What Joseph Gordon-Levitt as the Batman means for The Justice League

Recently there have been some rumors spreading across the interwebs about Joseph Gordon-Levitt being the Batman for the upcoming Justice League film. Which is not quite confirmed. With that in mind, there are a couple things that need to be looked at if this was going to come to fruition.

First of all is what kind of Batman would the character of Robin Blake make? A few issues here arise when you realize that Blake doesn’t have nearly the physical or forensics training that Bruce attained during his eight years abroad. Bruce honed a multitude of skills over an extremely focused and extended period of time; whereas Blake was a police officer for the Gotham PD. I’m not sure what kind of entrance exam they require under Gordon, but I doubt it had anything to do with ninjitsu or the are of theatricality. In order for Blake’s character to be a convincing replacement for Bruce’s he would have to find some sort of method to train during the peaceful times in Gotham immediately following Bruce’s absence. How could he achieve this?

A Bat-log, of course. Blake was given full access to Bruce’s cave, which I’m assuming meant his files, contacts, and intelligence gathered on people from both his past and present. Using this, Blake could discover and locate some of the individuals that Bruce trained with over his years abroad. This would save him invaluable time that Bruce had to spend tracking these people down, therefore allowing him an expedited method of achieving the same results. One thing he probably won’t be able to replicate is Bruce’s training with the League of Shadows. Therefore, Blake would have to fight in a different fashion than Bruce did; much as comic book Robin differed from comic book Batman.

This isn’t a bad idea for the upcoming Justice League film, since it will be happening (presumably) fairly recently after the events of The Man of Steel. This is because both characters will be learning how to be superheroes after working to foil one major attack on their homes. If Bruce was to enter into the game he would have much more experience, and — although it’s fun to watch Bruce trounce Clark whenever he can — it would be unbalanced. This also depends on another issue that hasn’t been brought up yet, and that is Nolan.

Which really isn’t as big of a deal as many people probably want to make out of it. Nolan is a great story-teller — no doubt about it — but he is far from perfect. The Dark Knight trilogy might have been his brainchild, but it is not his intellectual property. The rights to these films belong to Warner Brothers, and they are completely within their rights to continue this universe under different direction. With that in mind, why would they not? Fans ate up the realistic and gritty tones crafted by Nolan and his team, and Warner Brothers would be foolish to try and emulate Marvel’s tone in making super hero films (see: Green Lantern with Ryan Reynolds). Don’t emulate, and instead innovate. DC and Marvel have had different tones to their heroes since inception (not a Nolan reference) so continuing that on-screen will bolster their differences while simultaneously celebrating them.

The challenge here is how to make the rest of the fantastic powers fit into a real world setting. Marvel’s franchises require a certain tint to view them in. Often times the reasoning behind a lot of what they do is “because science.” This suspension of disbelief is the only way to watch films like Thor and Captain America without being completely turned off. You have to tell yourself that it’s a comic book movie, and therefore the unexplained can remain unexplained as long as it’s entertaining. The Dark Knight trilogy — although not completely based on working scientific principles (ie. the Batwing’s ability to maneuver the way it did) — is situated in a “real world” setting. If this hero was to exist then this is what he would look like.

Many might become upset if this real world setting that Nolan created is then hijacked into a world of leaping tall buildings and magical green rings. However, it is not impossible. It is just really freakin’ difficult. It could be brought up that if they existed in the same universe then why didn’t Superman intervene in the events at Gotham during Bane’s attack? Although a good question, it’s not a difficult one to answer. Especially after looking at the teaser that was released for The Man of Steel.

What you’re seeing here is a Superman that spends an undisclosed amount of time not being Superman. He is working on a fishing boat, traveling via the roads (I’m sure there is a reason he isn’t flying) like Bruce Banner, and not entirely coming to grips with his destined place as Metropolis’ flying savior. Clark could have been aware of the events, or he could have been completely oblivious and out of the loop. Either way, he has an excuse as to why he didn’t do anything with Gotham.

In the comics, Dick Grayson (Robin number one) took over the cowl for Bruce when he “died,” and this provided a number of interesting interactions with the rest of the JLA, who were used to Bruce’s attitudes and methods. Granted, the rest of the heroes won’t be accustomed to dealing with Bruce, but they might be familiar with his tactics and legacy. This could also lead into an eventual return for Christian Bale to reprise his role as Batman in a future film, and have Blake take up the Nightwing outfit.

