Review: Gotham, ep. 1

So, Gotham…

When they first announced the series, I couldn’t muster much enthusiasm. What’s the point of a Batman show without Batman, you know? But in the time leading up to tonight’s premiere, I liked what I was seeing in terms of the cast, the tone, the direction. I didn’t have high hopes for it, but given my love of the source material, I was definitely…curious.

gotham

So what’s the short verdict? Well, based on the first episode, I have to say that I liked what I saw. I’m definitely in for the full season, provided the show survives the ratings game.

I originally thought that going with a straight-up adaptation of the Gotham Central series would have made for a more interesting show. But given that Warner Brothers would never have allowed Batman to appear in such a TV show, the producers definitely did the right thing by focusing on a prequel of sorts.

Having a young Detective James Gordon as the focal protagonist was a good move. He’s principled, headstrong, and tenacious; an easy hero figure to relate to amidst the moral ambiguity of a merciless metropolis. Having him partnered up with Bullock, an amoral, opportunistic, tortured anti-hero was also smart. I can see a great dynamic developing between the two characters, as they play off each other. In re-imagining the murder of Bruce Wayne’s parents as part of a larger conspiracy, the show has a nice mystery at its core, around which the various characters can come into conflict with each other.

Fish Mooney, the ambitious crime boss played with great verve by Jada Pinkett Smith, was definitely one of the pleasant surprises of the show. I was worried there would be the temptation to have her play an over-the-top type of villain, but I think Smith struck a nice balance between realism and comic book villainy.

gotham-jada-pinkett-smith

As for the other, better-known inhabitants of the Batman mythos (Catwoman, Poison Ivy, The Riddler), we only saw small glimpses, but I’m looking forward to seeing how they interact more with the ongoing story. In particular, I liked recasting The Riddler’s alter ego, Edward Nygma, as a police forensics scientist. Nice touch. And of course, there was the perfect casting of Robin Taylor in the role of The Penguin. I thought he struck the right kind of balance between sadistic thug and powerless victim. The bit with the broken leg was a nice touch, bringing in that body horror aspect of the character.

The-Gotham-TV-show-3

The writing was good, though not without some rough spots. The Gordon/Penguin scene at the end was very predictable, for example. But then again, every show, even the best ones, tend to have an uneven first few episodes, while the creators, cast, and crew are still trying to figure out the exact nature of their beast. But I think Gotham is off to a decent start, which isn’t exactly high praise, but it’s much better than what I thought FOX was going to deliver.

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    Indie Cover Spotlight: Unicorn Isle #5

    Since I kicked off the week with an 80s fantasy comic, I figured I’d stick to the theme, so here’s the cover to Unicorn Isle #5:

    UnicornIsle5

    Cover art by Nicholas Koenig, published May 1987 by Apple Comics (issue 1 & 2 came out through WaRP Graphics). I know nothing about this series, though. And I have a feeling it never completed its planned 12-issue run.

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      Meet me at the Ohio River Festival of Books 9/20

      I will be a guest this Saturday, September 20 at the Ohio River Festival of Books, at the Big Sandy Convention Center in Huntington, WV ‎.

      There are programs throughout the week, though, including the Keynote event on Friday, September 19, at 6:30 p.m. with Marc Brown, author of the bestselling Arthur books, as well as the creator of the six-time Emmy Award–winning (with 17 nominations) PBS animated Arthur series. Featured authors will include Craig Johnson, S.G. Redling, Bethany Griffin, Anna Smucker, and many others.

      I will be presenting a panel titled “A Beginner’s Guide to Creating Comics and Graphic Novels” on Saturday, from 2:30 – 3:45 p.m.

      Dara Naraghi

      The event is free to the public, and also features music and activities for kids. Be sure to check their website for the full schedule of panels, signing authors, and other events.

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        Splash Wednesday: J.H. Williams III, Walt Simonson, John Buscema

        So my friend Matt Kish has been posting some cool splash pages from older comics on his Facebook page lately. This reminded me of a weekly feature we used to have on my old Ferret Press blog called Splash Wednesday, which was originated by another fellow PANEL Collective member, Craig Bogart. Matt suggested I resurrect that feature on my blog.

        So here we are.

