BAM! POW! Batman: Not Just For Depressed People With Vigilante Fantasies Anymore!

Every now and then the media gets a wild hair up their ass and decides they should do a report on comics and how they’re edgy. And violent. And…not just for kids anymore! Pop culture writers have been doing this during most of my 29 years on this earth, and whenever they do so, they usually invoke the sound effects associated with the 1966 live action Batman series.

It’s a shorthand. It’s a reference people get.  Something familiar that they can associate with the thing you are trying to tell them about.

So when a new Batman comic was announced that was based off of the Adam West Batman series, I was not excited. I probably said “UGH” out loud. But the first issue arrived, and word of mouth was good. Really good. So at a price of 99 cents, I decided to check it out.

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I’m happy to report that Batman ’66 by Jeff Parker and Jonathan Case is a fun and incredibly well-crafted comic book that goes well beyond paying tribute to a property that people are nostalgic for. This isn’t an empty embrace of “camp” like Joel Schumacher’s films.

Parker and Case use the digital format to play with color, echoing and expanding upon the moments in the show when action would pause for a sound effect laid over the action. Going from one page to the next, the page layout will appear similar, but the colors, dialogue and action all change. Check out these two pages:
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Case’s artwork captures the feel and the designs of the show, but he brings his own style to the book, casting different “actors” that look a bit like their real life counterparts, but never look stiff or photo-referenced.

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I can’t wait to see what Case does with the Joker on the book, as his Riddler is jumping off the page with energy.

Parker’s script shines in amazing moments like this:

Screen Shot 2013-07-16 at 9.08.04 PMIt helps set the tone of the world. It gets away from the restrictions that a word like ‘camp’ puts on a book, and brings it fully into a realm that is fun without any pretensions.

Plus, we can look forward to a showdown with Dracula.

Or Count Floyd, I suppose.

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Buy Someone A Comic For The Holidays This Year

This is probably the angriest Holiday Gift Guide you’ll read this year. I’m leaving ugly full URLs up cause I’m in a “people are stupid and won’t understand what to click through” mood.

The Walking Dead by Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore, and Charlie Adlard: I heard “The Walking Dead was a comic book first!?!? too many times recently both at work and at family gatherings for Thanksgiving. Neither the show, nor the book is my cup of tea anymore (But Paul, you LOVE zombies and you used to like this book, you flip flopper! Shut up. I don’t like either anymore. Go get me a drink.), but if someone you know is into this, buy them the first volume or two to check out. They’d read almost any prose book that a show or movie was based on, right? So why not put a comic book in front of their face and show them that comic book doesn’t always mean “funny.”

Buy it in print: http://www.amazon.com/The-Walking-Dead-Vol-Days/dp/1582406723/ref=sr_1_13?ie=UTF8&qid=1353888562&sr=8-13&keywords=the+walking+dead

Gift it digitally: http://www.comixology.com/The-Walking-Dead-Vol-1-Days-Gone-Bye/digital-comic/FEB041347

Saga by Brian K Vaughan and Fiona Staples:

I’ve written about Saga a bunch of times here. It gets me most of my site hits, as this is a popular new series, and people are looking for intelligent places to discuss it. Sadly, when they land here, they get me yelling at people to read a series, while barely being able to write about it coherently. “It’s awesome, Star Wars, Fantasy, blurghrgargle of enthusiasm” – Paul DeKams But, yes, if you’ve got a friend or family member on your gift list that is into epic tales that blend genres, buy the first volume of Saga for them.

Buy it in print: http://www.amazon.com/Saga-Vol-1-Brian-Vaughan/dp/1607066017/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1353888769&sr=1-1&keywords=saga+volume+1

Buy it digitally: http://www.comixology.com/Saga-Vol-1/digital-comic/AUG120491

Criminal by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips: For those who are into crime and or pulpier stuff. I should stress this is NOT for your Sue Grafton/James Patterson mystery enjoyers. This is for folks who have enjoyed anything made by creators like Tarantino, Chandler, Leonard, Hammett, or Ellroy.

Print: http://www.amazon.com/Coward-Criminal-Vol-Ed-Brubaker/dp/078512439X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1353889092&sr=1-1&keywords=criminal+volume+1

Digital: http://www.comixology.com/Criminal-Vol-1/comics-series/868

Hawkeye by Matt Fraction, David Aja, Javier Pulido, Matt Hollingsworth, Chris Eliopoulos:

YES. I am recommending Hawkeye yet again. Because it is great. This is for anyone who enjoyed Joss Whedon’s Avengers. For anyone who is into detective-y folks getting punched in the face repeatedly while trying to solve a mystery. It’s probably got some crossover with the people who would enjoy Criminal.

