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Tag Archive: Batman


Crisis in a Half Shell is coming.

Nobody draws a tougher, more badass Batman than Freddie Williams II, and nothing shows that more than a trove of character images released this week from DC Comics and IDW Publishing for the next chapter in the artist’s series with writer James Tynion IV, the epic crossover Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  If you haven’t yet picked up the first two volumes, go out and get Volume One here and Volume Two here (then really dig into Williams’ work in the Director’s Cut here).  Nobody draws a better Batman in these 80 years of cowls and capes than Williams, and nothing will take you back like this series to Kevin Eastman′s first images of those crime fighting turtles introduced 35 years ago.

Thirteen new images by Williams provide a tease into what’s to come next month as Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Crisis in a Half Shell–the title disclosed by Tynion on his Twitter feed Friday–arrives in comic book stores.

  

Yes, that’s Splinter as Alfred.  And the Turtles become a league of Robins: Raphael as Red Hood/Jason Todd, Leonardo as Dick Grayson/Nightwing, Donatello as Red Robin/Tim Drake, and Michelangelo as Damian Wayne.  And it doesn’t stop there.  Williams merged Shredder with the Joker (complete with smiling minion goons, not as the Foot Clan, but the Smile Clan), Rocksteady into Clayface, Bebop into Killer Croc, and DC Comics super villain Anti-Monitor has been fused with TMNT supervillain Krang.

Take a look at these great character designs by Freddie Williams II:

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It’s a twofold celebration:  It’s not only the 80th anniversary of the first appearance of Batman, it’s also the 30th anniversary of director Tim Burton’s visionary film, 1989’s Batman, starring Michael Keaton, Jack Nicholson, and Kim Basinger.  On this year’s Free Comic Book Day, May 4, Fathom Events has pulled together the first of the four original Warner Brothers Batman movies: Burton’s Batman and Batman Returns, and Joel Schumacher’s Batman Forever and Batman and Robin.  The four Bat-films will screen over four days as part of Fathom Events’ Batman 80th anniversary marathon.

My sister and I saw Batman on its opening night in June 1989, and stayed in our seats to watch it again.  The crowd erupted at every scene that revealed something iconic from the comics, but nothing compared to the ovation with the first appearance of the new Batmobile.  The excitement makes sense–audiences hadn’t been dazzled with superheroes on the screen in this way since Christopher Reeve appeared in 1977’s Superman, more than a decade before.  On the heels of Frank Miller’s success with the surprisingly dark and gritty four-issue mini-series The Dark Knight Returns in 1986, it was still a surprise when audiences got their first glimpses at Burton’s similarly dark, Gothic vision for the film.  His choice of then comedic actor Michael Keaton for Bruce Wayne and Batman drew the same kind of ire as any outside-the-box announcement today.  But Keaton was trying to show he had a different side, as demonstrated by his recent dark and outrageous role in Beetlejuice followed by his dramatic film Clean and Sober.  As for Jack Nicholson, everyone just wanted to seem him play the role his smile was made for, as the crazed, maniacal, murderous jokester The Joker.

So if you missed them the first time, you get Danny Elfman′s defining theme, plus Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer, and George Clooney as Batman, Alicia Silverstone as Batgirl, Chris O’Donnell as Robin, plus an arsenal of villains: Jack Nicholson as The Joker plus Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman, Danny DeVito as The Penguin, Jim Carrey as The Riddler, Tommy Lee Jones as Two-Face, Uma Thurman as Poison Ivy, and Arnold Schwarzenegger as Mr. Freeze.  And all four movies have in common Michael Gough as Alfred and Pat Hingle as Commissioner Gordon.

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We’ve had a great response here at borg to our complete checklist of the variant covers for the 80th anniversary of Batman and benchmark 1000th issue of his long-standing comic book series, Detective Comics Check it out here if you missed it.  The cover art, especially when merged with the variety of historical and modern title art and legends, makes for one attractive looking book, whichever copy you go for.  At least one of the ten main covers will provide a dose of nostalgia and excitement for any Batman fan.  But for $9.99 is it worth the price?  Can you tell the book by its 84 covers?

