Q: Why is it that Robin has endured as Batman's teen sidekick, but Jimmy Olsen hasn't as Superman's? -- @doubting_tom
A: I don't know why, but for some reason, I got a lot of questions this week about sidekicks in general and Robin in particular, but this one stuck out for a pretty obvious reason, which is that I really, really like to talk about Jimmy Olsen. It's weird, though, Tom, because you're absolutely right: As much as I might love the guy, he's often ignored in and minimized in superhero stories, something that doesn't happen a lot to someone who was once a fixture of the cast who was popular enough to hold down a solo title for 150 issues. Meanwhile, we're up to our pointy bat ears in Robins, ex-Robins, dead Robins, potential Robins and Future Robins. It seems a little imbalanced.
But at the same time, there's definitely a logic to it, and there are a lot of reasons that those two characters have ended up how they did. It has to do with when they showed up, the role they fill in the story, how they've changed over the years, and the idea that maybe Jimmy Olsen isn't really a sidekick at all.
From the It's About Darn Time Department: In the midst of a renewed push that includes licensed toys and comics, Warner Brothers has confirmed that Batman, the 1966 television show starring Adam West and BurtWard, will be released on home video some time this year. To say that this is pretty welcome news around here at ComicsAlliance is understating things quite a bit, since some of us have been waiting decades for a complete series set of Batman.
It's not entirely surprising news, though. With the licensing we've seen from the show over the past year, it felt like it was only a matter of time before everything was sorted out between Fox (the producers of the TV show) and WB (who own DC Comics and, therefore, Batman) to get the actual show back in the hands of fans. What is pretty surprising, however, is that the news was broken by Conan O'Brien on Twitter. Really.
Directed by Bruce Timm and Eric Radomski, Batman: Mask of the Phantasm is a theatrical extension of their award-winning work on Batman: The Animated Series which finds Batman on the trail of a lethal new villain for whose crimes he has been wrongly given the blame, and whose identity and motives strike hard into the heart of Gotham City’s protector. The film is equal parts mystery, action and romance, and enhanced by riveting music, truly emotional vocal performances and exquisite animation and art direction like no other American animated feature. Indeed, legendary film critics Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert actually apologized to their television audience for not reviewing Mask of the Phantasm when it was released in theaters (lousy promotion caused them to mistake it for a compilation of episodes from the animated series) and heaped effusive praise on the film and its principals. The 1993 film remains the only animated Batman feature released cinematically.
This past Christmas marked the 20th anniversary Mask of the Phantasm, a film that’s arguably its creators’ most perfect expression of their enduringly influential vision of DC Comics’ dark knight — a vision that many believe is the most perfect expression of Batman in any medium. While Warner Bros. has yet to announce any plans for a high definition reissue or any other offerings connected with the special occasion, the film fanatics at Mondo — purveyors of extremely fine illustrated film posters and other cinematic celebrations — decided to honor Mask of the Phantasm with an anniversary event in connection with the famous Alamo Drafthouse of Austin, Texas, where they screened the film in its original 35mm format for a sold-out house last Tuesday, January 7. As always, Mondo came prepared with an extremely limited quantities of new screen-printed poster, and which serves as an update of the film’s original theatrical one-sheet and an homage to the aesthetic legacy of Timm and Radomski’s work.
Those of you into big anniversaries might want to pop open your calendar and get ready to write in a new event: February 8th marks the 100th anniversary of Bill Finger, the co-creator of a character you've probably heard of called the Batman. Unfortunately, due to a string of machinations by a real-life supervillain, Finger has never been officially credited for his role in the Dark Knight's creation. As the centennial approaches, however, a campaign has been launched to get him at least a small gesture of appreciation: A Google Doodle. You know, those little drawings that Google puts up instead of their logo on holidays? One of those.
Sparked by Marc Tyler Nobleman, the author of Bill The Boy Wonder, the grassroots effort is encouraging fans to write into Google and urge them to celebrate Finger's birthday next month, and it's the sort of campaign that we here at ComicsAlliance can get behind. It is, after all, the least we can do.
While October's trailer for Warner Bros. Animation and DC Entertainment's upcoming Justice League: War animated movie seemed to show that the adaptation of Geoff Johns and Jim Lee's debut New 52 Justice League arc may take some liberties with the original story, the just-released first clip of the movie appears to indicate it will stick pretty close to it.
See that clip, which features Green Lantern meeting with Batman for the first time after fighting a Parademon, after the jump.
A year or two ago, LEGO's DC Superheroes line released a set called "Dynamic Duo Funhouse Escape." At the time, I thought it was pretty awesome -- It had minifigs for Batman, Robin, the Joker and Harley Quinn, an appropriately creepy setup for a villainous hideout, and even a little roller coaster car that traveled through it on tracks. It was neat. And then Brickbaron came along and basically made it look like baby school with his version of the Joker's funhouse, complete with carnival rides, deathtraps and puzzles, all of which are motorized to put the whole thing in motion.
It's quite possibly the coolest LEGO build I've ever seen. Check it out in full video, complete with sound effects for Batman's eternal spin-kick, below!
Q: Do you think that, for all their superficial campiness, the Adam West Bat-villains are actually the least likely to reform or even feel bad about the crimes they've committed? -- lego-joker
A: I'll be honest with you, folks: I got this question on Tumblr a few days ago, and while I wrote a (relatively) brief answer over there, it's something I've been thinking about ever since. Fortunately, it's my column, which means that the only rule is that there are no rules. And, you know, the weekly deadline. That is a pretty serious rule if I intend to stay employed.
Point is, there's a very simple answer to this question, which is that it's absolutely right. The arch-criminals of Batman '66 will never, ever reform, mostly due to the fact that nothing is ever meant to change on that show. There's a status quo that has to be maintained, one that's even more strict than the one in the comics. But at the same time, that lack of momentum says a lot about how those characters and the world in which they live are constructed.
So this is just weird. A video has popped up online of an MMA style fight -- in a ring and in front of an audience, with announcers and everything -- between three guys dressed as Spider-Man, Batman and Robin. I have no idea who they are or where this takes place. All I can tell you for certain is that, for whatever reason, it was a two on one fight, with the Dynamic Duo taking on Spidey, but Spider-Man still manages to beat the hell out of both of them. Seriously, it's just weird.
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