I know we are supposed to be on hiatus, but then the Internet lit up like a Christmas tree … on fire … doused with gasoline … when news broke that Ben Affleck will play Batman in the Man of Steel sequel. Judging from Twitter and Facebook, many, many fanfolk are not feeling this idea. Like, at all. I haven’t seen this kind of social media meltdown since the 2012 Presidential debates.
Superheroes and anti-heroes lead complicated, over-the-top dramatic lives that inevitably wreak havoc on their relationships. No matter what that passionate lip-lock between Wonder Woman and Superman on the cover of Young Romance: The New 52 Valentine’s Day Special suggests — and enough already; we get it — the stories in this collection are not heavy on heart-fluttering moments and sexytime. Continue reading →
Owls, schmowls. The real horror story in Gotham arrived in Batman #13 with an eerie cackle and a face hanging off its hinges. Writer Scott Snyder and artist Greg Capullo brought the world’s scariest jester back in a big way, and the story rattled me so much that I was suspicious of every creaking floorboard for a few days. The Joker is on a highly personal mission to rid Batman of the loved ones and allies who, in his words, have made him weak. What makes this especially unsettling is that he has practically seeped into the walls and knows everything, from the kind of soap Nightwing uses to Commissioner Gordon’s restless sleeping patterns. Did I mention that the skin of his mug, already grotesque, is barely attached? “All he’s about is convincing yourself that the things you’re most afraid of are true,” Snyder told the Washington Post in his assessment of the Joker. Keep a flashlight handy, dear reader. You’ll need it to look under your bed after reading the next installment.
Hello, dear readers. Just as a heads up this is going to be the last NRRD PROBZ of 2012. It will return on January 8th, so have a wonderful holiday and send in those questions!
“Gail Simone got sacked! If I wanted to start reading some Gail Simone books, where do I start?”
I KNOW WHAT’S UP WIDDAT? We here at G3 are currently mourning the loss, and may continue to do so for some time.
In the interim, you could start out your Simone quest with one of her runs on Secret Six. They are great fun and really accessible to newer readers. Her first collected work on it is entitled “Six Degrees of Devastation” and includes all six issues of the mini series. I would read this first, not only because it is chronological, but because when using this as a starting point you really get to see her grow into the series later on. Continue reading →
Here’s the lowdown on the three best comics I read last week:
Punk Rock Jesus #4
I half expected Jesus to drop the mic and walk off the stage after that scalding final panel in Sean Murphy’s Punk Rock Jesus #4, which took the pull list prize last week. Batman #13 may have been the big draw, but PRJ is the one that really leaves a mark. Now a teen, Chris — the so-called clone of Jesus Christ — can only stand by and watch as the horrible J2 reality show franchise delivers his poor mother a final, crushing blow. Afterward, you can see in him the same dead-eyed grief that haunted his security guard, Thomas, an ex-IRA terrorist who witnessed horrible violence as a boy. Chris takes refuge in punk rock albums and extreme cardio, and he then fully rejects the dogma that has defined his existence. It’s goodbye, Bible; hello, Sex Pistols and Richard Dawkins. Let’s just say that Chris goes way off script and makes his feelings about religion and his followers scathingly clear in the most memorable scene of the week. Jesus has left the building. Grade: A+
The Joker has one of the scariest faces in comics, but he’s even more terrifying when you can’t really see him. In the first chapter of “Death of the Family,” we catch only glimpses of Batman’s nemesis as he makes a methodical, chilling comeback. A shoe here. A blood-splattered glove there. A cackle in the dark as victim after victim suffers off-camera. I doubt poor Jim Gordon will ever have a sound night’s sleep again after hearing the Joker’s startling commentary about where the commissioner stashes his cigarettes. This is a horror show in the making, and Snyder-Capullo deliver a perfectly paced, chilling first act. The “Tease” backup story, in which Mr. J. tests the depths of Harley Quinn’s loyalty, made my skin crawl right up until the last second. Grade: A
Halloween Eve (one-shot)
Image one-shot Halloween Eve is like candy. Its pleasures are brief, colorful and ultimately quite sweet. Brandon Montclare’s story focuses on the cranky Eve, a costume shop employee who loathes Halloween. When Eve falls asleep in the shop the night before Halloween, she plunges into a topsy-turvy fantasy world where every day is the one she hates most. Montclare’s story is charming, but it’s Amy Reeder’s art that dazzles. Reeder illustrated and colored the comic, and each panel is luminous and lovingly detailed. Her rendering of each character, especially the expressive Eve, is perfect. Plus, the magical aspects of the story give her a lot of room to play. Halloween Eve is a treat, one that’s appropriate and appealing for tween readers and up. Grade: B+
Imposing in scale and length, The Dark Knight Rises takes viewers on a scenic but meandering journey — two hours and 45 minutes — that can test the limits of patience. But that’s OK. Thanks to some great acting and incredibly satisfying final scenes, these indulgences are easily forgiven. TDKR wraps up Christopher Nolan’s Bat-trilogy with style while offering some honest-to-goodness surprises and moments of pure fan delight.
