I woke up one morning and had a dream... Could I own every single issue of Detective Comics, Batman and all of the other subtitles in the Gotham universe?
Insane? Stupid? Inspired?
This can only end in obsession and financial chaos.

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

The Batman Quest: Haul June 2011

Little bit early, but here is June 2011 marvellous haul;

Batman: 250, 259, 262, 264, 265, 354, 358, 393, 396, 397, 398, 401, 402, 403, 409, 410, 412, 415, 416, 421, 422, 423, 620, 621, 622, 623, 624, 625, 634, 652, 685, 699
Tec: 578, 729, 730, 737, 834, 839, 844, 845, 869, 875, 876,
Tec: Annual #1, #10
LODK: 185, 186, 187, 189, 190, 191, 192, 193, 195, 196, 197, 198, 201, 202, 203, 204, 207, 209, 211, 212, 214, 0,
Secret Origin Featuring Batman vs. Mudpack
Batman: Bullock's Law

Catwoman: 7, 31, 32,
Robin: 1, 27
Azrael: 20, 68, 70, 72, 76, 77, 78, 79, 82, 83, 84, 85, 86, 87, 89, 93, 94, 95, 96, 98,
Nightwing: 33, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 47, 61, 62, 64, 65, 67, 70
Batman Confidential: 8
Batman Inc: 6

There is no question that this month has been quite exceptional, especially when I consider that I have completely binged on Batman, when I know that in future months this might not be an option. I'm definitely closing in on finishing a few series and important runs, while I think I've managed to avert a few problems for later (Azrael, for example).

I've even managed to get some 1970's issues of Batman, which I was well-chuffed with! True, I missed out on a few things on Ebay (sadly something I'll have to comment upon later, I think) but that is the nature of the Quest I have to deal with.

It's fair to say that July's haul won't be anywhere near as good as this one...

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Batman Fatigue... or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love The Hulk.

I'm sure that this happens with a lot of other collectors. But after a month of pure collecting nothing but Batman, a small amount of fatigue has developed.

This isn't because I'm collecting a lot of Batman, it's because I'm reading a lot of Batman (usually small contained miniseries, one shots and annuals to be more accurate) which in turn is creating a small amount of burnout. And this in itself creates a lot of problems. For example, as you will notice from this June's haul, I have picked up many different eras of Batman. And when you read differing eras of Batman, it can be quite a challenge to keep in mind the context the issue was written in, what the grander storyline is at play and, lastly, where the story takes place in the general Gotham continuity. So, therefore, intensifying my Batman fatigue. Too many plot lines, at too many different plot points are bound to make me think: 'why am I doing this to myself?' and 'what's the point of this thing..!'  Raarrr!!!

You see, you are following a blog, where the writer knows that something serious goes down in 'No Man's Land', and 'Bruce Wayne: Fugitive' and has can make pretty good assumptions what happens, but doesn't actually know for certain. And won't know until he's collected a section of Batman folklore and then fully read it.

Is there another way to prevent future bouts of Batfatigue? Well, I have other Quests in my comic collecting hobby on the go. And many of these quests have been completed and just sit in long-boxes waiting to be read. One of these previous Quest's was the hundred and something Incredible Hulk run by Peter David which was completed two years ago, and now I've got the opportunity read this thing. Oh, and if you want to read this run, please do so! It is totally living up to the hype as one of the best Marvel books during a period of awful Marvel comics. Moral of the story: a break from reading too much Batman is a good thing as long as its replaced by other top quality comic book experiences.

The importance of Hulk to me as a comic collector should not be understated. It was this collection that helped me hone a lot of the hunting techniques that will be utilised on the Batman Quest. For example, it was here where I first got out the beaten-up list to ensure that I didn't buy the same damn book yet again. Also, on an aside, looking back on it I'm also astounded how quickly I was able to assemble that run.

Crucially, finishing the run of Hulks. Showed me two things. One: that completing a really long run of a pretty mainstream comic in the UK can be achieved, and possibly quite quickly. Two: That with a lot of Patience a lot of fun can be guaranteed at it completion.

