Tag Archives: brian bolland

DC Collectibles Enters the New Decade as DC Direct and Lots of New Upcoming Releases

A Facebook page name was the first tip-off but it’s official! DC Collectibles, known for its iconic lines of collectibles, statues and action figures, directly from the source, is returning to the name on which it was founded, DC Direct. The move cements the focus of the line of collectibles as committed to DC material and authenticity of being truly “from the source.”

During New York Toy Fair, DC Direct will display its striking new 2020 action figures and statues in its booth. This year’s lineup will feature an all-new statue line based on The Joker, a revamped Artist Alley line, and additions to expand its best-selling action figure and statue lines including DC Essentials, Batman Black & White, Harley Quinn Red, White & Black, DC Designer Series, DC Bombshells, and more.

The Batman Black & White and Harley Quinn Red, White & Black statue series lines have been a success so it’s only fitting that The Joker gets his own statue line to be based on the iconic images of the Super-Villain from the DC Comics pages. The series will appropriately be named The Joker Clown Prince of Crime. The inaugural figure is based on the iconic image of The Joker by Brian Bolland. Follow Bolland will be statues by Jim Lee with a classic comic Joker design that really portrays how creepy the jokester is with oversized features such as hands and feet and Lee Bermejo, perhaps one of the most popular comic illustrators associated with The Joker. Bermejo has designed a statue that will look amazing on any shelf as its displayed in hues of purple and green.

The highly collectible DC Artists Alley line will also undergo a revamp. The line will feature more premium format designs and figures. First out of the gate, The Joker by Brandt Peters. Peters uses his design talents to bring The Joker to life by combining his antique, Victorian style for a truly unique take on the villain. Additional artists joining the DC Artists Alley line include, Brittney Lee, a popular artist who used her talent in paper-craft-style art to create a new take on the famous villainess Catwoman, Patrick Ballesteros, who uses childlike nostalgia and imagination, to bring one back to their younger years will provide his take on the Bat Family including Deathstroke and Robin, and Zach Heffelfinger will provide his take on the Dark Knight. As a character designer for Nickelodeon on SpongeBob SquarePants, Heffelfinger brings about a sense of nostalgia with his stylistic art.

Additional statues and figures debuting at the show include Deadshot, the last character in the Batman Rogues Gallery Multi-Part Statue; A DC Bombshells: Poison Ivy Holiday Variant; new Batman Black & White and Harley Quinn Red, White & Black statues and DC Essentials and Batman The Adventures Continueaction figures.

For the complete list of DC Direct’s items to be on display at New York Toy Fair, see below:

The Joker Clown Prince of Crime Statue Line:

  • The Joker by Brian Bolland (NY Toy Fair reveal)
  • The Joker by Jim Lee (NY Toy Fair reveal)
  • The Joker by Lee Bermejo (NY Toy Fair reveal)

DC Artists Alley Designer Vinyl Figures

  • The Joker by Brandt Peters (NY Toy Fair reveal)
  • Catwoman by Brittney Lee (NY Toy Fair reveal)
  • Batman by Zach Heffelfinger (NY Toy Fair reveal)
  • Bat-Family by Patrick Ballesteros (NY Toy Fair reveal)

Batman Rogues Gallery Multi-Part Statue:

  • Catwoman
  • The Penguin
  • The Joker
  • Harley Quinn
  • Mr. Freeze
  • Deadshot (NY Toy Fair reveal)

DC Cover Girls Statue Line:

  • Batgirl by Frank Cho Statue
  • Supergirl by Frank Cho Statue
  • Harley Quinn by Frank Cho Statue
  • Poison Ivy by Frank Cho Statue

Batman Black & White Statue Line:

  • Batman by Todd McFarlane Statue
  • Armored Batman by Frank Miller Statue
  • Batman by Jim Lee Statue
  • Batmonster by Greg Capullo Statue
  • Batman by Brian Bolland Statue (NY Toy Fair reveal)
  • Batman Gotham by Gaslight by Mike Mignola Statue (NY Toy Fair reveal)
  • Batman by Freddie E. Williams III Statue (NY Toy Fair reveal)

DC Essentials Action Figures:

  • Batman Rebirth Version 2 Action Figure
  • The Flash Speedforce Action Figure
  • New 52 Nightwing Action Figure
  • Superman The Return of Superman Action Figure
  • DCeased Batman Action Figure
  • DCeased The Joker Action Figure
  • DCeased Aquaman Action Figure
  • DCeased Green Lantern Action Figure
  • DCeased Harley Quinn Action Figure
  • DCeased Superman Action Figure
  • DCeased The Flash Action Figure
  • DCeased Supergirl Action Figure
  • Justice League Action Figure 6-Pack (NY Toy Fair reveal)

