5 Writing Lessons I Learned from Re-watching Batman: The Animated Series

I re-watched the first season of Batman: The Animated Series recently for the first time since I was in my tweens. (And boy, does that make me feel old.) I loved this show when I was a kid, but I don’t think I was really old enough to appreciate how brilliant it was. As an adult who’s interested in superheroes and storytelling, I got a lot more out of it. Not only did it entertain the heck out of me, but it gave me a lot to think about writing-wise.

Here are five thoughts I had after finishing the first season. Continue reading 5 Writing Lessons I Learned from Re-watching Batman: The Animated Series

If I were in charge of the DCEU…

…I’d probably lose the company a lot of money, because I’m terrible at predicting what will be popular. Seriously, I’m the worst. But every nerd likes to dream, so if I somehow became a Hollywood executive, scriptwriter, or [insert name of important job here], these are the DC movies I’d push to make. And sure, one reason is because I’d hope they’d be popular moneymakers, but I’d also just really, really want to watch them.

Batman Beyond

Batman Beyond

At one point, another Batman movie was on the list of upcoming DC projects, though I’m not seeing it on more recent forecasts. But we’ve had seven Batman movies already, so I think DC should accept they peaked at The Dark Knight and move on… to Gotham’s cyberpunk future.

If you never watched the Batman Beyond cartoon back in the day, then friend, you are missing out. Actually, stop reading this blog post and go get the DVDs to binge watch. I won’t be offended.

In an old ‘Ask Chris’ column, Chris Sims once described the show as “What If Batman Was Spider-Man,” which I think is perfect. It takes all the high school drama and teenage shenanigans that made Spider-Man: Homecoming fun and puts it in the gothic and twisted setting of Gotham that we all know and love.

Grumpy old man Bruce Wayne is just the best, and Terry McGinnis, the new younger Batman, is relatable and very much his own character rather than being Bruce 2.0. Their multifaceted mentor/mentee relationship is the core of the show and full of just so much snark. Continue reading If I were in charge of the DCEU…

Why I’m Thankful for Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman Image

It’s Thanksgiving here in the USA, and this year, I’m thankful for Wonder Woman.

I know, I know. The movie has been out for a while now. You’re aware of how awesome it is. Everyone’s been talking about it, and you’ve seen it multiple times. You get it; it’s good.

But it could have been so awful, you guys.

Just look at the leaked Joss Whedon script or that terrible unaired TV pilot for examples of the horribleness that could have been. She could have been objectified, damseled, or relegated to a love interest in her own movie. Or we could have gotten the opposite extreme: a hyper-aggressive straw feminist and “strong female character” in the most shallow sense of the term.

Before the movie came out, my hopes were simple: I just didn’t want it to suck. Continue reading Why I’m Thankful for Wonder Woman

Turn Back the Pages: Batgirl Rising

Turn Back the Pages is a biweekly feature where I spotlight a comic that is not fresh and new. It may have come out a few months ago or even a few years ago. Maybe it was hyped and popular, or maybe it was an underappreciated gem. Whatever the case, it’ll be a great comic that’s well worth a read.

Batgirl Rising Cover

I don’t know which Batgirl is more underappreciated—Cassandra Cain or Stephanie Brown.

In my review of Cass’s run as Batgirl, I said that I’d be getting to Steph one day, and friends, that day is today. So get ready for the fun Batgirl! (Sorry, Cass, you’ll always be my favorite, but Steph just looks like she’s having the best time ever when she’s fighting crime.)

Who the heck is Stephanie Brown?

If you’ve never heard of her before, Steph is the daughter of a supervillain and Riddler-wannabe by the name of Cluemaster (who’s a jerk). She turned vigilante in her teenage years (as one does), and took on the hard job of being a non-Batman-affiliated crimefighter in Gotham City.

She called herself Spoiler, because she spoiled crime, I guess? In any case, it leads to her appearing in some fun“Spoiler Alert” gifs and images in real life, which is a cool claim to fame.

Her costume can only be described as the color eggplant.

Spoiler Costume ImageShe was Tim Drake’s love interest during his time as Robin, and though she didn’t have his training and experience, she made up for it in determination and resourcefulness. What I liked about her character was that—in contrast to Tim—she was from the wrong side of the tracks. While he got access to all of Batman’s cool, high-tech toys, Steph had to work a crummy part-time job in fast food delivery to afford crime-fighting equipment. Continue reading Turn Back the Pages: Batgirl Rising

Turn Back the Pages: Batgirl

Turn Back the Pages is a biweekly feature where I spotlight a comic that is not fresh and new. It may have come out a few months ago or even a few years ago. Maybe it was hyped and popular, or maybe it was an underappreciated gem. Whatever the case, it’ll be a great comic that’s well worth a read.

Cover of Batgirl Graphic Novel

Cassandra Cain is my favorite Batgirl.

I love Barbara Gordon, but honestly, I think she’s better as Oracle. And don’t diss Stephanie Brown in front of me, because she’s awesome, and I’ll probably write a review of her time as Batgirl at some point. (ETA: It’s written.) But in my humble opinion, Cass will always be the best.

What’s so great about Cassandra Cain? Heck, where do I start? She was first introduced in the Batman: No Man’s Land story-arc. The basic premise was that after a major earthquake, the government evacuated Gotham City, cutting off those who chose to stay from the outside world and any kind of help.

Yeah. Take Gotham, which is a crime-infested hellhole on the best of days, and turn up the danger to post-apocalyptic extremes. It’s that bad.

The Girl

Enter the precious cinnamon bun that is Cassandra Cain: a mute, homeless girl who saves Commissioner Gordon’s life. She becomes Batgirl with the blessings of both Batman and Oracle (AKA the original Batgirl), but there’s more to her than meets the eye.

The Assassin

You see, Cass is the daughter of a notorious assassin. Her father raised her without ever exposing her to spoken language. Instead, she learned to read body language.

She can take one look at someone and know what they’re feeling—and exactly how they’re planning to attack. On top of her skills in hand-to-hand combat, being able to anticipate her opponent’s next move makes her one of the best fighters in the DC universe.

The Hero

So that’s the dichotomy of Cassandra Cain. She was raised to be a deadly assassin and can fight Batman to a standstill, but at the same time, her upbringing was so isolated that there’s a strange innocence about her.

Early on in her solo title, a psychic rearranges her brain so that she can process spoken language (which accidentally handicaps her combat skills for a while), but it isn’t an insta-fix. A lot of her character arc involves learning different words and how to read and write. Even once she can speak, she struggles to find the right words, and her sentences are halting and awkward. That’s something you don’t see a lot in comics—or any media, really.

The Bat

The best reason Cass is my favorite Batgirl is that she brings something unique to the Bat-family. Her mentor/mentee relationship with Barbara is nuanced and lovely. She has Batman’s respect and a nice dynamic with Robin (Tim Drake). Nightwing is the big brother figure, and she’s besties with Steph, and—well, there’s a lot to like here. If you’re a fan of characters choosing their own families, you’ll enjoy Cass’s book, because her real parents are total jerks.

And that’s Cass Cain in a nutshell (before the awful character assassination that happened later, but I won’t get into that). No Man’s Land is worth a read, but I’d recommend starting with her solo title. It’s a great introduction to the character and was the first Batgirl comic I ever read.

Are you a fan of Cass? Babs? Steph? I’ll fight you over who’s the best Batgirl in the comments!

I'll fight you gif