Batman Ninja (2018)

The hell did I just watch!?

When originally announced, the idea of a Batman reimagined into a samurai adventure sounded amazing. An all new, almost Elseworld take on the Dark Knight sounded incredible. How would they re-imagine the cast? What would a Batman from Sengoku period Japan be like? Imagine my surprise when the film begins and instead of an Elseworld adventure, we are treated to a time travel experience!

When Batman arrives at Arkham Asylum to stop Flash villain Gorilla Grodd from setting off a deadly machine known as the Quake Engine. The device activates, and Batman finds himself hurdled backwards through time to Sengoku period Japan. Upon arriving, he discovered that not only had he been sent back, but several others had been sent back and been living there for two whole years. He finds himself surrounded by samurai guards wearing Joker masks. Upon escaping, Batman finds himself face to face with Catwoman and Alfred. They explain the situation to him and along the way he finds allies in the time displaced Nightwing, Red Robin, Red Hood and Robin alongside the Bat Clan of ninjas. As they go up against not only Gorilla Grodd and the Joker, but also Poison Ivy, Two Face, Penguin, Harley Quinn and Deathstroke. It’s a battle to return to the future in a time displaced, manic adventure.

The fantastic character designs of Takashi Okazaki are striking and beautiful. Something that seems to come naturally to the creator of Afro Samurai. Figures in this style are sure to be hitting the shelves soon. The films cinematography and choreography make all the more sense when you discover that the films director is Junpei Mizusaki. The man responsible for the bombastic opening sequences for many of the Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure series, particularly the fan favourite Stardust Crusaders. Along with Mizusaki, Batman Ninja brings on another JoJo alumni with music composer Yugo Kanno. Unfortunately, this may be one of Kanno’s weakest scores, as the visuals overpower the score to the point of being forgettable.

All the characters feel ripped right out of the comics and help the film feel even more dynamic. With the glaring exception of Damian Wayne/Robin. The film portrays him as a happy-go-lucky and obedient kid just happy to be there. This is not Damian. Damian is a serious assassin in the body of a 10 – 13-year-old boy. The one who would possibly appreciate being stuck in this period of Japan the most. He has his fun moments, and does have a love of animals, but the Robin portrayed here feels like a completely different character.

Batman-Ninja-Heroes-600x338

The films style is incredibly memorable and striking. Its backgrounds have a glorious hand drawn feel, with the occasional break into a water colour motif. However, the films 3D characters stick out terribly against the background and frequently break into very jerky and unnatural movement.

The film is by no means a serious story. It’s fun for the sake of fun. The characters work well in this new environment with a simple plot that allows the characters to stretch out and just be themselves. Mostly. It’s a bombastic adventure of spectacular proportions that’s not afraid to go over the top or bring out the big guns. The big, mecha, feudal Japan, guns…

Advertisements

World’s Finest – The Passage of Time and the Meeting of Batman and Superman.

Superman 76 CoverSuperman #76: The Mightiest Team in the World
May/June 1952
Writer: Edmond Hamilton
Penciller: Curt Swan
Inker: John Fischetti

When it comes to the icons that are Batman and Superman, the question that often comes up is ‘Who would win in a fight?’. When people ask for stories involving the pair, it’s usually stories of them at opposite ends. 1986 “saw the publication of Frank Miller’s historic miniseries The Dark Knight Returns [Miller.1986], with its revamping of the two heroes’ relationship. Since then, things have been a little strained to say the least between the two superheroes” [Anders.2005]. Miller presents an older Batman going up against Superman in the final act, as one is continuing illegal vigilante work, while the other is now a ‘lapdog’ to the President. Another notable example is Batman: Hush [Loeb & Lee.2003] which includes a notable scene of the pair fighting, while Superman is under the control of Poison Ivy. Even on a cinematic level, the first time the two met on the big screen, excluding animated outings, was in a film explicitly titled Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice [Snyder.2016]. It seems that our fascination with these two heroes when together, is that of conflict. However, this raises the question. Have they always been at each other’s throats?

While they had previously appeared in the same issue in 1941’s All Star Comics #7 [Fox, et.al.1941]. Batman and Superman first met face to face in 1952’s Superman #76 [Hamilton & Swan.1952]. Despite the cover depicting Batman and Superman almost fighting over who gets to save Lois Lane from an oncoming train. The two become fast friends in the 12-page story contained within. The closest to an argument the pair engage in, is one partly planned by the two and somewhat encouraged by Lois.

