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From the Mark Twain's Obituary Department:

When last we saw our hero, the Red Bee, he was dead. Very dead. Killed by Nazis in World War II dead. Having dinner with ghosts dead.

Well, guess what: He got better!

He looks pretty good for a dead guy
Dark Nights: Death Metal #5, November 2020

As happens in the funny books, competing gods have altered reality, changing heroes into villains and vice versa. Through a quirk of fate, in this altered reality Batman has been given the power to raise the dead to help him fight those gods, and Red Bee was among the lucky multitude of heroes he brought back from the beyond.

I don't know how a guy who dresses in a translucent blouse and whose super power consists entirely of training bees to sting on command will be of any help defeating gods... but I'm also not Batman. I'm sure he knows what he's doing.

Li'l help?
Dark Nights: Death Metal #6, December 2020

In hindsight, Batman probably should have reanimated Michael, the Red Bee's trained bee. Michael was the one with the real powers, after all. All Red Bee really ever does is make his opponents uncomfortable with his sartorial choices. That's probably not going to be too useful against shadow demons who don't even wear pants.

Tell my bee I love him
Dark Nights: Death Metal #7, January 2021

Yeah, that went about as well as one might expect. Stay down, Bee!

The good news is that at the end of the fight, all of reality was reset once again. Assuming comic books survive the collapse of America, I'd say we've not seen the last of the Red Bee (or his gauzy sleeves).

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Slate.com's culture blog, Brow Beat, has published a satirical article that is too perfect. (I'm so jealous. I wish I'd thought of it first.) I'm reposting just the start to whet your appetite.

Don’t Prosecute Gotham’s Supervillains for Their Latest Scheme

Any attempt to bring the Joker to justice is likely to fail or backfire.

By THE JOKER   JAN 12, 2021 · 7:47 AM

It’s been a traumatizing couple of weeks in Gotham City, full of unthinkable violence and chaos. We’ve all seen the appalling footage: the exploding shark, the pier bombing, and the United World Organization building—until last week, a powerful symbol of the democratic hopes of the entire world—being invaded, vandalized, and defiled by the “United Underworld,” an alliance of the city’s most dastardly criminals: Catwoman, the Penguin, the Riddler, and even the Joker, the coolest supervillain of them all (although his role in the plot was very minor or maybe even nonexistent, from what I’m hearing). People across Gotham are frustrated and angered, and the vicious, unwarranted vigilante attack launched by so-called crime fighters Batman and Robin against the crew of a whimsically decorated Navy surplus submarine in Gotham Harbor did nothing to lower the emotional temperature.

Now it appears that Commissioner Gordon and Chief O’Hara are planning to bring criminal charges against the ringleaders of the United Underworld. This is a grave mistake. Our great city should be looking forward right now, not dwelling on the past. A trial would only dredge up traumatic memories and evidence of the terror unleashed by the Penguin, the Riddler, Catwoman, and possibly others. Criminal trials should not occur in the heat of the moment, if ever, and I fear that investigating this shameful incident any further would only be inflammatory and incriminating.

...

Read the rest at
https://slate.com/culture/2021/01/impeachment-prosecution-batman-joker-penguin-catwoman-riddler-united-underworld-kidnapping.html

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My hope that 2021 would be better than 2020 didn't last a whole week. Blech.

I uploaded this page from Justice League Unlimited #17 (2005) to my comic book blog, Boosterrific.com, on Monday. I liked it then. I like it more now.

People like Mendenhall...

Hold tight, Sam.

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Orange you glad to see me?

Batman, Life of the Party

Are you hitting on me, officer?

He has a voice like a bat

Listening to your singing is a violation of my civil rights!

You're a mean one, Mister Grinch

The Silent Night of the Batman
Batman #219, February 1970

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From the Dearly Departed Department:

I bet you'd thought I'd forgotten about the Red Bee, hadn't you? That happens with dead people. Life goes on without them.

Sometimes, that really bugs them.

Thirteen years after the story of his death was finally told, Richard "The Red Bee" Raleigh had dinner with Starman and several other long deceased heroes in the great superhero home in the sky.

You should have tried a little harder on your costume
His newest super power is self pity
Starman #37, December 1997

In the afterlife, where time has no meaning, you don't get closure.

