Yours, Damian W.

In anticipation of Batman Inc. #8 Robin R.I.P. especially given the leaked half-page with him and Nightwing talking, They're a bit old (from July of 2011) before the New 52, but given the sentiment of that leak, "We were the best, Richard. No matter what anyone thinks." I thought I'd unleash some "feels," I wanted to post these little bits of fanart/fanfic from fwips. While I thought about just posting the link to his/her tumblr, there's a LOT of NSFW fan art of Batman family characters that could be seen when looking for these, and I wanted to make sure any young'uns in the CV community saw them.

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Why is nobody talking about this?!

So the solicits that were revealed this week were for May. We got a story about the stupid revival of The Green Team and their a-year-too-late-to-be-relevant counterparts, The Movement. We heard mention of the introduction of Reverse Flash (who supposedly will have a different costume, and probably be Iris' brother). We saw a preview of the covers for Batman #20, and Batwing #20, Nobody seems to be talking about the two biggest out of the blue revelations.

Earth 2 Annual #1
World's Finest #20

First we've got the "new Batman of Earth 2" and since they've made a habit of not overlapping characters in each world, I'm guessing it's not Earth 2 Dick but Blackwing, or maybe Jean Paul Valley (that would be funny, but not tied to the old Silver-Age Earth 2 like they've done for most characters).

The next big thing nobody seems to be talking about is Powergirl! The solicits state she "returns to her classic look" in this issue! After a year of dressing in a costume without the "cleavage window", that gets destroyed every issue it seems odd that DC editorial would cave to the initial fan-outcry over her costume. Do you think this will be a permanent change, or just a one-off?

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Rebooting the Batman Movie Franchise

So a while back my buddy Sam wrote a post on his blog about female superheroes who could helm a movie. Among his pics was Black Canary (I disagreed about headlining, but I would like to see her in one). That got me to this response in which I map out an entire series of Batman films, including spinoffs. I've done a few touchups to make it a little easier to follow, I hope. It's not super in depth, but I think it could work because Batman has a built in audience more than any other comic book character. There are a few basic rules if you have the guts to commit to a giant series: you don't need to worry about it getting stale and needing to be rebooted every few years if you have the stories to back it up, you can get away with casting changes (Rhodey in Iron Man 2) but unlike comics, never kill off any villains (Two-Face's death in Dark Knight was its biggest problem).

Follow along closely, it’s a long winding path. FIRST let me just say, Batman shouldn’t be in the Justice League (he wasn’t in the original lineup, it’s not that far fetched). He should be in the movie, but at the end he should decide not to join. He could say something about “not being a team player” or “not getting along with others” even though that’s not true, as we’ll see coming up (it’s his compulsive need to be in control). Then we spinoff into the Batman movie, which ends with signs showing “Halley’s Circus Coming Soon to Gotham!” Batman 2 introduces Robin, and Batman 3 introduces Batgirl and ends with Dick Grayson moving on to become Nightwing. Then we spinoff into the Batgirl movie, which gets followed up by the Birds of Prey (based on the old DCU line up. None of this Poison Ivy as a good guy, New52 bullshit). Obviously, Black Canary would a pretty huge role, as she and Barbara formed the Birds of Prey together. At the same time we can have Batman 4: A Death in the Family. That gets followed up by Batgirl 2: The Killing Joke. I know “The Killing Joke” isn’t actually a Batgirl story, but that’s why I think it would succeed. The first two acts would just be some generic Batgirl story, then that the end of act two, the Joker shows up and shoots civilian Barbara Gordon and kidnaps her. To have a villain take out the protagonist’s secret identity without knowing about her alter ego would be a great twist, and knowledge of a Batman “cameo” which turns out to be for the entire 3rd act would put butts in seats. After that movie you get Batman 5, introducing Tim Drake’s Robin, and then Birds of Prey 2, with the debut of Oracle. This time the team is led by Black Canary (not sure if you could say she “helms” it), who is getting intel from the mysterious, puts-Wikileaks-to-shame, information broker, Oracle who isn’t revealed to be Barbara until sometime in the second act. And with Barbara as Oracle, and Tim is Robin we can finally have Batgirl 3 starring Cassandra Cain, the greatest Batgirl ever, and one of the greatest comic book characters ever. I’ve just mapped out 6 to 10 years worth of Batman movies! All of which could be stories loved by comic fans and able to be adapted from mainstream audience!

