Posts Tagged ‘Batman’

An Exhaustive Summary of the Batman: Arkham Games Pt. 4

August 8, 2022

Batman follows the trail to the Sionis Steel Mill, the legitimate face of Black Mask’s empire. Here he finds that Joker has fully taken over Black Mask’s operations. Batman makes his way through the Steel Mill and then through the massive hidden drug processing facility. Batman rescues Sionis but discovers that this has been a trap set for him by Copperhead. She briefly scuffles with Batman, injecting him with her venom. She toys with Batman as he struggles to get back up to surface level so Alfred can airlift him an antivenom. He starts to hallucinate and sees Alfred, Commissioner Loeb, and the bank manager filling him with shame and doubt. Batman fights hundreds of identical Copperheads until Alfred manages to deliver the antivenom allowing Batman to easily finish off Copperhead. She offers to lead Batman to Joker in exchange for her freedom. While pleading her case, she lets slip that the remaining assassins have a scheduled meeting with Joker which means Batman does not need her. 

Batman scans the city for the frequency of the Electrocutioner’s gloves and narrows down the location of the meeting to a room in the Royal Gotham Hotel. Batman must evade Lieutenant Branden’s team outside to get into the hotel. Meanwhile, Joker is berating the remaining assassins for failing to kill Batman and throws Electrocutioner out of the window who falls to his death right in front of Batman. Most of the assassins leave but Bane sticks around, correctly assuming that Batman would be coming for Joker. Batman fights through the hotel which Joker has fashioned into a strange amusement park decorated with dead bodies. Joker toys with Batman, forcing him to play games to save lives. 

At the top of the tower, Batman’s attempt to get at The Joker is thwarted by Bane who aimed to collect on the balcony. Bane allows The Joker one minute with Batman. Joker spends that minute taunting Batman with the knowledge that he has rigged explosives all over the city and sets one off to show that it isn’t a bluff. Batman tries to beat information on the bombs out of The Joker but the minute is up and Bane attacks. 

Batman fights Bane on the roof of the hotel with Bane using venom and his men to try and outmatch the Dark Knight. Bane’s ruthless cunning and chemically enhanced physicality make the battle very dicey for Batman. A worried Alfred goes against Batman’s orders and anonymously tips off Jim Gordon. Gordon rides to the rescue with his team on helicopters which causes Bane to consider a tactical retreat. Batman places a homing device on Bane. Joker is angry that Bane is retreating and fires on Bane’s helicopter. Bane retaliates by firing a rocket launcher at the clown and the explosion launches Joker into the air. Batman is forced to risk himself to save Joker from falling to his death. Joker is astonished that Batman would save him after all that he has done. Joker kills two of his own men before they can kill Batman.

Joker is arrested and taken to Blackgate where he receives an intake interview from Dr. Harleen Quinzel. Joker instantly charms Quinzel by talking longingly about Batman but in such an ambiguous way that the doctor thinks he is talking about her. As Joker talks about being destined to meet Batman, we see what might be The Joker’s origin story. He is forced to wear the costume of The Red Hood during an Ace Chemicals heist. In the middle of the heist, Batman appears and the frightened amateur criminal who would become Joker unsuccessfully struggles. Joker falls into a vat of chemicals and, when he surfaces, realizes the chemicals have turned him into the iconic Joker that we know.

Batman returns to the Batcave, shaken but still standing. Alfred begs him to stay put since Joker has been arrested which ends the whole affair. Batman disagrees and says that there is more work to be done. There are a few more assassins out there including Bane. The tracer on Bane does not seem to be working.  Just then, there is a report of a body resembling Bane in the morgue. It turns out to be just one of Bane’s henchmen. The signal for the homing device comes online and Batman makes his way into Bane’s Gotham headquarters. There he finds the tracer device attached to undeniable proof that Bane knows that Batman and Bruce Wayne are one and the same. Batman warns Alfred that Bane knows his secret. Alfred requests Bruce’s return again but Batman says that he will be safe alone in the Batcave.

Reports come in that Firefly is terrorizing the Gotham Pioneer’s Bridge. Batman discovers that Firefly and his men have planted bombs all along the bridge. Batman warns Gordon who chooses to trust him and calls for the cops to stay off the bridge and let Batman try and handle it. Batman travels through the train station inside of the bridge and rescues hostages while defusing the bombs. Batman and Gordon clash over tactics but end up working well together with Alfred urging Batman to trust Gordon more. After defusing three bombs, Batman is surprised by Firefly and battles him for control of the detonator switch. Firefly is finally able to use the detonator switch but the delay that Batman caused allowed Gordon enough time to have the final bomb defused. 

Batman gets a call from Alfred but it ends up being Bane who is in the Batcave. Bane taunts Batman with the knowledge that it will be too late to save Alfred and Bane wants to face him again when Bruce’s grief turns to anger. Batman rushes to the Batcave just in time for Alfred to bid him goodbye. A distraught Bruce uses Electrocutioner’s gloves as a last resort and manages to defibrillate Alfred and restart his heart. A convalescing Alfred tells Bruce that he understands the mission now and that he cannot dissuade Batman from his path. However, no man is an island and Batman must rely on others if he is to survive. There is trouble at Blackgate Prison again so Batman calls Gordon to team up.

Batman and Gordon work together and are able to stem the worst of the riots. They are able to rescue Warden Joseph and Dr. Harleen Quinzel. Quinzel tells Batman that she knows why he is at the prison and that Joker is waiting for him at the Panopticon. Batman confronts Joker who has once again teamed up with Bane. Joker has set up a heart monitor on Bane. If Bane lives within the time limit, Joker will fry in an electric chair. If Batman kills Bane, Joker will live. Batman fights Bane yet again and Batman ends up stopping Bane’s heart, saving Joker. He quickly repeats the earlier trick and restarts Bane’s heart with Electrocutioner’s gloves. Bane rages and injects himself with even more Venom and Batman must beat him again.

Joker is waiting for Batman in the prison chapel. He is delighting in this confrontation and gives Batman kudos for stopping and restarting Bane’s heart. He had not thought of that loophole. He dares Batman to kill him by pointing out all of the horrible things he had done. Batman easily disarms the Joker and beats the snot out of him. As he punches Joker, he envisions all of the horrible things that Joker did and set in motion. He starts to strangle Joker who simply laughs, finding it all so funny. Batman knocks out the Joker and chooses to spare him as Gordon watches. Gordon is finally convinced of Batman’s honor since he let Joker live even after everything he did. Gordon is set to become the new Commissioner, a promotion he did not believe in until Barbara and Batman convinced him that it might not be hopeless. Later, Joker wakes up strapped to a gurney and revels in the hilarity of Batman once again sparing his life. This was going to be fun.

An Exhaustive Summary of the Batman: Arkham Games Pt. 3

July 25, 2022

Last time in Arham Games: The League of Shadows engineered a plan to wall off the Gotham slums in order to murder the criminals of Gotham. Batman pulled triple duty by facing off with the criminals of Gotham, a government-contracted militia, and a fatal blood poisoning gifted to him from The Joker. It ended with the death of Hugo Strange, Ra’s Al Ghul, and The Joker himself. We left Batman emerging from the iconic Monarch Theater, cradling Joker’s dead body as authorities (and Harley Quinn) look on.

Eight years prior to the events of Arkham Asylum, the city of Gotham is rife with crime. The days of the mafioso are waning and the first supervillains are emerging. The police force and government, in general, are horribly corrupt. 

The game begins on Christmas Eve and a riot has broken out in Blackgate Prison. Somebody has broken into the prison on the night that Julian Day aka “The Calendar Man” is set to be executed. Batman has arrived uninvited to help with the crisis even though he is a target of police investigation himself. He infiltrates the prison which is spiraling into chaos as several inmates are already free. Batman rescues Warden Joseph only to have to fend off the Warden’s attack as well. He moves on after declaring that he is there to help.

