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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: 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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Non-Review Review: Batman Forever

Was that over the top? I can never tell!

– Edward Nygma, aka The Riddler

Yes, Edward, that was over the top.

“Yeah, Tommy, you got something juuuust here….”

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Should Harvey Dent Return in Batman 3?

I’m having what might be termed ‘a Batman day’. I finally managed too tear open and read my copy of Absolute Batman: The Long Halloween and I’m a little giddy about it – and the fact Batman was just named Britain’s favourite superhero. In fact, it reminds me of just how much I want a sequel to The Dark Knight to at least be announced officially – the steady stream of increasingly inane rumours (Eddie Murphy, Megan Fox, yeesh) aren’t quite satiating my thirst. There’s been (understandably) a lot of discussion about the villains in the new film. I honestly don’t know who Nolan will pick (though my money is on Catwoman if only to adjust the gender ratio), but I am fascinated by the on-line discussion surrounding whether the characters of Harvey Dent and The Joker will (or should) return. My opinion of the Joker is simply: if he does, he does. Heath Ledger won an Oscar and gave us a fantastic portrayal of the character. If Nolan wants to bring him back recast, I’m cool. On Dent, I’m more sure: I don’t want to see him again.

Bringing back Harvey is a half-brained idea...

Bringing back Harvey is a half-brained idea...

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Absolute Batman: The Long Halloween (Review)

Say what you will about the Caped Crusader, as well as having the finest rogues gallery in comicdom, he also gets most of the best storylines and plots. The Long Halloween is widely considered a classic, a true Batman story for the ages and a perfect companion to Frank Miller’s Batman: Year One. In many ways, both stories heavily influence the two Christopher Nolan Batman movies (Batman Begins and The Dark Knight) to the point where the notoriously shy-about-his-work Nolan actually provides the introduction to this collection. There’s a mark of quality right there. The story is so highly regarded for a reason, and has helped define one of the most enduring depictions of the Batman.

Batman might not be able to leap buildings in a single bound, but that won't stop him trying...

Batman might not be able to leap buildings in a single bound, but that won't stop him trying...

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Non-Review Review: The Dark Knight

Even four years after is original release, The Dark Knight casts a pretty big shadow. Not only is it the best Batman movie ever produced, and easily one of the best stories to feature the character in any medium, it’s also a wonderful piece of cinema on its own terms. Christopher Nolan is an astounding craftsman, and one who constructed his superhero sequel without ever feeling the need to dumb down. The Dark Knight is a wonderfully effective and stunningly constructed piece of popcorn cinema, but it’s also the most profound and engaging (and, importantly, even-handed) meditations on the War of Terror that Hollywood has produced. It’s bold and accessible, but it’s also intelligent and engaging. More than an astoundingly impressive blockbuster, it’s just a superb piece of cinema.

It all goes up in flames…

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