Tag Archive: Batman

One to Watch, in 2015

Gotham TV series

In a week that saw Fox’s “Gotham” achieve its best-ever ratings on US television, here’s a link to my article at the Xtreme Entertainment Network, reviewing the show’s first season, for UK audiences.

Dark Nights, in “Gotham”

Oh, and best wishes for 2015. Hope it’s a good year, for all of us.



Batman is a fictional character, a superhero appearing in comic books published by DC Comics.

He was created by artist Bob Kane and writer Bill Finger, and first appeared in Detective Comics #27 (May 1939).

The Premise

Batman is the costumed alter-ego of billionaire industrialist Bruce Wayne.

Orphaned as a child when he witnessed the death of his parents at the hands of an armed mugger, the young Wayne spent his formative years developing the skills needed to exorcise the demons of his traumatic childhood experience.

“Exorcise”, in this case meaning “Become a costumed vigilante”.

As the Batman, Wayne prowls the night, striking fear in the hearts of evildoers with his nightmarish outfit, incredible hi-tech gadgets, and fearsome combat skills.

From the archives of YouTube and ClevverU, here’s a crash course on the Dark Knight, for you:

The Tech

Wayne’s Batsuit incorporates the imagery of a bat, in order to frighten criminals.

Though the specifics of the Batman costume have changed repeatedly across various stories and media, the most distinctive elements remain consistent: a billowing cape, a cowl covering most of the face and featuring a pair of batlike ears, a stylized bat emblem on the chest, and the ever-present utility belt.

Possessing the properties of both Kevlar and Nomex, the suit protects him from gunfire and other significant impacts.

The costume’s colors are traditionally blue and gray – a scheme which arose due to the way comic book art is colored.
More recently (and specifically since the Tim Burton “Batman” film of 1989), an all gray / black scheme with gold coloring on the emblem has been the norm.

Batman keeps most of his field equipment in a utility belt.

Over the years, it has been shown to contain a virtually limitless variety of crime-fighting tools. Different versions of the belt have these items stored in pouches, or hard cylinders attached evenly around it.

The ‘Tec

What isn’t widely acknowledged is that Batman is also hailed as the number one detective, in the world of costumed heroes. With deductive skills to rival the legendary Sherlock Holmes.

They don’t call him The Darknight Detective, for nothing.

From YouTube, here’s a collection of clips from “Batman TAS” and “Justice League”, highlighting those mad skills:

Those Mad Skills

Batman has no inherent super-powers. To compensate, he must rely on his scientific knowledge, detective skills, and fighting prowess.

In the stories, Bruce Wayne / Batman spent a significant portion of his life and fortune traveling the world and acquiring the skills necessary to wage his war on crime. As such, his knowledge and expertise in just about every discipline known to man is almost unparalleled by any other character in the DC Comics’ Universe.

He is a master of disguise, often gathering information under the identity of Matches Malone, a notorious gangster.

Batman is also skilled in espionage, and his ninjutsu training has made him a master of stealth, who can appear and disappear, seemingly at will. He is also well versed in escapology, allowing him to break free of near inescapable deathtraps with little or no harm.

Batman is an expert in forensic investigation, interrogation and counter-interrogation techniques. He has the ability to function while tolerating massive amounts of physical pain, and even to withstand telepathy and mind control.

A formidable array of talents. And with his enemies in Gotham City and beyond, he needs them.

Those Mad Killers

Batman faces a variety of foes, ranging from common criminals to outlandish supervillains. Many of them mirror aspects of the Batman’s character and development, and often have tragic origin stories that lead them to a life of crime.

Batman’s arch-nemesis the Joker – a green-haired, chalk white-skinned, clown-like criminal psychopath – is essentially the Batman’s polar opposite.

Other recurring enemies include Catwoman, Bane, the Scarecrow, the Penguin, Two-Face, the Riddler, Mr. Freeze, Poison Ivy, and Ra’s al Ghul.

Memorable characters, all. And ripe, for mass media.

The Show Goes On

And on.

Since his first appearance in the late 1930s, the Batman has been featured in comic books, novels, stage plays, TV series, and movies (in both animated and live-action formats).

His eagerly anticipated next appearance at the cinema will be in the next installment of the new Superman franchise, which will star Henry Cavill, as the Man of Steel, and a contentiously cast Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne / Batman.

It’s your standard comic book adaptation casting fiasco.

Remember the hubbub that erupted back in the day, when Michael Keaton was cast as Batman?

“He’s too short!”

“He’s too weedy!”

“He’s a comedian!”

He was good.

One of the better ones, actually.

So. We’ll await developments.

