Extra Sequential on C-List Podcast

This week Mladen and I had the honour of joining the hilarious C-List podcast to yak about a cavalcade of comics characters most people haven’t heard of. The C-List is hosted by Luke (who joined Mladen on the recent ES Star Wars episode) and Mike and, as the name suggests, puts the spotlight on background characters from well known movies.

It was a blast as the four of us made fun of some truly whacky superheroes and villains. Be warned that there’s more language than our usual ES shows though.

Catch the crazy episode right here.

 

Racing, Judging, Laughing And Chewing

Superman #709. I dropped the Superman monthly series last year when writer J. Michael Straczynski began the Grounded storyline, in which the Man of Steel walks across America. Yes it’s as boring and controversial as it sounds. Now that JMS has stepped back to focus on the sequel to the popular OGN Superman: Earth One, other writers have been taking over with his notes, and thankfully elevated the action and interest and all but dropped the boring bits.

This issue, co-written by JMS and Chris Roberson, with art by the reliable Eddy Barrows is an entertaining tale. I’m still wary of dedicating myself to this title again, but it’s full of promise once more. Supes, after trying to get a hold of his wife Lois, runs into The Flash (Barry Allen), after seeing the town he’s in quickly become a historic Kryptonian area, while parts of Krypton’s past ring in his ear. The Man of Steel realises it’s the Scarlet Speedster at the centre of all this, and saves him by lifting a golden headband off his forehead. The Flash admits that the headband fell to earth and his curiosity got the better of him, and he was all pretty much mind controlled when he put it on. Superman reveals that it’s a Kryptonian artefact, the two heroes go to a diner for a superspeed chat, (all in a second or two, while a waitress falls, but they save her after their discussion of course) about their respective proteges and who runs faster, and the headband situation disappears. I don’t know if its origin will be revisited in future issues, but this is a good story even without it.

There’s a flashback to a young Clark and Lex Luthor in detention (Clark was there for skipping school to save a burning town and Lex was there for stealing 40 cakes. Um…yeah, but it must be a reference to this classic kids’ book). That scene is unnecessary really, but at least it has one of those Superman quotes I’ve never forgotten, as spoken by Pa Kent – “There is right and wrong in this universe and the distinction isn’t hard to make.” I can’t recall when I first read that quote in a Superman comic, but it summarises what the Man of Steel is all about.

This was always going to be an ish with controversy, as Supes and Flash race (kind of) and it had so much that The Source, DC’s official blog had to disallow all comments from now on to try and stop the hate! Fanboys are passionate about such superhero matters.

Batman #708. Taking over from writer/artist Tony Daniel, David Hine and Guillem March do their thing in this 3 part tale that crosses over with Red Robin #22, before finishing in next month’s Batman.  Titled Judgement on Gotham, it has ex-cop Michael Lane, who’s the new Azrael calm down his new protégé Crusader, who has no nose, a scarred face and a knack for shouting Biblical passages. The third Robin Tim Drake, (Red Robin) and Catwoman showing up to help Dick Grayson (the new Batman) confront the zealot, and save some civilians who he almost purged with fire. With Dick Grayson suffering from side effects from Azrael’s burning sword in a previous ish, he sees false memories about childhood beatings, and gets fed up with the judgmental stance of Azrael and Crusader. It seems like this is a turning point in the relationship with the Bat family and the concept of Azrael as a righteous warrior.

March’s work has always dazzled me. I first saw it in Gotham City Sirens and I’ll grab anything that he’s involved with. More wispy and elongated than most superhero comics, March infuses his pages with the kind of dramatic emotion that Neal Adams can do so well, but with a P. Craig Russell-like sense of design. There’s a delicate approach when needed combined with a great sense of urgency and movement in the action scenes.

