Ten Things I Actually Liked about Batman v Superman

•April 6, 2016 • 1 Comment

batman-v-superman-master

 

BEWARE OF SPOILERS! This article contains them, and now you’ve been warned. No complaining if you haven’t seen the film and read something you didn’t want to know.

So I finally saw Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, after someone whose opinion I trust and often share suggested everyone see it with an open mind and give it a chance. And the truth is, I kind of liked it. Yes, it has some major issues. No, it isn’t a great film. But it is what it is, and I enjoyed myself while watching it. I know what you’re thinking…”How can that be, Christopher J. Valin? The critics have told us we have to hate it!”

I’m fully aware that the darkness of this film is one of the major complaints of a lot of critics and fans. I’m not one of them. I love dark movies (my favorite film of all time is Blade Runner, and my favorite Star Wars film is the darkest one, The Empire Strikes Back). If I were a Superman fan, I’d probably be upset because it doesn’t feel like a Superman film. But I’m perfectly fine with it, because I’m not a Superman fan. I haven’t liked a Superman film since Superman II over thirty years ago. So I watched it as if it were a Batman movie, and as such, it was fine. Also, I think characters have to change with the times, including Superman. I liked what Perry White said about, “Maybe if it was 1938…”, and what Superman himself said about Superman being the dream of a Kansas farmer. I think they’re right.

Also, let me get this out of the way: I agree with many of the criticisms, but I’m not going to repeat what’s already been said ad nauseum, except for one other thing. I hated Lex Luthor. And not for the reasons I’m supposed to hate him. I think Jesse Eisenberg was the wrong choice for the part (by a long shot), but I don’t blame him for my hating the character. I think they wrote Lex a certain way, and Eisenberg probably played the character just like he was supposed to (unless he pulled a Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Carribean, and as far as I know, he didn’t).

Luthor isn’t an evil psychopath. He’s an egomaniacal genius who thinks he’s a hero for protecting the world from a powerful alien who could become a tyrant or destroy the world. How they could possibly have another Lex Luthor along the lines of the Kevin Spacey version after seeing what a complete failure that was just boggles my mind. There are a lot of stories about how they almost chose Bryan Cranston for Lex. Can you imagine?

Anyway…

Here are ten reasons I enjoyed the movie Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.

(1) Batman kicked Superman’s ass. He really did. In fact, he was literally about to kill him, and very well could have. I’m glad he didn’t, and I don’t think he should have. But he could have. As a huge Batman fan, I’m constantly asked how I could think Batman could possibly beat Superman in a fight. From now on, I’m going to just tell people to watch this movie.

(2) Wonder Woman was awesome. I wasn’t familiar with Gal Godot, but she did a great job, and I think they made her a cool character. I just wish she was in it more.

(3) Jeremy Irons rocked the part of Alfred. Alfred is an important character in any Batman story. And Jeremy Irons was excellent. This was an Alfred I recognized from the comics, and more along the lines of Alfred from the Gotham TV series. Michael Caine is a great actor, but when I saw him, I just thought, “That’s Michael Caine.” Not so with Irons.

(4) Ben Affleck was a suprisingly good Bruce Wayne/Batman. Yeah, I’ll admit it. I was one of those whiners who complained when they chose Affleck to play Batman. I mean, it took over ten years and a damn good Netflix series for Daredevil to recover his good name after the fiasco that was the 2003 film. Bale and Keaton were fine, but I felt like this really was the character from the comic books I grew up with. Speaking of which…

(5) It had some cool stuff from The Dark Knight Returns. TDKR is my favorite comic/graphic novel of all time. And, even though it didn’t completely follow Frank Miller’s story line, they did pick out some good moments, as well as the armor. It kind of makes me wish they had just made that story.

(6) It had some cool stuff from Injustice: Gods Among Us. Injustice is one of my favorite video games (yeah, I know it was a comic also), and has a great story that goes with it. There are questions about whether or not Bruce Wayne was dreaming (it’s known as the “Knightmare” sequence), or whether the Flash traveled back in time, and what Bruce saw was the future. Personally, I think it would make for a great movie later on.

(7) The Batmobile. The Nolan Batmobile was pretty cool, and very realistic (I’ve even seen one up close), but it definitely wasn’t the car from the comics. I liked this version a lot because it still looked like it was powerful and built like a tank, but it had that Batman style to it as well.

