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SDCC 2022: Meet The Batwheels

At Saturday’s DC San Diego Comic-Con panel, “Comics Are Fun for Everyone,” Batwheels released the “Meet the Batwheels” teaser giving fans a sneak peek at Cartoonito’s upcoming preschool animated series.

Also announced, an upcoming special, Secret Origin of the Batwheels that will premiere on Batman Day, Saturday, Sept. 17 on Cartoonito on HBO Max. The half-hour prequel will set the stage, unveiling how the Batwheels team formed. This Bat-tastic sneak peek will help fans gear up for the series’ official launch later this fall on Cartoonito on Cartoon Network and Cartoonito on HBO Max.

Batwheels follows a group of young sentient super-powered vehicles as they defend Gotham City alongside Batman, Robin, and Batgirl.

The all-star voice cast includes Ethan Hawke (as Batman), Jacob Bertand (as Bam the Batmobile), Gina Rodriguez (as Catwoman) and Xolo Maridueña (as Snowy the Snowcrawler)among others. Sam Register (Looney Tunes Cartoons) serves as executive producer. Michael G. Stern (Doc McStuffins) serves as co-executive producer, Simon J. Smith (Penguins of Madagascar) is supervising producer and Steven Fink of Bang Zoom Ltd. is producer. Based on characters from DC, Batwheels is produced by Warner Bros. Animation. Animation services provided by Superprod Studio.

Film Review: The Northman

Content warning: mention of sexual assault

The Northman is the two-headed offspring of a black metal cover of “Immigrant Song” and a copy of Hamlet with half the pages torn out to be used as fuel for a funeral pyre for one of the many characters that die in this gory two hour Viking epic from writer/director Robert Eggers (The Lighthouse) and co-writer Sjon (Icelandic poet/musician/Bjork collaborator). With the exception of an interesting bit of subtext becoming text towards the film’s last act, The Northman is a stylish, yet straightforward revenge yarn done in the mode of an Icelandic saga with all kinds of other elements from classic genres, like epic, tragedy, odyssey, and maybe even a bit of sword and sorcery, served up in a wintry, eye-gouging, psychedelic slurry where Willem Dafoe going goblin mode and playing a scene-stealing and narrative-furthering Lear’s Fool is only the tenth or eleventh most interesting thing about the film.

The film’s plot follows the bloody path of Amleth (Alexander Skarsgard), a Scandinavian prince who sees his father Aurvandill (Ethan Hawke) murdered by his uncle Fjolnir (Claes Bang) in front of his own eyes. Afterwards, he sees Fjolnir carrying his mother Gudrun (Nicole Kidman) off and generally taking possession of the kingdom. This series of events causes Amleth to go into exile and join a warring band of Viking berserkers. While raiding a Rus settlement, he meets the enigmatic sorceress Olga (Anya Taylor-Joy), who is part of a shipment of slaves being sent to Fjolnir in his new home of Iceland. Amleth joins them, and vengeance ensues with a side of wolves, he-witches, Valkyries, and a kind of proto-rugby game that is more Blood Bowl than World Cup.

From the opening narration featuring a wide shot of one of Iceland’s volcanoes, Eggers and his cinematographer Jarin Blaschke set The Northman in the epic mode invoking Odin, the Norns, and Valhalla and setting up the film’s big themes of revenge versus love and fate versus free-will. There are also supernatural elements, like various prophets and seers (Including one played by a strikingly costumed Bjork that sets up the last half of the film), a magic sword, Valkyries, and barrow-wights, that are predominantly played straight as the characters try to make sense of the world around them and their purpose in life. Robert Eggers and Sjon use gods and prophecies as background elements like how William Shakespeare adding spooky bits to Hamlet and his other plays, or even reaching further back in time when Homer used them as capricious game players in his poems. The inclusion of rituals like blood sacrifices, or Amleth and Aurvandill howling like wolves while belching and farting gives The Northman an alien feel in a similar manner to the use of dialect in Eggers’ first film The Witch.

Along with trippy, magick-filled bits, The Northman features visceral fight sequences that showcases Skarsgard’s physical approach to the role of Amleth as he is grounded down as the film progresses. After an extended underground ritual/mead hall sequence, Eggers and editor Louise Ford kick into thriller mode with arrows zipping right into Aurvandill’s body. His assailants are masked at first, but then, it’s revealed to be Fjolnir, and the story really starts to take off. Eggers and Ford use long takes to show the sheer violence of the world, and this can be seen most clearly in the raid on the Rus, or when Amleth basically becomes 9th century Iceland’s Punisher (or Zodiac killer) as a night fight sequence is shown from the POV of one of Fjolnir’s henchmen who couldn’t kill Amleth as a kid. The camera lingers on Alexander Skarsgard’s face and body as he exerts his way through carnage and labor for a chance at avenging his father, rescuing his mother, and reclaiming his kingdom even though he finds out his original home belongs to Harald of Norway in a darkly humorous exchange with a slave trader.

