There are only a few pop culture and literary icons that could get me to go to a movie theater on a Monday night (unless it’s a holiday), and Batman is near the top of that list. The new animated film, BATMAN: THE KILLING JOKE, received a special limited release for two nights only, July 25th and 26th. Though my local movie house was one of those showing the film, they were only showing it on one of the two nights, thus a special Monday night viewing for your intrepid reporter. This film is one of those rare examples of an R-rated animated production. Even though clearly advertised as such, I’m betting some unobservant parents out there will bring their children, as we all know that anything animated must be for kids, right? Then they’ll get all huffy and offended. The Joker would find this amusing, I think, and I confess that I would too.

THE KILLING JOKE, the graphic novel written by Alan Moore with art by Brian Bolland, remains one of the finest Batman stories ever created, and also one of the most controversial. It’s the story that put Barbara Gordon in a wheelchair (though DC recently retconned her out of it) and hints at an assault of a decidedly sexual nature. Does the film match the quality of the comic? Ooooooh, yeah. The animation looks like the comic brought to life, the extraneous material added for the film supports rather than detracts from the production, and Mark Hamill’s Joker has never been better, or creepier. (If any of you still have doubts after watching this film about Hamill’s being an underrated, phenomenal talent, I recommend you check out the movie SUSHI GIRL. He is brilliant.) I wouldn’t have minded if they’d gone for an even edgier, harder R rating, though.

Remember the bad old days, the low water mark of the comics industry? Image had just launched, igniting the speculator market. Marvel, meanwhile, was greedily overprinting everything—QUASAR had his own ongoing series, for cryin’ out loud!—in an attempt to put all the smaller presses out of business. They largely succeeded, but managed to drive themselves into bankruptcy in the process. In the long run this was a good thing. New people took over the running of the company, people who actually cared about the quality of their product; this improved approach led to greater success and the eventual purchase by Disney. The rest is history, as they say. But does history have to repeat itself?

The dearth of quality is still absent from Marvel Comics today—for now. But look at all the new titles that are about to be published under the Marvel NOW initiative, books that don’t have a chance in hell of succeeding long-term: Solo; Prowler; Cage (again); Gwenpool (?!?); Slapstick; Foolkiller; etc. Is Marvel trying to glut the market again? Or have they reached a level of success where they are willing to experiment on riskier books and characters? I hope it isn’t the former. I would’ve hoped they’d learned their lesson on that one.

Marvel is like Crack, man. Or a case of poison ivy. You think you’re done with it, you think you’re over it, but it lures you back. The addiction comes back, and you start itching all over again. When I heard that Tony Stark was going to be replaced as Iron Man—AGAIN!—and that his replacement was going to be a teenage black girl, I said, that’s it. I’m done. No more Marvel for me. As excellent as the new CIVIL WAR II  storyline has been, I’m sick of this trend towards replacing prominent characters with younger upstarts of a different skin pigmentation. It’s pure tokenism. It’s forcing “diversity” when such things only work if they happen naturally. A black Cap (and some people want to make him a GAY Cap), a Korean Hulk, a female Thor (this one bothers me the least of the current “re-inventions” of classic heroes, as the original is still around), a black/Hispanic Spider-Man. And “NOW” they’re booting Tony Stark as Iron Man to shoehorn in some character with a history of barely six months. No thank you, I said. I’m out.

Then I find out that Dr. Doom, my favorite comics villain, who is SUPPOSEDLY reformed (yeah, right) will be putting on Tony’s armor and playing ANOTHER Iron Man. Oh, Marvel, you sneaky bastards. Fine. I WILL read THE INFAMOUS IRON MAN (aka Dr. Doom in Different Armor.) And I’ll probably love it. But I will NOT read Iron Man 90210. Not now, not ever.

In a sense, the Internet has ruined us. For all its gifts, it has brought new travails with it. Having all the information, the sum total of all human knowledge, right at our fingertips, is a blessing, but along with that blessing we have to put up with Internet trolls. We get our news reports in real time, literally as important events are happening, yet we can’t escape hearing about the Kardashians. You have to take the good with the bad. Let’s discuss the effects of having this ability to post one’s thoughts for all the world to see, with no filtration system and no minimum requirements concerning age or intelligence, on human behavior. It skews things. We get things like what I call the “Pile-On Effect.” Bashing a thing, a film, a celebrity, what have you, becomes a social construct. Such attacks are largely meaningless.

To point out the transience and irrelevance of such phenomena, I submit to you BATMAN VS. SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE. Hatin’ on it had become trendy long before the film opened in theaters. But honestly now, how many of those doing the hating had made their minds up before ever seeing the picture? How many had even SEEN the picture before writing their scathing “reviews” on Twitter or Facebook? Now the pendulum has swung, with the release of the R-rated version of Zack Snyder’s film. Those same people who were bashing it before are now praising it, blaming studio interference for perverting Snyder’s “vision.” It is now hip and trendy to reverse direction. Fickleness has become the new normal. The moral of this story: Don’t believe anything you read on the Internet. The Internet magnifies misinformation. It glorifies it.


Hey, look, everybody. I’ve found this week’s imbecile extraordinaire. You all may recall that nonsense last month where people, non-fans, or transient fans, people who watch the movies, maybe, but who have never picked up a comic book in their sheltered, shallow lives, were petitioning Marvel to make Captain America and Bucky a gay couple. I wasted no time in proclaiming the stupidity inherent in this idea, and hoped we had all heard the end of it. Alas, it was not to be. Someone recently asked the Winter Soldier himself, Sebastian Stan, what he thought of the matter. “Movies are for people to relate to in whatever way they want,” Stan said. “No one here is ever going to point a finger and say what’s right and wrong. For me, it’s like, Awww. It’s cute, it’s great. If someone takes the time to think about that, that’s great. I don’t think of the character that way, though.”

Yet the writer of this linked article wasted no time in announcing that Stan was “on board” with the idea and urged Marvel to “make this happen.” How in the holy hell can you interpret Stan’s comments as his being “on board” with the idea when he clearly stated that he does NOT see the characters’ relationship like that? Twisting his words to make him say what you want to hear, that’s what you’re doing. Nitwit.