Monday, June 29, 2009

Top 5 Baby Moments

A few days ago I welcomed in a new addition to my family. My wife and I had our first child, a son, whom we are naming Peter Parker Findlay (no joke)! I am telling you this because I will be taking a bit of a break from this website for a while. I'll update with major news, but the episode reviews will wait until my life has a bit more routine in it.

But in the meantime, I will leave you with this short article of my top five favourite baby moments in superhero animation. Surprisingly, they are all from the Timm-verse.

5. Baby-Doll - Batman: the Animated Series

Batman has to face a former child star that has never grown out of her child body and has therefore become bitter and jaded toward the world. The climax of the episode where Mary Louise Dahl faces her own self image was a moving moment to what was otherwise a pretty goofy episode. Her second appearance, Love is a Croc, was less than impressive.

4. Kid Stuff - Justice League Unlimited

JLU is usually a pretty serious show, but they also know how to be funny! When the Justice League willingly change into children hilarity ensues, especially when they come across a baby Demon Etrigan! The cute factor was kicked up a notch, and even though it was a lighter episode, the story was still solid.

3. Eggbaby - Batman Beyond

I never had to do the "pretend an egg is a baby" exercise in high school, but now that I have an infant of my own, I can better relate to Terry McGuiness as he lives his daily live with a dependent. However I don't have to fight crime with a baby. The egg really steals the show in this episode.

2. The Last Son of Krypton, Part One - Superman: the Animated Series

How could a list about babies be complete with out young Kal-El? I can't imagine how hard it would be for a parent to send their child away as Jor-El and Lara did when Krypton was about to explode. The origin of Superman has been retold in many different mediums, several times, but this version develops the relationship between Kal-El and his parents far better than any other.

1. The Enemy Below, Part Two - Justice League

Parents will go to great lengths to protect their children. In this episode Aquaman cuts off his own hand in order to free himself and his son from certain death. It is a very powerful moment, especially if you have a child of your own. Would you be able to do the same if you were in the situation?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Last Bat on Earth!

Season: 2
Episode Number: 22
Season Episode Number: 9
Production Number: 122
Airdate: June 19, 2009

Writer: Steven Melching
Director: Ben Jones

Voices: Diedrich Bader (Batman), Mikey Kelley (Kamandi), Greg Ellis (Dr. Canus), John DiMaggio (Gorilla Grodd), Yuri Lowenthal (Prince Tuftan, Mr. Miracle), Peter Woodward (Ceasar), Richard McGonagle (Professor Carter Nichols), Diane Delano (Big Barda), Dee Bradley Baker (Oberon, Ramjam), Unknown (Bat, Ape, Human).

Plot: Batman follows Gorilla Grodd into the future and teams up with Kamandi, the last boy on Earth, to stop the uprising of an army of evolved gorillas.

Teaser: Batman and Mr. Miracle escape a death-defying situation.

Review (Warning! Spoilers!): Just as they did in Day of the Dark Knight, the Brave and the Bold team has whipped up another tribute to the great comic book legend, Jack Kirby. The world of Kamandi and the New Gods were both created by Kirby in the 70s and are depicted very well in this episode.

The episode's teaser introduces us to Mr. Miracle, his wife Big Barda, and his manager Oberon as well as his escape act that he performs for charity. The designs are consistant with that of the show but retain the Kirby qualities that they are known for. Plus, the teaser is just plain funny! You have no idea why Batman and Mr. Miracle are acting so nonchalant until the twist at the end!

The main bulk of the episode takes place in the far future where animals have evolved and humans are savage and technology has been lost. (Does that sound like a certain Charlton Heston movie or what?) The battle between the difference animal groups is at its highest peek with the main two rivals being Ceasar and his tiger army and Ramjam and the apes. The characters and the story were strong enough that I didn't think that Gorilla Grodd needed to be in the episode, however it was Batman's reason for jumping through time, so I guess he was necessary.

