Archive for September, 2006


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The Joker

Created by – Bob Kane, Bill Finger & Jerry Robinson

1st Appearance – Batman #1 – 1940

Real Name – Unknown    

Nicknames – The Clown Prince of Crime, The Harlequin of Hate

Hideouts – The Ha Hacienda

Significant Others  – Harley Quinn

The Joker is one of Batman’s oldest rogues having debuted in Batman #1 in the spring of 1940. In that intial story The Joker dies, yet he also returned in another story later in the same book. This is something that happened many times over the years. One thing that you could guarantee is that if The Joker had died, he would sooner or later turn up again alive and as deadly as ever. (He even survived the electric chair!)

The Joker has gone through many transformations over the years. In the 1940s he was a murderer and criminal who just happened to look like a clown. He was perhaps Batman’s most cold blooded foe and had no hint of being insane.

By the 1950s he had changed into a prankster who would commit crimes using some gimmick or giant prop. This lasted up until 1965 and beyond, and is the way that the character was portrayed in the 1960s TV show featuring Cesar Romero.

By the 1970s The Joker returned to being a cold blooded, calculating murderer. This is perhaps best seen in 1973s The Joker’s Five Way Revenge story in which the Joker eliminates possible stool pigeons, who caused him to be jailed. During this portrayal The Joker was seen as being slightly insane, yet over the next 33 years his insanity has continued to grow. The Joker now is seen as a completely insane and unpredictable foe rather than a cold blooded killer. This is best shown in 1977s The Laughing Fish, where The Clown Prince of Crime tries to copyright fish that have been poisoned by his Joker Venom, only to be thwarted because fish are a natural resource that can’t be copyrighted.

By the 1980s Joker became stark raving bonkers, but it was also during this decade that he struck his two greatest blows against the Batman. Firstly he crippled Barbara Gordon, the first Batgirl, by shooting her in the spine in Alan Moore’s The Killing Joker. A year of so later came The Joker’s greatest achievement when he killed Robin (Jason Todd) in the A Death In The Family storyline. (Of course the Brainiacs at DC have decided to bring Jason Todd back!!!) There was also The Dark Knight Returns, Frank Miller’s very over-rated tale. (Year 1 is so much better!!!)

Nowdays Joker is portrayed in a variety of ways. It has been a long time since anyone has written his character properly, with the worst portrayal in the 2005 War Crimes story. (Bill Willingham should never again be allowed to write a Batman related story) In this story the Joker seemed to be gay for Batman, trying to pick up the caped crusader everytime he opened his mouth. (The Joker should not be calling Batman “Sweetie”!) He has also acquired a ‘girlfriend’ in Harley Quinn, who he seems to spend most of his time trying to kill!!!

Joker Websites
My Favourite  Joker stories 

The Killing Joke – By Alan Moore & Brian Bolland

The Man Who Laughed – By Ed Brubaker & Doug Mahnke (Graphic Novel now out of print. May be found on Ebay!)

A Death In The Family – By Jim Starlin & Jim Aparo

The Joker’s Five Way Revenge – By Denny O’Neil & Neal Adams (Reprinted in Greatest Joker Stories Ever Told, Batman: Illustrated By Neal Adams Volume 3 & Batman: The Greatest Stories Ever Told)

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns – By Frank Miller

The Laughing Fish – By Steve Englehart & Marshall Rogers (Reprinted in Batman: Strange Apparitions)

Batman: Dark Detective – By Steve Englehart & Marshall Rogers

The Man Behind The Red Hood – By ? & Sheldon Moldoff (Reprinted in Batman in the Fifties)

Mad Love – By Paul Dini & Bruce Timm (Reprinted in Dangerous Dames & Demons)

Laughter After Midnight  – By Paul Dini & John Byrne (Reprinted in Dangerous Dames & Demons)

This One’ll Kill You Batman – By Denny O’Neil & Dick Giordano (Reprinted in Batman in the Seventies)

Legends Of The Dark Knight #50 – By Denny O’Neill & Bret Blevins (September 1993)

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Just as I said the other day here, you have to be wary of Channel 10’s broadcast times for the Chinese F1 Grand Prix this weekend. The time that Channel 10 has advertised that the race will be broadcast is at 11.40pm on Sunday night, which is also the time that the Herald Sun newspaper has it listed as. However, after just looking at the RPM website, I have now noticed that Channel 10 is saying that they will broadcast the race at 10.30pm. Yes, it seems that at this late stage they have moved the broadcast time to a more reasonable, but still very much delayed, time. (And of course they are not making a huge song and dance of this, just like Japan last year, so as to get minimum viewers!!!)

So, what will Channel 10 be showing at the real time that the Grand Prix is being run?! Formula One qualifying!!! Channel 10 obviously believes that we would all much prefer to watch qualifying than the actual race. Who knows what the brainiacs at our Home Of Motorsport will do next?!

