For as long as humans have huddled together around camp fires at night, we’ve told stories. Some tales like The Last Son of Krypton or The Dark Knight Detective are so primal and mythic that they transcend time and space. They’re immortal. So as long as people exist to tell them, their will be Batman stories. We’ve seen a lot of great Batman performances over the years, but when it comes to the best on screen portrayal of The Caped Crusader, it’s not even close: Kevin Conroy IS Batman.
Yet, It almost feels as if Batman himself has died. For over 30 years, one man has been synonymous with Batman. Since the character’s inception, no other performer has personified The Dark Knight more than Kevin Conroy. Sadly, Kevin passed away at the still relatively young age of 66, from throat cancer.
Over the years, Kevin Conroy showcased his incredible talent and versatility in projects like Batman: The Animated Series, Batman Beyond, Justice League, JLU, many DC Animated Movies, the mega-popular Arkham video game series, Justice League Action, and more. Conroy’s unmistakable voice managed to convey all of the anger, pain, sadness, compassion, humor, and vulnerability of Batman. When I read Batman in a comic book or graphic novel, it’s Kevin Conroy’s voice I hear in my head.
He even got to play the character in the live action, in The CW Arrowverse Crossover Event, Crisis on Infinite Earths. In the crossover miniseries (which is a hell of a lot of fun if you haven’t seen it), Conroy played a much older version of Bruce Wayne from an alternate universe, very similar to the character’s portrayal in the classic Kingdom Come comic book miniseries. Like his Kingdom Come counterpart, Conroy‘s Bruce Wayne is physically battered and broken. As a result of countless injuries sustained over his decades as Batman, Bruce has to wear an exoskeleton at almost all times, to help him get around.
While it may feel like he still had a lot of good years to come playing Batman, he leaves behind a truly legendary body of work and a legacy beyond comparison. He had a reputation for always showing love, kindness, and appreciation to his fans. He truly loved playing Batman and would often speak about how he felt honored to plat the character.
Kevin Conroy was an absolute ICON. We will never see his like again. This post by @TheBatstan on Twitter said it best: “30 years. 3 entire decades where one man became the definitive voice of a legend, to a point where he also became a legend. Wherever Kevin Conroy was, Batman was also there. Goodbye Kevin. No matter what you’ll always be Vengeance, the Night, THE Batman.”
A FEW OF KEVIN CONROY’S BEST PERORMANCES
Conroy has given countless spectacular, nuanced performances as The Dark Knight over the years. To include every moment in a project, where his performance as Batman elevates the material into something truly special, would require literally thousands of videos. While this is by no means a comprehensive collection of his best work, here are some of my favorite moments of Kevin Conroy performing as Batman/Bruce Wayne:
Kevin’s Most Iconic Batman Line…
One of Kevin’s Favorite Performance As Bruce Wayne/Batman
The Birth of Two-Face
“I Didn’t Mean To…”
World’s Finest: Batman and Superman Meet For The First Time, In A Tense Confrontation
On An Alternate World Ruled By An Tyrannical Justice League Called The Justice Lords. Batman & His Alternate Universe Counterpart Debate The Merits & Weeknesses Of Democracy & Authoritarianism
Batman Sings “A I Blue” At A Nightclub As Part Of Deal To Break A Spell Put on Wonder Woman
Batman Save Superman & An Island Of Evacuating Civilians, From Doomsday & A Nuclear Missile With A Kryptonite Warhead
In The Aftermath Of Doomsday And The Failed Nuclear Weapon Attack On The League, Batman Warns Superman & Wonder Woman, That The Justice League Is Heading Into Some Very Morally Dangerous Territory
Batman Stays With Ace Until She Passes Away
After A Trip An Alternate Timeline, where Bruce’s Father Thomas Wayne Became Batman, After Young Bruce Was Killed instead of His Parents, Barry Allen AKA The Flash, Gives Bruce A letter From His Father
You’ll always be my Batman, Kevin. RIP Batman…
I’d love to hear about your favorite episodes of Batman: The Animated Series, Justice League, The Arkham video gamess, or any of the other projects Kevin Conroy worked on. Let us know in the common section!
Thanks for reading! Follow us on Twitter @PJWrightWBM, Instagram @worldsbestmedia2017, and our Facebook Page, Worlds Best Media. Those likes and follows, as well as iTunes reviews for the podcast, go a long way to supporting World’s Best Media. We really appreciate the loyalty and support shown to us by our fans, so thanks again! Stay healthy and stay safe!
One of humanities greatest holiday’s, Batman Day, is upon us once again. In honor of this joyous occasion, it’s officially Batman Week here at World’s Best Media! It’s that special time of year when we can all take the time to reflect on the greatness of The Dark Knight Detectve. Like Superman, people will still be telling stories about The Batman, in one form or another, hundreds of years from now (unless of course, mankind doesn’t wipe itself from the face of the Earth in the near future). Characters like Batman and Superman are our modern day gods. Like Achilles or Beowulf, these heroes resonate with people because they’re such primal archetypes.
Even more so than Superman, the tragic tale of a boy who witnesses the brutal murder of his parents, is a fear we can all relate to. The boy made a vow to rid his city of the evil that took their lives, and turned himself into a monster to do it. The tragedy of Batman is that his war can never be won and he knows it. That’s deep, primal stuff. The brillliant simplicity of Batman allows for endless stories and reinventions.
