Batman: The Enemy Within – The Pact Gameplay

Gameplay of episode two of season two of Batman: The Telltale Series. Hope you enjoy.

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Red Dead Redemption II Trailer

A trailer for Red Dead Redemption II has finally been released and typical to Rockstar Games, not much has been revealed. It has been speculated for some time that the game would be a prequel and it was finally confirmed. In fact, you play another member of the gang that the protagonist from the first game was part of. It should be noted that the main character of this game never made an appearance in the first game, so that could mean many things. It is easy to speculate that this game will detail the fall of that gang as by the time we meet them in the first game, they are all splintered and no longer a unit. Either way, count me excited.

Return of Tim Drake

When I first started reading comics, Tim Drake was the current Robin to Batman. He continued in that role until Bruce Wayne was “killed” at the end of Final Crisis. After that he Damian Wayne, Bruce Wayne’s son, took up the mantle of Robin while Tim assumed the role of Red Robin. This continued even into DC’s New 52 where they established in the new continuity that Tim Drake had never been Robin at all and was always Red Robin. Needless to say, Tim Drake suffered a lot during the whole New 52 as he was never really involved in the going on’s in the Batman titles and was always tethered to the Teen Titans in a much maligned run. They also shifted his history to have him have a much more “interesting” backstory instead of being a badass bookworm.

Then when DC Rebirth happened, Tim Drake was still Red Robin but they were going a back to basics approach to him. He was back in Gotham and was a major player in Detective Comics. The book was no longer just about Batman but more about the Batman family (minus Nightwing) and how Batman and Batwoman were preparing their team for something coming up. Tim Drake was pretty much third in line in terms of the chain of command as he was the one with the most experience. But it became clear that he was not going to be appearing in the book after the first story. Sure enough, Tim went out in blaze of glory after saving countless innocent lives. The team, especially Batman and Spoiler (Tim’s on/off girlfriend), mourned his death especially after learning he was going to give up being a superhero to become a full time college student. But this is comics and Tim was not dead.

In the just started, “Lonely Place of Living” catches up with Tim Drake in the intergalactic prison that he has been in since his “death”. Why he was transported there is still under way as all that is known is that he was putting pieces together that shouldn’t be put together. Just in the first issue, the book quickly establishes Tim Drake’s history and it will be one familiar to Tim Drake fans.

Pretty much his original history has been restored. From being a Batman fanboy as well as loving The Flying Graysons especially Dick Grayson. Recognizing that Robin was Dick Grayson due to doing a somersault that only Dick Grayson could do and thus figuring out that Dick’s adoptive father must be Batman. It is implied that the New 52 run of the Teen Titans is still canon but it’s pretty vague. But there is an element of Geoff Johns’ seminal run on Teen Titans that makes an appearance and that is the future Tim Drake version of Batman.

Tim Drake is my favorite Robin. He was the leader of Young Justice and Teen Titans. Though all members of the Batman family are physically capable, it was always established that Tim’s strength lied in his intellect. The fact that he figured out Batman’s identity as an adolescent is proof of that. This helped distinguish him from the acrobatic and devil may care Dick Grayson and the hot headed Jason Todd. Plus he was the first Robin to not have that goofy costume with the legs all exposed and Peter Pan footwear. He carried a bo-staff and his suit was clearly armored. His whole aesthetic was great.

I make no bones about how disappointed I was with how Tim was handled during The New 52. I tried reading Teen Titans on a basis but the book was all over the place that I could never get into it. Though I did enjoy when he would pop up in other books. So when DC Rebirth happened and he was a main part of Detective Comics, I was pumped. Even after his “death” he continues to play a role in the Batman books as a key piece missing. The team has recently discovered that he was alive but the question now remains is how will he get out of his predicament.

Hopefully after all this is resolved, Tim returns to Detective Comics and becomes a key player once again. Not only is he a key figure in the Batman mythos but also the DC Universe as well.

Happy National Comic Book Day

Today is National Comic Book Day, and it got me reminiscing about how I got into comics in the first place. I remember when I was a kid, my Dad would occasionally bust out his old comic book collection. He would have what you would expect from someone reading comics as a pass time. There were your Spider-Man, X-Men, Justice League, Avengers, all the big names. Then you would dig deeper and you could see that he had a lot of comics that you would not expect. There were tons of G.I. Joe comics, but that makes sense considering that he is in the military.

Then in the summer of 2000, I came out of seeing the very first X-Men movie and was blown away. I knew what I wanted to do once I got out the theater and that was start reading and collecting comics. So when I first started reading and collecting, I started with the two that would be considered typical: Spider-M and X-Men. Considering how huge of a Batman fan I am, you would think I would start with that but that was not to be the case. I never bought a Batman comic until 2003.

Luckily there was a magazine called Wizard that dealt exclusively about comic books and comic book related material. This really helped me figure out where to get my collection started. Not only just collecting to collecting as that is a fool’s errand. But where to go for the best stories and which creators were on the rise and which books were making an impact on the industry.

