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Archives for : January2016

Basement Fodder episode 109

Dave and I are back talking WWE Royal Rumble event, The Rock on Raw, reviews of this weeks Supergirl, Flash, Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow! And we update Kickstarters and send out a special birthday song to a friend! A fun show as always.

 

BTAS #30 Perchance to dream

BTAS # 30 “Perchance to Dream”

 

Alice in Wonderland meets Alfred Hitchcock. What happens when the Mad Hatter directs an elseworld’s story that works as a dramatic homage to Vertigo? Oh boy. To say I’ve been looking forward to reviewing this episode is an understatement. This particular episode is probably in my top 5. Top 10 at the least. With the exception of its restricted time limit (network television and all), this is about as close to a “perfect episode” as you are going to get on merits of pure craftsmanship. That’s not to say this episode does not have emotional depth, but as far as the way this episode doesn’t waste a second and throws so much amazing symbolism, character introspection, and incredibly experimental art into one episode, it’s truly something to behold. If you are watching this episode for the first time, I strongly recommend watching the episode before reading this as it is impossible to talk about this episode spoiler free. That being said, let’s begin.

The key to this episode’s success is not in figuring out it’s mystery, but rather in seeing how intricate the puzzle is and how Bruce Wayne reacts to it, acts upon it, and puts the pieces together. That being said, the title by itself is a dead giveaway that the fantasy world of this episode is in fact, a dream. Also, for those who paid attention to my analysis of the character’s musical themes, you can recognize the villain of the episode as the Mad Hatter by the fact they chose to use his theme music for the title card sequence. That being said, the episode does not start in a dreamscape. It starts in a car chase.

We see the Batmobile chasing another car through what seems like dark alleys of an oil storage plant. One of the criminals throws a barrel of oil towards him and the Batmobile maneuvers out of the way and cleans the windshield of what was remaining of the spill. Eventually, Batman chases the criminals into a factory building. Two unique elements turn this scene from a generic 30 second chase to a perplexing introduction to the episode. The first is that the entire sequence goes by with absolutely no music. Very seldom does this show share silent action scenes, but this one uses it to a great effect as it draws you into a sense that something is not as it should be. The second is that for the first time, we see a shot of Batman from the first person. A unique device indeed as animation barely uses first person because of it’s difficult nature to recreate. Using it here gives a subconscious change to view the episode as close to Batman’s perspective as possible.

Music only enters the episode as we see our first picture of Batman in third person. Our next scene shows him entering through an open window via grapnel. The scene has Batman entering the window in what is meant to represent real time, giving further acknowledgement to viewing the episode through Batman’s perspective. As Batman walks across the catwalk, a bright light blinds him. Sparkles appear in front of his eyes to symbolize his inability to see. As the light clears, he looks up to see an unknown object heading right towards him. The screen goes black as it hits him, implying we leave the action the same time he passes out, contributing to the episode’s immersion.

Batman “wakes up” short of breath. For reference, this is obviously the beginning of the episode’s dreamscape. Our first clue comes in the form of Alfred opening the curtains. Although the episode points to him waking up at his usual time of day, he is usually greeted by a harsh beam of sunlight. Rather, there is simply a blue sky outside. The weather appears to be the same, so my guess is it represents a hint toward a Bruce Wayne more adjusted to waking up this time of day. Batman makes a quick reference to the trap he fell into, but Alfred appears puzzled. Upon bringing up Robin, Alfred humorously mistakes him for a girl he must’ve bumped into. He briefly mentions that he believed he and Miss Kyle were… but then stops, that is none of his business. This also points to a key difference as Alfred acts far more distant and less personal in his approach. Part of this might stem from having a strictly normal relationship with Bruce compared to his extra duties in the normal world.

Upon getting out of bed, Bruce heads towards the grandfather clock that opens the Batcave. Now whether Batman is drawn to the clock because of the noise or the noise is heard because Bruce is heading for it, the sound effect of the clock is amplified compared to other sounds. This points towards the idea that the world itself is seen from Bruce’s sole perspective. Bruce pulls the lever, but is awestruck when he finds the entrance is missing. When he asks Alfred about it, he has no idea what he’s talking about. Bruce begins to get sarcastic as he thinks Alfred is playing an elaborate trick on him.

A familiar voice calls out to Bruce. When he turns towards it, he finds his parents Thomas and Martha standing in front of him. Bruce is horrified at the sight of them knowing that it can’t be real. Light in the scene dims during the reveal thematically and music swells towards Bruce’s dark confusion (once again, we see the world bend to Bruce’s perspective and emotional state). Bruce runs away in a panic. After washing his face, Bruce is confronted by his father checking up on him. Bruce is still paranoid at him being there, but Thomas goes about checking his eyes and making a nice nod to comic continuity in the process (Thomas Wayne was a renowned doctor). Bruce still can’t find his way to comment on his father’s sudden existence, but decides to try to approach life as usual.

Alfred, continuing to be overtly formal, choses a suit for Bruce to wear to his stockholder’s meeting. In a move towards obvious, but effective symbolism, we spend our scene in Bruce’s dressing room, which is covered in mirrors. In an attempt to make sense of these changes, Bruce asks Alfred to tell him about his life. He acknowledges it’s an odd request, but insists he humor him. Alfred seems puzzled, but tells him that since his father retired, he has been head of Wayne Enterprises, but it is run mostly by Lucius Fox. He also mentions that last week, he proposed to Selina Kyle. Bruce denies it and says it all sounds wrong. As Bruce sits in his chair, Alfred gives one of the best lines of the episode: “It’s a leisurely existence I must admit, but there are worse lives.” Looking at this from the perspective of Bruce’s imagination in the form of Alfred saying this, it leads towards a tiny bit of self awareness coming through.

