Category Archives: Batman

A New European Batman Graphic Novel: ‘The Dark Prince Charming’ by Enrico Marini

MARINI’s BATMAN!

French publisher Dargaud caused plenty of buzz when it announced last month a two-volume Batman graphic novel by legendary European comics creator Enrico Marini (Le Scorpion, Eagles of Rome, Gipsy). By itself, that is exciting news. But there was no news about a simultaneously published English version. Perhaps that was a secret that can only now be revealed. DC has just announced that it will be publishing this work, entitled, “Batman: The Dark Prince Charming.” Now, that’s some Batman news!

MARINI’s CATWOMAN!

With this work, Enrico Marini will make his American comics and mainstream superhero debut. If you’ve seen his work for “Le Scorpion,” for instance, you can expect some cool swagger. And Batman will need all his confidence for this new story as he confronts his arch-nemesis The Joker. According to the DC press release, what distinguishes this story from other Batman tales is that this time, “it’s personal!” When has it not been personal when it comes to these two characters? Whatever the case, this time, Batman is…European! And let’s not lose sight of another character in this tale: Catwoman! I will have more to say about Catwoman in an upcoming post.

MARINI’s BATCAVE!

Here is the official description of the story according to DC:

What secret connection do both Batman and The Joker share with a strange and mysterious young girl? After she’s kidnapped by The Joker, Batman must plunge deep into the underworld of Gotham City and race against time to find out where she’s being held. The stakes are high, and for Batman, it’s personal!

MARINI’s GOTHAM CITY!

Pretty cool news however you spin it! Book one of Batman: The Dark Prince Charming will be in stores on November 1, 2017. Look for book two coming in spring 2018!

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Filed under Batman, Catwoman, Comics, Dargaud, DC Comics, DC Entertainment, Enrico Marini

Movie Review: WONDER WOMAN

Finally, Wonder Woman gets her very own movie!

“Wonder Woman” is simply the movie to see rounding out its third weekend with U.S. sales at $275 million and $570 million worldwide. You may have noticed there are a lot of showings, including 3D and 4DX versions, and they sell out quickly. All of this is for very good reason. This Wonder Woman movie is very sharp and Gal Gadot in the main role commands the screen at all times, even more so, I dare say, than a Ben Affleck or a Henry Cavill. That had to be part of the thinking behind this first ever Wonder Woman major motion picture. The stumbling block all these decades was supposed to have something to do with whether or not a Wonder Woman movie could ever deliver the box office of a Superman or Batman movie. The answer is YES!

Yes, Wonder Woman can Kick Ass!

“Wonder Woman,” directed by Patty Jenkins, is certainly one of those exceptional movie events. It comes out of that urgent need to get it right. The most brilliant step in getting it right was to set the story during World War I. When was the last time you saw a major motion picture set during WWI? Any young person walking in to see this movie would shrug. There have been a select few, including 2004’s “A Very Long Engagement,” starring Audrey Tautou. The original Wonder Woman comic book was inextricably linked to World War II since it came out during that era. But to rework that same terrain would have been dreadfully tiresome for many a fan. Setting things back to an entirely different epoch opens up different and more compelling options, bringing it all back to basics in a very intriguing way. What could be better than to have a young and idealistic goddess confront “the war to end all wars”? I can imagine that being the pitch to the story by Zack Snyder (Man of Steel) that was fleshed out in the screenplay by Allan Heinberg (Grey’s Anatomy).

HOLLYWOOD, CA – MAY 25: Actors Gal Gadot (L) and Lynda Carter attend the premiere of Warner Bros. Pictures’ “Wonder Woman” at the Pantages Theatre on May 25, 2017 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

The beauty of “Wonder Woman” is how purposeful it is. Yes, we are dealing with the inevitable origin story. But that becomes a big plus as this is used to full advantage. The opening scenes set in Themyscira, the idyllic world that Wonder Woman comes from, have a refreshing vibe to them. There is a certain amount of dutiful explaining going on but, right from the start, we see quick and steady progress from our main character. We see Diana, the little girl, get the early training she demands. In no time, she has grown into a young woman more powerful than even she could imagine. And, all the while, this phase of Diana’s life, comes across not as merely backstory but as essential. Most importantly, there is a sense of urgency and suspense. In a different era, not too long ago (not exactly over with), this depiction of a female paradise could have easily fallen prey to titillation. More harmful than any supervillain, that would have been the worst sucker punch Wonder Woman could have endured.

