My addition to the hype train

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Batman #11

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Notice I’m not calling this a review? That’s because I just cannot find the energy to write a full-on, proper review. I’ve also been trying really hard to not write any negative articles for the site – but after reading the issue a few times and then seeing CBR’s absurdly vague 4 1/2 star corporate ball-licking “review” that didn’t even attempt to mention the story telling, I just couldn’t help it. I felt compelled to rant a bit.

So, please, allow me to level with you right off the bat so that you may either stop reading and/or start writing your hate mail: I think Scott Snyder has successfully completed the worst “big event” Batman story that I have ever read.

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CA Reviews: Ugli Studios Presents #1

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Ugli Studios Presents is creator-owned fantasy/horror/sci-fi anthology book. Its inaugural issue contains two different shorts, each co-written by Jason Lenox and David Paul and drawn by Mr. Lenox. For a point of reference think; The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits, etc. – these are short, succinct stories that present a self-contained tale with some sort of unexpected plot twist or surprise ending. I must confess; I’ve seen every single episode of the original Twilight Zone series and I’ve even read a lot of the original scripts – so to say I enjoy this mode of storytelling would be a bit of an understatement. Unfortunately, as a reviewer this also means I have a high bar set for people to be able to compete with the likes of Rod Serling, Ray Bradbury, etc. That all being the case – I’m here to support and drum up interest for independent comic creators – so I’ll be tempering my sky-high expectations as much as possible while still being a discerning commentator ;)

Onward to the meat:

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Aside

I present to you the BTAS  series bible.

For those unaware of what a “series bible” is:

from Wikipedia

Show bibles are commonly used in television series; new writers and freelancers are often referred to it when writing scripts for the show to ensure continuity with previous episodes; they’re also used by individual writers for books and movies to keep track of details.

BTAS – Series Bible

Right click to ‘save as’ and download and/or read the thing with a left click

Batman The Animated Series – The Series Bible

CA Reviews: Johnny Space Commander

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What do we have here? Well, we have an independently released creator-owned comic series: Johnny Space Commander, by Sean Parnell.

Mr. Parnell was kind enough to send me issues #1-4 for review purposes, so being the stand-up guy I am, I decided to do just that; read Mr. Parnell’s work and then give you delicate readers of discerning taste, my opinions on said books.

Continue on, you brave explorers of uncharted independent comic lands

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Some Quick Thoughts On Batman Inc. Vol. 2 #1

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This isn’t a proper review, rather just a quick sketch of what I thought of my most anticipated book of 2012.

I plan on doing full annotations on the whole run, so that will come soon, but for now this is all I have time for before I leave town for a week and wander around the wilderness without computers or cell phones.

Spoilers ahead!

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CA Reviews: Avengers XXX A Porn Parody

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Wow.

I came into (heh) “Avengers XXX A Porn Parody” expecting to find the ridiculous level of storytelling shoe-horned between scenes of hardcore porn that I had last witnessed in Axel Braun’s masterful, Spider-Man XXX, and what I got was… really just the hardcore porn part. As bad as the “story” was in Spider-Man XXX, at least it still kind of had a three act structure; it kind of had a plot. Yet in a bold step towards deconstructionism (?), Avengers XXX eschews the notion of plot almost entirely. The film starts out acting as if there is going to be a plot, yet what we’re ultimately left with is a confused mess of incoherent elements contradicting one another and only providing a half-assed two act structure. The film slowly peters out after the opening scenes and it seems as if the writer/director forgot he was supposed to be delivering some geeky adult fun. People randomly namedrop other Marvel characters and deliver their semi-geeky lines like pron robots in a hasty attempt to get to the sex. There’s barely any dialog referencing the comics and they don’t even provide the actors with any ridiculous puns that would be chuckle inducing to comic nerds.

Sure, it is a porno, so why in the hell am I critiquing the story so much? Well, I figure if you’re going to go this far – that is, if you’re going to get some pretty cool costumes and fill your movie with “obscure” heroes that only comic fans will recognize, then you should at least attempt to put them in a fun, tongue in cheek world where you can deliver on the promise of a ‘parody’. The only laughs came from seeing how awfully the actors delivered their lines, and from thinking about how Axel Braun probably takes himself way too seriously and considers himself as some sort of auteur… the Christopher Nolan of the porn world

Anyway – let’s get to it huh? I know you just want a blow by blow account of the action relayed to you in X-rated screen caps, so let’s do it!

NSFW madness after the jump!

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CA Reviews: Secret – One: Teeth With Which To Eat

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Secret was just what I needed.

