If you are in the mood to watch an exciting new film about a dark superhero. I am happy to tell you that Shout! Factory has you covered with their latest release. Rendel: Dark Vengeance is an import from Finland, by writer-director Jesse Haaja. Releasing on Blu-Ray and DVD tomorrow, January 30th, you will get your chance to see the origin of Rendel!
Director Jesse Haaja on the bonus features for Rendel: Dark Vengeance freely admits that his creation owes a debt to Batman. With superheroes that stick to the shadows that is of course a given. However I think it is fair to say that the dark vigilante in this film follows a different creed. Rendel has no desire to arrest or let the courts mete out justice.
To be honest, Rendel has no interest in justice. It is of course all about the character obtaining the vengeance he desperately seeks. There are certainly elements of all types of heroes and vigilantes in the genetic make-up of this dark avenger. Off the top of my head the character reminded me a little of 1939’s The Avenger.
While Jesse Haaja admitted that Batman had an influence on the creation of Rendel. I would say that in addition it was certainly Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight in particular.
Above all however, the character in the film reminded me most of Daredevil. Yet again, the Frank Miller version. Not that the dark character in the movie is remotely as forgiving as Matt Murdock. Not in the least. It is the fact that he will readily accept physical punishment to get to his target.
Like those characters I just highlighted, Rendel has a tragic origin as well. It involves a shadow corporation known as VALA. A worldwide organization that is marketing an untested vaccine. The results of that ‘medicine’ is far more insidious than anything Lex Luthor could have devised.
Thanks to bribes and extortion it looks like nothing can halt the plans of VALA. Not the Press nor the Police. Until an act by the organization creates the very hero the city needs. The uncompromising as well as aggressively violent Rendel!
Being a Shout! Factory release there are of course special features:
English and Finnish audio tracks, English subtitles
The Making of Rendel
Proof of concept short film
Wonderman Music Video
Rendel might be a dark avenger with psychotic issues, friends. But as you can plainly see he is a romantic as well!
Seriously though, friends. I was blown away by the movie. It is absolutely stylized and frequently over the top comic book inspired fun. You can pick up Rendel at better dealers tomorrow or hop on over to Shout! Factory and order your copy today.
A long time ago, I was living in Pittsburgh and worked at a store adjacent to the infamous (Dawn of the Dead) Monroeville Mall. I had a girlfriend and… what’s that? You don’t believe I had a girlfriend? Sheesh, I know my face can curdle milk, but gimme a break! Anyway…
One day, we were at the mall and I spotted this nifty plaster casting set by Toybiz. It was the DC Heroes Plaster Molds. I had to have it! She was too good to me and she wound up getting it for me with a credit card meant for college stuff or emergencies.
Well, superhero stuff – including the DC Heroes Plaster Molds is an emergency to some collectors. Am I right? Oh brother, she couldn’t wait to strangle my dumb neck, right after her mom strangled hers!
The DC Heroes Plaster Molds set consists of four characters: Batman, Robin, Superman and Joker. Joker is not a hero, but he was the villain in Tim Burton’s Batman film. That’d be my guess as to why he’s included. ToyBiz probably figured it would lure kids and dim bulbs like me. Yep. It worked.
The figures were well sculpted and with the two piece molds, you could make your very own copies to paint (the set includes a small selection of paints and brush) or decorate.
If you want to use the set, it’s great for the collector and if you’ve got got kids or nieces/nephews, it’s a great arts & crafts activity for a rainy day. Are you hunting for the set? It’s usually selling from $50 to $100 depending on the condition on eBay.
Did you ever wonder where the art for a product came from? It can be created specifically for the product or be art that gets re-purposed. I submit to you my personal sleuthing to solve a question I had, regarding the 1974 Thermo-Serve Batman Super Stein.
The Super Steins were released by Thermo-Serve in 1974 and the available characters were Wonder Woman, Batman, Shazam and Superman. At some point, my sister and I received a Wonder Woman and Batman Stein. You can figure out who got what. A great selection of art. An iconic full figure illustration by of Batman racing across a field with a full moon overhead. The other side sports Batman punching out a noodnik! “WHOK!” Ok, where did the art come from?
Aha! Time to dig into my comic book library. But first, I must flip up the head on my Shakespeare statue and hit the button!