It should also be noted that we won’t be getting to see the Japanese Grand Prix next week live either. They have advertised the broadcast time as being at 11.05pm. It is perhaps understandable that this will be delayed as the V8s will be racing at Bathurst at the same time!!! Hopefully they won’t do what they did last year and show a condensed Japanese GP straight after the “taxis”. We missed around 1/3 of the most exciting race of the year!!!

Channel 10 calls itself the Home of Motorsport but I think a more apt title would be the Home of Repeat Episodes of The Simpsons!!! Seriously!!!

This thread on the RPM Pitboard Forum is dedicated to 10’s shabby treatment of those of us who wish to watch the Chinese Grand Prix at a reasonable hour!!!


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One of my passions other than comic books is Formula One motor racing. I have been following this sport since the first Australian Grand Prix in Adelaide in 1985. One thing that has been annoying me in recent years is the way that Channel 10 is treating their loyal F1 viewers, with their inability to show any grands prix, except for the one held in Melbourne, live. Most of the time Channel 10 doesn’t even seem able to show the grands prix at their advertised time, due to Big Brother & Australian Idol constantly running  over time!!! There have been several occassions where these two shows have run 30 – 45 minutes overtime which is so annoying.

This coming Sunday the Chinese Grand Prix will be held in Shanghai. The race will be run at 4pm our time, on Sunday afternoon. Unfortunately 10 won’t be showing us this race until 11.40pm on Sunday night. (Of course that is the advertised time. God knows how long Australian Idol will run!!! I can guarantee that the start of the race won’t be seen until after midnight!)

The crazy thing is that 10s motorsport show RPM will be on at the same time as the grand prix. This means that they will have a show on that talks about Formula One at the same time that the race is being run. (Obviously they haven’t delayed showing the race due to ratings as I’m pretty sure the actually race would rate higher than them talking about what will happen in the race!!!)

Perhaps 10 are worried that if they show the race then their News would be delayed by an hour or so. Of course if they delayed their news then they wouldn’t be able to show the 104538743rd repeat of the Simpsons. (Probably an episode from 1994!) Of course other channels delay their news when their sports telecasts run long. Channel 9 does it all the time when the show the cricket, whilst 10 themselves are delaying their Saturday news until 6pm, due to the AFL Grand Final.

The biggest worry in all this is that Ten will actually listen to all this criticism like they did last year. Everyone complained about the 2005 Chinese GP being delayed by 8 hours, so the next week 10 decided to show the Japanese Grand Prix after its Bathurst V8s telecast at 4pm, even though they had originally advertised that the race would be shown at 10.30pm! (The actual start time was 2pm!) Unfortunately 10 tried to compact the 1 and 1/2 hour  Japanese GP into a 1 hour highlights package and we missed seeing much of the best grand prix of 2005.

All I can say to Channel 10 is that you should stop treating us F1 fans so shabbily. You obviously don’t care about us or think that we are too stupid to know when the race is really on. The federal government should intervene to allow us to see these races at a reasonable time. Otherwise they should allow Foxtel to bid for the broadcast rights so we would then be able to see the races at a reasonable time!!!

Batman Writers – Bill Finger

Posted: September 24, 2006 in Batman, DC Comics
Tags:

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Bill Finger’s contributions to the creation of Batman have only recently be acknowledged. I really don’t want to go on about the many ways in which Bob Kane stole all the credit for Batman. Even up until the 1965 he claimed that he was the sole creator, artist and even writer on Batman. (He never wrote a single story!!!) It is perhaps no accident that I haven’t yet featured any information on Kane, as I am so far undecided to the exact extent of his contribution to Batman.

Bill Finger is perhaps my favourite Batman writer of the Golden and Silver Ages of Comic Books. Any Batman story that featured a giant prop you could guarantee was written by Bill Finger. 

Wikipedia article on Bill Finger

The Bat Squad article on Bill Finger

Superhero Hype thread with fans thoughts on Bill Finger

The Forgotten Hero Of Batman

The Bob Kane Letter to Batmania – September 14, 1965, where Kane claims himself to be the sole creator of Batman.

The Origin of Batman online comic by Bill Finger & Bob Kane.


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As a kid growing up my favourite show on TV was Get Smart. I still have fond memories of spending Sunday afternoons at my grandparents house, eating a hot roast lunch (with Yorkshire Pudding!) and watching episodes of Get Smart on Channel 7 after World of Sport.

 

Anyway, it’s just been announced that Get Smart will be released on DVD in November. The bad news is that it won’t  be available for general release in Australia (or elsewhere) until the end of 2007. Unfortunately the DVD has been released through Time-Life. Much like the release of Hogan’s Heroes and Dad’s Army, these DVDs will be available from Time-Life’s website, or I suppose by ringing their 1800 telephone number (if you call in the next 15 minutes we’ll throw in a set of steak knives!) for twelve months before they will be available in stores. From the information that I have gathered you have to buy all five seasons at once for the whopping price of US $200. (You can pay in 4 monthly installment if you use your credit card)

 

For more information on Get Smart, here’s the Get Smart wikipedia article

 

Would You Believe.com is perhaps the best Get Smart website out there.