I’ve grown oh-so-tired during these past few months with cape books and I’ve been desperately trying to expand my comic genre horizons. As a life-long DC fan the majority of the New 52 leaves me bored, dismayed and actually, more than a bit annoyed. I left Marvel in the 90’s and I’ve never really gone back (Waid’s current Daredevil is fucking great though!) it seems things have become very complicated in the interim; there are a ridiculous amount of Marvel titles out every month and it discombobulates me completely while standing in my LCS, so I’ve never been presented with a good segue back into the universe. However, Image has been my saving grace as of late. They’ve been consistent in putting out unique and well crafted books that have short and snappy runs or are limited series in one way or another.

So, about Secret? Riiiight, well…

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The Top Ten Batman Covers from Each Era (Part 4 – The Modern Age)

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This week we are going to break down what we believe to be the best Batman covers from each era of comic book history – so expect this to be broken into four different parts encompassing:

Golden Age (c.1938 – c.1950)

Silver Age (1956 – c.1970)

Bronze Age (c.1970 – c.1985)

Modern Age (1985 – present)

Today we move on to our final list

THE TOP TEN MODERN AGE BATMAN COVERS:

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The Top Ten Batman Covers from Each Era (Part 3 – The Bronze Age)

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This week we are going to break down what we believe to be the best Batman covers from each era of comic book history – so expect this to be broken into four different parts encompassing:

Golden Age (c.1938 – c.1950)

Silver Age (1956 – c.1970)

Bronze Age (c.1970 – c.1985)

Modern Age (1985 – present)

Today we move on to

THE TOP TEN BRONZE AGE BATMAN COVERS:

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The Top Ten Batman Covers from Each Era (Part 2 – The Silver Age)

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This week we are going to break down what we believe to be the best Batman covers from each era of comic book history – so expect this to be broken into four different parts encompassing:

 Golden Age (c.1938 – c.1950)

Silver Age (1956 – c.1970)

Bronze Age (c.1970 – c.1985)

Modern Age (1985 – present)

Today we move on to

THE TOP TEN SILVER AGE BATMAN COVERS:

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The Top Ten Batman Covers from Each Era (Part 1 – The Golden Age)

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This week we are going to break down what we believe to be the best Batman covers from each era of comic book history – so expect this to be broken into four different parts encompassing:

 Golden Age (c.1938 – c.1950)

Silver Age (1956 – c.1970)

Bronze Age (c.1970 – c.1985)

Modern Age (1985 – present)

Today however,  we shall begin with

THE TOP TEN GOLDEN AGE BATMAN COVERS:

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Batman University, Anti-Theism, Moby Dick and Trite Nostalgia: Batman on the Couch (Prelude)

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This is a bit of an oddity.  Back in December of 2011 I was asked to expound upon some general questions I had previously answered for a genial fellow working on a collegiate assignment. The answers I provided were to be worked into some sort of thesis and I was told that the final paper would be passed on to me, so that I could see how my input was put to use. I’ve never seen that paper.

Regardless, I think some of the topics broached here are mildly interesting and I plan to further extrapolate on a few of the answers I provided in the near future; Specifically the notion that the character of Batman stands as an undeniably (and perhaps singular) anti-theistic superhero. I also find it somewhat funny that I make mention of a hypothetical sequel to Moby Dick not being able to ruin the original work, since recently, Alan Moore used the same analogy a bit differently.

In any event, here are some words I wrote about Batman back in December:

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Monday Bat-Page

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Every Monday I’ll post a random, but fantastic, page from a Batman comic – this will improve all of our weeks.

No context, no commentary, just:

*Since I skipped last week I’ve put up a two page splash; it counts for two… so we’re caught up.*

(Batman #68 – Writer: Grant Morrison – Artist: Tony Daniel)

Monday Bat-Page

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Every Monday I’ll post a random, but fantastic, page from a Batman comic – this will improve all of our weeks.

No context, no commentary, just:

(Batman 428 – Writer: Jim Starlin – Artist: Jim Aparo)

CA Reviews: Batman #5

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Batman #5 – Writer: Scott Snyder – Artist: Greg Capullo

I think I’ve gone mad.

Everyone else I’ve heard speaking of this issue has lobbied some extreme, hysterical hyperbole at it such as “The greatest script of Snyder’s career” or that it is one of the best Batman issues ever written. What? Maybe I read a different book, or maybe I’m just not as blown away by the rather gimmicky page flipping component of the book as others are, because, from what I read – I was thoroughly nonplussed.

