Monday, December 3, 2012

Soviet Style Robins? The Iconic Batman Art of the New 52 #9

In this entry of the Iconic Batman we'll examine an image taken from Batman and Robin #12.  It depicts the various Robins as they stand in awe of the heroic actions of their mentor, Batman.  The Caped Crusader has just rocketed off to intercept a missle launched by the evil doer, Terminus.

What I find fascinating is the posture held by all the Robins.  They are all in profile as they gaze off into the sky.  (In the foreground is the current Robin, Damien Wayne; followed by the Tim Drake "Red Robin"; Jason Todd as "Red Hood" and finally by Dick Grayson, the original Robin, as "Nightwing".)  Their profiles betray the inspiration they are getting from Batman's heroic act and they are joined as one as former and current students of the maestro. 

So, how do they all fit in as "Soviet style"?

The use of the profile is a long held device of the Communist propaganda machines.  The subjects eyes aren't fixed on the viewer but off into the unseen distance as if they are looking far into the future of brighter and better world.  The subjects are always standing together because they are of single purpose and share a common belief.

The profile posture is also used to convey inclusiveness.  In the above North Vietnamese wartime poster a smiling "Uncle Ho" looks beneficently down his female charges.  All are equal in the war effort and all have a role to play for the greater good of the party and society.  In the "Robin" panel above all are equal in the eyes of Batman as they share a common bond to defeat evil.  The "Robins" aren't always on the same page and often there are jealousies involved.  But not when they are bonded by a single cause as inspired by Batman.

There is often a certain dynamic of motion displayed in these propaganda posters.  In the above World War 2 Soviet era poster the soldiers in the foreground move to the front with grim yet determined purpose.  Their weapons are at the ready as the tanks spew fire.  Hovering above them are the ghosts of their forebears, generations of which march alongside them  The message here is that the Soviet soldier of the day fights for the cause just as their ancestors did.

While there is practically no motion in the Robin panel, aside from the urgency of the fist wrapped in the cape of Damien Wayne in the foreground, we still get a sense of generations fighting for the same cause.  Dick Grayson as Nightwing stands tallest amongst the Robins and they follow in size and experience in descending order before him.

Batman is an inspirational figure and the Robins stand at rapt attention.  I would find it hard to believe that Batman or his alter ego, Bruce Wayne, would embrace any aspect of the Communist ideal or the Soviet system.  But he knows heroism when he sees it and it is reflected in the eyes of the young men he often leads into battle.  As for Dick, Jason, Tim and Damien they not only gaze upon the man that is their inspiration but the father figure that has lifted them up to behold a brighter future.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Return of "Robin"

Remember all the buzz after "The Dark Knight Rises" when Batman "retires" and bequeaths the mantle of the Bat to the character of John Blake and we all wondered aloud, "Is Joseph Gordon Levitt going to be the next Batman?"

OK, it wasn't just "wonder" it was a frenzy of speculation as Bat fans in general were starved for more now that their beloved franchise had come to an end.  In the movie we learn that Blake's real name is Robin and if you follow the comics, we all know that the Dick Grayson Robin takes on the role of the Batman as Bruce Wayne is indisposed for various reasons and for more than once.

It seems only fitting that a Robin should take over for Batman in the movie franchise world and the movie was fairly explicit towards this conclusion at it's end.  Levitt was besieged with media inquires as to this possibility which he deftly deflected with good humor but little information.

Now we have this stunning announcement via that Gordon-Levitt not only will appear in the Justice League movie as Batman but quite possibly in a cameo in next summer's Superman movie!  (Read more of that announcement here.)    There has been no formal announcement but the tea leave read very well.

The "announcement" when on to say that one of Gordon-Levitt's co-stars from "TDKR" might join him for the JL movie.  This piqued my interest and my mind began to race as to who this might be.

One obvious contender would be Michael Caine as Alfred.  Caine could reprise his role as the "semi-retired" man servant who feels he needs to shepherd the neophyte super hero in his new role of Gotham's protector.  There's nothing like an ill considered leap from building to building resulting in a nasty face plant for Alfred to take pity on the new Caped Crusader.

