Batman & Robin & The Facets of the Joker

November 15th, 2009 Posted by Gavok

Earlier today I put up another edition of This Week in Panels. When I was getting the one for Batman and Robin #6, I noticed something odd. A striking similarity that didn’t poke out the first time I read it. At first I was wondering if it was a coincidence, but then I looked further into it and noticed that there were even more similarities. Being that this is Grant Morrison, I knew all of these nods had to be intentional.

One of the things about Dick Grayson as Batman is that he needs his own villain. Yes, he can fight the Joker, but it wouldn’t be the same. They wouldn’t have the magic of Bruce and the Joker as rivals. On the other hand, there’s Jason Todd. Ever since he’s been brought back to life, he’s been wasted potential. Whether he’s Red Hood, Nightwing, Red Robin or Batman with guns, he’s been in one bad story after another. And while Bruce Jones’ horrible Nightwing squandered Dick vs. Jason, the potential is still there. Dick Grayson and Jason Todd are meant to be archenemies. Todd would play off Dick far better than he would Bruce.

So if Jason Todd is Dick Grayson’s Joker, then they need to cement this. Most would consider Alan Moore and Brian Bolland’s Killing Joke to be the ultimate Batman vs. Joker story. It’s fitting that the first six issues of Batman and Robin have been something of a retelling of that very story. Let’s look at the two:

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And Now a Word From Our Sponsors

November 24th, 2008 Posted by Gavok

I love YouTube. Did I ever tell you that? Well, I do. There’s so much great stuff to be found within.

The other day, I went on a voyage into its dark underbelly to discover some rather interesting superhero-related commercials. Some of it is too great not to share.

It all started when someone brought up this odd commercial about Ralph Nader discussing kryptonite. I haven’t the slightest clue what this is even about and I suspect nobody does other than Nader himself.

That opened the floodgates.

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I ain’t no joke, like Rakim or a 2nd heart attack

November 18th, 2008 Posted by david brothers

I don’t “get” the Joker. I know he’s Batman’s greatest villain, but I don’t exactly understand why. I find Riddler infinitely more interesting, and think that he’d be a great foil for a man who honed his mind and body into the peak of human condition or whatever.

Anyway, the Joker is the epitome of my problem with Batman’s villains. He’s ca-razy, coocoogococonuts, and insane. He does what he does because he hates Batman, or loves him, depending on your interpretation. That’s basically my least favorite motivation for a villain. At least Lex Luthor believes in the inherent superiority of mankind (Luthorkind). Joker just wants to be crazy.

Luckily, this is comics and there are a number of different Jokers I can pick from. The Joker Alan Davis wrote in The Nail was singularly spiteful, and the end point of where I see the “regular” Joker going.

She's rock, rock, rock, rockin' it.I really, really like Dandy Joker, as played by Cesar Romero in Batman or my good friend Emily Stackhouse of Writer’s Old Fashioned. You can actually see everything I love about Dandy Joker in her pose. It’s relaxed, fun, and most of all, funny. This Joker does things because it is hilarious. Acid in the face? Joker fish? It is all good, it is all in fun, and if a few dozen people die during it… that’s even funnier. Man falls down and sprains his ankle? Sad. Man falls down a manhole? Funny. Man falls down a manhole into a sewer full of grinning crocodiles painted like clowns and dressed like the Daughters of the American Revolution?

That’s amore.

This brings me around to Brian Azzarello and Lee Bermejo’s Joker. I’m not really here to review it, other than to say that I enjoyed it like I’ve enjoyed Azz’s other work, but the Joker they portrayed was really interesting to me.

Instead of being the invincible super crazy clown prince of crime, Azz’s Joker is a broken man. He refers to his years in Arkham as the time he was “gone,” and seems hesitant to say that he is crazy. Other people believe he’s crazy, but the only ones that knows the truth are the narrator of the book and Joker’s silent Gal Friday, Harley Quinn.

There’s a scene in the book that solidified my feelings about the Joker in general. The narrator is walking past the Joker’s room, and he sees Joker collapsed on the ground, hugging Harley Quinn, and just going to pieces. This is a Joker I like. He isn’t superhuman. He knows exactly what he’s doing. But, he’s trapped in a prison of his own design.

