Tag Archives: dc comics

Review: Batman Europa #4

Batman Europa #4“The last tango”

Better late than never. This review I mean, not the comic. I had such high hopes for this story and with every new issue it waned tremendously. The concept was so brilliant: Force The Batman and his greatest nemesis The Joker to work together to save each other’s lives. It should have been a rocket ride of insanity down the river Styx. Instead it was a very poor attempt at a costumed Abbott and Costello.

To no one’s surprise it was Batman who played the straight edged foil to Joker’s serrated zaniness. At first glance it seemed like a magically pairing made in darkness but after that first stellar issue (once Jim Lee left the art chores) it all unraveled quickly.

In a nutshell, both Batman and the Joker have been poisoned by the deadly Colossus Virus that is ravaging their bodies at an alarmingly increasing rate. This in turn forces the pair to travel the globe and frantically search for a cure for their salvation. There you’re all caught up. (No, seriously you are. Not much has happened in this series)

So in between their deadly backpackery through Europe, at each stop they get closer to the one behind it all. The source of all their torment. Was it worth the wait? Is this their darkest hour?

This is where I just about threw my hands up in protest. I saw the only saving grace for this faltering tale, was the reveal of the evil mastermind behind this chaos. The reveal of this scheme should have been a master of mechanization, someone who really takes both Batman and the Joker to the limit. Instead we got neither. I stated in a previous review that this was a chance to either elevate an underappreciated member of Batman’s rogues gallery or create a new supervillain altogether. That wasn’t the case. The revelation was so underwhelming and seemed shoehorned. I have no urge to go back and read previous issues but I suspect if I did, there won’t be any real clues to who was behind it all. It was almost as if they just went with the notion of using one of the most overused (albeit popular) villains they could. Now even if I could get behind this man torturing the Dark Knight, his reasoning for including the Joker was just lame. Plus don’t even get me started on the poison resolution as it was plain idiotic. It was cliché and trite and just lacked imagination. The other downside was that they dispatched with their “monumental” foe with barely any difficulty. I mean both Batman and Joker are at the brink of death and they are able to make such short work of the mysterious adversary. It felt very Saturday morning cartoonish. It seemed like it only ended so quick because their was no more issues to come and the creative team had parameters they needed to adhere to.

At this point you’re probably wondering if there was anything redeeming or that I enjoyed about this issue. Well I can say that I didn’t mind the art as much as I did the previous two issues. It was less scratchy and more stylized this time around. Again I’m a big fan of Giuseppe Camuncoli (See his monthly work on Amazing Spider-Man, it’s great) but this interpretive painting style just doesn’t suit him well here. The writing, I am saddened to say I have been very disappointed by Brian Azzarello, who tends to do great work but this just wasn’t his game this time around.

Overall: A very exciting premise with a lot of promise and it just missed the mark with every arrow it had in its quiver. If you want to see a story where Batman and the Joker are uneasy allies, play Arkham Knight for your favorite video game console. It is done far better and Mark Hamill even voices the Joker. Always a win in that case. So while I think it’s great we get out of continuity Batman tales from time to time, this is one that should have never made if off the cave floor. Guano for me. Next time Bat-Fans…

Story: Brian Azzarello Art: Giuseppe Camuncoli
Story: 4.5 Art: 6 Overall: 5.5 Recommendation: Pass

Tomasi’s “Super League” Revealed!

Last month DC Comics revealed that Peter J. Tomasi would pen eight issues of “Super League,” spanning Superman, Batman/Superman, Superman/Wonder Woman and Action Comics over April and May of 2016. They’ve showed some incredible cover artwork by Yanick Paquette, John Romita, Jr. and Klaus Janson, and Karl Kerschl, but they didn’t reveal how huge this story would be.

It’s going to be epic!

Did anyone notice that Mikel Janin is on art for Superman #51? With the upcoming solicitation of Superman #52 DC thought it was time to give an early look at his interior pages for Superman #51 so you can see for yourself just how awesome this experience is going to be.

And here’s your recap of all upcoming “Super League” issues, including selections from May’s top-secret solicitations:

  • SUPERMAN #51, written by Peter J. Tomasi, art by Mikel Janin, cover by John Romita, Jr. and Klaus Janson, is on sale APRIL 6.
    • It’s the start of a new chapter in the Man of Steel’s life that will change everything you know as the epic eight-part “Super League,” all written by Peter J. Tomasi, spans SUPERMAN, BATMAN/SUPERMAN, SUPERMAN/WONDER WOMAN and ACTION COMICS in April and May!
  • BATMAN/SUPERMAN #31, written by Peter J. Tomasi, art by Doug Mahnke and Jaime Mendoza, cover by Yanick Paquette, is on sale APRIL 13.
    • In part two of “Super League,” Superman enlists Batman’s aid in seeking out people that can help form his new super-league…
  • ACTION COMICS #51, written by Peter J. Tomasi, art by Fernando Pasarin, cover by Karl Kerschl, is on sale APRIL 20.
    • Superman is shocked to learn that Kara has been missing for some time as part three of “Super League” begins!
  • SUPERMAN/WONDER WOMAN #28, written by Peter J. TomasI, art by Ed Benes, cover by Paul Renaud, is on sale APRIL 27.
    • In part four of “Super League,” Wonder Woman and Superman encounter the being that was discovered in BATMAN/SUPERMAN #31.
  • BATMAN/SUPERMAN #32, written by Peter J. Tomasi, art by Tyler Kirkham, cover by Yanick Paquette, is on sale MAY 4.
    • “Super League” continues this month as Kal-El’s bid to strengthen his forces brings him, Batman and Wonder Woman into China and into conflict with the might of that nation’s greatest heroes: the Great 10!
  • ACTION COMICS #52, written by Peter J. Tomasi, art by Fernando Pasarin, cover by John Romita Jr. and Klaus Janson, is on sale MAY 11.
    • “Super League” continues—as two Supermen meet at last: pre-New 52 Superman meets the current Clark.
  • SUPERMAN/WONDER WOMAN #29, written by Peter J. Tomasi, art by Doug Mahnke and Jaime Mendoza, cover by Karl Kerschl, is on sale MAY 18
    • It’s the penultimate chapter of “Super League”! When all the Supermen have fallen, it’s Supergirl to the rescue!
  • SUPERMAN #52, written by Peter J. Tomasi, art and cover by Mikel Janin, is on sale MAY 25.
    • The “Super League” epic concludes in one explosive fight as the new master villain uses Superman’s own solar super flare power against everyone.

