ratcreature: Who needs talent? Enthusiasm is fun!  (talent/enthusiasm)
Fandom: DC Comics
Characters/Pairings: Nightwing (Dick Grayson)
Media used: acrylic paint
Rating/warnings: G, none
Notes/comments: I tried the scratching thing again, and unlike in my previous try with Robin I used this time only acrylics rather than supposedly water resistant ink. It was slightly harder to scratch (it sometimes sort of chipped?), but at least it didn't dissolve when I painted over it. Additionally this time I remembered to scan the lineart and b/w scratched only inbetween stage in case something went wrong again after all. But I had no mishaps this time. \o/
Preview: preview of Nightwing picture
the finished image, a hi-res detail and two in-between stages are behind the cut )
ratcreature: RatCreature at the drawing board. (drawing)
Fandom: DC Comics
Characters/Pairings: Robin III (Tim Drake)
Media used: mixed media (ink, acrylic paint, chalk pastels, razor blade)
Rating/warnings: G, none
Notes/comments: This turned out rather more mixed media than planned, due to me trying to salvage the image from the completely blotched state that was the result of a supposedly water-resistant ink being quite soluble in specific circumstances after all. So it looks rather different from what I imaged, and not nearly as nice as a promising pre-blotch inbetween state did (which I unfortunately didn't scan), that had more texture and scratched gradients, but the black ink dissolved when I tried adding the color highlights and thus the ink ran into them. Also as usual the scanner didn't actually scan the colors as they are on the paper, though I tried to correct it as best as I could to compensate for that piece of color blind crap. Um, well, I usually try not talk this much about everything that went wrong (it doesn't give a good audience bias) but this was a very frustrating evening, and I can't help the venting.
Preview: preview of Robin III picture
the image is behind the cut )
ratcreature: RatCreature as Batman (batman)
So, I still haven't progressed into following the current DC main continuity, but I've read the first eight issues of Batman Confidential. The art is kind of mediocre -- both art teams actually, they switched teams when the new storyline started in issue #7 -- but not really bad. I think mostly it bothers me that it looks, um, squirrelly? Somehow there isn't really a clean line, or maybe it's that the shadows aren't really mood setting, I just rarely like that kind of style in comics but favor either a "cleaner" look or something that has a really distinct style otherwise.

Like many other Batman (mini-)series not tying directly into the current timeline it is also set in the ever more crowded early days of Batman's career, before he was joined by a Robin, so it is just him, Alfred and Gordon. I don't really have a problem with that, at least not as long as Ican turn off the obsessive inner comic geek who wants to figure out how all this could possibly fit. It's not as if I don't know that comic timelines are kind of hopeless, but obviously that never stops a fan from wanting to try...

Anyway, the first story, Rules of Engagement, in issues #1-6 (written by Andy Diggle, pencils by Whilce Portacio, inks by Richard Friend), deals with Bruce/Batman, as well as Wayne Enterprises, facing off against Luthor and his company. The story is fairly action heavy, but the action is rather fun not pointless, like this weird endless snowmobile chase I lamented about in the R'as Al Ghul Year One. The main thing I don't get is how Superman could not make an appearance in this scenario, and without any mention or explanation too. Still, other than that I enjoyed it, and I kind of like stories with Wayne Enterprises and Bruce and Lucius Fox working together in particular. Actually if it was for me Lucius could have had a bigger part. And well, there are battle robots, which counts as a plus for me. (What? I like Batman fighting robots...)

The current story, Lovers & Madmen (written by Michel Green, pencils by Denys Cowen, inks by John Floyd), is apparently another Joker origin, though so far he isn't the Joker yet. On principle I'm kind of wary of such Joker stories, but so far it is decent. The scenes with Bruce and Alfred are a lot of fun, and I like the crime spree plot okay so far. I'm a bit dubious about the girlfriend plot, though. I didn't like the "mental healing through sex" vibes I got -- you know, Bruce feeling "at peace" after he sleeps with her described in ways that imply more than that getting laid is good against insomnia. And it looks like she's going to be the damsel in distress next issue, and I half expect her to end up dead for his angst. Also, these "the blight of drugs in Gotham" plots always are somewhat cringe-worthy. Still, so far the fun bits outweigh the rest.

I've also read the first five issues of Superman Confidential, an obvious choice since I'm a Tim Sale fan, but I figure I wait talking about these until the first story ends in the next issue.
ratcreature: RatCreature as Batman (batman)
I've read both six issue series falling under this umbrella, i.e. Batman & The Monster Men and Batman & The Mad Monk. From what I've heard these are supposed to take place after Year One, but before that new Joker origin story that I haven't read (yet), but as I've said before, it is kind of tricky to make the overcrowded timeline of Batman's early career work, so I found it best not to worry too much.

Batman & The Monster Men (by Matt Wagner)

I liked this one. The combination of the mafia story with the creepiness of Hugo Strange worked well for me, and Strange made a good foil for Batman. I liked Bruce's girlfriend, Julie Madison too, and how she gets frustrated and suspicious with him.

Also, I just <3 the younger Jim Gordon, because among other things his expression when he says to Batman: "Giant mutant cannibals... you... you're serious?" was priceless. The poor guy will get used to a lot through his association with Batman over the years.

Alfred's dry humor is great here, e.g.: "And so, in keeping with conventional wisdom, you've chosen to secretly drug your girlfriend."

