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Batman: Hush (comic)

Jeph Loeb’s story has everything that you like about Batman. If you like Batman, you’ll like Hush. A mysterious villain (who calls himself Hush) is playing a game with Batman, a game of sabotage and revenge. Hush manipulates and uses some of Batman’s greatest enemies to try to destroy Batman once and for all. Batman has to figure out who is trying to kill him and why before he ends up dead. And he doesn’t wanna die because he just started hooking up with Catwoman and she’s kind of hot.

So someone is trying to kill Batman, someone who knows his secret identity, his strengths, his weaknesses, how he thinks. Someone who wants him to suffer. Someone from his past. But Batman’s pissed off a lot of people, so there are a lot of suspects. One of the main themes of the book is family. Bruce Wayne is an orphan, but he still has a family. Catwoman points out that he has a lot of strings for a loner. He has attachments to Nightwing, Robin, Oracle, Huntress, Jim Gordon… Bruce Wayne has a lot of attachments too: Alfred, Leslie Thompkins, Thomas Elliot (his best friend since childhood). He is far from alone.

Jeph Loeb knows how to tell a good story. There are a lot of familiar characters, a semi-original plot, and more twists than an M. Night Shyamalan movie. Jim Lee’s sketches are gritty, provocative, and larger than life, and Scott Williams brings them to life with his inkwork. This is a good solid Batman comic, satisfying and rich.

Critically Rated at 15/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Batman: Dark Victory

Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale reunite for the sequel to Batman: The Long Halloween. Both The Long Halloween and Dark Victory take place in the same canon as Frank Miller’s Batman: Year One. Gotham City is in the midst of a transition from crime families to masked freaks taking over the criminal underworld. To make matters worse, a new serial killer is in town, and he’s targeting cops. If that wasn’t enough, Bruce Wayne takes in a young orphaned circus acrobat named Dick Grayson.

The story picks up a few months after the events of The Long Halloween. There’s a new district attorney called Janice Porter, Sofia Gigante has taken over the Falcone Crime Family, Batman and James Gordon are still distraught over the whole Harvey Dent-turning-into-Two-Face incident, and a mass breakout at Arkham Asylum only makes matters worse. Not only does Batman have to deal with the warring crime families, but there’s a whole bunch of villainous freaks that he has to contend with too.

Alberto Falcone a.k.a. the Holiday killer is released and allowed to serve the remainder of his sentence in house arrest under the supervision of his brother, Mario. Alberto starts to hear the voice of his dead father telling him to return to his murderous ways and become Holiday again.

Shortly after Alberto’s release, Gotham City cops start being killed on a holiday each month. The killer leaves behind a hangman riddle on it, and the riddle is always on a document associated with Harvey Dent.

Naturally there are two main suspects as to who the Hangman killer is. It is either Harvey Dent, because everything is related to him, or it could be Alberto Falcone, because all the murders are happening on holidays. Or it could be someone else entirely. Just saying.

The personal lives of the main characters are shattered. Bruce Wayne/Batman is more isolated and alone than ever before. James Gordon has been promoted to Commissioner but at the expense of his marriage. Both men miss their friend Harvey Dent and still feel betrayed by him.

While dealing with a mafia war and a bunch of freaks, Bruce still finds time to go to the circus. But it’s not a fun night because a gangster ends up killing two trapeze artists to send a message to the circus owner; in the process Dick Grayson ends up orphaned. Bruce Wayne takes him in because he feels responsible, obligated, inclined, whatever, to take care of this young kid and teach him to hate the world and fight crime in an elaborate costume.

This comic feels like a continuation of The Long Halloween in a lot of ways. The plot is very similar. A guy is killing people on holidays and Batman has to find out who, and at the same time he has to deal with gangsters and mobsters and villainous freaks. The twist is that this time, the killer is killing cops and not mobsters. And then they tacked on a Robin origin story to spice things up.

Batman has to decide which side Catwoman is on and if she’s trustworthy again. He has to fight the Joker again. He has issues with Two-Face again.  The Scarecrow shows up. And Solomon Grundy. And the Calendar Man. And the Riddler. And a few more. It’s easy to mix up plot points between The Long Halloween and this story. It doesn’t feel as much like a continuation as much as a rehash. It’s good, but it’s not as good and nowhere as original. It’s worth reading. It’s not the best Batman story, but it’s one of the better ones.

Critically Rated at 13/17

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The Dark Knight

The Dark Knight is the second film in Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy. It’s also the first Batman movie that doesn’t have Batman in the title. There’s your random fact for the day. Christian Bale returns as the Batman/Bruce Wayne, and Aaron Eckhart and Heath Ledger join the cast as Harvey Dent and the Joker. This might be the best comic book movie to date.

