the New York/ New Jersey Area in the next few months. Aside from the big guns like Bruce Springsteen and Elvis Costello hitting the road, the area (which is the home of both writers on this blog) will also be hosting such acts as Jenny Lewis (Music Hall of Williamsburg, June 9th), The Get Up Kids (Blender Theater, May 1st) on their reunion tour and hometown boys done good, The Hold Steady (Bowery Ballroom, June 8th & 9th-Music Hall of Williamsburg, June 10th and 11th). Even Green Day will be playing a theater show this spring (no, I don’t know when and I can’t get you tickets). In addition to these exciting travelin’ troubadours, local act The Neutron Drivers will be hitting the Big Apple’s famed Knitting Factory on April 30th. I hear there’s even a free sandwich and cheap beer for the die-hard early crowd.

Well, that’s it for now. Hopefully I will come up with some amazing insight for my next piece.

Love,

Vinny

Vinny’s Unrelated Video Post of the Week!

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America’s Finest

While writing my last entry (‘til deathrays do us part), I began to ruminate on the popularity of Batman over that of Superman, specifically in the United States. In most ways, Superman seems as if he should be the absolute king of all superheroes. He is the prototype for the entire genre and as far as the stories go, he is acknowledged as such. Not only that, but he is often cited as the ultimate immigrant, the only true pillar of virtue in the universe and the embodiment of the “American Dream”. If this is truly the case, than why do Americans prefer The Dark Knight to The Man of Steel? I believe it is (in part) because Batman embodies the American Dream in a far more accessible manner.

As I mentioned before, the journey of The Last Son of Krypton is often presented as the ultimate immigrant success story. Not only does he successfully assimilate into American culture, but adds his own knowledge and strength to the tapestry that is this great nation. I don’t think that this point is disputable, but it isn’t inherently relatable. Yes, the majority of the population finds its roots in other countries, but many of us were born within U.S. borders. Our ancestors gave us their traditions, but we cannot all empathize with their hardships. Additionally, even immigrants aren’t necessarily prone to reject an American born figure especially if they buy into the other aspects of the story. Basically, Superman is the ultimate immigrant story, but that positions him no better than the American born Batman.

Another aspect of this American Dream is living up to ones potential. In normal circumstances, triumph in this area typically garners economic success stories. Within the largely symbolic genre of superhero fiction it is perhaps better represented by the literal triumph over the evils of the world and the characters own condition. This is where Batman begins to gain ground on Superman. Yes, Superman does fight a never-ending battle, and one that he is often winning in, but his starting point is a bit more advanced. Superman is essentially never threatened physically; in turn, all of his real problems are philosophical. Superman can do anything; the hard part is figuring WHAT to do. In theory, this should be no less interesting than other stories. The problem is this type of narrative is very difficult to write and suffers from being done very badly over and over again. On the other hand, Batman starts where any of us would. Not only does he triumph over the tragic death of his parents, but he brings himself to such a high level of perfection (both mentally and physically) that he can stand side-by-side with men and women who can travel faster than light and punch through mountains. Yes, The Caped Crusader is blessed with the benefits of being able to afford anything he needs to achieve these goals, but I think the majority of the audience accepts this as a necessary resource to bring oneself to the pinnacle of human potential.

The American Dream also calls for the creation of a positive family legacy. The pioneer of the group is always credited with this and it is a very important part of the realization of an American Dream. Both Batman and Superman’s biological families are already portrayed as men and women who have already accomplished this. Jor-El is a respected scientist and member of the ruling class on Krypton. Thomas & Martha Wayne are respected philanthropists in Gotham before their tragic deaths. There have even been some apocryphal writings on the history of the Kents. However, it is their deaths that start the new dreams. New families start when people begin to wear symbols on their chests. To be clear, anyone who is around for the beginnings of the superhero can be included in this family. For Batman this is Alfred and for Superman, the Kents. However, it is now the burden of the hero to create the new family legacy. Superman does create a legacy, but it is an odd one. The Legion of Superheroes, teenage superheroes from the future who see Superman as a legend and recruit Superboy (Superman’s adventures when he was a boy!) serve as the philosophical children of Superman. Once again, this is a concept that should work but is haunted by writers’ difficulty to grasp the philosophical side of the story. Once again, Batman gets an advantage because of this. I would say one of the big differences between Batman and any superhero is public awareness of his supporting cast. Anyone who is aware of Batman will most likely be aware of Alfred, Gordon and Robin if nothing else. These characters, both literally and potentially, provide infinite extension of the bat-family legacy. Not only that, but many of these characters have or have had their own solo books. The Bat-Family is always in action, Superman doesn’t have that.

This isn’t written with the intent of bashing Superman; in fact he’s one of my favorite characters and there isn’t much I would change about him or his supporting cast. I just think it’s important to analyze why the public perceives characters as they do. Batman is a far more functional in a traditional sense and more writers are able to write him effectively (especially when they actually know the material they are working with.) I’m also not claiming that there is no fan base for Superman, it just needs to be recognized that it may take a bit more care to bring him back into the spotlight. We can believe a man can fly again.

Vinny’s unrelated Video Pick of The Week!

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