This Week in Panels: Week 40

June 27th, 2010 Posted by Gavok

40 isn’t a very special number, but we got a lot on the plate this time around anyway, so let’s pretend it matters. Oh, and we also get three doses of Grant Morrison. Well… only two of them count, but whatever.

Amazing Spider-Man #635
Joe Kelly and Michael Lark among others

American Vampire #4
Scott Snyder, Rafael Albuquerque and Stephen King

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Ten Thoughts About The Return of Bruce Wayne #2

June 2nd, 2010 Posted by Esther Inglis-Arkell

Spoilers below the cut.

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This Week in Panels: Week 36

May 30th, 2010 Posted by Gavok

Welcome back for another week. It’s been a pretty damn good week for comics, even with that Rise of Angst miniseries. A really full week, too. Reader Space Jawa sends in one for Ultimate Enemy, which I heard was a pretty big letdown. Sure, it’s going to lead into the next miniseries, but there’s apparently no closure.

Amazing Spider-Man #632
Zeb Wells, Chris Bachalo and Emma Rios

Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne #2
Grant Morrison and Frazer Irving

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July 11th, 2008 Posted by david brothers

Basically, my interpretation of Batman is this: Batman loves his job. There’s more to it, of course, but that’s the most important bit.

Part of Batman enjoying his job means that the “Bruce Wayne is the mask” interpretation is both true and false. In the sense that Bruce Wayne is overall expendable and exists solely to provide income for Batman, it is definitely untrue. As Jon Bernhardt says in this piece for Funnybook Babylon, Bruce Wayne as Mask is a drastic misreading of Dark Knight Returns, and antithetical to the idea of Batman.

In essence, Batman wears two masks. One is the Batman mask– it’s an urban Zorro. The other is Playboy Bruce Wayne, and that one is an exercise in theatrical distraction. Playboy Bruce Wayne provides the perfect alibi. Who’d believe that this flighty guy could ever do anything worthwhile? This is part of the reason that Bruce Wayne hasn’t had a lasting relationship. The Playboy role is a barrier against that.

The Batman mask, though, is the interesting one. Bruce Wayne is, at heart, damaged goods. When his parents were murdered in front of his eyes, Bruce Wayne immediately went from innocent to lost. He can’t make the same emotional connections that other people do. Look at his best friends– all costumes. Does Bruce Wayne have non-costumed, or non-costume related, friends? Lucius Fox, perhaps.

Bruce is incapable of sustaining a regular relationship. He connects best with the other people who wear costumes, or run in those same circles. Look at his long-term on-again/off-again relationship with Catwoman. Look at Zatanna and Wonder Woman. Maybe it’s just a side effect of the job and shared experiences, but he tends to hang with super-women.

Anyway, going from innocent to lost doesn’t mean that you stop being a kid inside. The Batman mask and persona, if you think about it, are the reaction of a kid who had his childhood stolen from him. He puts on a mask and a cape, emulating his favorite hero, and fights the thing that hurt him when he was a child. He goes out at night and plays at being a hero. Look at Batman’s conduct. He puts on a gruff voice and uses parlor tricks to strike fear into the hearts of criminals, who are “a superstitious and cowardly lot.” He’s acting like something he thinks criminals would be afraid of.

Though, this doesn’t mean that he doesn’t love his job. Being Batman is what Bruce Wayne uses as an outlet for his aggression. One thing Frank Miller does in All-Star Batman that I love is that he writes a Bruce Wayne who has a childlike glee at being Batman. Everything from the dialogue to the inner monologue speaks to a man who is a) acting (he’s deciding which persona to put on before he strikes), b) acting poorly (Dick Grayson sees through him immediately), and c) loves doing it anyway (“Every inch of me is alive“). He strikes with a laugh, rather, “the laugh” because he knows it scares criminals. He makes it a point to use theatrics when he fights. It gives him an advantage in the fight and it lets him playact.

I mean, for real, though. That giant t-rex and all those other trophies were in the cave before Robin got there. That’s Brucie at work.

