BATMAN DAY: The Best Modern Day Batman Stories!

Hey Everyone.

Paul here…

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.


Batman: R.I.P.

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!

-Paul

PODCAST: Jupiter’s Legacy Review!

Hey Everyone,

Paul here…

On this episode of The World’s Best Podcast, we take some time to review Jupiter’s Legacy, the new Netflix series based on the comic book by Mark Millar! There are some relatively minor SPOILERS in this one, but we don’t ruin any big reveals or plot twists.

Part of an ambitious plan by Netflix, the company bought Millarworld, the ultra successful independent creator owned comic book imprint by Mark Millar. The creator has already had multiple successful adaptations of his work like, Kick-Ass, Kingsman, and Wanted. Jupiter’s Legacy is the first of many planned movies and shows Netflix is adapting from Millarworld (and not just superhero content, though of course that’ll be there too). Millar’s work covers Star Wars like Sci-Fi, spy adventures, fantasy, and more.

Listen here: https://www.spreaker.com/episode/44716819 Or subscribe/listen on Spotify, Stitcher, Spreaker, iHeartRadio, Deezer, Podchaser, Castbox, Podcast Addict, Google Podcasts, & Apple Podcasts/ITunes…

iTunes/Apple Podcasts: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-worlds-best-podcast/id1246038441?i=1000520915352

Spotify:  https://open.spotify.com/show/11mA9kClyevVZjWYMQB1Io?si=7TfnqkBiShqTQpZhh2UDsA

Stitcher: https://www.stitcher.com/s?fid=185563

Thanks for listening ! 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!

-Paul

Cool Art of Henry Cavill As DC Villain Ultraman!

Hey Everyone,

Paul here…

The Crime Syndicate: Ultraman, Owlman, Superwoman, Johnny Quick, Power Ring, Deathstorm

  The Justice League has battled a lot of cool, iconic foes over the years, but one of my favorites has to to be The Crime Syndicate. The Crime Syndicate hail from a parallel world dubbed Earth-3, where it’s occupants really subscribe to the philosophy of “survival of the fittest”. Each member of The Crime Syndicate is an evil doppelgänger of a member of the Justice League and they rule their Earth with an iron fist. So, instead of Batman, you get Owlman, instead of Wonder Woman there’s Superwoman, and instead of Superman you get Ultraman.

Ultraman is probably the biggest piece of shit of them all (actually Owlman probably takes the cake there). When he’s not bust freebasing Kryptonite to get his powers, he’s terrorizing the citizens of his planet.

  The Crime Syndicate are most prominently featured as the villains in classic Justice League stories like, JLA: Earth-2 written by Grant Morrison with art by Frank Quietly.

 As well as, Forever Evil by Geoff Johns and David Finch, which features Lex Luthor defeating Ultraman by using his addiction to Kryptonite AGAINST him. The message here: drug addiction makes you lose super villain battles. A valuable lesson for us all.

The live action DC movies may have gotten off to a rocky start, but I’m a big fan of movies like Man of Steel and even Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. I think Henry Cavill made a fantastic Superman and it’s a shame we probably won’t get to see him in the role again. Much like we won’t get to see Ben Affleck as Batman again. It would’ve been pretty cool to see these characters go up against a group of villains like The Crime Syndicate down the line had the Justice League film been any good. Sadly that movie was a big pile of shit, so we can only wonder what might’ve been. Which is why I thought it was really cool when I found two different artist renditions of Henry Cavill as Ultraman popping up online. Check it out here:

  The first piece was done by an artist who goes by the handle HouseofMat. This is the first time I’ve see HouseofMat’s work, but I thought it was pretty cool and I wanted to share it with you guys. The second piece (which is my favorite of the two) was created by Barrett Digital, you can find them on Twitter @BARRETTDIGITAL_. There are some fantastic online artists out there like BossLogic, whose work I’ve posted on the site before. So I’m always on the lookout for cool stuff like this. What do you think of his rendition of Henry Cavill as Ultraman? Is The Crime Syndicate a group of villains you’d like to see pop up in a DC movie in the future? Please let me know what you think in the comments below. As always, thanks for reading!

