Jan 30, 2009

Batman Number 1, 4/4: The Joker Returns

To read the first parts of this review: Part 1/4 Part 2/4 Part 3/4

The Joker Returns
FINALLY!! Oh my God it's been like twenty-six pages. They SURE took their time bringing him BACK. How can you have The Joker return in the SAME issue that he debuted. It's not like they released the comic, got feed back, found out he was a well received villain, and THEN decided to bring him back. It's like being at a friend's house, saying goodbye, and then walking into the bathroom and taking a shit. Only to walk back out and tell people how much you missed them, and that's it's been a so long since you've seen each other. Being in the next room doesn't count as leaving.

So there isn't much to this story. In jail, The Joker unscrews two of his teeth… ah… yeah… where he keeps the two components of an explosive, to blow himself out. Cause the best place to keep shit is IN YOUR TEETH. It's The Joker… I'll let it go… he is nuts. After breaking out of jail The Joker goes to his hideout, which is under a graveyard that is entered by a trap door under a tombstone. I'll give you a second to comprehend that… okay, you good… let's move on.

Like the LAST time, The Joker hijacks the radio waves saying how he'll kill so and so and steal this and that. He carries through with two threats, while Batman is doing nothing, AGAIN. I've already commented on this lazy writing in the first part of the review. But to do the same lazy writing AGAIN in the same issue, no less, is just plain sloth.

Batman finally goes after The Joker, where he gets his ass handed to him… AGAIN. Oh... but it's not in the same way. The Joker uses an ax, instead of kicking him in the head… so THAT makes it completely different. Before The Joker can kill Batman though, police come, and start shooting at Batman. At least Kane and Finger remembered he was a vigilante.

So The Joker says he's going to kill Edgar Martin at nine o'clock, just cause Martin said some shit about him. The Joker kills him by lacing a deck of cards with Joker Venom, so that at said time Martin would cut himself on the cards and die. What kind of half ASSED long shot is THAT! A bullshit one, that's what. How the HELL could The Joker know that Edgar Martin would want to play solitaire while the police watch over him. Let alone know that he would slip and cut himself AT nine o'clock… WHAT THE FUCK. My suspension of disbelief is stretched enough as it is with a man dressed up as a bat, but to add explosives kept in someone's teeth, and now THIS crap… no… NO… I'm calling bullshit. BULLSHIT!

In his street clothes, Bruce Wayne convinces Commissioner Gordon to place false news articles in the newspaper about a "Fire Ruby" to set The Joker up for a trap. The Joker falls for it, being the queen he is, saying that he will take the ruby over the radio. When The Joker shows up, the police are ready with gasmasks, so The Joker can't use his Venom on them. So he pulls out guns and shoots them instead. I laughed my ASS off so hard at this part. The police think that they have finally outsmarted The Joker. They didn't even stop to think he might have a real gun.

Fleeing from the trap, The Joker is followed by Robin. Robin in turn gets punched in the face and falls off a building, catching himself at the last minute on a flag poll. On the street below Batman confronts The Joker. To which The Jokers says that he remembers that Batman has a bulletproof vest on and will therefore aim for his head. Or as I like to think of it "I'll shoot you in the face bitch!"

Robin falls on top of The Joker knocking the gun out of his hand. So The Joker pulls out a knife. But when he strikes, Batman jumps out of the way… and… The Joker ends up stabbing… himself in the chest? Was he drunk or something? HOW the HELL do you stab yourself accidentally! If I stabbed myself, my friends would shit themselves laughing.

As the police arrive Batman and Robin leave. In the ambulance the doctor realizes that The Joker is still alive… DUM DUM DUM!

Although this is the end of the story, the last panel on the page is a call to arms to become one of "Robin's Regulars." Because Robin has been irregular lately and needs your help to get his bowels moving again, so stick a finger up there and get things moving again. "Robin's Regulars" are kids who live by Robin's code and do lame shit like help old people cross the street and say gay shit like: "Always be helpful to those who need help!" What is Robin's code? I'm glad you asked, it seems ROBIN is an acronym for: Readiness, Obedience, Brotherhood, Industriousness, and Nationalism. So you are to obey, work hard, and be ready at a whim for what ever your "brothers" want you to do for your country. Jesus Christ this is like a Hitler Youth group for kids who like to wear capes.