Incorporating eleven short stories and three pin-ups with a variety of stories, themes, and eras, this anthology is tilted in favor of the modern dark knight detective over the versions of the character from his first decades in print (Batman TV fans have several Batman ’66 comic book series to turn to for the lighter fare).  Is the issue epic?  That’s in the eye of the beholder.  Groundbreaking?  Probably not.  But it’s a fun read, and using mixed pairs of writers and artists–a few classic pairs and a few nice change-ups from then and now–it’s a great exercise in searching out what works and what works really well for DC Comics’ editorial department.  Love a particular story or visual style?  Surprise–you the reader now have new creators to keep an eye on in future series.

Becky Cloonan’s Batman from Detective Comics #1000.

You might find your next favorite creators in “Batman’s Longest Case,” with writer Scott Snyder and artists Greg Capullo and Jonathan Glapion, the kind of story you think of when you see Batman as master detective.  Writer Kevin Smith pulled out the stops for his team-up with Jim Lee and Scott Williams in “Manufacture for Use,” including one of those great splash pages Lee/Williams fans can’t get enough of.  Artist Becky Cloonan delivered the biggest visual win with a flawless Batman: Year One-inspired Frank Miller style in one panel and a cool Bernie Wrightson caped crusader in another, matched nicely with Jordie Bellaire‘s colors in the story “The Batman’s Design.”  Tight writing and story make for an exceptional contribution from writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Alex Maleev called “I Know,” probably the best writing of the book.  I’ll admit I was hoping for a Jim Aparo, Gene Colan, or Marv Wolfman homage (they defined the look of the Batman of my youth), but it wasn’t to be this time.  But based on this issue, who would I like to see in an ongoing monthly?  Brian Michael Bendis and Becky Cloonan.  And my favorite part of the book?  That goes to Mikel Janin‘s take on Batman with Joker and the Riddler in his one-page pin-up, which stopped me in my tracks, and should have been a variant cover option.  More, please!

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Much like Hergé and his Tintin and Christin and Mézières’ Valerian and Laureline, another story read by millions of Europeans in the 20th century but overlooked by the masses in America is finally making its way overseas.  This time its the villain Fantômas who is coming to America, the star of a series of some 43 novels and 15 films, a popular crime novel readers in Europe have flocked to read about beginning in 1911 with Marcel Allain and Pierre Souverstre‘s team-written novel Fantômas, followed by a succession of comics and other adaptations.  Writer Olivier Bocquet and artist Julie Rocheleau pulled ideas from the original novel series for their award-winning 2013 work, The Wrath of Fantômas, which is being released in an English translation for the first time tomorrow.

First previewed by Titan Comics at the Diamond Retailer Lunch at San Diego Comic-Con last year, The Wrath of Fantômas is steeped in literary history.  The masked, black-gloved Fantômas has been said to have inspired the 1930s comic strip character The Phantom (1936), who in turn inspired Batman (1939), but Fantômas isn’t the first superhero character.  That designation traditionally goes to the title hero of Baroness Orczy’s The Scarlet Pimpernel, created a few years earlier in 1905, who inspired, in turn, Zorro in 1919.  But it won’t take long for readers to pick up the same disdain for corrupted governments and leaders throughout the 19th and 20th centuries from the vantages of Fantômas, Sir Percy Blakeney, and others, that continued to spread across the world, reflected well into the 20th century with anti-heroes like the Guy Fawkes-masked V in Alan Moore’s V for Vendetta.

Fantômas is pursued by the fiercely zealous and savvy Inspector Juve, a character that critic and author Kim Newman has cited as the inspiration for Inspector Clouseau in The Pink Panther series.  Juve is as determined as Javert, and Victor Hugo’s chief antagonist from 1862’s Les Misérables was no doubt an inspiration for Juve–he’s Javert seen as noble and loyal, but also just, heroic, and good.  His nemesis Fantômas is merciless toward his targets and in his methods, killing for vengeance, and seemingly for no reason, and no woman or child or man is out-of-bounds for his fury.

