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.”
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.
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.
Leave it up to Warner Bros. Home Entertainment to bring to life the hit video game as a full-length animated feature film. You can count on Warner Bros. to provide the entertainment. In this case, you’ve got a feature that will truly appeal to any age.
As you can see from the sample clip above, this is something that is literally age-appriate from 3 to 103. This just released clip features Robin (hilariously voiced by Charlie Schlatter) giving chase to Catwoman. The humor is snappy with a contemporary vibe while the plot never goes dark. Sure, it’s Batman in the spotlight but, as we all know, this is a very versatile character and, for this animated feature, you’ve got him here for light action and laughs.
LEGO BATMAN: THE MOVIE is now out! Visit Warner Bros. Entertainment here.
Arlen Schumer is your perfect guide into the world of comics and pop culture. He is a leading authority on comic book art. He knows the subject inside and out. After graduating with a degree in Graphic Design from RISDI, Mr. Schumer apprenticed with legendary DC Comics artist Neal Adams. Subsequently, Mr. Schumer went on to a career not as a comic book artist but as a comic book-style illustrator. A member of the Society of Illustrators, Mr Schumer took his already impressive career one step further and began to lecture on the artistic merits of the comic book art form. This led to his book, the award-winning “The Silver Age of Comic Book Art.” He regularly provides VisauLectures about comic book art that educate, inspire, and bring up for discussion intriguing and exciting aspects of comic book art.
This Sunday, May 5, will be an opportunity to see Mr. Schumer’s latest VisuaLecture, “Comic Book Art History: The First 24 Years!” If you’re not in the NY metro area, then you can still see this presentation streamed live. Just visit www.arlenschumer.com for details. You can also read the previous post just below this post.
Here is the Comics Grinder podcast interview below. We chat about comics and childhood. We also talk about how comics can be misunderstood and what can be done about it. One thing, no doubt, that is helping to motivate and educate the public about comics is Mr. Schumer and his VisuaLectures. They aren’t just lectures. They are lively engagements with the subject and, most definitely, visual. Keep an eye out for many more to come, including a tribute to Joe Kubert, Carmine Infantino, and a look at the development of the Black Panther character at Marvel Comics, a creation led by Jack Kirby. You can read the VisuaLecture about Jack Kirby’s Black Panther in a special Avengers issue of Alter Ego, details here. And you can read the VisuaLecture tribute to Joe Kubert in Comic Book Creator, details here.
“COMIC BOOK ART HISTORY: THE FIRST 25 YEARS!” is the latest in Arlen Schumer’s impressive VisuaLecture series on the comics medium. It is a not-to-be-missed presentation. If you happen to be in the area, see it in person at Stepping Stones Museum in Connecticut this Sunday, May 5. Or, you can view it as a live-streaming video. Details are below.
Arlen Schumer is one of the leading historians of comic book art. His presentations are lively, highly informative, and, of course, very visual!
THIS SUNDAY MAY 5th, 2013 @ 3:00pm! In an incredible multimedia gallery space, part of Stepping Stones Museum’s YES2 Youth Program’s 1st Comic Book Mini-Convention! A screen the size of a small IMAX to project on! Comic book images like you’ve never seen ’em before!
I’ll be going though not only “The First 25 Years” of my comic book history works (since my instigating the Fall ’88 PRINT mag special comics issue), but “the first 25 years” of my childhood and young adult years, from being the art director of BATMANIA mag in high school to working for Batman’s greatest artist, Neal Adams, after art school (like getting paid to go to graduate school), and then creating a career illustrating in a comic book style, and parlaying comic book history to audiences around the country!
And hey, adults–it ain’t just for kids! There’ll be plenty of adults/parents, and ALL ages are invited!
Cue up Barbra Streisand singing, “The Way We Were,” to a montage of Batman and Robin images. Can you hold back the tears? Damian Wayne, what a beautiful creature, cut down at the tender age of 10.
How do you create such a lively new character, allow him to live and grow…and suddenly die? Well, the fascinating reign of Damian, Batman’s son, as Robin, came to and end in “Batman Inc. #8.” It was a highly sought after issue and a much talked about issue. Overnight, you had all these new readers curious about the latest Batman buzz outside of “Death of the Family,” the blood-splattered Joker murder marathon event. “Damian Wayne? Batman’s son?” And just as some Batman readers were pondering that concept, it is no longer on the table.
Damian Wayne, up for the fight. From #1
As much as Grant Morrison stretched the idea of Batman and what it means, the whole idea of Damian, as well as Batman Incorporated, never seemed to fully take hold with marketing concerns, even though it brought new life to the very thing, Batman, that requires new blood to remain viable and marketable in the first place! Well, there’s always Joker blood but still. Thankfully, Morrison has done his work and it will always be there for future writers to work with. In the end, DC Comics would appear to want to let such innovations rest for now. Maybe the problem was that DC Comics did not invest more on “Batman Inc.” Maybe “Batman Inc” just needed time and eventually an animated movie and a TV show on the WB. That could have happened but that’s a commitment and commitments can be scary.
