Wednesday, October 14, 2015

BACK TO THE BAT

Now that the first trailer has been released, I can officially announce that Batman: Bad Blood is my next big project for the DC animated universe.  A sequel to Batman vs. Robin, the movie reunites most of the crew from that film, including director Jay Olivia, producers James Tucker and Alan Burnett and Jason O'Mara as Batman.  I've embedded the trailer below.  Enjoy!

183 comments:

  1. I am glad to see you on this new project !! That's a very good news !

    The story is completely original ? Even if I smell a little idea of an "old" Batman and Robin team-up that I very like back in 2010 ! I love Grayson and I am happy to him here with a role loke that !!

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    1. Thanks, Frey! Yes, Dick Grayson plays a pivotal role in this story, so I think the Nightwing fans are going to be very happy.

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  2. So... you're just kind of the guy they go to for animation now? I've heard stranger things, I guess. Nice work if you can get it.

    Phase one completed.


    JAck

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    1. To which I can only reply: "Huh?"

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    2. To which I can only say, why, Huh? This is like the third film you've worked on for them in a row. You are clearly the go to gut for them.

      Jack

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    3. The way it was phrased, I didn't get your point. Now I do!

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    4. Of course you may have been asking about, "Phase one completed" in which case...


      Jack

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    5. In which case...

      I have many plans and deeds in effect. I'm sure that you being the go to guy for DC animation studios is phase one for at least one of them.


      Jack

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    6. I'm not their "go to guy," Jack. I'm just a guy!

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    7. That's unfortunate. We may have to find away to fix that.

      You couldn't see it, but I was tenting my fingers as I read that and just before I typed.


      Jack

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  3. DeMatteis Batman is some of my favorite Batman.

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    1. Thanks, Douglas. One of these days I'd love a chance to write an ongoing Batman title. Now that would be fun.

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  4. This looks very cool. I like the idea of Dick Grayson being Batman.

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    1. Agreed, Stephen: Dick as Batman also opens up an interesting dynamic with Damian. Throw Batwoman and Batwing into the mix and things get...explosive. Hope you enjoy the movie.

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  5. Great write up here; http://www.comicbookresources.com/article/nycc-oliva-tucker-spill-on-batman-bad-blood-hint-at-animated-crossover-event

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  6. I've come to a decision. I know intellectually comics are dying, and that the current course seems to be only speeding that up. However, despite all of that, I am going to have faith in the medium that I so enjoy. I'm going to hope, have faith, and if possible in any way contribute to the continuation of comics.


    Also, whatever happened to Christopher Priest or Jim Owsley, (what ever he goes by)? I always felt he was underutilized given his talent.


    As for the concept of cultural gentrification, which was mentioned a while ago...

    So the hippies and punks both started out as these subversive counter-cultures that as soon as they became a scene saw the advent of... what did they call it in the 60s? Weekend warriors? This saw things change and then eventually the fad (which it had been turned to) was over and the true believers were all that were left, the only problem was that many of them became disillusioned abnd their ranks were thinned leading to the eventual demise or at least more contempt from society.

    I think it is comic books (among others) turn for that. You need new blood, but they need to have a connection to the reality, and it isn't even that expanding out to other groups. The point is that you have to do it in a way that doesn't alienate those first ones The concept of "selling out" is not about moving up and making money, but rather about selling out those who got them to where they are for a quick buck that will forget them. Many comic fans feel that is happening , and whether that perception is true or imagined, that does need to be addressed. This has happened before, as I mentioned, the point is that you need to prepare for when that fad ends. Something comics really need to do since over-saturation is about to cause the cultural rubber-band they have been stretching snap back very hard.

    Before you respond, no one thinks it is creative or editorial, I'm not even sure I believe that is the idea, in comics now, but there is a feeling that somewhere it has happening... probably with the owners wo never worked in or read comics, or at least in worry of what they'll do.

    Take care,
    Jack

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZSnunYK9fhk

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YMNRwRTUPvg

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    1. I think the rubber band has been snapping back and forth for decades, Jack; going back to the late 1940's when super hero comics began to collapse. That said, you make valid points and I think (as I've said many times before) that when you live in a world where you can get your super hero fix at the movies, on TV, through video games, the actual comics are in danger of being irrelevant. (This doesn't really speak to your point, but you got me thinking...)

      Your point about change without alienating the core readership is well taken. But who is that core readership? Folks who read the books in the 70's? The 80's? The 90's? The core readership shifts and changes and, as people get older, some drop away, some hang on, etc. I have a feeling there's an entire group of hard core comics fans out there that don't fit my paradigm of what a comics fan is, so I don't claim to know the answer.

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    2. No answer about Priest? Fine.

      I don't mean the rubber band of comics I meant of right now. For the foreseeable future there are plans for 2 marvel cinematic universe movies and at leas one DC of X-Men movie planned every year. There is also on TV Gotham, Flash, Arrow, iZombie, The Walking Dead, Agents of SHIELD, and plans for 2 x-men tv shows and upcoming Supergirl and 1 or 2 shows that spin out of Flash and Arrow. Also rumors of a Dreadstar show. On Netflix there is Daredevil, and Jessica Jones, and soon Luke Cage and Shang-Ci or Iron Fist. That over saturation is going casuie problems.

      Remember the 90s? Science Fiction was huge. TV and Movies were both full of the genre. It was everywhere. The next decade a sci-fi anything that wasn't already attached to something, was almost a guaranteed flop. That WILL him with comic properties, it is just a matter of what happens afterward.

      The problem is that very little new blood has come into comics like it did with Batman with Adam West, Batman with Keaton, and Superman with Reeves. Why? That is what comics have been trying to figure out since X-Men came out in 2000, well the answer is obvious. What has changed between 1989's Batman and Batman Begins? They stopped being an impulse item found in places everyone goes. That easy ability is what got some people to look into it. However, at there current price, they still couldn't be an impulse buy... even if they could get it back in the old places by some miracle.

      As for the gentrification ... to be continued...


      Jack

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    3. You're right about movies feeding into comics sales: the 1989 BATMAN may have been the first, and last, time a movie had any serious impact.

      Given the popularity of the AVENGERS movies, it's amazing that the comic doesn't sell at least a million copies a month. But, as you point out, there's an accessibility issue. You have to make a real effort to find, and buy, a comic book. Plus, with all these movies, the comics often don't reflect what the audience saw on the screen; so when people DO track down the comics, what's on the page is alien to them.

      It's a fascinating, and frustrating, topic.

      Re: Christopher Priest aka Jim Owsley. He was the original editor for KRAVEN'S LAST HUNT, before Jim Salicrup took over the spider-books. Very nice guy and a talented writer. I don't know what he's up to now. Did I hear he's writing a new QUANTUM AND WOODY book...?

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    4. I forgot, Preacher is getting a series, and Peggy Carter has a show or something right? If you look you can already see the backlash forming.

      I think the Superman move probably gave a minor boost, but probably not notable. That is probably how it worked with Batman though. That movie was huge so some people saw a batman comic at he drugstore, some adults probably mostly teenagers and young adults, and decided, "What the Hell, its only a buck." some stayed, some never bought again, and some went to comic stores to get more into it. I wonder if comics really realized just what they lost when Marvel's owners sunk that ship back in the 90s.

      As for comics matching, ideally, it would not have to be an extreme similarity. Things are adapted into movies all the time. Usually very loosely. Not even just movies. Sherlock is a huge hit, and even looking past the modern day settings, takes many liberties with the material... but the spirit is what remains and is important.

      The problem is Marvel and DC seem to be distancing from that spirit not to match the films, but to get sales from... God only knows. which brings us to the gentrification subject.

      You are overlooking the majority of comic readers. Most of them have been reading for at least a decade. They are he ones comic shows still have to have a comic section, and they are the ones you talk to at shows. Most importantly they... Hell, WE, are the ones who kept the industry alive and Marvel's lights on in the industry's darkest hours of the post-90s when the bubble burst.

      We are the only people buying comics anymore, or more accurately in a way there can be an industry. Does that mean we deserve Spectral treatment? Of course... not. Though acknowledging who and what we are and that history would be nice from the big 2 every now and again would be nice... or at least having artist not just do commission work at shows.

      All fandom have a centralized group. All of them. Sci-Fi, fantasy, horror, thrillers, mysteries, slasher, psychedelia, jazz, blues, punk, metal, techno, you name it. They are the ones who keep the whole thing going when the public at large is not as interested.

      Hopefully though you have people cycling in and out with varying interest levels, who have the potential to be life long fans. The thing is that those true believers who hang on no matter what are a good gauge. The love it and will hang on in good times and bad, so when they walk away whoever the makers are they need to look at just what is going on.

      The current problem is the big 2 are seemingly following good advice, but only half the time, "don't look at the internet." They ignore the fans on the net, which is good. Its all hyperbolic hate or love. There are no real answers there.

      The problem is that they seem to be fans of social media, which includes ideas and critiques by people who don't read comics, and probably never will. They are chasing at ghosts. DC decided to do that, and they are having what is looking to be a year of financial loss, even after factoring in the move. Batman was the only book of there's did didn't get beaten in sales by Archie a month or so back. Even with Mark Waid writing that issue, that is not a good sign.

      Evolution is fine, REVOLUTION is fine. But changing the soul of something whether it is a neighborhood or a creative field, it never ends well.

      Jack

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    5. People usually gentrify neighborhoods because they want something authentic or because some artistic scene was associated with the area. Not realizing that happened because it was allowed to evolve on it s own, and it was cheap, usually the very chasing of that ends it.