TV Review: Arrow S4E13 Sins of the Father

arrowOliver receives an offer from Nyssa that is hard to refuse. Meanwhile, Thea continues to battle the blood lust; Malcolm steps in to help his daughter; and Laurel has a heart-to-heart talk with Nyssa.

Arrow shifts a hell of a lot around focusing heavily on the League of Assassins. The thrust of the episode focuses on Nyssa having a cure for Thea and she’ll only give it up if Malcolm steps aside so Nyssa can take over the League. There’s also some of Felicity getting to know her father.

The father stuff is rather predictable and as a plot unless there’s more to come, it seems like a bit silly thing to put in the show. Yes there were questions as to who her father was, but introducing him in this plotline just wasn’t a good use of the build up and reveal of who he was. Hopefully this isn’t the end of this story and I’m proven wrong down the road with more to come. As it stands though, it’s a big meh.

What’s interesting with the episode is where it goes with the League of Assassins. There’s a huge shift for the organization and Malcolm and you have to wonder the reason for those shifts behind the scenes, if there are any. Though, I will say where it went is not where I thought it was willing to go, it’s a dramatic change.

The episode has some decent action and a lot of the choreography issues I noticed in past episodes seems to be missing in this episode, which is great. Though some more sword fighting would have been great, there’s a bit too few scenes featuring it.

The episode is much better than the previous week, and there’s a pretty big shift I wasn’t expecting, so that’s great to see. What happened in the episode has me more excited than the episode itself if that makes sense. Overall, not bad just due to how much it shakes up the status-quo.

Overall rating: 7.3

DC Comics Proudly Presents: The New 52 hits 52!

Celebrating 52 issues of incredible storytelling, DC Entertainment’s May 2016 variant cover theme will pay homage to the #1 issues of eleven comics that debuted in 2011 when DC Entertainment rebooted their superhero publishing line and revitalized the comics industry as a whole. It was a momentous occasion then, and is an anniversary to celebrate now!

Inspired by Cliff Chiang’s Wonder Woman #1, Rags Morales and Brad Anderson’s Action Comics #1, Adam HughesBatgirl #1, and more, these brand-new “The New 52” variants will grace the covers of those same landmark titles that are hitting issue #52 in May. Illustrated by an all-star lineup of incredible talent, May’s lineup of variant covers are as remarkable as the industry-changing covers they’re based on.

Action Comics #52 variant cover by Ben Oliver
Aquaman #52 variant cover by Brett Booth and Norm Rapmund
Batgirl #52 variant cover by Babs Tarr
Batman #52 variant cover by Rafael Albuquerque
Catwoman #52 variant cover by Inaki Miranda
Detective Comics #52 variant cover by Francis Manapul
The Flash #52 variant cover by Jesus Merino
Green Arrow #52 variant cover by Szymon Kudranski
Green Lantern #52 variant cover by Billy Tan
Superman #52 variant cover by Mikel Janin
Wonder Woman #52 variant cover by David Finch and Matt Banning

“The New 52” variants are the latest in a variety of monthly themes.

Check out the original covers and the variants below and further below is the credits for the original covers.

The original covers credits:

Action Comics #1 cover by Rags Morales and Brad Anderson
Aquaman #1 cover by Ivan Reis, Joe Prado and Rod Reis
Batgirl #1 cover by Adam Hughes
Batman #1 cover by Greg Capullo and Alex Sinclair
Catwoman #1 cover by Guillem March
Detective Comics #1 cover by Tony Daniel and Tomeu Morey
The Flash #1 cover by Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato
Green Arrow #1 cover by Dave Wilkins
Green Lantern #1 cover by Ivan Reis, Joe Prado and Rod Reis
Superman #1 cover by George Perez and Brian Buccellato
Wonder Woman #1 cover by Cliff Chiang

DC Collectibles Rocks New York Toy Fair with DC Films Action Figures and More!

CE9667FC-5685-467D-B3C6-37CFBE3EB7A7[169]DC Collectibles will showcase its exciting 2016 product line-up at New York Toy Fair including a first-ever 6’’ premium action figure line based on Warner Bros. recent and upcoming DC films including Man of Steel, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad. In addition to the film-inspired line, in 2016 DC Collectibles will introduce a wide array of new statues, action figures and collectible items based on DCE’s comic and media properties and feature iconic characters Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Harley Quinn, and more.

The new, ongoing DC films action figure line was created specifically with toy collectors in mind, delving deep into character line-ups and offering up to 40+ points of articulation – the most articulation points ever produced by DC Collectibles.

The first wave of DC films action figures will hit stores in Fall 2016 and will include Zod and Faora from Man of Steel and Armored Batman and Superman from Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. The first Suicide Squad action figures are set to release in 2017.

DC Collectibles will also debut an all-new Designer Series action figure line dedicated to fan-favorite DC Comics character, Harley Quinn. Taken straight from the pages of DC Comics, the 6.75’’ action figures are inspired by the art style of critically acclaimed artist Amanda Conner, and will feature Connor’s most popular character designs of the Crown Princess of Crime and each will include custom accessories.

DC Collectibles will also expand the bestselling Batman: The Animated Series action figure line based on the award-winning Warner Bros. Animation TV series, producing new action figures as well as a first-ever 36’’ Batwing. The Batman: The Animated Series Batwing marks the second vehicle from the line following last year’s hit Batmobile replica, and will feature light, slide-able door access and room for two 6’’ action figures.