The story opens with a text box addressing this monumental issue. “Superman, might man of steel whose super-powers have conquered catastrophes and wrecked wrongdoers! Batman, hooded foe of crime whose flashing feats have crushed crooks for years! Are any two names in the world more famous than these? Yet these two mighty champions of the right have never met – until now! Yes, at long last Superman and Batman meet face to face on a voyage of peril – and strange and startling is the outcome when two legendary figures form… The mightiest team in the world!” [Hamilton & Swan.1952:01]. The issue follows Batman and Superman as they have both independently booked spots on a cruise in their civilian identities. Due to over booking, Bruce and Clark end up being bunk mates and both start to worry about the other finding out their secret identity. When a fire breaks out on the docks, the lights go out and they both change, but as light comes in through the window, their identities are discovered. They worked together to stop those that started the fire, and while they got away, it’s discovered that a diamond has been stolen. It’s believed that the criminal is on board the ship as one of the passengers. Batman and Superman decide to continue their cruise as their secret identities. Problem is that now Lois Lane has decided to tag along in hopes of getting a scoop from both Batman and Superman. The pair come up with different tricks and tactics to hide their switching places. Pretending Clark is sea sick and in bed, using port holes to sneak back in. Even Superman flying Batman back to Gotham overnight, so no one would notice that Batman and Bruce Wayne were not out of town at the same time once the heroes have supposedly left the ship.

The pair show a high level of respect and admiration for each other. Their level of trust and comradery feels natural. Even the final take down of the crooks, a sort of Superman/Batman “Fast Ball Special” ala, Wolverine/Colossus. Shows an incredible level of confidence and skill. While the pair do team up every now and then. There is always this notion that one doesn’t always trust the other. That it’s easy for them to bicker, or even be on opposing sides.

Looking back at their first team up is an incredibly refreshing experience. The thrill of seeing the two side by side when the issue originally came out must have been a dream come true for readers of the time. While we see them together often now, the spirit of this first meeting seems to have been forgotten.

 

  • Anders, L. (2005) A Tale of Two Orphans: The Man of Steel vs. The Caped Crusader. The Man from Krypton: A Closer Look at Superman. Benbella Books Inc. Dallas, TX. Pp.69 -75.
  • Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice. (2016) Film. Directed by Zack Snyder. [Blu-Ray] Warner Bro. Studio: USA.
  • Fox, G, et.al. (1941) All Star Comics #7: Justice Society of America $1,000,000 for War Orphans. DC Comics, New York: USA.
  • Hamilton, W & Swan, C. (1952) Superman #76: The Mightiest Team in the World. DC Comics, New York: USA.
  • Hatch, A. (2015) Batman and Superman: Comparing Two Iconic Superheroes. [Online] May 12th. The Artifice. Available From: https://the-artifice.com/batman-and-superman-comparing-two-iconic-superheroes/ [Last Accessed: 05.04.2018]
  • Loeb, J. & Lee, J. (2003) Batman: Hush. DC Comics, New York: USA.
  • Miller, F (1986) The Dark Knight Returns. DC Comics, New York: USA.
  • Salmon, W. (2016) Every time Batman and Superman have met (for the first time) in the comics. [Online] March 8th. Games Radar. Available from: https://www.gamesradar.com/every-time-batman-and-superman-have-met-comics/ [Last Accessed: 05.04.2018]

Superman: Speeding Bullets (1993)

Time for a trip to the Elseworld titles! A series of stories set in the DC universe but out of continuity. A chance for writers to flex their creative muscles and ask ‘what if’ questions. Superman: Speeding Bullets was released in 1993 and written by J.M. Dematteis with art by Eduardo Barreto. The ‘what if’ in this case is a little bit strange but very fascinating. What if Superman was Batman?

