BATITUDE FOREVER!

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As tempting as it to abandon this blog and move on to other things….

I can’t do it.

As much as I’d like to write about some other topics (which I have been) and not get back to Batman…

Well that’s just not fucking kosher in Gotham.

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When you’re a Batman fan, you’re a fan for life.

When you’re gripped by BATITUDE – for better or worse – it means there is no off position on the genius switch.

Sure it’d be *easy*

…not to follow through on the existing one hundred and fifty Bat-Drafts already in perpetual motion on this blog (and dozens more in good ol’ paper and pen journals)…

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…But that would be LAZY and SOFT.

Not difficult and challenging.

Easy soft and lazy ain’t the Way of the Bat.

The good news is I’ve done plenty more research in my time away from this blog. I have many topics to talk about. Expect infrequent updates, but a deluge of articles will appear just when you are least expecting them. Probably behind you………in an alley in Gotham at 3am.

I also have the fresh perspectives of more life lived. The Good, The Bad and The Indifferent.

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So it’s time to crank it up a notch and get back to Gotham City.

To lurk around in the shadows.

To go places no reasonable man ought to be at a decent hour.

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Time to look into that dark existential abyss and say

“Here I am, this is what I am about. If you don’t like it. Then there is the fucking Bat-Door old chum”

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If you open that door, well there is no going back.

Stick around. Knuckle sandwiches are complimentary.

If you’ve got Bat on the Brain, then I guarantee you will find something of interest in this here space between spaces.

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All men have limits. They learn what they are and learn not to exceed them. I ignore mine. – Batman

 

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Be Conditioned Beyond Required Capacity – BE LIKE BATMAN

Whatever the requirements of your job, school or sport, I believe in the principle of being conditioned beyond the capacity which is required.

When I used to train in Ju-Jitsu, my conditioning was well below average.  I was not unfit, but I was not particularly fit either.

In sessions where we would do many shoulder throws and hip throws, I would often get winded, could not get enough oxygen.  This made everything harder, you basically start moving in slow motion and everything is a struggle. It was like walking through knee deep mud. Every move you made became ineffective.

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The solution? I read a an exercise regime called the Spartan Health Regime (along with other various books and programs before and since) which promoted a lot of old time strength training and conditioning methods.  One of the many exercises and training methods Spartan recommend was hill sprints, another was interval training.  I didn’t have any hills in my neighborhood, nor a car to drive to one.  That left interval training.

I started in my local park mixing up walking, jogging and flat out sprinting.  I’d never done any kind of running since being a kid in school where they made you run. So it was all new to me. After  a while I settled into a routine of alternating sprints with jogging, and also did a session each week of just jogging non stop for 45 minutes. Most days I also walked an average of two hours, as without a car you don’t have a choice.

This made an enormous difference to my overall conditioning.  My heart and lungs grew stronger and more efficient.  I could perform better in Ju-Jitsu class without getting winded.  Five or ten shoulder throws?  Hell twenty shoulder throws in quick succession would no longer wind me, and I felt great after classes, exhilarated rather than tired. I had more gas in my tank, and my bodies ability to use oxygen was more efficient during high stress activities.

But then I could not run so much because my shoes were wearing out.  I had to walk everywhere at the time as I had no car.  I usually walked 5-10 kilometres most days on average, so adding in the running was wearing out my only pair of shoes out rather fast.

I had no money back then to buy extras shoes just for running. That is a luxury now that I truly appreciate.

LIFE FINDS A WAY

Back in the day, I only had the one pair of shoes.  I didn’t know what to do.  Eventually I just started turning up to Ju-Jitsu class an an hour early, and running in the spare training area that was not in use, in bare feet on the matted floor. And sometimes I ran in my local park in barefeet.

“Where there is a Will, there is a Way”

I would do 45 minutes of interval sprints and jogging or just light running/jogging.  Then do a one hour Ju-Jitsu class. My jogging/intervals became a warm up for the class. Then the 30 minute walk home.

My conditioning got even better, my ankles and feet felt great running in bare feet on the soft Tatami straw mats.  I turned what could have been a set back (lack of money to buy shoes) into a strength.  Now I could perform even better in Ju-Jitsu class, each lesson I was able to perform whatever tasks were necessary, my body now conditioned well beyond the capacity required for an average one hour class.

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Running in bare feet also meant that my ankles got stronger, and my balance improved. I love to run in bare feet, but I stick to shoes anywhere in public as there is too many hazards on the ground that can cut your feet to bother with it. Sidenote: years later when I moved interstate, I got to do regular hill sprints and I  LOVED them to pieces. One of the finest overall conditioning methods available to humanity.

