Archive for Batman

Batman vs. Cthulhu


Batman: The Doom that Came to Gotham

This is normally something I’d prefer to review before Halloween. But DC, in its infinite anti-wisdom, chose to release this last week instead of in October, and I’d rather not wait ’til next Halloween to review this. Heck, it took us 15 years to even get this collection, so who knows if DC will leave it in print for the next ten months.

So the plotline? Bruce Wayne returns to Gotham City after years exploring the world and discovers a secret conspiracy stretching back years that threatens to destroy the city, if not the rest of the world. So far so typical? Sure, sure, almost every Bat-storyline reads something like that.

But in this case, everything’s been crossed over with H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos. You’d think that’d be a strained concept, but it works out amazingly well.

Oswald Cobblepot is a mad professor, waddling naked around the Antarctic with a bunch of tumor-covered penguins. Mr. Freeze has more in common with the cold-dependent Dr. Munoz from Lovecraft’s “Cool Air.” Killer Croc is a mutated Deep One. Poison Ivy shows up as a seductive plant monster. Barbara Gordon is a literal Oracle, interacting with the spirit world to see the future. Ra’s Al Ghul shares an origin with the Mad Arab Abdul Alhazred. We get appearances from Jim Gordon, Harvey Dent, Jason Blood, Oliver Queen, and more, all twisted around the axes of pulp fiction and cosmic horror.

Verdict: Thumbs up. If you’re not a Lovecraft fan, you’ll get a very good pulp horror story. If you are a Lovecraft fan, you’ll get shivers of joy every few pages whenever a new permutation on HPL’s creations appears. It’s really pretty amazing how perfectly some of Batman’s rogues gallery fit into Lovecraft’s archetypes.

This was written by Mike Mignola and Richard Pace, and though the art is by Troy Nixey, it’s clear that Mignola dropped some heavy hints about what the art should look like, ’cause it’s very Mignolian (Mignolanian? I don’t know.). Of course, Mignola specializes in pulp, especially pulp horror, and some of the images we get here are just gloriously creepy — Cobblepot wandering in the Antarctic, Wayne’s ship frozen in the bay, Harvey Dent’s transformation.

The only villains we don’t get are the two we might most expect — there’s no Joker, and there’s no Cthulhu. Perhaps Mignola planned them for an eventual sequel?

Again, this series has been colossally rare for the past 15 years — the few copies for sale online would cost you about $50 for each of the three issues. But here it is, all collected into a single volume at last. If you let this one slip away from you this time, you don’t need cosmic horrors to drive you mad.

No Amazon link this time — it’s brand new, so check at your local comic shop.

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Two-Face ’66


Batman ’66: The Lost Episode

One of the great missed opportunities on the 1966 Batman TV show is that they had plans to put Two-Face on their program but never followed through. And the coolest thing about the comic book revival of the series is that we can see how things would’ve gone if they’d actually made the show.

So dig this: A story by Len Wein with art by Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, based on a story treatment by Harlan Ellison.

The story starts off with Two-Face staging a daring robbery at an auction house — but later returning the loot to the police. Batman explains that after District Attorney Harvey Dent was scarred by acid, he began committing crimes based on the flip of a coin — if the bad side comes up, he keeps his ill-gotten gains, but if the good side wins, he returns it all, often with interest. But the Dynamic Duo must find a way to capture Two-Face. Can Batman find a way out when the only choices Dent is willing to accept are bad and worse?

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s not a highly original story, to be honest, but it’s not like the TV show didn’t often crib some storylines from old comics stories. The appeal here is obviously seeing how the TV show could’ve handled Two-Face, and all in all, it comes off as a pretty fun treatment. A big chunk of the appeal of this comic is the amazing art by Garcia-Lopez, who always turns out some of the best art in the biz. In fact, in addition to the regular story, we also get an encore presentation featuring just the artist’s pencil work, followed by the original treatment for the series written by Harlan Ellison himself. Both of these features are pretty awesome all by themselves, and combined with the story, make this a bit of a must-have for a wide variety of comics fans.

About the worst thing about this issue is the price tag. Ten dollars is pretty steep!


