Friday, February 11, 2011

We've Moved!

After over a year and a half of loving service, I am leaving Blogger for my new home! Please meet me over at! I'll see you there!

Friday, February 4, 2011

CBR Interview with BtO-Friend Bryan Q. Miller

Taken from CBR:

When Bruce Wayne returned and secretly confronted his cohorts during DC Comics' "The Road Home" series of one-shots, testing their abilities and in essence their right to wear the Bat Symbol, current Batgirl Stephanie Brown responded in a way that surprised everyone -- including herself -- and simultaneously asserted herself worthy of the mantle. She slapped Batman in the face.

Daughter of the small-time criminal Cluemaster, Stephanie first introduced herself to the Bat Family as the rookie crime-fighter known as Spoiler, acting against her father's wishes and eventually alongside the dynamic duo. She went on to not only form a romantic relationship with then-Robin Tim Drake, but eventually donned the Robin costume herself for a brief period of time. After an apparent -- but later revealed as faked -- death, Stephanie disappeared from the Bat books for a while, resurfacing during the "Resurrection of Ra's al Ghul" crossover once again under the Spoiler identity. However, Steph graduated to the big leagues after Bruce Wayne's "death," taking on the role of the newest Batgirl in her very own ongoing series.

Since donning on the cape and cowl, Stephanie has formed a close relationship with both former Batgirl Barbara Gordon and daughter of the supervillain The Calculator, Wendy Harris, both of whom act as her point women during missions. To complicate matters, along with her nights as Batgirl, Steph spends her days as a college student while desperately attempting to keep both identities in balance.

As THE BAT SIGNAL lights the metaphorical skies of Comic Book Resources once again, "Batgirl" writer Bryan Q. Miller answers the call to give the rundown on his plans for the title in the coming months, what makes Stephanie Brown a relatable character and why readers won't be seeing her pulling up to school in a brand new Ferrari anytime soon.

CBR News: With Bruce's return, Stephanie is still doing her thing. She's much more confident in the role of Batgirl, but still maintains her self-deprecating sense of humor. What can you say about where you'll be taking the character and what we'll be seeing from her?

Bryan Q. Miller: Moving forward, not specifically in issue #17 and #18 because they're a little more separate from the larger arc, now that she knows who she is as Batgirl and she's finally comfortable with the life she has, there'll be the challenge for her of that world that she has become comfortable with changing around her. It's going to be her trying to maintain her position, her status, not just in her own life but in her relationship with her mother and her relationship with Barbara. Gail [Simone] has the "Death of Oracle" thing happening, which will impact how Team Batgirl works. She's got that murder rap as well, put on her by the cloister of rogues from issue #15 and #16. Even though she was cleared, there will still be repercussions from that happening. She's finally comfortable, but the world will be throwing that back in her face. "How important is it for you to stay who you are?" It's her navigating a sea of change as the year goes forward.

Series artist Dustin Ngyuen's cover for "Batgirl" #21

Nothing ever comes easy for Stephanie, it seems.

No, no. If it was all easy for her, what fun would that be?

Artist Dustin Nguyen came onto the title in a grand way with issue #15. I wanted to talk about the opening three pages to that issue, which gained a lot of talk for it's adorable and yet concise recap of the history of the Bat Family. How did that segment come together?

I was trying to take advantage of a valuable resource. [Laughs] Knowing that it was going to be Dustin's first issue on the book and how much people do love his Lil' Gotham stuff -- if you ever see Dustin at any conventions, almost all people want are little chibi drawings -- it was a really good way to frame a jumping on point to catch people up who haven't been with the book or who haven't been with the Batman saga to understand everything. Also, I knew it was going to be something that would be published in previews for the book, so that style and that kind of collection of images would go out to the world and get people's attention. And he knocked it out of the park. So, it was a good internal storytelling device and hopefully an effective marketing tool to say, "Look, Dustin Nguyen's over here." Also, it's awesome.

"Batgirl" has a pretty great cast already between the new characters introduced through Stephanie at college and Team Batgirl with Oracle and Wendy. But throughout the first year and even now, we've seen guest appearances from other characters from the greater DCU. Is this something you'll be continuing in the coming year?

A little bit of both. We spent a lot of time, if not all of last year, with Stephanie proving to the everybody in the Bat Family, all the Gotham heroes, why she deserves to be Batgirl, why she should be Batgirl and why she was right for the job. That presented a very natural way to get all of the Gotham folks into the book. It helps brings in other readers from other titles as well, so they can see their favorite characters interacting with Stephanie. This year, we've got Damian again, of course, and he's always a kick to write. There will be a few issues where Blue Beetle will come in to help with the story. So, in that sense, it's broadening her support network outside of the Bat Family. It'll be other heroes of approximate the same age, to which she can relate, who exist out there in the world. It's not just her and Supergirl. Although we did have that fun issue with her and Kara taking on all the Draculas last year. But aside from that, it'll be her dealing with the threat of the Order of the Scythe that presented themselves in issue #15 and #16. That's kind of the spine of the arc for this year. They're the instrument of change in her year going forward.

