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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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Paul Dini and Dustin Nguyen’s Streets of Gotham – Hush Money, Leviathan, The House of Hush (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’m a big fan of Paul Dini. He was perhaps the finest writer on staff for the superb Batman: The Animated Series and he wrote a superb run on Detective Comics (culminating in the rehabilitation of a modern villain in Heart of Hush). He’s one of few writers out there who genuinely has a firm grip on the characters that inhabit the world of Gotham. I was quite looking forward Streets of Gotham, the Batman title that Dini would be writing in wake of Batman R.I.P., promising a unique perspective on Gotham and its guardians. Unfortunately, the end result feels relatively slight, with the series never truly finding a comfortable niche, and bouncing around somewhat inconsistantly.

Batman could handle this in his sleep…

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My Best of 2011: Thor, Daddy Issues & The Triumph of Optimism…

It’s that time of the year. To celebrate 2011, and the countdown to 2012, I’m going to count down my own twelve favourite films of the year, one a day until New Year’s Eve. I’m also going to talk a bit about how or why I chose them, and perhaps what makes this list “my” best of 2011, rather than any list claiming to be objective.

Thor is number five. Check out my original review here.

This is perhaps one of my “what the…?” picks, one of my choices that will seem especially random, and a blockbuster highly unlikely to show up in any other critic or commentator’s “best of 2011” of “end of year” countdown lists. However, I think there’s a lot to like about Branagh’s adaptation of Marvel’s faux-Shakespearean hammer-wielding Norse God, and I think it works so well because Branagh seems to acknowledge the same sentiment that Stan Lee tapped into when creating The Mighty Thor: the idea that superheroes are a modern American mythology, a vehicle with which to explore the hopes and fears of the modern world through a fantastical prism, something that can be traced back to the pantheon of old. While the best superhero films explore this sense of relevance, I admired the way that Thor managed to embrace it in the most abstract manner, tracing it back to that earliest and most basic type of story: the story of fathers and sons.

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Gotham After Dark: Batman Noir

We’re currently blogging as part of the “For the Love of Film Noir” blogathon (hosted by Ferdy on Films and The Self-Styled Siren) to raise money to help restore the 1950’s film noir The Sound of Fury (aka Try and Get Me). It’s a good cause which’ll help preserve our rich cinematic heritage for the ages, and you can donate by clicking here. Over the course of the event, running from 14th through 21st February, I’m taking a look at the more modern films that have been inspired or shaped by noir. Today’s theme is “comics noir” – noir filtered through comic book panels.

More than any other mainstream superhero, Batman is strongly linked with the film noir tradition. Dating back as early as his first appearances, straight through to Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight, the Caped Crusader has always inhabited a world which seems as fragile and broken as any noir protagonist. Just because he trades a trench coat for a cape (which, you’ll note, he makes a point to wear around him rather than just behind him) and a fedora for a cowl, don’t underestimate Bruce Wayne’s flirtation with the darker side of cinema.

The Dark Night?

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Batman: The Animated Series – Robin’s Reckoning (Parts I & II)

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. An Emmy-award-winning episode seems a reasonable place to start.

I know the logic. Robin shouldn’t work in the context of Batman, unless you’re veering into camp. Somehow, a teenager in green short-shorts with a yellow cape manages the near-impossible feat of making a grown man who dresses up like a bat look even more ridiculous. To feature Robin in film or animation is to invite insane volumes of camp – think of Adam West’s Batman! or Joel Schumacher’s Batman & Robin. However, for some reason, Batman: The Animated Series mostly got the balance right somehow. So much so that the belated Robin “origin” story, Robin’s Reckoning, picked up the Emmy in 1993 for outstanding animated programming, somehow beating The Simpsons. These two episodes are on the shortlist of the best episodes of the series, and – thus – amongst the best animated episodes ever made.

Robin steps up to Bat...

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Batman: Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader? (Review/Retrospective)

I guess… I guess I always knew that this was how it was going to end. That we didn’t have him forever. That one day someone would say, ‘Hey, Jim. Whatever happened to the Caped Crusader?’ I’d tell them. ‘Pretty much what you’d expect. He’s dead.’

I just didn’t think it would be today.

– Commissioner James Gordon

I actually quite enjoyed Neil Gaiman’s Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader?, even if I wasn’t overly in love with it. The prospect of doing a final, definitive Batman story – one not anchored in a particular event, but designed to encapsulate the history of the Dark Knight – must be daunting. Even Alan Moore’s sensational Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow? served as a fond farewell to one particular iteration of the Man of Steel. Gaiman’s “last ever” Batman story is a tad more ambitious, bidding goodbye to alliterations of the character. I’m not entirely convinced that it succeeds, although it makes a more than valiant effort.

Clowning around!

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