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!
This week marks the release of Prince Valiant #1, and with it, the final building block in the foundation of Dynamite's increasingly weird "King" universe. Built around the King Features characters that are best known as newspaper strips --- and in the case of The Phantom, a Billy Zane movie that invited viewers to 'slam evil!' --- the line got its start in the Kings Watch crossover in 2013. While Flash Gordon has stuck around and been pretty fantastic, it's only in the last month that the rest of the characters have rolled out into their own books to flesh out the world.
Now, with everything in place, the King line has pulpy sci-fi, mystic adventure, superhero action and swords and sorcery from the days of King Arthur all jockeying for position and trying to come together as a cohesive unit. And to be honest, it's actually pretty awesome to see.
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.
Jack Kirby is very arguably the single most influential figure in the history of American comics. He produced countless stories in a career that spanned seven decades, inventing and re-inventing genres and styles every step of the way. He inspired generations of artists and writers; created and co-created thousands of characters; defined the visual vocabulary of superheroes; and believed in the potential of comics to be both entertainment and art, long before most people imagined these stories would be remembered past the four weeks that they sat on newsstands.
Today would have been Kirby’s 97th birthday, and to mark the occasion we’ve assembled a series of posts commemorating the life and work of the man known to American comics fans as “The King.” For this piece, we asked some of our favorite creators and other comics pros to celebrate Jack Kirby with their impressions of his characters, life, and legacy – and we got so many responses, we'll have another installment of all-star tributes tomorrow!
Check your longbox for space because this September Oni Press is going to bring some competition for your back issues of Marvel Comics spinoff of a certain superhero movie starring Robert Townsend with Meteor Men by writer Jeff Parker and artist Sandy Jarrell. Known for their collaboration on DC Comics' Batman '66, the duo have something quite a bit different in mind in this original graphic novel... namely the potential obliteration of the human species by strange visitors from another world (who don't wear red shorts).
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