Batman · TPB

Batman: Lovers & Madmen

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My wife has been urging me to read this one for MONTHS and so I finally decided it was time to do so. This collects a run of early issues of the Batman Confidential series from 2008 or so and (re)tells the story of Batman first encountering The Joker.

There’s some good stuff here, even as Michael Green (“the writer of TV’s Heroes”) rewrites history. In this version The Joker is a very good criminal with a bored death wish named Jack; Harley Quinn is a sympathetic bar waitress who’s in med school studying psychology; and so on. This isn’t cannon, but it’s still a very intriguing take on a familiar story.

The script is handled with a care for the characters – or rather their psyches. Batman may well be just as screwed up and broken on the inside as The Joker is. And as such this book examines closely their symbiotic relationship – something I’ve always appreciated (as in The Killing Joke or Long Halloween, or hell… The Lego Batman Movie).

The story is truly dark. There’s some rather haunting scenes: Bruce’s new girlfriend Lorna being stabbed by The Joker; Batman actually hiring a gang to kill The Joker; or maybe the cringiest – The Joker dressed as a clown, asking a young girl at the circus who to spray in the face (with what is unbeknownst to her, his toxin) – her, or her father.

I was on the fence with the art. It is fittingly dark and works well. Though there’s a bit over overdone line detail for my taste. And things are bit too… angular (?) for me. But the coloring was well done. I will say that some of the layouts confused me. One two-page spread had me baffled as I reread it numerous times before figuring out it was drawn clockwise.

Those few nitpicks aside, I thought this was basically pretty great.

Batman

Batman #26

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This was pretty damn great. I’m definitely really enjoying this “War Of Jokes And Riddles” story. In this one The Joker puts out a hit on The Riddler which doesn’t go well thanks to Poison Ivy. And then all hell breaks loose. The war is really turning into a war.

The art here was spectacular. The two page spread with Ivy was fantastic. And I love some of the throwbacks here – namely, The Riddler acting out the “mirror” scene from Tim Burton’s Batman.

There was also the way that throughout the issue you can a bit of background on each victim. Y’know when like faceless thugs get killed in most comics? Here, you learn their names and some factoid. And later it turns out that Batman was keeping a record of all the casualties. It’s a neat touch.

Tom King really knows what he’s doing right now.

Batman

Batman #25

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Well that was pretty great!

I’ve been jumping in and out of the current Batman series for a while now. Usually picking up specific issues for some certain reason and then bailing again. But with this issue starts the eight-part “War Of Jokes And Riddles” story which seems super intriguing.

Basically, The Riddler tells The Joker that he realizes that if either of them kill Batman, the other would lose out on the satisfaction. It becomes clear that they’d sooner kill each other than let the other kill Batman. And so begins the war.

The story is dark and violent – and evidently a flashback to sometime before the series itself being recounted by Bruce Wayne. I’m definitely settling in to see how this diversion plays out.

Batman · Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures #6

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Well, I’ve been putting off reading this one for a while… because it means the mini-series is over. What a bummer.

This was a great series that meshed Batman: The Animated Series with the recent Nickelodeon Ninja Turtles show. It did a brilliant job of overlapping the two franchises and bringing many, many familiar faces together in one place. I’ll miss it.

This last issue was just really an epilogue. One last battle against the Kraang, and while it wasn’t really all that necessary, it did have some cool stuff going on with Scarecrow, and even brought Nightwing into the comic. It was short but sweet, this one.

Batman

Batman #22

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Annoying. This just isn’t what I wanted “The Button” to be at all. I thought we were finally getting the Watchmen blended with the DC Universe proper. Apparently that’ll happen later. In some other comics. But here? I mean beyond the little smiley face button?

This story just feels like Batman x Flashpoint.

There was one cool moment – spoilers incoming – where Bruce gets to meet his dad who is a Batman in his own alternate timeline. What was cool was that as they parted ways, Doctor Wayne tells his son not to be Batman anymore. It’s at least interesting to see if anything comes from that in later issues of the main series.

But yeah, ultimately this short mini-series has turned into a huge disappointment for me.