Geoff Johns’ run on The Flash is what solidified me as a comic book fan. I never really liked The Flash as I just thought he was a guy that ran fast. While that is true, his writing did a lot more for me. I realized that superheroics are fine but it’s the human element that really make these stories pop and stick with you for years to come. This is what would really make me become a comic book fan as I started broadening my collection. I would start reading things such as Preacher, Sandman Mystery Theater, The Walking Dead, Conan the Barbarian, Invincible and things that are not Marvel or DC Comics.

As I’ve entered adulthood, I don’t really read and collect comics like I used to. It’s kind of an expensive hobby to have at this point. I still keep my ear to the ground as to knowing what is going on. I also make a point of at least stopping by my local comic book stores once a month. There is nothing more than getting back into a good story with the characters that I’ve come to love over the years.

The War of Jokes and Riddles

The Joker is the quintessential Batman villain. The Riddler is my personal favorite Batman villain that is not The Joker. Recently, Batman writer Tom King has started The War of Jokes and Riddles storyline. Taking place in the early days of Batman’s career and details the gang war between The Joker and The Riddler. When you think about it, this makes perfect sense to have these two go to war with one another. Despite all his craziness, The Joker is a methodical villain with detailed plans on how to go about things. The Riddler with his vast intellect and narcissism makes him something of a thinly veiled villain. The two have a lot of similarities with one another and there have been frequent jokes about that fact also.

I’m always a big fan of seeing Batman’s early years as well. Typically you see his origin and then skip to the present. His intervening years are never really given much detail. So when stories like to go into those years, it’s fun to see a much more “green” Batman. I’m still not really sure as to when this story takes place but at best bet it seems to be a “year three” Batman. He already has most of his established enemies and familiar with those who operate outside of Gotham City. There have been a reference to Zero Year, because The Riddler is treated as a serious threat due to his machinations in that story.

The whole framing of the story is set against the backdrop of Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle post coitus. In the issue prior to the story, Bruce proposed to her. As of this post, we still do not know what she said. It would be hard to imagine that they would have sex and him detailing a very personal story to her if she had turned down his proposal. But King has done a good job of writing around the answer and keep an interesting story going on where you don’t really think about it either.

Batman Catwoman Proposal

The best issue so far was a simple one where Bruce Wayne has invited the two leaders over for dinner in an effort to end the gang war. This shows a different side to Bruce Wayne. One who is very aware of things that many who are not so privileged will not know about. A nine course meal that sees even someone like The Joker act civilized. This does play into my belief that The Joker is someone who just fakes insanity and is perfect nonchalant in his monstrous acts. Bruce even offers to pay off the leaders in an effort to end the war with the caveat that one takes out the other. Later it is revealed that this was a ploy but something tells me that if the war was guaranteed to end, he might have done it. 

Bruce Wayne The Joker The Riddler dinner

This is a Batman at his best and worst. Best because we get to see what kind of hero he is. Working himself to exhaustion and willing to play all the angles and just not as Batman but as Bruce Wayne also. It’s also his worst because we see how he beats himself up over things that he has no control over. Close to a breakdown at numerous points as he is being run ragged.

Batman The Joker The Riddler.jpg

 The story is still ongoing but I’m always anticipating the next issue in the story. The art is also fantastic. If you want to get into Batman comics, I’d suggest starting with this story. It is destined to be a classic. 

The Fantastic Four Should Return

The Fantastic Four is Marvel Comics’ first family. The crown jewel of the numerous collaborations between Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. Throughout the Fantastic Four’s history, there have been numerous classic creator runs on the title. My personal favorite would have to be the most recent run by Jonathan Hickman and numerous artists. But ever since 2016, the Fantastic Four have not been in comics. The official reason is that the Fantastic Four comic was not selling well despite the fact that many other books that sold worse are still being published. The unofficial reason is that Marvel head Ike Perlmutter is cutting off the nose to spite the face.

Back in the 90’s, Marvel was in dire financial straits. The way to help solve this problem was to sell off the film rights. This is not unheard of but Marvel made one glaring problem. When they sold off the film rights, it was under the condition that whoever bought the film rights held them in perpetuity as long as films were being made. This resulted in the infamous Roger Corman Fantastic Four film, the two mid 2000’s ones and the disastrous 2015 film. There is more news that Fox who hold the film rights plan to reboot the franchise again.

You can see where people in Marvel are getting annoyed at this predicament. They have the Marvel Cinematic Universe headed by Marvel Studios, Fox is doing great with the X-Men franchise and Sony is in a partnership with Marvel about Spider-Man. But Fox has yet to be able to crack the Fantastic Four issue. There are easy scapegoats to blame for all the films being underwhelming but they ultimately buckle under scrutiny. If the Fantastic Four were any of those things, there wouldn’t be such a uproar as to when the films get it wrong.