SPOILERS Ahead! Abandon all hope, ye who enter here

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Monday Bat-page

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Every Monday I’ll post a random, but fantastic, page from a Batman comic – this will improve all of our weeks.

No context, no commentary, just:

(The Batman of Arkham – Writer: Alan Grant – Artist: Alcatena

The Reddit Collaborative Comic Book Project

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About a month ago I started a Reddit group called Comic Book Collaborations – in hopes of creating, what basically amounts to, an online classified’s section which is specifically geared towards helping amateur comic book creators find collaborators, in order to get their independent comic book projects off the ground more easily. I thought having one place online to go would be easier than scouring through thousands of Deviantart accounts or personal blogs. Good ideas often blossom even better ideas and soon I found myself thinking it would be great to simply create a comic through this venue.

 

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Monday Bat-page

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Every Monday I’ll post a random, but fantastic, page from a Batman comic – this will improve all of our weeks.

No context, no commentary, just:

(Batman: Absolution – Writer: J.N. Dematteis – Artist: Brian Ashmore )

A Reader’s Guide To Grant Morrison’s Batman

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Well, not ALL of Grant Morrison’s Batman; his stand alone stories are not discussed here – only the currently in progress epic, which will continue on during 2012/2013’s relaunched Batman Inc.

If there is one question I’ve answered more than any other in the past few years in regards to Batman, it is “what is the reading order of Grant Morrison’s run”, or some variation thereof. So I have created this list as a permanent resource and answer to that question. I’ve also created this list for my own edification, to satiate my own disturbingly deep love for Morrison’s Bat tale.

This will hopefully be a straightforward, simple and easy to follow chronological list that will tell you the reading order and supply you with visual representations of all the comics that make up the run, to help the die hard, single issue collectors out there. (I’ve pictured all variant versions of issues below, but not all re-printings where the only thing that changed was a color tone shift and I’ve also put this list here as pure text, just in case you simply want to copypasta it onto your phone, etc. for use in comic shops.)

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Monday Bat-page

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Every Monday I’ll post a random, but fantastic, page from a Batman comic – this will improve all of our weeks.

No context, no commentary, just:

(Batman & Nightwing: Bloodborne – Writer: Kelley Puckett – Artist: Toby Cypress

Monday Bat-page

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Every Monday I’ll post a random, but fantastic, page from a Batman comic – this will improve all of our weeks.

No context, no commentary, just:

(Castle of the Bat – Writer: Jack C. Harris Artist: by Bo Hampton)

CA Reviews: Batman Inc. Leviathan Strikes!

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MANY SPOILERS AHEAD! TURN BACK NOW IF YOU HAVEN’T READ THIS BOOK!

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Monday Bat-page

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Every Monday I’ll post a random, but fantastic, page from a Batman comic – this will improve all of our weeks.

No context, no commentary, just:

(Batman: Noel – Writer and Artist: Lee Bermejo

Tales of Armstrong

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– Armstrong is a webcomic created, written, drawn and colored by David Halvorson –

Armstrong has really blown me away.

First of all, It is beautiful; it contains great line work and a broad palette of vibrant colors – you get the sense that Mr. Halvorson spends an inordinate amount of time lovingly crafting the panels in this comic.

Right, did I mention that this Mr. Halvorson does everything himself? Writing, drawing, coloring, all of it; a true auteur it seems. That may seem like a slightly hyperbolic compliment, and perhaps it might be if Mr. Halvorson weren’t so damned talented. It isn’t just that he’s “doing it all”, but that he’s doing it all so well.

Halvorson knows how to compose a scene; he’s adept at conveying movement, weight and subtle facial intricacies that really help add personality to the characters. He utilizes negative space well with stylistic flourish and manages to do so without it coming off as superfluous; it actually manages to help tell the story.

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Monday Bat-page

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Every Monday I’ll post a random, but fantastic, page from a Batman comic – this will improve all of our weeks.

No context, no commentary, just:

(Gotham Noir – Writer: Ed Brubaker – Artist: Sean Phillips)

CA Interviews Comic Writer Kevin Mellon

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We sat down with comic book artist Kevin Mellon recently, and you know what?

Besides near constant Skype connection issues from our end and a hoarse, sick and extremely medicated interviewer… it all went pretty damn good.

Kevin speaks about current and past projects, working in the industry, inspiration and what it takes to “break in” to the comics game.

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Monday Bat-page

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Every Monday I’ll post a random, but fantastic, page from a Batman comic – this will improve all of our weeks.