And not that I'm complaining exactly, but-- wow, this was rather more bloody than a usual Batman comic. So you should probably avoid it if you have problems with gore, but otherwise it's a good read.

Batman & The Mad Monk (by Matt Wagner)

This is also a mix of Batman vs. mafia and an encounter with the "new kind" of creepier villain. I liked that Batman worries whether he inspires or encourages the costumed villains. True, that angst is somewhat of a classic theme, but it works for me.

I also enjoyed the tension that comes from Gordon still working within a widely corrupt police force, and that Batman was shown doing detective work. To get some nod to the pre-Two-Face Harvey Dent was pretty cool as well.

I found Norman Madison's fear of Batman quite believable. However the (fake?) vampire cult didn't work as well for me as Hugo Strange did in the first series. While it was plenty gruesome, it just didn't build up as much terror somehow as I would have expected with the threat to Julie and the whole bunch of injuries Bruce suffers while fighting them. Still the plot overall was engaging enough, and some of the scenes in the castle were bizarre yet worked.

Anyway, I enjoyed both series but liked the first better.
ratcreature: RatCreature as Batman (batman)
Year One: Batman/Scarecrow #1-2 (written by Bruce Jones, art by Sean Murphy)

This was pretty good. I really liked the art, and I actually recognized several panels from icons I've seen around, so I guess I'm not alone in my fondness for Murphy's art.

I'm a bit tired of yet another psychopath getting a cliched backstory with an evil mother (or rather grandmother in this case) figure warping him, aided by the ubiquitous bullies, at but least the specifics of his case with the birds were rather cool and creepy, and I liked the Scarecrow overall.

In particular I liked the visual parallels between the young proto-Scarecrow's defining scene with the birds swooping down on him through a broken skylight, and the typical iconic panels in Batman's origin stories of bats coming down on young Bruce and such. That nicely sets up the following scenes where Bruce angsts about his similarities to costumed villains dressing up as something scary.

I also liked that this story, despite being set earlier, already includes Robin, though it would have been nice if Alfred had been present as well. Also it seemed that for information gathering purposes this particular early version of Batman could have used Oracle's talents with the way their investigation progresses. But I didn't mind that much, overall the plot was okay, and the art and atmosphere made the comic as a whole really enjoyable for me.
ratcreature: RatCreature as zombie. (zombie)
First, the whole Harry Potter thing is making me jittery. I haven't sought out the leaked copy because I'm not about to slog through hundreds of pages as crappy photographs, that's just unpleasant for reading. Not to mention that I don't really reread the HP books, so I'd rather read it the one time as proper book. But it is hard to keep away, knowing other fans have already read the book and are talking about it, even though my f-list is good with not spoiling me so far. (*insert the obligatory dire threats here*).

I will only get my copy on Saturday and I'm not the fastest reader, so at the earliest I'm going to talk about Deathly Hollows on Sunday if at all, and then I will of course use cut-tags and be very careful not to mess them up accidentally.

But until then I definitely need to distract myself with fandoms besides HP-- those still exist after all, even if half of my f-list apparently decided to avoid LJ and sometimes the internet entirely to be on the safe side. Anyway, thus I'm going to talk some more about Batman comics, in particular:

Year One: Batman/Ra's al Ghul #1-2 (written by Devin Grayson, pencils by Paul Gulacy, inks by Jimmy Palmiotti)

One of my main reasons to buy these (besides being a general sucker for all Batman comics DC publishes) was actually that I found the three color covers (black, white, and red) really attractive. I like the interior art okay too, but not as much as the covers (take a look at cover #1 and cover #2). If only the story had lived up to the packaging...

For the sake of my sanity I didn't even try to figure out why this is published as "Year One". I don't think this is supposed to fit in Batman's "Year One" or even just his early career, but rather after Batman: Death and the Maidens? But I don't have Ra's al Ghul's backstory that present. Maybe it is because of some flashbacks in the comic, and those could be made to work somehow in his first year.

First, while the basic idea that the Lazarus Pits affect death and life's balance in general was neat (even if what exactly their connection is was never really explained in any remotely consistent or logical way), the plot built around this was too thin for 96 pages. On the bright side, it had zombies, which is always a plus, but I can't say I enjoyed much else.

And even the zombies weren't particularly great specimens. Okay, so destroying the Lazarus Pits somehow stopped and even reversed death, thus the zombie problem, but I didn't really get why that particular horde of disgruntled undead was after Batman.

The action sequences were plain confusing sometimes, like when Batman was running from the zombies I had no idea how he suddenly got into the Batmobile again after, or if that even was still the vehicle he started out in earlier that night, which was definitely a car not some sort of glider. Yet later his vehicle could suddenly fly. Traditionally the car can't, right? So maybe what he used then wasn't the car, but some magically appearing Bat-Glider or whatever that was supposed to be, that we don't even see him remote call as far as I could tell. Maybe the Batmobile car transformed into a glider.

I also didn't understand what happened to the zombies he lured into that supermarket, did he lock them up there somehow? I couldn't tell, later it seemed he did lock them up, leaving them to rampage there, but why didn't they smash the glass?

Other times the action was just boring. You can tell that a comic has too little plot if it shows a frelling snowmobile chase over eight(!!) pages. Eight. I like certain kinds of action in comics, but snowmobile chases just don't come across that well in this medium. Certainly not if they last eight of the 48 pages in an issue and that on top of other chase scenes. And in a fairly pointless flashback at that.

