Friday, May 29, 2009

Comic Review Wednesdays - Batman in Barcelona: Dragon's Knight

Batman in Barcelona: Dragon's Blood #1  
Written by Mark Waid 
Art by Diego Olmos

The inmates at Arkham are manipulative psychopaths who have never hesitated to torture whomever they chose; even one of their own. After being manipulated by Mad Hatter and Scarecrow, Killer Croc runs off to Barcelona in an effort to reenact the legend of St. George and the Dragon with the Dark Knight-- but with the Dragon claiming victory. Croc has been killing relentlessly, a young woman each night, and as the festival for St. George draws near it seems that Croc might do something extreme if he doesn't get the confrontation he's after. 

First I have to say that I've never disliked Mark Waid. Kingdom Come was quite the bit of writing, and his run on Fantastic Four is still something I think of fondly, but still it was only with mild optimism that I approached this title. Despite this, Batman in Barcelona is still an inexcusable dud that I wish I hadn't waited my time on. When this one-shot was announced, I initially brushed it aside and thought that it would be just an empty killer croc story, devoid of anything of real value, and should have stuck with my first impression. 

One of the more notable problems is how familiar certain elements of this story seem. Two scenes in particular-- and horribly enough the two that make up most of the soul of this piece, are total rip offs of other pieces of Batman lore. One scene in the story will strike the reader as overwhelmingly familiar because it is nearly pound for pound exactly like a scene from Batman Begins, and another will strike readers as a rip off of Morrison's Arkham Asylum which this story could well have been conceived from. Finally, there's the ending which reeks of a sappy romance movie. In short, the scenes that would have made this comic something of note are completely unoriginal, and derive from other Batman sources. If I were Waid, I'd be hanging my head in shame to do anything so obvious. 

Another huge problem in this comic are the huge gaps in logic. The Barcelona public has no idea who Batman is-- a fact that would be fine, except that Batman is as much as a world icon in the DC universe as he is in our own. He's a member of the justice league-- he's helped saved the world. How can I be expected to believe that the people of Barcelona (more than just one person mind you) don't know who he is? One woman called Batman a "demon" in the issue. Ok, maybe there are people who don't know who Batman is but how the hell do you mistake a man in a suit, one foot away from you, as a demon? Additionally, this entire comic is based on the premise that Killer Croc has managed to get to Barcelona. Can someone explain to be how a 7 foot tall, prisoner escapee lizard man boarded a plane or boat unnoticed? It also expects the reader to believe that Bruce Wayne has mini-Batcaves all over the world. I'm not usually one to scoff and Bruce Wayne's paranoia but c'mon

Even the dialog was bad. It was as though Waid had no grip on how to write a dark character like Batman. His lines always go on for too long, and characters address each other and refer to each other in contrived ways. It was simply painful to read. The art is also unredeeming. While the pages are generally well-rendered, it's often challenging to follow the action within the comic, and characters frequently have an awful stiffness to them. Olmos might be able to do fantastic pin-ups or covers, but I wouldn't want him drawing my comic. 

RATING: 1 out of 10. 
Worthless. Buy it if your life is just going too well and you need something to bitch about. Sorry about the review being late, but comics didn't hit the store until late Thursday. 

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Comic Review Wednesdays - Batman: Battle for the Cowl #3

Batman: Battle for the Cowl #3 (of 3)
Written by Tony Daniel
Art by Tony Daniel 

Things have not been going well since Bruce Wayne's passing; Gangs are at war, the Black Mask is terrorizing the city, and Jason Todd is running around in an armored Batman costume. The Battle for the Cowl ends here in an all out battle between Dick and Jason in a fight to see who has the right to wear the mantle of the Bat. Unfortunately little else manages to come to a head. 

The most absolutely nagging problem with the final issue of Battle for the Cowl is just how much is left unresolved. Yes, by the end of the issue there is a new Batman but the happenings within this event as so extensive that there is more to put an end to. In the tie-ins, things were often left unfinished but the reader was given a crystal clear picture of the new status quo. For instance The Network tie-in gave a clear indication that Hugo Strange would likely be serving as a antagonistic force against Barbara Gordon in the future-- likely something that will come into play in the upcoming Batgirl series. In this issue however, no questions are answered surrounding the Black Mask, or how he will act in the new Bat-verse, things mentioned surrounding Jason Todd are left unrevealed, and despite it being a huge part of the series, we're still left with virtually no pay off on the Two-Face/Penguin gang war. As expected, Battle for the Cowl was taking bites too big, and even refused to shallow what it could. Readers looking for a resolution to the conflicts, or even some closure will only be half-satisfied at best. It ultimately depends how you actually cared about the inevitable Dick/Jason fight. 

