Batman Vol. 1: The Court of Owls is an exciting voyage

Who does Gotham City belong to – the Bat or his predators?

In DC Comics new 52 series, each of its heroes and superheroes went through a modest rebirth. Costumes were redesigned and origins were tweaked to modernize the stories and open up the characters to new audiences. The new 52 rebooted the entire lineup of DC Comics, with all series renumbered to begin at issue #1. It followed up endless “crisis” events (enough to make your head dizzy) that spiraled out of Superman’s death (which seems like eons ago) and ultimately peaked with Batman’s death and return.

Batman Vol. 1: The Court of Owls
Of all the DC Comics heroes, Batman and Superman are the two heroes most difficult to tamper with. Neither character can ever truly die, nor can they ever retire and pass on the mantle to a protégé for more than a year or two. So when writer Scott Snyder, co-creator of Vertigo Comics’ American Vampire, was tasked with re-envisioning Batman as part of the new 52, he had his work cut out for him.

For over seventy years, Batman – the character – has undergone several changes, from costume and origin to tone and style. Born prior to World War II, the original Batman was simply a street vigilante who didn’t have a problem killing a street thug. Years later, he developed a conscious. We learned that Batman and guns don’t mix. Batman became camp. And inevitably Batman got back to his gritty roots.

In Batman Vol. 1: The Court of Owls, Snyder takes Batman and his alter ego, Bruce Wayne, through a different kind of evolution. We all know that Gotham City will always need a Batman, whether it be today or decades from now in Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns. If there’s one thing we’ve learned about evil, it is that no matter which weed (or how many) you pull out, another (or several) will always be there, buried deeper into the ground, strangling at the roots.

EDITOR’S PICK: Snyder’s Dark Knight Tale Shines in 52

Snyder doesn’t tamper with the tried-and-true formula. Batman is still a brooding, paranoid loner. Yet, he surrounds himself with loved ones (sidekicks, police and a butler), who are both weaknesses and crime fighting tools, depending on the situation. He’s the kind of guy that gives his son (Damian, Robin), adopted son (Tim Drake, Red Robin) and ward (Dick Grayson, Nightwing) high security access to the Batcave, but reserves the “highest” access for his butler, Alfred.

Instead of tampering with the Dark Knight’s innate qualities, Snyder takes a tangential approach to Batman’s rebirth. Gotham and Batman have always shared a symbiotic relationship. In order to change the man, Snyder changed the city, taking Gotham through a new stage of evolution. This isn’t the Gotham City Bruce Wayne thought he grew up in, nor is it the Gotham that Batman thinks he owns. Wayne’s family may have helped to build Gotham, but buried beneath Gotham’s history lies a secret that predates generations of Waynes. The Court of Owls is calling, whether Batman chooses to believe it exists or not.

Volume 1: The Court of Owls is a psychological thrill ride through Batman’s own psyche and vanity. Snyder smartly captures Batman’s intelligence and motivation, before breaking the character down against a new threat. Batman wants the best for his city, but we also see that there is a sense of pride and a hint of arrogance in his character. Years of winning have made him cocky. Artist Greg Capullo captures a Batman who is finally seeing Gotham for what it is – a city that is not his own. Several panels feature a haggard Batman, one that doesn’t fear death but rather fears a truth that he never believed existed. Capullo deftly mixes action with fear and horror. The panic in Bruce’s eyes is alive and real.

However, there are a few panels where Batman and his compatriots are out of their costumes and look a little too goofy. Dick Grayson often has a cavalier smile that sometimes looks vacant and even dumb. As Nightwing, his mouth and eyes often seem overtly mystified as though everything that Bruce says to him is baffling.

Batman Vol 1: The Court of Owls reminds us that even the Batman isn’t infallible, nor is he as smart as he presumes to be. By adding to Gotham City’s origin, Snyder has given Batman boundless room to grow in the realm of DC’s new 52. Batman has returned to a city that is entirely foreign to him – and always has been… even though he didn’t realize it. It’s an exciting voyage and well worth the read.