And I hope you’ll await my next story, in this series.

Till then.


Arrow’s On Target

Arrow's on Target

The CW (makers of “Smallville”) have repackaged the Green Arrow as a hard-edged vigilante drama series.

And it’s pretty darn good.

The Stars

Stephen Amell as Oliver Queen / Arrow
Katie Cassidy as Dinah Laurel Lance
Willa Holland as Thea Queen
Susanna Thompson as Moira Queen
Colin Salmon as Walter Steele
Paul Blackthorne as Det. Quentin Lance
Colin Donnell as Tommy Merlyn
David Ramsey as John Diggle
Jamey Sheridan as Robert Queen

The History

The Green Arrow – a sort of modern-day Robin Hood, complete with longbow and gadget-laden trick arrows – was introduced in the 1960s.

This was partly to relieve the pressure on Batman, who was felt to be appearing in too many of DC Comics’ publications.

Like Batman’s flip side, Bruce Wayne, Green Arrow Oliver Queen was portrayed as a then millionaire, now billionaire playboy, whose flighty public persona hid dark secrets, and a propensity for vigilante violence.

Both characters were a counterpoint to the square-cut, squeaky clean Clark Kent / Superman – with whom they were often at odds.

The CW highlighted this relationship in “Smallville”, where Justin Hartley played Oliver Queen / Green Arrow, for much of the latter half of the show’s 10-year run.

Within the separate (from the mainstream of DC Comics) universe of “Smallville”, the show emphasized the wise-cracking, smart aleck aspects of the Green Arrow – which mirrored the character’s persona in the mainstream DC Comics of the 1980s and early 1990s.

With “Arrow”, the CW has created another pocket universe.

But there, the comparisons end.

Justin Hartley’s “Smallville” Green Arrow was like the Roger Moore version of James Bond. Or, at best, Pierce Brosnan.

Stephen Amell’s “Arrow” is Daniel Craig.

The Premise

The yacht carrying billionaire tycoon Robert Queen (Jamey Sheridan), his son Oliver (Stephen Amell), and Sarah Lance, younger sister of Oliver’s “steady” girlfriend, Laurel, goes down in a heavy storm.

Sarah Lance is swept to her death, from a cabin onboard ship, but the Queens make it to a life raft, along with another survivor.

Before dying (okay; dispatching the third survivor, then shooting himself in the head), Robert Queen charges his son to be strong, and survive – to right the wrongs that Robert Queen did, in life.

And, to bring to justice the dangerous, rich and powerful individuals holding their beloved home of Starling City to ransom.

Which pretty much sets the tone, for the show.

The raft dumps Oliver on a savage, uncharted island where, for five years, he develops a prodigious set of skills, simply to survive and adapt.

Rescued by a fishing vessel which spots his massive signal fire, Oliver returns to Starling City.

To find his mother married to his father’s number two man at the company, his sister on drugs, his girlfriend cursing him for having a fling with her sister, then letting her die…

And his mission to clean up the city, not so cut and dried.

The Trailer

Courtesy of YouTube:

The Verdict

This show has great potential, and it’s beginning to realize some of it, already.

I’ve compared Stephen Amell in the title role to Daniel Craig, as 007, and the similarities are there:

The stocky build, and craggy features.
The intense character.
The air of gritty realism.

There’s less gloss on show here, than in “Smallville”.

Some bone-crunching and occasionally dazzling martial arts.

And when Arrow (He does wear green – dark, of course – and uses the color on his gadgets) shoots his trademarks at machine-gun wielding thugs, people actually die.

There are nods already, to the Green Arrow’s retinue of supporting characters from DC Comics.

Like Willa Holland, as Oliver Queen’s illicit drug-taking kid sister, Thea. Nicknamed Speedy.

Which, incidentally, was the codename given to the Green Arrow’s young sidekicks, in the comics.

Among whom was Mia Dearden, a reformed (and presumably drug-taking) prostitute, who became the first HIV-positive character ever to appear in mainstream comics.

There’s scope here for a brother and sister double-act, with archery as rehab for the wayward Thea, then.

Katie Cassidy, as Dinah Laurel Lance is yet to sport fishnet tights and a domino mask like her DC Comics (and “Smallville”) counterpart, the Black Canary.

As a trial lawyer in Arrow, Laurel (less emphasis on the Dinah, here) is required to talk a lot. But there’s no evidence that she can shatter concrete, with her voice.

Early days, yet.

I imagine there could be some nods in this direction, as the series evolves.

Which I hope it does.

“Arrow” is quality entertainment, and well worth a look, if you get the chance.

8 and a half, out of 10.

That’s it, for this one.