Today's column marks a special milestone for me.
By my count, today's installment of "Nerding Out" is my 50th for The Post-Journal. That's right, a total of 50 of these have been printed throughout the years - and it has been years!
Four to be exact.
Nerding Out With Nick Dean
I had to look back into the archives for the date, but my first "Nerding Out" column printed Sunday, Aug. 2, 2009. And what was that first installment about? Why, Batman, of course!
It's been a long, strange trip, but I'm still going strong. And comic books continue to be a massive hobby/interest for so many people - and more like a passion for others. Plus, more and more it seems that comic books are the basis for so many of the stories we see in film and on television.
So here's to the start of another year writing "Nerding Out." There's no shortage of topics on the horizon.
As with any booming industry, there are Internet news sites about comic books which deliver daily news about characters, creators, movies and television.
For this column, however, I only get to write about a few of the things which most interested me during the course of the month.
And with comic books coming out weekly, it should be no surprise that my interest in the medium has bubbled over into another forum.
What am I talking about? A weekly radio show, that's what I'm talking about.
The idea was proposed by two fellow local comics enthusiasts a few weeks back and, after some time planning and discussing, we now already have one episode in the can.
You can hear us locally on WRFA 107.9 FM.
Our first episode aired this past Tuesday at 7 p.m. We call it the "WNY Superior Comics Podcast," borrowing the term "Superior" from the title of a number of comics on the shelves these days - like "Spectacular," "Amazing" and "Uncanny" before it.
The bulk of the credit for getting the show off the ground goes to both Adam Melquist and Jason Sample, who proposed the idea and formulated a plan for getting it on the air. Now you can hear the three of us talk weekly about comic books, not only on WRFA, but whenever you want - as the show is available for download as a podcast.
Since the show's really a roundtable of sorts, I wanted to get another person's opinion about it in today's column, so I asked Sample for a quote and he gave me the following:
"Two of my biggest passions are comic books and radio. To finally have the opportunity to combine them both is a dream come true.
"Plus I get to talk about comics with two guys who are just as passionate about the subject as I am.
"I'm really excited about this project and encourage comic fans to check it out."
For more about the radio show or to download the podcast, visit Facebook.com/ WNYSuperiorComics.
BEWARE THE BATMAN
Most months in this column I talk primarily about the actual, physical print comic books available for sale.
Today, though, I want to talk about "Beware The Batman" - the new DC series on Cartoon Network.
A friend mentioned the show to me back when it debuted back in July and I've been hooked ever since.
The new cartoon's different for a Batman cartoon. It's not anything like the old "Batman: The Animated Series," which is good for a new series - as it serves to make the show interesting right off the bat, no pun intended.
First off, the cartoon is completely computer-generated, which took a little getting used to in terms of watching. It's a slick style, no doubt, just a little bit different from how most of us are used to seeing Batman animated.
Then there's another (albeit small) stumbling block when getting started with the series - the voice actors.
This isn't Kevin Conroy as Batman.
This isn't like any other Alfred you've ever heard.
Get all of that out of your head.
The show's really quite good, and I've taken the long way around in terms of getting to this point.
It's just worth prefacing that new viewers should come in with an open mind and not expecting any of DC's animated Batman works of the past.
In terms of plot, "Beware The Batman" is set early on in Bruce Wayne's war on crime. It's sort of a "Year One" take on the character, but not in the Frank Miller way.
For this show, Alfred has a larger and more involved role as a mentor to the young detective. He's ex-MI6 in the cartoon, a former Secret Intelligence Service agent.
And it's from this past that Alfred finds Bruce a driver/bodyguard, a woman named Tatsu Yamashiro - otherwise known as Katana.
Perhaps because of all these quirks and changes, the show succeeds creating its own little niche in the Batman universe. I'm loving it.
And my favorite part so far is the villains.
The bulk of the bad guys being used as characters in the show aren't your typical television and movie villains.
Instead, the show's creators have opted for characters such as Anarchy, Professor Pyg, Magpie, Lady Shiva and more. There's no Joker, Riddler, Penguin or Mr. Freeze in sight.
Even the League of Assassins is surprisingly mentioned without the name Talia al Ghul attached.
The series premiered on Cartoon Network on July 13 and is still airing weekly.
Sticking with the animated theme of this month's column, DC's new direct to DVD cartoon "Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox" is out and available for purchase.
The animated feature is an adaptation of the comic series which led up to the creation of The New 52.
Barry Allen is the main protagonist here (he's The Flash, in case you didn't know).
However, besides his quest in the book to set the world right, there's another underlying impetus which spurs on the story - and that's the "Flashpoint" version of Batman. Yes, this column's always so Batman heavy.
I'll talk more Marvel next month.
Unlike some of the other recent animated feature's, "Flashpoint" is set in an entirely different DC Universe.
Because of that, new readers and old alike are coming in pretty much on the same page - which makes it an ideal watch for either the casual fan or the hardcore nerd.
At the start, Flash wakes up in a world where he no longer has super powers. And moreover, all the superheroes and villains he once knew are now slightly different.
Aquaman and Atlantis are waging a war against Wonder Woman and her Amazonians that's tearing the world apart - and that's just the start.
Flash not only has to figure out what's happening, but has to regain his powers and return to the world he once knew.
In the first installment of our local podcast about comics, one of the other WNY SCP guys asks me Aquaman's real name. Do you know it?
Skip to the "Assorted Etceteras" section at the end of this month's column for the answer.
Big things are afoot in the comics world.
The end of DC's "Trinity War" this past week rolls right in to September's Villains Month for the company, when all the publisher's regular titles will be taken over by the bad guys.
Over at Marvel there's "Thanos Rising," "Infinity," "Wolverine Max" and a new arc starting in "Deadpool" to look forward to.
Plus, with the "Guardians of the Galaxy" hype ramping up, Marvel just released a new Rocket Raccoon trade paperback.
He's a raccoon with a gun, people!
This stuff's comic book gold!
Time to wrap up for this month.
So, in answer to the trivia question, Arthur Curry is the real name that Aquaman goes by.
More from me in a month's time.
Nerding Out With Nick Dean is a monthly column about comic books, movies and more. For more, visit NerdingOutWithNickDean.blog spot.com.