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Time and The Batman

Batman #700 Review

After reading and then re-reading this issue, I gotta say that it’s pretty much everything you could ask for, as far as a celebration of the mythology of Batman is concerned. Sure, “Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader” by Neil Gaiman from a year ago was probably a tad bit more effective, but it had two double sized issues to tell its story, Morrison only has one. And instead of concerning himself with telling one large story about Dick as Batman or breaking it up into smaller individual stories, Morrison writes his ass off to make it three short stories (well, four actually) that include Bruce, Dick, Damian, and even a few others as the men under the cowl. And the best part? How well the stories work together.

Yesterday – Morrison begins his tale with Bruce. At first, this part of the story is a little hard to follow (in typical Morrison fashion I might add). But by reading it carefully, the central ideas of issue reveal themselves, and quite quickly it becomes apparent how the events of this issue parallel the going-ons of Morrison’s “Batman and Robin” and “Return of Bruce Wayne”. This issue acts somewhat as a microcosm of Morrison’s ideas throughout his entire run on Batman. The art by Tony Daniel is surprisingly weak however. A lot of it works, but if you look at it closely some images appear rushed and are not up to the standards of his work on R.I.P as far as I’m concerned.

Today – This is Dick and Damian’s story. And even better, Frank Quitely returns to draw them! (If even only for five pages.) It’s probably the weakest of the three main stories, but serves a necessary plot point early on. And the action scene drawn by Quitely kicks ass. Scott Kollins finishes off the story and I sort of love/hate his pages. I’m not sure why Dick has the some of the ugliest stubble I have ever seen in these pictures, but the scene with he and Damian at a Pizza Parlour is very cool. This story just proves that once Bruce returns, the loss of the Dick/Damian relationship is going to suck.

Tomorrow – And now Damian’s Batman. I loved issue 666, so getting another chance to see this horrific version of Gotham was a real treat. And this 9 page story is probably the strongest aspect of the entire issue. Morrison’s take on Damian as Batman is extremely interesting to read and his reinvention of Two-Face (Two-Face Two) is pure Morrison goodness. Of course, the biggest shocker in this story (and probably the entire issue) is Morrison’s addition of Terry McGinnis (of “Batman Beyond” fame) into DC continuity. It’s quite possible that a few years from now we’ll look back at this moment as simply an easer egg of sorts, something that went nowhere, but for now it’s a cool addition. Especially with the idea that in the DCU it’s probably Damian that mentors Terry, not Bruce. And did I mention Andy Kubert’s artwork? No? Well I should have, because it’s awesome and probably the best work in the issue. His rendering of Two-Face Two and Terry McGinnis “Joker Baby” is simply disturbing to look at.

And Tomorrow – This is the bonus story that Morrison included with artist David Finch. It rushes through pages of Batmen from the future (including Terry) and serves as a poetic end-cap to the issue. Despite not really offering much as far as content goes, it’s still a welcome addition to an anniversary issue.

All in all, a fantastic issue that deserves to be re-read before final judgment is given. Whether it be the artwork or the little details (like Dick asking a cop how his son Max is, only for the reader to put together that one of the bad guys in Damian’s story is the same boy), there’s nothing like a Grant Morrison comic. And as for the final question that the story poses, “What can we beat, but never defeat?” Well, the answer is in the title.

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Batman #700

Can you believe that there’s been over 700 issues of “Batman”? I guess there’s been nearly 900 issues of Detective Comics, but still, it’s just simply astounding.

And what’s going to make this issue so special? How about Grant Morrison returning to the title. And coming with him are artists Tony Daniel, Frank Quitely, Andy Kubert, and David Finch! I may be exaggerating when I call that a comic fan’s wet dream, but only slightly. And to make it even more awesome, Bruce as Batman, Dick as Batman, and Damian as Batman? I can’t wait for tomorrow. I don’t say this enough, but Grant Morrison, I love you.

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Comic Covers Covered

These are just awesome to look at. If you like these, check out http://coveredblog.blogspot.com/ for more entertaining covers.

This is just a fantastic example of how much the style has changed from the early twentieth century to the present.

Fantastic use of perspective.

Where oh where has “Batman Jones” been all my life? For God’s sake, he rides a bicycle to a crime scene! He could catch anybody!

It’s funny, because this is what I always imagined Hobbes really looked like.

The subtitle makes this one. So wrong, and so funny.

This is just awesome. I love the how the remake stays true to even the smallest of details like the water running into Donald’s boot.

For all you Donkey Kong lovers out there who’ve always thought, “Damn this game would be so much better with The Avengers. (I include myself in that group.)

Forget the hilarious and oh so perfect remake cover. How the hell did this comic even exist in the first place??!!