Batman Vol. 1: The Court of Owls (The New 52) – Hardcover
Batman The Court of Owls
Issues: Graphic Novel Collects Batman #1-7
Writer: Scott Snyder
Pencils: Greg Capullo
Ink: Jonathan Glapion
Cover: Greg Capullo
Publisher: DC Comics
Release Date: March 26, 2013

Rating:
9 / 10

Famed Anime director, Hayao Miyazaki gets a manga collector’s box

If you’ve ever seen Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke or Howl’s Moving Castle, then you know the name Hayao Miyazaki. If you haven’t seen them (and therefore don’t know Miyazaki), perhaps you should stop whatever it is your doing (which would be reading this article) and get on Netflix right now to check out those films.

Miyazaki’s masterful direction is renowned in the world of anime. But some may not know that Miyazaki also made the journey into Manga with Nausicaä of the Valley.

Viz Media is releasing the 7-volume collected works as a box set on November 6. It features two oversized, hardcover volumes in a collector’s slipcase.

If you consider yourself a fan of anime, manga or just superb cartooning – you should check it out.

Hayao Miyazaki Nausicaä of the Valley on Amazon.com:

EXCLUSIVE: The Tower Chronicles – From Script to Comic Panel

We’ve got an EXCLUSIVE look at Legendary Comics’ debut graphic novel, The Tower Chronicles, from writer Matt Wagner (Mage, Grendel) and 2000 AD artist Simon Bisley.

Below you can see the transformation of from Wagner’s initial script page to Bisley’s pencil drawing and the final fully-inked artwork.

EDITOR’S PICK: The Tower Chronicles Preview

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The Tower Chronicles: Geisthawk Volume 1 GN is now available in comic stores as well as Amazon.com and Comixology:

Exclusive: Sony Vice President Discusses ‘Wonderbook: Book of Spells’ & Its Educational Impact (Video)

In this interview, Mick Hocking, Vice President of Sony Entertainment Europe, discusses working with Harry Potter creator J.K. Rowling to develop Wonderbook: Book of Spells.

Watch the Full Interview below:

Wonderbook utilizes the PS3 Move controller, allowing users to flick their controllers around like a wand. During my hands-on preview, I got a sense of how truly “magical” this technology could be. The book, filled with blue pages, works like a portable blue-screen (similar to a green screen in movies or TV). The PS3 Move takes an image of the book and tracks the controller’s movements, replicating it with one-to-one symmetry as a wand on screen.

Hocking gives us insight into the developmental hurdles the design team worked through in order to have Book of Spells work with the Move.

Hocking lets us know that Book of Spells evolved from a meeting between Sony and J.K. Rowling for Pottermore. He also elaborates on how augmented reality technology can be used as an educational tool as well as new Potter fiction created by Rowling for the project.

Wonderbook: Book of Spells will be available exclusively on the Playstation 3.

POLL: Would Matt Bomer playing Christian Grey in ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ be ludicrous?

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Who is Bret Easton Ellis? He’s the author of the best selling novels Less Than Zero and American Psycho and he went on a twitter blast today against White Collar star, Matt Bomer, saying he would NOT be a good choice to play Christian Grey, the central character of the erotic best-selling novel by E.L. James, Fifty Shades of Grey. It is the first part of a trilogy (Book Two: Fifty Shades Darker and Book Three: Fifthy Shades Freed) and has sold over 40 million copies combined worldwide, outselling the Harry Potter franchise. Fifty Shades has been sweeping the world since 2011 and has taken off recently in the States, inspiring women to race to the bookstores of all kinds to rouse their their curiosity and libido, and it is the next book-to-movie adaptation that’s being fast-tracked in Hollywood.

While no one has been cast yet, speculation has been soaring with Bomer, The Vampire Diaries‘ Ian Somerhalder, and True Blood‘s Alexander Skarsgard as the names volleyed around by fans. The latter two have expressed interest in playing Christian. Meanwhile, Bomer has yet to comment one way or the other. Actresses to play Anastasia Steele have ranged from Lucy Hale, Ashley Benson, and Elizabeth Olsen but not Kristen Stewart.

