Wednesday, December 26, 2012

One Sentence Review of Django Unchained

In Django Unchained Tarantino does for slavery what he did for World War II in Inglorious Basterds, namely add hyper-violence and historical inaccuracies, so if you liked that, you'll probably like this.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Friday, December 21, 2012

Friendship Friday with Jimmy Olsen: The Son of Superman!

Who better to teach us about the true meaning of friendship than Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen?

Friends DON'T let on when they don't like a friend's gift.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Wit of the Web Slinger Wednesday: Texas

Spider-Man is supposed to be funny, so this is kind of an abomination:

This is probably the first and only time that anyone has ever said "Wrong, Brother Dear!" to Sherlock Holmes.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Hostess Snack Break: Captain America in The Deserted City!

Everyone needs a break sometimes, so why don't you enjoy this one with one of your favorite superheroes and one of your favorite Hostess snack treats:

Captain America once again proves the amazing power of homophones.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Wit of the Web-Slinger Wednesday: Elephants are Pests

Spider-Man is supposed to be funny, so this is kind of an abomination:

I wish I could argue with this logic, but I just can't.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Hostess Snack Break: The Flash in "Marathon Madman"

Everyone needs a break sometimes, so why don't you enjoy this one with one of your favorite superheroes and one of your favorite Hostess snack treats:

It's kind of messed up for a superhero whose super power is "running really fast" to actually take first place in a marathon for normal people.  I also don't think anyone should eat something that makes them exclaim "What CHEMISTRY!  What taste!"

Monday, December 10, 2012

Monday Makeover: HARDAC

There are no bad characters, just characters that no one has spent far too much time thinking about how to make work. We intend to fix that.

The artificial intelligence known as HARDAC (Holographic Analytical Reciprocating DigitAl Computer, obviously) has only appeared in 3 episodes of Batman: The Animated Series (1992's "Heart of Steel: Part 1", "Heart of Steel: Part 2", and "His Silicon Soul").  It was created by the surprisingly non-evil mad scientist Karl Rossum after the death of his daughter in a car accident.  Unfortunately, creating an artificial intelligence because you're lonely and want it's help in creating robot replacement of your daughter isn't necessarily the best idea, and listening to its creator's grief only convinced HARDAC that human frailty is a weakness that must be purged.  Therefore it concluded that the only rational way to end suffering is to replace humanity with "duplicant" robots (I did mention that this is an artificial intelligence created by a mad scientist, right?).  HARDAC wass fairly successful in it's goal, replacing Karl Rossum, Commissioner Gordon, the Mayor of Gotham City, and figuring out that Batman was Bruce Wayne before Batman succeeded in destroying it and freeing the others (HARDAC had kept them alive to study them both to get information about them it couldn't find in computer databases and also because it had trouble duplicating human emotion).  Still, before it's ultimate destruction HARDAC managed to create one last duplicant of Batman.  Unfortunately, the Batman duplicant was damaged and believed itself to actually BE Batman.  Driven mad by the belief that "he" was trapped in a robot body, the Batman duplicant sought out Karl Rossum to repair it.  There it met the real Batman, completely lost it, and ended up repairing itself enough to realize the truth.  The Batman duplicant then tried to revive HARDAC using the Batcomputer.  When Batman tried to stop it, the Batman duplicant seemingly killed him.  Since the duplicant was programmed to think like Batman, and Batman doesn't kill, the logical paradox broke it's computer brain and it destroyed the Batcomputer, HARDAC, and itself.

I had initially thought that it was just childhood nostalgia that made me love HARDAC so much.  But rewatching the episodes made me realize there was considerably more there.  The best villains are ones that are either a foil to the hero (think the Joker) or a dark mirror of them.  And HARDAC is certainly the later.  Born out of loss and tragedy, HARDAC embarked on a monomaniacal quest to make sure that no one would ever have to feel that pain again.  While replacing all of humanity with immortal indestructible robots might not seem like the sanest way to prevent car accident fatalities, it's hard to argue that dressing up as a bat and throwing batarangs at muggers isn't exactly most people's first thought on how to reduce crime either.  This similarity to Batman is only exacerbated when HARDAC's programming gets trapped inside the Batman duplicant and it finds itself unable to violate Batman's moral code.  A literal mirror image of Batman, without his humanity, struggling to break free of it's programming so that it can force the world to be free of suffering (and humanity).  It's just a shame that it gets blown up in the Batcave at the end of it's last appearance.

"Why do you resist, HARDAC's goals are identical to your own.  Picture
a world completely free of crime, free of suffering, free of frailty."

