- Title: Batman: Strange Days
- IMDB: link
Returning to the DC Animated Universe he helped build, Bruce Timm returns for a special DC Nation Short honoring Batman’s 75th Anniversary. Written, designed, and storyboarded by Bruce Timm, the animated short allowed Timm to takes his original slender and retro designs and craft a period piece set in Batman‘s early days. The result is pretty damn terrific black-and-white short. Although I usually prefer a little more color in my Dark Knight, my only real complaint is that it is far too short.
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Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato’s run on Detective Comics begins here with the beginning of a new arc that focuses on organized crime in Gotham City and Bruce Wayne‘s new business venture to help rehabilitate the city’s East End with crusader Elena Aguila rather than go for a far more lucrative option of re-developing the area.
Manapul and Buccellato offer as much Bruce Wayne as Batman here, showcasing the Dark Knight’s takedown the Kings of the Sun dealing drugs and kidnapping young children off the streets of Gotham. The main action of the issue comes from this part of the story where Buccellato colors Manapul’s beautiful art in blues and grays offering a similar, yet different, look to the pair’s relaunch of The Flash.
For a story that deals in organized crime, white slavery, gangs, Bruce Wayne still mourning the loss of his son Damian, and the crime boss The Squid feeding one of his soldiers to his pet, Detective Comics #30 is less dark and gloomy than you might expect offering a nice mix of story and action to start of the pair’s run on the title. Worth a look.
As with the show that spawned it, Beware the Batman comes to a close prematurely just as things were starting to get interesting. With Katana busy and Batman missing it falls to Alfred to track down the Dark Knight Detective who has been captured by Killer Croc.
Presented entirely from Alfred’s point of view, the comic is notable, other than for it being the final issue of the series, for the introduction of a resourceful dark-haired alley-rat who Alfred finds in possession of Batman’s missing utility belt. Had the show and/or comic intended to introduce a Robin character the seed is firmly planted here as the young boy is an obvious stand-in for Jason Todd, but with its cancellation we’ll never know what might have come from his introduction.
Neither the show nor the comic would rank high on my favorite versions of Batman (although they’d be higher than the current New 52 version), but both showed promise, and without another all-ages Bat-title to take its place the cancellation of the series (which had been consistently good) is sad news for Bat-fans everywhere. Worth a look.
“First Contact” comes to a close as the mad-scientist and evil doppelganger of Power Girl‘s old friend Ken succeeds in ripping open time and space to a portal back to Earth-2. For the first time I realized how similar this title is to Samurai Jack as the lost heroes finally find a portal home only to be denied at the last second and will continue their quest elsewhere.
Although there’s a lot of family bickering here, Worlds’ Finest #21 includes some nice moments as well including Batman and Huntress instinctively working as a team and even offer a slight celebration afterwards.
Seeing the evil Superman inside the alternate dimension the pair believed to be their old home doesn’t deter them from agreeing to continue to seek a way back to their Earth. Although I don’t think we’re likely to see a Power Girl/Superman team-up anytime soon I’d like DC continue to explore the Batman/Huntress relationship going forward to see where it may lead. Worth a look.
- Title: Justice League: War
- IMDB: link
Based on DC Comics’ New 52 reboot and the first arc of the current Justice League series by Geoff Johns and Jim Lee, Justice League: War isn’t as awful as I suspected. It’s not actually a good movie, but most of the issues here have to do with the source material itself rather than any mistakes in the adaptation into the film.
Replacing the missing Aquaman with Captain Marvel (Sean Astin), who I still refuse to call him Shazam, the storyline is basically intact as the various heroes of the Justice League come together to defeat Darkseid (Steve Blum) and the invading armies of Apokolips. As with Lee’s original designs, everything looks and feels too muted including the super-hero costumes, particularly those of Superman (Alan Tudyk) and Wonder Woman (Michelle Monaghan), that lack any pop. And although (thankfully) the film chooses to stay away from that awful yellow piping on the Flash‘s (Christopher Gorham) costume we saw at the end of The Flashpoint Paradox, Green Lantern (Justin Kirk) is still stuck with the unnecessary light-up pieces of his costume.