And now, with loads of unread Batman comics finding their way into the Batman designated long-boxes, these Hulks have now helped ease an early episode of Batman fatigue. And will help ease future fatigue!

Monday, 27 June 2011

Favourites: 'Hush'

Okay, 'Hush'. I suppose there are a few things that can be said about the story between Batman 608-619.

The thing is with reading comics is that there are usually a number of chefs in a comic kitchen that really make a comic work. Usually the bigger chefs are the writer and the artist. Now, I'm guilty (as are a lot of bloggers) of waxing lyrical about how wonderful a writers is, and that their work is the main reason that I picked up a book. At times this is really tough on the artist who has usually spent more time on a story than the writer, and that they should get more than the little kudos than I can muster.

For me, 'Hush' is not about the writing. Hell no, it is an example of what happens when you let one the finest artists of his generation have a proper run on one of the greatest characters in comic history. And in doing so, ushers in the new age of comics: The Widescreen Age to enter Gotham properly.
The Widescreen Era probably started with Authority #1 by Warren Ellis and Brian Hitch in 1999. It's style is synonymous with low numbers of pictures on a page, usually in letterbox format. If there are any captions of dialogue (and there are never 'I'm thinking here captions') they are loaded with wit, wisdom and characterization. Your typical Widescreen Age comic will have absolutely have tons of action and be loaded with set pieces that would not be out of place from a big budget Hollywood film. If there is any major criticism of this new age in comics, is that reading a comic book can take a lot less longer than it ever did before. And this in itself means that a writer has to be on top form if his work on plot and characterization isn't blown away by the big budget art. And 'Hush' is a fine example of this. Jim Lee is the reason you buy this comic, and not the writing of Jeph Loeb.
Batman: Hush
I'm not going to discuss the plot of the book, because I'm sure that anyone who reads this will either be infuriated or amazed by this story. 'Hush', for me, is all about twelve issues of Jim Lee kicking ass and taking names. Most major Batman characters (heroes or villains) are encapsulated perfectly. Check it out, the cracking cover of the collected edition, is just entrée to the perfect full main course that awaits you inside. If you already have these books, you know what I mean. If you plan on buying it: read it once, then flick through the art again and you realise that the book you have is worth every single penny of your hard earned cash!

I once had a conversation with Ian of Portsmouth Ian's Comic and Books, about why the hell these books were so expensive and so sought after. And he summed it up perfectly: it's because they contain the best examples of comic book art, by one of the best artists in the business, in one of his last full-time gigs. 

Hmmm, I wonder how much an original art page of this stuff costs?

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Alan Grant Interview

As you might have guest, I'm a big Alan Grant fan. And if you think that I am perhaps playing up the subversive, political aspects of his work please check out this recent BBC Scotland Newsnight interviews from January 2008.

And yes, my eyes widened too when I saw this the first time!

The Annual Issue

As anyone, who has noted, to complete The Batman Quest I have decided that the Annuals of the many titles ought to be picked up as well. This is easier than I could have ever thought. They are really easy to come across and very cheap to buy.

I realise that this is because the Annual is used by Marvel and DC as a way of getting the fan to pick up one extra comic in a title that they usually have on their pull list. Sadly, the universal comic theory with annuals is that they usually suck, and many just lurk about in comic shops years after their publication. For example, in my other collections I have picked up several Punisher annuals that suck so bad that the comic bag it's stored in is actually airtight.

However, from the various Batman annuals I have picked up 'annuals suck' isn't necessarily the key phrase I would use. Oh no, Batman annuals tend to be about as weird and fubar'd as any mainstream superhero comic book should be allowed to be. And as such they are really interesting as a result.

I'm sure that the regular writers of the early nineties Batman used the annuals, and other one-shots as a way to let off a lot of frustrations about being editorially constrained by mainstream Batman comics. Especially when you discover that a lot of the regular Batman writers have political and social beliefs that may be deemed revolutionary by some (and I truly think that this is one of the main reasons why I thoroughly adore this period of Batman. The subtexts in this period were certainly politically vague!).

