The CW’s Flash/Arrow crossover last week was loads of fun.
Still from The Flash 1.08 “Flash vs. Arrow” © 2014 CW. Photo: Diyah Perra.
I’d like to get to full-on reviews of both shows this season, but my inner 6-year-old demands that my adult self acknowledge this super-cool undertaking now. Just seeing
a green arrow slice through The Flash’s usual title sequence on Tuesday night and a lightning bolt flash through Arrow’s on Wednesday put a big, goofy grin on my face.
I ran a history of Robin in Comicology Vol. II #1 (Spring 2000).
Art to cover of Comicology Vol. II #1 © 2000 Bruce Timm. Characters depicted
are trademarks of DC Comics. Comicology is a trademark of Harbor Studios.
What saw publication was an abridged version — long story and lingering frustration
— but a fuller piece titled “Six Decades of Richard Grayson” went up on the magazine’s website. Has anyone reading this by chance saved the text of that?
Groot might have been the breakout star of this past summer. I suppose to a broader extent he’s one half of it — er, them — as part of a tandem with his pal Rocket. Or perhaps the honor goes to the entire headlining quintet of Guardians of the Galaxy.
Cover of Tales to Astonish #13 [digital] © 1960 and Groot TM Marvel
Comics. Pencils: Jack Kirby. Inks: Steve Ditko. Colors: Stan
Goldberg. Letters: Artie Simek. Script: Stan Lee.
Screencap © 2014 Disney Enterprises.
The new animated Disney feature Big Hero 6 opens this weekend. I’m not being insensitive to the cost of movie tickets when I say the six-minute animated short that precedes it, “Feast”, is worth the price of admission all by itself.
My reviews of Fox’s Gotham and The CW’s newly expanding Arrow/Flash
universe would be up by now had I not started tinkering with images to accompany them. Which is how these happened.
Inset: Detail of cover to Action Comics #1 © 1938 DC Comics.
Photo: Still from Superman Returns © 2006 Warner Bros. Entertainment.
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I’ve been trying for a while to finish a big piece on the recent flood of comics
being adapted for television and film. One problem has been that I keep writing too much about a specific movie or show and then spinning that material off into its own review. The silver lining is that the flood is only picking up pace — so even as I constantly kick the metaphorical can down the road there’ll be no shortage of hooks
to keep the subject current.
Among the first spec pieces I wrote in an attempt to broaden my fledgling freelance career outside the comics industry after college was a short goof for a film magazine that revolved around what we now call mashups.
I hope to find it in my old, boxed-up files some day. While I can’t remember every mashup it contained, I’m pretty sure Tarzan of the Planet of the Apes was not one of them — even though it fit the premise of merging titles without adding anything new, and even though Tarzan of the Apes + Planet of the Apes is so obvious and pure in both its simplicity and its potential.
The United States Postal Service announced this past week that it would be releasing
a set of Batman stamps to commemorate the character’s 75th anniversary.
As with most stamps now, they’re self-adhesive — so Batman still can’t be licked.
I praised the pleasant surprise that was John Oliver’s hosting of The Daily Show
when Jon Stewart took a sabbatical last summer. And I was not alone. Many TV critics predicted that Oliver would be promoted from correspondent to host of his own show — probably someplace other than Comedy Central, since a third half-hour* of satirical news and punditry there wasn’t likely. That someplace turned out to be HBO’s Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.
Last Thursday was International “Talk Like a Pirate” Day, and Comedy Central’s @Midnight celebrated with an appropriate Hashtag Wars segment [bad link] . As current as it is, the show tapes a little while before it actually airs to allow for editing, so the producers post the subject of each night’s segment on Twitter at about 11:30 p.m. ET and invite fans to join the fun early. My old buddy and occasional Blam’s Blog commenter Arben noticed the night’s subject, liked it, and gave me a heads-up so that I could brainstorm along with him, then graciously let me to add some of his entries to mine for publication here for a total of our...
Top Twelve Pirate TV Shows
12. The Plunder Years
11. One and a Half Legs
10. So You Think You Can Penzance
9. The Avast-Me-Hearty Boys
8. Doubloony Tunes
Just imagine Humphrey Bogart playing Sam Spade as Sam Wilson — a 1941 version
of Sam Wilson, private eye turned Captain America’s unofficial and unorthodox partner.
That’s what I did in this mockup for the mashup Captain America and the Maltese Falcon. Ever since brainstorming the title a couple of years ago for a hashtag game on Twitter, I’ve found its Reese’s Peanut-Butter Cup potential hard to shake.
Photo: Al Levine for NBC © 1982.
What’s most surprising about Don Pardo’s passing on Monday is either half of
this sentence taken with the other: He was 96 and still working as the primary voice
of Saturday Night Live.
That was a really difficult post title to type.
Original photo: Jim Britt for ABC © 1978.
I was introduced to Robin Williams, who died on Monday at 63, as Mork from Ork
— first on Happy Days; then, of course, on Mork & Mindy. Although I’m two decades younger, I aged with him, through his stand-up and dramatic roles and talk-show appearances and film comedies and, just this past year, his return to network TV.
Which I think is a big part of why his death hits so hard.