Here is a preview:

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Review by C.J. Bunce

The third book in the new series of hardcover novels based on Batman stories from DC Comics, following The Killing Joke (reviewed earlier here at borg) and the Harley Quinn story Mad Love (reviewed here) is on its way to your comic book shop and other bookstores.  The Court of Owls is relatively new to Batman and DC Comics.  It’s a storyline that emerged from the New 52, the big DC reboot from seven years ago, created in the pages of Batman comics from writer Scott Snyder and artist Greg Capullo.  Just as DC was re-creating origin stories and restarting some story lines for various characters, The Court of Owls became the latest subversive crime unit, a mix of a secret society like Skull & Bones and the mid-century Mob, infiltrating every part of Gotham City, controlling everything from the police to the banks, business, and the government.  It was an entirely new creation, so Snyder was challenged with establishing a foundation of events no reader had encountered in Batman’s then 72 years, but thenceforth became a part of established Gotham City history and lore.  This is the focus of a new novel edition of the storyline, Batman: The Court of Owls, written by tie-in author Greg Cox.

People are catching fire, human spontaneous combustion style, across Gotham.  As Bruce Wayne aka Batman investigates with Commissioner Gordon, it becomes clear crime scene information is similar to crimes of record from Batman’s past sleuthing.  An element is common among the remains, tying these deaths to a secret society that Batman previously encountered and confronted in the underground Labyrinth lair–The Court of Owls.  The Court of Owls consists of a small but far-reaching group of the wealthy and powerful who meet in secret and wear a sort of Eyes Wide Shut face mask system, and their henchmen, called Talons, also wear masks, and possess unnatural regenerative qualities.  They are fierce and possibly unbeatable.  Enter the missing Joanna Lee, rescued in a shoot-out in Gotham years ago by Batman, she was an art history student studying a historic Gotham sculptor when she vanished.  As Bruce, butler Alfred, and ally Barbara “Batgirl” Gordon piece together the history of the city and this sculptor’s strangely pervasive art, they learn the impossible has happened: This 19th century artist created works depicting future events decades before they happened.  What they have in common opens up a past that was in front of Bruce Wayne all his life.

As a standalone novel, Batman: The Court of Owls is a solid, worthy Batman story, a complete adventure that doesn’t require much prior knowledge from the reader.  It’s not an adaptation of the New 52 story, but incorporates various elements from the original, comic book version of The Court of Owls story, plus elements from related stories, Night of the Owls, City of the Owls, Fall of the Owls, and Scourge of the Owls

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A new book is bringing classic projector and transparency technology to 21st century kids.  It’s Batman Flashlight Projections: Heroes and Villains, a new interactive activity book from publisher Insight Kids.  For generations boys and girls used flashlights for night-time fun.  Who hasn’t made animal silhouettes with their hands with lights and shadow, with sun through a window, or via the light from a campfire at night?

Years ago, Kenner’s Give-a-Show Projector was among the most sought after toys for kids, allowing you to place slides in a viewer, backed by a powerful (and sometimes not-so-powerful) light source.  Star Wars, Doctor Who, Yogi Bear, Tom & Jerry, Speed Racer, Fat Albert, Jonny Quest, Popeye, Disney movies, and yes, Batman, all were available in projectable slide form for kids.  Beginning in the 1970s virtually every TV and movie franchise was available for similar viewing via View-Master’s battery-powered projector.  The same effect can be found using the transparent images in Batman Flashlight Projections: Heroes and Villains.

 

Simply use a flashlight to read along and project Batman scenes from the book onto any wall or ceiling.  It works shone against nearly any surface.  If you don’t have a flashlight–and even if you do–you may be better off with your mobile phone flashlight, which probably packs more light power than a standard home flashlight.  With a strong light the images appear with even greater clarity than pictured above, even at 6-10 feet away.  And one page has a transparency that is blank, so kids can make their own scenes by using their own non-permanent, dry-erase marker.

Here is a preview of some of the images you’ll find in the book, courtesy of the publisher:

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Review by C.J. Bunce

If you’ve been looking for your next retro fix, this may be it.  Archie Comics and DC Comics is bringing nostalgia into a new crossover arriving in comic book stores today with Archie Meets Batman ’66.  Two characters first seen in 1939–and never before have they appeared together!  A battle in Gotham City extends its reach into Riverdale—with Mr. Lodge becoming Public Enemy #1 of the dynamic duo.  And it’s up to Veronica to recruit some help and place a call… to the Batcave.  Written by Jeff Parker and Michael Moreci with art by Dan Parent, J. Bone, Kelly Fitzpatrick, and Jack Morelli.