However, my money is on Juno Temple.  She played "Jen" in "TDKR" and she could easily slide into the same role in any Batman related flick.  Jen was the sidekick to Selina Kyle and as Selina was never identified as Catwoman, Jen was never called, "Catgirl" but, again, if you follow the comics, Catgirl is the companion to Catwoman and it seemed pretty obvious the same role was reprised in "The Dark Knight Rises". 

Catgirl could be a constant thorn in any future Batman movies or she could be an ally much as Selina was to Batman.  Or, she could be both.  Juno is a woman in much demand.  Check out her IMDB page to see how crazy busy she is. 

If you really want to go a little crazy with this speculation, you could have Temple take on the role of Catgirl from Frank Miller's "The Dark Knight Returns" stories and she could even play the Carrie Kelly Robin.  Of course this would mean the return of Christian Bale as Batman ala The Dark Knight Returns.  Bale would return as the aged Batman Juno Temple would be his Robin.

Be still my Bat-cave heart, wouldn't that be amazing.

Of course, it didn't take long for representatives of the movie franchises and presumably Gordon Levitt to deny all these announcements and speculation.  As Germain Lussier of SlashFilm noted, they always say that.  In fact they were denying speculation as to Gordon Levitt's role in "The Dark Knight Rises" right up until the end.


I should note the Angie Han of Slashfilm has also done an excellent job of following this story.  Follow the link to check out her work.

We'll see what the future holds, but as of now the rumor mill is in high gear!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Art of the New 52: The Iconic Batman #8

In this ongoing series I've attempted to look at the story behind the pictures.  Not just the narrative itself but the symbolism behind the imagery.  What does the art suggest?  Is it metaphorical or analogous to something? How does it make, we, the readers, feel?

For this particular post I'll be looking at the artwork of David Finch from the book, "Batman- The Dark Knight #12."   The story of this issue was written by Greg Hurwitz with colors provided by Sonia Oback.

The first panel I would like to discuss is one where Batman is being held captive by the Scarecrow.  As always, the Scarecrow seeks not to physically harm Batman but to mentally torture him instead.  In the scene above, the Scarecrow has already sprayed Batman with one of his hallucinogenic toxins.  For some context I can tell you this particular story exposes not only the guilt of Batman's past over the loss of his parents but sheds light on the childhood of the Scarecrow aka, Dr. Jonathan Crane.

What's fascinating about the above image is, now that Batman is under the thrall of the toxin he can see the shadows of his deceased parents cast by the Scarecrow.  This is a very clever device by Finch.  Batman's psyche goes immediately to the death of his parents and the person who induced this memory casts the forlorn shadows just prior to their murder.  Note the residue of the toxin that hit the floor now doubles as the blood they spilled and it chillingly outlines their fallen forms.  One could also say this bears a resemblance to a crime scene outline.

Sadder still the shadows hold each other hand in hand just like they did the night the young Bruce Wayne last saw them alive.  No doubt it was the last happy memory of the both of them and his mother still wears the pearls she did that evening in this ghostly silhouette.

The loss of Batman's parents is one memory that will haunt him forever.  It also serves as the basis of his crime fighting career.  Dr. Crane seeks to use this terrible memory against Batman and as the form that casts the shadows he becomes the embodiment of that crime as if he owns the crime and can use this power to crush the Batman.

In our next image we see a reflection of a different sort.  Instead of a shadow casting a pall over the psyche of Batman, we see an actual mirror into the mind of the young Bruce Wayne.  Here, Bruce is humbled in his sadness and is brought to his knees by the pain of it all.  He looks quite alone and fragile and even though as he looks into the over sized mirror he sees not his true reflection but that of the horrid night his parents left him utterly alone.  The glass doesn't lie.  Young Bruce sees who he really is and it is the anguished orphan that will forever define him.

Finch sets this scene in a corner also.  It suggests there is no escape from this memory.  As I said, the mirror is over-sized as if everything that defines Bruce is larger than he is and the fact that it sits on the floor and not on the wall suggests a certain chaos has enveloped his home.  Loving parents would naturally put everything in it's place.

