( Behind the cut, all of your favorites: 'Ugh! My face!' 'Aaghh! My face!' 'AARRRGGH!! M-my face--!?!' 'GAAHH--' 'YAAARGHH!!' 'NAAAGGGHHHH!' And many more! )
( Behind the cut, all of your favorites: 'Ugh! My face!' 'Aaghh! My face!' 'AARRRGGH!! M-my face--!?!' 'GAAHH--' 'YAAARGHH!!' 'NAAAGGGHHHH!' And many more! )
But embarrassed as I am to admit this, I've just never felt up to the task of delving into that book with the attention it deserves, much less measuring how its ideas and title character(s) compares and contrasts with Two-Face. I read the book for the first and only time a few years ago, and at the time, there didn't seem to be anything I could say about it in regards to Harvey. I mean to reread it, but by this point, it's an intimidating prospect.
Besides, it's not enough to simply review the book itself, considering that there are over a hundred adaptations in film alone, most of which take liberties with the source material to explore Jekyll and Hyde through all manner of different social and cultural contexts! God, I'd love to review the Spencer Tracy version alone, but I know that's a controversial version, so I'd definitely have to see the Fredich March version, and before too long, I'd feel obligated to review everything from Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde to League of Extraordinary Gentlemen!*
But of all the adaptations, one version stands out: the Classics Illustrated version from the title's brief revival in 1990. This version was adapted and illustrated by John K. Snyder III, an artist who has never quite gotten the due he deserves. Coming from the same late-80's school of comics art as Matt Wagner, Mark Badger, Bill Sienkiewicz, Tim Sale, and Kyle Baker (seriously, did these guys all go to the same club or something?), JKS3 is a long-time great of comics who has never achieved the fame of his peers, which is a damn shame. Considering that I just wrapped up my review of Wagner's Faces, it's only fitting that we look at an actual Jekyll adaptation by one of Wagner's peers (and collaborators)!
Thankfully, our own intrepid Ed Saul, AKA the Gentleman Mummy, has graciously offered up his services to review JKS3's adaptation of TSCoDJ&MH himself! My gratitude is outmatched only by my excitement to read this examination of Stevenson's book as depicted by Snyder, especially since Ed is someone who definitely knows and appreciates what makes Harvey a great character. Take it away, Mr. Saul!
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
Webster's Dictionary defines it as "For the love of God, stop calling us! Does a restraining order mean nothing in this day and age?!", and it's not wrong - but such an oblique clarification fails to capture the vast meaning and theme encompassed by R. L. Stevenson's great horror classic. Forward, then, the "Classics Illustrated" edition, published by those sons of fun, First Comics and the Berkeley Comics Publishing group, and adapted by John K Snyder III - he of Grendel, Suicide Squad and a short-lived Doctor Mid-Nite series (thank you so much Wikipedia).
Stevenson's book - first published in 1886 - still fascinates scholars today because of the numerous interpretations one can make of it - the blindingly obvious upper class vs lower class, cities vs countryside, Darwinism vs Creationism, the Mind vs the Body, heterosexuality (and chastity) vs homosexuality (and promiscuity). According to one professor I've met, Hyde is obviously a metaphor for repressed homoeroticism due to his tendency to enter Jekyll's house "by the back door". Mind you, he was very nervous when he said this, so I didn't take him too seriously.
According to most accounts, Stevenson dreamt up Hyde as 'a fine bogey' while having a feverish nightmare. Why is it, I ask you, that the most well-known horror writers come up with their great works purely by chance? Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, Bram Stoker, Edgar Allan Poe - even *shudder* Stephenie Meyer returns to the well of "I Had A Bad Dream This One Time". Bloody infuriating. The rest of us have to actually think up stuff.
Snyder, on the other hand, got the job on the back of First and Berkely acquiring the rights to the popularly vast comic book series "Classics Illustrated" and deciding to reboot it with an array of fresh new talent. The "Berkeley-First" series stuck to the originals' tendency to feature glossy, painted covers - notable exceptions being Gahan Wilson's adaptation of Poe's The Raven, P. Craig Russell's masterful version of that author's The Fall of the House of Usher, and this very volume.**
(Seriously, look at that cackling Maddie Usher. Brrr...)
Already we perceive in Snyder's cover a visual similarity between Stevenson's 'bogey' and our beloved Harvey - though, incidentally, he also shares more than a few similarities with Stevenson's other famous villain, Long John Silver - from the crippling mutilation to the wild mood swings to the shaky allegiances. Writers, take note: this is another good reason to revisit the possibility of Pirate Two-Face. Apart from, y'know, PIRATE. TWO-FACE. But you can also see how Snyder hints at the concept of Hyde representing the darker and less pleasant aspects of London itself, his twisted black locks and their streaks of yellow and blue blending in with the cityscape above.