My idea about this is that the Joker got stuck in his own gimmick. At first, he’d do something crazy to get someone off his back. It was so outlandish and insane that he had to keep it up, or else people would know he was soft. And when you’ve made a living out of being the hardest man around… you can’t afford that.

So, he’s trapped. He can never escape, because escaping means it’s game over. At the same time, Batman is the only one who can save him. The Joker does all this stuff to get Batman’s attention to be put back into jail and away from a place where he has to keep up the facade.

I kind of like a pathetic Joker. It isn’t something I’d like to see always, but it’s a very human and believeable take.

As far as silent moll Harley Quinn goes… wow! I didn’t think I’d dig the take, but it worked out really, really well. In a way, she was one of the most threatening people in the book, and I think it’s because she never spoke. She’s that Stand By Your Man girl. She’s there for support, and sometimes support means machinegunning a dozen people and skinning a man alive. It’s a little scary, and the silence means we get no insight into her character. We just know she likes luxury and stands by the Joker, no matter what. I’m such a stan for Harley, though.

Like I said, nothing I want to see constantly, but a fun little peek into an alternate take. Frank Miller’s not-funny Joker in ASBAR was another one I liked, because it made super murderous Joker into something inhuman, interesting, and actually kind of scary, if more than a little overwrought.

I’d love it if Genocidal Kills a Thousand People a Day Joker retired forever. It’s by far my least favorite Joker, and the least original take on the character I can think of. I like a Joker that goes deeper than just “Waheyhey CRAZY! BY THE WAY I JUST KILLED A MILLION PEOPLE BATMAN WHATCHA GONNA DO HUH?”

At that point, Batman should just take one for the team and give Joker accidentally beat Joker until nothing’s left but a puddle of blood. That Joker isn’t doing anything but hurting Batman as a character. Someone break his neck or toss him down a deep hole or just shoot him in the face, seriously.

And let the Riddler take his place.

(what kind of world is it where i’m the guy wanting less murders in comics?)

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Ruining the Moment: Volume 6

September 22nd, 2008 Posted by Gavok

It’s been a while, but here’s another bunch of memorable segments from comics past and present altered in the name of comedy and, sometimes, spite. To start, here’s something form the end of What If: Annihilation.

Next up, the Sinestro Corps War ends in a way that legitimately made me kind of sad. What kind of monster am I?

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Infinite Crisis: The Graphic Audio

August 31st, 2008 Posted by Gavok

Can you believe Infinite Crisis only ended a little over two years ago? It feels so much longer. At the time, it was an exciting time to read DC. A lot was going down, 52 was on the horizon, One Year Later was starting up, among other things. The miniseries did come off as a letdown, but considering how hyped it was, how could it be anything but? By the time the seventh issue landed, with its rushed art to meet the deadline, I couldn’t be happier to be done with this whole storyline.

Sometime after, author Greg Cox wrote a novelization of Infinite Crisis. Such an odd concept, isn’t it? A novelization of a comic book? It’s like the literary version of hearing a country singer covering a rock group’s hit song. I guess I shouldn’t talk, since years back, before I was even into comics in the first place, I read the novelization of Knightfall. Plus there’s the whole movie novelization thing I do for the sake of getting site hits.

I didn’t read Cox’s take on Infinite Crisis, but through chance, I discovered an interesting piece relating to it. A company called Graphic Audio had done a book on CD version of his take. That’s right, an audio book based on a book based on a graphic novel. What an insane concept. Too curious, I ordered the two sets and spent a couple weeks listening through them. Yes, weeks. The entire story is told with twelve discs over the course of thirteen hours. Thirteen hours to tell the story of seven issues.

Well, that’s not fair. It’s more than just the seven issues. Cox chose to cherry-pick tie-in issues to help pad out the story to differing success. This includes the end of Crisis of Conscience where Superboy Prime attacks Martian Manhunter, the Spectre vs. Shazam fight from the end of Day of Vengeance, the part of Gotham Central where Crispus Allen got killed, an issue of Aquaman and parts of the Rann/Thanagar War Special.

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The Man with the Dented Face

August 27th, 2008 Posted by Gavok

“When I speak, respond with the first word you think of. One.”