Also troublesome is Damian's characterization in this issue. I'm not very familiar with the character-- I actually only know the very basics of him but it isn't the accuracy of his portrayal that I'm concerned with. Jason Todd, despite all the huge events in this mini, is essentially the antagonist of this issue of Battle for the Cowl. Todd was a character so arrogant, and obnoxious that fans chose to kill him off back in the eighties when he was Robin-- and It seems that Damian is the same kind of character. He's bratty, violent, whiny and totally unlikable. Pair that with a Jason Todd story and the parallels are inescapable. Even if the writers at DC are aware of that fact, and have something planned, they should be aware that no one is clamoring for Jason Todd redux. Also troublesome in this issue is how Alfred is portrayed. It's well known that Batman characters often run a muck when they're half near dead-- and Alfred is often the neglected voice of reason in Wayne Manor. In this issue however, he encourages a wounded 14-year-old Damian to run out into a violence-ridden city to help his caretaker face a known psychopath. None of that would bother me if Alfred wasn't giving Damian the means to do it willingly. That's horrible, irresponsible mentorship, and completely unbecoming on Alfred. 

On top of everything else, there are also a slew of awkwardly written moments in the comic that come off as ridiculous. At one point a wounded character gives nothing short of an expository monologue to two characters in the heat of a fight-- not even referencing them as he does, but himself. Jim Gordon also has one hell of a melodramatic bomb-line on the page he's featured that renders the entire seriousness of the moment ineffective. 

RATING: 3 out of 10
Battle of the Cowl wraps up here (except for next weeks Batman Alive?)- this issue will inevitably be put into a trade, or you can pick them up at your local comic shop, however the series fails to deliver on all levels save one- actually picking the new Batman. 

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Roughing the Road

If you know me at all, you probably know I'm a pretty fan of Cormac McCarthy's 2006 Pulitzer Prize winning novel, The Road. By the time I read it, about 10 months ago now, the movie was already well on it's way to release, and indeed by September or so movie cover editions of the book were coming out. I wasn't really sure how I felt about the idea of a movie of The Road-- I wasn't exactly for it because I didn't want it butchered, but I also thought it could make a solid (even potentially financially successful) film. In any event, the trailer for the film, as near as I can tell, hit the Internet a few days ago. You can view it here. That's right, I'm talking about a trailer again. 

Before I talk about the footage itself-- I have to say that the slide-like shots in the trailer listing activities such as "wake", "search", and "hide" nearly made me want to turn the trailer off immediately. It feels like the editors wanted to convey the difficulties of the man and the boy (they have no names) and resorted to a laundry list of what they have to do to survive as a method to achive this. They obviously didn't understand how ridiculous reading words like wake and search to dramatic music is. It steals away a great deal of credibility from the get-go and if this kind of obliviousness the same creative hand that makes the movie you can expect a rough ride. 

As for the trailer, I was both surprised and not by how it presented the content. The Road is a very quiet kind of novel punctuated by intense moments. The effect is like that of a good horror movie; you're constantly on edge because you never know what's coming next. Long stretches pass smoothly, you're lulled into a false sense of security, and at the most expected moment, the rug is pulled out from underneath you. The quiet moment's in McCarthy's The Road are essential to the novel, both thematically and structurally. It's possible-- maybe even likely, but I'm not going to hope-- that the trailer is misleading.  The trailer makes the film look like a non-stop pulse pounder, and like this summer's Watchmen, people will likely be misled if the film is true to the source. That's fine by me. I've read the book.

Two things that weren't in the book that seem to be in the movie are first, the cause of the disaster that wrecked humanity, and second, a detailed portrayal of the man and his wife. The novel ignores the cause of the Earth's destruction, and is better for it. It doesn't matter how it ended in The Road, simply that it has and the novel concerns itself with surviving in the world as it is now. The past is irrelevant. I'd wager that's why the man's wife is mentioned as infrequently in the novel as she is as well. Her memory is a factor in this new world, but not her, and so the couples relationship isn't gone into detail. I don't exactly know that I like the idea of these two things being explored, but even what The Road is, it seems that the added content is needed to keep the movie-going audience on board. If it's handled well, then it may even have some benefit to the rest of the piece. We'll see. 

