Tag Archives: DC Comics

70 Aspects of Batman: 34


From Wikipedia:

John Salvatore Romita, Jr. (born August 17, 1956) is an American comic book artist best known for his extensive work for Marvel Comics from the 1970s to the 2000s.

Romita was born in New York City, the son of John Romita, Sr., co-creator of several notable Spider-Man stories in the 1960s and 1970s.

He began his career at Marvel UK, doing sketches for covers of reprints. His American debut was with a six page story entitled “Chaos at the Coffee Bean!” in The Amazing Spider-Man Annual #11 (1977).

Romita’s early popularity began with his run on Iron Man with writer David Michelinie and artist Bob Layton which began in 1978. In the early 1980s, he had his first regular run on the Amazing Spider-Man series and also was the artist for the launch of the Dazzler series. Working with writer Roger Stern on Amazing Spider-Man, he co created the character Hobgoblin. From 1983 to 1986 he had a run on the popular Uncanny X-Men with Dan Green and author Chris Claremont which was well-received. He would return for a second well-received run on Uncanny X-Men in 1993.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Romita enjoyed an extended stint on Daredevil with writer Ann Nocenti and Eisner Award-winning inker Al Williamson, noted for its creation of long-running Daredevil nemesis Typhoid Mary. His work on Daredevil was well-received, with Romita Jr. further refining his style.

Romita later collaborated with Frank Miller on a Daredevil origin story entitled Daredevil: The Man Without Fear, a revisiting of the character’s origin. He worked on a host of Marvel titles during the 1990s, including The Punisher War Zone, the Hulk, the Cable mini-series, The Mighty Thor, a return to Iron Man for the second Armor Wars written by John Byrne, and the Punisher/Batman cross-over. Klaus Janson was a frequent inker.

In the 2000s, Romita had a well-received return to The Amazing Spider-Man with writer J. Michael Straczynski. He drew Marvel’s Wolverine with author Mark Millar as part of the character’s thirtieth-anniversary celebration. In 2004, Romita’s creator-owned project The Gray Area was published by Image Comics. Romita’s art has since appeared in Black Panther, The Sentry and Ultimate Vision, a backup story featured in the Ultimate line, written by author Mark Millar.

In 2006, Romita collaborated with writer Neil Gaiman on the reinterpretation of Jack Kirby‘s The Eternals in the form of a seven-issue limited series. Romita worked with Greg Pak on the five issue main comic of Marvel’s 2007 crossover event, World War Hulk.

In 2008, Romita again returned to Amazing Spider-Man. He is also collaborating once more with Mark Millar, for a creator-owned series, Kick-Ass, published by Marvel’s Icon imprint. The Filming of the Movie: Kick-Ass, began in September 2008. Romita, one of the producers, made his directorial debut by directing an animated flashback sequence in the film.

Romita is the regular artist for Avengers, which relaunched the franchise in May 2010.

John Romita Jr. may be the best pure superhero artist working in comics today. Over the course of his over 30 year career he has worked almost exclusively for Marvel Comics, so any images of characters from other companies by him. Fortunately, in the mid-90s before Marvel and DC became parts of huge conglomerates and were still open to crossovers, Romita Jr. drew a Batman/Punisher one-shot. For a reader used to Romita’s work only appearing in Marvel comics, seeing the denizens of Gotham City drawn in his style creates a certain cognitive dissonance…but once the brain adjusts, it’s a great visual experience. To date, apart from a sketch or two, Romita Jr. hasn’t drawn Batman since, which is a shame as his style has become more stripped down and direct as time’s gone on…kind of like this sketch below, done years after the one-shot:

I love this sequence from Batman/Punisher…it’s a well drawn sequence that flows and says a lot about the characters portrayed in it:


70 Aspects Of Batman: 26


From Wikipedia:

Jean Henri Gaston Giraud (born May 8, 1938[1]) is a French comics artist. Giraud has earned worldwide fame, not only under his own name but also under the pseudonym Moebius, and to a lesser extent Gir, the latter appearing mostly in the form of a boxed signature at the bottom of the artist’s paintings.

Jean Giraud was born in Nogent-sur-Marne, in the suburbs of Paris, in 1938.[2][3] At 18, he was drawing his own comic strip, “Frank et Jeremie” for the magazine Far West. In 1961, Giraud became an apprentice of Jijé, one of the leading comic artists in Europe of the time, and collaborated on an album of Jerry Spring.[3] In 1962 Giraud and writer Jean-Michel Charlier started the comic strip Fort Navajo for Pilote. It was a great hit and continued uninterrupted until 1974. The Lieutenant Blueberry character, created by Giraud and Charlier for Fort Navajo, quickly became its most popular character, and his adventures as told in the spin-off Blueberry, are possibly Giraud’s best known work in his native France. Giraud’s prestige in France – where comics are held in high artistic regard – is enormous; In 1988 Moebius was chosen, among 11 other winners of the prestigious Grand Prix of the Angoulême Festival, to illustrate a postage stamp set issued on the theme of communication. Under the names Giraud and Gir, he also wrote numerous comics for other comic artists like Auclair and Tardi.