DC Designer Series Statue Line:

  • Metal Batman by Greg Capullo Mini Statue
  • Nightwing by Jim Lee Mini Statue
  • Batman by Mike Mignola Mini Statue
  • Batman by Alex Ross Deluxe Statue
  • Supergirl by Michael Turner Mini Statue
  • The Batman Who Laughs by Greg Capullo Statue
  • Catwoman by Stanley ‘Artgerm’ Lau Statue
  • Harley Quinn by Bruce Timm Mini Statue

DC Gallery:

  • Superman vs. The Flash Racing Statue 2nd Edition
  • Batman vs The Batman Who Laughs Battle Statue
  • DCeased Batman Statue (NY Toy Fair reveal)

Batman The Adventures Continue Action Figures:

  • Robin
  • The Joker
  • The Batman Who Laughs
  • Batman v.2
  • Catwoman
  • Vampire Batman
  • Talon (NY Toy Fair reveal)
  • Thomas Wayne Batman (NY Toy Fair reveal)
  • Batgirl (NY Toy Fair reveal)
  • Robin (Tim Drake) (NY Toy Fair reveal)

Batman The Animates Series Action Figures:

  • Christmas with The Joker (Metallic Variant) (NY Toy Fair reveal)

Harley Quinn Red, White & Black Statue Line:

  • Harley Quinn by Steve Pugh
  • Harley Quinn by Amanda Conner Statue
  • Harley Quinn by Stanley Lau Statue
  • Harley Quinn by J. Scott Campbell Statue (NY Toy Fair reveal)

DC Bombshells Statue Line:

  • Harley Quinn Deluxe Version 2 Statue
  • Poison Ivy Holiday Variant (NY Toy Fair reveal)

DC Releases a First Look at the Landmark Wonder Woman #750

Wonder Woman #750

Stories and artwork by Steve Orlando, Jesus Marino, Greg Rucka, Nicola Scott, Gail Simone, Colleen Doran, Marguerite Bennett, Laura Braga, Scott Snyder, Bryan Hitch, Mariko Tamaki, Elena Casagrande, Kami Garcia, Phil Hester, Shannon and Dean Hale, Riley Rossmo, Vita Ayala, Amancay Nahuelpan, Ramona Fradon, Jose Luis Garcia Lopez, Emanuela Lupacchino, Liam Sharp, Bilquis Evely and Travis Moore.
Cover by Joëlle Jones and Trish Mulvihill
In Shops: Jan 22, 2020
Final Orders Due: Dec 09, 2019
Prestige Format
SRP: $9.99

Decade Variant covers:
1940s variant cover by Joshua Middleton
1950s variant cover by Jenny Frison
1960s variant cover by J. Scott Campbell and Sabine Rich
1970s variant cover by Olivier Coipel
1980s variant cover by George Pérez and Laura Martin
1990s variant cover by Brian Bolland
2000s variant cover by Adam Hughes
2010s variant cover by Jim Lee, Scott Williams & Alex Sinclair

AN ALL-STAR COLLECTION OF CREATIVE TALENT CELEBRATE
WONDER WOMAN THIS JANUARY IN LANDMARK ISSUE

Wonder Woman #750 is an all-star 96-page celebration of the Amazon Princess by longtime favorites and acclaimed new voices! This oversized gem tells tales from Diana’s past and present, along with major implications for the future of DC’s first Super Hero! Storytellers contributing to the issue include Colleen Doran, Mariko Tamaki, and legendary Wonder Woman creators Gail Simone, Liam Sharp, Nicola Scott and Greg Rucka returning to the character! Wonder Woman #750 also features pinup artwork by Ramona Fradon, José Luis Garcia-López, Emanuela Lupacchino, Bilquis Evely and Travis Moore.

In this first look, Mariko Tamaki and Elena Casagrande show Wonder Woman’s strength; Greg Rucka and Nicola Scott test her friendship and grace; and Gail Simone, Colleen Doran, and Hi-Fi revisit her love and compassion (and bring back Star-Blossom!) to showcase Diana’s wisdom and wonder. All this and more when Wonder Woman #750 hits shelves on January 22nd, 2020.