Astro City #17

So periodically, Honor Guard gets treated to Red Cake Day. Someone sneaks into their HQ and leaves a big spread of delicious red cake, and no one knows who brought it. Until this year — a little purple alien appears, introduces himself as Eth, and reveals that his people have been bringing the cake as part of something they call Sorrowsday. He tells them a story about a terrible interdimensional conqueror called Krigari the Ironhanded, who his people accidentally dreamed into existence. Terrified that his unslakeable thirst for conquest would eventually lead him to destroy them all, they began to steer him to other, stronger dimensions, hoping they’d destroy Krigari for them. Eventually, this led to a long string of confrontations between Krigari and Earth’s superheroes. What caused Krigari’s final defeat, and what’s the connection to Sorrowsday?

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s a good story, with nice art by Tom Grummett. Krigari and Druin are both great villains, and Stormhawk is a great hero — so it is disappointing that we won’t get to see any of them again.

Today’s Cool Links:

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Friday Night Fights: Tummy Time!

Alright, kids, this may be my last Friday Night Fights for a few weeks. There’s a decent chance I’ll be moving before the end of the month, and there’s a real good chance I’ll be too busy for a while packing up my stuff, getting everything moved, and getting my house set up to spend a lot of time digging up new fights to post. If I can post something up, I’ll do it, but y’all don’t expect me to prioritize the fights over moving.

Tonight’s battle comes to us from September 1981’s Batman vs. the Incredible Hulk by Len Wein, José Luis García-López, Dick Giordano, and Glynis Oliver. Batman meets up with the Hulk, fisticuffs ensue, and the Dark Knight figures he’ll balance the ridiculously long odds by hitting Green Genes with some knockout gas. Doesn’t turn out the way he plans, though…



A kick in the breadbasket by a normal man and a few lungfuls of gas is enough to KO the Hulk? I don’t buy it. But dig that awesome José Luis García-López artwork!

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Pet Revengers


Beasts of Burden: Hunters and Gatherers

Yay, a one-shot of Evan Dorkin and Jill Thompson’s outstanding “Beasts of Burden!” These don’t come out often, but they’re always great fun to read.

There’s bad news on the way for the monster-fighting pets of Burden Hill — the Wise Dogs who help back them up in times of crisis are going to have to give them even less help than normal — the whole area is faced with various supernatural crises, and they have too much work to do. And there are already some serious problems the Burden Hill pets have to face — like the giant invisible monster chasing down and eating pets and people in the area! They manage to vanquish that foe — barely — and we get an opportunity to see some of the other animals in town, some of which are appreciative, some of which are dismissive, and some of which — like the rats and the crows — are likely to become serious threats in the future.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Love this series so very much. The art and writing are both fantastic, the characters and dialogue are always fun, and the action, humor, and creeping sense of foreboding are beautifully done. You shouldn’t just get this issue — you should find every possible comic from this series.


Batman: Li’l Gotham #12

Our first story features Batman and Robin searching for Damian’s lost pet turkey, Damian — they’re not making a lot of progress because people keep making jokes about losing a turkey so close to Thanksgiving. In the end, they find Jerry in a fast food restaurant, held hostage by a new supervillain called the Condiment King! He specializes in squirting people with condiments, and he has a bunch of fast-food-themed henchmen. Will the Dynamic Duo be able to stop the villains and save Jerry? In the backup tale, Alfred tells Damian about the various members of the Bat-Family in the Wayne family album, and the heroes even help spread holiday cheer.

Verdict: Thumbs up. As always, it’s cute, fun artwork, and funny, family-friendly storytelling. My lone quibble? This is the final issue of this series! Man, that is monumentally no fair.

Today’s Cool Links:

  • A great interview with Ed Piskor on hip hop and comic books.
  • If you’re going to freak out this hard about a haboob, I hope you’ll remember that our numerals and system of writing came from the Muslim world, too, so you’ll never write anything on the Internet again.
  • It’s always a good time to talk about compassion. Because our leaders and pundits are usually running on a severe compassion deficit.

