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A Month of Wednesdays | ‘Endless Wartime,’ ‘Death of the Family’ and more

endless war timeAvengers: Endless Wartime (Marvel Entertainment): Marvel’s new line of original graphic novels — note the “Marvel OGN” logo on the spine — is off to a pretty strong start with this continuity-light Warren Ellis-written, Mike McKone-drawn story of an Avengers squad facing a new form of semi-sentient weapon evolved from a generation-old attempt to marry Nazi science with Norse magic.

That’s a good conflict for an Avengers comic, as the team includes a Nazi-fighting hero and a Norse god, and, better still, both Captain America and Thor were tied to the this new weapon’s origin.

Ellis does his usual fine job of mixing current science, speculative next-level science, elements of our zeitgeist and corporate superheroes with something that feels appropriate, cool and like the writer has something to say. Additionally, he has a pretty decent handle on the characters, and does a relatively good job of singling out particular voices (this is the first time in a long time that I’ve read an Avengers comic where  everyone didn’t talk like Brian Michael Bendis).

Cap, Thor, Iron Man, Wolverine, Captain Marvel, Black Widow and Hawkeye, who reflects Matt Fraction’s version, are a bit of a rag-tag group, but they seem to be assembled primarily for their military backgrounds. “Do you know, I just realized I’m the only non-soldier in the room,” Tony Stark says at one point, and Captain Marvel sneers back, “That’s right, Tony. You’re just an ex-arms manufacturer in a metal death suit.”

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The Joker charged with driving drunk in Maine

The Joker ArrestedIn his nearly 75-year career of villainy, The Joker has made it through some tough times: the Cesar Romero era, the loss of Harley Quinn … the loss of his, um, face. But this may be his low point.

According to the Waterville, Maine, Morning Sentinel, police arrested the Clown Prince of Crime early Sunday morning after he allegedly lost control of his 2002 Buick Regal and drove off the road, striking multiple trees and a rock.

Sixty-four-year-old Dennis Lalime of Pittsfield, Maine, who told police he was returning from a Halloween party, was subsequently charged with operating under the influence. Although the Pittsfield Police Department uncovered The Joker’s true identity, as you can see from his booking photo, the Somerset County Jail permitted him the indignity dignity of retaining most of his makeup.

Commissioner James Gordon had no comment on the arrest. Repeated calls to Dr. Harleen Frances Quinzel went unanswered.

NYCC ’13 | Actor Troy Baker performs ‘Killing Joke’ monologue

arkham origins-joker

Actor Troy Baker (Final Fantasy XIII, BioShock Infinite) has some enormous shoes to fill as he steps into the role of The Joker — a character voiced for the past two decades by Mark Hamill — in the upcoming Batman: Arkham Origins. If there were any remaining doubts as to whether Baker could embody the Clown Prince of Crime, they were likely erased during the video game’s New York Comic Con panel, where Baker performed The Joker’s monologue from Batman: The Killing Joke, to the roaring approval of a cheering crowd.

Watch the video below. Batman: Arkham Origins will be released Oct. 25.

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Watch Simon Bisley paint The Joker in ‘Shock of Green’

bis header

I love the word “gestation.” All those different hard and soft sounds to roll around your mouth; affricates, fricatives, sibilants, glottal stops, all there in one meaning-pregnant (in all senses) word. There’s a standard table of units critics use for the gestation period of a work of art. Did it take as long to complete as the average Scott Walker LP? Or, for something a little bit longer, it’s a James Joyce’s Finnegan’s Wake.

This movie took two years to complete, which is quite a modest timescale by my increasingly geological sense of chronology, although it’s just a record of one man completing one painting. That said, that one man is Simon Bisley, and that one painting is a mural-sized image of The Joker, so the resultant combination is indeed worthy of epic status (the running time for the movie stretches to about 10 minutes short of two hours, with the action alternating between real-time and time-lapse sequences).

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“Batman kills The Joker…That’s why it’s called ‘The Killing Joke'”

killing-joke-ending-cropped

While the big news to come out of Kevin Smith’s new “Fatman on Batman” interview with Grant Morrison is the new title for his long-teased Wonder Woman graphic novel, the most interesting part of the discussion may be when the subject turns to Batman: The Killing Joke.

The influential 1988 one-shot, by Alan Moore and Brian Bolland, is perhaps best remembered for The Joker’s shooting of Barbara Gordon, leaving the once and future Batgirl paraplegic. But after listening to Morrison’s interpretation of the book’s ending, Smith realizes the impact of The Killing Joke is far greater: “Alan Moore secretly wrote the last Batman story.”