One of the interesting aspects of "Batgirl" is that you put a pretty big focus on Stephanie's personal life as a teenager and student, as much as you do her life as Batgirl. Where did that want come from, the idea to include that aspect as such as big part of the title?

I think the want and the need to do that comes from wanting to make Stephanie an everyman and as accessible as possible. It's very easy to give one's self over to just doing the hero stuff all the time. But with just the hero stuff all the time, there's not that much to latch on to. How much of us have run from rooftop to rooftop or have fought someone who shoots laser beams from their fingertips? Whereas lots of people can say, "Yes, I have fallen asleep in class," or, "Yes, I have been late on a report before," or, "I have tried to make my relationship work with my boyfriend and girlfriend or with family." It's one of those things to try and make Stephanie as accessible as possible, so folks can find a hero that's like someone they know or they wish they were.

You touched on this earlier, but I want to come back to it because it warrants further discussion. Oracle has been a big part of this book, so how much effect can readers expect the current "Death of Oracle" storyline to have on "Batgirl?"

Honestly, there's nothing I can say to it that's within my rights to say because it's going on over in Gail's "Birds of Prey." But it definitely will have an impact on how Team Batgirl works. I can say that.

Besides Oracle, there is Wendy, the daughter of the villain Calculator, who you've made into a very integral part of this title. Some people see her as Oracle Junior, but what can you say about your plans for her and the role she'll be playing moving forward?

Batgirl faces off against the Order of the Scythe in coming issues of her series

It's very easy to just say Proxy is Oracle Lite or Oracle Junior because she is good with computers and she is very smart and she is in a wheelchair. So, there are an alarmingly similar number of characteristics between them. However -- and I'm pointing my finger in the air here -- what hopefully will become more apparent as the year moves forward is, she goes about things very differently than Oracle. She's not come to terms with her condition in the same way Oracle has and Wendy has a bit of a temper that Barbara Gordon does not. She's very much a hothead. She's very aggressive. She's very much by the book. So, she and Stephanie, because they both have criminal fathers, are kindred spirits to an extent. But at the same time, they're not going to get along as easily as Stephanie and Babs did once they got through their Batgirl related baggage. It's a very different relationship and hopefully that will become more apparent as we go forward.

Looking at the current arc, as you mentioned, it doesn't completely tie in with the rest of the year's story but instead shares loose ties with "Batman, Inc." How much will that series and those plans be influencing your stories?

Not too much. I believe Batgirl is going to show up in Grant's side of the fence for another mission at some point. So, aside from some new toys from the official Bruce Wayne money coming their way -- new upgrades and new weapons and new computers -- it won't impact the storytelling very much.

It's too bad that with that Bruce Wayne money, it all has to go to the Batgirl side of things. Stephanie can't treat herself to a Ferrari or something.

No she can't. She doesn't actually get paid for being Batgirl. She and her mom live a very modest kind of life. So, that's certainly something that could come up at some point. But the title's spine this year is more about catching the guys that blamed her for murder and killed an innocent student than it is gallivanting about on international missions of intrigue.

Obviously, you have this year planned out, but what about beyond 2011? Some writers plan out years and years ahead for stories. How far do your plans reach for Stephanie and "Batgirl?"

I would say that barring whether something turns into a two-part or three-part issues, I've got safely tucked away coming out of the finale of this "Order of the Scythe" arc, probably at least another year or two. But that's what I have planned out. There's always potential for more!

BoP and Batgirl Preview Art

Thanks to Zaius for these wonderful news bits! Kimberley may soon be out of a job!!!

Taken from DC Universe: The Source:

A few ghosts from Dinah Lance’s past have come back to haunt her in the penultimate chapter of Birds of Prey’s “Death of Oracle” storyline. Can Batman and Oracle save her from an inescapable nightmare?

BIRDS OF PREY #9 is on sale February 9th.

Click the link above to see more images!

Also taken from The Source:

Dustin Nguyen’s given us some amazing Batgirl covers, and he’s also given us some REALLY amazing BATGIRL covers - this shot of Batgirl perched in front of an exquisitely-detailed stained glass window is one of my favorites yet.

BATGIRL #21 hits stores in May.

