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4LN Movie Review – Suicide Squad

It seems the ever-growing divide between audiences and film critics is hitting it’s apex in 2016. I mean, never before have so many films been stamped worthy or unworthy before they even released, but this year it seems like almost every movie was prejudged before audiences could even vote with their dollars. No one has felt the pain of this divide more than DC/Warner Bros, as evident by the controversy that Suicide Squad has become. Earlier this week the review embargo dropped and the internet was flooded with negative opinions of the film. I literally only read one positive review before I saw the film myself. So, was it really *that* bad? Is it the worst movie of the year? Is it more of a cinematic abomination than last years Fantastic Four, as Vanity Fair suggested? The answer, confidently, is NO, it’s no where near that bad. Nothing is. (And the Vanity Fair reviewer must’ve had a serious bout of constipation when he saw the film because his article is unnecessarily cruel and could only have been written by someone so painfully full of shit.)

Suicide Squad broke the August record for a Thursday night opening of a film, by a lot. Based on the reviews, a lot of people are surprised by this. I am not. DC and WB stacked it with an eclectic cast, and spent a lot of time hyping it to the Hot Topic demographic and it paid off. Their character designs are perfect for marketing, as you can see with the deluge of t-shirts and other swag for sale everywhere. Even the soundtrack takes a rifle shot right at the mainstream. I mean, with the likes of Rick Ross and Lil Wayne you lock down the hip-hop crowd, and then add Twenty One Pilots and Panic! At the Disco, both whom are selling out concerts this summer, and I think you can start to see my point. They knew just what they were doing when they planned out the marketing strategy. They did however, forget to structure a cohesive film for which all of this marketing would hinge on…

“But Stephen, I thought you said it wasn’t that bad?” You’re right, I did say that, and it’s not. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t a little-to-medium bad. The first hour is especially confusing and hard to follow. The film opens with backstories on Deadshot and Harley that are nice but feel like they’re a little hurried so as to get them over with. Once the team is put together they’re sent off on a mission that just so conveniently turns out to have been caused by someone who was supposed to be one of them. The majority of the film is just the team on this one mission. I was a little surprised that it went that direction, but it makes sense when you consider David Ayer’s film style. See, what he does best are linear action movies with intimate drama and lots of gunfire. He typically has a couple main characters and then maybe three crucial supporting characters. Here, there’s like five main characters and 87 supporting ones. All the “David Ayer” elements are here, but they’re in a movie with a much bigger scope than he’s shot within in the past and it feels like the whole thing gets away from him a little bit. For that reason, I don’t think you could really call this a “David Ayer’s film”, but that’s sort of what you sacrifice when you take on a franchise I guess. Hey, in his defense, he’s at least not as empty as Zack Snyder. That dude cannot make a movie with substance, or emotions that feel natural. Ayer can do that. He has a good cast and he gets good performances out of them, with some decent emotion, even though it’s stretched thin across so many characters.

Despite the confusing plot lines and mostly mediocre story, the cast is actually phenomenal. I think the sense of camaraderie that Ayer strongly attempts to instill in his actors shows through. Everyone seems to have a genuine connection and performs very well. Rather than trying to talk about everyone, though, I’ll just focus on some of the standouts.

Viola Davis is fantastic as Amanda Waller, the woman responsible for creating the team in the first place. She completely embodies the nature of the character and might possibly give the best, most natural performance in the whole film. I’m a fan of Joel Kinnaman and I felt like he did a great job as Rick Flagg, who is in charge of keeping the team together. Flagg is a military man and Kinnaman gives a solid performance. One of the standouts I felt was Jai Courtney as Digger Harkness / Captain Boomerang. He brings an off-beat sense of humor to the film that’s not the same as the other funny moments. It’s different than when Harley says something bizarrely crazy or when Deadshot makes a funny quip. Without him, the film could’ve been a lot more boring. Bringing to the table what is definitely the darkest personal drama of the team is Jay Hernandez as Chato Santana / El Diablo, the man who makes and controls fire. Hernandez portrays Diablo’s inner conflict well. He wants to stay out of the fight for personal reasons, but he clearly knows how easily his ability could decimate the enemy they face.