And then there's the title page.
( Read more... )
Then I started thinking about how to maybe doing an old-school text adventure version that would actually flip the coin for you, which would not only have made each game different but it would have also given players an understanding of what it's like to be be Harvey. That was one of my big goals here besides the gimmick: to really show people just how much choice Harvey does and doesn't have from situation to situation.
Well, of course, real life for the past couple years has been such that it's taking me longer and longer to even write posts for this blog, much less commit to any personal projects, so this lofty idea fell to the wayside. That is, until Henchgirl brought it back to life in a way that's most unexpected and utterly, utterly awesome. I'll let her fill you in:
So, Hal's had a really nasty fever going on for the past four-ish days, resulting in calls to doctors and emergency room visits and suchlike. He's much better today than he was even yesterday, but we're all really worn out and he's still cranky and snuffly.
Anyway. As always when he's sick, we're up all night keeping an eye on him. I can't usually make terribly coherent thoughts when I'm this sleep deprived, which is always made worse by the pain I'm always in because my body is suck, so I always fall back on diddling around with things that don't take much brain power to keep me busy during the long, exhausting night shifts.
SO I'VE BEEN MAKING AN RPG, YOU GUYS.
AND OF COURSE IT'S BAT-MANNY.
( Ooooh! )
So yeah, we're working together on plotting it out. As she puts it, I'm the Giffen and she's the DeMatteis. Definitely works for me! So yes, if we do manage to pull this off, you can bet that you folks will be among the first to know!
The first is by vw_tb0, who has written a review of Mad Love with an emphasis on the abusive relationship subtext. It's one of the most fundamental aspects of that classic issue, and yet I feel like it's too often lost amongst many of the Joker/Harley shippers.
The other article is by psychopathicus, who examines the villains of the Batman movies, weighs their strengths and weaknesses, and talks about what he'd do with them if given the chance. I have to say, I don't really disagree with anything he says, there. It really makes me wish that more writers in general shared that kind of understanding of what makes these characters tick.
Wish I could talk more about both articles, but I gotta run. IRL stuff waits for no fan, and I have several more full reviews of my own in the pipeline!
For my part, I haven't kept up with Pokémon since the first show and the Blue cartridge on old-school Game Boy, so I'm wayyyyyyy out of touch with the fandom, but I still have very fond memories of the tie-in CD, "2 B a Master," an album which is a guilty pleasure for me and Henchgirl to this very day. I'm not saying that we can, like, perform the entirety of the Team Rocket "Double Trouble" song by heart, and do the voices PERFECTLY or anything like that, heavens noooooooo. *cough* Um. So, lego_joker's post! Take it awayyyyyyy!
(The surgeon general recommends that you listen to the actual Pokerap before singing this aloud or in your head.)
( Gotta catch 'em all! )
( Read more... )
What about you folks? Who do YOU think is the most underrated? Please comment and explain why while I sleep. Precious, precious sleep.
... oh. Oh no. Not that one. Not... it... I... I can't...
... Ummm... Henchgirl? *singsong* Oh my beloved Henchgiiiirl? Hellooooooo, bitemetechie?
Hi! Thank god! Say, uh, how masochistic are you?
...is this the sort of question I should be openly answering on your fanblog? You know my tendency to overshare.
Erm... *cough*... it's just, I only ask because... well, I am about to review a story which is very relevant to your interests! I mean, considering that you moonlight as dr_von_fangirl, expert in all things Catwoman, queen of Selina... *cough*even the Jim Balent years...*cough*
You don't mean...
OH GOD, WHY?!
Because... because it has Harvey in it! And also, I thought that maybe you and I could maybe kinda sorta do a dual review together maybe? You know how much I love your geek brain. Not to mention your geek everything-else...
Oh, hush. Look, don't get me wrong, there is a lot to enjoy about Selina's nineties series, but you have no idea what kind of clusterfuck you're getting into here. BECAUSE CATWOMAN'S ENTIRE NINETIES SERIES IS A CLUSTERFUCK. I CANNOT STRESS ENOUGH THE CLUTERFUCKNESS OF THE CLUSTERFUCK. I MEAN LOOK AT ALL THAT EMPHASIS. EVEN THAT FALLS SHORT.
Yes, but Catwoman: Year Two, which ran through Catwoman #38-40, is at least a *standalone* clusterfuck! And besides, the events of this story follow pretty directly after the events that you so excellently covered in your comprehensive, complete, and definitive origin of Selina, which tied all her Post-Crisis stuff into a neat little package.
