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Dec 282016
 

Many of us remember the classic Batman TV show from the 60s. But with all those darker edgier versions of Batman over the years, I never thought I’d see the day when the campy style of the franchise would make a comeback, like in the straight to DVD animated release, Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders.

Adam West, Burt Ward, and Julie Newmar reprise their roles as Batman, Robin, and Catwoman. Joker, Penguin, Riddler, Alfred, and Commissioner Gordon are also featured. It’s so amazing that even though the original actors from the TV series have all passed on; the voice talents in this movie sound a lot like them from the Joker’s laugh to the Riddler’s maniacal giggle.

I met Adam West at FX Convention in 2008.

What’s also amazing is that characters like Chief O’Hara, Warden Crichton, and Dick Grayson’s aunt Harriet Cooper also appear, since they were never featured in any other version of Batman.

Even the fight scenes contain the same level of excitement as the TV series, words and all. Not to mention, the perils the caped crusaders end up in have the same thrills. The only difference is that there is no narrator. In a way, that’s a good thing.

Here’s another cool tidbit. During a fight scene, Batman gets hit in the head and temporarily sees three cat women, each one different. Now that’s funny, since three different actresses played Catwoman over the series run.

As for the story line, Catwoman uses a potion to turn Batman evil. During the process, Batman acts more brutal and edgier, which is a shock to everyone, including the villains. In any other version of Batman, that’s normal. Heck, in Superman vs. Batman, he goes as far as using a bat shaped branding iron to leave his mark on the criminals he defeats. It certainly makes you think.

In addition, Batman uses a replica ray to clone himself many times as a means to take over Gotham City. Robin comes up with an idea to stop Batman by sending other villains after him by breaking them out of jail. (Remember that there was no Arkham Asylum in the old version of Batman.) They include Mad Hatter, Mr. Freeze, Egg Head, King Tut, Bookworm, Louie the Lilac, the Siren, the Minstrel, the Archer, the Clock King, Shame, Black Widow, Sandman, and False Face. Even though these are only cameo appearances, it’s nice to see these retro villains make a comeback.

This was an excellent movie containing all the charm of the classic Batman series, as well as the authentic animation. If you’re highly familiar with the old version, it’s very easy to catch on to the nostalgia it contains, including how female villains like Catwoman never get punched out like the other criminals.

Jul 062016
 

Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Green Lantern, and J’Onn J’Onzz the Martian Hunter are back again in Justice League: Doom. With the assistance of Cyborg, the task is to once again save the world from a horrible threat.

It starts with a real exciting battle with the Royal Flush Gang. These villains are real high tech, even though they don’t appear to be the same ones from Batman Beyond.

The real threat is the Legion of Doom. Now I can remember when I first heard about the Legion of Doom headquarters on Challenge of the Super Friends (1978-1979), which consisted of 13 archenemies. This time there are only five, not including the mastermind behind it all.

Each arch villain has a personal vendetta against a different Justice League member. They are Bane, Cheetah, Metallo, Mirror Master, Star Sapphire, and Ma’alefa’ak. From what I understand, these particular villains were handpicked because they are the toughest in each group of colorful archenemies.

Originally the leader of the Legion of Doom was Lex Luthor, but he’s not even in this movie. This time it’s a new villain named Vandal Savage. He’s an immortal intent on destroying most of the world’s population and creating a new civilization to lead. I’ll tell you, his back-story is strange. Simple, but strange.

The tactics the archenemies use on the Justice League are so intense they actually come very close to succeeding both physically and mentally. I thought that nothing ever stopped the Justice League. They always come through when they are together.

This was a good feature with its superhero action with a touch of nostalgia by bringing back the Legion of Doom headquarters. Can you believe that it was still in the swamp and in good condition since the old Super Friends animated series?

Jan 272016
 

LEGO toys have been around for a long time. I know because I used to play with LEGO when I was a kid. However, It wasn’t until about the late 2000s when LEGO took well known franchises and made video games, then eventually animated features with a cute style of humor.

One such feature is Lego Batman: The Movie – DC Super Heroes Unite. Apparently it’s about Lex Luthor trying to become President of the United States with help from the Joker by using destructive means to make it happen and it’s up to Batman to stop them.

Robin also helps out and so does Superman, despite how Batman only believes that he can only rely on himself. That’s a bit annoying but not nearly as annoying as Superman is when he talks in the third person. What’s the point of that?

The action is cool. As Joker disrupts an award ceremony, it gets real interesting when the other major Batman villains like Penguin, Catwoman, Two-Face, Riddler, and Harley Quinn help him out.