This new story is in the style of the opening title credits of the pop culture favorite 1960s live-action Batman series and the animated series Superfriends.  And it’s an even bigger series than you might think, with its first issue full of not only the Archie gang and Batman and Robin.  You’re going to find several of your favorite characters from the 1966 TV series make appearances.  The artists have all emulated that over-the-top BAM! POW! variety of comic book goodness.  Yes, we’re talking the return of the Batusi.  Check out a preview to Issue #1 below courtesy of Archie Comics.  Keep an eye out for a host of covers for this issue from Michael and Laura Allred, Derek Charm, Francesco Francavilla, Sandy Jarrell and Kelly Fitzpatrick, Dan Parent, J. Bone, and Rosario “Tito” Peña, and Ty Templeton.

    

Archie Comics plans to have a big presence at San Diego Comic-Con this week, focused on the hit CW television series Riverdale.  Fourteen cast members from the series will be pictured on hotel keycards across town.  With more than 40,000 keys created for the week, visitors will find these unique collectibles at nearly 40 San Diego hotels.  Check your keycards for Archie Andrews (K.J. Apa), Jughead Jones (Cole Sprouse), Betty Cooper (Lili Reinhart), Veronica Lodge (Camila Mendes), Alice Cooper (Mädchen Amick), Fred Andrews (Luke Perry), Hermione Lodge (Marisol Nichols), Hiram Lodge (Mark Consuelos), Cheryl Blossom (Madelaine Petsch), Josie McCoy (Ashleigh Murray), Kevin Keller (Casey Cott), F.P. Jones (Skeet Ulrich), Reggie Mantle (Charles Melton), and Toni Topaz (Vanessa Morgan).

As promised, here’s your preview of Archie Meets Batman ’66, Issue #1:

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Review by C.J. Bunce

One of the least discussed areas of television is local television–those productions going back to the beginning of television and still a fixture even of small markets around the United States.  Even big city networks and cable channels sprouted out of the success of local personalities or shows, as found in places like Chicago’s WGN, Kansas City 41, and Atlanta’s TBS.  For parts of four decades, if you lived or visited Iowa or the greater reach of its local NBC affiliate, you would have been introduced to The Floppy Show.  The Floppy Show was a creation of World War II veteran Duane Ellett, a young Drake University graduate who bridged a career as a voice over the air and then a familiar face in black and white in the late 1950s as television became widespread.   At the center of the show was Floppy, a wooden puppet with a red sweater with holding his trusty bone, who would come to be known by multiple generations of fans.  Floppy and Ellett are the subject of a new book by professor, broadcaster, and historian Jeff Stein, titled The Floppy Show.

Since Ellett’s death in the 1980s, Floppy, the famous dog in the box, was displayed at the State Historical Museum in Des Moines for 20 years, followed by a brief stint at the Iowa State Fairgrounds.  It’s a testament to Ellett and his creation that their beloved fans never wavered–these exhibits became hallowed ground, the kind of quiet spot to revisit one’s youth for a mix of reflection and nostalgia.  Of course The Floppy Show was only one of hundreds of similar shows that came and went across America over the decades, but author Stein showcases the history of an important area of television in this singular show.  Working with WHO-TV and the archives of Ellett’s family, Stein researched videotapes, film, marketing materials, and photographs and pulled out more than 180 images that reveal a changing America from 1957 to 1987.

At the same time Jim Henson and his Muppets were first introduced on a local Washington, DC show, Ellett was asked to create a puppet for the show Pet Corner, a local TV program hosted by the Animal Rescue League where viewers would meet local stray dogs and cats, and hopefully adopt them.  Floppy was created to help teach kids how to care for animals, in the vein of shows like the contemporary national programs Captain Kangaroo and Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood Floppy’s popularity took off and he soon had his own show at WHO-TV.  For most of its memorable years the show featured Floppy and Ellett introducing cartoon segments like Popeye and Looney Tunes, and the big deal for kids was the live studio segment where kids (including your humble editor minus 40 years or so) appeared on-air, beeping Floppy’s nose, telling jokes, and getting a sack with a bottle of Mountain Dew, a bag of Hyland potato chips, and a photo of Floppy.  My joke?  “What’s the biggest can in the world?”  Answer: “I forget.” Quietly prompted by the kindly moustached fellow in the leisure suit, I blurted out “Canada!”  Guest stars on the show visiting the local NBC affiliate included Adam West in full Batman garb.