Bruce sits alone at his office at Wayne Corp., Tapping a pen on his desk. It is at this point a pattern begins to emerge. As I mentioned towards the beginning of the review, it is uncommon to have a lack of music. In this particular episode, it seems that inside the dreamscape, music is only played under moments of intense emotion or deep thought. Perhaps the music is a representation of his self conscious trying to break free. The dream itself is strongest when he either accepts or does not question it. So an absence of music portrays him at a level of normality.

Bruce is surprised to see Selina entering the room to comfort him. She asks him what’s wrong and says he’s not feeling like himself. That he swears he’s—“Batman!” cries Selina. In an orchestrated play on words, a dark and ominous cover of the Batman theme swells up as Batman swings in front of Wayne Corp. and leaves Bruce Wayne absolutely dumbstruck. It’s also important to notice the continuing motif of seeing Batman from a real-time realistic perspective. Pointing now towards seeing Batman as Bruce Wayne would see him. Bruce rushes outside to see him.

Batman is seen apprehending a group of jewel thieves through a combination of grapnel swinging, jumping on cars, and intimidation. The perspective of him doing this is still exciting, but is noticeably less romanticized than other episodes of the show would imply. They even give great emphasis to collateral damage of causing the getaway car to break a lamppost and fire hydrant. When the police show up, Batman uses his grapnel and climbs away at an episode-appropriate pace. Seeing his actions for the first time, Bruce is quite impressed with how Batman looks in action. Selina questions him again if he’s doing alright, but Bruce says he’s worried he’s losing his mind.

Now here is where things start to get weird, and by weird I mean brilliantly bizarre. Bruce visits Leslie, a family doctor friend of the Waynes. He claims she’s the only one he can trust and that he feels like he’s living someone else’s life. She theorizes since Bruce has lived a life where everything was handed to him without him working for it, his subconscious mind created a reality where he led a life more satisfying to him. He’s identified with Batman specifically because he’s a symbol in which every deed represents value. The actual condition is referred to as psychological disassociation. She tells him once he learns to take pride in his new found “real life,” the “illusions” will disappear. Upon coming to grips with the fact that this very well could be the truth, Batman let’s go of his former life with the horrifying statement: “The Nightmare’s over.” Upon this discovery, the Batman theme returns again, but this time in a much warmer and brighter tone.

Bruce returns to his home and greets his father with a big hug. Two things of note to mention for a second later, Thomas Wayne is holding a book and Bruce invites his parents to join them at the opera. Bruce then proceeds to tease Alfred about his previous comments he made to him about the Batcave. “Good thing you didn’t find that entrance. Then we’d both be nuts.” Alfred goes to get Bruce’s suit for the opera. This makes sense as Alfred’s actions in the story seem to repeat themselves as in a dream, Alfred is performing a set of subconscious tasks as that would be the way Bruce interprets him.

With a big smile on his face, Bruce opens the newspaper (another symbolic point we will get back to) to find that all of the text seems to be scrambled in a jumbled mess of sizes, fonts and patterns. Bruce throws the paper down and starts tearing down his bookshelf, finding every book repeats the same pattern of scattered letters of no particular individual significance. For reasons we discover later, Bruce grabs his head and begins to reach his mental breaking point as he senses stronger than ever that the reality in front of him can’t be real.

Now for those who thought I missed it, I’d like to bring mention that now that you’re looking for it, you may have noticed the signs outside Wayne Corp. were also scrambled and unreadable. Another interesting decision this episode makes is that when Bruce goes to confront his father, Thomas is holding a book. It’s not shown what book it is, but it doesn’t matter. What matters is that Thomas is physically holding a piece of what makes Bruce snap back into things. Symbolically, this makes sense as there is a mentoring father and son subtext that draws from this. It’s also leans towards Thomas having a larger sense of how Bruce finds his identity in real life compared to literally finding it here; almost a role reversal of him rejecting the illusion of Thomas in “Nothing to Fear.” Speaking of illusion of Thomas, let’s not forget that’s actually who he is. He’s a manifestation of Bruce’s perception of Thomas. Keeping that in mind, these theories of what Thomas represents become far more literal.

Reaching deeper into the rabbit hole (get it?), one can extrapolate the importance of Bruce discovering this in the newspaper in his living room, as this was the very scenario that set in motion his inspiration for the Batman mythology. While reading that paper in that room, the bat flew in the window and the rest was history. Now put that all together. Thomas Wayne, the symbolic catalyst to his transformation, the inspiration of his moral character, holds in his hands the key to Bruce unlocking his true identity as Batman, is immediately followed by the discovery taking place by the exact newspaper-based symbolic-staged scenery that brought together the imagery and mythos of Batman, leading to the discovery that only when the catalyst towards the moral motivation of Batman and the staged symbolic pieces leading towards the mythos and characterization of Batman are pieced together by the bearer of the cross that is the caped crusader, Bruce can only then reach a point of no return in embracing the fact that his seemingly impossible thoughts of being the one and only Batman must be not only his destiny, but his reality. Now that’s some deep analysis. Not going to lie. I got mentally exhausted trying to write all the way to the end of that rant without stopping. Regardless, pretty cool huh? How’s that for “It’s just a kids show. Don’t read so much into it.”

Bruce’s parents try to comfort the obviously distressed Bruce, but he runs away from them in terror knowing it’s all a lie. Bruce runs into the other room where he finds a television giving a report on the recent Batman sighting. The news report snapshot is an obvious homage to the first ever Batman cover; a fitting little homage from an episode about Batman origin and identity. Bruce is infuriated at the report and throws a statue through the TV (I’m sure you could pull some sort of symbolic importance out of the statue, but I couldn’t identify it). Batman raves to his increasingly worried parents that Batman must be behind all this and he plans to track him down.