Ellis lobbied hard to write the screenplay but was taken out of the running by the film’s producers. THR is reporting that Veena Sud, Dan Fogelman, Karen Croner, and Kelly Marcel are in the running. While campaigning to write the screenplay, Ellis publicly suggested Somerhalder, Ryan Gosling, Alex Pettyfer and porn star James Deen, who is currently the star of his latest film, The Canyons with Lindsay Lohan. Scarlett Johansson, Kristen Stewart and Lena Dunham were the top of his list of those who could play Ana and David Cronenberg was his ideal director. Since being eliminated, he also chimed in his opinion of the idea that Bomer could play Christian over 15 tweets which have been gathered in the paragraph below.

50 shades of greyOkay. Let’s finalize this. Matt Bomer is totally hot and a very good actor. He is NOT right for Christian Grey and it complicates the role. Fifty Shades of Grey: Matt Bomer: I don’t care how good an actor you are but being married to another man complicates things for playing CG. Fifty Shades of Grey: Matt Bomer is NOT about discrimination. It’s about an intensely straight actor wanting absolutely to screw Ana Steele. Fifty Shades of Grey: the most popular book on the planet having Matt Bomer–a gay actor–play Christian Grey is absolutely ludicrous. Why? Jesus, the homophobia over Matt Bomer not being Christian Grey is so unsettling and aesthetically retarded. He’s NOT right for Christian G. Okay I’ll say it. Matt Bomer isn’t right for Christian Grey because he is openly gay. He’s great for other roles but this is too big a game. And I think if Matt Bomer wants the role which I doubt the international press tour will be an embarrassing fiasco. He’s not CG. Never… I am NOT discriminating Matt Bomer because of his sexuality. Fifty Shades of Grey demands an actor that is genuinely into women. Get it?!? I actually think it’s cool that women want Matt Bomer as Christian Grey. It means that we’ve moved beyond stereotypes and that gay is hot…I think Matt Bomer is incredibly handsome and a good actor but I think he comes off totally gay in White Collar. And that is why no to CG…Look, all actors are GAY: they put on make up and pretend to be someone else. That’s just a fact. Rock and roll. Deal with it. Scientology? Would anyone watch Brokeback Mountain if it stayed true to the original story where both characters are hideously ugly? No. Homo beauty WIN? Hollywood is the most homophobic place in the entire world. Why Brokeback Mountain was a hit was because it starred two beautiful actors instead of two real ugly characters from the story. Producers. Final word: there is no way in hell that the makers of “Fifty Shades of Grey” will hire an openly gay actor to play Christian Grey. Period.

First let’s get one thing straight, Ellis is right about Hollywood being homophobic. Many actors stay in the closet long in their careers for fear that they’ll be discriminated because of their sexuality. That being said, times are changing and in pockets, Hollywood is slowly becoming a friendlier place where actors can feel comfortable coming out and know there are plenty of roles for them to play regardless of the sexual orientation of the character. Roles are becoming more diverse and the list of actors who have been brave enough to come out publicly, have been applauded for doing so and from the outside looking in, their careers appear to be secure for the meantime, but one would have to sit down and speak with each individual to see if that truly is the case. I wouldn’t be so quick to say that Bomer wouldn’t be considered.

Ellis tried to compliment Bomer in his backhanded tweets, but then said this project is “Too big a game” for Bomer. I say, give him an equal chance to audition. Why rule out him immediately if he looks the part and can act the part? Let’s give credit to whomever will be the writer of the film if they keep the character edgy and masculine, and then the ability of the actor will help determine how memorable that portrayal is. There is a subplot in Fifty Shades where Christian’s mother is surprised to see her son is having sex with Ana because she had never seen him with women before, believing he was gay. Perhaps that is why Bomer is being considered, because he could play up that aspect of Christian’s character? Needless to say, it would be interesting to be a fly in the room where the producers and castings are discussing. Does Bomer being openly gay really complicate the viewer? Would he have been more acceptable to play Christian had he never come out?