As I think I’ve said here before, I prefer to have a nice buffer between reading books
and watching the movies on which they’re based — with the book, ideally, coming first.
The film adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl is scheduled to open in early October, so I’m glad to have finished the novel last week. I don’t want to spoil even a bit of it for those who haven’t, but I will say that it’s both a page-turner of a mystery and a surprisingly dark, incisive look at domestic partnership.
While I’m not sure whether the film attempts to evoke the book’s structure, I suspect
by dint of that alone they’ll be different enough works that you could pick up the book in the next few weeks and have the movie feel like its own thing when it rolls out. I’m still chewing on the controversial ending; I recommend the book, though, and hope to read Flynn’s previous novels sometime.
Related: A Great Escape • Grit Expectations • Forest Gumption
I’ve had a few posts about Batman in the works — some by coincidence; some
because of his belated 75th birthday hoopla.
Panel from “The Case of the Chemical Syndicate” in Detective Comics #27 © 1939 DC
Comics. Script: Bill Finger. Pencils, Inks, Letters: Bob Kane. Colors: Unknown.
Which I’m kind-of resisting. Batman debuted (as “The Bat-Man!”) at the hands of
Bob Kane and Bill Finger in Detective Comics #27, dated May 1939 but on sale in April of that year. Given how slow DC Comics was to roll out logos and other celebratory stuff for Superman’s diamond jubilee in 2013 — not to mention the whole company’s a few years before that — I shouldn’t be surprised that today, July 23rd, was designated by DC as Batman Day.
Kate Willaert, creator of a bunch of cool stuff over at her Uncool Artblog no matter what the name says, has designed an infographic charting IMDB user ratings and domestic theatrical gross (adjusted for inflation) across movie quadrilogies — film series that have produced at least four installments. The diminishing returns come as no surprise, although there are exceptions to that general rule. Film series sampled aren’t nearly as numerous as those used in BoxOfficeQuant’s sequel map, which I shared a few years ago, but of course even in our current cinematic climate there are plenty more franchises with just one or two follow-ups than three or more.
Related: The A Team • Star Trek Too • After-Math
Nothing against Heath Ledger or Cesar Romero, who each took an indelible turn as The Joker, but for me the animated incarnation voiced by Mark Hammill is the definitive screen version of Batman’s nemesis. In a clip from a one-on-one interview during a recent Star Wars Weekend at Walt Disney World, Hammill gives the dialogue of Paul Dini some mad love after treating the audience to an improvised exchange between Gotham’s Clown Prince of Crime and Luke Skywalker.
Related: If You Meta the Batman, Kill the Batman • R2 Details • Dinner on ME
Watching the Tony Awards telecast last Sunday, I found myself coming up with
comics-related twists on the titles of various plays and musicals. The game continued for several days until my list grew long enough to split into two — one for Marvel, one for DC (last post) — even after paring down by about half. Some entries are more accessible to non-comics-reading folks than others; the only rule was passing over titles that wouldn’t need to be changed at all, such as The Iceman Cometh or Beauty and
Now take your seats for my...
Top Twenty Marvel Comics Broadway Mashups
20. You’re a Mole Man, Charlie Brown
19. Dirty Rotten Fandral
18. Jess Is the Spider-Woman
17. Bring in Da Noise, Bring in Da Hulk
16. Thoroughly Modeled Millie
15. Lady Sif at Emerson’s Bar & Grill
14. Mandarin of La Mancha
13. Twelve Angry X-Men
12. A Slim Summers Night’s Dream
11. Who’s Afraid of Virginia, Wolverine?
Watching the Tony Awards telecast last Sunday, I found myself coming up with
comics-related twists on the titles of various plays and musicals. The game continued for several days until my list grew long enough to split into two — one for DC, one for Marvel (next post) — even after paring down by about half. Some entries are more accessible to non-comics-reading folks than others; the only rule was passing over titles that wouldn’t need to be changed at all, such as Man and Superman.
Now take your seats for my...
Top Twenty DC Comics Broadway Mashups
20. Riddler on the Roof
19. My Fair Lady Blackhawk
18. Ain’t Mister Mxyzptlk
17. Captain Carrot and His Amazing Technicolor Zoo Crew
16. The Justice League of American Buffalos
14. Same Time, One Year Later
13. Glengarry Pete Ross
12. Bizarro #1 Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Next
11. Oedipus Rex Mason
You might have noticed that content around here has been sparse to nonexistent
The reasons for this are, unfortunately, manifold. I spent much of last year setting up Adventures in Comicology, a website meant to archive my past writing on comics and steadily stream new material to boot. Posting here on Blam’s Blog in 2013 fell to well under one flipping half the volume of previous annual totals — just a third of 2012’s high-water mark — and even though I’m working to resume the flow this week I’ve only managed to reach a dozen posts for 2014 thus far. I’d honestly be fine with that if technical problems, along with the inability to properly deal with those problems due to other life stuff, hadn’t ground progress on Comicology and related projects to a halt. While it’s bad enough simply not being able to put in as much time and effort as I’d like, it’s way more frustrating to put in considerable time and effort yet have so little to show.