Anyway while we get zombies, we don't really get to see Batman fight them for plain zombie fun, he flies flies around the globe interspersed with boring Ra's al Ghul flashbacks about some magical peach, and then Batman happens to find a monk chanting the Lazarus Pit formula, yet Ra's al Ghul followers were too stupid to figure that out... The whole thing made no sense to me.
ratcreature: RatCreature as Batman (batman)
I actually read this a few days ago, but didn't get around to take notes right away, so this is lacking detail. (me = sloth)

Batman: Journey Into Knight (written by Andrew Helfer, art by Tan Eng Huat)

Overall I enjoyed reading this limited series quite a lot. There were some elements that bugged me (like that hypnotist was cringe-worthy), but in the end those didn't overshadow my enjoyment.

The first major problem of this series is of course that Bruce Wayne's early career as Batman is already kind of "overcrowded" so it is hard to fit yet another thing into the continuity, especially if it covers things that were addressed previously (like Bruce getting involved in Wayne Enterprises) and presents them differently. But if you read with a relaxed attitude and don't view it as a canon puzzle this story is quite cool.

I liked that Bruce wasn't yet fully competent and equipped to deal with the criminals he encounters, especially the crazy ones, because he expected to fight "normal" crime. He still makes mistakes and still learns. In some instances he made mistakes that I couldn't quite believe Bruce would make, even this early, and thought he should be more competent, but overall I liked this view. I also liked that he just acted plain younger. I also liked Alfred and Bruce's relationship with Gordon. I could have done without the Joker though.

Still, I think it's worth picking up.
ratcreature: RatCreature as Two-Face flipping a coin. (twoface)
Batman: Jekyll & Hyde #1-6 (written by Paul Jenkins, art by Jae Lee)

I didn't like the art much, the inking in particular. The black areas--and there were many of them--seemed more randomly dumped than being placed deliberately for either consistent composition, drama or lightening reasons, so there was a lot of black scattered around making the page look flat and dark, and the shapes harder to see for the lack of a clear line, and the many smallish black areas didn't help guide the eyes through the panels and pages either. All of which made the reading slower and more tedious than it needed to be, with no equal gain on the "dark and gloomy" mood scale.

That said, I quite liked the mini-series otherwise. Okay, so there didn't really need to be yet another origin story for Two-Face making his history even more complicated, and the mad scientist running creepy gothic labs in Gotham (in cooperation with Two-Face no less) isn't the most original thing either, but the basic set-up of the drug plot worked for me.

And while I don't have all the details of the various Two-Face background stories very present, this expansion still goes with the general stuff I recalled from the others, so it's probably not a retcon or intended to be outside of continuity. It made about as much sense as these attempts at supervillain psychology ever do, and is IMO actually one of the better examples for this kind of plot. (I'm kind of ambivalent about the trend to somehow rationalize supervillain behavior through some cobbled together (pseudo-)psychology because it almost never works well.)

And it was nice to see Batman working with Gordon, and there was plenty of Alfred too, so overall I think this was a solid mini-series.

Also, I made a Two-Face!RatCreature icon, because I don't have any Batman villain icons yet.

pencils and larger inked version )
ratcreature: RatCreature smokes Crack (crack)
Untitled Highlander AU/Andromeda, by [livejournal.com profile] basingstoke. Het and slash (though there's no romantic focus, so it feels quite gen), Richie/Amanda, Duncan/Methos. (ca. 2,900 words)
These are more glimpses at a universe than a fully realized story, but the setup is just very cool.

Necessary Changes, by [livejournal.com profile] devilc. Slash, Jason Street/Scott Summers, also Logan/Jean and some other pairings, both het and slash are implied. (ca. 24,000 words)
Friday Night Lights/X-Men
Jason discovers he's a mutant on top of everything else and is invited to attend the Xavier Institute. I'm really liking Jason here so far, and also his friendship with Tim, and of course I always have a soft spot for stories with Scott.
(It's still being posted, one part a day it seems, but the author's notes indicated it's finished and the total length, so in two days or so it should be completely posted.)

Days Like This, by [livejournal.com profile] killabeez. Gen, Angel, Dean Winchester. (ca. 9,200 words)
Dean and Angel meet on a hunt, and fight a gross, tentacled monster, but really the best thing in this story is the banter and the many great lines.

Untitled SGA/SPN snippets, by [livejournal.com profile] kitsune_tsuki WIP
So far more an enticing glimpse at a backstory and an opening snippet than a single story, but I thought the premise that Sheppard grew up as a hunter like Sam and Dean, and now encounters creepy supernatural stuff in Pegasus was cool.

To Conquer Fear, by [livejournal.com profile] marag. Gen, Gil Grissom, Batman and their teams. (ca. 2,800 words)
They work together to catch the Scarecrow in Las Vegas. The story is told mostly in emails and more on the fun than on the angst side of things.

Hailing From Parts Unknown, by [livejournal.com profile] sister_wolf. Slash, Logan (Wolverine)/Alec (X5-494). (ca. 3,500 words)
X-Men Movieverse/Dark Angel
Alec and Logan and cage fights. Why wouldn't you read this?

