Broadcasting Wednesday at 6:30pm (5:30pm CST) on Cartoon Network, Batman: Strange Days is the first all-new Dark Knight project authored principally by Bruce Timm in years and years. The latest of the DC Nation Shorts, the piece was conceived, written, storyboarded, designed and directed by Timm himself as a tribute to the original Batman comics by Bob Kane, Bill Finger and Jerry Robinson on the occasion of the character's 75th anniversary. And as Timm told ComicsAlliance in this exclusive interview, Strange Days is the Batman story that he would create if he was "boss of the world."
Q: Supposedly it takes three pages to hook a reader before they drop off, so what are the best opening three pages in a comic? -- @shutupadiran
A: Huh. I don't think it's going to surprise anyone to find out that I'm a dude who thinks a lot about how comic books are structured and what you can do within that structure, but I've never heard that bit about the first three pages being where you have to hook the reader. It makes sense, though -- when you look at it, those first three pages, along with the cover, form a distinct storytelling unit, and it's the first thing you see when you pick up and pop open a comic.
Thinking back on comics that I love, there's a really distinct pattern there. I like stuff that builds to a big last page just fine, but the ones that I tend to rave about when those first issues hit always open up strong. It's like the first five seconds of a song. Some of them might build to a crescendo as they go along, but when you have something like the famous beat from "Be My Baby" or the opening harmonics from "I Get Around," you know instantly that you've got something.
True Detective creator Nic Pizzolatto has claimed that Alan Moore Moore and Grant Morrison were the first writers to excite him about the possibilities of storytelling.
With everyone looking to solve the many remaining mysteries of True Detective, it’s tempting to ask: are comic books the key? Pizzolatto’s spectacular Moore crib aside, I’d go with with a big no. Ain’t nothing going to settle the debate around Carcosa let alone Marty Hart’s hot dating skills, but comics do represent a largely unexplored and appropriately strange route into the show. So without further ado here’s our by no means exhaustive guide to True Detective and weird comic books.
SPOILER WARNING: The following contains major spoilers for True Detective, Top 10, From Hell and some of The Invisibles.
We are currently living in the middle of a renaissance of interest in the 1966 Batman TV show. With licensing deals that have taken decades to work out falling into place, we've got action figures, clothes, and DVDs are finally on the way, and at the leading edge of it all is DC's digital-first Batman '66 comic, written by Jeff Parker with art by Jonathan Case, Ty Templeton, Joe Quinones, Sandy Jarrell, Ruben Procopio and Colleen Coover.
This week, the first hardcover collection of the series is out in print, and to mark the occasion, I sat down at Portland, Oregon's Periscope Studio to talk to Parker (and special guest Colleen Coover) about their work on the series. In the first half of the interview, we'll discuss the competitive relationship between Batman and his villains, the addition of big stunts to the show, and why Parker doesn't think it's necessary to be a fan to write a good comic.
Dark Horse Comics is bringing back its Alien comics franchise in a big way this year with a set of four mini-series set immediately after the most recent movie, Prometheus. The company has revealed the names of the four series writers: Aliens will be by Chris Roberson, Predators will be written by Joshua Williamson, Paul Tobin will write the Prometheus series, and Aliens vs. Predator will be by Christopher Sebela.
The company's been teasing a "fifth writer" on the franchise, and she's actually holding down the position you might call head writer: Kelly Sue DeConnick. DeConnick will be writing a double-sized "wrap-up" issue to close out the initial run of books, and she oversaw a lot of the goings-on in the writers' room as the series were being put together. We chatted with her by phone to find out how that experience was different from other comics writing jobs, and just what readers can expect from the first full-on Aliens/Predator/Prometheus comics crossover.
Listen, I realize that I'm a little late to the party when it comes to Echiro Oda's One Piece. It's literally the best-selling manga of all time, but I've only just gotten into it over the past few months, on the recommendation of former CA writer David Brothers. I was hooked right away -- the book's signature mix of action, character, slapstick comedy and insanely over-the-top violence was fantastic right from the start, blending in a way that I find completely irresistible.