      Similarly, people look to lesser appreciated art forms because they offer something unique and different, but in trying to make them more palatable they can become homogeneous, both within itself and compared to other forms of media. In this case not realizing that lack of need to please all of creation allowed for a special quality.

      The real problem is that both cases will usually lead to the previous for the next hip thing. Often time damaging what it was in some rough ways.

      Glad Priest has some work (I checked that is there is a new Quantum and Woody I'll have to check out). Given all his work on Falcon, I hope they give him a chance to pen a story while Sam is still Cap. An idea I am fine with by the way... if it can't be Steve. I'd prefer Sam got his own book, but hey beggars can't be choosers and I'm glad he is at least getting his due.

      Jack

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    6. Thanks, as always, for sharing your valuable insights, Jack. Anyone else out there in Creation Point Land have anything to add?

      By the way: AGENT CARTER is a terrific show. Just so you know!

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    7. I love the idea of comics being this raw, ignored neighborhood that's been gentrified. It fits. Even when I got into the business, when you said "I write comic books," lots of people looked at you as if you were crazy. (I can't imagine what it was like before then!)

      The neighborhood has gotten pretty ritzy and pricey, and all kinds of upscale folks have moved in, but (call me an idealist), I like to believe that the raw, passionate, beating heart of comics is still there. That there are still lots of interesting streets that reflect what the neighborhood was like before gentrification. If you know what I mean.

      Re: Cap. Way back when I was developing the Captain America idea that ultimately became THE LIFE AND TIMES OF SAVIOR 28, my plan was to assassinate Cap and have him replaced by either Sam Wilson or Jesse Black Crow (I think I ultimately decided on Black Crow), so the idea of Sam as Cap seems very natural to me.

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    8. First, Agent Carter is an excellent show. As for the rest. I look at it this way and I know I've probably mentioned it before; I have always read comic books. I learned to read at the age of three with comic books. They have always been a part of my life. When other forms of entertainment come along and decide that these magnificent stories warrant their attention, they either work, and I am happy or I'm not and they are ignored from that point forward. As for the big two I buy about four Marvel books and about the same with DC (JL 3001!). I have more fun with the independents who frankly, tell better stories and have started to embrace my favorite pulp stories with Mark Waid giving me the one two shot of John Carter and The Avenger.
      Finally, my favorite super hero has always been Captain America and, to me, Steve Rogers is what makes him Captain America. Not Bucky Barnes, not Sam Wilson. And I'm slightly insulted that Sam Wilson, who is the oldest Marvel black super hero around, would even want to be Captain America. He's The Falcon! He has proven himself time and time again as a great hero. It's not his fault no one knows how to write him. That happens a lot with great super hero characters. I still remember when the X-Men movie made everyone mutant crazy so they made Sam a mutant. Urgh! I love my comic books, but sometimes the way they get portrayed can be so frustrating. And, in the end it won't matter. The new Captain America movie will be out next year and Steve Rogers will be Captain America again just in time for the premiere. And that would be a shame because the brand new title, Uncanny Avengers Vol. 2 has Steve Rogers leading a great group of Avengers. It's a great book. Kind of reminds me a little of this fella who used to write Justice League. :)

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    9. I'm not up on what's going on over at Marvel, Douglas, but you're right when you say that Steve will be back as Cap. And I agree, too, that Falcon is a great character in his own right. That said, I pondered making him Cap way back in the 80's, so I see the dramatic possibilities of letting him have his time in the stars and stripes suit. And perhaps it will help more people to get to know the character so that, if they relaunch him in his own title, it will get support.

      "The fella who used to write Justice League"? You mean Keith Giffen?

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    10. No, no that other fella. The one that uses his initials all the time. :)

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    11. I didn't know J.D. Salinger wrote JUSTICE LEAGUE! I'l have to check those issues out!

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    12. I think it was an issue called Booster In The Rye

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    13. I think we'll just leave things right there. : )

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    14. Hey, I'm finally going to get a chance to respond... but not right now.

      I will say this quickly which ties in all of it. There are no real indie books anymore, at least not in the way people talk about them The idea of "inidie books" started with Warren and Star*Reach and ended when Eclipse did. They all have their own house style, they all have good comics and they all have bad (that is just the nature of the beast, and more importantly most of them are not really that different from the big two. Hell, its mostly the same creators

      There are some of those streets with the old rundown and character filled, but there are also a lot of streets that just want to feel hip by emulating what is disappearing and it is just as gentrified in its way.
      Then of course there are those who are from the neighborhood, but are eyeing those new condos, and causing some of the same problems the new residents are and even creating some new ones.

      Jack

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  7. Hey, that's great, JMD! If I'm not mistaken, you're the first writer who's gotten to play with continuity in the new DCAU. I think all the other projects have been standalones, unless I'm mistaken. I still haven't had a chance to watch BATMAN VS. ROBIN, mostly because it's hard to find the time to see a Batman project without getting my kids' attention. I know you warned me some of the content might not be appropriate, so I wanted to see it before without them. Easier said than done!

    Anyway, the Bat couldn't be in better hands! And I would pay good money for a JMD Batman monthly!

    Best,

    David

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    1. Thanks, David! And now that I know we have ONE guaranteed sale, I'm sure DC will give me a monthly Batman book. How can they turn down all that cash? : )

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    2. So I did actually get an opportunity to watch BATMAN VS. ROBIN this weekend, and I enjoyed it a lot! My oldest loved it as well.

      I like the tone, with a slightly softer, more humanized Bruce, more akin to the 70s and early 80s. That contrasted nicely with a Batman who was no less efficient or obsessed. The dialogue was fantastic, ranging from disturbing to poetic to laugh out loud funny.

      I'm especially impressed with how you tied everything together. In less capable hands, that story could have been a mess--but it all feeds into the father/son dynamic so brilliantly. The primary antagonist takes a twist I wouldn't dare ruin for anyone, but it's cool, it's disturbing, and it works.

      I'm glad to see Dick Grayson will get the spotlight in the sequel, though, because my only real complaint about the film was that Nightwing was underutilized and didn't have any breakout moments. As an adult, Dick Grayson is the perfect bridge between the Golden and modern age of comics: as shrewd as Batman, as joyful as Robin.

      --David

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    3. So glad you and your son enjoyed it, David! Working on BATMAN VS. ROBIN was one of the single most enjoyable experiences I've had in all my years working in animation.

      One thing I like to point out to people is that, when it comes to television and movies, no matter what it says in the credits, it's always a team effort.
      I worked very close with producers Alan Burnett and James Tucker, and DC's Animation Honcho Mike Carlin on every aspect of the script. Their input and guidance were invaluable and their contributions to the final product were huge. (And, of course, you can't underestimate the contributions of director Jay Olivia and the amazing voice cast.)

      I haven't seen BATMAN: BAD BLOOD in its entirety yet, but, with the same team in place, I think it's safe to assume that (my own contributions aside) it's going to be an excellent piece of work. And, yes, you'll get plenty of Dick Grayson, along with Damian Wayne, Batwoman, Batwing and some very interesting villains.

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    4. My apologies, JMD. I didn't mean to discount the collaborative effort involved. I should have phrased it better, but I only meant to say that your ability to tie competing elements together in an organic way is second to none. You're also very talented at using strong imagery and letting it speak for itself. Those are things I recognized in the film as having that JMD signature style, which isn't to discount the team effort.

      I also loved the voice work, and the fight choreography was insanely good!

      --David

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    5. Absolutely no need to apologize, David! I wasn't in any way criticizing you, just taking the opportunity to give props to the amazing team at Warner Bros Animation. You did absolutely nothing wrong!

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    6. No worries, I didn't take it as a criticism. I do think it's important to acknowledge collaborative efforts.

      BTW, have you ever read BATMAN: YEAR THREE and/or A LONELY PLACE OF DYING? Talking about Nightwing brought them to mind. I think you'd enjoy them...

      --David

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    7. Nope, never read them. LONELY PLACE OF DYING was Jim Starlin...? Didn't even know there was a YEAR THREE!

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  8. Actually, both YEAR THREE and A LONELY PLACE OF DYING were written by Marv Wolfman.

    YEAR THREE takes place mostly in the present day, dealing with the fallout from Jason Todd's death. With Antony Zucco due to be released from prison, Dick Grayson is worried that Batman will cross the line and kill him to avenge the Flying Graysons. There's even a great scene where Alfred briefly contemplates killing Zucco himself! It sounds very dark, and it is, but ultimately it's about the power of family to bring you back from some dark places.

    A LONELY PLACE OF DYING is a follow-up of sorts. When Batman and Nightwing get taken down by Two-Face, the only one who can save them is...Robin! Tim Drake makes his debut as the Boy Wonder.

    I don't think Starlin was involved with either story, but YEAR THREE does take up a very important plot point from Sterlin's TEN NIGHTS OF THE BEAST when Nightwing confronts Batman about leaving KGBeast to die.

    --David


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    1. Starlin left batman 1 issue after killing Jason Todd, that 1 issue was pretty good.. He was in the Stan Lee camp that sidekicks never really made any sense. Even comparing it (though largely in jest) to child abuse. There was no way he would attempt to put another character in in theat costume.

      Year Three is pretty good, though never collected in a trade. It is sort of a misnomer though, since unlike the previous two is takes place in both the past and present... well, the present of 1989 or so. It is actually more of a Dick Grayson story that at the time may have actually made more sense in Teen Titans, but whatever it was good. Worth checking in on.