Office Hours (ca. 10,000 words) and the sequel The Wisdom to Know the Difference (ca. 30,000 words), by [livejournal.com profile] tartanshell. Gen, Peter Parker, Hank McCoy, Matt Murdock, and Scott Summers.
Peter meets Hank (at first not yet blue) as one of his biochemistry professors in college. This is just an awesome and very entertaining crossover, that has a great blend of humor and angst.

Floodlights on the Highway, by [livejournal.com profile] thassalia. Gen, Dean, Cam, Vala.
Stargate: SG-1/Supernatural
How could you not enjoy Cam and Vala meeting Dean at a car show?

Riggins & Winchester, by [livejournal.com profile] thisisbone. Slash, Tim Riggins/Dean Winchester, also Billy Riggins, Sam Winchester. (ca. 4,800 words)
Friday Night Lights/Supernatural
The Winchesters are passing through Dillon. This gives a great look at the characters, also of course it's hot.
ratcreature: RatCreature smokes Crack (crack)
Fandom: DC Comics/Muppets
Characters/Pairings: Gonzo (as Nightwing)
Rating: G
Media used: Pencil sketch, some quick and sloppy coloring in GIMP
Warnings: Um... crack!doodle?
Notes: This is the fourth and last (so far) of my Muppets/DCU fusion doodles. In case you're wondering why I cast Gonzo as Dick Grayson/Nightwing, there are several ways they resonate with each other (at least in my strange brain): Gonzo's history as a daredevil performance artist (granted his colors aren't the same as the Flying Graysons', but still) and as stuntman, Gonzo's romance life, and that in a world withouth Kermit Gonzo would have been become "a depressed street performer that plays the guitar for a dancing brick", and considering I cast Kermit as Superman, I find the parallels fitting. (I don't know if Dick would have become a depressed circus artist instead of staying a superhero without Clark exactly, but he wouldn't have been Nightwing as we know him.)
Preview: preview of Gonzo!Nightwing
Gonzo (as Nightwing), ca. 110k )
ratcreature: Who needs talent? Enthusiasm is fun!  (talent/enthusiasm)
Fandom: DC Comics (Batverse)
Characters/Pairings: Tim Drake/Robin III
Rating: G
Media used: Pencil drawing, inked and colored in GIMP
Warnings: None
Notes: [livejournal.com profile] thete1 asked for "creaky, leathery, heavily-armored Robins" similar to Bermejo's art in [livejournal.com profile] illustrate_me. Unfortunately I can't draw well enough to emulate the style, but I did my best to make Robin's costume look heavy and armored rather than spray-painted on. If you are interested in the unfinished stages, you can also look at the initial pencils, and the finished, but uncolored lineart.
Tim Drake, ca. 90k )

X-posted to [livejournal.com profile] illustrate_me.
ratcreature: RatCreature at the drawing board. (drawing)
The authors of this year's [livejournal.com profile] comica_obscura have been revealed, and I'm going to use that opportunity to post the fanart I drew here and on my website.

Fandom: DC Comics (Batverse)
Characters/Pairings: Jim Gordon
Rating: G
Media used: Pencil drawing, inked and colored in GIMP
Warnings: None
Notes: This is an illustration for [livejournal.com profile] petronelle's story Squandered my resistance. The recipient was [livejournal.com profile] voleuse. It's kind of for the final scene. That scene didn't describe a setting, but I imagined the introspection happening when Jim Gordon is back in his office after meeting yet another Robin for the first time. You can also look at the initial pencils (ca. 83k).
Preview: thumbnail for Jim Gordon illustration

illustration for Petra's Squandered my resistance, ca. 98k )

As for other fanart related things, I swear I haven't forgotten about doing the requests from my previous post. I am working on those, not least to procrastinate the search for 2-on-2 basketball game references, since that motif won the Kick the Sloth!RatCreature poll on which elaborate fanart I ought to draw next. (OMG, drawing sports! what was I thinking?! *gulp*) It's just that the extent of my laziness isn't fully covered by "procrastination" at the moment (which kind of implies doing something else) and is truly in the sloth territory of spending considerable time with playing Websudoku and such. On that note, perhaps I really ought to make a sloth icon...

I also didn't have the best couple of days, not any major misfortunes or anything like that, but I refrained from posting three separate entries whining about various stuff during the last couple of days. Topics were things like "ways pet rats can cause significant annoyances and destruction", "how security updates broke my computer and I spent hours fixing it", "why getting dizzy and fainting sucks, especially when you bang your knee falling down" (and please don't feed my inner hypochondriac by telling me all the possible awful reasons that could cause fainting like that; I've already decided to be on the safe side and better get checked out next week despite my general aversion to doctor visits just to make sure that there are no serious problems with my circulation, blood pressure or whatever else might cause this kind of thing, not least because I really don't fancy falling on my face again).
ratcreature: RatCreature at the drawing board. (drawing)
Here's the pencil drawing I posted yesterday cleaned up and colored in GIMP. It's Tim as Avatar from [livejournal.com profile] thete1's Intimates series. All kinds of critique/comments are welcome.

Tim as Avatar, ca. 70KB, completely worksafe )
ratcreature: RatCreature at the drawing board. (drawing)
I totally suck at costume design. I've tried like forever to produce a good visual of Tim as Avatar from [livejournal.com profile] thete1's Intimates series, and it's been incredibly frustrating. More than once I wished I could just go with Jason's mocking and draw him as Condom Boy and be done with it (btw back in December when I drew that scribble as a result of being totally frustrated with goggles and what not, I happened to be in the underground and of course the little girl next to me had to choose that moment to stand up on her seat and look at my sketchbook...).