Batman hurries further into the prison, close on the heels of the intruding force. It becomes clear that Black Mask has arrived with Killer Croc who is the muscle allowing him to bypass security. Batman struggles to keep up with the villains as he is forced to stop to fight escaped inmates in order to rescue guards and reporter Vicki Vale. Along the way, he also spots a drone following the path of destruction. Another mystery. Croc eventually destroys the drone much to Black Mask’s annoyance as he wanted the drone to be studied. Batman is able to recover the drone’s data storage before moving on. He arrives at the gas chamber just in time to watch Black Mask force Police Commissioner Loeb to take Calendar Man’s place in the execution. Batman is too late to save Loeb’s life.

Batman chases Black Mask and Killer Croc to the roof where a helicopter is waiting to whisk Black Mask and his men away. Killer Croc smells Batman’s scent and decides to remain behind to fight the Dark Knight. Batman fights Croc in close quarters on the roof as the helicopter keeps depositing Black Mask’s men to aid Croc. Of course, the murderous giant has no regard for Black Mask’s men and is just as likely to hurt them as he is to hurt Batman. As Batman defeats Killer Croc, the helicopter retreats as the GCPD approaches. Batman interrogates Croc who is smugly confident that Batman is screwed since “they” are coming for him. The police rush the roof and Batman comes face to face with Detective Jim Gordon for the first time. Batman avoids arrest by jumping off the roof so the Batwing can swoop in and allow his escape.

Batman quickly returns to the Batcave and he and Alfred access the chip he retrieved from the downed drone from Blackgate. He searches the footage and finds tape of a meeting held by Black Mask as he puts out a bounty for eight of the world’s deadliest assassins. The first is Killer Croc who Batman has already beaten into submission and remanded to police custody. There are still seven assassins out there, hunting for Batman for a $50 million bounty. Those assassins are Deathstroke, Bane, Lady Shiva, Deadshot, Electrocutioner, and Firefly. Alfred implores Batman to just spend Christmas Eve at Wayne Manor with Alfred. No Batman means no bounty. Batman points out that the assassins will simply harm innocents to draw Batman out and he cannot live with that. He sets out to figure out where Black Mask is to put an end to it.

Batman has a lead on an illegal arms sale that is linked to the brand of drone that infiltrated the prison. He flies off toward The Bowery to stake out the sale but the Batwing’s navigation systems are scrambled. It seems that somebody has hijacked the proprietary technology that Batman has attached to radio towers throughout the city. Batman is forced to land at one of the towers and make his way to the top to investigate the interference. Several thugs are protecting the tower. Batman easily defeats these criminals, saving repairmen who have been taken as hostages. As he flushes the hacker’s presence from the tower’s systems, he comes face to screen with a mysterious man who has plans to release the secret information of officials throughout Gotham on Christmas Day to cause a societal collapse. He warns Batman against interfering.

Batman travels to make it to the arms sale and stakes it out. He interrupts the sale and beats up and interrogates the seller, Ricky “Loose Lips” LeBlanc who unwittingly sells out The Penguin as his boss. He tries to figure out the location of Penguin’s hideout but is forced to hack into three of Penguin’s listening posts to help triangulate his position. He figures out that Penguin is set up on an old cruise ship that Penguin had renamed The Final Offer where his normally illegal deals are legal due to a maritime law loophole. Batman makes his way down into the ship and finds that Penguin has built a black market and is hosting a fight club. Batman interrupts the fights only to come face to face with the second assassin, Lester Buchinsky aka “The Electrocutioner”. 

And then the Electrocutioner gets dropped.

The Penguin retreats and Batman must chase Penguin and his assistants Candy and Tracey through the labyrinthine ship. Batman fights through the derelict ship, taking out any criminals he can find. The Penguin has been selling arms to some of the assassins. Along the way, Batman finds out that Penguin is feuding with the Falcone family, the oldest mobster family in Gotham. Penguin has taken advantage of the conflict between the Falcones and Black Mask, using the opportunity to oust Falcone from power. He has captured mob boss Carmine Falcone’s son Alberto who he is torturing in his office. Batman interrupts this torture and starts trying to interrogate Penguin who lets slip a comment about a murder at Lacey Towers.

Batman’s questioning of Penguin is interrupted by the arrival of Deathstroke who challenges Batman to a fight he cannot refuse. The battle with Deathstroke is fast and furious as Deathstroke is a master at combat. He comes at Batman with a bo staff, a katana, his rifle, and a special remote claw device that he uses to launch propane tanks at Batman. The two fight hard but Batman finally knocks Deathstroke unconscious with his own sword. Penguin had been watching the fight but immediately locks himself away when the fight concludes. Batman is forced to leave The Final Offer, begrudgingly satisfied that he beat two more assassins and saved Alberto Falcone from possible murder. He also has the lead of a crime scene to investigate at the Lacey Towers apartment building. 

Batman arrives at the apartment crime scene and finds two dead bodies. The first is a woman known to be a mistress of Roman Sionis aka The Black Mask. The other dead body is wearing the outfit of The Black Mask. This seems to be where the police were satisfied and stopped investigating. Batman looks further and finds evidence that helps him reconstruct the events of the struggle. The mistress arrived at the safehouse, rattled by a criminal known only as The Joker. She was murdered and hung from the chandelier as a psychological message. Black Mask suspected that his mistress’ call may have been a trap and sent in a decoy who was promptly murdered. Black Mask then attacked the intruder but lost the fight. 

Batman has never heard of this mysterious Joker before and, after discussing his options with Alfred, decides to infiltrate GCPD headquarters to access their national criminal database. Batman makes his way inside, knowing that he has to be stealthy as alerting the whole cop shop would end badly for him. The headquarters are in disarray after the murder of Commissioner Loeb with SWAT lieutenant Branden representing the bloodthirsty and corrupt faction within the police. 

Batman listens in to a conversation between James Gordon and his visiting daughter Barbara Gordon. In the server room, Barbara surprises Batman and reveals that she is a fan of his and helps him hack the server. She also reveals that he will need to access the data line in the sewers beneath to gain permanent access. Batman is discovered in the building and Branden rushes with his men to kill Batman for Black Mask’s bounty. Gordon intervenes, wanting to arrest Batman instead. In the heat of the standoff, Batman saves Gordon from being killed by Branden and his men and flees. 

Batman makes his way down to the sewers where he finds that Black Mask has a personal vault at Gotham Merchant Bank only accessible with Black Mask’s biometrics. Batman deduces that this is where Joker took the criminal kingpin. Batman rushes to the bank and the heist is in progress. The bank is full of the dead bodies of its employees. Batman encounters Black Mask who has the bank manager captive. The bank manager has a horrible, uncomfortable grin on her face. Black Mask postures and then is disappointed that people are not playing along. He brings out the captive Roman Sionis (the real Black Mask). The fake Black Mask unmasks to reveal The Joker, a murderous clown. He confirms Batman’s suspicions that he posed as Black Mask days earlier to place the bounty on Batman. He and his men grab Sionis and escape in an ambulance before setting off a bomb that destroys the vault. Batman examines the deceased bank manager who died from some sort of toxin.

Pt. 2 Coming Soon

An Exhaustive Summary of the Batman: Arkham Games Pt. 2

July 4, 2022

Last time on Arkham games: Batman pursued the Joker through Arkham Asylum to stop a plan to spread a new enhanced version of Bane’s Venom to destroy Gotham. Batman fought through Bane, Scarecrow, Zsaz, and Harley Quinn while trying to get to the bottom of the bureaucratic corruption that allowed this all to happen. Batman faced a roided-out Joker and was able to take him out.

After the events of Arkham Asylum, the asylum is closed but former warden Quincy Sharpe was able to capitalize on the publicity of Batman’s victory to get voted in as mayor of Gotham City. He was able to push through a plan to wall off the Gotham slums and create something called Arkham City where all inmates would now be sent. Free of jail cells, criminals are free to engage in gang violence and crews from the outside are formed yet again. The Bowery is held by Penguin’s crew who is focused on accumulating useful technology and wealth. Park Row is controlled by Two-Face who is interested only in his own form of justice. The Joker’s gang holds the Industrial Park. He has used parts from nearby abandoned Amusement Mile to turn the factories into a twisted theme park. The whole thing is under the control of warden Hugo Strange and his private mercenary force, the Tyger guards.

