Posts Tagged ‘Justice League Unlimited’

batsandsupesSo, as you may have guessed, I was a bit…let’s go for disappointed with Batman v Superman. While there were kernels of a good movie in there, the main characters that I as an audience member was supposed to root for felt wrong in how they were presented. In my search for a palate cleanser, I turned to the one corner of the DC Universe that rarely fails me – animation. With a few series and a smattering of movies to choose from, I compiled some of my favorite Batman and Superman moments.

Feel free to add your own as well!

 

The Batman/Superman Movie or “World’s Finest Parts 1, 2, & 3”, October 1997

Still the best “meet-cute” between Bats and Supes.

Justice League: Doom, February 2012

Batman trusts the Justice League to take him down and Superman trusts Batman with the one thing that could truly kill him

Justice League “The Savage Time, Part 3”, November 2002

Look how happy Clark is to see the real Batman!

Superman/Batman: Public Enemies, September 2009

If it isn’t fighting Metallo, then it’s surgery in an open grave!

Superman/Batman: Supergirl, September 2010

I think Clark still owes Bruce $50,000 plus interest.

Justice League: The New Frontier, February 2008

Hanging out in the batcave like they do!

Young Justice, “Schooled”, February 2011

Parenting! Also their choice in deserts is spot on!

afteryou

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I needed to do a fun article. It’s been a weird couple of weeks in the House of Sam, so I’m gonna talk about one of the stranger and yet awesome categories of comic book characters – Gorillas. No, not the beloved alternative/hip hop/electronica group, but rather our gloriously rendered, hyper-intelligent simian cousins who populate the world of DC Comics. While television viewing fans have come to know of frequent Flash villain Gorilla Grodd, it’s worth noting that the comic book universe home to the Scarlet Speedster has at least six sentient apes running around with the goal of either helping or hindering our favorite heroes. And with the possibility of more apes appearing on The Flash via the proto-Gorilla City of Earth-2, I thought I’d give all you lovely people a rundown of villainous and heroic primates with the potential to grace our small screens, or maybe the big one.StrangeAdventures75

 

 

But First: Why Are There So Many Gorillas?

It’s a question worth asking due to the sheer number of intelligent gorillas roaming the DCU. Don’t get me wrong, Marvel has its own sentient apes, but not as many as its main competitor. The answer comes down to age, and not the silver one that most people associate with the proliferation of monkeys in media. While the Silver Age is definitely known for its heavy use of science fiction tropes, gorillas were hardly absent from fiction or comics prior to the era of sci-fi shenanigans. Edgar Rice Burroughs introduced several ape characters in the Tarzan novels from 1912-1964 and the early Tarzan films featured his chimp pal Cheeta. During the Golden Age various jungle related comics had their title characters regularly confront enemies of the gorilla kind even if it was only on the cover. No, as a company, DC has been around longer and thus they’ve gone through at least two phases of popular culture where “gorilla movies” drove sales. From King Kong to the first Planet of the Apes franchise, giant and/or intelligent primates have never quite left the media landscape. DC Comics just happened to have more characters who survived the ebb and flow of popularity.

 

Gorilla Grodd

Yes, I know The Flash has put Grodd much higher on the radar than anyone could’ve imagined, but he’s still an interesting character worth looking at a little more. Introduced in 1959, in the comics the residents of Gorilla City (originally located on regular old Earth-1) gained their intelligence from an alien who crashed landed in Africa, but it was later retconned as a radioactive meteor because comics! Grodd, upon gaining a massive boost to the old noggin, basically decides to start taking over the world, like immediately. The only variations of his plan usually involve taking over Gorilla City from intellectual rival King Solovar or deciding just to destroy humanity inGrodd general. Gotta change it up every once and a while. Like his television counterpart, Grodd is telepathic and telekinetic, which makes him a pretty formidable opponent for the Flash since Grodd’s disdain for humans in general makes it easy for him to use people as canon fodder in order to get the upper hand. There were, however, a number of plots where Grodd could change into a human and others where he took over a human’s mind almost permanently, so we’ll see how far the live action show wants to push it. He’s also pretty game to team up with other villains – joining Lex Luthor’s Legion of Doom and Vandal Savage on numerous occasions – so keeping my fingers crossed for Captain Cold to show up on his doorstep in Earth-2!

I do believe he also has the most television and video game appearances of any DC gorilla, showing up in everything from the Super Friends to Justice League: Unlimited to Lego Batman.