Wonder Woman #750

DC Reveals Wonder Woman #750 Decade Variant Covers

On January 22, the landmark Wonder Woman #750 hits comic book stores and participating digital retailers, spotlighting Princess Diana and including incredible stories from her past, present and future. This oversized tribute to one of pop culture’s most enduring heroes is guaranteed to become a collectors’ item when it hits stores.

This collectability will be further enhanced by several of comics’ most talented artists, each honoring the Amazon warrior in a series of variant covers, each depicting Wonder Woman throughout the decades:

1940s variant cover by Joshua Middleton
1950s variant cover by Jenny Frisson
1960s variant cover by J. Scott Campbell
1970s variant cover by Olivier Coipel
1980s variant cover by George Pérez
1990s variant cover by Brian Bolland
2000s variant cover by Adam Hughes
2010s variant cover by Jim Lee and Scott Williams

Wonder Woman #750 is a 96-page prestige format one-shot comic book, debuting in comic book stores and participating online retailers January 22, 2020, for $9.99. Be sure and check with your local comic book retailer for details on any of the decade variant covers it might carry.

Wonder Woman Celebrates 750 Issues this January with a 96 Page All-Star Collection

Longtime favorite DC storytellers team up with acclaimed new voices in a celebration of the Amazon Princess Diana as the publisher revealed details today for Wonder Woman #750, scheduled to hit comic book stores and participating online retailers on January 22, 2020.

Wonder Woman #750 is a 96-page tribute to one of pop culture’s most enduring heroes, containing stories from writers such as legendary Wonder Woman writers Greg Rucka and Gail Simone, as well as fan-favorite scribes Vita Ayala, Marguerite Bennett, Jeff Loveness, and current Wonder Woman writer Steve Orlando. They’ll be joined by a variety of new WW storytellers, including Kami Garcia (Teen Titans: Raven, Joker/Harley: Criminal Sanity), Shannon and Dean Hale (the upcoming Diana: Princess of the Amazons), and Mariko Tamaki (Supergirl: Being Super, Harley Quinn: Breaking Glass).

Featuring a stunning cover from Catwoman writer/artist Joëlle Jones, artists include Colleen Doran, Jesus MerinoWonder Woman Rebirth’s Nicola Scott, Elena Casagrade, and Gabriel Picolo, with more artist announcements to follow.

Participating comic book retailers will have something extra special for hardcore collectors and ardent Wonder Woman fans alike. A collection of comics’ most popular and talented artists will render a series of variant covers for this momentous issue, depicting the Amazon Princess in different eras from the 1940s to present day:

  • 1940s variant cover by Joshua Middleton
  • 1950s variant cover by Jenny Frison
  • 1960s variant cover by J. Scott Campbell
  • 1970s variant cover by Olivier Coipel
  • 1980s variant cover by George Pérez
  • 1990s variant cover by Brian Bolland
  • 2000s variant cover by Adam Hughes
  • 2010s variant cover by Jim Lee and Scott Williams

Wonder Woman #750 is a 96-page prestige format one-shot comic book, debuting in comic book stores and participating online retailers January 22, 2020, for $9.99.

Wonder Woman #750

DC Collectibles Expands to Walmart

DC Collectibles is bringing its acclaimed Batman: Black and White statue line to Walmart stores as 4″ mini-figures. The new figures are direct transformations of the company’s acclaimed 9″-scale figures and feature designs from many world-renowned artists including Jim Lee, Bruce Timm, Amanda Conner, Darwyn Cooke and many more.

Batman: Black and White is DC Collectibles’ longest-running statue line and one of their best-sellers.

But, there’s a twist…

The 4″ line of figures will be packaged in individual blind bags stocked next to DC Comic Giants. Each month a new wave of six figures will be released widening the selection and upping the surprise factor.

The first waves of DC Collectibles Batman: Black and White 4″ figures heading to Walmart stores include:

February 2019:

  • Batman by Amanda Connor
  • Batman by Darwyn Cooke
  • Batman by Jason Fabok
  • Batman by Patrick Gleason
  • Batman by Frank Quitely
  • Batman by Dick Sprang

April 2019:

  • Harley Quinn by Bruce Timm
  • Robin by Frank Quitely
  • Batman by Mike Allred
  • Batman by John Romita Jr.
  • Batman by Gary Frank
  • Batman by Eduardo Risso

June 2019

  • The Joker by Jim Lee
  • Batman by Dustin Nguyen
  • Batman by Mike Mignola
  • Batman by Sean “Cheeks” Galloway
  • Batman from Batman: Arkham Asylum
  • Batman by Jim Lee

August 2019

  • Penguin by Brian Bolland
  • Robin by Carmine Infantino
  • Batman by Carmine Infantino
  • Batman by Chris Uminga
  • Batman by Jae Lee
  • Batman by Brian Bolland

The Walmart exclusive Batman: Black and White figures are priced at an MSRP of $5.00 each.

