Archive for Mad Hatter

Detective Comics #854

Posted in Comics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 1st July, 2009 by Adam Redsell
Damn good value.  Damn good detectives.

Damn good value. Damn good detectives.

“Elegy Agitato: Part One”
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

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

Congratulations must go to James H. “Jim” Williams the Third for producing the first genuinely beautiful DC comic book I’ve read in two weeks.  It’s been nothing short of depressing to see so many potentially great stories dragged down by lacklustre artwork in some of DC’s most important books, particularly the Action line and Green Lantern Corps.  What did DC do, round up all the good artists and blast them into the Phantom Zone?

Consider then, what a breathe of fresh air it must have been for me to see Detective Comics – second-stringer of the Batman line – in such fine artistic form.  Consider also that this artistic treatment was not reserved for the Dark Knight himself, as one would expect, rather for a character who until now has assumed a place of relative obscurity in the DC realms.  Batwoman may have been popular with the mainstream press as the ‘first lesbian superheroine’ – a highly dubious claim, I might add – two or so years ago, but little has been seen of the character since her throwaway introduction in the hit series 52, which proved to be just that.  The third surprise was DC’s willingness to let a character other than Batman headline Detective Comics, but that had long since worn off thanks to the solicits.*

What wasn’t surprising was that writing duties for Batwoman fell to Greg Rucka, the only writer who has written the character since her debut (and even then, he was heavily involved!), and I dare say the only writer who could successfully write her without resorting to lesbian caricature.  A blank slate can be as daunting as it is liberating, but Rucka seems to have taken Katy Kane in his stride.  Rucka’s writing style is as natural as it comes, right down to ‘dealing with’ Katy’s lesbianism, which is precisely what this book needed to dispel claims of PC-shoehorning.  For the record, Batwoman’s debut in 52 was just that – a lipstick lesbian superheroine thrust upon the public consciousness for the sake of political correctness and a few headline-grabs – and in that respect, Rucka has achieved the seemingly impossible: he’s given Batwoman a real origin, a real personality, a real motivation, and as a result, he’s made her into a real character worth reading about.  He didn’t achieve this feat in a single issue – he does draw heavily upon his work in 52 Aftermath: Crime Bible: Five Lessons in Blood and Final Crisis: Revelations – but newcomers will find that the hard work’s already been done for them.  This is a character already established in Rucka’s mind: he knows who she is, and what she would do in a given situation and why, and reading this will give you an appreciation of that.  Batwoman’s first nemesis, Alice, is another non-conventional and interesting villain, drawing on Lewis Carroll’s famous character of the same name.  What’s awesome about this is how deeply rooted in Batman mythology Wonderland and its denizens are (see also: Mad Hatter, Tweedledee and Tweedledum).

It would be a disservice to J.H. Williams III’s work for me to simply compare it to its lacklustre contemporaries and declare it a “welcome relief”.  It is much more than that.  It’s strikingly beautiful.  He always seems to gravitate towards these black, white, and red affairs (like his “Club of Heroes” Batman story with Grant Morrison in recent years) – full credit to Dave Stewart for the beautiful colours, by the way – and he’s right at home here.  His artistic efforts give these events some much-needed gravity: after all, Batwoman has yet to prove her worth as a character, and her worthiness as a usurper of Detective Comics until now.  He continues to experiment with panel layouts, as he is in the habit of doing, and the result is a comic book that looks fresh and exciting.

But wait– there’s more!  The Question backup feature is no slouch either.  Rucka handles writing duties again – as, again, the only writer to have dealt with the character since 52 – with Cully Hamner (Black Lightning: Year One) on art.  Rucka wears Rene Montoya (aka The Question) like a comfortable pair of shoes, while Cully delivers his unique blend of industrial grit and cartooniness.  It’s a strange contrast, being that his art style could easily attract the attention of small children, and yet he never shies from depicting home truths at street-level.  I for one would like to see him employ some thinner linework just to see the difference.  The Question is on the tail of a mystery once again, as she should be (this is Detective Comics, after all).  DNA-wise, The Question and Batwoman are a match made in comic book heaven, even if romantically they are not.  Then again, who knows?  Regardless of whether they get back together, I can see these two mysteries intersecting in the future.  Maybe then it will merge into one great big comic book.

It’s surprising to see the shoe on the other foot this time – normally it’s Batwoman playing second fiddle to Rene Montoya.  One thing’s for sure, though, Rucka’s the only one to be writing these two.  Detective Comics is damn good value.  Pick it up.

Lego Batman II.

Posted in Batman, Comics, DC, Lego Batman, Lego Batman II, videogames with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 5th May, 2009 by Adam Redsell

As you know, I love Batman, but I also love Lego, and Lego Star Wars was my surprise favourite of 2005. So naturally it follows that I would love Lego Batman.  Having now played Lego Batman, though, I was disappointed to find that the stories weren’t based on any of the films or comics. That’s just a wasted opportunity, if you ask me. There’s so much Lego ridiculousness lying dormant in the Bat mythos, waiting to be excavated. Anyway, I figured that somewhere down the line there’d be a sequel, and as part of my pitch for Producer or Head Writer on Lego Batman II, I thought I’d stupidly give away my ideas for free. Here are some Batman stories that would make great Lego adaptations:

Batman: The Movie

“Diabolical!”