No context, no commentary, just:

(Batman Arkham Asylum: A Serious House On Serious Earth – Writer: Grant Morrison – Artist: Dave McKean)

Monday Bat-page

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Every Monday I’ll post a random, but fantastic, page from a Batman comic – this will improve all of our weeks.

No context, no commentary, just:

("Ego" Written and Drawn by Darwyn Cooke)

Monday Bat-page

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Every Monday I’ll post a random, but fantastic, page from a Batman comic – this will improve all of our weeks.

No context, no commentary, just:

(Trinity #2 – Written and Drawn by Matt Wagner)

Top Ten Episodes of Batman: The Brave And The Bold

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Today marks the end of a great era in Batman history – Batman: The Brave and the Bold leaves the air today… the last new episode in the now cancelled series airs tonight in the United States.

I have a very unpopular opinion about this show: I think it is the best Batman cartoon ever made. Yes, that means I think it is superior to the much beloved Batman: The Animated Series.

Why, you ask, as you sharpen your pitchforks and light your torches? Well, let me see if I can quickly explain my reasoning for this…

The Brave and the Bold contained more intelligence, humor, DC comics history and glorious fan-service easter eggs than pretty much any superhero cartoon ever made, let alone BTAS. How’s that for starters? The reason so many people rallied against this show is primarily due to the fact that it “looked kiddie” – yes, people are so concerned with asserting their maturity that they tend to reject certain aesthetics out of hand, simply because they offend their delicate sensibilities.  I believe that to be a supremely absurd position to take in life, but that’s a topic for another time. In a broad sense, I can empathize with this sort of outlook; we all have our tastes and there is nothing wrong with not giving something a chance because you’re not intrigued by the aesthetic (I’m looking at you “The Batman”).

Yet in a more specific context I’m not sure it comes down to simply the style of the animation here… what I think it comes down to is the odd perception people have of Batman. The character is one of the most fiercely imposed upon in all of comics history it seems… within the past few decades the majority of the fan base has become vitriolic in their response to anything that doesn’t represent the character as “dark”, “gritty” and “realistic”… again, let’s keep in mind that this is a man who dresses in a bat costume and makes gadgets that look like little bats to help him beat up brainwashing gorillas and steroid enhanced luchadors. Yeah, it’s pretty silly when you look at it objectively.

One of the reasons that I think Grant Morrison has written what amount to the greatest Batman stories ever told is because he understood the inherent silliness of the character. He knows the history; the majority of Batman representations contain absolutely ridiculous elements – and he loves it. He loves and reveres it and he managed to supplant those into a modern vernacular, he doesn’t reject the goofy Silver age zaniness, he embraces it wholly and mightily re-incorporates it into the mythos. In short – he respects the history of the character; he doesn’t shun it and pretend it didn’t exist. Of course, he only gets away with this because he’s such a good writer. I’ve always thought that if Grant Morrison were to create an all-ages Batman cartoon, it would be exactly like BTBATB was. It was smart, laden with meta references and it was never afraid to not take itself deadly serious.

This was a show that paid respectful and loving homage to, pretty much, every conceivable iteration of Batman – spanning across all media; comics, movies, television, etc. The whole show was basically a love letter to die-hard Batman fans.

This was a show that embraced the unbridled insanity that is the DC universe, relished the absurdity of the long history full of campy and dramatic heroes and villains – and this was a show that did it all with a surrealist’s humor and a wry tongue-in-cheek intelligence. Best yet, it managed this without talking down to kids, it managed to pack each episode with enough content to please parents and children at the same time; this is the Pixar of animated Batman shows. Plus, far before Geoff Johns rebooted him, any frequent viewer of this show already new Aquaman was cool as hell. Any show that has the voice of Bender playing the most hated and ridiculed superhero, pretty much ever, has won me as a viewer before I ever watch a single frame. Actually – when one gets right down to it, I think it may even be safe to say it has the most impressive voice cast of any superhero cartoon ever = Holy shit that’s a lot of amazing people.

Enough blather though, let’s get to the meat and potatoes.

