This photo found on 9GAG puts it best! Not only funny, but so true!
This photo found on 9GAG puts it best! Not only funny, but so true!
The title of the book might not mean much to many of you, unless I mention that “Batman: Arkham Asylum” is the books alternative title.
My next steps into the Batman Universe take me through the corridors of the institution for the criminally insane, Arkham Asylum. I picked up the 15th Anniversary Edition for a low price on Amazon under good recommendation and couldn’t wait to get started.
The graphic novel follows two story lines.
The first plot concentrates on the journal of Amadeus Arkham in the early 1900’s and the entries start by depicting a boy who had to take care of his very ill mother. Without revealing the story too much, after some years, Amadeus returns to the mansion he used to live in as a boy with the goal of converting it into a institution for treating the mentally ill.
Throughout this journal, we quickly see that Amadeus is more or less confused in conflicted dark thoughts, which are reflected inthe horrific and maddening entries, portraying the character as someone who devotes himself to treating the insane and someone how is insane himself. Along the way, he quickly founds out something very mysterious about the house to which he has returned to.
The other plot obviously follows the story of Batman, some 80 years after the journal entries. Batman has been called in by Commissioner Gordon with the bad news that the Asylum has been taken over by the inmates and taken the staff hostage.
Gordon also explains to Batman that the Joker is behind all this and after many “strange” demands, they had the final demand that they wanted Batman back “where he belonged”. After Batman negotiates the hostage release in return of his presence, the story quickly takes takes centre stage and gets into the much darker aspects of Batman’s character.
Both of the plots pretty much read out in parallel, constantly jumping back and forth between the two story lines. For many people it could be very confusing and those wanting Batman-only stories might have to sit through some tedious material to get to the “good” bit’s. I personally loved it as it gave more context to the mansion which we would later know to be centre of Batman’s video games.
Unfortunately, there is nothing about the novel that gives any more information about the villains which live there and not mention to the impact that mansion has had on them. It would have been an interesting read.
For the most part, the story in the graphic novel plays out pure and simple. Any new information that is gained out the the novel is about Amadeus and from that that view, it is nice to see some low key Batman characters take the spotlight.
This being a graphic novel, the presentation has to be good and it does not disappoint. The 15th anniversary edition is filled in remarkable artwork by David McKean, making each tile a masterpiece in it’s own right. Everything from the characters, to the speech bubbles, text, shadow, lighting and the shear imagery give off the dark, gritty, Gothic and gratuitous look of the novel. When I read some of the reviews claiming that this book gives the distinct disturbing feel, they were not kidding and quite frankly blew my mind.
Nothing explicit, but it really surprised me and I love it.
A special mention also has to be given to the print quality of images and the overall quality of the shiny and glossy paper, it’s brilliant. If only the binding wasn’t so tight, as some of the fine imaginary and writing was hard to see at the seems.
I have added this section to my review as this edition also included the original thumbnails, original layouts, original cover art for the hard and soft paper covers and original final draft of the script with annotations by Grant Morrison.
Reading through the original script is and can be at times much more enjoyable then reading through the actual novel. It’s full of interesting facts about the story, original intentions, stage direction, narration, descriptions of the important tiles which you will SIMPLY NEVER SEE in the graphic novel.
A good example comes right at the beginning where Morrison spends an entire page to describe the significance of the very first tile (refereed in the script as a card). Looking at the tile itself, you would have never guessed any of it in a million years.
On top of that, the script is lightly filled with Morrison’s humour, thoughts on various subjects, originally ideals which were scrapped and little messages for David McKean. Reading through the scripts, I frantically jumped back and forth between the script and the novel to review all the things Morrison was referring to and seriously got hooked into world of Arkham Asylum and consequently into the mind of it’s author.
Having said that, as I was reading the scripts, I became more and more down hearted, almost cheated, that some of the descriptions never made it into the graphic novel. It seemed that many of the imagery was missed out and that some of the key requests made my Morrison were completely omitted from the drawings.
While the script gave me a much more detailed insight into the novel, it left me wondering what anyone would think if they only read the novel. It’s safe to say that reading the novel a few more times would have helped and that reading the “final draft script” was going to give more insight regardless of the medium in question, but the important details which the script describes adds in those missing details the novel desperately needed. In turn, leaving the novel without it’s details is the same as having it’s potential ripped away. For me, the novel sadly and quickly, on those grounds, lost it’s grand appeal.
I don’t want to take anything away from this book. It is fantastic. The writing is brilliant and the extras, such as the script, are all an extremely welcome addition to the book. The drawings are second to none and the prices for which you can get the novel, it is something every Batman fan should have in their library.