 The Northman

Although, much of the film is bloody spectacle, The Northman does carve out some quiet, intimate moments, and Robert Eggers and Sjon create a believable romance between Amleth and Olga that is helped a lot by the physical chemistry between Skarsgard and Taylor-Joy as well as the soft light and less dreary/hellish palette used by Blaschke. At the beginning, Olga seems like just another woman, who will be enslaved and raped, but she and Amleth basically bond over their weirdness with her pointing out that he’s a literal wolf in sheep’s clothes when he stows aboard the slave ship. He can drop his guard around her, and she plays the role of co-conspirator when he’s hatching his plan of vengeance. However, The Northman isn’t a romantic comedy, and their relationship ends up being much more strained and complicated than hanging out in an Icelandic hot spring.

The Northman is the cinematic equivalent of the Old Norse-derived words in the English language, including muck, dirt, skull, knife, and depending on the linguist, piss and shit. Alexander Skarsgard shows the physical strain of the quest for revenge and brings an animalistic energy to the fight sequences where he’s a wolf like the one he befriends in one of the film’s rare cute scenes. In both his storytelling techniques and meticulous attention to detail, Robert Eggers and collaborators like the aforementioned Jarin Blaschke and costume designer Linda Muir, create an immersive time capsule into a long forgotten time that may leave some wincing and flinching and others intrigued by a display of humanity at our most primal that is gently and later violently deconstructed towards the end of the film. Think Conan the Barbarian has an existential crisis…

Overall Verdict: 9.0

TV Review: Moon Knight S1E1

Moon Knight

It’s not unfair to say that as good as the Marvel movies and TV series are, they’re all very much governed by a formula that makes them come off as predictable. Well, predictable up to a point. I can’t in good conscience say they’re merely copy and paste versions of the same story, but there are commonalities. The hero, or heroes, find themselves conflicted with the roles they’ve either played before or are going to play, they’re put on a path that confronts them with a villain that will eventually help them recalibrate their identities, and then they accept and embrace their hero status.

Disney+’s Moon Knight goes for different, at least as far as the first episode is concerned. It comes off as a kind of companion to WandaVision in terms of concept, being that it approaches the idea of fragile realities in an intimate manner. Magic, horror, and psychology take precedence over action and political intrigue. Whether it’ll sustain this or not remains to be seen, but it at least results in a very refreshing first episode.

Moon Knight follows Steven Grant (played by Oscar Isaac), a museum shop clerk that suffers from intense and violent dreams, blackouts, and an invading personality that the comics the series is based on have often treated as a kind of supernatural dissociative identity disorder (DID for short). Steven starts to get haunted by a booming and authoritative voice (supplied by the great F. Murray Abraham) that will reveal itself to be the entity that endows him with the power to become Moon Knight.

Moon Knight

Ethan Hawke plays Arthur Harrow, a cult leader-like figure that is looking to harness the entity that has taken over Steven Grant. He gets to see the very British Steven become the very violent mercenary Marc Spector. It all leads up to Steven becoming Moon Knight to fight off the villain while trying to untangle his multiple personalities.

Isaac and Hawke on their own justify the watch. Isaac in particular plays a very emotionally convincing man that’s being tormented by his mind and how it disrupts his notions of reality and identity. It makes the Steven Grant character instantly likeable and relatable, not unlike Dan Stevens’ character in Fox’s own comic book series Legion (named after the titular character).

In Legion, the main character sees his powers in heavy contrast to schizophrenia, a condition that in Legion’s case blurs the lines between metahuman abilities and psychiatric symptoms. It remains to be seen how the DID aspects of Moon Knight’s character unspool, but so far it’s presented as key story element that builds the character sensibly.

Hawke complements Isaac by approaching his character as a kind of twisted spiritual guide that disarms people through words first and violence second. It makes for a very menacing display of villainy, one I’m eager to see develop as the show progresses.

Moon Knight

The first episode’s director, Mohamed Diab, also shines, especially in how inventive his approach is to the show’s action sequences. Initially, we’re presented with a Steven that epitomizes defenselessness in the face of insurmountable odds. When put in a life-threating situation, though, Steven blacks out and reawakens instantly to see he has solved the situation he was in with a lot of spilt blood as evidence of his handiwork.

