Tag Archives: DC comics

Batman’s Joker: Reinvention is nothing new

jaredletojoker

There was a lot of discussion online the other day when Jared Leto’s look as the Joker from the upcoming movie “Suicide Squad” released.

My personal feeling is that this is an attempt to re-invent the character for a new generation. Young moviegoers would not be satisfied with the look of the Tim Burton/Jack Nicholson Joker. I wasn’t sold on that interpretation myself.

I’m not sure about the Leto look. “Trying too hard” is one phrase that comes to mind.

What’s important, of course, is how Leto plays the character and how the part is written.

But reinvention has been a constant for the character, who first appeared in the comic book Batman 1, 75 years ago this month.

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There’s the unacknowledged inspiration for the “look” of the Joker, taken from actor Conrad Veidt’s appearance in the 1928 movie “The Man Who Laughs.”

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There was the classic Joker, of course, “created” by Bob Kane but really created by Kane and Jerry Robinson and Bill Finger.

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For kids coming of age in the 1960s, Cesar Romero’s Joker in the “Batman” TV series – painted-over mustache and all – is the most familiar look for the character.

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At the time the world thought of “Batman” as camp, comics readers knew the Joker as a madman and real threat to the Dark Knight detective. The Joker’s look in the comics was refined in the art of Neal Adams.

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Tim Burton’s 1989 “Batman” movie needed a big name to play the Joker. Nicholson was cast and brought the right amount of menace to the character, but he wasn’t physically right.

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The “Batman” animated series did wonders with a simple Joker design and Mark Hamill’s great voice performance.

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Artist Alex Ross made the Joker believable and frightening at the same time.

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It’s hard to imagine it was as recently as 2008 when Christopher Nolan’s “Dark Knight” took the Joker in a whole new direction in terms of look and physicality. And Heath Ledger was outstanding in what was considered as unconventional a look as Leto’s appearance is now.

Will Leto’s look be a Joker for the ages?

Comic book odd: Superman, you’ve got a point there

lois lane 63

How amazing is this?

How many of us have joked that it seemed unlikely that Lois Lane – not to mention Lex Luthor and everybody else in the world – wouldn’t recognize Superman just because he wore a pair of glasses as Clark Kent?

I vaguely remember a Superman comic that explained that Superman’s super-vision, when filtered through Clark’s glasses – produced a kind of Super-hypnosis that made everyone see Clark as a little old man.

Yeah, I didn’t believe that one, even as a kid.

But I had no idea that DC addressed the problem – and even early on, in February 1966 with “Lois Lane” 63.

I don’t know if the story inside is the Super-hypnosis one I’m thinking of.

Wonderful cover. And what an attitude Supes has.

DC comics film slate: I’ll believe it when I see them

justice league alex ross

Yeah, that’s not gonna happen.

Hollywood reporter Nikki Finke recently scooped the rest of the entertainment press with a list purporting to detail Warner Bros. and DC’s plans for big-screen superhero movies in the near future.

Here’s the list:

• May 2016 – Batman v Superman

• July 2016 – Shazam

• Xmas 2016 – Sandman

• May 2017 – Justice League

• July 2017 – Wonder Woman

• Xmas 2017 – Flash and Green Lantern team-up

• May 2018 – Man Of Steel 2

Nope. Not happening.

I mean, in many ways, I wish it would. As satisfying as Marvel’s big-screen universe is, I’d like to see DC comics heroes – the most accessible and familiar heroes in the world, in many ways – finally achieve lift off on screen.

Last year’s “Man of Steel” had so many things wrong with it, and with writer David Goyer and others behind the scenes who are plainly ashamed of superhero names, colorful costumes, origins and storylines, I don’t have much hope for future movies in the series.

And in particular I doubt that the studio can pull this off.

Lookit: WB and DC have only just gotten rolling on “BvsS.” How quickly can they turn around “Shazam,” which is supposed to follow the May 2016 release of “BvsS” by a couple of months?

And if they haven’t been able to figure out a big-screen “Wonder Woman” or “Green Lantern,” how can they pull off an oddity like “Sandman?”

Not to mention the whole “seven movies released within two years” thing. That’s a feat that I’m not sure even Marvel, with its assembly-line methods, could pull off.

I’ll go see whatever DC movies get released in the coming years, no doubt. But I’m afraid I’ll find them as lacking as “Green Lantern” and “Man of Steel.”

And I sure don’t think we’ll see one every few months.

Comic book ads: ‘Superman’ 80-page giant

superman giant house ad

Those were the days, weren’t they?

80 pages of comic book action for 25 cents.

Even though the “giants” were mostly reprints – many from the Golden Age or early Silver Age – they were many times over our money’s worth.

Comic book odd: Detective Comics No. 367

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I’m pretty sure Detective Comics No. 367 is not the most rare comic book in history. But it oughta be. I’ll tell you why in a minute.

This issue of Detective came out in September 1967, during an interesting time for Batman. DC had been plugging along with the character since the Golden Age by this point, but Batman saw a revitalization after the 1966 “Batman” TV series.

By September 1967, however, the show was waning. It would hang on until the spring of 1968, when the show was gone and Batman was left to his own devices.

The comic almost always – like a lot of DC, even in the years of improbable plots – had beautiful artwork. This cover wasn’t among the best – it’s credited to longtime DCers Carmine Infantino and Murphy Anderson – but it was pretty unusual in that it offered a jigsaw puzzle for readers to assemble to try to figure out that issue’s villain.

Here’s my question along the lines of rare comic books: I wonder how many kids would have cut up the cover of this issue to assemble the jigsaw puzzle?

I didn’t have this issue, but I know I wouldn’t have been able to resist the temptation to do so.

And thus would have been lost another copy.

 

Good time to be a fan

luca parmitano long shot

Those of us who grew up in the 1960s have to be forgiven for occasionally wandering through the world of 2013 and wondering if we’re dreaming.

In the 1960s, comic books and science fiction and horror movies were an almost underground part of the culture, barely more tolerated by adults than eating paste or girlie magazines.

Now, science fiction and fantasy rule TV, from “The Walking Dead” to “Game of Thrones.” Books with sf and fantasy themes like the “Hunger Games” trilogy and the “Harry Potter” books top the best-seller lists.

And at the movies … Marvel’s merry marching movie machine rolls on. The sequel – sequel! – to “Thor” comes out tomorrow. It’s already playing in some theaters. And it’s the latest in a years-long chain of interconnected movies exploring the Marvel universe.

And today Marvel and Netflix announce original series like “Daredevil” and “Luke Cage” are coming, with a “Defenders” team-up series to follow.

If, before “Iron Man” debuted in 2008, anyone thought “The Avengers” was below-the-radar fun only enjoyed by geeks, you can only imagine what a head-snapping development a “Defenders” series would be.

DC is still plugging along with big-screen Batman and Superman movies, but doing impressive work on TV with “Arrow” and other series like “The Flash” still coming.

I sat down and watched an episode of “Arrow” tonight with Green Arrow and Black Canary, for pete’s sake. Tell me who thought that would have been possible a few decades ago.

And the picture above.

On Halloween, Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano, aboard the International Space Station, dressed up like Superman and took advantage of the lack of gravity to fly around.

I don’t care that he looks more like Lex Luthor. He’s flying like Superman!

It’s a good time to be a fan.