Posts Tagged ‘Batman’

Posted Sunday, September 15th, 2019 by Barry

Detective Comics (1937) 27

It’s hard for those outside the fold to understand the kinship we fans feel toward these two-dimensional, fictional creations.

But, it exists.

At times it’s almost tangible.

Especially for one who predates many of us. Who has survived – and thrived – after a congressional castigation, network neutering and public pandering. Who is an American institution.

This is why we have National Batman Day.

I can’t remember the first Batman story I read. There have been so many. So many adventures and years since that first one.

Detective Comics (1937) 27

Detective Comics (1937) 27

All I know is I was introduced to a character draped in the dark of night, eyes veiled behind white slits hiding windows to hell. That was the Batman Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams/Irv Novick were resurrecting in the early 1970s.

It was a good time to be a Batman fan. He was allowed to return to the shadows, but readers weren’t too removed from the day and twilight that came before.

Reruns of the 1966 psychedelic series were still airing in the afternoons. Adam West and Burt Ward were live-action heroes for half an hour.

Then the fad faded.

It was time to go back to Batman’s roots. As mentioned above, this about when I came into the picture.

The 1970s settled and the ‘80s dawned. A relative newcomer to the field not only redefined Batman, but knighted him in ebon. Frank Miller created two seminal works that examined both ends of the spectrum. The Dark Knight Returns came first. It looked at the end of days for the Caped Crusader.

Batman:  Year One stepped back to look at his beginnings.

As the decade ended so did Jason Todd’s career as Robin. Tim Burton took Batman to Hollywood.

The 1990s were not as adventurous. Instead the franchise was mined for the fanboys’ dollars. Gimmicky covers and story arcs designed to have readers buying multiple issues were the norm.

Where Batman shown again was on the small screen. Bruce Timm crafted a new look out of the old with a timeless backdrop in Batman the Animated Series. It would spin off The New Batman Adventures and Batman Beyond along with two feature films. The first was given a theater release in Mask of the Phantasm. The second was direct-to-video, Batman & Mr. Freeze:  Subzero.

The comic book industry rebounded from the 1990s speculators and continues to thrive both on and off the page.

The Batman legacy is strong as ever. His celluloid career continues and Detective Comics just celebrated its 1,000 issue. A fine compliment to the Caped Crusader’s 80th birthday.

Batman has evolved and revolved with the times. His image has been tweaked and tarnished at times, but overall it remains as timeless as his mission to avenge his parents’ deaths.

Posted Monday, September 2nd, 2019 by Barry

Wonder Woman (1942) 222

Finally, the last labor of Wonder Woman’s 12 labors.

I say finally, but issue 222 is based on enough urban myth to make it interesting.

Wonder Woman finishes her labors in a sinister Disney World clone. The villain this issue is a thinly veiled version of Walt Disney called Wade Dazzle.

Wonder Woman (1942) 222

Wonder Woman (1942) 222

Dazzle is ensconced in a bunker below Dazzleland. From there he engineers his nefarious plan to kidnap people and steal their life force. This is all done without detection due to a miracle contraption that allows Dazzle make duplicates of people.

That includes himself.

Dazzle is dead, body and soul, except for brainwaves he can use to manipulate his clone. His corpse is frozen in a huge chunk of ice hung on a wall Han-in-carbonite style.

Wonder Woman inadvertently destroys the Dazzle doppelganger as well as her own to save the day. By unanimous vote, she is reinstated as a member of the Justice League of America with the promise, “Next: The first chapter of Wonder Woman’s NEW life begins with a saga so shocking we dare not reveal its title!”

Thanks to the comicbookdb.com we see it was called “Welcome Back to Life…Steve Trevor!”

Happy Labor Day.

Posted Saturday, July 13th, 2019 by Barry

Hallmark Holiday ornaments

Posted Thursday, July 11th, 2019 by Barry

7-11: Free Slurpee Day

Okay, this one may be a bit of a stretch, but I love Slurpees. I grew up with Slurpees. 7-Eleven and Slurpees with a comic book, or however many I could con mom and dad into from the rack.

I grew up in Middletown, VA. Back when it was abbreviated Va. In Middletown there was a 7-Eleven. That was where you went for snacks and one of the best two-fers ever created: comic books and Slurpees.

One of the first of those delicious semi-frozen treats I can remember came in a DC superhero cup. It may have been the Joker or Batman. Maybe Alfred, but it was one of the Bat family. Which suited me just fine. Batman was my favorite hero. Still is in the DC Universe.

7-11: Free Slurpee Day

7-11: Free Slurpee Day

I would beg to go back time and again. Get a Slurpee and a superhero cup. The bad thing is they failed to hold up in a dishwasher. The images and writing would fade after just one wash cycle.

If they survived that long.

Usually they were dropped and would break or shatter. Like our childhood, it was not meant to last.

If you remember these or have a mild interest in these oddities, check out The Dork Review:  1970s Slurpee Checklist for DC and Marvel.

If you don’t care and just want a free Slurpee, head to your local 7-Eleven and enjoy. They don’t carry comic books anymore, but the Coca-Cola slush mix will still freeze your brain if you’re not careful.

Posted Sunday, June 9th, 2019 by Barry

Not forgotten, Ol’ Chum

Today is the first anniversary of the passing of Adam West. He will forever be typecast as Batman.

For many he was their first Batman. Their only Batman.

For me he was a Batman. Not my first. That would be Denny O’Neil with either Neal Adams or Irv Novick.

Then reruns of the 1960s The Adventures of Batman and my Mego’s Greatest Super Heroes eight-inch likeness. That and some imagination.

Mr. West and his interpretation would be my third Batman. The one I watched after school on a black-and-white, rabbit-eared television in my bedroom. With two episodes back-to-back. None of this waiting a coupla days to tune to the same Bat-channel at the same Bat-time for a conclusion.

This was during the mid-1970s on UHF channel 20 outta Washington D.C.

In those days camp was what you did in the woods. In those days Batman 1966 was high entertainment. It was bif, bam pow – all with exclamation points.

As time passed and innocence was washed from my eyes I learned another definition for camp. The series became somewhat of an embarrassment. To me. To the industry. To Batman.

By 1989 a Robin had died, Frank Miller christened him the Dark Knight and Tim Burton was taking Batman back to the big screen. This time in a serious manner.

It came and went. As did Batman Returns and the inevitable sequels chasing after fanboys’ money.

These became the embarrassments. The big-budget, effects-laden movies that were to lay the 1966 series to rest.

What happened is many of us grew to appreciate the old again. Accept it for what was and will always be:  fun entertainment. It represented – and still does – a simpler time for most of us. For me it was afternoons with my Mego super heroes and villains. Playing in my bedroom, waiting for the call to supper.

It was – and still is – a piece of our childhood we should cherish.

Watching it now with my son in HD on a huge television screen is different than how I experienced it to begin with. But, Dylan’s different. The times are different.

But, Batman is still Batman. He has as many masks to charm us with as gadgets in his utility belt. Each one is as meaningful as the one before and the one that follows.

Thank you, Mr. West, for wearing one of those masks. One we can enjoy over and over again.

 

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!