Then I got to volume 10, and the characters arrived in Arlong Park for a single fight scene that literally lasted for over 250 pages. And as someone who loves fight comics, I can say pretty confidently that it is quite possibly the best fight scene I have ever seen in comics. Not in manga, in all of comics. And believe me, I've seen a lot of 'em.
Q: Who do you find more psychologically interesting, the Joker or Lex Luthor? -- Jordan, via email
A: You know, it's weird. As much as you see Superman and Batman together in stories where they're continually contrasted against each other, full of endlessly terrible first-person narration about how "Clark likes pancakes because he can't understand what it means to be vulnerable" but "Bruce always told me Alfred makes the best French toast, he has so much trouble trusting others" or whatever, their arch-nemeses don't often get compared with each other in the same way. They team up from time to time, sure, but usually the focus is just on their common goal of murdering the good guys, so you don't get too much there. That said, I like both of those characters a lot, and after thinking about it, I've come to the conclusion that as the World's Foremost Batmanologist, as someone who has written extensively about the Joker and his relationship with Batman, it's definitely Lex Luthor.
Boom. Y'all just got swerved.
You might have heard that there's a new Captain America movie coming out on April 4. If Marvel's marketing department has gotten its way, this news may very well be tattooed on the inside of your eyelids in phosphorescent ink. Let's say, however, you've never read any Captain America comics before, but now that he's been legitimized as a multi-million dollar film franchise, you're suddenly very interested in that dude with little wings on his head carrying around one of Uncle Sam's rims.
Since being created by Jack Kirby and Joe Simon all the way back in 1941, the hero also known as the Sentinel of Liberty has passed through the hands of some eminently talented writers, artists and editors. Some of these creative teams depicted Cap's adventures for a few months -- some of them for a few years -- before passing the torch to the next creators to keep the flame (or trademark) alive. In comic books, these tenures are called "runs," "series" or "eras," and they're the readers' way of distinguishing one era of a character's saga from the next. Chances are you're not sure where to dive into a a publishing legacy that's spanned more than 70 years, so here is a list, in chronological order, of the Sentinel of Liberty's 10 most interesting and influential comic book runs.
When I spoke to Scott Snyder and Sean Murphy about their Vertigo series The Wake last April, about a month before the first issue’s release, we talked quite a bit about what types of movies influenced it. Several titles of horror movies and movies based around ocean settings came up: The Thing, Jaws, The Abyss. But we barely scratched the surface.
One of the things The Wake does so, so well is it constantly upends audience expectations. One way it does that, issue by issue, the genre seems to change. It isn’t just horror. That’s the easiest way to categorize it, but Snyder and Murphy work within the established tropes of multiple genres to, for lack of a better word, toy with the audience. What they’re doing goes beyond homage to film. It sets an expectation in the reader’s mind so that, when the big surprise comes, it’s all the more jarring. As the series digs into its second half, here’s a quick -- and slightly spoilery -- rundown of all the touchstones the series has hit so far.
Q: Why do you think the X-Men didn't find their audience until two decades after they were created? -- @godofthunder851
A: I've got a minor quibble with your timing in this question -- it was more like 12 or 15 years, really -- but you've got an interesting point there. I think most comics readers are well aware of that piece of trivia about how the X-Men were about to get the axe before Giant Size X-Men #1 breathed new life into the franchise and set them on the path of becoming what was probably the single most popular and influential franchise of the '80s and '90s, and that's not really how things usually work. In comics, you tend to either come out of the gate to massive, enduring popularity (like Batman or Spider-Man), come out strong and then fade away for whatever reason (like, sadly, Shazam!), or just sort of flounder in the midcard. It's rare that something sticks around on the edge of being canceled for a solid decade before it finds its footing, and nobody bounced back harder than Marvel's Merry Mutants.
But really, what you're asking here is two separate questions: Why didn't the X-Men take off in 1963, and why did they in 1975? So let's look at the history and see if we can't figure it out.