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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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The Adventures of Batman & Robin – Deep Freeze (Review)

This September marks the twentieth anniversary of Batman: The Animated Series, and the birth of the shared DC animated universe that would eventually expand to present one of the most comprehensive and thorough explorations of a comic book mythology in any medium. To celebrate, we’re going back into the past and looking at some classic episodes.

Heart of Ice is a phenomenal piece of television. Paul Dini’s sharp script somehow managed to take one of the most camp and forgettable theme villains in Batman’s iconic selection foes, and elevate them to a prime position. After all, were it not for that reimagining of the villain, Victor Fries would likely be a footnote in Batman history, ranking not too far above the Killer Moth or the Calendar Man in the dregs of Batman’s rogue’s gallery. However, while the story provided a concrete and grounded origin for an otherwise Z-list villain, it also raised some interesting questions about where the character could be taken after that.

His second appearance in the series, Deep Freeze seeks to answer those question. While, ironically, it’s considerably shallower than its predecessor, it’s still an interesting look a villain defined by this show.

Freeze frame…

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Batman: The Animated Series – Heart of Ice (Review)

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. While most of the episodes and comics I look at will tie into the feature-length animated movies, I thought I’d start with perhaps the most beloved piece of animation that the studio produced using DC characters.

I believe that Batman: The Animated Series sorely deserves a place on list compiled of the “best animated series of all time”. It’s certainly perhaps the single best distillation of the Batman mythos into one pure form (although Christopher Nolan’s film series – and especially The Dark Knight – also deserve some acknowledgement). What made the series unique was that, instead of simply borrowing from the comic books, it also actively contributed to them – and not just in a “we need to tie into a popular adaptation” sort of way. Lasting changes to the Batman mythos can be traced back to this particular animated series – the fan-favourite character of Harley Quinn, for example, or several sympathetic origins to well-established characters. Heart of Ice is perhaps the most successful and well-executed of these revisionist takes on Batman’s iconic selection of bad guys – offering as it does an origin for Mr. Freeze.

Dude needs to chill out…

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Backlash to Mickey Rourke’s Whiplash…

I’m on a bit of a comic book binge this week (it helps that Hollywood is churning out so many of the damned movies), and I couldn’t help but not with a wry smile on my face the internet response to the first pictures of Mickey Rourke as the villain (or “a” villian, given the ambiguous roles played by Sam Rockwell and Scarlett Johansson as a business rival and catsuit-wearing spy) in the new Iron Man film. There had been a lot of gossip about whether the loud-mouthed Oscar-nominated actor would be playing Whiplash or Crimson Dynamo. From what fans are saying about the image (appearing below), it appears he’s playing a weird amalgamation of both… and a few more to boot. Though most of fandom appears to have taken this pastiche in their stride, there are a few cynical souls remaining out there who are a little ticked off to see these characters revamped in such a strange way. However, mixing and matching and distorting is by no means anew thing when it comes to adapting iconic characters to the big screen.

It looks like someone has finally tamed Mickey Rourke's wild streak by making him wear an over-sized shock collar

It looks like someone has finally tamed Mickey Rourke's wild streak by making him wear an over-sized shock collar

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