Thursday, July 31, 2014

Month of Batman/Batman Month: The Conclusion

Well, I’m finally at the end of Batman Month. I have to say that it has been fun looking at these stories, movies, and TV shows. Just like Superman, Batman has been done in all sorts of ways. He’s been dark, light, and everything in between. Still, There is one question that I don’t think I’ve answered: why do I like him? It’s really something I haven’t really thought about. I went back to my Greatest Heroes' list and see what I said about Batman. It sounds about right, but it still feels a little empty.

So, what drove me to Batman in the first place? Was it the coolness factor, the costume, the attitude, or the gadgets? I really don’t know. It’s probably all of the above. My first memory of the Batman had to have come from either the 1989 movie or some cartoons from the 70’s. I probably just saw his cool gadgets and stuff and got sucked in. I didn’t actually read his comics on the stands unlike with other characters. It was mostly Superman, the X-Men, Spider-Man, or the Justice League for me.

I think what really made me a fan was the 90’s animated series. I still have some episodes recorded on VHS at the house. I don’t know how many times I saw those things. I think they still work. I even saw Batman and Robin in theatres with my family. I don’t even know why we did in the first place. Unfortunately, my radar for taste hadn’t developed yet. I can at least say that I was about at the right age for that movie.

I think the gadgets and stuff he had mostly did it. He had Batarangs, gliders, planes, boats, and the Batmobile. I mean, the car just looks cool… if it isn’t handled by Miller and Nolan. The skills and the intelligence probably helped set my fondness in motion. I’m always a sucker for martial arts and I like mysteries for the most part. Then, there’s the attitude. He’s disciplined, he’s stern, dark, and can be adaptable to most situations. He also has what’s probably the coolest secret identity. He’s a billionaire!
Yeah, I still want this car! It's freakin' awesome!!!

 I think another thing that makes Batman cool is his supporting cast. He has one of the biggest and most diverse rogues’ gallery. You have villains like the Joker, Two-Face, Catwoman, and Ras Al Ghul to give Batman a challenge. A lot of them are pretty interesting. His allies are also pretty cool and interesting. He has the Justice League on his side. While he has other help like Robin (former and current ones) and Batgirl, he also has ordinary folk like Commissioner Gordon and Alfred to help him out.

Overall, Batman’s just a cool character to get behind. Has he had his bad times? Yeah, but there is even something I can find in that badness that is a little entertaining. I know I’ve already said this, but Batman: the Animated Series (and other Timm/Dini shows) really did the character and his world justice. They did it by taking the best elements (light and dark) from Batman’s long history. The Nolan films are good too, but they (except for Batman Begins) aren't the best interpretations of the characters.

Well, I’m finally tired from talking about the “Cotton-picking, butt-kicking, woman-getting, boy-training, man-handling, black-wearing, crazy-looking, money-making, hot-blooded, gosh-darn” Batman! I doubt I’ll do another Batman month, but there are things that I may still do that are related to the character. This is Ryell saying peace, God bless, and Happy Thursday! The day has to be special for someone out there. Now, if you will excuse me, I'm going to go read a book about some "dang, dirty, apes." 

Tales From the 50 Cent Bin! - Brave and the Bold #200

I’ve finally gotten to my last comic for the month. I picked this one up since I was on a Brave and the Bold kick and the cover looks pretty interesting. The Brave and the Bold was where the Justice League of America first started. Since that time, it became a team-up book and Batman has been main star since the 60s. The Brave and the Bold #200 was an anniversary issue and it was actually the final issue of the series. The story is written by Mike W. Barr. Dave Gibbons, the artist of Watchmen, provided the pencils and inked some of the issue. Gary Martin inked the first part of the story. So, let’s see what happens when two Batmen take on a hellish villain.

The Brave and the Bold #200
Writer: Mike W. Barr Artist: 
Dave Gibbons Inker: Gary Martin (pgs. 4-19)
Colors: Adrienne Roy

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Movie Talk - The DCAU Batman Movies

Come on, Bruce! At least look like you're having fun! I know I would be.

Now that I’m at the end of Batman Month, I can finally get back to the animated universe created by Bruce Timm and Paul Dini. While they churned out good shows like Batman: the Animated Series, Justice League, and Batman Beyond, they also did some feature-length animated movies set in Batman’s animated universe. Unlike today, it was rare when we got movies like these. One of them even got released in theatres. So, let me see what I can remember about them.

