Archive for the 'batman' Category

21
Jan
09

Batman #684

If you were on the fence about buying this issue of Batman after two years of non-stop LSD-induced Grant Morrison fun, just take a look at the cover, enjoy it and buy something else. It’s not really worth reading this last part of a two part story trying to wrap things up while extending them at the same time.

Dennis O’Neil was the editor of Batman for something like 15 years through the eighties and nineties(in fact the batman trade I’m reading right now is edited by him) and did a good amount of work writing the book back in the 1970’s before Frank Miller showed up and turned everything on it’s head. I’ve found his 70’s work, which is being reprinted in full this winter in hardcover, to be okay. Not good, not bad, but just…that’ll do, pig. This time around it’s just a step down. Nothing horrible but certainly not really worth your 15 minutes either.

There’s apparently an alternative cover. I liked it more just for the great Nightwing thinks Batman is dead shot.

I can’t decide if it’s O’Neil’s fault or not. The basic idea is to make everyone real sad because post RIP batman might be dead or he might not be. But everyone is sad and lonely and kind of afraid of the future. So in this issue you get the cops being bummed out that they actually have to do their jobs and you get nightwing sulking around, which is a shame because lately I think I’m the only person who sees the amazing potential in Nightwing becoming an astounding interesting character. I think we have one issue of Batman left before all of the bat books go on hiatus until battle for the cowl(which I am very doubtful of) begins. Then we’ll get Andy Kubert and Neil Gaiman on a two part Batman story ripping the title off of an Alan Moore Superman story from the 80’s. I’ll keep buying Batman because I love the character and I’m excited about reading “Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader” and seeing Gaiman write something that isn’t a derivative children’s book that’s actually for high school goth girls.

20
Aug
08

Batman #679

Written by Grant Morrison

Art by Tony Daniel, Sandu Florea and cover by Alex Ross

Part four of Batman: R.I.P. really heats up and brings the reader in by not making any fucking sense.  I have to say, for an issue where I was thinking to myself, “have I ever read an issue of Batman before?”, it was pretty good.  Only Grant Morrison can make you think you don’t know what’s going on when you’ve been consecutively reading Batman for three years without missing a single issue.  It might be because there are so many references to Batman plot lines from 35 years ago, it might be because suddenly Batman is in a purple costume, criminals have taken over the batcave, Alfred might actually be Bruce’s father but probably not, Nightwing is in Arkham asylum, you know, the little things.  Morrison brings the WTF by making huge, impacting situations occur off screen and then mildly referencing them, like when the Bush administration pretends like dumping an olympic size swimming pool of water down a guy’s throat because he was guilty of being Arabic on a Thursday afternoon is something that just happens, like when you take a shit and forget to flush because that article in Variety about Angelina Jolie’s kid was THAT good.

I tend to get sidetracked.  And yes, I will still defend Morrison to every fuckwit von douche who thinks Paul Dini is doing a better job doing Batman stories that accomplish nothing new.  Dini is writing vanilla sex in Detective, Morrison is doing a reach around on PCP, mushrooms, a handful of MDMA with help from a guy in a Godzilla suit, three chimps, four employees of the Jim Rose Circus and Phyllis Diller blown out of her mind of illegal Japanese pain killers with a David Lynch movie blaring in the background.  Morrison is sometimes confusing and the situation is risky but you know Godzilla has that healing love touch.

03
Aug
08

Batman 2: The Joker loves Jolly Ranchers

Barring the fact that the media campaign for this particular release cost more money than Operation: Desert Storm and the advertisement/propaganda charade that has been slowly churning for the past 12 months into an epic that makes the melodrama on myspace look tamer than a Martha Stewart Living episode, I did actually, for the most part, enjoy the film.  

 

As mentioned by Christopher Nolan in his introduction to The Long Halloween: The Absolute Edition, the two main focuses for Dark Knight were derived from the aforementioned Jeph Loeb/Tim Sale collaboration(about the Falcones and, essentially, the potential of Harvey Dent) and Alan Moore’s The Killing Joke, a book more Bat-fans have had jolly masturbation festivals to than any other modern “graphic novel”, and he essentially holds up his end of the bargain.  Though the Falcones are, at most, back-up characters for Ledger’s interesting interpretation of the Joker to kick around and eventually completely anally rape financially and physically.  Instead of focusing on the bigger picture of Loeb’s crime story, lamenting on the almost inescapable grasp the mafia has on Gotham City in Batman’s early days, Nolan uses that story as more of a background to introduce both Harvey Dent as a shining figure of the legal system and Jim Gordon as a cop who really is doing everything he can and is genuinely concerned, believing that Gotham is his, so he desperately wants to change it.  