(8) They weren’t afraid to kill off characters. And I’m not talking about Superman, because we all know he’s going to be back. It’s usually a sign of a good story when characters aren’t safe. And at least two pretty major characters were killed in this film. Mercy, Lex Luthor’s bodyguard/secretary, and–I’m not sure how many people actually realize this–Jimmy Olsen. When I first saw the photographer that was with Lois, I assumed it was Jimmy, but then when he was shot in the head for being a CIA agent, I figured it wasn’t (they never actually said his name). But, sure enough, it turns out Zack Snyder had decided the DC Universe was too crowded already, and that killing off a beloved sidekick would make a strong statement.

(9) Batman’s Gotham By Gaslight costume. Gotham By Gaslight is one of the best Elseworlds comics, and the suit from the Knightmare sequence is pretty damn close to the Steampunk costume Bruce wore in that story. I mean, c’mon, who doesn’t love goggles?

(10) The scene where Batman saves Martha Kent at the warehouse. This was my favorite scene from the movie, and again showed the Batman I grew up loving in the comics.

And that’s not even a complete list. If you haven’t seen the film, I suggest you go in with an open mind. Not high expectations, mind you, but an open mind. Maybe you’ll enjoy it, too.

 

Sidekick Review at the Leighgendarium!

•March 16, 2016 • Leave a Comment

Preston Leigh wrote a very nice review of Sidekick over at his indie book website, The Leighgendarium. Check it out!

What’s in a Name?

•February 25, 2016 • 2 Comments

Thank goodness titles can’t be copyrighted.

When I finished writing the first draft of my latest book back in early 2014, I decided I wanted to call it Sidekick. Not only did I search Amazon for books with that name, I did a Google search as well. There was nothing close to what my book was about that had Sidekick in the name, so I felt safe in giving it that name, and registered it with the WGA.

Imagine my surprise when I actually went to publish it, and there were two books called Sidekick, another called Sidekicks, a trade paperback collection of a comic series called Sidekick, and a middle grade novel called Sidekicked…all about superhero sidekicks.

And all published in the interim. Weird? Yeah, I’d say so.

Sidekick Big Sale!

•February 21, 2016 • Leave a Comment

Sidekick - FINAL COVER - KINDLE

If you’re familiar with the great site/emailer called Free Kindle Books and Tips, you may have seen that my latest book, Sidekick: The Red Raptor Files – Part 1 is on sale for only 99 cents this week.

WHAT? You can get the eBook of Sidekick for only 99 cents? And just look what people are saying when asked what they think of this fabulous book:

“Well…the cover’s pretty cool.”- Sawyer Valin, age 10
“Did you take out the trash like I asked you?” – Cecille Valin
“Get out of my room, I’m talking to my friends!” – Saylor Valin, age 14.

Okay, maybe those aren’t the best examples. How about this review?

“Valin has taken the familiar and re-imagined it in an exciting and fresh way for the next generation of superhero fans.” – Bret Bernal, Tao Boy and Engine

What difference does it make? It’s less than a dollar!

 

 

10 Questions with… Me!

•February 1, 2016 • 1 Comment

Meanwhile, I forgot to post a link to my interview over at The Leighgendarium, a blog about indie authors. Check it out HERE and tell Preston I sent you.

Red Raptor: Evolution of a Character

•January 31, 2016 • Leave a Comment

I assume that when most authors write a book, they have a picture of what their characters look like in their heads. It’s possible that the character may appear on the cover, and if that’s the case, I’m sure they work with the cover artist/designer (at least to some extent) so that the character matches what they think he or she should look like.

Being a former comic book artist (inker) myself, it was very important for me to not only visualize Red Raptor, the protagonist of my new YA novel, but to actually have a physical image of him. This image has changed over time and, I feel, has been improved each time.

Red Raptor (3)

I started with my own pencil sketch of the character. This was just a simple sketch of his costume to give me something to start with. But I’m an inker, not a penciller, so I went to…

Red Raptor COVER (2)

…the City of Heroes character generator to create a model of the character. The game hasn’t been around for a few years and the servers no longer exist, but there is both a plugin that you can use (if you still have the game on your PC) and a website where you can download just the character creator (which is the best of any game I’ve ever played). I still wanted to see what an artist’s take on the character would look like, however, so I went to…

Red Raptor - Costume Design

…Deviant Art and found an artist whose style I liked and had him draw the character based on my computer model. I was a big fan of the Young Justice animated show, and Serg, who drew this version, had a style very close to that. I really liked what he did with the character, and he stuck close to what I had designed but still improved on it.

