Transcending Comics: 10 Years Of Arkham Asylum
An Editorial From Rafael Encinas
It is September 2019, and this means it is the 10th anniversary of one of the greatest videogames that has ever come out, and that is “Batman: Arkham Asylum.” I write this having just finished beating the game for the fifth time in my life, and in good timing because it is officially Batman Day on Saturday, Sept. 21st. But none of this was planned. it all happened unexpectedly.
It all started like three weeks ago when I decided to purchase an Xbox One. PlayStation has always been my preferred platform, but I needed a new entertainment system for my living room, so I got an Xbox One, ultimately, so I can play Halo because I haven’t played the Halo series in many many years. Well, as I was setting up the Xbox One, the machine asked me if I wanted to subscribe to Xbox’s Game Pass. Being a weak-willed person, I was like: two dollars!? Hell Yeah! I’ll do that to play all of the Master Chief Collection and try out Gears of War 5. But, that didn’t happen. I actually ended up downloading and replaying “Arkham Asylum”. It is just that good!
There are few words to describe the feelings of empowerment you feel when in control of the Dark Knight. He feels strong; there is weight to his footsteps, which can be further attributed to the fact that he does not have a jump function in the game (after all, Batman does not jump). The free flow combat style feels so cool as you cash checks and break necks in slow motion. The detective mode is optimal for solving puzzles, collecting riddler trophies, and creatively taking down bad guys! This game makes you feel like Batman, and this is very important!
What makes this game stand the test of time, besides the excellent voice acting by two titans of industry who are already so ingrained into the Batman mythos, is the artful storytelling combined with the stylistic visuals and game mechanics. Moments where Batman’s world unravels as Scarecrow’s toxins change the environment still hold up and are both cinematically and visually astounding. It is a visual movie that you are in control of. And this is why it is so loved by both gamers and comic readers alike. It is a rewarding action adventure game that is respectful of the source material and which has endless replay value. I mean there is something truly satisfying in beating up criminals as the Batman!
Moreover, I recently read through Judd Winick’s epic, Batman: Under The Red Hood (2004) on a school trip to Arizona State University, and as I read through each issue, I forgot that I was sitting in a bus alongside my students. I was completely engrossed by Winick’s cheeky humor and thematic plot points, and I was blown away by Doug Mahnke’s visceral art!
As I read through this story, I was able to appreciate the care and detail in the Batman mythos, and it made me think that there is a reason why there are so many fantastic Batman stories. Batman is a character that people want to write. His stories are rich in thematic narratives of justice, grit, corruption, good vs. evil, family, and hope.
As a comic reader, you can find amazing Superman stories. You can find quintessential Wonder Woman stories; however, there is a much bigger number of amazing Batman stories and that is because he is an icon of his craft, and people connect with the character on a whole other level. Reading through the Under the Red Hood storyline made me appreciate the Bat family that much more. It reminded me about the true aspects of heroism and how Batman always ascribes to be better than the criminals he takes down.
It is just one story in an ocean of amazing Batman writing. And this is why the videogame is so important; it is just another mode of fantastic storytelling that is pushed forward through gaming and that is special because you take command of the Dark Knight. You get the same beautiful artistic and visual storytelling, but now you are an active participant as you walk around in Batman’s suit and take on the Joker.
Batman storytelling is a feat of greatness and is only that much better because it has transcended beyond popular shows and films. It has created a vast interactive world through the Arkham games. Visiting Joker in the visitor center in between missions is exciting and feels meaningful . Using the different gadgets to dodge Bane, escape Croc, and side-step Ivy feels immersive. Speaking with Oracle as you try to traverse the complex areas on the asylum feels like you are not alone. And finally putting on some of that explosive gel and punching Titan Joker in the face in the finale is oh so satisfying. This game feels just as fun as the first time I played it. Hell, finding bits of lore and creating a comprehensive listing of Batman villains in your archives as you go into detective mode or pick up trophies still feels fun and exciting, exactly what every great Batman story should have you feeling during the adventure! Happy anniversary to “Batman: Arkham Asylum!”