I thoroughly enjoyed Jared Leto’s Joker and actually wished their has been more of him. He wasn’t quite as much like the “Death of the Family” Joker that I was hoping for, but I see that potential in him. Margot Robbie is a good Harley Quinn, but after Amanda Conner’s and Jimmy Palmiotti’s incredible run on the character in her self-titled comic series, it’s hard to see her as emotionally out-of-control as she comes across in the film. I mean, yes, she’s crazy. Yes, she’s clever. But she’s also deceptively intelligent, and… I… I just struggled with this version of Harley a little. I didn’t hate it, I just feel like Conner and Palmiotti have written Harley in a manner that depicts her in control of herself and her own sexuality and I’m not entirely sure I can say that this Harley is. However, this is an earlier moment in the timeline of that character whereas that comic series takes place much later in her life so I hope that as we see more of her in films she starts to evolve into that strong, more mentally and emotionally in control woman she’s become in the comics.

In a perfect world, this movie would’ve cut the cast by about 5 people, one of those being The Enchantress who’s involvement just takes away from the greatness it could’ve been, and been shortened to about an hour and a half. To it’s credit, it’s nowhere near as boring as Batman V Superman. It may be messy and confusing, but at least it has enough going on to keep you interested. I would say the difference is… BvS was disappointing, but Suicide Squad just never fully achieves its potential. There are some really great moments too. Leto’s Joker is petty creepy, and many of the action sequences are really exciting. It’s worth watching for sure. I even hope that they can make a sequel because there’s so many more great characters that you can use in the Suicide Squad (*cough* Deathstroke and King Shark *cough*). I just think that the next one needs to be a little more focused and less shotgun-like. Much like the team itself, this film tries to hit multiple targets at once but just falls a tad short.

Saturday Morning Review: Batman #39

Series: Batman
Writer: Scott Snyder
Artist: Greg Capullo
Inker: Danny Miki
Colorist: FCO Plascencia

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Summary from Comixology: “Endgame” part 5. The Joker is back! The penultimate issue of the Clown Prince of Crime’s horrifying return! Plus, in the backup story, the inmates and Mahreen finally learn the truth about the Joker!”

Overview:
Do you enjoy your skin crawling? Have you missed The Court of Owls? Are you ready for the darkest version of Joker that we have ever seen? If you answered “yes” to any of those questions, then this is the comic you have been waiting for. I can’t stress enough how much this issue made me uncomfortable and just worried for Bats in general. From the first page with the Bat-Symbol shining upside-down over Gotham, almost as a distress symbol, to the last page with Joker’s nihilistic eyes staring into you. This issue will have you reading on the edge of your seats, and possibly sleeping with a light on. I would dare say this Joker is darker then what we have seen in Death of The Family, and that’s saying a lot.

Highs:
Yet again, Scott Snyder’s writing is truly on point in this issue. I LOVED seeing the Court of Owls make an appearance in this book. My all time favorite comic book villain is Scarecrow, so I geeked out pretty hard when he made an appearance in the book. Having the Court of Owls AND Scarecrow in a book together, what more could I want? And for anyone who read the Batman and Robin book, in issue #17, Alfred has a dream wear he shoots Joker in the head with a shotgun. Without using spoilers, this scene takes place in this issue, but has much different consequences. (I really loved the call back to a previous issue, in an entirely different book.) Besides Snyder being on point, Greg Capullo was also blowing me away with his breathtaking and crisp art. Also, the cover to this issue. Holy. Shit. Joker sitting on a throne of bodies, and crushing a bat in his fist. This is not the Joker you remember. I also love how it’s a reference to another Capullo work, Spawn #250.

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Besides the amazing art, Danny Miki’s colors are incredible. I can’t stress how beautiful this book is with the art and colors. The parade that Joker throws in the streets of Gotham in this issue was like watching The Rose Parade with colors popping out of the pages and the lighting and pastel colors used adds so much more to the book, turning it from a comic to a work of art.

