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Batman V Superman: World’s Finest

Someone asked me last week: Why are they having Superman and Batman fight each other in the new movie?

Why not?

It makes sense. The self-made man v the alien powerhouse. One thrives in the dark, the other literally is powered by the light.

Would you expect these two characters to get along off the bat? You put two alphas in the room they will scrap.

And it is a legendary matchup.

It is Yankees v Red Sox.

It is Ali-Frazier.

It is the big one.

The allure of putting these two at each others throat is simple: While both are heroes their methods could not be more different.

Fear. Intimidation. Brute force. Those are Batman’s tools. He is after all only human. He is not an invulnerable alien. There are shortcuts that he simply must take. Even while never taking the ultimate shortcut-he does not kill.

Superman can sit back and be the boy scout. Common criminals simply cannot hurt him. Some of his lofty morals come from knowing he is in no real danger.

At heart both men want the same thing. They want to protect the innocent. To help their fellow-man. Bruce does not want anyone to go through what he went through as a child. His obsessive pursuit of justice drives him right to the edge. Clark. Well with Clark it is more simple. Raised by Ma and Pa Kent he is a good man. A good man with incredible powers. Not using them to help others would not make any sense to him. There is a reason he was given those powers and for him that reason is to protect those that cannot protect themselves.

Clark is optimistic, glass half full. Bruce is so cynical that the glass is not there at all.

It is easy to see how they could be rivals or even enemies. It is easier still to see how they would be friends.

Who else could understand what each man must go through in his own personal crusade?

They are the worlds greatest heroes. These adversaries. And one day they could be the best of friends.

For now they are simple the World’s Finest.

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Batman V. Superman: Doomsday

In a few short days Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice will premier. So very many things to look forward to. Today I choose to look at one of the villains: Doomsday.

Introduced in 1992s ‘Death of Superman’ storyline, Doomsday was a force of nature. Plowing through hero after hero until he faced Superman alone. Genetically created(thousands of years ago on Krypton) to be the ultimate survivor-Doomsday can never be beaten the same way twice.  Finally, after realizing there was no other way to beat him, Superman beat Doomsday to death with his dying breath. Of course both characters would eventually return.

When the first trailers of the upcoming movie appeared some fans complained. You see this Doomsday’s origin is different from the comics. From what we think we know the movie Doomsday will be created by Lex Luthor using the corpse of Zod from ‘Man of Steel’. This will be Lex Luthor’s Frankenstein monster. And for some this is unacceptable.

Me? I think it is awesome. Using the original version could be problematic in the movies. Taking a page from ‘the Modern Prometheus’ is brilliant. Prometheus stole fire from the gods to give to mankind. What better way to fight Superman than stealing from the gods again by reanimating Zod?

With one simple change you give new life to the Luthor/Superman dynamic while also creating someone who could rival the Kryptonian’s power levels. You also create a battle which would necessitate Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman teaming up.

And isn’t that what we all really want?

 

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Heroes Do Not Kill

Should Heroes Kill?

As long as there have been stories there has been this question. Villains kill. We know this. But can a hero kill and still call themselves a hero.

Some feel a hero owes it to us to find another way, a better way.

Others think that for the greater good the good guy should simply exterminate the bad guy.

Both methods do have their merits. If no matter what Batman does the Joker is simply going to break out of Arkham and kill again would it not be prudent to end him now to lessen the body count. The thing is though…Batman does not kill…Should he?

Heroes stand for something far greater than themselves. Batman has always symbolized justice, not vengeance. He does not kill. He should not. As a character Batman is an obsessive teetering on a razors edge. Taking a life might push him over. He could become worse than the villains he seeks to bring to justice.

Some fans refer to characters like the Punisher who kill criminals indiscriminately. The villains do not return because he puts them down quickly. That is a ‘death wish’ style fantasy. That is not a hero. That is an executioner. Where is the line between a true villain and a man who made a mistake, a man who can be redeemed. The Punisher does not ask, he does not care, he simply kills.

