February 22, 2010
DC’s latest direct-to-home-video animated film, Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths, goes on sale Tuesday, February 23.
In it, the Justice League answers a plea for help from an alternate Lex Luthor, one who comes from a world where good and evil are reversed. The heroic Luthor fights against the tyranny of such master villains as Ultraman, Owlman, Superwoman, and Johnny Quick (a name that DC has reused several times).
It is, of course, inspired by a long tradition of evil-counterpart stories in DC Comics.
Speedster corner: The story is adapted from an unproduced Justice League Unlimited script, so the Flash is the familiar wise-cracking, thinks-with-his-feet type. There’s also supposed to be a good super-speed fight between him and the evil Johny Quick.
October 2, 2009
Comics Should Be Good wraps up the month of iconic covers with the Top 5 Most Iconic Barry Allen Covers.
Ain’t It Cool News has a preview of Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths, the next direct-to-home video DC animated film. It’s based on a number of Earth-2/Earth-3 stories in which the Justice League goes up against their evil counterparts from another world, the Crime Syndicate. There’s a few frames of the evil Johnny Quick in the preview, sporting an entirely new costume. (Thanks to Jesse for the link.)
Speaking of evil, the “Mark Waid Was Evil” teaser turns out to be for a new series, Incorruptible, intended as the flip side to Irredeemable. This series follows a super-villain who decides to become a hero in response to the Plutonian’s fall to the dark side.
Newsarama evaluates Wednesday Comics, giving the Flash strip a B+.
Avatar Press has started a collaborative map of comic shops around the world. You can help by adding the local store where you buy your comics.
Over at my other blog, I made an amusing discovery about Wizard World Los Angeles, the Long Beach Comic-Con, and two convention centers.
December 29, 2008
I recently watched the complete fifth season of The Batman. I’d only ever seen one episode, “A Mirror Darkly” (the one with the Flash, of course!) before, and when I decided to watch the two-parter with the Justice League, I figured I might as well watch the rest of the season.
The series follows Batman, a young Robin, and a teenaged Batgirl as they battle the usual assortment of Gotham City villains. While the 1990s Batman: The Animated Series essentially translated the comic-book versions of these characters into a style suitable for animation, The Batman has redesigned virtually everyone…and that’s the main problem I have with the show. They’ve taken the villains and dehumanized them, making them into little more than monsters.
Introducing the League
The main thread for season 5 is showing Batman as he works with the Justice League, with 8 of 13 episodes featuring guest stars. Unlike the Gotham villains, the heroes’ designs are practically lifted from the comics. It’s also a much more Silver Age League (at least compared to the animated Justice League and Justice League Unlimited from earlier this decade)*, with Hal Jordan as Green Lantern, Hawkman as a Thanagarian policeman, and Barry Allen (though his name is never mentioned on screen) as the Flash. Conspicuously absent is Wonder Woman, an oddity considering the larger role given to Batgirl in this series. That, and some of the visuals in the final episode, reminded me of Filmation’s Justice League cartoons from the 1960s.
The season opens with a two-parter pitting Batman against a mind-controlled Superman. Lex Luthor and a host of Batman villains guest star. Oddly enough, I found myself looking up the casting, even though Superman, Lex and Lois are voiced by the same actors as in the Dini/Timm cartoons. The takes on each character were enough different that I didn’t notice the voices at first.
Batman goes on to team up with Green Arrow, the Flash, Green Lantern and Hawkman over the course of the season, as they fight Count Vertigo, Mirror Master, Sinestro and the Shadow Thief. The Green Lantern tie-in, “Ring Toss,” was particularly fun, as the Penguin obtains GL’s ring. He figures out the basics pretty quickly, even though he doesn’t have the experience — or willpower — to use it to its full potential.
According to the producers, the Flash in this series is Barry Allen, though his real name is never mentioned onscreen and his personality is somewhere between the Timmverse Flash and Impulse.
The Scarlet Speedster teams up with Batman and Robin in “A Mirror Darkly” (on the first disc of the set). Mirror Master has come to Gotham City seeking components for a weapon (of course), and uses mirror duplicates of heroes — including both Batman and the Flash — to help him steal them. I like the portrayal of Mirror Master as a smug know-it-all mad scientist, and the redesigned costume works fine for me. He’s been given a sidekick/assistant named Smoke, and thankfully the show’s staff resist the urge to point out the pun in the name (though I keep thinking of the episode, erroneously, as “Smoke and Mirrors” because of it).