Bruce Wayne publicly protests against the continued existence of Arkham City and in response he is arrested as a political prisoner. Wayne is pulled aside during intake to be interrogated by Hugo Strange. Strange reveals that he knows that Bruce Wayne is Batman and that he will reveal that fact to the public should Batman try to interfere with his plans. He mentions that Protocol 10 will soon be in motion and that he does not have time to deal with Wayne. In fact, he claims that he will succeed where Batman has failed again and again. He releases Bruce into general population with the assumption that he will be killed by inmates. Bruce is immediately confronted by Oswald Cobblepot aka The Penguin, reawakening an old feud between their families. Bruce is able to get the better of Penguin’s thugs and escape. On a nearby roof, Alfred has the Batwing drop off the Batsuit and Bruce suits up. 

Batman had been able to palm an encryption chip from a Tyger guard and taps into their communications. He finds that Two-Face has Catwoman captive at Solomon Wayne Courthouse and Batman rushes off to rescue her. If anybody knows what the lay of the land inside Arkham City is, it’s Catwoman. In the courthouse, Two-Face is putting Catwoman on trial and is about to execute her when Batman intervenes. Batman’s discussion with Catwoman is interrupted by sniper fire from outside with the bullet barely missing Catwoman. Batman tracks the trajectory of the bullet and finds that it originated in the nearby church bell tower.

When Batman enters the church, he is confronted by Harley Quinn who informs him that Joker is not up to seeing him and to stay away. She says something about having to go fetch a doctor for Mr. J before excusing herself. Batman makes easy work of Harley’s thugs and climbs the bell tower. There he finds that the sniper rifle was automated and Joker appears on several monitors to taunt Batman and detonate a bomb in the bell tower. Batman escapes easily and sets his cowl to track the signal Joker used to detonate the bomb. He tracks the signal down to the old Sionis Steel Mill which he infiltrates through the smokestack. As Batman makes his way through the building, it becomes evident that Joker has been kidnapping doctors but killing them when they cannot help him.

Batman confronts Joker and Harley who reveals that the wheelchair-bound Joker is dead. And then Joker is suddenly behind Batman and able to knock him out with gas. Batman wakes to find that Joker has given Batman a transfusion of the Joker’s own blood. That blood has become incredibly toxic thanks to Joker’s dalliance with Titan during the events of Arkham Asylum. Now both Joker and Batman are on a ticking clock and both will die if a cure is not found very soon. For additional motivation, Joker has shipped his blood to hospitals around Gotham to create a crisis that will also require a cure to solve. Batman guesses that this is Protocol 10 but Joker has never heard of it. Batman reluctantly agrees to track down Mr. Freeze who had been working on the cure for Joker. He locates Freeze’s lab at the abandoned Police Department but Freeze has already been kidnapped by Penguin’s goons. Penguin had his goons blow up the bridges that led to his territory to keep Joker’s forces out. He is holed up in the Museum and using military technology to keep even Batman out. After Batman disables that equipment, he enters the Museum.

Inside the museum, Batman discovers that Commissioner Gordon sent undercover cops into Arkham City to infiltrate the Penguin’s gang. These cops have been found out are being tortured and killed by Penguin and his gang. Moreover, Batman finds that Penguin has separated Freeze from his suit and is holding on to Freeze’s gun. Penguin is ruling over the inside of the Museum with an iron fist and taunts Batman constantly. Batman locates and frees Mr. Freeze who gives him a device to disable the freeze gun. Batman rescues what undercover cops he can and traverses the flooded and frozen museum. He quickly incapacitates Penguin who retaliates by unleashing a captive Solomon Grundy to crush Batman. The battle is brutal and ends with Grundy dying yet again. 

Freeze informs Batman that the cure is not yet stable and the Batcomputer’s analysis revealed that the missing component could be formed from the blood of Ra’s Al Ghul. Luckily, Penguin had captured one of Talia Al Ghul’s elite guards. Batman releases the ninja and chases her across Gotham City and is able to place a tracking device on her. Batman descends into the sewers. There, he finds that Joker’s gang has been getting assault weapons from Hugo Strange as part of Protocol 10. The mystery of what Protocol 10 could be persists.  

Batman tracks the signal to an abandoned, underground city from the 1800s called Wonder City. This small city had been ruled over by Ra’s back when he discovered the Lazarus Pit. Batman locates the inner sanctum of the League of Shadows where he is confronted by Talia, a woman who alternates between being his lover and enemy. Batman is offered the chance to take the trials of Ra’s Al Ghul. He drinks some of the liquid from the Lazarus Pit which rejuvenates him somewhat but also makes him enter a hallucination guided by Ra’s.

Ra’s constantly lectures Batman as he tests his abilities to glide and fight through a landscape that is part desert and part post-apocalyptic Gotham. When Batman is successful in passing a trial that nobody else has, Ra’s offers to make Batman his heir and offers him leadership of the League of Shadows. He also offers to allow Batman into the Lazarus Pit as a condition of that deal which will cure him of Joker’s poisonous blood. However, Batman knows that the pit will also drive him mad as it has done for everyone before him. Batman refuses the offer and must fight and incapacitate Ra’s to get his blood. Batman leaves a furious Talia to return her father to the Lazarus Pit to recover from his injuries.

After reaching the surface, Batman is sidetracked by a report that Mayor Quincy Sharp is in trouble and arrives to find Mayor Sharp getting his butt handed to him by some of Two-Face’s goons. After saving the mayor, Batman interrogates him about what is going on with Hugo Strange. Under duress, Sharp spills the beans and says that Arkham City was all Strange’s idea. Strange came to him with claims of powerful friends who could make Sharp mayor in return for creating Arkham City. Batman has already connected the dots and realizes that political prisoners in Arkham City are those who could have revealed parts of Strange’s plan. He is tying up loose ends. Batman briefly muses about who Strange’s powerful friends are.

Batman returns to the GCPD where Freeze is able to manufacture the cure. Freeze then locks a vial of the cure in his safe and destroys the second vial. He informs Batman that Joker had stolen Freeze’s wife Nora. Batman is forced to fight an attacking Mr. Freeze and barely beats him into submission. During the fight, Harley Quinn was able to retrieve the cure from the safe. Freeze apologizes for his rage and the fact that he does not have the material to produce any more of the cure anytime soon. Freeze begs Batman to find Nora. Batman sets out toward the Steel Mill again to retrieve the cure before Joker can use it. Before he gets very far, a helicopter carrying reporter Vicki Vale is shot down by The Joker. Batman must make a pitstop to rescue her before continuing on.

Batman fights through the Steel Mill yet again and arrives to find that Joker is back to future health and ready to fight Batman. At least, he’s ready for the fight since he has Batman vastly outnumbered. Batman must fight a prolonged fist fight against Joker and at least forty henchmen including a leftover Titan-infused henchman. Joker happily taunts Batman during the fight as Batman struggles to keep upright. Just as things look hopeless for Batman, Talia Al Ghul appears. She reveals that she stole the cure back from Harley and offers Joker immortality through the Lazarus Pit if he will leave Batman alive. Joker accepts and the two leave. 

Unfortunately, that pesky Protocol 10 that Hugo Strange mentioned ten hours ago (in-game time) is enacted. Protocol 10 requires the Tyger guards to murder all of the inmates with missiles. That starts with a missile hitting the steel mill and knocking Batman and, presumably, Joker unconscious. Catwoman arrives and returns the favor from much earlier in the game and rescues Batman from under the debris. 