Batman: Black and White Wave 1
Batman: Black and White Wave 2
Batman: Black and White Wave 3
Batman: Black and White Wave 4

DC Collectibles Announces PVC Statue Line and More for August 2018

DC Collectibles is kicking off the New Year in a big way by revealing a fresh new slate featuring two unique statue lines. Taking center stage in August 2018 will be a first-ever PVC statue line from DC Collectibles titled DC Core. The line will present striking new interpretations of fan-favorite DC characters and will be offered at an attractive $50.00 price point. DC Collectibles will also release an inventive multi-part statue set that showcases the Teen Titans characters as seen in the famous New Teen Titans #1 cover by legendary artist George Pérez. Additional DC Collectibles items debuting in August 2018 include a Designer Series Batman mini statue by Brian Bolland, a Batman: The Animated Series Harley Quinn expressions pack and a DC Cover Girls: Batgirl statue based on the artwork of superstar artist Joëlle Jones.

Charting into new territory, DC Core is DC Collectibles’ first line of 9″ scale statues produced in PVC. The character designs and attitudes are conjured up by DC Collectibles’ executive creative director Jim Fletcher and his award-winning design team, and will feature dazzling, dynamic poses. Each figure will stand upon a character-specific base that will include the same intricate details as the statue itself.

The Joker is the first DC character to be transformed into a DC Core statue, and the spectacular sculpt by David Pereira features the Clown Prince of Crime holding his prized Joker cane on top of his equally iconic “HAHAHA”-themed base. The Joker statue hits stores August 2018 and will be followed by Batman, Batgirl and Wonder Woman statues later this year.

DC Collectibles will also release the first two characters from the company’s 6″ scale New Teen Titans multi-part statue set. The set stars the entire superhero team featured in George Pérez’s popular New Teen Titans #1 cover—Starfire, Robin, Beast Boy, Cyborg, Kid Flash, Wonder Girl and Raven—and the versatile bases allow fans to become their own storytellers. Fans can display one or a few of their favorite characters independently, or for those wanting to own the whole set, the bases fit perfectly together to recreate the iconic Pérez cover image. Each sold separately, Starfire and Robin are the first characters to hit shelves in August. The remaining characters will be released at separate times throughout the year.

See below for the list of DC Collectibles items debuting in August 2018 and beyond!

DC Core PVC Statues

  • Size: 1:8/9″ scale
  • MSRP: $50.00 (Each sold separately)
  • Characters
    • The Joker (On sale August 2018)
    • Batman (On sale September 2018)
    • Batgirl (On sale November 2018)
    • Wonder Woman (On sale November 2018)

The New Teen Titans Multi-Part Statue Set

  • Size: 1:12/6″ scale
  • MSRP: $80.00 (Each sold separately)
  • Based on the artwork by George Pérez
  • Sculpted by Joe Menna
  • Characters
    • Starfire (On sale August 2018)
    • Robin (On sale August 2018)
    • Beast Boy (On sale September 2018)
    • Cyborg (On sale September 2018)
    • Kid Flash (On sale October 2018)
    • Wonder Girl (On sale October 2018)
    • Raven (On sale November 2018)

Batman: The Animated Series: Harley Quinn Expressions Pack

  • Size: 1:12/6″ scale
  • MSRP: $50.00
  • On sale August 2018
  • Accessories include: eight different expressions, two hyenas, multiple pieces of weaponry, roller skates, a fish head costume and a deluxe base

DC Cover Girls: Batgirl by Joëlle Jones Statue

  • Size: 1:8/9″ scale
  • MSRP: $125.00
  • Designed by Joëlle Jones
  • Sculpted by Jack Mathews
  • On sale August 2018

Designer Series: Batman by Brian Bolland Mini Statue

  • Size: 1:10/7″ Scale
  • Based on the artwork from Brian Bolland’s Eisner Award-winning BATMAN: THE KILLING JOKE
  • Sculpted by David Giraud
  • MSRP: $80.00
  • On sale August 2018

Review: Wonder Woman 75th Anniversary Special #1

ww75as_cv1_dsWhen it comes to Wonder Woman, it never surprises me, that although her stature in the comics world is as immense as it is, that she has never had a solo movie until next year. This character who, has inspired women of all ages for decades, and has even been on Ms. Magazine, never truly has gotten her due. Her life in the comics world, is as just as big as her contemporaries, Batman and Superman. Her backstory is also just as interesting, if not more, as she ascends from royalty, revealing a long extenuating misogyny within the fandom.