Yes, a Wonder Woman can be VERY SUCCESSFUL and POPULAR!

So, let me jump to my big point. I went to see this movie with my 21-year-old daughter. She was not really all that aware of the Wonder Woman TV show, starring Lynda Carter. I tried to explain that it was part of its era, the ’70s, and less enlightened. It was too easy to make Wonder Woman a sex symbol for that show. And my daughter quickly picked up on that and said she appreciated how this new Wonder Woman was not sexualized in that way. I also mentioned that I have read more than one account, over the years, of women claiming to have been inspired as little girls by the spinning Lynda Carter did on the show to magically transform into a superhero. Girls would spin and spin and spin. Again, my daughter picked up on that. She said she was more interested in Gal Gadot’s impressive Taekwondo kicks. I am sure that Lynda Carter would understand.

“Wonder Woman” offers a whole new way for girls to be inspired. They no longer have to just spin and spin and spin. What a remarkable job this movie does in playing catch-up. Had a movie just like this come out in Lynda Carter’s heyday, it would have been hailed as nothing short of revolutionary. Superman and Batman movies have dominated the pop culture landscape for decades having left a Wonder Woman movie at a considerable disadvantage. How this movie overcomes that, with a genuinely inspiring main character, clearly demonstrates that there is a demand of strong and powerful female characters. In fact, the revolution continues and this movie manages to depict Wonder Woman as leading the way.

“Wonder Woman” is distributed by Warner Bros. Visit the official Wonder Woman movie site right here.

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Filed under Batman, Comics, DC Comics, Movie Reviews, movies, Superheroes, Superman, Warner Bros., Wonder Woman

Review: ‘How to Draw Sci-Fi Utopias and Dystopias’ by Prentis Rollins

"How to Draw Sci-Fi Utopias and Dystopias" by Prentis Rollins

“How to Draw Sci-Fi Utopias and Dystopias” by Prentis Rollins

I want to share with you a book that really speaks to me as an artist and storyteller. I’d been meaning to write a review of it for quite some time and then it struck me last night as to what to say here. This is one of those books with the goal of art instruction that really gets it! And it is considerably helped along by its niche focus! Are you into science fiction? Would you like to draw work that perfectly fits into that genre? Well, then, here’s the book for you: “How to Draw Sci-Fi Utopias and Dystopias” by Prentis Rollins, published by Monacelli Press.

This is the ultimate guide for illustrators at all levels on how to fine tune their sci-fi imagery. You get the very best advice from Prentis Rollins, a DC Comics veteran (Rebirth, Supergirl, and Batman: The Ultimate Evil). Given the opportunity, I would love to pick his brain. But, let me tell you, this book is the next best thing as Rollins takes a very accessible and conversational tone throughout his instruction filled to the brim with examples. There are 32 step-by-step case studies in all created and imagined especially for this book.

Whether you are attempting to create a compelling utopia or dystopia, it all comes back to basics. Here is a book that goes through the building blocks all the way to sophisticated techniques to really rock your world. Rollins is certainly not alone in stressing a need to master the fundamentals before veering off to pursue your own thing. In fact, he implores you to not rely too heavily upon emulating the work of others. However, he also emphasizes the very real need to be inspired by others.

For Rollins, he has two main influences: American artist Syd Mead (Blade Runner, Star Trek: The Motion Picture); and the Swiss surrealist painter H.R. Giger (Alien). As Rollins is quick to point out, these two artists could not be further apart from each other. Mead is logical, clean, and rational. Giger is morbid and nightmarish. You could place one in the utopian camp and the other in the dystopian camp. And that falls well into the theme that Rollins pursues: a close look at science fiction imagery, both utopian and dystopian.