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Lows:
I know I say this is almost every Batman review, but I really mean it. There wasn’t anything wrong with this book. It was absolutely beautiful, eerie, and chaotic. The Bat-Family is maturing and are holding up well to this truly terrifying Joker.

The Final Say:
Do you enjoy horror? Is the Joker one of your favorite villains? Do you want to read a story that truly pushes Batman to his limits? If you answered “yes” to any of those questions, then you need to pick up Batman #39. Experience the nightmare that Batman is living, and lets hope that he can survive this encounter with Joker. Over all this issue was perfect, it’s perfect that this is issue five in Endgame, because this issue deserves a 5 out of 5. Go, NOW, and pick this copy of Batman up immediately. You will not regret it.

Music Pairing: 
For this issue, I would recommend listening to Nothing. No serious, the band Nothing. They are a perfect mix of chaotic noise rock, but also ambient relaxing post-rock. It’t an odd combination, but they pull this off perfectly. With this issue it works really well to have a chaotic, yet peaceful sound.

4LN Comic Review: Batman #38 (Contains Spoilers)

Series: Batman
Writer: Scott Snyder
Penciler: Greg Capullo
Inker: Danny Miki
Colorist: FCO Plascencia

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Summary from Comixology:  “Endgame” part 4. The Joker is back! This time, no more funny stuff. And in the backup story, five Arkham Asylum escapees share their encounters with The Joker!

Overview:
When it comes to horror, Scott Snyder really knows how to twist a story and make your skin crawl. His vision of Joker is easily one of the most terrifying and psychotic versions of the character ever written. Once again, Greg Capullo’s art is on point and fits the feel of the book perfectly. The art is dark and captures the feel of the chaotic Gotham landscape, but the colors are absolutely gorgeous. Every page pops in a distinctively different way from the others. And the close up panels of Joker swimming will be enough fuel to add to any nightmare.

 

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Highs:
As I said, Scott Snyder can write the shit out of horror, and make your skin crawl. In this issue, not only do we get a taste of horror, but we also get a history lesson. Not just a lesson about the city itself, but also of the people, the oldest block in Gotham, and also a quick history lesson from Scott Snyder about the previous 37 issues of the book. In a few short pages, Snyder has tied together everything that has happened in the book from the very beginning with The Court of Owls to Doctor Death and even brings up a few things that make up the Batman mythos. I have said it once, and I’ll say it again… Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo are the best team to write Batman. And the cover to this issue is just beautifully eerie, with Batman holding two severed hands with “Love” and “Hate” on them, with a silhouette of Joker behind him holding a knife..

Lows:
In the past issue, it was mentioned that Joker could be ageless, always was, always is, and always will be. That is touched upon further in this issue and it’s mentioned that Joker is in dozens of photos of Gotham history. Now, we have no conformation of this, and it’s mentioned that it could be the best photo doctoring of all time, and I certainly hope that is true. It’s been 38 issues of Snyder/Capullo’s run on Batman and this is the first “worry” I have with the series. But I’m sure the creative team has something in the works to explain this, so I’m not too worried.

The Final Say:
This is not a good jumping on point, but you will want to read this story arc. If you are a fan of Joker, then this is a must read and as terrifying as the Death of The Family arc. Joker is taking no hostages and he’s going all out to make Batman’s hell come down on Earth. He knows that Bruce is Batman, and that’s not even what Joker is concerned about. This issue will make your skin crawl, and it’ll make you fear Joker like never before. He’s created “zombie” versions of himself and he’s ready for war. This issue was perfectly done and gets a 5 out of 5 stars. It’s not an arc you will want to sleep on. Run to your LCS and pick up this issue and the previous three issues. It’s worth it.

Music Pairing:
This was a hard issue to find music for. Which means it’s perfect for 4LN writer Cam since he sits in awkward silence when he reads comics. BUT I would recommend the song Dead Flag Blues by Godspeed You! Black Emperor. The song is set in a post-apocalyptic world and starts with a narrator explaining what he sees. Cars on fire, buildings in ruble, and women screaming. Then the song goes into near 10 minutes of instrumental music. I think with the slight use of words in this song, it will help you really read into what’s going on in Gotham, and what Batman is truly facing. An evil he has never seen before.

