Archive for the Detective Comics Category

Lasso of Truth – Weekly Comics Round-up: 28th October 2009

Posted in Blackest Night, Comics, DC, Detective Comics, Green Lantern, Superman, Wonder Woman with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 28th October, 2009 by Adam Redsell

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Blackest Night #4
Written by Geoff Johns ǀ Art by Ivan Reis

Geoff Johns imbues this story with all the gravity an epic drama needs.  Ivan Reis drops The Big One with a jaw-dropping splash you have to see.

Verdict: Must have.


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Detective Comics #858
Written by Greg Rucka ǀ Art by J.H. Williams III, Cully Hamner

Rucka and Williams deepen their entire cast with an extended flashback sequence.  Four years later, Kate Kane is finally coming into focus.  The Question backup feature’s not bad per se; in fact, it’s quite good, but it’s so straight by comparison I just find myself clamouring for more Batwoman.

Verdict: Buy it.


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Green Lantern #47
Written by Geoff Johns ǀ Art by Doug Mahnke

Johns has been building to these moments for a looong time, and it’s satisfying to see old plot threads finally start to come together.  Green Lantern fans will be giddy at the prospect of a Sinestro/Hal reunion.

Verdict: Must have.


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Superman: Secret Origin #2
Written by Geoff Johns ǀ Art by Gary Frank

A young Clark Kent meets the Legion of Superheroes, and things don’t seem so lonely anymore.  Johns and Frank remind us what made Superman so inspiring in the first place.  An absolutely joyful reading experience.

Verdict: Must have.


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Wonder Woman #37
Written by Gail Simone ǀ Art by Bernard Chang

Aaron Lopresti was credited as artist on the cover, so it was more than a little bit jarring to find Bernard Chang’s pencils inside!  His Wonder Woman looks very Greek (as do his other Amazons), which makes sense, but again, a jarring interruption to Lopresti’s elegant work.  Some deliberately provocative T & A as well, which brought down the tone of this otherwise-virtuous book.

Verdict: Check it out.

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Lasso of Truth – Weekly Comics Round-up: 23rd September 2009

Posted in Batwoman, Blackest Night, Comics, DC, Detective Comics, Final Crisis, Superman with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 23rd September, 2009 by Adam Redsell

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Lasso of Truth is your weekly guide to what’s hot and what’s not in the DC Universe.  Each week, the Red Baron goes through his comics haul to tell you what’s worth buying and what’s best left alone.

Here’s the key:

Must havethere’s no question, you should buy this great book.
Buy ita high-quality read that won’t disappoint.
Check it outpick it up if you have some extra cash.  May be an acquired taste.
Avoida disappointing read.  Save your money and steer clear.


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Blackest Night: Superman #2
Written by James Robinson ǀ Art by Eddy Barrows
Blackest Night: Superman #2 drops the horror movie tone of the first issue and opts for superhero fisticuffs instead.  It’s a pity, because depicting horror is Eddy Barrows’ specialty.  This book reads as a who’s who of Crisis on Infinite Earths, which will no doubt excite long-time DC readers.  It does lack a little in the emotional pay-off department, though (which is surprising considering the re-appearance of the Psycho Pirate).
Verdict: Check it out.


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Detective Comics #857
Written by Greg Rucka ǀ Art by J.H. Williams III
Bold and beautiful artwork, coupled with DC’s most interesting new villain makes this comic hard to fault.
Verdict: Must have.


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Final Crisis Aftermath: Dance #5
Written by Joe Casey ǀ Art by Eduardo Pansica
The Super Young Team finally awaken to their destiny, as their leader Most Excellent Superbat proves he is worthy of both names.  The art holds up surprisingly well, considering ChrisCross’ absence once again.
Verdict: Buy it.


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Superman: Secret Origin #1
Written by Geoff Johns ǀ Art by Gary Frank
It’s great to see these two back on a Superman title again, and boy, do they knock this one out of the park.  It’s simply beautiful, human drama.
Verdict: Must have.