Other new products scheduled for 2016 include additions to the highly popular DC Comics Icons action figure line, as well as first-ever corresponding accessory packs for the Icons figures. DC Collectibles will also debut a BlueLine Jim Lee Superman action figure – a follow-up to last year’s hit BlueLine Batman action figure- and will include a sketch from world-renowned artist Jim Lee. Additions to the Greg Capullo and Darwyn Cooke Designer Series action figure lines are also on tap for 2016, as are new statues from the bestselling DC Comics Bombshells series. The toy maker will also debut new Batman: Black & White statues and new additions to the hit DC Super-Pets Plush toy line.  A wide array of Wonder Woman product will be released in 2016, including a Wonder Woman action figure 3-pack featuring the Amazon Princess’ first appearance in DC Comics’ All-Star Comics- #8, as well as other iconic looks.

DC Collectibles 2016 new product slate includes:

NEW LINE – DC Films Premium 6’’ Action Figures:

  •  Man of Steel: Zod, Faora, Jor-El
  •   Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice: Armored Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Lex Luthor

NEW LINE – Designer Series Amanda Conner Harley Quinn 6’’ Action Figures:

  • Retro Rocket Harley
  • Super Hero Harley
  • Classic Harley
  • Holiday Harley

Batman: The Animated Series:

  • New Batman: The Animated Series Action Figures: Harvey Bullock, Talia Al Ghul, Clayface, Ventriloquist & Scarface, Christmas with The Joker
  •  New The New Batman Adventures Action Figures: Anti-Fire Suit Batman, Firefly, Harley Quinn, The Joker
  • Action Figure Packs: Girls Night Out 5-Pack; Batman Beyond 3-Pack; The New Batman Adventures 3-Pack
  • Batwing (large enough to seat companion action figures in vehicle)

DC Comics Icons 6’’Action Figures:

  •  Accessory Packs 1 &2
  •  New Action Figures: Cyborg, Deathstroke, Swamp Thing, Wonder Woman, Batgirl Deluxe figure
  •  New Action Figure Packs: Darkseid and Grail 2-Pack, Justice League 7-pack

DC Comics BlueLine Action Figure

  • Jim Lee Superman (includes intricately designed packaging and Jim Lee sketch)

DC Comics Bombshells:

  • Raven
  • Bumblebee

Medium Size Statues

  •  Harley Quinn Red, White and Black by Amanda Conner
  • DC Comics Designer Series Harley Quinn by Bruce Timm

Designer Series Action Figures:

  •  Greg Capullo: Aquaman, Green Lantern, Superman, Jim Gordon as Batman
  • Darwyn Cooke: The Flash, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern John Stewart, Catwoman
  •  Action Figure Pack – GCPD Batman 2-Pack

Batman: Black & White Statues:

  • Batman – Rafael Albuquerque
  • The Joker – Frank Miler
  • Robin – Frank Quitely

DC Super-Pets Plush

  • Joker Fish
  • Osito

Large Scale Statue:

  •  DC Comics Icons Wonder Woman

Action Figure Packs:

  • Wonder Woman Action Figure 3-Pack
  • Arrow and The Flash TV Series Green Arrow and The Flash 2-Pack
  • Batman: Arkham Knight: Batgirl & Oracle 2-Pack

Review: Bill The Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator Of Batman

BillTheBoyWonderFrBill The Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator of Batman was released on July 1st, 2012. It was sometime between then and the middle of 2013 that I learned about the book  after I read about it in a comics magazine that I initially thought to be the British Comic Heroes, but after searching through the issues I have, I was unable to locate the article. So regardless of when and where I first became aware of the book, once it was on my radar, I quickly tracked it down on Amazon.

I’m glad I did.

Once I’d read the book I was genuinely impressed by what Mark Tyler Nobleman had done. By gearing the book towards a younger audience, Nobleman ensured that anybody who wanted to learn about the Dark Knights then uncredited co-creator would have a resource, no matter the age of the reader. The great thing about the book is that despite it being geared toward younger readers, this is a book that all ages can enjoy; indeed the afterward, or authors note, detailing a portion of the research done for the book is clearly geared more toward the older reader (but isn’t required reading to get the most out of the book). Although Bill The Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator Of Batman isn’t strictly a graphic novel, it is illustrated wonderfully by Eisner Award winner Ty Templeton, who brings a real sense of history and wonder to the story that Nobleman is telling here.

As a biography of Batman‘s co-creator Bill Finger, this book is lacking a little. But being a complete biography was never the intention behind Bill The Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator Of Batman, no, this book was only ever meant to highlight an unknown legend who did more than we could ever have imagined for Batman and, to some extent, Bob Kane. Because of the all ages target audience there isn’t an in depth look into the writer’s life, instead what Nobleman has done is focus exclusively on the moments surrounding Finger, his contributions to the Dark Knight’s legacy and his incredible lack of credit and recognition for those contributions.

By making this book accessible to all ages, and focusing on several key moments, Nobleman and Templeton delivered a book that, in my mind, was instrumental in getting Bill Finger recognized as Batman‘s co-creator. Bill The Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator Of Batman is more than just a children’s book about a man getting screwed out of his legacy; it’s also the physical encapsulation of one man’s single minded desire to bring awareness to a man who died nearly penniless.

This book is a great starting point for those looking to learn more about Bill Finger, no matter your age, but if you want to read more about the extensive research that went into this book then you should checkout Nobleman‘s blog Noblemania, but more specifically this page where he really lays out a lot of the stories, photographs  and memories of FingerMarc Tyler Nobleman certainly wasn’t the only voice shouting for Bill Finger to get some recognition, but he was one of the loudest, and Bill The Boy Wonder was the result of a huge amount of time and energy that had been dedicated to bringing Bill Finger‘s name out of obscurity.

Writer: Marc Tyler Nobleman Illustrator: Ty Templeton
Overall: 9.5 Recommendation: Buy

Ty Templeton Talks To Us About What Bill Finger Means To Him, And His Contributions In Having Bill Officially Credited

bill-the-boy-wonderIf you’ve been paying attention to any media featuring the Caped Crusader released since October of 2015, you may have noticed a slight change in the Bat-byline. Instead of just one name, it now reads “Batman created by Bob Kane with Bill Finger,” because last year, DC Comics finally acknowledged Bill Finger as the co-creator of Batman. A driving force behind Finger finally being officially acknowledged after so many years was the book Bill The Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator Of Batman, which was written by Marc Tyler Nobleman and illustrated by Ty Templeton.