Philosophy in Comics: Batman’s One Rule

We’ve all thought about it – wouldn’t it be better if Batman just killed the Joker? Think of all of the innocent people that would be saved if the Joker were finally off the streets of Gotham for good?

The Joker has killed one of the many Robins, shot and paralyzed Barbara Gordon, tortured her father, Commissioner Gordon, and killed Gordon’s second wife Sarah. He has indiscriminately killed hundreds, if not thousands, of innocent Gothamites. Unfortunately every time Batman catches him and he is thrown into Arkham, he inevitably escapes and continues to run amuck (I had to look up how to actually spell “amuck” I have never actually seen it spelled out).

This leads us back to our original question. Why doesn’t Batman end the Joker’s reign of terror for good, effectively saving anyone unlucky enough to catch him on a bad day?

A utilitarian (like Lando Calrissian) would argue that the best course of action would be to kill the Joker. If you remember, utilitarians believe that the proper course to take in any given situation is to determine the maximum amount of happiness for all those involved and head in that direction. Happiness, in this particular situation, would mean not getting murdered by a terrifying, psychotic, clown (that’s always on my list of things that make me happy).

If you look at Batman, there is a recurring theme in almost every rendition ever made, which is his refusal to kill (ironically, this theme was mostly ignored in the Burton and Schumacher eras, I mean it’s easier to count the number of villains who survived their altercations with Batman than those who didn’t).

This shows us that Batman is certainly not a utilitarian, if anything he is a deontologist. Unlike utilitarians, deontologists believe the morality of an act is based on the act itself, not the consequences of the act. For them, the end can never justify the means. So the idea that Batman could stop the Joker from killing however many innocents in the future is irrelevant because the means to that end would require him to kill, and killing is always wrong (there are concessions when it comes to immediate self-defense — see below). An easier way of saying this is that the “right” holds more weight than the “good.”

A common philosophical thought experiment that deals with this issue is the “trolley problem.” In this moral dilemma, there is a trolley moving down a track. Further down there are five people who apparently don’t know that a trolley track isn’t the best place to hold quorum, and will be killed by the trolley unless the trolley is diverted to another track. Unfortunately, there is also a person on that track (because people in philosophical conundrums make terrible spatial decisions) who will be killed if the track is changed. In this thought experiment there is no “yell at them to get off the track” option, despite what that one guy in your Philosophy 101 class inevitably suggests (trust me, he is in every Philosophy 101 class).

A utilitarian faced with the scenario (depending on other extraneous circumstances) would feel morally obligated to switch the track. They would say that maximum happiness would be achieved by saving the five bystanders despite the sacrifice of the other. The problem for deontologists is that saving the five would require them to become actively involved in taking a life. When a deontologist says, “Do not kill,” they mean it, even if there are reasons that would make killing a good idea (such as killing a maniacal, killer clown).

Obviously, the biggest difference with the “trolley problem,” and Batman’s problem, is the Joker (the one person on the track) actually endangers the other five. So if you do not divert the track to kill the Joker, there is a good chance that he would go after the other five, or he may have even put them there in the first place. Why should those five be sacrificed so that the Joker can live? Most of us instinctively say that they shouldn’t.

It would be easy to look at Batman and tell him that he is responsible for every death that the Joker causes. However, Batman could just as easily argue that the deaths that the Joker causes are the Joker’s responsibility alone, but that he (Batman) is responsible only for the deaths that he causes – or he might not feel like arguing with you and rupture your spleen with your own face instead (I am leaning towards the latter).

Deontologists generally accept that you can kill in instances of self-defense. Remember in Man of Steel (SPOILER ALERT) when Superman is forced to kill General Zod to stop him from eye-frying (freye-ing?) that family? Deontologists are okay with that, but if Batman stops the Joker after he kills somebody, it is no longer self-defense. Would he still be justified in killing him after the fact? A deontologist would say no, because there is always a chance that the Joker would not kill again (despite the obvious pattern). Would killing Joker, or anyone else for that matter, for crimes he has yet to commit be right? Most of us would have to say no.

