Sunday, 19 February 2012

Justice League:  Doom

Are Ra’s Al Ghul and Vandal Savage essentially the same person?  Both are international terrorists bent on controlling/dominating the world, made immortal and having seen thousands of years on this planet.  Ra’s was initially conceived as a Batman villain, a hint of the Blofeldian.  Savage is originally a Justice Society of America villain, appearing in 1943 with his schemes for world conquest perhaps not too dissimilar to figures such as Hitler and Mussolini.

Justice League:  Doom, the latest instalment in DC’s animated collection of films, the plotline to Grant Morrison’s Tower of Babel storyline during his exciting run on JLA in the late 90s/early 00s.  The story revolves around the villain Ra’s Al Ghul using methods devised by Batman to take down the World’s Greatest Heroes.  The story revolves around responsibility versus trust; Batman’s methods show his disdain for super-heroes, even if they are his teammates.

Justice League:  Doom fuses this plot with the traditional Anti-Justice League squad consisting of the JLA’s key by arch-enemies formed by Vandal Savage (a stand-in for Ra’s presumably due to Christopher Nolan’s use of the character in his Batman film series).  Apart from the nice use of Bane to replace the traditional Joker and the seldom seen Ma'alefa'ak (Malefic) to combat Martian Manhunter, the line-up of foes is as expected.  Star Sapphire, Mirror Master, Metallo, Cheetah form the traditional rouges gallery of Green Lantern, Flash, Superman and Wonder Woman foes to create The Legion of Doom.

The film is a game of two halves.  The villains trick the JLA into succumbing to Batman’s contingency plans, and engage each villain in delish plots.  Roughly the same techniques are used in Tower of Babel, Flash made to run forever, Martian Manhunter set permanently on fire, Wonder Woman hypnotized to fight forever and Batman’s parents coffins being unearthed.  It’s only through the aide of Cyborg (normally of the Teen Titans) to undo these schemes.  The second half mostly consists of the JLA kicking the Legion of Doom’s ass.

The film is entertaining enough, sometimes a little too much time and energy is spent focusing on the heroes’ downfall, and I wish there were a few more twists and turns in the plot and simply the JA swooping in and kicking the bad guy’s asses.  But nevertheless, it’s good ass-kicking fun.  It’s by no means the same devilry of Luthor in Rock of Ages or World War III storylines, where his insidious schemes leave you flicking back over the pages to double-check just how the villains are winning, and then how the heroes get the upper-hand.  In the 00s TV series by Paul Dini, the episode where Gorilla Grodd formed a Secret Society has a bit more sinister divide and rule, but still not a masterplan.  Nothing compared to Cadmus’ attempts to demolish the League in later series of Justice League Unlimited, but then they had a whole series to build this subplot.  Batman being voted out of the JLA and his stoic defence of his actions it touched upon at the end of Justice League:  Doom but nothing compred to the disgust towards Hawkgirl in Paul Dini’s Starcrossed Three-parter as her loyalties drive her to side with her race instead of her teammates.  This would be explored much further in later episodes, but even within the final conclusion it’s a sad and touching moment, mainly because Green Lantern still loves her after the betrayal.  Batman has no such charm!

It’s always fun to see the Anti-Justice League, whether they’re under the guise of the Secret Society, Legion or Doom, Injustice Gang or the Crime Syndicate.  Each hero usually boils down to a specific arch-enemy or collection or a possible foe, Superman has Luthor, Metallo, Bizarro or Parasite, whilst Flash could go against Gorilla Grodd, Mirror Master or Zoom.

These super-villain teams never last very long, not simply because the super-heroes inevitably defeat them, but the line-up is more fluid, because whilst the heroes are usually a permanent feature, it’s fun to give different villains the line-light.

It’s also interesting to note that Avenger’s opponents (Lethal Legion, Masters of Evil, Squadron Supreme) are not specifically made up of the heroes villains as more a collection of general baddies.  It’s because the JLA has been a collection of the greatest heroes of the DC Universe, Marvel’s top-tier heroes often go solo, Spider-Man, Doctor Strange, Hulk and Daredevil off-and-on team players, X-Men and Fantastic Four obviously their own specific team.  So Beast, Wonder Man, Vision, Quicksilver, Hawkeye never prospered in their own series’, though make decent supporting characters as part of a team.

So think, who might the ultimate villain team consist of, one who not only have the power to take on the World Greatest Heroes but also who have the desire and ambition to take down their arch-enemy?  I think that’s the appeal for a team of villains, they so rarely get together and have a party it’s interesting to see criminals put aside their differences, egos and psychopath-ness in the name of seeing their enemies crushed by their hand.  It’s very traditional, often a tad predictable but always leads to a good old fashion ass-kicking.
Left to right: Bloodshed, Corpse, Gloom, The Dominator, Heatwave, The Reaper, Baron Occult

Left to right top:  The Element, Kestrel, Photus.  Left to right middle:  Swift, The Illusion, The Fake, Doctor Malice, The Reaper, Brute, Talon.  Left to right bottom:  Visor, Python
Left to right:  Nightshade, Frenzy, Gloom, The Dominator, Heatwave, Pyche, Android 1313, Typhoon

Left to right:  Quickflash, Metallic Man, Shadow Knight, Might Man, Commander USA, Arroweye, Warrioress, Insectoid.  None are in any way related to any other characters ever.  Don't sue me.

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Henry, what’s happened in the last month? I shall tell you, dear reader.

What’s happened in the past month?

I did a few gigs with the lovely-voiced Jonny Gill at Duchess and Stereo.  I think David Gest missed my set, so no publicity deal for me.  Check out this Soundcloud clip:

I went to see John Peel’s Shed which is an entertaining re-imagining of John Osborne’s book into an hour-long account of radio, the love for music and How to Escape A Boring World.  Quaintly British I found.

I went to Manchester to take part in Contact MCR’s Outspoken Slam as part of their Queer Contact festival.  I heard some great queer poetry from Manchestaaa poets and the amazing D’Lo, a stand-up poet from L.A.  Though some pretty stuff competition, I managed to win!  Whey!

I also read a short story at the Leeds Little Fringe, something totally new to make a change from spoken word poetry all the time

But the highlight of 2012 so far has been performing Letter To The Man (from the boy).  It’s my one-man show about growing up, from cartoons, comics, crayons and teenage crushes.  But the key element that makes Letter work is the audience are invited to construct a message to their future selves.  Night #1 & #2 of Leeds were small, intimate and friendly audiences, willing to swap stories sometimes rather intimate histories, but comfortably.  But York’s audience on the 10th really went with the ‘gig’ element, cheering along at times, debating with one another and swapping stories amongst their tables.  I think I hit just the right pitch with this last show, but it’s all down to the friendly, warm and eager crowds that come, so thanks A BAZILLION for everyone who came, and thanks to Humphrey McColl, Rose Drew, Six Lips Theatre & Hedgepig Theatre for their support of the show.

Review of Leeds show:  "Rabys poetry features a mixture of classic rhyme schemes and the lyrics you’d expect from a Sex Pistols inlay"

If you caught Letter and have any feedback, we’d love to hear how we can improve the show, what bits really work, what don’t or just whether you enjoyed it or not:

Thanks y’all!  Find me on Facebook ( & Twitter (@HenryRabyPoetry)