On an ascetic level this comic is not the greatest. Like most, if not all, Golden Age comics the writing is stiff, the dialog is nothing like what a real person sounds like, and the stories are repetitive and interchangeable. In the course of the whole comic there is only one panel that didn’t have word balloons and caption boxes piled on top of it. The art, like the writing, is stiff. Everyone looks indifferent to what is going on around them. And the inking tends to leave everything flat. There are far worse examples of writing and art in comics, but there is also far better.

This comic is important for historical reasons. It is one of the early books, along with Superman, to be based on a single character. Breaking away from the anthology format that was the standard. Comic books were starting to come into their own, and break away from the strips. Which was at their peaks, in both popularity and substance. As my friend Brett Von Schlosser pointed out to me, there are MANY similarities between Batman stories of this time and the oh-so popular comic strip Dick Tracy. Dick Tracy did it better, being short daily episodes. But Batman has become the more popular by contemporary standards. Batman, and comics as a whole, at this time were still trying to find their own ground in the longer format. This comic is also important cause… well… it’s the Goddamn Batman!

Jan 29, 2009

Batman Number 1, 3/4: The Cat

Part one can be found here, part two can be found here

The Cat
I know what you are thinking, and YES, this title is referring to Catwoman. Although she does not go by that full title, not called Selina Kyle, nor wear the signature costume. But the villain returns in later issues and slowly becomes Catwoman.

Bruce Wayne reads in the newspaper about Mrs. Travers having a yacht party in which she is bringing her most prized diamond necklace. NOTE…she won't be wearing it. She just felt like bring it on board. Cause that's what I do when I throw a yacht party; I bring my most valuable procession with me. Bruce thinks that all the publicity of the party will make the boat a target. So he has Dick go undercover as a waiter.

As everyone boards the yacht, Mrs. Travers welcomes her nephew Danny, who has brought along a guest, Miss Peggs, an elderly woman. I wonder why he's hanging out with an old lady… the only reason I can think of is…. Ewww. God I hope they're crooks… cause the other option is gross.

Through much exposition we find out a bunch of crap we already know. As Dick follows Danny, he finds a note he meant to throw away, that is signed by The Cat!!! Saying "Keep your aunt away from the room! Will try then!"… WOW, that Cat sure knows how to be subtle.

Not much later Mrs. Travers comes screaming about how her necklace was taken. She must check on it every 5 minutes—glad to see she's such a good host. As they try to figure out who stole it, a boat with gangsters pulls up. They want the necklace. Mrs. Travers laughs telling them that it's already gone…that's a smart idea; let's LAUGH at the men with guns. But this IS the same chick that takes her most valuable necklace with her on a well-publicized yacht.

Upset, the gangsters take all the other jewelry from the party guests. Dick punches a few before jumping in the sea. Why? Who knows? The gangsters make a break for it, only to run into Batman a short time later. How he knew they were coming, I can't tell you. Robin soon joins him and they lasso and tie up the gangsters.

GREAT they caught this set of bad guys. Good. Okay time to hurry back to the yacht so you can…what? You're not done? It turns out that Batman wants to untie two of them so Robin can beat them up. WHAT the HELL! "I know we caught them, but how about you kick the shit out of a few of them Robin, it will be FUN!" What kind of sadistic tendency is THAT.

After beating up the two men, to the point that they beg Robin to stop. Batman then turns to look out of the panel, breaking the fourth wall, to say how this shows that with out guns crooks are "yellow" and you shouldn't be like them.. because you should learn to hit, cause hurting people just for the fun of it is COOL. And where the hell does Batman get off giving an anti-gun message. He just GUNNED DOWN two trucks in the last story.

Having wasted time, Batman and Robin return to the yacht where they are having a masquerade ball. 'Cause after I get held up at gun point, I want to dance the night away dressed up in a costume, not deal with the trauma of being robbed, or return to dock to file a police report. NO! I want to party. I mean… did Bob Kane and Bill Finger give ANY thought about this… AT ALL!