Batman isn’t only my favorite comics book character, he’s by far my favorite character in all of literature. The complex psychology of Bruce Wayne, the greatest group of villains ever assembled, the sprawling urban nightmare that is Gotham City, and a phenomenal supporting cast… it all comes together to form the unforgettable tapestry of The Batman mythology. So in honor of Batman Day, I decided to put together a list of my favorite modern Batman stories. This was harder than you might think, because there are literally hundreds of classic Batman tales. I left out the obvious ones like “The Big 3”: The Dark Knight Returns, Batman: Year One, and The Killing Joke. Including those 3 classics on my list, seemed redundant and obvious, so I decided to focus on some great modern Batman stories. I was able to narrow it down to these amazing tales, that I encourage all of you to check out. Let’s dive in…
Batman: The Black Mirror
Written by Scott Snyder
Art by Jock & Francesco Francavilla
DC has a long history of “legacy heroes”. “Legacy heroes” are characters who take up the mantle of an iconic, classic superhero, when the original cannot or will not continue on. “Legacy heroes” are almost always characters who are close to the original incarnation of the superhero in question, usually a sidekick or a partner. For example, when the original Flash, Barry Allen, died in Crisis On Infinite Earths, his sidekick, Wally West AKA Kid Flash, inherited the role of The Scarlet Speedster. In fact, many fans believe Wally West surpassed his mentor to be the best version of The Flash in the history of DC Comics. Another good example, is when the entire Green Lantern Corp were wiped out (including Hal Jordan), artist Kyle Rayner was chosen to become the only living in Green Lantern in the universe. Eventually, he was instrumental in rebuilding the Corp. We tend tp not think of Batman as a character that ”passes on the mantle”. However, there has been some notable exceptions, like Dick Grayson, that were excellent and unique versions of The Dark Knight.
The Black Mirror took place at a time when, for reasons that are too complicated to get into, Bruce Wayne was MIA as Batman. Dick Grayson a.k.a. the original Robin a.k.a. Nightwing, reluctantly donned the Cape and Cowl to become the new Batman.
Like so many other excellent Batman tales, the story is just as much about Jim Gordon as it is Batman. The veteran Gotham police officer and the rookie Batman, must solve a grisly mystery that hits far too close to home for both men. With amazing art by Jock and Francesco Francavilla, it seems as if Gotham City itself is alive. A dark and hungry thing, ready to devour those that walk it’s streets. This was the breakout story that launched Scott Snyder’s career as one of the biggest creators in the industry. This isn’t the only time you’ll see Snyder’s name pop up on this list, because The Black Mirror was his first step on his journey to becoming one of the greatest Batman writers of all time.
Written by Grant Morrison
Art by Tony Daniel
Grant Morrison is not only a personal favorite of mine, he’s also one of the best and most celebrated comic writers in the history of the medium. All-Star Superman, Arkham Asylum: A Serious House On A Serious Earth, JLA, if you’ve ever read Morrison‘s work, it will come as no surprise that this is one hell of a weird, fucking Batman story. However, in this instance that’s a really good thing. Batman R.I.P. marks the end of ACT I of Morrison‘s epic Batman run. When I was reading this nightmarish and disturbing story for the first time, it genuinely felt like anything could happen, which is rare when you’re dealing with such a well-known character like Batman. The brilliance of Morrison‘s run, is how he mines some of the most ridiculous and wacked out Batman stories from the late-50’s, 60’s, and early 70’s, (that any other writer would just as soon forget) to tell a truly unique Batman tale. Some fantastic new villains, like demonic Dr. Hurt, and new spins on old dynamics, make this an unforgettable story about madness, evil, and the indomitable will of The Dark Knight.
Batman & Robin: Reborn
Written by Grant Morrison
Art by Frank Quietly
Another fantastic story taking place during Dick Grayson’s tenure as The Caped Crusader. Grant Morrison’s ambitious, and entertaining Batman run, consisted of a broad, 3 Act structure. If Batman RIP was the end of Act I of Morrison‘s epic, then Batman and Robin: Reborn is the beginning of Act II. This story follows Dick as he struggles to fit into his new role as Batman. One The most compelling parts of the story, is the relationship between Dick and the new Robin, Damian Wayne, Bruce’s son. Reborn puts a fun new spin on the Batman and Robin dynamic. Normally, Batman is the dark, brooding one, with Robin as the bright, quipping, colorful, and lighthearted side of The Dynamic Duo. This story completely flips that dynamic on its head. This Batman smiles, tells jokes, and has fun. Damian’s Robin is arrogant, violent, and brutal. Basically the kid is a real pain in the ass
Regardless, he is, after all, Bruce Wayne‘s biological son. To Dick and Alfred, Bruce was family, so they both feel a responsibility to keep Damian on the right path. Both men know that Bruce would want them to watch over Damian, a task that certainly isn’t easy given Damian’s violent upbringing before he came to live with his father. But Dick and Alfred would never give up on the boy because of their love for Bruce. After all, Damian was raised in The League of Assassins, under the tutelage of Tallia and Ra’s Al Ghul. He could kill grown men by the time he was four years old. With Damian, The House’s of Wayne and Al Ghul would finally be united. Talia and Ra’s were grooming him to stride across the world as a modern-day Alexander The Great. Fortunately, Damian had more of his father in him than his mother and grandfather thought. Inspired by his father, Damian chose his own path, even if that meant being branded as an adversary to The House of Al Ghul.
