Batman is easily one of the most popular characters in action figure history, with several hundred different figures of him having been produced over the years. Unfortunately, he also - with the odd exception
- has tended not to change his costume in especially dramatic ways, save for the occasional switch from grey to black, or the addition and subtraction of the famous yellow oval.
Despite this obvious handicap, his popularity in plastic form is such that toy manufacturers have never been shy in coming up with wild, inventive and frequently batshit mental
alternative costumes to flog to unsuspecting parents the world over. Here, then, are thirty particular favourites of ours...
It's only when I sit down to transcribe this interview with Young Avengers
, Journey into Mystery
scribe Kieron Gillen that I discover that my computer has inexplicably decided only to record his half of the conversation. Obviously, it's a good job it happened that way around and not the other - but it's also a good job it happened with someone like Kieron, who is perfectly capable of giving a lengthy, verbose and compelling interview with very little prompting. As it happens, my voice begins to reappear around ten minutes or so in anyway - but had I needed to, I suspect I could have inferred every one of my questions, or flat out made several up, purely from his essay-length responses.
I'm talking to Kieron - or, rather, he's talking to me - because he's got a new comic on the way: The Wicked + The Divine
, his latest co-conspiracy with Phonogram
artist Jamie McKelvie and their regular colourist Matt Wilson. A creator-owned ongoing at Image, it launches in the middle of June, and it's very likely that it'll be one of the most talked-about comics of the year. Maybe even by people who aren't Kieron.
So far in the Film Strips
series, it's fair to say that the comics we've looked at have supported the widely-held notion that comic strip adaptations of superhero movies are largely pointless and low-quality endeavours that work neither as good versions of the movie story nor as good comics in their own right. Every so often, however, it's possible for a comics adaptation to be a legitimately good piece of work - and such is the case with DC's Batman
adaptation of 1989.
Before this post begins in the main, a caveat: any discussion of DC's style of comics or publishing strategies that follows should be considered to relate only to whether it makes us
, or in this specific case me, want to buy their comics. Personal preference is everything, and it's not for us to say that DC's books aren't "working" when they're topping the sales charts with reasonable consistency. But for us, when we say that a comic "works", we mean that it provides an interesting and engaging story, that it shows faith and trust in a creative team that works harmoniously together, that it has distinctive, individual art and/or bold storytelling choices, that it stands a good chance of attracting new or lapsed readers, that (where applicable) it can inspire younger readers, and that it shows an interest in expanding the diversity of characters in the field.
"I believe that the best way to show how music affects the world is to take evidence directly from life to show how music has changed me and people around me. Not that it's a particularly truthful form of biography. There's a key line in the second issue: 'Sometimes the truth just gets in the way of what really happens.' That's absolutely key. The phrase I'm using is Automythology."
- Kieron Gillen
It's a sign of the desperation that pervades an awful lot of comics industry strategy that we're so frequently told that a particular comic is going to be a hit, or something that we absolutely should
read, before we know much else about it.
This is, of course, the very nature of media publicity in general - but there just seems to be something particularly acute about it in comics. Genuine, industry-shattering hits are rare - and ones that break through into the wider consciousness all the rarer - and so for that reason, the publishers seem determined to make sure that they, and not the readers, are the ones to identify which ones they'll be, so that they can be accordingly prepared to deal with them.
Ahead of the publication of Phonogram: The Immaterial Girl in August, I'm taking an unnecessarily personal look back at the two previous volumes of Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie's breakout work. In part one, I covered the first volume,
Rue Britannia. In this concluding chapter, unsurprisingly, I look at volume two:
The Singles Club.
The Wicked + The Divine #2
is out today. Have you read it yet? If you haven't yet... well, there's nothing I would call a substantive spoiler in here, but I mention a bunch of god names that are not in #1, so read on at your peril...
Hello, I'm Abigail Brady and I have booked off Friday from eating and needing to go to the toilet, so I'm going to be liveblogging Netflix's Marvel's Daredevil, starting at 0800 sharpish (midnight Pacific). Watch this article from then for updates about how I didn't understand a thing because I was too busy writing about it, until either I finish or pass out.
Nearly 12 hours later: Well, that was certainly the best Daredevil film I have seen. It could stand to lose a few hours.
My recommendation: don't marathon it, don't even rush it. Eke it out. There are some big spoilers out there but you should be kinda able to see them coming anyway, and while I wouldn't recommend seeking them out, I don't think your enjoyment will be substantially reduced by it.
The boldest thing about this series is the decision to entirely dump the overall tone of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, that mix of humour, action and emotional truth, that everything from Iron Man to Thor to Agents of SHIELD to Agent Carter has been going for (with varying degrees of success - I'm as fervent in my dislike of SHIELD as James is). This feels very different. There's a combination of tenseness and violence to it quite unlike any of the MCU stuff, with a kind of stylised approach that's also not like any of the grim crime dramas I've been watching lately. It's its own thing. I'm still not sure whether I liked that thing. But it absolutely did what it was trying to do.
While it's difficult to take any of the events of Secret Wars
- that is, the destruction of Marvel's entire continuity - with any serious conviction until the series ends and we learn the new post-relaunch status quo, one thing that seems a pretty safe bet is that the Ultimate Universe experiment is finally, fifteen years after it began, coming to an end. Of course, we've been here at least twice before - both Ultimatum
were pitched as events that were going to bring things to an close - but it really does all feel rather more final this time, particularly with the confirmation that Miles Morales is going to join the regular Marvel U.
And so it seems as good a time as any to look back over the past decade-and-a-half of revamped, alternate-universe Marvel stories. And to do so in as much punishing detail as possible, by examining the merits of every single
ongoing and mini series published under the imprint.