      Your friendly neighborhood Starlin historian,
      Jack



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    2. Thanks to you and all the workers at the Detroit Jim Starlin Historical Society for the elucidation, Jack.

      I imagine one of the reasons that Grant Morrison came up with Damian Wayne and his "trained since birth to be a master assassin" backstory was because of the kinds of objections that often arise about the kid sidekick trope. Let's face it: in the (so-called) real world, Batman would be in jail, awaiting trial on child endangerment charges. In fact, I can now reveal the name of my next DCU animated movie: BATMAN: SOCIAL SERVICES.

      Okay, I made that last part up.

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    3. Well, they couldn't arrest Batman, and you could argue that he trains them first so they can at the very least hold there own.

      However, I have always wondered why Bruce Wayne keeps getting kids. Someone at school has to notice that every orphan they give him comes to school bruised and beaten and one even dies with no real evidence as to why. Shouldn't Bruce Wayne be under investigation? THEY don't know he's Batman.

      I am on Starlin's side on this one. Mostly because young sidekicks are annoying. I also think that is why they bumped up the age to around 16 or 17 for most young partners. Its still young, but it is a bit more believable than 12... or around 8 in the golden and silver ages.


      Now... back to the artistic gentrification talk....

      Jack

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    4. Agreed. A sixteen or seventeen year old going out to fight the Joker is still insane, but certainly strains credibility far less than a ten or twelve year old. Wait. Was Robin really EIGHT when he appeared? That would be TRULY insane.

      As for arresting Batman: A lunatic vigilante in a mask and cape, running around the city chasing down psychopaths, while constantly endangering the life of a ten year old kid? The populace and the media would be up in arms and he'd be Public Enemy #1.

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    5. I don't know if its that weird. You can join the military at 17 and in many states 16 is the legal age to drop out of school, making it reasonable you could support yourself at that age.

      You could also make a logical jump that at that age they'll go out and fight crime if they really want to, and since they are so close to being a legal adult Batman could just train them so they are at least somewhat prepared.

      I just don't see a teenager really listening to Batman, which of course is why the jackass nerd who climbs on walls is more realistic. What 16 year old takes orders from their dad, even if he is adopted.

      I wouldn't want to be quoted as it being 8, but I believe it was stated to have been the same age Bruce was when his parents died.

      I remember Denny O'Neil explained it once as Dick's parents dying when he was 12, but that there were a few years of training, and that Batman was really just trying to give him a new father figure, despite not wanting to admit that to himself.

      As for Batman's Arrest, my point was more that it is hard to arrest a guy whose real name you don't know and constantly disappears when you aren't looking.

      However, Public Enemy #1? That is a nice little fantasy world you are in Dematteis. In the 50s and early 60s Werner Von Braun was was a celebrity and he designed the Nazi death camps, and used slave labor from them to build his V2s which he fired on London. And he was hardly the only ore even more dedicated true believer in Nazism brought over. Then there are all the people who defected from the soviet Union with less than clean resumes. That isn't even including all the people with things like severely disturbing criminal sexual predication or murders in their past that get swept under the rug because they have skills that can help with an enemy.

      For that matter Police are sometimes covered for in when not fully granting rights if it is viewed to help the greater good.

      Do you really think that the people of Gotham really care if the person who kept a nuclear bomb from going off in the middle of the city has a 12 year old simply aiding him? That is probably the most moral thing society will look past.

      All-Star Batman and Robin actually addressed the fact with Superman enraged by Batman taking in a kid to train. I agree with the sentiment of the Man of Steel, especially since Bruce said he had an eye on Grayson's talent for a while giving a probably unintended implication of abducting him with his parents still alive. Yet Superman was intended to be the one in error. I wouldn't recommend reading it, if you liked that's fine, but I...I just wouldn't recommend it. The point is that Starlin was not the only one taking issue. He and Stan Lee were right, sidekicks don't make sense and they are usually kind of annoying.

      Jack

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    6. Seriously though, why do they keep giving this guy orphans? Are they equivalent of day old bread in comics? Buy one get a call next time a kid is abandoned?

      Jack

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    7. I'm agreed as to the logic behind Damian Wayne. It's also worth noting that when DC rebooted, they tweaked Dick Grayson's story so that he didn't become Robin until he was around eighteen. That's why DC guys tend to push Bruce and Dick as having a sibling relationship instead of a parental one now. Kind of weird for an old school fan, but the times they are a changin'...

      Personally, I've got no problem with teenage sidekicks. It's only crazy if the writer says so. Otherwise, there's no reason to believe Dick Grayson is going to get killed any more than Batman, so it's all in good fun.

      DC has actually been dancing around the implications for years, though. Dick Grayson was fired because Bruce was worried about his safety. That's why Max Allan Collins re-wrote Jason Todd as a juvenile delinquent stealing the tires off the Batmobile. The idea was that this kid was going to get himself killed if he DIDN'T get some focus, taking some of the edge off Batman's decision to enlist another child.

      It's not a popular opinion, but if you asked me, Starlin's DEATH IN THE FAMILY is where DC really lost something special and never quite got it back. They essentially wrote themselves into a corner. Denny O' Neil admitted as much in his introduction to the A LONELY PLACE OF DYING TPB. There's nothing he wanted more than to get rid of that annoying teenaged sidekick, and suddenly he's trying to figure out how to work one back in. O'Neil realized, as Batman does in the story, that he needs a Robin to balance the darkness in his life.

      But really, the death of Jason Todd was just the final step in a path DC had been heading down for a long time. DC has been having a little bit of an identity crisis ever since the Marvel Revolution, and they wrote themselves into a corner by pushing the idea that comics weren't for kids anymore. (But hey, conversely, they've also put out some GREAT stuff, the best of which feels more timeless than Marvel's.)

      Jason Todd's death was essentially the event that put a "KIDS NOT WELCOME" sign on the clubhouse door. Robin, after all, had always been a stand-in for the young and enthusiastic reader. From that point on, it was pretty much grunge rock and teenage cynics.

      Oddly enough, I think the result has been stories that are often, not always, less mature than their Silver Age counterparts. The Superman and the Batman of the 1950s were, above all else, problem solvers. The BIFF! BAM! POW! was just the icing on the cake, after Batman had solved the mystery. Even up into the early 80s, Batman relies more on his wits than his martial arts.

      Comics were once a more positive proposition, preaching what works instead of what doesn't.

      I think the problem with Starlin's logic is that if we go down that route, then the next thing you know Barry Allen is a charred corpse and Peter Parker has cancer. Because it's ALL a bit silly, and wonderful and charming.

      Going back to the film BATMAN VS. ROBIN, I really enjoyed how it was basically about relationships. The fights were insanely cool, but they were also symbols for the internal conflict. Fathers and sons don't literally engage each other in martial arts battles, at least not any that I've known, but family power struggles can certainly FEEL that epic.

      On a somewhat related tangent, comics are all about passing the baton. If it were up to me, Jason Todd's death would never have happened. At the same time, I think a lot of stories have made good use of the premise.

      And Jack, I really like the gentrification metaphor. There's a lot of truth in that. Sometimes you end up with the comics industry trying to impress people who don't really believe in the core concepts, like when you've got movie executives who think Superman is a joyless character.

      --David

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    8. Thanks for the insights, David. Didn't know about the "Dick was 18 when he became Robin" retcon.

      I've only written one Robin-centric Batman story: a LEGENDS OF THE DARK KNIGHT four-parter called "Grimm"—so these two movies are new territory for me, especially considering how different Damian is from Dick.

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    9. About the orphans, Jack: Imagine if Batman was stealing kids away from their parents! "Hey, you—I'm making you the next Robin!"

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    10. Re: Public Enemy #1, Jack: Concepts of parenting, child protection, etc. have changed drastically over the years and there is NO WAY people would stand for anyone, let alone Batman, running around the city putting a twelve year old in serious danger. Imagine if the police started a new program where they took twelve year rookies out on patrol, chasing down drug dealers and murderers. People would go bananas.

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    11. I don't think I've ever read "Grimm." In fact, GOING SANE was one of the only LEGENDS OF THE DARK KNIGHT stories I ever read. I guess I need to track that down on comixology.

      On a different note, how do you feel about your Conan work? I've just started reading Robert E. Howard's work recently, and also picked up the first volume of SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN. It's great stuff, I really love how Roy Thomas lifts some of the lines directly from Howard.

      --David

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    12. CONAN was my first regular gig at Marvel and I was in the very uncomfortable position of replacing the great Roy Thomas, who did such brilliant, poetic work with the character. I leave it to others to assess the quality of the stories, but the art by John Buscema and Gil Kane was sensational. Can you imagine a young writer, just starting in the business, getting to work with those two? Amazing!

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    13. Buscema and Kane? Great Scott! That's incredible.

      Jack, I think Stan Lee was certainly right with regard to the kind of stories he wanted to tell. I have no objection to that, as I really enjoy them.

      But I'm also really fond of the 1980s-90s DC model, which dealt with the former sidekicks' conflicted feelings over their younger years without delving into child endangerment issues. So you basically got the best of both worlds.

      And when it comes to kids, Batman's got NOTHING on Charles Xavier. I mean, there's a dude who pits students against super-powered extremists and alien invasions without so much as a permission slip! Not to mention his icky crush on Jean Grey...