After you have run barefoot and cut your foot with broken beer bottle glass, you tend not to do it again. The bee stings were an annoyance, but glass is taking precious time away – time to heal when you need to be able to use your feet properly to do more important things. So you use what you’ve got, don’t make excuses – but also don’t fail to use your own intelligence too. I tend to do things the stupid way out of the gate until I slowly learn not to.

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Ever since then, I’ve embraced the principle of being conditioned beyond the capacity required for my job, or for whatever routine I do in the gym, or just in daily life, and I’ve never looked back.

If you always have a little gas in the tank, if you always have  a little extra strength, extra breath, power, mobility, speed and endurance, beyond what you need for each days tasks – then life and work becomes easier. It doesn’t matter what method you use so much, use whatever works for you. Over the years I’ve incorporated many different types of training into my exercise routines for various purposes. Any form of Progressive Overload where you build up gradually will do, there really are no limits to how creative you can get with these methods.

If you are conditioned beyond the required capacity of your daily activities – job, study, homelife etc- you can get through the day without being exhausted, no matter what is required of you. You can complete a day of hard work, go the gym in the afternoon, and then Yoga at night without being exhausted and run down. You’ve got energy to spend with your brother, your kids or your partner. Instead you feel exhilarated, satisfied, and fulfilled. You sleep deeper, and awaken more refreshed.

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WE CAN REBUILD HIM, STRONGER….FASTER

One of the things I love about Batman, is that he is conditioned beyond his required capacity. His body, his mind, fighting spirit – the whole shebang. You know that crazy dude has put the work in, so that when it really matters he has his training and conditioning to rely upon. However, Batman runs into new challenges and unique situations all the time.

How do you condition yourself to be like Batman, mentally and physically?

Should we mix up our training and do a whole heap of different things?

Should we attempt to do many things at a basic level, or attempt to do one thing well?

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In my opinion, we should specialize and work on one new thing at a time. Something that requires a degree of skill, learning, strength, flexibility, endurance and also helps you develop mental focus – all at the same time. For that reason I find any sort of SKILL based training that involves new learning (as opposed to just generic exercise) to be more demanding of ourselves, and have a greater sum total result for the time put in comparison to other activities. There are 101 things that fit this bill, it’s not up to me to choose what you do, that’s your business.

The more effective we become at any task or activity, the more we train that skill, the more presence and concentration we are able to bring to that task and other arenas of life

The more fitness and readiness we are able to bring to the table, the faster we are able to learn new things. The fitter we are, the better we learn, the better the flow of blood and oxygen to your brain and entire body – the better off you are. Good training, good practice makes you smarter, more alert, more aware. But too many people switch off when they are supposed to be learning or focused, when you should be at your most Switched On they are vacant and braindead.

Once we have fully learned the basics of our various modalities, we can combine multiple modalities into a single workout. But trying to learn how do a deadlift at the same time as learning how to throw a punch or kick in martial arts divides our limited attention. We focus on one or two things at a time, bringing all our attention and focus to that activity.

 I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times – Bruce Lee

Even in skills that require constant movement or transitioning from one movement into another in a series of infinitely variable combinations such as in dance, martial art or Yoga, we still need to learn the pieces that make up that movement individually, as well as how to put them together.

Once we learn things, one at a time – really learn something – then we can put it together. Then I can have a day where I flow from a morning walk, a day of work, yoga or weights in the evening – effortlessly with full focus, concentration and attention. With energy to spare. With a bounce in my step and a cocky can-do Batitude – rather than my usual moody isolated default setting.

The more new things you learn, and learn well – the more things you are able to put together. The more new combinations of different types and modalities of exercise you can combine into single session, or single day. Building a cohesive whole that is unique to each of us.

But you’ve got to take the time to sloowwwwwwww down, learn something basic and simple, that works, in your own time, and get good at it. Not good according to what someone else can do, but good as in fulfilling your own unique potential for your body.

THE CAPACITY TO BE GREATER THAN YOU WERE YESTERDAY

Yoga, martial arts, lifting weights, bodyweight exercises, dance etc, every movement flows into another movement, and can be performed in almost any combination. You can take that same principle of flowing combinations into any endeavor in life. The more you do it, the more whole workouts, training sessions, whole days and whole weeks Flow together seamlessly.