A utopian scene

A utopian scene

Consider these examples, among the many you’ll find in this book. One shows you a scene more in the vein of Syd Mead.

A dystopian scene

A dystopian scene

While the other shows you a scene more in the vein of H.R. Giger. And, yet, both resonate a certain way of doing things that is all Prentis Rollins. And that, my friend, is the whole point of the book. I hope you’ll get a chance to pick up a copy for yourself or for someone you know who would get a kick out of such an impressive art instruction book.

“How to Draw Sci-Fi Utopias and Dystopias” is a 208-page trade paperback in full color. For more details and how to purchase, visit Monacelli Press right here.

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Filed under Art, Art books, Batman, DC Comics, DC Entertainment, Illustration, Monacelli Press, Prentis Rollins, Sci-Fi, science fiction, Supergirl, Superman

Review: ‘Bat-Man Is Lost In A Woods’ by David Enos, published by California Clap

"Bat-Man Is Lost In A Woods" by David Enos

“Bat-Man Is Lost In A Woods” by David Enos

This is a review of the comic, “Bat-Man Is Lost In A Woods,” by David Enos, published by California Clap. That is mostly what we will be discussing here. However, I will bring up a few other related things. First off, I set out to write this review while I waited to see an old friend who had just gotten his nipples pierced. He’s a fairly average guy, maybe not the type to do this. But, hey, to each his own. That brings me to a theme I was working with for this review: seeing the familiar within the unfamiliar. So, here I was waiting. I began to imagine getting my own nipples pierced–or at least just one. But I keep thinking there will be issues with airport security. I know for a fact that the SEATAC TSA is prone to fumbling about. So, imagine me sporting nipple jewelry for TSA to have to process. These folks don’t process very well.

Batman and Amity

Batman and Amity

Anyway, let us proceed. Batman. Now, there’s a subject for you. Most of us out there can easily hook into Batman. What David Enos has done is play with that familiarity. His Batman taps into arguably the most accessible version, the Adam West model. The Enos Batman is a no-nonsense guy with little room for drama. The big case he’s on in this story is familiar enough too: a search for a long lost love. It’s the sort of plot that can easily be deadened by a too obvious treatment. Enos is having fun with these tropes by taking everything right up to the edge of the banal. He throws in some light humor and sets this whimsical Batman off on a surreal landscape, a mashup of grim, dark, and camp.

Reading BAT-MAN IS LOST IN A WOODS

Reading BAT-MAN IS LOST IN A WOODS

It is a rite of passage for any cartoonist to create their take on superheroes. There is a divide that will always exist between independent cartoonists and the world of mainstream genre. There is little crossover but, when it happens, it is something to study on a case by case basis. When it does happen, the big two comics publishers have found interesting ways to work with relatively indie creators. It’s pretty simple, the most popular superheroes are mega-franchises. Not just anyone is going to be handed the keys to the Batmobile. The mistake is when an indie cartoonist dismisses genre comics out of hand. As David Enos demonstrates here, there are endless possibilities to work with genre, subversive or otherwise. DC Comics and Marvel can always learn something new from alternative cartoonists.

Writing About BAT-MAN IS LOST IN A WOODS

Writing About BAT-MAN IS LOST IN A WOODS

It is a lot of fun to watch this banal Batman recalling the bittersweet days of his marriage to a pretty young woman named, Amity. Understandably, this is not a character from Batman canon. But she does make for a suitable match in the spirit of Silver St. Cloud. Amity is younger and more prone to pouting than anything else. She just wishes that Batman made more time for her and that they had more of a normal life together. Ah, isn’t that always the way with these sort of relationships? Enos deftly pulls the strings on what seems like a merely juvenile plot that unfolds into a dreamy and disturbing narrative, more like HBO’s “True Detective” but also hinting at the sinister origins of Batman going back to his debut in “Detective Comics” in 1939. There was always something weird about Batman. That’s what makes him interesting. David Enos celebrates that weirdness in this comic.