— Dr. Bruce Wayne and Two-Face from Elseworlds: The Batman of Arkham

For the past month, graphic novels have been doing quite well at the Barnes and Noble where I work. Sure, the Iron Man, Hulk and Hellboy stuff were doing fairly well over the course of the summer, but once Dark Knight arrived, everything flew off the shelves. I was put in charge of ordering in just about anything Batman-related that would sell. I mainly went with anything Joker and/or Two-Face themed. Surprisingly, Dark Knight Returns sold out early to the point that all of the warehouses were out of it. Great foresight there, guys.

Joker stuff sells like crazy, especially Killing Joke. Even the hastily scrapped-together biography we got on Heath Ledger has been taking off. Two-Face stuff, on the other hand, has been eating it. Nobody cares about Harvey, sad to say.

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The Dark Knight: The Deleted Scenes

August 1st, 2008 Posted by Gavok

Usually, whenever a big comic book movie comes out, I’m there with a little article about comparing the film to the novelization. After all, the novelizations are based on earlier scripts of the movie and shed some light on what was taken out. Sometimes things are for the better. Sometimes they’re for the worse.

There’s a reason I’m so late with the Dennis O’Neil adaptation of Dark Knight. While the books for Marvel movies come out about a month or so before release, it was decided, for spoiler purposes likely, that Dark Knight would be released as a strict-on-sale title. It came out the same day as the movie, but my Barnes and Noble didn’t receive it until days later. As a fun aside, O’Neil himself came to the store, wondering if we had it yet.

At first I wasn’t even going to bother. Reading the book after seeing the movie didn’t sound like as much fun. That decision changed after seeing what I have to call the best movie of the summer. I picked up a copy and spent the next week or so reading it.

I should point out that this is going to be spoiler-heavy, but this is a comic site and you are a person reading a comic site. If you haven’t seen Dark Knight by now and haven’t at least been spoiled about the scene where David Allen Grier appears as Oswald Cobblepot, then there’s probably something wrong with you.

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Some Odds and Ends

April 14th, 2008 Posted by Gavok

First off, the latest Comics From the 5th Dimension is up. This time it’s part one of a two-parter where I discuss Luke Cage’s 70’s rogues gallery. I’ve gone over some of it here before, but I go into more detail and discuss why I believe Luke Cage is currently a Skrull.

The mega wrestling site Figure 4 Weekly Online recently had Leonard F. Chikarason as a guest on Dr. Keith’s radio show. You might remember Chikarason’s interview on this site months back. It’s apparent that he does, since he proceeds to give us a quick shout out. What a guy. Even if he does read Countdown.

I should return the favor by mentioning that CHIKARA has shows this upcoming weekend. Saturday is Deuces Wild at Hellertown, PA. Sunday is Passion and Persistence at the ECW Arena. I will be making one or two of the shows in May, but not these shows.

No, instead, I’m going to be at New York Comic Con this weekend. It’s going to be me, hermanos and some of those jokers from Funnybook Babylon. I’ll be the dumbass with the 4th Letter t-shirt, so if you see me, be sure to keep your dirty fucking hands off my nachos. And say hello if you feel like it. I honestly don’t even eat nachos. I don’t know where that came from.


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Gavok’s Idiotic Experiments: Going Down to Gotham! Do the Hotdog Dance!

February 19th, 2008 Posted by Gavok

It’s been too long since I’ve done anything truly stupid. Wait, not true. The other day I bought that handheld Guitar Hero game out of morbid curiosity. Yeah. That was mildly amusing for about four minutes. But it has been too long since I’ve done anything truly stupid in relation to this site. I set out to fix that.

Everybody knows that Pink Floyd’s album Dark Side of the Moon syncs up with the classic movie Wizard of Oz. I’ve tried it once and it really works. The whole concept made me realize how we don’t see any other movie/music pairings like this. That got me thinking…

If such a great movie syncs up so well with such a great album, then surely the best superhero movie would HAVE to sync up with the best album ever. That’s right. I decided to watch Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker while listening to Beck’s Odelay.

Keep in mind, this is the good version of the movie, with all the torture and violence.

Hey, worst case scenario: I waste 50 minutes of my time listening to good music while watching most of a kickass movie.

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Weekly reviews – 02/14/08

February 14th, 2008 Posted by Hoatzin

I read some comics and I review them here. Just click “Read the rest of this entry” to see them. I know you’re all very excited. Happy Valentines Day!

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