Die Laughing came out in 1998, it is the fourth and last (so far) crossover of Batman and Judge Dredd. As with the others it’s written by John Wagner and Alan Grant with art by Glenn Fabry, Jim Murray, and Jason Brashill. The art in this thing is awesome too, it’s the best since the first book, but not quite up to that amazingness, oddly though the second book in this (it came out as two books) seems to have slightly different, not quite as good art for some reason, but it’s close. Basically what happens is the Joker gets a hold of the belt from the first crossover that allows him to make a dimensional jump to Mega-City One, something goes wrong though and not all of him is transported. His body stays in Gotham City in a coma like state. While in Mega-City One the Joker quickly takes over a gang and frees the now captured Dark Judges. His plan is to get immortality for freeing them, and he does. Judge Death makes Joker a Dark Judge and as you can imagine chaos insures. Judge Anderson meanwhile jumps to Gotham to warn Batman, and Batman goes to Mega-City One to team up with Dredd and stop the Judges again. The book overall is really fun, it’s the best Batman/Judge Dredd crossover since the first one, and almost as good as that one. I’d highly recommend this one to any Batman or Judge Dredd fans.
Unless you’re completely new to comics and/or Batman there’s a very good chance you’ve heard of The Killing Joke. It’s maybe the most infamous Batman and Joker story there is, and it’s only one issue. Alan Moore and Brian Bolland came together for this incredible, completely universe changing one shot in 1988 and the story and art still hold up today as one of the best ever. Before I get to the actual story I need to put some focus on Brian Bolland. The art in this book is incredible; it has some of my favorite Joker images of all time. Chances are if you haven’t read this book before, you’ve still seen some of the art from it; it’s really just some next level greatness stuff. Now as for the story it’s no secret that Alan Moore is a bit of a sicko nut job and I think that really helps when writing for the Joker. In this book the Joker escapes, this is only discovered when Batman comes to visit and try to talk some sense into him because he realizes their relationship will most likely end with one of them dead. Now the Joker is on the loose and no one knows where he is. That doesn’t stay that way for long, soon the Joker arrives at Commissioner Gordon’s house, his daughter Barbara is there (at the time she was also Batgirl). There’s a knock on the door, Barbara assumes it’s a friend of hers and opens it…the Joker simply shoots her in the spine. Ending the career of Batgirl. Jim Gordon is beaten up and kidnapped. Now Batman needs to find the Joker with rising urgency. Finally the two meet, the Joker reveals all this has just been a plot to prove a point that anyone can go insane if they have a bad day, this theory he’s trying to prove by driving Jim Gordon mad. A lot of this is intertwined with the origin story of the Joker, a thing that is worth owning this book for alone because it’s great all on its own. As you expect Batman has saved the day at the end, though not before a lot of permanent damage was done to the DC universe. If you’re a fan of Batman there’s basically no way you shouldn’t have read this already, if you’re just getting into comics or Batman this should be very high on your must read list. It shows the complete insanity of the Joker, along with where he started and it had ramifications in comic books for many years to come. One of the best single issues of a comic ever written.
Batman (1943, serial):
This was a collection of serial shorts made in ’43. They’re definitely dated but a lot of fun, especially if your a Batman fan. Some of the stuff is really ridiculous, but much less then the campy series with Adam West. These serials seem a lot like serial versions of the comics from that time period, pretty wacky but fun. I’d recommend these for a Batman fan but probably not the casual fan.
Adam West (Batman), Burt Ward (Robin), Lee Meriwether (Catwoman), Cesar Romero (The Joker), Burgess Meredith (The Penguin), Frank Gorshin (The Riddler)…With this cast it can only be the campy Batman series from the 60′s. But this is so much more because this is the movie version of that gem. The villains team up to destroy all the worlds leaders from a peace summit. And on top of this Batman and Robin have to fight a fucking exploding shark! Luckly Batman has his handy Shark Repellent Batspray. I highly recommend this for anyone that liked the old Batman series or anyone that likes fun.
Now this is one of my favorite comic movies ever made, and still my favorite Batman movie ever made. It’s got Michael Keaton and Tim Burton on top of their game, and the always great Jack Nicolson in an amazing job as the Joker. There’s the telling of both origin stories (a little inconsistency in both stories but close enough) then goes into one of the Joker’s crazy plots, to basically be the Joker and do what he does – be crazy. This also has one of my favorite movie quotes “Ever dance with the devil in the pale moonlight?” – that has nothing to do with the actual review, it just rules. Some people bitch about Jack just playing ‘himself’ or the movie not being violent enough. But you know what? Fuck them. There’s a reason Jack Nicholson was chosen to play the Joker and it still stands as the best choice ever, and as for the violence even the great Tim Burton (who wasn’t mr. bigwig back then) had to adhere to standards and practices of big budget movies of the late 80′s. (Late 80′s being the key because they got anal about the rough stuff for a while there which is when this was made). But you’ve got to work with what you can and this turned out quite excellent. I highly recommend this for everyone especially comic and Batman fans.
The Penguin gets screwed by the mayor and vows revenge, meanwhile else were in Gotham a secretary knows too much and is thrown out a window. Once again Tim Burton is back directing, Michael Keaton is still Batman, but we’ve added some awesomeness to the cast. Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman back when she was still sexy, the great Danny DeVito as Penguin and there’s even some of everyone’s favorite strange/creepy/great guy Christopher Walken as the mayor in this one. While not a bad movie, it does have it moments overall I didn’t really enjoy it. I remember I was even disappointed as a kid when I saw this. I’m not sure why, caught somewhere between rushed/forced and possibly half-hearted its not even close to the worst Batman movie made, its certainly not one of the best. There is however a massive penguin army which gets this movie some awesome points.