And speaking of jumping through time, Batman rescues Professor Carter Nichols. Who is Professor Nichols, you say? In the Silver Age of comics, Professor Nichols created a few different methods of traveling through time. His appearance in this show validates how Batman can appear in different points in time as he has done in previous episodes.

Kamandi is a character that I know very little about, so this episode was a great introduction to him and his world. Last Bat on Earth a fairly strong episode with plenty of action, plot, humour and character.

One question: Why do horses seem to be the only animals that didn't evolve?

Back to Episode Guide

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Neil Patrick Harris is the Music Meister!

Obviously inspired by the internet sensation known as Dr. Horrible's Sing-A-Long Blog, Neil Patrick Harris has been cast as an all-new villain called The Music Meister for an upcoming episode of Batman: The Brave and the Bold.

Mayhem of the Music Meister, which is set to debut this fall, will be an all musical episode in which the villain, the Music Meister, uses his ability to create song wherever he goes to take over the world! Five new songs have been recently written and recorded by Dynamic Music Partners in LA.

This isn't the first time we've seen musical episodes. Shows like Powerpuff Girls and Clone High did it several years back, and the famous Once More With Feeling episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer sounds like it has a very similar plot. However, I'm sure that this episode will be just as fresh and hilarious as all of those other musical episodes.

I only hope to hear the classic Batman quote "Villains are a superstitious, cowardly lot" sometime in the episode. Do you remember hearing that quote used in the Batman musical in the Batman Beyond episode Out of the Past? If you don't remember that episode, maybe these pictures will jog your memory:

Ready, A.I.M., Fire

Season: 1
Episode Number: 10
Season Episode Number: 10
Production Number: 110
Airdate: May 25, 2009

Writer: Kevin Burke, Chris "Doc" Wyatt
Director: Stéphane Juffé and Philippe Guyenne

Voices: Adrian Petriw (Iron Man), Daniel Bacon (Jim "Rhodey" Rhodes), Anna Cummer (Pepper Potts), Vincent Tong (Gene Khan), Alistair Abell (Happy Hogan), Kristie Marsden (Whitney Stane), Michael Kopsa (Controller), Unknown (A.I.M. Supreme Leader), Unknown (Principal Nara), Lisa Ann Beley (Iron Man Onboard Computer).

Plot: While at the school's job fair, Tony Stark is approached by a company called A.I.M. who want to hire him because of his great genius. But Tony has second thoughts when A.I.M. starts controlling the minds of his friends.

Review (Warning! Spoilers!): In this episode we are introduced to an organization that has deep roots in Marvel history. A.I.M. (Advanced Ideas Mechanics) usually butts heads with S.H.I.E.L.D. and Captain America, but seeing as how those guys never get their own cartoon I guess Iron Man is the next logical show to make a guest appearance. After all, who better to rival a tech-savvy genius like Tony Stark than an advanced technology organization.

The episode plays out really well and takes many cues from horror and zombie movies. The whole "bee" thing (which is true to the comics, I kid you not) added an element of creepiness that helped amplify the creepiness once Tony's gang started attacking him.

Out of all of the villains in this show, the Controller has had the biggest makeover. Losing his armoured exoskeleton and out-of-control rage, this version of Basil Sandhurst is mearly an underling for A.I.M. and its purposes. He still has his slave discs which are a focal point of this episode, but other than that he is completely reworked.

Briefly mentioned in this episode is A.I.M.'s greatest creation, M.O.D.O.C., whom we will meet in a later episode.

I guess I really shouldn't have been surprised, but Whitney Stane enrolls in the Tomorrow Academy and joins the gang as they solve crimes Scooby-Doo style.

All in all, this is an enjoyable episode, and as we get further into the season I find myself enjoying the time Tony spends outside of his armour more than when he is in it.

DVD Releases:
  • Iron Man: Armored Adventures, Volume Two

  • Back to Episode Guide

    Monday, June 22, 2009

    Spectacular Season Two Premiere Today!

