SDCC 2016 ‘Batman The Killing Joke’: One. Bad. Day.

by Agent Alicia Glass (a.k.a. Pandora the Punctuation Horror)

So DC and Warner Bros. have finally brought what is arguably the most infamous Batman and Joker story of all time to the screen, in cartoon movie format, no less. And San Diego Comic-Con, being the smart cookies they are, brought a showing of the film to this year’s Con and what is likely the most difficult audience to please, the fan-atics, so let’s get into this!

The Madness of Spoilers lies ahead!

Now, I know back-story has to be established from the outset and that’s more or less fine, but they sure portrayed Batgirl as whiny, at least for the entire first act. Barbara Gordon (Tara Strong) is Batgirl and has been trailing Batman for approximately three years or so when our story begins. Sure, she kicks plenty of butt on her own, but she’s still in need of approval from the Caped Crusader, especially when she finds herself involved with mobster Paris Franz (Maury Sterling). Somehow, this mesmerizing moron manages to completely bump Batgirl off her game, sending her off on scavenger hunts alone and causing rifts between her and Batman (Kevin Conroy) when she realizes, duh, she can’t take on a simple one-man mouthpiece because he’s managed to get inside her head. Forgive me, but, that just didn’t sound like any Batgirl I knew.

And it just gets odder, because it turns out the tension between Batgirl and Batman had very little to do with an idiotic gangster, or their working-behind-masks relationship issues. No, it’s sexual tension, and after a good old-fashioned scream-fight on a rooftop, Batgirl and Batman get naked and bump bat-uglies. (No, the movie doesn’t show it, but you can clearly tell when Batgirl is perched atop Batman and takes her top off, what they’re doing.)

Inevitably, soon after that, Paris Franz gets dealt with and Barbara decides to go back to being boring librarian Barbara and hang up her cowl for good. That is the entirety of the first act and mildly more than half the movie itself, and a rather unfair go at Batgirl in general, in my opinion. True, the extended Bat family always has growing pains (just look at pretty much all the Robins), but somehow, I thought better of Batgirl than that. Barbara Gordon is supposed to be stronger and, let’s face it, more mature than this representation being offered to us. I suppose the idea is to give background to the relationship between her and Bruce, and while the girlfriend troubles being discussed with the cutie-pie gay librarian friend are fun and all, this whole thing is barely touched on when we get to the better half of the movie.

And here we are! It’s later and, once again, Joker (Mark Hamil) has gleefully skipped Arkham and Bats is on the hunt for him. Joker importantly goes to take over this old amusement park, to prepare it for the upcoming massive performance, but hey, first he needs performers! This means a surprise visit to the Gordon household and next thing you know, Babs has taken a bullet to the gut and the Commissioner has been dad-napped for some good old-fashioned torture!

Meanwhile, while all this is going on, we get treated to, let’s all just admit it, what we’re really here for, the Joker background story. In sepia tones, a young, struggling, never-named comedian tries valiantly to make money to get his very-pregnant wife out of a very bad neighborhood. He worked at a boring chemical plant before trying to make it as a comedian and that isn’t working out too well, either, so our unnamed man decides to try for one big score with some mobsters. They want his help breaking into the old chemical plant so they can get into the card business next door, but hey, there’s a catch: They also want him to wear the notorious Red Hood while he does it.

The movie kind of fails to let the audience know that Bats has been chasing the Red Hood and his crime gang for awhile now, so our unnamed man never really stood a damned chance anyway. But even before he can think about donning a scarlet helmet, news comes back that his poor pregnant wife has met a very tragic end, and with nothing to lose, Nameless decides to do the mob job any-damn-way! Rather like the very first Tim Burton Batman film, you can guess what happened next.

Meanwhile, in the present, Joker as we know him has stripped Gordon naked, dog-collared the poor man, and forced him on a nightmare carnival ride of madness involving naked photographs of his beloved daughter, bleeding and dying from a gut-shot wound. Trying very hard to prove his point, Joker far-too-cheerfully spouts his peculiar brand of madness and explains that anyone could become him, anyone at all, with the now-infamous line, “All it takes to become me is one. Bad. Day.”

This is meant to tie in with the whole Batman and Joker being the light and dark sides of each other, and really, who is to say which is which on that one bad day? Batman gave a heartfelt plea to not do this thing, whatever it is Joker’s planning next, that will likely lead to the death of one or both of them, when he went to see false Joker in Arkham Asylum. It didn’t work then and it doesn’t work now when we have the final showdown between the Dark Knight and the Clown Prince of Crime. Or is it? Batman gives a final, entirely heartfelt plea to let him help Joker, once and for all; it truly doesn’t have to end this way. And, for once in his insane little world, Joker answers him deadpan serious: It’s too late for that. It all comes down to this, the final Killing Joke, where Joker cracks a bad funny and after a heartbeat Batman actually lets out a guffaw right along with him.

And that, dear fans and friends and odds and ends, is the end. Except, of course, the inevitable easter egg after some credits, that is.

