Archive for Commissioner Gordon

Blackest Night #2

Posted in Blackest Night, Comics, DC, Green Lantern with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 15th August, 2009 by Adam Redsell
Aquaman: Undead in the Water.

Aquaman: Undead in the Water.

Author: Geoff Johns
Artist: Ivan Reis
Inkers: Oclair Albert with Julio Ferreira
Colorist: Alex Sinclair
Letterer: Nick J. Napolitano
Associate Editor: Adam Schlagman
Editor: Eddie Berganza
Cover Artists: Ivan Reis, Oclair Albert, and Alex Sinclair
Alternative Cover Artist: Mauro Cascioli

Blackest Night #2 opens cinematically with wide-shot panels – beautifully detailed by Ivan Reis, but not cluttered – and maintains that cinematic feel with the able assistance of his art team.  They achieve this, I believe, by treating each panel as a camera lens.  Inkers Oclair Albert and Julio Ferreira carve out each scene with subtle shade and deep shadow, while colorist Alex Sinclair provides a light source and sticks to it, by God!  Reis’ panel composition holds up to much scrutiny, as if each scene is mapped verbatim in his mind, and every item is there precisely because it needs to be.  Effective use of these three elements – depth of field, light sourcing and composition – drew my eyes to the focal point of each panel.  This level of care and attention is the kind of thing we’ve come to expect from a big-budget Hollywood film, not a comic book.  Blackest Night raises the bar for the comic book event in every conceivable way.  This is high-production, high-stakes superhero drama at its best.

The first person we see is Ray Palmer – The Atom – looking very small.  Standing next to a paperclip, in fact.  He misses his late wife Jean, and he needs someone to talk to.  Hawkman finally picks up the phone, but he’s not quite himself.  He still sounds like himself, though, and that’s what makes these Black Lanterns so chilling.  They’re more like ghosts than zombies, and they have unfinished business to attend to.

Geoff Johns has wisely chosen to convey the epic scope of his tale  through more minor characters; the bards and minstrels of the DC Universe, if you will.  The darkness over Gotham City is viewed through the eyes of Barbara Gordon and her father, Commissioner Gordon.  The oft-discussed return of Aquaman is experienced through those closest to him, Mera and Aqualad.  They are our emotional anchors to the events unfolding, and despite our foreknowledge of some of the more shocking returns, Blackest Night proves it’s nothing at all to do with what you know, but who you know.  I have an emotional investment in these characters, and knowing that they’re about to confront their loved ones with their failure and rip their hearts out only augments the tragedy.  Their grisly guise as Black Lanterns allows us to see our late heroes at their most formidable, commit unspeakable acts, and that is the greatest tragedy of Blackest Night.

This second issue reveals much about the nature of the Black Lanterns, but many questions still linger as even the supernatural element of the DCU struggles to come to grips with the phenomenon.  Geoff Johns uses his ensemble cast empathically to put his readers in each scene.  Hal Jordan (Green Lantern) and Barry Allen (The Flash) form the emotional core of this story, and it’s great to see this team in action again.  There’s undeniably chemistry between the two (quite literally at one point), and despite the dark circumstances of their reunion, they light up every panel.  Whoever deigned to separate (and kill off) this dynamic duo all those years ago must have been stark raving mad.  Or perhaps they never saw the potential for comic magic that Johns did.

Whatever the case, I see the potential for plenty more comic magic from Johns et al in future.  You’d be stark raving mad to miss Blackest Night.

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Wednesday Comics #1

Posted in Comics, DC, Wednesday Comics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 8th July, 2009 by Adam Redsell
The Ultimate Newspaper

The Ultimate Newspaper.

Wednesday Comics is the product of DC’s continued experiments with the weekly comic format, and in many ways I think it’s the culmination.  For many people, this will be the Ultimate Newspaper.  It’s certainly mine.  There’s something about opening it out that makes the experience that much more exciting.  And while the whole format is a throwback to the Sunday comic strips, and the stories themselves a throwback to the Silver Age; it’s just so brimming with comic magic that it can’t help but feel fresh and new.  Each page is devoted to a DC property, written and illustrated by a star-studded roster including the likes of Brian Azzarello, Dave Gibbons, Kyle Baker, John Arcudi, Lee Bermejo, Kurt Busiek, Neil Gaiman, Paul Pope, Adam Kubert, Joe Kubert, and Walter Simonson.  The hook is this: these creators get to tell stories of whichever character they damn-well please.   The plan is virtually fool-proof.  Here’s how it went:

Batman
Author: Brian Azzarello
Artist: Eduardo Risso (with Robins & Mulvihill)

Not a whole lot of action as yet, but we have a good setup here.  Batman finds out he has until midnight to save an investment banker from being murdered.  Problem is, it already is midnight.  Azzarello makes an interesting observation on Commissioner Gordon’s relationship with Batman.