Much commentary about this issue, oddly enough, has been made without having read it. Sadly, “Batman Incorporated” wasn’t considered a must-read by regular Batman fans until now and now we’re wrapping this puppy up in a few more issues of Batman wrath. And what’s better for a die-hard traditionalist than to add to Batman’s misery? His son, whoever he was, is dead! That makes for an even more intense Batman, right?
Damian Wayne in all “Kiss-Ass” splendor from the New 52 “Batman Inc. #3”
This is a good time to comment on the actual issue and “Batman Inc.” in general. Compare the first run of “Batman Inc.” with the relaunched “New 52” version. In the original batch, Grant Morrison was building up the concept of Batman assembling a global crime-fighting network and it was being done with style. At the time, back in November of 2010, that first issue of “Batman Inc.” was a big deal, with big names in the industry, like Chip Kidd, highly recommending it. That was for good reason. And, you know, sometimes high quality does not result in big profits, at least not right away. Okay, once “Batman Inc.” was relaunched, in May of 2012, it had lost momentum and was already on its way out since it did not fit within the “New 52” realignment. The thrust of the story was no longer a brand new game plan for Batman. Nope, now “Batman Inc.” was simply going to serve as Batman’s “army” against Leviathan, the army of his nemesis, Talia al Ghul, daughter of the supervillain Ra’s al Ghul and the mother to Bruce Wayne’s only child, Damian Wayne. This is not to say that this hasn’t been one hell of a story. It’s just that it seemed that Leviathan, as well as Batman Incorporated, were heading towards much bigger things. Consider that next time you see the Penguin, the Joker, and the Riddler.
The story told in the pages of “Batman Inc.” has been a great merging of the talents of Grant Morrison and Chris Burnham. What became a psychological thriller, pitting the diabolical mother against the vengeful father and leaving the child caught in the middle, reached its climax in Issue 8.
Damian Wayne, ultimately is a little boy lost. He wants to honor both parents but they are coming at each other in a fight to the death. Damian is no match for what ensues. Repeatedly, he has been warned that his life is in danger. He can at least die a hero and he does.
Damian Wayne, Kid Power! From #8
At every opportunity, Morrison and Burnham express the innocence and bravery of Damian Wayne. This is truly “the boy wonder.” Every fiber of his being is engaged. He does battle in a way only children can fully understand.
His fight is uncompromising and pure. There is no middle ground for Damian. There isn’t any hesitation or brooding. What a contrast to his papa. Stop and think that over. Is the contrast of Batman and the Joker more compelling? Well, in this case, there would have been room for both of these to exist.
With all due respect, and in all fairness to DC Comics, it’s understandable that the father and son dynamic of Batman and Robin might have been too risky to pursue beyond a certain point. The whole point, a big point, to the New 52 was to open up a whole new page to a new generation of readers. The story of Batman did not start out as a father and son story so why go there now? Wouldn’t it take away from Batman anyway? Well, that’s very debatable. It would actually open up a whole new world of possibilities.
Look back, for instance, at all the great stories from “Batman Beyond,” which was set in a future with an elder Bruce Wayne mentoring a new Batman. That’s only one scenario. Batman and Bruce Wayne can remain as virile and empowered as ever while still having a son. That said, if Bruce Wayne was ever going to have a son, Grant Morrison gave him an excellent son with Damian Wayne.
“Batman Inc.” is not over yet although it basically is. Enjoy it through the final issue, #12, out June 26. After that, keep the faith. Maybe, years from now, maybe generations from now, “Batman Inc.” will rise again. For now, it’s gone, it’s over, it’s archived and placed in the vault. Visit our friends at DC Comics here.
“Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 2” picks up a few months after the first part so, as director Jay Oliva suggests, Robin (Ariel Winter) has had time to train up and Batman (Peter Weller) has had time to mend his broken arm. Turmoil. Chaos. Mayhem. It’s all here, even the threat of World War III. We also get two all-time throw downs: Batman versus Joker; and Batman versus Superman. Questions are settled, or as close at they can be. There is no holding back. This is based, after all, on one of the most audacious, and thought-provoking, works of comics by Frank Miller. The time is a futuristic present/80s. It could be now but there’s no way we can deny the present time in the original graphic novel, when Ronald Reagan sat in the White House and the Cold War still raged. The threat of a nuclear strike from an itchy trigger finger remained embedded in reality and in popular fiction.
Some might say that Ronald Reagan was the ultimate amalgamation of reality and popular fiction so it is quite fitting to have him play the role of president in this story. He’s the one that concludes that Batman has become a “problem” and instructs Superman to put him in his place. Reagan uses the analogy of a bucking bronco. Sometimes you have to put him down. In this case, the bronco has to be broken. Superman grudgingly agrees. As we’ll come to see, this sets into motion a collision between two forces for good with very different philosophies. Superman places himself within the perimeters of authority. Batman places himself outside the perimeters of authority.