But should the comics have to suffer because of that? Reed and Sue Richard along with their kids are out in the multiverse doing who knows what. The Thing and Human Torch are currently appearing in team books and guest appearances. They are supposed to come together in their own book soon but it is still not the Fantastic Four. There have been hints here and there that the team will eventually return but nothing concrete. Then legendary comic artist Alex Ross dropped an image of Reed and Sue in new costumes and it got people speculating as if the team is about to reunite.

Just because Marvel made dumb but understandable financial decision does not mean the Marvel Comics should suffer. There has been little correlation between movie sales and comic sales. The Fantastic Four are also a lynchpin in the Marvel universe. Who does everyone turn to for science advice? Reed Richards. Sue Richards is that motherly figure that helps ground the team. Her little brother Johnny is the typical “irresponsible” brother who everyone knows has a heart of gold. Ben Grimm is the cool uncle. Marvel execs can claim this and that about how the team isn’t working but everyone who knows comics knows that to be full of it.

The Fantastic Four need to return and as soon as possible. It is really a dishonor to the legacy of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby to do their creation like this just because of some film rights. Absence makes the heart grow fonder and as more time is spent without the team being around, the more we grow fonder. Marvel’s First Family brings a uniqueness to the Marvel Universe and that is one that cannot be replicated.

Justice League Banner Featuring Big Blue Himself

Everyone knows Superman will be in Justice League despite being “dead” after the events of Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. So the marketing has been playing it fast and loose with featuring the Man of Steel. Superman mainly appears in ancillary promotional materials but never like posters. This is the first major piece of marketing to feature him. 

Marvel’s The Punisher Trailer Takeaway

It should be noted from the get go that I am not the biggest fan of The Punisher. Personally, the character works best for me in guest appearances and limited series. I have never been able to tolerate reading an ongoing Punisher book for more than six months. So when The Punisher was announced as getting his inevitable Netflix series after a recurring role in the second season of Daredevil, I was just “meh” about it. I’m really not sure as to what they can do with the character for thirteen episodes. So the trailer came out today and it really did nothing for me.

  • We see more of Frank’s life before his family was killed. It seems to be retconning the events of Frank’s family being murdered. Either that or he might be hallucinating and mixing things up. There are some definite Max Payne vibes here.
  • Apparently there is a conspiracy around Frank and why his family was murdered. This was one of my major criticisms surrounding The Punisher in Daredevil. Instead of simply just making Frank’s family victims in a random act of violence, there has to be this whole thing going on behind the scenes. It seems to unnecessarily complicate things.
  • Karen Page is back and I’m no fan of that character. Constantly chastising Matt Murdock for being secretive yet always defending Frank Castle, a known mass murderer, who even tells her point blank not to defend him.
  • There are scenes of the actor who plays Micro. I’m not the biggest fan of Micro but hey Frank has to have some sort of supporting cast to talk to.
  • A lot of the imagery shows that Frank is definitely a disturbed individual, which is appreciated.

I still don’t get a sense as to what this show is going to be about. What the overarching story of the season is. I know that an actor has been cast as the man who will become Jigsaw. But who knows? That could be something that happens in the last scene of the last episode. I’m not too excited for the show but I’ll give it a fair shake.

Is J.J. Abrams The Right Choice for Episode IX?

So after another director shakeup for Star Wars directors, J.J. Abrams is directing Episode IX. He previously directed The Force Awakens and was heavily involved in The Last Jedi as a producer. So it was an easy choice to make when came to him jumping back on board. It was also the safe choice.

I do slightly agree that The Force Awakens played as something of the greatest hits of Star Wars. Some people would have you believe that the movie was a complete rehash of A New Hope. I do not fall into that camp as there was enough new to help smooth out the treading of old ground. Also all the blame cannot be put on Abrams for that as that huge was multiple hands playing a factor.

I do think fresh blood would have been best for the project. New ways of thinking always brings out something new in projects. Of course the director would still have to answer to Kathleen Kennedy, the head of Lucasfilm. It’s like any job where you can bring your ideas to the table but you’ll still have to do it within the confines of whoever’s in charge. With all the director shake ups lately, it is easy to blame Kennedy for being the problem but who really knows?

A benefit of Abrams finishing what he started is that things are very much different from when he started. The Force Awakens was a rushed product with numerous script changes. Episode IX is not supposed to start filming until mid 2018 and Disney pushed the release date back to December 2019. That gives Abrams enough time to work and develop the script with Chris Terrio and hopefully not deliver a rehash of Return of the Jedi like everyone fears. I am someone who does not have these fears as I think Abrams is very much aware of the criticisms that faced him with his first Star Wars outing.

Though I am a little apprehensive about Abrams returning as like I previously stated, it is far from the worst choice. Lately I have been trying to approach things with a more open mind and be more positive. All the previously released Star Wars films, The Force Awakens and Rogue One, both had issues but turned out to be solid films. I believe Abrams will deliver a solid final outing for the trilogy that he started.