Category Archives: Batman


It’s official, the new Wii U console comes out November 18, 2012, just in time for the holidays. Following today’s Wii U announcement, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment and WB Games Montreal have presented some screenshots for “Batman: Arkham City Armored Edition,” the enhanced version of the award-winning blockbuster videogame coming exclusively to the Wii U this holiday season.

Have fun.

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“The Dark Knight Rises,” relevant and relentless, is an audacious brew of favorite Batman themes presented on an epic scale. Much in the way that “The Avengers” presented a more sophisticated superhero story, in terms of being more intricate and geeky, for general audiences, this last installment of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy does heavy duty too as it brings together elements from the previous two films and creates a true superhero epic. That is the take away you should get from this movie, it is epic, epic, epic. It will turn your beloved boxed set collection into an epic, not by default, but by pushing the Batman mythos into hyperdrive.

This is not a Batman movie with a character that is going to resonate far beyond the movie, except for some fun stuff going on with Anne Hathaway as Catwoman. It is this character that has truly given Hathaway her groove thing. She loves being Catwoman and we love her for it. She is so good in her role that it would make sense to give her a movie of her own but that’s not going to happen. Another thing that is not going to happen is someone mistaking Tom Hardy’s performance as the arch-villain Bane, with Heath Ledger’s Joker. It’s just not that kind of performance. We never really go deep into the twisted crevices of Bane’s psyche. However, Hardy provides a performance that is a force of nature and keeps us on the edge of our seats throughout.

Now, having said that we don’t have characters in this movie that will break into the pop culture is true. No doubt, there are no performances at the level of Heath Ledger in this one but the movie is beautifully acted. Everyone turns in a wonderful performance in a movie that is both character and story driven. We have all the heavy hitters giving it their all: Gary Oldman as Commissioner Gordon; Morgan Freeman as Fox; Michael Caine as Alfred. Then, in that same heroic league, we have Marion Cotillard as Miranda Tate; Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Detective John Blake; and Matthew Modine as Deputy Commissioner Foley.

One of the all-time favorite superhero themes is the one about the superhero at a loss, lost somewhere, rumored to be dead. It is at times like these that Earth, or at least the superhero’s home city, is in most peril from the most demented villain who has been lying in wait, just for a moment like this.

We begin the story high above in a private plane. CIA operatives are working over their captors, apparently with no qualms over using whatever means necessary to exact a confession. One hooded prisoner is being dangled out of the plane just before being pistol-whipped when another hooded prisoner speaks up. It is Bane, himself, explaining to the good CIA men that they should prepare to meet their doom. And, before any of the CIA ops can make another wisecrack, Bane shows us what a formidable badass he is.

Not long after that, we see what has become of Bruce Wayne. Too many lost loved ones, too many broken bones, too many broken dreams, have taken their toll. Bruce is now happy to just stay in his room and have perpetual room service. He has so abandoned the cape and cowl and all the righteous heroics that go with it that he can’t even stop Catwoman from stealing a priceless heirloom right from under his nose. But we know that Bruce will get his mojo back. Catwoman, after all, stole the most sacred of family heirlooms, pearls that belonged to Bruce’s mother. He isn’t going to let that stand. And Catwoman, for her part, does not scare easy. She has only begun to mess with Bruce. Before she’s done, she is going to take Bruce to the cleaners and back.

What makes this an epic is Bane’s plot to take over the world, or at least Gotham City. He has cloaked himself in the garb of an Occupy zealot, a champion of the people. While there is no question he is out for blood, he maintains his actions are for the people. Along with a secret weapon, Bane has his way and embarks upon a latter day French Revolution. Bane’s demented actions make for some arresting visuals: collapsing bridges, football stadiums exploding and stock brokers being forced to ride motorcycles down the mean streets of Gotham. The narrative takes us down many unexpected paths.

To sweeten the deal, we find ourselves coming up on some unexpected recurring themes. Both lead to some pleasant surprises. What we ultimately come away with is one of the best, if not the best, look into what makes Bruce Wayne tick. It makes for the perfect ending to a most remarkable trilogy.


Filed under Batman, Comics, DC Comics, Movie Reviews, movies, The Dark Knight

Dick Sprang and the Magic of Batman

Dick Sprang is your friend if you prefer your Batman to be more surreal and offbeat. If you want your Batman deep in his cartoon roots, and not so allied with CSI, then Zap, Pow, Boom, Bang, it’s Dick Sprang!