It is worth noting that we don't ever see the Red Bee's bee, Michael. I assume he lived a long, happy life, died well adjusted, and went to bee heaven.

Fortunately, this wasn't the last we'd see of the the Red Bee. I'll be back with that story soon.

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2020 has done it again. Alex Trebek has died from pancreatic cancer at age 80.

In the year 2014 BC (Before COVID), Trebek appeared on the final episode of The Colbert Report to reassure its departing host:

"So I guess I’ll be gone forever?" Colbert asked.

"No, Stephen," answered Trebek. "We'll always be there for the American people, whenever they need us the most."

All of life’s important answers must be in the form of a question

May he live forever in reruns.

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Has 2020 pushed you to the brink? Thankfully, there's a Superman for that!

Superman: a one-man suicide hotline since 1937!
Superman #361 (1981)

Saving 21st-century balcony leapers is the least bonkers thing in this story. It turns out that Superman III has 2 secret identities: computer-traffic controller Jon Hudson and tennis professional Lewis "Lew" Parker (and he's kind of bad at both jobs).

2020 is a strange year, even in the comics.

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This month saw the release of Detective Comics #1027. That's right, it's been one thousand issues since the first appearance of Batman!

If you do the math, you'll see that DC cheated a little. It should take 83 years and four months to publish 1000 monthly issues, but Detective Comics #27 was released in March 1939, so it's really only been 978 months (81 years, 6 months). That's nearly 2 years ahead of schedule. Knowing DC, its probably just so that they have an excuse to sell us another $10 "anniversary" issue in 2022.

Oddly, time in comic books generally tends to move the other direction. I doubt Batman has aged even 10 years in the past 1000 comics. Some say they would prefer something closer to real-time aging in comic books, but who really wants to read the adventures of an octogenarian Batman? Could he still be the World's Greatest Detective if he can't remember to take his pills?

Batman #119 (October 1958)
"They're called drones, grandpa!"

Obviously not.

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According to DC Comics, tomorrow is Batman Day 2020. This marks the seventh different day of the year for Batman Day in the past seven years. You'd think from the 365 available, they could find one a date that didn't already have a holiday. As everyone knows, September 19 is always International Talk Like a Pirate Day.

Put the two events together, and there's only one way to celebrate. With a...

Blood bath bingo!
from Detective Comics Annual #7 (1994)

Yar welcome.

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In late 2011, DC transitioned to "The New 52," a publishing initiative intended to attract new readers to comics by reimagining the DC Comics universe of characters for 21st-century audiences. In that regard, it was a big success. New readers did flock to DC's titles, but at the cost of many longtime readers who had supported the publisher for decades and now felt betrayed. When the new readers moved on to the next fad, DC was left without any readers at all.

Four-and-a-half years later, in 2016, the company predictably responded to the failures of the New 52 with a return to the characters and stories the New 52 had discarded. They called this event "Rebirth," and it was in some ways good and in other ways more of the same poorly thought-out, short-term behavior that had doomed the New 52. For example, it was promoted from the beginning that the famously enigmatic Batman villain Joker would finally get an origin story. Fans loved that idea, so, naturally DC didn't follow through on it for four more years as they instead focused on revisiting stores from the 1980s. And they wonder why their market share keeps shrinking.

Which brings us to the year 2020 and The Three Jokers, its name alone an overt reference to the self-inflicted damage that decades of navel-gazing reboots have done to what passes for history in the lives of DC superheros like Batman. As so much else from DC these days, the story of The Three Jokers is woven around some of the biggest Joker stories ever told, most of them more than thirty years old.

Why should any young reader be interested in returning yet again to stories written when their fathers were children? Why should their fathers buy the same old story a third, fourth, or fifth time? Nostalgia is a game of diminishing returns, and all this navel gazing only continues to alienate readers already concerned that DC has nothing new to offer in exchange for the $5 cover price cost of a modern comic book.

Clearly DC learned the wrongest of lessons from their New 52 debacle a decade ago and have reverted to repeating the same mistakes that got them into that mess to begin with. Something tells me that if the Joker was a real person, he'd get a kick out of that.

Haven't I seen you somewhere before?
This page was published in 2010. The more things change....

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To be continued...

 

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