The Moebius pseudonym, which Giraud came to use for his science fiction and fantasy work, was born in 1963. In a satire magazine called Hara-Kiri, Moebius did 21 strips in 1963–64 and then disappeared for almost a decade. In 1975 Métal Hurlant (a magazine which he co-created) brought it back and in 1981 he started his famous L’Incal series in collaboration with Alejandro Jodorowsky. Moebius’ famous serial The Airtight Garage and his groundbreaking Arzach also began in Métal Hurlant.

Moebius has contributed storyboards and concept designs to numerous science fiction films. In 1982 he collaborated with director René Laloux to create the science fiction feature-length animated movie Les Maîtres du temps (released in English as Time Masters) based on a novel by Stefan Wul. In 1988 Moebius worked on the American comic character The Silver Surfer with Stan Lee for a special two-part limited series. Giraud is also known to be a friend of filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki. From December 2004 to March 2005, the two of them shared an exhibition at La Monnaie in Paris.

I don’t have much to say about Moebius as I haven’t read much of the stuff he’s worked on at all, shamefully. As I mentioned in one of the previous 70 AOB posts, my knowledge of European comics is sadly lacking when compared to what I know about the American or even Japanese variety. His linework is great, and his painted work is absolutely stunning. His Batman work (and his work in American comics in general) is quite limited, consisting of the pin-up at the top of the post and an 8-page story, examples of which can be seen above and below this paragraph. I can’t remember the circumstances, but this short story was intended for publication by DC as a bona fide Batman story until someone in the upper echelons nixed it, presumably due to its less than badass depiction of the Caped Crusader. The story was ultimately published by the Heavy Metal-inspired Penthouse Comix (which was related the smut magazine of the same name) in 1995 under the title “This Is Not A Batman Story”.

Thanks to Scott for the assist.


A literary commentary: Camelot 3000

serialized by DC Comics from 1982-1985
written by Mike W. Barr
pencil art by Brian Bolland
ink art by Bruce Patterson and Terry Austin

Camelot 3000 is significant in that it was DC Comics’s first foray into direct market-only publishing. In other words, C3000 was never intended for the newsstands and magazine racks. The only place to find it was at the comics/hobby/nerd shop. This allowed for some nudity and violence and other unsavory things but, unfortunately, C3000 uses these sparingly.

The story finds earth being overrun by aliens in the year 3000. Fortunately, King Arthur and his Round Table posse are all either revived or reincarnated to confront the invasion, which happens to be the work of archenemy Morgan Lefay. Some of the nights have been reincarnated as non-whites or, even worse, WOMEN! So we get to see Tristan complain and bitch about being a woman for about 11 issues.

The U.N. has become kind of evil and turns regular people into towering monsters for some reason. Women wear really, really short skirts. Morgan herself prances around in high heels, bikini briefs, a couple of cups stuck magically to her jugs, and some pearls. Bolland draws her and all the sluts very nicely but their characters are pretty wooden, just like the men. The token minorities – the black dude and the Asian dude – spend their time hanging out while the white people pine for each other.

The whole thing is a lot like a soap opera, as most of the characters lust after someone or something or other and are frequently willing to betray everyone else to get it. Arthur is basically a bearded retard who seems largely unimpressed by the changes of the last few thousand years, unless it involves weaponry.

Bolland draws some really funny facial expressions throughout. Arthur often looks like he’s taking a mad dump rather than feeling anguish over his wife’s cheatin’ heart. Bolland is a great artist and these funny expressions are the only fault on his part but his inkers do not do him justice. Bruce Patterson does an okay – sometimes even pretty good – job on the first six issues but Terry Austin is pretty crappy on the last six. He is just not a good match for Bolland and generally makes him look bad. The collected hardcover version contains concept art inked by Bolland and it’s really great stuff, making the poor inks in the actual story that much harder to swallow. If Bolland had inked the book this might be a literary recommendation, rather than a commentary.

I don’t regret having read this interesting footnote in American/British comic book history. However, I can’t really recommend it, either.