“Another Batman book?” — an annoyed Facebook friend
I love Batman. He’s a fascinating hero who is ripe for psychoanalysis and, thanks to many talented creative teams and the loving care of his corporate keepers, has had some of the best stories in comics history. I’m also a Grant Morrison fan, so I’ve already added the relaunched Batman, Inc., which returns to the lineup in May, to my pull list.
Last night I was bagging and boarding my comics. I often put on a movie I’ve seen before just to have some background buzz, and I chose the Wonder Woman animated film. The offspring joined me, not to bag and board, but for the movie. Inevitably, she has questions. She is a curious spirit and I have henceforth dubbed her “The Questionator” (it is her super power). As she is watching the movie, she is curious why Diana isn’t sustaining any broken bones while fighting Ares. I explained Wonder Woman’s super powers, and how she’s pretty much impervious. Then she suggests that a fight between her and Batman would be a good one. I laughed. Clearly, she overrates Batman (just like everyone else); thus, I countered her versus suggestion with Black Canary. She thought about it and concurred. So there we have it, folks. Dinah versus Bruce. Set aside your boyhood bias and remember they both have been trained by Lady Shiva. They are both stellar hand-to-hand combatants. One is a genius and the other is a Meta. AND … just to keep it extra funky-fresh … Gail’s Canary circa Sensei & Student, Morrison’s Bat from, say, Batman & Son. Go.
In the world of many superheroes, killing a villain is verboten. Theoretically, doing so would undermine their moral authority and blur the line between angels and demons — even if the target is a cold-blooded murderer with no remorse and a high recidivism rate. Better to break a few of the bad guy’s bones and ship him or her off to the nearest prison or high-security facility for sociopaths. Right? Not always. Sometimes a character does something so heinous and/or is such a threat to society that a hero is justified in choosing the nuclear option. Continue reading →
Oblivious to our torches and pitchforks, DC is (apparently) pairing Wonder Woman and Aquaman for the upcoming Flashpoint event. Their union will save the world! Whatever. Our investment in BatWondy remains strong and, as should now be obvious, constant.
A while back, I stumbled across illustrator Luckico‘s DeviantArt page and adored many of her pieces. Like all the artists we’ve encountered along the way, she was very nice and genuinely flattered that we enjoyed her work. We corresponded a bit, and the subject of Batman and Wonder Woman came up … leading to the beautiful image above.
I’m a sucker for understated elegance, and Lukico’s interpretation of a Diana-Bruce wedding certainly qualifies. The bride looks radiant and appropriately regal, free of claptrap. No need to gild the Themysciran lily. She’s instantly recognizable (the bracelets), and when I showed the illustration to a friend who doesn’t read comics regularly, he knew exactly who the groom was. “Of course it’s Batman. Look at those shoulders.” It’s enough to send a gal into a fanfic frenzy. Many thanks to the talented Lukico for indulging me.
In case it’s not already clear, we like sexy art and well-done cheesecake. Superheroes (and antiheroes) are hot, and in the DCU, Catwoman is definitely in the top five — the dangerous curves, the skin-tight black suit, the purring. Selina owns her sexuality, and when she’s near Batman, the panels practically crackle with tension.
However, Greg Horn’s BatCat illustration recently set off a debate about when art goes from provocative to offensive. I’m the first to admit that there’s a fine line, and that tastes are very personal. (Our shirtless Batman/Catman poll illustration drew some criticism, for example.) Plus, few kids are reading comics anymore, so the chances of Junior seeing this are slim. In general, I’d rather an artist go over the top than play it safe. Horn has done some lovely work. However, the crouched, ass-in-the-air shot in front of Batman (complete with licking!) disgusted both of us. Catwoman doesn’t have to go there to set off fire alarms. Can you imagine the roles being reversed? I can’t.
What do you think? Is this a silly tempest in a teapot or another disturbing example of blatant sexism in comics? (If nothing else, the image prompted a very funny response from artist Phil Noto.)
Author’s Note: If fan sentimentality of any kind repulses you, please avoid the following essay.
The relationship between Batman and Superman has fascinated me since I was a kid. Equal parts bickering couple, friends, and teammates, they are quite a combo. Their surface differences are interesting enough — Clark’s pastoral and idyllic upbringing (minus that whole exploding planet thing) vs. Bruce’s youth as the orphaned Prince of Gotham. But when a really good writer brings them together, you get a sense of their mutual respect and understanding, in spite of the way they often grate on one another. Continue reading →
Digital artist Martin Koza does the kind of deceptively simple work that grabs you without a lot of bells and whistles. His work ranges from painterly to cartoony, but everything in his DeviantArt gallery is a pleasure to behold. The first image that hooked me was his Amanda Waller, below. Continue reading →