And, like, they can’t all be Godfather II, obviously. Back to the Future II isn’t better than the first, but it justifies itself.

This year had a lot of sequels that were fine but didn’t exceed their originals by enough. Ralph Breaks the Internet, Mary Poppins Returns, Incredibles 2. All enjoyable but I wouldn’t miss any of them if they hadn’t been made.

I think DS9’s “The Siege of AR-558” falls short by trying to cram a Zulu-/Rio Bravo-style siege story into a one-hour television episode, but I was struck by how well Alexander Siddig has developed Julian’s competence and resolve over the course of the series. 🖖

I forgot how little chemistry Odo and Nerys have once they get together. It worked for me when he was pining for her in secret but not later on. 🖖

Cool: you can link Google Play Video to Movies Anywhere and watch your movies on the Switch in the YouTube app. Not cool: that would require giving my kids unmonitored access to YouTube.

We put on a DS9 episode. My wife is doing a few things around the house. She comes back in, asks, “so what’s happening?” I reply, “Some Vulcans challenged Sisko to a baseball game. There is no B-plot.” 🖖

I saw Bumblebee and quite liked it. I didn’t care for a lot about Michael Bay’s Transformers movies, especially his sense of humor. Bumblebee is at once funnier and sweeter, and benefits greatly from being a smaller story. 📽

Nice reprints of manga sometimes strive to retain the original hand-lettered Japanese sound effects, and then have these funny indices of entire pages of onomatopoeia at the back, as in this collection of Akira.

When my first kid was born I thought a lot about the best way to send out photos to relatives. Use a photo sharing site? Facebook? Do I want the photos public? Do relatives need to make an account, or get invited? In the end I settled on a system I’ve never regretted: email.

Venezuelan cachapas. I couldn’t find queso fresco so substituted mozzarella. One of the best meals I’ve ever had was at a farm in Venezuela and I’m remembering that country and its troubles and my family still there.

The Darkest Possible Knight

I enjoyed The Incomparable’s recent episode about Batman Begins. It’s a great film that rightly recreates the tone of Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli’s Batman: Year One. And yet…

Whenever I watch those movies – particularly the second and third – I can’t help but come away with the impression that they’re a little bit embarrassed to be about a guy in a bat costume fighting a clown. That trilogy feels like the product of a generation of fans who never really got the charms of fun, campy 60s Batman and were never able to reconcile the character with Frank Miller’s grim, gritty approach.

Here’s a secret about Batman: he’s such a resilient character that he can be both the smiling Caped Crusader who shakes Robin’s hand after solving a case and the Darknight Detective who broods in the shadows. He doesn’t have to be both at the same time, but no Serious Batman approach can ever get away from the fact that, ultimately, he’s a dude who dresses up like a bat to scare criminals.

Christopher Nolan is such a fabulous talent that he’s able to pull off a take on the character who ignores his campier roots, but only just. Every element of the movie’s design screams that it’s trying so, so hard to make you take it seriously. It’s the production design equivalent of the old, “they’re not comic books, they’re graphic novels!” retort. The costume keeps the Bat ears but tones everything else down to a dull black. He technically wears a Bat symbol on his chest, but it’s black on black. He has a utility belt, but it’s a tarnished gold and doesn’t really hold many gadgets. The Batmobile – sorry, The Tumbler – is where it breaks. The movie doesn’t want him to have a car so he has a… weird tank thing that jumps? But this is Serious Batman! It has guns and stuff.

Again, Nolan is a great director, so I want to say that I think he does mostly pull this all off. Unfortunately, lesser filmmakers would follow in his footsteps who didn’t get this balance right. The comics, too, have taken things too dark. Last year’s Free Comic Book Day Batman story was literally eight pages of The Joker torturing a guy. A recent Walmart-exclusive Superman story depicted Lois Lane getting murdered over and over.

And, like, I get that the Joel Schumacher’s movies were full camp in a way that audiences rejected. Where Tim Burton’s brand of camp worked wonderfully (at least in his first entry), again we have a case where his successor didn’t understand what parts of the earlier movie’s tone to keep and which to rethink. But look at the Batman: The Brave and the Bold cartoon for a perfect example of how to do The Dark Knight that totally works yet is very different than Batman: The Animated Series. Both approaches work. Judging by the success of Nolan’s films – The Dark Knight broke a lot of records – Nolan was right to set the tone how he did. But somewhere – I don’t just think in my head – there’s a straight line from the sort of entitled fan who got exactly what he wanted in Serious Batman and who, a decade later, threw a fit when The Last Jedi dared to take a different arc than they expected with Luke Skywalker.

Ditko’s design for Spider-Man’s costume is such a classic. It has a longevity and flexibility seen basically nowhere else. Look at how each variation is instantly recognizable as Spidey, yet communicates the personality of the alternate character.

I like this gag from Don Rosa’s “The Magnificent Seven (Minus 4) Caballeros!” This is from the last book of the Don Rosa Library, a 10-volume collection of Rosa’s exemplary work. Vols 4&5 particularly belong in every comics library alongside Watchmen & Dark Knight.

The only reason I had children was to see their reaction to the end of chapter 32 of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. I read it tonight to the little one and it was everything I hoped.

Giant Days is the best comic on the stands right now. Take the latest issue, 45. It’s a follow-on from a one-shot from earlier this month, yet entirely approachable if this were your first issue. Every character that appears feels real and true to themselves. All the jokes land.

Post-TNG Star Trek series grow into themselves well but squander good story options early on. Voyager sped past Maquis-Starfleet crew friction. DS9 could have spent a dozen episodes on Bajor’s hard reconstruction but instead featured forgettable aliens. Enterprise, well… 🖖🏻

Half of helping kids do “Hour of Code” this year is teaching them to blindly click through the blasted new cookie warning. 🙄