Buy it in print at your local comic book store.

Buy it digitally: http://www.comixology.com/Hawkeye/comics-series/8445

Special Batman section!

Christopher Nolan’s Batman series had some serious cred with mainstream audiences for being so serious…so…real (I disagree with both simplistic mis-readings of the films, but enjoyed them immensely). Well, here’s some Batman books that are in a similar “real-worldy Batman” vein.

Batman: Year One by Frank Miller and David Mazzuchelli:

The definitive origin for Batman. An obsessed man who achieves his physical and mental peaks through practice and hard work, beginning a mission to root out corruption in Gotham City. Nothing super hero-y about this tale.

Buy it in print: http://www.amazon.com/Batman-Year-One-Frank-Miller/dp/1401207529/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1353890220&sr=1-1&keywords=batman+year+one

Digitally: http://www.comixology.com/Batman-Year-One/comics-story-arc/52

Catwoman by Ed Brubaker and Darwyn Cooke:

This is a good buy not only for those who have enjoyed the Nolan films, but also the animated series from the 90s, as Cooke’s artwork is very similar to that show. Another simple concept series: a former criminal (Catwoman), seeks to do right and live a better life.

Buy it in print: http://www.amazon.com/Catwoman-Vol-1-Trail/dp/1401233848/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1353890365&sr=1-1&keywords=catwoman+brubaker

Buy it digitally: http://www.comixology.com/Catwoman-2002-2008/comics-series/201

Gotham Central by Ed Brubaker, Greg Rucka, and Michael Lark:

The Wire with Batman.

Buy it in print: http://www.amazon.com/Gotham-Central-Book-Line-Duty/dp/1401220371/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1353890597&sr=1-1&keywords=gotham+central

Buy it digitally: http://www.comixology.com/Gotham-Central/comics-series/3035

I’ll probably follow up with some more holiday gift recommendations, including…books about comics! WHAT?  So, spread some holiday and comic cheer, and stay tuned for more. If you’re reading this, and think none of these recommendations really apply to the people in your life, drop a comment about what you’re looking for, and I’ll see if I can come up with anything.

Shut Up, Batman! You’re Not My Dad!

 

I know, I know. I still need to review Saga 4 & 5 for real since a TON of people seem to be clicking on my “ha-ha, boobs!” post in the hopes that someone, somewhere, is talking about that amazing book.

Today’s post is for all y’all who saw The Dark Knight Rises, or any film in Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy. Today, I’m talking about Gotham Central. If I were to put things in “this is this meets that” terms, Gotham Central is The Wire meets Batman. Sheeeeeee-it.

A more in-depth description of the premise is this: Inspired by Batman, Commissioner James Gordon has done his best to clean up the corrupt Gotham City Police Department over the years. During his term, anyone who has made the rank of detective has been hand picked by him. Detective Marcus Driver, who’s giving Batman the stinkeye in the above panels, was the last detective picked before Gordon’s retirement.

Now, the series isn’t entirely about Driver, but it’s about a bunch of cops like Driver. Cops who want to do their best to solve crimes in Gotham City without resorting to putting a spotlight in the sky to summon “The Batman” to do their job for them.

Or to simplify things again, “Shut up, Batman! You’re not my dad!” (Sidenote: Batman IS your dad, and you better respect that).

The first five issues of the series are collected as Gotham Central Volume One: In The Line of Duty. The first arc introduces Mr. Freeze from the point of view of the major crimes unit, and ultimately, he’s still someone they (reluctantly) need Batman for.

“Say I’m your momma!”

Mr. Freeze…hell, wait a minute. Let’s talk about something. Mr. Freeze is the Warren Buffet of super villains. Gimme a minute, this kind of makes sense. Take Doctor Doom, for example. Dude didn’t even graduate college and he runs around making people call him doctor. Mr. Freeze went to college, got his doctorate, THEN became a super villain, and he still says “call me Mr.” Now, he’s not gonna say “Oh, please, call me Victor,” but he’s not so full of himself that he’s going to make you call him doctor, just like I assume Warren Buffet doesn’t make you call him Warren Buffet, Billionaire.

But anyway, forget Mr. Freeze. Cause it’s not about him, it’s not about Batman. It’s about the cops. Co-writers Ed Brubaker and Greg Rucka, along with artist Michael Lark create a cast of characters that you give a damn about. They make you want to stand up and say along with Detective Driver, “shut up, Batman, you’re not my dad!”

Where can I buy such an amazing comic that will make me forget all about Batman and his rogues gallery? Well my friend, you can of course purchase this comic on Amazon, at your local comic book store, and…can it be purchased digitally? YES! Yes you can, and the first issue is only 99 cents!