        Every Wednesday, I’ll feature a new splash page, plus one from the Ferret Press archives (we had 97 posts in that category, so I’ve got plenty of material!) And since this is the inaugural post in the new(ish) feature, I’m going to do you one better and throw in a 3rd page as well. Don’t ever say I did nuthin’ for ya!

        Kicking off the new stuff is the breathtaking art of J.H. Williams III, from Batwoman #16:

        BW16_03

        Next up, a page contributed by the aforementioned Mr. Kish. This is a double-page splash from The Mighty Thor #380, the classic all-splash-page issue by the legendary Walt Simonson:

        themightythor380_page02and03_waltsimonson

        And finally, here’s a classic Splash Wednesday page from May 5, 2010, with original commentary by Mr. Craig Bogart:

        A long while ago I commented on the overuse of splash pages to pad a book that is light on story. Most new comics I’ve seen have half a dozen full page pinup shots whose sole aim is to rob the reader of additional story, and no moment in a story is too mundane to get the full page treatment. While reading an older book the other day I was reminded that splash pages can be kinda cool if they’re used for an actual dramatic moment or to showcase an outstanding piece of artwork. So, I had the notion to start another weekly blog feature: Splash Wednesday.

        Our first entry is from the comic that got me started on this line of thinking: Thor # 237 by John Buscema. Behold Hercules averting disaster at Coney Island in the form of a falling ferris wheel.

        image1-2

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          Indie Cover Spotlight: Dragon Of The Valkyr #4

          Starting this week, the ICS feature will be moving to a Tue/Thr update schedule, so I can free up Wednesday for a new (old) feature. What could it be? Tune in tomorrow and find out!

          Today’s cover is from a black-and-white fantasy comic titled Dragon Of The Valkyr, published in the mid-80s by RAK Graphics:

          DragonOfTheValkyr4

          That’s the same publisher of these previously featured comics.

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            So Hollywood wants to make a movie from your comic book property

            I love behind-the-scenes type posts from pros. On his blog, British writer Pat Mills (co-creator of Marshal Law, amongst many others) talks about some of his misadventures in Hollywood. Here’s a snippet:

            “Then there was the boss of a media company that’s a household name who ‘definitely’ wanted to do a whole range of projects featuring my characters, including Marshal Law. They were ‘very, very serious’. This time there was ‘definitely no bullshit’. Lots of time-consuming meetings and presentations ensued. This was followed by sending me some really expensive and impressive state of the art gear. It would be relevant for the projects they had in mind for me. So that made me think, wow, they must be serious! Six months went by with no news and no response to my emails and I finally realised it was dead. But I think I won on that one. I got a good price for all that gear at Cash Converters.”

            ml-005

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              Indie Cover Spotlight: Heart of Empire #1

              Another Dark Horse Comics in the spotlight today, this time the amazingly talented and under-appreciated cartoonist, Bryan Talbot’s Heart of Empire: The Legacy of Luther Arkwright.

              HeartofEmpire1

              Published in 1999, this was a sequel to Talbot’s The Adventures of Luther Arkwright, originally published in Englad in 1987 by Valkyrie Press, and later reprinted by Dark Horse in 1990.

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                Want to be an editor for Vertigo?

                If you’ve ever wondered what the qualifications are for an editor at DC/Vertigo, here you go:

                Editor
                DC Entertainment – Burbank, CA
                SUMMARY OF POSITION
                DC Comics seeks an Editor for the Editorial-Vertigo department. Manages a line of editorial product within the Vertigo imprint.

                JOB RESPONSIBILITIES
                Performs full editorial function for a minimum of 4 monthly titles.
                Manages the creative process from conception through publication. Ensures that schedules and budgets are met and product quality is at or above Vertigo’s standards. Seeks ways to keep ongoing series fresh and exciting.
                Identifies and develops new editorial products for Vertigo.
                Identifies potential new talent and maintains relationships with current talent.
                Ensures that other DCE staff members have the materials required to maximize service to the product.
                Writes solicitation copy for monthly publications
                Supervise and develop a junior staff member.
                Performs other related duties as assigned.