Lasso of Truth – Weekly Comics Round-up: 26th August 2009

Posted in Batman, Batman and Robin, Blackest Night, Comics, DC, Detective Comics, Green Lantern, Superman, Wednesday Comics, Wonder Woman with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 2nd September, 2009 by Adam Redsell

lasso_of_truth_2

Lasso of Truth is your weekly guide to what’s hot and what’s not in the DC Universe.  Each week, the Red Baron goes through his comics haul to tell you what’s worth buying and what’s best left alone.

Here’s the key:

Must havethere’s no question, you should buy this great book.
Buy ita high-quality read that won’t disappoint.
Check it outpick it up if you have some extra cash.  May be an acquired taste.
Avoida disappointing read.  Save your money and steer clear.


Day-glo never looked so dark.

Day-glo never looked so dark.

Batman and Robin #3
Author: Grant Morrison
Artist: Frank Quitely
60s camp with a chilling, modern twist, as only Morrison can deliver.
Verdict: Must have.


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Batman: The Widening Gyre #1
Author: Kevin Smith
Artist: Walter Flanagan
Here’s the thing with Kevin Smith: when he fails to capture a character’s voice, he replaces it with his own voice.  It’s like a Tarantino film – the actors are really just delivering a conversation Tarantino’s had in his own head.  But for all its character flaws, Widening Gyre remains an entertaining read.  Thankfully he does manage to capture at least one voice: the voice of the rhyming demon Etrigan.
Verdict: Check it out.


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Blackest Night: Titans #1
Author: J.T. Krul
Artist: Ed Benes
Amounts to little more than a history lesson about characters I don’t care about.  Benes’ artwork is sexy enough – perhaps a little too sexy.  The first truly disappointing Blackest Night title.
Verdict: Avoid.


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Detective Comics #856
Author: Greg Rucka
Artist: J.H. Williams III
Rucka’s new Bat-villain Alice chews up the scenery in Batwoman’s psychedelic nightmare.  J.H. Williams once again pushes the boundaries of the medium.
Verdict: Must have.


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Green Lantern #45
Author: Geoff Johns
Artist: Doug Mahnke
Plenty of great moments in this War of Light, but it sacrifices cohesiveness in an effort to cover everything.
Verdict: Buy it.


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Superman #691
Author: James Robinson
Artist: Renato Guedes
What is essentially the culmination of months of storyboarding comes off as contrived and confusing.
Verdict: Avoid.


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Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen Special #2
Author: James Robinson
Artist: Bernard Chang
Jimmy Olsen investigates the same uninteresting shadowy government conspiracy he’s been investigating for months.  The exorbitant cover price makes it that much more unforgivable.
Verdict: Avoid.


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Wednesday Comics #8
Authors: Various
Artists: Various
Everybody lifts their game this week to produce what is effectively the best dose of Wednesday Comics yet.
Verdict: Buy it.


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Wonder Woman #35
Author: Gail Simone
Artist: Aaron Lopresti
Wonder Woman returns to form spectacularly, cagefighting in the underground with Black Canary(!).
Verdict: Buy it.

Detective Comics #855

Posted in Batwoman, Comics, DC, Detective Comics, The Question with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 9th August, 2009 by Adam Redsell
Batwoman in Wonderland.

Batwoman in Wonderland.

“Elegy Part 2: Misterioso”
Author: Greg Rucka
Artist: J.H. Williams III
Colorist: Dave Stewart
Letterer: Todd Klein
Assistant Editor: Harvey Richards
Editor: Michael Siglain
Variant Cover Artist: J.G. Jones

“The Question – Pipeline: Chapter One/Part Two”
Artist: Cully Hamner
Colorist: Laura Martin
Letterer: Jared K. Fletcher

It’s official: Detective Comics is the best Bat-book on the shelves at the moment.  Who would have thought that Batwoman would amount to anything more than a media publicity stunt?  Well, the media don’t really care anymore, but I sure as hell do.