This is not to say that there are no circumstances where it would be acceptable for a hero to kill. There are always exceptions. Great stories can be told with those exceptions, the effect these actions may have on both the hero and the public that adores him or her can create great drama.

When walking down the path to a hero taking another’s life we should tread carefully.

Heroes can kill, but they simply do not.

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Grayson Discovered

This column had roots in my previous column regarding the announcement of the ongoing series Grayson. It is nice to see how a series matches up against your own expectations.

Dick Grayson has always been one of my favorite characters in all of comics. I think part of it had to do with the fact that while he was coming of age and moving on from being the first Robin to becoming his own hero as Nightwing, I was going through my own teenage years and discovering who I was. Grayson always seemed to be the bridge between Superman and Batman, more human than one and much more compassionate than the other.

I looked forward to this series, feeling that it was a brilliant and much needed change for the character. I do have friends who simply long for the days when Dick will once again don the (blue and black)Nightwing suit once again.

The new series is written by Tim Seeley and Tom King. I had no familiarity with either writer going in, I was flying blind. In five issues they have rewarded my blind faith with an excellent series. Just enough spy action, paired nicely with great character beats. In short order they seem to know Dick Grayson, the man behind the hero. That is important. Yes these are comics but it is not all about the shiny suits. The men(and women) in those suits are what we come back for every month.

It does not stop with Grayson. They have created a fantastic supporting cast for him in short order. There is the far away shadow of Bruce sprinkled in as a lifeline to his former life but the key are his new partners so to speak.

The ‘Helena Bertinelli’ they have crafted along with artist Mikel Janin’s depiction of her, she is the definition of the seductive spy, has been outstanding. After seeing this version I would be happy to never see another version of the Huntress ever again. The experienced spy mentor for Dick, but you can see an almost envy for the way Dick still looks at the world without her cynical-worldview.

On the other hand we also have Midnighter as a rival, regular guest star. I love Midnighter and I am glad he is being used well since Stormwatch is over. It is easy to write his use off as taking the Batman role, but I do no believe it is that simple. As much as many of us see Nightwing as almost an equal to Bruce in some ways it will always be a teacher/student relationship. In Midnighter, Dick has a rival, contemporary who is his equal. He questions Grayson’s motives for doing what he does, much as Grayson does himself. Midnighter has faith in his abilities, in his powers but Dick has his resolve. I look forward to when they fight together rather than each other.

As I mentioned before Mikel Janin takes care of the art. I first discovered Janin on Justice League Dark, he quickly became on of my favorite artists. Here he is asked to do less, no mystical monsters or group scenes, but he does so much more. The characters come alive within these pages. When I see his Grayson I cannot imagine anyone else drawing him.

It has been a great ride so far and I look forward to the journey every month. For those looking for Nightwing, he is still here leaping into the unknown.

Grayson simply left the mask behind.

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The One True…Guy.

Everyone has a favorite. Whether it is a sports team or a band or even a favorite Green Lantern.

There are so many to choose from. Many would pick Hal Jordan, who has been the main Green Lantern in my lifetime. Others love John Stewart or Kyle Rayner. There are those among us that simple love the bad guy, Sinestro is their flag bearer. For me there is only one choice. I simply have to go with the one true Lantern, Guy Gardner.

I know he can be insufferable and arrogant but that is why we love him. He is also loyal, brave and would rather die than fail. His arrogance often seems to cover insecurity. He knows he is a hero, but unfortunately he has often been passed over for others. When Abin Sur crashed to earth Guy was the first choice but Hal Jordan was simply closer and time was an issue. Later on Guy suffered an accident and John Stewart got the call. Others might use this as a reason to prove themselves. Not Guy, he is so convinced that he is the superior hero it often brings him into conflict with other heroes.

Like Batman.

Like Superman.

He goes after the big dogs.

But he has persevered. He has served proudly as a key member of the Green Lantern Corps. He has led the Red Lantern Corps. When he was stripped of his Green Lantern ring he crossed galaxies to claim Sinestro’s yellow power ring. He will go to any lengths to be a hero. Ted Kord (you know Blue Beetle) even built him a suit to continue his heroic career.