Mirror Master’s plan proves to be one of those totally bizarre schemes that would ordinarily seem out of place in a Batman story, but feels right at home in a classic Flash story with new pseudo-scientific feats appearing on every page.
On a related note, I could swear I remember an episode of Batman: The Animated Series that also featured a showdown in a room-sized orrery at a planetarium, but I just can’t place it.
In a sense, there are two series finales. “The End of the Batman” has Batman and Robin going up against Wrath and Scorn, opposite numbers who have dedicated themselves to protecting criminals and wiping out the Batman. They bring in half a dozen Batman villains in on the scheme, one which will not only make them all rich, but end the threat of the Batman for good.
Then the two-part “Lost Heroes” brings the Justice League thread to the foreground, as all the heroes who have guest starred over the season show up just long enough to be abducted, leaving Batman and Green Arrow to track them down. The heroes must battle robots that have stolen their powers, then head off another alien invasion. Robin and Batgirl aren’t left out of the action either, and their reactions to meeting the League — and seeing its headquarters — are priceless.
(This story also has the oddest portrayal of Hugo Strange that I’ve seen, but then I’m mainly used to the version from Legends of the Dark Knight, so I’m not sure what “standard” is. Now that I think about it, he looks like a cross between Dr. Scratchensniff and Ralph the Guard, and now I can’t unsee it.)
*I realize I’m probably going to compare almost any animated DC show to the DC Animated Universe for quite a while. Even though I grew up on Superfriends in the early 1980s, it was the 1992 Batman series that really resonated with me and my friends in high school. It was a show that actually managed to present complex characters and storylines without talking down to their audience. It featured the best portrayal of Two-Face until this year’s The Dark Knight. The direct-to-video Batman: Sub-Zero was a better Mr. Freeze movie than Batman and Robin, which came out the same year. And it introduced Harley Quinn. How can you argue with that?
December 9, 2008
Newsarama’s article about the NYCC Premiere of Wonder Woman includes this surprising information:
Other animated films slated to be in development are Batman, Superman, the Flash, Green Lantern, and the Justice League.
It’s undoubtedly a long way off, but we’re likely to see a Flash installment in the home video–market animated series that includes Superman: Doomsday, Justice League: New Frontier, Batman: Gotham Knight and next spring’s Wonder Woman long before we see a live-action theatrical movie.
(Or, Newsarama could be getting the animated series mixed up with the perpetually–in–development hell Flash movie.)
Thanks to reader Theodore rrrr for spotting this!
November 28, 2008
I recently decided to try out Netflix’s instant streaming service by watching Stan Lee’s Lightspeed, the made-for-TV movie about a government agent turned super-speedster. It’s been on my queue for a while, and I figured I’d free up the slot for something else.
Ultimately, I was really impressed — with the service. The image and sound were very clear, even with the window playing fullscreen. I’m annoyed that it’s Windows– and Internet Explorer–only. Aside from that, the only thing I really missed was fine control over fast-forward and rewind.
The movie itself? Cheesy. And what’s worse, dull. I took a break halfway through and wasn’t sure I really cared about coming back to finish it. Heatstroke was better — and I mean that.
The structure’s fine. It starts with the villain, a man with snake-like skin called Python, and a firefight between the villain’s gang, the people in a building, and a SWAT-team–like group called the Ghost Squad. Then it flashes back to the villain’s origin, then jumps forward to the aftermath of the battle and weaves the hero’s origin into the tale of Python’s master scheme. Like many classic stories, the hero’s and villain’s origins are linked.
The effects are decent, if no more exciting than those that appeared on The Flash a decade and a half earlier. Though they do spend more time in daylight. The suit is goofy, but they at least hang a lampshade on its goofiness: he picks it up at a sporting goods store to help protect himself from windburn.
But the movie just isn’t compelling at all.
I started taking notes during the film, but they quickly turned into snarky commentary. So rather than writing a full review, I’m attaching them below the cut. There could be spoilers, so beware.
Read the rest of this entry »
August 26, 2008
A quick round-up of recent pop culture references to the Flash:
First, reader Will mentioned an episode of the comedy, The Big Bang Theory, in four characters showed up to a costume party, each dressed as the Flash. The episode, “The Middle Earth Paradigm,” aired last fall, but it’s still topical: The first season will be released on DVD next week (region 1).
Second, Esteban Pedreros of Comic Verso writes about the Chilean TV show, Estrellas en el hielo (Stars on Ice) — essentially Dancing with the Stars, with ice skating. One of the contestants is sprinter Sebastián_Keitel, nicknamed “The fastest white man on Earth.” He and his partner appeared on the show wearing Flash costumes (look for Capítulo 3). I had trouble getting the video to play (must be the intercontinental bandwidth), but I was able to check out the photo galleries.
