Tag Archives: criminal underworld

The Amalgam Age of Comics: The DC Comics Collection (comic, obviously)

In the mid ‘90s, Marvel and DC brought their characters together for DC vs. Marvel, in which Marvel and DC characters fought each other to save their universe. One of the highlights of that story is when the two universes merge together to create entirely new character with DC and Marvel traits. The characters were cool enough to create new comics centered around them. The Amalgam Age of Comics: The DC Comics Collection contains six different #1 issues starring the Marvel/DC hybrid characters.

Amazon #1 stars Princess Ororo of Themyscira, also known as Wonder Woman. She’s a mutant with the power to control weather and she was adapted and raised as an Amazon. She deals with learning about her adoptive past, and with the wrath of Poseidon, the god of the sea.

Assassins #1 is about the crime-fighting duo of Dare and Catsai as they take on the evil New Gotham mayor, Enigma Fisk. Slade Murdock is blind and fights crime using the moniker Dare. She’s like a female Daredevil with a revealing costume. She teams up with Catsai (real name: Elektra Kyle), the crime fighting dominatrix to bring down Enigma Fisk, better known the criminal underworld as the Big Question. Imagine the Kingpin and the Riddler in a blender, and this strong and intelligent criminal mastermind is the result.

Doctor Strangefate #1 centers on Doctor Strangefate, a hybrid of Professor X and Dr. Strange. He’s your typical sorcerer/telepathic mutant. He sends a few of his minions to find the Access. If this story seems familiar, it’s because this issue was also included in the DC vs. Marvel comic.

JLX #1 is about a team of mutant superheroes called the Justice League X-Men. There’s a bunch of characters and I could tell you their names, powers, and affiliations but I’m feeling lazy right now, so I’ll just sum it up by saying there’s the JLX and they have a reluctant battle with another team of superheroes and then they go to Atlantis and have another battle with a team of super villains. There are a lot of characters and it’s fun to see which Marvel and DC characters they are composites of.

Legends of the Dark Claw #1 is about Logan Wayne, who calls himself Dark Claw when he’s fighting crime with his spunky sidekick Sparrow. His main nemesis is the Hyena, a former friend who used to be called Creed H. Quinn. Dark Claw is Batman and Wolverine combined, and the Hyena is the Joker and Sabretooth combined. This is one of the highlights of the collection.

Super-Soldier #1 is about a soldier who volunteers himself to be injected with alien cells found in a crashed rocket ship, becoming Super-Soldier. There’s a nice blend of Captain America and Superman mythology. It works because both those characters represent the best of the United States.

This collection of DC and Marvel mash-ups is worth exploring. The art is solid, distinctive, and beautiful. The panel layout adds momentum and movement. It’s fun figuring out which character traits and attributes belong to whom. Some of the character combinations are a little weird, but the majority of them are acceptable.

The Amalgam Age characters should be the next comic book movie franchise. Dark Claw on the big screen? Yes, please.

Critically Rated at 12/17

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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