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The guy with the Stan Lee tattoo

Kelly Rogers and John Engle (via WFME)

Kelly Rogers and John Engle (via WFME)

With the help of tattoo artist Kelly Rogers, lifelong comics fan John Engle has spent the past year transforming his back into a tribute to the characters he loves. There, Spider-Man, the Hulk, Carnage and Venom share space with Batman, The Joker and Spawn — Engle enjoys a good intercompany crossover.

However, there was one thing missing: Stan Lee’s seal of approval. And over the weekend at MegaCon in Orlando, Florida, Engle got it. The legendary creator signed his back, just above Spider-Man (where else?), then Rogers made the famous signature permanent.

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Brian Bolland’s ‘Joker trophy wall’ brought to unsettling life

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Never let it be said The Joker isn’t the sentimental type. After all, he maintains a trophy wall, as depicted in a 2005 commission by Brian Bolland. With a lot of work, and some help from friends, cosplayer Anthony Misiano (aka Harley’s Joker) has brought that illustration to life in an unnerving homage.

“Believe it or not, altogether roughly 45 photos were used in the final composition, 16 of which just for the Joker alone,” Misiano wrote on Facebook. “You’d never guess how much work really does go into it all.”

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Artist’s custom DC and Marvel figures are startlingly realistic

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We frequently marvel at — or else are unsettled by — the uncanny realism of the figures from Hot Toys and other high-end collectibles companies, but they may have found a rival in artist Xiang Zhang.

Based in Shanghai, China, he works with 1/6th-scale models, creating photorealistic likenesses of Heath Ledger’s Joker, Tom Hiddleston’s Loki, Christian Bale, Scarlett Johansson and more. Make notes that Zhang is so skilled at repainting and implanting hair, that he’s frequently accused of using Photoshop to fudge the final results.

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Why so stylish? Artist gives The Joker a serious fashion upgrade

The Joker has always possessed a certain flair for fashion, even if that combination of purple, orange and green careens away from haute couture and into haute mess. Sure, the Clown Prince of Crime is clearly a bit of a clothes horse, but he could use some direction.

Enter Bulgarian designer Simeon Georgiev, who’s treated Batman’s arch-nemesis to a serious fashion upgrade, outfitting his action figure from Batman: The Animated Series — or at least 3D recreations of one — in streetwear from the likes of Raf Simons, Supreme and Thom Browne. Stashed has the full breakdown of what The Joker’s wearing.

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DC Collectibles unveils ‘BTAS’ Batmobile, DC Icons action figures

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Ahead of Saturday’s kickoff of Toy Fair 2015, DC Collectibles has unveiled a lineup that includes the debut of the DC Comics Icons action-figure line, based on the work of artist Ivan Reis, and the first 6-inch-scale Batmobile inspired by Batman: The Animated Series.

Accompanying the Batmobile is the fifth wave of figures from Batman: The Animated Series and The New Batman Adventures — Nightwing, Bane, Mad Hatter and Scarecrow — plus a two-pack from Mask of the Phantasm (MTV News has the full details on the figures). The Batmobile features sliding door access and room for two 6-inch figures.

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Joker delivers a ‘Bloody Valentine’ in Batman fan film

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It’s not exactly the card or flowers you may have been expecting, but directors Harry Kirby and George Kirby have debuted their short film “Batman: The Bloody Valentine” just in time for the holiday.

Described as “a dark and twisted take on the Joker’s love affair with the Batman and how he will go to any length to get the Bat’s attention,” the nearly four-minute film owes much to the tone of Christopher Nolan’s trilogy and the Arkham video games, with a Joker that’s part Heath Ledger, part The Killing Joke.

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The Joker’s wild in these wonderful cosplay photos

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These incredible photos of cosplayer Dark Incognito as a female Joker — rather than Harley Quinn or Duela Dent — makes me wish DC Comics has used the New 52 as an opportunity to introduce a Clown Princess of Crime. The shakeup to the decades-old dynamic with Batman could’ve been fascinating.

