Grant Morrison, Batman writer no more

The pop sensational author Grant Morrison is nearing the end of his run on Batman. A writer who created a groundbreaking new kind of experience in comics while paying homage to his childhood fantasies and adult fascinations, Morrison embraced his cult of followers who saw him progress from anti-establishment apocalyptic drama to mainstream superhero comics. His Batman run has been a fusion of the two approaches with an added element of intensity and reinvention.

But it all comes down in just four issues.

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Via DC Comics

Little did I suspect when I accepted the BATMAN writing assignment back in 2006 that I’d wind up spending the next six years writing the longest continued comic story I’ve ever attempted. I thought I’d said most of what I had to say about the character with Arkham Asylum, Gothic, and Batman’s appearances in JLA. Clearly, I was wrong.

The original pitch was for 15 issues winding up with BATMAN R.I.P. but something happened along the way and, as I was researching his rich history, I became fascinated by the idea that every Batman story was in some way true and biographical – from the savage, young, pulp-flavored “weird figure of the dark” of his early years, through the smiling, paternal figure of the 1940s and the proto-psychedelic crusader of the ‘50s, the superhero detective of the ‘60s, the hairy-chested globetrotting adventurer of the ‘70s, to the brutally physical vigilante of the ‘80s and snarling, paranoid soldier of the ‘90s.

By taking his entire publishing history as the story of his life, I was able to approach Batman from a different angle and the multifaceted character that was revealed became the subject of my story.

What would such a man be like, realistically? This was a man who had saved countless lives, faced innumerable perils, and even prevented the destruction of the world itself. This was a master of martial arts, meditation, deduction, yoga and big business. This was a man who had tamed and mastered his demons and turned personal tragedy into a relentless humanitarian crusade.

Taking that man seriously meant I had to throw out a few of the accepted ideas about Batman as a semi-unhinged, essentially humorless loner struggling with rage and guilt. The totality of his history and accomplishments made that portrayal seem limited and unconvincing, so instead, my Batman was a true superhero at the height of his powers and the peak of his abilities, surrounded by a network of friends and associates, all of whom had been inspired by his lead.

I chose to build my story around the basic trauma, the murder of his parents, that lies at the heart of Batman’s genesis. It seemed to me there would be a part of Bruce Wayne that resented his parents for leaving him and especially resented his father for not being Batman that night, so the principal villains were an archetypal bad father figure in the form of Dr. Hurt and a dark mother in the form of Talia, our villain for the concluding chapters of the story.
batman-inc-grant-morrison
This master theme of damaged and ruined families was nowhere more in evidence than in the creation of Damian, the first “Son of Batman” to be acknowledged in the canon. In many ways this has been Damian’s story as much as it has been the story of Bruce Wayne and it’s a story that had its end planned a long time ago – for what son could ever hope to replace a father like Batman, who never dies?

And so, via Batman, Batman and Robin, Return of Bruce Wayne and Batman Inc. this epic tale has finally reached its finale.
batman-bat
Thanks to all the artists who helped realise the story – Andy Kubert, JH Williams, John Van Fleet, Tony Daniel, Ryan Benjamin, Lee Garbett, Frank Quitely, Philip Tan, Cameron Stewart, Andy Clarke, Frazer Irving, Scott Kolins, Chris Sprouse, Ryan Sook, Yanick Paquette, Georges Jeanty, David Finch, Scott Clark and of course, Chris Burnham.

Thanks to the inkers, colorists and letters and to my indefatigable editors.

Thanks to the readers who joined in the fun and contributed to the thought-provoking debates and analyses online.

robin-batman-inc-8-variantThe conclusion is finally here, with only four more issues to go. Four issues which take Batman to dark places he has never had to visit before. Four issues and I’m done, while Batman himself continues into as yet unimagined future adventures. He’ll still be here long after I’m dead and forgotten; long after all of us have come and gone, there will be Batman. It’s been a joy and a privilege to spend so much time in the company of pop culture’s greatest character but it’s going to feel weird waking up and not having Bruce Wayne’s calm, commanding, ever-so-slightly cynical voice in my head.