The above image is from a lithograph that Sprang created for DC Comics in 1995. Comics Alliance does a wonderful job of going over the details. What it comes down to is, Sprang, along with a special select group of artists from the Golden Age, essentially did what they had to do. Sprang outshone many of them but he, like the rest, just did his work and let Bob Kane, “the creator of Batman,” take the credit for it. Flash forward a few decades, and people come to appreciate an artist like Sprang. You have DC Comics doing the honorable thing by showcasing his work in reprint volumes and even bringing the old man out of retirement to do a double-page spread. Sprang has left us but he is hardly lost to obscurity.

It was a notion that the Batman I was looking for lived in old issues of “World’s Finest” that led me to Dick Sprang and his magical world.

The Jokermobile, for instance, is a perfectly Sprangian concoction and is included in an insightful essay at Matt Seneca’s blog. Sprang was completely steeped in cartoonland wizardy. And that is what I’d like to see in Batman today!

The above work graces the cover of the current issue of “Alter Ego,” #107. What exactly this illustration was created for has been completely forgotten! But here it is back from the dead and quite a lively spectacle. You’ve got Robin tied up to a speeding truck while Batman is jumping off another speeding truck going in the opposite direction. Batman secures himself to the truck that Robin is tied to, manages to break the windshield and even control the steering wheel!

Inside the magazine, you will find a nice little interview with Dick Sprang, from 1993, conducted by Shel Dorf, one of the founders of the San Diego Comic-Con. The interview gets lost in the details as these fanzine type of things tend to do but that’s okay. Mostly, you get a sense of what it is was like back in the ’40s in New York hustling for illustration work and finally landing a big time gig. A man in a suit approaches, Sprang, a young eager artist. He asks him to draw three Batman pages of script in four days. Sprang delivers. Then he asks him to do a whole Batman comic book, fifteen pages in fifteen days, maybe sixteen if he needs it. But, there’s a war on, so there are no guarantees. Sprang’s work will be stockpiled in anticipation of laying off artists, including possibly Sprang himself. Sprang agrees and the rest is history. The interview does well with history but the forest gets lost for the trees. It’s only at the very end that any mention is made of Sprang’s use of composition. Sprang, being at heart a company man, plays down his accomplishments. But we do get a glimmer as when he says, “You can draw lines that illustrate the artist’s thoughts.” That Sprang did most eloquently.

Here are the particulars on “Alter Ego,” #107:

ALTER EGO #107 (84 pages with color section, $8.95) is a big BATMAN issue, featuring an unused Golden Age cover by definitive Dark Knight artist DICK SPRANG! Headlining this bat-centric issue is a SHEL DORF interview with SPRANG (Batman, the Superman/Batman team, etc.) and JIM MOONEY (Batman, Superman, Robin, Supergirl, Tommy Tomorrow, Spider-Man, Marvel Team-Up, Son of Satan, etc.)! Plus there’s rare and unseen Batman art by BOB KANE, JERRY ROBINSON, WIN MORTIMER, SHELLY MOLDOFF, CHARLES PARIS, and others! Part II of the TONY TALLARICO interview, conducted by JIM AMASH! Plus FCA (Fawcett Collectors of America), MICHAEL T. GILBERT in Mr. Monster’s Comic Crypt, BILL SCHELLY, and more! Now in FULL COLOR! Edited by ROY THOMAS.


Filed under Batman, Comics, DC Comics, Dick Sprang

Brazilian Batman

When in doubt, call in Batman. A Brazilian Batman makes a lot of sense, as a comic, but as yet another “real-life superhero,” well, yikes! This from Reuters:

Retired Brazilian police officer Andre Luiz Pinheiro, 50, dressed as super-hero Batman, poses for a picture at Santa Terezinha Square in Taubate city, Sao Paulo state March 26, 2012. Pinheiro has been called to help police patrol the crime-ridden streets of Taubate, in Brazil. He was officially presented on March 17 in the districts with the highest crime rates in Sao Paulo state. Police captain Warley Takeo, one of the policemen who decided to bring in the character to help them fight drug traffickers, said the measure would bring long-term benefits. Takeo said making a connection between the police and Batman would help children have a clearer idea of good and bad. Picture taken on March 26, 2012. REUTERS/Roosevelt Cassio

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Batman, Volume 1, # 69, February 1952

There’s the truly retro Batman of the Golden Age, there’s the dangerous Batman, the goofy Batman and, of course, The Dark Knight. For my money, if I were to invest in Batman, I’d go with the campy Batman of the ’60s along with anything else that places Batman in a more offbeat light. Looking over what is currently on bid at eBay, I’d go for Batman, #69, from February, 1952, with cover art by Win Mortimer. You can bid for it here. For more information on this beauty, you can go to