Whatever you use, you do a *little* bit more than you need to, and your conditioning will be beyond what you require to function each day. We don’t need to go to extremes like Batman, jumping into one death trap after another, punching sharks and escaping burning buildings – we do what makes sense – no need to overthink it. No need to kill yourself just to get fitter and stronger.

elliott hulse be strongest version of yourself and inspire others

To be conditioned beyond our required capacity means that if we need to lift for example twenty to thirty kilos regularly at work, (around 45 pounds) over several hours, then we should have the capacity to lift 30-50 Kilos (110 pounds) repeatedly for several hours. This is something I did have to adapt to doing when I worked manual labor in a factory for several years. It’s also the reason I got into strength training as a practical requirement for my daily job.

My body started out weak, and underweight for my height. I had plenty of energy from years of doing walking, running, yoga and martial arts. But I had no conditioned capacity to lift heavy things repeatedly for eight hours a day, five days a week with few or no breaks. I’d never done anything like it before. And doing so put me in a lot of chronic pain, as my body could not handle the work load. All I would do was work and sleep.

When our conditioning for life is inadequate, we are easily stressed, less reliable, we get sick easier, we work beyond our current biological capacity and are constantly getting run down and in need of repairs.

Training our minds and bodies to be adaptable, flexible, resilient and determined means accepting the challenge of becoming a better version of ourselves. A stronger version of ourselves. but we get there gradually, one step at a time. There are no shortcuts.

We have to take an honest look at ourselves, see where we lack, where we are a bit stupid and ignorant. I used to know nothing about yoga, nor martial arts, nor weight training before I started. Then we apply total radical honesty to our current abilities. I’m still quite stupid on all of those topics, but I know more than when I started.

It’s not about judging yourself or putting yourself down. Hell, if I had two arms today, but one arm tomorrow – then I work with what I’ve got. I don’t make excuses. I don’t complain. I don’t bother. If I’ve injured one part of my body, I work with another part of my body rather than doing nothing.

In one of my old jobs I used to take a guy who could not walk to the gym in his wheelchair. He would exercise his arms, lift some of his torso and do what he could. He worked with what he had. His grip was strong, his mind was sharp and fiercely determined. He didn’t let ideas like “can’t do it” or “too difficult” into his mind. There was no room for that in his thinking and self-belief.

I look at what I lack in ability and skill, in conditioning and then go about rectifying it, learning from whoever is useful in that field of knowledge. We’ve all got limitations.

We can only truly accept those limitations once we’ve explored to see what we can actually do, which is often beyond our present ability to imagine what we can do. It means getting uncomfortable, learning new things, feeling dumb and clumsy like a baby and a bit useless for a bit, but slowly incrementally learning and applying.

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I used to be able to lower myself from a standing position, into a wrestlers style bridge with my head backwards, nose (or chin) to the floor and hold that position for about five minutes. Or do a gymnastic style bridge with arms extended. But in recent years I’ve had chronic neck pain and have lost strength and flexibility in multiple areas from work related issues. It’s gonna take consistent persistent work to get back what I lost in Mobility. But I can get there again.

So, whatever your daily requirement in life – if you are Conditioned Beyond the Capacity required things will go smoooooother. You don’t have to be Supergirl or Hercules, you just that need that *little* bit extra gas in the tank, that little bit extra strength, flexibility and mobility and you’ll find that whether doing physical tasks or long hours at an office job – you’ll be able to focus longer, accomplish the same work with less effort, and have energy to spare when you go home after work, or after the gym.

The easiest way there is incremental progression. Walk a little further, run more often, lift something heavy etc. If you need to be able to walk for thirty minutes non stop at a fast pace, build up to being able to walk fast for say a full hour, then when your requirement to do thirty minutes comes up, you can do it easily with energy to spare. That was one of my old favorites, fast walking for an hour – I prefer it to running.

With practice things get easier. Your concentration improves. Your focus improves. I once read comic books for twelve hours non stop. Another time I was on a forklift for fourteen hours (just bathroom breaks), no food, no coffee, no nothing with full concentration and alertness. I don’t know a single person from my old work who can do that – without getting drowsy. There’s nothing magic about it  I credit my exercise habit, along with Yoga and Meditation (and reading lots of books) that increased my ability to concentrate for longer periods of time on monotonous activities.

You never know what you may be called on to do tomorrow, that goes beyond you every day expectations and current ability – so put a little extra time, a little extra effort in TODAY, to Condition yourself Beyond your Daily Requirements, your current expected capacity – and you’ll not only see the difference, you’ll be a little more Like Batman. Challenges will still come, life will still kick your ass regularly – but rather than cowering in fear – you’ll turn to face those challenges with a determined confident grin on your face.batman_in_the_rain_redux_by_jimlee00 x 400.jpg

 

IMAGE CREDITS

*Batman’s a Scientist and Batman lifting weights from Batman #232, 1971, DC Comics

*Batman in a mudhole from Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Animated Film, 2012, Warner Home Video

*Batman in the Rain by Jim Lee

*Elliott Hulse motivational image by Elliott Hulse

Fail More Fail Better – BE LIKE BATMAN

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“The more we TRY to impress others, the less natural we are, the less flow we experience and the less power we have.