Here's where I think New52 also screwed up their timeline: ages. This is the timeline as I see it and it totally works in this movie series timeline too. Bruce starts being Batman at 22. He Batman for a year before Dick becomes Robin. Bruce is 8 years older than Dick. Dick is Robin at age 15 for 3 years, before he becomes Nightwing at 18. Jason is 2 years younger than Dick and is Robin for less than 2 years, and Bruce has no Robin for maybe 6 months. Tim is between 5 and 6 years younger than Dick, so when Tim is Robin, Dick is around 21, Tim's 15 or 16, and Bruce is about 28 creeping on 29. The age range is very important because it explains the relationship dynamics. Dick can't be too young when he becomes Robin or it gets really awkward around child endangerment. He needs to be old enough that teenage angst and could drive him to attempt to take vengeance without having Batman to channel that grief/rage and young enough that he thinks he's invincible (not literally). But Bruce can't be so old that they'd have an actual father-son dynamic, more like a mentor/big brother. And once he's kinda set the precedent, the other Robins start at the same age. And the Robins need to be close enough in age with each other to have a brother-brother relationship.

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My Comic Book Alphabet

Hey blog readers! 
 
I had an idea: I was digging thru a few boxes, and found some of those "learning to read" books for kids ages 3 to 6. Later I found myself thinking about those books like"A is for apple, B is for ball" and for whatever reason I thought, "someone should make a comic book version of those! Instead of A is for APPLE, you could have B is for BATMAN!" I know a ton of parents who'd buy that book "for their kids," but really for themselves.
 
So… I did. Except it's not a book. It's just a blog list. Granted, it's probably not the best thing to show small children given the level of violence, and my propensity for swearing, but it was fun to make and I think it came out pretty funny (but as the author, I know the cadence of the words; where the beats should fall, and how long the pauses should be). I had to forego some of my preferred choices like W is for WONDER WOMAN because I couldn't get it to work wtih the rhyme scheme I had going (that's the problem with rhyming couplets, you have to work in pairs of 2). So, if this makes you laugh, or makes you realize you could do one way better, please post your replies below. 
 

 A is for ABOMINATION who got shot in the head.
 B is for BATMAN. His parents are dead!
 C is CASSANDRA CAIN, the best Batgirl of all.
 D is for DEADPOOL. He breaks the 4th Wall.
 E is ELEKTRA, who came back to life.
 F's Mr. FANTASTIC, who slaps around his wife.
 G is for GHOST RIDER. His hellfire goes Fwoosh!
 H is for HAL, who's a bit of a douche. 
 I is for IRON FIST, who seems Asian, but's White.
 J is for JOKER, who hates the Dark Knight.
         
K is for KICK-ASS, sitting in piss.
 L is for LOBO looks like he's in KISS!
 M is for MR. MXYZPTLK.
 N is for NIGHTWING… 'cause the ladies love Dick.
O is for Osborn, who's bat-shit insane!
P is for POWER GIRL. I respect her big brain.
 Q is The QUESTION, a man with no face.
R is for ROM. He's a knight… that's from space? 

S is for SNOWFLAME, the man powered by coke!
         
 T is THANOS. He wants to give Death a poke.
U is for ULTIMATES, who lead screwed up lives.
V is for V, in his Fawkes mask, and knives.
W for WOLVERINE, who likes drinking beer. 
X is for X-MEN. You knew they'd be here. 
Y is for YORICK, the last man on earth 
And Z is for ZOIDBERG. I'm helping, what mirth! 
So that's my comic book alphabet. I hope you like it. 
And once again, if you loved it, hated it, or think you could do it better, I'd love to hear from you.
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The Death and Return of Superman by Max Landis

Some NSFW language in the video.

As a child of the 80s/90s, The Death of Superman (along with Bane breaking Batman, and X-Men #1) was one of my first real comic book memories. At the time I loved it. I owned the entire arc of weekly books (but sold all of them except Superman #75, non-bagged regular version and Adventures of Superman #500 in both the regular and variant covers). I also own all 3 trade paperbacks spanning the story arc from the arrival of Doomsday through the defeat of Hank Henshaw, and Superman/Doomsday Hunter/Prey where Doomsday's backstory was first given. So trust me when I say this comes from a place of love.

Max Landis was right. This story arc is pretty much responsible for the crap we have to put up with as comics fans. Every time a creator kills of a character in an epic display of self sacrifice. Every time a beloved character comes back from such a heroic sacrifice. Every stupid "game changing event" after which "nothing will be the same." Every time Sara writes an article that ends with (paraphrasing) "but it's comics so we all know that this death won't stick."