      --David

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    14. I'd forgotten about Xavier's crush on Jean who was probably, what?, sixteen at the time? Not even Patrick Stewart could make that work!

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    15. I'm just going to assume the only way that ever made it to print was that Stan Lee lost a bet!

      --David

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    16. pfft, you don't have to tell me that parenting has changed. You can't even send your 5 year old to work in a factory with no safety regulations or fire exits. No good punk kids.

      I personally like to think that Stan Lee may have just been a bit of a creep, or at least acknowledged they existed and wanted to round things out. Of course given the Marvel method it may have been all Jack Kirby's fault for how he drew them. Of course the whole thing was made worse by Claremont who made it so Xavier met her far earlier. That is why you need to check out the back issues Chris.

      Of course lets not forget green Arrow, who verbally abused his sidekick for his addiction, got physical, and took quite a while to realize that moving to a new and rough neighborhood, then abandoning to go on a road trip with hi bet pal may have had a hand in things. Why do I like that character so much again?

      Of course, my point was not about parenting, but rather about what people will look away from. It isn't even just in the name of defense. A few years back there were even people coming to Roman Polanski's defense simply because of his films. They were incredibly dumb or amoralistic people, but still.

      And remember how many cops personally owe Batman their lives, and I'm sure Bruce's sizable contributions to the Gotham Police's Widows and Orphans fund probably keeps the questions to a minimum.

      Of course remember the people of Gotham are not the smartest group. The think Batman is an urban legend despite seeing many picture of him with the JLA. And they constantly are surprised when things with the Joker's face cause death. I think Batman may not be a genius, but rather a man of average intelligence in a city of moron. So, maybe they just think Robin is a little person.

      Agreed bout the 80s and 90s view on sidekicks, and that is all Wolfman. Credit where credit is due.

      David- Thanks for the words on gentrification. You should check out Grimm, it is a very interesting take on how Batman viewed all the wacky and weird one off villains of the 60s. IN fact you should check out more of LOTDK. It seriously has some of the best Batman stories ever.

      Also agreed about Silver age comics, bats seems less like a detective most of the time as someone who likes hitting people. I have long wished for more questing like tales where something has to be done instead of someone defeated.

      Finally, I was not trying to move this conversation to the gentrification topic, I was going to write something more up there, but ran out of time. I will write it soon.

      Jack

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    17. One more thought. It could be argued that DC was catching up with the times not rewriting them with getting rid of Jason Todd. It did change the way Bat man works with Robin. Tim Drake was made more into his own character rarely interacting with Bats as time went on.

      So where does the catching up come from? Spider-Man was a teenager in the beginning creating in essence the wave of teen and younger adult heroes that followed. Teen Titans was out selling batman, with the fact of giving the youth a starring role instead of having to work for someone, arguably this makes them more welcome. Batman was just late to the party.

      Of course he may not have been late at all. The 70s began with Robin leaving for college, and you can probably count on one hand all the times the two teamed up. By the time Jason came along (and I mean pre-crisis) Batman had been a solo act for over a decade. It may well have simply been nostalgia or some belief he was needed that created the new Robin.

      I think the sidekick was more or less dead as an idea in readers minds since 1970, and the grave was dug not by Joker in A Death in the Family, but rather by Spider-Man and Captain America in Amazing Fantasy 15 and Avengers 4.

      Jack

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    18. Agree with your point about Spider-Man. And, according to Stan, that was a very conscious decision on his part. Spidey was sixteen and he didn't need to be anyone's sidekick. And the fact that he was out there alone, making his own decisions, removed the "child endangerment" aspect completely. Peter Parker was a teenager doing what lots of teenagers do: taking crazy risks. He was his own man. Well...kid.

      As for Cap and Bucky: Didn't Cap, at one point, make Rick Jones the new Bucky? And, come to think of it, wasn't Rick Jones a "kid sidekick" to both Cap and the Hulk?

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    19. Rick Jones was a sidekick to the hulk only in the literary sense if I remember correctly. He was more of a a lab assistant. He aided Bruce Banner in trying to cure him not in actually fighting, if I remember correctly. I view him more as a supporting character. No more or less a sidekick than Alfred, Aunt May, or X numbers of others.

      Avengers is probably the least of the Silver Age Marvel for me, but if I remember the whole plot of the Rick Jones as Bucky plot was to reject the idea of a new sidekick. I view that story as the funeral for the sidekick to Avengers 4's actual death.

      I also have a memory of Jones as Bucky in Steranko's run, but I think that was him trying to carry on after Cap seemingly died. It has been a while since I read it. I don't think Cap planned for it, and Rick-Bucky certainly hanging around in the previous issues. So perhaps that is the wake for the sidekick, a remembrance of what was and can never be again.

      Jack

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    20. I don't remember those issues very clearly, so you may be right.

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    21. I all remember from the Avengers story is Cap angrily telling Rick to take off the mask. Which I also remember as the last time Cap thought about a new Bucky... but, it is spotty. Given Lee's vocal contempt for sidekicks, I can't imagine he had any real desire to continue it for very long.

      Jack

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    22. Maybe Jack stuck that in and Stan talked him out of it...?

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    23. I don't recall putting it in...

      Jack

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    24. Wasn't Rick Jones everyone's sidekick? I remember he did the Snapper Carr routine for The Avengers and saved everyone in the Kree Skrull War. And was stuck to Captain Marvel for a long time. As for Bruce Banner's lab assistant; I don;t remember him being smart enough to do that. I know he locked Bruce Banner up in the cave for quite some time, but lab assistant? I think the best use of Rick Jones would have to be the glorious, convoluted mess of a limited series Avengers Forever. A really great read.

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    25. Right. In the Captain Marvel era, Rick essentially became Mar-Vell's Billy Batson. I remember some great Gil Kane art from that era.

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    26. He's right up there with Kirby in my Comic Art Pantheon.

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    27. Rick never really joined in wit the Hulk in combating people, it was more from afar. And it is a bit hard to be a sidekick to Captain Marvel, when the two of you can never be in the same place, so again, in my personal view it was more in the literary sense.

      Its funny, the guy called the professional sidekick was only actually a sidekick in the normal comic book sense for a very short time.


      Jack

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  9. Re: Xavier and Jean. I don't think Stan was a creep. He was injecting these love "unvoiced love" soap opera elements into almost every book he wrote. Matt-Foggy-Karen. Tony-Pepper-Happy. It was part of the formula. I'm sure he wasn't thinking about the Xavier-Jean age gap (although he should have!). But it was a different time.

    Truth is, if you look at those early FFs, Reed seemed quite a bit older than Sue. (At least she wasn't a teenager!) She was probably in her early twenties and Reed in his early forties.

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    1. I don't think the age gap is creepy so much as underage and student of teacher thing. If explored though that could have actually been a very interesting character for Xavier. And didn't they already have that triangle with Cyclops-Jean-Angel and in the first issue beast?

      I actually really like the Reed Sue age difference. Those kind of age gaps in relationships where not that uncommon in the 50s and earlier. Of course they also weren't the norm either. I always think that it explained away the much of the problems with their relationship, that is why Reed is often neglectful and also why he is understanding of her making eyes at every handsome side-character that pops up.

      It also makes Sue's understanding of Reed's faults make more sense. It always bugs me when they try to shrink that age gap, at least by great lengths.

      Jack

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    2. I agree about the Sue-Reed age gap being interesting. These days, it seems, folks are afraid to have middle-aged characters in superhero comics, but, as a kid, I never minded the fact that Reed had grey hair and fought in WW II. It made him more interesting.

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    3. Agreed, I actually think that we have had this discussion on the site before. That is why the new Dr. Strange series bugs me so much. It seems like they are trying to make him 30 or 35 max. Why can't there be older characters? How can giving a character more life experience be anything but a plus?

      It also gives a unique view of crime-fighting since they are coming from a place of wisdom and experience, not impetuousness and eagerness. This might explain why Dr. Strange and Reed where always the ones who operated more with their brain and skills than shows of brute force.

      Jack

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    4. One of the great things about Doc's character is that he had a life, a rise, a fall, and then a rebirth. He lived and earned that grey hair. And, to be fair, that could work with a thirty-five year old.

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    5. I said 35 max, I'm pretty sure 30 is what they have in mind, but that aside, agree to disagree. He would have graduated from med school at 26. training with the ancient one was hinted at being about a decade, but it could certainly be no more than 5 years. So in the span of 4 years he rose to prominence, became one of the world's finest, been so good his moral compass washes away, and he is completely seduced by materialism, lost his hand use, tried to get it fixed multiple times, and become a Bowery bum?

      All that aside, I would agree he could have the grey hair, but I'm nut sure you can really earn it that early and appreciate it.

      Plus, he doesn't even have grey hair anymore. All jet black.

      Jack

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    6. His training with the Ancient One lasted ten years? I didn't remember that. That would certainly change things!

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    7. Marvel and DC have come to the conclusion that nothing terrifies audiences more than marriage and grey hair.

      If you look at the recent DC reboot, they cut roughly a decade off Clark and Bruce's ages. When the New 52 kicked off, it was said that Batman had been operating for around six years. He came back to Gotham when he was around eighteen to twenty, which means even if a few years have passed since then he's still a few years shy of thirty.

      And this is where things get really weird. DC pretty much said coming out of the gate that Batman's history was virtually untouched, but it all happened in a six to eight year stretch instead of fifteen to twenty.