More pressing matters will continue to demand my attention in the short term, but hopefully by summer’s end you’ll see activity pick up here a bit. Another, more detailed status update on all things me will be along when that happens.
Panel © 2014 and Cynicalman ® Matt Feazell.
I’ve guest-written a strip for Matt Feazell that just went live at the Cynicalman website. Episodes don’t get updated online as often as they used to, but I’m still not
sure how long it’ll be there before a new one replaces it and it’s archived for eventual collection. Speaking of which, The Amazing Cynicalman Volumes 1 & 2 — highly recommended; ditto any or all Feazell minicomics you care to grab — are available via that same website. Matt’s been doing hilarious work with astounding economy of line since the days people mailed paper to one another in envelopes. I’m hoping to contribute more gags in the future... like he needs my help.
Related: A-Ha Moment • This Is Going to Hurt
You More than It Hurts Me • Miley at Twerk
I was finally successful this year in not writing about the Oscars before or after the telecast. The bad news is that this wasn’t due purely to willpower; I’ve been sitting on this post for a while with the aim of running it on, as they say, Movies’ Biggest Night, but I couldn’t.
Sometime last year I came up with a couple of the following lines and realized that the concept would make a fun hashtag game. What you do is take a reasonably well-known quote from books or films and substitute one or two words with food. I’m very rarely on Twitter anymore, though, so I ended up just brainstorming a bit and setting the list aside to run on the blog as my...
Top Twenty Supermarket Lines of Dialogue
20. “All right, Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my cold cuts.”
19. “Nobody puts baked beans in a corner.”
18. “Take your stinking pasta off me, you damn dirty apes!”
17. “It was the best of thymes, it was the worst of thymes.”
Ghostbusters screencap © 1984 Columbia Pictures.
The year is 1989. I’m a day-camp counselor for kids 5 to 6 years old. At that age
boys have their favorite whatevers on their lunch boxes, their shirts, their underwear. Ghostbusters was big in our bunk — mostly, I assume, from the animated TV series based on the 1984 movie (Slimer and the Real Ghostbusters) rather than the movie itself. So I chaperone a few boys into the restroom. Two of them stand at the same urinal, pants down, focused on doing what you do. One suddenly exclaims “Don’t cross the streams!” and they crack up so hard it’s a miracle that no mopping was required.
I think Harold Ramis, who died this past Monday at 69, would’ve been proud. Godspeed, ghosts, gophers, and groundhogs be with him.
Lake Street Dive is my new jam. The whole discography. I’ve been listening to it all
in anticipation of today’s release of their latest album, Bad Self-Portraits.
The band, whose members met at Boston’s New England Conservatory of Music, consists of Rachael Price (lead vocals), Mike “McDuck” Olson (guitar, trumpet, backing vocals), Bridget Kearney (acoustic bass, backing vocals), and Mike Calabrese (drums, backing vocals).
Splenda has been challenged in court for saying that its artificial sweetener is — to quote the ad line — “made from sugar so it tastes like sugar”. At issue is the fact that key molecules have been changed in deriving sucralose from sucrose, with no actual sugar in the result, and that the majority of Splenda is filler supplementing the sucralose.
Photo: François Duhamel for Walt Disney Pictures © 2013.
Or something. You can go look it up if you want. My point is that Saving Mr.
Banks, Walt Disney Pictures’ current release about the difficult adaptation of P.L. Travers’ Mary Poppins books into the eventual classic Disney movie, has roughly the same relationship to the truth as Splenda does to sugar.
Of all the striking details in March Book One — and there are more than a few —
what I keep coming back to is this: At the age of five, John Lewis began preaching to
his family’s chickens.
Lewis, an organizer of the March on Washington in 1963 and since 1987 the U.S. Representative for Georgia’s Fifth District, is a great storyteller. March is a great story. I’ve just left those sentences alone after too much time spent considering adjectives other than “great” due to how easy and vague the word is, but it’s apt.
Photo: Steve Brown / BBC © 2014.
The BBC released a promo shot of Peter Capaldi in the outfit he’ll be wearing as the
12th Doctor on Doctor Who last week, and… he reminds me of Doctor Strange.
I was thinking recently about my school library in 3rd grade.
Not sure why. It could’ve been the recent news reports on libraries without books — without physical books, anyway; rather, they’re community spaces with computers where users can surf the Internet and check out E-books — that got me remembering how I’d settle down in the stacks in front of the encyclopedias and basically use the references in the article at hand like we use hyperlinks online today.
I have several fond memories, general and specific, of libraries. One suspects many readers do. Those I’ve shared on the blog before include — nestled in a post on TV’s Supernatural — memories of my favorite aisle in this particular library. What brought me to that aisle was books on Greek and Roman mythology, a subject I read about voraciously and to an almost literally exhausting degree. Based on periodic scans of various library and bookstore shelves, I may well have gone through every relevant volume in print. Some books were, from my youthful perspective at least, stuffier than others, a category in which I preferred Edith Hamilton’s Mythology to Bulfinch’s. There were plenty of slim paperbacks and large, illustrated tomes aimed more directly at my age, too, with D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths atop the heap of the latter.