In our last frame we see the boy Bruce Wayne attending his parents funeral mass.  What's impressive about this tableau is the scale it provides.  We don't often get to see Batman's childhood memories and certainly not the ones of the immediate aftermath of his parents death.  I think what Finch is trying to tell us here is that Bruce is so small compared to the enormity of his loss.  The walls of the cathedral tower over him and the mourners that populate the pews are set apart and distant from young Bruce.  Even the coffins that are set before him are on a higher plane and separate from him. In this frame Bruce has been rendered diminutive, inadequate and inconsequential.

It's a heavy burden to lose one's parents.  The images afforded us here by David Finch shows how paltry we can become when faced by the grand scale of loss.  Not only for the next day but for all the days to come.  As readers of Batman I think we all know how the story turns out.  Batman will survive this loss and instead of turning inward he strikes outward to avenge his parents and in turn brings justice to all.  A bitter lesson to be sure but, as our hero, his strength and courage gives us the conviction and determination to go on.

Next up, Soviet style Robins?

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Batman Loves Cookies?

Hilarity ensues at the expense of the Dark Knight. One of the funniest parodies I've ever seen.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Rise Up & Remember Aurora

A new site has popped up on the internet to help remember the shooting victims in Aurora Colorado.  There, you can find several ways to keep the memory alive for those who died and reach out to those that survived.  There is a link to a Facebook page plus merchandise, downloads and a direct link to donate money.

It's a great idea and you find it all at this link RememberingAurora

Monday, August 6, 2012

"Dark Knightfall" Stop Motion Video. A Work of Art.

You have to see this stop motion video to believe it.  It is truly a work of art something only true Bat fans could accomplish.  Kudos go out to Derek Kwok and Henry Wong.  The effort must have been painstaking and they have a brilliant score to boot.  Oh, and a wicked sense of humor too!

Brilliant Batman Fan Art

I spotted this impressive fan art over at / and immediately fell in love with it.  The artists name is Sean Hartter and there are many more equally fun and amazing entries at his site which you can find here.

Well done Sean!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

A Real Life Hero.

You have to love the outpouring of compassion and attention from the cast and crew of "The Dark Knight Rises" to the victims of the Aurora Colorado shooting.

It wasn't long before Christopher Nolan responded to the tragedy with a heartfelt and eloquent message.

“Speaking on behalf of the cast and crew of 'The Dark Knight Rises,' I would like to express our profound sorrow at the senseless tragedy that has befallen the entire Aurora community,” he wrote. “I would not presume to know anything about the victims of the shooting, but that they were there last night to watch a movie. I believe movies are one of the great American art forms and the shared experience of watching a story unfold on screen is an important and joyful pastime.”

He continued, “The movie theater is my home, and the idea that someone would violate that innocent and hopeful place in such an unbearably savage way is devastating to me. Nothing any of us can say could ever adequately express our feelings for the innocent victims of this appalling crime, but our thoughts are with them and their families."

 Mandatory Credit: Photo by Michael Bowles/Rex / Rex USA (1066697ah)

Joseph Gorden Levitt also reacted swiftly to the shooting in Aurora.

"My most sincere sympathies go out to the families of the victims in Aurora." 

There was also this from Anne Hathaway who plays Selina Kyle in the movie.

“My heart aches and breaks for the lives taken and altered by this unfathomably senseless act.  “I am at a loss for words how to express my sorrow. My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families,” she added.

And now this from Christian Bale.

As you can see from the topmost picture, Bale has dropped everything to visit the victims in their hospital rooms.  (You can learn more about this visit here at Eonline.)  My heart broke a little more when the wounded fan made sure his Red Sox cap was front and center.  Many thanks to all of those involved in the Dark Knight Rises for their love and concern.  Warner Bros. themselves has contributed a sizable sum of money to the relief fund.

You also can contribute at this link.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

A Dark Night in Colorado

Like many others I woke up to the news Friday morning that there had been a shooting at a midnight movie screening in Aurora, Colorado.  I immediately surmised that it had taken place during the "Dark Knight Rises" premier there and sadly my suspicions proven correct.  How horrible.