Batman forever…

- Grant

Scotland, December 2012

Batman and Son

Batman: The Black Glove

Batman R.I.P.

Batman & Robin, Vol. 1: Batman Reborn

Batman & Robin, Vol. 2: Batman vs. Robin

Batman & Robin, Vol. 3: Batman & Robin Must Die

Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne

Batman Incorporated, Vol. 1

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Pt. 2 ‘Tonight, we are the law!’

Based on Frank Miller’s startling vision of a Batman set in a dark 1980′s dystopian future, the DC animated feature Batman: The Dark Knight Returns continues. In the first installment, Bruce Wayne was stirred from a stupor out of retirement and back onto the streets of Gotham where a street gang known as the Mutants ruled through fear and intimidation. Once more donning his costume, Batman used the very same weapons against the criminals and defeated their leader in gladiatorial combat.

In the sequel, Batman transforms the Mutants from an unruly rabble into a devoted army of followers. As chaos reigns, Batman takes his war against crime to the highest level… and no one is above his law.

batman-the-dark-knight-returns-part-2

BATMAN: THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS, PART 2, the next entry in the popular, ongoing series of DC Universe Animated Original Movies, arrives January 29 from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment as a Blu-ray™ Combo Pack and DVD, On Demand and for Download. The PG-13 film is produced by Warner Premiere, DC Entertainment and Warner Bros. Animation.

For anyone who enjoyed the Bruce Timm Batman Animated Series and the Chris Nolan Dark Knight feature film trilogy, this animated movie in two parts combines elements of both through the adaptation of Frank Miller’s four issue comic book. Here we see a version of Batman who is weighed down by his legacy and must face up to the harsh reality of a world on the brink of destruction.

Full trailer

I was very impressed with the first part of Batman: The Dark Knight Returns and felt that in many ways it improved upon a story that had become dated and familiar. I have heard that the sequel continues in this vein and look forward to watching it at the end of the month.

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 1

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 2

The Definitive Batman Artist Poll

There are many incarnations of Batman and we all have our favorites. Usually the particular look or variation of Batman that we consider ‘definitive’ is the first one that we encountered. For many that would be the Jim Aparo version that graced the page of comic books for many years. In the late 80′s and early 90′s Norm Breyfogle defined Batman. Today, Greg Capullo is the artist on Batman and doing a damned fine job of it.

But is there a DEFINITIVE Batman artist? CBR.cpm wants to know and their poll gives readers a number of options.
(please visit CBR.com to vote)

WHO DO YOU FEEL IS THE DEFINITIVE BATMAN ARTIST?

 Bob Kane

 Dick Sprang

 Neal Adams

 Jim Aparo

 Frank Miller

 David Mazzuchelli

 Norm Breyfogle

 Bruce Timm

 Jim Lee

 Greg Capullo

Personally I love the Mazzuchelli version of Batman, but as it only appeared in one story, Batman: Year One I question his inclusion. Likewise, Frank Miller left his mark on Batman but in a very limited number of issues. Bruce Timm is definitely a popular choice and with good reason as he spearheaded what could be considered one of the most important renditions of the dark knight ever.

As of now, Neal Adams and Jim Aparo are both leading with Frank Miller, Bob Kane and Dick Sprang trailing. I wonder why Carmine Infantino (who drastically redesigned Batman in the 60′s, Bill Finger who practically created the entire rogue’s gallery and Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez whose art graced almost every single bit of merchandising for decades are missing from this list as they defined the character’s look for their respective periods.

What is your opinion? Who is your favorite Batman artist?

The Batmobile is on tour!

The Batmobile has to be the most recognizable and iconic of pop culture vehicles. A combination of state of the art design and childlike wish fulfillment, the Batmobile started in print as traditional car but soon mutated into a bizarre creation that could only exist in the funny books. Imagine the surprise when Batman’s signature vehicle was made into a reality by first George Barris and later many others.

Seven unique versions of the Batmobile from the Batman TV and film franchises will be on the road starting with a stop in Dallas at the Cowboys Stadium in Arlington. From 11AM to 3PM on Saturday and again on Sunday at the 10 AM half time.