Bruce flees the house in a convertible and speeds towards Gotham City. The weather has grown dark and storm filled for the first time so far. It’s easy to see the dip towards bad weather as a sign of Bruce’s increasingly tormented mind, and I think you’d be right on that, but the existence of lightning is a step beyond that. As frequently used in the show, lighting has a symbolic meaning to Batman and in this case, I believe it represents the every growing presence Batman (either thought of as himself or the figure that roams the rooftops) has on his mind.

Bruce enters a store and buys a grappling hook and some rope. He also loudly proclaims to a clerk he needs a flare gun and some flares. The rope and grappling hook have an obvious connection to the Batman resurgence, but the flare guns feel like they are meant for a different purpose. Especially because they separate it and give it more emphasis. Moving forward, Bruce is confronted by police for parking in a no parking zone. Why the front curb of a store and the police just having to show up are probably signs of his mind fighting back against him. His mind is bending the universe towards and against his goals. This represents how his inner turmoil is made physical in this episode and moves the episode forward. No surprise, but it goes deeper than that, but we’ll get back to that.

The police inform him his parents are worried and he should go with them. Instead, he evades the police by ducking into shadowy alleys, jumping a fence, and then escaping via grappling hook while one of the cops (who might I remind you is a representation of the part of Bruce’s mind fighting against discovering his identity) commenting, “He moves just like Batman!”

After making his escape, Bruce finds that he’s only been able to escape the cops for a few blocks. His only escape is by leaping a large wall into a graveyard. The cops are unable to individually climb the wall. Bruce walks through the cemetery until a bolt of lightning illuminates his destination: the bell tower of the Gotham cathedral.

Trying to grasp on to the meaning of religious symbolism can be difficult in an average episode, but an episode like this, oh boy. Well, for starters, from what we’ve seen of the layout from previous episodes, we know that this is in fact the same graveyard that his parents would have been buried in if they had died. One can also draw a message in the fact that he had to climb a physical wall to enter this next level as a representation of a mental wall he had to overcome in order to reach this new level of his subconscious. Upon reaching this level of his self conscious, he is surrounded by religious symbolism and imagery. This on a base level implies that religion is something he holds close to his heart and that’s why it exists on this innermost circle. That being said, the majority of the religious imagery he is given to look at is representing death. It points towards the afterlife as a large part of his innermost mind. This could represent his refusal to kill, but the large number of graves speaks against that. Rather, it seems likely that the graves are meant to represent the souls he has been unable to save. This would be credited by the fact that his parents are absent from this, although in his turmoil he knows they should be. Moving literally past that, at the center of his subconscious dreamscape, is a Gothic cathedral; a symbol of religious salvation and purity, but also cloaked in dark and ominous imagery itself. One could say that is a direct reflection of Batman. Batman is a character seen as a savior to many, but is still surrounded by the dark and ominous identity he has created.

 

As the police slowly make their way past the wall, Bruce climbs the symbolic tower using the grappling hook the same way Batman would. They also go out of their way to have the hook attach to a gargoyle, a more literal interpretation of the cathedral symbolism. Upon reaching the pinnacle of his self conscious, Bruce stretches his arms out wide (the crucifix symbolism speaks for itself, so I won’t dwell on it) and challenges Batman to face him. Bruce waits for him, as the lightning grows stronger and stronger still. Batman, in a shadowed silhouette, still in the pose of the original Batman, lands in front of Bruce.

A bolt of lightning behind him illuminates Batman. The Batman that shows up before him is similar to the silhouette that appears in the opening sequence, but seems off somehow. His stance is crooked and his eyes are slightly off. This gives more emphasis to the idea of him being fake as you once again are looking from Bruce’s first person. If Bruce is confident this Batman is an imposter, his subconscious would distort him to reveal such.

Bruce and Batman fight briefly until Batman tries to talk Bruce down. Bruce insists it’s all a dream. He explains that the reason none of the print makes any sense is that reading is a function of the right side of the brain and dreams are a function of the left side. Therefore, it’s impossible to read in a dream. I’m not 100% sure of the legitimacy of this, but as 23 year old with ADD, I can’t say I have any recollection of every reading in a dream. Who knew? One would then ask why the print that Bruce didn’t read is also scrambled if it’s his dream. The reason for this is simple. With the numerous steps this episode takes to immerse you into seeing from Bruce’s perspective, the dream is treated as if it is not only Bruce’s dream, it’s the audience’s dream as well.

Showing that the dream world is fighting Bruce harder than ever now, the entire police force has surmounted below and demanded he come down. Bruce can’t explain why this is all Batman’s fault, but he knows he’d be here because it was part of his nightly patrol. Bruce continues to fight Batman, push him onto the edge, and remove his mask. Upon removing his mask, Bruce is shocked to find standing before him the Mad Hatter.

As Batman is left stunned, the Mad Hatter pulls himself away from the balcony. It’s worth mentioning as well that when he pulls himself away he is instantly transformed back into his usual wardrobe. This is the first and only time that Bruce’s reality makes a truly impossible anomaly. It would make sense that since Bruce’s head is mainly in self-correcting order, only the Mad Hatter, who we reveal in a few lines does actually have a connection to Batman’s dream larger than just being a figment of his imagination, he might have some sort of autonomy over himself.