I really enjoyed the dynamic between Dick, Damian, and Alfred in this story. One of my favorite subplots that evolves as the story goes on, is how Damien, who has nothing but disdain for Dick and Alfred, gradually comes to love and respect them both, arguably even more than he loves his father. Add in some gorgeous art by the legendary Frank Quietly (who’s one of my favorite comic book artists), the introduction of one of my favorite and most disturbing modern day Batman villains: the grotesque Professor Pyg, and you’ve got yourself one hell of a Batman comic book. This story is a new era for Batman and it all comes together to make this a must read.
Batman: The Court of Owls
Written by Scott Snyder
Art by Greg Capullo
The Court of Owls marks the beginning of what would become, one of the greatest writer/artist teams in modern comics. Together, writer Scott Snyder and veteran artist Greg Capullo, would go on to create one of the best Batman runs in the long history of the character.
Gotham City is synonymous with The Dark Knight. He knows it’s broken streets and dark alleyways, as well as he knows his own reflection in the mirror. Gotham belongs to The Batman and he knows all it’s secrets. Or does he? After a series of bizarre murders, Batman is blindsided by the realization that a cunning and dangerous enemy has existed and operated right under his nose. This powerful adversary has had its claws in Gotham for hundreds of years, going all the way back to the founding of the city. Bruce Wayne might be the worlds greatest detective and the legendary Batman, but in his hubris, he forgot one of the most important lessons he learned in his years protecting the city: The second you think you know Gotham, is the moment it swallows you into the darkness.
What are your favorite Batman stories? Please let us know in the comments below or on social media!
Thanks for reading! Follow us on Twitter @PJWrightWBM, Instagram @worldsbestmedia2017, and our Facebook Page, Worlds Best Media. Those likes and follows, as well as iTunes reviews, go a long way to supporting World’s Best Media. We really appreciate the loyalty and support shown to us by our fans, so thanks again! Stay healthy and stay safe!
The DC Comics Universe is a rich tapestry of compelling and memorable characters. Marvel may the best heroes (not counting Batman and Superman), but DC, hands down, has the best villains. Yet for some reason, live-action DC properties always feel like they use the same group of characters, again and again and again and again: Joker, Zod, Batman, Superman, Lex Luthor. Wash. Rinse. Repeat. I’m a big fan of Zack Snyder‘s Man of Steel. However, as excited as I was for that film, I was so disappointed that General Zod was the film’s main antagonist. Superman has so many amazing villains that has never been in a big screen, live action Superman film before. Characters like Darkseid, Mongol, Metallo, FUCKING BRAINIAC! To be fair, I think Michael Shannon is fantastic as General Zod. In fact, I think he is one of the best villains in the DCEU so far. However, I think that changing the villain in Man of Steel would have made a massive impact on how that story was received and how well it worked. Had a badass villain like Brainiac been utilized, an already damn good Superman movie, could’ve been an all-time great comic book flick.
Wow. Um, that got away from me pretty damn fast… Believe it our not, I’m actually here to talk about the new season of Titans on HBO Max. The reason I opened with a rant about my desire to see a more diverse group of DC characters brought to life in live-action, on TV or film, is because Titans scratches that itch big time! Each season showcases a plethora of our favorite DC characters and concepts, many making their live-action debut. It’s one of the reasons Titans is such a big draw for me.
Titans premiered as the flagship show in the now defunct streaming service DC UNIVERSE. It was the first of multiple original series that the fledgling service rolled out over the course of it’s initial launch. It was followed by a Doom Patrol series, the resurrection of the beloved animated show Young Justice, Harley Quinn: The Animated Series, and a great Swamp Thing show that was cancelled before it even premiered, airing only one season (apparently it was WAY TOO expensive, but who really knows?). All of the shows were varying degrees of exceptional. They were all well received by both critics and fans, except for Titans. While the show was considered a success upon it’s launch, it was the only original DC UNIVERSE series that was met with a harsh critical reception. With DC and HBO both falling under Warner Bros ownership, along with the DC streaming service underperforming, Warner Bros was looking to invest additional content and resources and into HBO Max. Titans, Doom Patrol, and Young Justice all made the transition to the new streaming service. Doom Patrol Season 3 debuts in September and Young Justice Season 4 is currently in production.
Titans premiered in the wake of films like Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad. Both highly anticipated DC projects that were criticized for being overly dark and left many fans massively disappointed. When the first trailer for Titan’s dropped, the teaser infamously featured a very angry Dick Grayson, in his Robin uniform, giving some thugs a brutal beating, and declaring “Fuck Batman” at the end if the fight. I think that so many critics and fans were turned off by the sensibilities of the DCEU films and they saw Titans is simply an extension of what they disliked about the DC movies. Another overly serious, ultra dark, violent, superhero tale that takes the joy out of these classic characters. In my opinion, this point was one of the big reasons that Titans wasn’t greeted warmly by critics and certain fans, when it debuted. I personally don’t agree with that particular criticism, but I understand. Regardless, I enjoyed the hell out of season one, I couldn’t wait for season two and it easily surpassed season one by telling a fantastic Deathstroke story.