The cover is just fantastic. Using the iconic image of Superman flying over the city that appeared on Superman #01 in 1939. Instead of a yellow background, the cover reflects Gotham’s aesthetics with a gradient of black to grey. Superman strikes the same pose within the oval, but his costume is replaced with a modified Bat suit. Noticeable, his face is covered with a full mask, similar to that of Spider-Man, rather than a cowl. The emblem on the chest is a perfect fusion of Superman’s shield and Batman’s yellow oval design with the overall shape being that of the shield, and the bat stretching out inside. The style, particularly in the cape, feels inspired by the work of Norm Breyfogle or Todd McFarlane. For this darker take and Superman’s Alien status, the style of cape works perfectly, as it gives it the feel of having a mind of its own. Even the books title box corrupts the original image. Taking the smooth curves at the edges and giving them a jagged horn like appearance.

Superman - Speeding Bullets (1993)asasfas

Throughout the book we have narration, asking what it would be like if things turned out differently. We see a rocked escaping a planet as it explodes, a green glow all around. The rocket travels through space and crash lands just outside of Gotham City, where it is discovered by Thomas and Martha Wayne along with their butler Alfred. Inside is a young boy, Kal-El of the planet Krypton. Through pages styled to look like a photo album, we see the young boy grow as Martha and Thomas decide to adopt him, naming him Bruce Wayne. Martha dotes on the child, stating to love him as though she had given birth do him. Thomas was intrigued by the boy’s ability to quickly take to his lessons. How the boy was so agile, never a bruise or broken bone. Thomas was compassionate and kind, concerned with testing his mental and physical limits. He imparts to Bruce:

“The cowards and bullies use violence. But you – of all who live – must aspire to something better. Something higher.”

They were a family. Happy, without worry, and with a bright future ahead.

However, the point of the book is ‘What if Superman was Batman’. And one constant in the mythology of Batman is the death of the Wayne’s. Leaving the Monarch Theatre, Bruce shouts about how he want’s to be Zorro. “Defender of the weak. Righter of Wrongs”! Martha jokingly mentions that last week he wanted to be John Carter, and before that Sherlock Holmes. As they round the corner, they are confronted by a mugger demanding their money and Martha’s pearls. During the struggle, both Martha and Thomas are shot and die in front of Bruce as he cries on the floor. The mugger turns to Bruce gun pointed, and as Bruce looks up to him, full of rage, Bruce’s powers activate, and he blasts the mugger with his heat vision. The mugger runs in fear, his face burnt and Bruce struggles to control what’s happening to him.

Superman - Speeding Bullets (1993)adfg

The mugger is revealed to have been found the next morning, his body burned almost beyond recognition. But is identified as Joe Chill. Because of course. Young Bruce is found by the police, eyes wide, covered in his parent’s blood. After the funeral, Bruce is left in the care of his butler Alfred. Over time he grows and matures, but the guilt and shame still run deep through him, always at the forefront of his mind. At the age of 21, Bruce is bitter to the world, looking through the paper he sees nothing but blood and madness. Nothing but violence and death. As he tosses the paper aside, we see an article informing us that Lex Luther is coming to Gotham City. Because so far there has been far more Batman than Superman in this Superman story, apparently. Bruce unlocks a door to reveal hundreds of newspaper clippings tacked to walls, all relating to acts of senseless murder in his city. As he looks around, he begins to enter a panic attack, thinking about his parents and wanting it all to stop. He runs through the mansion before he realises that people have broken in and holding Alfred hostage. Pointing a gun at Bruce’s face. In a fit of rage, Bruce knocks them all side, even throwing one out the window. As one fires bullets right at him, they simply bounce off. Bruce crushes the gun in the criminal’s hand as his heat vision activates, terrifying the criminal. Alfred watches on, as Bruce breaks down remembering what he did to the man who killed his parents.

In a cave beneath Wayne Manor, Alfred and Bruce look through Thomas Wayne’s journals. As Bruce looks around, testing his super vision, He asks Alfred if he can see his ‘brothers’, referring to the bats in the cave. Testing his flight, Bruce flies among them.

“There’s so much I can do… That I’ve never let myself know I can do.”

Superman - Speeding Bullets (1993)rsyhf

Cut to another location in the city, a man behind a desk telling his men just how disappointed he is in them. Based on his purple and green outfit, brief flashes and pale skin, as well as the maniacal laugh, it’s clear who he is supposed to be. Condiment King. Obviously. He’s chewing them out over their inability to break into a mansion even with the equipment they were given. One of the men starts ranting about how Wayne is crazy, that he put Charly through a window. In retaliation, they are both strangled on the spot, as the figure laughs to himself.