                JOB REQUIREMENTS
                BA/BS degree in English, Journalism or Communications preferred.
                3-5 years editorial experience, comic books/graphic novels preferred.
                Ability to manage a creative team.
                Knowledge of comic book industry strongly preferred.
                Knowledge of art (ability to discuss composition, design, etc…) required.
                Copyediting and proofreading skills preferred.
                Ability to meet deadlines required.
                Ability to communicate effectively both verbally and in writing required.
                Ability for some light travel strongly preferred.
                Must have the ability to communicate effectively and tactfully with managers and other levels of personnel.
                Must have the ability to pay close attention to details.
                Must have the ability to organize.
                Must have the ability to work well under time constraints.
                Must have the ability to handle multiple tasks.
                Must have the ability to meet deadlines, manage multiple project elements simultaneously.
                MAC /PC proficiency required.
                Domestic travel up to 5%.

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                  Indie Cover Spotlight: The Blue Lily #2

                  An unknown mini-series from Dark Horse Comics, back in 1993: The Blue Lily.

                  BlueLily2

                  Created, written, and drawn by Angus McKie, featuring the character Rusty Spade, Metaphysical Metal Detective. Each issue was 48 pages, in the “prestige format”. I remember enjoying the heck out of it, but if memory serves me right, it was supposed to be a 4 issue series, but only 2 issues were ever published.

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                    Review: The Losers (movie)


                    Zoe Saldana!
                    Chris Evans!
                    Idris Elba!
                    Jeffrey Dean Morgan!

                    All good actors. All very likeable and popular actors. None of them a stranger to genre films, especially comic book-based ones. All doing a good job with the script they were handed.

                    And therein lies the problem. It’s a terrible script, full of suck.

                    Thank goodness I borrowed this film from the library, because while I ended up wasting my time, at least I didn’t waste any money on it. Based on the Vertigo series of the same name by Andy Diggle and Jock, it was a flop at the theaters, and I’m here to tell you there’s a good reason for it.

                    It sucks.

                    And not in that “they changed it so much from the source material” way that usually makes comic nerds upset. No, in the “wholly unoriginal, cliche-filled turd” way.

                    God, what a horrible waste of money and talent. If you were going to make a shitty mid-80s action flick with bullshit macho dialogue, an unbelievably over-the-top evil bad guy, and an ending that’s the biggest “f*** you” to the audience who invested their money and time in this thing, why even waste a penny “optioning” a property? Just make your shitty movie, call it Extreme Patriots or Double Cross in Bolivia or Gunfight in L.A., release it straight to DVD, and save yourself the embarrassment, not to mention about $20 million off the budget.

                    The-Losers-Team

                    I should have stopped watching, when in the first 20 minutes of the movie, the bad guy, CIA insider “Max”, proves he’s indeed bad by a) asking our CIA covert ops protagonists go ahead with the bombing of a drug dealer’s compound, even after they find out he has 25 innocent kids on the premises, b) having a US jet fighter shoot down a US helicopter evacuating said 25 innocent children, killing them all, and c) thinking he’s killed our heroes, who have been serving their country selflessly. But wait, there’s more! As if that wasn’t enough to convince you he’s really, really bad, there’s a scene where he’s walking on a beach, and has an attractive female assistant carrying an umbrella to shade him from the sun. But when a gust of wind blows the umbrella away for just a split second, and the assistant apologizes instantly, Max grabs a gun and shoots her! Because, you see, he’s a bad guy. A real bad guy.

                    But wait, there’s even more! So the entire point of the movie is that our heroes are on a quest for revenge, trying to expose Max’s slimy, evil ways, and restoring their good names so they can get their old lives back, but…

                    SPOILER ALERT (not that you care)
                    .
                    .
                    .
                    .
                    .
                    .
                    .
                    .
                    .

                    Max gets away in the end. There is no closure. It’s just one huge, open-ended, “let’s set it up for a sequel” ending.

                    As in: “f*** you, audience, for expecting a resolution.”

                    So in that same spirit, a hearty f*** you to Peter Berg and James Vanderbilt, who wrote the bullshit screenplay for this movie, and all the assholes involved in greenlighting and making this movie.

                    What a complete waste.

                    (A version of this review appeared on my old Ferret Press blog on January 12, 2011)

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