Ty Templeton has been nominated for four Eisner Awards for his work on Batman titles for DC (he won three), and he’s also a member of the Canadian Comic Book Hall Of Fame. He also created a couple of very pointed comic strips focusing on Bill Finger, which have reached hundreds of thousands of people to the name of Batman‘s co-creator, Milton “Bill” Finger.

I recently had the opportunity to talk to Ty Templeton about Bill Finger, his contributions to Bill The Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator Of Batman, and the comic strips he’d produced (you’ll find thumbnail links further on).

Graphic Policy: Firstly let me say, genuinely, what a pleasure this is for me. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve used your Bill Finger Bun Toons to explain to people just how much he contributed to Batman. I understand Bill Finger has been a hero of yours for some time – can you tell us about how you first came across him?

Ty Templeton: I was a young teenager in the 70s, during the period that Batman and Detective were often 100 page giants, and they were starting to give the writers and artists proper credit on the reprint stories. So “Bob Kane”, who had signed all the Batman comics I read as a child, turned out to be Bill Finger, and Dick Sprang and Jerry Robinson, and Jack Burnley and a few others all along, and the 100 page giants were starting to reveal that. So in the 70s, I started to realize it was Finger and Sprang who made the Batman stories I loved, not Bob Kane.

When Bill died in 1974, the tribute to him that ran in DC comics hinted generously that he had more than a little bit to do with creating Batman in the first place, certainly everything to do with creating Catwoman and Riddler and Robin and the rest of the gang. Over the next decade or so, there were a few books about the beginning of the biz like “The Steranko History of Comics” that hinted generously as well. It started to be clear Bill’s story was known in the industry, but little known outside of it. When I became a working professional in the 80s, I would have conversations with other working pros who had a similar attitude about Bob Kane and his mistreatment of Bill’s legacy.

Finally, in the 90s, when Kane came out with his auto-biography “Batman and Me” which both praised Finger’s contribution, and included obviously forged illustrations and documents to claim Kane had created the character before he met Bill (there’s a preposterously silly forgery of an “early sketch” of Batman dated from 1936 that Kane manufactured for the book that anyone with functioning eyes can see is a fake), I knew for a fact that Finger had created the character and Kane was lying his ass off. Since then, I’ve held Kane in contempt, and considered Finger the real hero of the story. Kane shouldn’t have lied and forged those things. You cannot trust anything a liar and a forger says.

GP: So it’s safe to say that you were excited to be a part of a book that called attention to Kane’s bullshit?

TT: I’m not sure that I would put it in quite those colourful words, but yes, I was happy to work on a book that called attention to the true story. There’s a number of creators in our biz that are the architects of the modern pop culture world and who aren’t as well known as they should be. Jack Kirby isn’t a household word the way Stan Lee is, and that’s not fair. It’s nice to see Fabian Nicieza and Rob Liefeld are getting a shout out in the new Deadpool movie, but I understand that was at Liefeld’s request personally to the director, and it wasn’t offered by either Marvel or 20th Century Fox. Us lowly comic artists and writers are never going to get the credit they’ve earned unless someone makes a stink.

GP: It must have been exciting when you got to be a part of Bill The Boy Wonder…. How did you get attached to the project?

TT: I got attached to the project fairly simply. The editor called me on the phone and offered me the gig. I’m not sure how my name got chosen by Marc and company, but it did. It’s likely a combination of the fact that I had written and drawn many issues of Batman Adventures (which is a Batman series that was theoretically aimed at a younger reader, but never written that way, so we had an older audience than our publishers expected) and was fairly public about my contempt for Bob Kane. I’ve probably bad mouthed Kane in an interview or two, and those two factors lined me up as a good fit for the project. You’d have to ask Marc Tyler Nobleman how they chose me.

Marc Tyler Nobleman: I made a list of artists I would like to work with and reached out to my top choices personally to feel them out. As I recall, this was even before the book was under contract. Ty responded enthusiastically and demonstrated true knowledge of Bill Finger’s plight. His pre-existing passion for the subject struck me as a huge asset to the project. I passed on my list to my editor. Like many authors, I did not have final say on the illustrator, but I’m thankful Charlesbridge also liked Ty and Ty said yes.

batman-without-bill-letteredGP: Did you ever think, when you illustrated Bill The Boy Wonder… that you would see Bill get a mention in the Batman byline?

TT: There was hope, but no expectation. The hard-and-fast-rule to credit Bob Kane with everything was part of a legal document, it wasn’t a courtesy move from DC but an obligation. There was no expectation we would change the credits that appeared in print and in official adaptations…we were trying to change the minds of people in the real world. The first inkling that it was working was wikipedia listed Bob and Bill as co-creators a couple of years ago. Wikipedia isn’t constrained by legal fictions and could put the correct story on their site as Warner Brothers/DC Comics didn’t control its content. I should mention that most of the folks who work at DC were champions of Bill and WANTED to give him credit, but were constrained by that contract. When Wiki started to credit Bill Finger as co-creator of not only Batman, but Robin, Alfred, Catwoman, Joker, etc. (each has their own entry on Wiki), it really helped cement the idea in the minds of the public. Soon other websites and news orgs were casually calling Bill the co-creator because they were using Wiki as a source.

GP: How instrumental do you think that book was in finally Bill Finger officially recognized?

TT: I couldn’t possibly tell you because I’m too close to the book. I do know that the book topped a number of “Best of…” lists the year it came out. USA TODAY ranked us one of the 10 best graphic novels of that year, and things like that snowballed the attention the book was getting. Even if you didn’t read it, the title alone (Bill the Boy Wonder: The SECRET CO-CREATOR OF BATMAN) gave away the main story point. Each mention of the book in a major publication created the narrative of Bill’s contribution to Batman’s creation. I like to think we helped. I may be delusional, but I think we helped. Certainly Marc Tyler Nobleman’s discovery of Athena Finger helped, too! He arranged to make sure she got Bill’s royalty checks as the early stories got reprinted (and they’re reprinted a LOT!). I’m fairly sure that Athena’s mere existence helped humanize Bill’s story and that helped people take action.