Two months later, the GCPD are after a man on the roof, Mick Johnson. He’s firing at them from up above when a shadowy figure descends upon him. The Batman has arrived! In a flurry of panic, Johnson fires several rounds at Batman only for them to rebound off. In a final moment of panic, Johnson throws a grenade straight at him, only for Batman to catch it and let it explode in his hands. Batman throws Johnson over the edge, letting him fall, before swooping down to grab him and throwing him into the arms of the GCPD.

Superman - Speeding Bullets (1993)sfgsfgsg

The next day, the media is having a field day over the appearance of a cloaked flying figure in the night. Luthor is looking over the paper during a meeting as he is attempting to take over Wayne Enterprises. Just as he’s about to sign the papers, Bruce walks into the meeting telling him that it’s not going to happen. Luthor doesn’t know who he is at first, meaning that Bruce is not very well known publicly, or doesn’t have much involvement with the company. Which leads me to wonder what exactly he has been doing over the years. Bruce puts an end to the deal, saying that he plans to be much more active in the company’s management and dismissing many of the people in the room. As Bruce leaves, it’s clear that Luthor is far from pleased.

Bruce stops off at the Gotham Gazette, the cities local paper and one he now owns, and meets the editor-in-chief Perry White, as well as running into the Gazette’s newest recruit, Lois Lane. Just arrived from the Daily Planet in Metropolis. Around Lois, Bruce becomes a bit a buffoon. Stumbling over his words and knocking into desks. It’s heavily reminiscent of a phrase from Superman: Secret Identity by Kurt Busiek. “If I sound smitten, don’t read too much into it – it’s because I am.”

At this point, it becomes clear that the narrator is Lois. Talking about how she expected Gotham’s famous recluse to be a lot of things, but not a shy, stuttering klutz, referring to him as charming, adorable, and disappointing all at the same time. Walking through the streets, Luthor’s car pulls up along side Lois, offering her a ride home. Lois accepts but Batman is watching from the rooftops. In the car, Lois and Luthor talk about how much things have changed, Luthor alludes to an accident that has changed him as he tries to slip his hand up Lois’s thigh. Lois slaps him across the face and is thrown out of his car. Fifty blocks from her apartment, Lois finds herself on the street with a group of men cat calling to her. They attempt to attack her just as Batman swoops in to save her. After knocking out the guys, he reaches out a hand to Lois asking if he can help. After the events of the night, Lois slaps his hand away and asks him to get away. Batman flies away just as the police arrive to help.

Back at the Gazette, late at night, Lois is typing up an article based on the man who saved her and the state of violence in the city. Bruce finds her there, and Lois instantly questions his appearance. Bruce says that he’s just getting some work done while it’s quiet and asks her what’s wrong. Lois tells him everything about her night, and describes Batman, saying that he has an “utter disregard for human life!” That he could do so much more for the world with those powers. She compares Batman to Bruce, his idealism and dedication, using his wealth to help others. The pair embrace and kiss in the middle of the office. Interestingly, this is a nice little twist on Lois preferring the meta-human to the bumbling co-worker. But even with the change of name and identity, Kal-El and Lois still feel like they are made for one another.

Superman - Speeding Bullets (1993)adfarjka

A few weeks later, a man furiously enters the offices of the Gotham Gazette and demands to see Mr. Wayne. As he crashes his way through, we see his purple and green suit and as he bursts into Bruce’s office, we see that the man is Lex Luther. Removing his hat and prosthetic skin to reveal a bleached white face and thick red lipstick. A jokerised Lex Luthor! Who saw that coming… Bruce jumps up to confront him, only to be blasted back by an umbrellas gun. As Bruce falls out of the window behind him, Joker/Luthor kidnaps Lois and escapes into the night with a small flying machine strapped to his back. As they land on the top of a tall building, complete with devil horned gargoyles. Batman flies in and grabs Joker/Luthor. Flying him high into the sky as narration talks about how Luthor wants to use chaos and violence to take over the city. As Batman announces to Joker/Luthor that he sees him as an “Insufferable Maggot”, that he is going to kill him. Joker/Luthor begins to laugh telling him that he’s just as mad as he is, wouldn’t he agree. As Batman screams “YES!” he throws Luthor to the ground from high above the city, as Lois watches on with the saddest of expressions on her face. Batman looks down at Lois, seeing her face and flies back down and catches Luthor, telling him that he’s going to jail in order to save the city. Batman takes on the hordes of tanks and men working for Joker/Luthor that have been trying to tear apart the city during this whole ordeal. When he’s finished he flies back over to Lois making sure she’s ok.