Iceman and Angel #1. This was such a fun read, which is no surprise really, as it’s written by Atomic Robo’s Brian Clevinger, who also put his comedic spin recently on Avengers and the Infinity Gauntlet mini for Marvel. I’d like to spoil the jokes but I won’t as it’s so much fun to discover. Set in the First Class days of the X-Men, it has Iceman and Angel going on a holiday before a naked monster shows up looking for his son. Who’s in college. Hijinks, and great dialogue follow. Clevinger proves that superheroes don’t have to be all serious all the time and Juan Doe’s art is breezy and cool. Get this one-shot. It’s a refreshing change of pace from spandex melodrama and since it’s a done-in-one tale, it’s perfect for superhero newbies too. It has the best Namor cameo ever and some truly funny zingers.

Chew Script Book. Exactly what it says, but rather disappointing. It offers the entire script from the first issue and some sketches and that’s it. No insight into the origins of this hit Image series, no look at the initial proposal, just a script with a few pics thrown in. Grab this only if you’re a Chew completitst, or have no idea what a comic script should look like.

Then again, I’m neither and I bought this.

DC’s Stars of the Screen

Bleeding Cool managed to get a draft of the back-on-again live action Wonder Woman TV show by David E. Kelley, creator of Ally McBeal. The more I read of it, the queasier I got. Please let this be a really early April Fool’s joke. See their major spoiler free analysis here and a snippet below.

Well, this Wonder Woman:

Identifies with ET the Extra Terrestrial when his movie comes on TV.

Really loves planes. Like really.

Pines for Steve like Carrie for Big.

Wants to belong and be “among” people, not just “with” them.

Sings along to the radio in multiple scenes – but nothing with a hairbrush in front of the mirror just yet.

Doesn’t like being “marketed, commercialized, merchandised”, though she is – there’s a joke about Wonder Woman tie-in dolls having their costumes redesigned that seems to reference the recent makeover for the comics.

When she’s Diana Prince she’s a mousey Miley Stewart, when she’s Diana Themiscyra she’s the Hanna Montana of businesswomen, and when she’s Wonder Woman she’s Wonder Woman – which is precisely twice in the whole episode.

Is a capitalist.

Puts on her PJs for an ice-cream filled sleepover with best friend Myndi.

CBR has an interview with Greg Weisman and Brandon Vietti, the producers of the new Young Justice cartoon, that I really want to be shown here in Oz. I like the choice of characters and the Teen Titans as a black ops team working for the JLA approach.

Here’s a just released video, that’s supposed to be a trailer but looks like an in-game cinematic. Not that it matters, it’s awesome, with a future Batman and Lex teaming up. Sort of. Titled In Lex We Trust it’s from the new DC Universe Online game from Sony.

Finally in DC news, the publisher is teaming up with the Hero Initiative , a great company that all us fanboys should support. Details and snazzy art of the project below.

The Hero Initiative, a charity dedicated to helping comic creators in medical or financial need, most proudly announces their new partnership in the Justice League Of America #50 project with DC Comics. This is the first collaboration with DC comics ever and Hero is chomping at the bit to pull the collection together. The call has gone out and dozens of artists are putting pen to paper. DC has generously donated 100 blank-covered cardstock copies of Justice League Of America #50 to Hero, and work is being created by well-known stars such as Jim Lee, Alex Ross, George Perez, Jason Bone, Jim Valentino, and many many more.

“It’s an honor to participate, not only because this is the first time DC Comics is collaborating with Hero Initiative, but because Hero Initiative is such an important organization to our community” said Jim Lee, artist and Co-Publisher of DC Comics.

“We’re thrilled to be working in new ways with DC Comics, and showcasing some of the greatest artists and greatest characters in the world,” said Hero Initiative President Jim McLauchlin. “And of course, sales of the covers and the collected book will go toward helping many other comic creators in need.”

All 100 original Justice League Of America covers will be published in a book slated for release in 2011, and a public viewing of all covers will be scheduled as well.

Kenner’s Super Powers Toys

Since we were in the mood for reminiscing in our last Extra Sequential podcast, I thought I’d direct your attention to this short, but flashback worthy article at Newsarama about the awesome Super Powers figures based on a heap of DC Comics characters in the mid ’80s. I loved these toys as a kid, and they helped form my awareness of comics (as they had mini-comics inside). Ah, good times.