    This is the moment you have all been waiting for! The Spectacular Spider-Man Season Two premieres on Disney XD tonight at 7:00pm (ET/PT) with two back-to-back episodes!

    In the season premiere, Blueprints, Peter wants to talk to Gwen about their first kiss, but before he gets the chance, Spider-Man has a run-in with the sorcerer Mysterio. Following in the additional brand-new episode, Destructive Testing, Peter wrestles with his feelings for both Gwen and Liz, but in the meantime, Kraven the Hunter has arrived to make Spider-Man his prey.

    Spectacular Spider-Man will move to its regular timeslot of Mondays at 7:30pm (ET/PT) on June 29 as stated in the video below.

    And if that's not enough, head on over to Marvel Animation Age for a ton of really cool Spidey stuff!

    Friday, June 19, 2009

    More X-Men Coming Your Way!

    TV Shows on DVD has just revealed some great news! A third and fourth volume of the 90s X-Men animated series will be hitting stores September 15th!

    Each set features 2 discs and will feature popular storyarcs such as The Dark Phoenix Saga and Beyond Good and Evil. If these two sets are anything like the last two, they will feature sixteen or seventeen episodes each.

    I'll post cover art as soon as I get it, or you can just visit TV Shows on DVD.

    Also, look for a second Canadian release of Wolverine and the X-Men heading your way July 21.

    This release will feature four episodes:

  • Thieves Gambit
  • X-Calibre
  • Wolverine vs. the Hulk
  • Time Bomb

  • The cover will be a diecut o-ring, just like the last release. The cover art looks much better than the American volume two release.

    Weekend Round-Up - June 19-22

    Here is a list of new superhero cartoons debuting this weekend in the US:

    Friday, June 19, 2009
    Nicktoons, 8:00pm (ET/PT)
    Wolverine and the X-Men - Battle Lines

    Rogue tries to warn the X-Men of an impending attack on the X-Mansion, but the attack is just a diversion from the real threat, a young girl whose nightmares come to life!

    Friday, June 19, 2009
    Cartoon Network, 8:30pm (ET/PT)
    Batman: The Brave and the Bold - The Last Bat on Earth

    Gorilla Grodd travels to the future where intelligent animals rule humans -- Batman follows him and teams with Kamandi (the last boy on Earth) to bring him down.

    Monday, June 22, 2009
    Disney XD, 7:00pm (ET/PT)
    Spectacular Spider-Man - Blueprints

    A new villain named Mysterio arrives on the scene, stealing cutting edge technology from various different sources. Spider-Man intervenes only to find out that the is more to Mysterio than meets the eye.

    Monday, June 22, 2009
    Disney XD, 7:30pm (ET/PT)
    Spectacular Spider-Man - Destructive Testing

    Sergei Kravenoff comes to New York in serch of the ultimate prey: Spider-Man! But when Spider-Man proves to be too much for a normal human to handle, Kravenoff pays Professor Miles Warren to turn him into the ultimate hunter.

    Please note:
  • Iron Man: Armored Adventures is taking a few weeks off.

  • Here is a list of new superhero cartoons debuting this weekend in the Canada:

    Sunday, June 21, 2009
    Teletoon, 8:00am (ET/PT)
    Iron Man: Armored Adventures - Masquerade

    Obadiah Stane has totally lost it, and he's waging war on...Obidiah Stane? Iron Man goes to investigate, only to find that Stane isn't Stane at all, it's the identity stealing Madame Masque, and she doesn't want anyone getting in the way of her vendetta. The next thing Iron Man knows, he's being hunted by the police for crimes committed by Masque. Iron Man has to clear his name by exposing Masque, but her connections to Stane will shock even Iron Man.

    Please Note:
  • Still no word on when the new episodes of Batman: The Brave and the Bold will air on Teletoon.
  • Wednesday, June 17, 2009

    Iron Man Revisited

    This blogger has summed up my feelings about Iron Man: Armored Adventures in a nutshell.