Anyway, I'm still not happy with the costume but I decided to just post the pencils I liked best so far and settle for that. I'll post a colored version soon(ish).

pencil drawing, ca 56K, Tim as Avatar )
ratcreature: Happy Birthday! (birthday)
I usually don't post birthday wishes, but I happened to work on fanart for the fabulous Hanging Work AU, when I noticed that it's [livejournal.com profile] cereta's Birthday today. So I thought it would be nice to post it today as a present, even though it's not colored yet. (The colored version is going to be posted soonish, I just couldn't finish it in time for Lucy's birthday.)

It's an illustration for the last scene in the series, for the story Aiding and Abetting III: Resolution of Claim, i.e. for this passage:
Five minutes later, he stood in front of the mirror, needlessly adjusting the sleeves for the fourth time, brushing nonexistent lint off his shoulder. Alfred had done an amazing job. The colors were more muted: the green that took up most of the body was almost black; the red that covered his shoulders and moved down his arms in stylized wings was more blood than apple; the yellow was only there in the insignia. But they were still his family's colors, still the colors he'd learned to fly in.

He felt as much as heard Batman's presence behind him, just before a gloved hand grasped his right shoulder, then slid down to the stylized "R" on his chest.

"Should I ask?"

Dick took a deep breath. "Robin," he said. "Call me Robin."

pencil drawing, ca 56K, Bruce/Dick slash, obviously, but nothing explicit )

Oh, btw, I also made a new icon for birthday wishes. So:

Happy Birthday [livejournal.com profile] cereta! I hope you enjoy your present, and it's hopefully going to be finished soon.
ratcreature: RatCreature at the drawing board. (drawing)
I've colored the pencil drawing I uploaded last night. I don't have a lot of practice with computer coloring and it kind of shows, but I like the illustration still better in this version. In case you missed the explanation yesterday, this is fanart for [livejournal.com profile] monkeycrackmary's SW/DCU fusion story Flamebird, showing Tim as Jedi Padawan.

pencils, colored in GIMP, ca. 86KB )

ETA: The LJ picture servers are still a bit obnoxious/slow because of the recent move. If the image doesn't load for you, you can look at it at my site too.
ratcreature: RatCreature at the drawing board. (drawing)
Ever since I read [livejournal.com profile] monkeycrackmary's Batverse/Star Wars fusion story Flamebird, my head is populated with images of the Batboys in Jedi attire, performing Force aided acrobatics, of Bruce and Jason fighting crime in Kryptonian-like attire on the run down lower levels of Coruscant and maybe even in sleazy space cantinas, and a lot of stuff horribly difficult to draw. Obviously the story needs to be illustrated by someone with mad skillz, or, you know, at least someone able to draw humans rather than someone preferring to stick with big-nosed cartoons.

I don't think I'll draw Coruscant cityscapes populated with superheroes anytime soon (but someone definitely should!), but I did try to draw Tim as a Padawan. The Jedi look/outfit is shamelessly drawn based on a screencap showing young Obi-Wan Kenobi, btw (because I suck and can't draw this kind of thing without such references).

Also I'll probably try to color the pencils eventually, to get some practice using my newly acquired tablet, but that might take some time, and meanwhile I thought I could post the pencil drawing as it is now, kind of like a WIP thing.

Padawan!Tim, pencil drawing, ca 45KB )

Comments/crit/whatever are of course welcome.

ETA: LJ wouldn't show the picture when I tried to use the version I uploaded to their picture server, should be fixed now.
ratcreature: RatCreature as Batman (batman)
I've just read Batman: Death and the Maidens #9 (written by Greg Rucka, art by Klaus Janson) and spoilers... )
ratcreature: RatCreature as Batman (batman)
After reading about Huntress, I've now read the 2000 retcon of her origin story myself, Batman/Huntress: Cry For Blood (written by Greg Rucka, pencils and inks by Rick Burchett, except in #5 and #6 which have inks by Terry Beatty), and overall I liked the story. I was of course spoiled by reading summaries, but I have to say that from just knowing Huntress from guest appearances in BOP and such, and the Nightwing/Huntress series, I wouldn't have expected her to act like this.

Even having read summaries, the end still had something of a sucker punch effect on me. I mean, she doesn't do it herself, but she arranges for Santo Cassamento, the man who ordered her family to be wiped out and also her biological father, to be killed, because she wants revenge, because "blood cries for blood." She asks her uncle Tomaso Panessa for a favor, and while we don't hear her words then (I guess mostly so that it'll hit you harder as a reader later on), it becomes clear that she asks him to kill Santo, and tells him where he'll be able to find him, or something to that effect. Then she arranges it so that Santo has to be at that drug shipment personally, by beating up on his goons, meets Santo outside, letting him believe that he's still blackmailing her with his knowledge of her identity, calmly takes off her vigilante garb after he went inside, and stands by outside while he is murdered, not swayed in the least by the Question/Vic's pleas to stop it either. She also placed an anonymous tip so that Tomaso will go to jail. And as her final act we see her throwing her crucifix down into the water by the pier (which, as far as I can see doesn't reappear in her guest appearances in Batman and Detective after this series, even though she still wears her old costume, not the current one).