Whist writing this review, it hit me that this book in particular was not for me or for those who have never read the Serious House on Serious Earth. This book is for the hardcore fans who have read the original many times all those years ago. Who know each tile inside and out and who needed another perspective on their favourite story.
With that in mind, the 15th anniversary edition slowly starts to make much more sense, with special, one off, over the the top illustrations, extra art, text and the addition of the well informed and notated original script.
I have finished reading the graphic novel and I’m still very much reading through the script and I will continue to do so with enthusiasm. If you are interested in reading the novel, it gets my recommendations, but try to see if the original novel is going to be any better for comic reading.
While celebrating my 100th post with a potato is all nice and fun, I thought I could read through some of my old post for my own amusement. In the process, I came across what has to be one of my favourite post I have ever done. Reading through it made me laugh and while that may say something about myself, I think it’s only appropriate to “retumbl” this old post.
Since July 2009, my english has somewhat improved (which is up for debate) and instead of just setting up a link for you to go off and read (you are more then welcome, click here), I’ll give the post a special 2012 remaster, re-release, special edition or what ever.
Quick summary, I was writing a very angry review of the first episode of the TV show “Spartacus: Blood and Sand” and then go on to talk about what I find wrong in today’s attention seeking shows. Any “editorial” comments are noted and written in italic.
Spartacus: Blood and Attention Seeking…
Whilst driving around with a couple of good friends, I overheard a conversation about a TV show called Spartacus: Blood and Sand…
Friend 1: What is that?
Friend 2: Well, it’s practically porn!
Friend 1: Oh really, is it any good?
Friend 2: Ye it’s awesome!
Friend 1: Oh well, might have to check it out some time. What channel is it?
Friend 2: It’s on Bravo.
At that point in the conversation, my expectations of the TV show dropped dramatically. Any TV show that can be only found on Bravo is as good as finding a unique rumour in a really shitty gossip magazine, it’s going to be irrelevant.
Edit: for those of you who don’t know bravo, trust me, it’s one of those low budget TV channels which show low quality content, I’m sure you know what I’m on about, every country has one.
Still not having any interest in the show, my friends started having yet another conversation a few days later.
Friend 2: Hey did you see the latest episode?
Friend 1: Oh ye, there are these two guys who bummed each other!
Friend 2: Ah ye, and also this guy had sex with her and this woman had sex with this guy.
Friend 1: I really what that blond and that brunette to have sex!
OK, I have to admit that this conversation wasn’t exactly accurate, but they talked about “the sex” parts of the show rather then, well you know, the actual story. This really annoyed me and thought to myself, right, I have to check it out and see what all the fuss is about.
Edit: I should explain that these are not two guys talking, as so far it may seem that I’m not that interested in porno, but rather, this was a conversation between a “don’t mess with is guy” guy and “intelligent, thought provoking, does not bitch” woman. It was not a usual site at the time.
After watching a debut trailer from YouTube, it looked promising and was very interested in seeing the first episode. After seeing it, I concluded with…
WHAT THE HELL IS THIS? Followed by a lot of swearing!
Now I must mention that I have only watched one episode, which in this case was the first episode. My comments may not be valid for future episodes in the series, but I like to think otherwise, since the things that I have problems with will hardly change in the today’s world of modern television.
Well what’s wrong with it? Well everything! EVERYTHING! OK not really, but it does feel like it when I put into consideration that all the bad heavily outweigh the good.
First things first, I would like to play the devil’s advocate and say that the story and the plot make sense.
My memory may be a bit rusty on the story, but it follows a protagonist, which I forgot the name of (that’s how much he’s forgettable), who is later recognized by the name of Spartacus. The show is set during Roman times, during which period the Romans were still expanding their territory toward the east, now known to be the area of Greece. The Romans seeked an alliance with a a local group of Barbarians in aid of attack at the front line. In return, the Romans pledged to protect the Barbarian village from the some group of menace warriors (again, I forgot their names as well) who have a reputation of attacking and destroying their villages and raping their women.
Edit: I’m not joking, that was the plot and they really emphasised the rape of women in the explanation. Rather disturbing, but in the context of the plot, it seemed like a typical pre-medieval story.
Some time later, the Barbarians have a bit of a disagreement with the Romans, prompting the Romans to take the Barbarians off their Christmas list and leave them in self pity, to be defenceless against the menace warriors.
