Readers demand a lot from superhero comics: consistency, continuity, adherence to the rules of the universe, compelling heroes, magnetic villains, satisfying endings, and the list goes on.
But those of us who have been reading for years (if not decades) are chiefly looking for one big thing above all else: novelty. We want to see something we’ve never seen before; characters we recognize as the heroes and villains we love being put into scenarios and settings wholly unlike what’s come in nearly 80 years of superhero comics.
That’s notoriously hard to do. Many times, stories end up being very similar to what’s come before, and when creators do try something new, they elicit complaints from readers who don’t like particular changes or decisions. But what if you could strip away those pressures and build a superhero comic that’s so strange and unique that it’s a must-read?
That’s what Jiro Kuwata’s 1960s Batman comics, currently being republished as the DC Digital Series Batman: The Jiro Kuwata Batmanga, are. A strange combination of classic Batman comics, the 1960s Batman TV-show, Marvel-Age science-based storytelling, mysticism, cartoon physics, Tokusatsu, and of all things, Scooby-Doo, it isn’t like any comic I’ve ever read. It’s endlessly surprising, and I love it.
We’ve seen Batman envisioned time and again on screens big and small, and yet it took a tiny LEGO version of the character to take us by surprise with Phil Lord and Chris Miller’s hilarious take on the character in this year’s ‘The LEGO Movie.’ Voiced by Will Arnett, this version of Batman lovingly satirized the Caped Crusader. The character was such a hit that we’re getting a spinoff in 2017 ahead of the ‘LEGO Movie’ sequel, and the writers have dropped some details about what we can expect.
The last time Christopher Nolan released a movie, film critics got death threats. That was back in 2012, when Nolan released ‘The Dark Knight Rises,’ and the first writers who dared to stray from the positive consensus about the film received waves of overwhelming backlash. After Marshall Fine published his pan, his site and his page on Rotten Tomatoes were both bombarded with angry comments politely requesting he “die in a fire” and hoping someone would beat him into a coma with a “thick rubber hose.”
As part of their year-long celebration of Batman's 75th Anniversary, Mondo has produced an art show, posters, and a truly beautiful soundtrack album that sold out of all five designs at San Diego, and now, they're giving me the most compelling reason yet to get into vinyl: a die-cut single of Danny Elfman's theme from Batman: The Animated Series. I definitely do not need this because I don't even own a record player, but y'all... it's shaped like a bat. How can I not get this?
Q: What are your thoughts on Catwoman and how her role has evolved over time? It's unique, isn't it? -- @spudsfan
A: Here's a warning that you're about to read way too many words on what looks like a simple question: Yes and no.
It's not going to surprise anyone when i say that I love Catwoman as a character, and a lot of that comes from how adaptable she is. In her long history, she's been one of the few characters who's been able to transition from villain to hero and back again, and she has a relationship with Batman that has allowed for both characters to grow in ways that no other character has, or even could. But at the same time, she's probably the single most successful example of a cliché that bugs me to no end: The Villainous Love Interest.
It's just not a movie featuring Bruce Wayne/Batman unless you have the death of Bruce Wayne's parents, thus explaining his mopey origins, is it? Zack Snyder would agree, and so would some new set photos from 'Batman vs. Superman,' which confirm that we will see Thomas and Martha Wayne shot to death yet again, just in case you're not sick of seeing that happen. Seriously? Again? Again-again-again?
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.
My friends, we are living in a wonderful time. Hot on the heels of Gotham Academy #2, which featured the return of Bookworm as a school librarian, comes Batman '66 Chapter 47, where the world's most sinister bibliophile is once again in the spotlight! And, just as an added bonus, he's also riding around in a giant robot dragon, which I think you will agree makes pretty much everything better.
Okay, admittedly, the main focus of the issue seems to be that King Tut (possibly the greatest of all Batman televillains) is raising an army of the undead with the help of the unstoppable Osiris Virus, but c'mon. It's a giant robot dragon and it's wearing a top hat. Check out what else Jeff Parker and Scott Kowalchuk have in store for the caped crusaders below!
As much as I love the stories of Lord Death Man and Professor Gorilla, the one thing I was really excited about when DC announced that they'd be bringing Jiro Kuwata's Batmanga back into print after over 40 years was that they'd be getting to stories that I hadn't read. The collection that Chip Kidd put together a few years ago was, after all, just the tip of the iceberg, and it was the stuff that hadn't been reprinted that was going to get really weird -- and if you've been keeping up, you've seen just how strange things can be.
In next week's episode, the current story comes to its climax with "The Man Who Quit Being Human," which, given that the previous story has featured the aforementioned Professor Gorilla, has been pretty surprisingly dark. Batman and Robin are facing down against a terrifying foe who wants to eliminate his mutated genes from his daughter, and it's pretty incredible. Check out a preview below!
If there's one thing we've learned from our years on the Internet, it's that there's no aspect of comics that can't be broken down and quantified in a single definitive list, preferably in amounts of five or ten. And since there's no more definitive authority than ComicsAlliance, we're taking it upon ourselves to compile lists of everything you could ever want to know about comics.
This week, we're finishing off Halloween Horror Month with a list of five great spooky stories -- mostly single issues! -- that you can read to get into a scary mood!
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