Otherwise, the trailer seems very close to the book. My eyes went wide with the first shot of the desolate grey landscape. It was exactly how I had envisioned the world the character's inhabited. Every scene that's depicted seems to have come straight from the novel-- right down to the coke can scene, which comes off as rather ingenuine in the trailer. I really don't believe that boy is tasting coke for the first time. All in all I expect the film will be a rather mediocre affair. It doesn't feel like it'll have much success in finding Oscar gold or an audience. I could be wrong. 

What are your thoughts? If you haven't read the book, does it interest you?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Comic Review Wednesdays - Captain Britain and MI:13 #13

Captain Britain and MI:13 #13
Written by Paul Cornell 
Pencils by Adrian Syaf with Leonard Kirk

It seems that the number thirteen truly is unlucky, because as promised on Cornell's blog (linked above), "huge and terrible things happen" in this new issue of Captain Britain. Dracula (yes, Count Dracula) is on a mad crusade for a sovereign vampire state and he has chosen Great Britain to call home. With the mystical precautions set by Van Helsing years earlier destroyed, Great Britain finds itself under siege by a Vampire army. At the same time, team member Faiza's father has been kidnapped and is a mere forty-eight hours away from becoming a vampire, and Spitfire (who is normally a vampire) is now commanding officer of the enemy forces against her will. Needless to say, things are bad and at the end of the issue-- they're only more despairing. 

Before I talk about the issue itself, I'd like to talk about the series as a whole. Now, I started reading Captain Britain the week the third issue came out, and bought the first two issues that same day. I did this for a few reasons, not the least of which being that before I began to read this I was only reading Ms. Marvel, but I also have a strong love for this national icon/ideal characters-- with Steve Rogers dead, and little interest in the budding Bucky, I went for Brian Braddock. Fortunately for me, this title is also among one of the most consistently well-written titles at Marvel. Within the first year of the title, and two and a half story lines-- two characters died, two characters have come back, two significant relationships have formed, an invasion stopped, and a duke of hell shown his place. Within a single issue, it seems that Cornell has managed to trump all of that. 

My only genuine complaint about this particular issue is that the uniforms of the characters of Captain Britain and Union Jack look so similar that it's possible to think Captain Britain threw a belt on and confuse him with Union Jack. Within the context of the issue this is cleared up but it was unclear as to what was happening until that explanation was given. Perhaps also nagging are the cameos that were included in the issue. They serve to explain some rather essential exposition, but the characters could have been anyone, and certainly the cameo avoided if they wanted to. The truth is that Marvel likely told Cornell to throw some cameos in to help sell the comic. 

Otherwise, the issue moves swiftly, and thankfully manages to avoid the bothersome exposition the Cornell has been infusing into the title as of late. Of course, the end of the comic is really it's true merit. As a reader, I can only hope that what has transpired will not be retconned. As dark as it is, it brings a great layer to the story, and with Cornell's title selling less than can be expected-- you never know when the ride might come to an end. With that in mind, Cornell might as well do what he wants for the sake of the story since I'd wager that Britain probably only had six to twelve months left in it. Still, it's an outstanding book, and more people should read it. 

RATING: 8 out of 10.
Great writing on Cornell's part. Great series, and often great art. Everyone should be reading this. I'm sorry this review sucks-- I've been up for like 36 hours and want to go to bed. 

Monday, May 11, 2009

The Magic Returns: Princess/Frog Trailer

If you're not aware already, let me start with this (Disney haters may leave now)-- Disney is returning to its 2D roots, and the first release in this style is a new take on the classic story of The Princess and the Frog which is due for release in December of this year. Now, up until earlier this week the only visuals of this film to have been released were a few stills and a teaser which featured a song from the film (the music is being done by Randy Newman)- a wonderful glimpse of things to come, and the song* had me replaying the video over and over just hear the last few words; "Dreams do come true in New Orleans." 

