Posts Tagged ‘Batman’

Posted Sunday, April 7th, 2019 by Barry

The Mighty Marvel holiday Wish List (1990)

Comic book shops were common place by the beginning of the 1990s, but original graphic novels and trade paperbacks were not.

The Might Marvel holiday Wish List, sporting a caroling Spidey, Hulk and Cap, was a festive gift guide for the comic book fan. What could be simpler? Make a check beside the corresponding title, hand it to the gift giver and wait for Christmas morning.

Looking back at this pre-internet solicitation reminds me of how far the industry has come. Of course I forget this is 30 years ago.

The Mighty Marvel holiday Wish List (1990)

The Mighty Marvel holiday Wish List (1990)

The year 1990 doesn’t seem that long ago. Saying 30 years does.

Anyway, 30-years ago trades and collections were not the norm. Marvel had its high-end Masterworks and DC its Archive editions. Those were available in most comic book shops and retail book chains. They were just pricey for the day.

Trades were much more reasonable, but still a novelty. That’s why it’s so odd looking at the ad paper and seeing so few story arcs collected.

Readers must also remember this was a time when stories were written from beginning to end with no worries about how they would fit in a trade.

As much as I love Neil Gaiman and Sandman, I blame the wordsmith for the advent of trade-length story arcs. He invented the four- to six-issue story arc with a few one-and-dones in between that seem to have become the industry standard for trades.

So, sit back and check out the Mighty Marvel holiday Wish List – in full – courtesy ComicBookDaily.com. It’s a nostalgic look at the not-so-distant past.

Posted Thursday, February 28th, 2019 by Barry

DC Universe Christmas TPB (2000)

DC opened the new millennium with a gift-wrapped Christmas trade in both cover and manner. Readers traverse holidays from the Golden to Modern Age of comic books in 160 pages.

As diverse as the stories, the characters chosen for the Tanenbaum tome are even more so. From the old west with Bat Lash to World War I Enemy Ace to wayward West waif Impulse back from the future.

Story wise are Frank Miller’s first take on the Dark Knight, “Santa Claus – Dead or Alive!”

Flash stars in the first of two “Present Tense” stories.

“The Story of the Fir Balsam” is a Golden Age story from Sensation (Mystery) Comics (1941) issue 14 involving Nazi spies.

Superman shines in “The Gift.”

One holiday tale that always pops up is “A Swingin’ Christmas Carol” featuring The Teen Titans. The original Teen Titans. Complete with hip and mod slang for the times. Those times were the 1960s; 1966 to be exact.

Darkseid appears in the second “Present Tense” story, guest starring Santa.

Captain Marvel Adventures (1941) issue 69 is been reprinted featuring “Billy Batson’s Xmas!”

“Alone for the Holidays” proves Robin will always have family.

DC Universe Christmas TPB (2000)

DC Universe Christmas TPB (2000)

The Legion of Super Heroes star in “Star Light, Star Bright…Farthest Star I see Tonight!”

“The Present” teams Green Lantern and Green Arrow again.

“Night Prowler!” is from House of Mystery (1951) 191.

“The Harley and the Ivy” is a lush retelling from The Batman Adventures Holiday Special.

Sandman and Sandy take readers back to the Golden Age of comic books again with “Santa Fronts for the Mob.” The story originally appeared in Adventure Comics (1938) issue 32.

“An Eye for Detail” showcases old west dandy Bat Lash.

Enemy Ace takes a break from the hell of war in “Silent Night.”

Impulse plays Santa’s helper in “No, Bart, This is No Santa Claus.”

Finally, Superman closes out the book with what could possibly be DC’s first super-powered driven Christmas story in “Superman’s Christmas Adventure” from 1940.

Posted Tuesday, February 26th, 2019 by Barry

Batman Noel (2011)

Often listed in the top-10 best Batman stories, Noel is a lushly illustrated Christmas Carol.

Batman Noel (2011)

Batman Noel (2011)

Lee Bermejo is a true artist. In every sense of the word. From his staccato narration to the loving brushstrokes that create a yester-world not glimpsed for two centuries. A work Charles Dickens would enjoy himself.

Batman is the Scrooge. Bob is one of the Joker’s henchmen. His son is Tiny Tim and the Joker is, well, the Joker. Catwoman is the Ghost of Christmas Past and Superman the Ghost of Christmas Present. Jacob Marley is represented by a generic Robin.