As much as I’ve loved this show, its biggest problem has always been the story. In the first two seasons, different storylines and character threads don’t always mesh and come together exactly as well as you would want them to, and it can leave the show feeling a little disjointed. I’m very pleased to report that with season three, it seems like Titans has really ironed out it’s storytelling problems to deliver a tight, compelling, and extremely entertaining narrative.
For a guy who is viewed as such a loner, Batman surrounds himself with a rather large surrogate family. He frequently opens his home to people with nowhere to go and in some cases trains and drafts them in his war to protect Gotham City. With the exception of Alfred, Dick Grayson is by far Batman‘s most well-known and interesting partner. Everyone knows who Dick Grayson is, whether they consciously know it or not. When people think of RobIn, the character they have in their head is Dick Grayson. He is the original Robin, but there’ve been many others to take up the mantle of Robin.
While Titans is ostensibly a team/ensemble series, this is the Dick Grayson show through and through. The series opens with a nice, little easter egg comic book reference, after his falling out with Bruce, Dick leaves Gotham and becomes a detective for the Detroit Police Department, he did something similar in the original comic book run. The first two seasons largely focus on his struggle to come to terms with his own personal demons and his complicated feelings about Bruce Wayne. Dick is a very angry young man, especially at the beginning of the series. He knows he has real darkness inside him, which he hates about himself, but he hates Bruce even more for nurturing those feelings and, as Dick sees it, weaponizing them for his own ends. This feeling is only reinforced when he meets Jason Todd for the first time, a young man who introduces himself to Dick as the “new Robin”. The fact that through Bruce just replaced Dick without a second thought, putting another young man in harms way, confirms what Dick has suspected for a long time. He loved Bruce as a father/brother figure and now he realizes he was nothing more than a soldier in Bruce’s insane war. It’s also important to remember that the mantle of Robin was Dick’s to give away, that was a persona, a hero, that Dick created to be Bruce’s sidekick. So it feels like an extra kick in the teeth, when Dick meets his own replacement, decked out in full, Robin regalia.
It’s a difficult and continuing road, but through his experiences with The Titans have put him on the path he was meant to walk. Dick is intelligent, emotionally well balanced, and compassionate enough, to work through these feelings by leaning on other people he cares about. Instead of trying to carry his burden alone, which allows him to become his own man and a hero in his own right, as Nightwing. Leaving Robin behind forever, but still fulfilling his destiny as a superhero. Eventually, he even manages to forgive Bruce, realizing that no matter warped and unhealthy it may have been, Bruce was only trying to help and protect Dick. He was trying to save him and help him in the only way he knew how.
Jason Todd, the current Robin, on the other hand, is nothing like Dick and doesn’t have any of Grayson’s positive qualities I mentioned a moment ago. He’s not particularly intelligent, he’s reckless, and unable to keep his emotions in check. He also has a big chip on his shoulder, as well as a serious inferiority complex. Sadly, anything Bruce may have learned during his time with Dick, certainly didn’t transfer to Jason, because that kid is a goddamn mess. Curran Walters who plays Jason, has absolutely crushed it since he was introduced mid-Season 1. He plays him like a mix between a live, exposed electrical wire and a lost, desperate puppy. Jason is a key character in Season 3 and Walters brings 100% to a complicated role.
Going into Season 3, Dick has finally come to terms with his past, to become the hero and leader he needs to be, as Nightwing. This new iteration of The Titans have have come together as a formidable team of heroes. They’re working like a fine oiled machine. The Titans have even become quasi-celebrities. Adored by the media and the public for their heroism. Whaddaya know? Turns out is you actually SAVE a few people and don’t level a city in the process, the public actually likes superheroes! Who knew? The active Titans, consisting of Connor AKA Superboy, Kory AKA Starfirfe, Gar AKA Beast Boy, Dawn AKA Dove, Hank AKA Hawk, and Super-Dog Krypto, are thriving as a team with Nightwing at the helm. While some of the mainstays of the team are off screen until later in the season, like Raven and Donna Troy. Things are looking great, which is of course when those old Gotham City demons show up pounding on Dick Grayson’s door.
(Minor Spoilers here, but nothing that hasn’t been shown in the trailers) Tragedy strikes when the current Robin, Jason Todd, is brutally killed by The Joker.
Anyone who really knows the character, understands that Batman handles the death of a loved one poorly, at best. Batman handles Jason’s death just about as badly as you’d expect. It’s a fucking train wreck. He callously throws himself into his work as The Dark Knight, hiding from his grief. The series first introduced Bruce Wayne in Season 2, played by Ian Glenn (Ser Jorrah Mormont from Game of Thrones) and he’s been great in the role ever since. We see a Batman that has serious problems processing grief and instead of dealing with it head on, in a healthy way, he dives headfirst back into being Batman. It’s like he’s escaping from his trauma into this monster of his own creation. Following the death of Jason Todd, we have never seen the character more mentally unhinged and emotionally broken.