The first real trailer for the film came out a few days ago, and I'm in absolute awe. You can watch it here. Please go do that, as what is to follow will just be a jumble of words about a series of images that won't make any sense until you do. 

Ok. I hope you watched the trailer because I'm going to ruin the magic of it if you haven't by talking about it now. I cannot even begin to express how excited I am to see this movie. I think I can legitimately say that the only movie I've been this excited for in recent years was The Dark Knight. I'm a huge fan of classic Disney, pretty much everything Tarzan and earlier, and so to see that they're really going back to these 2D roots not only in concept but completely is thrilling. 

Let's get the bones of it: My jaw pretty much dropped to the ground when the new princess, Tiana, turned into a frog. It's a simple enough twist really, instead of the prince becoming human, the girl becomes a frog-- sure, but It came so far out of left field for me. I knew they would have to do something in order to make a movie out of this story, but I didn't expect that at all. With the hints of the animated characters and villain, I figured they'd have more than enough to carry the film to the end with the prince alone as a frog-- but, well, there's nothing quite like a surprise. 

I think Dr. Facilier, the villainous voodoo man and antagonist of the film, looks fantastic. Looking back, I don't think I had any expectations as to what he might look like other than the fact that he would be old. I certainly didn't expect a character straight out of Live and Let Die. Disney villains always seem to have a certain signature look to them that makes them distinctly a Disney villain, a certain iconic element and I think that Dr. Facilier will fit in exceptionally well. His height and the awesome skull mask really make him visually appealing, and the part in the trailer where swirling magic clouds come up around him, and he does his villainous laugh was my favorite part of the whole trailer. Also worth noting, Dr. Facilier is going to be the first Disney villain since Judge Frollo from Hunchback of Notre Dame to have a song. The villain's song was one of the hallmarks of the Disney renaissance and I'm so excited that they're back. Songs like "Poor Unfortunate Souls", and "Hellfire" are wonderful, and have a seductive, dark appeal to them that end up, at least for me, being one of the high points of the movie. 

I thought that the prince came off as a funny character in the trailer. I love his mannerisms when he's relating the story to Tiana. Curiously, I thought there was a rather strange inflection in his voice when he talked of his webbed feet saying "I'm tripping over these." It came out far too dark/mean to me for the character to be totally genuine. I almost suspect that he isn't entirely what he says he is. Perhaps it's just that his character is that upset about it, but it seemed like too much for it to be just a passing statement. That avenue has certainly been taken before, maybe it will be something of a cross of Beast's backstory and the Hercules-Meg relationship. Maybe not. Thoughts? 

I'm very excited for the music in this film as well. Being that it's set in New Orleans (I'm also very excited about that), it as a lot of song potential. When I think of Disney and bluesy/jazz numbers I automatically think of The Aristocats, which is far from their most notable film, but I think that genre of music could certainly lend itself well to a Disney musical if they manage to find a happy marriage between the styles. It also helps that Randy Newman is doing the music-- a thankfully very talented musician/songwriter.

Musical numbers, a beautiful setting, talking animals (that I already love), iconic villain, and an at least interesting take on an old story? Count me in. Count me in a thousand times, yes. I think every kid who grew up during the Disney Renaissance has been waiting for this (unless they hate Disney, but they're not reading right now) for years-- there is an ageless appeal to Disney's animated musicals and thank God they're coming back to them! 

What did you all think of the trailer? Are you as excited as I am? 

*I'm getting sick of corrections. 

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Reflecting Poorly: The Bad of Comic Movies

Let me preface this blog with a quote from a review of Fox's most recent Super-Hero flick X-men Origins: Wolverine by Philip French of the Observer: 
It's dull, bone-crushing, special-effects stuff, of interest only to hardcore fans who've probably read it all in Marvel comics.
Let me begin by saying that I don't believe that Mr. French speaks for everyone, but that I believe what he expresses in the above quote says a great deal about the laymen perception of graphic literature. I say graphic literature as a whole, and not simply American comics, or super-hero comics because I believe that the uninitiated see little distinction between these genres. This quote, and what it entails suggests to me that the comic book movie's success (as a genre, not specifically Wolverine) is doing little to help graphic literature in the long run. 

