March 1, 2012
I already posted about the gnarly death-metal violence of Jean-Paul Valley fighting Bane, but Bruce Wayne got his share of hits in during Knightfall. This was a moment I don’t even remember noticing when I was a kid, but as an adult it gave me pause. Beyond the obvious “wh–” factor of Batman whipping a batarang right at Poison Ivy’s face, I had to stop and go, “Wait–don’t those things have razor edges? Was Batman seriously prepared for the possibility of slicing half a woman’s lips off?”
February 29, 2012
Probably hundreds of artists have drawn Two-Face over the years. The scarred half of his face ranges from “boilsome and poxy” to “scratched and ridged” to “latex fishman” to “puked-up applesauce” based on who’s doing it. For my money, the one to beat is Klaus Janson’s rendition. Even if it’s not the best Two-Face story by a long shot (that’s the Batman Annual that Andy Helfer and Chris Sprouse did, re-telling his origin and making it brutally grim and tightly-clenched), no artist has ever managed to make Two-Face look quite as horrifically ugly in a way that still conveys the essential nature of his character–keeping him as a human being who’s been partly ruined, rather than a handsome guy with half a Halloween mask.
February 28, 2012
I’m a child of the 90s, so I have a soft spot for Jean-Paul Valley, a.k.a. Azrael, Azbat, Batman II, and that dorky shithead with the ponytail and the voices inside his brain. I fell hook, line and sinker for Knightfall when it happened, and re-reading it as an adult, it actually still holds together for me. Part of it is the relative tightness of the narrative–it reads like a Law & Order episode, if that makes any sense, where all the pieces that aren’t necessary have been stripped away, leaving only the parts that advance an already-sprawling story of Batman getting run into the dirt. Another part of that is the difference between Bruce Wayne and Jean-Paul Valley, when Azrael takes over as the replacement Batman. Suddenly it turns into this gnarly, delirious, super-angry story, like the soundtrack switched from Wagner opera to Slayer–especially in moments like this, where Bane is confronted by the psychotic, ultraviolent Azbat:
February 27, 2012
February 26, 2012
Is it just me, or have there been maybe no more than four stories in the history of the universe to take Maxie Zeus seriously? Yes, I know, his name is “Maxie Zeus,” for one thing, but still. I imagine his first appearance tried to establish him as a credible threat. I know he appeared on Batman: The Animated Series and probably wasn’t a huge fuck-up there, either. Also, he was one of the goons in Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth, where Grant Morrison more or less ignored all previous instances of him doing stuff, and pitched him as a delusional Electro. Beyond those three things, this is what we usually see of Maxie Zeus, when we see him at all:
February 25, 2012
Bane is, I’m pretty sure, the only major-motion-picture supervillain whose origin story involves “being a 10-year-old faced with the threat of prison rape.” About two pages later someone tries to intervene and in the process Bane gets knocked over a railing and falls, like, two stories directly onto his head. It’s these sort of things that create people who millionaire Bruce Wayne uses violence against indiscriminately.