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Recommended Batman Comics 104: Adam West’s Batman!

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 know that movies traditionally have a minimal impact on comic book sales, but to celebrate the release of The Dark Knight Rises, I thought I’d make a list of accessible jumping-on points for fans of Batman in mass media. There are several wonderful things about Batman. There are two especially relevant to this article. First, Batman is an infinitely adaptable character. He can literally be anything to anybody. It is entirely possible for somebody to love one interpretation of Batman while loathing others. So I’ll be breaking down my recommendations by source, so you can look at your favourite interpretation of Batman and find the most thematically and tonally relevant jumping-on points:

The second factor is that Batman is one of the few characters blessed with a back catalogue of accessible runs and stories, so there’s quite a few recommendations for each. It’s as simple as finding one that works for you.

Finally, we’re going to take a bit of a leap backwards and dig into one of the first truly iconic representations of Batman outside of comics. No, I’m not talking about the film serial. I’m talking about the camp-tastic Adam West Batman! television show.

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Recommended Batman Comics 103: Tim Burton’s Batman Films…

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 know that movies traditionally have a minimal impact on comic book sales, but to celebrate the release of The Dark Knight Rises, I thought I’d make a list of accessible jumping-on points for fans of Batman in mass media. There are several wonderful things about Batman. There are two especially relevant to this article. First, Batman is an infinitely adaptable character. He can literally be anything to anybody. It is entirely possible for somebody to love one interpretation of Batman while loathing others. So I’ll be breaking down my recommendations by source, so you can look at your favourite interpretation of Batman and find the most thematically and tonally relevant jumping-on points:

The second factor is that Batman is one of the few characters blessed with a back catalogue of accessible runs and stories, so there’s quite a few recommendations for each. It’s as simple as finding one that works for you.

And now we’ll take a trip back in time to the late eighties and early nineties, when Tim Burton’s take on the character (with his films Batman and Batman Returns) seemed to dominate pop culture’s impression of the character.

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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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Hulk: Grey (Review)

So far the final book in Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale’s superhero “colour” series (although there was a planned Captain America: White and a rumoured Iron Man: Gold which never got off the ground), Hulk: Grey is perhaps the most fascinating of the three novels. Loeb would go on to writing the on-going Hulk series (to near universal damnation, it should be conceded), suggesting perhaps a closer tie between the author and the character here than in Daredevil: Yellow or Spider-Man: Blue. As opposed to those two novels which covered a relatively large portion of the central character’s life, the flashbacks which provide the core of this particular tale cover a single night – the first night. Perhaps befitting the nature of the Hulk, the narration isn’t provided in monologue here, as it was in the other two titles, instead offering a dialogue between Bruce Banner and Doctor Leonard Sampson, his psycho-therapist. It’s a lovely little story that perhaps isn’t as strong as Daredevil: Yellow, but is still a fascinating read.

It took the Hulk a while to figure out the whole "door" concept...

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Spider-Man: Blue (Review)

Writer Jeph Loeb and artist Tim Sale just work well together. They’re the pair behind The Long Halloween, the Batman story which strongly informed Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight. Somehow they bring out the best in each other, even though Loeb’s recent output has generally been less than stellar. At Marvel, they’re put together a rough thematic “trilogy” offering a nostalgic look at the early careers of various superheroes. Spider-Man: Blue is the middle part of that trilogy (coming after Daredevil: Yellow and before Hulk: Grey). I’m about to commit a cardinal sin, so brace yourself: I think Spider-Man: Blue is the weakest of the three books.

Welcome to the spider's web...

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Daredevil: Yellow (Review)

The rest of the story you know too well. It’s been told a lot of ways, with many other people in my life, but this is the way I choose to remember it when I think of you.

– Matt Murdock

The first part of Tim Sale and Jeph Loeb’s informal ‘colours’ trilogy (Spiderman: Blue and Hulk: Grey being the rest of it), Daredevil: Yellow has a lot going for it beyond the two talents behind a trilogy of iconic Batman stories (Haunted Knight, The Long Halloween, Dark Victory). Cynics would describe it as the last classic that Loeb wrote. The truth is that it offers a wonderful eulogy for the carefree comic book stories of old, simple and ridiculous fare with simple storylines and clear-cut good guys and bad guys. It’s a nostalgia trip – which means it isn’t quite as compelling as the duo’s work on Batman – but it does lend the collection a nice feel to it. If you are in anyway interested in the olden days of comic books without the retro-post-modernism that typically accompanies such fare, this is the story for you.

Daredevil's come on leaps and bounds from his early days...

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Batman: Haunted Knight

Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale. It’s a match made in nerdy comic book heaven. Of course, the duo made their name by working together on The Long Halloween and its direct follow-up Dark Victory and have both had a huge influence on the two Nolan Batman films, but before they completed that grand sweeping arc that tied together the early years of the Caped Crusader’s career, they first teamed up on three Halloween Specials through the mid-1990s. Why is it that Halloween Specials are so much better than Christmas Specials? Think about it, you have The Simpsons’ Halloween Special in one corner and the infamous Star Wars Holiday Special in the other. Still, that’s a discussion for another day.

Because you wouldn't read a Batman Christmas Special...

Because you wouldn't read a Batman Christmas Special...

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