The actions were that of a deranged lunatic that needed an excuse to do grievous harm to those who were simply enjoying a night out.   I am sickened and appalled by this terrible tragedy.  My first thought was to encourage people to go and see the movie and stand up to those who would ruin the normalcy of our daily lives. Upon further consideration, I thought my reasoning selfish.  As a fan of Batman, I naturally wanted to see the latest movie succeed.  What I should have encouraged people to do was keep each other close and go about their lives and not let those who would do us harm change the way we do things.

Now I'm learning that people are using the movie to defy the evil that was inflicted on those poor souls in Aurora.  How courageous and how like the symbol of the Batman to raise our spirits and fill our hearts with hope.  People can use any method they want to honor those that have fallen in Colorado but if they use the same inspiration as the character of Batman does then what better way to counteract the evil that would seek the ruination of our lives.

My thoughts are with those people in Aurora, Colorado.  If you want to contribute and assist those victims of that terrible night a list of charities have been compiled by Giving First and you can reach it by following the link.


Monday, July 9, 2012

The Return of the Joker

On July 2nd DC Comics announced the return of the Joker in "Batman" issue #13 due out October 10.  The Joker's storyline will be referred to as "Death of the Family" and it marks the return of the most infamous of all of Batman's arch enemies.  (To read more of this announcement check out the DC Blog: The Source.)

The significance of this announcement is not just the return of the "Crown Prince of Crime" after a long and mysterious absence but the success of the Batman comic without him.  Scott Snyder and his artist/penciller, Greg Capullo have brought us the mesmerizing "Court of the Owls" series and with it they have opened a whole new chapter in the Bat family legacy.  One scarcely missed the Joker!  But you can't keep a good fiend down and with the resolution of the Owl series nigh it was only a matter of time before "Mr. J" made his nefarious return.

What intrigues me is what take will Scott and Capullo have on the Joker?   The last time these two gave us the Joker it turned out to be Dick Grayson in disguise and Batman was using this charade as means to quelling an Arkham Prison riot.  (See above illustration.)

We should make no mistake now that the real Joker is making his return and below is the teaser to issue number 13 of Batman.

Capullo likes to feature his Joker with an aquiline nose that accentuates the overly toothy grin that accompanies his Joker's maniacal eyes.  It seems Scott and Capullo prefer their Joker with a frothy bit of over the top instability.  In the above illustration the Joker is no less unhinged as despite his evil machinations he takes the time to adjust his lip gloss.  Perhaps this has something to do with whatever happened to the Joker in the pages of "Detective Comics" this year as seen below.

We've heard of "Two Face" in Batman lore but "No Face"? There is nothing worse than an angry Joker and no doubt whatever happened to him in the Detective series must carry over to the Batman series.  Or will it?  Scott and Capullo have their own book and they have the success of the "Owls" series behind them.  The question is,can they top it?  Now that they have the Joker to play with they can vent any criminal lunacy they care to and I'm guessing there will be no restraint.

As for the very top illustration, it was taken from an old silent film era character that is often cited as the inspiration to the Joker.  It's a little quiz for the readers of my Fringe blog.  So the query is, what is the relation to the "Man Who Laughs" and Fringe?

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Awesome New Batman Posters

If you follow this link to ComicBookMovie you will come across some amazing fan art to the latest Batman movie, "The Dark Knight Rises".  I've included the above image from the group as it is the most dynamic of the collection.  I like because it shows Batman and Bane locked in mortal combat.  Bane exhibits his brutish muscular strength while Batman is more graceful in his Asian inspired martial arts training.  About them is a whirling cauldron of debris that adds a dimension of chaos to the fight.  At the bottom a crowd of people have formed with all eyes locked on the two foes.  Its as if the fate of the worlds rests with the outcome of the battle. 

A Little Bat Humor To Go

The new Dark Knight Rises trailer, an exclusive brought to us by Nokia, contains a little humor that Christopher Nolan kindly throws into all his movies. This third installment of the Batman trilogy will certainly be as dramatic as the rest but Nolan always finds time to add a little humor at his protagonists expense. At the end of this latest offering Bruce Wayne, as played by Christian Bale,is leaving some function and asks for his car. He's told his wife took it. "My wife?" he asks incredulously. We switch scenes as Selina Kyle, aka Catwoman, gleefully drives away. To add salt to the wound Wayne's butler, Alfred, takes particular delight in reminding Bruce Wayne that it "takes a little time to get back in the game". Great stuff. A little comeuppance for the Dark Knight. Check it out above.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

A Batman's Father's Day

I spotted this excellent picture over at Devianart by Andy-Shango.  I thought it captured the essence of what is to be a responsible father figure despite all the pressures of the outside world,  Sometimes getting the kids off to school is what's most important.

