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Tony Daniel’s Run on Batman – Battle for the Cowl, Life After Death & Eye of the Beholder (Review/Retrospective)

To celebrate the release of The Dark Knight Rises, July is “Batman month” here at the m0vie blog. Check back daily for comics, movies and television reviews and discussion of the Caped Crusader.

Tony Daniel’s Batman is a decently entertaining book, one that has clearly been put together with a great deal of skill and care by an artist and writer who seems to be not only enjoying himself, but keen to learn on the job. Handed the unenviable task of writing Battle for the Cowl, the three-issue miniseries designed to link Grant Morrison’s Batman run to his Batman & Robin run, Daniel was given an assignment that would make even a seasoned writer blush with uncertainty – tasked with writing connective tissue between two densely-layered Grant Morrison series, it’s hard to imagine a writer who would have managed anything that much better than the somewhat limp mess that Daniel produced. Still, DC was keen enough to grant the artist not only on-going art chores on the Batman series (rapidly approaching its seven-hundredth issue), but also to let him write it. While it’s hardly the most iconic or memorable tenure on a Batman-related title, it does have a number of charming and somewhat redeeming features. The most impressive one is that Daniel seems willing to learn and to improve as he goes.

Some men just want to see the world burn…

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Grant Morrison’s Run on Batman – Time & The Batman (Review)

December is “Grant Morrison month” here at the m0vie blog, as we take the month to consider and reflect on one of the most critically acclaimed (and polarising) authors working in the medium. Every Wednesday this month, we’ll have a Grant Morrison related review or retrospective.

I have, I’m not entirely ashamed to admit, grown quite fond of Grant Morrison’s run on Batman. Despite the fact I’m still not overly fond of Batman R.I.P., I really appreciated The Return of Bruce Wayne and Batman & Robin was perhaps the most fun I’ve had reading comics in quite a long time. So I found myself somewhat underwhelmed by Time and the Batman, collecting Morrison’s work on Batman #700 and the two-issue follow-up that served to make explicit the ties between Batman R.I.P. and Final Crisis. It’s not that the book isn’t packed with ideas or even that it’s quite short. I think it’s more that Morrison seems to spend a lot of time here providing exposition and filling in information that perhaps couldn’t fit elsewhere in this tapestry.

Joker puts the gang back together…

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Why Does It Matter That Spider-Man is Black?

It’s interesting the odd way that comic books occasionally overlap with the mainstream. Mainly, it appears to be when a death is involved, like the coverage that Ed Brubaker’s The Death of Captain America inspired, or the pop culture impact of Grant Morrison’s Batman R.I.P. (or even Jonathan Hickman’s death of Johnny Storm in The Fantastic Four). These week, we’ve had a minor media storm over something a bit different: a new character taking an established identity. Most mainstream media outlets weren’t interested in the resurrection of Bucky Barnes to replace Steve Rogers, nor Dick Grayson donning the cowl in Batman & Robin. However, there’s been a storm in a teacup brewing over the fact that the new lead in Ultimate Spider-Man is black.

Why on Earth is this such a big deal?

The only colours I associate with Spider-man are blue and red...

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Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne (Review)

March is Superman month here at the m0vie blog, what with the release of the animated adaptation of Grant Morrison’s superb All-Star Superman. We’ll be reviewing a Superman-related book/story arc every Wednesday this month, so check on back – and we might have a surprise or two along the way. In honour of the Scottish scribe, I thought I’d review the latest chapter in his on-going Batman epic.

It’s a testament to writer Grant Morrison how much I enjoyed his weird and fantastical six-chapter “Batman lost in time” adventure epic. Between this and his superb run on Batman & Robin, Morrison might have redeemed himself for the mess that was Batman R.I.P. That said, the collection isn’t for everyone, but it marks a rich exploration of the evolution of the Batman archetype through his various iterations – a meta-textual look at the elements which make Batman who he is, and why those elements are important to him. It also, of course, features Batman in a sword fight with Cthulhu.

You know you’re reading Grant Morrison’s Batman when something like this happens…

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Final Crisis (Review/Retrospective)

This post is part of the DCAU fortnight, a series of articles looking at the Warner Brothers animations featuring DC’s iconic selection of characters. I’ll be looking at movies and episodes and even some of the related comic books. Later on today, we’ll be reviewing Superman/Batman: Apocalypse, so I thought I might take a look at a comic book tale which was heavy on Superman, Darkseid and Batman…

This epic elegy for a doomed civilisation, declining from splendor to squalor. This Final Crisis. This last ditch attempt to save creation itself from a loathing and greed beyond measure.

– Grant Morrison outlines the whole point of the book, in case you weren’t paying attention… in a narration which deserves to be read in the most pompously ridiculous style possible

Look, I could hitch a ride back with you. I have a real talent for gritty drama no one’s ever thought to exploit.

– Merryman makes a pitch for “relevance” in the hopes of escaping comic book “limbo”

Destruction or creation. Everything or nothing. A universe full or a universe empty. Life or anti-life. Grant Morrison certainly lives up to his reputation as a frustrating and challenging author – is Final Crisis the statement of a genre looking to make peace with itself, or nonsensical Silver Age surrealism repackaged for a modern world? Is it pretentious or profound? Insightful or devoid of interest? Can’t it be both, or are these mutually exclusive states?

We all knew Obama was Superman…

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Paul Dini’s Run on Detective Comics – The Heart of Hush

Batman’s rogues gallery is a strange one. Thanks to the character’s absorption into popular culture (by the live action series, the cartoons, the movies), he has a fantastically strong and well-recognised selection of villains – to the point where people who haven’t picked up a comic book wonder whether The Riddler will be the villain in the next Batman film. He has tonnes of opponents who are easily recognised by the public and are wide and diverse, many that any other comic book character would kill for. However, once every few years the powers that be will attempt to introduce a new major villain into the character’s life – for example Grant Morrison populated his own run on the title with new enemies (and the Joker). Very occasionally these are succesful – Bane is a fairly well-known addition to the ensemble, despite only arriving about fifteen years ago, and Victor Zsasz remains the most recent bad guy to be featured in Nolan’s movies – but mostly these are failures – like Orca or KGBeast. Here Paul Dini is attempting to move the most recent major bat baddie from the latter category into the former. Does it work?

Eye see you...

Eye see you...

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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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