Because of the precedent Nolan set with the Batman movies this will be an extremely ambitious project for Warner Brothers. If done correctly it has the potential to be an even larger success than The Avengers movie was, while at the same time appealing to the viewers who appreciated the sinewy and darker version of their superhero. It is a surprising announcement, as many of us thought that Nolan’s versions would just be an entity all to themselves, and many people expressed displeasure as the thought of a complete reboot of the series so closely to the end of TDK trilogy. This decision seems to fly between these two concerns in an attempt to make something that is both pleasing to the fans, and the investors of the films.


Read This! With Michael Chen

Before we jump into what you should be reading in the comic world, a bit of an update (indulge me): My comic book shop has now been open for two weeks and things are going great. I know “the sign could be bigger” and the “stairs are inconvenient” but it also “feels like a New York City shop” or “has a lot more space than I imagined”. Perhaps the greatest form of flattery is the number of people who have showed up to read comics in the lounge, play games of all varieties or just talk comics. To quote one recent visitor “I missed these talks”. That is the heart of what makes comics – and comic shops – so awesome. They represent a community to share, discuss and disagree on some of the greatest stories ever told (alright, some of those stories are pretty terrible but that’s why I’m here to point you in the right direction…as soon as we escape this parenthesis…just as soon as we climb out of this thing…its curvier than I thought……..)

Whew! Want to catch up on your comic literacy and don’t know what to read? Read This #2 has you covered!


That is the seriously ambitious title of an ongoing comic book series. Acclaimed writer Brian K. Vaughan (Ex Machina, Y: The Last Man, Runaways) knows a thing or two about descriptive titles. He has promised that this will be his longest running serious yet and the entire run will feature the beautiful art of breakout artist Fiona Staples. Saga is a bit difficult to describe but the most apt description is probably Star Wars meets Game of Thrones meets Romeo and Juliet meets robot sex. Yup, there is robot sex. This is an undoubtedly mature title and Vaughan deftly handles those themes as said robot sex is used to depict the effects of robot PTSD (intergalactic war, remember?) Saying this isn’t your father’s C3PO would be putting it lightly (Does your father actually have a C3PO?! Because if that is the case, I do not know how you could ever put that lightly).

The story follow star crossed (literally) lovers Marko and Alana – members of different species that just happen to be engaged in an endless intergalactic war. If that isn’t epic enough, they aren’t even the main characters in the long run. The story is really about the narrator; a baby that is born in the first issue and has an irritating habit of foreshadowing as only a narrating baby can. Vaughan’s breakout hit has made him a star in the comic book world but more than his writing, you should read his work because he understands his audience is comprised of people not pocketbooks.

As Vaughan noted in a recent interview: “…we said we wanted our book to always cost $2.99, but to never be less than 22 pages long, a potentially risky equation in this marketplace.”

In a world where thirty-five cent comic books don’t even qualify as a distant memory, an author that can sell comics at $3.99 with their name alone taking this stand is admirable. Vaughan put his money where his mouth is. Promising a money back guarantee on Saga. How many author’s put the work into an amazing double sized first issue and then back it up with a money back guarantee? He’s so confident in the work he’s putting out there that he has extended this guarantee to any Saga issue that comes out.

I’ve already typed a lot of words about why Vaughan is a great guy and someone we should support. But here are some quick hits for those of you that still aren’t convinced to try this thing out. In no particular order five reasons to read Saga:

1. Vaughan has stated Saga will never be turned into a television show or a movie. Watchmen is amazing in its original form. It reportedly stopped the D.C. offices when it was first circulated. The movie was boring…and I still get awkward attacks whenever I hear the song Hallelujah. Saga is amazing like the former. And it can only be found in comic form.

2. In this era of 24/7 cable news, smart phones and WAY too many shiny lights, Vaughan is able to use the thirty days between issues effectively by planting little clues to the bigger universe. There are religious tensions referenced in a single line. Shared histories that are put aside to face the immediate problem. Clues to an entire universe at war need to be teased through. A writer that expects intelligent readers? *geekgasp*

3. Fiona Staples’ art is unique. It looks sort of like a watercolor if watercolors were used to depict winged aliens, robot dukes and cats that can detect lies. More than style, Staples is a co-creator and her input was directly responsible for main characters who were not your typical Caucasian protagonists. So go her.