GP: Do you think that you’re close to achieving what you and Marc set out to do with Bill’s name in the byline, or is there still more to do?

TT: Yes, we’ve seen Bill’s name get put in that “created by” credit, and I never expected that. So yay. It’s unrealistic to expect Athena Finger starts inheriting millions of lost compensation because Bill never tried to assert he was owed anything while he was alive. He may well have been owed something, but it’s impossible now to right that sin. So I’d say there’s not much more work to be done.

GP: Your Bill Finger Bun Toons have gone pretty viral, especially the What If Bob Finger Had Created Batman Without Bill Finger strip. It must have been rewarding seeing the sheer number of people view and share those?

finger-justiceTT: Yeah, it was rewarding. It showed up everywhere. It was a special giveaway poster at a Denver Comicon a year or so ago (everyone attending the convention got a free “Batman without Finger” poster as part of their con-package. That was many many thousands of copies of the poster, given to comic fans, who likely tweeted it, and talked about it. It was reprinted in a couple of magazines in Europe. It showed up on websites like Bleeding Cool and I09, and well traveled comic press sites. Like the book itself, every time you hear the TRUE story, it erodes the legal fiction in the minds of people who see it.

GP: I imagine it must have been a pretty great feeling to finally get a chance to draw the One Fine Day I Summon The Ghost Of Milton “Bill” Finger Bun Toon, eh? I know Bob Kane’s appearance is in his original Bat-Man costume, but I was laughing pretty hard at that last panel.

TT: Yeah, it was. Never expected that outcome. The best part of that “ghost of Bill” story was that I included Marc in the strip, where he gets to meet Bill’s ghost, and Bill thanks him personally. Marc told me that he choked up when he read it, and felt it was as close to meeting our hero as he was going to get. Athena liked it too. Giving a smile to Marc and Athena was a big reward for me.

GP: Lastly, if it came down to a choice; pirates, ninjas, cowboys or aliens?

TT: Probably cowboys. I’m a bit of a sucker for Westerns…I grew up with Clint Eastwood movies and Butch and Sundance. But hey, I’m the guy who really liked Cowboys Vs. Aliens, even if no one else did. And Terra Man (the alien cowboy bad guy from Superman) holds a sentimental place in my heart, even if he’s way too goofy to have ever seen print.

Marc Tyler Nobleman Talks To Us About His Work In Getting Bill Finger’s Name Recognized

bill-the-boy-wonderLast year, DC finally acknowledged Bill Finger as the co-creator of Batman. If you’ve paid attention to any comics featuring the Dark Knight lately, you’ll have noticed a slight change in the byline. Instead of just one name, it now reads “Batman created by Bob Kane with Bill Finger.” A driving force behind Finger finally being officially acknowledged after so many years was Marc Tyler Nobleman, who wrote Bill The Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator Of Batman, and in the process of researching that book he also uncovered some previously unknown pictures, and descendants, of Bill Finger (and you can read more about that here).

Marc‘s book, and school tours, have introduced an entirely new generation of people to the name of Batman‘s co-creator, and his work is essential reading for those looking to find out more about Milton “Bill” Finger.

I was fortunate enough to be able to talk with Marc Tyler Nobleman about his book, his work to get Bill Finger the official credit he has deserved for more than 75 years.

Graphic Policy: Firstly, I want to say what an honour this is for me, personally. Your efforts to bring Bill Finger the justifiable credit for co-creating Batman have been both fantastic and inspiring. Did you ever think that you would get to see that credit printed in a Batman comic, or on the silver screen?

Marc Tyler Nobleman: Thank you for your kind words, Alex. I campaigned so hard for so long to get Bill’s name on Batman stories because I believe Back to the Future: if you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything. I default to optimist. However, I’m also a realist so I prepared myself for the possibility that it might not happen. That said, I devoted most of my thought energy to the positive.

GP: During your quest (can I call it a quest?) to have Bill officially recognised you unearthed some previously unknown photographs of Bill. Did you ever expect to find anything like that?

MTN: I did feel confident I could find at least one or two photos, but I don’t think I stopped to consider that I might find as many as I did (at least 13). Early on I realized that the only way I’d have a chance of succeeding is by locating people who were close to Bill but who did not work in comics. If they were in the industry, their photos would most likely already be public.

GP: In your book, Bill The Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator Of Batman you imply that some of the responsibility for Bill’s lack of credit at his own feet. Do you think that if he’d stood up for himself earlier than he did he may have been credited before now?

MTN: I’m not programmed for hypotheticals.

GP: Do you feel that you’ve achieved what you set out to achieve for Bill with the “Batman created by Bob Kane with Bill Finger” credit, or is there still more to do?

MTN: Yes and yes: obtaining official credit was the driving force for me but the cultural obligation to tell Bill’s story is a lifelong job. Also, the man needs a permanent memorial, all the more so because he has no gravestone, and I’ve been working on that since before the book came out. It’s not familiar territory for me but I’m finding my way. Stay tuned!

GP: You visit a lot of schools giving talks about the research involved in two of your books; the already mentioned Bill The Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator Of Batman as well as your biography on Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel, Boys of Steel: The Creators of Superman. How receptive are the kids to the history of the creators?

MTN: Profoundly so, I’m happy to report. I’ve been to schools where kids have made a board game about Siegel and Shuster and where kids have written letters to Bob Kane as Bill’s son Fred. Hearing Bill’s story, kids reveal the best of humankind—their desire to go out and do good in the world becomes palpable (and hugely inspiring). Kids have asked me questions that have almost brought me to tears.

GP: I think one of the strongest aspects of Bill The Boy Wonder… is its accessibility. I’m guessing that was done to increase awareness of Bill Finger with a younger audience?

MTN: Thank you. Yes, I wrote the book for all ages but with special emphasis on a younger audience. Unlike me, they can learn the truth about this icon before they grow up. We should always pay attention to whoever has created something we love. It’s hard to direct thanks into an abyss.

GP: Any plans to release an updated version of Bill The Boy Wonder now that his name is included in the byline?