Less than a year after the events of Batman Begins, The Batman has become a symbol to the citizens of Gotham, inspiring less-than-qualified Batman wannabes to don Batarmor and fight crime. The different gangs and mobsters are afraid of the Batman. A new villain called the Joker has showed up in Gotham City and he knows how to wreak some havoc. He stages an elaborate bank heist at a mob-controlled bank and the criminal underworld starts to take notice of this wacko with clown makeup.

Batman and Lieutenant James Gordon (Gary Oldman) are still having a fun time rounding up mobsters and cleaning up the streets. After one fight involving the Scarecrow (Cillian Murphy) and some vicious dogs, Batman upgrades his Batsuit. Bruce Wayne’s personal life isn’t going so well. The love of his life Rachel Dawson is currently in a relationship with Harvey Dent. And she used to look like Katie Holmes but now she looks like Maggie Gyllenhaal. Times are tough all around. Bruce begins to get over his disdain for Harvey Dent because he realizes that Harvey’s image can save Gotham.

The Joker begins taking over the various mobs one by one. He starts causing more and more chaos. He threatens to kill a civilian each day until Batman reveals his true identity. He targets a judge, the police commissioner and Harvey Dent. The judge and police commissioner both die, but Batman saves Harvey from the Joker. One out of three isn’t too bad but this is saving lives, not baseball.

The Joker does more bad things, like almost killing the mayor, shooting RPGs at Harvey Dent and cop cars, kidnapping Harvey and Rachel and making Batman choose which one to save, and making Harvey Dent go crazy and become Two-Face.

He also blows up a hospital too, because, hey, why not?

Two-Face blames Batman and the newly promoted Commissioner Gordon for ruining his life. He’s ok with the Joker because his coin said he was cool I guess. He’s out for revenge and wants Gordon to feel his pain.

The Joker rigs two ferries with bombs. One ferry is filled with civilians; the other is filled with inmates from Arkham. Each ferry has a detonator to make the other ferry explode and they have a choice to blow up the other ferry first, or both ferries will blow up at midnight. While the ferry occupants are busy philosophizing the morality of murdering others to save themselves, Batman is busy tracking down and then beating up the Joker. Two-Face is busy with trying to ruin Gordon’s life while all this is going on. It’s a very busy climax. There’s a lot going on.

It ends with Batman taking the blame for Harvey Dent/Two-Face’s crimes. Batman and Gordon decide that it’s more important to preserve Harvey Dent as a symbol of hope. The Joker was out to prove that even the best person can become corrupted and evil. The Joker was right, the Joker won. But Batman cheated and took the blame. That’s not a happy ending. They basically are saying fuck the truth and let the sheep live a lie.

The Joker is one of the most iconic and notorious villains of all time. Heath Ledger steals the movie. Too bad he had to go and die. That was kind of selfish if you ask me. There’s one line that bugs me though, “Do I really look like a guy with a plan?” Yes. Yes, you do. The Joker has a lot of elaborate schemes. He had to plan it out. You can’t just improvise a bank like in the opening sequence. He manipulated Harvey Dent and twisted his mind and essentially made him his puppet. So he can rant all he wants to about how doesn’t have a plan or that he’s not a schemer, but he’s definitely a planning schemer.

Christopher Nolan created a masterpiece. This is a movie about a tortured guy facing agonizing decisions. He just dresses up like a bat and punches bad guys under the cover of darkness. Christian Bale does a great job as Bruce Wayne, but I still hate his Batman voice. Aaron Eckhart is decent as Harvey Dent but he’s nothing spectacular. Heath Ledger’s performance makes The Dark Knight a classic. If you only see one Batman movie in your life, you should see the Adam West version, but if you see two, this should be one of them.

Critically Rated at 15/17

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The Dark Knight Rises

Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy reaches its stunning conclusion in The Dark Knight Rises. Batman has been MIA for eight years and Gotham City needs a hero. A new villain named Bain wants to destroy Gotham and Batman can have none of that nonsense. The Dark Knight must rise to the occasion. Christian Bale returns as Batman/Bruce Wayne, and Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, and Gary Oldman reprise their characters. Joining the cast is Anne Hathaway as Catwoman/Selina Kyle, Tom Hardy as Bane, Marion Cotillard as Miranda Tate, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt as John Blake.

The movie begins 8 years after the events of the second movie. Batman has been retired and Bruce Wayne is a recluse. A terrorist with a terrifying mask and a shady past is bent on terrorizing Gotham with acts of terror to terrify the citizens. Tom Hardy plays Bane and he is a badass. He is evil personified. He is super strong and super smart and super evil. And he’s got a grudge against Batman.