 

King Solovar

Part of the original group of gorillas gifted with hyper-intelligence, Solovar has been instrumental in keeping the peace between Gorilla City and the human world. Where Grodd seeks power, Solovar keeps his brilliant mind tempered with wisdom and humility. Which is probably why the two are always at odds, though it seems to depend largely on how into taking over the world Grodd is that day before settling on messing with Solovar. He’s definitely made a play for the throne plenty of times, but where his rival is concerned Grodd will go the extra mile to make the king’s life a living hell. For instance, Solovar fancied a female gorilla named Boka and intended to marry her. Grodd, learning of this thing called happiness and falling for Boka as well, built a machine that emitted a type of radiation that made solovarothers instantly like him, causing Boka to turn her affections towards him. Then he used it to become King of Gorilla City. Then he tried to take over Central City. That’s the world of gorillas in the DCU. In the DC Animated Universe, however, Solovar appeared as the Chief of Security for Gorilla City sent to stop Grodd from, of course, taking over the world. Luckily, Flash and Green Lantern were there to lend a hand.

Given the rivalry between Grodd and Solovar is a pretty major part of their backstory, it would be interesting if the live-action show tried to play this up. Since Grodd is a newcomer to the nascent haven for intelligent gorillas, it wouldn’t surprise me if he tried to take over the place with his opposition led by Solovar. It would be a great juxtaposition for the show as well, giving the STAR Labs team a group of allies against Grodd and his brood should the occasion arise.

 

Tolifhar

He may not be one of the more well known gorillas of the DCU, but this genetically modified white-furred gorilla is a favorite of mine purely because of his appearance in Gail Simone’s excellent Wonder Woman story, The Circle. A former follower of Grodd’s, Tolifhar was and remains the leader of the Gorilla Knights, a group of gorilla warriors created purely to fight superpowered beings. Thankfully, tolifhar-gorilla_knight-1Diana convinced them to switch sides and allowed them to stay in her home for a while. Hilarity definitely ensued. To be fair, it’s hard not to instantly like a gorilla in plated armor who also happens to sport one hell of a scar over his left eye. Plus he’s written by Gail Simone, so automatic awesome.

Like Solovar, it wouldn’t be hard to work Tolifhar into Earth-2’s Gorilla City as either a supporter of Grodd’s or one of Solovar’s elite guard. Either way, it would be pretty cool to see Grodd fight one of his own kind and Tolifhar, without question, could give him a run for his money. Extra fun would be Barry and the rest of the STAR Labs gang working alongside another gorilla who is just as capable and intelligent as Grodd, only nicer. Or at least less gung-ho about killing all humans.

 

Ultra-Humanite

A character who’s had an up and down career in the books, the Ultra-Humanite was one of Superman’s first recurring villains during the Golden Age until Lex Luthor rose in the ranks of Supes’s punch card. He was also a regular human being at the time with delusions of grandeur intent on taking over the world. Like ya do. When he was brought back during the Silver Age, he looked less man-like and more ape-like on account of transferring his consciousness into a large white-furred gorilla. Again, like ya do. Please note, though, that the Ultra-Humanite isn’t one of the Gorilla Knights turned bad. He’s just a dude crossing lines in science that man, or ape, was never meant Ultra-humaniteto cross. His backstory changed here and there, but the running theme was that of a man constantly doing body swaps to keep his superior mind alive. Back in the 40s he even had his brain placed in the body of movie star Dolores Winters. It may have been a means to an end, but he wasn’t complaining about his time as a woman.

Ultra-Humanite has made a few appearances in the DC Animated Universe where he’s taken on the very sci-fi form of a big-brained gorilla complete with throbbing veins to let us know just how smart he really is – just in case you didn’t know. I did appreciate the animators and the writers making him distinct from Grodd by giving him more refined tastes in music, art, and culture on top of his superior scientific skills. Again, it would be pretty fun to see the STAR Labs posse either going up against Ultra-Humanite or reluctantly working with him. The effects team has gotten pretty good at animating gorillas after two episode with Grodd, so I think this is right in their wheelhouse.

 

Monsieur Mallah

After Grodd, Monsieur Mallah is my favorite of the DC Comics gorilla faction. Seriously, it’s a gorilla with a beret and bandoleers toting a machine gun. How can you not squeal with delight whenever he shows up to make life inconvenient for the Teen Titans? First appearing in Doom Patrol in 1964, Mallah was the result of experiments on animals by a French scientist trying to boost intelligence. Mallah was one of the success stories, reaching an IQ surpassing Einstein. When a colleague became jealous he rigged an explosion and made sure the object of his jealousy got caught in the blast. Only the brain survived, transferred to a computer network by Mallah and eventually stored monsieur-mallahin a cylindrical case that showed off the still functioning organ while sporting a sweet skull face. Now known as the Brain, Mallah served as his personal assistant and bodyguard, helping him create the Brotherhood of Evil and causing general mayhem.