Lois: “What you did tonight… it was different. Not hate… not vindictiveness… not wasting your gifts on terror and brutality. With your power – There’s so much more you can do. Instead of flexing your muscles… stooping to the level of the very people you’re trying to stop – you can rise above all that. Stand as an example. A symbol of hope.”

Lois reveals that she knows Batman is Bruce Wayne and the pair embrace once again and fly off into the night.

Superman - Speeding Bullets (1993)weryrteu

As the story comes to a close, Lois continues talking about how all of this could have come out so differently. How different the man she loves could have been if he had landed somewhere else. Even making reference to Superman: Red Son as well as the main continuity. As the words play out we see a brighter figure fly over the city of Gotham, and the final page reveals a bright new costume for Bruce, and the new name of SUPERMAN!

Superman - Speeding Bullets (1993)adfawet

In the end, the story is mainly about nature verses nurture. Not just for Superman but Batman as well. Superman is often called the most human of us all, despite his alien origins. This is largely contributed to his upbringing among salt of the earth people on a farm in Kansas. Batman is often the first to bring it up and often talks about what he would do if he had that kind of power. The book works as a good character study on these ideas. While certainly not the first story to do this for either Batman or Superman (and definitely not the last). Superman: Speeding Bullets is a fine addition to the Elseworld library.

Deluxe hard covers, The price of books, and Independent stores

Over the past two weeks it’s safe to say I have heavily added to my comic shelves. Specifically in the Deluxe hardback department. When it comes to DC and Marvel, though honestly more DC, there are some titles I end up buying multiple times over. For example, take my beloved Superman series. I buy the single issues which I then lend out to a friend. I bought the first two trade paper backs covering the first 13 issues, and the Rebirth one shot. And after that I really wanted the deluxe volume. So, if I was to add everything up at full price that would be $2.99 x 13, which is $38.87 (granted, over a long period of time). I’m doing this in dollar’s despite being English because of the listed prices on the actual item and I’ll do a conversion at the end. Just getting that info out of the way now. The two trade paper backs are $16.99 each. So, $33.98. and the deluxe volume is $34.99. In total that’s $107.84 for the same content 3 times over. And I know someone will say I made a mistake there because it should be $2.99 times 14 with the Rebirth one shot, but I never bought that one so discounted it here. Converting Dollars to Sterling that means I should have payed a total of £79.52. What I actually spent was £81.53 because issues cost an average of £2.50 depending on which store I visit, the trades cost £14.99 in normal book stores like Waterstones (which is not the best option for buying comics, supporting smaller stores has major benefits for both you and the owners) and I got the deluxe volume from Amazon for £19.05.

Yeah, if you can’t tell I’ve been seriously rethinking how I buy comics. Particularly from DC. None of this is a slight towards DC’s pricing I think it’s very reasonable. It’s more talking about the quality of their product to the point that I own the same content 3 times! To be honest its not the only DC content I own 3 times, and I tend to justify it by the fact that they are in different formats. The fact that I have 3 versions of both Kingdom Come and Superman Secret Identity doesn’t bother me. For the record that’s trade paperback, Deluxe edition, and French hardcover.

I love DCs current Superman title so I don’t mind owning it three times. What I do mind is realising how much it all cost me and how that money could have been used to check out other titles and support them. The problem I see is that the idea of spending £2.50 every other week seems fairly reasonable, until you consider the long-term price. But in the past I’ve actively avoided buying what I considered to be over-priced deluxe editions because I can’t afford it. Here in England, the recommended retail price for DC’s current line of deluxe rebirth books is £30 (though when you convert Dollars to Sterling, it should be only around £25.80, but I’ll give them the £4.20 for import charge). Buying these from regular books stores, like Waterstones or WHSmith, that is exactly what you would pay. Amazon lists them between £15 (The Flash) and £30 (Action Comics) with the majority around £20. A recent trip to Limited Edition in Stevenage (a rather charming and friendly comic store in the cities centre) netted me that £30 Action Comics Deluxe for only £20. A damn good deal in my books.