Finally, Sports Illustrated compares Usain Bolt with the Flash, describing the real-world Olympic gold medalist sprinter from Jamaica and the fictional super-hero as “two guys with claims at being the world’s fastest.”
Sorry, no costumes on this one!
Update: One more: Collected Comics Library linked to the Detroit Free Press’ profiles of promising football players as super-heroes, including Oak Park’s running back Edwin Baker as the Flash. According to the profile, “When you have been timed at 10.5 in the 100 meters, what other superhero is there? Maybe Quicksilver?” Other players have been profiled as Hulk and Thor.
August 24, 2008
In 1967, the Filmation-produced Superman/Aquaman Hour of Adventure featured short animated segments with additional DC characters. The Superman and Aquaman segments have previously been released on DVD, and the rest are now available as the two-disc set, DC Super-Heroes: The Filmation Adventures.
These discs feature three seven-minute episodes each focusing on:
- The Atom
- The Flash
- Green Lantern
- The Justice League of America (made up of the above heroes, plus Superman)
- Teen Titans (Kid Flash, Wonder Girl, Speedy, and Aqualad)
I’ve never seen these before (I grew up on Super Friends), and it’s hard to not compare them to the Bruce Timm-designed Justice League cartoons, which benefit from 30-odd years of advances in animation techniques (and technology) and storytelling — not to mention a decent budget. The stories are simplistic, the villains’ motivations even more so; lots of footage is re-used, and the heroes are flat. But the action tends to be wild and crazy, in keeping with the comics of the time.
In fact, a lot of the aspects that stand out when viewing these today are true to the source material. This was deep into the Silver Age at DC, and wild and crazy sci-fi adventure hadn’t yet given way to the more street-level storytelling of the Bronze Age. Read the rest of this entry »
July 8, 2008
The Flash (or Kid Flash) appears in two DVD sets being released this week, as well as one upcoming release and a whole set of digital downloads.
The review by Comics Worth Reading reminds me that Teen Titans season 5 is out on DVD this week. This features the episode, “Lightspeed,” in which the animated version of Kid Flash goes up against the Hive Five and makes a special connection with Jinx. While it’s never been made clear just how Teen Titans relates to Justice League Unlimited, they did cast Michael Rosenbaum, the voice of the Flash on that series, as Kid Flash.
I’ve got this one on pre-order. At the time it aired, I wasn’t watching the show, but I made a point to watch “Lightspeed” and enjoyed it. I’ve since seen the other 4 seasons on DVD, and I’m really looking forward to seeing the fifth.
The Batman & Filmation
Comic Bloc poster BESTBUY points out that The Batman season 5 (2007-2008) is also out this week, featuring several episodes with the Justice League as well as “A Mirror Darkly,” in which Batman and Robin team up with the Flash against Mirror Master.
He also mentions the upcoming DVD release of DC Superheroes: The Filmation Adventures, set for August 12. These are cartoons from 1967, featuring DC’s classic cast of heroes, the Flash included. I’ve never seen them myself — my experience with DC-based animation starts with the early 1980s and Super-Friends. From what I understand, these originally aired as part of The Superman/Aquaman Hour of Adventure.
Super Friends Go Digital
Finally, Blog@Newsarama reports that iTunes now has a number of classic DC cartoons, including Super Friends and Season 2 of Superman: The Animated Series. That’s the season that includes “Speed Demons,” the episode that introduced the DCAU Flash in 1997.
- DC Animated Classics
- Superman: The Animated Series: “Speed Demons”
- Super Friends
Thinking about it, it was probably Super Friends that first introduced me to DC’s heroes. I certainly was watching the show long before I started reading comics. I remember very little of the cartoons now, except for the general tone, and a few moments like Superman trying to pronounce Mxytzptlk, or me getting confused as to why Cyborg’s voice was so high in the commercial (by the time he was introduced, I’d started reading The New Teen Titans) — it turned out they’d run one of Wonder Woman’s lines over a picture of his face. And while I remembered the additional super-heroes like Apache Chief and Samurai, I’d completely forgotten the standard Hanna Barbera additions like Wendy and Marvin, or the Wonder Twins and Gleek, until I started reading commentary about the show online a decade later. I still can’t bring to mind any of their voices, though I imagine Marvin sounding like Shaggy from Scooby Doo