Surprisingly, most people still don’t know that she was created by a doctor, who researched bondage and other depravities, but also sought to understand the human condition. Wonder Woman, is the perfect example of the human experience, as she does take the hero’s journey, becoming a stronger character by leaving her home. Since her inception, her character has grown with society, as she initially followed tropes but eventually came to challenge each one. She even challenges the trope of relationships, where she takes the more dominant roles in her relationships with Batman and Superman.

In the Wonder Woman 75th Anniversary Special, several writers and artists collaborate to create stories in which makes us all look at Diana different. “Big Things One Day Come” has Diana and a new superhero by the name of Star Blossom take on a kryptonite powered gorilla, which is both funny and action packed. “Gives Us Strength” follows Diana as she fights some Nazis and actually helps liberate France during World War II. The last piece that stands out is the interview Lois Lane does with Wonder Woman, which answers some questions, but brings up even more.

Altogether, this special is more a love letter to this character which has inspired millions and continues to every day. The writers all bring their love to the story. The artist more so as they see her in each, a different light. Overall, a fun tribute to an icon.

Story and Art by: Liam Sharp, Rafael Scavone and Rafael Albuquerque, Brenden Fletcher and Karl Kerschl, Fabio Moon, Hope Larson and Ramon Bachs, Renae De Liz and Ray Dillon, Jill Thompson, Annie Wu, Yanick Paquette and Nathan Fairbairn, Sebastian Fumara, Claire Roe and Jordie Bellaire, Marcio Takara and Marcelo Maiolo, Phil Jimenez and Romulo Fajardo Jr, Brian Bolland, Marguerite Bennett and Marguerite Sauvage, Jenny Frison, Gail Simone and Colleen Doran
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Preview: Doom Patrol #1

Doom Patrol #1

Written by: Gerard Way
Art by: Nick Derington
Cover by: Nick Derington
Variant cover by: Babs Tarr, Brian Chippendale, Jaime Hernandez, Sanford Greene, Brian Bolland

The atoms are buzzing. The daydreams crowd sentient streets, and the creative team has been warned, “Turn back now or suffer the mighty consequence of sheer, psycho-maniacal mayhem.” Generation-arsonists unite—this is DOOM PATROL, and the God of the Super Heroes is bleeding on the floor.

A blenderized reimagining of the ultimate series of the strange, DOOM PATROL combines elements from classic runs, new directions, and things that could not be. Our entry point is Casey Brinke, a young EMT on the graveyard shift to abstract enlightenment, with a past so odd that she’s not entirely sure what is real and what is not. Along with her partner, Sam Reynolds, the pair blaze a path through the city and its denizens, finding the only quiet that exists at 3am is the chaos of the brain. When the pair answer a hit-and-run call, they find themselves face to face with a familiar figure: Cliff Steele, AKA Robotman.

“It gets weirder from here,” writer Gerard Way had to say about the book, with artist Nick Derington gripping tightly on the wheel of the ambulance. The pair’s only communication? Shouting out of the open windows while at high velocity. Who needs a new roommate? Who names a cat “Lotion”? And when do we get to see all those muscles?

Find your answers inside the pages of this comic book, as we set the stage for new beginnings, as well as the re-introduction of some classic DOOM PATROL characters, including Niles Caulder, Negative Man, Flex Mentallo, and Crazy Jane.

The debut title of DC’s Young Animal line kicks off with a removable sticker on its cover: Pull back the gyro to reveal its secrets, but be warned—there is no turning back.

dpa_cv1_

The Killing Joke: How the Adaptation Made it More Problematic and Less Fave

Despite the Killing Joke‘s place in the history of fridging women in superhero comics, I still have a great fondness for the Alan Moore/Brian Bolland story (in fact, I’ve often thought that the story could have been done without fridging Barbara Gordon at all) and so when I heard that it was going to be turned into an animated movie with Kevin Conroy, Mark Hamill, and Bruce Timm, I was thrilled and I got myself a ticket. (I even accidentally showed up a week early because I forgot which Monday the screening was…)

And then came rumors about the adaptation, and then came SDCC. I felt genuinely torn about whether to go ahead – if it was as bad as it sounded, I didn’t want to support the film; on the other hand, I hadn’t seen the film and wanted to be able to judge from primary evidence. Plus, I’d already bought the ticket and a bunch of my friends were going, so I waffled my way into going.