Fans of the Batman: Arkham Origins video game were offered the Noel Bat-suit as one of the skins available for play.

Dickens’ original novella was first published in 1843 in a London scrutinizing its own traditions. So popular was the story when it was released Dec. 19, it sold out by Christmas Eve. To this day, A Christmas Carol has never been out of print.

Like Dikens’ work, Bermejo has crafted a perennial tradition with this elseworld’s work.

Posted Tuesday, February 12th, 2019 by Barry

World’s Finest (1990) 1-3

Post-crisis DC was an exciting era. All the old was washed away in the stroke of the 12-issue maxi-series Crisis on Infinite Earths.

Not much time would pass before creators began bringing back pre-crisis pieces. Or, pulling back the facade to reveal some cracks already forming. Or, simply harken back with an else-worlds type story. The World’s Finest mini under the microscope is more of a return to the Eisenhower era. Batman and Superman were still friends – of sorts. Not the embattled super willpowers gracing the silver screen.

The Joker is as maniacal as ever, with enough murderous undercurrent to make readers nervous. Lex Luthor sports double chins, more comfortable in a three-piece suit rather than a white lab coat.

The four principle players intermingle in an awkward ballet told in three parts. From beginning to conclusion the story unfolds as slickly as the paper it was printed on.

Luthor and Joker trade stomping grounds, as do Batman and Superman in pursuit of their arch nemeses’. Christmas is a storm front that spills into New Year’s as the story reaches a false crescendo in issue two.

Issue three ties up the loose threads with a bit of pranking done on and by various participants.

Dave Gibbons brought back a sliver of the Silver Age with his script while Steve Rude was anything but with his renderings. This is a story that calls to me on a regular basis. Usually I heed.

Posted Tuesday, January 1st, 2019 by Jeff

Happy New Year!

Cheer up, Batman.

Artwork by The-Blackcat.

Happy New Year!

Posted Monday, December 31st, 2018 by Jeff

New Year’s Eve

Cheers, everyone.  Here’s to 2019.

New Year's Eve

Posted Monday, December 31st, 2018 by Barry

Batman (1940) 247

Batman (1940) 247

Batman (1940) 247

Denny O’Neil and Irv Novick turned a hat trick with this, the third of Batman’s Christmas stories, since his return from post CCA crack down and television days. The previous two holiday tales were served up in Batman 219 and 239. For some reason the Dark Knight never celebrated in Detective Comics.

For the 1972 season O’Neal corrals both Christmas and New Year’s with “Merry Christmas…And a Deadly New Year!” The first vignette deals with the capture and subsequent escape of a terrorist who has stolen a deadly virus.

Christmas isn’t very merry as Batman and the Gotham Police Department spend the week prior to New Year’s searching for the vial. The adventure goes down to the wire as Batman finally discovers, and foils, the attempt as the ball drops counting down the end of one year and the beginning of another.

Posted Saturday, December 29th, 2018 by Jeff

Christmas With The Super-Heroes, revisited and recolored

A late Christmas gift scrolled across my Facebook feed today.

If you’re familiar with holiday super hero specials – or are a regular Four Color Holidays reader – you’re likely already aware of 1988’s Christmas With The Super-Heroes #1.  Featuring cover artwork by John Byrne, the issue is known for it’s whimsical display of DC heroes gathered around a Christmas tree.  It’s a favorite among holiday comic fans, myself included.

But how might this cover be presented today, revisited and recolored with modern technology, different sensibilities and an artist’s personal flare?  Scott Dutton recently shared his take, including a breakdown of the process from original artwork to final product.

Be sure to visit Scott’s Catspaw Dynamics at the earliest opportunity, where you’ll find countless more of his comic art recolorations and restorations.

Christmas With The Super-Heroes (1988) 1 (Reconstructed)

 

Posted Friday, December 28th, 2018 by Barry

DC’s Nuclear Winter Special

Rip Hunter, Time Master, plays storyteller to a group of post-apocalyptic survivors sometime in the mid-21st century bent on eating their guest.

DC's Nuclear Winter Special

DC’s Nuclear Winter Special

Of the 10 “cataclysmic carols,” Flash, Super Girl, Firestorm and Green Arrow top the list.

Hunter stalls for time waiting for his time sphere to recharge by relating stories starring the stable of DC characters. This year’s special is hit or miss in wringing emotion from readers.

