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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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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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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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10 for 10: Top Ten Movie Moments of the Year

Tomorrow, I’ll be revealing my top ten movies of the past year. It should be a fairly straightforward list, and – to be honest – there won’t be too many surprises on it. Anyway, I thought I’d put together my list of the top ten “moments” from the past year. As ever, I’m Irish – so I’ve yet to see the major crop of Oscar nominees – but it’s worth keeping in mind that there isn’t really a major overlap between this and the list of the best pictures. Some of the best movies didn’t have iconic moments, while some of the best moments were in otherwise lackluster films. Some good movies had great moments, and some great movies had simply okay moments. So, with the rules out of the way, let’s get this countdown under way!

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Non-Review Review: Batman – Under the Red Hood

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. This is one of the “stand-alone” animated movies produced by the creative team that gave us the television shows. 

You did it! You found a way to win and everybody still loses!

– The Joker

The story of Batman, boiled down to its most essential elements, is a tragedy. He’s a character defined by hurt and loss – the suffering and failures he has endured while fighting simply to stay alive in an uncertain world. The reason that the animated Batman: Under the Red Hood works so well is because it manages to capture that observation perfectly in its relatively tight runtime. Over the course of the movie, Batman has several of his rather glaring failures touted out in front of him and – what’s more – faces the possibility that he may himself end up obsolete.

The joke’s on Batman…

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Batman: A Death in the Family

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. Later on today, I’ll be taking a look at the animated movie Batman: Under the Red Hood, so I thought I might take a look at one of the stories which inspired it.

A Death in the Family holds something of a sacred spot in the line-up of classic Batman stories. It was the moment that Batman failed – and he failed monumentally. The image of Batman cradling a bloody and bruised Robin in his arms is almost iconic, recognisable to any pop culture aficionado. However, the story itself really isn’t anything too spectacular – it’s as if writer Jim Starlin was trying to combine the adventurous take on Batman from the seventies with the more grim-and-gritty crusader of the late eighties, with a frankly inexplicable desire to dabble in global politics. Frankly, despite the power of the rich imagery provided by Jim Aparo, the story is more than just a little bit weak, and certainly not strong enough to support the label of “classic” that is applied so frequently to the story.

Batman will be carrying this with him for quite some time...

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