The full figure Batman art was somewhat easy to identify. It’s by Neal Adams and is the cover art to a large format Treasury Edition comic. But, that’s not the complete origin,as that image is a variation of Neal’s Caped Crusader, in Batman 251. In that comic, Bats is missing his utility belt and the background is different. Still, an iconic Bat piece!
Now, to figure out the smaller artwork, which looked like long time Bat artist, Jim Aparo’s work. Aparo worked on many Bat books, so I had some perusing to do. Using 1974 or earlier, I had my bracket of books to look from. I couldn’t place the image, but was determined to figure it out. Mainly, because I’m a dork!
I found it in an issue of “Brave & the Bold.” Number 115, to be exact. Batman teams up with the Atom in “The Corpse that Wouldn’t Die!” A great story in which Batman is grazed by a bullet and rendered brain dead. The Atom shrinks and operates Batman’s body from inside, racing from synapse to synapse and animating him. Well, looking at the panel and comparing it to the Stein, they changed the dialogue in the word ballon and kept the “WHOK!”
I have yet to determine the origins of the other Super Stein artwork. Maybe I will try again in the future. I recently asked my sister if she knew about her Wonder Woman Stein and she punched me for being a dork!
Ok, I deserved that, I guess. Sheesh!
If you know the other art origins on the Super Steins, please comment and we’ll super sleuth the heck out of this!!
While it has nothing to do with Super Steins, why not listen to Denny O’Neil discuss both Batman and Neal Adams?
It’s a slow news week here at the Retroist Scoreboard – this week’s only new release is La-La Land Records’ CD of the soundtrack from the DC Animated Universe movie Justice League Dark, scored by Robert J. Kral (Angel, Jake 2.0, Superman: Doomsday, Green Lantern: First Flight, Batman: Assault on Arkham).
Perhaps even more exciting is La-La Land closing the books on the last few copies of some of its past releases, and when I say “last few” I mean “maybe a dozen or so”, which translates roughly to “they may be gone by the time you read this and go looking for them”. Not only will these titles be going out of print, but they’re being sold off at what the Firesign Theatre once called “unhealable deep-cut discounts!”. Titles include the late Shirley Walker’s masterful score from the 1990 TV iteration of The Flash, Haunted Honeymoon, Days Of Our Lives (yes, there was a soundtrack for that), and Les Baxter’s vintage soundtrack from “X”: The Man With X-Ray Eyes. Get ’em while they’re still there. Some of the low-quantity titles I mentioned in the last Retroist Scoreboard…some of those are already out of print. Life comes at you fast when you’re a soundtrack collector.
Since there’s a lull in the action, let’s talk about Holy Grails.
The two big fish in the boutique soundtrack label pond, La-La Land Records and Intrada, have something of a gentlemen’s agreement: this week, La-La Land releases something. Next week, Intrada releases something else. (It’s actually a pretty friendly unspoken rule: if you check the credits in the back of the liner notes booklets of any given recent vintage soundtrack releases, you’ll find the same producers, restoration experts, mastering engineers and liner notes writers are happily working for both labels.) You’ll notice this ebb-and-flow as the Retroist Scoreboard continues chronicling their releases this year.
Both labels tend to hit the pause button around Christmas and New Year, as well as other holidays during the year. So let’s assume that each label will be dropping one or two new items – or one big one, if it’s a box set – 20 weeks out of the year. The labels strive to find a mix of “crowd pleasers” (i.e. last year’s 30-years-overdue release of the complete score plus songs from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off), “golden age” material from Hollywood’s postwar heyday, and more recent “silver age” material. Not all of them sell in huge numbers; La-La Land boss M.V. Gerhard has openly stated that the “crowd pleasers” foot the bill for some of the more obscure releases whose scores deserve preservation, remastering, and their own releases.
In short: you’re looking at 40 weeks out of the year with something dropping, not all of which you’ll like, but that’s okay. The late, great Jerry Goldsmith criticized soundtrack collectors who were less interested in music than in “collecting bottle caps”…point taken, Maestro Goldsmith. No one can afford to get all of them.