In this facet of the film, Gary Oldman, who plays a phenomenally shitty curiously retarded and poorly interpreted Sirius Black in the Harry Potter film franchise, really shines as a character actor.  Having been strategically placed in the first of Nolan’s Batman films, Gordon is portrayed much younger by Oldman than the comic book audience is used to.  In Batman Begins Oldman wasn’t terribly good or bad at what he was doing, but the initial seeds for the character to grow into a much more important role in this film were planted and they truly pay off in this film.  During his assumed assassination I felt compelled to care for the character in a way that is rare for a live action role.  Nolan works very hard to establish, through subtle and non-cliche means, that Jim Gordon is a bad ass middle-aged guy who is fine with walking the line between the man and the Batman.  Additionally, Aaron Eckhart really shines as Harvey Dent/Two Face for 20 minutes in a way that I had not expected at all.  If the annoying advertising hadn’t spoiled the fact that Two Face would be in the damned movie, I probably would have been all the more impressed.  Still, Eckhart’s portrayal as a compassionately concerned district attorney, cocky and self-assured but very set in his goals of cleaning things up and making the legal system work in a legit manner once again, is so believable, so real a tangible character that it makes his transformation into Two Face at times disgusting to watch.  One can easily see the juxtaposition of law and lawlessness, order and disorder in his performance, making it hard for the viewer to ultimately find an apparent disgust for Two Face, as he’s really rather earned the right be so ready to shoot someone in the face for what he’s lost – his woman(luckily they’ve fired Katie Holmes and put Maggie Gyllenhal in her place who is considerably less grating and wretched), his body and that nifty coin he treasures – damn near everything.

The other side of Nolan’s promise to make a Batman movie that fans of the comics could follow, partially adapting Moore’s penultimate Joker story, kind of comes through.  I honestly can say that I don’t understand how everyone on earth is coming all over themselves with the postmortem congratulatory insanity.  The creepiness of solemn nodding and “he was great, now he’s dead!” in unison may have ruined an interesting interpretation for me, but I honestly don’t think it’s mind-blowing.  It seems to me that Heath Ledger watched Malcom McDowell’s interpretation of Alex DeLarge in A Clockwork Orange and added a phrenetic love of Jolly Ranchers and throat lozenges.  Certainly better than Nicholson’s cartoonish, almost Chaplin-as-the-tramp-inspired version of the Joker from Tim Burton’s 1999 vision of Gotham City, Ledger’s version wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t the mind-blowing experience early reviews led me it would be.  I do, however, really like the concept of a Joker that is more prone to random acts of violence, extensive planning and a real understanding of existentialism as he’s related to the rest of the world in this film.

That is, after all, the real method behind this movie. The concept of the Joker and Batman as a sort of chicken or the egg question is raised in Alan Moore’s seminal Joker story which greatly lends itself to the mythology of this film.  If there were no Batman, would there be no Joker, or would he just have a free reign of terrorizing people?  The question of if you stop Batman, do you stop the Joker?  An interesting question, as well as the idea that the only way to stop the man is to kill him, but the only person that can kill him is someone as resourceful as Batman and Wonder Woman is busy, so there’s no murdering to be done, therefore he’s just in and out of the system indefinitely.  I think that question of looming morality, the idea of not only can you do the right thing, but what is the right thing, is what makes those of us who don’t go for the Michael Bay intellect deficiency action film actually able to sit through Christian Bale’s horrible strep throat/”dude are you gonna cough that shit up or what” Batman voice.  Though I wasn’t blown away by Ledger’s Joker performance, I liked it and I generally liked the movie as well, but I’m saddened by the fact that we won’t ever get to see Ledger come back as the joker, hopefully to give Batman one of those lozenges he apparently loves so much.

26
Aug
07

Batman #667 & 668

Written by Grant Morrison

Art by J.H. Williams III and Dave Stewart

DC Comics $2.99 

Grant Morrison has made a name for himself in mainstream comic books by taking old ideas that many people have forgotten about, revamping them, exploring old characters and concepts and making them very VERY relevant and fresh to the modern reader.  I’ve noticed that there are a few creators who are interested in old ideas who make them incredibly interesting again.  Alex Ross would obviously be an easy name to come up with when talking about old ideas being recreated.  Morrison’s work on Batman is no different, as far as resurrections of the past, than his work with Uncle Sam or Metal Men.  It’s different, great and pretty fucking entertaining.

Revisiting the Batmen of all nations in what would seem like a weekend getaway for Batman, Robin and a handful of “second rate wannabe Batmen” as Robin put it, Morrison turns this three part arc into a murder mystery weekend with a bunch of incompetent heroes who are past their prime and incredibly suspicious of each other.  It’s incredibly entertaining to see all of the various Batmen from different countries and how some of them resent Batman’s success, but they all have to work together, as they’re trapped on an island with a murderer on the loose.

Williams’ work is immediately satisfying and only gets better upon multiple viewings.  He’s particularly successful at rendering costumes that look like cloth, instead of the weird porno-spray painted bodies that usually dominate superhero comics.  He has a firm grasp on shadows and dark/light balances, which is great because most of this story takes place at night in a big mansion full of old relics and costumes.

Meanwhile, boring comic book nerds everywhere are crying because this story doesn’t have any typical villains and its’ not formulaic enough.  I think it’s fantastic and I think I see where this is leading and if Morrison is planning on a big family get together, it’s going to be one hell of a summer-ending arc.  I’ll also be excited if they keep cranking out two issues a month like this, it’s great for a manic reader like myself.