So despite the fact that most of us think that the death of the Joker would be a benefit to society as a whole, Batman, as a deontologist, is not morally obligated to kill the Joker himself. In fact, he is morally obligated to refrain from killing the Joker because the act of killing is inherently wrong despite the end result.

Most of us, including me, are not strict deontologists. It’s hard for us to agree with continually allowing the Joker to kill, but I think it’s interesting to see how Batman could justify his actions philosophically. And now, when it’s brought up in conversation you can share your philosophical knowledge with people who probably won’t care!

Philosophy in Comics: The Nihilist Villain.

I have always found myself rooting for the villain. I’m really not sure what that says about me as a person. I’m a college students and taking philosophy/ethics classes, and they pretty much tell me I shouldn’t root for the bad guy, but I really can’t help it. I’m at a stage in my life where I look at things from a Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) perspective. I see no point in college, I see no point in working 9-5 until you’re 60 and can retire. I see no point in military conflicts, and I see no point in political parties. I understand the need for police, prisons, law and order, but I see no point in limiting the rights of humans. In theory, I agree with Nietzsche, but in a world of super villains it can be a hell of a terrifying thought. I haven’t found a complete nihilist in comics, but I have a few characters who share some traits of a nihilist.

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Lets take a look at one of the most famous chaotic villains, if you know anything about comic books, you know who this is going to be. The Joker. Lets look at how crazy he is, he once tried to copyright fish. You know, the kind that swim in the ocean, lakes or FISH tanks. He had his twisted smile put on these fish and then tried to copyright that. Or another time when he shoots Barbra Gordon in the spine, strips her naked, photographs it, and arguably rapes his helpless victim (now this isn’t shown or discussed, but it is VERY much implied). So when we look at the grand scheme of this brutal attack, Joker does this entirely to prove a point, and that point is that just one bad day can ruin anyone. And his target was to ruin Police Commissioner Jim Gordon. Joker ends up sending Gordon through some sick twisted carnival ride and shows him the images of his naked, beaten, and broken daughter. This is enough to send any man crazy. BUT Joker did not act on a Nihilist playing field, he had a reason and a point. He had something he wanted to prove, but he failed because Jim Gordon wasn’t ruined. (When people tell me Joker is their favorite villain, I just think of him as a rapist, and no rapist deserves any form of flattery. This theory on Joker being a rapist actually causes me to hate him.)

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Let us shy away from Batman because this can easily become a “Lets Look at the psychology/morals of Batman villains” and it seems we all know the majority of them already—one of my favorite villains is actually Sinestro. He’s an angry bitter man. He has gone through the ringer with the Green Lantern Corps, he left and started his own lanterns, the Sinestro Corps all because he is pissed that Hal is such a perfect pretty boy that can’t do wrong in they eyes of the Guardians. I can relate to Sinestro, but he doesn’t act on nihilism, he has a reason to be angry. He has a reason to hate Hal Jordan as well as all other Lanterns. Even when he goes of and starts his own Corps, it doesn’t end well for him and he just keeps becoming more and more angry. In Green Lantern N52, we get a little back-story on what causes Sinestro to become so bitter. Their start with a frustrated Sinestro due to the fact that the ring has chosen him, again, and it wants to redeem Sinestro. Later in the story Sinestro returns to his home world only to have it destroyed by an angry and “evil” Volthoom, the first Lantern. So all of Sinestro’s action in N52 can be brought back to significant reasons for his anger two main ones being, hate and frustration, so there is no way that Sinestro can fall into the Nihilist category.

sinestro

Well, how about Edward Blake, also known as The Comedian. In Watchmen we are shown what a terrible person Blake is. The entire story practically is about him, he’s our main character and we are trying to figure out who killed him. I think Blake is our best-represented Nihilist in the comic book world. When he’s in Vietnam fighting with the American military, he knocks up a local woman and ends up shooting and killing her because she is pregnant with his child. He kills her practically because she wants him to stay in Vietnam and remember her country, her people and “Their” child. Comedian sees no point in this so after a little bit of a struggle and broken bottle to his face, he ends up shooting and killing her AND the unborn child. When other characters talk about Blake, they seem to become uncomfortable and some can’t even stand the thought of being around him. Hell, he’s another example of a rapist in the comic medium when he sexually assaults Sally Jupiter.

