The Wonderful World of Was: March
The Batman, Ancient Greeks, smartworld, trying to avoid focusing on Ukraine, and other shit
Happy Batman month!
Okay, maybe I’m getting a little ahead of myself here…
Welcome to the March edition of the Wonderful World of Was. If you saw your inbox light up and grumbled because it’s been under a month since the last one, rest assured: these are monthly; I’m just scheduling them for the first Saturday of the month (Australia time, for anyone receiving this on a Friday).
It is indeed Batman month, with The Batman having just been released. I was lucky enough to catch an advance screening (if only slightly early) on Wednesday, so I have a little bit to say about the first of the three filmic Batmen we’ll be seeing this year below.
But, really, it feels a little crass talking about excitement for a movie given current events; ‘current events’ being a polite euphemism for Russia’s ongoing invasion and outright assault on Ukraine. My heart breaks for Ukraine, and although it seems unlikely and increasingly bleak, I’m hoping this thing ends, and I hope it ends quickly. I won’t be going into detail here about those horrendous events; there are people far more qualified than me who are doing that far better than I ever could. I do have an article to share about Ukraine’s President, Volodomyr Zelenskiy to share, though.
If you’d prefer not to read this lighthearted newsletter in light of world events, I completely understand: feel free to close this window; no hard feelings.
If you’re still with me, cool: I have a bit to talk about, and it isn’t all related to The Batman, honest. Some of it’s about my writing, which is why I’m here, and some of it’s just random stuff that I find interesting, and hope you will too.
February was a busy month for me. I had a number of books to read and reviews to write (most of which are now available to read, except for a series of five books the author decided to remove from publication and request I don’t use; a little frustrating, if I’m honest with you).
May aim for February was to edit and rewrite through to the end of Till Death Do Us Party Chapter 10 (for a rundown on that, check out last month’s newsletter—thanks to the magic of Substack, it’s online for anyone who missed it!). I eclipsed that; making it through to Chapter 20’s rewrites, so I’m not complaining about that at all. What was going to be seven chapters, ended up as seventeen chapters (but if I’m going to split hairs, I cut one of them into two halves, so it was kinda sorta only sixteen). That’s over double as much as my goal.
This leaves me with just fifteen chapters left to rewrite in the current draft, so damn it: I’m aiming to get through these by the end of March. Be sure to tune in next month to find out if this was a spectacular fail or not!
What makes this more impressive is, in addition to my reviews and nine ten extra chapters, I also wrote a short story! The Retirement Plan is my latest smartworld short (here’s a newsletter exclusive: I spell ‘smartworld’ with a lowercase ‘s’ in an attempt to be cool), set in a dystopian cyberpunk future. Because what better way to complain about the world we live in than to extrapolate a potential future based on our failings?
I have a tease below, and these will keep my Twitter daily up until its release on Friday, so be sure to follow @WasAuthor, because I wouldn’t be doing my job if I wasn’t shamelessly pimping my shit. And while I’m pimping my shit, check out my other smartworld shorts while biding your time, waiting for The Retirement Plan.
But how did I go in February?
All in all, I wrote 36,221 words and spent 55 hours, 45 minute editing: my second most productive month writing ever, only beat by November when I drafted a book for NaNoWriMo! For the year so far, that’s 59,288 words and 100 hours, 30 minutes editing. Maybe I need to get out more.
But I did get out! And not just to The Batman. Thanks to my best mate (anyone outside Australia too young to remember Crocodile Dundee, ‘mate’ is Aussie for friend), I got out to see the Ancient Greeks exhibition, currently on at the National Museum Australia (thanks to a generous loan from the British Museum).
It’s a fantastic exhibition with artefacts from a couple of millennia ago, and for anybody who enjoys history, it is an absolutely fantastic look at ancient Greek history, including their warriors, their Olympians, their heroes, their mythology, the birth of democracy, and even the jewellery from the era.
But if that’s too high brow for you, it’s ancient Greece, so you can always giggle at all the naked statues.
If the exhibition is a little too much of a commute, you can always settle for the couple of photos I’m sharing here (of, shit, about two hundred that I took), and check out the NMA website.
What? A superhero that isn’t Batman? Well, I’m currently rereading some great Wonder Woman comics, and it makes a better transition from ancient Greece, given her basis in Greek mythology. Rest assured, I’ll talk about The Batman next, because I’ll transition from superheroes to more superheroes.
After catching up on Greg Rucka’s “Rebirth” (read: a shameless DC Comics marketing stunt) Wonder Woman run last year, and enjoying it, I thought I’d jump back to his early 2000s run on Wonder Woman. I’m making my way through it now, and it’s absolutely great, and about my favourite take on the character, given its mix of Greek mythology, which it goes fairly heavily with, its politics—and it’s sad to see how timely it still is with people refusing to tolerate differences in religion, and how it’s still an affront to family values—and politics among the Greek Pantheon.