4. Vaughan has made a career out of writing comics you can share with “non-comic readers”. Sidenote: There is no such thing as someone who does not like comics. All it takes is the right comic. I can safely say that Saga is that type of comic for any number of people. There are laser guns and Byzantine politics and logical character reactions and ghosts and interesting narrative choices and robot psychology and tender parenting moments and bounty hunters. If you don’t like any of those things then watch Twilight. Twilight has none of those things.

5. It is currently on issue #7. That is not a lot to catch up on. Even better, the first volume of the trade paperback collecting issues #1-6 was released in October. It contains 160 pages of epic story and beautiful art for $9.99. I just fainted. Buy this book. THERE IS A MONEY BACK GUARANTEE FROM THE AUTHOR AND $9.99 CAN’T BUY YOU A DECENT MEAL AT T.G.I.FRIDAYS ANYMORE (well…nothing can…but they don’t give you a money back guarantee!)

Do yourself a favor and start reading Saga. Do me a favor and do it in a local comic shop. Amazon, ebay and online comic megashops don’t need the additional business but your local comic shop does. More importantly, you may not realize how much you will enjoy the shared experience of reading, discussing and nerding out over Saga. Perhaps the best part of owning a comic book store has been the conversations. I love everything about how a great story can bring people together. Sorry if that is cheesier than the menu at T.G.I.F.*

*I’m actually not sorry. I meant what I wrote and I don’t like that place.

Shameless plug: Manifest Comics and Cards is located at 762 Broadway Second Floor Bayonne, New Jersey. It is awesome. Please send comments, questions and (polite) criticisms to manifestcomics@gmail.com. Even if you can’t stop by the store a simple “like” of our facebook page is always appreciated!

Batman: Live Action Series Idea

For those of us who are suffering from post-Nolan withdrawal of the caped crusader there is not a lot of information that is currently being divulged to sate our needs. The interest level of Batman would, in my opinion, exceed that of other heroes (example: Superman). With that in mind, I began to wonder what a series like Smallville would look like, but without being a Smallville. Not only that, but Bruce Wayne didn’t spend his teenage years in a high school or corn-fed community. So, if there was going to be a series that could live along side (albeit separate in story) it would have to follow a certain path. Ladies and gentlemen I give you my idea for a Batman live action series entitled “The Path to the Bat,” or “Becoming Batman,” or “Wayne,” or “The Wander Years” (starring Fred Savage).

The series would start out with Bruce on a boat. There is no need to give an entire episode to his origin, as I don’t think there are too many people who are unfamiliar with the catalyst moment in young Bruce’s life. There can be a quick flashback to a gun going off when something heavy hits the deck of the ship, or something along those lines, but there is no need to slow down the development or direction of the series by doing this. For a good example look at the new Spider-Man film with Andrew Garfield. Origin stories are just played out.

So where would it start? The first episode would have to focus on how inexperienced and angry Bruce is about the injustice done to his family. He would disembark somewhere in France, and upon seeing some thieves or other criminal sorts he would attempt to intervene. His furor and anger towards the criminal element would overpower any sense of self preservation, and he would get beaten, badly. Because of this he would pop up on the radar of Henri Ducard. Not the man we know as the former leader of the League of Shadows, but as the manhunting French detective that would teach Bruce about forensics and the art of deduction.

Here he will not only gain invaluable skills needed to become the world’s greatest detective, but he will also learn about the restrictions and red tape involved while trying to stop illegal activities through the proper channels. Eventually, it will be his unsanctioned involvement with some of Ducard’s cases that will force him to leave to save his mentor’s reputation. Or Henri could be killed while trying to solve a major case (think along the lines of a Sherlock episode), and Bruce must flee after taking matters into his own hands.

None of this happens over one episode either.

Then Bruce will travel to any of the other areas that would lend him skills and abilities needed to become Batman. Whether it be from the body control methods of the Nepalese monks, the tracking and hunting education he receives in Africa, the stealth and combat abilities from Japan, or any of the other martial arts areas he goes to, Bruce’s journey could span seasons.

Through out the show we would get small allusions to what Bruce will eventually become. Whether it be the his disgust of clowns, not liking people who are two-faced, having a porcelain penguin thrown at him in a comedic skirmish; the ability to incorporate what will-become into the present story is almost limitless. There could even be a point where Ducard begins tracking the illegal trafficking of what will eventually become the Venom that powers Bane’s strength. Again, that is just an example, but I think it could work well.