There’s a fantastic moment in The Batcave between Bruce and Dick, Dick is horrified to discover that Bruce has already been researching possible “recruits” to replace Jason as Robin. When a furious Dick confronts Bruce about this, looking and sounding like a lost little boy, Bruce almost timidly asks “Do you wanna be Robin again?”. Dick’s reaction is a shocked mix of disgust, pity, disbelief, and genuine concern. The fact that Bruce would even ask him this, shows exactly how far gone, mentally, he really is. It’s almost as if Bruce is experiencing some kind of psychotic break and the gravity of the moment is not lost on Dick. Things get worse before they get better. With Batman off the deep end, a brutal and dangerous new player storms into Gotham’s underworld: The Red Hood.
He’s a compelling and genuinely threatening villain, and if you don’t already know the character, the less said the better.
Following the recent death of her father, former Batgirl, Barbara Gordon, has reluctantly taken on the thankless role of Gotham City Police Commissioner (mainly because no one else was crazy enough to take the job). Like Grayson, Barbara has her own less than perfect history with Bruce Wayne, she’s done with vigilantes and the questionable cycle of violence Bruce perpetuated. So the last thing she wants to do is pick up with Nightwing, where her father left off with Batman, but The GCPD is stretched to it’s limit. Dick isn’t thrilled with the situation either. He thought he put Batman and Gotham behind him to build something better with The Titans. Instead, he’s forced to “step into his Father’s shoe’s” and bring a still relatively green group of heroes into a city where mistakes put you in the morgue instead of the emergency room.
As Dick and Barbara re-establish their fragile partnership, the new Commissioner reveals that Dick and The Titans aren’t the only “consultants” she’s been forced to work with. Straight out of “Silence of The Lambs”, while currently incarcerated in Arkham Asylum, The GCBD has been utilizing the skills of one of the world’s best criminal psychologists and profilers, Dr. Jonathan Crane, better known as The Scarecrow.
Some might find the “Hannibal Lector” angle a little derivative, but the show manages to get away with it because it’s so damn fun to watch. Crane is played by Vincent Kartheiser, better known to audiences as Pete Campbell from Mad Men, Connor from Angel, and a slew of various roles on the big screen. Kartheiser really makes the role his own. We’ve never quite seen the popular Batman villain portrayed like this. I don’t want to SPOIL too much, so if you don’t want to know anything, skip down to the next paragraph where you’ll see “END SPOILERS”….
…. I wont go into specifics about the role of the character in the series. However, when it comes to the level of danger he presents, some fans tend to think of Crane as a pretty minor Batman villain. But anyone who’s played the video game, Batman: Arkham Knight, knows that Scarecrow is capable of being a massive, city-wide threat that we tend to only associate with characters like The Joker, Ra’s Al Ghul, or Bane. Dr. Jonathan Crane is not to be underestimated.
After 2 seasons largely focused on Dick Grayson’s journey from Robin to Nightwing. Now in Season 3, the series has come into his own and Nightwing’s return to his hometown, along with the rest of The Titans, couldn’t have come at a more difficult time. As Dick and his team try to live up to the legacy of Batman as Gotham’s protector’s, a violent and formidable new threat has emerged from the Gotham underworld. A criminal who may have a much deeper and more personal connection to Dick and Bruce than either of them could have imagined. If you’ve ever thought about giving Titans a chance, now is the time to do it, because the series has never been better.
Thanks for reading! Follow us on Twitter @PJWrightWBM, Instagram @worldsbestmedia2017, and our Facebook Page, Worlds Best Media. Those likes and follows, as well as iTunes reviews, go a long way to supporting World’s Best Media. We really appreciate the loyalty and support shown to us by our fans, so thanks again! Stay healthy and stay safe!
Ever since Titans first premiered on the DC Universe Streaming Service, I always felt it was a pretty underrated superhero show. It seemed to get a lot of criticism, that I think, it didn’t deserve. Even Season 2 was a big improvement on Season 1, in my opinion. My theory, is that the series is a fairly dark interpretation of the Teen Titans mythology. Titans premiered right around the time many fans were souring on what they believed was overly dark and grim tone of the DCEU movies like Man of Steel and BvS. Regardless, it’s not a perfect show by any means, but for me at least, Titans has always been an absolute blast. Season 3 looks to be the best yet, adding Scarecrow, Red Hood, Blackfire, and Barbara Gordon to an already fun ensemble of DC characters. The first two seasons are available now on HBO Max. I definitely recommend giving it a shot, especially if you’re a DC fan. Titans Season 3 premieres August 12 on HBO Max. Take a look at these cool promo images, and watch the new trailer right here:
This season also sees the debut of Tim Drake, the 3rd hero to take up the mantle of Robin (pictured below). Tim eventually comes into his own as The World’s Second Greatest Detective, Red Robin.
More character posters…
Follow us on Twitter @PJWrightWBM, Instagram @worldsbestmedia2017, and our Facebook Page, Worlds Best Media. Those likes and follows, as well as iTunes reviews, go a long way to supporting World’s Best Media. We really appreciate the loyalty and support shown to us by our fans, so thanks again! Stay healthy and stay safe!
In Batman: The Three Jokers, Geoff Johns sets out to answer a mystery, that he set in motion several years ago during the climactic story arc of his Justice League run. In the story, Batman interfaces with an alien super computer called The Mobius Chair, that can answer any question in the universe, no matter how seemingly impossible the question may be . One of the questions Batman asked was, “What is The Joker’s true name?”. Through it’s omniscience, The Mobius Chair gave an answer that threw even The World’s Greatest Detective for a loop: There are 3 Jokers. This three issue miniseries sets out to finally answer the mystery of The Three Jokers. I’ve read the first issue and while it answers some questions, it leaves us with even more.