Pork Chops & Eggs at Coastal Kitchen

Pork Chops & Eggs at Coastal Kitchen

I also have to say here that I had a wonderful meal at my venue for writing this review. If you’re in Seattle, you definitely want to visit Coastal Kitchen in the Capitol Hill neighborhood. I had a delectable dish, Pork Chops and Eggs topped with an out of this world house Romesco sauce made with roasted red peppers and almonds. And, in a funny way, that sort of ties in with my theme: take a familiar meat and potatoes subject and give it a spicy twist!

“Bat-Man Is Lost In A Woods,” by David Enos, is a 32-page full-color comic. You can find it at California Clap right here.

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Filed under Adam West, Alternative Comics, Batman, Comics, Food, Humor, mini-comics, Minicomics, Nipples, Piercings, Satire, Seattle, Superheroes

ECCC 2016: The Pulp Roots of Today’s Comics and Entertainment

The Shadow Knows!

The Shadow Knows! “I see a Batman in your future.”

Pulp fiction, at its peak in the ’20s and ’30s, is an often misunderstood phenomena. However, the pulps are very much still with us: accessible, iconic, and familiar, just like they were always meant to be. They have certainly evolved from the thrilling days of yesteryear. What began with the pulps made its way into other media: comics, radio, movies, and television. Pulp provided the source. Some pulp writers crossed over to other media. Other writers were influenced by the pulps. And some writers simply took characters and stories directly from the pulps and transferred them to other media. Think of it this way: Doc Savage is Superman; The Shadow is Batman. Plus a whole lot more going on. In a fascinating panel discussion at Emerald City Comicon, Rob Salkowitz moderated a conversation between comics scholar Greg Hatcher, artist Dan Schkade (The Spirit), and writer Chris Roberson (The Shadow, iZombie).

The Pulp Roots of Today's Comics and Entertainment

The Pulp Roots of Today’s Comics and Entertainment

Rob Salkowitz asked each panelist to name their favorite pulp character and the answers help give you a window into the appeal. For Chris Roberson, his favorite is Doc Savage. He said that growing up in the ’70s was a perfect time for a kid to read the pulps since there was a boom in avenues for distribution but limited content. So, Chris got to enjoy all the reprints of Tarzan, Conan, and Doc Savage he could ever want to read. This, of course, left a tremendous impression upon the budding young writer.

Moderator Rob Salkowitz, Greg Hatcher, and Dan Schkade

Moderator Rob Salkowitz, Greg Hatcher, and Dan Schkade

It was great to see Dan Schkade, with his witty enthusiasm, be quick to say that the best character in pulps is The Shadow. But his personal favorite character is The Avenger, “the dead middle between Doc Savage and The Shadow, both similar and less than the sum of their parts. He’s just so creepy with his dead face that he molds to look like other people. And his weapons, a switchblade and a Mauser, which he’s given first names to.”

And Greg Hatcher, coming from a historian’s point of view, recalled as a boy seeing his first comic books based on the pulps and immediately hitting the library to do research! His favorite pulp character is The Spider. “As Will Murray used to say, it was the good kids who read The Shadow; and it was the bad kids who read The Spider. There was this incredible hell-for-leather deranged momentum behind a Spider story. For the main character, Richard Wentworth, each Spider mission was personal!”

"Legends of a New Pulp Fiction," from editor Ron Fortier and Airship 27

“Legends of New Pulp Fiction,” from editor Ron Fortier and Airship 27

The subject of pulp fiction is definitely not one to take lightly. Once you make one assumption, there is always something else to consider. For instance, while pulp fiction was designed to have broad appeal that did not mean that all stories were the same or of a low quality. In fact, there are numerous examples of great writing in the pulps. Great writers first began in the pulps: Ray Bradbury, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Dashiell Hammett, Raymond, Chandler, and James M. Cain, to name a few. At one point, Schkade made a brilliant observation regarding how pulp is presented today. “Many people have the misconception that pulp is inextricably linked to the past, that everything has to have a retro look to it. But, when you think about it, the stories during the pulp era were set in the present.”

