Saturday, May 27, 2017

Flashback film reviews: 'The Dark Knight Rises,' 'Sky High'

It's flashback film review time here at Cary's Comics Craze! 

Here are reviews of two very different superhero flicks — "The Dark Knight Rises" (2012) and "Sky High" (2005). I wrote these many years ago when the original CCC ran every two weeks in the NORWALK REFLECTOR newspaper.

My review of "The Dark Knight Rises" ran the Monday after its July 20, 2012 release. The REFLECTOR ran just a preview online as a teaser and the changes to the website being what they are — not to mention the original online CCC dying a slow death several years ago, the full thing is lost to online purgatory. (I did salvage my review of "The Dark Knight," which came out four years beforehand!) Both of those reviews are here on CCC for the first time …

July 2012 — EDITOR'S NOTE: The following is an excerpt from Cary Ashby's movie review, which was published in Monday's issue.

Director Christopher Nolan caps off his Batman trilogy by taking "The Dark Knight Rises" full circle to the beginning.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

DC's Rebirth Batman is more 'My Batman' of the Bronze Age

DC Comics' Rebirth is growing on me. Or at least the Batman side of the reboot is.

Since I'm a Batman fan, the key for DC capturing my interest is the way the Dark Knight, his supporting characters and world are handled. The first several issues of NIGHTWING are not inspiring and while the first trade paperback is by no means bad, it commits the cardinal sin of storytelling -- being average and even worse, forgettable. The covers for BATGIRL AND THE BIRDS OF PREY are eye-catching. The interior art? Not so much.

The Batman in BATMAN: VOL. 1: I AM GOTHAM reminds me of very much of the Caped Crusader I adore. More caring and complex, than ultra-violent, bloodthirsty and emotionally distant, as he was written in the New 52 or Frank Miller's BATMAN: THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS.

Is this Batman grim and determined? Check. Willing to help others? Check. Kicks plenty of butt? Check. Plays nice with others? Check. Focused? Check. Complex? Check.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Best cosplays at 2017 Motor City Comic Con

NOVI, Mich. -- It must be that time of year if I feel like I needed another day for my weekend. That's what happens when I attend the Motor City Comic Con.
Life is good when you can get a bubbly Harley Quinn cosplayer
to take a picture of her giving you a smooch. Even if it was staged!

I was back at the Phat Daddy's Comics booth with my buddy, brother from another mother and fellow comic book fan Jamie Stewart. Phat Daddy (Jamie) and Big Daddy (yours truly) did our best selling comics from the 1970s through early '90s, but when we weren't helping or chatting with customers, we grabbed great pictures of memorable cosplayers.

Without further ado, here are the best cosplays I saw Saturday (if you see yourself or someone you know, leave a comment at the end of this post!):
Think "Home Improvement"...!
Silly selfies have become "a thing" with my buddy, actress Jordan Troviliion, best known her gig
when she was a correspondent for the Comics Contiuum website.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Latest on Dwyane Johnson as Black Adam; 2007 flashback: Jake Gyllenhaal all wrong to play Shazam

So, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson has been cast as Shazam's archnemesis Black Adam for what now? About a gajillion years?!? And with no word yet on when -- much less if -- "Shazam" might start filming or get a release date.
(What does Johnson need to do to be convincing as Black Adam? Of course, I wrote an op-ed on that! Waaaay back in September 2014, as a matter of fact. I got your back, CCCers!)

Most recently, Johnson set social media afire by saying a showdown between Black Adam and Superman is on the horizon -- which made the rounds of comic book-related sites. "One fine day ... that's coming," he told Fandango.

Henry Cavill (left) and Armie Hammer are ready for action in this
promotional photo for "The Man from U.N.C.L.E."
And then in December, Johnson really got fans' DC Underoos in a bundle when he posted an Instagram photo when he celebrated Christmas and New Year's with actor Henry Cavill, the Superman of the DC Extended Universe (i.e. DC Entertainment movies).

“Today we drink like gentlemen and come together as friends. We're excited for what the future brings,” Johnson wrote in the caption.

And adding fuel to the long, not-really-burning slow burn, Johnson has said he wants Armie Hammer to play Shazam.