There is no doubt that DC has two of their absolute best creators working on this book. There are very few comic book writers who have had the level of influence on modern comic books in the way that Geoff John’s has. With very few exceptions, there isn’t a major character in DC Comics that he hasn’t left his mark on. His enormous talent and impact on comic book storytelling, put him in rarefied air among legends like Stan Lee and Frank Miler. Geoff Johns is without a doubt one of the best superhero writers in the medium. No one does big, epic storytelling like Geoff Johns. Yet for some reason, he has always, in my opinion, struggled when writing Batman. Don’t get me wrong, even some of his weakest stories have fun and interesting elements at play. Despite any criticisms about his writing that I may have, John’s never fails to deliver an entertaining story.
Then there’s artist Jason Fabouk, who’s done some of the best superhero artwork I’ve ever seen in “The Darkseid War”, one his previous collaborations with Geoff Johns in the pages of Justice League. In a comic book, the storytelling done through the artwork is just as important, sometimes more so, than the storytelling being done in the script. It’s one of the things that makes the medium so unique. This issue opens with an exceptional example of how vital a fantastic artist is to telling a great comic book story. The issue begins with a close-up, on a large “W” engraved in stone. As the image pulls out, we see that this is the grave of Thomas Wayne. Surprisingly, the Batmobile suddenly crashes into it, partially destroying the gravestone. A seriously injured Batman emerges from the vehicle and stumbles towards Wayne Manor. A flurry of bats eventually reveals the Batcave. Filled with Batman‘s equipment and trophies, old costumes of allies and enemies. Finally, we see Alfred. Steady. Always there. We see both men from behind, as Alfred hauls Bruce in an improvised shoulder carry. Holding up his son, as Batman struggles to make it to the medical area. In a wavering voice Bruce says “My parents…” Referring to the gravestone he crashed into moments before. Again, Alfred steady as ever replies “I’ll fix their markers as soon as I fix you.”. Piece by piece, Batman‘s armor is removed, Alfred using surgical tools to remove parts of the uniform to get at Bruce’s wound, so Alfred can begin to treat whatever Bruce has suffered from this time.
Alfred begins to treat a puncture wound in the side Bruce‘s torso. “What was it this time?” Alfred asks. “An umbrella” Bruce replies. The image pulls back again, Bruce is naked from the waist up, with his back turned to the reader as Alfred begins stitching his latest wound. The image is stunning. What makes the artwork so powerful Is the dozens, maybe even hundreds of other scars and burns covering Bruce’s body (and we can only see him from the back). This is a grim ritual these two men have gone through together far too many times..Each scar is a dark reminder, a souvenir, of the nightly torture Bruce Wayne subjects himself to.
However, despite all the monsters he fought in the night, only one has left more scars than any other. Both on the inside and out. The Joker. As Bruce recalls each battle, each fight with The Clown Prince of Crime, the monsters horrifying laughter builds in his head until, for the first time in the story, we see Bruce’s eyes. And they are filled with fury… and something more, something dark.
Regardless of any criticisms that I may leveled at other aspects of this comic book, the art by Jason Fabouk is incredible. There are many amazing artists out there, who draw stunningly beautiful images, but it takes more than that to be an excellent comic book artist. A comic book artist is a storyteller just like the writer. The analogy I like to use, is that a comic book artist needs to be the director, the actors, the cinematography, and the editor all wrapped in one. Like a director they need to set up every image, the angle, what will be in the shot, etc. like a cinematographer they have to establish the look and visual tone of the story, and like an actor they need to convey all of the subtle emotions of every character in the story. An artist who can do all of that well and still make every image absolutely beautiful, is less common in the industry than you might think. I think somebody like the late, great Steve Dillon (Preacher, The Punisher) is a great example of an artist that was incredibly gifted at storytelling and conveying complex array of human emotions. With this comic, I think Jason Fabouk has taken his first step into becoming one of the most elite comic book storytellers in the business. The work on display here is some of the best visual storytelling I’ve seen in a comic book in a long time.
With that out of the way, what do I think about the comic? I think there are two major issues that ultimately plague this story. First, the problem with telling a story like this, is that part of what makes The Joker so terrifying and so fascinating is that he doesn’t have a definitive origin. Sure, there have been hints over the years. Possibilities of who or what he was before he became The Clown Prince of Crime. Writers like Alan Moore, Scott Snyder, Bruce Timm,and Paul Dini have all played with possible origins for The Joker. These stories worked because none of them were the character’s definitive origin. It was left ambiguous, the writers placed doubt in the minds of fans about how much of these possible backstories actually happened. Was any of it real? Even the recent JOKER film starring Joaquin Phoenix as Arthur Fleck/The Joker, made the audience question exactly how much of the films events actually took place and how much of it was all in Arthur’s head
The questions at the heart of this story are: How are there three Jokers? What does that even mean? Are there literally three different men, who have been The Joker over the years? What is the answer to the mystery of The Three Jokers? At least for me, the answer to that question is: I don’t fucking care. I would’ve been perfectly happy if DC never picked up this storyline again. In the JL story written by Geoff Johns that kicked this whole thing off, Batman asks the all-knowing Mobius Chair “What is The Joker’s true name?”. The chair replies and Batman is visibly shocked and disturbed by what he hears. He can only respond “That’s not possible“. On its own, that’s a cool moment. What the fuck did The Mobius Chair tell Batman? The Joker is already a character shrouded in mystery and darkness and this was a powerful and creepy moment. I think if it was left alone by DC, this could have been an intriguing addition to The Joker’s mythology. A question we’ll never get the answer to would’ve been so much more interesting to readers, because the unknown is always so much scarier than anything a writer can cook up.