I remember when Batman: Mask of the Phantasm was released in theatres. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see it there. I ended up renting it on VHS. The rest of their movies ended up being direct-to-video. I only saw their second feature, Batman vs. Mr. Freeze: Sub-Zero, on TV when the WB aired it one Saturday morning. I rented their third feature, Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker, from Movie Gallery. I ended up getting the unrated version on DVD a few years later. Finally, I rented their last one, Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman and I’ve only seen it once. Since I haven’t seen most of these movies in along time, I watched them all over the weekend.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Tales From the 50 Cent Bin! - Batman #156

When it comes to Batman in the 1960’s, I know little. I get Superman’s weirdness during that time because he’s one I’ve tried to look into. With Batman, I know even less. I’ve only read a couple of stories from this era. I also remember seeing some episodes of the Batman TV show from way back in the day.  I know that show was somewhat influenced by the comics of the day. One of Linkara’s earliest reviews was of a Batman comic where Batman turned into a baby and still fought crime. Yeah… luckily, the story I have for today isn’t that strange. 

Batman #156 came out in 1963. I also found this story in The Greatest Batman Stories Ever Told trade. The writer is Bill Finger, the co-creator of Batman. Sheldon Moldoff handles the pencils. I also wonder if “Moldoff” is his real name. It sounds like a cleaning product. Charles Paris handles the inks and I don’t know who handled the colors. So, let’s see what happens when Batman watches Robin die!

Batman #156 – “Robin Dies At Dawn!”
Writer: Bill Finger
Penciller: Sheldon Moldoff
Inks: Charles Paris

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Tales From the 50 Cent Bin! - Batman #251

The Joker’s Five-Way Revenge… Nope, you won’t get any innuendoes out of me!

Welcome to the 1970’s. The music ranged from good to “Disco Duck” (seriously, that happened), the clothing styles were weird, and comics started to get a little darker. In the 70’s DC tried to revitalize most of its characters like Batman and Superman. While some of Superman’s changes didn’t stick, a lot of Batman’s changes stuck and still stick to this day. From what I’ve read, the 60’s was full of wackiness for Batman. In order to save the character, the editors decided to bring Batman back to his pulpy, grim roots.

In 1973, they decided to bring the Joker out of retirement as well in this story. Batman #251 was released around September of 1973. I first read the story in a hardcover of Neal Adam’s work on Batman. I’m actually pulling this story from “The Greatest Batman Stories Ever Told” trade. The writer is Dennis O’Neil. The artist is Neal Adams. You might have heard of these guys since they made names for themselves during the 1970’s. They revitalized Batman as well as a other heroes for DC. So, let’s see how Batman fares up against this deadlier Joker.

Batman #251 – The Joker’s Five-Way Revenge
Writer: Dennis O’Neil
Artist: Neal Adams
Editor: Julius Schwartz

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

TV Talk - Batman: The Brave and the Bold

If one ever has qualms over knocking out a woman who’s trying to kill you, just remember that Batman says that “the hammer of justice is unisex.

Well, it’s another day and another Batman TV show. We’ve had a lot of these in the last 20 years, haven’t we? This one is no different, I think. Batman: The Brave and the Bold is a show where Batman teams up with another hero from the DC Universe. Instead of being dark and grim, the show is pretty lighthearted and campy. It premiered in 2008 and had 65 episodes in its three seasons.

I was pretty off and on with the show during its run. I did watch some episodes on TV, but I usually missed some since I was in college. I also missed it when I was out of college and when I started to work during the week. I was able to see its finale though. When I found out that Netflix had the whole show, I waited until they included the final season. I took a while, but I was able to watch them all with an exception or two. That being said, I liked it a lot.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Favorites - Top 11 Batman Villains

When it comes to the best rogues’ gallery, Batman has almost everyone beat. Most villains in his gallery are well-known and there’s a lot of diversity with them. Some challenge Batman’s mind while other challenge his physicality. They’re also quite crazy at times too. Well… they’re usually crazy. That's kind of Batman's thing these days. So, here are my 11 favorite Batman villains. I stuck with 11 because it’s a cool number that will risk his neck for the brotha’, man!  I will say that Killer Moth, Catman, Maxie Zeus, and Eraserhead didn’t make it to the list. Sorry.

11. Killer Croc – Most of Batman’s villains really don’t pose a physical threat. You can pretty much knock out most of them with one punch. You might need more than a hand or foot to stop Waylon Jones from probably eating you. Born with a horrible skin disease, Jones eventually turned to a life of crime as Killer Croc. While he isn’t the brightest of the bunch, his enhanced strength and durability is definitely a match for Batman. I really liked the way he was used in Batman: Arkham Asylum and Batman: TAS.

