Monday, May 30, 2005

Read all about it...

The countdown to Batman Begins continues, and for the last month I've been meaning to post an entry here about the "Batman Movie Issue" (#164) of Wizard, which is still on the stands as I write, though no longer hot off the press. It's a must-own, if you ask me.

In the process of looking for a URL to post for the issue, I came across this story from 2003 in which three out gay comics writers do a "Queer Eye"-style makeover of several characters, which is also worth checking out. I have a funny feeling I already wrote about this, but it seems unlikely--I only read fanboy magazines when it looks like there' s going to be something major about something that really excites me. And the couture of the Martian Manhunter is not one of those subjects.

But the release of this new bat-movie is, so I'm eagerly scanning the magazine racks for more, like the recent cover shot in Premiere. (Accompanying article doesn't strike me as essential.) Thanks to corporate synergy, there should be branding aplenty in the next few weeks. Bring it on, I say!

Friday, May 06, 2005

Knightfall 18: I've Got You Under My Skin

I keep thinking I need a new title for these recurring reports on the Monk saga. After all, I'm free of his clutches at last; I'm a new (Bat)man!

At least for now. I feel absolutely great--stronger, clearer than ever regarding my identity as a hero. But--as I expected--there are still lingering traces of his influence over me. While withdrawal hasn't been nearly as painful as I'd assumed it would be, it's still a struggle sometimes. And I've been lucky to have been so busy in my daylight life that I haven't had much chance to think about the other one. Sooner or later real-world obligations will let up, and that's when I'm most vulnerable. (To the Monk, at least. But actually I've noticed that the "ratself" tends to be strongest at precisely those moments when I'm most stressed out--tired, open to self-doubt, etc.)

Tonight I suited up, as I've been doing as often as possible lately (and let me tell you: it feels damn good to be back in that uniform), and one of my colleagues--the one whose capture by the Monk I am directly responsible for--wanted to see me on camera. "Man, you even look like him now," he said.

That was creepy, because I'd had exactly the same thought when I looked at myself in the mirror with the mask on a few days ago. The new one is a tight fit, and it contorts my features in a way that distinctly recalls my archenemy's face. It was almost as if I was looking at him--as if he really was "inside" me, as he'd insisted was the case. I told myself at the time that it was just my imagination--after all, the Monk's parting words to me were intended to fuck with my head and convince me that this newfound "freedom" was really just a new form of captivity, that I was simply doing exactly what he wanted me to do by reclaiming my old identity. But I admit it's an effective mindfuck.

Speaking of which, have I ever unleashed my spiel here about how amusing I've always found those classified ads that demand "no game players"? While it's true that I don't really want to be jerked around by a real-life partner, in this particular fantasy realm, what I'm looking for is an excellent game player--since this is, after all, a game at its very core. And when you get right down to it, aren't most human interactions one sort of game or another? In any case, the man beneath the Monk is one of the best--no, the best--I've ever encountered, and obviously I miss the regular interactions with him I once enjoyed, as I figured I would. But something tells me he's not gone for good.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Batsignals in the air

I must say I've really been enjoying gazing at the cover of the current Entertainment Weekly for the last several days, what with its tantalizing glimpse at the new movie batsuit. (I can't find an image of it to link to, but here's an illustrated excerpt of the article inside.)

I'm looking forward to the new film, though not the prospect of sitting through another origin story. (As I've written here many times before, those are my least favorite plotlines in general, and I haven't been totally happy with any of the big-budget batfilms thus far, although each has had an appealing aspect or two.) I just read somewhere that Bale has signed on to do three movies, which bodes well, even if I haven't seen anything resembling the batmania that preceded the first Burton/Keaton film in advance of this one. Which may not be such a bad thing.

Speaking of the Burton version, it's interesting, isn't it, how everyone now seems to take for granted that the outfit must be black rubbery stuff rather than the tights of old. Time for another mini-rant about how I wish for once a studio would cast a buff stud, preferably an unknown, and suit him up in spandex. I'm too tired at the moment to flesh out this argument for the millionth time, but let me just say that I've never bought the argument that a heavy, cumbersome rubber body armor ensemble is any more "realistic" than a skintight lycra unitard. For one thing, I'm not really looking for realism here, folks. (And, for the record, do you really want to be wearing a getup that weighs a ton, severely restricts your peripheral vision, and causes you to sweat like a pig when you're out there fighting the baddies?) For that matter, call me a traditionalist, but I'm way less interested in the B. Wayne side of the character than the Batman side (which is one of my many beefs against the earlier films, too--more attention paid to Wayne and the villains than to the title character). Face it, if this guy didn't lead a double life as a masked vigilante, his story would not carry much interest for anybody. I prefer the notion perpetuated in the '66 TV show and innumerable comic book versions, that his Wayne guise is simply a convenient means to an end--it affords Batman the bucks to pursue his night job, and gives him access to certain realms he wouldn't otherwise possess.

But enough of this talk. Since we live in an age of corporate crossover, a new batfilm brings with it the promise of tie-ins aplenty. (Starting with that EW cover--a wholly owned subsidiary of Time/Warner, of course.) In the last few weeks I've come across a new paperback reissue of classic Scarecrow stories, a pricey hardcover compilation of comic book cover art (with an entire chapter devoted to deathtraps old and new), and--most exciting of all--a trade paperback Batman Handbook along the lines of the recent fad for "Worst Case Scenario" books. Gone are the days of disclaimers warning purchasers of batman costumes that they are not Batman; this thing actually tells you how to do what your favorite fictional superhero does, detail by detail, lawsuits be damned. (Speaking of costumes, Halloween is bound to be more interesting this year.) Rest assured I'll be snagging a copy of the Handbook myself soon and surely writing about it here. The illustrations alone are worth the price.

In the meantime, I can't get enough of the glimpses of the new Caped Crusader popping up in other magazines, too. Gonna be a hot summer, yes indeed.