So many great Batman staples make their return here: Carroll-inspired villainy, Gothic castles, mad monks, and bad opium dreams [see Arkham Asylum, The Cult, Gothic, Batman and the Mad Monk, and Venom].  It’s Rucka’s respect for these hallmarks that makes us accept Batwoman into the Bat-family, and as a worthy successor to the World’s Greatest Detective.

Batwoman’s new foil Alice is chilling and off-kilter to say the least.  In fact, she’s quickly establishing herself as Batwoman’s Joker, and honestly I think she’s interesting enough to pull it off.  Her exclamations are just like original Alice, but it’s her pragmatism and emotional detachment under the guise of curiosity and innocence that makes my skin crawl.

All of this is augmented by Dave Stewart’s striking colours and J.H. Williams’ beautiful pencils.  Williams’ panel layouts are once again experimental yet easy to follow, and their “otherness” only fuels the drug-induced surrealism that dominates the issue.  “Beautiful, like broken butterfly wings” is the best way I can think to describe it.  Batwoman’s flowing red locks, Alice’s running mascara, the falling autumn leaves, the psychedelic vines that cloud Kate’s memories: this comic is a visual feast.

Suffice it to say, Kate Kane’s beginner’s luck has run out and Alice – new leader of the Religion of Crime – shows her true colours.

A very strange cliffhanger is followed by The Question backup feature, with Cully Hamner ably assisting on pencils.  His art is like Weet Bix and warm milk; the cartoony style can’t prepare you for the gritty brutality that follows.  The Question teaches her adversaries a very valuable lesson: don’t bring a weapon against someone more proficient in that weapon – like nunchaku for instance – it’s just a liability.  After some persuasive interrogation, Montoya shifts back into detective mode, but finds more trouble than info.  The Question’s street-level view helps ground an otherwise fantastical cape story, which again begs the Weet Bix and warm milk analogy.

Once again, Detective Comics has cemented itself as the most beautiful, value-packed book on store shelves.  Issue 854 was a great new start to Detective with very little background required, so why not jump in while the time is ripe?

The Dark Knight Cram School: The Greatest Batbooks of All Time.

Posted in Batman, Comics, DC, Detective Comics, film, JLA, The Dark Knight with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 14th May, 2009 by Adam Redsell

To celebrate the birth of Bat-Shark Repellent, I thought I’d lend my expertise to you all by recommending the Greatest Batbooks of All Time. I’ve made no secret of the fact that my comic book collection threatens to swallow my entire bedroom, so rest assured – I’ve read a lot of Batman. So if you’re looking for a good jumping-on point for the Caped Crusader, you’ve come to the right place. Here goes…


16. Batman: Venom

This story marks the second time Batman is broken, this time by addiction to a performance enhancing drug known as Venom. Venom has an almost surreal quality, but the story takes a very Bond-like turn when the Batman hunts down his tormentors. And yes, Bat-shark-repellent is involved!

15. Superman: Red Son

While not a Batbook per sé, Red Son features the coolest iteration of the Batman that you’ll ever see. It’s also one of the greatest Superman stories you’ll ever read. It’s an Elseworlds tale [i.e. outside of continuity] that poses the question: what if Kal-El landed in Russia instead of America? It further poses the question, how would a Russian Batman react to a superhuman Communist dictator?

14. Batman: The Man Who Laughs

A menacing Joker tale by veteran Ed Brubaker. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if his interpretation of the villain informed Heath Ledger’s performance.

13. Batman & the Monster Men

A young and naive Batman faces off against the abominations of Dr Hugo Strange. Written and drawn by the legendary Grendel creator Matt Wagner.

12. Batman & the Mad Monk

Matt Wagner returns for a supernatural romp through Batman’s past. It’s pulp and spectacle with a modern touch.

11. Son of the Demon

Batman marries the daughter of his greatest foe, Ra’s Al Ghul. The Bat and the Demon must work together to stop a terrorist threat, for Talia’s sake and the world’s. A controversial tale that has recently come into play in a big way.