The Mad Hatter explains that a machine that blocks out the real world in order to create an ideal world for him creates the dream he lives. Batman throws him to the ground and demands he bring him back to reality. The Mad Hatter is crushed that he doesn’t like the world he crafted for him. Bruce declares he can’t live in it if it’s not real, but the Mad Hatter retorts: “Ah, but which are you? Are you the dreamer or are you someone else’s dreamed? That’s the question Tweedle Dee struck to Alice in Through the Looking Glass.” Fed up with his ongoing analogies and dodging of his questions, Bruce, facing the Mad Hatter on one side and police breaking into the tower on the other, decides the only thing that might wake him up is to jump from the tower. The Mad Hatter warns him he might be wrong, and in a understandably PG word swap, Bruce yells, “Then I’ll see you in your nightmares!” It’s a fitting line with the dreamscape, but I still like the idea of Batman on the brink of madness screaming “Then I’ll see you in Hell!”

Bruce leaps from the building into a black nothing with only scattershot of lightning bolts to light his way. He awakens in a panic, as Batman, wearing the dream apparatus as a steel helmet. Batman pulls himself away from the machine and defeats the guards that the Mad Hatter sics on him. In a fury of muted emotions, Batman asks him why he would do this to him. The Mad Hatter is brought to tears as he asks how he of all people has the gall to ask him that. “I was willing to give you any life you wanted just to keep you out of mine!”

The Mad Hatter is hauled away by the police. Commissioner Gordon asks Batman if he knows what the apparatus was. Holding back his emotions as he walks away, the episode ends with Batman saying, “The stuff that dreams are made of.”

This episode leaves me speechless. I know that can sound a bit funny considering I’ve gone on ranting about it for so long, and I still have some ranting yet to do, but in actually watching this episode, it’s amazing how I spend the credits just trying to catch my breath. Even when reviewing this episode, going into it knowing how jam-packed with analysis and theory and symbolism it was going to be, I was exhausted by the time that I got to the credits.

On the technical side of this episode, this episode is pure clockwork. It’s pacing is absolutely perfect in how it balances progression of the story with progression of Bruce’s self awareness and mental state. At any particular time, this episode knows where in his psychosis Bruce is, what pieces of outward stimuli are in play, and at what exact moment Bruce’s inner battle will move the plot forward. Until the final moments, the episode has no true villain, so being able to not only have Bruce’s inner conflict as a successful form of conflict, and keep it at an exciting, action packed pace, is no simple task. Good thing these guys know how to pull it off.

From an acting perspective, this isn’t the first time we’ve seen voice actors play versions of their characters in a “modified state,” but the execution here is spot on. I give extra props to Thomas Wayne, who appears in this episode for the first time in true form, and to Alfred who receives more screen time than almost anyone else.

Speaking of Thomas Wayne, the character was actually voice acted by Kevin Conroy, the voice of Batman. One could leave this to be done because all he had to do was lower his voice (which I can’t believe it actually goes any lower) and he’s Thomas, but I like the theory that having the same voice actor is a mirror of how Thomas has such a large influence of Bruce and he strives to be so much like his father.

Now some of you may remember way back I made reference to a flare gun that Bruce purchased earlier in the episode. You may have also noticed that Bruce did not actually use the flare gun. So why the heck is it included? In my opinion it is included to draw attention to a very strange, but extremely important detail. Being one of only three extremely specific exceptions, the flare gun is a non–lethal equivalent to a noticeable and important absence in this world. In Bruce Wayne’s dreamscape, in an alternate reality where Bruce’s parents never died, in a world the Mad Hatter built to be the world that Bruce always wanted, is a world where there is no guns.

Now as I mentioned, there are two other exceptions. The first is a rifle seen in the sports store that he bought the flare gun. I believe this exception is made because it is very clearly labeled as a hunting rifle. As seen in a later episode “The Terrible Trio,” Bruce’s hatred of guns has gray areas. In this episode, Bruce is with a group skeet shooting. In general, this is part of a misconception a lot of writers have about Batman. It’s less the pure idea of him hating guns, but more what they represent. We’ll be getting back to that on a later episode.

Now we move on to the Mad Hatter himself. Despite having almost no actual screen time in the episode, his presence in this episode is complex and intriguing. The question one would typically ask first is why did he do it? In the episode, he defines it as getting Batman out of his way. One would first assume that this means he is still after Alice. While this is clearly a possibility, it seems more likely that we may be asking the wrong question. What I want to know is: Why is the Mad Hatter Batman?

Normally, it’d be easy to say that it’s a given because the Mad Hatter and the existence of Batman are both at the center of his altered identity, it makes sense that they would be the same person. However, the episode makes it incredibly clear that the Mad Hatter has a physical presence in the dreamscape. Meaning that the Mad Hatter actually enjoys and experiences his identity in the dreamscape as if it were his reality. When the role of Batman is explained, it is referred to in this episode as a man whose every action carries meaning. Perhaps that is the goal that the Mad Hatter is after. Looking past his infatuation with Alice, the Mad Hatter’s maiden voyage made it clear that he was disjointed from his peers and often underestimated and underappreciated. If that’s the case, wouldn’t the importance and respect that Batman commands be enticing to him? On a similar point, being able to act as a puppet master could also be where he draws his sense of accomplishment. This would also create a parallel to why they (remembering it’s part of Batman’s psyche) say that Batman is a man whose every action carries meaning and the Mad Hatter is a puppet master whose every action draws meaning.

Looking at this episode from a straight narrative perspective, this is one of the most comic booky episodes on the serious side of the spectrum. Comic books love alternate realities, Elseworlds, and “It’s was all just a dream” stories because they give writers a chance to experiment with characters without the bounds of continuity or long term consequence. This episode gives us such an experiment. This episode gives a previously unseen look into a more inward and emotional perspective on the Batman mythos. For a character that tends to hide and suppress emotions at every turn, we get an episode where Bruce embraces his emotions wholeheartedly.