Batman wants to save Talia from the Joker but Alfred and Barbara Gordon plead with him to resolve Protocol 10 and deal with the murderous Hugo Strange. If nothing is done, all of the inmates of Arkham City will die and Batman is obligated to save them. It is his code. Batman reluctantly infiltrates Strange’s headquarters and fights through a ton of Tyger guards. Strange taunts Batman and blames him for the creation of The Joker and other villains. Batman fights his way to the top of Wonder Tower far above the city where Strange is presiding over Protocol 10.

Batman is able to disable Strange’s defenses and confront the mad doctor. He tries to shame Strange with the sight of Arkham City on fire. Strange says that it is glorious and believes that the eradication of all of Gotham’s criminals is a righteous act. He plans to bring the plan to Keystone City and Metropolis and beyond. Batman easily physically overpowers Strange and allows Barbara Gordon to remotely disable Protocol 10. Strange rails against Batman and warns him that he has friends in high places, something Batman had guessed earlier. That friend suddenly reveals himself by stabbing Strange through the abdomen from behind. It is Ra’s Al Ghul who reveals that he set Strange against Batman to see which of them might be his heir. Strange did not succeed so he is inferior to Batman and is no longer useful. Batman pleads with Ra’s to get Strange medical help but Ra’s refuses. Strange activates Wonder Tower’s self-destruct device out of spite and Batman tackles Ra’s out of the window. Rather than accept Batman’s help, Ra’s allows himself to be impaled as he falls, leaving Batman to glide back down to Gotham’s rooftops.

Batman does not have much time to rest and reflect on the events of Wonder Tower and the deaths of two of his greatest enemies. Joker hacks into the monitors around Arkham City and taunts Batman, telling him that he has Talia at the Monarch Theater. Coincidentally, this is the theater young Bruce left with his family before his parents were murdered in front of him. Batman must make his way through an intricate setup of snipers to make it into the theater. 

At this point, you may be wondering how Joker appeared healthy in the steel mill fight if Talia intercepted the cure. Stay tuned. Batman enters the theater and finds Joker with Talia at gunpoint. Batman keeps Joker talking but is surprised when Talia is able to stab Joker from behind, leaving him facedown on the floor. Batman is arguing with Talia about his code and the whole “no killing” thing when Talia is shot from behind and the cure rolls from her hand onto the floor. The shooter reveals himself and it is The Joker, looking like hell again. Batman looks over to see Joker still impaled on the floor. Talia is dead. Joker reveals that he used a double to keep up appearances both with his gang and to mess with Batman. The Joker double grabs the vial of cure and reveals himself to be Basil Karlo aka Clayface. Clayface turns into his clay form and Batman fights him using Talia’s sword to try to get the cure back. 

After a long battle, Batman beats Clayface by freezing him with Mr. Freeze’s technology and knocks him into a Lazarus Pit, preventing Joke from using it. Batman retrieves the cure and drinks half of it. Joker berates Batman and states confidently that no matter what Joker did (killed many people, tortured and poisoned Batman, killed Batman’s lover, etc.) Batman will still save him. Batman tells the Joker how much he loathes him and how horrible the Joker is. The Joker attacks Batman and causes Batman to drop the cure which is quickly absorbed into the wooden floor. Batman insists that he had intended to save the Joker after all and Joker dies laughing that he has basically killed himself. Batman carries the Joker’s dead body out of the theater to the shock of onlookers.

Fin.

An Exhaustive Summary of the Batman: Arkham Games Pt. 1

May 16, 2022
Batman: Arkham Asylum

The game starts with Batman driving up to the legendary Arkham Asylum with The Joker strapped into the passenger seat. Batman hauls Joker into the Asylum and insists on accompanying the guards as they escort Joker to his cell as he thinks Joker allowed himself to be captured. Joker enjoys taunting both Batman and the guards even though he is strapped to a gurney Silence of the Lambs style. There are some electrical problems but they are brushed off as nothing. As you escort Joker, you find out that there was a fire at Blackgate Prison so a lot of prisoners were transferred to Arkham including Joker’s men. You descend into the bowels of Arkham where it is revealed that Harley Quinn is free and has taken control of Arkham’s security system. Joker has made a deal with a corrupt guard which has allowed him unfettered access to the asylum. They kidnap Commissioner Gordon and announce that there are bombs planted across the city that will go off should anyone try to enter the asylum grounds.

Batman chases after Harley Quinn first as she has Gordon captive in the medical wing. In fact, Joker’s men have captured all of the doctors and nurses in the wing. Batman must rescue them as he searches for Harley. Batman follows Harley’s trail to the morgue where he finds out that Jonathan Crane aka The Scarecrow is also loose. He turns a corner and finds Gordon violently murdered and slumped against a wall. Batman tries to contact Barbar Gordon aka Oracle to break the news to her but gets no answer. He is forced to move on to continue his pursuit of Harley and Joker as the walls seem to stretch and crumble around him. He enters the morgue proper and finds three body bags. He opens the first two body bags and finds his mother and father whose corpses blame him for their deaths. He moves to open the third body bag and out pops Scarecrow who hits him with concentrated fear gas which plunges Batman deeper into a nightmare.

Batman comes to in a surreal dreamscape as he is hunted by an impossibly tall Scarecrow. Batman must use stealth to navigate the gauntlet laid out for him and shine a light on Scarecrow’s avatar to return to reality. Shaken, Batman discovers that a guard’s body is where Gordon was and he can’t trust anything he saw while under the effects of the fear gas. With the actual Scarecrow nowhere in sight, Batman moves on to continue his pursuit, feeling that Gordon can still be saved.

Batman locates and temporarily subdues Harley but Joker releases Bane who is somehow even more juiced than he usually is. The fight is difficult and Batman must focus on removing the shunts used to pump Venom into Bane rather than attack the big man himself. Batman barely survives the ordeal as Bane chases him back up to the surface. Batman activates the Batmobile remotely and uses it to plow into Bane and launch him into the waters of the Gotham harbor, confident that Bane will survive. However, something was very wrong with Bane and Batman deduces that it is probably connected to Joker’s reason for returning to the asylum.

With Gordon finally rescued, Batman retreats to a small Batcave that he secretly installed under Arkham to restock his gadgets and use the computer to figure things out. He discovers that warden Quincy Sharp had hired Dr. Penelope Young as part of Arkham’s new research facility in an effort to cure the patients once and for all. However, Joker’s intricate plan started with manipulating Dr. Young into experimenting with Venom, eventually creating a plant-based hybrid called Titan. This new chemical, which caused subjects to gain enormous strength but also uncontrollable rage, was Joker’s plan to destroy Gotham and finally eliminate the Batman problem. However, Young finally realized that she was being played and refused to cooperate further which prompted Joker to return to the asylum and enact his plan there.  The plan is now clear Batman must prevent Joker from getting his hands on Titan and part of that is finding Dr. Young.

Batman begins to track Dr. Young and rescues hard-nosed guard Aaron Cash who rallies the rest of the still-living guards and gives Batman clues about Dr. Young’s whereabouts. Batman is momentarily sidetracked by another dose of Scarecrow’s fear gas which leads to him reliving his parent’s murder in Crime Alley. While tracking her further, Batman finds the Titan formula and burns it. He finds Dr. Young who has been taken hostage by Victor Zsaz in the warden’s office. After rescuing her, she reveals that she was trying to get another copy of the formula out of the office’s safe. When they open the safe, a Joker bomb goes off which instantly kills Dr. Young. What’s worse, is there are already completed batches of Titan and Joker has them already. 

Batman once again tussles with Harley Quinn in a lengthy battle. After capturing her and sealing her in a cell, he tricks her into revealing that Poison Ivy is being used to manipulate plants in the asylum’s botanical gardens to produce Titan. Batman heads that way to rescue her as she is an unwilling participant. She tells Batman that she can help produce an antidote to Titan but the rare spore she needs is located in the sewers under the asylum. Specifically, the spores are in the lair of Killer Croc.