Check out some of the photos below, and even more in the galleries of Dark Incognito and photographer Akami.

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Batman and Joker take their fight to New York City Council

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Longtime arch-enemies, Batman and The Joker faced off once more on Wednesday, only this time about a plan to require Times Square’s costumed characters to be licensed.

Wearing makeup and a red suit embellished with black bats, the Clown Prince of Crime told New York City Council’s Consumer Affairs Committee that the bill amounts to “fascism.”

“I might look like a clown but I’m speaking from the heart,” the New York Daily News quote The Joker, aka Keith Albahae, as saying. “I do this from my heart and not for tips. OK, I do ask for tips. And many people are glad to give them, but this is about the First Amendment and this is about discrimination. This straight-up seems like fascism.”

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Joker and Harley Quinn tie the knot in costume-filled fan wedding

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Last year we showcased photos from a Batgirl- and Nightwing-themed wedding, so it’s only fair for us to give a couple of Gotham City rogues equal time.

“So I married Joker on Saturday,” user MCAddict writes on imgur, where she shares photos of herself (with a classic Batman logo tattoo) dressed as Harley Quinn and the groom decked out in purple and green. The wedding party was a mix of the expected (Catwoman, The Riddler, Poison Ivy and Bane) and the slightly puzzling (Wolverine, Wonder Woman and Mario).

More surprising still: Batman officiated the ceremony. Check out some of the photos below, and even more at imgur.

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From Black Widow to Joker, the most-Googled costumes by state

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If this map of “the most trending” Halloween costumes is any indication, Marvel Studios may want to give a little more thought to Black Widow’s place in its cinematic universe.

Produced by the website SumoCoupon using an analysis of Google search volumes, the map indicates which costume was the most-Goggled in each state. Comic-book heroes and villains were well-represented, topping the list in 14 states. Black Widow claimed the throne in four of those — Texas, Missouri, North Carolina and Wisconsin — while perennial favorites like Batman and Catwoman nabbed three and two, respectively.

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NYCC | Check out Tom Whalen’s Gotham library cards

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Speaking of Mondo, boutique mainstay Tom Whalen is exhibiting this week at New York Comic Con, where he’ll have for sale a selection of prints Batman ’66, the Universal Monsters series, The Incredibles, Ghostbusters and A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. As if collectors need any incentive for buying the posters, Whalen is offering daily specials, which includes — on Thursday — a free Gotham Public Library card set with a purchase of $100 or more.

While I like Whalen’s design of the card, I appreciate his attention to detail even more: For instance, “S. Kyle” first checked out The Secret Lives of Cats on April 7, 1940, roughly corresponding to her first appearance in Batman #1; American Robins is borrowed by a succession of people — on the appropriate dates — ranging from D. Grayson to C. Kelly, and so on. He even includes Dewey Decimal classifications.

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DC favorites make headlines in ‘Saturday Evening Post’ tributes

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Artist Juan Carlos Ruiz Burgos recently added the above Zatanna illustration to his deviantART gallery, drawing our attention to his occasional series of frankly amazing tributes to the classic Saturday Evening Post covers using DC Comics characters.

In addition to Zatanna, surrounded on stage by white rabbits, there’s a heartwarming depiction of Clark Kent casually reading The Daily Planet as a little boy gapes in awe at Action Comics #1, The Joker and Harley Quinn on the run like Bonnie and Clyde, Wonder Woman listening thoughtfully to a little girl, and an autumnal Poison Ivy piece that’s probably not safe for work.

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Russia is tired of Bulgarians vandalizing Soviet monument

Vandalized monument to the Soviet Army in Sofia, Bulgaria

Vandalized monument to the Soviet Army in Sofia, Bulgaria, in 2011

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.

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In honor of International Clown Week, a look at clown comics

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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.

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Celebrating ’75 Years’ of Batman and The Joker

batman 75Batman 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.

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