10. Catwoman – Catwoman gets this spot mostly because I don’t know if she’s that much of a villain. Now, I know she was back in the day, but in recent years, she been less of a villain and more of an ally. Still, when she’s used as a villain, she’s used to good effect.  She’s a thief and she’s good at it. She and Talia Al Ghul are really the only villainesses who can really get under Batman’s skin. I highly doubt Batman would let the Joker kiss him… Ew. Anyway, I thought their relationship was best handled in the movie, Batman Returns. She was also cool in the animated series and The Dark Knight Rises.

9. Carmine “The Roman” Falcone – While he’s not one of the crazy rogues, Falcone is not one to forget. Falcone was the main Mafia boss in Gotham City when Batman started his crusade. Before the crazy rogues, Falcone was his main threat. The guy has the Mafia on his side, so who can’t love that? He was awesome in Batman Begins and he was cool in Batman: Year One and The Long Halloween. He’s even made a comeback in Batman Eternal.

8. Poison Ivy – Poison Ivy’s a weird but good choice. She’s literally the crazy plant lady. Because of a lab accident, she has the ability to control plants. Since she loves plants and hates humans, she provides a nice threat to Gotham. She’s also a scientist, so she knows how to mess someone up. I’d say she also looks nice, but I’m not into plant people. As always, the 90’s animated series did her well and she was a pretty cool boss in Batman: Arkham Asylum.

7. Mr. Freeze – “The Iceman Cometh,” indeed! Yes, I know Batman and Robin is a horrible movie but those puns rule. After a lab accident turned his body into a living ice cube, Victor Fries went into a life of crime. With his high-tech weapons, he provides a nice threat to Batman. Personally, I’m more of a fan of Freeze when he’s trying to cure his wife from an incurable disease. We saw this in the animated series and even Batman and Robin. I’m not exactly a fan of “Crazy!!!” Freeze since Batman has enough of those. That is one of the only things about Scott Snyder’s run I’m not a huge fan of.

6. Bane – He is one of the only villains who truly broke Batman. Mind you, Batman wasn’t in his best shape, but Bane still did something that many haven’t done. Raised as a child in prison, Antonio Diego was experimented on and given a drug called Venom. The drug enhanced his strength greatly. Not only is he a capable fighter without the Venom, he’s also pretty smart. The guy was able to trick Batman, so you know he has to have a brain. To me, he’s been best used been in the movie, The Dark Knight Rises, and Batman: Arkham Origins.

5. Two-Face - He’s the man with two faces. Because of an accident that scarred the left side of his face (or body in most iterations), District Attorney Harvey Dent developed a personality disorder. His every decision is linked to his double-headed coin. Because of his disorder, he commits crimes that involve the number two. Dent is probably one of the more sympathetic villains. He was a good man that lost it all when he was damaged. As always, Batman: TAS did him well and The Dark Knight used Dent well if only for a little bit. Also, read The Long Halloween if you want more Dent.

4. The Scarecrow – No, Dr. Jonathan Crane wasn’t inspired by The Wizard of Oz because he would probably be a character who’s obsessed with brains. Crane was always fascinated with fear. He developed his own fear toxin in order to spread havoc all across Gotham. He can make anyone relive their fears including Batman. The villain was pretty was pretty cool in Batman: TAS, Batman: Arkham Asylum, and Batman Begins.

3. The Riddler – That Edward Nygma is a bit of a nut, ain’t he? The man is obsessed with riddles to the point of madness. He also likes to use elaborate traps in order to get what he wants. His intellect makes him a worthy villain for the Batman. He’s greatly used in all of the Arkham games. He was also well done in Batman: TAS and a couple of other animated series.

2. Ras Al Ghul – Next up is the Head of the Demon, Ras Al Ghul. As leader of the League of Assassins (or Shadows in other places), he has a mission to bring order to the world. He’s also over 500 years old because of his regular dips in the Lazarus Pits. He’s pretty smart and is one of the only villains that can really stand toe-to-toe with Batman. If Joker is Batman’s opposite, then Ras is what Batman could be if he wasn’t averse to committing genocide for the greater good. Besides, the guy has legions of ninjas to do his bidding! That’s cool in my book. The villain was done well in the animated series and Batman Begins.