 Batman descends into the sewers and is ambushed once again by Scarecrow. This time Scarecrow injects Batman with a pure liquid dose of his fear toxin. Batman and the video game itself have a breakdown in perfect fourth wall shattering style. The opening of the game is repeated but this time it is Batman who is strapped to the gurney and the player plays as Joker, escorting his foe to a cell. The villains are in control and Batman and his allies are now the inmates. Once again, Batman breaks through the illusion and finally gets to face Scarecrow one on one in a fair fight. This causes Scarecrow to flee and Batman watches Scarecrow get mauled by Croc before he can save the demented villain. 

Batman sneaks into Croc’s lair and must use stealth and patience to avoid Croc who is swimming in the water all around. In a very lengthy and tense sequence, Batman repels Croc by activating the shock collar still barely hanging on to the beastly man’s neck. Batman is able to synthesize one dose of the antidote before plants destroy his setup.

Batman returns to the botanical gardens to discover that Ivy has been injected with Titan, causing her to lose control and mutate. Batman fights the new monstrous version of Poison Ivy and is able to subdue her.

The Joker lays a trap for Batman and captures him. On the roof of the asylum, Batman and the Joker face each other. Batman is exposed to Titan while Joker gives himself a heavy dose. The two fight like gladiators with Joker succumbing more and more to the Titan as Batman resists. Batman eventually uses the antidote on himself before beating Joker with the classic Batman combination of gadgets, cleverness, and fists. With Joker defeated, the effects of Titan start to wear off on all those who were dosed. Backup arrives and the Joker is finally arrested for real as he is utterly spent by the battle and the toll Titan took on his body. Batman rushes off to stop a crime in progress committed by Two-Face.

30-Day Challenge: Film

May 25, 2020

1 – The First Film you Remember Watching

I am sure I watched many movies before it but the first movie that was an event, that I remember when I saw it was the 1989 version of Batman. At age 7, I was already a big fan of the character and this would be the first time that I got to stay up to watch a movie. I was so excited and the movie definitely lived up to the hype and continues to do so. This movie still has one of the greatest impacts on my creativity and imagination. This was peak Tim Burton, who worked within the framework of the comic books to create something absolutely new and fresh. Michael Keaton does such a good job of playing both Bruce Wayne and Batman which is a difficult balance to pull off. Jack Nicholson is so good as the Joker with so many quotable lines but a sinister edge to it that just works. The production design and the Prince soundtrack should not work but somehow do.

2 – A film that you like that starts with the first letter of your name

This movie absolutely came out of left field for me. I had never heard of the comic book prior to the release of the film but I wish I had. Still, it was really fun going in blind. The movie is delightfully wild and absurd. It is definitely up my alley as it is both a comic book movie and a video game movie (although it is not actually adapting a specific video game). The movie uses video game terminology and tropes to tell a compelling story about figuring out your life. For those who have not seen it, the elevator pitch is that Scott Pilgrim must defeat Ramona’s seven evil exes if he wants to be her boyfriend. However, the movie has way more to offer than just that. The movie is filled with deep moments accompanied by goofy and offbeat humor. It is probably Michael Cera’s best performance to date. On top of that there are a bunch of great comedic roles from Chris Evans, Brandon Routh, Jason Schwartzman, Aubrey Plaza, and Anna Kendrick. We also get Mary Elizabeth Winstead as she was really coming into her own. I once chose this as my birthday movie for the express purpose of messing with and confusing my family.

3 – A film whose title has more than five words

Dr. Strangelove (for short), was a great watch when I first saw it. It is a zany comedy about one of the darkest subjects that you can joke about. Total nuclear annihilation. Set in the middle of the Cold War, a simple mistake threatens the safety of the world. There is a huge cast of characters, all parodying some portion of the Military-Industrial Complex. Three of the major characters are played by comedy legend Peter Sellers. He transforms himself into three very insane characters, the kind of people you hope are not in charge of nuclear weapons but who you fear are. There is also Slim Pickens as exactly what I think of the military. George C. Scott actually plays an over the top comic character which is usually out of his comfort zone. The movie is directed by Stanley Kubrick who is not exactly known for making sunny movies but he was able to inject the story with plenty of dark and zany humor. Additionally, this was my dearly departed friend Joe’s favorite movie so it will always be even more special to me. It is definitely a blueprint for later movies like Death of Stalin which makes the audience laugh as atrocities are performed.

4 – A film with a number in the title

This movie unexpectedly threw me for a loop. This movie is based on a Stephen King short story that I never read. It is one of the simplest adaptations of King’s work and has an astonishingly small cast. The main characters are played by John Cusack and Samuel L. Jackson. Cusack plays a writer who has recently experienced great loss and travels around the country debunking the supernatural. Receiving a mysterious challenge, he is in for the fight of his life. The movie is a pure horror movie. It relies mostly on psychological pressure than petty jumpscares. Cusack is great as a skeptic who is suddenly shown the light. The movie thrives on unreality and the special effects that show that are absolutely brilliant and understated. This is also possibly Samuel L. Jackson’s most subtle role and it is so interesting to see. The movie feels way deeper than most adaptations of King’s work and that helps drive the point deeper. It is light on plot and heavy on character moments which actually also helps prevent the usual Stephen King rambling. There is also a devious sense of humor running through which twists the knife even further. This was definitely a predecessor of effective horror storytelling like the legendary PT and so many other surreal horror stories about psychological torture.

5 – A film where a character has a job you want

I was always intensely interested in keeping archives and researching things. Indiana Jones was always a fascinating character and for sure I wanted to be him when I was a little kid. I even had a copy of his famous fedora for a little bit. I also wore a tiny bomber jacket with a map on the inside. I wanted to be an adventurer just like him. However, after growing up a bit I realized that I really did not want that. Indy is a professor and I really do not like talking in front of crowds. I also think the rest of his work is pretty dangerous. However, the people who research and catalog the supernatural things, that seems way more interesting to me. We first see this organization at the end of Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark. We next see evidence of them in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. If I read between the frames well enough, those scenes mean somebody is in charge of keeping tabs on magical and highly advanced technology. That definitely sounds like an interesting job.

6 – Your favorite animated film

I have written about it many times before but hands down my favorite animated film is The Nightmare Before Christmas. Henry Selick really brought to life a neat little world full of fun lore and interesting characters. It is a great look at depression, passion, and boundaries. Skellington Jack is such an innocent soul for the King of Halloween and it is hard not to see my own bouts with depression in his. I also definitely see Jack’s passion and sense of fairplay in myself. The portayal of Santa Claus is one of the best in cinema history. I would put him up there with the portrayals from Klaus, Ernest Saves Christmas, and The Christmas Chronicles. Santa is best when he is a rounded character who is not saintly good but good because he earnestly sees good and evil in the world and chooses good. Sally is just such an interesting character and it was not often back in the early nineties where a woman was portrayed as the smartest character. The whole cast of characters are so well designed and the animation and music are superb.

Personality Database

May 18, 2020

I had posted previously about the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. It is an amazing insight into your personality and I absolutely suggest that you take it if you have not already. Myers-Briggs helps people figure out both their strengths and their weaknesses. This past week there has been a thing going around Twitter where people point out which fictional characters share their Myers-Briggs designation. By the way, the resource for looking that up is Personality-Database.com but I would suggest downloading the phone app because the website was blowing up when I was on it. I decided to pick a selection of the requisite five characters and examine how I might be like them. It was another fascinating look at myself.

I am an INTJ, by the way. That stands for Introverted Intuitive Thinking Judging.

The Heroes


Batman (Most depictions of Batman)

This was a most pleasant surprise to find on the site. In retrospect, I should not have been surprised. I have spent my life sticking to the metaphorical shadows. Instead of being an actor, I chose to be a stage manager and theater designer. I chose to be a paralegal and not a lawyer. In so many ways, I do not really like the spotlight on me as it distracts from having a comfortable life. I also tend to read between the lines when I am remembering facts and draw conclusions based on my experiences rather than just the facts. It really helps me as a researcher and a writer. I also really love signs and symbols like the Batman, he uses them to strike fear or inspire hope but I use mine to leave easter eggs in my writing. See also: Daredevil (Marvel), Dr. Stephen Strange (Marvel), and Black Panther (Marvel).