Anyway… so Batman enters the party to return everyone's jewels, and is given first prize for best costume…that isn't a joke, they really give him first prize. Elsewhere Robin pulls the fire alarm, this causes everyone to run off the dance floor, the old woman that came aboard with Danny also runs, causing Batman to figure out she is the jewel thief, The Cat. Of course he would have had to know that already, cause she WAS the ONLY person that ran that wasn't suppose to be able to.

Unmasking The Cat as a beautiful woman, she asks Batman to join her as the king to her queen of crime. After saying that he's tempted, he turns her down… since when is Batman tempted to commit crimes. That's kind of Batman's thing, fighting crime. Why’s that? Because it's a woman, and Batman can only think with his utility-belt. That makes sense, especially since he didn't tie her up at all, let's her escape, and STOPS Robin from going after her. He then talks about how good looking she was, and hopes he runs into her again.
What the hell!

Batman needs to stop hanging out with a teenage boy, and get laid. For REAL. He's so horny; he lets a criminal get away cause she's good looking. If The Cat had cankles and a flat chest, Batman would have beat’ her ass and taken her to jail. Bruce Wayne is a billionaire; it can't be THAT hard to get some girl to blow him. Hell, he can just get himself a whore if he's that bad at picking up women. When your dick keeps you from doing your job, you need to at least rub one out once and while.

Tomorrow: The Return of The Joker

Jan 28, 2009

Batman Number 1, 2/4: Hugo Strange

Part one of my review of Batman number 1 can be found here.

Professor Hugo Strange and The Monsters
Hugo Strange is, up until this point, the closest thing that Batman has had to an archenemy, only because he has appeared more then once. The story starts with Strange organizing and carrying out a massive prison-break. The next night he breaks into the insane asylum and kidnaps the inmates. This alone is not enough to get Bruce Wayne off his ass, oh NO, he waits to see what happens.

A MONTH later, a fifteen-foot monster attacks the city. The police try to stop him, but their bullets have no affect on him. After the attack the monster jumps in the back of a truck and escapes. The next night another monster attacks the city. Upon fleeing the scene, Batman follows the truck (guess he figured waiting for the body count to rise didn't pay off much) in what has to be THE coolest plane EVER! For real, check this thing out! it looks like a BAT… Where DOES he get those wonderful toys?

Walking into the hideout Batman is caught by two of Strange's monsters. Then comes a page of exposition in which Strange tells how he had kidnapped the inmates from the mental hospital. And how he created a serum that turns them into monsters. DUH! Part of the side affect being that your mind becomes distorted and must obey him. If it distorts the mind anyway, why did he need mental patients? Strange then injects Batman with said serum, telling him that it takes eighteen hours to work, "precisely at noon".

Waking up hours later in a cage, Batman looks at the clock with the little hand almost at the twelve, figuring his time is almost up. Okay… The first thing I would think was, "Has it been six hours or eighteen, is it almost midnight or noon?” How does he know that it's been eighteen hours? And if the serum takes eighteen hours to work, why was it SO dark when Batmen first tracked down the hideout. I mean he would have had to start tracking them at least by 5pm? It must be winter or something.

Strange sends most of his men out in to two trucks to commit crimes, giving Batman time to grab the explosive out of his boot (insert shoe-bomber joke here). He blows his way out of the cage. Then knocks strange out a window… that happens to face a cliff, sending him to his DEATH.Batman PUSHED someone out a window to his DEATH. BATMAN just KILLED someone. Wait? Wait a fucking second. Look at that panel… it's suppose to be NOON! And the MOON is out. Batman DOES NOT LIVE in ALASKA!!! This doesn't make any sense.

Having KILLED their master Batman makes the two monsters left behind fight each other, while he develops a cure. He DEVELOPS a CURE, in five minutes. He had NO idea what the serum was made of, how the HELL can he make a CURE… in FIVE MINUTES no less!?!

CURING himself, Batman gives exposition about how the two monsters killed each other like he had hope. AS HE HAD HOPED! If anyone shouldn't be killed its these poor people… mental patients that were forced from their beds and injected with chemicals turning them into brainwashed monsters… here's an idea Bats how about USING that CURE you JUST made, to maybe HELP them. Asshole. Murderous ASSHOLE.