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Battle Angel


Astro City #9

Winged Victory has been targeted with attacks designed to make her look like a secret terrorist to destroy her credibility as a superhero. While she deals with some marauding villains, the Confessor has been investigating the problem and suggests that she may need to lay low for a while ’til the heat cools down. She considers returning to her unpowered form, but decides she’d rather not get through her troubles by hiding. She meets a member of the Council of Nike, which chose her for her superheroic identity. She tells Winged Victory her life story and inspires her to fight on. But the investigation isn’t going well…

Verdict: Thumbs up. Nicely done story, most effectively in the tale of Maisie Shimura of the Council of Nike. We’re getting closer to the end of this one — hope it turns out well…


Batman: Li’l Gotham #11

Batman is taking Damian for an All Saints’ Day visit with his mother Talia — yeah, this Batman is a lot more casual about his kid hanging out with the al-Ghul family. The Batplane crashes in the desert on the way — Batman almost immediately gets rid of his shirt — because that’s what Batman does when he’s in the desert — and Damian has hilarious hallucinations about ridiculous superheroes wearing wearing armored costumes with high collars. They also meet up with Azrael before getting to the al-Ghul compound. And then Man-Bat shows up. And then the zombies show up.

And in the backup story, the Clock King successfully stops time, but not before Batman summons a whole bunch of alternate universe Batmen to stop him — including Adam West Batman, Vampire Batman, Knightfall Batman, elderly Bruce Wayne, Zebra Batman, and Fruitbat-Man. Can the motley crew of Batmen save the world?

Verdict: So very many thumbs up. All the variant Batmen were great, and it’s great to see that someone working for DC gets to make fun of the Nu52’s stupid costumes.

Today’s Cool Links:

  • Here are three different links about how racist and sexist douchebags in comics, gaming, and science fiction all end up hurting themselves.

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Seasonal Poison


Batman: Li’l Gotham #10

Poison Ivy is completely depressed because autumn is her least favorite season — yes, even more than winter, which she considers peaceful and calm, with less environmental destruction. But in the autumn, all the leaves are dying, and she can’t muster any enthusiasm for anything. Harley and Selina demand the Joker do something to cheer her up — and dangit, the Joker is just not any good at cheering people up! Meanwhile, Damian has noticed Alfred creeping into the east wing of Wayne Manor — carrying a body?! Soon, Damian, Tim, and Katana have decided that Alfred must be a mad genius performing unholy experiments. Can nothing stop the butler’s reign of terror?

Verdict: Thumbs up. As always, beautiful artwork and charming stories, all set in the pre-Reboot DCU. It’s good all-ages fun, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.


Daredevil #35

The racist Sons of the Serpent think they have Matt Murdock over the barrell. They know every one of his secrets, and they’re prepared to release them all to the press and to his enemies — but they’ll keep it all secret if he’ll defend the son of one of their leaders who’s been accused of murder. They know he’s innocent but they can’t say that in court without giving up their secrets, so they want Murdock to figure out a way to get him free. He meets up with Elektra and they beat up Constrictor and Mamba of the Serpent Society (which doesn’t have any real connection to the Sons of the Serpent, despite the name similarity) while Matt tries to figure out what to do. Does he take the case and defend the evil Sons of the Serpent? Or does he stick to his principles and ruin his life and the lives of his friends? Or does he seek a third way?

Verdict: Thumbs up. The action is pretty good, but the real focus in this story is on Matt’s cerebral gymnastics. Next to the last issue — at least until Marvel relaunches the title with a brand new #1 in a few months. Doesn’t constant relaunching just to get lots of #1s strike you as just about the silliest thing around? I mean, it’s not as silly as most of the things out of Dan DiDio’s mouth, but it’s definitely the silliest thing Marvel’s been up to lately.


Astro City #8

An unknown enemy is trying to paint Winged Victory as a secret supervillain — and the ploy seems to be working. She has both the Samaritan and the Confessor on her side (though they have to fight each other first because you just know how superheroes are always fighting each other), and even the authorities woh come to search her compound are giving her the benefit of the doubt. But her confidence is still severely shaken because she’s relying on protection from men — and the idea that women have to rely on men for protection is something that she’s been fighting against her entire career. Is the future hopeless for her?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Beautifully illustrated, beautifully written. Tons of glorious characterization and a plot that really digs into the heart of Winged Victory’s character. It’s an absolutely fantastic comic book, and we’re only in the middle of the storyarc.