By Rafael Encinas and Christopher Franey
With another San Diego Comic Con finished and in the record books, we can all let our appetite for NERD news and culture rest easy. From awesome comic book reveals to intense trailers to the announcement and showcase of MCU’s Phase Four, there are a lot of things to “Geek Out” about (I mean, did you see that The Witcher trailer). However, one main talking point that we feel gets overlooked at times is the presentation and reveal of awesome new toys and collectibles! After all, who doesn’t want to add to their toy collections with the awesome new things that come out from popular fandom? One thing is for sure, we here at Geek Elite Media are downright chomping at the bit for some of these action figures! Therefore, our resident toy connoisseurs, Chris and Rafa, are excited to talk action figures and what they are looking forward to the most from San Diego Comic-Con 2019.
Rafa’s Favorite Toys of San Diego Comic Con 2019
5. Neon Genesis Evangelion Gets the Funko POP Treatment
With ‘Neon Genesis Evangelion’ finally streaming on Netflix, it is now going to be available for mass consumption from all kinds of new fans. In all seriousness, NGE has some iconic characters, and I was so excited to see that the show’s resident tsundere, Asuka Langley Soryu, is going to be given the Funko POP treatment. I am especially excited about this because it will open the door to Rei and Shinji POPs. We will eventually get Eva Units and the adorable Pen Pen. I am excited to see what this means for the future.
4. Marvel Legends Gives Us Avengers: Endgame Fan Favorites
In a perfect timeline where ‘Avengers: Endgame’ has become the highest grossing film of all time (take that ‘Avatar’), we have so many Marvel Legends toys to look forward to! Though, I would argue that Hasbro has taken too long to create a Heimdall figure, one cannot lie that the MCU figures have been coming in waves. By far though, I am beyond excited with the announcement and reveal of a certain Thor figure! We are getting the Marvel Legends Fat Thor (Build-A-Figure), and you best believe I will collect all the MCU figures in this line.
3. Tamashii Nations and S.H. Figuarts Gives Us Explosive Action
S.H Figuarts makes some of the most articulated and heavily detailed figures ever conceived. I am a big fan of their ‘Dragon Ball’ figures, especially considering that I have amassed so many over the years. But regardless of how many I have, there always seems to be one missing, but with SDCC, we finally got the full reveal of ‘Dragon Ball Super’s’ strongest opponent for Goku yet. I am talking about Jiren the Grey. With three interchangeable head pieces, multiple hands, a folded arm piece, and a special effect piece, we are getting a fully posable Jiren who will be a welcome addition to the collection!
2. Hasbro’s Upcoming Power Ranger Collection
It is no secret that I absolutely love the ‘Power Rangers’ franchise. I have been collecting the toys since I was a kid. So, with Hasbro producing some of the best figures I have seen in years, I was very excited to see what SDCC has in store. First and foremost, the Exclusive Power Rangers Lightning Collection: 6-inch Mighty Morphin’ Red & Gold Rangers is a godsend and masterpiece of toys. This has really been the year of Jason Scott, and the original Red Ranger is getting all kinds of love. I am very much looking forward to purchasing this 2-pack on Hasbro Pulse.
Furthermore, the other toys announced and displayed were great! We were finally given pictures of the second wave of Power Rangers Lightning Collection: 6-inch Rangers. I am especially jazzed to have a Magna Defender toy to scale with my other action figures. Also, the reveal of the upcoming Power Rangers Lightning Collection: 6-inch Fighting Spirit Green Ranger & Putty 2-pack was exciting. We have a putty patroller and the one and only Green Ranger ready to be added to the collection. Consider me to be a happy Power Ranger fan.
1. So Much Love for Everyone’s Favorite Mutants
With Jonathan Hickman taking over the reins of the X-Men comics, there is a lot of excitement going around. There are so many things to discuss, and trust us, we will talk about this in another article; however, I am most excited to see some of my favorite mutants being manifested into plastic form. Marvel Legends is delivering the X-Men love. I am so excited to see characters live Dani Moonstar, Havok, Polaris, and even the awesome X-Man all getting new action figures! It is a wonderful time to be an X-men fan!