In the 75 years of Batman’s existence, a lot of people have debated on what Batman’s controlling idea is. The most common is the idea that there does not exist a reality where Bruce cannot be Batman. It goes on the basis that Batman has become such an ingrained part of who he is, people often use the shorthand and say “Bruce is the mask, Batman is the identity.” Going off that, it makes a story about how Bruce inevitably discovers he can’t let himself never be Batman if he tried, ends up as a rather intriguing one. It speaks not only to this particular interpretation of Batman, but also to the bare bones concept of Batman in general.

If I had just one tiny complaint about this episode, it’s that I want it to be longer. I give a lot of crap to plots like “Cat and Claw” when they don’t need to be two parts mainly because there are episodes like this one that would benefit much more from the extra time to tell the story. I would have loved to see a cut of this film where one episode ends with Bruce discovering the world might be fake while reading the newspaper, and then devote an entire second episode where Bruce is fighting his self-conscious trying to track down Batman. Not to say that I don’t love the story I got, but that would’ve been awesome.

By the time I finish writing this review, it is almost certain I have bumped perchance to dream into my top 5. In terms of episodes you absolutely can’t miss, it’d be on my top 5 as well. For those of you who want a more elseworlds take on Batman: The Animated Series, this episode is an experimental masterpiece. I absolutely recommend this episode to anyone interested in the deeper and darker side of the Batman animated universe. It’s truly one of the absolute best. Perchance, near perfection.

 

The Todd Files episode 10: King Chan

This week i’m joined by comic writer King Chan! We talk his experiences in the military, the hardships of distributing indie comics, and his Kickstarter for the Comics Underground Distribution Catalog. You can support his campaign here Kickstarter. You can also support through Indie GoGo.

The Man who Watched Batman now on Digital Nerdage!

I’ve spoken briefly about this before, but reconfirming that it’s official, The Man who Watched Batman has now found it’s home on Digital Nerdage! quite frequently, archived chapters of the series will be release on Digital Nerdage for you to check out and as always, if you like the series, follow the links available to find out where you can purchase a copy of your very own!

The man who watched Batman Vol. 1 is available for sale for $9.99 softcover on Amazon or Digital for $0.99 on drive thru comics.

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The following Article is a sneak peek into the series in which I discuss the opening theme of the show  as seen in the link below. also feel free to check out this promo video we shot at last year’s Grasp Con.

As this is my review of the Batman Animated Series, this is most likely the time best to talk about the opening theme. For several animation critics, this is seen as one of the best themes in the history of animation. I think one of the biggest reasons for this is the main function of any opening credits sequence is to convince your audience to watch the rest of the show. It is the audiences first impression of the show as a whole. This opening does an incredible job at this by highlighting many of the themes and prominent attractions this show has to offer. The First thing that grabs you immediately in this opening is the art style. For anyone who has seen a great deal of the television of the 80’s or 90’s, you will notice there is a shortage of shows animated in this style, the world of comics was pulling away from it’s era of the fantastical color coded animation era of He Man, Thunder Cats, G.I. Joe, etc. Moving into the 90’s most shows up to this point were moving towards a more Surreal, yet still unrealistic style of happy animation. For Reference, now cult following shows like Animaniacs, 2 Stupid Dogs, and The Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog, were all on their original run. So the idea that a TV series that was made in a Chiaroscuro, Art Deco, Dark and Ominous animation style (while it fits the tone of the show), is quite abnormal compared to what was considered popular at the time.  I’ll be talking more about how the animation holds up and reflects the tone of the show on an episode by episode basis.

The music is just as striking. While the music for the series is from composer Shirley Walker, The opening theme is Composed by Danny Elfman: The composer of the 1989 Tim Burton Batman film (of which quite a bit of this show is influenced by, but we will get there.) One of the main reasons this is important is that the 5 note Batman melody from the movie (bum ba dum baaaaa duuum) is Featured Quite Prominently in this series as a whole. The theme is striking, Dark, and will be stuck in your head till your ninety. It lines up with the on screen action of the opening perfectly.

Speaking of which, unlike most main themes that sing a synopsis of the show and show off all of the characters the series will explore, this theme contains no lyrics and despite the enormous selection of characters in this series, Batman himself is the only main character of this series to be featured in this theme. The story of the theme follows Batman as he tracks down a duo of bank robbers and leaves them for the police to pick up as he disappears to the top of a sky scraper. That’s it. very simple and streamline, and yet the way they animate it so fast paced and moving, you get a real sense of how batman is viewed in this series. Throughout the theme you don’t see Batman. You see the shadow of Batman; The legend of Batman. It’s as if we’re actually seeing Batman the way the thugs would see him: A quick glimpse of a large, frightening creature lurking in the shadows, stalking their every move. In fact, all characters are seen in this matter. The theme contains almost no faces. Mainly chiaroscuro outlines of characters presented in silhouettes. Only a brief glimpse of batman’s face is given before the ending as he takes down our bank robbers. Then right as that epic theme picks back up on those five notes, we pan up to see Batman perched on a skyscraper, heroically portrayed in silhouette, cape blowing in the wind, only to be illuminated by a lighting bolt striking behind him iconically on the final note (of which I literally just now discovered was a reference to the cover of Frank Miller’s Iconic Comic: “The Dark Knight Returns”).

All That from one Minute of Animation. As a child, I remember watching that theme and when that lightning bolt flashed,and I Saw him for the first time,  I thought to myself “Yeah. That’s Batman.” That opening theme became my earliest impression of how I saw, Appreciated, Critiqued, and Understood Batman. In that 60 Seconds, I learned batman was a Character who used shadows and Fear as his greatest weapons, He didn’t kill, he fought for justice, and to many was not seen as a man. He was a myth; A legend. He was simply: Batman

 

The man who watched Batman Vol. 1 is available for sale for $9.99 softcover on Amazon or Digital for $0.99 on drive thru comics.