-Paul

P.S. The Crime Syndicate are also the main villains in the DC Animated Movie Justice League: Crisis On Two Earths. It’s a solid and entertaining entry in the DC Animated Movie library. If your a DC fan, it’s definitely worth a watch. You can buy or rent the movie on iTunes or buy the Blu-Ray on Amazon by following this link: https://www.amazon.com/Justice-League-Crisis-Earths-Blu-ray/dp/B002YOKVUE/ref=tmm_mfc_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1561600655&sr=1-2

The Best Superhero Comics You Probably Haven’t Read…

This is the second article in my series spotlighting lesser known, but excellent comic books. This week I’m going to tell you guys about some fantastic superhero comics that may not be as well known as the JLA or The Avengers, but they’re wonderful Comics nonetheless. So, let’s get started…

Somewhere between the late 1990’s and the beginning of the 21st-century, the superhero genre as a whole begin to exhibit a dramatic stylistic change. The superhero movie explosion had yet to occur. Publishing giants like Marvel we’re on the verge of bankruptcy. (It’s crazy to think in a time when Superheroes and comic books permeate our pop culture, Marvel almost went belly up). The 90’s was a cynical decade, the decade of conspiracies and The X-Files. That cynicism coupled with the approaching Y2K paranoia produced a landmark era of comic storytelling. Some of the books published at the time were the best deconstructions of our most famous superhero archetypes since Watchmen. All of the books and stories below feature characters that are very deliberate analogues for our most famous superheroes. Specifically the DC superheroes, like the Justice League.
This is not a coincidence. I often say that, unlike Marvel, the heroes of DC Comics are MYTHIC, larger than life, they are the modern day gods. They’re our Zeus, Apollo, Mercury, Hera, and Hades.

However, from all of our superheroes there is one that rises above the rest. The first and arguably the greatest superhero. Every single book on this list either centers on an analog of this character or features one prominently. I am of course talking about the Last Son of Krytpton, The Man of Steel… SUPERMAN. Every comic book writer wants to play with Superman at least once, and they all have an idea that wouldn’t quite fit in a traditional Superman comic.

After all, Superman has rules. He upholds truth, justice, and the American way. He works at The Daily Planet newspaper with the love of his life, Lois Lane. He always does the right thing and, with a few notable exceptions, he doesn’t kill.

The stories below are fantastic because you have some of the greatest writers and artists in the industry taking characters that are very much like our most beloved heroes and doing things with them that they could never do in 1 million years in a normal comic book. These stories prove that sometimes when you take risks with old ideas, you get some damn fine storytelling as a result.

Now you’ve got to understand, some of the stories are almost 20 years old, so when you read them they may not seem as new or exciting because a lot of the tropes present in the stories were revolutionary at the time. They reinvented the genre, so of course everyone copied what they were doing. A lot of theses ideas have been adopted into mainstream comic book storytelling as the culture has changed. Regardless, it’s important to understand that at the time these tales were revolutionary and mind blowing. They were risky, they made you uncomfortable, and they made you look at your favorite heroes in the whole new light. Some of the stories are better than others but they’re all great reads and essential for any comic book reader new or old.

IMG_1418The Authority writer– Warren Ellis & Mark Millar/artist – Bryan Hitch/Frank Quietly/Some Shitty Fill-Ins

This book popularized the concept of “Wide Screen Action” in comics. “Wide Screen Action” basically refers to superhero action on a scale and scope that hadn’t been seen up to that point. They were trying to devise action set pieces like something out of the coolest 90s blockbusters. The book was first launched by Warren Ellis and Bryan Hitch in the late 90s. The Authority, led by chain smoking British bad ass Jenny Sparks and her mega powerful team consisted of Apollo, Midnighter, Swift, Jack Hawksmoore, The Engineer, and The Doctor. Between Ellis’ unique vision and Hitch’s incredible artwork the book was a sight to behold. The book also tapped into the late 90’s fear and mistrust of the government I wrote about earlier. Because of shows like The X-Files, conspiracy theories were big. The book was groundbreaking at the time for another reason, in that it featured a gay couple prominently on the team, Midnighter and Apollo, who were analogs for Batman and Superman, were lovers. Smartly, this never defines the characters. The books didn’t exploit the characters sexuality and they made it clear that these two were very much in love with each other. They were two of the most bad ass superheroes on the planet, their sexuality didn’t matter one damn bit.