Official press release below:

For the first time in Batman franchise history, witness six Batmobiles and the Bat-Pod as they embark on a tour of sporting events across America prior to the December 4th home entertainment release of The Dark Knight Rises, the final film in Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy.

The Dark Knight Rises Blu-ray Combo Pack includes “The Batmobile” documentary, an hour-long in-depth look into every aspect of the most awe-inspiring weapon in Batman’s arsenal. Journey through the birth and evolution of this technological marvel and cultural icon.

The following vehicles will be on display:
• Batman television series and Batman, The Movie (1966) – driven by Adam West
• Batman (1989), Batman Returns (1992) – driven by Michael Keaton
• Batman Forever (1995) – driven by Val Kilmer
• Batman & Robin (1997) – driven by George Clooney
• Batman Begins (2005), The Dark Knight (2008), The Dark Knight Rises (2012) – Black Tumbler, Camouflage Tumbler, Bat-Pod – driven by Christian Bale

The next stop on the tour will be the LSU vs. Alabama game at LSU Stadium in Baton Rouge on Saturday, 11/3 and the New Orleans Saints vs. the Philadelphia Eagles at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans on Monday, 11/5.

• Batman Television Series and Batman, the Movie (1966)
Designer and builder George Barris and Barris Kustom Ind.

• Batman (1989), Batman Returns (1992)
Batman (1989) Production Designer Anton Furst, with art director Terry Ackland-Snow and special effects supervisor John Evans for the build. Batman Returns (1992) Production designer Bo Welch – modifications made.

• Batman Forever (1995)
Production designer Barbara Ling, with automotive illustrator Tim Flattery and builders TransFX.

• Batman & Robin (1997)
Production designer Barbara Ling, with designer/illustrator Harald Belker and builders TransFX.

• Batman Begins (2005), The Dark Knight (2008), The Dark Knight Rises (2012) (Black Tumbler, Camouflage Tumbler, Batpod) Director Christopher Nolan and production designer Nathan Crowley with special effects supervisor Chris Corbould and his team of special effects technicians for the build.

The Joker’s back for Batman – Death of the Family

When last we saw the clown prince of crime, he was missing his face, but that’s not going to stop the Joker from plaguing Batman once more.

The Joker’s back after a year-long absence, and the Batman villain is returning with a visage and master plan more grotesque than ever before.
- Brian Truitt, USA TODAY

With his stark white face and ghoulish smile, the Joker has always been fear-inducing. But his twisted new visage? Well, that’s downright horrific.

The Clown Prince of Crime is back in the comics world after being absent for a year — after having the skin of his face cut off — to torment the Dark Knight yet again in the pages of DC Comics’ Batman series.

He has a major ax to grind this time, however, and not just with Batman. He has crafted a master plan to take out Batgirl, Nightwing and all the rest of the Bat-clan in a crossover arc, with Catwoman, Suicide Squad and other DC series, called “Death of the Family” — a play on the “Death in the Family” story line from the 1980s that saw comic fans vote for the death of the Robin of the time, Jason Todd, at the hands of the Joker.

Much of the story, which begins in Batman Issue 13 (out Oct. 10), is a nod to the long history of the dynamic between the hero and his archenemy, a symbiotic relationship that at times has been almost co-dependent. It will feature the Joker’s first encounter in a while with his old foe, but also will have him face Batgirl — whom the Joker shot through the spine and crippled in Alan Moore’s Batman: The Killing Joke — and Todd, now resurrected and going by the name Red Hood.

“The Joker is coming and saying, ‘Remember all these awesome times we had together,’ which are obviously not awesome at all for Batman, but in the Joker’s mind are these incredibly loving and terrific encounters over the years,” says Batman writer Scott Snyder.

In his own oddball way, the Joker sees Batman as the ruler of Gotham and himself as the court jester — Snyder is including Peter Pan and fairy-tale imagery as the Joker shows his messed-up adoration.

“He believes he often brings the worst news of Batman’s own heart to him in the form of these terrible nightmares he has to fight,” the writer says. “If that’s his purpose, then he sees this family in a lot of ways as interlopers and people who make his idol, his Bat-king, weak.”