Batman

Batman #21

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Ever since DC Rebirth #1 hinted that the Watchmen would be part of the DC Universe proper, I’ve been very excited. I’m sure the idea turns off some fans – and I can understand that. But me? I’m all for seeing more Watchmen – especially mingling with other DC characters.

Batman #1 was THEE comic I had to pick up this week. It was the beginning of “The Button,” a story that would crossover Batman and The Flash with Watchmen. I couldn’t wait. And I was thrilled with the cool lenticular cover.

Anyway, on to the comic. It definitely has a Watchmen tone. That is dark. Gloomy. Serious. It begins with patients at Arkham watching a hockey game where a fight breaks loose. A woman in the asylum freaks out, exclaiming that this is the game where a player dies.

Meanwhile Batman is watching many things on many screens – though he always has, it feels like a deliberate Watchmen nod. Among those things is the same hockey game. Oh, remember that smiley face button he found back in DC Rebirth #1? Well, “Reverse Flash” comes out of it while Batman is waiting for the real Flash to show up.

We now watch a minute – a full minute with countdown to Flash’s arrival as Reverse Flash and Batman soak the pages in blood. It’s violent alright. And most of the issue is this big fight scene. Though I don’t want to make it sound boring. Some other things happen, but I don’t want to ruin everything.

One thing I really appreciated was the classic Watchmen style layout of the pages. You can see that the artist Jason Fabok really took care with this.

I’ll definitely be looking forward to where “The Button” goes next.

Batman · Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures #5

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I’m sad to realize that there’s only one issue left of this excellent mini series. This issue focused on the Mad Hatter trying to mind-control Manhattan. And in it we saw a pair-up between Robin and Michelangelo. There’s a two-page spread in which Mikey and Robin act out the entire opening of Batman: The Animated series and it was awesome. Really nailed the nostalgia big time.

Like I said, I’m going to be bummed when this one ends. I really thought it would make a good ongoing series for 90’s fans. Oh well. The little teaser for next month’s final issue is exciting as it looks like the Scarecrow will be coming back.

Batman · Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures #4

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Well I’ve been talking for a while now about how fun this series is. And it continues to be so. I don’t know how many issues they have planned, but I’d love to see this turned into an animated series or mini-series or movie or whatever. It would feel like a return to Batman: The Animated Series… plus would have Ninja Turtles. Win-win!

This issue focuses on the Scarecrow and his fear gas. He uses it on most of the city and also on Batman, Leonardo and Raphael. Oh, and meanwhile The Joker has Shredder in a daze with his laughing gas and is planning another attack on the city. And this all culminates in a big clash that has a surprising turn of events.

Keep spitting this one out, IDW. This series is killing the TMNT Universe issues lately.

Batman · Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures #3

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Over the past three issues, this series has turned out to be pretty great. My initial fear that it was “for kids” has now given way to a total appreciation for how it embraces both Batman The Animated Series along with the Ninja Turtles cartoon. Now in fairness, the latter would be sourced from the more recent Nickelodeon show, which I really haven’t watched. But I can at least give credit where credit’s due. This book is just plain fun.

It’s a total treat the way the writers (and artists) have managed to make the mix of the Turtles’ universe along with Batman and all his many foes seem so perfect. Indeed, it’s been a blast to see the introduction of The Joker and Harley and Poison Ivy and now in this issue we get to see a bit of Scarecrow who will apparently be a big part of #4. I totally recommend this series to reads of all ages who have any interest in either property.

Batman

Batman: The Man Who Laughs

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My wife has actually been urging me to read this for months now. And since she finally started reading The Long Halloween, I figured it was only fair that I knock this one off of my backlog.

The Man Who Laughs was short, but damn good. It tells the story of Batman’s first run-in with The Joker, and does so quite well. In some ways it feels like a ret-conned prequel to The Killing Joke with the Red Hood talk and some other small details.

The artwork was great. The details were superb – especially of The Joker’s victims, such as the many corpses found in the beginning of the book.

Story-wise, I felt like it was a nice brisk intro to The Joker’s story. And I liked how at the end Batman had a chance to kill him, but didn’t. Of course part of the allure of The Joker is never really knowing which origin is really the real one. But no matter, this is an excellent story either way.

UPDATE: Actually, it turns out it was Lovers And Madmen that she really wanted me to read. So I read the wrong book. Haha.