Here's something that you already know: Batman: The Animated Series is arguably the single best representation of Batman in the Dark Knight's 75-year history. It boiled down the character to his essentials, creating a beautiful and thrilling version of Batman that was acessible to fans of all ages and still holds up as a high point over twenty years later. Now here's something you might not know: The comic book that was created to go along with the show, The Batman Adventures, was every bit as good as the show.
This week, DC Comics released a collection of the first ten issues by Kelly Puckett, Mike Parobeck, Ty Templeton, Brad Rader, Martin Pasko and Rick Burchett, and that means this is a great time to talk about how that comic is about as close to being perfect, and how it's essential for anyone who wants to read some of the greatest Batman comics ever printed -- including the single best Riddler story ever.
Most comics tend to have a high-concept fueling them; some twist which reveals the characters live in a heightened world where readers can’t predict what will happen next. The rules keep changing, and that’s how we define the characters we read. The cast of Fables could have anything happen to them in each issue – their capacity to endure the fantastical is one of their central traits. By contrast, the first issue of Vertigo's new eight-part miniseries The Kitchen is set in a totally real, unfiltered world, where the characters and setting feel authentic and full. The central trait of this series is that is starts from such a relatively unremarkable premise and does so much with it.
From Ollie Masters, Ming Doyle, and Jordie Bellaire, The Kitchen surprises from the concept on. This is kitchen-sink drama, the type Michael Gambon and Julie Walters might’ve appeared in twenty years ago, but with an updated, contemporary sense of space and character. Rather than the typical angry young man, here we have three very angry women. Set in the wilds of Hell’s Kitchen in the 1970s, the ice in their hearts and fire in their fists promises that something's eventually going to crack.
The last of 2014's five superhero movies based on Marvel properties arrived in North American theaters this past weekend, and it was unlike anything we've ever seen from the Marvel stable before. Big Hero 6, from directors Don Hall and Chris Williams, is computer animated, aimed at kids, and stars a cast of characters that could leave even people who knew the Guardians Of The Galaxy a year ago scratching their heads and saying, "who?" And it's different in large part because Walt Disney Animation, not Marvel, was the studio behind it.
If you've seen the movie, join Comics Alliance for this spoiler-filled "post-view" look at what worked, what didn't, and why Big Hero 6 might just change the world. If you haven't seen the movie, avoid the spoilers, go see it, and come back.
The success of Harley Quinn seems to have taken everybody by surprise – including DC Comics, who suddenly finds itself with one of the most successful female-led ongoing series on the stands. Written by Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti, with art (mostly) from Chad Hardin and colorist Alex Sinclair, letters by John J. Hill, Harley Quinn has proven to be a huge success with readers and retailers. And with volume one collected and out now in hardcover, it seemed like a good time to look back across the first nine issues and get a look at what all the fuss has been about.
Having been one of the creators who saved superhero comics in the 1990s, it can be difficult to think of Kurt Busiek as anything other than a superhero comic writer. But between all of his high-profile runs on big Marvel and DC books and undisputed classics Marvels and Astro City, Busiek has frequently played in the fantasy genre with great results. If you've never read The Wizard's Tale, Arrowsmith, or his run on Conan, you've been missing out on an aspect of Busiek's all-world talent that shouldn't be overlooked, and it's time to getcha life right.
Created by Busiek and Benjamin Dewey (I Was The Cat), Tooth & Claw is a fantasy about the end of magic, a mythical hero, and a dog-boy named Dunstan. And somehow, given all those words I just typed, it's also a dark Mature Readers comic about the suddenness and finality of death.
One of the lesser explored stanchions of the Western genre is the fairly consistent notion of the dominant invading culture moving into indigenous lands and, over time, brutally removing said peoples from that land. Usually our focus is so narrow within the genre that we rarely realize that this is exactly what is happening. The dreaded “Indian raids” of many a John Ford classic are lensed so thoroughly through the perspective of the white-faced hero or anti-hero that an audience can’t help but miss the absurdity of maligning sovereign nations responding to mass invasions by another sovereign nation. Go try and start a mass migration into Putin’s Russia and see how that goes for you.
I bring this up because Sergio Toppi’s The Collector is acutely focused on this precise issue. The collection of stories which make up this stunning tome from Archaia all occur on the knife’s edge of colonialism and western expansion -- and almost without fail, Toppi’s Collector sides with the invaded side rather than with colonizers the way his forebears -- and, really, antecedents -- might.
So last weekend, I almost started crying while I was reading a G.I. Joe comic at the Waffle House.
Everyone I've told that to since it happened has reacted with the same complete and utter lack of surprise. I can see why, too, since it's quite possibly the single most cartoonishly on-brand thing that I've ever done, but I certainly wasn't expecting to get choked up over hash browns over the death of an extremely minor character. But when I was reading through G.I. Joe #204 over breakfast and Dr. Adele Burkhart was killed, ending a 32-year career of being rescued by the soldiers of America's most toyetic Special MIssions Force, it broke my heart in a way that hasn't happened through comics in a long, long time.
Opening on November 7 is the new Disney animated hullabaloo titled ‘Big Hero 6.’ In ‘Big Hero 6,’ five regular human beings are brought together to fight crime alongside an inflatable robot doctor. I swear that all of this will make sense, kind of. Ahead, as a service to the world, we answer every question that you could possibly have about ‘Big Hero 6.’
Is she a being of love adrift in darkness, as portrayed by Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang in their recently ended run? A dowdy wallflower, eternally at war with her own glamorous alter ego for Steve Trevor’s affection? George Pérez’s goddess of truth? Robert Kanigher’s wannabe wife? Greg Rucka’s diplomat? Gail Simone’s savior? Robert Valley's hot rod heroine? The Justice League’s secretary? Superman’s girlfriend? Batman’s girlfriend? Lynda Carter in satin tights? William Moulton Marston’s herald of benevolent matriarchy or the sexed-up uberbabe I met as a comics-curious child? Or, in the most macro sense—the one that most of the public operates on, when it comes to Wonder Woman—is she merely the century’s most generic t-shirt symbol of girl power?
Listen, Gotham Academy: I already liked you. You had me hooked from the very first promise of teen boarding school drama in a city full of supervillains with Batman showing up to try to reach these kids. That is exactly what I am into in virtually every way, and with the first issue being as good as it was, you didn't have to sell me on the series any harder than you already did.
But then you brought back Bookworm, and cemented your place as the single best comic on the stands today.
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