The fight sequence itself isn’t shown. Instead, Diab goes clever editing and quick cuts to make these segments play out like fractured instances of violence that demand viewers fill in the blanks the blackouts leave behind. It builds Steven’s character while in the middle of the action, especially in the bits not shown, and it’s something I hope the series explores more.

If the first episode of the series is any indication, Moon Knight has a lot left to impress us with. The performances elevate the material to impressive heights and make the wait for the following episode that much harder. This series might be the one to break with the MCU TV formula and come up with something different, if only just a bit.

Marvel Studios’ Moon Knight Gets a New Trailer

Marvel Studios’ Moon Knight has gotten a brand new spot. The original series begins streaming March 30, only on Disney+.

The story follows Steven Grant, a mild-mannered gift-shop employee, who becomes plagued with blackouts and memories of another life. Steven discovers he has dissociative identity disorder and shares a body with mercenary Marc Spector. As Steven/Marc’s enemies converge upon them, they must navigate their complex identities while thrust into a deadly mystery among the powerful gods of Egypt.

Moon Knight stars Oscar Isaac, Ethan Hawke, and May Calamawy. Kevin Feige, Louis D’Esposito, Victoria Alonso, Grant Curtis, Brad Winderbaum, Oscar Isaac, Mohamed Diab and Jeremy Slater are the executive producers, with Trevor Waterson and Rebecca Kirsch serving as co-executive producers. Jeremy Slater is the head writer.

Review: Meadowlark

An amazing mix of crime noir and father and son relationships, Meadowlark is an amazing graphic novel with beautiful art.

Story: Greg Ruth, Ethan Hawke
Art: Greg Ruth

Get your copy now! To find a comic shop near you, visit http://www.comicshoplocator.com or call 1-888-comicbook or digitally and online with the links below.


Grand Central Publishing provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review
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Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets Gets a Trailer

Rooted in the classic graphic novel series, Valerian and Laureline– visionary writer/director Luc Besson advances this iconic source material into a contemporary, unique and epic science fiction saga.

Valerian (Dane DeHaan) and Laureline (Cara Delevingne) are special operatives for the government of the human territories charged with maintaining order throughout the universe.

Under directive from their Commander (Clive Owen), Valerian and Laureline embark on a mission to the breathtaking intergalactic city of Alpha, an ever-expanding metropolis comprised of thousands of different species from all four corners of the universe. Alpha’s seventeen million inhabitants have converged over time- uniting their talents, technology and resources for the betterment of all. Unfortunately, not everyone on Alpha shares in these same objectives; in fact, unseen forces are at work, placing our race in great danger.

The film stars Dane DeHaan, Cara Delevingne, Clive Owen, Rihanna, Ethan Hawke, John Goodman, Herbie Hancock, Kris Wu and is in theaters July 2017.

The graphic novels are by writer Pierre Christin and artist Jean-Claude Mézières.

Around the Tubes

Batman_the_Animated_Series_logoIt’s new comic book day! What are folks looking forward to? What has you the most excited? Sound off in the comments!

While you await stores to open, here’s some comic news and reviews from around the web in our morning roundup.

Around the Tubes

Comics Alliance – Warner Bros. Let James Wan Pick Between Directing ‘Aquaman’ and ‘The Flash’ – Interesting, and guess this kills all those expert reporters who said he quit.

Men’s Journal – Ethan Hawke Gets Graphic – Interesting….

Legal Cheek – What do Spider-Man and Superman teach us about criminal justice? – An interesting read.

Gizmodo – Why Batman: The Animated Series Is the Best Batman Ever – Yes, yes it is.

Wizkids – Marvel Heroclix: Uncanny X-Men in French & Italian – This is pretty cool!


Around the Tubes Reviews

Comics Beat – Gorgeous

Ethan Hawke, Comic Book Writer?

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Ethan Hawke, the actor who has appeared in numerous movies, might make writing comic books his next entertainment gig.  The author of two novels is in talks with comic book publishers to put on paper an idea he has but isn’t giving a hint as to what it is.

Hawke had this to say:

If I could work with a graphic artist and I’m working on trying to do that, that would be fun. I have the idea in my noodle but I’m not sharing it!  I plan on meeting with the publishers at Vertigo. I love that stuff. I have a whole other part of my brain that does that.

This would be the latest in a string of high profile entertainers from other mediums turning to comic books to tell their stories.