Ever since the first issue of DC's Batman '66 comic climaxed with an honest-to-Gotham airplane chase scene that ended in a fiery explosion, it's been pretty obvious that one of the goals of that book is to do things that they never could have done on the TV show. As much as the comic has captured the tone of the series, it's also made it a point to go bigger, throwing in bigger set pieces for the action, exotic locations and stories that literally go to new places that we never saw on the show. But there's one other way that the comic has been expanding on the show that's even more interesting than just pitting Gotham City's arch-criminals against a giant crime-fighting robot.
Over the past two years, writer Jeff Parker and a rotating cast of artists that includes Joe Quinones, Jonathan Case, Rubén Procopio, Sandy Jarrell and Giancarlo Caracuzzo have been introducing villains that never appeared on the show to the world of Batman '66, bringing pop-art takes of characters like Harley Quinn and Killer Croc to the comics. And they've been doing it in a way that's absolutely fascinating.
If you've been wondering why I've been a little more excited lately, why bird songs are a little sweeter or why food tastes a little better, it's because the latest storyline of DC's digital-first Batman '66 comic has involved Batman and Batgirl heading to Japan to take on Lord Death Man.
Jeff Parker, Sandy Jarrell and Jordie Bellaire have done a pretty amazing job creating story that I wish would've happened on television, but giving it the unlimited budget for stuff like a new Japanese Batmobile and an army of ninjas, and it's pretty great. To get some insight into just how it all happened, I spoke to Parker for his thoughts on bringing in other period-specific villains, why Lord Death Man is so much more exciting than his original American counterpart, and ideas for other non-Gotham location that could use a visit from the Caped Crusaders!
Back when I was a kid, my single favorite episode of Batman '66, the one that I liked even more than the one where the Joker tried to conquer Gotham City by winning a surfing competition and becoming "King of the Surf and All The Surfers," was the one where Batman, Robin and Batgirl took a trip to Londinium in order to fight Lord Ffogg and his small army of mod pickpockets. Something about getting those characters out of that version of Gotham City is always interesting to me.
So you can imagine how excited I was when opened up this week's issue of Batman '66 and found out that Jeff Parker, Sandy Jarrell, and Jordie Bellaire had taken Batman and Batgirl on an international trip to Japan to battle it out with Lord Death Man. I'll admit that I'm predisposed to like this stuff, but trust me: It is basically perfect.
A more appropriate name for DC Comics' Convergence event, at least the miniseries that will accompany the main series for two months next spring, may be "Nostalgia Trip."
DC has been rolling out titles and creative teams for the 40 planned series week by week. The first batch focused on the publisher's pre-New 52 continuity. The second focused on the 1990s (including WildStorm), and the third seemed to center on the 1980s.
The fourth and final group of miniseries, which DC announced Tuesday, covers a much wider time period: All of DC's pre-Crisis On Infinite Earths continuity. And there's another twist: They all take place on defined and listed alternate Earths which existed before the company's last line-wide reboot in the 1980s.
Annuals get a bad rap. I'm pretty sure it's because they formed the core of some truly terrible crossovers starting in the '90s -- lookin' at you here, Bloodlines -- but there's nothing congenitally wrong with them. In their purest form, annuals are just extra comics, and since we all like comics, that ought to be something to get excited about. And in the case of Dynamite's Flash Gordon Annual 2014, we've got something worth getting excited about.
Flash Gordon is already one of my favorite books on the stands, and this week's Annual continues that trend by providing a fantastic roster of great stories -- including a solo tale for Dale Arden that needs to be made into an ongoing series yesterday.
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!
I consider myself to be a pretty big Flash Gordon fan, but when you get right down to it, I only really like one very specific version of that character: The one from the amazing 1980 movie where he takes down Ming the Merciless while rocking out to Queen. I love that movie to pieces, but it's a very specific kind of love that doesn't necessarily transfer to other version of the franchise. Every time Flash, Dale and Dr. Zarkov make their perennial return to the comics page, it always leaves me pretty cold, and even though I'm the biggest possible fan of Jeff Parker, Doc Shaner, and Jordie Bellaire, there was a part of me that expected that the new series from Dynamite would end up doing the same thing.
And then I read the issue where Ming orders Flash to fight to the death in a gladiatorial battle against an army of beast-men, and Flash straight up gets in front of a space camera to cut a Stone Cold Steve Austin promo about how he's going to tear their horns off and choke them out with their own tails, and I realized things were going to be just fine.
If you haven't been keeping up with Batman '66, DC Comics' digital-first series based on the classic Adam West/Burt Ward television show, rest assured that it has continued to be awesome. Recent issues have seen a terrifying team-up with the Joker and Catwoman, a sinister plot to create a television adaptation of Batman's adventures, and -- perhaps most awesome of all -- the debut of a giant robot version of Batman that fought crime with the power of jet boots and rocket fists. It's... It's pretty great, y'all.
But one of the more interesting things about the last few episodes -- er, issues is that they've thrown the spotlight on some of the more obscure villains from the show who never made it in the comics, like the Minstrel and Bookworm, and this week, it's the harrowing, haunting return of the Black Widow! Not to be confused with Marvel's Natasha Romanoff or Scarlett Johansson.
The Marvel Unlimited app is a gigantic, messy cache of awesome and terrible old comic books: a library of 13,000 or so back issues of Marvel titles, available on demand for subscribers with tablets or mobile phones. Like any good back-room longbox, it’s disorganized and riddled with gaps, but it’s also full of forgotten and overlooked jewels, as well as a few stone classics. In Marvel Unlimited Edition, Eisner-winning critic Douglas Wolk dives into the Unlimited archive to find its best, oddest and most intriguing comics.
Ego the Living Planet is one of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby's trippier creations: introduced in 1966 in Thor #132, he is literally a planet who is also a dude. With a face. (His first appearance was one of the photo-collages that Kirby was occasionally doing in those days; the gaunt, bearded face that Kirby pasted onto a planet shape was significantly different from most of the characters he designed.) Understandably, it's a little bit hard to do much with a planet-sized character who has to interact with humans, but nearly every artist who's gotten to work with Ego over the years has clearly relished the chance to draw his massive, scowling visage.
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.c
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