Vids I Dig 252: Comic Tropes: The Evolution of The Joker

From Comic Tropes’ YouTube description: The Joker is one of the most iconic villains in comic books. This video explains the history of his creation and discusses the writers and artists who made significant contributions to his history. From Bob Kane, Bill Finger, and Jerry Robinson to Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo many have written the Joker and he’s been different things in different eras: from a gangster to a prankster.

Comic Review: Batman Arkham – Penguin

Published: September 4th, 2018
Written by: various
Art by: various

DC Comics, 241 Pages

Review:

As I’ve stated just about every time that I’ve reviewed one of these Batman Arkham “best of” collections, I love these damn things. Each one focuses on a specific villain from Batman lore and, for the most part, collect the best stories from all eras of Batman comic book history.

Now while I did enjoy most of this volume, I can’t honestly say that these are the Penguin’s greatest hits. Some of the stories here were kind of drab and just from memory I came up with about a half dozen that were better than the ones collected here.

However, I think part of the problem is that they want to cover all the eras and most of the great Penguin stories I’m thinking of are from the ’70s and ’80s.

This still does a good job at showcasing the character and giving fans a peak into how he’s evolved over the years as times change and new writers have come and gone, most of them leaving their imprint on the character.

In the end, this is worth adding to your collection if you’ve also been buying every volume. However, I wish that DC would come up with a better and beefier collection to honor the longevity and greatness of this 79 year-old character.

Rating: 6.75/10
Pairs well with: Other Batman Arkham collections.

Comic Review: Batman Arkham – Hugo Strange

Published: April 24th, 2018
Written by: various
Art by: various

DC Comics, 240 Pages

Review:

There really aren’t a lot of Hugo Strange stories. Well, at least when compared to the amount of Joker, Riddler, Two-Face, Penguin or Catwoman stories. But there were still enough to fill up an installment in the Batman Arkham Collections, which has been a trade paperback “best of” series for many of Batman’s top villains.

Granted, we might be scraping the bottom of the barrel now that they’ve done one for Joker’s Daughter and they have an upcoming one for Victor Zsasz but I digress.

I like most of these villain-centric collections and this one is no different, as it is nice to have the key Hugo Strange stories in one book. However, this also goes to show that the guy has been underutilized and underappreciated by Batman writers over the years.

This is over 200 pages but some of the stories are multi-part arcs. There’s maybe a half dozen different tales here but it doesn’t feel like it’s enough when compared to Batman Arkham Collections of the past.

Most of them were enjoyable but this makes me question as to whether they should have made this one.

It also made me wish that a good writer would come along and use Hugo Strange more or at least come up with something really great for him to do. He was utilized greatly in the Arkham Asylum games, as well as the Gotham TV show.

But maybe he’s just too much of a generic mad scientist type and with that, overloaded with tropes that most writers just aren’t interested in writing about. But the character debuted in 1940. So in 80 years, there really hasn’t been one great Hugo Strange story? C’mon, DC.

Rating: 6/10
Pairs well with: Other Batman Arkham collections.

Comic Review: Batman Arkham – Clayface

Published: August 15th, 2017
Written by: various
Art by: various

DC Comics, 318 Pages

Review:

I’ve read a bunch of these Batman Arkham collections and I’m glad DC Comics is still putting one out a few times per year. If you remember those old collections like The Greatest Joker Stories Ever Told or The Greatest Batman Stories Ever Told, these are similar and are always focused on one character: a Batman villain.

Now I say that these are focused on one villain but this installment is a bit different, as it features Clayface, which there have been multiple versions of over the years and all of them are pretty unique.

What I really loved about this is that it gives us the first appearances of every Clayface in regular Batman canon. Hell, it even gives us the story of the Mud Pack, which was a villain team comprised of multiple Clayfaces.

The Clayface that most people are familiar with is the original, Basil Karlo. He was the one featured in Batman: The Animated Series in the ’90s and has monopolized Clayface’s comic book appearances since.

However, I loved seeing all the different versions here. My favorite story and now my favorite Clayface is the third version a.k.a. Preston Payne. I knew of him but never got to read his debut until now. His look and armored suit were badass and his story was fantastic thanks to the great Len Wein. As much as I like Karlo, I’d love to see Payne make a real comeback.

Overall, this was a pretty cool collection. Most of these are stories I’ve never read but they also gave me better clarity on the bizarre history of the Clayface moniker.