However, I am most excited for the reveal of the announced Cyclops, Wolverine, and Jean Grey 3-Pack. First of all, we are getting a reissued and updated 90’s costume Jean Grey which we have been missing for so long. Second, we are getting another Wolverine, but I like the slight battle-damage, and he will be a great pick-up who missed this figure when it came out last year. But most excitedly, I am so excited for a Jim Lee 90’s Cyclops with a dope signature jacket! But it doesn’t end there; the figure also comes with two additional heads with varying sunglasses for a more casual look. X-Men fans, rejoice. It is a great time to be a Cyclops fan!
Chris’ Favorite Toys of San Diego Comic Con 2019
So Rafa and I totally agree with the Power Rangers and Marvel Legends that Hasbro stole the show at SDCC. I already pre-ordered a Cyclops/Jean/Wolverine 3-pack, Green Ranger/Putty two pack, and Pink Ranger…now just to score that Red/Gold Ranger SDCC two pack and I’m good. So here are some of my other picks from SDCC:
5. Jada Transformers
This is more just based off of the idea “I see it I want it.” I do have to say I’ve seen these little metal figures before and they look catchy but usually seen on human characters so they always look a little off, but with a Transformer they look perfect. This Optimus Prime is the perfect minifigure to pay my respects to ol’ OP without having to deal with blind boxes and not getting the figure I want. I just hope he is on the smaller scale of Jada toy products. Here is a gallery from Toyark.com:
4. Diamond Select Toys – Marvel, DC, and the Rocketeer
Now I’m cheating here but I am covering a toy line that just happens to do more than one license, but the major things that I’ll be looking forward to from them are the upcoming ‘X-Men the Animated Series’ busts. Shown so far were Cyclops, Jean Grey, Magneto, and Wolverine and they look like they just came right out of the TV screen; these are so spot on I hope DST does action figures in this style later on. With DST’s Vinimates I am hyped for the Batman Classic two pack of Michael Keaton Batman and Michelle Pfeiffer Catwoman from ‘Batman Returns’ along with a Rocketeer Vinimate that will be perfect for my desk toys. Here are some links from Toyark.com that feature their galleries so you can see more of DST’s products:
3. NECA’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
NECA is one of those toy lines we often forget about…they find themselves hidden at Target usually in the Music/Movies section when they should be with the TOYS! Sometime in the last year, I went to Target and found the first wave of NECA TMNT two packs which was the four turtles paired with Shredder, Krang, or a Foot Soldier…so you had to buy four 2-packs to get the team and that was going to cost around $200. I passed and honestly I’m regretting it, especially with the announced team up with ‘Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers’ (in the comics). Also announced at SDCC, they will be doing more animated two packs and it looks like the fab four will be rereleased in a lighter shade of color more in tone with the cartoon show; which is totally fine with me as I loved that cartoon. Hopefully with future releases we will be getting that awesome Casey Jones figure on display; so add him to the four turtles and I’ve got my team. I’m going to attach a link to Toy News International for their gallery:
2. MAFEX’s Into the Spider-Verse
These were actually revealed at Medicom Toy Expo which was running concurrently as SDCC, but finally a Peter B. Parker (PBP) figure! I know growing up I always wanted to be Spider-Man but life has its twists and turns and honestly PBP is probably the best I could hope to be. Sadly Hasbro didn’t do much in the way of toys with Spider-Verse but these figures save the day. I love the outer clothes that are on these highly posable figures…it really adds to the dimension and their look. This PBP figure will be on my desk as well reminding me to get to the gym. Here is a gallery and write up from MarvelousNews.com
1. Mattel’s DC Multiverse
So this is probably the last wave of DC comics figures from Mattel and it will be hard to say goodbye to this toy maker as I think DC Universe Classics (DCUC) was a great match for Marvel Legends, but when DCUC became Multiverse it just felt half hearted. They had some great picks for their line ups, but the wait between waves was just forever…so out of sight out of mind. With the last wave it looks like they are celebrating Batman’s 80th anniversary and I like some of the choices, especially when it comes to the Robins. We are getting some updates for former Robins with Jason Todd as Red Hood and Tim Drake as Red Robin, but the biggest one for me is the Dick Grayson Batman…finally!! Like how long ago was Grant Morrison’s run on Batman and we are finally getting a Dick Bats; which I’ve also already preordered. The only drawback is the cloth capes…this doesn’t stay consistent with the majority of the line, but I think I can quick custom fix that. Plus I really dig the throwbacks to the ‘89 Batman figures with a black suit Batman and old school Joker. Here is Toyark’s gallery:
So another SDCC has come and gone…with it comes the promise of many items and things that keep our fandoms alive. What are the things that you are looking forward to getting that you have seen previewed at SDCC? Chime in and let us know at our Facebook/Twitter pages, @GeekEliteMedia, or comment on this article as well. You can find Rafa and talk toys with him on Twitter as @Mobilerafie or check out his AMAZING YouTube channel. You can find me on twitter as @StuffIShudSay…so shop wisely and always remember to GEEK OUT!