 

HunnicOutcasts Season Two Part One So Shiny So Chrome

HunnicOutcasts Logo 2After guest Dani Smith joined us. This past Summer to discuss. Road Warrior and Thunderdome. We figured it was time to discuss the bookends. Mad Max and ’15’s Fury Road. Since it got an ’15 Oscar for best pic. We were curious. Are the bookends Shiny and Chrome? Or just sludge for the now defunct Greenplace? Take an listen and find out.

You Can find Dani Smith’s work @
https://www.facebook.com/danismithcomicscreator?fref=ts
https://www.facebook.com/BDRRMovie/?fref=ts

HunnicOutcasts can be found on Stitcher, Itunes, and Spreaker. As well as The Geekcast Radio Network. WeBeGeeks.Net, The Digital Nerdage Radio Network. The Tangent Bound Network, and Wicked Radio Network.

The Thought/s and Opinion/s are that of the individual host/s. They do not reflect Hunnicoutcast/Skirt Productions.

All audio clips are the intellectual property of their respected distribution studios. And their respected affiliations.

No infringement is intended.

The Spreaker.com Podcast Artwork is that of Ken Leinaar
The Itunes Podcast Artwork is that of Ken Leinaar

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The Todd Files Profiles: Mary Mercenary

Baroness 

Greetings and salutations friends and fans of cosplay! I’m back, bigger than life and twice as ugly, with a brand new in depth interview with epic cosplayer, Mary Mercenary! This one is a real treat for me, as I’ve known her for a few years now and I’m a huge fan of her talent and creativity. She’s a midwest transplant, originally from Florida, now based in Ohio. This lady is geek culture to the core, showing her sci fi love with several tattoos and cosplays ranging from Mystique and Black Canary to Baroness and Starbuck. She’s a rare combination of a Star Wars and Star Trek fan, favoring the illustrious Captain Jean Luc Picard. She’s a vegetarian, a dog lover and she’s no slouch academically, boasting a bachelor’s in Anthropology. So without further ado, let’s peer into the mind of Mary Mercenary!

 

How long have you been cosplaying?

If we get technical, the first time I ever wore a costume to a convention was in 2009 when I wore Mystique, but when I first started at it as a hobby was in 2011. It has since spiraled out of control, haha!

 

Who were your cosplay inspirations?

Back then I had no idea what cosplay was or what it was really about and I didn’t know anyone in the hobby so I was just winging it. Now I tend to draw inspiration from the people I know. She’ll kick me for writing this, but Joe C. one of my closest friends in the hobby and a wonderful costumer, is who I look up to now.

 

What drew you to your signature character?

I’m definitely most known for the Baroness from G.I. Joe. Even when I’m not in costume I’ve had folks walk up to me and ask me if I’m the Baroness, ha! In real life, I wear glasses. Contact lenses can’t be made for my particular prescription so I’m pretty much always wearing glasses in costume. I don’t mind taking my glasses off for photos, but it can be kind of a pain walking around half blind, so I talked to my husband about getting a set of Baroness armor made for an upcoming JoeCon.  Now, I knew of the character and always thought she was awesome, a badass lady in glasses, what’s not to love, but never thought about commissioning a set of her armor because I knew it would be a big investment. But my husband was all for it as Baroness is his favorite and the rest is history. I get to portray a fun villain and I get to see! Win win.

 

Is there a character you have wanted to do, but haven’t had the chance to yet?

I have a pretty long list of costumes I’d like to do. This winter I’ll be working on a few: Johnny Cage from Mortal Kombat X (crossplay), Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Valkyrie, and Cobra Viper. If I have time maybe Cable, too! Aside from that I have a couple of “Holy Grail” costumes in mind: Jaffa/Anubis Guard from Stargate (the movie), and Artemisia from 300: Rise of an Empire. I’ve always wanted to do a costume from the Sailor Moon universe but haven’t been able to settle on one!

Myst

What are your feelings on gender swapped character cosplays?

I love both genderbending and crossplay! It gives us the ability to portray characters in a new way or try a character you might not normally try. In this hobby, you’re really only limited by what you can come up with.

 

Do you make all your own costumes, and do you think it is a must to do so?

If I have the ability to make something myself, I like to do so, or at least attempt it! You learn a lot by doing. And failure is always an option, ha ha! That said, I don’t feel that you must make everything yourself. Sewing is not my strong suit. I’m getting better, but it’s not something I enjoy or am particularly good at, so if I needed an elaborate costume piece to be sewn I would consider commissioning one of the many talented folks I know! But this is a hands-on hobby and there’s a certain amount of pride that comes from knowing you made your costume yourself.

 

I know you’ve been involved in using cosplay as an outlet for charity work, can you tell us a bit about that?

I’m a member of the Finest, a G.I. Joe costume club, and earlier this year we concluded the Girls of the Finest 2016 Charity Calendar campaign. This was our second year and we raised just short of $10,000 dollars for the USO. A lot of our members are current or former military so it was wonderful to be able to raise funds for a charity that supports our membership as well as hundreds of thousands of military personnel and their families throughout the United States. The main item we use to raise funds is a 2016 calendar featuring female members of the Finest in their G.I. Joe costumes depicting iconic scenes from G.I. Joe art throughout the years. It’s been a lot of fun and a labor of love. We received overwhelming support from the fan community and we can’t express enough our gratitude to everyone who supported us during the campaign!