It wasn’t until Grant Morrison took over Doom Patrol in 1990 that any hints of romance sparked between Mallah and the Brain (yes, the joke has been made), but oh my did sparks fly! And like all of the crazy and insane ideas Morrison comes up with this one worked like gangbusters. Points to you if you find any of the fanfiction that’s sure to exist. The pair made frequent appearances on Teen Titans and Young Justice and proto-Superman even managed to take them down on Smallville. I can only imagine how awesome it would be to have Mallah and the Brain open one of the breaches between Earths 1 and 2 and wreak some havoc on Central City. Cisco would have a field day with these two.

 

Sam Simeon

First appearing in 1964, Sam was the latter half of Angel and the Ape, acting as partner to the very human Angel O’Day while also working as a comic book artist. Simeon didn’t so much hide that he was an ape as the people around him just assumed the big, burly, hairy ape-like guy at the desk was just an ape-like dude. When the book was revived in the 1990s, Sam was revealed to be Gorilla Grodd’s grandson angelandtheape2(though this conflicts with another book that claimed Sam was Grodd’s brother) and used his psychic powers to project the image of a human for people to see when they came to the detectives. Only when his concentration broke could others see him for what he was.

This one might be a long shot for The Flash considering the familial relation to Grodd, but it would be pretty sweet if Joe West ran into a normal looking dude named Sam only to find out the guy is actually another psychic gorilla. Like nana Cross always said: You can never meet enough psychic gorillas. Don’t believe me? Go read Daniel Quinn’s Ishmael.

Dear Bruce Timm,

You probably don’t remember me, but we met briefly at this year’s Emerald City Comicon. Susan Eisenberg actually introduced me to you but since you’re not much of a talker and I was nervous/shy it was a very short “Hi” “Hello” kinda thing.

Anyway Bruce – can I call you Bruce? – I’m writing this because you and your teams on Batman: The Animated Series, Superman: The Animated Series, Justice League, Justice League: Unlimited, and Batman Beyond are the reason I’ve been a long time DC Comics viewer and reader. I live and breathe the DC Universe more than anything (I have Big Barda tattooed on my arm for crying out loud!), so when I saw that you were returning to WB Animation for more DC Animated Movies, I was stoked. And then it was announced that the next movie you’re working on after Justice League: Gods and Monsters will be an animated version of The batgirlKilling Joke.

 

Bruce, if I could make one request of you before this movie has its script locked down, it’s this: Please leave Barbara Gordon out of the movie.

 

I don’t say this lightly. I’ve thought about this a lot and I even had a lot of reservations writing it down, but my brain won’t shut up about the subject so I feel compelled to let you know why. Mostly it’s that I’m so tired of having this conversation because it really seems to confound some people as to why myself and a great deal of female comic book readers have a problem with The Killing Joke. To be fair, there are some aspects to Alan Moore and Brian Bolland’s work that I enjoy, especially the philosophical dilemma of what turns men like Batman and the Joker into Batman and the Joker. But there are parts of the book that are problematic and you know exactly what I’m talking about because, should you decide to go all the way with this movie, you’re going to have to address it within the story. Namely the shooting, torture, and sexual assault of Barbara Gordon by the Joker. If you could please just do me the solid of taking this out of the movie, along with Barbara, I’d appreciate it. And if you’re worried about the integrity of the story without Babs in it, let me assure you…

Nothing would change.

Joker_0113Just hear me out for a second and bear with me because I’ll most likely be covering story elements that you’re well aware of but are important to point out nonetheless. Within The Killing Joke, Joker, as a means of torturing Jim Gordon and getting at Batman, shoots Barbara, paralyzing her, strips her naked, photographs her, and it is HEAVILY implied that she’s raped. And this is just to torture her father and Batman. The only times we see Barbara are when she’s shot, when Jim is shown the photographs, and when Batman goes to her in the hospital. At no point in this story does Barbara make any decisions or take any actions that effect the course of the story. She is a PAWN, a piece of the story that is actually about Batman, Joker, and her father. This is the definition of both “fridging” and the “sexy lamp” tropes. Barbara serves no narrative function except as an example of the Joker’s sadism in order to provide motivation for other characters.

Quite frankly, I could do without it. Preserving the integrity of the story doesn’t have to include the maiming and humiliation of a character who currently has one of the top-selling books at DC Comics, one that has attracted more young women and new readers than DC could have hoped for. I can only imagine what will happen when those girls and their parents decide to pick up the new animated feature that includes Barbara and the horror that would result from watching such intense scenes of violence committed against a woman. Yes, Jim Gordon is tortured as well, but he gets resolution at the end as well as a moment to assert how his moral compass hasn’t changed despite the machinations of the Joker. Barbara gets no such moment.