Using his super cool Bat-plane, Batman plans to track down the two trucks carrying monsters. Finding the first one, Batman guns down the truck… That's right folks… BATMAN… GUNNED… down a truck. For the ONE of you who doesn't know, Batman traditionally does not use a gun… EVER. He has some daddy issues about it. People say its part of the mythos that he never did. Having read this and many other Golden Age Bat stories, I can call bullshit on that, and now, so can you.

Since bullets don't kill the monster, Batman throws down a rope and lynches him. Batman just LYNCHED a guy. Of all the ways to kill someone this is one of the worst.

Finding and gunning down the second truck. Batman doesn't Lynch this monster. I guess it's a faux pas to kill the same way twice. Instead Batman gets the monster to climb to the top of a large building, were Batman knocks him off killing him King Kong style. Okay… Just so we are all clear here in this story alone Batman has killed at least seven people: four monsters, two drivers, and Hugo Strange. Batman is a MURDERER. That's the way the story ends. With Batman flying away with a trail of bodies behind him.

Tomorrow: The Cat

Jan 27, 2009

Batman Number 1, 1/4: The Joker

Starting out this new critique/review part of the blog, I thought I would start out with a bang. I’m taking on Batman Volume 1, Issue 1. This is a fifty-two pages of story, monster of a comic. Containing four stories, as well as a two-page recap of Batman’s origins. Featuring: the first time Batman is in his own series, the first appearance of The Joker, and has early examples of Batman killing. YES! That is right, in the early days, Batman killed. Well it turns out it’s just TOO big. I felt a three thousand word post was too much. So I’m going to break it down into four smaller post spread out over the next couple days. All other post, after this Bat-a-thon, will be self-contained, once a week.

Batman 1 Begins!!
After a year in Detective Comics, Batman was given his own title, called Batman… wonder hope they came up with THAT title. Although artist Bob Kane for years had been given sol-credit for the creation of Batman. Writer Bill Finger was also a co-created of the Dark Knight. Adding such items as gloves, a cowl, gadgets attached to a utility-belt, and dark clothes… you know… nothing IMPORTANT, or ICONIC to the character. Bob Kane got the sol-credit for the creation cause he sold the original story based ONLY on the title. After selling the comic, he hired Finger to script the first story, and subsequent stories during the first few years. Oh and he gave Kane feedback on his ONE character design.

The comic starts out with a two page retelling of Batman’s origins. Which is nice for people who may not have been following the stories in Detective Comics. We all know the story… rich kid and his parents come out of a movie. The parents are gun down. Then the child decides to spend the rest of his life fighting crime. You know… cause this is 1940, before child-psychologist and welfare would have stepped in to help the child deal with his grief and place him in a foster home.

So young Bruce Wayne spends the next fifteen years becoming a “master scientist” and “trains his body to physical perfection”. I wonder… did he start RIGHT away? I mean really… I know my parents were never gunned down in front off my eyes. But what twelve-year-old is that committed to ANYTHING… EVER! Besides, is this REALLY the building blocks of a superhero… it sounds like the back-story every other serial killer has.

Anyway. After all of the training he decides that it’s FINALLY time for him to start fighting crime. As he’s thinking about it a bat flies into the window, and TA-DA he decided to become Batman. If a bat didn’t fly in the window, how long do you think Bruce would have sat there thinking? I mean what kind of NUT sits around waiting for the solution to his problems to fly in the window. Apparently ones that watched their parents gunned down in front of them.

The Joker
Based on the main character from the movie The Man Who Laughs, the Joker has become the iconic Batman villain. He has appeared opposite almost every incarnation of Batman, most recently played by the late Heath Ledger, in The Dark Knight. In this first story, the Joker hijacks the radio waves in order to make a proclamation that at midnight he will kill Henry Claridge, and steal the "Claridge Diamond"… I wonder how it ever got THAT name.

Hearing this death threat, the police arrive at the home of Mr. Claridge to protect him. As the clock tolls at midnight, Mr. Claridge exclaims that he is safe, then drops dead with a shit-eating grin on his face.

