Tag Archives: Batman

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 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 DC COMICS – THE NEW 52: THE POSTER COLLECTION from Insight Editions

DC Comics - The New 52: The Poster Collection

DC Comics – The New 52: The Poster Collection

This is one colossal book. It’s 40 posters featuring art from the biggest names in the DC Universe. This is “DC Comics – The New 52: The Poster Collection,” published by Insight Editions. All in one place, you get an eye full of iconic cover art from the most popular DC Comics titles since the launch of the New 52 in 2011. The book of posters is 12″ x 16″, priced at $24.99, and proves an excellent collection of contemporary DC Comics artwork.

Wonder Woman Poster with issue from comic book for comparison.

Wonder Woman Poster with issue from comic book for comparison.

If you love The New 52 comics, then this is a perfect companion piece. Here are some samples with the comic book alongside for comparison.

Action Comics Poster with issue from comic book for comparison.

Action Comics Poster with issue from comic book for comparison.

And, if you are somehow new to The New 52, this unique book will make an excellent introduction.

New 52 Batgirl Posters

New 52 Batgirl Posters

“DC Comics – The New 52: The Poster Collection” is available as of May 12, 2015. For more details, visit our friends at Insight Editions right here. You can also go here, here, and here.

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Filed under Comics, DC Comics, Insight Editions, The New 52

Comics in 2015: Wonder Woman: Earth One, Volume 1

From "Wonder Woman: Earth One," art by Yanick Paquette

From “Wonder Woman: Earth One,” art by Yanick Paquette

It was this time last year that I posted about looking forward to Grant Morrison’s “Wonder Woman: The Trial of Diana Prince.” Well, now it would seem to be an even better deal as that story will join forces with Earth One, an ongoing series of graphic novels published by DC Comics which retells the earliest adventures of various DC Comics characters. These stories give each character a freshening up on their origin story and on an alternate Earth so that it is free from, as they say in the comics biz, “continuity restraints.” That means that these stories don’t have to answer to what has already been sort of set in stone in the official DC universe. So, it’s like maybe a dream and it never happened, or maybe it did, but probably not. In the end, a good story should result.

Earth One titles slated for 2015:

Superman: Earth One, Volume 1-2 and Volume 3 will be released February 10, 2015.
Batman: Earth One, Volume 1 and Volume 2 will be released May 12, 2015.
Teen Titans: Earth One, Volume 1 to be released in 2015.
Wonder Woman: Earth One, Volume 1, originally slated for a Summer 2014 release, now slated for 2015.

The Wonder Woman Earth One graphic novel will be well worth the wait, with Grant Morrison finally tackling his first full-length Wonder Woman story and with art by the wonderful Yanick Paquette, who has worked with Morrison on “Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne” and “Seven Soldiers of Victory.” For more details, visit our friends at DC Comics right here.

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Filed under Comics, DC Comics, DC Entertainment, Grant Morrison, Wonder Woman

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

Review: ‘Make Comics Like the Pros: The Inside Scoop on How to Write, Draw, and Sell Your Comic Books and Graphic Novels’

Make-Comics-Greg-Pak-Fred-Van-Lente

“Make Comics Like the Pros,” really cuts to the chase with common sense advice on how to join the ranks of the professionals. Start with the golden rule: Treat others as you would want to be treated. It’s a pretty simple rule but an essential one. It’s time to get over yourself because the comics industry involves a multitude of skills, including people skills. You’ll need them not just to pitch your project (hold on, don’t get ahead of yourself) but to create your project in the first place as this business of creating comics is very much a collaborative activity.

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Filed under Comics, Education, Fred Van Lente, Greg Pak, writers, writing

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

Review: SUPERHEROES: A NEVER-ENDING BATTLE on PBS

Fleischer-Studios-Superman

Superman, Fleischer Studios, 1941-1942

Superman, Fleischer Studios, 1941-1942

“When you strip everything away, what you’re looking at is a stranger in a strange land who doesn’t want to be isolated from the world,” says comic book writer Mark Waid, in summing up what a superhero is all about in a remarkable PBS series, “Superheroes: A Never-Ending Battle.” Viewers will be able to watch all three episodes in one feature length presentation tonight, 8pm/7pm Central. Go to PBS for more details here. And, don’t forget, there are super treats after the show: you can purchase the DVD or Blu-ray, with plenty of bonus features, and you can purchase a gorgeous hardcover book companion with a treasure trove of additional material (review here).