Over the winter break, I took advantage of a little extra money and caved in to my desire to own some of these beautiful deluxe editions. Happily picking up the Rebirth deluxe books for Superman, Action Comics, Batman, Detective Comics, Wonder Woman, and The Flash. As well as the recent deluxe release of Shazam: The New Beginning and a paperback copy of New Frontier. That trip to Limited Edition also got me the first ultimate collection for Image’s Invincible series by Robert Kirkman for £10. Something I am heavily looking forward to trying as Kirkman’s more famous series, The Walking Dead, has never managed to peak my interest. Either in comics or the television series.

Even discounting the fact that most of these books were brought with gift cards, the experience has forced me to evaluate my approach to buying comics and spend money more wisely. However, when taking this all into account I’m forced to think about the actual companies that produce the books I read. As I said earlier the money spend on multiple versions of the same thing could have been used to support other series. For DC’s more popular series, like Batman and Superman, this is less of a problem. They are flag ship titles that are guaranteed to continue publication and get deluxe volumes. However, especially at Marvel and smaller publishers. Good titles get cancelled frequently due to a lack of support. For example, I thoroughly enjoyed the Silk series from Marvel written by Robbie Thompson. Despite being a good series, the book was cancelled a year ago due to a lack of people buying the single issues. Ending on issue 19 of the second run. Granted, Marvel has become infamous for cancelling books early. YouTuber Professor Thorgi mentions how Chip Zdarsky’s Star Lord series was cancelled at only 6 issues in his video What’s Causing Marvel’s Low Sales – HINT: It’s Not Diversity – ediTHORGIals. Leading many readers to believe it was meant to be a miniseries (typically around 4 to 6 issues long), before it was confirmed that the book was cancelled due to low sales. He goes into plenty of detail in his video discussing the facts that the character is popular, the writer is well known and liked, but the book still sold poorly due to a mixture of Marvel’s pricing, constant relaunches, poor marketing and the amount of books Marvel release week to week. This is worse for independent publishers as they have no guarantee for collective trades even if their work sells relatively well.

With these recent purchases, I can say that the deluxe rebirth books DC have released are completely worth the money and the time to wait for them. Collecting at least the first 13 issues, 15 in the case of Batman. They look wonderful on the shelf with clean white spines, and bright defined covers using art from one of the single issues included inside. The paper stock is clear and of high quality with a sown binding to allow the pages to flex easily and creates less gutter space cut off when reading. The crowning beauty of these books is the added detail under the dust jacket. Gorgeous two-page spreads printed directly onto the books cover in place of the standard black. For bigger titles from DC it’s more than worth waiting it out and picking these up instead of the standard trade paperbacks.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


 

Batman Rebirth – Deluxe Edition Vol. 1

With the new line of deluxe editions, DC’s Batman volume provides a mammoth introduction to Tom King’s current Batman run. Collecting the first 15 issues of the series, plus the introductory Batman Rebirth issue. Coming off of Scott Snyder’s New 52 Run, the first 15 issues of King’s run provide a more intimate set of stories, and a welcome break from Snyder’s more horror orientated style. King builds off the monumental events of the New 52 run, such as Bloom, and Zero Year, and scales it back to what made Batman popular in the first place. A mortal man, defending his city, and protecting others the way he could never be protected. As heavily seen in the first arc.

Over the 15 issues, we are treated to the storylines I Am Gotham, two issues of the Night of the Monster Men event, I am Suicide, and Rooftops.

Batman 001 (2016)

I Am Gotham introduces us to two new heroes, Gotham and Gotham Girl, as they try to assist and eventually succeed Batman. Inspired by his actions, and past events that tie the pair to him. The arc perfectly encapsulates what it means to take Batman’s origin and words to heart, and the dangers it can, and does, bring. In the character of Gotham, we find an interesting parallel to Bruce. As dangerous and honestly foolish as Bruce’s methods are, there are far worse, though still well meaning, extremes to take. As well as the value of preparing yourself, and thinking plans through.

The two issues of Night of the Monster Men included, while good, feel inappropriate and forced in for the sake of completion. Without context, the story skips from part one to part four without explanation, only to end on a cliff-hanger, with a note at the bottom stating, ‘For the full story, see Batman: Night of the Monster Men’. As said, for the sake of completion, it makes sense to include these two issues. But with how disjointed it feels compared to the rest of the book, it’s a little unsatisfying. However, they are easily skippable and do not disrupt the rest of the books story.

