Robot Chicken DC Comics Special 2: Villains in Paradise
October 26, 2014

Robot Chicken DC Comics Special 2: Villains in Paradise is now available on DVD. The special only runs 22 minutes, but there are tons of extras.

Like the previous Robot Chicken DC Comics Special, the show is a string of random gags executed using Mego-style superhero dolls.

The jokes range from annoyances of daily life (sequences in a coffee shop) to bizarre postulations (such as Lex’s “Sexx Luthor” high school band). As I’d expect for the Adult Swim audience, there’s a reliance on gags about body parts and extreme language.

The show was clearly created by someone who really knows their DC universe, since all kinds of characters show up, including Dr. Fate and Chemo. Oddly surprising but my favorite were the musical numbers, particularly the Superboy/Lena Luthor beach duet, voiced by Zac Efron and Sarah Hyland. Those are only a few of the surprisingly well-known voices that participate. Others are Alfred Molina (Lex Luthor), Nathan Fillion (Green Lantern), Breckin Meyer (Superman), Alex Borstein (Wonder Woman), Clancy Brown (Gorilla Grodd), and Giovanni Ribisi (the Joker). Most other voices are done by the writers.

The many extras include:

  • A ten-minute making-of lists some of the voice actors and shows the details behind the Swamp Thing cameo scene.
  • “Bad Hair, Musical Numbers & Sequels” (9 minutes) discusses making a second installment and how the songs came to be.
  • “The Ones That Got Away” (7 minutes) covers the sketches that were cut and the writers talking about how bad it feels to have a rejected idea.
  • “20 Questions” (13 minutes) asks the writers and producers questions about the DCU to demonstrate how much they know (or don’t). Sadly, I knew 18 of the answers, which was more than most of them. But it’s not about the knowledge, especially with Geoff Johns backstopping them — it’s about being able to write humor.
  • There are six Cut Animatics (5 minutes), showing ideas that made it to storyboard form, and two Cut Sketches (2 minutes), all introduced by writers.

The “Chicken Nuggets” function runs the special with video commentary inserts by Seth Green, Geoff Johns, and Matthew Senreich that you access by pressing an on-screen icon. There are so many of these interrupts, although the content can be light, that I wish you could choose to play it all the way through without constantly mashing OK. The overall feeling is like watching with your buddies.

The two commentaries are divided between actors (Seth Green, Matthew Senreich, Nathan Fillion, Breckin Meyer, and Zeb Wells) and writers (Hugh Davidson, Mike Fasolo, Tom Root, Kevin Shinick, and Zeb Wells). Watching this thing four times was beyond me, so I didn’t check them all out in full, but if you like the special, this goes in-depth in multiple ways.

The previous installment was available on Blu-ray, but this version only comes on DVD, which has dismayed some fans but didn’t seem a significant problem to me. A cheaper price is a good thing for a silly diversion like this. (The studio provided a review copy.)

Lego Batman Gets His Own TV Special
October 25, 2014

After a breakout performance in The Lego Movie (and his own earlier film), Lego Batman is getting his own TV special.

Lego DC Comics: Batman: Be-Leaguered

Lego DC Comics: Batman: Be-Leaguered will air on Cartoon Network on Monday, October 27 at 6 PM Eastern/5 PM Central.

Based on this clip, Batman is his usual solo grumpy self, even when Superman wants him to join the Justice League.

It’s being promoted as “a funny, lighthearted tale new to the DC Comics universe”, which we can certainly use more of. Here’s the full description:

Batman prides himself on being a loner, a totally self-sufficient one-man band. He is understandably irritated when his nightly cleanup of Gotham City villains is interrupted by Superman, who pesters Batman to join his new Super Hero team, the Justice League. After Batman makes it quite clear to the Man of Steel that his invitation has been declined, Superman flies off disappointed… whereupon he is overcome with a STRANGE ENERGY and VANISHES!

With Earth’s mightiest super-being missing, it’s time for the World’s Greatest Detective to spring into action. With no time to lose and the entire planet to search, Batman enlists the aid of the fastest man alive, The Flash. Together their high-speed search leads them to the villainous Captain Cold, who is stealing an ancient artifact in Egypt. After the Flash has likewise vanished at the end of their battle with evil, Batman teams up with Aquaman, Wonder Woman, and Cyborg to fight famous costumed super-villains before vanishing one-by-one at the hand of a mysterious enemy. It now falls to the Dark Knight, who alone must free the newly- formed Justice League from a powerful foe. But can Batman learn the value of being a team player before the Justice League is lost forever?

I’ll be watching!

Young Justice: Invasion on Blu-ray Available for Pre-Order
October 25, 2014

The second season of Young Justice will be available on Blu-ray via the Warner Archive on November 18. You can pre-order the collection of 20 episodes now at that link.