To talk about my second major criticism of this story so far, I’m going to be discussing a pivotal scene in depth as an example of a larger concern I have with the project. So MAJOR, MAJOR SPOILER WARNINGS for the rest of the review!!!
Ok, still with me? Great. So, when Jason Todd AKA The Red Hood finally blows The Joker’s brains out, I thought: “About damn time!”.
You see, a common misconception is, that Batman has always adhered to a strict moral code, that kept him from ever taking a life. It’s important to point out that when Batman was created by Bill Finger and Bob Kane (It was actually MOSTLY Bill Finger, but Bob Kane gets all the credit). Batman‘s so-called “no kill“ rule, didn’t come from a creative decision by one of Batman’s creators. It came down as an editorial mandate from DC Comics. The Joker was originally supposed to die in his first appearance, but the character was so popular that the creators working on Batman at the time had to come up with a way for Joker to return. Batman couldn’t go around killing the entirety of what would become his whole rogues gallery! Of course this early version of Batman would kill The Joker! For a man willing to take a life, this was the exact situation where you take someone off the board. It was a way to keep Batman’s popular villains returning to the story. Another factor was that DC comics wanted to attract younger readers. Which was why Robin was introduced and Batman’s homicidal edge was softened. The hard-hitting, gritty, noir stores told in Batman’s early days, made way for more colorful and family friendly content.
So when someone tries to convince you that Batman never kills because of a deep moral belief in the sanctity of life, you can say that’s bullshit, he doesn’t kill because the publisher wanted to make more money by having more readers and reoccurring, colorful villains. From the very beginning of Batman‘s career, he had no compunction about killing criminals. Batman even carried a gun in many of his earliest appearances. Many of the unfortunate thugs he came across found them selves with a bullet in the chest, thrown into a vat of acid, or strangling a man with a steel cable attached to The Batplane and flying through Gotham with the corpse still hanging from The Batplane. While Batman muses that the villain is “better off this way“. In fact here are some fun instances of Batman straight up murdering people…
Which is why I find it so frustrating that certain writers, like Geoff John’s in particular, treat Batman‘s “no kill“ rule is if it was a sacred and fundamental part of the character’s ideology. It wasn’t a creative storytelling decision, it was a marketing one. Most of the other vigilantes in Gotham City have been trained by Bruce or work closely with him, so they also adhere to same, foolish “no kill” rule (with some notable exceptions). So when writers like Geoff John’s put Batman or one of his allies, in this case Barbara Gordon AKA Batgirl, in positions where all logic, emotion, and reason would lead to their character taking a life, the writers will go to extraordinary lengths to find reasons for their so-called heroes not to go through with it. This doesn’t make the heroes noble, it makes them look foolish and naïve. I’m not saying that Batman and his allies should start acting like The Punisher, but in extreme circumstances, extreme measures are appropriate. Unless a writer is willing to honestly tackle some potentially uncomfortable questions about his characters, then perhaps it’s a subject that is best left alone. If you’ve been successfully crime fighting crime in a cesspool like Gotham City for years, you’ve probably seen some of the ugliest things that humanity has to offer. Which is why it makes no sense that someone like Barbara Gordon, an intelligent, worldly, capable, and very tough woman would attempt to stop Jason Todd from murdering The Joker. The amount of suffering that The Joker has personally inflicted on Barbara and her family includes crippling and sexually molesting her, torturing her father, murdering her stepmother, and has killing literally thousands of people. Including successfully murdering Jason himself. Even though Jason eventually came back from the dead, as Jon Snow would tell you, that isn’t some shit you just forgive. For Barbara to feign outrage when The Joker is killed, is just silly and poor writing. However, I did enjoy what Jason says to Barbara after kills The Joker, posted below…
I’ll definitely read all 3 issues of Batman: The Three Jokers, but It’s mostly out of sense of obligation. New comic books come out each week and I still read every issue of my favorite ongoing titles. Batman is my favorite comic book character, so for better or worse, regardless of how this story ends it’s going to have a major impact of some kind on the Batman mythology. For that alone, I’d read all 3 issues just to see how it all plays out. That’s not exactly a ringing endorsement, especially if you don’t read comics every week like I do. I’m certain that DC is trying to attract new readers with a high profile book like this. In that regard, I suppose Three Jokers is successful. Most of my problems with the book were rooted in my long personal history with Batman and how I think the character and his world should be portrayed. As well as certain longtime comics books tropes present in the issue, that drive my nuts whenever they pop-up in a story. New readers might be the ideal audience for this comic book, even with my criticisms, it’s an undeniably entertaining book with beautiful art. Casual Batman fans wouldn’t bring as much baggage to the story as I did and it really only requires a basic knowledge of Batman and The Joker to follow what’s going on.