I Am Suicide spins nicely out of I Am Gotham, giving a very steady line of progression, and some interesting character development. The story sees Batman needing to break into Santa Prisca to keep a promise he made to Gotham Girl. Having to work alongside several Arkham inmates as his team mates, and against Bane and Psycho-Pirate. While a straight forward plot with plenty of interesting twists. The story contains a monologue roughly half way through, that while brief, is incredibly intimate to Bruce’s origin story, while simultaneously darker than anything included in Scott Snyder’s more horror inclined run.

The final section, Rooftops, is a delightfully sweet wind-down to the collection. Simply chronicling a night with Batman and Catwoman, while tying up a few lose ends brought up in the previous arc. A delightful set up for events to come in later issues.

Batman 012 (2017)

DC’s production of their recent hard cover books, particularly their deluxe editions, adds an extra level of consumer value, and an all-round pleasure to own. They have taken great care in providing custom artwork under their dust jackets. For the Batman Rebirth Vol. 1 Deluxe, the book is wrapped in a two-page spread from Issue 12, with slight modifications to remove text boxes and dialogue.

A wonderful edition for any collector. Fantastic presentation, strong storytelling by Tom King and art from David Finch. Well worth the purchase for collectors, and those looking for an introduction to the current Batman.

Available here: http://amzn.to/2CivbCP

9 Batman stories to read NOT by Moore, Morrison, or Miller

Despite not being the first, it’s safe to say that Batman is one of the most popular superheroes of all time. The star of campy 60s tv shows, multiple big budget films, critically acclaimed video games, generation defining cartoons, and almost 80 years of comics. It’s easy to become engrained with the world surrounding the Batman without ever picking up a book, but those who choose to, know the great depth and wealth of stories available. While the works of Alan Moore (The Killing Joke), Frank Miller (The Dark Knight Returns), and Grant Morrison (Arkham Asylam: A Serious House on Serious Earth) are often among the first recommended to new comers. They are far from the only must-read material.

With 78 years of history, here are 9 stories NOT by Moore, Morrison or Miller, that are more than worth your time…

Batman: The Long Halloween (1996 – 97) by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale

PH6JaxN

Set early in Batman’s career, The Long Halloween follows a yearlong investigation into a mysterious killer known as Holiday. A vicious killer who strikes ever holiday, once a month. With the assistance of Captain Jim Gordon and District Attorney Harvey Dent, Batman races against the clock to figure out who it is that’s committing the murders, and try to save the next victim. Along the way we encounter many members of Batman’s famous rogue gallery, including Scarecrow, The Joker, and Poison Ivy, as well as the slow transformation and creation of Two Face.

Available here: Batman: The Long Halloween by Loeb, Jeph (2011) Paperback

Batman: The Cult (1988) by Jim Starlin and Bernie Wrightson

16_47

Possibly one of the most brutal Batman stories written, The Cult focusses on the kidnapping and attempted brainwashing of Batman by Deacon Blackfire, and his army of homeless followers. During Batman’s absence, Gotham city has been driven into turmoil, as politicians are assassinated by Blackfire’s followers. Attempts are made on Commissioner Gordon’s life, leaving him hospital bound, and martial law is declared in Gotham, as the city decays. The books tone is helped phenomenally by the art of the late Bernie Wrightson, and is a story that is remarkably hard to shake after reading.

Available here: Batman The Cult TP

Batman Hush (2002 – 2003) by Jeph Loeb and Jim Lee

GalleryTalent_1900x900_JimLee_HUSH_5334836c1d56a3.73192162

Batman is being stalked. The culprit’s identity, unknown. His intent seems to sabotage Batman’s every move, and something about him seems to know Bruce Wayne intimately. Complete with a large number of guest appearances by Batman’s rogue gallery, and the inclusion of Superman, Hush contains an all-star cast, for a truly interesting mystery. Including the incredible detail of Jim Lee’s art, the story is rather hit and miss among fans, but still an interesting read just to uncover the mystery.

