I was an unabashed fan of the 1989 Batman movie around the time of its release (particularly after it hit VHS), but the years have worn down my appreciation of it, and quite a few aspects of it don't entirely stand up to the scrutiny of a critical lens anymore.
There are a few pieces of media related to the film, however, that I feel just as positively about as I ever have. The Prince soundtrack, for one. And for another, the Sunsoft-developed game for the Nintendo Entertainment System that included a few cutscenes with lines from the movie, and largely ditched its plot otherwise. I took a stroll down memory lane with it, and it still holds up.
In the summer of 1989, primed by "Kiss" and "Alphabet St." and "Sign 'O' the Times" to expect brilliance from the first taste of new Prince music, I raced out to buy "Batdance," the first single to be released from his soundtrack to Tim Burton's Batman. It seemed like a great idea at the time.
I remember my feeling of dazed disappointment the first time I heard "Batdance" lurch to an end. "Batdance" isn't even a song, as such, but a cluster of unrelated chunks of underdone rhythm tracks, ineptly pasted together with chopped-up samples of film dialogue, a couple of lines flown in from other songs, Prince singing the hook from Neal Hefti's '60s Batman theme, and (in its album mix) a very aggressive guitar solo that has almost nothing to do with what's going on around it. Prince and Batman together? How could that not be awesome? What just went wrong here?
The mark of a great pop song is not just that it's a pleasure to hear and hear again, but that it rewards struggling with it. Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie have been conflating pop music and comics since they first collaborated on Phonogram ten years ago; Gillen's described the central conceit of their new series The Wicked + The Divine as "gods as pop stars, and pop stars as gods." That's a good way of describing the story itself -- but the comic is also about presenting Gillen and McKelvie as pop stars, and as pop mechanics. It's the product of a decade spent working out what makes comics click, and how to make them speak to a mass audience.
I've been fortunate enough to read the first two issues of The Wicked + The Divine; they're marvelous, a little bit maddening, and thoroughly worth wrestling with.
“The best moments in reading,” Alan Bennett writes in The History Boys, “are when you come across something -- a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things -- which you had thought special and particular to you. And now, here it is, set down by someone else, a person you have never met, someone even who is long dead. And it is as if a hand has come out, and taken yours.”
These “hands” can be found in any form of literature, from novels to poetry to journalism to, yes, comic books. One such hand reaches forth from the pages of X-Men Legacy, published by Marvel and written by Simon Spurrier. Instead of being an action-packed affair, this book was a character study; a very literal glimpse into the mind of a young man searching for his place in both the mutant world and the world at large.
This might be obvious if you caught last week's installment of Ask Chris, but I've been thinking a lot about the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles lately. More than usual, I mean. Because let's be real here, there's nobody who was a kid in the la
When it started back in 2002, the premise of Bill Willingham's Vertigo series Fables seemed to be pretty simple: characters from fairy tales inhabiting a modern world. Nearly 12 years and 140 issues later, it's clear that isn't 100 percent accurate. The series has evolved to be as much about creating new fairy tales as it is about the modern-day area of New York City known as Fabletown, and it became as much about the characters' pasts as it was about their presents.
That's more than evident in the opening pages of Fables #141, the issue that kicks off the 10-part, series-ending "Happily Ever After," by Willingham, Mark Buckingham (the artist who drew the bulk of the series), Andrew Pepoy, Steve Leialoha and Lee Loughridge. A new piece of lore sets up the inevitable conflict that will see the series through to its conclusion. It's an elegant piece of storytelling, and the rest of the issue is similarly understated in a way that builds toward a climax, but doesn't reveal too much. It's all table setting, but it's one very nicely set table.
Each week, ComicsAlliance’s Chris Sims and Matt Wilson host the War Rocket Ajax podcast, their online audio venue for interviews with comics creators, reviews of the books of the week, and whatever else they want to talk about. ComicsAlliance is offering clips of the comics-specific segments of the show several days before the full podcast goes up at WarRocketAjax.com on Mondays.
This week, Chris and Matt dig deep into talking about DC Comics Co-Publisher Dan DiDio as a businessman and as a comics creator in their discussion of his new series with Keith Giffen, Infinity Man and the Forever People. Then they pivot to talk about two great starting-point issues in the middle of series runs: Kurt Busiek and Brent Anderson's Astro City #13, and Ian Flynn and Jamal Peppers' Mega Man #37.
Through its prior two volumes, Image's Liquid City has established itself as one of the most intriguing anthology series on the comics landscape. Though it's only comes out once every couple of years, the collection featuring the work of Southeast Asian creators is nonetheless one of the most beguiling collections of talent largely unknown in the west, and provides a wealth of curious comics in each volume.
This week, the anthology returns with another cabal of creators providing over twenty original stories for the 250-plus-page Liquid City Volume 3. And even though there was a huge leap in quality from the first volume to the second, the newest edition is easily the best in the series.
One of the things that I've really come to appreciate ever since I jumped into the world of Judge Dredd is just how easy 2000 AD has made it. The publisher's got massive reprints of Dredd from the very beginning; they've got downloadable digital comics that are easy to buy (and that you can actually keep like any other downloaded file); and they're putting out compilations built around themes that can give to the start of a pretty comprehensive overview of Dredd history. Basically, it has never been easier to read 200 pages of comics about people having sex with robots.
That is, more or less, the subject matter of Judge Dredd: The XXX Files, the new collection on sale this week which compiles two dozen stories that take the concept of Thrillpower into a decidedly adult direction. And while I'm not sure if it's a great place for people who are brand new to Dredd's world -- it's more than a little overwhelming at times -- it has a bunch of truly fantastic comics.
Ever since Fantagraphics started up their collection of Floyd Gottfredson's Mickey Mouse strips, I've been looking forward to finally getting to read "Mickey Outwits The Phantom Blot." This was the story that I'd heard of even when I wasn't paying attention to Disney comics from the '30s, the influential saga that provided Mickey with his most intriguing villain, and one that returned again and again over the years and inspired creators like Osamu Tezuka. It came with a pretty solid reputation, and when I finally got to it in the latest hardcover, I've got to admit that it lived up to it. It's every bit as exciting as I'd hoped it would be.
Unfortunately, it's collected in a book alongside some of the most grotesquely offensive stories that I've ever read. That's the sort of thing that spoils the experience a bit, even when you're making allowances for the time.
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