      That's another reason why Dick is now only a few years shy of Bruce age-wise. If Batman has gone through three Robins in six years, each one only has about two years experience. So Bruce took Dick in when he was around eighteen, and he struck out on his on around twenty. There's not even a decade's difference between them! Probably half that.

      This creates a weird ripple effect with the Wolfman/Perez TEEN TITANS run having never really happened, at least not in any way that remotely resembles what's on the page.

      Interestingly, this came about in spite of the fact that the original TEEN TITANS are now one of the most recognizable properties among mainstream audiences because of the WB cartoon from the early 2000s and TEEN TITANS GO!

      As far as Starlin's DEATH IN THE FAMILY goes, Jack, you make a great point. The writing was already on the wall. The problem is more how DC wrote Jason Todd out of the book.

      A DEATH IN THE FAMILY made Batman a failure. From that point on, the book became more about what he couldn't accomplish than what he could. It was sort of the Batman universe's version of "The Night Gwen Stacy Died!"

      But Bruce Wayne isn't Peter Parker. He's not the guy who screws up when it counts the most. And he was never intended to be a broken man who just pounds the @#$ out of criminals to vent his frustrations. Batman is the guy who's always right. He's the guy who took a horrible tragedy and made something positive out of it.

      That's why one of my favorite Batman stories is "To Kill a Legend!" When Phantom Stranger takes Batman and Robin into an alternate universe before his parents were killed, Bruce must decide if it's moral for him to stop their deaths. He knows that to do so would 'kill' the Batman, and all the good he's destined to do. But he also knows that he can't let ANYONE die.

      SPOILER ALERT FOR A FORTY YEAR OLD STORY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      But here's the brilliant twist: this universe's Bruce Wayne is inspired by Batman to fight crime, not because his parents died, but because a hero saved them.

      Now to bring it back to de-aging heroes, I think there's a couple of reason why that's happening.

      The first, and most obvious, is that our culture tends to value youth and beauty over age and experience.

      Beyond that, I think the modern hero is expected to fail, and failure is considered more acceptable when you're young. I believe it was Marv Wolfman who said he had difficulty writing a college-aged Peter Parker, because he felt like Peter would look like a total screw-up if he was still making the same mistakes in adulthood.

      BTW, if I sounded like I didn't like Starlin's run, nothing could be further from the truth. I quite enjoyed TEN NIGHTS OF THE BEAST. There's a brilliant bit at the end where Batman runs the KGBeast into a cul-de-sac in the sewers. When KGBeast beckons Batman to fight him, Batman just smiles and shuts him in. And his narration is basically to the effect that when he was a young man, he'd probably have taken up KGBeast's challenge just to prove he could beat him. But now he's older and wiser and doesn't feel the need to prove himself.

      I loved that ending as a kid, and I love it even more now!

      --David




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    8. "To Kill a Legend" was written by the brilliant Alan Brennert, wasn't it?
      Alan is an award-winning TV writer and novelist, and he's only written a few comic book stories, but, with each one, he's left his mark. An amazing writer and an incredibly nice guy who, among other things, helped me get my start in TV.

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    9. Yes, Alan Brennert was the writer. I had to look it up, as I'm honestly not familiar with his work. I came across the story in a "Best Batman Stories Ever Told" TPB. I guess I should check out his other stuff.

      --David

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    10. Alan also wrote the single best episode of the 80's TWILIGHT ZONE: "Her Pilgrim Soul."

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    11. I think that it wwas duing Stern;'s run that it was mentioned that it took s long to train Doc, but it has been a while. Even if I am mistaken, think about it, he has to get doc to abandon the more material aspects, except the philosophy and train him in a way less about physical than mental where a wrong pronunciation could destroy the planet. Add in that Doc was only sort of receptive and Mordo always causing problems, that will eat up time. Not to mention in early appearances it was said he was a legend that is whispered or something, and as absolutely Stern said, that takes time.

      Not to mention, if you look at the origin he has jet black hai, but still looks mature in the beginning, but he is showed with grey temples as time goes by. No matter at what point you are at that has to take a good 5 years minimum. Doctor Strange is all about introversion and the slow path... well, and redemption. Things age give you a better look at.

      I actually am okay with Death in the Family, for the reason you said. I'll take a fallible Batman any day over the post 2000 Batman who is a victim of fanitis and is never even on the ropes, and can beat anyone no questions asked. It is part of why I foun the post Crisis up to 2000 Batman interesting, he was human and he failed. Batman plays for high stakes it only makes sense that his losses would be high too. Also, it was mostly Jason's mistake,, Batman did really nothing wrong. He internalizes it as Jason's caregiver, he has no fault but plenty of responsibility. It is actually a very interesting look at the parent-child dynamic.

      what's more, I think that the youthinging on comics is more to get young readers, and they don't believe that younger people want to read about older ones. Going for a youth market is fine, but you are also underestimating them.

      I have to disagree with Wolfman. Adults make mistakes every day that can be explored for great drama as Serling taught us. The key is to know what mistakes those should be. Of course as a card carrying adult, God knows I do often repeat mistakes that I should be wiser than to repeat.

      David- As fr the Teen Titans... I have another point that I think is intertwined. Part of the fun of coics, both when I started and now, was that there was a history, no major character was even in the double-digits when I started. I found that history fun, like I was part of something bigger than anything else in my life... like I was joining an old club of people who really liked this weird stuff. Maybe times have changed and that is no longer the case, or maybe Marvel and DC just underestimate people sometimes. I really don't know.

      Jack

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    12. Thanks, Jack! David...anything to add?

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    13. I think that Marvel made too much movie money and constantly underestimate people. DC seems to have people in it that love the nostalgia aspect of comic books.Books that are fun like JL 3001 and Bizarro. Books that just exude the old Vertigo feel like Dial H, which I miss every day and the new Martian Manhunter comic. Sensation Comics has such an old 80 Page Giant feel to it consistently that it makes me glad about comics when I read it. But then Marvel with it's cinematic universe is trying too hard to connect everything, DC has embraced it's strengths in animation and television and has a more comic book feel to it. I mean the last episode of The Flash had KIng Shark in it! How cool is that?

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    14. Right. That was perhaps the LAST villain you'd expect to see on a TV show. We've come a long way!

      I really enjoy THE FLASH and I also thought the new SUPERGIRL show was wonderful. And you're right: both have a joyful, old school feeling to them. Right now it seems Marvel is king of movies, DC king of TV.

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    15. Well, to be honest, I've enjoyed a lot of the stories that have come out of DEATH IN THE FAMILY, in spite of my believing that it was a mistake. I don't know if that's weird or not, but at the end of the day, the main thing for me is that the creators ground everything in human emotion. If they can do that, then pretty much every concept is workable.

      That said, I think Jason Todd's death became a distraction of sorts, a well they kept going back to instead of focusing on Batman as a detective. You reached a point where every time Batman encountered the Joker, he'd beat him half to death while thinking about Jason.

      I tend to think the Batman/Joker relationship works better if it's not personal. The Joker drives Batman crazy because he kills and maims regular people, not Barbara Gordon, Jason Todd and Sarah Essen-Gordon. Once THE KILLING JOKE happened, it threw the dynamic out of whack, and there was no going back. Fans are now disappointed when the Joker doesn't kill someone close to Batman, as evidenced by online reaction to DEATH OF THE FAMILY...

      As far as Bruce's personal relationships with villains go, I've always preferred Two-Face. There's something beautiful and haunting about Harvey Dent's tragedy, but there's also an element of hope that isn't typically present with the Joker. (The only exception being GOING SANE.)

      I really miss that sense of history that comics once had. There was a pass-the-baton approach where writers were expected to deal with everything that had come before. It feels a little more isolated now, like everyone's doing their own thing, but maybe that's just my perception.

      I suspect most editors have a sentimental attachment to the older numbering system, but market forces have made it more profitable to relaunch books frequently.

      BTW, speaking of Rick Jones as Bucky, that Lee/Steranko arc is arguably the greatest CAPTAIN AMERICA run ever. And it's only like three issues. It's not so much the story, which is decent, but the trippy way that Steranko brings it to life. Everything is brilliant, from the panel composition to the psychedelic coloring.

      And it's noteworthy for several reasons. It caps off Lee's feelings about sidekicks nicely, it resolved a subplot involving Cap's secret identity. and it introduced Madame Hydra, also known as Viper.

      --David

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    16. I remember loving the Lee/Steranko CAP issues back in the day, David, but haven't looked at them in years.

      It's amazing when you think of the lasting impact Jim Steranko had, especially when you consider that he worked at Marvel for such a short time.

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    17. You really should revisit them, JMD! Unfortunately, they've never been collected in TPB to my knowledge. They are available digitally, though.

      And you're right about Steranko's work. It would barely fill a TPB, but it's so significant.

      Ed Brubaker said the Steranko issues were the primary influence for his Cap run.

      On a related note, I think the Viper arc was when everything really started clicking with your Cap run. And it also invoked the ghost of Bucky via Jack Monroe!

      --David.

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    18. I think you're right, Jack. Zeck and I really started to click with that storyline. And Jack Monroe was a great addition to the cast. Is he still around in the Marvel Universe?

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    19. Sadly, Jack Monroe was killed by the Winter Soldier.

      --David

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    20. May he rest in peace. Till someone brings him back.

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    21. Sorry, Jack Munroe was killed by The Winter Soldier who was hunting anyone with the Super Soldier formula in their system. Apparently the serum was killing him and causing violent hallucinations. Jack's life did not end well I'm afraid.