Bruce Wayne has neglected Wayne Enterprises and himself. Everything in his life is in shambles, he’s lost track of who he is. One day he stumbles across a cat burglar (Anne Hathaway) stealing his mother’s pearls and copies of his fingerprints for some reason. The cat burglar’s real name is Selina Kyle and she sells Bruce’s fingerprints to a shady businessman named Dagget.

Meanwhile a young cop named John Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) recognizes the deceased body of a young orphan found in the sewers. He goes to visit the orphanage and finds out that there are rumors of employment in the sewers. It turns out Bane and his terrorist army have established a nice little base in the pipes beneath the city. Commissioner Gordon ends up down in Bane’s lair and escapes but nearly dies in the process. The only person who believes his story of a masked lunatic in the sewers is John Blake.

Blake and Gordon want Bruce Wayne to don the cape and come back. He’s reluctant at first, but a visit to Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman) and a showcase of all the new toys and technology start to make him change his mind. Alfred (Michael Caine) doesn’t want Bruce to be Batman again. He is afraid that Bruce wants to fail.

Bane launches an attack on the stock exchange and that’s enough incentive to bring Batman back out of the shadows. There’s an awesome chase scene involving bad guys on motorcycles with hostages, Batman on his Batpod, and hundreds of police vehicles trying to capture the Bat. Of course he escapes in spectacular fashion, he’s the goddamn Batman.

Dagget used Bruce’s fingerprints as part of a scheme that bankrupts Bruce and makes him lost control of Wayne Enterprises. Bruce is able to have Miranda Tate (Marion Cotillard) take over the company. Dagget is pissed that his plot backfired and has a little hissy fit and bitches at Bane. Bane reveals that he doesn’t work for Dagget, and that Dagget is just a pawn in his game. And then he kills Dagget for good measure.

Batman confronts Bane in the sewers and they have a fight. Batman gets the shit beat out of him. Bane breaks his back and dumps him in a foreign prison. Bane starts to implement his terrorist plans on Gotham. I don’t want to get into specifics, but it’s an epic takeover and it looks pretty bleak for Gotham and Batman.

The Dark Knight must rise from his prison and return to Gotham, but he will need help. Luckily he’s not alone. Commissioner Gordon, John Blake, and Selina Kyle also rise to the occasion. Hopefully good will triumph over evil.

This is one of the best comic book movies to date. I don’t think it’s quite as good as The Dark Knight. In fact, I don’t think it’s even the best superhero movie this summer. The Amazing Spider-Man and The Avengers are both great candidates for that title. They are more fun. Christopher Nolan’s world is really dark and gloomy. There’s no joy, there’s no humor. They closest thing to a joke is when Batman is talking to Catwoman and she suddenly disappears and he quips “So that’s what that feels like.” Nolan spends so much time trying to make a realistic Batman that it’s disappointing when you see stupid Hollywood clichés, like when Gordon drops the signal jammer and it’s slightly out of reach or how Selina Kyle can ride the Batpod just as good as Batman without any practice. Maybe she’s a great driver, maybe Bruce just sucks.

The hardest part of the movie for me to watch was the attack on the stadium. Prior to the attack there’s a young boy singing the National Anthem. It was the first time that I’ve heard it since the Aurora Twelve massacre. The movie theater is supposed to be a sanctuary from the world, a place of escape, a place to be safe from reality. And from now on there will always be a little bit of hesitation in the back of your mind about going to the cinema. But I felt like I had to see this movie. It’s important to live your life and not be afraid. That’s one of the themes of the film.

Quick spoiler: at the end Batman takes the nuclear bomb away from Gotham and it explodes over the ocean. Disaster averted, Gotham wasn’t blown up. But now everyone will get radiation poisoning and die of cancer. That’s not a happy ending.

The reappearance of Batman is awesome. There’s no big flashy entrance, there’s no lame montage of putting on the suit… he just suddenly shows up in the suit in the middle of a pursuit and Joel Schumacher should take notes.

Bane is a terrifying villain. He is Batman’s equal but leans toward the evil side. Tom Hardy does a great job and I predict several years of typecasting for him. I’m looking forward to it.

The Dark Knight Rises is a great film and it’s worth seeing. You might feel awkward about it; you might feel guilty about it. The Aurora Twelve incident with always be associated with this movie and you don’t want to talk about it, but you have to acknowledge it. Seeing this movie is a way to honor their memories and to move forward. Movies are an escape, we can’t be afraid to enjoy them. Seeing this movie is a way to say that you won’t be afraid.

Critically Rated at 14/17

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