To use another show as an example, let’s look at the BBC series Sherlock. One aspect of the show is in how Moriarty is constantly keeping watch over Sherlock (as is his brother, Mycroft). This adds a fun element to the show, in that his actions are always being watched and graded by someone who is potentially more powerful than he is. For Bruce’s journey, that could easily be Ra’s Al Ghul. Because of his vast international connections, and need of a proper heir to his organization, he could monitor, influence, and invest in Bruce’s travels. Ra’s could even pit Bruce against other potential suitors for Talia Al Ghul without their knowledge.

The show would have to be done without the fantastical elements of Smallville in order to keep the tone serious and interesting. Yes, Smallville has been a successful show, but the ethos of Superman is different than that of the Dark Knight’s. This isn’t really a pitch (although if any studios are reading this then yes, it is a pitch), but what I think would be an engrossing, creative, and fun way to show a different side of the world’s greatest detective that isn’t often portrayed.

Dork Torque Welcomes Michael Chen: Owner of Manifest Comics and Cards

Read This

By: Michael Chen

So I did something crazy. Not just “called in sick to work for the next day then stayed in line all night to buy Black Ops II but then came home and passed out instead of playing glorious said game” crazy. No. As crazy as wasting a vacation day – and precious gaming time – is, I did something much crazier. I bought a comic book store. It actually wasn’t that hard…to type that last sentence. Everything else associated with this process has been just as bonkers as you could imagine. There are many reasons countless dorks talk about owning a comic book shop but few ever take the plunge into a big pool of H-2-OHNOWHATDIDYOUDOWITHYOURLIFESAVINGS?! I get that. Many of these reasons are based in sanity and firmly grounded in logic. But sometimes you just need to embrace the thing that makes you happy. We are located in Bayonne, NJ and we open tomorrow. Wow.

But enough about nothing! I’m excited to be joining DorkTorque as a semi-regular contributor writing about comics. If we’re honest, there are too many comics out there and you need to know what is worth reading. More importantly, some of you have been *geekgasp* avoiding comics and you need to know how to get current quickly. So let’s do that. FORM OF…BODY OF BLOG POST! (If you don’t get that reference just stop reading this…or google it and then come back).

(1) There has never been a greater time to be a comic book fan. PERIOD. (UN)NECESSARY PERIOD. People avoid comics or stop reading for several reasons that smell like poo. So you know what they smell like but this is what they sound like: “I don’t know where to start” “Superheroes aren’t for me” “I don’t want to spend money on giant crossover events that don’t make any sense” “I don’t like to read, I just like to smell like poo” If this sounds or smells like you then you should probably just stop. Stop complaining, take a shower and check out DC’s New 52. DC has promised to always have 52 new or rebooted major titles that offer something for everyone. Even established titles like Batman got completely rebooted roughly a year ago. More importantly, DC is offering titles in the genres of horror, fantasy, military and not smelling like poo. DC’s commitment to various genres has done more to show that comics are a medium and not a niche genre than anything else in the last several years. The even better part? DC kills off under-performing titles. Every six months or so they replace a few of the bottom feeders for fresh new titles. They are not afraid to try new things in order to see what clicks with fans.

(2) Comics are providing you with pop culture – not just geek – credibility. The biggest movies of the past year were The Avengers and Dark Knight Rises. Basic cable’s biggest hit is The Walking Dead. People are even wandering into comic book shops because they watch Big Bang Theory. More than ever, comics are being mined as source material for studios that have forgotten how to tell stories. This isn’t to say that you should become the hipster comic snob turning their nose up at the plebs who only watch The Walking Dead on TV while drinking their “not-PBR”. That would be silly. After all, it’s a great show. More importantly, it’s a great show that diverges from the source material while still honoring it. You don’t need me to tell you to read The Walking Dead. Instead, you need me to tell you to read Chew. Chew follows an Asian (no relation) cop who gets psychic readings off of the things he eats – including corpses. It is funny, smart, stylish and soon to be a Showtime show. It is a quirky book that hasn’t cracked issue #30 yet. While not brand new, it isn’t so well established that you simply can’t start it up.

(3) “But I love the Avengers” said the masses. Calm down. Marvel is launching their Marvel NOW! line. While not a complete reboot like DC’s New 52, Marvel has pledged to make these all new #1 titles accessible entry points for anyone looking to get (back) into comics. These will take the characters you love (or just faked it with since your non geek friends couldn’t tell the difference anyway) and put them in some incredibly interesting situations. I’m running out of words so if you want more detail then google it. But I can tell you that Captain America and All-New X-Men are titles that I will be personally checking out.