He had been pre-poisoned with time released “Joker Venom”. And his diamond had been switched with a fake hours before, along with a joker playing card. This is a nice start to a story. We have a villain daring the police to catch him, and a clever murder. Overall a nice set up. We cut to The Joker sitting alone in a room, for four panels, giving a typical Golden Age exposition about how he did it, and how great he is. I’m glad this didn’t last any more panels, or his ego stroking may have manifested it’s self in a more literal form, while explaining to us point by point what he was doing and how it felt.

Dick Grayson asks Bruce if they should do something, to which Bruce says he would rather wait. YEAH! That’s a GREAT idea…“I’ll wait until the body count starts to really pile up, one person isn’t enough for me to get off my ass and take off my smoking jacket. It’s not like I devoted my LIFE to FIGHTING crime or anything.” They sit around and do nothing (or whatever you write in your fan-fiction) while more people die. After a few days they finally they suit up and go after The Joker. At which time Batman gets the crap kicked out of him. Look at that panel, he kicked him in the head, he KICKED HIM IN THE HEAD.

To carry out his next threat, The Joker poses as one of the cops watching the marked man. A neat idea, who would expect a cop? But if a cop sent over to protect me looked like THAT I would shit myself and wonder who slipped me acid.

When The Joker leaves the scene, Robin follows him to his hide out… cause he’s to lazy to do anything about the MURDER! At the hide out Robin… gets knocked out and captured like the damsel he is (again check your fan-fic). Batman comes in to save the day, like the hero HE is. After fighting briefly, The Joker runs out of bullets and…. throws his gun at Batman… THROWS his GUN! He threw HIS GUN AT BATMAN… that’s all I need to say.

I got to point out during the course of his fights with Joker in this story, Batman gives some of the corniest lines, that would be more at home in a James Bond movie, then in a Batman comic. And this is the only story he does this… WHY? I can’t figure out if these are the lamest lines ever, or the BEST! Given its almost 69 years old, I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt.

So Batman finally beats the Joker and sends him to jail, where he swears they have not seen the last of him. I would make a smart-ass remark about this being a cliché, but this is before it was a cliché… so I can’t dog on it for that.

Tomorrow: Professor Hugo Strange and The Monsters

Jan 26, 2009

Remembering My First Day of MCAD

Last June, I did a guess comic for my friend and former boss Tyler Page. His weekly web-comic, Nothing Better, went on a break when his daughter was born. So myself and other comic types filled in with stories about our times in college. This was mine.

First Day at MCAD

Jan 22, 2009

No Speed NO!!!!

So the Oscar nominations are out today. While I'm happy to see Milk and the Dark Knight, both get eight nominations a piece. I was sad to see Speed Racer didn't get a nomination of Visual Effects. I, personal, found the film to be one of the best films of the year. But it wasn't everyone's cup of tea. But even if you hated the movie, it had damn good effects. The thing was nothing but high speed, candy colored, LSD inspired goodness.

I think The Beat said it best:
"Note: we like IRON MAN just fine but that’s purely a popularity vote; SPEED RACER had far better effects. Yes! We said it!"
I concur.

Jan 21, 2009

Yes I Can!!!!

As the country begins a new. I'm going to take a cue from President Obama (god that's nice to finally saw without the "elect" in between). And am starting a new chapter in the book "Jesse Haller's Web-Presents".

What can you hope to see?

Well I'm glad you asked. I cannot promise I'll update everyday. I'll try... but that hasn't always worked for me. But each week I will be posting some kind of art work. Mostly comics... you know it's kind of what I do, but there will also be drawings, sketches, and paintings.

Also each week I'll be be talking about a comic. I have a wide collection of comics, having read them for 18 years. I'll pick a comic that deserves some attention, scan in some panels and talk about it. Then you all can add your comments, tell me what you think, talk about it. It will be FUN!!! This won't be like AT4W, although he was an influence. I won't just be ripping on crap comics. I'll be ripping apart good comics too. Talk about the writers and artist. The good, the bad, and the ugly... the ugly being Liefeld.

I will be more engaged with my fellow artist, the rest of the comic community, and my friends that have taken a little bit of a backseat lately.

Hope everyone enjoys and is looking forward to the new web-presents of Jesse Haller.