So, the Joker is just as demented as ever at his core — “just the window dressing is a little bit different” this time around, says artist Greg Capullo, who designed the villain’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre-esque look.

The psycho has managed to reattach his face to his head using a makeshift variety of hooks and belts going around his ears and into his mouth and neck, adding to his already animated nature.

“Maybe Batman clocks him or something and a hook busts loose,” Capullo says. “One side of the face is hanging while the other is up in the twisted maniacal grin that we are all familiar with the Joker.”

DC’s Batman series is the most subscribed-to and best-selling title at Jetpack Comics in Rochester, N.H., and its owner, Ralph DiBernardo, and his customers have been eagerly awaiting the Joker’s return.

“We all have crazy thoughts at times. We just don’t act them out, so watching a character that does is intriguing,” DiBernardo says.”Clowns are supposed to be fun and friendly, but then you get a blast of acid in the face from their boutonniere. The real question is, like the chicken and the egg, did the Joker spawn people’s fear of clowns or did coulrophobia (fear of clowns) start after the Joker’s introduction in comic books? I’d like to believe it was the latter.”

Quick review: Talon #0

Talon #0

By Scott Snyder, James T Tynion IV and Guillem March

From the pages of the Night of the Owls crossover comes this new series Talon, written by Scott Snyder and sometime collaborator James T Tynion IV… kinda. I was reluctant top buy this issue as I am trying (unsuccessfully) to cut back on my pull list, but it was heartily recommended by Zack Smith so I felt compelled.

As a continuation of the Night of the Owls story, this is marginally connected. As a first issue, it feels a bit incomplete. However, neither are marks against the comic which is full of some great ideas and a compelling new character, Calvin Rose.

Raised by a cruel parent, Calvin learned to escape from any trap by necessity. Flashbacks show the excesses of his father’s brutality that placed the young boy in traumatic danger at a young age. Young Calvin ran away to discover a home at Haley’s Circus, the same place the Flying Graysons took their fateful fall. After a special private performance, Calvin is recruited by the Court of Owls for special training.

Replacing his predecessor as the prize Talon, Calvin is turned into an expert assassin, but it turns his stomach. Too late he learns that he has not found a new home, only a new trap that he cannot escape from. As his situation becomes more complicated, he risks everything by betraying his new masters after refusing an assassination order involving a young heir and her 2 year-old daughter. Calvin’s life is one of non-stop trouble. The Court of Owls is determined to gain control of their wayward agent, leading to Calvin narrowly escaping certain death at the hands of another Talon.

Set several years in the past, the timeline of this story is a little perplexing. I’m confused as to the character’s status in the current day as I’m pretty sure the Court of Owls was dissolved in the aftermath of the Night of the Owls. Not a big deal as continuity doesn’t have a large part to play in this issue, but it can be distracting.

The story of Calvin Rose adds a level of drama and depth to the Batman universe that is welcome. I’m always happy to see new characters and I get a real old-school Manhunter vibe from this one. I can’t help but feel a reminiscence to the DC Explosion back in the 1970′s where new life was breathed into the DCU with rapid fire succession. I can only hope that the same mistakes that DC experienced then won’t be repeated here as this series has plenty of potential.

The script is excellent and I am excited to see where this series goes, but to honest, the artwork by the talented Guillem March is the real pull for me.

Detail of original art from issue zero

I also picked up Aquaman #0 which I will review later, but I have heard of a number of other good zero issues such as Rose and Thorn and Team 7… anyone have any suggestions or favorites from this week?

Quick reviews: Batman, Detective and Batman and Robin #0

This month DC Comics is celebrating their first anniversary of relaunching their entire comic book line with a series of special issues that explores the origins of each character. Its a confusing notion in my opinion, especially given that some of these zero issues mark the end of a comic and others are the first.

Given that the origin of Batman has been told so many times, the creative teams had quite a challenge set before them to make their stories interesting despite the material being so over-told. Given that Batman Earth One, released around the same time, does the exact same thing is… unfortunate. Thankfully these three are quite good, due in large part to the talent behind each story.