Take 'Shadow of the Bat' Annual #2 by Alan Grant with art by a number of others. Here there is a proper 'what if' at play: What if Batman went another path after the death of his parents and became supreme capitalist dictator of Gotham City? Well for Alan Grant this Annual becomes a proper vehicle of political deviance and subversion! I'm not going to review this book, but if ever anyone wants to understand the real thinking is behind the character 'Anarky' it is found buried in here.

Therefore, if anyone, who plans to get into Batman and picks up any Batman Annuals, please don't think that these things are typical Gotham fare. They're not supposed to be. They're not even there to further a bigger plot. Batman Annuals, certainly from the 1990's are designed to be from Out There. For me, for that is their charm.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Easter Eggs in DKR

If you are one of those readers that love to spot an Easter Egg in a comic book then this is something that is truly astounding.

Yes. That bloke has 'MM' costume. For those who don't know: one of the Holy Grails for serious comic book collectors is completing the Miracleman series published in the 1980's by Eclipse. The reason that these books are so important is that this was the book that Alan Moore, basically, tore up the rule book by telling a superhero story in realistic way. Miracleman #15 (one of rarest of the run), is the book that broke boundaries in terms of tone and violence and was, up to that point, the benchmark of brutality in comic books at the time.

However they are now exceedingly rare, due to a massively long and vastly complicated copyright dispute (which makes it even more interesting to find it in DKR) and low print runs. This means that these very important comic books are probably un-publishable and, sadly, rarely read. Which is a shame, because these books are truly awesome and helped to usher in the Modern Age.

I'm sure that this is Millers tribute, and I can only assume he got away with it, as he was able to finish the book away from editorial control. As is explained in the DKR afterword, DC editorial granted Miller a lot of lee-way towards the of the DKR run simply because they trusted Miller to complete the story on deadline without seeing the pencils.

Nice one Frank!

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

The Quest heads to Bristol

I loved living in Bristol, and regardless of what went on in my life I knew that Forbidden Planet (the better of the two Forbidden Planets that exist on High Street, UK) on Clifton Triangle would help ease me back into the comic addiction. I explained earlier that these guys held my Pull List for years, however back issues is not something FP likes to do.

Indeed buying any back issues in Bristol is surprisingly quite tough and you really need a car to do it. This is what I was able to accomplish upon my visit there.
Area 51 is a seriously odd shop. It's miles away from the city centre on the Gloucester Road, halfway to Filton. It is odd, in my mind, because it gives the impression that it used to sell a lot of comic books once, but has now conceded that it's real business is now selling RPG stuff. It also gives off quite a retro-feel, about the place. Whether it be the dank smells, crap carpets and the poor lighting, Area 51 probably still makes a living selling comic books but it is definitely something that they did better, before Forbidden Planet took over Bristol. Fortunately, they still do stock a reasonable number of new-ish back issues, many of them I needed to complete the Batman Quest, so it was worth the visit.

The second comic book shop is actually in the city centre and is not far from Forbidden Planet and that is Excelsior Comics. If there is one business that I hope that succeeds (and thrives) through the recession it is this shop. Set up by the old manager of Forbidden Planet nearly two years ago, this store sits smack-bang in Bristol's shopping heartland in Broadmead, and it is up there with what I think a new comic retailer should try to be in this decade: lovely retail environment, lots of new cool stock, a load of hard-core regulars hanging about and, critical for me, loads of reasonably priced back issues. This place is determined to take as much business as possible from Forbidden Planet which is incredibly brave, but after speaking with the owner when I visited it the first time, I am convinced that he has the managerial and entrepreneurial skills to pull it off.

Seriously, if I hadn't loved the service that FP gave me, then I'm absolutely convinced that these guys would've had my business (and check out their cool website), so good luck to them.

Anyway, back to the Quest... Well, Area 51 and Excelsior helped me out loads, especially in the world of Azrael and Catwoman, and it they didn't cost me the earth. And that was the Bristol comic binge done and dusted.

I suppose, I'm forced into internet shopping now for a bit!