Evil Machinations: Why I Love The Ultron Concept
An Editorial From Rafael Encinas
I have always liked robots. Robots are some of the coolest concepts in both science fiction and horror. Everywhere one may look, people can find a really interesting or horrific android, cyborg, or mechanical organism causing mayhem or becoming a central focal point to mainstream culture. Some examples include the Terminator, Hal 9000, Cylons, Sentinels, Johnny 5, or the Iron Giant. Therefore, because robots are so ingrained and customary to society’s ideas of collective mainstream entertainment and scientific culture, it is important to find the best and most unique robots in popular culture. Well, one of my favorite mechanized monstrosities would have to be Hank Pym’s megalomaniacal and genocidal sentient robot Ultron! Not only is Ultron a pretty sweet machine, but he is also a deadly super villain who has been more than the heroes could handle on more than one occasion in the Marvel Universe.
First of all, the origin of this villain is wild! Ultron is a criminally insane machine focused on destroying all human life. Built by Hank Pym to help the heroes and eventually replace the necessity of the Avengers, Ultron was meant to be a force for good and progress; a benevolent, sentient protector. Instead, what manifested was a self-replicating, highly intelligent artificial intelligence that created its own adamantium structured form to eradicate the human race; a race seen to be inferior, flawed, and unnecessary. He is a highly functional A.I. consciousness that can both reason and experience existential questioning. This leads to trouble for everyone!
What I like so much about Ultron is that he’s a fucking robot that is virtually unstoppable and unrelenting in his conquest. You destroy him, he’ll rebuild himself. You become too powerful; he’ll unleash an army of Ultrons on you. He is clever and practically immortal because of his adamantium shell and his insane power set (concussion blasts, radiation emitters, and the dreaded encephalo-ray), so it is very hard to physically damage him. And even if the heroes could destroy his body or fry his sentient-mainframe-consciousness, every time you destroy him, he’ll rebuild himself to be more efficient and that much more difficult to defeat. It is a matter of time; it is a game and a conflict that the heroes cannot practically win as time continues and Ultron evolves time and time again. This in itself is a horrifying thought. Imagine an immortal flying robot trying to kill you and all those you love, and not even earth’s mightiest heroes can save you. It is the dreams that science fiction entails!!
Practically, the most effective way to destroy him is to transport him to a parallel dimension to be someone else’s problem and hope he never comes back. THAT IS FUCKING CRAZY IF YOU THINK ABOUT IT! To jettison a homicidal, remorseless, computer program with an overpowered skill set into a neighboring dimensional existence is the most immoral thing I could possibly think of. You know this monster is going to kill everyone, and you can’t stop it. So you send it somewhere else, and it practically doesn’t exist to you anymore; but it does. And it is still killing. That’s fucked up on so many levels. God forbid he comes back. And this in essence is what exciting storytelling is all about.