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‘Joker Rising’ fan film explores origin of Batman’s greatest foe

joker rising

Smoking Alien Productions has debuted the rough cut of Joker Rising, a fan film billed as “the dark and gritty story of the early days of the Joker and how he became what we know him as today.”

Clocking in at about 1 hour and 20 minutes, the film draws inspiration from director Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, recasting familiar Gotham City villains like Killer Croc, The Penguin and The Riddler in a crime drama that’s light on costumes and masks. The filmmakers say they’re considering using Joker Rising as the foundation for a “Gotham crime trilogy,” with other members of the Dark Knight’s rogues gallery receiving the same dark treatment.

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Comics A.M. | National Organization for Marriage responds to Card backlash

Adventures of Superman #1

Adventures of Superman #1

Comics| Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage, expressed dismay about the backlash to DC Comics hiring sci-fi author, and outspoken gay-rights opponent, Orson Scott Card to write Adventures of Superman. Card is a board member of the organization, which works against the legalization of same-sex marriage. “This is completely un-American and it needs to be stopped,” Brown said. “Simply because we stand up for traditional marriage, some people feel like it’s OK to target us for intimidation and punishment.” NOM last year launched boycotts of Starbucks and General Mills because of their support of same-sex marriage initiatives. [The Huffington Post]

Retailing | Gabi Shepherd, owner of Olympic Cards and Comics in Lacey, Washington, talks about the importance of courting teenagers, who are often not welcome in other retail stores: “I have found that if I am going to make this the community center that I want to make it then the kids are a big part of that. It makes them feel good when they come in and someone knows who they are. It’s important. It’s respect.” [ThurstonTalk]

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Balloonless | The Law of Superheroes

James Daily and Ryan Davidson intend to prove, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that every subject, even one as dry and forbidding as the law, is more fun when you add superheroes. Exhibit A: The Law of Superheroes, their new book based on their blog Law and the Multiverse, which seeks to do for their area of expertise what James Kakalios’ 2006 book The Physics of Superheroes did for his.

I lack a black robe and a gavel, so I’m not certain exactly how authoritative my judgment on this particular case can be, but I think the pair did a rather admirable job. I can’t say in good conscience that their book is a rollicking, can’t-put-it-down read — even with superheroes, it’s still a book about the law and other, um, legal stuff — but it’s certainly interesting, and, for those of us coming at it as longtime comics fans, it presents new ways of thinking about classic characters and their weekly adventures.

The book’s 13 chapters are divided into rather broad subjects like constitutional law, criminal law, international law and so forth, and breaks the subject down further with various articles falling under each chapter’s subject, pulling examples from comic books (and a few movies based on comic books, particularly the Christopher Nolan-directed Batman movies, Iron Man and the Spider-Man movies).

So, for example, the chapter on constitutional law contains articles on mutant rights, superpowers and the Second Amendment, forcible removal of superpowers, the death penalty as it might apply to immortal or nigh-invulnerable characters, and so on. It’s discussion of the law that mainly drives the book’s construction; where the superheroes come in is when it’s time to apply that law to the Marvel and DC universes (as well as the Ultimate universe and movie universes and so on). Copious footnotes are provided to direct an interested reader back to particular comics stories or particular laws and court rulings.

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Scott Snyder on Batman, ‘Rotworld’ and American Vampire’s hiatus

Scott Snyder

Scott Snyder was already one of DC Comics/Vertigo’s rising stars when he began writing Detective Comics two years ago. In fall 2011, as part of DC’s New 52, Snyder moved over to the main Batman title and began writing Swamp Thing as well. His Batman work has helped put the title on a number of best-of-2012 lists, Swamp Thing is in the midst of the “Rotworld” crossover, and his collaboration with Jim Lee on a new Superman title will begin in 2013. American Vampire is going on hiatus for most of the year, but that will help him and artist Sean Murphy debut The Wake. I spoke with Snyder on Dec. 13, just after Batman #15 was published.

Thanks to Scott for his time, and to DC’s Alex Segura and Pamela Mullin for making the interview possible.

Tom Bondurant: I don’t know about the preliminaries [but] I will say that one phrase that kept coming to mind when I was thinking about interviewing you was that line from Ghostbusters: “How is Elvis, and have you seen him lately?”

Scott Snyder: [laughs] Thanks! Well, I’m a huge Elvis fan, so that really starts the day off right, hearing that.