Batman #0


By Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo
Grant Morrison may get the most credit for the success of the modern Batman comic book, but in truth its Snyder, Capullo and Daniel who have done a bulk of the heavy lifting amid the Death and Return of Bruce Wayne and of course the complete reboot of the Bat-verse proper. Throughout all that madness, these creators have not only crafted some exciting stories but have also developed a sophisticated backdrop of Gotham City. In Snyder’s case, the history and legacy of the Gotham became just as much of a character as Batman, Alfred and the rest of the regular cast.

In returning to the early era of Batman, Snyder’s script shows the early flawed side of the great crime fighter. Pitted against the Red Hood gang, he is sloppy, over-confident and despite extensive research, a failure in his attempt to stop the gang’s bank robbery. Capullo reigns in his usual gory style with a more traditional visual, allowing this issue to feel simpler and more innocent rather than raw and gritty as it could have.

Even Alfred seems unsure of just what his master could be hoping to accomplish as he helps Bruce set up a complex crime fighting lab outfitted with high tech weaponry and vehicles when he was almost killed by the police in his recent mission. While Wayne is still learning from his mistakes, he is determined to make his one man war on crime a success. When James Gordon drops by for an unexpected visit, we learn that their is a level of corruption that extends into the corporate realm, a world where Bruce Wayne could be more helpful than Batman.

As a glimpse into the early days of this new Batman, I found this to be a success. Given the common trait of Snyder to develop large scale stories, I am also looking forward to seeing how the Red Hood Gang story connects up to next year’s storyline. I suspect that it will dovetail into the Death of the Family story coming soon.

Detective Comics #0


By Gregg Hurwitz and Tony Daniel

The early days of Batman are rife with tales of education as young Bruce Wayne travels the world learning the very skills he would need to grow into the world’s greatest crime fighter. Many of these stories have of course been told before, significantly in the Legends of the Dark Knight series (sadly no longer with us). Gregg Hurwitz’s story explores young Bruce Wayne’s journey to Tibet where he seeks out the Zen-Buddhist monk Shihan Matsuda. He must first endure the shame of waiting to be worthy of Matsuda’s disgust. Throughout the issue, the master repeatedly informs Wayne that he is less than nothing throughout his instruction in fighting and meditation techniques. It reminded me of grade school only all I learned was D&D.

Wayne feels that the loss of his family makes him special, but Matsuda insists that it does not. The path that Wayne has set himself on requires a complete loss of self, the dissolution of his wants and desires. As he attempts to embrace this, he is offered a completely opposite opportunity after meeting the shop girl Mio. He yearns for companionship and despite the hardening of his heart, he still hopes to find someone to share his life with. This inner conflict creates a schism in his training, widened by master Matsuda’s wife who compels Wayne to seek out the one he loves and desires.

Of course the whole situation is a ruse, one that allows Mio access to Matsuda’s impenetrable fortress for a late night meeting with Bruce. Unfortunately, Mio is not a simple shop girl but an expert assassin working with Matsuda’s wife. In the ensuing conflict, both husband and wife murder each other while Bruce deals with Mio. In his death throes, Matsuda completes his lesson by saying ‘this is what closeness brings you.’

It’s a marvelous issue that in another age would have earned a graphic novel status or at least a prestige format release. An emotionally-charged and moving adventure, this is a great sign of things to come as Hurtwitz becomes another member of the Bat-bullpen.

Batman and Robin #0


By Peter J. Tomasi and Patrick Gleason

I learned early on that Batman and Robin was not a popular series due to the inclusion of snot-nosed brat Damian. I think that’s an unfair disrespect as he makes the comic worth reading. The friction and between father and son is what brings the strength of this comic to the fore, along with the outstanding artwork of Patrick Gleason. Despite all that, my interest in this series has waned in recent months due to guest artists and a few less than impressive issues following the War of the Robins storyline.

Nevertheless, this issue saved the comic by filling in a number of details on Damian’s upbringing and the hatred imbued in him by his mother. The over the top martial arts action that pervades this series makes it very distinctive (what other comic has bat-ninja carnage as gory as this??) but Peter J. Tomasi’s writing is so soulful that it is also a very edgy emotional series as well.