I think what hit me, is how she takes off her costume before standing by his murder, as if she somehow doesn't want her vigilante persona tainted by this revenge killing she arranged. It was a really powerful scene, but it changed my view of her.

Unrelated to the Huntress stuff, what's up with Tim and Barbara in this series? Here Barbara knows Tim's identity, when she didn't in BOP #19 which was published the same month as #2 of this series. It's not so much that I have a problem with her knowing, I mean, in a way it's kind of weird that we were supposed to believe she didn't in BOP #19, despite things like Tim's rescue from NML, which should have made the connection between Robin and Tim quite obvious to Oracle, I think. It just doesn't fit.
ratcreature: RatCreature as Batman (batman)
Has anyone been able to make sense of all the mafia families that pop up in the Batman books? I mean, in Huntress' backstory it's made sound like the "Five Families" had divided Gotham among them. Those five families were the Bertinellis, the Berettis, the Galantes, the Inzerillos, and the Cassamentos. In the gang wars during the prohibition the Bertinellis came out on top. The Cassamentos had been their rivals, supported by the Inzerillos, but the latter changed sides. Anyway, later the Panessas arrived, but the Bertinellis didn't want to share with a sixth family, not even when Franco Bertinelli, Huntress' father married Maria Panessa. Then came the Palm Sunday massacre, orchestrated by the Cassamentos(?). In its aftermath the Galantes were on top, the Panessas were in, once again Five Families.

So how do the Falcones (from Year One and Long Halloween/Dark Victory) and the Maronis (Two-Face's origin, e.g. in Batman Annual #14, also Long Halloween/Dark Victory) fit in? Both of those play fairly important roles in the early career of the trio of Batman, Gordon, and Dent, so it's not like they could be discarded, and they don't just appear in LH/DV which could be disregarded as apocryphal in the details. And assuming Anthony Zucco (the one responsible for Dick's parents' death) was some kind of lower level mob, to which family did he belong?

Of course in addition to the Mafia there's some other organized crime in Gotham too (the Lucky Hand Triad, the Escabedo Cartel, the Odessa Mob, the Burnley Town Massive...), though some of that is confined to certain neighborhoods. But clearly the Maroni and the Falcone families are supposed to be mafia.

And how does Malfetti fit in? (in case you lost track that is the mob boss from the Nightwing/Huntress series) Do I even want to know if there are any more? Do we get diagrams at some point?

ratcreature: RatCreature as Batman (batman)
So, I'm kind of researching the main Batverse characters I don't know very well, because I (intermittently a.k.a. the crazy person in that corner over there, banging her head against the wall) am still in the middle of my Batverse summary draft. Though unfortunately not "in the middle" as in "half done" yet. (And just what was I thinking, when writing that seemed like the thing to do?!?)

And I have a question for the Huntress fans. As I understand it there are at least two post-Crisis origin stories for her. One from the 1989 Huntress series, and a different version from the Batman/Huntress: Cry For Blood mini-series by Rucka from 19922000. I have read neither myself, just summaries, so it's hard for me to evaluate stuff. Anyway, they contradict each other.

In version one (from 1989), she's kidnapped and molested with six by the Smiling Man who's employed by a rival crime family, and her family is murdered while she is in college by an assassin called Omerta. As a result of that she leaves for Sicily to train to become the Huntress.

In Rucka's origin story her parents are murdered when she's very young, and she's sent to Sicily for protection. There she learns martial arts, the crossbow handling and such, finds out eventually that her family is mafia, starts to despise them and decides to fight crime.

I guess Rucka's version is the one that's in continuity right now, at least I've seen that version referred to in comics I read. The entries in the official DC SF&O are a bit vague and non-committal, like the BOP SF&O only says that her parents were killed "in her youth" which could fit both versions. And besides the dating of her parents murder, I'm wondering whether bits of the kidnapping and molestation are still canon? Help?

ETA: I misread something, somewhere and Batman/Huntress Cry For Blood is actually from 2000 not 1992, making one version post-, the other pre-ZH, so that explains the change.
ratcreature: RatCreature as Batman (batman)
I adore A Lonely Place of Dying for many reasons, for example it has some of my all time favorite Batman art. I adore the art because it uses art for storytelling to its full effect. A while ago, in this post to [livejournal.com profile] scans_daily I posted examples for panel transitions, covers, and intercuts I really like, but another awesome effect is how we see events from Tim's viewpoint, without knowing who Tim is, and that he stalks Batman and Nightwing only because he wants the best for them.

It's incredibly creepy to see with the eyes of a stalker, to watch Batman from a distance with cameras and binoculars, to browse through a scrapbook with all those photos, something which is made even creepier because it's put inbetween the intimate scene of Alfred caring for the injured Bruce, so that even the snapshots and clippings we see get an intimate quality. For a long time we only see his hands, holding binoculars, and cameras as he spies on Batman, watches Kory and the other Titans, rifling through photos and articles, opening the door to Dick's apartment even...