Overall, Ultron is a fantastic super villain because he is basically unstoppable and is the manifestation of all the best parts of our collective popular-culture robots combined. Not to mention, his face is beautiful. Every time I look at my Marvel Legends: Marvel Iron Man Ultron toy, I see a nifty little robot with attitude and murderous intent. For real though, this Marvel Legends Ultron is highly posable with a sleek paint job and many practical points of articulation; seriously, it is way better than the Diamond Select version; I seriously recommend getting it; not the Diamond Select version though. That one is garbage.
An Editorial From Mitch Punpayuk
I have attended Phoenix for the gathering of geeks festival that kicks off the Summer for the last 10 years. Why would nerds, geeks, fanatics, and devotees, brave the outrageous heat of the desert southwest? Because despite the climbing temperatures on the forecast, its the coolest time to be had in the valley of the sun. (Sorry for the bad joke. Wait, no I’m not.)
I’ve had a good time every year, no matter if it was inside or outside of the Phoenix Convention Center. You can meet one of your favorite celebrities inside, hear them retell a story from their adventures in Hollywood, get an autograph, or even take a funny photograph with them as you all pose to impress.
You can head outside and meet others on the downtown streets of the Phoenix, cosplaying, joining in games and activities aimed toward our ilk, or just snapping pictures of the famous pop culture vehicles. The workmanship that goes into the sewing, crafting, building, replicating, and constructing the screen accurate costumes, cars, and time machines, would debilitate the mind if someone looking in from the outside were let in on the time and planning that went into the endeavors.
So whether you are inside in the air conditioning or outside shooting the breeze. Fun can be found all around the festival, no matter where you look, and it doesn’t end when the sun goes down, along with the scheduled evening panels, and the Phoenix Fan Fusion sponsored parties in the host hotels all throughout the downtown Phoenix area, aswell as the ample amount of bars and nightlife scene where the attending geeks can find a good time to supplement their fun in the sun. I can wait to return this year and I hope to see you all there too.
An Editorial From Hidai Moya
It was around the start of the new millennium when a new era of “Geekdom” emerged. Before then it was culturally confined to niche groups & isolated fandoms but in 2001 everything changed when two of the literary series were adapted into blockbuster films: The Lord of the Rings & Harry Potter. Suddenly Geekdom really became culturally mainstream and this trend continued strongly the start of when the new decade rolled in with the MCU & Game of Thrones becoming part of a global cultural zeitgeist. Go to any random workplace in America and inventively there will most likely be a Pop! figure or two sitting on a desk, in playgrounds across the country kids argue about their favorite MCU character, & late night TV implements many sketches of any of the recurring Geek things currently happening. It’s clear being “a nerd” has never been more “in”.
With Phoenix Fan Fusion right around the corner, it will be a time when we can turn our collective geek dial to “11” and just let loose into a temporary fantasy/sci fi mecca. One of the most fascinating things about attending a Comic Convention is the ingenuity & creativity of the attendees devotion of their fandoms. Seeing someones meticulous homemade cosplay never gets old, especially when it’s something really complex & layered. I once remember running into a girl who had had a cosplay that looked movie quality good as Enchantress from Suicide Squad. Unless she got the exact one from the Warner Bros set or it was given to her by the Costume Designer of that film, she had had an A+ job on her outfit. The floor of the convention is a defacto fashion show for everyone to show off their favorite character by strutting around like a Jedi or zombie. It’s never not fun. You never know what’ll happen or what you’ll see next.
One of the most memorable times attending a con was when two generations met for a common appreciation of video games. I was once sitting in a game room playing the classic N64 game “Goldeneye”, a defining multiplayer game of the pre online console era. Suddenly some random kid decides to take up the seat next to me. He had never played “Goldeneye” on N64 before. I found myself telling him about the good ol’ N64 days, something he never experienced until now because he hadn’t grown up with it.
On the flipside I had never played Super Smash Bros ever before, until I walked into the game room and it just happened to be there. Some guy next to me raved about how good it was and was shocked I had never played it before. I finally experience the craziness of that game for that first time at the Con.
That’s what these Festivals are about. A collective geek experience that we all get to share in.