Today’s Cool Links:

  • Today, it’s worth remembering that most of the media tends to not understand what Martin Luther King, Jr.’s real impact was. It was a lot more significant than merely marching and making speeches.
  • If you want to make yourself furious, read this article about the how-can-this-be-legal “troubled teen industry.” Why these thugs haven’t been dragged out of their torture camps and strung up, I’ll never know.
  • Booth babes are an offensive relic on any convention floor — but it turns out that they don’t make good business sense either, because they just don’t translate into sales.
  • The high-velocity (and high-larious) Slingshot Channel has devised a condom gun that’ll make you swear off sex forever.

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Love and Secrets


Astro City #7

It’s the beginning of a new storyarc focusing on Winged Victory, the Samaritan, and the Confessor. While Winged Victory’s and Samaritan’s relationship seems to be going swimmingly, someone is plotting against the heroine — a group of supervillains have claimed to be working directly for her. Winged Victory has always been a controversial figure in the world of Astro City, and the media is completely eager to believe she’s a secret supervillain. Mixed into all this is an abused teenaged boy who wants to learn self-defense from Winged Victory, plus we learn W.V.’s secret origin.

Verdict: Thumbs up. A great story, wonderful art, great characterization, and an excellent mystery. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing where this is going to lead over the next few months.


Batman: Li’l Gotham #9

Batman and Robin have to track down Clayface as he hides out in the Gotham City Comic Con. Can the Dynamic Duo find the shapeshifting villain in the maze of cosplayers, and will Robin be able to hunt down all the cool toys he wants? And in the second story, we meet Jenna Duffy, the Carpenter for Gotham’s underworld. She’s trying to take a vacation day, but all the villains keep bugging her to rebuild stuff wrecked by Batman. Is she ever going to get the free time she needs?

Verdict: Thumbs up, of course. The art is great, the stories are fun. And there’s a cool little bonus at the end of the first story for anyone bummed about the nonexistence of their favorite characters in the New 52.


Mighty Avengers #4

The Inhumans’ city of Attilan has crashed in New York, exposing people around the world who have some Inhuman ancestry to the mutagenic Terrigen mists, and various unsavory characters want to get their hands on anything hidden in the city’s ruins. Meanwhile, the Falcon joins up with the Mighty Avengers, Spider Hero adopts the costumed identity of Ronin (even though we all know he’s actually Blade), and the Superior Spider-Man has decided he wants control of the team.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Nice story, fun dialogue and characterization, some excellent humor, too. The worst thing about it is, of course, the fact that no one has fired Greg Land from Marvel yet.


Watson and Holmes #6

Someone has killed the wife of Dexter Wainwright, a prominent NYC politician who’s been an inspiration to many in Harlem but whose campaign is plagued by money troubles. Holmes and Watson are on the case — while Holmes suspects Wainwright, Watson wants to see him freed from suspicion because he’s done so much for the community. A key link in the case proves to be a woman named Dominique Jiminez who is being pursued by the Russian mob. What’s her connection to Wainwright, and who is the killer?

Verdict: Thumbs up. A very well-done mystery, nice characterization and dialogue, and a excellent author’s note at the end in which Brandon M. Easton talks about how and why he wrote this particular story. I’m really pleased with how thoroughly enjoyable this series has been.

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Rocket Arena


Rocket Girl #2

DaYoung Johansson, teenaged supercop from the future, is stuck in 1986 trying to prevent Quintum Mechanics from using the invention of time travel — which she just provided them with — to commit crimes in the future. Needless to say, this is going to be a tall order. She’s being watched over by a couple of friendly Quintum employees who nevertheless don’t want her roaming around New York City stirring up trouble. But, well, DaYoung is an extremely dedicated police officer, no matter what jurisdiction she’s in, even if it’s going to get her in trouble with the local cops…

Verdict: Thumbs up. Beautiful art by Amy Reeder and a dementedly convoluted plot by Brandon Montclare. This is simultaneously thrilling and hilarious.


Batman: Li’l Gotham #8

Bruce Wayne is under strict orders to take a vacation, so he and Selina Kyle set sail on a relaxing tropical yacht trip — only to run into the Joker and Harley Quinn — and a Pirate Joker and Pirate Harley, too! Meanwhile, in Gotham City, the rest of the Bat-Family and their allies are working overtime to keep Gotham City safe from the criminal element.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Excellent storytelling, a wonderful sense of humor, grand adventuring, and awesome art by Dustin Nguyen. It’s great all-ages reading, so go enjoy it.