He was meant to be a hero, powers or not.

Today he is the leader of the Red Lanterns with a showdown with their former leader Atrocitus on the horizon. It has been suggested that only one will survive. That would be a shame. These characters are too wonderful to just cast away.

If I was writing it I would give the Red Lanterns back to Atrocitus. Yes I would have Guy fall short in this battle. If only because I believe he has a wonderful future beyond the shiny trinkets of the various Lantern groups.

As I have said before Guy is a true hero. One who does not need a power ring to define him. And I believe these rings of the emotional spectrum have defined him for far to long.

I have always loved the good old-fashioned space hero. Your Buck Rogers, your Flash Gordon. Here is where Guy’s destiny surely lies. Let him acquire a fast space ship. Give him a new costume (I’m thinking dark green and red with yellow lines to remind him of where he has been) and a jet pack. Let him be the one true space hero that the DC Universe needs. Enough of leaving the spaceways to the various lantern groups.

The One True Guy has arrived…

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Bruce Wayne is Batman

Bruce Wayne is Batman.
Peter Parker is Spider-Man.
And Clark Kent is Superman.

It really is not that difficult to understand is it? Ask anyone on the street who is Batman or Spider-Man or Superman those are the answers you will get. Yet every so often some writer or editor will think ‘hey I have a great idea let’s put someone else in the Bat-suit. It will be great, everyone will love it.’

No. No they won’t. The majority of us simply wait for Bruce or Peter or Clark to be back. It is not about being resistant to change it is about the hero and the man being one and the same.

I have written before…Superman without Clark is simply not so ‘Super’ there is something missing. Without the man within, with all his all-too human failings, these heroes are not so heroic.

In the name of change, or more recently diversity Marvel and DC seem to want us to accept different characters in long time heroes roles. Miles Morales as Spider-Man, Sam Wilson(Falcon) as Captain America, even Jim Gordon as Batman…these are well-built characters let them have their own identities do not steal someone else’s.

Then you have the practice of flat-out changing a hero’s race or sex in the name of diversity. Yes the new Thor has been written(and drawn) incredibly well but that is the exception. Usually it is heavy-handed and poorly executed. The new mixed race Wally West is the perfect example. You took a wonderful ginger(a minority on its own) who had done more for diversity than most under the skilled writing of Mark Waid and cast him aside. And for what to say that you had a more ethnically diverse superhero cast?

Here is a novel proposal: rather than take heroes that have been around for my lifetime(forty-plus years) and change them…why not create new heroes of every race, sex and all the diverse experiences that populate this planet of ours. Create new characters just do not stand on the bones of the old. Is that too much to ask.

Bruce Wayne is Batman. We will wait. He will be back.

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The Attack of the 50-foot Trailers

Avengers: Age of Ultron comes out May 1st. It marks the beginning of the blockbuster movie season. Blockbuster movies mean trailers.

I love trailers. I always get to the movies early so I can see each and every trailer. Even if somehow the movie disappoints at least I get to salivate over movies coming soon.

Recently the studios have released the first trailers for both Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice and Star Wars: The Force Unleashed.

These releases should be met with excitement and a sense of wonder. Maybe I am simply a glass half-full kind of guy. These little glimpses of what the future holds give me hope for great movies to come. That is not the case for everyone.

I saw people criticizing the trailers. Holding up these trailers as evidence for how these movies will suck, how they will disappoint.

When did we become so cynical as a society?

It seems more and more that supposed fans just want a reason to hate and complain about any new movie, new story.

Some simply fondly remember past versions of these franchises. There is so much joy these franchises have given us. That does not mean the new versions cannot give us great epic stories. We simply need to allow them the chance.

So with the trailers for Star Wars, Batman vs Superman and whatever the next trailer we are treated to I only look to the future. I look to the great possibilities they hold within them.

While we cannot go back to our youth and discover these things again, we can take the blinders off and find the wonder we have lost.

Bring on the Trailers…

 

 

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