 

Keep an eye on Time-Life’s Australian website for details on whether these Get Smart dvds will ever be available to us.

 


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You may not be aware of this, but there is a new Batman cartoon series on TV. Fortunately it can only be seen by those who have pay TV because it is truly awful.

I am talking about The Batman, which currently screens on Cartoon Network. This is not Batman: The Animated Series, which is 100% superior to this rubbish. I’ve had the misfortune to watch a couple of episodes of The Batman and it seems as if it is just another cartoon. The storylines are nothing special, but one thing I cannot get over is the horrible, horrible character designs. The above picture is apparently supposed to be The Joker. Really, it is! I know that it looks nothing at all like the Clown Prince of Crime, but that is who it is meant to be. The designs of other Bat characters, such as The Penguin and The Riddler are also awful and bear little resemblence to the way they have been drawn for the last 60 years. The person who designed these versions of the characters must have been smoking copious amounts of illegal substances to even think that they look in any way like the characters that they are meant to be.

Now, I may just be a dsigruntled fan boy or a silly old fart. I don’t think I am in the target demographic for The Batman. But I still wonder whether any child out there would even watch this trash. Who knows!

This also gets me to another rant. What are Warner Home Video doing in regards to the Batman: The Animated Series dvd box sets? I believe that only season 1 has been released in Australia and even that is extremely difficult to find. I had to buy these off Amazon. It was a great show and I think any child who loves Batman would want to see these shows, which is probably more than can be said for The Batman. Batman: The Animated Series is also a cartoon that those of us over the age of 16 can watch and enjoy.


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Man Bat

Issues 1, 2, 3, 4 + 5

Writer – Bruce Jones

Pencils – Mike Huddleston

One of the things that I’d like to do with this blog is write some comic reviews, then the people who actually read this thing will get an idea of the comics that I like. Perhaps they will actually like my reviews and buy things on my recommendations or avoid things that I don’t like. The just finished Man Bat 5 part mini-series by Bruce Jones is one set of comic books that should be avoided at all costs.

The first question that needs to be asked after reading this is, “What type of drugs is Bruce Jones smoking?” Seriously, Mr Jones either has an extremely vivid imagination, or he writes his comic books whilst taking acid. This book is not as trippy as his recent run on Nightwing, where he turned Dick Grayson into a male model and had Jason Todd briefly turned into a toad (a toad with tenticles), but it is still really craptastic.

In the first issue of the series there is a major development, one which you would think have a major impact on the future of the Man Bat character. At the end of this issue Man Bats’ family is brutally murdered, supposedly by Man Bat himself. The only problem is that DC has already disregarded this, perhaps showing the faith that they have in Mr Jones’ work. You see, in Grant Morrisson’s recent Batman story (issue 655), Man Bats’ wife Francine turns up alive and well, with no explanation being given over just how she could be alive.

Another prblem that this book had was that even though it was called Man Bat, the main character of this story seemed to be D-grade villain Hush. For those who came in late, Hush was a villain that was created by Jeph Loeb and Jim Lee who was the main villain in Batman way back in the 2003 Hush storyline. He then returned to the Gotham Nights book before that was cancelled. Many people, myself included, think that the reason why Gotham Nights was cancelled was because Hush became the main character of the book. He became so tiresome and boring and had stupid plotlines that involved two of my least favourite plot devices/characters, Clayface (there are way too many Clayfaces) and one of Poison Ivy’s plant people. Towards the end of the book many fans were actually hoping that Hush would die!

Anyway, back to Man Bat. I stuck through with this book right to the end, probably because I like the Man Bat character. The plot of this book seemed to just involve Hush trying to frame Man Bat for various murders and also trying to get back at Black Mask for some reason. The whole point of the book seemed to be to make Man Bat into a villainous beast with no control over its actions. The biggest problem with this is that other than in an Elseworld’s story from a decade ago, Man Bat has never been a true villain. He even did quite a few heroic things and I don’t think that he was ever a killer. The whole thing that made Man Bat such a popular character was that he was always struggling with his inner-beast, but ultimately he just wanted to be left alone. If he ever hurt someone it was only because he was trying to protect his family or because he was trying to avoid the real beast, those men who were trying to hunt him down.

Jones tried to change the way that Man Bat has been characterised. He tried to turn him permanently into a beats, with no hint of humanity or self control at all. Naturally enough Grant Morrisson has completely ignored this and made this Man Bat story obsolete even before it finished.

My only hope is that Bruce Jones is never again allowed to write another Batman related comic book. This book should be totally ignored. While it is not as awful as his run on Nightwing, this is still a totally horrible book. If DC ever release this as a Trade Paperback or you see cheap back issues, avoid this at all costs. If anyone wants good a Man Bat story they should track down any reprints of the orginal Frank Robbins/Neal Adams tales. (A good place to start is the excellent Batman: Illustrated by Neal Adams)