Young Justice: Invasion

Unlike most Warner Archive releases, this one will also have new bonus features. The series finale episodes “Summit” and “Endgame” will feature a commentary by creators Greg Weisman and Brandon Vietti and voice actors Jason Spisak (Kid Flash) and Stephanie Lemelin (Artemis). There’s also a “Behind the Scenes” featurette.

Young Justice: Invasion, the second season, jumps five years into the future. Robin has become Nightwing, and new team members include Wonder Girl, Blue Beetle, Batgirl, Bumblebee, and Beast Boy. As the copy has it, “an alien presence has infiltrated Earth, while certain members of the Justice League are forced to stand trial at the criminal hearing off-world. Watch as The Reach, spearheaded by the quick-talking Ambassador and backed by the muscle of Black Beetle, manipulates a trusting public while maintaining its shadowy maneuvering with The Light.” Here’s a clip:

DC All Access Lists Upcoming Warner Superhero Films
October 25, 2014

DC All Access ran down an announcement of all the upcoming Warner/DC superhero movies in this segment:

Or if you’d rather jump right to the news, here’s a screen shot of the final run-down:

DC Warner upcoming movie list

That’s two superhero movies a year for five years, starting in 2016, plus unscheduled solo Batman and Superman movies. Warner Brothers is clearly stepping up its competition with Marvel significantly; let’s hope they can also capture the cross-generational appeal of those films by combining action, characterization, and humor.

Eternals: A Marvel Knights Animation Motion Comic
October 25, 2014

I was surprised when Eternals arrived, since I didn’t remember a comic by Neil Gaiman and John Romita Jr. about a race of super-powered Jack Kirby creations hiding as humans recapturing their memories and powers. (Turns out it was a limited series that ran from 2006-2007.)

This Marvel Knights Animation production consists of ten episodes, each ranging from 10 to 13 minutes. There’s minimal animation — figures moved against a background, lips and eyes opening and closing — an approach I found appropriate. As expected, there’s a lot of conversation. In a Gaiman comic, you want to keep a lot of the text, right? The discussions also establish the characters, helpful for the unfamiliar viewer (which I suspect most will be).

The story opens with the identification figure of Mark Curry, an intern studying to be a doctor. A mysterious being shows up and tells him there’s more to his life that he doesn’t remember. He spins a story of the Celestials, giant beings who caused humanity to advance and created the super-powered Eternals. They also created the Deviants, a race of monsters.

My favorite exchange takes place during this introduction, when the demigod asks, “What would you say if I told you that you were an immortal, indestructible being put here by aliens to preserve and safeguard the earth?” Mark responds, “I guess I’d say, ‘please leave me alone.'”

Iron Man appears in one of the several story threads. Beyond Mark’s tale, there’s a woman named Circe (uh oh) wanting to be a party planner; a woman from Tony Stark’s company building a weapon; a kid celebrity named Sprite; a reality show featuring young people with powers; and the demand to register superheroes with the government. Not much is done with the TV show piece, so I’m not sure why it’s there, and I’m guessing the registration part dates this to a loose tie-in with the Civil War crossover event.

I was disappointed by the look of the female warrior. I found, in this tale of normal people with lives changed by exceptional beings, the design of the usual busty superhero woman out of place. That’s a rare feeling for me, since I’ve read so many superhero comics I can usually overlook it. I suspect it was the contrast with the deeper characterization than is usual in this kind of story.

That kept me interested, until all this mythology became a relatively standard “bad guys vs people who have to step up to their chance to be heroes” story. Since I wasn’t previously familiar with the comic, I got invested in the twists and turns of the cast, although by the end, this turned into gaudily costumed mostly men arguing with each other. Still, one of the better Marvel motion comic offerings, I thought, and watchable for those looking for cosmic superhero stories.

There’s a 10-minute extra called “Looking Back With John Romita Jr.”, where he talks about the Kirby influence. There are a good number of clips from the episodes we’ve presumably just seen included, which makes it feel a bit light in new content. The sticker on the front of the package promotes

Best-Selling Author Neil Gaiman And Superstar Artist John Romita Jr. Team Up For The Extraordinary Tale of Eternals And A Brand-New Retrospective!

That suggests that Gaiman also participates in the new content, which isn’t true, so beware the false advertising if you’re a fan. Here’s the trailer for the release.

(The studio provided a review copy.)

View Monsters University Cartoon “Party Central” by Joining Disney Movies Anywhere
October 25, 2014

The new Monsters University cartoon “Party Central” was originally supposed to run with The Good Dinosaur, a Pixar movie moved to November 2015. The MU short ran instead with Muppets Most Wanted. (Strangely, the short got a PG rating, when the two Monsters movies are G.)

Now, to drive more signups for its Disney Movies Anywhere service, Disney has made the full short available to those who download their iPad/iPhone app. Here’s a trailer:

My favorite gag: the code names “Beachball” and “Throw Rug”.

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