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Grumpy Old Fan | After the end of the world

Christmas with the Joker in Gotham Central #13

Last week’s solicitation roundup included the prediction that “Death of the Family” would kill young Damian Wayne. As most of you know, Damian is supposed to be about 11 years old, was raised by the League of Assassins, and has served (for the past “year or so” of comic-book time) as the latest Robin, the Boy Wonder. The solicitations were strangely silent concerning him, and thanks to the peculiarities of comic-book deaths, I figured he could take it.

That was last Thursday.

Since last Friday, I have rolled around that morbid prediction in my head, along with countless other real-world doomsday scenarios and nightmare moments. I am a fantastically lucky individual, and that is not meant as any kind of boast. I mean it simply to say that nothing remotely horrible has happened to me — no broken bones, no extended hospital stays, no natural disasters; and certainly nothing as devastating as my child’s death.

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Comics A.M. | Did British Comic Awards underrepresent women?

British Comic Awards

Awards | Were women underrepresented in the first British Comic Awards? With three women and 13 men on the shortlist, some argue they were; Laura Sneddon follows the discussion, including those making that claim and those who responded. [The New Statesman]

Best of the year | Paste magazine lists its 10 best comics of the year, including Hawkeye, Saga and Building Stories. [Paste]

Best of the year | Rachel Cooke focuses on British graphic novels, although a few outsiders creep in as well, for her list of the best graphic novels of 2012. [The Guardian]

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Comics A.M. | Ape Entertainment scores digital hit with Temple Run

Temple Run #1

Digital comics | The top-selling digital comic may not be what you think: Rich Johnston reports that Ape Entertainment’s game comic Temple Run is the top paid book app in the iTunes store (it was No. 2 this morning). He also reveals that Ape Entertainment has sold a million copies of its digital Pocket God comic. [Bleeding Cool]

Publishing | Jen Vaughn and friends pay a visit to the offices of MAD magazine. [Flog]

Conventions | Corinna Kirsh files a report, with plenty of pictures, on last weekend’s Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival. [L Magazine]

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Comics A.M. | Tokyo’s Comic Market receives threat letter

Comic Market 82 (Summer 2012)

Conventions | Organizers of Tokyo’s Comic Market (aka Comiket), the world’s largest self-published comic book fair, have received a threat letter, leading them to consider their options for the planned Dec. 29-31 event. The preparations committee said it has been in contact with local police and the Tokyo Big Sight, where the semiannual convention is held. The incident follows a series of threat letters containing powdered and liquid substances sent in the past month to more than 20 locations linked to Kuroko’s Basketball creator Tadatoshi Fujimaki. About 560,000 attended Comic Market 82 over its three days in August (that’s turnstile attendance, not unique visitors). [Anime News Network]

Creators | Patrick Rosenkranz catches us up on S. Clay Wilson, who suffered a massive brain injury in 2008 (the cause isn’t clear) and is still recovering. “Wilson’s favorite word is still ‘No!’ He used to be a motor mouth but now he’s mostly monosyllabic. After a long life dedicated to being the baddest boy in comix, he’s become a grand old man, but he’s no longer in his right mind. He used to be able to out-talk, out-booze, out-cuss, out-draw, and outrage almost anyone but he doesn’t drink, smoke, snort or draw dirty pictures any more. He doesn’t walk much either and seldom leaves the house, and only in a wheelchair.” [The Comics Journal]

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The comic book LP cover art parodies of Uwe De Witt


German artist Uwe De Witt draws mainstream comics characters in an expressionistic but commercial style. He’s clearly a fan of the comics from the schools of Ben Templesmith, Bill Sienkiewicz and Simon Bisley. As well as publishing new images of Spawn every Monday, he regularly posts pastiches of old album art with comic book characters inserted into them. Some work better than others, when the original cover image and character choice make sense together, or as a visual pun: other times it’s just drawing bloomin’ X-Force for its own sake, really. But when it works, it really works. More examples below. (via Dangerous Minds)

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Art Barrage | Problematic art special!


Apparently, 2000AD group editor Matt Smith has nixed this Judge Dredd cover by Jason Latour. The specter of Frank Miller’s ill-fated cover commission was apparently raised. This must remain a sore subject with Tharg. Personally, I like this image, and can’t see anything wrong with it, but then, I’ve berated Smith for playing it safe with his art choices before and probably will again.  More problematic work below — Steve Rude takes a controversial gig; Gary Erskine risks a stay in the Tower for treason; Graeme Neil Reid illustrates the most violent, foulmouthed superheroes of them all; Jim Woodring takes my theme’s title and makes it concrete, and more. And as usual, you may reckon some of this material is NSFW.

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