Martin Freeman Joins "Captain America: Civil War" Cast
In 2011, we reported on an epic act of vandalism: A graffiti artist in Sofia, Bulgaria, transformed a monument dedicated to the the Soviet Union’s 1944 “liberation” of the country into a superhero tableau. The eclectic group includes Superman, Captain America, the Joker and Ronald McDonald, who I guess is kind of a superhero if you’re hungry.
This week, the Russian government gave us an excuse to revisit the story by complaining to the Bulgarian government that it wasn’t trying hard enough to stop repeated vandalism of the statue and bring the culprits to justice.
Did you know that Aug. 1-7 was International Clown Week? On Aug. 2, 1971, President Richard Nixon issued a proclamation to honor those who “go into orphanages and children’s hospitals, homes for the elderly and for the retarded, and give a part of themselves.” It also states that clowns are “as vital to the maintenance of our humanity as the builders and the growers and the governors.” And thus International Clown Week was established.
Perhaps you knew nothing of this strange little proclamation, nor of this week’s significance. Or perhaps you did know, and you’ve been hiding under your sheets all week to stave off imaginary Pennywises and Captain Spauldings.
Batman is celebrating his 75th birthday this year, which may come as a surprise. I mean, look at that smooth, handsome face, or what little of it is visible beneath his cowl. Look at those ripped muscles, or the way he runs across rooftops and beats up criminals — why, Batman doesn’t look a day over 35!
Now just as it did recently for Superman, DC Comics is releasing a pair of hefty, 400-page hardcover collections that serve as a sort of survey for how the character has been portrayed and functioned in the publisher’s comics line during since his first appearance. Batman: A Celebration of 75 Years and The Joker: A Celebration of 75 Years aren’t exactly the comics equivalents of greatest-hits albums, but they are nice starting points for newcomers and/or casual fans, offering quick, compelling overviews of the title characters through the decades.
The Batman volume, featuring Jim Lee’s rendition of the character from the 2003 storyline “Hush” on the dust jacket, must have been particularly challenging to assemble, given the thousands and thousands of pages of Batman comics, featuring dozens of different takes by scores of creators.
Doctor Doom has been living like a rock star since his creation in the early 1960s, and now artist Rocky Davies has given the Latverian dictator the album cover to match. In a new series of illustrations, Davies has depicted familiar comic villains Doctor Doom, the Joker and Shredder in the the style of 1980s album covers.
Longtime DC Comics readers will undoubtedly recall Composite Superman, the green-skinned Silver Age villain who, dressed in a costume that was past Superman’s and part Batman’s, possessed the powers of the Man of Steel as well as those of the Legion of Super-Heroes. But how about Composite Aquaman? Or Composite Harley Quinn?
While they don’t come with superhuman abilities (as far as we know), Funko’s newly announced line of DC Comics Vinyl Cubed 2.5-inch magnetic figures that allows collectors to mix and match body parts of their favorite heroes and villains. The head of The Joker on Bizarro’s body? Sure. Robin with Harley Quinn’s arms? If you want.
Viewers are taken inside the fractured mind of Harley Quinn in Red Queen, a dark and stylish fan film that depicts a confrontation between the fan-favorite character, her original personality and a Joker stand-in.
Directed by Salim Tighnavard from a script by Kerryn Williams, Dan Maher and Sheridyn Fisher, who stars also as Harley, the short is billed as “Episode One,” which suggests we should expect more installments.
I’m simultaneously fascinated and terrified by this incredible medieval-style Joker leather armor crafted by Prince Armory to unnerve attendees at the next Renaissance faire. It’s composed of: “Jester’s Helmet with Joker Mask, Breastplate, Drama Face Pauldrons, Breastplate, Jester’s War Skirt, Cuisses/Knees/Greaves, Articulated Jester Shoe Sabatons.”
No price is listed, but I’ll go out on a limb and say it’ll set you back a lot.
As if recent renewed debate about its ending weren’t enough to demonstrate that, after 25 years, Batman: The Killing Joke can still spur discussion, now new original artwork has surfaced indicating the scene depicting the torture of Barbara Gordon was initially far more graphic and sexualized.
A photo of the inked page (below, definitely NSFW) was tweeted Sunday by Bill Hynes, a former employee of Gosh! Comics in London, revealing a naked and bleeding Barbara among the montage of images shown to her father James Gordon. In the published comic, by Alan Moore and Brian Bolland, that shot is replaced by a close-up of Barbara’s face.
Bolland confirmed the artwork’s authenticity, writing on his blog, “Here’s a page I drew for Killing Joke. I drew what was in the script. That’s my job. I was asked to tone it down a bit. I don’t know how the person who posted it got this image.”
Sue of DC Women Kicking Ass notes, “This isn’t some thumbnail sketch. This is a final inked page. At least someone at DC had some sense to kill it. Because really, how can you claim a book doesn’t sexualize violence when you have stuff like that in print?”
Indeed, whether the Joker raped Barbara Gordon has been long debated, with some readers insisting the violence was physical and not necessarily sexual. This page now may cast the scene, and the already-controversial comic, in a slightly different light.
Twenty-five years after the release Batman: The Killing Joke, we’re still debating the end of Alan Moore and Brian Bolland’s 1988 one-shot. But in “The Deal,” a new fan comic written by Gerardo Preciado and illustrated Daniel Bayliss, there’s nothing ambiguous about the final showdown between the Dark Knight and his arch-nemesis The Joker.
The 14-page story is bloody and brutal — we’re talking Se7en territory, “What’s in the box?” all — but it brings the nearly 75-year-old logical and disturbing, yet oddly touching, conclusion. See a beautiful work-safe page below, and read the entire comic here.
Avengers: 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.”
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.
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.
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).
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.”
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.