What happens when the government you are supposed to trust in is acting in its own self-interest? What happens when the media you are supposed to rely upon for information is untrustworthy? This is where Superman hopes for the best. This is where Batman relies on his own moral code. And this is where the Joker comes in as the wild card. He keeps Batman on his toes and perhaps helps keep him focused. This animated movie brings all these issues to life starting with the Joker, played with devilish glee by Michael Emerson. In short order, we see the Joker go from inmate to guest on a David Letterman type of talk show. The Joker convinced his therapist that it would be good for him. It’s not long before the Joker is on a whole new killing spree and has found a way to fuel the flames over a dispute between the U.S. and the Soviet Union.
The Batman/Joker smackdown is a beautifully choreographed piece enhanced by the brooding synthesized score by Christopher Drake. Batman commands the stage. He’s nicely paired up with the Joker, who doesn’t ease up for a second. The original graphic novel had them duke it out in some grimy tunnel. But, in this movie, the two find themselves in an amusement park tunnel of love. It’s pitch perfect given their yin-yang relationship and the less than subtle homoerotic undertones.
Once we get to the main event, Batman vs. Superman, the whole world has been through hell. But there’s still a chance, that we can all just get along, right? It doesn’t look good and the stakes are as high as you can go. What’s interesting is that all the factors on how to make this a fair fight have been considered. It’s a pretty awesome fight. Superman, played by Mark Valley, is nobody’s fool and he helps add to the Man of Steel’s stalwart mythos.
There are three main bonus features: a discussion on superheroes in society; an analysis of the Joker; and a behind-the-scenes look at the animation process with director Jay Oliva. Plus you get three animated shorts. And an excerpt from the original graphic novel. It’s a wonderful treasure trove of informed discussion and added entertainment. Warner Bros. goes the extra mile with these features which mirrors their devotion to comics and animation. There’s a genuine respect for comics history and for solid storytelling. It’s a nice added touch to include in the discussion a noted expert in the classics, Richard Rader, along with Denny O’Neil, editor on the original graphic novel, and, especially noteworthy, Jerry Robinson, who was key in the creation of the Joker.
“Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 2” is available now and you can find it here. Visit our friends at DC Comics and see a clip from the movie here.
Ever wonder what Alexander Hamilton would look like if he was Batman? Well, probably not. But Berlin artist/designer Aslan Malik sure did. He went all graffiti on some legal tender and rendered himself some superheroes. DC Comics, take a look at your Justice Leauge now! Applying paint directly to a $50, $100, $20, $10, and $5, Malik turned Grant, Franklin, Jackson, Hamilton, and Lincoln into Superman, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, Batman, and the Flash. But what about the most iconic, and most easily accessible cash of them all, the mighty $1 bill? What about George Washington?
Classic statements made in any custody dispute. This time by Batman. Compared to the average couple, it doesn’t get any easier for Batman in his struggle with Talia over their son, Damian. You may have multi-colored elephants flying out of the sky and volcanoes erupting in the background, it’s all the same in the end. Except, in this case, the fate of millions hangs in the balance. Talia understates it very nicely, “We’re not normal people. We’re special.”
There’s no denying how special “Batman Incorporated” and all the related works by Grant Morrison are. It’s a joy to read. Even in its most violent moments, it still registers as comics and not a CSI episode. Part of it has to do, of course, with the amazing artists that Mr. Morrison works with. Chris Burnham is as robust and engaging an artist as Cameron Stewart or Frank Quitely. It’s compelling stuff. And Grant Morrison is quite generous in his references, ideas, and motivations. You could take a dozen things from any issue and turn them into separate stories.
Issue 6 gives us a title cover of “For The Love Of Their Son!” and a story title of, “Garland of Skulls.” And, basically, that is what you find inside the pages. We go back and forth between a heated exchange between Batman and Talia and the war on the streets of Gotham. Batman Inc. troops are fighting tooth and nail against Leviathan troops. Batman robots and manbats are coming down from the skies. All the while, Talia is playing mind games. And, back at the bat cave, Damian and a slew of Batman operatives find themselves privy to the sordid conversation between the two alpha parents. Quite messy. Was this something that could have been avoided through counseling? Well, no, not in this case.
It is a beautiful chaos. Talia, in some respects, could be standing in for The Riddler in this story. Batman must go through a maze of puzzles and taunts with little hope of escape. Throughout, he must consider the parable of the goatherd and its ten stages of understanding. First, the goatherd pursues the goat up the Mountain of Enlightenment. But do you really think Talia is concerned with enlightenment? No, she’s about weaving her own beautiful chaos. Just when we think Damian is somehow fated to destroy Gotham, Talia suggests that may not be the case.
What a great piece of work. One thing is pretty clear, the whole idea of Batman Incorporated is headed for permanent acceptance. It will be, if it isn’t already, part of Batman lore, part of Batman canon. Who can really say otherwise? “Batman Inc.” is one of the best things going in comics today and that’s quite an understatement.
Stay tuned for “Batman Inc. #7,” due out January 30, 2013. Visit our friends at DC Comics.