Who knows why Ellis felt the need to divulge such feelings, especially in such a manner? Maybe he is just drumming up more publicity for The Canyons, or maybe it’s just him being bitter about being passed over. It’s been said that he compared Grey to his main character in American Psycho, Patrick Bateman. One could see why he’s not being chosen as the screenwriter. Twitter can be both useful and cringe-worthy, but here’s the big question, do you think Bomer could be convincing as Christian Grey? On USA’s White Collar, Bomer plays Neal Caffrey, a razor sharp, stylish white collar crook who is straight and has several on-screen romances with some lovely leading ladies. There’s a bit of a bad boy in his character and that along with his good looks is partly why he has so many fans. Many White Collar fans can attest to Bomer’s acting skills and are completely sold on his performance from the show. Others may not. We’re certainly fans of Bomer and White Collar, but the question might be better framed, is Bomer right for this particular role?

So as the debate rages on, the Fifty Shades of Grey film moves forward. Would Bomer, if he’s interested, be truly given the chance to play Christian Grey or at least audition for the part? Or will being gay be a roadblock not only for the film’s producers but for the millions of readers (a large portion of which are women), wanting to see the story acted out on the big screen? Knowing Hollywood and how they think about the Benjamins, Universal is most likely debating–if Bomer is even being considered–whether or not straight women would go to see him play Christian Grey?

Answer our two polls below and share your thoughts below on if Bomer deserves a shot to play Christian Grey and if not him, then who?

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Hot Trailer: ‘Cloud Atlas’ – Will it be the Most Ambitious Movie We’ve Ever Seen?

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Over a year ago we posted that Tom Hanks was cast in an ambitious film adaptation of David Mitchell’s award-winning novel, Cloud Atlas, directed by the Andy Wachowski, Lana Wachowski (The Matrix) and Tom Tykwer (Run Lola Run). It also stars Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent, Hugo Weaving, Jim Sturgess, Bae Doona, Ben Whishaw, James D’Arcy, Zhou Xun, Keith David, David Gyasi, Hugh Grant and Susan Sarandon. That’s quite an awesome cast, but then again, this isn’t your ordinary film. The first international trailer finally hit today (rumor has it Apple will have an HD version around 1PM EST today) and will premiere to the world at The Toronto International Film Festival (god, I miss that wonderful festival).
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Here was my futile attempt at trying to describe it back then: “Cloud Atlas tells six separate stories of six different genres but there is a string that binds one story to the next. For example the first is the diary of an American traveling abroad in the Pacific from a remote island near New Zealand. The second story is about a poor, young musician reading that diary who writes to a friend/implied lover about working as a composer’s assistant in Belgium. The third is a pulp mystery novel that takes place in Buenas Yerbas, California and is about a reporter tracking down a harmful report full of corruption and murder at a nuclear power plant that’s written by the recipient of the musician’s letters. The fourth is about a book publisher who has been sent the pulp mystery novel from the third story. Next is a futuristic story where a clone Sonmi-451 can think on its own and watches the a movie based on the pulp novel. And the final story is set in a post-apocalyptic distant future on Hawaii, where the Sonmi-451 is the face of a new religion.” We also have some stills to gape at courtesy of a Warner Bros. Cloud Atlas widget and EW.
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I remember people deemed Alan Moore’s graphic novel Watchmen as unadaptable, but that’s a child’s sneeze compared to the attempt at trying to capture this story in under three hours. The trailer is so impressive as it just keeps unraveling this massive tale and it appears the material may have pulled some inspired performances from Hanks, Grant and Berry–something we haven’t seen from either in quite some time. This is the type of exciting filmmaking that audiences have been waiting for out of the Wachowskis since the first Matrix, and it will be exciting to see what they did as opposed to Tykwer.
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It’s got some jaw-dropping visuals as well as the strong source material to build from but knowing American audiences, the scale of the story may cause heads to spin as the film’s six stories cover six different time periods, two of which are in the future. I remember how audiences were puzzled at Darren Aronofsky’s The Fountain and there’s no denying the science fiction aspect of this film. So as excited as I am about this film, there’s some hesitation on believing it will be as widely embraced by the mainstream. This is the type of trailer that will make you put all your chips in and say, “I’m all in!” or it could make you recoil and say, “Not for me.” Of course you’d be crazy if you said the latter but I’d understand. I just know that personally, I’m rooting for Cloud Atlas for its gutsy and courageous attempt. If I try to explain the trailer any more, I may run out of superlatives, so I’ll let you just see it now. Just make sure you leave your first reactions below. Warner Bros. is releasing Cloud Atlas on October 26.

