Comic Report: Batman: Digital Justice

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I went out for Free Comic Book Day on Saturday and grocery shopping earlier in the week. So I didn’t get a chance to do any clutter clearing. I do know what next week’s project will be, and it’s another revisit. It’s not one of the usual clutter magnets but it is one I need to work on again. In the meantime I get to swipe from my other website (it’s okay to steal from yourself, right?), and the Scanning My Collection series over at BW Media Spotlight, where I recently looked at a Batman graphic novel that gets little attention in the comics world. Enjoy.

Scanning My Collection logo

The world is an ever-changing place. Some are good and some are bad. Thus is the way of things. For example, I was a kid when video games became popular and we even had an arcade in walking distance (at a time when parents didn’t freak if their kid left the yard…if they’re even that “brave”). I was a kid when home video game consoles were first being sold in stores, from the Odyssey II to the Atari 2600. I was a kid when home computers were first marketed to homes. My cousin had a Commodore Vic 20, my friend had the same kind of TRS-80 that was in the corner of our homeroom in school, and my dad eventually bought an Atari 800 where my mom schooled us in Ms. Pac-Man.

This morning I took a walk since it’s good for my recovery and it’s unusually warm today. (It should be back to normal by the weekend.) In a case strapped to my belt was a device that was more powerful than all of those machines, can do everything those old machines can do and more, and was thinner than the manual for any of those devices. We are all now more connected than ever thanks to data plans, wi-fi, texting, and that rare moment someone actually makes a phone call. I still remember one day when I walked past someone talking to a friend on her cell phone in the days before smart phones, walked a little ways down and saw her friend as they were trying to find each other. (Of course I pointed her in the right direction. It still makes me laugh.) But in the days when the internet was just starting to exist and required a separate service that would tie up your telephone, people were still worried about what this brave new world would be like. Some people are afraid of it now as there are those who are more than willing to cause you harm in one form or another for their own benefit and amusement.

1990’s Batman: Digital Justice is a combination of Tron and Blade Runner, a predecessor or early contemporary of the rising “cyberpunk” movement of science fiction, where man and machine fought for control. And technology even played a part in its creation. While characters are drawn on the computer (long before programs were actually designed to make comics on the computer), 3D modelling was used for backgrounds and other imagery. It followed on the heels of Marvel’s gimmick of using a computer to create a comic, 1987’s Iron Man: Crash. While I have never read that comic, this one is more Tron that what I’ve read about it, while set in a computer-controlled Gotham City. But does Digital Justice go beyond the gimmick? Yes…until things get weird.

batman-digital-justice

“Darn static electricity. Why did I buy this carpet?”

Batman: Digital Justice

DC Comics (1990)

WRITER/ARTIST: Pepe Moreno

DIALOG: Doug Murray

ADDITIONAL DESIGN: Javier Romero

ART ASSISTANT: Bob Fingerman

PRE-PRESS: Anaya Systems

ANAYA PROGRAMMER: Vincete Sosa

The closest I could come to finding a computer drawing program called Anaya was a plug-in for Photoshop whose website hasn’t been updated since 2008. I know he made this on a Mac II. Computer geeks would find the full stats interesting, but there are better computer programs released for free now while most of the comic creators I know split between Photoshop and Clip Studio Paint (formerly under the more fitting name Manga Studio). But you’re here for a comic review, not a computer/art geek lesson.

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Comic Report: My First Batman Comic

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After two attempts to record the phone review I realized…I’m kind of boring. I think it’s because technology doesn’t interest me enough to review it, just to use it. So I dip into my other site for a “Scanning My Collection” review of the first Batman comic I ever had. So if a reference seems odd, it’s probably BW-related.


 

Scanning My Collection logo

I’ve mentioned this comic in the past. I even did a mini-review thanks to the reprint as part of DC Retroactive. However, I feel the need to give it a proper full review just as I did the other comic I reviewed from the three-pack of comics that were my first comics. At some point I should also do the issue of Peter Parker: The Amazing Spider-Man for the sake of completeness, but I didn’t know what was going on back then, thus it didn’t serve as the doorway that the two DC comics (further aided by all the DC live-action shows and cartoons airing around that time) did. At least Justice League Of America explained the Shark’s origins. Peter Parker went on and on about Gwen Stacy and Professor Miles Warren and back then I had zero idea who they were, or the villain Carrion (granted neither did Spidey) or White Tiger and Darter, so I was too confused to get into it. Maybe reading the previous issue or issues of the arc would have helped but I don’t know. Today I know enough that I’ll never know for sure.

I keep hearing that Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns is the story that brought Batman out of the Adam West/Burt Ward series and into darker stories. This is incorrect. What it did is join Watchmen in the darkening of comics in general and DC specifically. Batman moving away from the West/Ward show (which mirrored the Silver Age comics of the time) happened during the Bronze Age of comics, which is where I first got into comics. The Bronze Age of comics (as opposed to the Bronze Age of history) had a good balance of darker and lighter tales, and this is when Batman became more serious, without getting into things like Professor Pyg turning kids into dolls or the Joker wearing his own face as a mask. (Seriously, what the hell, guys? Tell me Rebirth is undoing that bit of nightmare stupidity!)