No, not Tim Burton’s classic Bat-film – I’m talking West, pure West – the very first Batman film is just screaming for a Lego retelling. The ridiculousness of it all; it’s like a hand in a glove: Penguin, Joker, Riddler and Catwoman get together on a Penguin Submarine (it literally looks like a penguin) and turn the United Nations into powder! Add a rather amusing riddle about apples and applesauce and you have the recipe for a hilarious Lego videogame.

Tales of the Demon

While this isn’t one story per sé, it works well as one. Introducing one of Batman’s greatest enemies Ra’s Al Ghul – The Demon’s Head – and greatest foils, the disarmingly beautiful Talia al Ghul. Tales of the Demon feels like a Bond film, spanning several exotic locales and pitting Batman against the strangest of enemies, including, but not restricted to ninjas, a leopard, a raging bull, the Bronze Tiger, and Ra’s Al Ghul’s faithful brute of a servant, Ubu. Batman even has a forced marriage to contend with – do I hear Lego hijinks? And what Batman/Ra’s tale would be complete without a shirtless swordfight? Check.

Dark Moon Rising: Batman and the Monster Men/Batman and the Mad Monk

This is just cool.

Old meets new in Matt Wagner’s surprisingly recent jaunt into the world of zombies and bat-men. It maintains all the trappings of goofy Golden Age horror pulp with the modernity of well, good writing I suppose! Barely one year into his crime-fighting career, the Batman must brave the perils of Mad Science and Ancient Evil to save Gotham City. Lego zombies and vampires? Yes please!

Knightfall

Look at the size of those hands!

The [in]famous 90s event comic Knightfall has a few things going for it. Firstly, then-new villain Bane masterminds a jailbreak down at Gotham Penitentiary, loosing all of Batman’s foes upon the city once more. Secondly, Batman is run ragged rounding up the most obscure of adversaries – Mad Hatter, Cavalier, Firefly, Zsasz, Killer Croc, and the Ventriloquist to name a few – while regulars Joker, Scarecrow and Poison Ivy plan something a little more sinister. Thirdly, Bane breaks Batman’s back, which would be hilarious in Lego. All of it would be hilarious in Lego, especially that maniac Firefly. It would be a great intermission to break up the gameplay, giving players an opportunity to use other characters like Azrael, Huntress and Nightwing in Batman’s absence.

No Man’s Land

Another 90s event comic that was terrible to read, but great for Lego business, is No Man’s Land. Gotham has been hit with an earthquake of biblical proportions, separating the city from civilisation. Of course, this sends its denizens into complete and utter madness, and the Bat-family have their work cut out for them trying to placate them. So while the earth is shaking, and Gothamites are running around like chickens with their cut off, Batman’s enemies work to carve out their piece of the pie. Mmmm…pie. Earthquakes and Lego blocks are a match made in heaven, especially for the destruction-loving boy that lives inside us all.

Batman & Robin: The Movie

At least Alicia Silverstone was hot, right?

You know why the first Lego Star Wars game was so hilarious? Because there was so much in the source material to make fun of. Next up on So Bad It’s Good: Batman & Robin. Easily the worst Batman film ever, what better way to bring Batman, Robin, Batgirl, Bane, Poison Ivy and Dr. Freeze together in a ridiculous camp-fest of Good vs. Evil? Can’t wait to see those Lego Bat-nipples!

The Dark Knight Returns

An aging Bruce Wayne is forced out of retirement once more to teach the youth a lesson [I’m surprised how fitting that summary is].
*Cue hilarious cutscenes about Batman being too old for this $#!+*
The opportunities for comedy here are legion. Batman even dresses as a homeless old drunk woman in what becomes a liquor store shootout. There’s some great showdowns here which would make for equally great boss battles. The explosive battle with Two-Face on a high-rise (a helicopter is also involved), the brawl with the Mutants gang leader in the city dump, and the final duel with the Joker in an abandoned theme park. I can’t believe I almost forgot the fight with SUPERMAN. Could anyone have any doubts as to how great this would work in Lego? The story lends itself to two-player gameplay as well, with Carrie Kelley taking up the mantle as the fourth [and first female] Robin.

Sorry, I just have to include this picture:

Now, THAT is cool.

Hush

Wow, they just summed up Hush in one picture.

Hush wasn’t much more than an excuse to pit Batman against his rogues gallery and introduce a new villain (or to give Jim Lee an opportunity to draw them all), but that’s just the type of story you need for an all-star videogame. Supporting players include Huntress, Robin, Nightwing and even Catwoman against the likes of Killer Croc, Poison Ivy, Harley Quinn, Joker, the Riddler, Ra’s Al Ghul, Lady Shiva, Scarecrow, Clayface [disguised as Jason Todd – back from the dead – no less!], and finally, Hush. Oh, and did I mention there’s another fight with Superman? Trust me, it never gets old.

There you go, eight thrilling chapters for a Lego Batman sequel right there. Does that not sound like the Greatest Batman Videogame of All Time in the making?