 

Body positivity has been a hot topic in the cosplay community. What are your feelings on women and men of larger sizes cosplaying characters that are traditionally portrayed as fit or smaller?

Well, to start off with comic and anime characters are designed, for the most part, with exaggerated ideal body types. Bulging muscles for men, large breasts for women, and unrealistically narrow waists for both are only a few of the things that real people in costume have to contend with. Real humans vary so greatly in size and shape so most of us are going to be outside of that unrealistic “ideal.” My opinion is this: go for it. If you find a character that you love then by all means, cosplay as that character! It bothers me when people make remarks like “Oh, that’s fat Batman.” No. That’s Batman. There’s no such character as “Fat Batman.” Wear what you want. You don’t owe it to anyone else to look a certain way in your costume. I think this goes beyond just size and shape as well. Cosplay should be for everyone regardless of size, shape, race/ethnicity, age, or ability. Just have fun!

 

Cosplay is not consent is a big issue in cosplay. Have you been a victim of overly aggressive or inappropriate fans?

Yes, this is something I’ve had to deal with. I had a man try to film down the top of my corset when I was kneeling down talking to children. I’ve had my backside photographed, which I then found later on the internet! And there’s always someone to make an unwelcomed suggestive comment or turn a hug into a grope. The majority of people I meet while  in costume are great, but sadly things like this happen to cosplayers all the time. At Dragon*Con my friends and I made it a point to go everywhere in groups. The fact that we had to is both scary and disheartening. To those reading, I’ll ask you to keep an eye out. If you see someone acting inappropriately towards a cosplayer please say something! And if you’re the one in costume don’t be afraid to speak up and say no. Everyone has the right to feel safe and comfortable in costume.  

 

Overly sexualized cosplay has been a hot button topic, do you think that this sort of thing is a contributing factor to the Cosplay is not consent issue?

First off I have to say that while “sexy” costumes aren’t generally a part of my aesthetic, every cosplayer has the right to feel safe in their costume in public no matter how much skin they show. Personally, I’m not in this hobby to be the costume police. Every person has a right to dress in whatever costume they choose. Slut-shaming has no place in this hobby from other costumers or fans. There’s an expectation that if you’re in costume people will look at you. Yes, please, look at the costume I’ve spent a lot of time, effort, and/or money on! But there’s a difference between looking at the costume and leering or staring at the person wearing it. Don’t assume that a woman in an outfit you deem “revealing” is seeking sexual remarks, advancements, or wants to be touched. In fact, please don’t assume that of any cosplayer. There’s a dangerous parallel here to the notion that women who are dressed “improperly” are responsible if they’re assaulted. That argument is dead wrong in every instance. Revealing versions of costumes are certainly a trend at the moment, but harassment is not limited to people wearing them. I’ve received unwanted attention and experienced other people’s inappropriate behavior in just about every costume I’ve ever worn, even ones where I am completely covered. It’s a sad reality that many, if not all, female costumers will have to deal with this at some point. Now that cosplay has become somewhat mainstream and has a large and varied social media presence movements like Cosplay is not Consent have come about to help address a problem that’s likely been around as long as cosplay itself. I’ll take a moment here to once again ask readers to help. If you see someone acting inappropriately please, say something to convention staff or security! You can be our biggest ally! A little basic courtesy common sense go a long way. If you’d like a photo of/with a cosplayer, just ask! Most will happily pose for you. Always ask before touching and respect their answer if a cosplayer says no.

 

What’s the oddest picture request or reaction you’ve had as a cosplayer?

Once at JoeCon while dressed as the Baroness I had a fan ask to take a picture with me and if he could hold my shoes in the photo. Recently I was attending a convention not in costume and was asked to pose for a photo with someone I didn’t know because he “could tell” I was a cosplayer.

 

Do you have advice for a novice that would like to get into cosplay?

Don’t be afraid to experiment with materials and don’t be afraid to fail. You will fail and that’s okay. It’s even okay if you cry a little bit. We all start somewhere so don’t be intimidated. There are a lot of fun, like minded people out there in this hobby, so don’t be afraid to seek them out and ask for help. And if someone’s a jerk, they’re not worth your time.

 

How can people reach you or follow you on social media?

www.facebook.com/marymercenary

instagram: @marymercenary

 

Where can we see you in the near future?

For me the 2015 convention season has come to a close, and boy was it an outstanding one! In 2016 I’ll be attending Lex Con, Gem City Comic Con, Derby City Comic Con, JoeCon and Dragon*Con for sure. My Facebook page is the best way to keep up with my convention schedule!

 

It was an absolute treat to get Mary’s thoughts on the world of cosplay and its hot button issues. Be sure to check her out on Facebook and instagram and if you see her at one of her many con appearances, be respectful and try not to ask to hold her shoes. I’ll be back soon, picking the brains of those more gifted than myself, until next time, file this interview under complete.  – Todd of Basement Fodder

Basement Fodder Episode 108

Dave and I are back this week talking The Original Basement Baby’s birthday party and my basketball epic fail. We cover all of the DC t.v. shows from this week, Supergirl, Flash, Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow. We have an odd conversation about nocturnal masturbation and promo some upcoming events. As usual running the gamut from nerdy to dirty!

The Force Goes Back to Sleep

Even though Star Wars movies have traditionally come out in May, Episode VII: The Force Awakens was slated for a December release. Most Star Wars fans assumed this was a one off due to some scheduling difficulties and wanting to have the best movie they could. Well, it seems Disney is starting their OWN Star Wars release tradition.

Entertainment Weekly is reporting that Episode VIII is being pushed back from its initial May 2017 release to a December 2017 release. Although it will be a nice 38th birthday present for me, waiting an extra seven months for the new entry is gut-wrenching.