As stated above, Flash’s “Once and Future,” Super Girl’s “Last Daughters,” Firestorm’s “Last Christmas” and Green Arrow’s “Super Birds of Christmas past, Present and Future” are the headliners.

“Last Christmas” may be the best of that group. Paul Dini is the writer, so no surprise there.

The remainder of the book is taken up by Damion Wayne having assumed the mantle of Batman in “Warmth.”
Superman’s “Memory Hearth” by Steve Orlando is forgettable.

“Where Light Cannot Reach” capitalizes on Aquaman and his silver screen blockbuster that has already taken China by storm.

Surprise guest Kamandi stars in “Northern Lights.”

Finally, Catwoman appears in “Nine Lives.”

Not as memorable as the DC Rebirth Holiday Special. Just nice to see DC continues to offer Christmas comics each year.

Posted Tuesday, December 25th, 2018 by Barry

Batman (1940) 260

Okay, not a Christmas comic book in that there is no Christmas cover, no Christmas stories. Just an original Denny O’Neil/Irv Novick Batman v. Joker tussle. The remainder are reprints dating back to Batman (1940) 16.

What makes this a Christmas comic book – to me – is the fact it was in my stocking Christmas the morning of 1974.

Yeah, I’m that old.

If you’ve read my earlier ramblings, you know my Mom had a routine. Christmas morning you hopped out of bed, brushed teeth and hair, donned suitable clothes and waited for everyone else to do the same. When Mom, Dad and Grandma and Grandpa Winterhalter were seated in the living room, I opened my stockings.

Stuffed among the Lifesaver Holiday box set, Crayola Crayons and miscellaneous merriment was Batman (1940) 260, one of the prized 100-page issues DC published at the time.

Other than the Christmas tabloids DC published under the Limited Collector’s Edition imprint (C-34 and C-43) this comic book is the one I remember most from my stockings. The jarring orange (or whatever color that is) cover with the Joker flipping his deck of cards showing the Caped Crusader in death throws at the reader. Riddler and Robin taunting Batman behind a cell door. Batman atop of giant glass bottle, muscles straining as he tries to free Robin from inside. Alfred and Catwoman’s heads barely rising above the cover bottom.

Batman (1940) 260

Batman (1940) 260

“This One Will Kill You Batman!” is the original story. DC’s hundred pagers followed a formula with the first story being an original one. The remaining tales were reprints from the Golden and Silver ages.

Fans know when a key villain appears, the issue is always better. Certainly no common crook could serve as felonious a foe as the Joker. Already the issue was better than most.

That was followed by “Grade A Crimes!,” originally published in May-April issue of Batman 16. Catwoman was featured in the following story, “The Perfect Crime – Slightly Imperfect!” from Batman 181 of June 1966. “The Case Without a Crime!” was pulled from Detective Comics 112 having first seen light June 1946. “The Pearl of Peril!” was courtesy of Batman 27, February-March 1945 and “The Riddlers’ Prison-Puzzle Problem!” rounded out the book. It was the most recent of the reprints having been published in Detective Comics a scant six years earlier.

I read the issue cover-to-cover several times during that Christmas break. The book stayed with for years until it wasn’t with me. I forget what happened to it to be honest. It just was gone one day. The saddest part is I didn’t notice its passage.

Until one day.

One day I started buying Batman comic books again. Years after I’d first received the book. By that time I was an adult. As much of an adult as I will ever be at least.

Something jogged my memory. Maybe I saw a picture of it. Maybe another issue reminded me. Whatever the reason I realized the issue was gone.

Though I mourned the loss it wasn’t a book I made a priority to replace. I spoke of it at times. One of those occasions was with a dear friend of mine, long since moved, who kept that discussion in mind.

That Christmas Batman 260 became a Christmas comic book again. In the hand-wrapped bundle of comic books he handed me was that issue. The same cover. The same promises of stories to come. The same book in every respect other than it had to be in better shape than my original. That issue had to have been dog eared and ratty from the repeated readings.

It didn’t matter.

Here was my beloved Batman 260. Once again in my hands. Ready to read. Again and again and again.

And, I have read it again and again and again. I’m far more respectful in my handlings now, but enjoy them no less.

So, for everyone enjoying a comic book today, and those who aren’t, Merry Christmas.