Thursday, April 24, 2014

Creature Comforts From Home VIII: Batman & Superman

So, I guess this is a thing. I'm a Batman fan. I'm a DC fan. I like Superman. But I am not looking forward to this new movie next year. I did not enjoy The Dark Knight Rises or The Man of Steel. What I like about comic books, and comic book movies, is that they're fun - at least they're supposed to be.

Now, I enjoyed the original Star Wars trilogy because it was both fun and thrilling. The prequel trilogy was not fun to watch. It was painful. My two boys, Ethan and Justin, actually enjoyed watching Anakin's frequent temper tantrums on his descent into villainy. They thought Jar Jar was silly. Justin tried to understand Anakin. They both enjoyed the new Star Trek films. I have to admit that the action was amped up 1,000 percent from the original film series. We watched Star Trek Into Darkness and the I popped in The Wrath of Khan. Talk about your room clearing fart! I expected my wife to leave the room, but the boys checked out with her. Something about it being late and they were tired and ready for bed. These guys would stay up all night if they could!

They love The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings films, too.

Both boys love Superman: The Movie and Smallville. Smallville kinda jumps the shark from time to time over the course of ten seasons; but Superman: The Movie and Superman II hold up pretty well. For the purpose of this conversation, there have only been the first two Christopher Reeve Superman films. Supermans III and IV are like the Prequel Trilogy.

The boys and I love films that are fun and enjoyable. The Dark Knight Returns and The Man of Steel were not enjoyable, fun films. They were both dark and gritty. I liked Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, but neither film was aimed at kids. Those films, like all the Batman live action films before it were aimed at guys like me that had grown up with Batman and wanted to see The Batman. The kind of Batman that came along after the 1966 Batman television series starring Adam West and Burt Ward was cancelled. A dark, brooding, gothic Batman. A Batman for big kids.   

Honestly? The best Batman and Superman films have not been live-action. Batman: The Animated Series is probably the finest interpretation of Batman yet. It has stuff for long-time, older fans like me, and it might have some appeal for newer, younger fans. The Batman, and later, Batman: The Brave and the Bold aim right at the newer, younger fans. I can say the same for Superman: The Animated Series and Justice League. They were fun shows.
Superman and Batman have been partners since the 1940's, featured in World's Finest Comics, and later Superman/Batman. The finest team-up between the two, outside of comics, has to be The Batman Superman Movie: World's Finest. It combines Batman and Superman from their individual series; Kevin Conroy, the voice of Batman, with Tim Daly, the voice of Superman. It also features Mark Hamill as The Joker and Clancy Brown as Lex Luthor. The Joker cons Luthor into paying him to eliminate Superman. Batman follows The Joker to Metropolis. The story unfolds from there. It's a brilliant, fun, thrilling story.
Superman/Batman: Public Enemies
A few years later, Jeph Loeb - who worked on Smallville for a time - and Ed McGuinness re-launched The World's Finest team in the comic Superman/Batman. The first storyline, Public Enemies was turned into an animated feature. The comic book storyline is that there is a chunk of Kryptonite either the size of Brazil or Australia headed for Earth. President Luthor blames the meteor's approach on Superman and puts a bounty on his head. While The World's Finest duo try to figure out how to destroy the meteor, they are met with nearly every super-villain on the planet, along with a team of heroes including Captain Atom, Major Force, Black Lightning, Green Lantern John Stewart, Katanna, Power Girl and Starfire. At one point, the Justice Society dispatches Captain (Shazam!)Marvel and Hawkman. Both the Superman and Batman "families" of heroes join in to confront President Luthor in the Oval Office. Very 24.
It has it's weaknesses, but it is action packed.
The All-New Batman: The Brave and the Bold #1 guest-starring Superman
Sholly Fisch has got to be one of the best all-ages writers. I'm sure there are others that are equally talented. Fisch has written some fun stories for DC's Johnny DC and all-ages line. One of my favorite stories is the first issue of The All-New Batman: The Brave and the Bold comic series. Batman and Black Canary are fighting The Joker and his army of robot soldiers. Superman comes along and disables The Joker. He takes The Joker out of action quickly because he needs Batman's help. They leave Black Canary to handle clean-up and head to Superman's Fortress of Solitude and the Bottle City of Kandor. Superman needs Batman's detective skills to solve a mysterious crime. It's all very Silver Age and a fun, light-hearted read.
Batman: The Brave and the Bold featured Diedrich Bader, Oswald on The Drew Carey Show as the voice of Batman. The narration from the cartoon is maintained in the comic book tie-in series.
I brought the Superman/Batman: Public Enemies trade paperback and The All New! Batman: The Brave and the Bold #1 with Batman and Superman on my trip to Kiev to bring my daughter home, because when you face an adventure, it's best to do it with a good partner. Batman and Superman make a great team. Families are a lot like teams.

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