Before we all left to enjoy the weekend, DC Collectibles spoiled us with a number of preview images of its numerous Toy Fair reveals. Seeing new Justice League statues, DC Icons figures and more Batman: The Animated Series collectibles was great, but there's nothing like seeing them in person to really get the full effect. We soaked all the details in when we visited with DC Collectibles, and this year and beyond look to carry the momentum built up during the later half of 2016.
Batman Black and White
Numerous artists have had a crack at DC Collectibles' Batman: Black and White series over the years. The long roster of creators to have their styles translated into sculptures is filled with both classic and current favorites, though there is always room for that roster to expand. While we've seen some of the true masters of the form take their crack at the series, one of DC's brightest silver age stars is only now seeing his style make the leap. That's true of the characters included in the statue series as well. Where once Batman: Black and White was solely focused on the Dark Knight, recent years have seen the line grow to include the rest of the Bat-cast, such as the Joker, Batgirl, Harley Quinn, and now Robin as well.
Announced this week (via MTV), the Batman: Black and White statue series will soon see Carmine Infantino's Batman and Robin join the team. Previously, we'd seen the likes of Dick Sprang, Frank Miller, David Mazzucchelli and Neal Adams get statues based on their immediately recognizable styles, but Infantino's interpretation of Batman had largely gone unappreciated in the line. Now, not only will his Batman be celebrated, but his Robin, too.
In 2005, DC Collectibles (née DC Direct) launched a statue series of artist interpretations of the Dark Knight inspired in part by the Batman: Black and White comic series. For the most part, the line has focused exclusively on Batman himself, though in the past few years DC has expanded the roster of Black and White to include villains like the Joker and Harley Quinn. Now for the first time, another member of the Bat-family will join the ranks in the form of the all-new Batgirl.
Last year, Cameron Stewart, Brenden Fletcher and Babs Tarr revamped Barbara Gordon to give her a new home, a new life and a whole new look. The fan response was immediate and loud, and the Batgirl of Burnside became a bright spot in the new DC Universe (and catalog) in a post-New 52 reboot world. However, as big of a success as this new Batgirl was, outside of the comics there was no merchandise to support the surprise hit. That changes this month. Thanks to the talented hands of sculptor Irene Matar, Babs Tarr's version of the character has been given life in collectible form for the first time, and the result is tremendous.
At San Diego Comic-Con on Saturday, DC announced that writer Grant Morrison has two new projects launching with the publisher in 2016. The first is a sequel to this year's acclaimed Multiversity. Called, of course, Multiversity Too, the new book will take the form of a series of graphic novels throughout next year. For the second project, Morrison will take the lead on a series of Batman: Black and White graphic novels working with various artists.
If you're getting a sense of deja vu right now, that's because you actually have read this article before. Right before the latest volume of Batman: Black & White began back in 2013, ComicsAlliance published a list of the ten best stories in the celebrated anthology series. But the fourth volume was really, really good, and included some stories strong enough to be considered among the very best.
Making a new version of that same list with just a few replacements would be cheating you, and require me to read my own writing (ecch). So instead, we're just going to stick with the 'ten best' thing. Here are the highlights from the latest volume of Black & White, and a few that were barely edged out of the first list. Will there be another version of this article after the next volume? You bet your ass. We're gonna stay here until we get this right, people.
The comic book, animation, illustration, pinup, mashup, fan art and design communities are generating amazing artwork of myriad styles and tastes, all of which ends up on the Internet and filtered into ComicsAlliance’s Best Art Ever (This Week). These images convey senses of mood and character — not to mention artistic skill — but comic books are specifically a medium of sequential narratives, and great sequential art has to be both beautiful (totally subjective!) and clear in its storytelling (not so subjective!). The words and the pictures need to work together to tell the story and create whatever tone, emotion and indeed world the story requires. The contributions of every person on a creative team, from the writer to the artist(s) to the letterers, are necessary to achieving a great page of sequential storytelling.
It is the special nature of comic books that we’re celebrating in this all-new recurring feature: Best Sequential Art Ever (This Week).
The comic book, animation, illustration, pinup, mashup, fan art and design communities are generating amazing artwork of myriad styles and tastes, all of which ends up on the Internet and filtered into ComicsAlliance's Best Art Ever (This Week). These images convey senses of mood and character -- not to mention artistic skill -- but comic books are specifically a medium of sequential narratives, and great sequential art has to be both beautiful (totally subjective!) and clear in its storytelling (not so subjective!). The words and the pictures need to work together to tell the story and create whatever tone, emotion and indeed world the story requires. The contributions of every person on a creative team, from the writer to the artist(s) to the letterers, are necessary to achieving a great page of sequential storytelling.
It is the special nature of comic books that we're celebrating in this all-new recurring feature: Best Sequential Art Ever (This Week).
One of my favorite cartoonists, Dave Bullock is well known to comics art collectors and the denizens of artist alley, and in comics has produced covers and illustrated short stories like the standout Deadman piece from Wednesday Comics. Most often he's worked as a storyboard artist and director on such impressive animated titles like Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Batman Beyond, Superman: The Animated Series, The New Batman Adventures and Justice League. Most auspiciously, Bullock directed the Warner Bros. Animation feature Justice League: The New Frontier, adapted from the work of Darwyn Cooke, who shares Bullock's affinity for mid-century stylings.
Naturally, Bullock is an ideal candidate for participation in the enduringly popular DC Comics art project that is Batman: Black & White, which reunites the cartoonist with his Wednesday Comics editor Mark Chiarello for a story that plays to Bullock's mastery of period style and dramatic storytelling. Written by longtime Batman associate Michael Uslan, "The Bat-Man In 'Silent Knight... Unholy Knight!'" takes inspiration from the era and aesthetics of silent film. Given Bullock's filmmaking background, it comes as no surprise that he put together a silent-film-style trailer for his story. What is a surprise is just how well it works, putting the traditional "comic book trailer" to shame.
It looks like DC Collectibles is going to make fans of DC's video game's pretty happy come March. Batman: Arkham Origins will get four more 6.75" action figures as part of the line's second series, including Deadshot, Deathstroke and the newly unveiled Firefly and Anarky. Scribblenauts Unmasked will also expand with 11 new 2.25" blind-boxed figures, such as Cyborg, Blue Beetle (Jamie Reyes) and Superman Blue. Joining all the video game goodness are more New 52 Crime Syndicate action figures, a Sinestro bust, statues of Huntress, Superman and Batman, and hefty Fables bookends. You can see all of DC's December solicitation info, after the jump.
A new volume of Batman: Black and White kicked off last week, continuing the DC Comics anthology's tradition of high quality. Debuting in 1996, the original Batman: Black and White series quickly set the comics world ablaze with a collection of short, powerful tales told by some of the industry's finest. Edited by Mark Chiarello, the four issues gathered sixteen original eight-page black and white stories from a who’s who of influential creators, including Archie Goodwin, Joe Kubert, Howard Chaykin, Brian Bolland, Bill Sienkiewicz, Neil Gaiman, and several more. It won the Eisner Awards for “Best Short Story” and “Best Anthology,” inspired a ton of great statues (one of which you can win), and two follow-up volumes in 2002 and 2007, mostly made up of backup stories from the Batman: Gotham Knights series.
In celebration of the new series, I read all three volumes of Batman: Black and White (I also did other stuff, I have a life), and after poring over all 600-plus pages, I can confidently say that these are the ten best stories from the original volumes, presented here in chronological order.