Archive for the ‘Crossover Reviews’ Category

Lego Batman is a spinoff from the 2014 Lego movie (which featured Batman), and has a surprising level of introspection into the Batman character.

It’s a very meta film, with Batman’s voice talking over the opening credits, remarking how cool movies start in black with ominous music, going on to comment on the Warner Brother’s and DC logos. The opening scene offers more self-awareness as its remarked that a plane with a ton of explosives is flying over a city (Gotham) with an extremely high crime rate. Naturally the Joker hijacks the plane, but the pilot is not scared of the Joker at all, as he remarks all the times Batman has stopped him (actually referencing the Dark Knight film as well as Tim Burton’s first Batman film). When asked what to do, Commissioner Gordon says out loud that they’ll do the only thing they ever do, which is turn on the Bat-signal. Naturally Batman saves the day. Joker gets away, but Batman is greeted with his usual hero’s welcome. Batman soon returns to his Bat-cave, as a journalists comments that Batman will probably go home and have a big party with all his friends.

This leads to some surprisingly quiet and mundane moments. Batman goes home to his mansion, puts some lobster in the microwave, and eats by himself. Watching the “You complete me” scene from Jerry McGuire he cracks up laughing, he finds it hilarious. His butler Alfred eventually shows up, and we immediately get the surrogate father/son relationship between the two. Batman acts like a spoiled child, while Alfred tells him that he needs friends.

Lego Batman’s central theme is Batman learning that he needs other people, and also explores what Batman fears the most, along with the concept of a sidekick, his relationship with the law, and Batman’s relationship with the Joker. In fact, it is a breakthrough in that relationship that leads to the resolution at the film’s climax.

Without giving major spoilers, early on in the movie, Joker outsmarts Batman by actually surrendering. Joker knows being locked up at Arkham won’t be enough for Batman, and this knowledge moves the plot. Along the way Joker teams up with villains from various media, including Lord Voldemort from Harry Potter, King Kong, the Kraken, Dracula, Sauron from Lord of the Rings, the Gremlins, and the Daleks from Dr. Who, which are referred to as British robots. I wonder if they weren’t allowed to use the name Daleks or something.

Batman villains aren’t lacking however, we get the traditional rogues gallery of Catwoman, the Riddler, etc, but also a bunch of obscure ones. The Joker breaks the fourth wall telling us that all these characters, no matter how ridiculous (Condiment Man) are real characters, and actually encourages us to Google them.

Lego Batman is the kind of movie you’ll want to get on DVD and pause a million times to get all the Easter eggs. I doubt any movie ever had more Easter eggs than this. I believe there are references to every live action Batman appearance (including the 1940’s serials), as well as nods to the animated series of the 90’s and Batman Beyond, and nods to various comic books like The Dark Knight Returns. There’s a ton of references to the Batman Adam West TV show of the 1960’s. Actual villains from the show like King Tut and Egg Head appear, there’s more than one reference to the Bat-Shark Repellent, and there’s even actual footage of the series shown.

Given the plot, I was hoping Batman would team up with heroes from other media. This didn’t happen, but there is an appearance by Superman and the Justice League. In their segment we get both musical and visual nods to the first two Christopher Reeve Superman movies, and we see a bunch of obscure characters from the old Super Friends cartoon.

Personally, one of my big nerd fantasies is a story/a world with characters from  various media, comics, TV, film, video games, etc. all together. The Lego film series may be the closest I come to seeing this. It’s nice to have various references to things in film, but things like that don’t matter unless the movie is good. Given it’s a kids movie, Lego Batman is infinitely better than it needed to be. It is a very poignant examination of the Batman character and the tropes that surround it. Honestly, Lego Batman may be the best Batman movie there is.

 

 

 

 

 

Street Fighter G.I. Joe is a crossover from the famous Capcom fighting game and the Hasbro toy property. The first issue revolves around four one on one fights between characters of each property. Those fights being C. Viper vs Snake Eyes, Rufus vs Baroness, Hakan vs Roadblock, and Ryu vs Jinx. There are some surprises as to who wins each fight, they all don’t go as expected.