MTN: The final words of my book: “Will his name ever be added to every Batman story? Batmanians are keeping their Fingers crossed.” Part of me wants to leave the book that way—it’s an instant time capsule. And it will encourage some readers to do further reading. Another part of me, of course, wants to revise it. Too soon to say which part of me will get his way.

GP: Brett (Graphic Policy’s blogger-in-chief) wanted me to ask: I’ve always wondered if folks knew what they were a part of when they were creating all of these characters and if there was some idea they’d last so long and be so loved?

MTN: I found no documentation of what the Bill and Bob of 1939 (the year of Batman’s debut) thought about posterity, but I think it’s safe to assume neither could have foreseen this character being around in a decade, let alone seven. Comic books were barely considered an art form then.

GP: I think it’s important to recognize the contributions that the early creators had to the comic book and pop culture landscape. How important do you think it is for publishers to acknowledge the men who built their characters? Do you think that we, the fans, have just as much responsibility in asking for that recognition – whether it be in bylines, or an official recognition?

MTN: I think it’s obvious that I feel it is vitally important to credit anyone for anything s/he contributes to society! And yes, now more than ever, fans have the power to share their opinion easily and on the world stage. Take it from me: stating your case sensibly and steadily can make a difference.

GP: After reading through your extensive research notes on your blog, do you have any plans to release another book detailing either the search for Bill, or all of the information you were able t unearth, or will that stay largely  on your blog?

MTN: Given how many people have asked if I will write a longer book on Bill, I should…but too early to say. For now, the material on my blog isn’t going anywhere.

GP: And finally, pirates, ninjas, cowboys or ninjas, and why?

MTN: Of pirates, ninjas, or cowboys, I chose knights, of course. In particular Dark ones.

Mike Marts talks AfterShock Comics

mike marts

Mike Marts, AfterShock Editor-in-Chief

Mike Marts began his career working at Marvel Comics in 1993. Having begun as Assistant Editor, he is now the Editor-in-Chief and a founding member of AfterShock Comics. Having spent twenty years working for both Marvel and DC Comics, he is now shaping the face of independent publishing. Taking a few minutes from his busy life, Marts discussed what makes AfterShock’s emphasis on quality story-telling, the dangers being “All-New” too often and the joy of sharing interests with his daughter.

Graphic Policy: How was your weekend?

Mike Marts: Fantastic. I’m a Bronco’s fan. It couldn’t have been any better.

GP: Did you catch the Captain America: Civil War trailer?

MM: Yes. Yeah, it was great.

GP: Whose side are you on?

MM: (Chuckles.) The side that makes Marvel a lot of money.

GP: Fair enough. It’s a pretty exciting year for Marvel/DC movies. Considering your work with both publishers, do you have a preference?

MM: No, honestly, I’m happy when I see everyone do well. Right now it seems like most studios are firing on all cylinders. They’re really putting some quality product out there so… I’m excited for everything. Deadpool, X-Men: Apocalypse, Civil War, Batman V. Superman, Suicide Squad. Everything’s looking fantastic.

GP: It’s very exciting. Do you find yourself gravitating towards Marvel Studios over Fox or Sony?

MM: Yeah, I think so. It’s probably because most of the characters that are involved in the Fox movie films are characters I worked on and associate with more but… I worked there for such a long time. You know, you see the blood, sweat and tears and hard work that everyone at Marvel Comics puts into the movies. So, definitely over the last ten years I’ve felt much more attachment to the movies Marvel Studios put out.

GP: Who was your favorite writer growing up?

MM: Easily Chris Claremont. Chris wrote the X-Men comics and those are the ones I fell in love with. Those are the ones I started collecting. For me, as a ten-year-old boy, the X-Men were everything. When I first got interested in working in comics and writing for comics, Chris was the person I wanted to be. I was so enamored with his work. It was great being able to work with him multiple times at Marvel.

GP: Does that mean Jim Lee was your favorite artist?

MM: Jim Lee was one of my favorites. Certainly that era was great artistically. I first got into X-Men maybe ten years before that, so John Byrne and Paul Smith were really the main X-Men artists to me. That’s really who I identified with.

GP: What was your favorite story while you were working at Marvel?

MM: That would be a close tie, maybe a three-way tie. If I had to pick one it would probably be Joss Whedon and John Cassady’s Astonishing X-Men run. Over the course of a career, there are so many different arcs that you look on fondly. But it’s hard to look back at that and not see perfection from every angle. Both those guys are just the epitome of perfection in storytelling. I don’t know that I’ve had that happen before or since. They were just at the top of their game, delivering incredible stories. Probably a close second and third for me would be Wolverine: Origins with Andy Kubert and Paul Jenkins and then Grant Morrison’s run on New X-Men.

GP: What were your favorite independent titles while you were working with Marvel?

MM: I would bounce around. I never really had an allegiance to any specific company. I would usually follow certain creators, certainly Brian K. Vaughan. Walt Simonson’s work outside of DC and Marvel like his work on Ragnarok, was appealing to me.

GP: What do you feel like set those titles apart from what was being published at Marvel and DC?

MM: It’s something I’ve discovered working at AfterShock, when people are working on their creator-owned projects, I think there’s a certain ownership. Really, it’s almost like being a parent of a story that doesn’t always exist in the mainstream. That’s not to say it doesn’t happen. It certainly does with certain creators. But on the creator-owned projects you see the TLC, that parenting and ownership on everything they are doing because of their personal stake. Not that you’re never getting someone’s best work elsewhere, but I think working on a creator-owned project you’re getting something they are truly invested in and dedicated to.

GP: What was the appeal of taking the position at AfterShock as Editor-in-Chief, going from such large companies as Marvel and DC to the antithesis, a much smaller and unestablished company?

MM: When I look at it, my perspective is I’ve been building towards doing something like AfterShock my entire career. Marvel and DC gave me huge opportunities to prove myself and work on great projects with great creators, but personally I’ve always wanted to build something on my own. I’ve always wanted to start my own company and my partners at AfterShock were cool enough to give me that opportunity. For me, moving from the two big publishers to something brand new never seemed that dangerous, it seemed like the next evolutionary phase of my career.