When you refer to comic books in America, there is a natural association with the super-hero genre, and rightly so. Super-heros entered into the American culture about seventy years ago, and the major companies that produce super-hero comics dominate the American Market with something along the lines of 70-85% of the pie. But that in itself isn't the issue, the issue is that for whatever reason the general movie goer seems to take these adaptation as the gospel truth of the comics, unless of course they carry the heft of The Dark Knight- in which case fully credit is given to the film's writer and director. The result is that these film's failures are chalked up to bad source writing, and the successes are attributed to the film makers. In effect, these films do nothing to help Graphic Literature. 

Look at the reviews for The Dark Knight if you doubt this. I believe that Chris Nolan did put his own spin on Batman and the Joker in crafting the Dark Knight, but one of the things that seems to constantly be ignored when the film is discussed is how the likes of The Killing Joke, The Long Halloween, or dozens of other well-written Batman stories effected the final piece. I won't deny that The Dark Knight brought about an increase in the number of Batman trades purchased, but those numbers as nothing compared to the box office the film brought in, and when the film is discussed it is still discussed as Nolan's Batman. What bothers me about this isn't that Nolan can't "have" a Batman, certainly people refer to Batman in the same way when talking about major creators like Denny O'Neil or Frank Miller-- what bothers me is that when people discuss Nolan's Batman is seems as though they're talking about a new identity rather than a cumulatively built one. 

In the case of Wolverine, it feels as though because the film is floundering critically (although a fiscal enough success to garner two additional sequels and fast track two others) the blame is being put toward the comics or fanboys. As though there was a die-hard Wolverine fan who pissed their pants in excitement when Gambit, Emma Frost, Blob, and Cyclops were revealed to be in the film. Worse yet, there are people who will take the film as comic book cannon and continue to be dismissive of the literature, knee-deep genre though it may be. I remember years ago, sometime in 2003, I went to see the first Hulk movie directed by Ang Lee and as I  left the theater disgusted and disappointed, (to those who site it as being a good film, but bad adaptation: you're wrong. It's a horrible, horrible film. I can never get more than fifteen minutes in) I overheard someone say to their date that evening something to the effect of, "Did you know about all of that stuff with his father? I had no idea." -- for whatever reason comic adaptations are believed to be faithful, though everyone seems to know that Hollywood bastardizes novels with nearly every other adaption

How are Comics ever really going to get a fair shake? With an audience that assumes only super-hero films have material related to comics, with film being a more recognized art form, with poorly written films being taken in for cannon, and with the best of the bunch in comics being sweeping epic stories nearly impossible to tell in 2-3 hours-- what hope does graphic literature really have of gaining recognition from comic movies? I don't believe there's much.

I'm consistently amazed as how little the uninitiated know about comic books. Honestly, when I hear people talk about comic movies, and they're not comic readers themselves It's almost painful. Comic books, graphic novels, manga, graphic literature, however you slice it and label it, aren't just kids books, or the format for mediocre writers. They're not just fight scenes and explosions, They're not just about colorful tights, mechanized robots, and big boobs. There's no denying that those things proliferate graphic literature, they sell, but so do awful comic book adaptations that are built around special effects, and formulaic romantic comedies, and Adam Sandler movies but we don't hold any of those things against film as an art form, do we? No. So why are comic book stories not given their due? I may be off base, but I don't think I am.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Success and My First Public Reading

Last night was the public reading for SCAD's 2009 volume of Artemis, the college's official literary journal. One of my pieces of writing, The Pigeon Man, was included in the volume so naturally I was there to read an excerpt. I arrived early at about 6PM for the 7PM reading after catching some dinner and sat around waiting for things to get moving. I watched the entire event get set up-- the mic testing, laying out of the food, laying out the copies of Artemis, and practised my reading while all this was going on. Not long after things were set up, one of the professors who edited the journal began putting together a reading order. I approached her, told her I would be reading an except from my story, and she put me down in what she called "lucky slot number six." 

The event was much busier than I expected it would be, and as the event was starting a nervousness started to build in the pit of my stomach. That nervousness ratcheted up notch by notch with each of the first few readers that left the podium as my own reading came closer. The fifth reader stepped up to the podium and read a very short piece that I don't believe I caught a word of and finally it was time for me to go to the podium.  I looked to the professor doing the introductions, waiting to hear my name called, and what escaped her lips sounded nothing like my name. In fact, it sounded like it was a girl's name. I'm pretty sure it was because a girl walked up to the stage and started to read. I didn't think too much of it, I figured that I had been moved so that the professor could keep the variation of readers she had wanted. Still, someone else was called after that girl, and then someone else, and then someone else, and by the time slot ten rolled around it seemed pretty sure I had been skipped over. I thought perhaps I'd be called up at the very end, thinking the professor had surely realized her mistake, but the last reader left the podium, thanks were given, and the night was over. Thus were the events of my first public reading, or rather, the events of the night of what was to be my first public. 