So is it as bad as people at SDCC thought? In some ways no, and in some ways it’s worse.

WARNING: Spoilers in full for the Killing Joke, which involves violence against women.

The Prologue:

So first let’s talk about the not-as-bad. Some of the reviews and first impressions that have come out suggest that “we meet Barbara Gordon as a young librarian who has started donning the Batgirl costume in order to attract the attention of Batman.” While everyone’s experience of a film is subjective, I think this reading is based on a mis-reading of one particular line.

There’s a scene in the Prologue where Batgirl is arguing with Batman over being taken off a case and she yells at him that she “got into this because of you.” (By the way, all of these quotes from the film should be taken as paraphrase from memory because I didn’t have the opportunity to take notes and there’s no script available) The context of her line is that Batman’s just told her that he doesn’t trust her because costumed crime-fighting is just a game for her, whereas Batgirl is pointing out that she became Batgirl because she was inspired by Batman and he’s been acting as her mentor. The two of them don’t have a sexual relationship at this point nor is Batgirl actively trying to start one, so I find this reading strange because it pushes the (arguably rather sexist) narrative that Batgirl is some sort of crazed groupie.

What might have led people to that conclusion is that after this line, Batgirl and Batman have sex. Now, I don’t necessarily have a problem with this in the abstract. While some might feel that “Batman has had a primarily parental relationship with Barbara, which makes this scene problematic for many fans on its most basic level,” I don’t agree. Having watched a lot of the Adam West show where Batgirl was substantially older than Robin and Batman would go into these rhapsodies about the perfume of this mystery woman, the idea isn’t without precedent.

However, the handling of this plotline is horrible, in ways that do minor damage to Barbara’s character, but arguably way more damage to Batman’s character. It’s bad enough that there is this framing of Barbara being hot for her yoga teacher, although her line that she has “a man in her life” is as much to try to fend off her camp gay coworker who might as well have stepped out of Patton Oswalt’s sketch on the “Gay Best Friend” as it is a statement of her interest. But what’s much worse is that the act itself is a horrible cliche slap-slap-kiss moment, where Batgirl is fighting Batman on a roof because she’s hit her limit with Batman’s bullshit, judo-flips him into the ground, and then pins him, and then they fuck. While a gargoyle watches.

(Poor guys can’t even close their eyes…)

In the sold-out screening I was in, this was a moment where the entire audience erupted in groans and laughter, because it was such a cheesy scene and didn’t fit Barbara Gordon’s character at all. The rooftops location, the fight-fight-kiss dynamic, the costumes – this is a Catwoman scene and it’s a played-out Catwoman scene at that.

Is what follows accurately described as her “using sex and then pining for Bruce,” as Jeremy Konrad said in that now-infamous Comic-Con panel? No. In fact, it’s kind of the reverse (and this is why I said the Prologue does more damage to Batman than Batgirl). Batgirl handles the event like an adult, telling Batman that “it’s just sex, it doesn’t have to be a thing,” rather than trying to manipulate him in any way. It’s Batman who acts like an immature asshole, refusing to work with her or take her calls, and generally acting like a remote, emotionally-stunted jackass.

All of which reinforces the basic problem with Batman in the Prologue: he’s a giant control freak who literally tells Batgirl that she has to do everything he says, who orders her “off the case” like some grizzled police captain in an 80s buddy-cop film, and who tells Batgirl he doesn’t trust her because she hasn’t stared into “the abyss… where all hope dies.” (which is a really hoary 90′s grimdark anti-hero trope, lands with a thud in the moment, and arguably contradicts the thematic thrust of Moore’s story), and who literally mansplains objectification to Batgirl. (Yes, at some level he’s explaining it for the audience, but it’s still fucked up that it’s him doing it rather than Barbara, who as a grown woman knows far better than he what being objectified by a man is like.)

Needless to say, this doesn’t fit the Batman of the Killing Joke, who’s in an unusually introspective, empathetic, and contemplative mood – meeting with Joker in Arkham Asylum because he’s worried he’s going to end up killing him, rushing to comfort Jim Gordon, offering to rehabilitate the Joker. More on this when we get to that part of the movie. So there’s a really weird disconnection between the two halves of the movie, as we’re really getting two Batman, one written by Brian Azzarello and Bruce Timm and one written by Alan Moore, and the two don’t feel like they’re the same person.