As the fights go on we get some background information on the overall story. M. Bison (the evil boss of Street Fighter II) is the dictator of Mriganka, and head of the Shaoaloo Crime Syndicate. Mriganka is hosting the World Warrior Tournament, (the fighting tournament that you play through in the Street Fighter games). In this story the tournament is sponsored by M.A.R.S. industries, which is the weapons company run Cobra’s Destro. Apparently there is some yet to be revealed weapon that is fueled by one on one combat.

There are some alliances between Street Fighter and Cobra characters, along with the Baroness scheming with and possibly against Destro. The over the top nature of the Street Fighter brawls is evident with this issue, as guns and knives are used during battle, along with the Hadoken energy blasts. There’s also a reference to the S.I.N. designed battle suits.

There are so many characters in both franchises that naturally a comic about a 16 person tournament was going to leave some people out. There’s supplementary material in the back of the issue where we’re briefed on qualifying rounds. Several preliminary fights are described in one paragraph each where it is explained how various fan favorite characters did not make the cut.

Also in the back of the issue is a list of the overall bracket for the tournament. It is also illustrated which fights will be in which issue of the comic. Looking at the bracket one can probably guess what the final fight will be.

The art style and the coloring is a nice blend between the 80s style animation of G.I. Joe and the graphics of the 90s arcade. This first issue is a fun read that leaves you looking forward to more fights and more of the background story.

Grendel vs the Shadow pits the 1980‘s independent comics character against the double pistol wielding pulp hero of the 1930’s. The two characters meet via mystical time travel. In the Shadow’s time, the last descendant of Genghis Khan (The Shadow’s traditional arch enemy) smuggled a sacred burial urn into New York. The Shadow shut down the operation and the urn sank to the bottom of New York Harbor.

Decades later some treasure hunters find it and sell it to Hunter Rose/Grendel. For those unfamiliar with the character, Grendel is like an evil version of the Green Hornet. Grendel wears a black mask and fights the mafia, while actually running a crime syndicate himself.

The scene where the treasure hunters meet Hunter Rose has some Easter eggs, but they’re Easter eggs relating to history. Hunter Rose has collected various items from history such as a Hemingway typewriter, Jesse James’s gun belt, Al Capone’s cigar, and the armor worn by Australian outlaw Ned Kelly.

Once Hunter obtains the urn he finds a Chinese scroll inside of it identified as the Eternity Codex. Hunter reads the incantation and finds himself sent back in time to 1932 New York. One of the first things he notices is that the Twin Towers aren’t visible, so Rose’s “present” in this story is presumably before 2001. A movie theater marquee advertises the 1932 film Boris Karloff’s The Mummy.

Realizing his situation, he decides to make the best of it. Knowing that prohibition is about to end the next year, he starts his own criminal organization that focuses on gambling, prostitution, and narcotics. While on his crime spree he attracts the attention of the Shadow, who upon hearing the name Grendel notes the connection to the famous Beowulf poem.

Meanwhile Grendel’s civilian identity establishes himself as a literary figure. At fancy parties he drops several names from literature and jokes that Hemingway might kill himself.

Issue one of the series ends with the two costumed characters about to meet. Issue two opens with their battle as Grendel manages to overcome the Shadow’s hypnotic powers. The Shadow gets bloodied during the fight but wins the encounter as Grendel runs away.

Later they both meet in their civilian identities and recognize each other instantly. As the conflict carries out Hunter Rose gets a new love interest, the daughter of a mafia don who provides her own plot twist (Grendel’s lost love Jocasta is mentioned). Meanwhile there’s a subplot between the Shadow and his assistant, Margo Lane. Margo comes across a means to do something else with her life, which raises the question of whether or not Margo and the Shadow need each other.

One issue with any Shadow story is that he never seems to be in any real danger. He laughs, comes out of the darkness, and shoots everyone with the greatest of ease. Grendel is not superhuman, but is at least able to give the Shadow a bloody nose, which is more than most gangsters had been able to do. He also is able to disarm the Shadow, forcing him into an interesting backup plan.

With Grendel the Shadow faces the idea that crime will never be wiped out. The story ends with things returning to normal for both characters. The future existence of Grendel does not discourage the Shadow, rather it strengthens his resolve to stamp out the bitter disease that is crime.

DC Universe vs Masters of the Universe is a crossover in continuity with both DC comics’ New 52 and the current Masters of the Universe comic also published by DC. Masters of the Universe and DC comics have a long history together. He-Man’s first comic book appearance was (not counting mini-comics that were included with the action figures) DC Comics Presents #47, where Superman comes to Eternia and has an adventure with He-man. It was DC comics in fact, that introduced the superhero like element of giving He-man a secret identity, that of Prince Adam. The later Filmation cartoon would also adopt this story point.