1. The Joker – He’s the Clown Prince of Crime, an agent of chaos, and a dude that apparently had a bad day. After he took a bath in chemicals, the Joker became one of Batman’s greatest threats. Not only is he smart but he will do anything for a laugh. He’s truly unpredictable and has dealt serious blows to Batman and his allies. He even has help in the fine form of Harley Quinn. Of course, the animated series and the Arkham games did him the best. The 1989 Batman movie and The Dark Knight also did the character justice.

Well, that’s all I got.  I know there were a lot of villains who I didn’t list. If you have any other favorites, let me know. 

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Graphic Novels - The Dark Knight Returns

As Internet reviewer Linkara says… It’s Miller Time!!!!

As you can tell by the image and title, I’m going to be talking about The Dark Knight Returns. It’s one of Frank Miller’s most known works and it’s the story that redefined Batman for a long time.  It seems like almost every Batman writer has been influenced by TDKR. Nolan's last Batman movie was also influenced by this story.The story is written and penciled by Frank Miller. Klaus Janson provides the inks for the miniseries. Lynn Varley provided the colors. Since I’m looking at this story, I’ll also talk about the two-part animated movie that Warner Bros. released last year.

Before I get too far in, here’s a little background with the story and it all has to do with the public library. I first heard about the story in a book called Tales of the Dark Knight, a book that talked about the first 50 years of Batman. I then heard about it in Who Needs A Superhero?, a Christian-themed book that linked Christian teachings to superheroes. I finally got to read the story when I found out that my hometown’s public library added graphic novels to their inventory. It’s now a part of my “little” collection of trades. Here’s a quick lowdown of the whole thing.

The Dark Knight Returns
Writer/Penciller: Frank Miller
Inker: Klaus Janson
Colorist: Lynn Varley

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Tales from the $2.99 Bin! - Batman Eternal #1-#4

Well, it’s back to the present for this post. One thing I can say about the Batman comics franchise is that there are a crapton of books out there. It seems like it's still growing especially with the whole “New 52” craze still going on. Is “New 52” even a thing now? Would it be “Old 52” or “Not-So-New 52?” It’s kind of confusing. On Batman’s side of things, you can’t go wrong with Scott Snyder’s Batman book. I’m not looking at that today, but I just needed to say that right now. It’s one of the books that has stayed consistently good throughout DC's “New 52” phase.

Today, I’ll be looking at the first four issues of Batman Eternal, a recent weekly series. It’s done in the same way as series like 52, Countdown to Final Crisis, and Trinity. It centers on Batman and his entire gallery of allies and villains. Like those series, you have a lot of folk on the book. Scott Snyder provides the overall story while others like James Tynion IV, Ray Fawkes, John Layman, and Tim Seeley provide the script or are consulting writers. The book also has rotating artists. The pencillers for these four issues are Jason Fabok and Dustin Nguyen.

Batman Eternal #1-#4
Story: Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV
Consulting Writers: John Layman, Ray Fawkes, and Tim Seeley
Pencils: Jason Fabok (#1-#3) and Dustin Nyugen (#4)
Inks: Jason Fabok (#1-#3) and Derek Fridolfs (#4)
Colors: Brad Anderson (#1-#3) and John Kalisz (#4)

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Tales from... A Newspaper? - Batman: The Dailies 1943-1944 - "What a Sweet Racket"

As you can tell by the title, this is a bit different. I wanted to look at a story from this era, so I looked around for something from that time. I knew that Superman had stories in newspapers, but I didn’t know Batman had any done on him. I should have known that since he was pretty popular at the time too. This story comes from Batman: The Dailies 1943-1944. The writing and pencils are done respectively by Bill Finger and Bob Kane, the creators of Batman. So, let’s see what happens when Batman and Robin face the notorious gangster known as Blackie! The 1940’s were weird, man.

Batman: The Dailies 1943-1944 – “What a Sweet Racket” 
Writer: Bill Finger 
Pencils: Bob Kane 

Random Pics of the Month: July - More Batman Weirdness

One thing I can say about the character is that he's had his weird moments over the 75 years. While I did one post that showed weird moments, here's another one.

That's right! I'm not letting go of the "deadly deathclaws of death!" I'm just wondering how he got rockets in those things!

On Brave and the Bold, Batman has a lightsaber in his belt... well, at least he has a Batmobile that can turn into a plane, boat, and a mini-sized Megazord.

The Batman of Zur-En-Arrh. Just read "Batman R.I.P." and you'll see why he's brandishing a bat.

Huh... Man, the 1950's were weird! And Batman's not the only one who's done this!