Final Words: In a vacuum, taken for what it is, Batman: The Three Jokers is pretty good read, but it fails to justify it’s own existence. This new miniseries suffers because of some poorly written characters and will leave a lot of readers questioning why this story needed to be told in the first place. On the other hand, The Three Jokers is a solid book for casual readers and the art work by Jason Fabouk is gorgeous.
When fans look back at the Batman movies that took place in the same universe as the wonderful Batman: The Animated Series, they most likely remember the fantastic Batman Beyond: Return of The Joker or the classic Batman: Mask of The Phantasm. As of last summer, we can add 2017’s Batman and Harley Quinn to the list, but unfortunately that movie sucks.
However, there’s a hidden gem that a lot of people forget about; Batman & Mr. Freeze: Subzero. This was a direct to video animated film taking in the BTAS Universe that came out in 1998. No doubt hoping to capitalize on the Mr. Freeze buzz in that was in the air after Arnold Schwarzenegger’s heartbreaking, Oscar winning performance in the critical darling and mega hit, Batman & Robin. Oh wait, I forgot the movie was explosive diarrhea and killed the Batman live action film franchise for nearly a decade. I’m sure there’s an alternate reality out there where it was The Dark Knight of it’s day.
But I think that was definitely the intention. Animation takes longer than live action to produce especially in the 90’s. Even though this came out in 1998, it must have started production a few years earlier. So Warner Bros. probably thought Batman & Mr. Freeze: Subzero would tie in to what they believed would be another hit Batman movie. It really feels like somewhere around 95’or 96’, Warner Bros. told Bruce Timm and his crew that if we let you do another Batman Animated movie, it better be about Mr. Freeze. Of course, Batman & Robin was such a piece of shit, people eventually put it out of their minds after the film bombed. Unfortunately I think Batman & Mr. Freeze: Subzero was forgotten a little as well.
Which is a shame because it’s a hell of a little flick. Nowhere near as good as Mask of The Phantasm or Return of The Joker, but still solid as fuck. It’s certainly about one thousand times better than Batman & Robin, it feels wrong to even compare the two. The movie plays like a darker, longer episode of the show. But at only 66 minuets, it still feels like a movie with a 3 act structure as opposed to a multi part episode of the series.
Basically at some point during Batman: The Animated Series, Freeze found out his wife Nora was actually still alive and being kept in cryogenic stasis. They’re living a peaceful life in the arctic with Freeze’s 2 pet Polar Bears and an Inuit boy that Freeze rescued and adopted after his parents died. There’s an accident involving some poor bastards who stumble onto this little family (it doesn’t end well for them), Nora’s medical equipment is damaged and her condition deteriorates rapidly. Freeze and the whole Fam (including the fucking polar bears) head to Gotham where Freeze meets up with his old colleague, Dr. Benson another expert in cryogenics who’s a massive piece of shit with serious financial debt. Benson tells Freeze that the only way to save his wife is an organ transplant. Nora has a rare blood type so they need to kidnap some who’s alive, kill them, and harvest their organs. Benson the medical professional that he is, gets on board right away when Freeze drops a lump of gold the size of football on his desk and tells him it’s from a mine he discovered in the arctic, which is Benson’s if he successfully helps Freeze. And wouldn’t you know it? The perfect match: Barbara Gordon. Batgirl. Commission Gordons’s daughter and the love of Dick Grayson’s (Robin) life.
There are some great action sequences including the scene kidnapping Barbara while she’s out to dinner with Dick at upscale nightclub, which starts with Freeze coming for Barbara in the club, polar bears and all, and ends with Dick in badass motorcycle chase. The film’s finale on an oil rig that going up in flames is exciting and genuinely edge of your seat tense.
This is also arguably the darkest we see Freeze, who’s always been one of the most sympathetic members of Batman’s Rogues Gallery. Killing a man out of revenge for murdering your wife and destroying your life is one thing, but butchering an innocent young woman to harvest an organ is pretty fucking dark. Especially considering she was basically already dead and the procedure did not seem to have a high likelihood of success when it’s being performed on an abandoned oil rig by a criminally negligent doctor who hasn’t changed his clothes in days and is solely motivated by paying off his shady debts. We do see glimmers of the honorable man that still exists somewhere deep beneath the ice of Freeze, but his main mission here is kind of unforgivable. And those polar bears aren’t fucking around either!
I rewatched this because it just came out on Blu-ray, which includes all the other Mr. Freeze episodes in the Batman: The Animated series Universe (including Batman Beyond), and I found myself thinking it was kind of underrated. This movie is also notable because it came out in the time betweeen the original Batman: The Animated series ended and The New Batman/Superman Adventures began. It was the same show, same continuity, but there was a big character redesign. Also, there are some big character developments that happen between the change over on the show and this movie hints at some of those upcoming character developments.
I definitely recommend picking up Batman & Mr. Freeze: Subzero, I know I did. Especially if you have the other animated movies on Blu-Ray. It’s very good Batman movie and the Blu-Ray transfer looks good on the traditional animation. They experimented with some computer animation for certain shots and vehicles, that don’t work and look super dated. Other than that, this gets a big thumbs up from me. Give it a watch!
Oh FUCK! I forget about Batman: Mystery of The Batwoman! That’s one of the movies too..
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