Oh, you mean that post that everyone everywhere should read because it totally took nearly a year to complete, you shameless flatterer? That one?
Exactly! So you might be interested to know that C:Y2 is the only story thus far to bridge the gap between Frank Miller's gray-suit Catwoman into the purple-suited Jim Balent character from the 90's solo series!
But even still, this story is kind of...not-great.
Oh, it's awful. Lousy. Dialogue is horrible, characters are all over the place, and the art is the visual equivalent of being unreadable. You'd probably know better than I, but it might just represent the absolute nadir of Selina's 90's series. BUT it features both of our favorite characters "facing off"!
I see what you did there, HURR.
Basically, what I'm saying is that I want... no, I need to drag you into this mess with me, so that perhaps we can at least get some entertainment value out of this crap.
Hooray! I'm helping!
Besides, I think it'd be fantastic to see what happens when our two favorite characters meet up for the first time. Just imagine: Selina Kyle and Harvey Dent, hanging out together! Do you think they'll get along as swimmingly, as perfectly, as absolutely lovey-dove-ily wonderfully as we do?
I'm guessing not.
On with the trainwreck! Choo-chooooooo!
( When Selina met Harvey (...and the Joker... AND the Penguin) )
So thankfully, alert reader and Harvey superfan 1mercystreet saw it for us, and was generous enough to write a review!
A bloated, poisonously full moon hangs low in a flame-red sky shadowed by airships and the jagged black teeth of skyscrapers. Searchlights pierce the burning clouds as night finally falls, the hellish scarlet fading to a looming indigo and midnight blue.
Against the echoing howl of sirens and the static of helicopter blades, a police radio crackles into life. A hold-up is in process at the Janus Bank, the murderous Two-Face indulging his dual passion for crime and the number two. More voices overlap and build – thefts, arms deals, violence – and then a swarm of bats burst forth, flitting across onto the giant Bat-logo shaped LED screen that dominates the O2, heralding the beginning of the first ever live stage show featuring the man known to millions as the Dark Knight.
Something to be clear about – Batman Live is a family show. There's none of the gritty darkness of the Nolanverse or even the gothic fantasy of the Burton films. In tone, Batman Live is closest to the highly acclaimed "Batman: The Animated Series," and in look, its neon-drenched colour palette emulates Schumacher's "Batman Forever" (No, wait! Come back! Please!) The art of Jim Lee is perhaps the most obvious visual touchstone, however, particularly in the costume and sets.
Batman Live is neither a straight play nor a variety show though it combines dance, acrobatics and magic along with the drama – if anything it's a circus with a plot. Set pieces include a slow-motion airborne wire-fu duel between Catwoman and Batman, and an elegant aerial silk routine by the headlining show girl of the Penguin's Iceberg Lounge.
Fittingly, after a brief prologue depicting the (offstage) deaths of Thomas and Martha Wayne, we're transported to the circus, where trapeze artists the Flying Graysons are refusing to bow to a protection racket run by underworld enforcer Tony Zucco. We all know what happens next. The Graysons die in front of their son, and the broken-hearted Dick Grayson become the ward of the mysterious billionaire playboy Bruce Wayne. Under the strict tutelage of the waspishly dry Alfred, he soon becomes a hero.
As a Robin origin story, the show plays slightly loose with canon, but it’s nevertheless tightly plotted, managing to twine together some of the most popular members of Batman's Rogues Gallery without their presence or role in the story ever feeling forced.
Some of the Rogues themselves are drawn in broad strokes – given the compact 100 minute running time of the show there's little chance to delve into their personalities - but none of them ever feel like they're given short shrift. Each supervillain gets his or her moment – Two-Face holds an argument between the warring sides of his personality while everyone else ducks for cover, the Riddler is dapper and jaunty, while Catwoman and Poison Ivy are devastatingly seductive; Ivy's entrance on a trapeze is a magical moment which echoes Nicole Kidman in Moulin Rouge.
The clear standout in terms of performances is the demented but simply delightful Harley Quinn, who bounces about the stage with swaying hips and flying pigtails, running after her boss "Mister J" with wide eyed adoration. The Joker's casual cruelty to his lovestruck apprentice is handled with just the right amount of sadism – one of the most unhealthy relationships in comics could go very, very wrong indeed on stage, but actress Poppy Tierney's charm keeps everything on just the right side of discomfort.
As mentioned earlier, Batman Live plays to the family demographic, but it's not all light and jolly. As the show builds to a climax in the infamous Arkham Asylum, the LED screen shows dead bodies straitjacketed and hanging from the ceiling, while the Scarecrow himself, a long limbed phantom on stilts, is genuinely unsettling.