Go here for a site I’m sure I’ve mentioned before that talks about the unproduced fourth wave and more, with enticing pics.

Win an iPad From DC Comics

If you’re a U.S resident, you have until Jan 31 to enter the sweepstakes for an iPad, customised with an original Batman sketch from Jim Lee. Go here to enter.

Extra Sequential Podcast Episode Nineteen

61 mins. It’s Christmas time! Well, almost. Mladen and I throw out a few suggestions for present buying. Let’s call it our Generous Geek Goodies Giving Guidelines. Or something. We also yak about the manga 2001 Nights, two titles from GG studio and a lesser known character from the creator of Conan.

LISTEN TO IT BELOW, DOWNLOAD IT HERE, ON ITUNES OR MIXCLOUD.

1:35 NEWS

No Two-Face or Joker in The Dark Knight Rises, Tron: Legacy soundtrack is now available, the trailer for Transformers 3, Anthrax’s Scott Ian is writing The Demon for DC Comics, superheroes become samurai in Marvel’s 5 Ronin mini-series due in March.

17:20 WHAT WE’VE BEEN READING

Twilight: Eclipse, Hard Candy, the original Spartacus film, Kull: The Hate Witch #1 from Robert E. Howard, manga 2001 Nights from Viz Media, A Skeleton Story and The One from Italian publisher GG Studio.

42:34 GEEK CHRISTMAS GIFTS

Mladen and I give you some guidelines for Christmas purchases. If you want to buy something for the fanboy/fangirl in your life, or if you’re a fanboy/girl who wants to get something for the comics curious person in your life, then have we got some great tips for you?! Yes, yes we do.

Apocalyptic Kevin Conroy Interview

Here’s a new interview with famed voice-over artist Kevin Conroy who’s getting lots of work as Batman these days, whom he played in the great ’90s Batman: The Animated Series. Here he talks about the role, free coffee, homeless people and Robin Williams.

KEVIN CONROY RETURNS TO SEMINAL ROLE

AS THE DARK KNIGHT IN SUPERMAN/BATMAN: APOCALYPSE

“DESTINATION APOCALYPSE” ONLINE PROMOTION LIVE TODAY

That loud sound you hear in the distance is the echo of fanboys cheering the return of Kevin Conroy to his benchmark role as the voice of the Dark Knight for the highly-anticipated Superman/Batman: Apocalypse, the ninth entry in the popular, ongoing series of DC Universe Animated Original PG-13 Movies coming September 28, 2010 from Warner Premiere, DC Entertainment, Warner Bros. Animation and Warner Home Video.

Conroy, the voice behind the title character of the landmark Batman: The Animated Series, set a standard that has yet to be contested over the past 20 years. Conroy had already been seen on soap operas and television series like Dynasty and Tour of Duty when he aced his first audition for an animated voiceover role in 1991 – earning the title character role for Batman: The Animated Series. It was a casting decision that sounds as good today as it did back then.

Conroy will share that voice in person as the featured guest when Warner Home Video, UGO.com and The Paley Center for Media proudly present the East Coast premiere of Superman/Batman: Apocalypse in New York on September 23. The West Coast premiere will be hosted in Los Angeles on September 21.

The bi-coastal premieres are just part of the ongoing festivities in conjunction with the release of the film. Included in the activities is “Destination Apocalypse,” an interactive online promotion that allows fans to get even deeper into the mythology of Superman/Batman: Apocalypse.  Fans can access “Destination Apocalypse” at http://DestinationApocalypse.com and explore the many sections including games, quizzes and information about film. Fans can even send Kryptonian messages to their Facebook friends.  In each section, participants virtually “check in” and earn badges to unlock an exclusive video clip from the movie.  In addition, earning badges for participating in the various activities in each section help to unlock exclusive movie poster downloads.