Take a short stroll down memory lane with me and have a look at what I consider to be the pinnacle of Batman on television with my list of the

Top Ten Episodes of

Batman: The Brave And The Bold

 

(It was VERY difficult for me to limit the list to just ten episodes, I started out with 25 that I thought just had to be on here – this show rarely had a sub-par episode)

– SPOILERS AHEAD

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CA Reviews: Batman #3

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Batman #3 - Writer: Scott Snyder - Artist: Greg Capullo

Now that we’re really starting to get settled into these initial “New 52” arcs I’m beginning to enjoy myself much more. The pressure seems to be off; the creative teams are no longer here to awkwardly re-introduce these characters to pre-existing and new fans with sky-high expectations anymore and as such, the books are feeling (at least to me) like they’re settling into their respective grooves. I’ve grown to enjoy some of the books I initially disliked because of a lackluster number one. Of course, Batman was not one of those books… its’ first issue was one of the handful of really great New 52 titles and happily, it has only improved since.

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CA Interview: Landry Q. Walker

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 We recently were able to sit down and chat with writer Landry Q. Walker after randomly “meeting” him on Reddit.

We spoke about his long career in the comic book industry; the idea of being, perhaps mistakenly,  known as a “children’s” writer, his work with DC, Disney , Slave Labor Graphics and touched on topics such as madness, misconception, business, collaboration, Dick Grayson and She-Hulk.

CA: How long have you been in the Comics game?

LQW: My first mini-comic was released in January of 1993. The first work I actually got paid for was probably 1995.

CA: How did you “break in” and how long did that arduous process take you?

LQW: It depends on what you count as “breaking in”. My first work for DC wasn’t until 2008. But before that I spent years working on Disney Adventures Magazine and before that had a very successful series with SLG and before that some well reviewed mini-comics.

In a way, I’d say there is no such thing as breaking in…. especially these days. You have an idea, you do it. I published my own comics in the early 90’s and that qualified me as a professional. Because people with money saw my work, I became a paid professional. Some day, they’ll stop paying me for work – and then what will I be?  The arduous process never ends.

CA: Most of your work is done under the auspice of being “kids” comic books, has that stigma been something that has dogged you in a negative way through your career? Do you feel relegated, as though you sometimes aren’t taken seriously in the industry because of some of the genres you write in? Does your past body of work make it difficult for you to write more, generally,  “adult” books?

LQW: My earliest work was extremely adult, and I met a fair bit of skepticism that I could write kids stuff. Then I started writing Little Gloomy and people immediately associated me with kids stuff. You are whatever your last project is. So in a way, the answer is yes. I know for a fact that some major editors have expressed extreme skepticism over my ability to produce serious work. I’ve also received a lot of work because of my all-ages writing. No matter what you do, someone will doubt your ability to do something even slightly different.

Thing is, my goal has never been to do good all-ages comics or good adult comics, but instead to do good comics. The basics of storytelling are the same no matter what age group you attempt to reach. And often times the difference between all-ages and adult is much slimmer than most people believe.

CA: Do you even want to write “adult” comics or are you happy writing for the younger set?

LQW: I don’t think I’d ever be happy doing only one kind of story or aiming for one audience. The all-ages work I have produced has always had a true “all-ages” audience in mind. But then you look at my issue of the Joker’s Asylum series… very adult. Not what people seemed to expect of me.

CA: Ah! I actually have that book in my collection- and I must admit, embarrassingly, that I didn’t even recall that you had written it! But I love that story; I still think it is one of the best modern Mad Hatter stories out there. Very dark. You managed to capture an alarmingly authentic feeling of utter madness there; Jervis was just unnerving in that story. Apologies, but I have to gush a bit and just tell you, great work! Now why the hell has DC never hired you to write another “adult” Batman story?

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Monday Bat-page

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Every Monday I’ll post a random, but fantastic, page from a Batman comic – this will improve all of our weeks.

No context, no commentary, just:

(Batman #455 – Writer: Alan Grant – Artist: Norm Breyfogle)

Fuck You, Frank Miller

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I’ll admit this right up front (it is in my bio here on the site, after all) – what I consider to be my favorite super hero story (for a variety of reasons) was written by Frank Miller: Batman #404-407; “Year One”. While I will not get into why this is my favorite superhero story, I just wanted to disclose this fact in hopes that readers may understand that I am able to separate the artist from the man, because even after all I am about to say, Year One will still be my favorite superhero yarn.

Frank Miller recently posted this diatribe on his website. What it amounts to are the sad, ill-informed, paranoid and racist ravings of an idiotic old man. Mr. Miller seems to be obsessed with the boogey man of Islam so much so, that even events clearly unrelated to Islam in any way shape or form are dragged through the mud to serve as an avatar for home-spun terrorism. This is of course, the position he gladly heaps upon the Occupy Wall Street protests… wait, what?