If that doesn’t grab you, the Minotaur’s brother and chef extraordinaire, Ferdinand, will. If you enjoy superheroes, takes on Greek mythology, or hell, if you dug either of the recent Wonder Woman movies, grab copies of Wonder Woman by Greg Rucka, volumes 1, 2 and 3 (I’d provide the Comixology links, but the recent changes to that app are a world of controversy I won’t wade into here).
Well, it took me close to a thousand words, but I got here! I’ve been pretty excited about this movie: Matt Reeves did a phenomenal job directing the last two Planet of the Apes movies, and in case my excitement didn’t give it away, I’m a pretty big Batman fan.
And it’s not like you get to see Batman on film much; Robert Pattinson is the first of only three Batmen we’ll get to see on the big screen this year, thanks to the best Batman (Michael Keaton) and the best Batman since Christian Bale (Ben Affleck) rocking up in The Flash. And that’s assuming—which I’d wager is a dumb fucking assumption—that DC League of Super-Pets doesn’t feature Batman, and only gives us his pet dog.
If you’ve seen the trailers for The Batman, you’d be forgiven for thinking the film is giving fans an emo Batman backed by Nirvana. And if you’ve seen The Batman, you’d know the film has given fans an emo Batman backed by Nirvana. But more than that, this is a three hour long detective movie with some action sequences thrown in for good measure.
For a tentpole movie, it is very light on action, but what we have is hard, with every punch thrown being like it connects. There are a couple of standout sequences here, which feel like nothing else you’d find in an action movie, least of all a superhero movie.
Following Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy, The Batman continues down the path of making Batman movies as realistic as they can, doing their best to hide the fact that these are superhero movies. While I would love to see someone take on Batman and present him as a superhero, and as much as that is most definitely not this movie, I found myself enjoying it.
Matt Reeves’ directing is spectacular, which should come as no surprise to anybody who has seen any of his movies, and Michael Giannachino’s score is arresting.
If you still think of Twilight when you hear Robert Pattinson’s name, rest assured he doesn’t sparkle here. Instead, he provides a great performance as a haunted, disturbed man taking out his issues by beating the absolute shit out of people. Paul Dano’s Riddler is more disturbed again, providing an unhinged Riddler. Zoë Kravitz, Colin Farrell and Jeffrey Wright are pitch perfect in their roles as Catwoman, the Penguin, and Lieutenant (not yet Commissioner) Gordon. But the MVP surely has to be Peter Sarsgaard in his minor role as Gil Colson.
Do I recommend it? Hell yeah. But I’m also a ridiculous Bat-fan. Should you take the kids? Hell, no. It may be a PG-13 (M here in Australia) movie, but between the violence on screen and some disturbed performances, I don’t think most kids would take to it particularly well… and that’s before we even talk about if they have the attention to sit through a three hour long detective movie without the flamboyance you would find in an MCU movie.
Can I say it beats The Dark Knight? No, but I’d say it beats the other two movies in that trilogy.
But how big a Batman fan is Was? Really?
Okay, by my rough count, I have seen fifty-four movies either starring, or prominently featuring Batman. And I can guarantee there are a few more that I’ve forgotten. And I own fifty-three of these; The Batman isn’t available to buy yet. But I own more than one copy of a number of them, so either that evens things out, or I just embarrassed myself further. I own thousands of Batman comics I won’t be counting, and I have watched the entire run of every Batman TV series (and the movie serials), except Gotham. Even a Bat-stan has to have standards, you know.
So, if you work for DC, know anybody who works for DC, or just has connections, be a pal and send them this newsletter. With all their Bat-output, surely they need a new writer for one of their titles. And I’ll talk to anybody at Warner Bros, too; The Batman has just hit, so I’m guessing they need someone to get a head start on their next reboot. I can’t guarantee I won’t bring back the Bat-nipples, but if I do, I can guarantee they’ll be the best damn Bat-nipples you ever did see.
I’m not just a Batman fan; I’m also a Foo Fighters fan. Don’t worry, I’m not going to embarrass myself further by dedicating a section to how obsessed over Foo Fighters I am. The only musician I’m ever at risk of doing that for is David Bowie, and I can’t promise I’ll never get there.
Foo Fighters also have a movie out, Studio 666. I haven’t caught it yet (and likely won’t at the cinema), but something about the Foo Fighters starring in a horror movie is infinitely enticing. Dave Grohl always makes for a fun interview subject (and autobiographer—in last month’s newsletter, I declared my love for The Storyteller), and this interview he gave to promote his little movie is well worth a read, so why not take a look?
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is terrifying. It’s depressing. It’s absolutely horrifying, and this is coming from somebody living well and truly outside of the warzone. Someone who isn’t living outside the warzone, and is dealing with this every day, and showing true courage while doing so, is Ukrainian President, Volodomyr Zelenskiy.
Before ascending to his role in 2019, he was best known in his homeland for being a comic actor. This article from The Guardian is a great piece about the man and his history. It’s some light reading about someone who is showing a great deal of bravery in the direst of circumstances.
That’s a Wrap
If you’ve made it this far, thanks for your time. If you have any suggestions about what you’d like to see in future months, please let me know. Until next month!