Meanwhile, amongst the chaos, Spartacus and his wife were captured, after a night of sex. Enslaved and separated to which point Spartacus becomes a gladiator and his wife… I don’t know… I don’t care…
Edit: I’m not kidding when I say that I have bad memory when it comes to names and names of places. I think at the time of writing, I was not concerned. It really was not worth remembering. I also use to use … a lot to create long pauses and I used them expressively. I still use them for emphasis, much like capitals for shouting, but those days are over. I still use them at the end of every post title.
And from there, everything about this show turns to shit!
First of all, do you know why I forgot the names of the main characters? Well, because the writing was shocking and is in dire need of rewriting. Not just by simply reading and correcting mistakes on a piece of paper, but by actually returning to school and finishing past GCSE level.
Edit: for those who don’t understand, in Britain, you typically finish GCSE’s at the age of 15/16.
You see, in my opinion, writing is very important and is a valuable tool for connecting the viewer with the show, through the means of a good story and dialogue. This episode just doesn’t do it. Yes, while the story does makes sense at first glance, it’s not particularly good. You can see it in the dialogue the shitty actors have to use.
Edit: Not all actors were shitty, but at the time, it really didn’t do them any favours.
For instance, when Spartacus interacts with his wife, the connection between the two characters in ways of emotion are quite cheep. And by cheep, I mean the dialogue was rather dull, predictable and something that we have all heard before. You could see the writers were forcing that “love” connection between characters via the means of hugging, kissing and SEX. Don’t get me wrong, those things are fine (apart from the sex which I’ll get onto later) but if you really want to make the characters feel connected, memorable and relevant to the audience, more then just a simple “I love you” and “I love you too” is necessary. AND NO, I’m not asking for Shakespeare style writing, but more needs to be done with story, which ultimately reinforces connection between the characters.
Whist I’m talking about character dialogue, one moment in that first episode got me really FUCKING ANGRY!
While the barbarians were camping out for the night, the following morning, Spartacus woke his friend up by nudging him and his response was, no joke, sudden awakening followed by the words “Fuck your mother”.
WHAT!!! I mean COME ON! Is that what people really do? Wake up with no realisation to who or what has waken them up and then just uttering out insults? Not even assessing the situation and then swearing at the person who nudged him? NOOOOOO, SHOCKING, SHOCKING, SHOCKING! What were the writers thinking!
There are moments like these spread across the script, like unexplainable swearing. Yes, we all swear in real life, for instance I do, but I would also personally punch anyone who won’t stop swearing. Over doing it is just unnecessary and makes look like the writers were flat out lazy.
Another thing I can’t stand is the acting. Now granted not everyone was shit, for instance the Spartacus guy is OK, some of the female actors were on par and the older actors who clearly have acting experience, but most of them are just simply shit. No other way of putting it. The swearing happy friend I just mentioned tries to pull off an English accent that comes off as something that could be replicated by simply vomiting large quantities of beer consumed from the night before. I cannot stand it! I can’t do an English (rather old fashioned) accent and this just makes my ears bleed. This actor also can’t stop huffing and puffing, it’s like he is drugged up and he even does it when standing still, DOING NOTHING!
Having said all that, to my satisfaction, the character dies rather spectacularly before the end. Hell YES!
Also I recommend an ear cleaning procedure to my friend who said they don’t try to pull of an English accent. You know who you are, listen to it again. While we are at bleeding body parts, lets talk about eyes.
Edit: I have no idea which friend I was speaking to, so this is a very mute point for me.
I would like to say to the producer of the show, he needs to get rid off all the millions of copies of the 300 movie, because Spartacus: Blood and Sand is just that, it’s a bad 300 movie with a Gladiator costumes. I bet you any money that the show also shamelessly rips off the Gladiator as well.
I have to give some credit to the choreographer who clearly knows how a fight needs to look, but however is in charge of special effects needs to bugger off. As the show title suggests, blood takes the front seat and is not shy to take centre stage as well. Honest to god, when Spartacus is fighting, he must lose all of his blood and then some. That’s how much blood (or grape juice) is spilled in this show.
Some may say it’s art style, but I say BULL CRAP. Either the main actor choose the wrong career path, instead of giving blood to sick patients or the special effect guy is just a creepy little emo.
Edit: I have no idea were I was going with that one? But simply put, it looked really cheep and pulled you right out the “experience”, what ever there was left.
The CGI guy is also at fault, that or he clearly needed a bigger wallet. The CGI (which stands for computer generated imaginary :P) was simply awful! Now I do understand when CGI people don’t make something look good, that’s fine, we all been their before. Even if it’s just drawing stick men, whatever you create has to be believable and it needs to look and feel like it’s supposed to be there. For instance some “grand” shots of the city look empty and dull, the gladiators/fighters arena look out of proportion and the presence of green screens are very evident.