And please, if we could avoid the “but she becomes Oracle” part of the justification for including Babs in the story should you choose to do so. She doesn’t become Oracle in the book and it’s a logical fallacy to assert that The Killing Joke is directly responsible for her new identity. There was no plan in place for Babs to move on as a superhero post-Killing Joke and she was all but written out of i will end youthe comics until Kim Yale and John Ostrander laid the foundations for her second life in Suicide Squad and Manhunter. The Killing Joke is only responsible for showing just how much regard for Barbara DC Comics had when Len Wein gave Alan Moore permission to “cripple the bitch.” The Oracle argument is further invalidated when one considers that amidst the New 52 reboot DC editorial could have easily erased The Killing Joke from Babs’ backstory, putting her in the position of starting from scratch as Batgirl without the story hanging over her like the Sword of Damocles. Instead, editorial kept The Killing Joke as canon but eliminated her time as Oracle due to the truncated timeline. It was more important to keep her paralysis and assault then it was to show her character growth as a hero operating out of a wheelchair. I mean, are you planning on doing another animated movie where we get to see the rise of Oracle? Anything including Batgirl? I see the next movies after Killing Joke are Batman: Bad Blood (featuring Batwoman) and Justice League vs Titans slated for release next year but wouldn’t an animated movie celebrating Batgirl or Oracle make more sense as a followup?

I ask only because the current Batgirl book from the creative team of Cameron Stewart, Brenden Fletcher, and Babs Tarr is ridiculously popular and directly responsible for bringing in new readers to DC Comics, many of them young women and little girls. The tone and the style of the book is lighter and brighter with an explicitly feminist mindset. The team has gone above and beyond to ensure the integrity of Barbara Gordon/Batgirl while keeping her accessible to all readers regardless of gender or age. The kicker being we’ve already gone through a Batgirl/Killing Joke controversy, one where the team asked that the Joker variant cover be removed from their book because it was the antithesis of the women-positive message the team had cultivated in actively distancing the book from the Killing Joke as much as possible.

black canaryBottom line: The Killing Joke is toxic when it comes to attracting female readers and I doubt the animated movie would fare much better considering the most recent batch of animated movies have been all but gleeful celebrations of the PG-13 rating with plenty of violence and coarse language that makes it impossible for me to show them to my five-year-old nephew who loves Batman. It just doesn’t make sense, from a business perspective, to develop an entire line of superheroine products and merchandise for girls aged 6-12, one of those heroes being Batgirl, and then put out an animated product that features said character being horrifically injured and abused. I doubt whoever ends up writing the copy for the DVD/Blu-Ray is going to mention what happens to Babs in the description, so won’t that be a fun family moment when mom and dad buy their young daughter the newest animated movie that features her favorite hero only to watch the awful events that occur.

As a female reader, as a person who loves the animated movies and DC Comics, please write Barbara Gordon out of The Killing Joke. I would prefer she not be featured rather than sit through a movie that’s just going to be uncomfortable on all counts. And this isn’t a case where “then don’t watch it” matters. What matters is the continual validation of The Killing Joke and the insistence from DC Comics and some fans that it’s an essential story regardless of how it treats Barbara. There are others ways to torture Jim Gordon and I’m sure you have plenty of talented writers who could think of a million ways to push him without using his daughter.

Thank you for your time,

Sam

P.S. That Batman short was awesome!

vixen-alrge

During the Television Critic’s Association (TCA) event that took place on Sunday it was announced that Mari Jiwe McCabe, aka Vixen, would be the next DC hero to join the CW alongside Arrow and The Flash. Expected to debut in the fall, Vixen will be the first animated series produced through the CW’s digital platform, CW Seed, which is probably most well-known for featuring Jane Espenson’s web series Husbands. Marc Guggenheim, one of Arrow‘s executive producers and co-showrunner, will oversee the project as well as the Supergirl television show for CBS. At the TCA, the CW provided promotional material for the animated series featuring Vixen staring down from the rooftops with Flash and Green Arrow flanking her as well as some character background:

Originally from Africa, Mari McCabe’s parents were killed by local greed, corruption, and wanton violence. But the orphaned Mari refuses to succumb to the terrors surrounding her. Inheriting her family’s Tantu Totem, Mari can access the powers of animals — anything from the super-strength of a gorilla to the speed of a cheetah. As Vixen, she fights valiantly to protect the world from the threats like those that claimed her family.