Kamandi
Author: Dave Gibbons
Artist: Ryan Sook

The opening shot is classic Kamandi, but I’m also getting hints of “Tales of the Black Freighter”, which is interesting because this time Gibbons is writing, not drawing!  Gibbons highlights the awesomely clever origin of Kamandi’s name too.

Superman
Author: John Arcudi
Artist: Lee Bermejo

Bermejo’s Superman is absolutely gorgeous.  This has got to be the most intriguing story of the bunch as well…

Deadman
Authors: Dave Bullock & Vinton Heuck
Artist: Dave Bullock
Letterer: Jared Fletcher
Colorist: Dave Stewart

Deadman is too talky and too simple for my liking.  As far as noir goes, though, it does talk the talk, especially in the art department.

Green Lantern
Author: Kurt Busiek
Artist: Joe Quiñones

Busiek and Quiñones revisit the Hal Jordan of the 50s, and if Darwyn Cooke’s New Frontier was anything to go by, this should fit like an old pair of shoes.  (Comfortably, that is.)

Metamorpho
Author: Neil Gaiman
Artist: Michael Allred
Colorist: Laura Allred
Letterer: Nate Piekos

This was probably the funniest of the fifteen comic strips.  Gaiman has put himself right into the Silver Age for this one, forcing foibles and attitudes of the time period to great comedic effect.  Michael Allred also channels Jack Kirby with his bold, no-nonsense approach to the panels.

Teen Titans
Author: Eddie Berganza
Artist: Sean Galloway

Loved the art style.  The writing – not so much…

Adam Strange
Author & Artist: Paul Pope

The biggest surprise for me was Paul Pope’s choice of character in Adam Strange.  I had him pinned as a Batman-only writer, but boy, was I ever wrong.  This pulp-style sci-fi is probably the coolest of the bunch.

Supergirl
Author: Jimmy Palmiotti
Artist: Amanda Conner

This is pretty much just an intro, but a cute and funny one nonetheless.  After all, isn’t that what these Sunday comic strips were all about?

Metal Men
Author: Dan DiDio
Artists: José Luis García-López & Kevin Nowlan

Anyone who’s ever read a ‘DC Nation’ column was probably as surprised as I was when they realised that Dan DiDio’s Metal Men is actually quite funny.  And clever!

Wonder Woman
Author & Artist: Ben Caldwell

While I found Wonder Woman’s conversation with the pigeons to be quite amusing, I thought the rest of the page was cluttered and confusing.  I think Ben Caldwell is trying to cram too much in here.

Sgt. Rock and Easy Co.
Author: Adam Kubert
Artist: Joe Kubert

Kubert and Son join forces for a striking first effort.  Joe’s depiction of Sergeant Rock’s brutal interrogation is all kinds of visceral.  I’ve never read Adam Kubert’s writing before, so it’ll be interesting to see where he goes from here.

The Flash
Authors: Karl Kerschl & Brenden Fletcher
Artist: Karl Kerschl
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Colorist: Dave McCaig

It’s good to see Karl and Brenden really experiment with the form.  The Flash page is split into two parallel stories: a Flash action sequence in a race to stop Gorilla Grodd; and Iris West, about to leave that unreliable, good-for-nothing Barry Allen!  Can’t wait to read the next one.

The Demon and Catwoman
Author: Walter Simonson
Artist: Brian Stelfreeze (with Steve Wands)

What *appears* to be a rather wacky combination of characters proves to be rather dry, as Selina Kyle takes a tour of Jason Blood’s mansion.  Hopefully things will heat up when the Cat and the Demon come out to play…

Hawkman
Author & Artist: Kyle Baker

A great note to finish on.  The entire story is told from the perspective of a hawk as Hawkman leads his avian allies into battle.

I never thought it would happen, but I think DC may have finally nailed that magic weekly formula.  If each of these stories advance at a steady pace, then we should be in for a real treat.

A word to the wise, though: *probably* don’t carry this one on the bus, or out in the rain…

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.