Conway helps lead a Superman/Batman: Apocalypse cast that includes fan favorite Tim Daly (Private Practice) as Superman, as well as Andre Braugher (Men of a Certain Age) as the daunting Darkseid, sci-fi heroine Summer Glau (Serenity/Firefly; Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles), and multi-Emmy Award winner Ed Asner (Up) as Granny Goodness.

Based on the DC Comics series/graphic novel “Superman/Batman: Supergirl” by Jeph Loeb, Michael Turner & Peter Steigerwald, Superman/Batman: Apocalypse is produced by animation legend Bruce Timm and directed by Lauren Montgomery (Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths) from a script by Academy Award-nominated screenwriter Tab Murphy (Gorillas in the Mist).

Conroy will speak quite a bit during pre-premiere interviews and a post-premiere panel discussion on September 23. But for those fans who can’t attend the sold-out event, here’s some thoughts the actor offered after a recent recording session.

QUESTION: Superman/Batman: Apocalypse features a foe powerful enough to require more than just one super hero to step to the plate. Can you speak to the importance of a great villain?

KEVIN CONROY: Well, the major villain is Darkseid, and he is very apocalyptic. You know, it’s in the title (he laughs). The bigger the villain, the greater the conflict – so as Darkseid is this epic-sized villain, it gives a lot of dynamic for Batman and Superman to work off, and creates that much more drama. Which means lots of action. And, of course, Batman saves the world … as usual.  What would you expect?  (he laughs)

QUESTION: Do you have a preference for the type of story that goes with Batman?

KEVIN CONROY: What makes Batman interesting to audiences isn’t just the fact of the personal drama, or the darkness of his having a secret identity, or his avenging his parents’ death.  All of that personal drama makes him appealing to people.  But I think of all the super heroes, what sets him apart is that he’s the only one that doesn’t have any superpowers.  He is the great detective. So in every story, it always comes down to his using his wits.  I think everyone relates to that and loves that about him. I really admire that aspect of his character – I wish I was wittier. That’s why I think audiences get into him so much, and that character trait is very important to this story.

QUESTION: Batman is a basically a loner. What are your thoughts about his lone wolf approach, and how that works in a “buddy” adventure like the Superman/Batman films?

KEVIN CONROY: Batman’s isolation and his singularity, his inability to really let other people into his personal world, is really essential to the character. It’s part of what audiences expect. Even in a series like Justice League, where he was one of seven super heroes, Batman was always the odd man out.  The others would go off as a group to do something – you know, they might go have pizza – and Batman was always the guy left back in the cave.

So in these Superman stories, I think it’s the closest Batman gets to having a brother, a kindred spirit.  Superman understands Batman.  He understands his need to be alone and his isolation. He’s probably the only one of all the super heroes who can balance Batman in terms of wit and power, so they’re a very good balance for each other.

QUESTION: How does Batman see Superman?

KEVIN CONROY: I think Batman thinks of Superman as the Dudley Do-Right of super heroes.  He admires his strength and his character, but he also he thinks he’s incredibly naïve and very unsophisticated about the world.  Remember, Batman is also Bruce Wayne, so he’s very urbane.  He’s very versed in the way of the world.  And Superman is Clark Kent, and he’s such a goof  (he laughs). So it’s almost all about the alter-ego – the darkness of Batman’s Bruce Wayne is balanced out by the sunny demeanor of Superman’s Clark Kent. That’s where I think the distinction is.  Batman just thinks that Superman is kind of a very, very naïve guy who always sees the goodness in everybody.  And Batman tends to see the darkness.

QUESTION: You attended Comic-Con International in San Diego last year for the first time in six years. How did that experience impact you?

KEVIN CONROY: The experience with the fans always re-energizes me for Batman.  I’ve always been really into meeting and interacting with the fans.  I understand why a lot of actors don’t like to do that because it can be very invasive of your private life.  But I’m just so appreciative because I figure I wouldn’t have a job if it wasn’t for them.  Also, my background is the theatre, and the fun of doing theatre is the interaction with the audience, the feedback you get every night. You just don’t get that in Hollywood.  You don’t get that with television or film, and you certainly don’t get it working in animation. So the only place you get it is to go to places like the Cons.