Truthfully, after Episode VII was moved off its May release, and with Rogue One having a December release as well, it did seem odd that Episode VIII would stay on its original release date. However, after the excitement created by The Force Awakens it would seem Disney would want the movies releasing as quickly as possible. I would expect December to be the release window for all of the Star Wars franchise movies slated for release until 2020 even if that hasn’t been officially announced at this time.

Even though it is a bummer to see Star Wars moving seven months into the future, there is hope for some awesomeness in that vacated May 2017 slot. The new entry in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, Dead Men Tell No Tales, will be opening in place of Episode VIII.

Suicide Squad’s “Worst Hero Ever” trailer is beautiful anarchy

Oscar season be damned. you didn’t think superhero movies forgot about us did they? well, in the case of Suicide squad, it seems that recapturing our attention is thier main priority. but does the first full length trailer make you scream for more suicide squad? or should this movie be put back behind bars? let’s take a look.

 

 

The Good:

  • I have to admit, i was a little concerned when I realized that Bohemian rhapsody was going to be their backing song, the pacing and drive of the trailer very much benefited from it. although several members of the suicide squad are still shrouded in mystery, this trailer does do a better job at showing them off. inparticular Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn and Jared Leto as The Joker.
  • this is the first time we’ve gotten a real good sense of Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn and while I know a lot of purists haven’t gotten to the point of accepting her voice sounding different than the traditional Sorkin/strong version, I think that she’s going to come away a crowd favorite. her voice is a little bit more natural and her acting chops are definately on display. the key to her version is a sense of unpredictability. whether she’s skewing towards silly or psychotic, there lies an underlying feeling that she could switch to the other in a snap. the trailer mostly has her in funny mode, but the tension is still there.
  • Jared  Leto doesn’t get much screen time as i’m sure they want to keep all of his best scenes for the movie, but I feel the little bit of exposure he gets  will help worried fanboys a great deal.  for all the crap that people gave the tattoos of his design, seeing him in motion with admittedly a very unique and easily identifiable version of the traditional purple joker suit, and I’d definitely say Less is more when it comes to Leto. Save some for the movie, but I appreciate the sample.
  • for a movie that’s so dark in tone and taking place mostly so far in a asylum or in a down town what i presume is Gotham, they packed a lot of color into this trailer. and i’m not just talking just symbolically. the color pallet all around is really vibrant when it needs to be and even when it needs to be desaturated, it feels better than a lot of other fare like it.
  • this is a weird one to explain as a positive, but there are a lot of really good “trailer Bait” shots. these are shots that might make sense in the movie, but provide beyond no reason to be in the trailer other than to be cool looking shots. Joker is the focus of most of them, but other characters get some to. mainly I think they are using this technique to show off some awesome pieces of the Suicide mission of the movie without revealing exactly what the suicide mission actually is.
  • By far my favorite of the trailer is the reveal of the tagline “Worst Heroes ever.”  perfectly sets up the kind of tone their going for and plants them officially and intentionally as it sort of a middle finger to the early set Guardians of the Galaxy comparisons. these aren’t heroes with edge. these are straight up villains.

The Bad:

  • most of the other characters get just a brief action moment or a cool shot to show them off, but not much in terms of personality. I still don’t know a few by name and i’m pretty sure that most people know less than me.
  • While i did praise the trailer for keeping  stuff secret, i have to admit i would’ve liked maybe a little bit more as far as plot details or hints.  not too much, but a little.
  • while for the most part the song works well with the trailer, the points where it has to jump around to fit inside the parameters are too obvious. It’s a bit of a pain every time you can clearly hear the jump.

Conclusion

Suicide Squad is still the giant wild card of the DC cinematic universe. the only thing we know for sure is this does not seem to be a movie intending to play it safe. it’s either going to soar or fall in a blaze of glory. this trailer shows of the bombastic and out of control tone they are going for and I am so excited to see if they can pull this off.

 

Suicide Squad releases  August 5, 2016

 

Ken Johnson is a Writer and Podcaster best known for his book series “The Man who Watched Batman”, and In depth Analysis of Batman: the Animated series.

If you’d like to know more about Ken Johnson or his other work,  you can check him out online at the links below.

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Space Oddity: Starman Receives Constellation In His Honor

bowie

The Iconic Lightning Bolt constellation honoring David Bowie www.stardustforbowie.be


 

The death of David Bowie on January 10th sent shock waves through the hearts and minds of fans across the world (and universe.) Gaining popularity with his hits Space Oddity, Life on Mars? and Starman, using the universe as his muse and crafting the Persona Ziggy Stardust, the extra terrestrial embodiment of rock, It was only fitting that he be given a memorial in the stars themselves. Belgian Astronomers along with Belgian Radio station Studio Brussels sought to give Bowie the proper place in the skyscape. Philipe Mollet from the MIRA Observatory explains in his statement:

“Studio Brussels asked us to give Bowie a unique place in the galaxy,” he said.

“Referring to his various albums, we chose seven stars — Sigma Librae, Spica, Alpha Virginis, Zeta Centauri, SAA 204 132, and the Beta Sigma Octantis Trianguli Australis — in the vicinity of Mars.

“The constellation is a copy of the iconic Bowie lightning and was recorded at the exact time of his death.”

The registration of the constellation in Bowie’s honor was part of the Stardust for Bowie tribute in which fans can add notes and favorite song lyrics to the constellation on Google’s Sky Maps

A fitting tribute to a man from the stars who used them frequently in his most iconic work.

Here is Canadian Astronomer Commander Chris Hadfield’s cover of Space Oddity, recorded during Hadfield’s mission on the International Space Station. The cover had Bowie’s personal blessing.