Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Batman Turns 75

What better way to celebrate the 75 anniversary of the Batman character than to throw him a birthday party.  That's exactly what a compilation of artists and writers have done in the super sized issue of Detective Comics #27.  My favorite entry comes from Peter J. Tomasi and illustrated by Ian Bertram.

It depicts an actual 75th birthday party as thrown by those closest to the Dark Avenger.  It is a sweet and sentimental entry and is one of the strongest chapters in this must have compilation.  I heartily recommend buying this issue.

As strong as this story is, it is the artwork that breathes extraordinary life into it.  Bertram has a unique style but I dare say he has a little of the Frank Quitely and Gahan Wilson in him.

My favorite image is the one that leads off this post.  It shows the 75 year old Batman at his "naughtiest" as he swings from the rooftops with a look of pure joy on his face.  It seems Batman is to have left the crime fighting of Gotham City to his younger compatriots which include Tim, Dick, Barbara, and even Damien.

But that hasn't stopped the septuagenarian from stretching his aching muscles and pushing the boundaries of his 75 year old soul.  As he says, "I love it so."

There is a couple of other illustrated frames of note that include the one seen immediately above.  Wayne has descended to the Batcave to find his family waiting for him.  He sensed they were there and he has a slight look of amusement on his face.  It uncommon to see this joy in Batman especially after he was roused from a late nap while watching, "The Mark of Zorro" the movie that was playing when his parents were shot.  Bruce is happy to see everyone and he usually isn't patient with frivolities, least of all parties thrown on his behalf.

Bertram has Wayne dressed in a easy pullover sweater, comfy pants a cane and a pair of slippers. Hardly the gear of this classic crime fighter but certainly befitting anyone who reached the fine old age of 75.  Despite his amusement Bruce's left hand is coiled into a powerful fist.  Just in case!

One last frame of note shows Batman at his orneriest.  Alfred has drifted off into slumber and Bruce sees this as an opportunity to become one with the night.  Defiantly, he breaks his cane as he prepares to step out.  Both elbows and knees are wrapped reflecting the toll of innumerable battles.  Scar tissue is etched across every inch of the Caped Crusader detailing a road map of sorts and providing a long history of struggle against injustice.

Despite his advanced years Batman remains eager for a fight.  Naturally he finds one and as always he remains triumphant.  He manages to return to the Batcave before anyone is the wiser.

Even at 75, the Dark Knight will not be denied.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Batman Catches The Red Eye

Is Batman evil?

Or is he just demonic?

If you go by some of the ways he's drawn you'd swear he was from the dark side.  Of course, there have been many iterations of Batman and most of the "evil" or "demonic" Batmen come from Elseworld or Earth 2 versions.  It seems that whenever the artists and writers collaborate on a newer darker Batman (if that is possible) they make sure his eyes are the color red.

Red is a passionate color and is often associated with all things Satanic.  There is no better way to show the evil intensity of a different Batman than to color his eyes red.  He'll simply radiate rage and if the eyes are the window to the soul then perhaps this Batman is without one.

One of the more infamous versions of the "Red-eyed Batman" comes from the Flashpoint series in which Thomas Wayne was the Batman.  This Batman was full of rage and wrath and he was inspired to become the Bat over the loss of his son Bruce.  His intimate relationship with the Joker of that day furthered his decent.  Flashpoint and the Batman spinoff with it's shocking revelation is a series not to be missed.

The Red-eyed Batman has made his return in the pages of "Earth 2" as originated by James Robinson.  We don't know his identity yet although it's been rumored he is another version of Thomas Wayne.  I hope that isn't true as we don't want to go to the same well too often do we? 

This Batman seems to have other worldly powers as he survived a bullet to the head in a recent issue.  But he seems to know Bruce Wayne the original Earth 2 Batman quite closely and to further that point he went out of his way to murder the Joker of that world that was being held in stasis.  It seems this Batman whose costume is tinged with red and whose eyes glow with the same hot coals of the Flashpoint Batman is no less angered and we should learn his identity in the the Earth 2 annual issue.

The Red-eyed Batman reappears in the pages of Batman-Superman number six as written by Greg Pak and illustrated by Brett Booth.  This Batman is caught up in a living organic video game and he has already died and made his resurrection.  In the above frame Batman has been reborn as some sort of automaton and he is stunned to find he doesn't have any lungs.  His rage is fueled by the combined hate of millions of gamers and he soon finds himself the equal of Superman and their fear and anger set him against the Man of Steel.  Pak hasn't been afraid of taking liberties with his story telling so we should expect to more craziness from the Red-eyed Batman.

Justice League 3000 made it's debut this past December and it seems the efforts of Giffen, Dematteis and Porter cannot do without a Red-eyed Batman.  I can't say I've read this issue but I do intend on catching up with it.

This particular Batman also sports the red bat on his chest and naturally his eyes glow with the same menace that runs straight from the depths of Hell.  Is he man or is he demon?  Is he consumed with anger?  I'm tempted to guess the eerie glow that comes from this Batman eyes probably comes from having to step between the ever lustful Superman and Wonder Woman.  No wonder he seems filled with rage.  Those two can't keep their hands off each other even a thousand years from now.

Poor Red-eyed Batman!