Steve BlumRob Paulsen

I met Steve Blum, who was the voice of the Penguin, at CollectiveCon 2015 and Rob Paulsen, the voice of the Riddler, at MegaCon 2014.

What’s real common in LEGO features is buildings and machinery falling to pieces as well as being put back together. Lex Luthor has a weapon called the De-Constructor that can tear powerful black objects apart like Batman’s vehicles and it’s powered by Kryptonite.

After Luthor breaks Joker out of Arkham Asylum, Joker frees the other Batman villains who even include Bane and Poison Ivy. It’s so cool how Batman and Robin keep them from escaping with exciting vehicle chases.

 

Then it all comes down to a giant Joker robot that runs on Kryptonite. As much as Batman hates to admit it, he needs help. That’s when the Justice League comes to the rescue. Wonder Woman, the Flash, Green Lantern, and Cyborg all make an appearance.

This was a good LEGO movie. Lately many of the modern straight-to-DVD Batman movies have been darker and more brutal. In comparison, it’s nice to see that this one is a least a little bit lighter for a change.

Nov 192014
 

The newest Batman movie to date is Batman: Assault on Arkham. This time things are different because Batman is not the main protagonist. It’s actually a team of villains working for the U.S. Government called the suicide squad.

The team consists of Dead Shot, Captain Boomerang, Black Spider, King Shark, Killer Frost, and Harley Quinn. I must say that this latest version of Harley Quinn is as great as ever. Even though I’ve never heard of these other villains before, they certainly leave their mark as dangerous individuals.

Jennifer Hale

I met Jennifer Hale at MegaCon 2014. She voices Killer Frost in this movie and several characters on Powerpuff Girls, but I remember her best as Ivy from Where on Earth is Carmen Sandiego.

Amanda Waller, leader of Task Force X, runs the suicide squad. She is very strict and the suicide squad members are made up of convicts that are highly expendable. If they refuse to cooperate, Waller kills them by activating a bomb she placed in each of their heads. Now that’s just brutal, even it’s done to evil doers.

The mission is for the team to break into Arkham Asylum to retrieve a computer file that was stolen by the Riddler. It contains information on every suicide squad member. It’s been a while since the Riddler was on a Batman feature.

The Penguin also makes an appearance, providing the arms and equipment to the squad members. It’s just gross seeing him eating raw fish and squids.

Meanwhile, Batman is on a separate mission to find a powerful bomb the Joker hid somewhere in Gotham City. However, the Joker is still locked up and it’s revealed that he and Harley are no longer together.

Things don’t run smoothly at Arkham. During the chaos, other Batman villains join the battle. They include Two-Face, Bane, Scarecrow, and Poison Ivy. It’s neat to see those super villains back in action.

Despite how intensely violent this movie is, it’s a real good one. Even though I never played any of the Batman: Arkham video games that this film is based on, it still brings a sense of nostalgia in comparison with Batman: The Animated Series.

Jul 302014
 

Next to the classic Batman series from the 60s, the first version of Batman that I even saw was Adventures of Batman (1968-1969). This animated series is different than other versions with its one-dimensional characters, mediocre story lines, and different style of pacing.

 

For instance, I remember when I first saw this animated series I expected the crime fighting action to be exciting like on the live action 60s Batman series, but it’s not. However, Batman and Robin use puns while they fight.

Each half-hour show contains two episodes, but set apart differently as though one of the episodes is a two-parter. What really makes it confusing is that the episode titles appear at random times, so that makes it hard to tell where one episode ends and the next one begins. Now that the DVD set is out, it’s so much easier to tell.

What really gives this series a retro feel are the villains. Joker, Penguin, Catwoman, Mr. Freeze, Mad Hatter, and Scarecrow are featured. It isn’t until the later versions of Batman when their backgrounds are revealed, but looking back at these really puts things in perspective on how times were so much simpler when it came to superhero cartoons.

The Scarecrow was creepy even back then.

I especially want to point out that Catwoman’s costume is pretty bland compared to other versions. It’s like she just put on a mask on and that’s it. Where’s the creativity?

Speaking of villains, if you thought the 60s live action Batman series had unique enemies, The Adventures of Batman also includes who I think is the most annoying villain in the Batman franchise, and that’s Simon the Pie Man. Sure he’s creative with pastry puns and pie related weapons, but whenever he gives orders to his henchmen, he says, “Simon says.” Is that really necessary?

Overall, this version of Batman was a good one for its time. Since many of the current Batman features are so much darker, The Adventures of Batman certainly brings a more innocent balance to the franchise, which is what makes it a favorite of mine.