This movie I have almost a love/hate relationship with. Basically what we’ve got here is more origin stories which seem to be the norm with this series of movies. Once again the origins aren’t spot on but good enough that I can overlook that for now. Two-Face ice’s Tim Drake’s parents, which causes Tim Drake to become Robin. Meanwhile Bruce Wayne fires Edward Nygma which leads him to become the Riddler in a revenge plot. During this plot Riddler finds out Batman’s identity. Gone is Tim Burton and the new guy in is (ugh) Joel Schumacher, this could be a big part of the problem. Also out is Michael Keaton, instead we get the bootleg version Val Kilmer, he did an ok job but he’s no Michael Keaton. In pulling sidekick duty is this Chris O’Donnell jerk, whom I hate to this day because of his poor job in this role. There’s even Nicole Kidman and Drew Barrymore throw in for some eye candy. However the only real redeeming part of this movie is the villains. This time around we’ve got my second favorite Batman villain, Two-Face, played by one of my favorite actors, Tommy Lee Jones. This was stellar. I know a lot of people hated how this was done but I thought it was great. Granted it was a way over the top, super charged version of Two-Face, but it was fun, he killed some people and it was fucking Tommy Lee Jones. One of my favorite Jones roles (most people’s least favorite). Second on the map is the Riddler played by Jim Carrey who was bigger than comedy Jesus at this point in time. Once again this is a over the top version of said character, but then again it is Jim Carrey. I though it fit pretty well, not the best Riddler known to man but it was a quality performance. So basically if they could somehow cut all the fat in this movie and just have Two-Face and Riddler owning Gotham, this movie would rule, as it stands…its ok.
Batman & Robin:
Ok here’s the stinker movie of this series and basically what killed the Batman franchise for 10 years (give or take). Not that this movie is without its moments but its really just not good. I tried to defend it for years but I’ve finally come to terms with its shittyness. The story is pretty generic and still doesn’t make a lot of sense. You’ve got Poison Ivy (Played by Uma Thurman somehow looking not sexy), who’s basically being a pissy crazy woman all about the plants. We’ve got Mr. Freeze (Arnold Schwarzenegger) being pissed off about being Mr. Freeze. There’s even Bane in here for about 10 seconds…Yeah sounds pretty shitty doesn’t it? But wait, there’s more! We’ve got a new Batman once again, George Clooney trying to climb up the ladder to get someone to notice him as Mr. Wayne. Once again not a bad job by him, but not that great either. He played a much better Bruce Wayne than a Batman but the movie’s not called ‘Bruce Wayne & Robin’. That dick stain Chris O’Donnell is crapping up the role of Robin again. However there is a bit of light here we’re introduced to Batgirl is this movie brought to us by Alicia Silverstone. Not a stellar performance, but it was good and she looks good in a skintight Batgirl suit. No surprised on this sorry excuse for a comic movie There’s Joel Schumacher at the wheel directing this train wreck again, that explains a lot. I think this movie pretty much proves that a movie can’t get by on just a few big names, there’s got to be a decent movie to start with. Oh and as I recall there’s some sort of sky surfing scene in here somewhere too…
Eight years after ‘Batman & Robin’ Christopher Nolan comes out of almost nowhere with a reboot of the Batman films breathing life into them again. It’s not too much of a surprise seeing as how so far all of his movies have been pretty awesome, but a Batman movie was pretty unexpected. Reboot of the series however means another retelling of the origin story, which leads to one of my only gripes with the movie. Although cool, I had no idea what was going on the first 10 minutes of the movie. I walk into a Batman movie and I see mud-wrestling, luckily it all worked out. Everyone’s favorite American Psycho, Christian Bale is in the batsuit this time. Unforchinatly not wielding a chainsaw and talking about music. Bale does a damn good job in this movie, good choice here. We’ve also got the awesome Michael Caine as Alfred, and the also awesome Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox a Wayne employee who basically becomes Batman’s gadget dealer. Villains come in as Ra’s Al Ghul in a couple forms and Cillian Murphy appearing as the Sandman. Excellent movie to kick off the new Batman series, definitely in the top group as far as Bat flicks go.
Christopher Nolan is back with a sequel, and one hell of a sequel. I’ve got a little resentment towards this movie but I still like it a lot. So far this is my second favorite Batman flick to date. There’s kind of a lot going on here. You’ve got the Joker introcuded played by Heath Ledger (I’ll come back to this), being the Joker, just fucking crazy. Meanwhile you’ve got Harvey Dent (played excellently by Aaron Eckhart) trying to clean up Gotham until his woman gets killed and he gets charged, then Two-Face comes out (with goddamn fucking awesome stellar effects). Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman are all back doing bang up jobs in their previous roles. (with the exception of Batman’s ridiculously low voice, this was literally laughable) We even get a cameo of Cillian Murphy back as the Scarecrow for a minute (or less). Now my big beef with this movie isn’t even with the movie, this is totally an editorial rant. Heath Ledger. The man was a good Joker (no Jack Nicholson, but who is) But most of the popularity of this movie came from Ledger committing suicide before the flick came out. Not only that it got a bunch of bandwagon fans jumping on and every goth kid within a two billion mile radius suddenly thinking he’s Heath Ledger’s Joker. This was not the comic Joker in the movie, the performance was good but the makeup was god awful, had nothing to do with the Joker really, just made him look like a jack-off. So because he OD’d you’ve suddenly got everyone who wouldn’t give a fuck about the movie before suddenly loving it, everyone praising his performance as the best thing ever, and a bunch of jerk-offs dressing up like this poor excuse for a Joker. I’m done here before I anger more, go see the movie but chill the fuck out.
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