Sadly, Mr. Miller has become so lost in the sea of solipsistic right-wing commentary that he equates a group of people exercising their CLEARLY defined and innate first amendment rights to “putrid false righteousness”. Something that Mr. Miller clearly does not truly understand as he goes to great lengths shouting incoherently about how the movement is “anything but an exercise of our blessed First Amendment” I would very much enjoy hearing what exactly the first amendment is in Mr. Miller’s mind and therein, his explanation of how a group of peaceful protestors are doing anything but exercising said rights. These are the ravings of a disconnected and distorted mind, clearly showcasing the classic signs of cognitive dissonance. Frank Miller has become the Glenn Beck… the Rush Limbaugh of Comic Books.

Mr. Miller infuses his whole rant with petty insults, slinging such obtusely manic stones as name-calling and character attacks wrapped up in empty and shameful jingoism. In fact, let’s not parse words here; it seems that the only real content to his rant is simply a sordid collection of ridiculously immature instances of slanderous muckraking: text-book straw man fallacy.

There is no discernible point to his ravings and with his first sentence he simply devolves into a vulgar exhibitionist. He even goes as far as to call the movement as a whole “…a pack of louts, thieves, and rapists, an unruly mob…” – I’m speechless.

His main arguments, if there really are any to be found, which supposedly justify such unforgivable remarks,  are:

  1. The Occupy movement consists of young, unemployed losers (who can some-how afford iPads and iPhones) that squander their lives playing “Lords of Warcraft” games in their mother’s basements.
  2. While blinded by self-pity and narcissism they do not realize that America is in enormous danger from the threat of “al-Qaeda and Islamicism” and that these Occupy protestors are uneducated about the real dangers and evils facing this great country of ours. If they had half a spine they’d sign up for the military and go fight a “real” fight.

Let’s deconstruct these ridiculous arguments real quick, shall we?

  1. This is based off of unsubstantiated and preconceived, uneducated bigotry. Obviously Mr. Miller watches a lot of Fox News and has been led to believe these “facts” about the Occupy movement – he is obviously too lazy and intellectually dishonest to research this “fact” for himself, for if he did he would find these things simply are not true. In short, this is all simple ad hominem argument and I’m shocked he is able to think, let alone write, such insipid and abusive statements.
  2. This is so steeped in hypocrisy that it comes off as self-parody. I’m sure Mr. Miller took every chance imaginable when he was younger to enlist in our military – right? Oh, he didn’t. Well then, that’s a silly stance to take against ‘self-pitying and narcissistic youth’ when it seems he never lifted a finger in his day to serve this country which he so desperately wants to fellate at every given opportunity. What was he doing at the same age of some of these Occupy protestors? Right, he was drawing comic books. I’m not sure that counts as saving our country and fighting a great, insidious evil that holds our world on the brink of utter annihilation.

I’m dumbfounded by what exactly the correlation between socioeconomic inequality and international terrorism rooted in religious fanaticism is in Mr. Miller’s mind. But I’d love to hear his reasoning.

I feel bad, really I do. Frank Miller has gone off the deep end and there will be no turning back. The World Trade Center attacks seem to have been a trauma which he was unable to endure. 9-11 was a horrific event, we can all agree upon that immutable fact… but those of us with a modicum of intelligent consideration were able to process the horror and come out the other side with our faculties still fully intact. Some, unfortunately, were not as lucky and their cognition was forever subverted; as such, the discourse was subverted as well, which allowed some very misinformed people to validate and encourage bigotry and hatred on a very public and mainstream level disguised as patriotic dignity. This alteration of the discourse supported an ideology of intolerance and a distrust in our own brothers and sisters who didn’t immediately bow and appeal to an oversimplified, knee-jerk nationalism. It divided us as a culture and we became spiteful and suspicious of one another to the point where we began divvying up and forfeiting our constitutional and civil rights to those who promised to protect us from further trauma… the fear mongers took hold and some folks have not recovered since.

Here’s hoping that people like Frank Miller will once again approach problems with an honesty and with an open mind and not fear ‘the other’ so much so that it clouds better judgment. Say what you will about the Occupy Movement, but in the end they are a group of citizens expressing their dissent in a peaceful and lawful way… there is nothing more ‘American’ than that, regardless of what people such as Frank Miller would like to believe.

​Today I Will Purchase My First “Children’s” Comic Book (based solely on the cover)

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"The All-New Batman: The Brave and the Bold #13" Written by Sholly Fisch Art and Cover by Rick Burchett and Dan Davis.

