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David V. Reed’s Run on Batman – Where Were You On The Night Batman Was Killed? (Review/Retrospective)

23rd July is Batman Day, celebrating the character’s 75th anniversary. To celebrate, this July we’re taking a look at some new and classic Batman (and Batman related) stories. Check back daily for the latest review.

David V. Reed enjoyed a long run on Batman. While he’s probably more infamous for his rather mean-spirited attack on Batman artist and co-creator Bill Finger in the pages of The Amazing World of DC Comics only a year after Finger passed away, Reed did some interesting things with the character and world of Batman. Perhaps the most notable of these stories is the four-part Where Were You on the Night Batman Was Killed?, an ambitious four-part story offering multiple-choice takes on the death of Batman.

It could be argued that Where Were You on the Night Batman Was Killed? has been a very influential Batman story. David V. Reed’s four-part saga sets up a structure that has been emulated quite a bit over the history of the Caped Crusader. For example, Almost Got ‘Im from Batman: The Animated Series follows a similar structure, with four Batman villains boasting about almost killing Batman. And Neil Gaiman and Adam Kubert’s Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader? features many different deaths for Batman.

Long live the Batman!

Long live the Batman!

There are even faint echoes of Where Were You on the Night Batman Was Killed? to be found in the pages of Grant Morrison’s extended Batman run – populated as it is with replacement Batmen, cabals of evil villains boasting about their crimes, and the almost-but-not-quite death of the Dark Knight. Published in 1977, Where Were You on the Night Batman Was Killed? is a four-parter that seems quite a bit ahead of its time, if a little clumsy in execution.

It’s a decidedly goofy concept, executed in a decidedly goofy manner, but it is also quite wry and astute and perhaps even a little prescient.

Batman drops in...

Batman drops in…

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Flashpoint (Review)

This January, I’m going to take a look at some of DC’s biggest “events.” I’ll be starting with the most recent one, Flashpoint, following a week full of Flash stories.

Our world is in a violent transition of great change.

– President Obama tells us how it is

I really liked Flashpoint. I liked Flashpoint almost as much as I enjoyed Blackest Night, and far more than I enjoyed most big blockbuster “event” comic books. I think that Flashpoint buckles under the weight of the relaunch that followed – I find it quite sad that so many fans initially ignored the event only to jump on at the last minute because it was “suddenly important.” Does Flashpoint offer a fitting send-off to a version of the DC shared universe that dates back to Crisis on Infinite Earths? It doesn’t really, even if it offers some compelling arguments in favour of the relaunch that followed. Still, it’s a fascinating story about the icons who populate this shared universe, and what makes these enduring characters such heroic figures. Or, rather, what doesn’t make them heroic figures.

Flash sideways…

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Ultimate Iron Man

The first member of The Ultimates to get spun-off into his own book, the ultimate version of Iron Man is also the only one to get his own miniseries (and he even supported another miniseries, Ultimate Human, last summer and has a new one, Ultimate Armour Wars, this year). Here we have all the ingredients for a great superhero saga – Andy Kubert as artist on the first six issues and Orson Scott Card as a writer – but it just doesn’t come together quite as well as it should. Though Card posits some interesting theries behind the psychology of Marvel’s current poster-boy, he doesn’t really deliver anything of interest on the story front, and really suffers from attempting to write rebellous teenage characters and somehow feeling required to craft his observations into something resembling a cookie-cutter superhero plot.

ultimateironman

Nice Suit...

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Mark Millar’s Run on Ultimate X-Men – Vol. 1-3 (Hardcover)

There’s a reason you don’t hear a lot of people talk about this particular addition to Mark Millar’s bibliography. Very simply, it’s not very good. It’s as if Mark Millar has taken the usual explosive energy that underpins his work and turning it up so high that all we can discern is just a screeching noise. It doesn’t help that the book manages to turn just about every strength he demonstrated during The Ultimates into a weakness.

Because it wouldn't be an X-Men book without Wolverine on the cover...

Because it wouldn't be an X-Men book without Wolverine on the cover...

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Batman: Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader? (Review/Retrospective)

I guess… I guess I always knew that this was how it was going to end. That we didn’t have him forever. That one day someone would say, ‘Hey, Jim. Whatever happened to the Caped Crusader?’ I’d tell them. ‘Pretty much what you’d expect. He’s dead.’

I just didn’t think it would be today.

– Commissioner James Gordon

I actually quite enjoyed Neil Gaiman’s Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader?, even if I wasn’t overly in love with it. The prospect of doing a final, definitive Batman story – one not anchored in a particular event, but designed to encapsulate the history of the Dark Knight – must be daunting. Even Alan Moore’s sensational Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow? served as a fond farewell to one particular iteration of the Man of Steel. Gaiman’s “last ever” Batman story is a tad more ambitious, bidding goodbye to alliterations of the character. I’m not entirely convinced that it succeeds, although it makes a more than valiant effort.

Clowning around!

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