10. Batman: Black & White Volumes 1 & 2

A series of Batman vignettes by comic book greats and mainstays, all in black and white. It’s amazing how much story they can cram within a few pages. A great laugh and a great deconstruction of the character. Pick up Volume 3 if you’re keen, it’s just not quite as good as the first two volumes.

9. Batman: Blind Justice

A surprising amount of material has been mined from Blind Justice to bring you Batman Begins, and this is chiefly because it is the authority on Bruce Wayne. It’s funny considering the author is none other than Batman screenwriter Sam Hamm. Never has Batman’s alter-ego [or past] been shaped so definitively. Believe it or not, Henri Ducard and Ra’s Al Ghul are two separate people. It’s a pity about the kooky mind-control, though.

8. Batman: Gothic

It’s surprising just how well Batman goes with the supernatural. Trust Grant Morrison to pull it off [and he continues to do so now!]. Everything about this tale is gothic, especially the art of Klaus Janson.

7. Batman: Year 100

Year 100 takes place in a dystopian future Gotham, which is eerily similar to the old Gotham: a dark place full of crooked cops. Batman is once again a wanted outlaw, though the authorities prefer to deny his existence altogether. Paul Pope’s gritty and brutal future is believable, and reminiscent of Alfonso Cuarón’s Children of Men. A great read with no strings attached.

6. Batman: The Cult

One of the greatest bat-villains was a one-and-done character, Deacon Blackfire. Criminals are being brutally murdered, while the homeless disappear from the streets of Gotham. He defeats the Batman in the worst possible way: by breaking his spirit. Another supernatural Bat-story written to great effect by comics stalwart Jim Starlin. Jason Todd (the second Robin) has never been so likable than in this book, which is surprising.

5. Arkham Asylum

Once again Grant Morrison gives supernatural depth to the Batman mythos, this time to his rogues’ accidental lair: Arkham Asylum. Batman’s greatest foes have taken the house hostage, challenging him to a game of wits. The Batman accepts, but he soon finds that the building has a life of its own. Drenched in symbology, each page is hand-painted by the legendary Dave McKean.

4. The Killing Joke

The Greatest Joker Story Ever Told. If there was ever a book to read before seeing Dark Knight, this is it. Comics legend Alan Moore proposes a possible origin for Batman’s arch-nemesis. Short and sweet.

3. The Long Halloween/Dark Victory

Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale team up for one of the greatest Bat-mysteries ever told. Batman must sift through his rogues gallery to solve the mystery of the Holiday killer. The fall of the Falcone crime family; the definitive Two-Face origin story; the origin of Robin – it’s all here and it’s all told beautifully in a true marriage of word and picture.

2. Batman: Year One

Frank Miller redefines the Batman for a new era. Make no mistake, the Batman of Year One is the Batman we know and love today. The definitive Batman origin story, Bruce Wayne returns to Gotham to wage his personal war on crime. Gritty, dark, and grounded, Batfilm enthusiasts have this book to thank for its rich source material.

1. The Dark Knight Returns

Before Miller wrote his beginning, he wrote [and drew] the Batman’s end. A retired Bruce Wayne must don the cape and cowl once more to reclaim the streets of Gotham from Violence and Unreason. Without a doubt the Greatest Batman Story Ever Told, and one of the greatest graphic novels ever written.

Honourable Mentions
This is a list of other Batbooks that are still worth a read for Batfans, but have not been included in ‘The List’ for reasons I will state below:

Batman: Knightfall Part One – Broken Bat
Knightfall is like the Rocky movies: a great overall story arc, but the execution leaves a little to be desired. The chapters written by Chuck Dixon are pretty good (especially the moving finale), but most of the fill-in stories are abhorrent. Nonetheless, an important chapter of Batman’s life, though it suffers from the trappings of 90s event books and B-list villains. Bane puts the Batman through his paces, letting his entire rogues gallery loose upon Gotham. He breaks his spirit and then his back.