Favourites: Batman Incorporated #6

Since being able to pick up the last of my standing orders at Forbidden Planet in Bristol, I am able to read some brand new stuff. And one of those bad boys that I was looking forward to the most was Grant Morrison's Batman Incorporated #6.

I know I'm a self-proclaimed fan-boy for this series, but after a couple of slow build-up issues in the title, I think its fair to say that the volume has been finally turned up to 11 in this issue. It is here that the concepts are presented as being big, brash and cool. The art, as to be expected by Burnham is awesome. There are the numerous plot-lines, crucial conversations, set-pieces and sub-plots we are even presented with a whole new level of intrigue.

Like, who the hell is Wingman? And why am I this excited to read the next installment?!

Monday, 20 June 2011

Favourites: 'Broken City'

Behold 'Broken City' by Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso (published in Batman 620-625).

The weird thing about this story is that it really is about as different to any other Batman story that I've probably read. From what I've picked up on the net, this is one of those self-contained Bat-stories that exists with very little continuity therefore making it easier for lapsed readers to jump back onto the title. However, the story, themes and tone makes it less typical than your average Batman story.

As a story, the creators tick all the boxes that are to be expected in this type of work. 'Killing Joke' reference. Sure. Alley-way muggings? Yessir. Brooding near/on stone gargoyles? Yip. Frank Miller noir-feel? Definitely. Rogues gallery? Numerous cameos. Do we get new villains? Pretty cool ones, actually. Murder Investigation? Oh certainly. Plot twist? Big style.

The thing is here, its that 'Broken City' is missing a lot of crucial things that actually add to the overall average appeal of the standard book, and that's why I love it. For example, it is very rare that Bruce Wayne/Batman is written as nihilistic and violent in his representation here. The furthering of the nastiness of this Darkest Knight is helped by the removal of Alfred (who usually earths the Bruce Wayne side of the persona) and Commissioner Gordon (that allows legitmacy and limits upon the Batman's vigilante persona). In 'Broken City' this Batman is damn-nearly out of control: A proper loose cannon in a city of genuine nastiness. A bullying, brooding, border-line nut-job that uses his fists quicker than he uses his brain.

I suppose the major difference of 'Broken City' from standard Gotham fare is the tone of the piece. It is probably the nastiest, most violent, humour-less, depressing Batman story that I've yet to read in the Batman books. I would even go as far to say that the only thing that stops this being an outright Vertigo imprint story is that there is no swearing. The nodded influence of 'Killing Joke' and Frank Miller exists here, not as a cute homage, but to herald these other works as a 'Flashpoint' that could've taken the character on a more mature path. That different path, as the story's conclusion suggests, could have been an acknowledgement that the younger reader may be more mature than they had previously been given credit for, therefore allowing a different breed of Batman to be published.

'Broken City' really is strange anomaly to be published as a Batman story, and because it is so odd I loved it.

The Quest goes to Cardiff

Me and Cardiff and comic books have a long and happy relationship.
For me it is the finest town outside of London for buying back issues of comic books. This was a discovery I made when I was about thirteen years old, and every year I have returned and spent a small fortune at various retailers since.

So to put it all in context, I had a birthday bash to attend and I decided that seeing I wouldn't be anywhere near this part of the world for best part of the year it would be an excellent chance to pick up some stuff for the collection. I knew that a lot of hole in the Batman Quest would be filled as a result of this visit.

If you ever decide to go to South Wales on a comic binge, I hope that this Blog entry will help you greatly, as will any other towns I intend to visit in the coming years.

So, I start my day by not going to Cardiff at all, but going to a town 10 miles away called Newport. Negative Zone Comics is brilliantly situated in The Provision Market. I love this market stall, lots of back issues, lots of Batman and lots of other things. And I love the banter that the owner has with his regulars and his neighbouring stall-holders. Nobody here is short on advice and have opinions on all and any subjects, makes the retail experience here a lot of fun.