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WORLD’S FINEST in The New 52 Second Wave Lineup

“WORLD’S FINEST” will be relaunched in the second wave of  “The New 52” DC Comics titles. You can read all the details over at The Source. Of course I’m thrilled to see the return of “Batman Incorporated.” But I was immediately curious about “World’s Finest.” When I think of this title, it brings to mind numerous Batman and Superman smackdowns, often quite funny, or odd buddy moments. I love that campy fun. Is there no room for one DC Comics title that pokes fun at its star superheroes? Granted, by the ’80s, this title had kicked that sort of satire to the curb. But, in the spirit of rediscovering the magic of comics, I’d have gone back to this title’s roots. The teaser for the new “World’s Finest” coming out in May left me scratching my head:

  • WORLDS’ FINEST – Writer: Paul Levitz. Artists: George Perez and Kevin Maguire. Stranded on our world from a parallel reality, Huntress and Power Girl struggle to find their way back to Earth 2. Perez and Maguire will be the artists on alternating story arcs.

Paul Levitz is one of the guardians of superhero tradition so, sure, his story will not disappoint fans. And those will be fans of everything to do with Earth 2, which is a hell of a lot of fans.

But there’s already “Earth 2” as part of the next wave of The New 52:

  • EARTH 2 – Writer: James Robinson. Artist: Nicola Scott. The greatest heroes on a parallel Earth, the Justice Society combats threats that will set them on a collision course with other worlds.

Not enough, huh? Is irony dead? No, but there’s no room for it in this latest version of “World’s Finest.” I know, I know, it’s all about the Dark Knight but it’s healthy to lighten up a bit. Isn’t it? The fans don’t think Batman is real, do they? Well, maybe some do.

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Filed under Batman, comic books, Comics, DC Comics, Superman, The New 52, World's Finest

JUSTICE LEAGUE: DOOM is next up on Warner Home Video

Next up in the outstanding series from the DC Universe is “Justice Leauge: Doom” which is set to release on February 28, 2012 from Warner Home Video. The press release follows:   

BURBANK, CA (Dec 12, 2011) – Earth’s greatest super heroes face foes on all fronts – using a plan initiated from within – in the all-new Justice League: Doom, the next entry in the popular, ongoing series of DC Universe Animated Original Movies. Produced by Warner Premiere, DC Entertainment and Warner Bros. Animation, the all-new, PG-13 rated film arrives February 28, 2012 from Warner Home Video as a Blu-Ray™ Combo Pack ($24.98 SRP) and DVD ($19.98 SRP), On Demand and for Download. Both the Blu-Ray™ Combo Pack and DVD will include an UltraViiolet™ Digital Copy,

Justice League: Doom finds Superman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter, Cyborg and Batman on their heels when a team of super villains discover and implement the Dark Knight’s “contingency plans” for stopping any rogue Justice League member. The story is inspired by Mark Waid’s much-heralded “JLA: Tower of Babel.”

Primetime television stars Nathan Fillion (Castle) and Tim Daly (Private Practice), the reigning voices of Green Lantern and Superman, respectively, join a group of eight actors reprising their famed Justice League cartoon roles. Fillion made his debut as Green Lantern/Hal Jordan in the recent Green Lantern: Emerald Knights, and took his initial DC Universe movie bow as the voice of Steve Trevor in the 2008 hit Wonder Woman. Daly originated his role as Superman’s voice in the landmark cartoon, Superman: The Animated Series. He has reprised the role in two DC Universe films: the 2009 extravaganza Superman/Batman: Public Enemies and the 2010 thriller Superman/Batman: Apocalypse.

The grand reunion of actors who provided the voices of the Justice League for the cartoon of the same name and its follow-up, Justice League Unlimited, includes Kevin Conroy (Batman: The Animated Series) as Batman, Michael Rosenbaum (Smallville, Breaking In) as Flash, Susan Eisenberg (Superman/Batman: Apocalypse) as Wonder Woman and Carl Lumbly (Alias) as J’onn J’onzz/Martian Manhunter. Bumper Robinson (A Different World, Transformers: Animated) joins the cast as Cyborg.