Batman: Nine Lives
A cinema-style noir murder mystery and a damn fine Elseworlds tale. It just feels a little dry, and the Batman takes a while to surface.

Batman: Thrillkiller
Again, this is a great Elseworlds tale, starring Batgirl and Robin, this time in the early 60s. Each panel is painted beautifully, but Batman’s glaring absence is once again noted for most of this tale.

JLA: Tower of Babel
A pretty good Justice League story with one tiny problem: Mark Waid’s Batman is a prick. This was the era of the know-it-all Batman – the House M.D. of comics, if you will – never explaining the methods behind his madness until the very end. Ra’s Al Ghul [you’ll hear his name a lot] procures Batman’s secret files to use them against his allies.

Tales of the Demon
If you can get past the West-ian campiness you’ll enjoy some of the greatest Ra’s Al Ghul stories ever written.

Strange Apparitions
Such an apt title for such a strange book. Following the death of Dr Hugo Strange, this story proves once again that the Bat mixes well with the supernatural. But if you can’t handle a little West-ness, you might want to steer clear.

A Death in the Family
An extremely imporant chapter in Batman’s life, but pretty poorly executed. The fact that the ending was voted for only cheapens the emotional impact.

Gotham by Gaslight
Another Elseworlds tale that suffers from not enough Batman. Batman must hunt down Jack the Ripper before it’s too late, but when Bruce Wayne is suspected, things go arye. The identity of the infamous serial killer is a little disappointing, especially when you compare the mystery as a whole to Alan Moore’s From Hell.

Hush
Hush amounts to nothing more than a gorgeous fangasm, really. Still a good read, up until the ‘big reveal’ at least. It’s still a pretty fun ride through Batman’s gallery of rogues and allies.

Batman & Dracula: Red Rain
The Batman must become a bat-man to protect Gotham from its bloodthirsty tormentor. It’s a pretty decent Elseworlds tale with a great idea behind it, Moench just doesn’t get as much mileage out of it as I had hoped.

Batman: Child Of Dreams
A Japanese take on the Batman, author Kia Asamiya actually deconstructs Japanese culture better than the character himself. This is essentially Batman for a new audience (the Japanese), so it’s understandable that many of the ideas presented are well-worn. It’s still well-executed and an intriguing read, nonetheless.

Death and the Maidens
Greg Rucka cooks up a storm within the Al Ghul family, building up a new heir and Bat-villain in Nyssa Al Ghul. But to kill a man who has resurrected himself time and again with such apparent finality – it’s a little hard to swallow – and with Ra’s’ recent resurrection last year, it all feels a little ineffectual. It is Greg Rucka and Klaus Janson, though, and you can’t blame them for trying.

So that does it for me – if want to dive headfirst into the Batman mythos, check out the books I’ve recommended above. If you want to go further, give the others a try – I’ve been a little harsh on them – they’re not the greatest, but they’re still enjoyable reads. I also highly recommend Grant Morrison’s current run on Batman, but be warned – it’s extremely zany, and requires a lot of background knowledge to follow.

What about you? Do you fancy yourself a fellow Bat-fan? Have I left out your favourite Batbook? If so, gimme some hell!

The Darkest Knight Ever: A Dark Knight Review.

Posted in Batman, Comics, DC, Detective Comics, film, The Dark Knight with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 11th May, 2009 by Adam Redsell

The Gotham underworld is in ruins as it struggles to rebuild itself. Criminals stray from the shadows, and hide in the daylight, for the shadow is the Batman’s domain. Clawing desperately like rodents from flame, the mafia turns to a man they do not understand. An agent of Chaos, they call him the Joker.