Getting to Cardiff, I park up and head directly to Troutmark Books that can be found in Castle Arcade. A three floor, super-rammed bookshop that has been in business for years. This place is an Aladdin's cave of mainly second hand books, and has a thrilling number of fairly new, second-hand comic books. I absolutely adore this place, and over the years have spent hundreds of pounds on Batman, Punisher, 2000AD and Incredible Hulk comics. All the stock is realistically priced (and this is part of the reason I love this place, they always have a bargains and those bargains add up as you find even more bargains...) and I walked out of their door distinctly poorer.

I have a look in Forbidden Planet International, on Castle Street (about a minute away), usually I can only handle the place for about thirty seconds. I know that there is no back issues here, but I usually find it pokey and dark. Not dark because there is too much stock. No dark, because they never seem to be arsed to change any dead lightbulbs. But I suppose that this is a common issue that I have with the entire Forbidden Planet International chain (as opposed to the other Forbidden Planet, for an explanation click here), they just seem to be happy to have a grim shopping experience. Well, at least they stock cheap comic boxes.

Heading through the Cardiff Indoor Market via the Book Store that is there, I have a quick look at the longboxes that he has. This book trader seemingly concentrates just on Marvel books, which isn't the itch that I'm trying to scratch.

A long walk is then undertaken, past the train station (I avoid The Comic Guru, opposite the Bus Station - stock is too new and too expensive), under the train tracks and I embark on a new discovery! Because of The Batman Quest, I have to find new shops that might carry stuff that I might not already have, and a week before I happened upon a blog that mention Cardiff Fantasy Centre hiding away on the first floor of Jacob's Antique Market. And what a place!

Now, I never knew that this place existed, and while I only spent a couple of quid there in the end, I will always make a point of returning there. Two reasons why. One, all their stock is reasonably priced, and they have serious selection of back issues. Two, the fellow running the store was really impressive- not only did he know everything in the entire universe about comics, he genuinely wanted to try and help me. I was so caught up chatting to him, I had to actually apologise to him when I had to leave the store in order to make a lunch date.

In short, Cardiff is excellent for buying comic books. And visiting Troutmark Books and Cardiff Fantasy Centre are highly recommended as they sell their decent stock of back issues at a price point that isn't designed to bankrupt you!


Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Holy First Appearances!!!

Shadow of the Bat #1- Victor Zsasz as created by Alan Grant & Norm Breyfogle (yes, another one). This one is definitely inspired by Hannibal Lector, amongst other knife-wielding, self-mutilating lunatics.

Gotham City produces quite a few mass murderers, quite a few serial killers. However, when a villain débuts imprisoned in a metal coffin surrounded by a metal cage then we must accept that Grant and Breyfogle have bred an even more dangerous breed of cat. True, we don't fully see him until a later issue, but we don't need too. In a clean and wonderfully lit Arkham Asylum, Zsasz is able to exude nastiness, arrogance and superiority over those that try to cure him. Also, he is incredibly dangerous!

Unlike Amygdala who was featured earlier this week, Zsasz has crossed over into Batman world beyond the comic and I think that's usually the sign that a Batman villain needs to do to become Premier League. This villain makes it onto Batman Begins (not as a the crazed serial killer, but as sadistic mob muscle) and all of the scars were there for all to see. He also appears as a villain in the totally awesome video game Batman: Arkham Asylum.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Batman, Grant Morrison & Apophenia

The Grant Morrison run on Batman is threatening to be going on for another three years. I think now is as good as time as any to have a glance over what has come to before and to touch upon a specific idea that appears in the first section of his run. Oh, and if you hate *spoilers* navigate away from this page immediately.

At present, there are three major separating eras in Grant Morrison's Batman work; (i) the run up and finale of R.I.P. (ii) The 'Batman & Robin' and 'The Return of Bruce Wayne' and lastly (iii) 'Batman Incorporated and Batman: Leviathan. This blog concentrates on the first part.

As we all know, Grant Morrison is very important to the comic business. He is not only one of the few instantly box office names working in comics, but he also stars in My Chemical Romance music videos. Many fans will walk away from a title the moment that GM stops writing his run, and I can claim to be one of those that has done that. The appeal for me is that when GM writes it is loaded with thrills, spills, concepts and, usually sitting behind it all, a much bigger, cerebral thought. Part of the joy of reading GM is figuring out the subtext, and what the hell GM is really trying to accomplish. In short, reading Batman by Morrison was always going to be interesting.

