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Robin: Year One (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.

Chuck Dixon is one of the definitive Batman writers, particularly in the context of the nineties. Dixon enjoyed a long and well-regarded run on Detective Comics in the nineties, serving as one of the three writers driving the Batman franchise – along with Doug Moench and Kelley Jones on Batman and Alan Grant on Shadow of the Bat. Dixon even got to stay involved with the Bat titles for a little while after No Man’s Land in 1999, when the entire line had a massive turnover in talent.

However, while Dixon is an incredibly influential writer on Batman, he had as much of an influence on Dick Grayson. Dixon was the writer who handled Dick Grayson’s first on-going Nightwing series, building off a miniseries written by Denny O’Neil. Dixon worked on Nightwing for seventy issues between 1996 and 2002. He even returned to the title with collaborator Scotty Beatty after its one hundredth issue to write Nightwing: Year One, an origin story covering the former Robin’s transition into his new superhero persona.

Swinging into action...

Swinging into action…

As such, it makes a great deal of sense for Dixon to collaborate with writer Scott Beatty on Robin: Year One, a prestigious miniseries spanning four extended issues and featuring wonderful artwork from Javier Pulido. Pulido’s distinctive artwork lends itself to vibrant colours and dynamic expression, as demonstrated during his wonderful stint as part of the rotating art team on The Amazing Spider-Man. If ever a comic book lent itself to Pulido’s style, Robin: Year One is it.

Dixon does some nice work trying to explain the dynamic between Batman and Robin, and even to argue why Robin is an essential part of the mythos. Most interestingly, he, Beatty and Pulido try to integrate the arrival of Robin with the atmosphere and mood established by Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli in Batman: Year One.

Suit up!

Suit up!

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Batman – Full Circle (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.

In a way, Mike W. Barr and Alan Davies’ Full Circle feels a bit like Steve Englehart and Marshall Roger’s Dark Detective. It’s a cap to a run on the character, something of a forerunner to DC’s recent “Retroactive” initiative, reteaming classic creators on a particular character in an attempt to recapture past glories. Like Dark Detective, Full Circle doesn’t quite work. It’s a direct sequel to Barr’s Year Two – albeit with recurring gags and characters thrown in from the rest of his Detective Comics run – and it seems to exist solely to make sure the reader understood what Barr was doing with Year Two.

Given that Year Two was hardly the most subtle of comics, Full Circle occasionally runs the risk of bludgeoning the reader into submission.

It's a Boy Wonder he doesn't get killed...

It’s a Boy Wonder he doesn’t get killed…

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Infinite Crisis (Review/Retrospective)

This month I’m taking a look at DC’s massive “Infinite Crisis” Event. Although it was all published in one massive omnibus, I’ll be breaking down the lead-in to the series to tackle each thread individually, culminating in a review of the event itself. Check back for more.

Infinite Crisis is a fantastic concept with a somewhat muddled execution. The idea of reflecting on the way the DC Universe has evolved since Crisis on Infinite Earths is a fascinating hook for an event miniseries, and writer Geoff Johns does an effective job of exploring how times have changed. However, the original Crisis on Infinite Earths had a tendency to seem too vast and too all-encompassing for its own good, randomly jumping between a cast of hundreds lost in a maelstrom. Given that Marv Wolfman had twelve issues to tell that story, and still occasionally ended up a little confused, it seems a little unfair for Geoff Johns to attempt a similar effort in only seven issues.

There are times when Infinite Crisis feels less like one cohesive story and more like a series of vignettes based around a theme. That doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot of interesting stuff going on here – or that Johns doesn’t have something compelling to say about modern superhero comics – it just means that Infinite Crisis is a bit of a mess. A bold and ambitious mess, but a mess nevertheless.

A smashing success?

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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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Judd Winick’s Run on Batman & Robin – Streets Run Red (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.

Today we’re taking a look at three of the authors who followed Grant Morrison’s groundbreaking Batman & Robin run. And, rounding off our day of reviews, is Judd Winick’s three-issue arc.

I can’t help but feel a bit disappointed at how DC editorial handled Batman & Robin after Morrison departed. In hindsight, it’s apparent that they were waiting until the high-profile post-Flashpoint DCnU to relaunch the title with its new creative team of Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason, but that still means there were ten issues between the end of Morrison’s run and the proper start of Tomasi and Gleason’s. While using fill-in writers and artists might have seemed logical, I can’t help but feel like there should have been tighter editorial control of the book.

While Paul Cornell and Tomasi both maintained some association with Morrison’s well-loved run, Judd Winick uses the title to tell a three-issue story arc that doesn’t necessarily fit. Instead, this three issue story-arc feels like it should have been a miniseries or featured in an anthology title, fitting more easily within the character continuity of Winick’s resurrected Jason Todd than within any framework of Batman & Robin.

All good for the Hood?

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Batman/Planetary: Night on Earth (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.

Warren Ellis gets Batman. He gets all of Batman. he gets the Caped Crusader, the Dark Knight, the Knight of Vengeance, the Bat-Man and more. He understands that the various pop culture iterations of the character, from Bob Kane’s gun-totting vigilante to Adam West’s “peace officer” to Frank Miller’s one-man army, are all just different facets of the same idea, reflected differently in various takes on the character. It’s hard to reconcile all of these different interpretations – in fact, I’d argue that Grant Morrison’s Batman run suffered for making the attempt – but Ellis does it with remarkable style, without every seeming like he’s cramming too much in or leaving too much out.

I am Batman. All of them.

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Scott Snyder’s Run on Detective Comics – Batman: The Black Mirror (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.

These past few years have been a great time to be a Batman fan. On top of Christopher Nolan’s acclaimed Dark Knight trilogy, you’ve also had the Arkham Asylum video games, Grant Morrison’s genre-busting run on Batman & Robin and now Scott Snyder joining the franchise. Indeed, even the lesser on-going series (like Tony Daniel’s Batman or Paul Dini’s Streets of Gotham) are still relatively entertaining, if significantly flawed. However, when good creators have gotten their hands on the Batman mythos in the past five years or so, incredible things have happened. And Scott Snyder’s Detective Comics run, The Black Mirror, is one of those incredible things.

Jump in…

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