Interestingly enough, this crossover shows some of DC’s magical characters before bigger names like Superman and Batman appear. Queen Marlena (He-man’s mother) is on Earth looking for John Constantine, who has heard of her from myth, and understands Eternia to be the center of all creation. Marlena originally was an Earth astronaut who crossed the dimensional veil into Eternia. This plot point originated in the 1980s cartoon. Marlena visits Constantine to warn of a great evil coming.

In a previous DC comics Master’s of the Universe story, Skeletor has disappeared. It turns out that he came to Earth, and is hiding out in DC’s House of Secrets with DC character Black Alice. While Constantine heard of Marlena, Skeletor also has heard of Constantine. DC’s Earth has a lot of untapped magical potential that Skeletor plans to use. However, Skeletor is not the mastermind here. Another character is giving him orders, one who’s identity will shock long time He-Man fans.

Meanwhile He-Man and his allies are hiding out, as the Evil Horde, with the help of He-Man’s sister Adora, have conquered Eternia. Events lead them to Earth where at first they fight, then later team with the Justice League of America to fight Skeletor (The Eternians of course speak English for whatever reason). There’s some cool interactions between the characters, especially involving Batman. In the Batcave Teela mistakenly thinks Batman kills kids, and Man-At-Arms objects to the large bat logo on Batman’s chest, as it reminds him of the Evil Horde symbol.

At one point Skeletor mind controls various characters of the DC universe to have them fight the Justice League and the Eternian heroes. DC’s Frankenstein even makes an appearance. Perhaps one of few disappointing things about this story is that there weren’t more Eternian villains. The DC Universe is so expansive, and the He-Man franchise is pretty large as well. A crossover between these two properties naturally has the potential to be pretty massive. It would have been fun to the DC characters come to Eternia. As I write this I realize I’d love to see He-Man fight Darkseid. Perhaps tying this story to both continuities kept it from being on a larger scale.

Still, DC vs Masters of the Universe is a fun action filled crossover that serves the continuity of both franchises, and has actual ramifications for at least the He-Man series. Here’s to hoping for a second crossover in the future.

Prophecy is a comic book crossover featuring characters that Dynamite has the license too, Vampirella, Ash/Evil Dead, Red Sonja, and Pantha, along with public domain characters Sherlock Holmes, Alan Quatermain, Dorian Grey, and Dracula.

The tale starts in 1890 London. Inspector Lestrade and Sherlock Holmes investigate the murder of a man who was shot in a museum. Apparently, he was shot over an ancient Mayan artifact that is now missing.

Cut to the Yucatan Peninsula in 632 AD. At the height of the Mayan Empire, a sacrifice is to be made. The girl being sacrificed turns out to be Red Sonja, who, through magical means, is pursuing an arch foe of hers across time. The villain escapes again, and travels to the (at time of print) present day of 2012. There’s a collage of images as the characters go through time, which provides a few Easter eggs for readers. One image is of Project Superpowers, the universe Dynamite created for public domain super heroes. We also see the Lone Ranger, the 3 Musketeers, Robin Hood, Evil Dead, the Phantom, Zorro, and even what looks to be a vague image of Indiana Jones.

The second issue opens at Miskatonic Asylum, where Herbert West, the Re-Animator is committed. (We also see the creators of this series, Ron Marz, and Geovani Walter locked up here) The Re-Animator was a short story by H.P. Lovecraft of Cthulu fame. Miskatonic University was also a creation of Lovecraft that was referenced in several of his stories, appearing first in The Re-Animator. The infamous Necronomicon is also a creation of Lovecraft which is referenced often and is even a part of the Evil Dead mythos. Dynamite has previously made Re-Animator comics, though set in the modern day.

Anyway West escapes his captors and travels to South America. He is in possession of the Necronomicon, which he later says he got in exchange for a certain experiment on a certain client. I don’t know what this is a reference too but in the stories West has a formula that can resurrect the dead.

In South America Herbert West runs into Red Sonja, who has just appeared from the past. Vampirella also appears and the two women briefly fight. Vampirella is also accompanied by Dracula, and Pantha. Later we get Eva, who claims to be Dracula’s daughter.