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    22. So shall we take bets on how long it will be till Jack Monroe appears again? This IS comics, after all!

      I really enjoyed writing Jack during my CAP run. A fun, multi-layered character.

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    23. I always felt bad about DEATH IN THE FAMILY. I meant to call in and vote not to kill Robin and I forgot to call in. I still feel a little bad about that after all these years.

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    24. Maybe they were just ONE VOTE SHY...!

      The good news is Jason Todd came back. Maybe DC and Marvel should do a Red Hood-Winter Solider crossover. Hell, they could do a whole (NOT QUITE) DEAD SIDEKICKS mini-series.

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    25. I remember the vote being really close. Not one vote, but close enough. And he came back anyway. Now, with a whole new Marvel we could get Jack Munroe to come back. I liked Jack and he deserved better.

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    26. I like Jack, too, Douglas. And, comics being comics, I'm sure he'll be back at some point.

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    27. RUMOR ALERT! Alan Tudyk and Nathan Fillion as Blue Beetle and Booster Gold in a movie. Um, I'd watch this

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    28. As rumors go, that's a fun one. Nathan Fillion can do no wrong in my book.

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    29. "Maybe they were just ONE VOTE SHY...!"

      For such a nice guy, JMD, you have an impressive mean streak! :)

      I suspect that the Jason Todd phone poll had a negative bias. People who feel strongly enough to want a character dead are probably more likely to vote.

      Maybe even more than once. Maybe even thousands of times.

      ISN'T THAT RIGHT, JMD?????

      Admit it, JMD, you had been knocking off Marvel characters left and right, but the thrill was gone. You needed something else to satisfy your sick craving. Something from the Golden Age. Someone from the Bat-family.

      You spent the next several years planning. A clever letters campaign under hundreds of assumed names convinced DC that fans hated Jason Todd. Then, a few well-placed subliminal messages when you stopped by the DC office to pick up your check.

      Denny O'Neil never even suspected that three seemingly innocuous phrases--"You're crazy if you think Coke really went back to their original formula," "That's what Stan Lee WANTS you to believe," and "Giffen DOES have a pet Griffin, I've seen it"--actually formed a powerful hypnotic suggestion involving dead sidekicks and phone polling.

      Then, you called a guy who knew a guy, because anyone from Brooklyn who goes by three names has connections. The auto-dialer worked like a dream.

      After you'd rigged the Robin vote, you threw everyone off the trail, just in case someone got wise. That night a thousand random Australians got a pre-recorded voice message asking if they had Prince Albert in a can.

      And that was your fatal mistake. This was no middle school prank. Only someone who delighted in idiosyncrasies, idioms and irony would think to send a 'canned' message about...cans. Only...a writer!

      Sorry to expose your sordid little plot, JMD, but admit it. You've been dying for the world to appreciate your criminal genius for a long time now...

      --David

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    30. Wait, is the point being made that making money is antithetical to underestimating an audience. That is Hollywood's whole thought process. That is where the term, "it will/won't play in Peoria," comes from. The idea is that you can't make anything too edgy or smart or the middle of the country won't like it. There is also an old saying that goes, "you never go broke playing to the least common denominator"

      Think how long it took how long to realize the Marvel Cinematic Universe to break away from normal superhero movie standards. Guardians of the Galaxy.

      Of course, that doesn't have anything top do with comics, because they are run by two different sides of the company, Hell, they kicked most of the comic people out of the cinematic style recently. They aren't necessarily connected in successes or failures.

      Comics are underestimating in attempts to bring in new fans, which is rough. It especially hard because the youth is who they want, and that is who is most underestimated. What's more that usually happens anyway when you try to find new customers en mass. Its just the way things work out.

      Also, I'm personally wary of how many project DC and Marvel have out. With 6 comic movies out next year, 10 comic based TV shows, soon to be 4 netflix shows, and several comic book-ish shows, they are begging for people to get sick of it.That is the nature of society.

      Personally, I'd just like to see the gimmick of good stories and strong characterization with nice art, enticing covers, competent editing, and letting the book do what it needs. I know, I'm a radical.


      Jack

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    31. Great story, David. No doubt it will show up in my autobiography, even though it's a complete fabrication.

      The funny thing is, I know next to nothing about Jason Todd. I don't think I read much of anything from the Todd era aside from the story where he died!

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    32. I don't think the "you can't make anything too smart" axiom really holds up anymore, Jack. especially where TV is concerned. Television in the past decade or so has produced some truly intelligent, insightful work. In fact, it seems that more and more writers and directors, frustrated by the blockbuster mentality, are moving into television.

      "...good stories and strong characterization with nice art"? The truth is, that's what all of us in comics are always striving for. Whether we succeed or not is another issue entirely.

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    33. I have no doubt that is what comic are striving for, I just wish that is what was what was pushed, or perhaps was enough is better. Instead of having a million gimmicks they just stuck to that pure "we are just writing good stories," thing. In fact, that may be the best possible point, in a world of building up and over and grabbing at groups, strip it down to just the basics. A refreshing breeze.

      And you'd be surprised how much that looking down idea is still there. It has actually evolved. Writers are often told not to go too deep because they just assume people will be on a phone or ipad. My guess is most of the shows you are thinking of are on Cable or premium channels. This is because of assumed lower viewership and the fact that they are mostly still in the first generation of things.

      However, there is actually a lot of dressing up in some of those cases. Its about looks and the right points. Does that mean all of them are? No, but quite a few actually.

      Then of course there is the attempt to create memes and scenes to grab our small little minds.

      JAck

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    34. I'm sure that mindset is out there, Jack—the business mind certainly sees the world in terms of profits, not art—but, in my experience writing for comics, TV and film, I've never encountered it.

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    35. Jack, I tend to think you're right about the Big Two underestimating younger audiences. I'm not privy to conversations behind closed doors, but they seem to believe that today's youth won't respond to characters who are over thirty or married.

      I never once had a problem with the idea that Clark Kent and Bruce Wayne were in their mid to late thirties, possibly even early forties. And I loved the Parker marriage.

      Of course, I could be wrong about why the industry has made this push. And I could be wrong about what today's audiences are looking for.

      I'm not too worried about the Marvel cinematic and television universe expanding too quickly. People tend to point to Westerns with regard to genre fatigue, but it's important to remember that Westerns were limited to a specific era. Marvel can move around from Brooklyn to the other side of the galaxy with ease.

      Also, I think audiences are consuming more entertainment than ever. Streaming and binge watching have opened the floodgates. The only problem these days is that no one has enough time to watch all the shows that friends and family recommend! There's more 'granulation' as JMD has put it.

      I agree that everyone in comics is striving to tell the best possible stories. I think that's one of the great things about the industry. It doesn't feel as cynical as the studio film system seems (at least from the outside). The editors are there because they genuinely love the medium and want it to succeed.

      Oh, and AGENT CARTER is indeed great television! Really loved that show and look forward to a second season.

      --David

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    36. Thanks, David, for your insights, as always.

      Speaking of superhero TV: Have you seen SUPERGIRL—and what did you think? I thoroughly enjoyed it.

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    37. I loved it! It had a Richard Donner vibe, which is never a bad thing. And the actress playing Supergirl has infectious optimism. You can't help but feel good after watching a show like that.

      --David

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    38. For art that transcends a normal comic book definition along with a gripping story I would like to point out the Secret Wars tie in Weirdworld. Intelligent writing by Jason Aaron and art by Michael del Mundo that appears to have been inspired by a Ralph Steadman fever dream. At first I was sad when the fifth book was the last one, but they have announced a new series with the same artist and a new writer. We shall see if it continues to amaze me with every issue.

      Delete
    39. I remember the original WEIRDWORLD, with astonishing art by my old pal, Mike Ploog. Glad they've gone back to that universe for new stories.

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    40. I've heard good things about WEIRDWORLD. It's nice to see Marvel experimenting with some more diverse books.

      I think the market is supporting some low-key 'oddball' stuff, but you sometimes have to look before you can find it. I recently got some of Dark Horse's new CREEPY and EERIE comics on sale at comixology. I wouldn't have even known about the series if not for the Halloween promotion.

      And I've got to say the second episode of SUPERGIRL was even better than the first!

      --David

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    41. That's because the episode gave us our first glimpse of Maxwell Lord!

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    42. That was pretty cool! Has a Booster Gold and Blue Beetle film been confirmed yet? If not, maybe the JLI would show up in some capacity around Season 3 or so...

      --David

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    43. I think Beetle and Booster would fit in nicely with the tone of this show.

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    44. The problem with the new Creepy and Eerie is the same as the relaunches of the Twilight Zone. When you have something big and important and decide to trade in on the name you attract more people but you also get more comparisons.

      With the originals they had to convince people to buy a more expensive comic in black and white. Many of the stories are good, but lack a certain... energy, power, and passion the originals had. The most interesting part is the art. The originals were so highly detailed, again because they had to give people a reason to buy. However, with all the black and white comics that have come out since, there seems to be less of a feeling of what needs to be.

      The strangest thing is that the add a reprint of the classic, sort of forcing the comparisons. It is not bad, there are some decent stories, but it... it isn't Creepy.

      And Dematteis, What a horrible thing to say about Beetle and Booster. They look up to you, you shouldn't be so careless. They may have heard you.

      Jack

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    45. My relationship with Beetle and Booster is in no danger. We get together for dinner every few weeks and we're the best of friends.

      Delete
    46. As for the over-saturation problem, it has nothing to do with how fast it happens. This has been going since 1978, there is nothing fast about it at all.