Again, ever wonder what Charlie Brown would really look like? Wished you hadn’t asked now, don’t you?

The best part about these covers (besides the fact that it’s the flippin California Raisins!!) Is that on the original cover, The Rasinettes have hair! Those are some F’d up raisins!

Hilarious. Especially Ice man.

This one is my favourite. I especially love the hand-made (or is it Paw-Made??) sign in the remake. I imagine that is exactly how a real life literate bear would spell.

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Robin’s Big Date

This had the potential to be much, much funnier, but it’s still amusing. Sam Rockwell pretty much makes everything that he’s in about a thousand times better, and Justin Long… well Justin Long is just Justin Long. (For God’s sakes the man has the adjective “Just” in his name! What can you really expect from him… or any other Justin’s for that matter… Timberlake, Bieber (who, because I know so little about him, until I spell checked his name, I was going to spell Bemer) my point is I defy you to name me one impressive person with the first name of Justin. It just doesn’t happen. Being named Justin and being talentless is like being named Kennedy and having to deal with assassinations. You’re born with the stigma, and at some point you know you’re going to have to deal with it.

But I digress, (and have no idea how I got off on this tangent in the first place) the video is still chuckle worthy, if only for the terrifyingly bad costumes and Callie Thorne who is amazingly hot.

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These are just entertaining to watch. It’s funny listening to Tim Gunn talk about super-hero costumes and judging them not only on their colour schemes, but on their practicality! Because I think that we can all agree that if there’s one thing Mr. Gunn knows, it’s the benefits of embroidered Kevlar. (That tacky yellow colouring around the bat-symbol is sooo thirty-three years ago.) It’s especially fun to watch and listen for the somewhat subtle hint that George Reeves in a Superman costume was Tim Gunn’s first man-crush. All joking aside, the man has some clever things to say, and it’s funny to see how mainstream “comic-book geek” is becoming thanks to the Hollywood franchises that they have spawned.

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J. Michael Staczynski is a fantastic writer. Last year he wrote what might be the best single issue of a comic all year in “The Brave and the Bold” Issue 30. Today it was announced that he’s gonna be writing “Superman” starting with issue 601. He had this to say about it, and it’s a very uplifting and insightful piece of prose. I had planned to stop reading “Superman” with how convoluted it all is right now… but with him coming aboard I might have to stay on.

no-limits-j-michael-straczynski-on-superman-wonder-woman

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Simply Astonishing

My first real exposure to Joss Whedon came from a little T.V. show called “Firefly”. I saw a copy of the series on DVD for cheap, and for whatever reason (probably because I had read it being described as a spaghetti western in space… I was really into Leone films at the time) I chose to pick it up. Two episodes in, I was glad I did. It remains, to this day, one of my favourite T.V series ever, and it only ever had like 13 episodes. But after watching “Serenity” the filmic sequel to “Firefly” (which was also awesome) I more or less left Whedon alone. There was no real reason behind my actions, I just had other things I wanted to watch and the only other show I knew of his was “Buffy”. At the time I thought I was too masculine to watch that show. Flash forward… shit I suppose nearly seven years, and I’ve finally gotten around to watching “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and surprise, surprise, it’s amazing. (Not always consistently so, but when it’s on, there isn’t much else like it anywhere.) So I’ve decided to tackle a few other Whedon scribed masterpieces, and first up is “The Astonishing X-Men”.

It’s funny that the first thing Whedon always hits you with is his powerful female protagonist. Whether it’s Buffy, River, or in the X-Men’s case, Kitty Pryde. You can tell from the first issue in, that this is gonna be Kitty Pryde and the X-Men, not Wolverine and the X-Men (as it so often is). Understand, I’m not suggesting that this is a fault or a weakness in Whedon’s writing, it’s just interesting that he always seems to need a female character to ground him and lead the way in his storytelling abilities. It eventually becomes clear however, that Whedon is not content with only exploring one character in this series and by the end of his run, Emma Frost, Beast, Colossus, and especially Cyclops have grown in ways that they never have under any other writer save for Grant Morrison on his seminal “New X-Men” run at the beginning of the century.

In fact, comparisons between Whedon and Morrison are nearly impossible not to make. While Whedon’s story serves to be a much more cinematic experience as opposed to Morrison’s more experimental approach, both men serve the most important aspect of any story remarkably well, namely, the characters. Suffice to say, by the end of Whedon’s run on this book, you will feel connected to many of these mutants and when they don’t all make it back home, it’s an emotional experience. For comics, this sense of loss and sincerity is often a very difficult thing to extract from your reader, and it’s a tribute to Whedon’s immense talent as a writer that he does so, so effortlessly. Here’s hoping that he one day comes back to these characters and continues his story.

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