GP: A lot of publishers start out very specialized. IDW focused on horror for a long time. Avatar still focuses on mature content. But from books like Super Zero to Insexts, there is a lot of variety from one book to the next. How would you characterize AfterShock to someone who had not read its work?

MM: AfterShock as a company is the top-name creators telling the best stories possible. The fact that we have such variety is a lucky by-product. Our first goal is the best possible story, a story we’re interested in reading, unique and different. Something that hasn’t been done before. The fact that we have so much that’s different coming out has been our secondary goal, but it’s certainly not the first goal.

GP: Your CEO, Jon Kramer, and President, Lee Kramer, both have backgrounds in film and television. How big a consideration is the ability to crossover into movies when you’re considering a new story?

MM: It’s not the first thing we think about. But, certainly, it’s fantastic if the story has legs for something beyond comic books. The cool thing is with John and Lee’s experience, we’re in a great position to quickly enter into different areas of media if we choose to go down that path. The infrastructure is always set up. Other publishers don’t always have that experience and may add extra steps along the way. In our company, we have a lot of experience not just in film and television but distribution, publishing, in social media. We have a good mix of people.

GP: Would you say there’s a possible burnout of interest in television shows and films that started as comics?

MM: If there is, I don’t think it’s anywhere in the near future. If you look at everything that’s on the networks today and so many things hitting the theaters, there are so many projects that have originated in comic books. And so much of it is really high quality. Everything from Marvel’s Netflix shows to their movies, I, Zombie and Lucifer and Gotham. Even things my daughter watches like Teen Titans Go! is high quality. I don’t think it’s luck that this is happening. People who grew up reading comic books and loving that art form know what it’s like to put together a quality story. Now these people have grown up and are in industries like movies and television and video games. They’re applying that storytelling foundation and background to the stuff they are working on today. I really don’t think there’s an end in sight because there’s so much good quality in the libraries of what’s been done.

GP: How old is your daughter?

MM: Six. She’s home sick today so I’m taking care of her.

GP: That’s a wonderful age. My daughter is eight and we’re just getting into Tolkien.

MM: That’s so cool that you are guys are getting into Tolkien! I can’t wait to get there. I can’t wait for the day she picks up a Harry Potter book. We spend so much time doing Star Wars together. She loves all the Marvel and DC superheroes. It’s a good thing.

GP: It absolutely is. She’s lucky to have you to share that with.

Many writers know the pain of approaching a publisher that is accepting submissions from artists but not from writers. What’s your advice on how they might find some advantage?

MM: You know, everyone has their own different story and there’s no magic formula. You can never give up in this industry. There’s only a few spots and so many people vying for those spots, so many people who are great in their own right. You have to persevere and stand out from the pack, find some special way of making noise and getting yourself seen without becoming pushy, annoying or overbearing. It’s a magic line and not everybody finds it. Some people do and still are not able to break through. That’s how tough it is. But when you do, you are in. You are part of a brotherhood and there’s not really any going back.

GP: Andy Schmidt once told me when I asked a similar question about how to talk to editor’s when the position is “we won’t look at unsolicited material” that you might try approaching the editor directly and saying, “May I please send this to you.” What are your thoughts on that approach?

MM: Every company has their own way of looking at stuff. We don’t look at stuff unsolicited. I recommend people putting stuff up on their site and then telling the right person it’s there. Then people can go look at it. Being in contact and letting people know you’re out there is a good thing. If you’re not telling people to go look at it then you’re already working from a point of disadvantage.

GP: I’ve been reading comic shop owners who are saying the sales for Marvel and DC are down. Do you have any insight as to why?

MM: No, I don’t. Certain companies have a certain title count they’re aiming for each month. Not AfterShock, but certain companies do. They may be required to get a certain amount out each month. Not all the time but what that can sometimes mean is you can dilute your existing talent and maybe diminish the quality of your product. If there is a decline in mainstream sales, my guess might start there.

GP: Do you think that events like Marvel NOW and New 52 that are intended to bring in new readers ultimately drive people away?

MM: No, not necessarily. I was involved in New 52 quite a bit. The best intentions are always involved in launches like that. I do think they can capitalize on what they’re trying to do, draw in new readers while retaining the existing readership. Certainly with DC’s New 52 there was great success and great reviews. It seemed we were bringing in new readers, bringing back lost readers and satisfying our existing readers. Where some of that can fall short, not speaking of anyone specifically, is when you don’t stick to a plan or what you’re promising. Maybe you shift gears too suddenly by saying, “Wait, here’s something ‘All-New’…” you’re sending mixed messages. You’re not fully following through on the promise you made last month or last year. Comic readers are highly intelligent and have seen every relaunch, sales gimmick, marketing trick in the past. When you have something like that where you’re trying to bring the new while you retain the old, you have to continue with that. Sometimes that might mean not being able to take some other chances. But you have to stick with your message and what you promise.

GP: I have read other complaints that, while diversity is important, a lot of the diversity we see today is shoe-horned in and feels a bit pandering. How do you feel about characters like Sam Wilson/Captain America or Jane Foster/Thor?

MM: Having worked at Marvel when both those stories took place I can tell you they originated from story ideas. There was never a conversation where people said, “we have to mix things up and increase diversity. We have to have a female Thor or African American Cap.” Those conversations started with Jason Aaron or Rick Remender or whoever coming to their editor saying, “I got a great idea. Something terrible happens to Steve Rodgers and, guess what? Sam Wilson has to take his place.” That conversation may have gone differently at a different company or at a different time but definitely those two instances were born out of true need for original story. I definitely stand behind them. It’s the same type of thing in ’83 or ‘84 when Tony Stark was battling alcoholism and James Rhodes had to step in and become Iron Man. That was born out of story. That was a huge deal. I think sometimes, after the fact, it’s easy for those story-needs to get caught up in hotter topics and the issue of diversity. But more often than not they’re born out of a need for story and I think that’s an admirable thing.

GP: With Dreaming Eagles, AfterShock has quickly demonstrated its own diversity. But where does that importance reside when the subject may not necessitate a certain race?