The Justice League faces two sets of villainous teams in the film – The Royal Flush Gang and a sextet of notable evildoers. The latter group includes three voice acting alumni of the Justice League animated series: Phil Morris (Smallville, Seinfeld) as Vandal Savage, Olivia d’Abo (The Wonder Years) as Star Sapphire, and Alexis Denisof (Angel) as Mirror Master. Also opposing our heroes are Carlos Alazraqui (Reno 911) as Bane, Paul Blackthorne (The Dresden Files) as Metallo, and Claudia Black (Farscape, Stargate SG-1) as Cheetah.

David Kaufman (Danny Phantom) also reprises his Justice League role of Jimmy Olsen.

The film is executive produced by Bruce Timm (Batman: Year One), and directed by Lauren Montgomery (Batman: Year One), who is also credited as producer alongside Alan Burnett (Batman: The Animated Series). Justice League: Doom is the final DC Universe film script from the late Dwayne McDuffie (All-Star Superman, Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths), who passed away in February 2011. Casting and dialogue direction is once again in the capable hands of Andrea Romano (Batman: Year One, Justice League).

Justice League: Doom has all the classic ingredients of a great super hero film – a cavalcade of dynamic villains, internal strife amongst our heroes, treacherous twists and turns, and a cast that brings together some of today’s popular primetime television actors with many of the fans’ favorite voices from the original series,” said Hersin Magante, Warner Home Video Marketing Director, Family & Animation. “I think fans will embrace Dwayne’s McDuffie’s final DCU script, particularly as it has been nuanced by Bruce Timm and the Warner Bros. Animation team. Warner Home Video is proud to distribute Justice League: Doom as the next DC Universe Animated Original Movie.”

Justice League: Doom Blu-Ray™ Combo Pack has 3 hours of exciting content, including:

  • Standard and high definition versions of the feature film
  • UltraViiolet™ Digital Copy,
  • Sneak Peak at Superman vs. The Elite, the next DC Universe Animated Original Movie
  • Featurette“A Legion of One: The Dwayne McDuffie Story” – The skilled writer penned some of the best stories which consistently entertained fans. From his early writing career to adapting the popular work of All-Star Superman, this is the story of Dwayne McDuffie, as told by his family and friends.
  • Featurette“Guarding the Balance: Batman and the JLA” – Everyone has a weakness and so do superheroes, yet when they go rogue, their power can topple more than a few egos, they can shatter worlds. The Justice League is the most powerful organization of superheroes on the planet, but what if the Justice League went rogue, and decided to use their power for harm?
  • Mini-featurette“Their Time Has Come: Cyborg and the DC Universe’s New Diversity” – 2011 will go down in DC Comics storied history as a year when a rich diversity of characters were re-introduced into the spotlight alongside Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman. One of the most celebrated of the re-imagined characters is Cyborg, who became the new Man of Steel in Geoff Johns’ altered universe storyline, Flashpoint.
  • Creative team commentary
  • Two bonus episodes from the Justice League animated series handpicked by Bruce Timm: Wild Cards, Part 1 and 2, written by Stan Berkowitz and Dwayne McDuffie
  • Digital Comic

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Filed under animation, Batman, Comics, DC Comics, Justice League, moives, Superheroes, Superman, Warner Bros.

Jerry Robinson, 1922 – 2011

Jerry Robinson, the key creator of The Joker, has passed away.

The Los Angeles Times has a feature in their “Hero Complex” column you can read here.

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Filed under Batman, comic books, Comics, DC Comics, Jerry Robinson, The Joker

BATMAN #3 Review of the New 52

Comics events will come and go and Batman will always be cool. But there’s never been anything quite like a re-launch of 52 titles as DC Comics has done. The landmark titles are getting the closest scrutiny, of course. “Action Comics,” the cornerstone to the DC Comics universe is hitting it out of the ballpark while it can be said that the new “Superman” is putting in an impressive showing. Where does Batman fit into the mix? He’s too cool to care so I’m asking for him.

The short answer: Among all the Bat titles out right now, “Batman” is the one to follow. Pretty easy this time around. If you’re into keeping up with the heart and soul of Batman, then just read “Batman.” That’s the title currently hitting the mark.

But, hey, if you have the extra time and money, of course, check out the other Bat titles. As for “Detective Comics,” I’m not getting into it since it’s basically just violence and not enough story. The truth is, if you want the hot Superman story right now, it’s “Action Comics” and, if you want the hot Batman story right now, then it’s “Batman.”

Currently up to Issue Three, Scott Snyder’s run on “Batman” keeps moving along, maybe even to the level of hitting it out of the ballpark.