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Tonight the intrepid Winchester brothers take a bold step into one of the few paranormal realms they haven’t yet visited:  the animated world of the original Scooby Gang and their Mystery Machine, as Supernatural enters its strangest crossover yet Will some villainous ogre be unmasked by film’s end and say that famous phrase, “I would have gotten away with it, too, if it hadn’t been for you meddling kids!”?  Who wouldn’t want to see Sam and Dean join forces to sleuth out a mystery with Shaggy, Scoob, Daphne, Velma, and Fred?

Zoinks!

Probably no other long-surviving television series has delivered for its fans as much as Supernatural, so witnessing the monster-hunting brothers add a wacky animated mystery to their singular version of the X-Files is not all that unusual.  And every time the show delivers one of those one-off, strange, meta episodes, stars Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles seem to be really good sports about it.  This time, long-time angel pal Castiel (Misha Collins) gets to come along for the ride.

Jinkies!

Hanna-Barbera’s Scooby Doo: Where Are You?, which originally aired for two seasons in 1969-1970 and featured the voice of American Top 40 host Casey Kasem as Shaggy, is almost at its 50th anniversary.  Over the years in its several incarnations the Scooby Gang featured its own crazy assemblage of guest stars, everyone from Sandy Duncan, The Addams Family, Cass Elliot of The Mamas and the Papas, to the Harlem Globetrotters, Josie and the Pussycats, to Speed Buggy, Phyllis Diller, Don Knotts, from The Three Stooges to Batman and Robin.  In a bit of a backward twist, Scooby and the gang get to be the guest stars tonight.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

It’s just what fans of DC Comics have been begging for.  Finally, a Batman portrayal worthy of Adam West and Michael Keaton.  The complete membership of the classic Justice League as fun as we all remember them from the comic books.  Homages to famous artists adapted to the big screen from the best of DC Comics, like cover artist Jock, plus throwbacks to the campy series of the 1960s.  And more homages to the musical scores from the best of the DC Comics cinematic adaptations of the past, including callbacks to Danny Elfman’s score to the 1989 Batman movie and John Williams’ Superman theme.

What was your favorite DC Comics adaptation before 2017?  How far back do you go?  Most superhero movie fans seem to agree upon the original Superman starring Christopher Reeve as the modern rebirth of the superhero film, and count Reeve among the best embodiments of a superhero on film.  But after Reeve, fans begin to disagree as movies based on DC Comics are concerned, and usually turn to the CW Network television series for the next best DC iterations of comic book adaptations.

So when all of it finally comes together, it finally comes together in 2017, after the likes of misfires including Man of Steel, Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, and Suicide Squad, we finally have an exciting and worthy DC Comics outing that is fun for the entire family, and best of all, it is all heart.

And as a bonus, it features villains worthy of a movie from the DCU.  Sure, you might expect a pantheon of villains like The Joker, Riddler, Penguin, Catwoman, Harley Quinn, Two-Face, Mr. Freeze, Egghead, Scarecrow, Bane, Clayface, Killer Croc, Poison Ivy, Man-Bat, Captain Boomerang, Crazy Quilt, Eraser, Polka Dot Man, Mime, Tarantula, King Tut, Orca, Dr. Phosphorus, Killer Moth, Magpie, March Hare, Frank Miller’s Mutant Leader, Dr. Hugo Strange, Zodiac Master, Gentleman Ghost, Clock King, Red Hood, The Kabuki Twins, Calendar Man, Kite Man, Catman, Calculator, Zebra-Man, and Condiment King.  But all in one movie?  And battling some of fiction’s other greatest supervillains, like Dracula and the other Universal Monsters, The Daleks, Lord Voldemort, Jaws, King Kong, Gremlins, velociraptors, the Wicked Witch of the West, Agent Smith from The Matrix, and Sauron?  Wait–was Darth Vader tied up in some other project?

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