Speaking of Azzarello and Timm, we have to talk about the source of the conflict between Batgirl and Batman, the main bad guy of the Prologue. He’s a brand-new villain named Perry Franz (mon dieu), a would-be high-tech crime-boss who becomes obsessed with Batgirl (to the point of hiring a sex worker to wear a Batgirl mask while they have sex) when she foils an armored-truck robbery. This guy is clearly meant to be a parallel to the Joker – he’s got the whole Xanatos Gambit thing going, he plays this cat-and-mouse game where he’s leaving messages for Batgirl with the cops and taunts her over the phone, and so on. Batman argues that Batgirl is letting Perry get to her and she’s underestimating him, and she rightfully takes this as Batman thinking she’s not up to the task.

However, Perry is just not that impressive, ultimately nothing more than the shallow “punk” Batgirl pegs him as when they first meet. In addition to the thing with the sex worker and the messages, his go-to move when they first fight is to roofie her (it’s not just a knockout gas, he talks about having “fun” with her after she passes out, although thankfully Batgirl manages to save herself). When you get right down to it, he’s a date rapist whose master crime come down to a failed bank robbery and stealing his uncle’s online banking password.

Now, I disagree with those who’ve argued that, in the film, “the damnable part is that Batman is proven right” about Barbara not being ready. In the final clash, Batman is the one who underestimates Perry, who hits the Batmobile with a couple RPGs, wounding him and forcing him into a desperate struggle to survive against machine-gun wielding thugs. Batgirl is the one who saves him with a motorcycle-and-steverdore’s hook combo, and she’s the one who takes down Perry. This is probably where Azzarello and Timm were coming from with the “she’s a strong character” argument.

But where they fall short is the follow-through. Even though Batgirl saves Batman, we don’t get a scene where he thanks her or admits that he was wrong and learned a lesson – the “strong female character” stuff that Azzarello and Timm argued they were doing isn’t incorporated into the text. Instead, Batgirl beats the living shit out of Perry because “you ruined everything” – and this, rather than the scene where she has sex with Batman on the roof is where she sounds like a crazied groupie – and this is her moment of staring into the abyss. Because she loses her temper and administers a beating far less egregious than many that Batman has handed out (which I think is what Timm was gesturing to with his comment about “pining over the violence”) because of this penny-ante and flimsy one-shot villain, she decides to hang up the cowl and stop being Batgirl. (Which again, kind of works against the Killing Joke’s story..)

It’s far too inconsequential and disconnected from any core elements of Barbara’s character – her family or friends, her motives for fighting crime, a more established villain with a stronger personal connection – to carry the weight of what should be a momentous decision. And that, rather than the fact that she has sex with Batman, is what weakens Batgirl as a character.

The Killing Joke:

What makes all of these creative choices so strange is that it’s not like the controversy over the Killing Joke was news to anyone involved. Everyone on the creative team knew very well that the problem with the Killing Joke is the Joker shooting and paralyzing Barbara Gordon in order to motivate Jim Gordon and Batman. It’s a classic case of fridging, and the gendered nature of the event is further emphasized by the Joker taking nude photos of Barbara to use in his haunted house ride.

No matter whether you think that Barbara becoming Oracle was an important moment for the representation of the disabled or whether you prefer the New 52 or Batgirl of Burnside as a reclamation of the character, the moment is still ugly, feeding into the worst aspects of 90s comics, and is ultimately unnecessary. There’s quite a few ways to make the story work without that scene, and it oddly contradicts the moment at the end of the comic where the Joker turns the joke-flag gun on Batman.

So you think they would have approached the adaptation with that in mind. Instead, as I’ve already suggested, the two halves clash. Given that in the comics, Barbara’s paralyzing was the moment where she had to stop being Batgirl and become Oracle instead, the Prologue has her retired when she’s attacked. Likewise, given that Batman’s had a much closer relationship with her than he did at this point in the comic, the fact that they decided to do the comic essentially page-for-page makes Batman’s very limited interactions with Barbara and muted emotional response both to the physical damage done to her and the Joker’s sexualization of the attack read like a non-response to what should be a huge deal. Moreover, it conflicts with Batman’s major arc in the story – his attempt to reach out to the Joker, even in the end, makes him seem completely uncaring about his former lover.