Here’s the first five-minute international trailer for Cloud Atlas:

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Neil Gaiman & J.H. Williams III team up to tell untold tale of ‘The Sandman’

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Yes, he’s written stories about the Endless and the dream world but deep down you always knew Neil Gaiman (Coraline, Stardust) would return to Morpheus eventually and 25 years after he launched one of the most important comic book series ever published, the fan-favorite scribe and screenwriter will be launching a new mini-series of The Sandman and be paired by artist extraordinaire, J.H. Williams III who many savvy comic readers will know his work on Promethea with Alan Moore and dazzling readers with his imaginative and lush layouts in Batwoman! This is one heavy-duty team-up.

Gaiman’s announcement was made via video at Vertigo’s editorial panel led by Vertigo Executive Editor, Karen Berger who said, “There’s nothing like having Neil back home on The Sandman, his dark, soulful, literary epic that transformed comics and continues to captivate countless new readers year after year. Working with him again, and with JH Williams, the extraordinary and groundbreaking artist, is truly the stuff dreams are made of.”

The untitled mini-series will be an untold tale originally meant for the 20th Anniversary, but instead it’s five years later and tells what happened that led to Morpheus’ capture in The Sandman #1 and as Gaiman put it, “why he was returned from far away, exhausted beyond imagining, and dressed for war… I’m delighted, and nervous, that that story is finally going to be told.”

Below is a sample of Williams’ art style and layouts on Batwoman. If you’ve never seen his work before, be prepared to be blown away. These 2-page spreads will excite you about this collaboration. This announcement should also give a boost to sales of the Absolute Sandman, the Slipcase collection of Sandman and yes, the recently released Annotated edition of Sandman.

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The Powers of Panem Appoint Philip Seymour Hoffman its Head Gamemaker in ‘Hunger Games: Catching Fire’

philip seymour hoffman catching fireHe was downright creepy in Boogie Nights, so endearing in Almost Famous, and absolutely riveting in Capote. Philip Seymour Hoffman is one of those few actors who can morph into whatever role you ask him to play–and do it so-so-well. Lionsgate announced today that Hoffman is traveling to Panem and has been cast in the starring role of Plutarch Heavensbee, the Head Gamemaker in Catching Fire, the sequel to The Hunger Games, starring Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen and Josh Hutcherson as Peeta Mellark set for a November 2013 release directed by Francis Lawrence.

Heavensbee is a far more cerebral and calculated politician than Wes Bentley’s Seneca Crane ever was, and should be a delight to see the actor’s flair for the dramatic. Hoffman should revel the role, which you can already imagine him doing extremely well as he tries his best to make it known to Katniss that a rebellion is underway. Hoffman can be seen most recently in the Oliver Stone film, Savages which was released this past weekend.

Another key role in Catching Fire was announced last week as Jena Malone (Saved!, Sucker Punch) will play Johanna Mason, a former Tribute and Hunger Games champion who exudes both confidence and sarcasm and befriends both Katniss and Peeta in the sequels. Both Johanna and Heavensbee were correctly casted as Malone and Hoffman have shown though a long list of roles that they are perfect for those parts. Only the role of Finnick Odair escapes fans, a male victor of District 4. Also returning in the second film is Elizabeth Banks, Woody Harrelson, Lenny Kravitz, Stanley Tucci, Donald Sutherland, Willow Shields, and Liam Hemsworth.