Rupert Giles (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

This is one I expected going in. While Giles eventually displayed an artistic side (like I do) but he was a very private person who preferred small crowds and the quiet of his library or magic shop. Like Giles, I really love being in a support role rather than the star of the show. Giles spent seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer as the power behind the throne, a man who used wit and wisdom to guide rather than direct. He continued that role in the later comic book seasons as a covert problem solver, something I also like to do. I love fixing problems without anybody realizing there was a problem in the first place. I am sometimes doing my best work when clients do not notice me. I leave the flashy and presentation work to my boss, an attorney. See also: Harrison Wells (The Flash), Merlin (Kingsman), and Zordon (Power Rangers)

Villains


Thanos (The MCU)

Thanos is not your usual Marvel villain. While other villains tend to be just as showy and boisterous as their superhero counterparts, like me Thanos is a somewhat quiet and reserved man. Especially as he is portrayed in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, he is an introvert. He quietly and calmly embarks on a mission of mass murder without being all that showy about it. I think I am most like Thanos in his Thinking Judging part. Like me, Thanos loves order and for things to be decided. Once he makes his decision to kill half of the Universe, he never wavers and works hard against those who would steer him from his path. He also does not let himself play until work is done, as morbid as that is. See also Mewtwo (Pokemon), The Thing (The Thing), Doctor Doom (Marvel), The Wicked Witch (The Wizard of Oz), and Agent Smith (The Matrix).


Simon (A Christmas Prince)

I can see this one. While Simon displays a wish to be in the spotlight as King, he only moves on it once he thinks that the path is absolutely clear. He does not compromise in his mission and does everything in his power to make it happen up to and including being underhanded but he never lies. Later, it is shown that he never really wanted the spotlight and is fine working as a covert fixer. He helps solve the central problems in the two sequels by being uncompromising and sneaky. At the same time, he has an absolute love for rules and order. Whether he is acting for good or for evil, this makes him look two-faced. I have definitely been guilty of the “By Any Means Possible” part of the Thinking Judging. Sometimes I have to rein myself in from taking too much initiative and circling back to the group or those in charge to consult them on my plans. However, when those plans are in place, they absolutely have to happen as planned or I have high anxiety and frustration. It is a part of me that I am working on. I also get so caught up in the details of what I have seen that I find it hard to take in new information after a decision. See also Professor James Moriarty (Sherlock Holmes), Severus Snape (Harry Potter), Magneto (Marvel), and Eobard Thawne (DC Comics).

The In-Between


Wednesday Addams (The Addams Family)

Not a shocker here. I have loved the character since I first saw The Addams Family (199) and have gone back and loved every iteration since. There is a reason that Christina Ricci was my first official celebrity crush and it was not just because she is goth. Wednesday is a person who is not so sure of who she is inside but is very sure of what the world is outside. In both movies, she is the one who first senses something is wrong because she has a solid view of what her family should be and is frustrated when it changes. Of course, this cuts both ways in that I absolutely hate change in my everyday life. In Wednesday, it is shown in the frustration about the disruption that a third sibling causes. At the same time, she is a rabid researcher and gets caught up in topics that interest her to the point of obsession. In the first film, it is shown by her deep research into the Bermuda Triangle. I do this all the time too both in my professional and personal life. See also Collin (What We Do in the Shadows), and Ellie Whedon (Locke and Key).

Brooke Wayne – A DC Comics Elseworlds Story

April 2, 2020

Brooke Wayne would be the first to admit that she had not had the happiest life. Her therapist, Dr. Crane, would confirm that. Everybody knew her story. Her parents had been murdered in front of her outside of a theater in downtown Gotham. She had undergone significant trauma but all of her friends had not taken her seriously. Poor little rich girl. She had disappeared suddenly one day and left her trust behind. That was the part of the story that the public did not know. What came after had been a secret. She traveled the world and trained her body and mind to fight crime. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

When she returned to Gotham, she took up the life of a costumed vigilante. She styled her costume after a bat, a creature she had encountered in deepest Africa. She had looked to battle the criminal element but she ended up in a war with the Gotham City Police Department. Supervillains began to appear in Gotham. Brooke felt like she was losing more ground than she was gaining. Finally, she explained her double life to her therapist, Dr. Tabitha Crane. It was at this point that Dr. Crane revealed that her ex-husband was the supervillain known as The Scarecrow. Together, Brooke and Tabitha put together a plan.

Brooke contacted the GCPD and worked out a deal. The Bat would disappear, here reign of terror would evaporate like shadows in sunlight. In return, she proposed setting up a special task force directly under Commissioner James Gordon. Additionally, Brooke would donate part of her vast family fortune to the police force for better technology and resources. She was already starting numerous social welfare programs to help heal a city broken by crime and corruption. She had other people running those. People more qualified to determine where that money should go. She was bored, she wanted to channel her anger in a more positive way.

Amazingly, Commissioner Gordon had conferred with the Mayor and had agreed. Brooke was sent to the police academy to learn protocol and pay her dues. She was sent along with several other vigilantes who were offered a similar deal. Now, Wayne had been on the force for years and she was really good at it. She was working things out with her therapist and the squad was having real success cleaning up the city. Things were looking up with crime and corruption on the decline. This left Brooke’s squad to tackle the real threats, the real dangers to the community.

“Good morning, Captain Wayne,” Olivia said. “How are we doing today?”

“Your Royal Highness,” Brooke said. “So nice that you could grace us with your presence.”

“Queen by name and Queen by reputation,” Olivia said. “Thank you for continuing to get the good word out there.” She set her gear bag down and hung up her bow. She had a special dispensation to carry a compound bow instead of a rifle. She had crusaded as the Green Arrow, inspired by The Bat. Brooke had eventually used that reputation to convince Olivia to partner with Brooke to fund the new GCPD squad.

“Whatever Queen,” Brooke said with a laugh. “You’re late. We’re joining everybody in the briefing room after I stop by to see the new tech from Holt.”

“I’ve got all the tech I need right here,” Olivia said and patted her bow. “What’s on the docket today? Spill.”

“You could just wait until the briefing,” Brooke said. “Sage, Dodds, Grant, and Tyler are already in there.”

“You have never been fun,” Olivia said. “Not once.”

Brooke sighed. “Fine,” she said. “We’re following a lead. Harley contacted me last night with some juicy stuff.”

“That whackjob?” Olivia asked. “I don’t trust her.”

“She’s given us good intel before,” Brooke said. “You have to learn to trust people, Queen. I can give you the number of my therapist.”

“Don’t get me started,” Olivia said. “She used to date the Joker.”

“I used to date Catwoman,” Brooke said. “Nobody’s perfect. She’s reformed. Well, she’s mostly reformed now that she’s with Ivy.”

“Well,” Olivia said. “I do believe in redemption. I guess you do too.”

“I’m starting to,” Brooke said. “One night at a time.”

(DC Comics was suggested by my friend Liz on Twitter)

Interview Questions 18

May 13, 2019


Pick a superpower: Flight or Invisibility?

This question was recently asked in the movie Shazam. Basically, I have read that it is an indicator of whether somebody wants to be in the background or in the spotlight. I can see why that is but I feel like the question is flawed. I often prefer to be in a support role and therefore in the background. Every job I have ever had has put me safely in that role while allowing me to stand out when I want to stand out. Invisibility would offer a guaranteed shot at that kind of thing but physically. I could appear and disappear at will and choose when people see me. That would be great but I cannot think of many uses for it. Now that I am no longer in theater, I have no reason to sneak around. I do not wish to use a superpower for crime either. Flight, on the other hand, would allow me to travel faster than walking or even driving. That seems of more use to me. I could lower my carbon footprint and travel would not be as much of an issue anymore. However, if we are talking about crimefighting, I would choose invisibility. It would allow me to catch criminals unawares and hide my face so that nobody could figure out my identity.