Sonja somehow is able to speak English, and communicates that her arch foe has come here to cause the end of the world (Basically the Mayan 2012 prophecy). The heroes fight the villain in the temple, where they Greek Goddess Athena shows up to help. At this point several supernatural creatures are summoned and spread across the globe to wreak havoc. The rest of the story has the team splitting up to fight them, then converging back in South America for the final battle.

One of the creatures attacks Las Vegas, and Ash comes into the story at this point. Ash also knows West from previous encounters. Periodically we get flashbacks to Victorian England, where Holmes encounters Alan Quatermain and Dorian Grey. These parts were entertaining but I think I missed how they connect to the main story.

We get a big final battle at the end, during which Vampirella steals a line from the Army of Darkness movie (Which is the 3rd Evil Dead movie.). One interesting turn of events is that a certain character gets turned into a vampire, and is still a vampire at the end of the story. I’m curious to see how that was resolved in later comics. I liked that touch which added a real consequence to this series so it wasn’t just another crossover.

Overall Prophecy is a pretty effective crossover that unites a set of characters you might otherwise not think of seeing together.

Danger Girl/G.I. Joe is a comic book crossover between the long popular Hasbro toy property and the IDW comic book series about a group of female super spies. In the beginning of the story two G. I. Joe agents get captured, and it is revealed that in this world Abbey Chase of Danger Girl appears to be an agent of Cobra. This world also has a female president. A series of events ensues  in which Madame President orders the Joes to stand down against Cobra, but some of the Joes want to act out on their own to save their captured friends. The Danger Girl crew arrives on the scene and one of the girls punches out the President. Madame President does not appear to be who she seems. The two teams join up against a wild over the top battle to rescue their friends, and one of the Danger Girls in particular is highlighted as the one who really saves the day.

The world of Danger Girl is not nearly as large as the world of G. I. Joe, and Cobra seems to be the main enemy of this story. The plot is pretty straight forward, but your getting what you expect of these properties. Danger Girl/G.I. Joe is filled with ludicrous over the top action starring highly glamorous men and women of the special forces that are fighting to save the day.

Vampirella is a female Vampire adventurer who was originally published in 1969 by Warren Publishing.Three years prior, the supernatural soap opera Dark Shadows aired on ABC. Eventually the vampire character Barnabas Collins became the main character of that TV show. In recent years Dynamite Entertainment has picked up the rights to both properties, this a crossover was inevitable.

The villain is introduced right away, Elizabeth Bathory, the real life woman who bated in young girls blood, is portrayed as an ancient vampire. We briefly stop in Victorian London where she encounters Jack the Ripper. Vampirella in the comics has only been on earth (she’s actually and alien by the way) during modern times. Barnabas Collins has existed for centuries, but given Vampirella’s back-story, the main part of this crossover takes place in the modern day. The original Dark Shadow’s show ran until 1971, with a few films that followed. So to my knowledge this is the first time that the classic Barnabas Collins has been brought to the modern day. (There was a reboot/revival short lived tv series in the early 1990s).

Cut to modern day, Bathory has come to New York City, and her crimes get the attention of our two vampire heroes. Barnabas has an interesting motivation in that he is able to control his urges and apparently has ways of feeding without hurting anyone. However when he was first a vampire he took many victims. In remorse he has sworn to protect the ancestors of his victims. This brings him to New York. Vampirella is already there and works with the police.

Barnabas brings an ally with him that is a werewolf, and Vampirella introduces us to Pantha, a woman that can turn into a Panther. While there’s seemingly no sexual tension between Barnabas and Vampirella, there’s plenty between the two supporting characters. Barnabas plays the old man out of touch with the times as Vampirella is more in tune with today. They are both good allies for each other though.

This is more of an action story than a horror story. There’s lots of graphic violence, tearing people limb from limb etc. Perhaps this is not what Dark Shadow fans are used to seeing, but it fits the story I guess. The plot itself is pretty simple, and we sort of get a cameo from the witch that cursed Barnabas, and Dracula makes a surprise appearance at the end. (He has a history and rivalry with Vampirella).

Barnabas and Vampirella both debuted within a few years of each other, and while tonally they are very different characters, their vampiric roots managed to bring them together. So if you ever wanted to see what would happen if these two met, check it out.