The style of animation is Spartan and very similar to the old ’90s Batman cartoon show, where Hamil first began voicing the Joker, and that is in no way a bad thing. Joker being the obvious exception, the show took extra care with his facial expression and drawings because, hey, he needs it for this story especially. Famed DC contributor Bruce Timm, who produced The Killing Joke, stated there would be a 15-minute prologue that would further set up the story, as the one-shot original graphic novel from 1988 simply wasn’t long enough for an entire animated movie; so perhaps therein lies the explanation for the whole Batgirl scenario. It’s actually a fairly good sendoff for a very well-known Batman story, and love it or hate it, every single Batman fan out there will want to see it at least once.

Batman The Killing Joke was released digitally on July 26, 2016, and will enjoy a DVD and Blu-ray release on August 2, 2016!

SDCC 2016 Photo Gallery

by Agent Alicia Glass (a.k.a. Pandora the Punctuation Horror)

Cosplay was everywhere this year at San Diego Comic-Con 2016, and a good deal of it a loving if not terribly sad tribute to those we’ve lost recently. David Bowie as the Goblin King, Alan Rickman as Severus Snape and, of course, Leonard Nimoy in arguably his most iconic role as Spock, to name just a few, were proudly displayed like living tributes to pop-culture gods.

DC Comics dominated this year, particularly everyone’s favorite psycho couple of Joker and Harley, in reference to Suicide Squad, which comes out in theaters very soon. But, there was also plenty of cheerful genderbent cosplay, anime tributes, steampunk recreations and original costumes, all of them ready to strike a pose for your camera. The International Cosplay Corps, those tireless do-gooders who run around all of Comic-Con doing free cosplay repair on the go, were finally honored for their good works by multiple online outlets, the Costume Designers Guild and the Union Tribune newspaper as well.

Here are just a small gathering of the many cosplay enthusiasts your roving reporter Alicia Glass managed to corral at San Diego Comic-Con 2016!

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The ‘Flash’ Winter Finale: Have a Very Merry Trickster-mas

by Agent Alicia Glass (a.k.a. Pandora the Punctuation Horror)

Who doesn’t want to spend the winter holidays with their families? *crickets* Right, that was rhetorical. Here in the Flash-verse, the Weather Wizard wants nothing more than to gather a few buddies around him and gift wrap our beloved scarlet speedster in a casket for Krampus!

It’s always interesting to see Liam McIntyre, the man who bravely took up the mantle of Spartacus after the sad passing of Andy Whitfield, as a nasty villain on Flash. Weather Wizard Mark has that ol’ holiday bloodlust going for the Flash, and he breaks the abominable Captain Cold and the wacky Trickster out of jail to help him! Leonard Snart, a.k.a. Captain Cold, seems to have snowflakes of good-guy floating in him somewhere, which nudges him to warn Barry of the coming snowstorm in the worst secret Santa move ever. And then Jesse James, a.k.a. Trickster, you know, he’s down for whatever, so long as it involves lots of cocoa and killing a bunch of people, perhaps those annoying carolers, for openers.

On the completely normal (ish?) side of things, Iris West is just boiling over with the knowledge of her brother, kept hidden from her father. She just can’t keep the news to herself anymore, and enlists Barry’s help to tell Joe. Why does this matter, apart from the completely normal, if not devastating, news that Joe had a blood son he never knew about? Because Joe’s long-lost, unaware son is named Wallace, and called Wally. Wally West (check this out, if you have to ask what that means).

Of course, Flash can’t let the Weather Wizard, the Trickster, and even a reluctant Captain Cold wreak havoc during the winter holidays. But fighting all three of them means asking Cisco to make a weather wand that, for those of you paying attention to the now-multiple timelines of the Flash-verse, wreaks a whole bunch of havoc all on its own. With the threat of perhaps a hundred or so gaily wrapped Christmas bombs handed out to children by a very merry Trickster Claus, Barry has no choice but to gird his loins in speedforce and take them head on!

Mark Hamil as the Trickster really is the best present this episode has to offer. Nearly all of us fans who watch the show Flash, remember watching Batman the Animated Series back in the 1990s, in which Hamil gave great voice talent to one of our favorite versions of the Joker. Hamil has been the Trickster once on Flash already, but the winter finale episode gave us a glorious gift of a Joker-voiced Christmas episode one more time. To hear him sing, “Deck the halls with body parts from a girl named Holly,” in that well-known and forever-beloved cackling voice is epic. And you know, exploding dreidels.

The interplay between Wells 2.0 and Zoom is kind of completely expected, so there’s that. But that moment when, after the hero has saved the day and the heroes, plain ol’ humans, and all their loved ones have gathered together at the West house for Christmas eve, Wally West comes to the door and meets Joe face to face for the first time – that was a winter holiday miracle right there. And with all Wells 2.0 and the bad guys are up to, Flash and all his pals deserve a miracle now and then. The Flash speeds back to us January 19, 2016!


SLCC 2015: Photo Gallery – TV, Movie, and Video Game Themed

Photos from Salt Lake Comic Con 2015 by Sheralyn Pratt and Laura Davis. This gallery contains photos of cosplay, displays, and everything else related to themes and characters from TV, movies, and video games. Enjoy!

Additional SLCC 2015 Photo Galleries:

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