Good use is made of the cavernous space of the O2 Arena – smoke, neon, high-powered laser-lights and pyrotechnics abound. The real star of the set is the 100ft tall video screen that looms over the stage. It's this that plays the main role of setting the scene, as comic book pages shuffle and flip to provide backdrops to an otherwise largely bare stage. The costumes are for the most part impressive, although the bat suit is unfortunately heavy and overly muscle-bound, bringing to mind the Michelin man on steroids rather than a man whose trained himself to the peak of physical fitness. Still, at least at least it doesn’t have nipples.
It's almost surprising that a live Batman stage show has been so long in coming. As perhaps DC's most valuable property and one of the most enduring pop culture heroes of our time, not to mention the star of two of the highs grossing films of the decade, Batman is an almost guaranteed money spinner. It's been several years in the making, but be assured that the show is worth the wait.
*dances around anxiously ala Homer Simpson*
That sounds so great. Fun, while still being relatively faithful to the comics. It's like the anti-Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark in every way! 1mercystreet is working on a follow-up review that looks into how the rogues were depicted, which I'm dying to hear about since you can bet that most reviewers won't care about that aspect the way you and I do.
In the meantime, here's the most recent trailer, which features some great little character shots.
NEED TICKETS TO THE UK NOWWWWWW. ALSO TIME. ALSO MONEY. ALSO BABYSITTER.
Then I read the first paragraph of the review:
“I believe in Harvey Dent.” The phrase has become primarily associated with The Dark Knight, but was first uttered in Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale’s The Long Halloween, the miniseries that served as a major influence on Nolan’s big screen take on Two-Face. Building on the underworld community established in Miller’s Year One, The Long Halloween has Batman teaming up with Harvey Dent and Captain James Gordon to take down a killer picking off members of the Gotham mafia, murders that coincide with holidays on the calendar. Much like this week’s Batman: The Animated Series two-parter “Two-Face,” Halloween portrays Dent as a valiant public figure struggling to negotiate his desire to see punishment for Gotham’s criminals with his obligation to the legal rules and procedures that he has sworn to uphold. And while Two-Face’s origin changes depending on the medium, there is one constant: once he loses the left half of his face, there’s no Harvey Dent left to believe in.
... I was originally going to post that above quote with an "AAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRGGHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!
But Henchgirl insisted that I step back, take a breather, and come back to this later. She wanted the same for herself, because--god, I love her--she was just as pissed off as I was. But for different reasons! That's the real magic of the reviewer's opening statement here: here's just so much fail to go around!
Look. I know that The Long Halloween is always going to be a popular, seminal comic for many. And I know that while is "borrowed" liberally from the far superior Andrew Helfer story, Eye of the Beholder, the fact is that EotB is not in print anywhere, it's not well-known, and people just aren't going to read it as much. I don't like it when somebody on a message board or a blog doesn't acknowledge EotB, giving TLH all the credit, but I understand it.
Nor, for that matter, do many comics fans realize that TLH didn't actually invent the idea of showing Harvey Dent as a crusader for justice before he became Two-Face, no more than TAS did! Nor did it invent the iconic rooftop meeting between Jimbo, Bats, and Harv, which carried its way all the way through to The Dark Knight. Nor was it the first time we'd ever seen Harvey as a man "struggling to negotiate his desire to see punishment for Gotham’s criminals with his obligation to the legal rules and procedures that he has sworn to uphold."
I don't like it, but I understand it. People just don't know any better. And why should they? Can I really expect all fans to have spent/wasted as much time as I have--and still do--reading comics? No. Of course not.
Besides, they're just fans. It's not like they're, say, an actual paid, professional reviewer for a major pop culture publication, writing as an authority about Batman to an audience of largely non-comic readers.
Because heaven forbid that a reviewer--someone who is attempting to bring a fresh, educated perspective to something in an old episode that the readers have undoubtedly already watched--actually be KNOWLEDGEABLE about a character.
Not only does the reviewer draw from a work which is incredibly derivative and so popular that many people, like him, only associate Harvey Dent from that story, but he's also wrong about his big conclusion: that the only constant in all origins is that "there’s no Harvey Dent left to believe in."
The Henchgirl Interjects: HAHAHAHAHAHA *breath* AHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. I'd say more, but I don't want to steal your thunder, dear.
No, no, it's okay. I don't mind sharing this one. Go nuts.
YAY! RAGE! But I don't like italics. Just a second.
Huzzah. Now, are you sure you want me to rant? Because there isn't going to be much left for you to cover once I'm done.
Girl, I spent, like, four hours working on a long, ranting post yesterday. I need a break. Please, help!
( Let's get into it, shall we? )