Thankfully, because Morrison sells a lot of comic books he is blessed with the top artists in the business. It would be rude not acknowledge the wonderful art by Andy Kubert, JH Williams III and Tony S Daniels in the Part 1, after all they are tasked into making the GM visions real. Same can be said for the various colourists and the letterers who also contribute excellently to the project.

As mentioned before I will only assess a small theme in the first part of GM's Batman here. And these are collected in TPB as 'Batman & Son', 'Batman: The Black Glove' and Batman: R.I.P., should you want to check them out yourself, which I highly recommend. Here, I plan to concentrate on one idea that is crucial to the whole piece and that is: Apophenia, mainly because the idea is so well done that when it is signposted, it is the important theme for the work and is crucial to the completion of the story. My interest here is that while apophenia works as a tool for Batman, a different type of apophenia is aimed for me, the reader.

When the Joker proclaims 'aprophenia', it is a moment that most people were reaching to their dictionaries and typing the letters into Wikipedia. In short 'apophenia' means perception of connection and meaningful of unrelated phenomena. One of the apophenia used here is the clever use of certain colours throughout the work. Even when they are not entirely obvious.

What colours you may ask? Why Red, Black and Green.

The first scene that GM writes in Batman #655, is when the Joker is shot in the head, in amongst the chaos we see the first phenomena, in the background the red sky, that give a red tint to everything reflective in the scene. The phenomena can be reflected in the new Bat mobile (of which, in itself, is used as a narrative device in itself: as the newly built Batmobile is completed it is, obviously, black with red tinted windows and red internal displays. Thus representing that as the story develops, the new batmobiles development reflects the obsession of the two colours by the builder of the car). Red and Black is already shown to be the suggestion of apophenia, as a way of forcing Batman to use his detective skills to figure out this unknown threat.

We quickly meet the new Bruce Wayne love interest, and in amongst all of the super cool inventive set-piece and plot we miss the fact that although Jezebel Jet is a smoking-hot redhead, that's black. You could even investigate the name: Jezebel as 'The Scarlet Lady' and Jet as in 'jet-black'. This theme develops more and more as the storyline develops later, when Jezebel and Bruce walk through the Batcave we see the bright Red Robin-Mobile opposite a Black bat-bike. As the story unwinds, its surprising to note that Batman isn't at all surprised about her membership of the Black Glove.

By now, you ought to have figured out when red and black is seen the actions of The Black Glove are being done with the goal of slowly completing their grand conspiracy to destroy Bruce Wayne's alter-ego. Indeed this is confirmed at the start of 'The Black Glove' tpk, where we are told that red and black represents the choice of good and evil, as Doctor Hurt proudly tells us over a roulette table. Of course, as keen gamblers know, betting on red or black isn't the only choice on a roulette table, as in the choice of good and evil, there is another choice. That choice is betting on green. Green on a roulette wheel makes, like this story, everything a little more interesting. Green also gives the suggestion of apophenia to me, the reader, thus making the experience more mind-bending.

Green is personified by the Joker and his introduction to the apophenia begins in the strangest story of the entire run so far, 'The Clown at Midnight' issue. This issue is crucial for two purposes, one it is the first that blatantly spells out the significance of the colours red and black. Secondly, it features the rejection of the black and red (as personified by Harley Quinn) by the 'new self' green-haired Joker (he has to change psychotically because GM has just had him shot in the face by what Joker believes is Batman). To illustrate this brand new psychotic-greeny-self, Joker starts to speak with his unique green-only speech-bubble in later issues. Therefore, we the reader are led to think that Joker has a more significant part to play in Morrison's storyline, even though he is never a central character in it. However it is the Joker's significance to the readers interpretation of the story that is key.