26
Aug
07

Batman/Lobo: Deadly Serious #1 of 2

Written by, drawn by and cover art by Sam Kieth

DC Comics $5.99 

Batman/Lobo #1

YES!

Okay, so I was really excited when I saw this in my pile on Wednesday.  First of all, I was obsessed with Kieth’s The Maxx when I was younger.  I stopped reading comic books around the age of 16 when I started to become obsessed with music, but I continued to reread the Maxx series and eventually ended up buying a bootlegged version of the television series from Ebay.  It was well worth it.  I had noticed though, in my previous two years of rediscovering comic books, that Sam Kieth seemed to be missing entirely from the scene, but Jim Lee, the Kuberts, Chris Claremont and most of the people who were making my favorite books in the nineties.

So, again, I was seriously fucking jazzed when I saw this in Previews a few months back.  It comes at a time when I’ve been reading Grant Morrison Batman for almost a year, so I feel like I’m not at a point where Batman is strange territory for me.  Another great writer/artist on a character I’ve come to like quite a bit.  Excellent.

So, Sam Kieth, Batman, Lobo, Spaceships, Alien disease that makes women turn into homicidal maniacs, explosions, lots of guns, aliens.  As long as you aren’t expecting a super serious Batman story, this is made of 100% win.  Batman, against his will, is brought to a spaceship light years from earth to stop a disease that makes women act out and go on insane killing sprees.  All the men have left the ship and so all of these women are being killed.  Kieth’s women are, of course, beautiful and the story is fun as well as morbidly funny.  Of course, Lobo just happens to be there for some reason, trying to make some money.

Although this is only a two issue series, it’s being published in the prestige format, so each issue is 48 pages.  That means this won’t be a short little story, it will be almost 100 pages, easily the size of four or five issues published as a regular comic series.  I think it’s going to be a blast.

26
Aug
07

Cat Woman #70(and 69 too)

Written by Will Pfeifer

Art by David and Alvaro Lopez

Cover art by Adam Hughes

DC Comics $2.99 

Checking out a new book is incredibly fun for a few reasons that don’t really transfer to an old favorite.  First off, you don’t actually know what you’re getting into.  If you’re familiar with the writer, in this case, Pfeifer is the lead writer of the wonderful DC mini-series that wraps up next week, Amazons Attack, which I’ve been reading.  So I had an idea what I was getting into, strong characterization based around solid action scenes and a script that relies on a well-balanced mix of dialog boxes and scenes that make effective use of an action-based story.  I also knew David Lopez from the first 20 issues of Fallen Angel, back when it was being put out by DC Comics.  I knew his pencils were a good match for a strong writer because they tend to be mild and mellow, instead of screaming for attention, they add to the overall story without really grabbing the reader with the tackiness that some pencilers for superhero books tend to use.  So, I had an idea that this book had the potential to be pretty entertaining.  Plus, this Adam Hughes cover didn’t hurt.

cover to catwoman #70

I really love that cover, it’s beautiful and the simple background makes her stand out even more.  That image is from the official DC page about the comic, which is slightly different from the final product that actually appears on the issue I have.  But you get the picture.  I went and looked up Adam Hughes and realized I have a whole bunch of covers by him and I generally really enjoy his work.  And he has a thing for big breasts, in case you didn’t notice.  I really like the shades of light reflecting off of the costume, so you can tell it’s leather and not spandex, the detail of the zipper, the goggles and the fact that there’s actual detail to her face, which makes her look like a real person, not just a thieving sex symbol.

The issue ended up being an Amazons tie-in about Selina’s workings with the Bana, the Amazon offshoot terrorist group.  It was really good.  I found out that she had a kid and had semi-retired from crime, had become friends with Batman and had allied herself on the side of the heroes since the Amazonian war had begun in the states.  The issue relied heavily on dialog boxes and let Selina narrate the story in reverse, which was an interesting change.  I liked it enough to go  out and pick up the issue before, which was also good and featured all of the same talent, down to another Hughes cover.

I think I’ll be reading this on a regular schedule if this book continues to be as entertaining for a few more issues.

11
Aug
07

Batman #666

Written by Grant Morrison

Andy Kubert and Jesse Delperdang

DC Comics $2.99 

7290_400x600.jpg

You have to give credit to Grant Morrison for doing what he thinks is good for the story, despite how out there it seems.  I can’t imagine trying to pitch this idea to DC.  15 years from now Bruce Wayne has been murdered, Barbra Gordon is the commissioner of police and wheelchair bound, Damien Wayne has taken up the mask of Batman to avenge his father and rebel against his plotting mother and there are a series of other Batman, one of who is likely to be Dick Grayson, who MAY have killed Bruce Wayne, and the clock is ticking down to armageddon.  And they bought it.

I really liked this, it was a blast to read, it looked great and it has the set up to be an epic story in a not too distant future.  But there’s no clear idea where the story will pick back up.  Next issue starts the Batman of all nations three part story, so I hope this wasn’t a well-thought one shot about the end of days to coincide with the adorable issue number.  It was really good, but I hope Morrison actually does something with this, or else it would be a serious waste of effort and a good idea.  I had hoped that the entire Batman and son storyline was a lot bigger than those four issues.