Chris Roberson

Chris Roberson

Pulp is with us more than you may know. Consider any number of fantastic, hard-hitting, action-packed stories that you read or view today, and they will owe something to pulp fiction. The grandest examples: Indiana Jones, Avatar, and Star Wars. The interest in pulps is tremendous and it is not an exaggeration to say that it has never let up since its earliest days. In fact, that is the deepest well of them all for fan fiction. Since the ’60s, there has been a growing New Pulp movement with fans creating their own versions of their favorite pulp stories. One recent anthology that will be of interest to you is “Legends of New Pulp Fiction,” which you can find on Amazon right here. It is a dazzling collection that includes a story by Greg Hatcher. This is a special benefit anthology. Proceeds from the book go to benefit New Pulp writer/editor/publisher Tommy Hancock suffering from congestive heart-failure. You can learn more about this right here.

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Filed under Batman, Comics, Emerald City Comicon, New Pulp, pop culture, Pulp Fiction, Robert Salkowitz, Superman, writers, writing

BATMAN V. SUPERMAN: WHO WILL WIN?

"Batman V. Superman: Who Will Win?" game

“Batman V. Superman: Who Will Win?” game

Later this month sees the arrival of director Zack Snyder’s “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” which hits theaters on March 25th. As we approach this landmark unveiling which will pit two of DC Comics’ most iconic figures we are gearing up for being hit with a barrage of promotional material and accompanying movie tie-ins. This includes the very recent release of the new Batman v Superman mobile game now available on both iOS and Android.

Those waiting to see the return of the Man of Steel as well as just how award-winning actor/director Ben Affleck will fare as he takes on the role of the caped crusader will be pleased to get in on the action for this upcoming on-screen bout. The game “Batman v. Superman: Who Will Win?” takes place in both Gotham and Metropolis and offers players the opportunity to play as either Superman or Batman.

Any battling game that includes “versus” in its title is going to focus a lot on “Who Will Win?” and, quite frankly, that’s exactly what’s happening here. But that will come as no surprise and won’t disappoint any fan.

Those movie fans who may be considering avoiding this one due to potential spoilers that may be included in the game or storyline will not have to worry as there’s nothing here that directly relates to the plot of the upcoming movie. What’s more this is a great little game to play especially for Superman fans who, let’s face it, have not exactly had a decent offering of video games up to this point that feature the last son of Krypton. While his new opponent already has plenty of well-conceived gaming efforts out there including a cool Dark Knight Rises slot game that you can play at allslotscasino.com and, of course, Batman: Arkham City.

Batman has fared much better in terms of video game adaptations mostly thanks to the series of Arkham-based games featuring a whole host of familiar Gotham faces battling it out against the man beneath the black cowl. With Warner Bros and DC Comics keen to take a bigger slice of the feature-based superhero box office which has been mostly dominated by Marvel for the past few years we’ll no doubt be seeing plenty more gaming spin-offs from their new Justice League venture.

The new mobile-based game from Warner Bros can be played on a web browser also and it’s an endless runner that requires players to chase through the streets collecting power-ups as they go along while dodging obstacles that happen to be in the way. And there is the inevitable face-off battle between the two superhero giants to see just who comes out on top.

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Filed under Batman, Comics, Games, movies, Superman

Review: GOTHAM ACADEMY #1

DC-Comics-Gotham-Academy-2014

October sees a lot of Batman comics and “Gotham Academy” is one particularly good comic from DC Comics that you will want to check out. What is noteworthy about this one is it really strikes an authentic girl power chord. Every page rings true. You can thank the writing team of Becky Cloonan and Brenden Fletcher. I recently interviewed Cloonan and, as you may know, she’s sure to deliver with girl street cred. Art by Karl Kerschl; Colors by GeyseR; and Cover artwork by Karl Kerschl. Everyone delivers the goods here.

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Filed under Batman, Becky Cloonan, Comics, Comics Reviews, DC Comics, DC Entertainment

The Truth About Batman: THE CAPE CREATOR

Batman Before Bill Finger

Batman Before Bill Finger

Batman After Bill Finger

Batman After Bill Finger

Batman fans know Bob Kane as the character’s creator. But do they know Bill Finger, Batman’s co-creator? You can decide how much credit Mr. Finger deserves. As this documentary lays it out, it should be a hell of a lot of credit. Here’s your chance to secure the making of the documentary, “The Cape Creator,” during its Kickstarter campaign, that ends March 5, and which you can visit here.