    If I can so easily embrace other high school based super hero shows then how can I bash Armored Adventures for working the same angle? The answer is I can’t, it’s extremely hypocritical. I must embrace the fact I enjoys all super hero stories. Be them dark or light-hearted, kiddy or adult, serious or funny, whatever they are I embrace them all.

    Read the full article.

    The Spy from Outer Space, Part Two

    Season: 1
    Episode Number: 2
    Season Episode Number: 2
    Production Number: Unknown
    Airdate: September 17, 2009

    Writer: Mort Weisinger
    Director: Hal Sutherland

    Voices: Ted Knight (Narrator, Aliens, Police Chief), Bob Hastings (Superboy).

    Plot: Krypto must find a way to save Superboy so that the two can make it back to Earth in time to stop the impending alien invasion!

    Review (Warning! Spoilers!):This two-part episode makes up the first and second episode of The Adventures of Superboy which could be found sandwiched between two episodes starring Superman in The New Adventures of Superman in 1966.

    As far as first episodes go, this one is pretty good for its time. The plot is simple, but leaves plenty of room to introduce us to this character and his dog. In the mid-60s every child who had ever looked at a comic book knew who Superboy was, so the show doesn't need to bother with an origin story. So instead, we are treated to a story about an alien invasion.

    Bob Hastings provides the voice of Superboy. Hastings would go on to voice many more cartoon characters over the years, including Commissioner Gordon on Batman: the Animated Series in the 90s. The aliens are voiced by Ted Knight who did the voices of most of the villains in these early Filmation cartoons.

    Now I may be wrong, but it sure sounds to me like Ted Knight is the Narrator, however in every source that I check, it lists Jackson Beck as the Narrator, which is true for the Superman segments. I wonder if the narration was redubbed and some point, replacing Beck with Knight. Anyone have any thoughts on this?

    UPDATE: Will of Will's Ultimate Super Friends Episode Guide has contacted me with info regarding the narrator query:

    Ted Knight was a good friend of Lou Scheimer's and helped play a part in getting Filmation's career in cartoons off the ground. In the DC Comics cartoons, Knight was the voices of the narrator, supportive players and police, villains, and their hoods and flunkies. He was the character voice of each cast while someone else played the hero. Bob Hastings as Superboy in this case. The only DC series Knight was not involved in was Superman, since Filmation wanted to use the radio cast. That's why Jackson Beck is only narrating Superman episodes and no one else.

    In this episode, Superboy loses his powers when he flies to a planet with a red sun. On Earth, it is the yellow sun from which he gains his powers. If this is the case, shouldn't have Superboy lost his powers once he left our galaxy, since the yellow sun would be too far away?

    And why did he lose his powers once he landed on the planet? Wouldn't the red sun's light reach Superboy while he was still a far distance away from the planet?

    And if Superboy could simply cancel out the effects of the red sun by covering himself up, shouldn't Superboy lose his powers every time he is inside a building on Earth?

    This are the questions that shows in the 60s didn't feel the need to worry about. And you shouldn't either while watching these episodes. Just enjoy them.

    Back to Episode Guide

    Tuesday, June 16, 2009

    The Spy from Outer Space, Part One

    Season: 1
    Episode Number: 1
    Season Episode Number: 1
    Production Number: Unknown
    Airdate: September 10, 1966

    Writer: Mort Weisinger
    Director: Hal Sutherland

    Voices: Ted Knight (Narrator, Aliens), Bob Hastings (Superboy), Unknown (Police Chief).

    Plot: Krypto alerts Superboy to a series of seemingly natural catastrophic events. It is soon realized that the events are being caused by an alien spy send to prep the Earth for invasion!

    Review (Warning! Spoilers!): Before diving into this series, let's take a little look at Superboy's history.

    Superman writer and co-creator Jerry Siegel had been trying to approve a Superboy character since 1938 but it wasn't until Detective Comics, Inc. saw the success of Robin, the Boy Wonder in the pages of Detective Comics in the mid-40s that they finally saw the potential.