And it gets to me every time. I know it is Tim, I know it's not an enemy stalking them, uncovering their identities, and still it gets to me, because even knowing it's Tim and seeing through the "stalker's" eyes I still somehow identify with the "prey," I think, even as I reread it.
ratcreature: RatCreature as Batman (batman)
So, the events in that fateful night when Dick Grayson's parents die, and young Tim Drake watches, what do you think happened wrt Batman's appearance on the scene? In the scenario that Tim tells to explain how he made the connection between Dick Grayson and Robin, the two key pieces are the quadruple somersault and Tim witnessing Batman swoop down into the ring and examine the ropes. That's how it happens in Year Three (1989), how Tim tells it to Dick in A Lonely Place of Dying (1989). In all later versions, I've found, as well as in the Secret Origins #13 (1987) that was published earlier, Batman doesn't swoop into the arena in full spotlight, but investigates later. In Robin #0 (1994) in the brief flashback panel we only see Bruce Wayne at the circus, and Dick says that he didn't even believe in Batman until he was shown the cave, though we can probably disregard that as incongruent with all other versions. In Robin Annual #4 (1995) Batman first runs into Dick Grayson later the same night, outside, when he investigates and Dick eavesdrops. In Dark Victory (2000) it's not impossible that Dick runs into Batman later that night, as we don't see those events, but their first conversation seems to take place after Bruce Wayne took Dick in, but anyway only Bruce Wayne is shown in the scene of the Graysons death as onlooker. In LotDK #100 (1997) we see Bruce Wayne more or less discreetly remove evidence from the scene without any disguise, besides feigning clumsiness, and change into the Batman costume in his car, and encounter Dick later that night during the investigation.

Besides all the other differences (like whether Zucco dies from an heart attack, whether the ringmaster is involved and eaten by lions, etc etc), the thing with whether or not Batman appeared in the circus arena stands out, because it's central to Tim's explanation how he discovers Robin's identity. OTOH it makes more sense that Batman doesn't swoop into the arena with several hundred onlookers just to take a look at the rope and possibly comfort Dick.

So -- what's your vote for the most likely scenario? Was Batman in the limelight that night or not?
ratcreature: RatCreature as Batman (batman)
Do we see somewhere what the full current version of the oath that Dick has sworn is? I've seen scans of that panel from Golden Age comics where Dick swears an oath by candle light, that (what we see of it) goes "And swear that we two will fight together against crime and corruption and never swerve from the path of righteousness!"

And in Gotham Knights #11 when Dick quotes that oath to snap Bruce out of his autohypnosis, he quotes it as "to fight crime and corruption and never swerve from the path of justice" which is close enough, I guess.

However, when Batman refers to the oath for example in Robin Year One, he makes it sound as if there was a section about absolute, and unquestioning obedience included:
Batman: "You once swore an oath to me. If you put that costume on, you'll honor those words to the letter and never again question my orders."
Dick: "Even if it means watching you die?"
Batman: "Yes. Without hesitation."

Now it might be just me, but that sounds as if the oath has undergone some major revisions or at least expansions from the original one, which didn't have anything in it about obedience without hesitation, not just as if they had the lecture about following orders before.

Visually the candle light oath scene is referenced at the very end of Dark Victory, for example, but we don't see the words there.

So do we see this new and improved oath in full somewhere?
ratcreature: RatCreature as Batman (batman)
I've reread Robin: Year One, the mini-series, not the 1995 annual, and now I'm wondering whether Bruce even reported Dick Grayson missing after he ran away, and what Child Protection Services had to say about that (if anything). Okay, so Bruce has covered up the near-fatal beating, by bringing him to Leslie rather than a hospital, but at some point it must have aroused suspicion that Dick is absent from school. Even if he went back briefly after recovering from his injuries and running away, someone ought to ask questions, no? I mean, Dick is what, twelve? Thirteen?

Of course it's not unlikely that Gotham's other authorities are just as corrupt as the police was especially early in Batman's career, and Bruce Wayne simply paid them not to ask any questions, about what happened to that gypsy circus kid he took in, and nobody really cared. And maybe he bought the school a new computer lab, or something.
ratcreature: RatCreature as Batman (batman)
So crazy person that I am, I am kind of trying to write a first draft of a comic Batverse overview for [livejournal.com profile] crack_van, because the Batverse really deserves to be pimped. A lot. So while I'm valiantly struggling to come up with ways not to make the character backgrounds and storyline descriptions ridiculously long, and possibly with footnotes *facepalms* -- lots of footnotes explaining alternate versions, because I'm irrationally afraid to be kicked in the head by people reading it, whose favorite version of the pivotal character past moment is a different one -- I'm rereading bits and pieces, and I'm reminded all over again of why I love the characters so much.

For example young Bruce Wayne. I mean, he's one traumatized little kid, and copes with the loss of his parents in a scary way, but he is also just awesome. He makes the decision not to let something like his parents death happen to someone else ever again in night of the murder, and in a way it's really a thought that an eight year old would have, like, it's not an especially realistic goal or anything. It's not a grown up thought of helping victims of crime, or reducing crime, or saving as many lives as possible -- possible doesn't figure into it. He swears on the grave of his parents that it'll never happen again. But the dedication and drive the loss of his parents start within him, in a way I admire that, because it's not resigned but defiant even against impossible odds. And he keeps that goal, and his oath in mind even as an adolescent and adult, he never revises his goal into something achievable.

I think he's a great person for that. I mean, as far as my reactions to the death of close relatives like my mother or my grandparents go, it just resulted in me being depressed, and kind of fatalistic about death happening, it's not like I decided to dedicate my life to rid the world of cancer or anything. And okay violent death is of course different, but I never got the impression that it was about vengeance for Bruce, or about that particular mugger. I really admire how he takes his pain and transforms it into a force for something positive. Even though his way is probably not the "sanest" one to deal with death, after that night's events he is at least never passive or a victim again.