Which brings us to what I would change or improve about HARDAC to make it work as a reoccurring Batman villain, and it doesn't take much.  Namely: instead of being blown up and it's robot body being left to be dismantled by Batman, have it be blown into one of the countless underground rivers in the Batcave and swept out to the waterways beneath Gotham City.  There, heavily damaged, the HARDAC/Batman duplicant would be forced to come up with a new plan.  With Batman's moral code hardwired into it's digital DNA it wouldn't be able to enact it's plan to replace humanity with duplicant's (even if it could manufacture them while damaged and living in the sewer).  No, building duplicants would be out, but if you're a robotic intelligence with a compulsion to be Batman, even in the sewers you could find enough scrap material to put together some kind of crimefighting robot.  Suffering must be eradicated after all and imprisoning criminals down in Gotham's catacombs doesn't violate any code against killing.  And when Batbots start abducting criminals, will anyone really believe that Batman isn't behind it?  And what happens when someone stumbles onto HARDAC's Batcave?

Art by the Amused Animator JJ Conway
"How has there not always been a psychotic broken Batman robot living underneath
Gotham City?"

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Published as a Public Service Announcement: Smoking is for Squares!

In the 40s and 50s, DC Comics published a series of PSAs in all of their titles. Some of them are still valuable lessons we can learn from today.....others are not.

Is there anything that Miss American Teenager can't do?

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Wit of the Web Slinger Wednesday: Elephant Milk

Spider-Man is supposed to be funny, so this is kind of an abomination:

I don't know what's wrong with that baby elephant's eyes, but it makes me think it's evil.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Terrific Tuesday Tidings: It's (Not) the End of the World as We Know It

It's Tuesday and that means it's time for my ongoing quest to become a more positive person. Here are the news stories that made me happy this week:
  • And things may just be getting better next year, with it looking like Senate Democrats are serious about taking on Filibuster Reform.  Now I could go into a long rant about how the filibuster isn't in the constitution and is being horribly abused blah blah blah, but instead I'll just point out that in six years as Senate Majority Leader, LBJ faced 1 filibuster and in six years Harry Reid has faced 386.  And that's pretty much the definition of dysfunction.
  • Finally, speaking of Congress, I think congratulations are in order for electing the single most diverse Congress in American history (and I'd recommend taking a look at the party IDs for the new members to see if you can spot a trend):
Click for larger version.

Hostess Snack Break: Daredevil in The Peachy Keen Caper

Everyone needs a break sometimes, so why don't you enjoy this one with one of your favorite superheroes and one of your favorite Hostess snack treats:

I'm not actually sure it's possible to reach that size on a diet of fresh peaches.

Frontline of the Class War: Fiscal Cliffs, and Walmart History

The Republicans are right, there is a class war going on in this country. And they're the ones waging it against the middle and working class:
  • Now some of you might remember that before the election Republicans were promising not to make cuts to current Medicare recipients which makes it shocking that Senator Bob Corker is demanding "very painful cuts to Medicare" as part of the fiscal cliff negotiations.  It's almost as if the Party that opposed the creation of Medicare and have spent the last 50 years trying to eliminate it might not actually have it's recipients best interests in mind.
Welcome to the Working Week!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Monday Makeover: Apparently Someone Was Listening

The Monday Makeover was born out of my love for the seemingly endless, often terribly thought out, array of supervillains that Batman has fought in his more than 70 year history.  I would find obscure or terribly thought out characters (often both) and explain their history, analyze their strengths and weaknesses as a reusable supervillain character, and then try to come up with what changes would be necessary to make them functional or raise their profile.  And apparently someone was listening:

That panel is from February 2012's Batgirl (vol. 4) #4 by Gail Simone and Ardian Syaf.  And this would be the Monday Makeover for Radio Station C-R-I-M-E that I published on January 30th, 2012 in which I argued that the bizarre radio station that alerted criminals to the movement of Batman and the police by lip reading what people were saying in Commissioner Gordon's office would actually make a really practical smartphone app.  Now sure we could allow logic to dictate that the fact that mine was published mere weeks before the above panel was released means that this was simply a case of parallel  evolution with me and Gail Simone simply having similar ideas at roughly the same time.  Or we could allow fun to dictate that clearly DC Comics is monitoring the Monday Makeover and stealing my ideas.  I'll let you decide.

In the meantime, the Monday Makeover will return next week, but with a special twist.  My dear friend and Always Amused Animator JJ Conway has agreed to start doing character designs for the Makeovers.  Some will remember his design for Signalman from an early Monday Makeover, what most probably don't know is that JJ is probably the only person I know whose love of Batman rivals my own.  Indeed many of the concepts used in previous Makeover's stemmed from late night conversations between the two of us.  And more relevantly for fans of the feature, he and I have created a list (terrifyingly from off the top of our heads) of some 200 more Batman villains in need of our help.  So we're going to be at this for a while, and Gotham will be a much more terrifying place as a result.