It is in the prologue of R.I.P., we see Batman acknowledging the red/black theme as significant, it is confirmed by Joker through the use of the Dead Man's Hand. However, for the reader, it is less about the use of red and black playing cards, but it is the is the Joker's green that is central to how the readers sense of apophenia panning out (see the joker card with the red blood-spot: are we meant to ask where's the blood come from or to ask the true significance of the joker playing card?). Think about it, why should the Joker be used at all in this work (and not The Riddler, he's a lot greenier)? Why is he so important here?

Because ultimately the joke was on me. Joker announces that apophenia is at work, he tells us to have a look at Wikipedia in order to find 'structure and hints and clues'. Yes, you could analyse on one level that Joker is telling the Black Glove how Batman is always one step of them and their evil scheme. For me though, this can be interpreted differently, that the Joker is talking directly to me and he tells me that Morrison's idea of apophenia with black, red and green is actually a joke at my expense designed to get into my head. Red and Black is obvious, we're told all the way through about it. Green, however, makes me attempt to try to find a pattern that I'm not sure that the Batman would see. And in attempting to diagnose my reading level of apophenia within this Batman arc, I will eventually start to drive myself into a realm of insanity.

And that that is the ultimate joke.

And this is the genius of Grant Morrison.
He makes me think.

Oh, how true this is...

When you have immersed yourself with Batman history in quite a short period of time, you need a sense of humour, because in Gotham a lot of people tend to die. Repeatedly. Often in quite horrible ways.

Maybe I'm just saying that as I'm reading Grant Morrison's first arc in Batman and I'm just a little burnt out. I haven't got many early Batman books, but I'm looking forward to reading them as there might be a lot less blood squirting about. Y'know: a change is as good as a holiday?

I came across this on the-gutters.com, and it occurred to me how much scope there is for dark humour and parody in Gotham. Enjoy!

Reviewing the Pull List

So, I'm about to finish my pull list with my Forbidden Planet in Bristol. So, now would be an ideal time to have a review of it, before handing it to my new Comic Dealer. Perhaps, I think, I might cull a couple of titles:

+ The other Mike Mignolia Books
Batman Inc
Batman: The Dark Knight
The Boys + the specials.
MillarWorld Books

The certain change is I'm planning on cutting 'other Mike Mignolia Books', and then I'm struggling. In fact, after that, I may only stop getting BPRD, and that is only because I'm just not into it as I was a few years ago. That said, I had liked where it was heading although it is taking forever to get there.

And it dawns on me that by the years end, a lot of these titles are going to permanently end (DMZ, Godland and the Batman books), or come out so infrequently that it doesn't justify cutting them (Powers and the Millarworld titles) . It looks like my pull list cull, might be quite a stress free operation and will continue over a long period of time.

Eventually, that means it frees up more cash for my Quest to collect all things Batman.

The end of a beautiful friendship

Over the last five years, my main comic dealer has been the Forbidden Planet in Bristol.

No matter, where I've moved around in the south, I always kept the same dealer on the basis that my standing orders would never suffer a horrible gap in the collection. True, an element of laziness might have crept in, but I simply never had any reason to take my business elsewhere.

As I have moved over 200 mile away, and before I pick up of what will be over six weeks of comics sitting in my drawer, I want to publicly say thank you to the team there.

Thank you for saving my comic books! Also, thank you for actually making time to have a conversation with me whenever I make my sporadic visits, as it actually made the often one hour cat journey totally worthwhile.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Holy First Appearance!!!

This one is a second version of The Ventriloquist: Peyton Riley in Detective Comics #827

When I re-discovered the Batman books (after I was scared off them by B&R), it was Paul Dini's Detective run that made me think, hey, this stuff is still pretty special. 'Tec 827 debuts the second incarnation of Wagner, Grant & Breyfogles' original Ventriloquist Arnold Wesker (at present I haven't read or figured out what happened to Wesker).

Usually when a re-invention of a popular character is presented it is inevitable that there will be outcry by hardcore fans. Therefore, I'm sure that there was a lot of heat when Dini re-invented Scarface's other half. However, I'm also sure that this outcry was replaced with begrudging respect when Detective Comics 831 was released.