I am a big fan of the cartoon series, but I have yet to read one of the comics… if they manage to transpose even a quarter of the brilliance from the cartoon into the print medium then I may end up having a new title on my pull list. While many derided the cartoon series itself for being too “kiddy”, I found it extremely well-written, fun, intelligent and full of brilliant and easter-eggy nods to DC history. In short, I found it to be very mature (not in a blood and guts and sex sort of way, but in an intelligently created piece of art sort of way), the exact opposite of “kiddy”. The aesthetic rubbed people the wrong way, sure… it did put me off at first too, I must admit. Bit I grew to love the style.

Has anyone else read this series? Do any other discerning adults read “children’s” titles?

Monday Bat-page

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Every Monday I’ll post a random, but fantastic, page from a Batman comic – this will improve all of our weeks.

No context, no commentary, just:

(Batman #624 – Writer: Brian Azzarello – Artist: Eduardo Risso)


CA Reviews: Batman: Year One (2011)

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Batman : Year One (2011) –

(Originally published on Oct 11th, 2011)

     

It is finally here, the holy grail of Batman stories relayed through DC’s, admittedly, pretty damn good animation wing. Woe is them, because adapting one of the most highly revered Batman stories of all time has to be a nerve-wracking experience. Taking something that so many know so well and trying to adapt it into a different medium is always tricky, but when you pile ravenous fanboys on top of that it tends to be a lose-lose situation. With that in mind, full disclosure:

I am one of those fanboys.

    

The Year One story is the first comic arc I ever read that shook me out of my world of comic book banality and made me feel something that great art makes you feel; inspired, excited, alive, amazed, etc. It is the first comic book I read that re-defined what a comic book could be for me. I’m not saying it was the first genuine work of art in the medium – far from it – it was simply the story that made me a comic book nerd for life. Suffice it to say, I hold the work dear and while I’ve been eagerly anticipating this animated adaptation, I’ve also been preparing myself for what I assumed was an inevitable disappointment. Well…

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CA Reviews: “Our Love Is Real”

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(again, ignore my crap iPhone photography – a signed copy!)

Our Love is Real (One Shot) –

Writer: Sam Humphries

Artist: Steven Sanders

What.

The.

Fuck.

Did I just read?

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CA Reviews: “Heart” #1

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(please excuse my bad iPhone photography, I was just stoked to score a signed copy)

Heart #1 –

Writer: Blair Butler

Artist: Kevin Mellon

This book has a few things going for it that you may think would guarantee it a good review from me: it takes place in Kansas City (my home town, born and raised) and it is written and drawn by two KC natives…

However, this book also has a rather large hurdle to overcome with me as well: my almost negative interest in MMA fighting (that’s a whole other story). As you can see, the scales begin to balance out.

This is all a game though, semantic, mental masturbation – because once I read the book I realized that none of the above  criteria mattered in the slightest, because thankfully, I possess enough integrity (read, I’m an great guy/asshole) to either praise or rip it apart based on its own merits as a piece of work created within the context of the comics medium.

To wit:

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Review Roundup July – September 2011

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Here are past reviews originally posted on the old site – all migrated here to this one convenient post.

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Died Again (The smart AND pretty girl you should be talking to at this lame internet party)

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Died Again” was just brought to my attention earlier today and I’ve already read the first twenty comics and decided to write up a quick recommendation… this means I’m pretty damned impressed.

Died Again is lovingly made by the creative duo of artist Chris Bourassa, and writer Matt Newman. Keep in mind, this is definitely a narrative webcomic, so please, do not repeat my mistake of reading comic #20 first and wondering what the hell just happened. You have to start from the beginning to get up to speed with the story so that by the time you naturally make it back to #20 you get the joke(s).

The set-up is simple yet pretty damned brilliant- the characters and story exist inside of an online RPG, self-aware and meta-contextualizing their game world and the outside player’s roles. We follow a self-proclaimed “Death Knight” on his personal journey through what amounts to his own Inferno, suffering through what is a seemingly endless string of humiliations and beatings while being degraded by rules, players, level bosses and other ‘virtual’ characters (not to mention all the bird shit that seems to land on him “accidentally”).

We’re treated to some really great writing through all of this which manages to come off as sophisticated even through its’ juvenile toilet humor. Seriously; this is a world where you may very well get squidlubed for the tentamolester to, well… you get the idea. However, don’t think that is some sort of critique, because believe me, the real trick to all of this is the surprisingly wry tongue-in-cheek gravitas that the dialog is imbued with. I’m actually convinced the writing is even more clever than I’m giving it credit for; being an MMO novice I’m sure I’m probably missing plenty of subtle (and not-so-subtle) jokes, suffice it to say there are certainly layers I’m blind to. In any event, for a simple web comic, the writing is much more intelligent than it deserves to be.