I love this cover! It really shows Stephanie's colorful nature, as well as just being beautiful!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker Coming to BluRay

Taken from TVShowsonDVD:

    The greatest villain of all comes out of the past to threaten Batman, Bruce Wayne and all of Gotham City in Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker, the first feature-length Batman Beyond movie. The sleeker, deadlier and seemingly immortal Clown Prince of Crime is back with his own unique brand of havoc and mayhem. While trying to uncover the Joker's secrets, the new Batman, Terry McGinnis, discovers the greatest mystery in the life of the original Caped Crusader: What happened the night he fought the Joker for the last time. When Bruce Wayne is almost killed in one of the Joker's latest attacks, Batman vows to avenge his mentor and put the Joker to rest forever. Get ready for heart-stomping action, awesomeadventure and amazing revelations in Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker.
On December 12, 2000, Warner Home Video released a direct-to-video DVD titled Batman Beyond - Return of the Joker, bringing a "post-series" story to home video about two-thirds of the way through the show's third and last season, BEFORE the series actually had a broadcast finale (event shown in this tory were also tied in to a couple of later-produced episodes of Justice League Unlimited). But that was not even the most unusual thing about the title, though! The word got out, even before the DVD was in stores, that the new feature was not only edited to remove some controversial scenes of violence, but also reformatted from the original widescreen video aspect ratio to the then-standard (at the time) 1.33:1 "full screen" format.

A grassroots fan campaign soon followed, and grew in popularity until Warner Home Video finally decided to revisit the title with an upgraded release, which became available on April 23, 2002. "Batman Beyond - Return of the Joker: The Original, Uncut Version" on DVD brought fans the missing minute-or-so of intense footage, and also returned the production to the director's vision by presenting it in a letterboxed widescreen format (despite the fact that the original snap-case box indicated it was 'standard", i.e. full screen). The new release was submitted by Warner to the MPAA, which gave this edit of the production a PG-13 ("Parents Strongly Cautioned: Some Material May Be Inappropriate For Children Under 13") rating. Note, too, that both versions of the title were originally released in Warner's old-style "snapper" cardboard-and-plastic cases, and were later re-issued by the studio in fully-plastic "keepcase" packages.

It's worth mentioning here, briefly, that all of these historical events we're describing here started before TVShowsOnDVD existed, and concluded when our site was just a handful of months old. So if you look in old news posts for this, you won't find it: we simply didn't cover it! Still, based on our site's coverage guidelines over the years we've been around, we certainly would have done so if we had been there at the time! So we want to chime in now, with the latest events for this decade-old production.

Today Warner Home Video has announced that they are releasing Batman Beyond - Return of the Joker on high-definition Blu-ray Disc this coming April 5th. The single-disc release is rated PG-13, so even though the subtitle of "The Original, Uncut Version" is missing from this new release, it's easy to jump to the conclusion that this will include the controversial scenes. However, it's worth pointing out that the rear package art (shown at the bottom of this story) also mentions a running time of 76 minutes, which matches the first (edited) DVD version of the title. AND the same rear box art says the video presentation is "1080p High Definition 4x3 1.33:1" (i.e., the old "standard full-frame" aspect ratio, just like the first DVD release was, except in high-def). That certainly makes us wonder which edit of the feature will be included here. However, at the top of the rear box art it DOES say quite plainly that this is "the original uncut version", so we're trusting that description to be accurate.

Audio soundtracks included on this Blu version include DTS-HD MA: English 5.1, Dolby Digital: French 2.0 and Spanish 2.0. Also on board are Subtitles in English "SDH", plus French and Spanish. Bonus material on the new release was all previously seen on the DVD versions: Commentary by the Filmmakers, "Batman Beyond: The Legend Lives" Featurette, Animation Tests, Animated Character Bios, and Mephisto Odyssey Crash Music Video Featuring Static X. Cost for this high-def release is $19.98 SRP. Here's a look at the package art, both front and back:

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Batgirl News: Praise and a Sneak Peak

Over at DCU's The Source:

Bryan Q. Miller’s , Dustin Nguyen’s and Pere Perez’s last few issues of BATGIRL have seen a ton of love from the critics lately, and it couldn’t be going to a more fun-to-read book. If you’ve been skipping out on this one, maybe a few of these reviews will help pull you in…

Joey Esposito at IGN Comics gave Batgirl #17 a stellar 9.5 rating:

“I’ve been enjoying Batgirl for a while now, but issue #17 has completely uprooted my expectations for the series. Maybe it’s the interplay between the two characters, the perfectly constructed jokes, or the utter enjoyment I get from Damian Wayne in general, but Batgirl #17 is unapproachable as the best book I’ve read this week.”

… While iFanboy gave the issue their coveted “pick of the week”:

“Batgirl #17 is a comic book rarity these days. It tells a complete story that is compelling, emotional, and not lacking action, and it does it all in just 22 pages. I’ve talked a lot about Batgirl over the last year, it truly is one of my favorite titles, and if you have at all wondered about the book, if you have at all thought about giving it a shot, then I urge you to check this one out. You don’t have to know anything; you don’t have to be following any storylines here or anywhere else. Batgirl #17 is just two great characters playing off each other while solving a crime and reading it was by far the most fun I had with my comics this week.”