Batman is a dark, serious, brooding, and violent knight, but he’s also someone who has to enjoy what he does. He likes getting out there, acting gruff, and breaking bones. He likes being able to make people safe and striking terror into the heart of criminals. In DKSA, this is best shown by the scene where he’s relaxing and leaning back in his Batplane, hands behind his head and feet up on the console. “Striking terror. Best part of the job.”

Batman is also that guy who is scarily competent at everything. It isn’t that he’s a genius. He’s just a person of maybe slightly above-average intelligence who applies himself. He studies and practices and trains with a fervor most people don’t ever employ. He can place the origins of accents by simply hearing them, give you the etymology of certain words and which poems they were used in and why, and even track a wolf eighteen miles through the underbrush. Why? Because he thought it’d be a good idea to know all these things.

He’s the ultimate jack-of-all-trades. In hindsight, he essentially spent the remainder of his childhood studying to become the Batman. He travelled the world, studied martial arts, science, and who knows what else solely so that he could be the best at his job. He turned himself into a detective of incredible skill just in case he needed it later. He’s an obsessive amongst obsessives, if that makes sense. Capo di tutti capi.

Finally, Batman has to have Robin. Robin is the perfect foil for Batman. Where Batman is the guy who lost his childhood, but never really left it behind, Robin is the child that came close to losing his, but managed to find it again. Batman isn’t so much a father figure to Robin as a big brother. They go and hang out together and play all the same games.

Robin existing gives both of them a chance to win back some lost humanity. They can use each other for moral support, since they are so similar in origin, and when that doesn’t work, they can go out and bust heads together. For Bruce, Robin is in danger of going down the same path he did. He’s lost his parents in a tragedy, just like Bruce did, but being Robin gives him a chance to cope. It gives him an outlet for his grief.

Alfred keeps Bruce honest. When he sometimes slips a little too deep into the Batman persona and starts to walk his talk, Alfred is there to call him out on it. His constantly sarcastic wit reminds Bruce that he is still a human being, and an adult at that.

The somber, super serious, depressed, hates-to-live Batman that was popularized a few years back is a mistake. Batman gives Bruce Wayne a reason to live and enjoy life. He likes being Batman. He feels that it’s right. Robin provides a balance to his darkness, and Alfred keeps him honest.

That’s the way it should work, anyway.

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Review: Peter David’s Iron Man Movie Novelization FIGHTS! and FIGHTS! with Repulsor Rays!

March 26th, 2008 Posted by Gavok

A year ago, I bought, read and reviewed Peter David’s novelization of Spider-Man 3. I thought it was pretty good and went on record to say that Sam Raimi would have to go out of his way to fuck up that movie. Wouldn’t you know it, he did exactly that. He deleted a handful of scenes that would have turned the movie’s three villains into more than ridiculous, one-dimensional jokes. While he removed all the valuable Eddie Brock and Sandman scenes, he made it even worse by hardly shaving off any whiny Mary Jane moments.

I made the decision to go for round two. This time Peter David writes a novelization based on the upcoming Iron Man film. More than anything, I was curious. The build-up has been nice. Not just with the trailers, but the feeling that there’s love in the movie. I recall Jon Favreau saying that in preparation, he had been reading every single issue of Iron Man from the 60’s on. So would love be enough to make this story work?

Yes. Yes it really would.

I’m not going to give out explicit spoilers, but if you really want an absolute blank slate to the point that you didn’t even watch the trailers, by all means don’t read this and instead just give me $5.

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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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Children, Gage, and Mary Jane II: Mary Harder

November 17th, 2007 Posted by david brothers

How many comic characters have come up with recently revealed/brought back into play children?

Wolverine has Daken and X-23, kinda. Agent 13 is preggo with Cap’s baby. Namor had that son show up in his mini. Superman has Chris Kent. Batman has Damian. Hulk has Skaar or whatever. Corsair had Vulcan, though that’s kind of stretching the timeline a little. Punisher’s got a tyke.

That’s eight in, what, just under two years?

Anyway, Christos Gage is one of my new favorite writers. His Union Jack was the bomb, his House of M Avengers was mostly recap/revamp for Cage fans, but good, and so on. He’s got a couple books dropping soon. Iron Man Annual #1 and T-bolts: Breaking Points. Both are one-offs.