Comedian

Edward Blake, Comedian, went to war for one reason. To kill. The United States army sponsored him in order to help bring the war to an end. He was on Military salary and his actions suffered no repercussions due to his military involvement. It’s never discussed that he was punished for the murder of a local woman and her unborn child, but knowing the character that Edward is, its not likely that he suffered any discipline. After all, in The Comedians eyes, the world is just a sadistic joke that only he understands. Even in the end when Eddie is murdered, he doesn’t really care. He’s not a nihilist, because he had purpose and he saw purpose, but he’s damn near close to one.

 

So, after a lot of consideration, I cannot think of an ultimate Nihilist Villain (or hero, depending how you view Comedian).  It’s a cool thought, but I think a nihilist villain would be way more terrifying then Joker. A nihilist would see no point in any morals or thoughts. He would act on nothing, and there would be no predictability. His crimes would be atrocious, and I think he would honestly be way to dark to handle. So after all is said and done, villains act n some sort of reasoning or morals. At least, that’s what we want to think…

Batman: Arkham Origins Review

arkhamoriginsBy:Micah Russell

A group of lowlifes are mercilessly laying into a couple of beat-cops towards the end of their shift. Suddenly a massive black figure drops down from above, overwhelming them with speed, strength, and fear. They scream as they realize that the rumors are true. The batman exists and he is darker than they thought.

Batman: Arkham Origins is the newest installment in the Arkham series, a prequel that expands on the familiar territory of its predecessors under the helm of a different developer: WB Montreal. Rocksteady handed over the title, coming out at the end of the current-gen systems’ life cycles, to the new company earlier this year, leaving little room for complaint. Even though the game is in new hands, if you loved Arkham City, then you won’t be disappointed.

I had been anxiously awaiting my copy of Origins from GameFly in the mail since its release almost two weeks ago. Once it finally arrived, I wasted no time in sitting down and starting my new adventure as a much younger Dark Knight.

The game wastes no time throwing you right into the action, dropping the caped crusader into the middle of a prison break at Black Gate, caused by the notorious crime lord, Black Mask. All of the controls and gadgets you start with are very familiar, since they are all items Batman had in Arkham City. The fighting system also has very little changes. The Dark Knight seems to fight like his older self in almost every way, except for a few minor changes. I almost wish his moves had altered a little, even if it was just making his moves more brutal, to help exemplify the inexperience of this early hero. Nonetheless, the best parts of the game that help the player understand that his is a much younger Bruce Wayne lie almost completely in the storyline, which is where the heart of the game also lies.