A literary recommendation: Promethea

published by America’s Best Comics/Wildstorm Comics 1999-2005
story and script by Alan Moore
pencil art by J.H. Williams III
ink art by Mick Gray
color art by various
calligraphy by Todd Klein

Like H.G. Wells’s The Time Machine and Charles Dickens’s Great Expectations, most of Alan Moore’s great works have been serialized.  Promethea was originally released in 32 pamphlets.  It was not presented as a limited series but it’s beginning, middle and end were clearly determined before the first issue was released.  The series has been collected into five books but there are no self-contained story arcs.  In other words, Promethea is a comprehensive work and should be read as such.

I’m not going to talk a whole lot about the premise.  Go to Wikipedia for that.  I would prefer to talk about what I think makes Promethea so great.  First, I’ve never seen a comic that is so successfully experimental.  Moore and Williams constantly seem to search for new ways to present their story.  The layouts are excellent, clearly the best I’ve ever seen.  That’s a tough concession for me to make as a Ninja Turtles comics fan, as I always felt the classic Mirage comics had the most creative layouts I’ve seen.  However, Promethea‘s pages are gorgeous and often contain elaborate border designs.

The story usually moves forward well, although there are sequences that maybe could have moved along a bit more briskly.  Moore peppers the narrative with famous magicians and cultists from real life, including Aleister Crowley.  Also present are elements of practically every major religion and famous cult.  Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Pagans, and especially Kabbala Jews are welcome.  Moore clearly loves the supernatural.

There are many light but sensitively-portrayed sexual themes and the various incarnations of Promethea are statuesque and gorgeous. Promethea is never presented in a salacious manner and, while attractive, she seems almost motherly and untouchable. There is also some violence in the story but none of it feels as immediate or gritty as the bone-crunching action in Watchmen or V for Vendetta. Most of the real adult material comes in the form of conversations, sometimes deep with many layers and sometimes drowning in silly occultism.

There is a maturity and depth to the entire story that fans of Moore are likely familiar with. On the other hand, there is complete mayhem and nonsense, like the entire character of the Painted Clown. In most Moore stories that I’ve read, everything makes sense in the end but there are several characters and situations in Promethea that are resolved in ridiculous but enjoyable manners.

But in the end the real star of the whole thing is the art, the layouts, and the presentation, which I’m sure Moore and Williams planned together. So do yourself a flavor and chuck it out.

70 Aspects Of Batman: 16





From Wikipedia:

Tony Harris (born 1969) is an American comic book artist. He is most famous for Starman, winner of the 1997 Eisner for best serialized story, Iron Man, and currently Ex Machina, winner of the 2005 Eisner for best new series.


Harris debuted in the comics in 1989 and rose to prominence in 1994 with the publication of DC comics’ Starman. Co-created with James Robinson, Starman led the two to critical acclaim and eventually a Will Eisner comic industry award for the Sand and Stars story arc.

Current projects include Ex Machina with Brian K. Vaughan, published by Wildstorm Comics and War Heroes with Mark Millar, published by Image Comics.


As I mentioned in the earlier 70 AOB post about Mike Mignola, Starman is one of my favorite comic series. Tony Harris’ artwork is a big part of why I love it. His earlier style was dark and angular…it makes sense that he began his career in horror comics. This style instantly set Starman apart from the rest of the superhero comics published at DC in the mid-90s. Harris co-created the world of Starman Jack Knight with writer James Robinson, and was the regular artist on the book until #45. Toward the end of his run, he had the chance to depict Batman in his distinctive manner, as can be seen above in this painted cover.


But to date, Harris’ most notable work on the Dark Knight can be found in JSA: The Liberty Files, an Elseworlds story that plunges Batman, Superman and various JSA characters into a World War II espionage scenario. This series, from the early 2000s, showcases Tony Harris’ evolved style, where the formerly jutting angles have become curved.


It’s a good read, I suggest tracking it down if you can.



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70 Aspects Of Batman: 2



Mike Mignola is mostly known these days as the creator of Hellboy,  but before the big red guy debuted in 1994 he was a freelance artist who worked mainly for the big two, Marvel and DC. Mignola didn’t enjoy working on the either company’s bread and butter (superhero books) much; he would much rather have been drawing something involving monsters and/or gothic atmosphere, desires which led to the eventual creation of Hellboy. One character he did enjoy working on at the time, however, was Batman. Batman stories allowed Mignola to play up his strengths (moody lighting, gothic atmosphere, bizarre characters), and he would return to work on the Dark Knight Detective long after Hellboy became a success, presumably because he actually wanted to.


Mignola’s first major work on Batman was Gotham By Gaslight:


Gotham by Gaslight was DC’s first Elseworlds story, which allowed for interpretations of their iconic characters outside of mainstream continuity. Gaslight detailed a Batman that operated in Victorian London instead of modern day Gotham City, on the hunt for Jack The Ripper (it’s a great read, but I’m biased because it was one of the first comics I have a distinct memory of owning).