Plus, you get funny perks. I went to a Starbucks in downtown San Diego, and they said, “Oh, Mr. Conroy, you don’t pay for coffee today.”  (he laughs) I thought, well, that hasn’t happened in a long time.

QUESTION: Away from the Cons, how often are you recognized?

KEVIN CONROY: It happens in some unusual places. A number of years ago, I was in the Hollywood Post Office parking lot. I left everything in the car, because I was just going straight to the mail drop with the envelope. This guy, who was sitting on the curb, obviously homeless, says to me “Hey, buddy, have you got a quarter?”  And I said, “I’m so sorry. I literally don’t.  I have nothing.”  He said, “You’re Kevin Conroy!” I got really nervous – you just assume that your job is anonymous working on animation, so I asked him how he knew that and he said, “Oh, everybody knows who’s Batman.”  I said, “No, believe me, everyone doesn’t know who’s Batman.”  He said, “Oh, please–please–please–please do the voice.”  He said, “Just say it … I am vengeance.”  He knew the lines.  I said, “I am vengeance.”  He said, “Oh, my God.  Batman’s here! Batman’s here!”  He said, “Say it:  I am the night.”  I said, “I am the night.”  He said, “Go! Go! Finish! Finish!” And I said “I am Batman!” So the two of us are there screaming “I am Batman!” in the parking lot, and he started clapping and clapping, yelling “I can’t believe I have Batman in the parking lot.”

He went on to explain to me that all television monitors at the Circuit City on Hollywood Blvd. showed Batman every day, and he would stand outside and watch the show. So I said, “Wait, just a second,” and I went running back to the car for some cash. He said, “Oh, I can’t take Batman’s money.”  I told him he was going to take Batman’s money so he wouldn’t tell anyone that Batman is cheap (he laughs).  That whole scene was wild,  though – the last place you’d expect for someone to recognize a voice actor is in the parking lot of the post office.

QUESTION: You’re a classically trained actor and a graduate of Juilliard. Did you receive any instruction at Julliard that prepared you for voiceover work?

KEVIN CONROY: At that time, Juilliard was the new hot place to go if you wanted to be an actor, My classmates were people like Robin Williams, Kelsey Grammer, Frannie Conroy. We were all kids.  Robin and I were roommates for two years, stealing food from each other when the other wasn’t looking. We were starving students.

Robin was brilliant at the one thing that is perhaps what best prepared me for what I do now, voicework.  There was a famous teacher named Pierre LeFevre who ran the mask program at Juilliard.  French masks conceal just the upper part of the face. This is classical French theatre, and it’s all part of a very classical education. You put on these masks and they completely neutralize who you are. You become a different person. You can’t use the expressions on your face – you can only use your body and your voice. Robin lived in those mask classes – he would put on these masks and just become these unbelievable characters. Pierre practically adopted Robin. There was some really inspired stuff going on.  The point is that in that class, all you could use was your voice.  It really made you focus on that – especially on characterization in your voice.

QUESTION: Did you have any clue that would lead you somewhere?

KEVIN CONROY: It’s like that old expression – life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans.  I made all these plans to be a classical actor, and you can’t make a living in the theatre anymore.  There are no more classical actors. Everyone who survives in the theatre does it by doing TV and film … or voice work.

I had no idea that this is what I would end up doing, but it certainly prepared me for it.  I get that question a lot from people.  How do you get into this business?  How do I get into voice work?  And I always say, “Well, you go to Juilliard for four years …” (he laughs)  That’s the thing – everyone’s route is unique.

QUESTION: Did you have much voiceover success before Batman?

KEVIN CONROY: Actually, I started doing voice work in the early ’80s, and the very first voice job I did was the first commercial I auditioned for. Remember Paco Rabanne cologne?  The hook line was “What is remembered is up to you.”  That was me. And over the next couple years, it paid me $25,000 for those few words. It paid for a lot of theatre acting.