In my opinion, even with the amazing ending the previous game held, this is definitely the best overall story arc. The voice acting of Roger Craig Smith (Batman/Bruce Wayne) and Troy Baker (The Joker) is phenomenal. If no one had told me, I wouldn’t have even been able to tell that Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill hadn’t returned for this title. The much grittier voice of Batman is what truly made me feel that this was a very young, emotionally driven vigilante. My favorite moment of showing how inexperienced he is was a part where he accidently forces a henchman to pass out while choking him, attempting to obtain some information on Penguin (who by the way does not currently have the infamous bottle smashed into his eye). Then, once the Joker steps into play, you almost hate any scene that he isn’t in, mainly due to the fact that this is possibly the craziest version of him I have ever seen outside of the comics, really driving in where all of his insanity comes from. All in all as this story becomes more and more emotionally driven, each moment leaving you with a since of, “Holy s*** this game is crazy!” Though I loved every part of the storyline, the most memorable part was literally walking through the mind of the Joker (as the Joker) while having his first psychiatric evaluation from Dr. Harleen Quinzel (Holy foreshadowing B-man!) Though the story is really what seems to pull the entire game together, there are still plenty of holes that leave the player longing for something more. Since the main difference that sets the game apart from the other seems to be time, there truly isn’t enough “new” dynamics that set this game apart from previous entries. The map is twice as big Arkham City, but the only addition is an equally sized (and not very unique) island connected to the previous one by one lengthy, annoying bridge, that you will find yourself crossing constantly in order to complete the many side quests and collectibles. The only other real change from before is a new bad guy in the combat system, the martial artists, who can counter Batman’s counters and a couple of new gadgets, like the shock gloves and the zip line tool, which are picked up old school Mega Man style, by beating different bosses. One of the few highlights of the new combat mechanic is an incredibly long battle with Deathstroke, in which batman literally trades punches with the assassin, proving his combat ability. So the combat is pretty much the same, the side quests are pretty much the same (picking up Riddler stuff again), the gadgets are the same except for a couple of new toys, and the map doesn’t feel that new either, just bigger. So where are the pieces that make this a new experience besides the story? Mostly in the details.

The first difference that is the easiest to spot in the story mode is the new crime scene investigations. This has actually become one of my favorite parts of the game, mainly due to the fact that it makes the player get the feeling of why Bruce is nicknamed the world’s greatest detective. This was something the previous games failed to do and I hope it becomes a new staple in the series. There are several points in the main quest and side quests alike where the players will find themselves looking over a murder scene from first person view. Although the new mode is very straight forward, literally being talked through it by Batman’s inner thoughts, it’s very refreshing. The player will scan the body, do blood spatter analysis, and be able to rewind and play forward the crime as it happens, in order to catch any small details needed to close the case. Seeing a body reanimate and watching its death by a thrown air-conditioning unit in reverse is quite a thing of beauty. Once Batman has found enough DNA evidence to tie the killer to the body, he then has to track them down and take them out. Very satisfying.

The other big change to the series is the introduction of the all-new multiplayer, 3 vs. 3 vs. 2 mode, in which three members from the Joker’s gang, three members from Bane’s gang, and Batman and Robin, face off against each other in a bout to control territory. The gameplay mechanics of the new online mode are fairly straightforward, basically being a 3rd person shooter for the gangs while Batman and his sidekick roam the shadows above. On paper the idea is great, but there isn’t a lot of room for newcomers to be able to face off against others who have been playing a lot longer. The higher the opponents level, the more likely it is that their weapons over power a newbie, basically being able to mow down anyone who is not as experienced with ease. Nonetheless, one of the other enjoyable parts of the online is being able to create load-outs of different baddies on each side, choosing how they look and what the wear, along with being able to earn new outfits for the two heroes (I really want the 1990’s animated series costumes). Though there are a lot of good things about the online, the worst part is the lobbies. Within a matter of an hour, I was only able to successfully play about 4 matches, since the game’s matchmaking forces the player to wait until all 8 possible spots are full before counting down, leaving 45 seconds for someone to change their mind and back out, starting the process all over again.

In the end, the further into the story I played, the more I loved the game. But once the game was over, even with all of the side quests to explore and multiplayer left to attempt, I began to lose interest, feeling like most of these activities became a chore. Though the game is not as being as a jump as the one from Asylum to City was, it’s still fun to dawn the cape again and experience a much younger, darker knight.

I give Batman: Arkham Origins 8.5 gee willikers out of 10.

Thank you DC, from a Marvel fan.

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Thank you DC, from a Marvel fan. (written August 7th)

 

From the time I was a kid, and my mom would let me sit in the magazine aisle of our local grocery store reading comics while she replenished our pantry, I’ve always been a marvel fan. It’s nothing against DC, but for some reason I’ve always flocked to heroes like Captain America, Gambit, and Iron Man. Honestly at 8 years old I based my opinions on how cool the heroes looked. Super Man’s red under wear didn’t stand a chance next to Wolverine’s claws coming from his fists. As I grew older and came to understand the impact that comic book heroes had in society the more respect I had for them even though they were fictitious. That respect crosses both the DC and Marvel universe.