He also drew Batman around this time in the Cosmic Odyessy miniseries with Jim Starlin (which also allowed him to illustrate his beloved Jack Kirby DC creations)…


and in an issue of Legends of The Dark Knight. He also did some Batman cover work around this time, including one of my absolute favorite Batman stories that has never been collected, entitled Dark Knight, Dark City, which was written by the perennially underrated Peter Milligan.


After going to Dark Horse and working on Hellboy for a while, Mignola returned to DC in the late 90s for a two-issue crossover featuring his creator-owned character with two of theirs, Batman and Starman. The books were written by Starman writer James Robinson and as that was and still is one of my favorite series of all time, it was pretty exciting for me.


(Gotham By Gaslight, the Legends of the Dark Knight story and Batman/Hellboy/Starman have all been collected in a Mignola Batman collection, but frustratingly it’s only available in Spain, and in Spanish).

In the 2000s, Mignola had enough confidence in his writing apart from his amazing art that he started writing scripts for other artists to illustrate. One of these was Batman: The Doom That Came To Gotham, another Elseworlds story. I’ve never read it, but judging from its covers it looks like it deals with his usual fetishes of pulp fiction, H.P. Lovecraftesque creatures and the like.


Mike Mignola has also had a statue made based on his Batman work….


…and his bold, minimal style allows for great tattoo artwork, as seen below:


So while Mike Mignola’s body of Bat-work is slim when compared to others in this series, it’s had a great impact.



70 Aspects Of Batman: 1


So here’s a new feature: 70 Aspects Of Batman.

As you may not know, this year marks the 70th Anniversary of creation of Batman, The Dark Knight, The Caped etc. Batman first appeared in Detective Comics #27, cover-dated May 1939. To celebrate one of my favorite fictional character’s anniversaries, I’ve decided to share with you, the loyal Noising Machine reader, 70 different artistic interpretations of this guy throughout the rest of this year. These will include both entries on accepted Batman greats (Neal Adams, Frank Miller), relatively unsung heroes (Norm Breyfogle, Graham Nolan) and great artists who may have only drawn Batman once, but I like ’em so here they are (Katsuhiro Otomo). There definitely will not be any of the likes of Jim Lee, Michael Turner or Ed Benes though, so you can rest easy. Anyway, for this inaugural edition of 70 AOB, what better place to start then at the very beginning, with Batman’s “creator”…



(Bob Kane pictured right)

Now here’s the thing about Bob Kane: HE WAS AN ASSHOLE. For decades, he had a contract with DC Comics that allowed him to have his name on any and every Batman story they published, regardless of who actually wrote and drew them. He also downplayed and/or outright ignored crediting contributions made by such creators as Bill Finger and Jerry Robinson to the Batman mythos. Basically, he created Batman to cash in on the success of Superman, who DC had premiered a year earlier.


As writer Bill Finger recalled: “[Kane] had an idea for a character called ‘Batman’, and he’d like me to see the drawings. I went over to Kane’s, and he had drawn a character who looked very much like Superman with kind of … reddish tights, I believe, with boots … no gloves, no gauntlets … with a small domino mask, swinging on a rope. He had two stiff wings that were sticking out, looking like bat wings. And under it was a big sign … BATMAN.”

Finger took this initial design and suggested modifications, substituting a cowl for the mask, adding a cape and gloves and instigating the color scheme change to gray and blue. He also came up with the name of Batman’s alter-ego, Bruce Wayne, by taking the last names of Scottish patriot Robert Bruce and Revolutionary War general “Mad” Anthony Wayne and combining them. He also wrote the script for Batman’s initial appearance in Detective #27.


If this seems more like a Bill Finger post than a Bob Kane post, that’s because Bill Finger seems like a better human being to me. If there was any justice, the byline that’s still found in Batman comics today would read “Batman created by Bob Kane & Bill Finger” instead of “Batman Created by That Butthole Bob Kane”.  Kane was all too happy to take the attention and accolades during Batman’s initial success in the 40s, his 60s resurgence thanks to the Adam West TV show and the hoopla surronding the Batman feature films of the late 20th Century. He died in 1998.


Still, I think one can and must judge work on its own merit and not by whether its creator was an asshole, as hard as that may be. Thus, while Bob Kane was a gloryhound who trampelled over others to get undeserved credit, he still did commit the first rendition of Batman to paper. And in his own stiff way, he lent the early Batman stories a sense of atmosphere that could be described as gothic or proto-noir. Like this:


That’s a good, evocative picture. But yeah, for the most part most of the stuff you like about Batman probably came about in spite of Bob Kane, not because of him. And in real-life, I bet Batman wouldn’t even like him that much.