You can follow more of Andy's here at DeviantArt

Happy Father's day to all the Bat Family out there!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Batman & Robin in Neon

Holy siesta Batman it's about time I woke up and posted some new content here.  This wonderful GIF is from the Mr.Whaite tumblr page and you can visit here

Sunday, March 4, 2012

The Iconic Batman: Art of the New 52 #6 Updated!

In this, the sixth installment of the iconic Batman, we examine the artwork of Patrick Gleason from the issue of Batman and Robin #5.  To add a little context to this particular frame, Batman has been struggling with his relationship with his son Damian who is also the current Robin.  Batman and Robin have been battling with someone called Morgan Ducard who, seemingly at this point, is their equal in all departments.  Ducard has managed to lure Robin away from Batman with promises of unfettered grandeur as Robin has been frustrated with Batman’s short leash.

In the above frame we witness Batman ruminating over his failure as a parent.  He hasn’t been totally honest with Robin and he hasn’t shared many of the stories and experiences of his own youth.  Batman has sought to shield Damian in order to bring him along slowly (if that is possible in the world they travel in.)  Now Batman finds himself alone.

We see Batman is full silhouette framed by the full of the moon.  Even though it is night the sky runs red.  As we have discussed before, red is the color of passion.  Only this time the passion is far from the one of love.  It is more sorrowful here and seems to conjure thoughts of loss rather than the close knit bond that should connect father and son. 

It also portends a certain amount of violence for the future of this father and son team.  Violence is not a stranger to this duo, but the blood red of this particular night foreshadows what could be a profound amount of loss that neither may able to get back.  The loss of trust is the greatest of them all.

It’s notable that Batman is balanced on an outcrop of architecture high above his city.  Gleason seems to want to convey how Batman’s future hangs in the balance and any decision from here on will have dramatic effect on the lives of Batman and his son.

What I also found compelling about this image is how Batman is holding a spare cowl from his uniform.  He seems to be looking at himself and asking, or rather, confronting the questions he should have faced long ago.  The cowl is an empty vessel however and the answers to Batman’s questions come from within. A place where they have always been.                                                               

What is also fascinating about this image of Batman is how much it resembles that of Hamlet holding the skull of the long passed Yorick (Laurence Olivier as Hamlet above.).  Hamlet also ruminates over what was lost.  Yorick was jester to the King and someone who bore the young Hamlet “on his back a thousand times”.  Hamlet wishes for better days and a time when life was simpler and he wasn’t burdened with the pressure of his adult responsibilities.  Now Hamlet finds his adult life consumed with thoughts of vengeance over the murder of his father the King and has set his life on a course that is irreversible; a course that is beset with loneliness, retribution and a touch of madness.

Batman also feels the pressure of his lonely struggle to avenge crime.  In Robin, his son, you’d think he’d found the perfect person to share his burden with.  Yet Batman, like Hamlet, is consumed by the fires of revenge and quite often can’t see beyond the breadth of his own designs.

Hamlet is known to be one of the greatest tragedies written by Shakespeare.  In his pursuit of justice Hamlet lent his hand to the death to his many his enemies and sadly to those he loved as well.  Let’s hope Batman does not follow the same path as the Prince of Denmark did.  Many have suffered and many have been lost in Batman’s quest. But to lose the life and love of the son would be the greatest tragedy of them all.


If there is one thing I can appreciate it is continuity.  Not just in story, which is expected, but in art form.  Many times in serialized tales we will pick up the story line where we left off and if not there then shortly into the future and then flashing back to where we were.  But to see this in art form is special.  When we last left Batman and Robin #5 Robin was prepared to shoot his prisoner for Ducard and fittingly that is where we pick up for issue #6.  But as we see from the frame at the very top, we left Batman earlier in deep contemplation sitting atop a Gothic outcrop.

