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Batman and the Monster Men (Review)

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.

I really liked both of Matt Wagner’s Dark Moon Rising miniseries, offering a modern retelling of two classic Golden Age Batman stories, fit within the context of the Caped Crusader’s early career. I honestly don’t think that we get enough Golden Age nostalgia within DC comics – the focus of the recent wave of revisionism seems to have been the decidedly wacky and zany Silver Age. Still, between this and Grant Morrison’s Action Comics, perhaps we can start a trend. This is a story transitioning between Frank Miller’s iconic Batman: Year One and Jeph Loeb’s slightly more colourful The Long Halloween, built on the idea that Batman inhabits a comic book world – too much “realism” or too heavy a focus on “gritty urban crime” might rob the character of some of his appeal.

He sure knows how to make an entrance…

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Batman: Dark Victory

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. We’re winding down now, having worked our way through the nine animated features, so I’m just going to look at a few odds-and-ends, some of the more interesting or important episodes that the DC animated universe has produced. Earlier today we looked at the Emmy-winning Robin’s Reckoning, so I thought we might take a look at the comic book origin of Robin that it inspired.

“And while the Maronis and the Falcones have often been bitter rivals, they all now share a common enemy,” Batman narrates at one point in the sequel to The Long Halloween“Extinction.” Dark Victory is the story of the death of “the gangster element of Gotham City” as the organised crime families attempt one last struggle against the emerging freaks. It closes the book on the story threads that Frank Miller introduced in his revision of Batman’s origin in Year One, which continued through Loeb and Sale’s The Long Halloween (which itself provided the basis of Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight). The book serves as an origin story for Dick Grayson, and thus offers a nice bookend for the early years of Bruce’s crimefighting career.

Face the facts...

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Batman: Year One

This is probably on a shortlist for the best Batman story of all time, alongside Frank Miller’s other definitive work on the character, The Dark Knight Returns. Whereas Millar focused on the eventual end of the character’s crusade against crime, here he focuses on the origin of the character. Expanding from the one-page origin which accompanied Batman #1, Miller brings his keen eye to Batman’s psychology, but also the world in which Batman functions. This isn’t the gothic construction of Tim Burton, but a grimy urban cesspool like Christopher Nolan’s. In the world that Miller carves out for the hero, he greatest opponents aren’t the disfigured freaks who would become his adversaries, but the architecture of greed and corruption that defines Gotham.

Imagine if it had been a seagull that crashed through his window that fateful night...

Imagine if it had been a seagull that crashed through his window that fateful night...

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