And of course, there’s the moment itself, which you’d think the creators of the film would treat with heightened sensitivity. Instead, the moment is intensified (in what is otherwise a very faithful adaptation of the comic) in two ways: first, the “shot” is held on what is the second-to-last panel on the right, with the Joker slowly moving his hand down Barbara’s chest and then the “camera” showing us Barbara’s opened shirt and bra. Second, later on when Batman is canvassing the city for the Joker, there’s an elaboration of a single panel where Batman’s interviewing a group of sex workers where we learn that the first thing that the Joker does when he gets out is to make use of their services, but this time he hasn’t and maybe he’s found a new girl. Now, you can argue that the Joker hasn’t come by because he’s busy with his quasi-suicidal mission to break Gordon and Batman, but the text leaves itself open to the interpretation that Joker did something more than just photograph Barbara.

As I’ve said above, the above page is my least favorite part of the comic, and even the people who don’t have a problem with that section will generally agree that the heart of the comic is in the hypothetical backstory for the Joker, his argument to Jim Gordon that madness is the only rational response to an irrational and random universe, his attempt to prove that any ordinary person is capable of turning into the Joker as a result of “one bad day,” Jim Gordon’s defiant hold on his sanity and his belief in the capacity of human beings to create meaning through institutions like the law, and Batman’s attempt to reach out to the Joker. So how does the film handle that?

The answer is that it does only an okay job, there’s a few moments where it becomes something special (I especially love this shot of the Joker watching the carnival lights come on, because it has some energy that’s often missing), but nothing near good enough to make up for everything it gets wrong that we’ve already talked about. Kevin Conroy is fine, Mark Hamill puts in a great vocal performance, but the art and direction fall short of what Moore and Bolland and John Higgins (the colorist) accomplished on the page. For example, let’s take the famous last page of the comic, shown above. There’s a lot that can and has been said about these nine panels – the use of the palette of reds and purples and oranges and yellows that runs throughout the comic, the way that the headlights turn into the flashlight beam from the joke (which Moore has already set up from the scene where Batman goes to the lunatic asylum, which he further emphasizes with the use of repeating dialogue), the ambiguity of the laughter and the siren that convinced Grant Morrison that Batman killed the Joker, and on and on.

In the movie? It’s just a shot of a puddle. No beam of light, no paralleling, nothing of what made this comic special in the first place. Maybe Alan Moore was right – there are some things comics can do that movies can’t.

Review: Judge Dredd Classics: Dark Judges HC

JudgeDredd_CLASSICS_DarkJudges-e1441736448370-659x863I remember growing up in New York City, that when it came to comics, you could buy it at your local bodega, as they had a stand just for comics, and often stocked a good variety, so there really was no need to go to your comic book store unless they did not have something you were looking for . One of the first comics I remember picking up was Judge Dredd, which instantly grabbed me with its wild visuals, futuristic setting and procedural storylines. Soon after picking up my first issue, I wanted to know where it had been all my life . Eventually, I had to go to Jim Hanley’s Universe in Staten Island, to pick up back issues and then I found out there were other series which had Judge Dredd in it including 2000AD.

Eventually my interest in Judge Dredd waned due to the emergence of Image Comics, which offered even more interesting characters than I had been accustomed to in Dredd’s storylines. My interest was not helped by the lackluster movie starring Sylvester Stallone and Rob Schneider, which only reduced the character in mainstream media’s eyes as cartoonish mediocrity and a ripoff of Demolition Man (which I really do not see the connection?) It would not be until the superior Dredd starring Karl Urban, that my interest in the character and the comic was piqued again. It had been an almost 22 year time gap, since I picked up my last issue of Dredd, and picking up the Judge Dredd Classics single issues were the way to go, as they captured the essence of who the character was.

No storyline showed who Judge Dredd was more, than The Dark Judges. Within this volume, Judge Death, his brothers, Fear, Fire and Mortis, have judged that every life within Mega City One is sentenced to death and serves as the origin story of Judge Death in three separate stories. Within these stories collected for the first time in color versus the standard black and white in which it was originally published, you will not find better protagonists than Judge Death and his brothers. The most intriguing part of this collection is the way John Wagner and Alan Grant, writes Anderson, in this series, as I feel this is the first time she actually finds her voice. The collection ends with the Judges marooning Judge Death in limbo, and Anderson evading an enquiry.

Overall, this is definitely one of the better storylines written by Judge Dredd’s creators and definitely fits the title of “classic”. These stories by John Wagner and Alan Grant, shows us why everyone who reads these stories, are utterly engulfed in them. The art by Brian Bolland, Brett Ewins and Cliff Robinson, is gritty yet beautiful. Overall, an intriguing collection of stories which introduces newcomers to one of the better protagonists to come out of comics.

Story: John Wagner and Alan Grant Art: Brian Bolland, Brett Ewins and Cliff Robinson
Story: 10 Art: 9 Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy

IDW Publishing provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

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