A brilliant and laughable example of this comes when Spartacus and his swearing happy friend go off in search of intel through the night. They walk through a snow storm, not heavy but by judging the speed of the falling snow created by CGI people, you know it’s a storm. For some reason, actors use their indoor voice. You can hear it in their voice; you can hear the tone at which they speak you can hear that they are in a closed space, like a small room with bad padding, front of a green screen. WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY!
Edit: I remember that scene very well, it made the Star Wars kid and other Youtube stars look like absolute pros.
These are the sort of things that pull you back into reality, when you should be stuck in or rather absorbed into the atmosphere of the show. With a little common sense, those things could have been easily avoided.
I’m not going to go into much further detail. I’ve pretty much said what I wanted to say, but I will quickly talk about the “attention seeking” part of my title.
Edit: It won’t be quick.
While I was watching the show, I had the feeling that it was self aware. It knew that it was rubbish and decided to use over the top elements to create some sort of spectacle. I’m talking about the blood, the fighting (rather good fighting) and sex, LOTS of sex.
I’m going to confess. As soon as I heard my friends in that initial conversation mention the words “it’s practically porn”, I took a bit of an interest. With that, I have shamefully been sucked into the show, just I can see some naked ladies. But now that I have, I have to say that use of sex is by far the cheapest form of entertainment that you can use to hype your show. Saying that a TV show has porn is like saying that there is treasure hidden in your back yard, YOU are going to go and look!
Again, shamefully I fell for it. Too much to the enjoyment of the executives who are clearly counting on millions of fools to do the same (probably counting millions in the process). I just love how they co-operated sex into the the show.
Man going into battle + possible last night with Wife = Sex
Wife visits husband at camp site + no one around = Sex
Man comes back to save wife + camping out = Sex
Edit: OK that sounds like something people are going to do in real life, but for a show, it’s just cheep entertainment and I stand by that statement.
Those were the scenarios in the first episode ALONE. Plus not to mention all the nudity from male and female actors in the program how try to show off as much as possible, even its its just showing off a bit more leg, showing boobs or just dancing around to what appears to be simple grape juice or wine.
Sex, nudity, blood are all fine, but who ever says what there is no such thing as too much of anything is talking out of his/her ass. If you show sex once or twice then you get the sense that who ever is having sex is having a special or an important moment, but if you show sex like its the end of the sex January sale then it all becomes bland and loses it’s appeal pretty quickly.
How can you get bored of sex? Well it’s clearly what the executives are aiming for, but I’m not falling for it, no sir. I like to think of myself as someone who searches for “experience valued entertainment”. This leads into one of my many theories.
There are 2 types of people who categorise each piece of entertainment respectively. The spectacle and the technical…If a person is entertained by spectacle, then that person is going to gain the satisfaction from the medium by the simplest of things. Shooting bad buys, good looking CGI/Graphics, story or just plain porn and wouldn’t care about anything else because that satisfaction is overpowering everything else.
If a person is entertained by technical things, then that person is going to enjoy the medium if it makes sense on a much wider and bigger technical level. So for instance, if a guy can jump 200ft in the air, without any explanation as to why he can do that, then they would be unsatisfied and would demand an answer. That or would be turned off by the medium.
If you are still reading this Edit: you are crazy, then you might have gathered that I would like to think of myself as a technical person. It figures from my interests and studies of Computer Science, but it does not mean that I would never just sit back and enjoy the spectacle, and that is what this program is trying to achieve. Unfortunately with it’s many noticeable mistakes and cheep entertainment, it just does not do it for me.
As for my “experience valued entertainment”, if someone asks me what sort of game, movie or book (if I read any) do you like, then I would say the one which has a strong story, a solid atmosphere and a concrete storyline, in addition to fun gameplay, if it were a game. I want to be sucked into a piece of entertainment that never gets boring, always begs to be watched, read or played and keeps me at the edge of my seat.
But this program tries too hard, almost to a point that it becomes quite sad. One of my friends said that the first 2 episodes are shit. For some reason Edit: even in 2012, I would like to think so too, even after only seeing the first episode. But sadly, I’m not a hurry to see the next episode, like, AT ALL.
If you just finished reading that, I would like to inform you that you have just read under 3000 words. Thank you and if you liked the post, I will purposefully add you to my subscribed list and give you a personal thank you message.