Batman vs. Spiderman: Who Would Win?

I have been a fan of both of these heroes since I was little so it is hard to choose between them on the basis of popularity. Interestingly enough, both characters’ paths to becoming heroes started with the death of a loved one. Batman went on a long journey around the world, training from masters on how to be good at basically everything. He learned martial arts, escapism, and how to be a brilliant detective among other things. Spider-Man was a young high school kid who got bitten by a radioactive spider and he gained superpowers. Spidey had to learn a lot of skills on the job and slowly cobbled together the skills to save the day. Over the years, both got really good at being superheroes. Initially, I thought that Spidey would win. He has a scientific mind and has super strength and agility. Basically, his trump card in a fight like this is his spider-sense which is basically a warning signal that goes off in his head that alerts him to imminent danger. I thought that would be the deal breaker but Batman has a history of creating plans that account for everything. He would simply set off that alert over and over in several fake-outs until Spidey did not know which way was up. Either that or he would come up with something that jammed spider-sense and take Spidey out when he was clueless. In any version of the characters, Batman has the edge on experience and forethought. Spidey usually relies on having fast reflexes but acting often beats reacting.


If you had to be shipwrecked on a deserted island, but all your human needs—such as food and water—were taken care of, what two items would you want to have with you?

This is actually a difficult question because the question is left vague when it comes to the rules. If I could bring a laptop and a device for an Internet connection, I would definitely bring that. I could still connect to the world and I could easily do research while writing. Though, that probably is not within the intended purpose of the question. Besides, the Internet connection would probably end up being more than one item. Also, there’s the whole power issue for the laptop. Unless it’s all magical. But, if we are bringing magic into the equation, I would simply bring a portal back to my house in Baltimore and a magic wand capable of telekinesis. That way I would have an island getaway and the wand would help me build a structure. Again, this does not seem to be the intention of the question. The real-life answer ends up being a bit boring but practical. I would bring a pencil and a ream of paper. I would write and write until the pencil ran out and then I would hope to burn some wood for charcoal and write some more. Boring yes but I can entertain myself for hours through writing and dreaming. The rest of the time on the island would be spent building a structure the old-fashioned way.

Interview Questions 17

March 25, 2019

What do you like to wear when you go to work?

I used to wear whatever I wanted to work. I would wear t-shirts and jeans and when it was cold, I would throw on a hooded sweatshirt. I wore sneakers until they would be falling apart and then I would keep wearing them. My clothes often had holes in them. When I first got an office job, I was frustrated that I would have to wear button up shirts and ties. I had never really been a tie guy. As soon as I felt I was able to get away with it, I stopped wearing a tie to work. I was not very invested in that job as it was just something to do to pay the bills. When I went back to school to become a paralegal, a change came over me. When I got my first job after school, I gladly put on a tie. Throwing on a buttoned shirt, slacks, nice shoes, and a tie puts me into work mode. When I don that combo, I feel professional and I think that is reflected in my work ethic. Besides, it is expected by clients and other professionals that I appear dressed like a proper assistant. Sure, there are some days I would rather not wear a tie but most days it is easy enough to wear one. Part of that is that I have shirts that fit my neck size and I learned that you do not have to cinch a tie to the hilt. It is not that hard to be comfortable and well-dressed.

If you could be Batman or Robin, which one would you be?

I have been a huge fan of Batman in many forms since I can remember. Batman was way better than Superman or any other hero out there because he was more or less an ordinary guy who did ordinary things. He used intelligence more than he used actual power to save the day. I truly fell in love with Batman in 1989 which was arguably Batman’s second movie outing but the first in theaters. Through all of the stories through all of the years, the comics have stressed how much pressure Batman is under. He has to make the tough choices and he has to make the plan. Honestly, I always liked being in a support role. Every job I have ever had has been in a support role. Robin is right there by Batman’s side, helping him save the day but following his mentor’s lead. Robin also makes Batman better by occasionally challenging him when Batman goes off the rails a bit or when Batman is otherwise incapacitated. Actually, although it was not a choice, I would love to be Oracle. Oracle was the former Batgirl who became Oracle after an injury left her wheelchair-bound. She used a vast network of computers and contacts to help Batman, his allies, and other heroes around the world. That seems like it is right up my alley.

Do you prefer cats or dogs?

I would have to say that I prefer cats. Dogs are great, though. Dogs are big bundles of energy and all of that seems to be focused into love and excitement. They are always happy to see you and happy to see everyone they ever see. In my experience, most dogs immediately run and jump all over everyone who comes in the door even if it is their owner who they have seen thousands of times. As a natural introvert and somebody who likes to actually do stuff in their house, this sounds tiring to me. I would kind of like to watch television without having to deal with the barking. I know that means that I am missing out on the love and affection of a lot of good boys and girls but I just cannot deal with it. Also, people with dogs never seem to be able to go anywhere. They always have to be back to walk the dog. By the way, walking the dog is the one part I did not have a problem with. Cats, on the other hand, are largely low maintenance. They handle a lot of their business on their own and only bother you when it is time to eat (which is all the time but that can be managed). Cats seem to know when you want to be alone and when you want company. They are more like roommates than pets sometimes.

Top 11 Favorite 90s Characters

February 17, 2018

Top 11


11. Bob (ReBoot)

When I played my first video game on the Atari, I was hooked. Even though the games of my youth were next to impossible, I loved trying each and every game I could get my hands on. Computers were also becoming more and more of a thing as I entered my teen years. I spent a lot of time playing computer games and video games with my friends and we bonded over them. So when Reboot first premiered, I was instantly in love. The show is about the programs that live inside a computer city called Mainframe. The show’s main hero is Bob who is a guardian. Being a guardian means that Bob would enter the games the user played and would “reboot” himself as an enemy character and try to beat the user at the game. If he succeeded, he protected Mainframe and if he failed, that section of Mainframe was destroyed. So it set up most gamers as unintentional villains opposed by guardians like Bob. Bob was always level-headed and did not let fear override his thoughts as he could not afford to get distracted. Bob also had a multitool that could transform into a lot of gadgets he might need to save the day both in the games and out of them. Even with the danger, I envied Bob’s life of basically living in video games.


10. Freakazoid

As I was growing up, my sense of humor started to evolve and animation started to move beyond the laugh track humor of past cartoons. Instead of corny humor of shows like The Flintstones or He-Man, family shows started to really figure out humor. Just because you are putting out a PG product, does not mean that your humor has to insult even its youngest audience members. The makers of Freakazoid obviously embraced a lot of different types of humor. Most of all, they seemed to embrace smarter forms of humor like Monty Python or Bugs Bunny. Combining the silly and the surreal was what that sort of humor was about. Dexter Douglas is a young nerdy teen (like I was!) who got zapped by his home computer and was transported into the Internet. Let’s pause there because I would have loved to be able to be zapped into the Internet. That would have been a geek’s dream. The experience turned Dexter into Freakazoid, a manic but enthusiastic superhero. Freakazoid is always out for a good time but, like Bugs Bunny, he often has to take care of villains just to get back to the fun. Freakazoid was also the defender of Washington, DC which is close enough to my hometown for me to get a little excited. This show had the same humor as The Animaniacs (more on that later) with low humor blended with high humor. Freakazoid was impossible not to root for too.


9. Mega Man

I was an early adopter when it came to video games even though I have always been kind of in the middle of the pack when it comes to skill. Still, I have always loved the aesthetics that video game developers come up with. Even a lot of the worst games at least look interesting. When I was young, I immediately glommed onto Mega Man 2. It was an incredibly difficult game but I loved the franchise’s idea of having elemental-themed enemies with a high degree of character. The show combines the concepts from the video games with anime. Rock is a robot who gets redesigned for battle and uses an energy blaster to fight evil robots. He also had an onboard computer feature that could copy his enemy’s abilities when he touched them which was similar enough to the games. I just remember Mega Man being so cool and confident and I liked the idea of not being stuck with one power but being able to use your enemies’ powers against them. The cartoon was short lived but it included a lot of stuff from the franchise and Mega Man eventually teamed up with his future counterpart Mega Man X as well. What kid didn’t want to be a robot with a robot dog?