IMG_1407During Ellis’ tenure on the book, the idea that Superheroes could be quasi-fascist popped up from time to time. The Authority were the most powerful superheroes on the planet, when the world was at stake, they felt like they didn’t have a time for democracy, committees, due process, or international borders.  In fact, they viewed these things with contempt. With beings this powerful who’s to stop them? These are themes that would be ratcheted way up when Mark Millar took over after Warren Ellis departed after the second story arc. Along with Millar came genius artist Frank Quietly. Though Ellis and Millar are quite different writers, there was a pretty smooth transition. In my opinion this was Millar’s best work. Similar to some of Ellis ideas, Millar attempted to answer the question that we’ve all asked: If Superman and the Justice League were real why wouldn’t they topple dictators and evicirate terrorists?  Shouldn’t they be solving the problems that really matter instead of engaging in silly fights with supervilains? What’s to stop them from drastically changing the world? Of course, when you start messing with the establishment at that level, the establishment begins to push back.

The Authority: Book One (Warren Ellis & Bryan Hitch) and The Authority: Book Two (Mark Millar & Frank Quietly) are available at your local comic book store and online on ComiXology.

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Rising Stars writer– J. Michael Straczynski/artist-Various

On paper a lot of these stories sound very similar as they’re all basically deconstructions of superhero stories. However, if you read them, you’ll see that they all have their own unique feel. Rising Stars perfectly exemplifies this. Rising Stars was really the first comic book I read that showed me superhero stories can be more than traditional conflicts of good vs evil. They can be complex and adult. As you can imagine Rising Stars was a revelation to me. Created by J. Michael Strazcynski, also the creator of the groundbreaking  sci-fi TV series Babylon 5, who was famous for his intricate story planning. He new the beginning, middle, and, end of Rising Stars before he sat down to script the first issue. The story is all the stronger for it.  Here’s the basic set up without going into spoilers: It all began with The Penderson Flash, 10 years before our story begins a strange ball of energy that was dubbed The Penderson Flash dissipated over the small town of Penderson in the heart of America. When the Flash hit Penderson, 113 children were in utero at the time. Of course this being an extremely bizarre incident, the United States government decided to keep their eye on the town of Penderson and its residents. For years there was no apparent effect. No one was any closer to figuring out what the Flash was or what it did to the populace. Until one day, one of those 113 children in utero at the time of the Flash, now around nine years old, saved hundreds of people at his school when the roof of the gymnasium collapsed, dropping hundreds of tons of concrete and rubble. The boy was able to hold the debris over his head like it weighed nothing, so everyone could escape. One by one, each of the 113 Penderson children began to exhibit various abilities, some very dramatic, some relatively benign. One or two of them seemed not to develop an ability at all. But each time one of the kids discovered they had a power, it was a brought about by a trigger event of some kind. So perhaps the kids who didn’t have abilities, simply hadn’t experienced their specific trigger moment? Fast forward more than a decade later, the children have grown up and been dubbed the “Specials” by the public. A few of them chose service and protection like traditional superheroes. But most of them went on to do a variety of different things. The main character of the story is Poet, a private, introverted Special who’s also a struggling writer. One day, seemingly out of the blue, the 113 Penderson Specials begin to be murdered one by one. For reasons I won’t go into here, Poet believes it’s his responsibility to catch the killer.

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That’s the basic set up and I’ve only scratched the surface of the story. It becomes so much more than a superhero murder mystery.  These children were given these abilities for a reason. They were meant to change the world. The question is, is the world ready? At the time, the only thing that had ever been done with superheroes that was even vaguely similar to this was Alan Moore’s Watchmen. Of course, Rising Stars is no Watchmen, what could be? However, despite that unfair comparison, Rising Stars an is excellent read. The story asks, and not in a dark or cynical way, what would you do if you truly had the power to change the world for the better? It’s a real gem if you’ve never read it before. Though it does it enjoy a cult following, Rising Stars deserves a higher status in our pop consciousness.