It seems nothing short of appropriate, in all honesty. A collegiate publication is actually worth some metal if it doesn't publish student work, but since SCAD's literary magazine is exclusively student work it's hardly notable. With only a few hundred copies printed, I believe 200, and somewhere along the lines of 35 writers in the collection- most assuredly snatching more than one volume- it doesn't leave a heck of a lot of room for circulation even around the SCAD campus. In reality, getting published in Artemis is only good for getting some respect for yourself as a writer, and for being able to throw a minor trifle on the resume. 

The entire time I was at the Artemis reading, I couldn't shake the feeling that it was just one big self-indulgent, self-congratulating affair. A significant portion of those in attendance were either included in the volume, edited it, or were there to support their friends. I'm sure the number of non-involved persons with a genuine interest was minimal. Still, there is something special in being recognized. Twice that day I was approached by people I know with congratulations, and though being included in the volume wasn't much more than proof that I have some merit as a writer to me, it was still rewarding to hear other writers acknowledge the inclusion. 

Success is something that doesn't come to those in the arts everyday. It's rare unfortunately, but at least that makes it that much more rewarding. Artemis may not be important in the scheme of things, it's a small thing that come ultimate career success or failure will always mean very little but like I've been saying: You take success where you find it and drink it up as much as you can. 

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Comic Review Wednesdays - The Network #1

The Network #1 (of 1) 
Written by Fabian Nicieza 
Pencils by Don Cramer and J. Calafiore

With Gotham fighting for it's life, Oracle's Network of allies is forced to run around stopping crime after crime without end. Things get worse when old Batman nemesis Hugo Strange kidnaps three people, two of questionable morality and a third that is old and mentally debilitated. He seeks to challenge the new gun-toting caped crusader by promising to kill two individuals once one of them is saved. Oracle intercepts this challenge and it's up to her and the Network to ensure that all of these people make it out alive. A Battle for the Cowl tie in. 

The biggest problem this issue faces is that the level of threat in the issue seems minimal. Hugo Strange is no slouch, sure, but when you pit him Huntress, Batgirl, Manhunter, Ragman, Misfit and more there begins to be a small issue. Additionally, the plan is something typical of Hugo Strange and his obsession with Batman and so when the city is falling apart around our heroes it seems inappropriate to give so much attention to a crime that, while disturbed, is small in scale compared to what else might be going on. If Gotham weren't in such a horrible position, and Strange wasn't so badly out matched, then this story might have had some solid potential, but with so much stuff going on, it makes a person wonder how many people died while the entire Network was dicking around with Strange. It's also of note that the entire plot is a less successful version of the Harvey/Rachel events in the Dark Knight. 

The issue focuses on Huntress and Batgirl primarily but also makes concerns itself with a very thin plotline involving Misfit. Not being familiar with what has been going on with those characters, a great deal on the content was lost to me. Certainly I understand who they are, and how they act but I got no indication as to what had developed between them to make their current relationship what it was. This isn't to say I want a pages of exposition explaining it, but something to give me some indication would have been incredibly helpful. I didn't even get the impression that Batgirl was in the Network anymore. Regardless, it just made the issue that much more of a drag as I didn't know how to approach what I was reading. 

The story is also riddled with logical plot holes-- such as Oracle revealing information to characters when she would know their response wouldn't help the situation, or how some things have come to pass if they were so easily resolved. Interesting, the two instances I've mentioned feature Barbra Gordon being incredibly dumb and impossibly smart. A passive reader might not notice these or concern themselves with them but they're certainly there. The problems that plague this issue are numerous, but not quite crippling. It's more as though this Batman comic were written by a mediocre or student writer. 

RATING: 4 out of 10 
Avoid it if you like, or read it if you're keen on Batman (or Hugo Strange, I suppose). It seems to be setting something rather minor for the future of the Bat-verse.