      The problem is nothing in popular culture lasts forever. Everything comes and goes and rolls and flows. You mentioned Westerns, I assume you mean in relation to the 50s.

      There was also, kung fu movies in the 70s, action comedies in the 90s, slasher films in the 80s, film noir in the 50s, and even more. The best example though is Sci-Fi in the 90s. It was everywhere, it was huge. The X-Files went mainstream for God's sake. There were multiple Star Treks on at a time. Then as soon as the calendar hit '00 or '01
      at the latest, it was almost a guarantee to loose money on a sci-fi film. The only real exceptions were the Matrix sequels, which only made money because they were continuing from an already popular film.

      It isn't just movies either, folk singers in the 70s, disco, psychedelia, in 1990 people got sick of hearing about rock stars singing about getting laid, to they switched to alternative rock as the popular choice, then they decided they were sick of that and decided to go for things more manufactured and sell-able.

      There is nothing unique about comic book based work in that it will end or that will make them immune. People get fickle, fads end, boredom sets in, the business people get greedy and push too hard. These are the facts of pop culture. The only thing to eternally remain popular is the detective show, and the odds of that repeating are rather low.

      That is why it is always important to have, as Stan Lee would say, :true believers. The big public eye eventually moves on, but the little ones are more apt to linger.

      Comic properties will be passed over, probably about the time Avengers Infinity War ends... if not earlier. It is simply the way of society.


      Jack

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    47. I'm glad to hear it, but I'm not sure how long that will last if they here that kind of talk about them. I don't need them quitting JL 3001 over creative differences. If anything talk them into more appearances, and watch what you say.


      JAck

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    48. By the way, after reading the new issue of JLK31, I think the book has officially crossed into Futurama territory, where it is not only a good comedy(/superhero in this case), but also good science fiction.


      JAck

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    49. They're very picky about where they appear, but I can usually talk them into anything. All I have to do is give them free comic books.

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    50. Good comedy AND good science fiction? Where did we go wrong? : )

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    51. I don't know... Futurama marathon?



      Jack

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    52. JL 3001 is one of my favorite books that I look forward to every month. It's funny because I wasn't much of a fan of the first run. Guy Gardner as a woman is just killing me every time I see him/her. It makes me go back and read old issues of Justice League and that always makes me happy. I have to watch Supergirl apparently.

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    53. You don't have to do anything you don't want to do, Douglas. : )

      So glad you're enjoying JL 3001. Things are going to take a surprising turn next month and it's really going to shake things up. And we've also got a very interesting journey ahead for Guy.

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    54. I think the only place that DC is dropping the ball is a total lack of supernatural characters right now. You know it's bad when the only place you see Phantom Stranger, Deadman and The Spectre is on the cover of a Scooby Doo comic.

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    55. As I think you know, Douglas, I love the DC supernatural characters. I could have kept writing PHANTOM STRANGER and JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK for a very long time.

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    56. Jack,

      I never read the original CREEPY magazine, so I really can't say how it measures up to the original.

      I think the thing about anthology books is that roughly 5-10% of the material is really something special. The other stuff ranges from enjoyable but forgettable to terrible. But the upside of the format is that a bad story hasn't wasted that much of yours (or the creators') time. It's not like reading a five year Avengers arc that blows the ending.

      As far as the new CREEPY goes, I've enjoyed quite a few of the stories I've read. They don't have to mind-blowing or anything, I just read them and move on for the most part.

      I totally get what you're saying about the comics industry sometimes passing over their core audience. It's unfortunate, but with the digital age, it's been a bit harder to sort out fans with legitimate, well thought-out criticisms from those who like to gripe about everything. People tend to think a bit more about how to articulate their thoughts in print than online.

      --David

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    57. Haven't read the new CREEPY, but a funny thing about the original. I used to buy them from on old IGA near my house in Scotts Michigan. I also bought Vampirella because I was teenage male. Anyway, there was this story called Jennifer. It was pretty disturbing for the time and it just kind of stayed stuck in my consciousness. I like that now it is talked about all the time. I never watched the Masters of Horror episode it was based on because I knew it would ruin it. Those magazines were the standard of horror for the time, at least for me.

      Delete
    58. David, do yourself a favor and seek out some of those classic Creepy and Eerie issues. If they have them at your local comic shop for a reasonable price, but them... even if you have to postpone buying new issues for a week, go for it. The art is amazing, there is probably no big name artist of the 70s except maybe Jack Kirby who was not in those series. And the stories, that is where comic writers went to play.

      Your theory about anthologies will go out the window. Yes, you are right in that theory 90% of the time, but that is usually because Mystery in Space was never going to sell like Superman or Batman does. So, the attention goes where the money is. Warren (and EC for that matter) only did anthologies for the most part, I think maybe towards the end the branched out, so everything went into them. The care and thought that went into some of those stories is amazing, there is one about concentration camp victims who seek revenge on the cruel SS doctor... and it is in no way exploitative. The loose definition of horror made for a rich diversity of tales. Remember, this is the company Eisner was reprinting the Spirit and producing new material for.

      I read Jennifer for the first time only a few years ago, it is still haunting and disturbing.

      Of course feel free to be really depressed about the state of comics now, because in 7 or 8 pages you got a complete story with a beginning, middle, end, of high quality where as today it would take nearly 6 issues to do the same.

      Dematteis will even now share his fond memories of the company and it's works.

      Jack

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    59. Another thing I think is important is not only sorting out constructive from non, but readers comments from people who don't. Some of those comments about what Marvel or DC should do are from movie goers who will probably never read a comic. The scant newcomers? Sure, great. But , people who don't read comics and react to other things are not going to have any answers.

      And since people keep recommending it, I am going to say that I probably won't watch Agent Carter, simply due to a lack of interest. I did watch my first episode of Arrow this week, given Constantine's appearance. It wasn't for me, I do hope that this will mean a future for John though, even if just in a very occasional way.

      Jack

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    60. I'd share my fond memories if I had any. Not a judgement on the material: I just didn't read those books. I must have read a couple along the way, since I sold them a story or two (that never saw print), but I didn't follow them.

      Delete
    61. Bruce Jones and Bernie Wrightson did Jennifer, here's a decent scan: http://goodcomics.comicbookresources.com/2011/10/31/the-scariest-comic-books-of-all-time-jenifer/

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    62. And, Jack...you really should watch Agent Carter. It is wonderful.

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    63. I feel like I was fairly clear, but just to be on the safe side, I have no real interest in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, let alone spin-offs into other media. And I really don't have any plans to dedicate an hour of my week to something I don't care about. My potential interest is at zero. The actual Marvel Universe is struggling to keep my attention these days. If they bring Constantine back I'll watch that.

      Now, Dematteis, it would seem that you have some homework to do as well. How could you be a comic fan in the 70s and skip over arguably the best of Archie Goodwin and Roger Mckenzie's wiork,? The brutal emotional honesty of Starlin's Darklon saga? The engrossing atmosphere of Budd Lewis? The wild est of comics where writers and artist could cut loose with out an oppressive comic code.

      You at least picked up Warren's Spirit reprints, right?

      Jack

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    64. Nope. The Warren material just wasn't on my radar back then. I was vaguely aware of it, but never checked it out. (Or, if I did, it clearly didn't make an impression.) That said, it sounds like I should check out some of those reprints.

      More heresy: As much as I love and revere Eisner, I'm much more interested in his later graphic novel work than in the Spirit: not that I don't appreciate it.

      Delete
    65. Agent Carter is actually so far removed from the majority of the Marvel Cinematic Universe that I think I would watch it even if it wasn't connected, but I do like that time period and it is a well done show. But, as our generous host has said many times; we wouldn't want you to do anything you don't want to do. :)

      Delete
    66. I agree, Douglas, that AGENT CARTER is kind of its own universe and you don't need any Marvel connection to enjoy it. And I DO enjoy it!

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    67. While I do think that espionage stories are best done in the 50s/60s, the rest of the concept (from what I've heard), holds no sway for me at all. Though I do have to applaud the attempt me to turn my on to something that I have no interest in Hell of watching. Kudos.


      I'm very disappointed in you Dematteis. You slipped a little in my eyes. At least I believe less, so I can't get hurt again.

      I think it is interesting that you probably read Marvel's Tales of the Zombie and Savage Sword of Conan, who among others where trying to trade in on the high praise of Warren.

      So, yes you should look for it.

      And was that a confession that you never read The Spirit. That is a real loss. Most people talk about the art aspect of it, but the writing is interesting too, with some weird and wild tales, that would probably be considered experimental to this day. There is the tale of a toy gun getting mixed up with mobsters, a man who escapes his horrible wife to the joy of prison by switching places with a look alike convict, the Sand Saref first appearance (which Frank Miller openly admits to ripping off for his Elektra origin). The stories range from serious drama, to comedy, to sci-fi, to horror, with a mix and match style that hits every note in-between. Just like his later work The spirit is crafted with a very human touch, which I would argue that depending of which vignette we are talking about, rivals or surpasses some of his Graphic Novel work.

      You seem to have picked up several homework assignments here, Dematteis. Or not, its your life, do whatever you want.

      And, I bet until this conversation started you thought you were the truest 70s comic fan out there?

      The real question is whether I will ever finish my thoughts on comic gentrification?

      Jack

      P.S. Star*Reach #1 has a Starlin story that is really interesting and great.