    However, at that time Jerry Siegel was drafted into World War II, which meant that he wasn't available to give any input into the character that he tried so hard to get published in the first place. This is the basis of the legal battles between DC Comics and the estate of Jerry Siegel over the rights to Superboy's character (which in turn is why these Superboy shorts never made it to the New Adventures of Superman DVD set).

    Superman artist and co-creator Joe Shuster supplied the artwork for Superboy's first adventure in More Fun Comics #101, 1945. He was created to simply be a younger version of Superman, complete with his glasses-wearing alter ego, Clark Kent. Smallville was created for him to live in, as were his adoptive parents, Ma and Pa Kent. Lana Lang was created as a love interest and a young Lex Luthor even showed up to develop the origins of their rivalry. Joining the team were Krypto the Superdog, Streaky the Supercat and Comet the Superhorse.

    One of the most important creations of the Superboy world was the Legion of Super Heroes who traveled back in time to visit Superboy. They were created in 1958 and it wasn't long before their popularity grew greater than that of Superboy, essentially taking over the title.

    It was at that time that a small animation studio named Filmation was planning their first animated series. It was the New Adventures of Superman which would feature a seven-minute short called The Adventures of Superboy.

    By the mid 80s, the DC Comics universe had expanded to such a degree that writers and editors couldn't keep up with the amount of history their characters were accumulating. Many new stories contradicted older stories, causing major confusion from their readers.

    Something had to be done to correct all that was wrong with the DC Universe, so Marv Wolfman wrote the 12-issue maxi-series Crisis on Infinite Earths in which it was revealed that there were many, many alternate Earths, one for each of the contradictory stories, thus solving all of their continuity problems.

    But Marv took it to the extreme and used a villain called the Anti-Monitor to destroy all of the alternate Earths leaving only one single Earth from which the comics could forge their own histories from that point on. Superman's origin was changed to the more familiar story: Clark grows up in Smallville, but becomes Superman when he moves to Metropolis. He never donned a costume while he was in Smaillville. Superboy's long standing history was destroyed in the Crisis but lives on through reprints of the Golden Age of comics and these Superboy cartoons.

    Now that you understand the significance of these cartoons, let's talk about The Spy from Outer Space. Read about it in The Spy from Outer Space, Part Two.

    Back to Episode Guide

    Monday, June 15, 2009

    Duel of the Double Crossers!

    Season: 2
    Episode Number: 8
    Season Episode Number: 21
    Production Number: 121
    Airdate: June 12, 2009

    Writer: Todd Casey
    Director: Michael Chang

    Voices: Diedrich Bader (Batman), Phil Morris (Jonah Hex), Gary Anthony Williams (Mongul, Mongal), Unknown (Argus), Nika Futterman (Lashina), Kevin Michael Richardson (Steppenwolf, Despero), Scott Menville (Metamorpho), Vyvan Pham (Katana), Bumper Robinson (Black Lightning).

    Plot:Batman is kidnapped by Jonah Hex and taken to War World where he will battle for his life! It is soon revealed that Jonah Hex is being used by the evil Mongul and the pair team up to bring down their captor.

    Teaser: Batman teaches the ins and outs of crime fighting to the Outsiders while fighting Despero.

    Review (Warning! Spoilers!): When I heard that Jonah Hex was going to be the guest star of this episode I was excited. I don't know much about the Western bounty hunter, in fact, my only exposure to the character is episodes of Justice League and Batman: the Animated Series, which may or may not be a good representation of the character - I'm not sure.

    Although this version of Hex seemed to be a tamed down version of the Hex we have seen in previous animated shows, this one is still a rootin' tootin' cowboy with an attitude. Obvious censor restrictions prevent Hex from really being a gunslinger and a bounty hunter, but the action was still plenty fun.

    Duel of the Double Crossers takes place in outer space and in the future. This may be odd for those expecting the Wild West, but strangely works for the episode. The combination of Hex, Batman, Mongul, War World, and the many aliens they encounter, work well in the context of the show and was not a shock to the system. If it was a shock to your system, you haven't watched enough Brave and the Bold.