8. Xena: Warrior Princess

Before I discovered the Evil Dead franchise, I discovered something else that Sam Raimi and his gang produced. That something was Hercules: The Legendary Journeys but, while it was a good show, Hercules was kind of a bland show compared to its spinoff. Xena was supposed to be a one-off character on Hercules, a brutal female villain for Hercules to contend with. At the end of her turn on Hercules, the audiences loved her so the decision was made for her to reform and to start her own legendary journey to right wrongs. Basically, she was fighting the patriarchy before most people were even using that term. She was also one of the first lesbian characters on television and even gawky preteen me understood that subtext. Xena was a total badass and she never met a situation she couldn’t fight, intimidate, or trick her way out of. She was also funny in the same way that Batman was funny which is funny without trying to be. She also fought a lot of the mythology that I had fallen in love with after reading The Oddysey, The Iliad, and other Greek/Roman tales. She also is one of three characters to get stuck in a Groundhog Day-esque scenario that ended up funny and interesting. (The other two are Sam Winchester and Phil Connors himself, of course). I also often have a soft spot for tough people who secretly have a heart of gold.


7. The Blue Ranger (Billy Cranston)

Power Rangers was a show that I was a huge fan of. I had no idea at all that it was edited from footage from a similar Japanese show. However, Saban was able to turn that into an unstoppable franchise that became its own animal. For me, Power Rangers was something I watched before leaving for school at one point. I remember being really interested in the idea of normal teenage kids becoming superheroes. It also scratched the same itch that magical girl shows would later also scratch. Billy, in particular, was my favorite because he had abilities beyond being a Power Ranger. He was yet another example of blue characters being the smart ones. He was an inventor who came up with a lot of the extra gadgets the original Rangers used and a lot of those gadgets continued into later series. He was also the awkward one, a little insecure about being among other people. When it came to actual Power Ranger powers, he was on par with everybody else. Episodes focusing on him often dealt with more real issues like rescuing a new girlfriend, phobias, or science.


6. Gambit (Remy Lebeau)

When I was a kid, I hated the Boy Scouts of America. I was briefly part of the Indian Guides (now thankfully called Y-Guides) and the Scouts were our rivals. Even today, I do not put much faith in the organization. But when I was a kid, I was kind of averse to “boy scout” characters like Superman and especially Cyclops. I much preferred to see more subversive characters like Wolverine, Rogue, and especially Gambit. Gambit was a thief from New Orleans who had the mutant power to replace an object’s kinetic energy with explosive energy. Anything he touched basically turned into a grenade. He did not wear a team uniform and instead wore a custom costume with a big trench coat. This was at a time when I was very tired of wearing uniforms for sports. While Gambit did not get nearly enough time on the animated series during the nineties, they meted out just enough of him to keep people wanting more. On top of that, I always wished I had his confidence growing up.


5. Darkwing Duck

This was officially my first experience with the combination of Disney and superheroes which would end up often being a very satisfying combination. Drake Mallard is a duck living in the DuckTales universe and he dresses up and fights crime as Darkwing Duck. He is basically Batman, James Bond, and The Green Hornet combined into one hero. He is a serious hero but the show was both a serious superhero show and a parody superhero show. The character of Darkwing Duck is a superhero who fell in love with being a detective and fighting crime. However, he also had a huge ego and tended to be rather clumsy at times. He often only saved the day when he managed to get serious and get out of his own way. He fought alongside Disney-fied versions of popular superheroes and fought Disney-fied versions of popular comic book villains and James Bond-esque villains. Unlike annoying heroes like Inspector Gadget, the humor did not come from him being incompetent but from Darkwing’s quips and physical humor. The character was also a good father to a little girl he had adopted who often helped to fight crime along with DW and his sidekick Launchpad (from DuckTales). As the show continued, Darkwing’s history was added to and there was a lot of great world-building.


4. Yakko Warner

The Animaniacs was a cartoon variety show that focused on a whole cast of zany Warner Brothers style characters updated for the nineties. The main focus of the show was the Warner Brothers and their sister Dot. They were cartoons deemed too zany and disruptive and were sealed in the water tower on the Warner Brothers lot. At the beginning of the series, they finally made their escape and the studio spent the entire series trying to acclimate them to polite society with no success. The kids were not evil, though. They were rambunctious and sarcastic but, like Bugs Bunny, they really only caused malicious chaos when somebody crossed the line and upset them. Their revenge was out of proportion but justified. Out of the three, Yakko Warner was my favorite. His form of comedy was mostly wordplay. He employed puns, sarcasm, and just good old-fashioned tricks with words. He was basically a cartoon form of Groucho Marx. He always seemed to be the smartest guy in the room and he leveraged that to make mean or rude people pay for their behavior. He also sang quite a few of the show’s most memorable songs including the highly educational Yakko’s World and Yakko’s Universe. Like Groucho, he usually ended up as the leader of his siblings and their spokesman. Inside my head, the words always flowed like Yakko but outside, especially as a kid, I was never as glib.


3. Sailor Mercury (Ami)

When I was sitting on my bed, watching episodes of Sailor Moon from Cartoon Network’s line up, I always loved Sailor Mercury the most. She never had the coolest power but in retrospect, her abilities usually gave the Scouts a tactical advantage such as fog or freezing the enemy. I mean, Sailor Jupiter obviously had the coolest powers. However, Ami was present from the fifth episode and it is a good thing that she was. She is by far the smartest of all of the Scouts and was the only Scout to be granted a magical supercomputer. There is only one episode of the original anime when she pulls out her Mercury Goggles which was basically a VR overlay visor for scanning things. That blew my mind because the combination of technology and magic was amazing. I identified with Ami because she was the “smart one” and my teachers kept claiming I was intelligent. I was also interested in the emerging technology of computers just as Ami was. Also, I was probably drawn to Ami because she was the shy and timid one and that was how I felt as well.


2. Spider-Man

In the middle of the decade, Marvel finally got its crap together and started to put out really good animation. Spider-Man is a character who I have always loved. His origins are as a nerdy and shy high schooler who got to magically transform into a superhero after being bitten by a radioactive spider. As a kid, I dreamed of finding my own radioactive spider (figuratively, of course). He also got to work for a newspaper in a sort of creative job all while studying cool science in college. That cool science enhanced his gear with gadgets but his main deal was his brain, his strength, and his speed. The cartoon in the 90s was great. It really captured a lot of what I loved about reading Spider-Man comics and it included pretty much his entire rogue’s gallery. They really captured both Peter’s internal monologue and the quips that Spider-man uses to disarm his foes mid-battle. The show also explored a lot of the angst that a young superhero felt while also trying to juggle a career, school, and a girlfriend. The show and the comics made me feel at the time that I could be Spider-Man which is one of the main strengths of the character. Anybody can be under that mask as long as they have radioactive spider blood too.


1. Batman

When I was a little kid, reruns of the 1966 Batman show came on and, while I enjoyed it, I never really engaged with it. It was better than I Dream of Jeannie reruns because it had superheroes even though Adam West was never really super. My relationship with Batman drastically improved when Bruce Timm and Warner Brothers released Batman: The Animated Series. B:TAS was everything that I wanted Batman to be and it became the bar by which I measured future Batman stories. The Animated Series was an amazing mix of both light and dark. I welcomed the darkness which was so sorely lacking from the campy Adam West series. I realized that Adam West was never really Batman. This was Batman. Kevin Conroy’s strong voice matched the shadowy, adventurous character on screen. His voice could be scary, brave, warm, vulnerable, and even funny at times without losing the character of Batman. The writing made it clear that Batman was not perfect but he lived in a world that believed he was. He put the weight of the world on his shoulders and then still saved the day the best way he knew how.


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