Rising stars is spread out over three graphic novel trade paperback’s that include the entire series:
Rising Stars vol.1 Born in Fire
Rising Stars vol.2 Power
Rising Stars vol.3 Fire & Ash
Buyer bewear! Rising Stars also put out two compendium editions that collect the whole story across two massive volumes. I can’t stress enough to not waste your money on the compendiums. The binding is flimsy and hard to keep open and the pages and binding come apart almost instantly after you start reading it. So, grab Rising Stars vol. 1-3 at your local comic book store or on your device at comiXology

IMG_1413Supreme Power writer– J. Michael Straczynski/artist– Gary Frank

This one may be my personal favorite on this list. J. Michael Straczynski is such a gifted writer it should come as no surprise he appears on this list twice. This is the story that’s most directly parallels Superman and The Justice League. This is a brilliant execution of the question: “What would happen in the real world if superhumans began to appear?” It begins with a familiar setup. A young couple driving their pickup down a back country road. Something streaks across the sky and crashes into the field down the way. They investigate and find a small baby in the wreckage of what appears to be an alien ship. They bring the baby home, but instead of being raised by the kindly couple, black helicopters and blacks ops soldiers are taking the baby and hushing up the couple. The child is then taken to a government research facility. Even as a baby, when the government scientists first test him, they see his strength and durability are off the charts. There’s no telling how powerful he could become. After deciding not to just kill the child out right before that becomes impossible, the U.S. government decides to raise this boy to be the quitenssential American Hero. They hire government agents to play his parents. They use focus groups to pick the perfect dog he should have as he grows up (it goes bad). They’re very careful about what they show him of the outside world. Above all the instill him with a deep love of America, or at least they try to. The boy is named Mark Milton (another name chosen by focus group to sound the most “American”) and he will become the superhero known as Hyperion.

IMG_1416But when Mark’s ship crashed on earth, it released something into that the atmosphere, something that affected other people, giving them extraordinary abilities like Mark. There’s The Blur who can move with superspeed, Doctor Spectrum, a former special forces officer with a Crystal from Mark’s ship fused to his hand that will act as a weapon that responds to his mind. You can see where this is going. Slowly but surely were introduced into an entire real world Justice League analog, including versions of Batman (Nighthawk), Wonder Woman (Zarda), and Aquaman (A girl named Kingsley who eventually gets the lame code name Amphibian). What makes this story so compelling is that it has a real ripped from the headlines kind of feel, in the sense that this is what it really would be like if beings like Superman came into our world. Everything from the abilities of the characters to how their potential destructive power is measured is presented in a really cool way you haven’t seen before in most Comics. There’s a dread that hangs over this entire book that permeates the story with tension. Especially when it comes to the character of Mark. This is a man whose entire life has been a lie. He’s been raised to believe he’s this perfect American weapon, never told his true origin. But what happens when he finds out the truth? How does somebody with truly no limits look at the world and its problems? And then of course is the old classic: does absolute power corrupt absolutely? These are the ideas that lie at the heart of Supreme Power. I’m not even coming close to doing this story justice, but I can’t recommend it enough. Unfortunately for reasons I’m not certain of, JMS never finished his superhero epic. I heard it came down to disagreements with Marvel. It’s a shame we’ll never get to see JMS complete one of the all time great superhero stories.

IMG_1415The series did eventually continue, picking up months after where Straczynski’s cliffhanger book departure left off. I haven’t read the follow up series myself. I’m sure I eventually will out of curiosity. I’ve heard it’s…fine. But YOU dear reader! YOU only read the Supreme Power stories written by J. Michael Straczynski. For some reason, the trade paperbacks for Supreme Power are a little more difficult to find than some other books. They can be easily found on Amazon or ComiXology. Of course, it doesn’t hurt to call your local comic book store to see if they have any copies (local comic shops can be a treasure trove of hidden gems). Regardless, here is the reading order:

Supreme Power Reading Order

– Supreme Power vol.1 Contact

Supreme Power vol.2 Powers and Principalities 

– Supreme Power vol.3 High Command

– Supreme Power: Hyperion

– Squadron Supreme: The Pre-War Years

If you like these books here are a few more that you may want to check out:

Invincible writer– Robert Kirkman/artist– Ryan Ottley

The Ultimates writer- Mark Millar/artist- Bryan Hitch

Anyway, as usual thanks for reading guys. I hope you enjoyed it.

– Paul