The dossier neglected to mention Mari’s day job as a model or that she can only use the power of one animal at a time, but it’s not exactly the job of a flyer to delve into all the little details, though Guggenheim did provide some additional information about the direction of the series:

It’s a six-part origin story, but characters from “Flash” and “Arrow” are prominently involved. It’s in the continuity and the world…The other thing is, it’s a strong African-American hero who’s, like I said, a former Justice Leaguer. It’s set in Detroit, as a nod towards those Justice League [Detroit] stories. It’s done with the same love of the source material that we bring to everything.

Vixen_JLoA4There are, however, a couple of things worth noting. One, the art style of the promotional material is the same as the animation used for Warner Bros. most recent DC Animated features, Justice League: War and Batman and Son, as well as Justice League’s forthcoming sequel, Throne of Atlantis. I’ll be honest, I’m not the biggest fan of what appears to be WB’s new signature style for the DC Animated movies mostly adapted from the New 52. It’s just not my cup of tea, especially since I wasn’t all that into Justice League: War or the book from which it was adapted. I’d ask if that means Vixen, Arrow, and The Flash all take place in the same universe as the current DCAU, but then we’re getting into Cool World/Who Framed Roger Rabbit? levels of continuity. Probably best to just keep it all separate for now.

Secondly, if Vixen is supposedly in the same universe as Arrow and The Flash, as evidenced by the characters on the promotional materials, then why is Vixen – arguably DC’s most well-known black female superhero – being introduced in animation instead of live action? Assuming Grant Gustin and Stephen Amell will lend their voices when their characters eventually show up, can we also expect Mari to make her live action debut on either Arrow or The Flash? Guggenheim has apparently been fielding this question as well, saying:Vixen_dc-comics

We always say “never say never,” and if the character resonates with people, that would be wonderful. I would love to be in a position where CW said to us, “Hey, we want a ‘Vixen’ live-action show.” That’d be wonderful. We’ll have to sort of see how things play out.

It’s not exactly the most definitive answer and it still raises the question of why Mari can’t go the way of Barry Allen or even Supergirl? It’s not like we’re lacking for superhero content in media, so I’m pretty sure the viewing audience will accept anything at this point. I mean, people are still watching Gotham, right? Animation, however. has been woefully underutilized by Warner Bros. considering it used to be their bread and butter. I’ve seen other websites speculating that Vixen could be the CW’s version of The Legend of Korra, which dealt with far more mature storytelling than anyone expected for what was deemed children’s programming. Vixen wouldn’t necessarily have the same hang-ups since the viewing audience siphoned off from Arrow and The Flash would already have an expectation for more mature content. How far do they intend to push those boundaries? Hard to say. There’s still a brand to maintain with the DC properties, but, then again, this is the CW so we shouldn’t rule out anything that could potentially draw in the 18-35 demographic.

Vixen character bioVixen will serve the secondary purpose of introducing magic into the CW/DC television universe, but again, why not bring that into the fold on a live action show? Meta humans seemed like a stretch during the first season of Arrow, but by season two we were itching for The Flash spinoff. Why not do the same for Vixen? Normally, I wouldn’t push this since the news is so fresh, but with rumors also circulating that Brandon Routh’s Ray Palmer, soon-to-be the Atom, may get a spinoff show as well, bringing Vixen in as an animated series feels like a very sluggish step forward.

Hopefully Guggenheim and the team working on Vixen prove me wrong. Really, I want them to succeed. Mari’s been sorely missed in the DCU. It’s been a couple years since she was last seen in the Justice League book and, aside from some guest spots and cameos on Batman: The Brave and the Bold and Teen Titans, it’s been over a decade since her last major appearance on television in Justice League: Unlimited (voiced by Gina friggin’ Torres!)

So, for now, let’s say I’m cautiously optimistic.

In this episode, Sam and Cara chat with Susan Eisenberg, the voice of Wonder Woman! The three talk about fan interaction through cons and twitter as well as the ins and outs of voice over work. Soap operas also come up!

P.S. The answer is Jodie Dallas.

 

Susan Eisenberg

Follow Susan @susaneisenberg1

Intro music: “French Kiss” by Mrs. Howl

Sam is joined by her friends Sean and Cara to talk with Phil LaMarr and boy does it get nerdy! Phil is the nerd’s nerd, the geek’s geek and the group get into animation, Star Wars, comic books, Lord of the Rings, and other topics!

Phil LaMarr

Website: http://www.phillamarr.com
Twitter: @phillamarr

Intro music: “French Kiss” by Mrs. Howl
http://mrshowl.bandcamp.com/
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