Rating: 8/10
Pairs well with: Other Batman Arkham collections, as well as Clayface-centric stories.

TV Review: The Comic Book Greats: Episode 9 – Spotlight on Bob Kane (1992)

Released: 1992
Created by: Stan Lee
Directed by: Rick Stawinski
Music by: Rick Stawinski, Rob Stawinski
Cast: Stan Lee (host), Bob Kane

Excelsior Productions, Stabur Home Video, 38 Minutes

Review:

Batman is the character that really made me buy comic books on a monthly basis. Because of my love of everything Batman, especially after seeing the 1989 movie, I always had a love and appreciation for Bob Kane, the creator of the Caped Crusader. Granted, I knew nothing about Bill Finger back then because Bob Kane was a credit hog and a dick.

This episode of The Comic Book Greats doesn’t help Kane when you watch this now, knowing what we all know about the man. I didn’t see this episode in 1992 and I’m not sure if I would have picked up on it back then but man, Kane really is a dick… like all the time.

Stan Lee was a gracious host, as always, but Kane would get sidetracked in this interview to bitch about people taking credit for his work. Funny, because that’s something he was guilty of for decades. The dude just has a hell of an ego and he probably bottles his own farts to sniff later.

That being said, I wouldn’t call this episode off-putting or a waste of time, it’s actually one of the more entertaining ones because Kane is animated and charismatic. The banter between these two men is good, even if Kane tries to take shots at people and it’s obvious Stan isn’t comfortable in those moments.

The Comic Book Greats is a solid series that I wish would have lived on longer than it did. While I don’t like Kane, the man, I still found this to be pretty damn engaging.

Rating: 8/10
Pairs well with: other episodes in The Comic Book Greats video series.

 

Comic Review: Detective Comics, Issue #27 – Special Edition

Published: July 23rd, 2014
Written by: Bill Finger, Brad Meltzer, Scott Snyder
Art by: Bryan Hitch, Bob Kane, Chip Kidd, Sean Murphy

DC Comics, 34 Pages

Review:

This was a cool comic that was given away for free back in 2014. You can actually still get a free digital copy of this on Comixology, if you have the app.

The first third of the comic is a reprint of the first ever Batman story, which appeared way back in 1939 in Detective Comics issue 27. For those who have never read it but are big fans of Batman, it’s definitely worth a look, as you can see how the character started out and how it contrasts how he has evolved over eight decades.

The rest of this single issue comic is comprised of two modern stories, the most important of which is a re-imagining of the original Batman story.

The last tale in this, gives a sort of futuristic look into where Batman could go, decades from now.

This is short and a pretty quick read. But it’s a really cool release for those of us who love Bats from every era.

The early Bob Kane art is neat to see in the first part and the art in the modern stories is really good.

In the end, this is just a cool comic to add to your collection, especially since it’s free.

Rating: 7.5/10
Pairs well with: other old school Batman stories from the Bob Kane and Bill Finger era.

Documentary Review: Batman & Bill (2017)

Release Date: May 6th, 2017
Directed by: Don Argott, Sheena M. Joyce
Music by: Brooke Blair, Will Blair

9.14 Pictures, 93 Minutes

Review:

Man, I really enjoyed this documentary and it is always great to see a positive conclusion to a long standing injustice, even if those who were directly involved didn’t survive to see it.

Batman & Bill is the story of Bill Finger. Most people don’t know the man but he was instrumental in creating Batman and a lot of his supporting characters. Due to a shifty deal that happened back in 1939, Bob Kane got all the credit for Batman’s creation and thus, reaped all the benefits. Kane went as far as to deny Finger’s involvement and claimed sole credit in Batman’s creation.

This film was well put together and tells the story of how Kane and Finger came to be a creative duo. It also goes through the history of Batman and his evolution as a character and a phenomenon.

Marc Tyler Nobleman, an author of seventy-plus books, uncovered more about the real story behind Batman’s creation than anyone else. He investigated Bill Finger’s story for years and eventually published the book Bill the Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-creator of Batman. Nobleman made it his mission to draw attention to Finger and his contributions in an effort to get him the credit he deserved.

Nobleman eventually finds a long lost heir to Finger and with her, is able to fight for justice and to right the ship that was misguided more than seventy years earlier.

For true fans of Batman, this is a story that must be known. And for fans of justice, this will make you feel good.

Rating: 8.5/10