And last, but far from least, Ain’t It Cool News gave issue #16 a spotlight review, with all sorts of nice things to say about the book:

“Charming… funny… and a glowing reminder that even the darkest legacies work towards the hope of a brighter future … [a] fantastic issue”

Have you been reading the series? What do you think?

And...Dustin Nguyen's cover for Batgirl #20 is revealed, as well as some information on the issue!

With Oracle out of the picture, Batgirl and Proxy must throw everything they’ve got at the super-fast villain Slipstream.

And by throwing everything, we mean everything - including Batgirl’s new car, as seen in Dustin Nguyen’s cover to April’s BATGIRL #20.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Episode 16:

To begin the episode, I tell what I had done for Christmas break, and I talk about the recent goings-on at my workplace. I introduce two new segments, Zaius's Radio Hour and Babs in the Tube, and review Detective Comics #412 and #413, Batgirl #16, and Birds of Prey #7. I then finish up this post-holiday episode with my literature recommendation!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Hey, That's My Cape! The Batman Animated Series That Never Was

Taken from a recent article:

What if Bruce Wayne never got privately tutored or went to boarding school but attended a regular public high school instead? And what if those halls were filled with teenagers plotting the demise of the student body or scheming to steal bake sale profits? Well, you’d have something called Gotham High.

We don’t usually hear about the failed or passed over projects being developed by networks but every once in a while someone reveals a gem that fell through the cracks. Seemingly spotted first by Nerd Bastards, the brainchild of Jeffrey Thomas and Celeste Green, Gotham High (or what we assume would have been called that) is the unrealized animated series that fell through DC’s hands. Saved By The Bat Signal anyone?Thomas and Green revealed their secret project last week on their blog. They were approached about a year and a half ago to create a series based on an illustration Thomas made depicting The Joker and Harley Quinn as high school students. They sent their ideas, including several other outstanding drawings to DC but it wound up, in their words, getting “lost in the sea of all the other Batman related projects in the works.” And I think it’s a damn shame because Thomas is an amazing artist and the synopsis sounds like it had real potential.

The plot is as follows, “We all go through incredible changes as teenagers: growth spurts, bad skin, a sudden insatiable need to uphold justice and avenge your murdered parents.... Well, that is if you’re Bruce Wayne. As if being a freshman at Gotham High wasn’t tough enough, Bruce’s insomnia and technological fascinations are taking their toll. Instead of spending his time studying, he has begun to obsess over an emerging personality trait: Batman. But under the watchful eye of his guardian and steward, Alfred Pennyworth, Bruce is forced to put his intelligence to good use: graduating high school. But given his classmates, can Bruce survive Gotham High?”

Although a lot of people would easily compare this to Smallville, oddly enough, it reminds me of Boy Meets World for some reason. As seen through the illustrations, the cast would have included Bruce, Batgirl, The Riddler, Penguin, Scarecrow, Clayface, Killer Croc (one of the more unusual students of Gotham high to be sure), Catwoman, Two-Face, The Joker, Harley Quinn, Bane, Poison Ivy and Mr. Freeze. He’s not mentioned but Commissioner Gordon could totally be the Principal and I hope to god Jeremiah Arkham would have been the school nurse.

The preview images Thomas and Green produces show us several hilarious setups that would
be just perfect for the screen. Bruce playing football with Ivy and Harley as cheerleaders, Penguin and the Riddler being bullied by Croc and Bain, Batgirl hiding a secret crush on Bruce who’s being seduced by Catwoman and Two-Face and Ivy running for Student Council President. Ivy’s motto? “Vote for Ivy: “I’m hot, he’s not.” No voting for Harvey Dent this time around.

I think it would have been really interesting to see Bruce pre-I-know-everything-I’m-the-goddamn-Batman and just getting into hijinks with that crew. Could it be possible that Young Justice is what got in the way of Gotham High making its debut? It’s very possible considering both contain teenage characters. It would be sort of redundant to have two shows like that on at the same time but I still feel this would be the stronger product. Sure, Young Justice is the tried and true material but it’s also not much different to what we’ve seen before. I’m not saying it will be bad, I would just have liked to see something out of the ordinary. I mean, the possibilities are almost endless with a story and cast Gotham High would present.

What do you think? Wanna see Batman being completely awkward and out of place in high school? How about seeing the Joker poisoning the lunchroom on Sloppy Joe day? Should Gotham High still get its curriculum approved?

Wow, this would have been a really inventive/cute show. I'm would liken it to X-Men: Evolution which also took place in and out of high school. The only thing I disagree with is A) Babs has blue eyes and B) SHE HAS A CRUSH ON BRUCE?! Come now, this is just a strange set up and we all know that Babs is meant to be with Dick!