I dunno if it's awesome or funny or sad that aside from ONE factual error (Booster Gold didn't get punched into space, just punched past the horizon, but still in the atmosphere) and a couple bits of hyperbole (e.g. Superman threw Doomsday in a lake with the hope it would slow him down, so he could go help the Justice League, and the civilians whose homes got destroyed by the fight) everything in the video is accurate. Superman's death was a lamer cop out than (let's say) Nightcrawler's because they were setting up his return IMMEDIATELY. It's the same reason I hated the "death" of Batman, there wasn't really any suspense. Granted there were a few issues there where you thought Eradicator or Hank Henshaw could've been Superman, but that became pretty obvious pretty early on.

Oh, plus this video also shows how LAME the current New52 Action Comics superman costume (shirt, jeans cape) looks.

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"Protect your Children from Comics" what is this the 1930s again?

I saw this promo was shown on my local Fox affiliate on Sunday, for a story which aired tonight. The gist of it is that the new52 upped the sex & violence, and that some readers didn't like the changes, old news right? I could rant about how the changes to Starfire weren't upsetting b/c of the contrast with the cartoon Starfire, but because of the emotional detachment of new52 Star vs classic Star… but I did that in a past blog.

What really upset me is when the reporter saw the T and T+ ratings and took it to MIDDLE SCHOOLERS and their PARENTS. T and T+ aren't meant for 12 year olds. Also the idea that comics used to be considered "family friendly" is kinda totally wrong! The idea that comics (or music or movies or videogames) are corrupting our youth recurs every 10 years or so. It's total bunk, but it's cyclical bunk. That's why the Comics Code Authority was invented in 1954. It came up again after the famous 1971 Spiderman issue where Harry Osborn was on drugs (although portrayed in a negative light).

2 and a half years after Batman's debut, people were asking this question… the answer was "not really."
"Many adults think that the crimes described in comic books are so far removed from the child's life that for children they are merely something imaginative or fantastic. But we have found this to be a great error. Comic books and life are connected. A bank robbery is easily translated into the rifling of a candy store. Delinquencies formerly restricted to adults are increasingly committed by young people and children ... All child drug addicts, and all children drawn into the narcotics traffic as messengers, with whom we have had contact, were inveterate comic-book readers This kind of thing is not good mental nourishment for children!"
- Fredric Wertham, Seduction of the Innocent, 1954

I urge all of you to thumbs-down the Youtube video and/or leave a comment on the linked story from myfoxdc.com and let my your opinion be heard!

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Sexuality in comics done right (a quick blog)

If you read my previous 2 blog posts (about a 7 year old's opinion of Starfire and the ending of Catwoman #1) you might get the opinion that I am a prude and don't like what the various "Rating" organizations might call "Adult Situations," or "Sexual Content." So in order to dispel this belief, I'm going to make a brief mention of when overt sexuality works. Voodoo #1 handles sexuality in a way that makes sense, is appropriate, and doesn't feel like less would've been more.

If you didn't read the comic, or aren't familiar with the character, Voodoo is a shape-shifting alien from the Wildstorm Universe who was brought into the DCnU. Her character is a stripper, and her the comic mentioned shows her doing some erotic dance at club, while dressed primarily in lingerie.

So why does it work here but not when Starfire does it in Red Hood & the Outlaws? CONTEXT! Voodoo is a stripper, so being, "almost naked and posing,” and "wearing a tiny bikini to get attention," makes sense for her character. She gives an explanation for her working as a stripper, and it's made more believable when you start to think about jobs that a shape shifting alien could get without knowing too much about mankind, our customs/social norms, etc. Being a stripper makes you enough of a pariah in most places, meaning it's a good place to hide out; customers don't expect you to say hello if you meet them in the outside world; it requires a relatively simple set of skills to master (not that dancing is easy, but it's the only skill required), etc.

Does all that make the comic good? in my opinion, not really; it wasn't bad but I wasn't left waiting anxiously for #2. In general, I think Wildstorm getting shoved into DCnU was a dumb idea, and was only done because of Jim Lee's position. But that's beside the point, the comic may be mediocre at best, but the handling of "adult themes and sexual content" worked perfectly.

What do you think? Did you read Voodoo #1? Did you see another handling of sex in a way that worked? let me know below.

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2 blogs for the price of one (the price is free)

This blog is about Catwoman #1, more specifically the ending of Catwoman #1. There are spoilers. I'm not going to tag them because the spoiler tag tends to eat my spoilers, losing them in the æther. Fair warning.