    Even though this episode is completely outlandish, I feel compelled to ask a few questions. How is it possible that Batman, a normal human, was able to take down Mongul when even Superman had a problem doing so in Justice League?

    Has Batman been to every point in time? He knew Jonah Hex from a hundred years ago and he knew of War World even before Jonah mentioned it!

    Why didn't Batman send Hex through the time machine before destroying it?

    Why wasn't Mad Harriet amongst the rest of the Female Furies, and why were the Furies working for Mongal and not Apokolips?

    How does Jonah Hex whistle with that gaping hole in the side of his mouth?

    Many questions. But overall, this was a pretty enjoyable episode. You just need to get past how incredibly weird it is. And not weird as in Legends of the Dark Mite slapstick, surreal weird. Duel of the Double Crossers is just plain old strange. But that is why we like Batman: The Brave and the Bold.

    Back to Episode Guide

    Friday, June 12, 2009

    Weekend Round-Up - June 12-14

    Here is a list of new superhero cartoons debuting this weekend in the US:

    Friday, June 12, 2009
    Nicktoons, 8:00pm (ET/PT)
    Wolverine and the X-Men - eXessive Force

    The trail to Jean Grey's whereabouts leads Cyclops to the laboratory of Sinister, a mutant genetic scientist. But Cyclops may have more than he can handle without the X-Men to back him up.

    Friday, June 12, 2009
    Cartoon Network, 8:30pm (ET/PT)
    Batman: The Brave and the Bold - Duel of the Double Crossers!

    When Mongul recruits Jonah Hex to bring new gladiators to War World, the old west bounty hunter wrangles the Dark Knight. After a change of heart, Hex and Batman team up to take down the violent empire.

    Please note:
  • Iron Man: Armored Adventures will be taking a few weeks off of airing new episodes.

  • Here is a list of new superhero cartoons debuting this weekend in the Canada:

    Sunday, June 14, 2009
    Teletoon, 8:00am (ET/PT)
    Iron Man: Armored Adventures - Seeing Red

    Obadiah Stane defeats and captures Iron Man by forcing Project Pegasus to use an upgraded version of the Crimson Dynamo armor to take him down. With his systems in lockdown, Tony is helpless inside as his armor is taken apart and analyzed piece by piece.

    Please Note:
  • Batman: the Brave and the Bold is still airing reruns from the first season. No word yet when the new episodes will air.
  • The Prehistoric Pterodactyls

    Season: 1
    Episode Number: 2A
    Season Episode Number: 2A
    Production Number: Unknown
    Airdate: September 17, 1966

    Writer: Oscar Bensol
    Director: Hal Sutherland

    Voices: Jackson Beck (Narrator), Bud Collyer (Superman), Joan Alexander (Lois Lane), Unknown (Fighter Pilot, General, Cable Car Driver).

    Plot: Superman must save San Fransisco from two ancient pterodactyls.

    Review (Warning! Spoilers!): Not much in this episode worth noting, except that it is the first appearance of Lois Lane in this series. Her voice is provided by Joan Alexander who has previously voiced the intrepid reporter for a Superman radio program in the 30s.

    I couldn't help but notice how much blue is in this episode. Superman is mostly blue, the pterodactyls are blue, Lois is dressed in blue, and the majority of the scenes take place against the blue sky or the blue ocean.

    Since this show would have been primarily seen on black and white televisions, this may not be such a huge deal because the different shades of blue would translate well to black and white, but it is more noticeable in colour.

    I should note that Superman's costume is a very light blue in these early series. If you watch Superman on a black and white television, the dark blue of his costume would translate to pretty much the same shade of dark grey as the red in his cape. By changing his costume to light blue, there is a greater distinction between his unitard and his cape on black and white televisions.

    The best part of this episode is when Superman calls the pterodactyl "Pterry baby".

    DVD Releases:
  • The New Adventures of Superman

  • Back to Episode Guide