Before Kane ever signed his first Batman contract, Finger had already transformed the character thoroughly from Kane’s original design. “Without Finger,” says Dr. Travis Langley, author of the book Batman and Psychology: A Dark and Stormy Knight, “Batman could been a blond guy in red tights with big DaVinci wings and no cowl, no gauntlets, whose early rogue’s gallery consisted entirely of Two-Face. That’s it.”

PRESS RELEASE – UPDATE:

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Filed under Batman, Comics, DC Comics, Kickstarter

Welcome to DC Comics: Harley Quinn, Naked and Suicidal, Subject of Contest

HARLEY-QUINN-SUICIDE-CONTEST

Step right up, boys (and girls, if you insist), step right up and try your hand at depicting Harley Quinn naked in a bathtub with a variety of devices aimed to electrocute her. All those young people eager to break into comics and this is what DC Comics has to offer? They offer up a contest where the aspiring artist draws four panels that depict Harely Quinn in four suicide attempts, the last depicting her naked about to be electrocuted.

This is what DC Comics wants to align itself with? If it wants to come across as your typical corporation, insensitive to humans, it has succeeded. Of course, they can claim it is all in jest. But this tiresome “boys will be boys” mentality is pretty weird.

It’s not like Warner Bros. Entertainment doesn’t care what you think of it. They have an ongoing media blitz to bring attention to their donations to the Horn of Africa. It is called, “We Can Be Heroes.” Check it out here.

Is too much being made of the current contest at DC Comics where aspiring talent are asked to make a devil’s bargain? The concern is genuine and it’s growing. It has already caught the attention of the Huffington Post. You can read that here.

No doubt, there is a huge disconnect at DC Comics right now. Maybe, many years down the road, this contest will be seen as utterly ridiculous…by DC Comics. Maybe, many years down the road, the latest clash between DC Comics editors and talent will be seen as unfortunate…by DC Comics. The decision from DC Comics top brass to kill the story of Batwoman’s marriage to her girlfriend led to the co-writers on the Batwoman story, J.H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman, quitting. Read more about it in this excellent piece by Rob Bricken, at io9, here.

If you want the official DC Comics response to this contest, look no further than DC Comics co-publisher Jim Lee who got all Twittery. Check that out here. He claims that the writers of the contest script, longtime DC Comics employees, Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti, were just poking fun at themselves. Sadly, that makes no sense.

But people, here and now, understand that something is wrong and are not afraid to voice their opinion. There are exceptional voices of dissent, like the always eloquent Alyssa Rosenberg at Think Progress. Read her piece here. Or check out this awesome piece by Aja Romano, at The Daily Dot, here.

So, here’s the thing, I’m smart enough to not go completely Wertham Comics Code bonkers about this. You have to imagine that the boys at DC Comics want to stir things up. But the “boys will be boys” method is just so creepy and should off itself.

So, DC Comics, can we be heroes?

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Filed under Batman, Comics, DC Comics, DC Entertainment, J.H. Williams III, Superheroes

COMIC-CON 2013: Marvel Comics vs. DC Comics at the Box Office

Writer/director Joss Whedon gave “Marvel LIVE!” the exclusive first interview after the announcement of Marvel’s “Avengers: Age of Ultron” during Marvel Studios’ Hall H presentation. You can expect a new spin on the Ultron origin story and a global outlook.

“Machinima” provides a recap on the news coming out of Comic-Con about a Superman vs. Batman movie. The news is very brief amounting to a quote from a confrontation between Superman and Batman from Frank Miller’s “Batman: The Dark Knight Returns.” However, there is no indication that this story will be the basis for the new movie.

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Filed under Batman, Comic-Con, Comic-Con 2013, Comic-Con International: San Diego, DC Comics, Disney, Joss Whedon, Marvel Comics, movies, Superman, The Avengers, Warner Bros. Entertainment