So I read Catwoman #1 and I didn't think I'd have as strong a reaction as I did to the much talked about sex scene. I started to wonder why that was. Catwoman and Batman have been hooking up forever, we just haven't seen them mid-act. So obviously it wasn't the sexual nature of the act. And I can tell you with absolute certainty, it had nothing to do with Catwoman's taking of the more dominant or aggressive role in initiating their tryst. That aspect of her character was something I liked as far back as when I saw Tim Burton's Batman Returns around age 7. 

     

I think it had a lot to do with the increasing level of cheesecake (not explicit nudity, but sexy pics/poses) in this issue. There were a lot of shots in underwear, or with one boob not covered by her costume (just her bra). And that is fine by me. Despite my minutes old blog post about Starfire and the 7 year old, I am not made uncomfortable by superheroes posing sexily in a comic rated T+ or higher. Maybe it's just that after pages of build up, it felt kinda like a letdown. A slightly voyeurish letdown.

 Standard Bat/Cat interaction

 Getting a little fan service-y, but artistic, and smybolic. I still like this.

 It's well drawn and in character, but it makes me feel, and itself feels, a little trashy :-/
I think the best analogy is a story I read in Marvels Five Fabulous Decades of the World's Greatest Comics which I got as a child. It's a story Jim Steranko told about the Comics Code Authority and an issue of Nick Fury. Steranko drew a page where Fury gets down with one of the many femme fatales of that era. As part of the page displaying the hook up, he drew a panel of a phone placed off the hook (a code for sex at the time), and a panel of Fury and this woman in a close embrace kissing (still dressed). The CCA had a problem with it and they/his editors made him put the phone on the hook, and they replaced the final panel with a close-up cropped from a larger panel. The closeup was Fury's gun in its holster, and that ended up being far more scandalous than Steranko's original intent. But why? Because, as any good horror director will tell you: if you don't show it, the audience will imagine something better than you could ever come up with.  
 
For my money, the bottom panel on the second to last page was the perfect panel to end on. Those bat-ears seem a little symbolic, and the large goggles mirror the way the pupils dilate to make the eyes seem bigger (and more attractive) during copulation. There is symbolism, there is the same conveyance of emotion (that emotion being lust), and there was enough excitement in the above panels to satisfy modern tastes and standards, and enough left to the unsaid (or unshown) that you can imagine something as risque and/or depraved as you like. Just cut out the last text box and the whole last page, and the scene, in my opinion, is just as powerful if not more so. I bet the author just wanted to get in that line about the costumes.
 Despite the old-fashioned panel layout, I think this sequence is as effective if not more so.
 

So as always, let me know what you think. Do you like the explicit sexy-times in your comics (rated T+ and up of course)? Do you like a little more mystery? Am I just a prude? Leave your comments below.
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I'm sure everyone saw this already

http://michelelee.net/2011/09/24/dear-dc-comics/

It's a 7 year old girl (who has seen the Teen Titans show, read the Teen Titans books, and loves Starfire)'s opinion of the new Starfire (with a heavy dose of parental discretion with things regards to all the casual sex she has now).

I know a lot of people would get dismissive of the original post because of the age and gender of the critic (7 year old girls are widely conceived of as being fickle, and like things based on things like bright colors or ponies). But some things this kid said, struck a chord with me.

“Is this new Starfire someone you’d want to be when you grow up?”
*she gets uncomfortable again*”Not really. I mean, grown ups can wear what they want, but…she’s not doing anything but wearing a tiny bikini to get attention.”

and

"I want her to be a hero, fighting things and be strong and helping people."
"Why's that?"
"Because she's what inspires me to be good."

It seems like this little girl sums up a lot of readers' apprehensions about the"grittier" directions comics are taking, and the idea that characters need to be shocking, and sexy and whatnot. In all honesty, it's the reason comics still resonate with me. Because of the escapism sure; but it's all based around heroes. Heroes inspire us to be better, and I want to see them standing up for what's right… because that doesn't always happen in the real world. Not everyone needs to be dark, brooding, and/or gritty. Or as I like to call it, the Batmanificaiton of characters. And not everyone needs to be an unattached, disinterested emo/hipster/douche.

Tell me what you think below. Do you agree with at least one 7 year old girl? Do you think the little girl sounds like a grumpy old fart scared of change? Is it all just moot because standing around talking will only be a problem for the first couple of issues before the story gets rolling? Leave a comment and tell me.

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