Tony Stark as James Bond + Bruce Wayne is a brilliant move, seriously. Why hasn’t anyone done this before? It’s totally Tony Stark. Danny Rand is Kung Fu Billionaire, Tony Stark should be Mecha James Bond. I want to pick up both books now. Gage generally does good.

But yeah, there’s something else in those previews that I noticed. Check out this image and think back a few months to the Mary Jane statue thing.


I laughed.

My question is– is this a knee-slapper with a knowing wink or a face-slapper with a mean glare? It’s kind of obviously presented as something that isn’t altogether kosher or positive… my money is on wink.

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Deadshot’s Tophat and Other Beginnings: Cr to De

July 6th, 2007 Posted by Gavok

I took a long break from these babies to do the Wrestlecrap articles, but now I’m back with quite a collection of characters. Some are a bit topical, too.


Captain America #360 (1989)

The story of the issue is part of an arc called the Bloodstone Hunt. It involves Captain America and Diamondback taking on Baron Zemo, Batroc, Zaron and Machete over some gem. That part isn’t really important.

Though I will say that Diamondback’s appearance is sort of off-putting here. Her outfit is pink spandex with a series of black diamonds over her front and back. Considering she’s in the water for most of the comic, she hangs around some people in bathing suits, and the way the pink is colored here, it looks like she’s wearing a black thong that doesn’t cover her chest. That’s all well and good, but her costume is torn in places, so now it looks like she has some nasty-ass skin disease.

Anyhow, she and Cap get away with the prize. As they leave, we see that they’re being watched.

Crossbones is so cool.

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Ruining the Moment: Volume 3

April 11th, 2007 Posted by Gavok

I should be finishing up my next installment of the WCW debacle, but it’s taking longer than I thought. Admittedly, it’s the least exciting of the three articles and it covers the most issues. Expect it up within the next few days. Honest.

In the meantime, how’s about we pass the time with more of these? For instance, in Annihilation, it was pretty badass when the Silver Surfer returned to Galactus’ thrall as herald. But I know the real reason Galactus was smiling.

Cassandra Cain Batgirl has been out of it for the past few months, acting like a villain and murdering people. I think I have an explanation.

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No Solicitors

March 22nd, 2007 Posted by david brothers

Have you guys read the new Marvel and DC solicits? I love comics, but those things are a bore and a half. It’s like they don’t even want you to read their books.

It’s cool, though. Here are the ones that are new and good and interesting. Jumping-on points only here, with one exception, perhaps. My pithy and vitally important commentary is in italics.

DC Comics is first since Marvel is better!

Written by Grant Morrison
Art and cover by J.H. Williams III
The Batmen of All Nations reunite for a weekend of fine food and nostalgia, but an unexpected visitor has other plans for the gathering. Batman, Robin, and the rest of the Club of Heroes find themselves trapped and at the mercy of a dangerous madman on the Island of Mister Mayhew!
This is why I read Grant Morrison. Mad ideas that sound completely goofy. He’s Silver Age with a Modern Age sensibility. Plus, I hope the sweet Knight and Squire from JLA Classified 1-3 shows up.

ROBIN #163
Written by Adam Beechen
Art by Freddie E. Williams II
Cover by Patrick Gleason & Wayne Faucher
It’s Tim Drake’s first Father’s Day as Bruce Wayne’s adopted son, and he wants everything to be just right. Unfortunately, the justice-crazed supervillains known as The Jury pick that very day to go on a murder spree in Gotham City!
This is a great idea for a story. The “family” part of Bat-family doesn’t get looked at often enough. “The Jury,” though, conjures up images of a certain ’90s anti-Venom team.

Written by Paul Dini and Judd Winick
Art by Bruce Timm, Joe Chiodo and others
Cover by Timm
Paul Dini and Bruce Timm -two of the masterminds behind Batman: The Animated Series – join forces in this volume collecting the miniseries BATMAN: HARLEY AND IVY! Also included is the special: HARLEY AND IVY: LOVE ON THE LAM by Judd Winick and Joe Chiodo, plus a newly-colored story rom BATMAN BLACK AND WHITE VOL. 2!
It’s Harley Quinn, so shut up and buy it.
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