The Hunger Games novels are based on the best-selling novels by Suzanne Collins and Catching Fire follows Katniss and Peeta as they leave their families behind to fulfill their duty on the “Victor’s Tour” of the districts and Katniss senses a rebellion is being planned.

You’ve heard what we’ve had to say about the casting, what do you think about Philip Seymour Hoffman and Jena Malone in Catching Fire?

E3 2012: Sony Gives PS Move Purpose with Harry Potter ‘Book of Spells’

Ever since the PS Move was first introduced for the Playstation 3, it seemed like Sony was trying to offer gamers the bastard child controller to Nintendo’s Wii-mote. Consider it the Game of Thrones‘ John Snow of gaming controllers, only Sony didn’t send it to the wall like Eddard Stark did his bastard. Sure, it fixed several problems that Nintendo eventually added into later iterations of its controller, such as the gyroscope introduced with Wii Motion Plus. However, unlike the Xbox 360 Kinect, gamers saw the PS Move as merely Sony’s way of following suit with Nintendo rather than innovating the gaming market.

At E3, Sony showed us just how far it was ready to push the PS Move. Instead of forgetting about the motion controller or just offering it as a tack on to shooter games, via the Sharpshooter, the PS Move finally found its niche with J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter.

To kick off E3, Sony announced Wonder Book, a new gaming experience and partnership with Rowling at E3. Connecting with Rowling’s Pottermore, Wonder Book will giving gamers an augmented reality experience. Using the Move controller, gamers will be able to interact with their “Book of Spells” and learn the secret to casting Potter spells such as Wingardium Leviosa. The actual spell book and spells are reflected on screen so you’ll be able to see your spell book come to life as well as magical sparks flying out of your Move controller, which will look like your own wand picked up from Ollivander’s wand shop in Diagon Alley.

If fire spells are more to your liking, you can learn Incendio – just be careful not to burn your spell book. If you botch an Incendio spell, like Seamus did during his first year, your spell book will be covered in soot. You’ll then have to wipe the soot from your book. It’s really a unique experience. Just seeing your wand spark and your spell book change on screen makes it truly magical.

Wonder Book shows us that Sony isn’t afraid to reach out towards the younger gaming market as well as the casual gamers. Typically, Sony totes the Triple A game banner, but this time it’s letting us know that the casual gamer and any of the Potter-only gaming fans out there have not been forgotten. This is a smart use of augmented reality and an even smarter decision by Sony to partner with one of the biggest names in entertainment.

Books Review: ‘Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol’ Shooting Diary

Photographer David James showcases his expert eye in his latest book Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol Shooting Diary. The film, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, starring the one and only Tom Cruise was released on Blu-Ray and DVD today but if you want an in-depth look into the making of the film, be sure to check out the book.

The shooting diary is filled with over 200 pages of images taken while on the set. He followed the crew to multiple locations across the globe like: British Columbia, The Czech Republic, and Dubai. The images range from pre- production all the way to the end with notes from the photographer about each image. James’ notes provide a unique insight into just how complex it is to film one of the year’s best action movies.

The most impressive images are those taken at the world’s tallest building, Burj Khalifa, in Dubai. One spread shows Tom Cruise sitting alone atop the building, barefoot. James’ notes on the shoot reveal how stressful the process was yet the image came out so peaceful.  It’s amazing to see.

In addition to the photo on top of the Burj Khalifa, James captured multiple images of the stunts Tom performed on the exterior of the building. It’s no secret that Cruise likes to perform his own stunts, but something about seeing the images behind the scenes showed just how hard working he is. When watching the film it’s easy to think, “It couldn’t have been that scary or the producers wouldn’t have had Tom do it.” On seeing James’ photographs it shows the reality of how stomach dropping the experience must have been. It will make you have a new appreciation for Tom Cruise.

Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol Shooting Diary is perfect for any fan of film, especially action. It shows behind the scenes shots and notes on how some of the special effects were achieved. On the other hand, this book is a must for any Tom Cruise or Mission Impossible fan.

Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol Shooting Diary is in bookstores now.

Rating:

7.5 / 10