So there you have it. I even numbered the body paragraphs for you so you could play the part of a fourth grade English teacher. If you actually are a fourth grade English teacher: Keep it up. Teachers rule. I used to be one. Then I started doing this.

To recap: DC offers something for everyone. Check out Chew. Marvel NOW is a great jumping on point.

Shameless plug: Michael owns and operates Manifest Comics and Cards in Bayonne, NJ. Manifest can be found on facebook, twitter @manifestcomics, yelp and in the real world at 762 Broadway Second Floor Bayonne, NJ 07002. If you’re in the area, stop in and talk comics with him. If you buy something, that’s just a bonus. If you live far away then just “like” Manifest’s facebook page. That would be awesome.

New Black Ops Zombie Breakdown

SPOLIER ALERT This discussion will include information about the new zombie modes including information about a leaked video showing game play. Read at your own risk…

Is the new zombies going to be an amazing continuation of what fans have grown to love, or is it going to “jump the shark”? What are some of the fundamentals that you expect to see in the game vs. what are some new things that you always wanted to see? How are fans going to react given the game engine is the same? Will we be disappointed with plot lines or will this turn out to be exactly the fix we needed? Will Treyarch ever make Zombies into a stand alone game?

There are three types of people that buy Call of Duty games produced by Treyarch now a days. The first would be people that love the campaigns and the stories that continue to evolve. The second are the people who have to have a multiplayer aspect to a first person shooter. This is the category that I believe most gamers fall into. In the Black Ops multiplayer menu there was a ticker that kept track of random stats combined from all players. The one that really stands out is under the category of “Where’s the Sun?” I’d call that a success. Finally there’s the third type of person that is more excited for the zombie mode immortalized at the end of the campaign in the game World at War. This hidden aspect of the game has gone on to be a major factor in the popularity of Black Ops and the upcoming Black Ops II.

Luckily for the two larger groups here — multiplayer and zombie lovers — there are going to be new leader board and ranking systems in place for zombie mode. Now leader boards are not anything new, and they were included in original Black Ops, but for Black Ops II the leader boards are going to be much more extensive. Head shots and accuracy will be tracked and contribute to the players overall ranking. For those that hate getting paired up with “newbs” this new leaderboard will pair players with others with similar stats. Hopefully, no more games ending due to the host rage quitting. Also, the zombie match making system is going to be the same as the multiplayer. Faster match set ups and fewer failures to connect should be on the way.

There will be new characters in the zombies. One can only hope that the new characters are as entertaining as the last veterans were. Given what the map areas look like I wouldn’t be surprised to see a farmer or a waitress as one of the characters. Rumors of the girl from the zombie poster being one of the characters seem creditable. There would be little surprise to have an equal male to female character ratio. Plus gauging by the poster this new chick looks like she might be able to take Dempsey in a fist fight.

Aside from the notable difference in eye color there have been some other additions to the zombie army. Most notable will be the addition of flying zombies. These appear to be some sort of evil rooster or crow, and will probably be a massive pain in the neck. No more scanning only at head or ground level looking for death dealers. A new rumor circulating around includes new “electric boss”, then again, I thought we already had that with George Romero. Whatever it turns out to be it sure does sound exciting. Ray guns will be back as will the “usual arsenal” on the walls and from the trusted gun box.

There will be three different game modes to get ready for. The first is the traditional survival mode. Players will have to hold out in one of the four new map areas and construct their own strategies for making it to the next rounds. The other two game modes are going to be the new and exciting aspects. The biggest mode is called Transit. It consists of all four map areas from survival combined. Like a giant sandbox, players will be able to freely travel from one zone to the other either by foot or by bus. Although bus travel will be quicker, that doesn’t mean safer. Players will constantly be under attack regardless of mode of transit.

Don’t expect a whole new look for the zombie mode. There will be some new things as far as the look and feel are concerned, but ultimately things will tend to be the same until there’s a new console to really push the limits. In the coming days there are sure to be more clips and updates as what’s to come. It’s going to be an amazing version of zombies that hopefully in the next year or so will ultimately lead to a stand alone game of zombies. Treyarch has said that as long as fans still love zombies, then they’ll continue the zombie apocalypse. Remember to reload and keep moving.

– Dan Gallagher