Oh Adam West... I'll get to you one day.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Graphic Novels - Batman: Knightfall - Who Rules the Night

I can’t believe it’s been two years since I looked at the first volume of “Knightfall.” I thought I would have gotten to it by now especially since all of the Knight Trilogy has been released in the trades. Now, it’s time to see what happened to Batman after Bane broke him. The creative team for the trade varies a lot. We have names like Chuck Dixon, Doug Moench, Jim Aparo, Klaus Jansen, and Graham Nolan bringing this to us. The issues contained here are Detective Comics #664-666, Batman #498-500, Batman: Shadow of the Bat #16-18, and Showcase ’93 #7-8 . Here’s a brief recap of the previous volume:

Bane, being of sound mind and body, decides to unleash all of Arkham Asylum’s inmates on Gotham City. He does this in order to weaken Batman. As for Batman, who’s not of sound mind or body at the moment, doesn’t ask any other hero for help and decides to take on this threat with himself, Robin, and that Jean-Paul Van Damme guy. Besides, he’s the cotton-pickin’ Batman! He beat up a shark for goodness sake! He can win, right? Well, it all doesn’t go well. Bane corners him at his lowest and breaks his back.

Batman: Knightfall – Who Rules the Night
Writers: Doug Moench, Chuck Dixon, and Alan Grant
Pencils: Jim Aparo, Graham Nolan, Bret Blevins, Klaus Janson, and Mike Manley
Inkers: Scott Hanna, Mike Manley, Klaus Janson, Bret Blevins, Steve George, Terry Austin, Rick Bruchett, and Dick Giordano
Colorists: Andrinne Roy and Klaus Janson

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Graphic Novels - Batman R.I.P.

With Grant Morrison, a few things come to mind. Some of them are things like Animal Man, All-Star Superman, narcotics, baldness, and Batman. I’ve looked at some of his work on Batman a while back. The Black Glove HC contained a bunch a good and weird stuff. Well, it’s time to jump back into that madness.  Hold on to your butts because I’m going to jump into the next adventure, Batman R.I.P. Morrison basically wanted to put Batman up against his ultimate enemy. Sounds good, doesn’t it?

Morrison is the writer of this six issue arc. The penciller is Tony Daniel. Daniel had already been on the book for a while. The issues I’ll be looking at from the trade are Batman #676-681. While there are two other issues in the trade that looks at what Batman did post-RIP, I’m saving those for something down the road. With all of that said, let’s see what happens when Batman faces his greatest adversary: Someone who isn’t the Joker!!!

Batman RIP
Writer: Grant Morrison
Penciller: Tony Daniel
Inker: Sandu Florea
Colorist: Guy Major

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

"It's a Video Game!!" - The Batman Arkham Series

I think I’m just going to stay with that title. It’s just so to the point. When it comes to superhero video games, finding good ones is a little rare when it when regarding DC. Somehow, some of this doesn’t concern Batman. Now, there have some decent games and there have been some horrible games. Does anyone remember Batman Forever for the Sega Genesis? Man, that game was bad. Luckily, someone at Warner Bros. came up with the idea to let Rocksteady make a Batman game. The rest, as they say, is history.

When it comes to these three games, I was pretty late to the game (pun intended) in playing them. I actually didn’t get to play Arkham Asylum (AA) until 2011. It was the first game I played on my PS3. I don’t exactly know when I got Arkham City (AC), but it had to have been a while after it was released. I rarely get games when they come out.  Plus, I was in grad school. I also waited a while for Arkham Origins (AO), but that was more for reasons I’ll get to later. Other than AO, I’ve played these games more than once.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Movie Talk - Direct-to-DVD Batman

Son of Batman: It’s the only place where you’ll see a 11-year old get shot at, stabbed, tied, and have questionable role models.

Well, the Month of Batman is here, so I might as well start out with some movies. The movies I’ll be looking at today are the direct-to-DVD movies that Warner Bros. have been putting out since about 2007. I’ve already looked at the Justice League and Superman movies, so it’s time for the Dark Knight. I first saw Batman: Gotham Knight when it was released on DVD. I actually saw Batman: Under the Red Hood online since Redbox actually didn’t have this movie. Batman: Year One was one of the first movies I watched on Netflix. Finally, I rented Son of Batman a couple of weeks ago to see if the Internet buzz was right.

I’ve recently watched the first three to re-jog my memory. As you can tell, The Dark Knight Returns two-parter is not included here. I’m actually saving that and the actual miniseries for later on. So, get some coffee because it’s going to be an all-nighter!!