The art tying this all together is fantastic as well, Bourassa’s inks are succinct and gorgeous: sharply kinetic and stylized in an utterly unique way. Characters are oddly proportioned and designed, and the aesthetic works very well in the skewed world we find ourselves in. The story is affording Mr. Bourassa plenty of opportunities to stretch out and add in a lot of surreal, Lovecraftian flourishes (MOAR Tentamolester!).

All in all I can’t recommend this comic enough; smart, funny, subversive and beautiful to look at.

GO READ THIS SHIT NOW!

Before I go, allow me to posit the one lingering question I have: When is the world going to grow too big to be contained to a webcomic alone? How long until we see a full, Died Again mini or one shot graphic novel? Plush toys?

CA Reviews: Spider-Man XXX A Porn Parody

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Written and Directed by Axel Braun

Very NSFW and Spoiler-ridden review after the break:

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(from The Black Cat)

Monday Bat-page

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Every Monday I’ll post a random, but fantastic, page from a Batman comic – this will improve all of our weeks.

No context, no commentary, just:

(Legends of the Dark Knight #1 Writer: Denny O’Neil – Artist: Ed Hannigan)

Aside

Welcome To The New Comics Astonish!

Things are slowly changing shape, so please, bear with us as the big move occurs. To the readers who have been with us for a while now, you’ll see some repetition as I’ll be slowly migrating all the posts from the old site over here to the new one*. However there is PLENTY new coming too, so keep your eyes peeled!

Comics Astonish is a 100% independent comic blog; we’re not run by a multi-billion dollar corporate conglomerate and we make no money doing this – so believe us when we say we REALLY appreciate our readers and we thank you for giving us your views.  We want Comics Astonish to be the ‘go to’ creator-owned Comic Reviews and Editorial site. To that end we’re open to suggestions, open to contributors and open to our readers in any way possible. Drop us a line with feedback, requests, complaints or any other damn thing you could possibly care to spend your time communicating to us.

There are some big, ambitious ideas kicking around on the back-end here and the only way they will ever come to fruition is by keeping our audience engaged and happy.

TL;DR:

Reach out to us in any way you see fit, follow along and help spread the word.

Thanks for reading!

* Yeah, that idea lost steam quickly. Let the past remain in the past, I say.

Pardon Our Dust…

Top Ten Most Amazingly Badass Batman Moments

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* This List was originally published back in August 2011*

Since the DC Universe will be re-launched in just a few weeks (sob…), I thought now would be the perfect time to compile a list of the Top Ten Most Amazingly Badass Batman Moments. In order to really celebrate and perhaps even say goodbye to the “current” continuity we all know and love, I’ll only be utilizing the modern age of Batman which I grew up with to pull the moments on this list from.

What that means is that I’m using Frank Miller’s Batman: The Dark Knight Returns (1986) as a starting point and ending with Grant Morrison’s R.I.P./Return (2010) storyline – So this list encompasses a very small fraction of the overall Batman timeline. Yes, regrettably, all the great moments from the early 80’s and before will be left out – and whatever is currently happening in Batman Inc. or Detective Comics, etc. will also be absent from this list. Also – it has to be Bruce under the cowl for the moment to count. Sorry Dick, you were great, really you were – but you’re simply not The Goddamned Batman. Otherwise, anything is eligible for inclusion: one shots, out of canon stories and Elseworlds tales.

With the qualifying factors out of the way, let’s do a quick refresher; a run-down of sorts, and list some of Batman’s main attributes and skills. These will be important to keep in mind when considering all the numerous ways in which “Batman being a badass” could be defined. The entries on this top-ten list should be seen as reflecting my personal favorite moments which exemplify some or all of the qualities mentioned below:

Reasons Batman is probably a total badass:

  • He is a polymath, concurrently possessing a genius-level intellect in a large variety of sciences and disciplines.
  • He is the world’s greatest detective (beyond the brilliant observational and inductive/deductive reasoning he possesses, he is also a world-class forensic scientist)
  • He is a master escape artist
  • He is one of the most accomplished martial artists in the world (his is also considered one of the greatest strategists and tacticians in the world)
  • He is a master of disguise
  • Through intense and constant training and self-discipline his strength, speed, stamina, agility, reflexes, and coordination are at the peak of human potential.

With that out of the way, let’s not waste any more time, onward to the pretty pictures:

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