The shadow of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight looms large over every Bat-film, nay, every superhero film before it. By the film’s conclusion, it struck me just how apt the title was: its darkness surpasses even Burton’s Gothic interpretation of the franchise. Nolan’s real-world Gotham makes the presence of a Joker all the more frightening. I’ve never thought about the Joker as a terrorist or even an anarchist before, but Nolan and Ledger gave me a real sense of, this is what the world would be like with the Joker in it, and this is what he’d do. It all seems so obvious now, but the truth is, there’s never been a Joker quite like this before. As Nolan has stated in various interviews, Heath Ledger’s Joker truly is a force of nature. He’s a hurricane that sweeps through each scene, stealing it and then destroying it for no other reason than that’s what he is. There is a tangible tension in the air; a siren sound builds in the background (courtesy of Zimmer and Howard), and neither the audience nor the Batman knows how to deal with him, because we honestly don’t know what he’ll do next.

Ledger's iconic Joker. There's no telling what he might do.

Ledger's iconic Joker. There's no telling what he might do.

It’s this unpredictability that propels the entire film for two and a half hours – no mean feat if you’ve ever seen Lord of the Rings. There are plot twists a-plenty here, and each one of them is a bold move on the part of Goyer and the brothers Nolan.

Like all good comic books, The Dark Knight is first and foremost a character drama. Christian Bale plays a brooding Batman, and a conflicted Bruce Wayne once again. But it’s clear this time that Wayne has moved beyond revenge, and is far more concerned with the repercussions of Batman’s actions, not only for his loved ones, but for Gotham City as a whole. One of the film’s major themes is sacrifice, and you’ll see plenty of moments where all of Wayne’s friends and allies pay high prices for the love of their city. I could really feel Bruce Wayne and Harvey Dent’s love for both Gotham and Rachel, and Jim Gordon’s love for his family as well. It is Harvey Dent’s inextricable importance to Gotham and all of its major players that makes his destiny all the more tragic. That Aaron Eckhart’s Dent won me (and Batman) over within the first few minutes only amplified the tragedy. Again, I knew what to expect, but I was continually surprised by the journey.

Gary Oldman’s Jim Gordon is a comic fan’s dream come true. His resemblance to the character in the classic Year One is uncanny, both in personality and visage. Maggie Gyllenhaal was the perfect choice to replace Katie Holmes as Rachel Dawes – not only does she look similar; she plays a stronger character with more substance than a pretty face. Take this from someone whose pet hate is changing casts between sequels – that the first four Bat-films featured the same Alfred Pennyworth, yet three different Bruce Waynes irked me to no end! Speaking of Alfred, Michael Caine shines through as Bruce’s mentor and friend. I was initially wary of his casting in Begins, mostly due to his rustic speech, but he has captured the essence of a butler who oversteps his role, and cuts straight to the heart of the matter. Morgan Freeman reprises his role as Lucius Fox, Batman’s ‘Q’ and now-CEO of Wayne Enterprises.

The movie’s other major theme is Chaos. Chaos is the Joker’s modus operandi, and he sees himself as the necessary Yin to Batman’s Yang. Bale underscores this notion in playing the thinking-man’s Batman. While there is little emphasis on Batman as the World’s Greatest Detective, he is certainly portrayed as an inventive and rational force. Joker, on the other hand, is all kinds of insane. He simply doesn’t care what happens, as long as something happens; his life an amoral dance of cause and effect. It’s almost refreshing to see the Joker’s sheer abandonment and wanton destruction, as it represents a way of life so different from our own.

Nolan and company cottoned on to the character’s greatest strength: his mysterious origin. Nolan makes no attempt to explain the Joker’s origins definitively; a wise choice that not only saves valuable screen-time, but enriches the character as well. A wry smile crept across my face every time Ledger licked his lips to recount a different origin story to his victims. Indeed, there is a certain black comedy that permeates his dialogue and the film at large. Heath Ledger’s mannerisms are clever and understated, simultaneously manic and aloof. His performance chilled me to the bone, and yet I couldn’t wait to see him return for the next scene. It represents a fitting swan song to his career, and I would love nothing more than to see him win that posthumous Oscar.