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    68. I didn't say I never read the Spirit, Jack—in fact, I've read quite a few of them—it's just that they never grabbed me in a deep way. Don't get me wrong, I appreciated and enjoyed the stories, but they're not favorites and, for me, nowhere near the later work that Eisner did.

      Delete
    69. sorry, for some reason I read heresy as Hearsay. Me and my dumb eyeballs fault. Apologies.


      ...Though the lack of the rest of Warren, it was, well... lets just say shocking.

      Again, apologies.


      Jack

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    70. Apology accepted...and totally unnecessary.

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    71. I have read maybe three Spirit stories and they did nothing for me. Not a fan. And I love pulp heroes like The Avenger, Doc Savage and The Shadow. Just not The Spirit.
      Sorry, JAck.

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    72. Are you a fan of Eisner's other work, Douglas? Graphic novels like A CONTRACT WITH GOD and DROPSIE AVENUE?

      Delete
    73. Also (assuming my opther post went through), if those Spirit stories happened top be written by Neil Gaiman, Alan Moore, Darwyn Cooke, or Mark Waid, it isn't the best interpretation. Like Howard the Duck,. it is a very personal creation that never seems to capture the ...well, spirit... of the original. Some creations need to be done by the creator, and Denny Colt is one of them.

      Of course if I remember correctly you are from Kalamazoo, so it may just be a bit sophisticated for the West side of the state, or too metropolitan for Kalamazoo. Just to be on the safe side, that was a joke, not a legitimate viewpoint. You can't be too careful these days.

      Interesting side-note, in a bar in Kalamazoo's bathroom the wall reads "Jack Kirby Rules." True.

      Jack

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    74. And the final words on Agent Carter...

      The Cap girlfriend I love most is good ol' Bernie Rosenthal. That is the show I would watch, just support my girl. Accept to imitations.

      If you are in the mood for a female led spy story set during the cold war, I'd recommend Velvet. Yes it is a comic, and I am aware of the sheer insanity of bringing up a comic on a comic writer's website, but still I will do it. It is interesting mix of Fleming and LeCarre. By Ed Brubaker himself, I would recommend it. It isn't as good as his crime stuff or even the espionage styled Captain America, but it is enjoyable with good characterization.

      Jack

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    75. HAve not read either. Are they good?

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    76. Bernie Rosenthal, the series? I'm in!

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    77. All of Eisner's graphic novels are worth reading, Douglas, and CONTRACT WITH GOD is one of the truly great works to come out of our medium. That one you have to read.

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    78. Mr. Waltz-

      A Contract With God is so good it actually causes problems for Eisner. It takes place in the Bronx in the Depression, and is a series on vignettes, with the first one so powerful, that the others, while good are not the same shine as the title piece. That place and that era in that vignette style were something that Eisner went back to a lot with varying success. I wouldn't say that any are bad at all, just not quite the required reading that A Contract With God is. That first story pulls you in and you get lost in the emotional power. It is up to a certain amount of debate as to whether Eisner actually created the graphic novel, but this is what everyone agrees is what they want to be the first graphic novel to be.

      While most of Eisner's work is good, I would say my personal suggestions after that seminal work are, The Building, Life on Another Planet, The Dreamer, and the often forgotten, Last Day in Vietnam.

      However, yes Contract is the best of them all in my, and most people's opinion.

      Here is a link to Eisner's website, where is Graphic Novels are listed with links to the plots. http://www.willeisner.com/library/graphic-novels.html

      Take care,
      Jack

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    79. Douglas-

      here are links to the first two pages, they are the best possible advertisement for the book:

      page 1: http://13thdimension.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/A-Contract-With-God-0.jpg

      Page 2: http://lodozo.com/files/images/will-eisner-a-contract-with-god-lodozo.com.jpg

      No one has ever drawn cities or rain like ol' Will.

      Jack

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    80. Great choices, Jack. I'm especially fond of THE DREAMER and THE BUILDING.

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    81. Sitting at a keyboard won't get Bernie a show. Hurry up, Dematteis, Chip-chop!

      What I like about the Building and the Dreamer, are that unlike Invisible People, City People, New York, and Minor Miracles, is that while they all tread that same concept and mostly time period, the two I picked are more focused.

      To be fair, City People and Invisible people were originally serialized in the Spirit magazine, but still. I like them very much, but I honestly would have trouble telling you which vignette is which. I have said before that Eisner rarely wrote Graphic NOVELS, but rather graphic short stories with a shared theme most of the time, that belong in a special Eisner category.

      While the Building tehe Dreamer and Last Day in Vietnam all share that thread as well, with them more focused on a central idea they flow better and I feel that Eisner was really channeling his power in them.

      Of the ones I've read, I would say that "Life on Another Planet" is the only one I would classify as a Graphic Novel in the truest definition. Oddly, that itself was serialized as well.

      I still have to read
      -A Life Force
      -A Family Matter
      -The name of the Game
      -The Plot: Secret story of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion
      -Heart of the Storm
      -Will Eisner Reader
      -and Fagin the Jew.

      Any suggestions as to where to go next?


      You know, with two of those titles, people who don't know of Will's work and just wandered onto this site might think that he was and anti-Semite. Weird

      Of course I also remember reading that some people thought Moonshadow was anti-Semetic



      Jack

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    82. My wife asked what I want for Christmas so I put Contract on my list. Thank you for the recommendation gentlemen.

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    83. I haven't read all of those , Jack, but I'd highly recommend HEART OF THE STORM. I remember really enjoying that one.

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    84. Waitaminit! People thought Moonshadow was anti Semetic? Idiots!

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    85. People project stuff that isn't there onto art (and life) all the time, Douglas. I find it's best to take a deep breath and ignore it.

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  10. I've only just discovering your blog (a lot of back reading to look forward to!) but i just wanted to let you know you're one of my all-time favorite comic writers, stay awesome and congrats on the animated projects!

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    1. Thanks so much for stopping by and for the kind words. I love having the opportunity to connect with the folks who read, and enjoy, my work. It's one of the great gifts of the cyber-age.

      Delete
    2. Don't mention it, i should be thanking you for all the joy i've gotten from reading your comics and watching cartoons you've written.

      Quick question if you don't mind but in the titular Batman vs. Robin fight scene, there's a moment when they fall through the air and Batman uses his body to protect Damian from the drop. I was wondering if that was written by you or added in by animators?

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    3. Pretty sure that was added by the director/animators. They usually expand on the fight scenes as written and add immeasurably to them.

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  11. Alright Dematteis, I have a question. It is a tough one, that may drive you insane.

    As someone who worked at Marvel in the 80s, who had the more dynamite mustache, Milgorm or Gruenwald?

    Remember, this si solely om Mustache dynamite levels. Not friendships, editor quality styles, or any of that. Just the Musrtache.

    Jack.

    P.S. If you want to through in better stache in addition fine, but it can't be you.

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    Replies
    1. It was a long time ago, Jack, but my memory is that Greenwald had the more impressive mustache.

      Delete
    2. So, Greenwald had the best mustache, eh? Now we just need to figure out which was better between Milgrom and Gruenwald. Okay, fine I admit it, I know it was a typo.

      Gruenwald- comic's own Burt Reynolds, but how many classic Captain America stories did Reynolds write? Any even? Point Gruenwald.

      Then again maybe he is more the every man Tom Selleck.


      This was a pretty dumb conversation. A fun one thopguh. Plus new nick name for a comic great, so... productive.

      Jack

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    3. Wait a minute Dematteis, are you saying that Gruenwald was some kind of conceptual being, like the ones that populate the Marvel universe, only for facial hair, and that he lives on in anyone who doesn't shvae regularly? That the next printing of Squadron Supreme there should be a variant cover where they all have mustaches or other assorted facial hair to honor him?

      I don't know Dematteis, that seems pretty out there. But I suppose you are more well versed in this subject than I, so I might be able to dig it.

      I think this conversation my have reached its zenith


      Jack

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    4. I kind of love the idea of Mark as a Marvel "god," watching over the facial hair of the multiverse. I suspect he would, too.

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    5. Maybe that is the real reason that Iron Man was the first of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He is one of the few comic characters that has perpetually had facial hair. And why they went with the lesser done Thor with a beard for that series.

      Come to think of it maybe that is why Arrow is not so interesting, and the Green Arrow comic its based off of has had trouble finding its footing since the relaunch... they dropped the iconic facial hair. They can't call on all that mnight and glory.

      No one shave...those follicles are praise unto the Gruen!

      Jack

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    6. "Praise Unto The Gruen!" Now THAT'S a t-shirt waiting to happen.

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    7. What would that shirt look like? It would have to be designed by Starlin, Byrne, or most likely Simonson... someone who was heavily inspired by Kirby, for the cosmic being thing, but still does there own thing.

      How does one get the message across as to why and how you praise the Gruen?


      Jack

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    8. Simonsson art.? Nice idea!

      And Happy Thanksgiving, Jack!

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    9. So how do we evoke the idea of what Gruen has power over?

      Simonson is the logical choice, he was the one who (as far as I know) coined the term patron saint of Marvel.

      Jack

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    10. I think a Simonsson "god" version of Greenwald, with a MASSIVe mustache, floating across time and space, would do the job.

      Delete
  12. I will never shave my beard! Happy belated Thanksgiving everyone.

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    Replies
    1. Right back at you, Douglas! (I grow and then shave and then grow my beard again with alarming regularity,)

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    2. My beard has a current lifespan of 18 years and I am waiting for it to go completely white. Then I retire and become a full time Santa Claus.

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