My thought? That's a terrible idea; Hammer has never shown me any reason he can act his way out of a wet paper towel. Besides, his chemistry with Cavill in "The Man from U.N.C.L.E." remake had its moments, but made an already "blah" movie even more so!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Black Canary to tie the knot? Routh, Bale to reprise roles? (CCC flashback)

Remember when Dinah Lance (Black Canary) was considering Oliver Queen's marriage proposal? 

And when it sounded like actors Christian Bale and Brandon Routh expressed interest in reprising their respective roles of Batman and Superman for the "Justice League" film that never got made?

And can you believe that was ten years ago? 

Yup, it's time to jump back in the Cary's Comics Craze time machine for another flashback. Enjoy another NORWALK REFLECTOR column written by yours truly that is getting its first appearance in this online version of CCC ... 

Late summer 2007 — Fans might be hearing wedding bells for Dinah Lance, not her Black Canary cry, if she considers saying yes to Oliver Queen's marriage proposal in GREEN ARROW No. 75.

Her answer probably won't be revealed until next month with the final issue of the BLACK CANARY limited series. And what should we expect?

Let's put it this way: In September, DC Comics is shipping JUSTICE LEAGUE WEDDING SPECIAL by writer Dwayne McDuffie, who has written for the "Teen Titans" and "Justice League Unlimited" animated series.

Black Canary (Lance) and Green Arrow (Queen) have been a couple for much longer than I've been collecting comics, most of the last 25 years. (That's up to 35 years or so now in 2017!)

DC has made no qualms about suggesting the two have been shacking up. In fact, there's a scene in the recently concluded JUSTICE limited series in which Queen tells Lance he's excited she has decided to go to bed without her blond wig.

Me? I'd prefer the sexual tension between these two love birds, rather than them facing marital bliss. After all, I think the sparks in the Clark Kent-Lois Lane and Peter Parker-Mary Jane Watson relationships were a lot more electric before their marriages.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

David Bowie's band rocks in 'Live Nassau Coliseum '76' CD

I finally had to break down and rebuy one of my favorite David Bowie concert recordings, his March 23, 1976 performance at the Nassau Coliseum in New York.
My import CD of the same show, SUFFRAGETTE CITY, stopped playing mysteriously one day years and years ago. I had hoped it was just a quirk and would start playing again, but that never happened. And that was more than fifteen years ago.

This is the back cover of the SUFFRAGETTE CITY
import CD released by Great Dane Records.
So I finally pulled the trigger on a new copy when I discovered an official recording released in 2010 and then again this year by Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Co. (That's Bowie's real last name and a variation of that of his thankfully short-lived band Tin Machine.)

I looked forward to listening to LIVE NASSAU COLISEUM '76 as it had been many years since I'd heard this dynamic show. And it doesn't disappoint.

SUFFRAGETTE CITY is pretty close to a soundboard-level recording, but there's better balance here and the official release includes four songs from the original set not on the bootleg, "Waiting for the Man," "Queen Bitch" and the medley of "Life on Mars?" and "Five Years."

Without further ado, here's a track-by-track review of LIVE NASSAU COLISEUM '76:

Monday, May 15, 2017

'Beware the Batman' is well worth your time

"Beware the Batman" may be the least seen version of the Dark Knight. But it's worth tracking down.

The completely CGI animated series lasted only 26 episodes, airing from 2013 through 2014 with a several-month break between half of its single season.

I've always wondered why "Beware" didn't last longer and/or wasn't renewed. There are the usual suspects: Ratings, critical response, premise or even the expense.

While I admittedly haven't done any research on this, my fanboy instinct tells me that "Beware the Batman" simply may have been too expensive for Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment to continue producing. It's equally possible the Powers That May Be may not have been invested in the premise enough to keep the experimental series going. (My guess is those are the same reasons the equally enjoyable CGI "Green Lantern: The Animated Series," which came out about the same time, didn't get, um, green-lit for a second season.)

My assumption is that creating episodes completely using CGI not only is more time consuming than traditional animation or even a combination of the two.

The premise is one of DCE's more original ways to tackle the Dark Knight — even while parts of it are extremely conventional. There are three main characters: Batman/Bruce Wayne, Alfred Pennyworth and Tatsu Yamashiro/Katana.

It's the Alfred and Tatsu dynamic that makes this series premise so fascinating.