Since the time Superman was first introduced to the world, kids and adults have looked to super hero comics as either a way to relate to their problems with the world, or just simply escape them.  For instance, during World War II, Captain America was depicted fighting Nazis and Hitler himself. Superman tried to single handedly solve world hunger. Batman even took on the subject of drug abuse in Batman RIP, and in most recent years both Marvel and DC have taken on the subject of gay rights in announcing gay and lesbian characters. Social issues and comic books go hand in hand.

While I’ve always enjoyed the fun and exciting universe that is Marvel, I want to take a second and say thank you to Detective Comics. Today I’m sitting on the oncology floor of Vanderbilt Children’s hospital with my son and probably 30 other children who are battling some form of pediatric cancer. Over the last year I have learned more about real life super heroes than the ones that I’ve read about in comics in my 28 years of living. My son is one of them. He has endured 42 rounds of chemo therapy, one huge back surgery to partially remove a tumor from his spinal cord, 36 rounds of physical and occupational therapy, and has gone from being paralyzed to walking again, and did I mention he was four years old for most of this. He handled every bit of this in stride. Sure there were plenty of tears shed, and arguments had on going to chemo, but he has literally become a symbol of strength to people who are fighting the same disease and even people who aren’t. Every kid on this floor is just that… a symbol of strength, bravery, and hope. Each week we come to the hospital you can usually find all kinds of super heroes either painted on shoes or all over kids’ shirts. These are both Marvel and DC heroes. Each week you see kids who find strength in fictional heroes you’ve created and how they overcome their problems or in some cases don’t. Still you provide so much more than entertainment. You provide strength, hope, and bravery, to these kids and their parents. (Fact: more than 175,000 kids are diagnosed with cancer a year)

It’s been a long year, and to be honest my son hates chemo almost as much as the Joker hates Batman. So much so he does his best to not even talk about it. While it’s been long we (my wife and I) have always looked for ways to make the whole process easier for my son. Actually the first thing he watched when he woke up from surgery was Captain America (sorry DC, he’s a marvel kid). He would watch the Amazing Spiderman over and over while we were in the hospital. Truth be told, we even were able to sneak in some Batman Forever (he really loved all the bright colors). We’ve given him countless toys of Spiderman, Ironman, Captain America, Iron Fist, X-men, Hulk, and even Batman stuff to help keep his mind off how terrible chemo makes him feel. All of it worked to some degree, but nothing really helped keep his mind off of it permanently.

Yesterday, I took some time off work to hang out with my son before his last treatment. While I was sitting down to start writing another article for 4NL I thought of the video I had seen a couple of months ago that has been making its way around the internet. It shows how DC is directly helping kids to change their mindset on what is happening to them. Here it is if you’re not familiar.

I showed this video to my son, and as he watched I would see his eyes light up and a slight smile emerge. I asked him what he thought and the first thing out of his mouth was “I want some stuff to help me be like a superhero”. You have to understand, as a parent, trying to explain away the scary and boring place that is a hospital to a 4 year old is near impossible. Even the hospital we have that is decorated solely for kids becomes a bad memory over time, but here you are taking your awesome stories and characters and making them fight something that my son has been fighting every day for the last year. You’ve written it so that he immediately relates, and FEELS like he is being turned into a superhero. You’ve done something every fanboy and fan girl has always wanted in making them feel as if they ARE a super hero. What a powerful tool this is for kids fighting cancer. Let me say that every kid fighting cancer could use what is in this video…. hope, strength, and bravery.

 

So let me say this very clearly.

 

From a Marvel fan,

 

THANK YOU DC

 

For helping kids conquer their arch nemesis one chemo at a time.

 

 

Sincerely,

 

Cody

(I’m a huge advocate for finding a cure for pediatric cancer because of my son, and if you feel so led to help make an impact, feel free to make your own impact here.  http://www.stbaldricks.org/  They are the largest non-profit research organization for pediatric cancer, and their money is where their mouth is. Help save a life and donate.)