Available here:Batman Hush Complete TP

Batman Black and White (1996) by Various

GalleryComics_1900x900_BM_BLKWHT_CV4_20131211_52ad38bbc9e943.38024452

A wonderful example of what happens when you give creative minds just a few pages, and complete free rein of the Batman world and characters. With an incredible array of talent from Bruce Timm (Batman: The Animated Series), Neal Adams (Superman: Kryptonite Nevermore), Simon Bisley (Judge Dredd), Katsuhiro Otomo (Akira), Alex Ross (Kingdom Come), and more! It’s hard to find a more intriguing, varied, and fascinating creative pool of tales.

Available here: Batman Black And White TP Vol 01 New Edition (Batman Black & White)

Batman: New 52 Run (2011 – 2016) by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo

batman---sneak-attack-133816

It’s hard to pick just one story from this incredible run. The opening arc Court of Owls was an unbelievable debut. Death of the family was chilling to the bone. Zero Year gave us a truly interesting interpretation of Batman’s first year active. Even Jim Gordon’s turn in the suit was notably interesting, even if a little strange. The 52 issues of Batman from Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo are a must read, particularly for those looking to inject just a little bit of horror to their Batman. The pair are currently re-teaming for the Dark Metal event, but it’s this run that made them both synonymous with the Bat.

Available Here: Batman Volume 1: The Court of Owls TP (The New 52) (Batman (DC Comics Paperback))

Batman and Robin: New 52 Run (2011 – 2015) by Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason

Batman_and_Robin_Vol_2_40

Despite his role as a surrogate father figure to all the Robins. When it comes to the 5th Robin, Damian Wayne, there’s no surrogate about it. The 40-issue run by Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason explores Bruce and Damian’s relationship with one another while working as partners. The battle-hardened Batman having to work with, and train his own bloodthirsty son. One who sees himself as greater than his father. Ready to kill those in his way, boast of his assassination skills. Tomasi and Gleason are masters at the father/son dynamic. Something they are currently exploring over in the Superman title. But their work with Bruce and Damian stands just as strong.

Available here: Batman and Robin Volume1: Born to Kill TP (The New 52) (Batman & Robin (Paperback))

Detective Comics #27 (1939)/Batman #1 (1940)

Detective_Comics_27

On the list more for history buffs than anything, but still two incredibly important issues in Batman’s life time. His first appearance in 1939, and the first appearance of both The Joker, and Catwoman in 1940. Certainly not the best that Batman has to offer, but hugely important. Learning the history behind these two issues, does add an extra layer of enjoyment. Did you know, The Joker was supposed to die in his first appearance? Or the story of Bill Finger, the long ignored co-creator and writer of these historic stories.

Available here: Batman The Golden Age TP Vol 1

Batman: Dark Victory (1999 – 2000) by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale

dark_victory_dynamic_duo

A sequel to The Long Halloween, though heavily enjoyable on its own. The same creative team takes the next step in Batman’s early years, and tackles the origin of the young Dick Grayson. The first Robin. The story deals heavily with the themes of isolation and loneliness, especially after the events of The Long Halloween. Affecting not only Batman, but the now traumatised and orphaned Dick Grayson, and the struggling Commissioner Gordon.

Available here: Batman: Dark Victory (New Edition)

Batman: Death in the Family (1988 – 89) by Jim Starlin and Jim Aparo

18191968._SX540_

Heavily controversial at the time it was released, and still a major talking point when discussing fan outcry and involvement. Death in the Family is a defining point in Batman’s career. The death of Jason Todd, the second Robin. Another death that Bruce couldn’t prevent. A death he feels heavily responsible for. Death in the Family also holds a significant point in pop culture history as the moment where fans killed Robin. DC held a call-in poll to help decide whether or not Jason would make it out of the story alive, dying with just a hand full of votes separating the options. The death of Jason is an important moment in not only Batman’s history, but in comics and pop culture. Much like Detective Comics #27 and Batman #1, not a great story, but hugely important.

Available here: Batman: A Death in the Family (Batman (1940-2011))
 

These are just a handful of amazing stories of the Caped Crusader to try, aside from The Dark Knight Returns, Year One, The Killing Joke, or Batman and Robin. Batman’s history now spans almost 80 years, and it’s incredibly unlikely that his popularity will fade. There are still plenty of stories to be told in Gotham.

 

 

Avoid All-Star Batman and Robin, the Boy Wonder….

(Above is the opinion of the writer solely. Everyone is entitle to their own opinion, this is just mine. I have not read every Batman story in existence.)