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Along with a best-forgotten back-up story involving the world’s greatest detective and his protege being duped by Alfred‘s nefarious lookalike relative taking his place inside Wayne Manor, the latest issue of Batman ’66 pits the Dynamic Duo against Zelda the Great who Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson find masquerading as a stage magician in Gotham City while on a double-date.
Despite the fact that Zelda isn’t breaking any laws, Bruce and Dick ditch their dates (one of whom is Kathy Kane and the other who Zelda will later take on as a potential apprentice of her own) to don their tights and promptly be taken hostage by the villain and her minions.
Featuring not one but two death traps, Batman ’66 #9 offers some enjoyable (if forgettable) moments along the way to the heroes eventually taking down the villain while also crafting a possible origin story for the young woman who Zelda may have turned to a life of crime. For fans.
When an old enemy decides to get revenge on Katana Batman‘s new partner finds herself public enemy number one. To clear her name and prove that one of Battleaxe’s apprentices is actually impersonating her and committing crimes under Katana’s name, Batman’s partner will have to stick clear of police while tracking down a mirror image of herself.
As with the last issue, Beware the Batman #4 relies on characters that were never introduced in the television show. Given how the character is introduced here, I wonder if there was a script on the show to introduce the character of Battleaxe that simply never got made (or aired).
Katana vs. Katana works well, and gives the police a heightened reason to target Batman and his partner. Of course all this leads up to next month’s premature final issue of the series told completely from the perspective of Alfred. Worth a look.
Continuing the “First Contact” storyline begun in Batman/Superman #8, when Superman becomes infected by the same nanites causing Power Girl to loose control of her powers the foursome of heroes split up to keep the pair of malfunctioning Kryptonians away from each other.
Power Girl and Batman fly ahead to New Gammora, where the Dark Knight Detective has deduced the trouble has originated from, and where they discover the mad scientist behind Kara’s recent troubles which are only a byproduct of his plan to perfectly clone Kryptonian DNA, while Huntress and Superman make their way more slowly to the same locale giving the Man of Steel time to recover.
Although it lacks the big moments of the characters meeting for the first time, the second chapter continues to play on how this world’s Batman and Superman are similar yet different to those our heroines remember from their own parallel world while revealing our villain. Worth a look.
- Title: Beware the Batman – Shadows of Gotham
- wiki: link
Collecting the 13 episode run of Beware the Batman (including the final two episodes which which never aired on Cartoon Network), the CGI-version of the Dark Knight Detective’s early adventures featuring a more formidable Alfred (JB Blanc) and Katana (Sumalee Montano) as Batman‘s (Anthony Ruivivar) sidekick has been on indefinite hiatus since mid-October and its return (despite entitling the home video set “Part 1″) seems to becoming less and less likely.
Despite some shaky beginnings, including too many appearances by D-list villains such as Professor Pyg (Brian George) and Mr. Toad (Udo Kier), Humpty Dumpty, Magpie (Grey DeLisle), and an unnecessary retelling of Metamorpho (Adam Baldwin) origin story, the show was just beginning to find its feet as Katana was growing into her role as Batman’s partner and the show was focusing more and more on the League of Assassins as it winds up its initial 13 episode run ending with a cliffhanger, arguably the show’s best episode, the network chose never to air.
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After pretty much hating the first issue of Batman/Superman I’ve given the comic a wide berth and haven’t looked back. However, the recent cross-over with Worlds’ Finest involving the Huntress and Power Girl revealing themselves to this world’s versions of their relatives begins here so I found myself picking this issue up (along with Part 2 of the story in Worlds’ Finest #20 also released this week). I was pleasantly surprised.
Despite an art style by Jae Lee that doesn’t really mesh with much of anything in the New 52 (which from one perspective can certainly be seen as a good thing), writer Greg Pak gets the beats right as Batman is confronted by his daughter from another world who he inherently trusts (but doesn’t necessarily trust that he feels that way).
We also see Superman‘s first meeting with an out-of-control Power Girl who he is determined to help whether she wants his help or not (or whether such efforts could endanger himself). I’m curious to see where this storyline will go. Worth a look.