What Tomasi and Gleason have done for us is a real treat and I love it.  Instead of static reflection, Batman now swings into action.   Beyond is the same full moon with its yellow sun like glow.  The same blood red sky highlights Batman but instead of a sorrowful mood it courses with dynamic action literally flowing through the arteries of this story.

Batman is no longer in silhouette, we now get the full grey classic costume with the ominous bat symbol across the chest.  Instead of the quietude of somber thought we get the ripples of musculature as Batman now has purpose, direction and command.  He pulls a his Bat-a-rang line with control instead of swinging from it passively.

This is the Batman we love.  This is the Dark Knight that is ultimately vengeful and victoriuos.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Minimalist Batman

Only a true artistic talent can capture the essence of what it is to be a super hero and render it into such a stark image.  Gregoire Guilleminu is such an artist.  His work can be found posted at this link at Herochan.

I was so impressed with it all I just had to share the Spiderman work also.

Check out that link at Herochan to see the rest of this terrific art.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

This is awesome!

I know this has been said before but...


I mean sheesh, look at this detail.  As the Scarecrow would say, "Now that's a Batman."  Or was it the Joker?  Either way this is a great looking toy.  It's part of the line that is coming out with the movie, "The Dark Knight Rises" and you can find the full article here.

Am I too old for toys like this?  Yes.  If I got one would it just sit on my desk?  Yes.  Am I going to reserve one on Amazon?


It'll come out too late for my birthday so, hmmm, I know, Father's Day!  The dogs can get it for me!

Good boys!

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Iconic Batman: Art of the New 52 #5

In this the fifth installment of my ongoing series taking a look at the iconic Batman we get a full page spread penciled by Patrick Gleason with inks by Mick Fray and colors by John Kalisz.  It comes from “Batman and Robin” issue number 4 of the “New 52”.  This dynamic image shows Batman and Robin narrowly escaping the carnage of an exploding car as it is used to cover the escape of Morgan.

You can almost feel the heat of the ignited gasoline as the page is filled with searing reds and orange as the explosion blossoms behind Batman.  The reader may be attempted to avert their eyes as the deep black of Batman’s costume gives depth of color to this near catastrophe for the dynamic duo.  Colorist Kalisz makes good work of the contrast of the black of Batman’s costume as opposed to the bright background colors.

I like the way Gleason has chosen to draw Batman wrapped in his cape for protection from the blast with his fist pulled across his face.  He looks almost evil as Batman’s eyes are slanted in anger and the ragged nature of his cape adds to this threatening display.  

I wonder if Gleason was ever a fan of the sci-fi series Babylon 5.  The above image is remarkably similar to the spacecraft used by the ancient race of the “Shadows”.

As you can see from the image above the Shadow’s spacecraft is quite similar to Batman in his costume.  They both possess spindly tendrils that give the craft and Batman a spider like quality that is both wicked and malevolent.  Even though Batman is in retreat in this image there is no doubt he represents a creature capable of unforgiving malice such as the Shadows were in Babylon 5.

If we do see Batman characterized as such I don’t think it is a coincidence that the above rendition is so evocative as to remind us of the classic Rorschach tests.

Pictured above is one of the ten classic Rorschach inkblot images.  The Rorschach test is known as a “projective” test as those undergoing this test are supposed to “project” their feelings about the image, what it means to them, and what impressions are left.  These emotions are then related to an Analyst for their interpretation as an insight into the personality of the patient.  

Not surprisingly the ink blot above is most commonly referred to as a bat.  The Analyst may construe that his or her patient is fearful or feels threatened in some way.  Bat symbolism is often associated with thoughts of death and rebirth and the trauma both represent.  Historically, our collective unconscious sees bats as harbingers of death associated with ghoulish creatures such as Vampires and creatures of the night where early man was left at his most vulnerable while the Bat flew with impunity.

So how does Gleason’s image make you feel?  Are you frightened, threatened or otherwise intimidated?  Does Batman fill you with dread or does the above image represent a healthy dose of respect, audacity and valor?

My hours are Nine to Five, leave your name with my receptionist and the first visit is for free.