Today’s Cool Links:

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Batman ’66 #4

Batman and Robin fly to England when they realize that one particular hat-obsessed criminal is committing crimes there. After they deplane (to enthusiastic, screaming crowds), the Dynamic Duo (and Alfred, supposedly here on loan from Bruce Wayne because of his expertise driving in London’s streets) meet up with Detective Inspector Gordon of Scotland Yard but are just barely too late to stop the Mad Hatter from stealing the Crown Jewels! A frantic chase through London ensues, with Batman dangling from underneath a gigantic, hovering chapeau. In the followup tale, there’s more crime afoot in London, as the Clock King is up to no good from his secret headquarters inside Big Ben!

Verdict: Thumbs up. If the ’60s Batman series had a much, much larger budget, I’m pretty sure they would’ve done an episode where Batman went to England and chased down a bunch of flying hats. Lots of funny stuff going on here — it’s been a lot of fun to read this series.


Hawkeye #13

Clint Barton is in mourning over the death of his friend Grills and having trouble holding things together. Putting together a funeral, talking to the cops, fighting supervillains with the Avengers, losing his “sidekick” (Kate Bishop doesn’t really count as a sidekick, does she? She’s a lot more level-headed than Clint is…), losing his dog, meeting up with his ne’er-do-well brother — and he still doesn’t realize there’s an assassin stalking him.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Not a lot of action this time out, but a ton of outstanding characterization as Matt Fraction and David Aja put our sad-sack hero through the emotional wringer. I love the way this series so consistently surprises us and defies expectations. Hope you’re enjoying reading it, too.

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Team Rocket


Rocket Girl #1

Here’s a brand new series, funded in part by a Kickstarter campaign, written by Brandon Montclare and illustrated by Amy Reeder. Our main character is Dayoung Johansson, a 15-year-old rocket-pack-wearing cop from the far-future world of 2013 who has travelled to the distant past of 1986 to save the world from a timepocalypse. The problem is that the crime being investigated was apparently committed by Quintum Mechanics, the company that invented time travel and saved New York City from financial ruin. Can Dayoung survive the high-crime world of 1986 armed with just her rocket-suit and a head full of moxie?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Beautiful art by Amy Reeder, which is a good reason to buy the comic all by itself. The story is very cool, too — the weird time travel, along with the bizarre alternate-future/present Dayoung comes from, are both a lot of fun, and I’m looking forward to seeing what other badassery she’s going to get into.


Astro City #5

I don’t know why you — yes, you. You specifically! — are working with the Broken Man. He doesn’t seem at all stable. He collects all these strange storytelling artifacts, and then he gets mad when you watch the stories that unfold. The monster-fighting G-men and their battles against the eldritch horrors all around us? He gets mad at you right when you get to the good bit. The strange tale of Lord Saampa, the Serpent’s Tongue? He gets mad at you right when you get to the good bit. He finally allows you to watch Dame Progress, steampunk crimefighter, as she pursues the terribly nimble Mister Cakewalk in pursuit of a stolen jewel. What does the Broken Man want with you anyway?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Excellently weird story, great art, fun characters. I’m really not sure I like the Broken Man at all, but his artifacts are a great way to tell a bunch of different stories. It’ll be fun to see how they all connect.


Batman: Li’l Gotham #7

Aquaman is in trouble. Oh, of course he is. And he asks Batman for help. So Batman gets a fancy wetsuit, Damian gets an underwater mecha. And Oracle gets an even bigger underwater mecha. In our second story, it’s the Fourth of July, and the Joker is organizing a party for all of Gotham’s villains. All they have to do is steal all the fireworks they can, and they’ll make the biggest boom ever. Can Batman, Robin, and Nightwing extinguish the party in time?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Very cute and quite funny. Babs Gordon driving a giant mech is muy cool.


Worlds’ Finest #16

Huntress is stuck doing a lot of crimefighting solo, because since her run-in with Desaad, Power Girl’s powers have been extremely unreliable. Who’s the mysterious energy-wielding acrobat who keeps setting fires at high-fashion events? What’s wrong with Karen’s powers?

Verdict: Ehh, I dunno. The art is pretty darn nice, but for the most part, this is just very by-the-numbers, uninspiring stuff. The series needs a lot more WOW moments, or a return to the fun character interaction, which has fallen off a lot in recent issues.

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