The Dark Knight definitely comes off as a self-contained film, and no expense was spared to give it all the dramatic weight possible, with almost complete disregard for sequel potential. As lofty as they are, comparisons with the likes of The Empire Strikes Back and The Godfather: Part II are apt. With such a take-no-prisoners approach, where do we go from here? Disheartening, though it may be, it’s a beautiful problem to have.

There are so many more things I could say about The Dark Knight, but nothing that hasn’t already been said more eloquently by someone else. To give you a detailed account of every happening would only diminish its profound impact. Needless to say, it distills some of the greatest elements in Batman’s rich history and combines them to create a thrilling, multi-layered narrative. With Iron Man and now The Dark Knight, its refreshing to see the medium of the comic book movie treated with such maturity and respect for the source material. More than that, The Dark Knight actually transcends the genre of the superhero movie. It’s not for the faint of heart (or for children), but anyone can and probably will enjoy this movie on its own merits. Run, don’t walk, to your nearest video store and catch The Dark Knight.

Riddle Me This: Batman Three.

Posted in Batman, Batman Three, Comics, DC, Detective Comics, film with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 9th May, 2009 by Adam Redsell

This one seems to have flown beneath the buzz radar. But I’m chomping at the bit at the prospect of having Johnny Depp take on The Riddler. Problem is, these early casting rumours rarely ever come to fruition. My other problem is: has the story treatment for Batman Three even been written yet? I don’t like the idea of The Riddler and Penguin being shoe-horned into a Batman story [though I surmise this is what happens with most comics, we’ve already established that ‘The Dark Knight’ has transcended its source material].

All misgivings aside, if anyone has a decent chance of one-upping Ledger’s Joker, it’s Depp. Not necessarily because he’s a better actor – and he is – but because he’s a great character actor, equally adept in Hollywood blockbusters as he is in obscure thrillers. That he’s worked with Tim Burton on more occasions than anyone else [with the possible exception of Danny Elfman?] damn-near infuses Mr. Depp with a biological connection to the Batman mythos. Whether or not you appreciate Burton’s Bat-films is entirely beside the point, one thing is clear: Burton has an innate sense of the Gothic, and the Comic.

Can the Joker be beaten?

Can the Joker be beaten?

I could care less that Philip Seymour Hoffman was approached to be the next Penguin. He looks like he could be a Penguin, but that’s merely an aesthetic consideration at this point. Without a doubt, he’s a fine actor, but a fine Penguin? Not so sure. I suppose that’s because conceptually, I hold Burton and DeVito’s Penguin on a pedestal nearly as tall as Ledger’s Joker [that and it marked the first and last occasion that DeVito played a character other than himself]. In a real-world context – that is, Nolan’s context – the Penguin simply bores me as nothing more than a mobster with a disfigurement. The Penguin of the comics has never been compelling. Ever. And I’ve read a lot of Batman comics.

But I can see The Riddler working, particularly in the hands of Depp. My story treatment goes something like this: Edward Nygma [surely they will need to change his name, who wouldn’t guess that this guy is secretly The Riddler?!] is the detective charged by the GCPD to track down the Batman and incarcerate him. When he clocks off, though, he becomes the terrorist known only as The Riddler, putting the Dark Knight through his paces with a series of life-or-death riddles, designed to trap and expose him. Here is a pragmatic force, determined to unravel the mystery of the Batman at all costs, even at the cost of civilian lives. This effectively fuses two of the most popular [and tenable] interpretations of the character: a villain obsessed with the mystery of Batman’s identity vs. a rival detective and GCPD informant, as he has appeared most recently within the pages of Paul Dini’s Detective Comics. It’s also a scenario that fits well with the Batman-as-Enemy-of-the-State theme alluded to in The Dark Knight’s final act.

So, The Riddler and the Penguin in Batman Three?  Certainly a possibility.

So, The Riddler and the Penguin to feature in Batman Three? Certainly a possibility.