The challenge with any superhero story of this caliber, be it Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, is saying something distinctive, even something daringly new. Do you settle on doing a cool CSI type story, which “Batman” lends itself to quite easily, or do you find a way to break new ground?

Here’s the thing, there  is absolutely nothing wrong with NOT breaking new ground and focusing on a solid story. But then, some guys can’t leave well enough alone.

Owls. It’s all about the owls—but so much more too. For one thing, Snyder has developed a new pal for Bruce Wayne, an honest politician, mayoral candidate, Lincoln March. It’s nice to give Bruce a new pal, at least for awhile. Snyder has also managed to do more than make Gotham “another character” in the story. Much in the way he’s provided full-bodied storytelling in “American Vampire” and his own recent run on “Detective Comics,” he loves to delve into details of the Batman saga. It’s quite an accomplishment when the words prove to be as evocative as the art. Snyder gives us an array of fanciful things to contemplate, most notably Wayne Tower which was built by a Wayne forefather as a shining beacon to commerce and to newcomers to Gotham.

And then we’ve got those owls, The Court of Owls. It turns out they’ve been around for a long, long time and have been hiding in the nooks and crannies of Gotham, in nasty spots like the hidden 13th floor of buildings. The tightly packed tension should continue to mount nicely before it all becomes a big ole owl bloodbath.

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Filed under Batman, comic books, Comics, DC Comics, Scott Snyder

A Milestone Comic: Review: Batman Inc. #1

Comics come and go so quickly it makes a regular observer’s head spin. So, when something this special comes along, it is a pleasure to share with all readers, those familiar with what I’m talking about and those without a clue. “Batman Inc” is a significant comic. So significant that it can truly be called a gateway comic for new readers.

Anyone who is into comics has been talking about this title since it was announced at this year’s Comic-Con in San Diego. Legendary designer Chip Kidd highly recommends it. Fans of the writer Grant Morrison, fans of comics in general, know this is where to be right now in comics.What is so amazing about this book is more than can be said in one review. Essentially, it is flawless. The artwork and the writing do a dance in your mind that will entrance you. It truly takes you away from your everyday routine and transports you to a happy place, a full comics experience.

Grant Morrison is known for his dark and multi-layered writing which brings in all manner of pop culture, history, myth and symbolism. That approach to writing has served Batman well as Morrison has navigated through a story, which has spanned a number of titles, that repositions Batman and Bruce Wayne after a long and tortured time when DC Comics had Bruce killed and it had looked like he’d stay dead. To bring Bruce back would need to be done with utmost care and so, presumably the best writing talent in the business, Mr. Morrison, has led the way to make this a truly special time in comics. For this current title, “Batman Inc,” we find Bruce in full command and running the show, the Batman part of his life, with the same vigor he runs his business empire.

Yanick Paquette (pencils) and Michel LaCombe (inks) provide spot on artwork, both beautiful, energetic and relevant. Not a missed note anywhere to be found. The colors too, by Nathan Fairbairn, are exquisite. We begin with Batman and Catwoman working together in Tokyo on the search for Mr. Unknown, who is supposed to figure prominently in Batman’s plans. But, oh wait a minute, actually, just before that, Mr. Unknown is killed by one very scary villain, Lord Death Man! And, yes, no matter how geeky that may sound, it is done with great elegance. This Lord Death Man looks like somebody from a Day of the Dead festival done up in a skeleton costume. But he looks fierce instead of festive and he means to kill without mercy just like the Grim Reaper himself. He comes upon Mr. Unknown and instantly takes away his hands. Mr. Unknown is in shock. He askes where his hands went. Lord Death Man says, “They are in hell! Awaiting the rest of you!”

This is just a little taste of the comic, with special consideration given to those of you out there who normally do not buy comics. I have to tell you, it will prove such an unexpected treat that I urge you to venture into your local comics shop and give it a try. You want to be in on the next big thing? This one will continue to reverberate for some time to come. It’s not exactly underground either. It’s DC Comics after all. But that’s the thing, so many of you just don’t know how good comics can be and this could be the first you hear of Grant Morrison, let alone “Batman Inc.” That said, do check it out.

And for those out there who already know the score. I love this line from Catwoman after she’s knocked out a bunch of Lord Death Man’s henchmen, all following a skeletal motif: “Bones don’t seem so scary when they’re broken in bits, do they?”

Batman, along with every comic book character around, keeps being revisited, tweaked, reborn, readjusted. This is a major shift. This is a new generation’s Batman.

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Filed under Batman, comic books, Comic-Con International: San Diego, Comics, DC Comics, Grant Morrison