Superhero comics are always up for a good fight, especially when it comes to survival of the fittest. As this comprehensive documentary makes clear, it didn’t take long before such early creations as Superman and Batman gained popularity. Once on top, it’s hard to see yourself anywhere else. And so the race was on to stay on top. However, comics aren’t a simple product that you can easily manipulate for maximum profit, or else that wasn’t exactly the plan. For example, when Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel, a couple of lonely and poverty-stricken teenagers in Cleveland, created Superman in 1934, they weren’t thinking about demographics. No, they were thinking about heroics in the very best sense of the word. It is that kind of spirit that has made its way through this rather complex world of superhero comics. Yes, it is a business but it is also married to art. Sometimes it’s a happy marriage and sometimes not so much.

The thrust of this documentary, its inevitable center of gravity, spins around this odd mixture of commerce and creativity. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could just sell funny books at a handsome profit and keep everyone happy? A win-win, right? But there are no clear-cut win-wins in life. As we progress from the early golden age, we get a greater sense of the challenges that lay ahead for superhero comics. In this documentary, the timeline is split into three: “Truth, Justice, and the American Way (1938-1958),” “Great Power, Great Responsibility (1959-1977),” and “A Hero Can Be Anyone (1978-Present).” This is tidy way of making sense of the evolution of the industry for general audiences. It loosely follows the comic book eras that collectors and fans acknowledge, based on the dominant artists, writers, and trends of the times: Golden (1938-1950), Silver (1956-1970), Bronze (1970-1985), and Modern (1986-Present). Given all the potential detours, this documentary sets a clear path. It tends to be upbeat but it is also honest. Creators are key to getting a product out to market but creators aren’t always appreciated or compensated accordingly.

"Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D." by Jim Steranko, 1968

“Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.” by Jim Steranko, Marvel Comics, 1968

A very good example of a creator forced to fight for his rights is Jim Steranko. There are plenty of others like Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko. For the purposes of this documentary, Steranko has been enlisted to represent the A-Team. Steranko proves an eloquent soul with killer chops as an artist and visionary. At just the time when the Pop Art movement was recontextualizing superhero comics, Steranko was using those very same artistic techniques to create groundbreaking comics that undoubtedly rose to the level of art. Without a stitch of dialogue, or captions, he created panel after panel of comics narrative. However, when it came time for payment, Marvel Comics wanted to hold back payment related to writing for any pages without actual text. Steranko had to resort to a macho man confrontation. Marvel Comics chose to pay in full. Ah, the giddy ’60s, a time when you could still threaten to use your fists to settle a dispute and get what you rightly deserved.

"Green Lantern/Green Arrow," by Denny O'Neil and Neal Adams, DC Comics, 1971

“Green Lantern/Green Arrow,” by Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams, DC Comics, 1971

While all of us that follow comics are more than a little familiar with how superhero comics have shifted to a more mature audience, despite its apparent roots as entertainment for kids, what this documentary helps put into perspective are the factors that led to that shift. To the credit of Marvel Comics and DC Comics, commerce and creativity can and do meet in interesting ways. One shining example is at a point in the culture when drug use had reached alarming levels. Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams, at DC Comics, were keen to do a story that spoke to the dangers of drug use. But, at the time, the Comics Authority, a holdover from another era that still policed comics, did not allow any mention of drugs. Stan Lee, at Marvel Comics, also wanted to tackle the topic–and he did in a landmark Spider-Man story. It was a game changer and bust the doors open wide. No more Comics Authority. A new relevance for comics. In time, this new freedom would lead to further experimentation, and bring forth another player into the business, Image Comics.

Superheroes-A-Never-Ending-Battle-PBS-2013

It is to the credit of filmmaker Michael Kantor for tuning in as well as he did to his subject. You can think of this documentary as on par with a Ken Burns documentary. In other words, it’s a stellar job that digs deep and rewards the viewer with greater insight. Be sure to tune in tonight, same Bat time, same Bat channel, on your local PBS station. Go to PBS for more details here.

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Filed under Comics, DC Comics, Documentaries, Image Comics, Marvel Comics, PBS, 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