I mean, in many depictions of the murder and it's aftermath, you can see the moment he makes this decision, when his look turns from that of a scared kid, into the look of someone determined and scary, like this one from Year One, or in the one from the Zero Hour Batman issue, I linked to above. He is still afraid of course, but it doesn't paralyze him anymore. He faces his fear and uses it. I also truly envy his focus-- not exactly in that I would want to be that extreme myself, but-- it may be kind of scary, that he's so single-minded, yeah, but once he's certain of his goal he works to achieve it, and does so with all he has.

First he molds himself exactly into what he wants to be, both body and mind, then later he transforms his home into the perfect base for his mission, his company into the machinery to generate the technology and immense funds he needs, but he doesn't just fight as Batman, at the same time on the Bruce Wayne side of his war against crime he uses Wayne Enterprises to generate wealth and jobs for Gotham, is a philanthropist who gives money to charities, all to transform Gotham.

Um, I think, I don't really have a point, except that I adore the ingenuity of Bruce's whole setup.
ratcreature: RatCreature begs, holding a sign, that says: Will work for food, with "food" crossed out and replaced with  "comics". (work)
A recent post by [livejournal.com profile] buggery reminded me that I still hadn't read Batman: Family #1-8 (written by John Francis Moore, art by Stefan Gaudiano and by Rick Hoberg). So today I remedied that.

It's a good story and I recommend it also. First, it has an interesting, complex crime plot that you can actually follow (though I think I would have appreciated the exposition recaps more had I read it in monthly installments, but even so they weren't tedious, and helped to stay on top of the developments). Second, it included *all* of the Batfamily in a (mostly) organic way into that plot, and it is always great to see all of them relate to each other. Third, all of the main members of the villain group had distinct personalities and there were glimpses of their motivations and backgrounds, while at the same time they remained scary, or very scary, with a dash of disturbing. Several of them were clearly psychopaths, and the rest wasn't exactly sane either, but they weren't costumes, unless it suited them for convenience, they were rational and had goals that weren't centered around battling with Batman. And that made them more dangerous, and scarier.

I mean, Mr. Fun? Made me shiver, how he had those bizarre motivational slogans for better job performance running through his head while he was killing people. And Celia Kazantkakis/Athena is a psychopath but scarily competent, and nearly perfect at passing for normal. I had varied reactions to all of the villains, they read as full personalities to me. There were little details that made them real to me, like that the Technician wasn't just into his techno-toys, but also into Gotham history, especially the history of crime in Gotham (and I liked the kid).

Actually all of the minor and supporting characters worked surprisingly well, they were vivid, without hogging too much attention or storytime, and that made Gotham seem populated with lots of real people besides the heroes and the villains.

I also read JLA: Year One (by Mark Waid, Brian Augustyn and Barry Kitson), and that was lots of fun. I liked seeing the early team together, and much to my surprise I even liked this Aquaman. It was also great to see Barry and Hal early in their career rather than as larger-than-life heroes (even if GL was somewhat of a chauvinist jerk, I still like him). Their fights were a bit on the bizarre side, but I suspect that is because the series might adapt/retell their early Silver Age exploits. I haven't read those, so I didn't recognize the stories, but somehow they had that logic-defying feel to them. Like that strange ray gun that took body parts and meshed them together to be controlled by the Brain, yet they didn't die (or were near death) even if half their body was missing, and it was easily reversible too. If their adventures aren't retellings, they certainly are in the same spirit. However those really only serve as backdrop for their personal lives, the developing team dynamic, and the conflicts that come from both, and those parts are very much *not* like Silver Age camp. I felt sometimes a bit lost, for example I have no clue about the Doom Patrol or the Blackhawks, but I could still follow the story.

And not related to any of the above: I looked at a preview for an upcoming Batman Elseworld The Order of Beasts, and can someone explain to me why, if the writer feels the need to have someone shout a German word, he can't look up the proper article? It can't be that hard to go to a dictionary website if you want someone shout "The Bat!" in German and find out that "Fledermaus" is feminine, and put the right article in front of the word. It's not like it's rocket science. It wouldn't aggravate me so, if this kind of thing didn't happen in a lot of cases where the authors feel the need to sprinkle some foreign language bits throughout their comic, instead of just indicating foreign languages with "< >" or similar markers. I've notice butchered French sometimes too (and my French is really bad, so it's not as if I'd even notice less than blatant mistakes), not just German. Often Spanish bits seem a better to me, which could be either because I know even less Spanish than French, or because Spanish is more widely spoken and read in the US, so that in the case of Spanish writers actually know what they're doing. But still it really throws me out of the story every time when the very thing that is supposedly there to make it look/sound more "authentic" just comes across as ridiculous.
ratcreature: RatCreature as Batman (batman)
Broken City (written by Brian Azzarello, art by Eduardo Risso) was published in Batman #620-625:

comments behind the cut-tag because it's the most recent storyline )
ratcreature: Procrastination is a Lifestyle. RatCreature in a hammock doing nothing. (procrastination)
As usual, comment if you claim one (or a reasonable number of them), unless someone says they're willing to share the icon belongs to the first person who claims it (so check the previous comments), and of course you can modify them any way you want.

14 icons with Tim as Robin )

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