In the story we’re looking at today, Batman moved out of the Batcave to get closer to Gotham after Dick left for college. He operates out of a penthouse apartment in his building at this point, with loyal Alfred still at his side. I’m not sure how this helped exactly but I need more issues from the period. It’s around this Age that the theme of Batman dealing with mentally unhinged criminals begins, although there are none of his regular rogues gallery in this issue. Mr. Freeze is teased for next issue but there’s no sign of anyone you expect here. These were days when Batman didn’t just battle supervillains but in this issue solved a serial killing of Gotham City’s homeless. I wish there were more Batman stories like this. Now it seems to be a huge war that sets Gotham ablaze, as if the Bat-Writers wants to ensure we don’t want to live in Gotham while in stories of this time crime was no worse than New York City, the biggest inspiration for Gotham City. It’s just sometimes the crooks wear costumes, life-saving suits, or acid-bleached skin with green hair.

My copy is missing the cover. It’s that heavily read.

Batman #307

DC Comics (January, 1979)

For the record, my copy was put out by Whitman.  THE JLA comic I mentioned also has the Whitman logo in place of the DC logo. I don’t know the history.

WRITER: Len Wein
ARTISTS: John Calnan & Dick Giordano
COLORST: Glynis Wein (Len’s wife at the time)
LETTERER: Ben Oda
EDITOR: Julius Schwartz

For this review I’m using that reprint from DC Retroactive: Batman – The 70s I mentioned earlier because as the caption says the comic I own is heavily read and a bit damaged for it.

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Toy Report> The Free Comic Book Day HeroClix

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Heroclix box

I know very little about HeroClix the game. I’ve never played it and never really studied it. I don’t really know the rules, but the bases turn to show different icons at different points, which is how the game is played. I think. That’s not why I own them. I own them because they’ve been given out for the last few Free Comic Book Days, usually in conjunction with whatever comic book-based superhero movie is coming out.

And these things are just so cool looking. A lot of gaming miniatures have posed figures but HeroClix goes a bit further, possibly because they can sitting on a disk that’s needed for the game. They’re also fully painted, though not extravagantly so. This is still a collectible figure game, like Yu-Gi-Oh but in plastic. Most of these HeroClix are superheroes although they have tried branching out into other battles, like Transformers. I wouldn’t mind adding one of those to the Bumblebee shelf, but all I have are the movie ones. Interestingly this year got a collectible box (above) while the other usually just came with a baggie and instructions I can’t follow. So let’s look at the two versions of the toys, two DC heroes and stuff based on the Iron Man movies.

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My Little Pez Collection

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One of my Twitter followers may get a kick out of this, as he blogs about Pez (so into it that the blog’s title swears) and looks for other people who collect Pez dispensers. Now I’ve never been a big Pez collector. At the time I picked most of these up I was working at a telemarketing company, and it’s as boring as it sounds. I lasted about two months before they let me go. She was a fair boss, but things didn’t work for me there. I’m sure you really didn’t care, but I only bring it up because of why I picked them up, which was to have something between calls to stave off hunger. I was actually known by one co-worker because of the Pez dispensers.

I wanted a bit of variety so I picked up a few different ones, and for fun I thought I’d share them with you. And Jason. Besides, the toy reviews seem to get the most traffic, although I should do some more organizing, too.

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DVD Report: Batman & Robin (the 1949 movie serial)

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Don’t confuse this with the infamously bad Joel Schumacher film from 1997. This serial was produced in 1949. You may recall I recently reviewed the previous serial from 6 years previous. Now it’s time to see how the sequel holds up. Except it’s not really a sequel. None of the original actors return, and much has changed from the original. If anything, it’s closer to the comics now.

Batman and Robin (serial)

Batman and Robin: The Complete 1949 Movie Serial Collection

FORMAT: DVD
PUBLISHER: Sony Pictures, originally produced by Columbia Pictures
STARRING: Robert Lowery, John Duncan, Jane Adams, and Lyle Talbot
WRITERS: George H. Plympton, Joseph E. Poland, and Royal K. Cole.
PRODUCER: Sam Katzman
DIRECTOR: Spencer Bennet

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DVD Report: Batman – The 1943 Movie Serial

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I’ve mentioned before my love of movie serials, when I reviewed The Adventures of Captain Marvel. I’ve been trying to build up my serial library, and of course that would include other superheroes. Batman’s first appearance on the big screen was in the 1940’s, in a 15-part movie serial that also doubled as war propaganda. This lead to a number of changes, but that’s no surprise these days, when plenty of adaptations change things for their own needs. The question is how well the end product is.

{click for full size}

BATMAN: The Complete 1943 Movie Serial Collection

FORMAT: DVD
PRODUCER: Columbia Pictures
DISTRIBUTOR: Sony Home Entertainment
STARRING: Lewis Wilson (Bruce Wayne/Batman), Douglas Croft (Dick Grayson/Robin), J. Carrol Nash (Dr. Tito Daka), Shirley Patterson (Linda Page), and William Austin (Alfred)
 
SCREENPLAY: Victor McLeod, Leslie Swabacker, and Harry Fraser
PRODUCER: Rudolf C. Flothow
DIRECTOR: Lambert Hillyer

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