The daughter of Ra’s al Ghul, Talia used her relationship with her father’s intended heir to create the perfect successor to her Ra’s empire. Damian is the ideal killer, the most brilliant tactician and the cruelest of adversaries, but in this issue we see an innocent side to him that is heartbreaking in its simplicity. Curious about the contents of a chest in his mother’s room, Damian breaks into it only to find a funny costume that he of course puts on:

Damian’s path seems to be chosen for him as he was genetically bred to rule the world. Yet when he decides to make his own path, the consequences are dire. Talia al Ghul becomes Leviathan, a destructive force that is in opposition of her father’s dream to rule the planet for its own good. Scarred and hurt from neglect, Talia is a demonic threat far more dangerous than anyone could have imagined.

________________________________________________

These issues could have been a complete waste of time and paper, but I found them to be very enjoyable and also an extension of the further development of the Batman universe.

New Clips from Batman The Dark Knight Returns Part One

Next week part one of the DC Animation project The Dark Knight Returns will be released. Based on the groundbreaking comic book by Frank Miller and Lynn Varley, the animated feature stars Robocop Peter Weller as Batman, Ariel Winter as Carrie Kelley/Robin, Wade Williams as Harvey Dent/Two-Face and Dark Shadows star David Selby as James Gordon.

Early reviews are very positive, but take a look at these clips and judge for yourself!

The film premieres in New York this Thursday, 9/20 and in Los Angeles next Monday, 9/24, but it is sold out to the general public.

BATMAN: THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS, PART 1, the next entry in the popular, ongoing series of DC Universe Animated Original Movies, arrives September 25, 2012 from Warner Home Video as a Blu-ray™ Combo Pack and DVD, On Demand and for Download. The PG-13 film is produced by Warner Premiere, DC Entertainment and Warner Bros. Animation.

Batman Dark Knight Rises talking figures and the caped crusader bouncy house

Long hot weekend of parenting means I had very little time for much blogging. But I did introduce my son to the music of 13th Floor Elevators front man Roky Erickson and we built some killer cars from play dough. So I have been busy, never fear.

My forays into toy stores has given me the opportunity to provide readers with this unintentionally hilarious video of the latest Batman toys. I’m not exactly sure what happened at the factory, but I can clearly understand both Batman and Bane… which cannot be right. And check out Batman’s action moves!


I also attended a 4 year-old’s birthday today and saw another casualty of Bruce Wayne’s funding of Batman as a corporation.

It was what his parents would have wanted…

Batman strikes in first clip from ‘The Dark Knight Returns, Part 1′

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 1

One of the most celebrated Batman comic books has been adapted into a 2 part animated feature by Warner Premiere. Starring Peter Weller as Batman/Bruce Wayne and David Selby as Commissioner James Gordon, the movie is set in a dark vision of the future using the cultural template of 1986 where Ronald Regan is still the US President and the country has devolved into a morass of societal decay. Roused from a deep sleep of normalcy, Bruce Wayne dons his costume and takes to the street like a force of nature. Written and drawn by Frank Miller, the four part comic made an impact on the comic book medium. At the time, the mini series took the media by storm, appearing in Rolling Stone and other outlets.

It’s almost impossible to understand how much of a tonal shift this comic had on Batman. This was before the Tim Burton film, before Batman Year One, when the general public still thought of Batman as the 1966 Adam West series. Influenced by Bob Kane and Bill Finger’s initial comising the graphic design and sequential art skills at his disposal, Miller transformed Batman into the cultural icon of urban justice that we know him as today.

Separated into two movies, the adaptation of Dark Knight Returns will retell Miller’s story in a new way while retaining its character and style. Fans have been shown a mini documentary included on the Superman Vs. The Elite DVD, but the first glimpse of the animated film has finally arrived.

Official release below:

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 1, the next entry in the popular, ongoing series of DC Universe Animated Original  Movies, is produced by Warner Premiere, DC Entertainment and Warner Bros. Animation. The all-new, PG-13 rated film arrives September 25, 2012 from Warner Home Video as a Blu-ray™ Combo Pack and DVD, On Demand and for Download.

The Blu-ray™ Combo Pack will include UltraViolet™.