So…is your favorite out there? If it isn’t yet, someone’s probably working on it. One of the most surprising releases last year was the four-disc La-La Land Star Trek 50th anniversary compilation, one disc of which presented – for the first time ever – the incidental music from Filmation’s early 1970s Star Trek cartoon. (Sharp-eared Filmation fans will also know that this is, essentially, the soundtrack from Jason Of Star Command.) It wasn’t that new tapes had been found and remastered; it happened because two recording engineers who happened to be fans of animated Star Trek managed to piece together every instrumental piece from segments of the show where no one was talking! (These guys work hard for your money.)
Other grails have already seen release – the complete scores from all three Back To The Future films, the now-legendary restoration of John Barry’s complete score from The Black Hole (recorded on a no-longer-used digital tape format, which could be played back only on the same kind of tape deck that recorded it…of which there was only one left in the United States, and it fell victim to flooding just before engineers went to transfer those tapes to a hard drive for remastering), and the massive 15-disc box set of every note of music recorded for the original Star Trek.
Others that are high on people’s lists are lost to the mists of time: one frequently requested title is Disney’s The Rescuers, whose master music tapes seem to be lost forever. Intrada’s late 2016 CD release of the soundtrack from Silent Running suffered a similar problem; the CD was mastered from a pristine copy of the long-out-of-print original LP (!).
You’ll notice that there are some genres that get a little more love than others, but that’s often because their very nature lent itself to more epic music: westerns, historical dramas (especially epics like Ben-Hur and Spartacus), and sci-fi are, perhaps, over-represented. But there’s also a healthy selection of ’70s thrillers and a growing category of ’80s cinema (i.e. recent relases of Beverly Hills Cop I & II, Less Than Zero, the aforementioned Ferris Bueller) and ’90s material (i.e. Jurassic Park, Twister, DuckTales: The Movie, Galaxy Quest) that are on the rise. As the audience age range shifts, collectors are “into” the soundtracks from the movies they enjoyed in their youth, and the labels are obliging those changing tastes.
Be patient: someone is almost certainly working on that one soundtrack you’re waiting for, if they haven’t already made it available. (I’ll bring this up again in a more personal context in a couple of weeks.)
When he’s not keeping score at the Retroist, Earl Green is the founder, head writer and podcaster-in-chief at theLogBook.om, a site devoted in roughly equal parts to classic sci-fi, classic video games, classic soundtracks, and space history. You can catch him lining up carefully curated excerpts from TV, movie and game scores most months on the Log Book’s soundtrack mixtape podcast, In The Grand Theme Of Things.
Several years ago, my best pal Stephanie and I were perusing our favorite used bookstore. One of our favorite activities is finding things that are awesomely bad, delightfully ridiculous, and/or completely over the top, then laughing ourselves silly at them, reveling in the cheesy glory. On this eventful evening, we stumbled upon something that would bring us delight for years to come–Which Way Batman. You remember those Choose Your Own Adventure books, right? It’s just like that, but with Batman.
Technically the title is Batman: The Doomsday Prophecy, published in 1986. In fact, there’s an entire series of Super Powers Which Way books featuring DC Superheroes. These books aren’t just any Choose Your Own Adventure book though. They are basically a Choose Your Own Adventure book on steroids. According to this helpful article, the Which Way Batman alone has 51 different endings. Not only that, the preamble to the book really sets the bar quite high for any young aspiring detectives.
“Of course, Batman would always make the correct choices, but here, you control the Caped Crusader.” Whoa! Talk about pressure! I must admit, I have sealed The Dark Knight’s fate reading through this volume and have never quite aided him to success. I’ll not be trying out for Robin any time soon, that’s for sure. Even so, Stephanie and I had a great time reading aloud from this book. From the first page, we were hooked in. With choices like this, how could we go wrong?
We were especially fond of the line, “For more information on the Bat-Signal, turn to page 119.” How thoughtful of author Richard Wenk to write up a brief synopsis of characters, Bat-Gear, and villains found in the Batman universe. Even with all these great options, it’s difficult to know which is the one that will actually lead Batman to safety. To this day, when Stephanie and I are out together and we’ve not decided our next move, I’ll ask, “Which way, Batman?” and we both have a good chuckle.
There are are 4 volumes in the Super Powers Which Way series, but I’ve only found the Supergirl volume in my searches. There are Superman and Justice League volumes available too. Did you own any of these books growing up? Did you ever help The Caped Crusader beat The Doomsday Prophecy? Share with us here!