Around this time, I started to seriously consider self-publishing Sidekick instead of going through an agent and/or publisher (for many reasons which I won’t get into right now). I knew that if I decided to do it, I’d need an amazing cover, and I decided to ask an old buddy of mine with whom I worked at a small comic book company many years ago, Jonboy Meyers, to draw the cover. When I worked with him, Jonboy was just starting out, but by the time I asked him to work on this, he was finishing up a run drawing Spawn, one of the most popular independent (as in non-Marvel or DC) comics of all time. To my great joy, he agreed to do the cover.

Sidekick Cover V2 design front

Jonboy is not only an incredible artist, but he’s a great designer as well. So I told him he could follow my design as much as he wanted, or do his own thing with it. Was I ever glad he did his own thing! His first design knocked me out, and then he only improved it from there.

Sidekick FINAL COVER - KINDLE.png

The final version of the cover was colored by a great comic book colorist named John Rauch, and I’ve gotten tons of compliments on it.

Win a Signed Copy of Sidekick!

•January 31, 2016 • Leave a Comment

Just sign on to Goodreads and go to giveaways to enter!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Sidekick by Christopher J. Valin

Sidekick

by Christopher J. Valin

Giveaway ends March 02, 2016.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/widget/171962

Sidekick is here!

•January 23, 2016 • Leave a Comment

Sidekick - Kindle Cover

IT’S HERE! The first book in the Red Raptor Files trilogy: SIDEKICK. How can you not LOVE that amazing cover by the incredible Jonboy Meyers?

THE CITY’S GREATEST HERO HAS DISAPPEARED and it’s up to his teenage sidekick to find him.

But Red Raptor isn’t prepared for the challenges he must face when he has to go up against their most dangerous foe without his partner.

Sawyer was starting to get a little bored being Red Raptor, the sidekick of The Black Harrier. Since his power allows him to copy anything he watches, he’s followed his partner into numerous battles and come through virtually unscathed. In fact, his problems living at home with an alcoholic single mom and being bullied at school are worse than anything he’s faced as a crime fighter.

And then there’s this girl…

For the first time in his life, Red Raptor is forced to test the limits of his abilities and come to grips with what it means to be a hero.

“Valin has taken the familiar and re-imagined it in an exciting and fresh way for the next generation of superhero fans.” – Bret Bernal, Tao Boy and Engine

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Review (No Spoilers)

•December 19, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Star Wars Logo

In the documentary The People vs. George Lucas, I’m portrayed (somewhat out of context) as a psycho fan when I look at the camera and yell, “George, you must learn from your mistakes!” I was actually referring to the fact that Jar-Jar was back again in The Clone Wars animated series, but I did feel like Lucas was incapable of realizing just how bad he was ruining his franchise with the repeated mistakes of the prequels.

So, when Disney bought Lucasfilm, the first thing I had to say was, “The good news is, Disney bought Lucasfilm. The bad news is, Disney bought Lucasfilm.” I was thrilled that they were finally going to make the sequel I’d been waiting for for three decades, but I was pretty worried about what a Disneyfied Star Wars might look like. My fears have now been completely put to rest.

The fact is, J.J. Abrams seems to have learned from George Lucas’ mistakes in the prequels. Not only is the screenplay co-written by Lawrence Kasdan, who was (mostly) responsible for the script for the best film in the franchise, The Empire Strikes Back, Abrams has gone back to the entire feeling of the original trilogy (maybe a little bit too much in some cases, but I’ll save that for my later, spoilerish review). Gone are the overblown political situations and overdone CGI effects, the stilted dialogue, and the bad acting. The Force Awakens is the Star Wars of my childhood, with all of the fun action and adventure I remember.

It was thrilling to get back that feeling I had when I saw the original film thirteen times in the theater, something I had resigned myself to never feel again. While the screenwriter in me recognizes there are flaws in this film, the fan in me thought it was perfect.

This time, it’s Finn’s turn

•November 18, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Finn

It’s hard to believe they keep coming out with new trailers for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, but another one premiered last night, and this time we see (and hear) more of Finn. You can see it at Heat Vision.

I’ve heard some people complain that Finn starts out as a stormtrooper, but the (perhaps unofficial) background for Han Solo has always been that he was an imperial officer who helped Chewie escape from custody and went on the run. I think it’s pretty cool that they’re using that idea and putting it in a film.