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Mike W. Barr and Alan Davis’ Run on Detective Comics (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.

When DC comics published Crisis on Infinite Earths, it was a brave new world. Everything was new again. Nothing could be taken for granted. The company had the opportunity to start again with its characters and properties, offering a new beginning to iconic heroes that would hopefully welcome new readers while learning from prior successes and past failures. It was an exciting time in the industry, one bristling with potential.

In many respects, the defining Batman story in the immediate aftermath of Crisis on Infinite Earths was Batman: Year One. Even today, Year One remains a foundational text for Batman, one of the best (and most influential) stories ever told using the character. It defined Batman for the eighties and nineties, and beyond. Frank Miller offered readers a new and updated origin for the Caped Crusader that teased a new way of looking at Gotham City and its inhabitants.

"It's a trap!"

“It’s a trap!”

Meanwhile, a more quiet revolution was in progress over on Detective Comics. Writer Mike W. Barr and Alan Davis began their run on Detective Comics in the immediate aftermath of the now-all-but-forgotten Legends crossover. Although the duo were lucky enough to work on the book over the fiftieth anniversary of Detective Comics, their work was somewhat overshadowed by the publication of Year One in their sister publication – to the point that their run culminates in Year Two, a sequel to Year One.

Still, while it never got the attention that it deserved, Barr and Davis did a lot to offer an alternative to Miller’s gritty and grounded reimagining. Featuring death traps and puns and brainwashing and dodgy jokes, Barr and Davis seem almost subversive. It is as if the duo are working hard to import all the stuff that might otherwise be washed away by Crisis on Infinite Earths, reminding readers that with world of Batman has always been absurd, and that is not necessarily a bad thing.

Talk about making an entrance...

Talk about making an entrance…

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Peter Tomasi & Patrick Gleeson’s Run on Batman & Robin – Born to Kill (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.

DC’s “new 52” was a fairly massive success. Hoping to re-energise their line, the company launched a massive retooling following their crossover Flashpoint. Some characters had their history radically reworked and altered – Morrison’s work on Action Comics standing as perhaps the most obvious example. However, some characters transitioned through the change with relative ease. Geoff Johns’ Green Lantern pretty much continued from where War of the Green Lanterns left off, and the entire Batman line was pretty much business as usual, save for the return of Bruce Wayne to the centre of the stage and Dick Grayson’s return to the role of Nightwing.

Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason took over as the regular creative team on Batman & Robin, a book that had been launched by Grant Morrison only two or three years earlier. The book originally focused on the dynamic between Dick Grayson as Batman and Damian Wayne as Robin, so there’s a fairly fundamental shift in the tone of the book as Bruce Wayne is teamed up with his own son. While the set-up might seem to take a while to find its feet, there’s certainly no shortage of intriguing ideas here.

A Boy Wonder…

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The Batman Archives, Vol. 1 (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.

This is where it all began. The Batman Archives collect the stories originally published in the Detective Comics anthology series that introduced the Caped Crusader to the world. It’s interesting to look back at these initial adventures featuring the character, as you see artist Bob Kane and writer Bill Finger really figuring out how the character and his world should work. Although there’s quite a lot of generic plotting, and some bizarre Golden Age craziness, it’s fun to watch the creators establish the elements that would define the character and the world he inhabits. From the sleazy corruption of Gotham City to the supervillains to the Boy Wonder himself, these stories provide an interesting template for the evolution of the Dark Knight.

Na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na…

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The Politics of Nolan’s Batman Films…

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 think it’s fair to say that Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy is quite an accomplishment. I think there’s a valid argument to be made that the series can be successfully measured against other classic film trilogies like the original Star Wars trilogy or even the more recent Lord of the Rings trilogy. However, I think it’s also notable just how much political discourse and discussion the trilogy has generated, particularly for its political content. It’s quite impressive that Nolan’s three films about a masked pulp hero have provoked such debate, and I’d certainly argue that The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises are easily two of the most politically complex and fascinating blockbusters in quite some time.

A caped social crusader?

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Batman: Prey (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.

I actually have  a bit of a soft spot for Doug Moench’s Batman work. That is, of course, before he and Kelley Jones got shunted off to work on whatever insane Elseworlds concept they could concoct, like Batman: Haunted Gotham or Dark Joker the Wild. (Although I think Batman: Vampire wasn’t half bad.) I would really like a nice collection of the work that Jones and Moench did during the nineties – similar to the collections we’ve been seeing for artists like Jim Aparo or Marshall Rogers. I think the pair did a good enough job that they deserve one. (Although I’d rather Breyfogle and Grant first, please.) Still, I think there’s an argument to be made that Prey is perhaps the best of Moench’s Batman work, a story arc the writer did for Legends of the Dark Knight set in the early days of Batman’s career. It’s fascinating, because it’s a wonderful criticism of Frank Miller’s style of Batman writing, long before that school of thought became popular.

Bloody murder…

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Batman: Birth of the Demon (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.

To celebrate the release of The Dark Knight Rises this week, today we’ll be reviewing the complete “Demon” trilogy, exploring the relationship between Batman and Ra’s Al Ghul.

Birth of the Demon is very much the odd one out of the Demon trilogy. Of the three stories, it is the only one not written by Mike W. Barr. It also is arguably the most reflective of the three stories in the series, focusing on the origin of Ra’s Al Ghul more than in any modern conflict with Bruce Wayne. Still, it all feels strangely appropriate that, more than a decade after his creation, Denny O’Neil should return to tell the back story of his most iconic addition to the Batman mythos.

Shadow of the bat…

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Batman: Son of the Demon (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.

To celebrate the release of The Dark Knight Rises this week, today we’ll be reviewing the complete “Demon” trilogy, exploring the relationship between Batman and Ra’s Al Ghul.

Son of the Demon is an interesting graphic novel. Written by Mike W. Barr and illustrated by Jerry Bingham, it occupies a strange place in the Batman canon. A story in which Bruce allies himself with his old enemy Ra’s Al Ghul and marries the villain’s daughter, Talia, the story was all but forgotten for years until Grant Morrison unearthed it for his Batman run, reuniting Batman with the child fathered in this story. Son of the Demon has an intriguing premise, even if Barr’s execution feels a little clumsy and overwrought, and it makes for an interesting exploration of some of Batman’s deeper facets.

He shall become a bat…

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