It was here that Dini used his own premier league villain creation, Harley Quinn to exact Gotham-style vengeance over the new Ventriloquist over the heathen crime of stealing another villains gimmick. And in Gotham, that is a crime of no equal. Dini, here, acknowledges that the Wesker incarnation is as important and of equal importance as Harley, but as the concept is first rate it must be allowed to continue.

Paul Dini, through this classy nod to Albert Wesker (and his creators), allows me to accept that a reboot isn't really a bad thing. As long as it is done right.

Holy First Appearance!!!

Shadow of the Bat #3, debut of Amygdala.
Another Alan Grant/Norm Breyfogle creation- and they're responsible for an awful lot of villains. Amydala is a character that starts out as a throwaway thug with a serious anger management problem. Imagine Happy Gilmore with alopecia and jacked up to teeth on steroids!
This villain in truly developed by Chuck Dixon in his Nightwing ongoing, which is my new favourite comic series. A fine entrance as he kicks seven shades of crap out of the Caped Crusader. Good Stuff!

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

The Quest


Just when I think I might be out...

Then They Pull Me Back In...

Basically, the rotters at DC have realised that Grant Morrison's run on Batman isn't finished until he says it was finished. Batman Inc starts at #1 again in 2012 and will lead up to the climactic Batman: Leviathan. Meaning that the culmination of the era must require my purchase. How this relates to the new DC era will remain to be seen, and I hope it won't.

Then, as far as I am concerned, that will finish the collection.

Until something else is released.

Monday, 6 June 2011

Great stuff...

Nightwing is really starting to grow on me. And I have to stop liking it, for the benefit of future enjoyment.

Usually when I start collecting a series (like I've got any option, since starting this thing), I will take a few tasters. I'll see if I like the style of a book to check if this would be something I could get involved with. This is a tactic that I've utilised with Marvel titles. For example, when deciding to pick up the BMB/Brubaker run on Daredevil, I bought a random complete story arc midway through the run. In that case: I tried, I liked, bought 'em all and then read the entire run in one go. Afterall, there is nothing worse than reading a run in many disjointed pieces, especially when you've made the conscience decision to complete the whole thing.

To be fair, I loved the first 12 issues that I had picked up years ago, as they were eminently readable. Now after continuing to dip in and out of the title, I have made a bold decision. I will not read another Nightwing comic until I complete the whole hundred-plus run. This is going to be tough to keep too, but good things go to those that wait!

Already I've decided what I like about the ongoing Nightwing. And I think that one of the main reasons can be captured in this one page from #33.

Cool Chuck Dixon writing, and Scott McDaniel... your art just rocks

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Re-boots and Re-set Buttons

Good news! Good News! It appears that the rumours of the Rebooting of the entire DC Universe is actually a fact. And they are going to be pressing the re-set button on the numbering also! This means that Batman and Detective Comics is starting again at #1.

True, this totally sucks if you are totally passionate about the entire DC universe. It totally sucks if that, if it is as it is being suggested, it is a rejection of previous parts of the DC history and I'm sure that more hardcore readers than me will absolutely hate this. However as a collector of a special area of this universe, this means that I can have an ending point to my collection. And that will help me retain quite a bit of sanity because it has quickly created a limitation on my collection.

The thing about embarking on the Batman Quest was always going to create a lack of original focus. And thanks to this DC reboot, my quest can be downgraded from absolute insanity to very ludicrous.

It also appears that the Morrison era on Batman will actually be a part of the definitive finish, which is nice. Apparently this has what caused the many delays on Batman Incorporated, and if there is one thing I'm sure that Morrison (and in fact, all of the Batman editorial team, including writers and artists) will insist upon is a proper ending for this Gotham continuity.

Or am I just hopelessly reaching at a conclusion, so I don't feel such a coward for seeing a way of this crazy train?!

Personally, I have little interest and inclination collecting the new Gotham for reasons I'll talk about at a later date. That said, I'll probably pick up the reboot stuff eventually out of curiosity, but this time, I'll just wait for the inevitable TPBs and omnibuses.