MM: Well, it’s a good question. But at AfterShock what we promise in our mission statement is to deliver the best stories. From that priority we get stories like Dreaming Eagles. If we get great stories that tackle social issues that’s a double-win for us. The first win is getting a great story and helping someone like Garth Ennis (Dreaming Eagles) or Paul Jenkins (Replica) or Jimmy Palmiotti (Super Zero) to see their dream story fully-realized and printed. If we tackle tough issues in the meantime, that’s a double win for us.

Graphic Policy’s Top Comic Picks this Week!

Jonesy_001_A_MainWednesdays are new comic book day! Each week hundreds of comics are released, and that can be pretty daunting to go over and choose what to buy. That’s where we come in!

We’re bringing back something we haven’t done for a while, what the team thinks. Our contributors are choosing up to five books each week and why they’re choosing the books.

Find out what folks think below, and what comics you should be looking out for this Wednesday.

Javier

Top Pick: Sunflower #4 (451 Media) – The visuals are amazing, but the luminescence is in stark contrast to the dark cult ridden story. CJ will do anything for her daughter. Or at least we are going to find out?

Descender #10 (Image Comics) – The space adventures of Tim 21 continue on the Robot Resistance’s Machine Moon home world. A new group (‘The Between’) and character (‘Queen Between’) are to be introduced in this issue.

The Last Contract #2 (BOOM! Studios) – The assassin Old Man with No Name is on the hunt for the rat bastard who exposed his kill list. And he ain’t taking no prisoners.

Last Sons of America (BOOM! Studios) – Don Carlo is about to open a Mexican Can of Whoop’ Ass on Jackie and Julian.  I guess they shouldn’t have gotten involved with the Don’s Star Wars quoting daughter.

Snow Blind #3 (BOOM! Studios) – Trent is one messed up kid, and now he knows everything about the WITSEC program and his family.

 

Elana

Top Pick: Constantine The Hellblazer TP Volume 1 (DC Comics)Constantine is DC’s best comic and this is the place to start for fans both new and old. It holds the blend of dark humor, self destructive lust, creepy magic and relatable melancholy that’s required in a Constantine comic. Yet the stories and creative art feel all new. And hurray, one of the writers is a bisexual man writing a bisexual male lead.

Top Pick: Jonesy #1 (of 4) (BOOM! Studios/BOOM! Box) – Love is dumb! Thus spaketh many a young rebel such as Jonesy, the protagonist of this new all-ages miniseries. She has the superpower to make people fall in love, but not with her. While she revels in being unique and an outsider she also wants to be accepted– in-spite of herself. Cute and bold art that’s half punk/half cartoon feels very contemporary and young.  This is writer Sam Humphries’s second latina teen protagonist (the other stars in Marvel’s Weirdworld which you should also be buying).

All-New Wolverine #5 (Marvel) – Laura Kinney teams up with The Wasp! I love this series’ character development and consistent feminist awesomeness. Laura is a complex female superhero and we’ve been hungry for that.

Black Canary #8 (DC Comics) – A mysterious ninja is stalking Dinah. I think I know who it is. Fantastic rock and roll art and interesting stories featuring a great female cast make this series easy to love.

No Mercy #7 (Image Comics) – After last issue’s climax how are you not reading this?! Completely suspenseful, realistic and accessible to non-comics readers. It’s sort of the HBO of comics.

Zodiac Starforce #4 (Dark Horse) – The Final issue of a magical girl series I wish I had as a kid (and I never did read Sailor Moon). A charming and inventive all ages comic with a kick-ass diverse and distinctive cast. You’re sure to find a character to identify with. Feels a bit like a technicolor Buffy for kids.

 

Logan

Top Pick: Batman #49 (DC Comics) –  After Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo rewrote the Batman mythos last week to have Bruce Wayne not be motivated by his parents’ death to pick up the cape and cowl, I am interested in how Snyder and guest artist Yanick Paquette put him back in the middle of the action against Mr. Bloom.

Jem and the Holograms Valentine’s Day Special (IDW Publishing) – My favorite part of the Jem and the Holograms series hasn’t been the plots, but the fun characters, art, and romance. This is why I enjoy the various annual and special issues, which can focus on the characters, their interactions, and antics without having to progress the overall plot. Hoping for some Kimber/Stormer adorableness.

Jonesy #1 (of 4) (BOOM! Studios/BOOM! Box) – The BOOM! Box imprint has a strong track record of fun, relatable all ages comics with great cartoonish art, like Lumberjanes and Giant Days. And Jonesy is different with its focus on romance. Also, there can never be enough comics starring members of fandoms.

Jughead #4 (Archie Comics) – Chip Zdarsky and Erica Henderson make for an excellent comedy team, and Jughead is one of the funniest current comics. Each issue, I anticipate the weird and wacky dream sequences in the middle of the comic. Also, Jughead is revealed to be asexual this issue.

Ms. Marvel #4 (Marvel) – I’m really enjoying the new volume of Ms. Marvel, and how Ms. Marvel has to balance being a regular high school student, Avenger, and superhero while also dealing with her name being used by an evil corporation that wants to level her city for expensive condos. Talk about a full course load.

 

Brett

Top Pick: Shaft: Imitation of Life #1 (Dynamite) – David Walker’s first volume for the classic character was fantastic, and this second one is a comic that I’ve been waiting to read since I found out about it many months ago. Walker mastered getting to the basics of John Shaft, what makes the character great, and I’m expecting more of the same.

Descender #10 (Image Comics) – One of my favorite comics out right now. This sci-fi series is as great to read as it is to stare at it’s beautiful pages.

Legend of Wonder Woman #2 (DC Comics) – The Wonder Woman we need. It’s a back to basics take on the character and is right now the best depiction of the character in comics. The first issue was great and shows you can easily do the character right with a solid creative team.

Old Man Logan #2 (Marvel) – The first issue was fantastic, the best debut of any All-New, All-Different Marvel comic. It perfectly captured the “Western” feel of the original story mixed in with a good revenge tale. So good that I don’t care this issue is out just a few weeks later.

Sunflower #4 (451 Media) – This series is just beautiful to look at, and the story rather haunting. A mother trying to get her kid back from a cult, yes please!

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