Consequently, the more we try the more we fail. And when we try even harder, we end up even more frustrated. ” Matt ‘the man’ Furey

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Fail more, fail better.

Failure is feedback.

Failure is daring greatly while being open to the results of our own experiences free of any external judgments.

Batman don’t fuck around, he takes what he knows, and he adds to it daily.

The daily step by step process of learning / doing / applying.

 

What works… persists,

What doesn’t… falls away.

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It’s an ongoing experiment in living that is unique and individual to all of us.

What works for me might not work for you.

What works for you, might not work for me.

What works for Batman might not work for us.

THIS IS ONE OF THE SECRETS OF THE BAT.

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Batman is Zen and the I Ching and Superman and costumed underpants on the outside and the mythical unknown Underverse all rolled up into one big ball of might, supreme willpower strength and surrender. He’s a costumed maniac who harnesses unknown forces and makes them his bitch. He takes knowledge and skills and transforms them for his own unique purposes, as only he can do.

He is ordinary yet mysterious.

Super, yet human.

He gives Superman a headache.

Batman runs circles around the JLA with his strategies, contingencies and thinking of every last possible stupid fucking scenario while they piss into the wind.

His super power is his will power, it’s how he can beat Superman and Wonder Woman on a Tuesday, and break for lunch before being back in Gotham for the afternoon.

Batman is pure imagination and willpower given physical form.

He places no limits on his knowledge, skills, abilities and most important his IMAGINATION.

The theoretical, the unknown, the unlikely, the improbably probable.

The improbable and crazy shit we ought not to think about, Batman has already thought about and executed multiple plans for. But he’s not unbeatable, he’s just unreasonably prepared.

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Batman might be successfully preventing a crime in a dark alley tonight…

But in times past nearly lost his life to an ordinary street punk with a gun, or that time he got his ass handed to him by a time travelling cyborg, or smashed in a Predator’s face out of pure frustration with a baseball bat when all his high tech methods failed and he was left for dead, rescued by Alfred.

BATMAN-VS-PREDATOR-WINNER

Batman might prepare for everything, but he still routinely encounters the unknown, and he fails.

A lot.

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The thing about Batman is, he’s like a bad smell that you just can’t get rid of. Beaten, broken and bloodied – he doesn’t give up. He goes away, plans, comes up with new strategies to beat that unbeatable enemy. His mind is his greatest weapon. He still makes rash impulsive decisions – being a man of action – and has to live with the consequences.

His failures are numerous and un-countable. But he keeps marching forward, each day a new opportunity to make a difference in the world.

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He will always have more failures than successes because he is always trying something new, always learning and adding to his skills. Always creating new obstacles and adverse situations for himself to rise and overcome.

 

THE WAY OF THE BAT

Rarely are we ever successful at something right away.

It’s that stubborn, stick at it, never tire or repetition Batitude that makes the difference.

The important thing is not that Batman tries, or succeeds at anything. The thing to remember is that he fails. All the time. He doesn’t let any fear of the unknown stop him from taking action. He embraces the failures, each and every one as valued feedback.

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We can learn from that and use it on our own lives. And the thing is, trying to do something, or failing over and over doesn’t mean we will succeed at something. It’s easy and soft to have a “feel good” philosophy that makes us feel better. But it’s wrong and it won’t do shit to help you when you are at your worst. Pretty ideas won’t help you.

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Life is hard, sometimes it kicks you in the gut and laughs at you for even attempting to do anything at all.

Life is painful, and we’re going to suffer whether we want to or not.

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Trying over and over does’t equal success.

It might sometimes.

But most of the time it doesn’t.

Embracing failure doesn’t mean giving up, or trying to call every failure a “success”, it means accepting more often than not, our actions have little to no potency.

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When you get to there, and you KEEP going, then you’ve got something.

Then you are tapping into the Will of the Bat. When you accept that most of the the time you are going to fail and going to suffer, and that life can be damn tough – but you’re going to get off your ass, and do what you can anyway to make a difference in your own life and those you are responsible for, well that my friends is tapping into BATITUDE.

Then you move beyond simple labels, ideas and words. You move into the FLOW of life.

The more we TRY to impress others, the less natural we are, the less flow we experience and the less power we have.

Consequently, the more we try the more we fail. And when we try even harder, we end up even more frustrated. ” Matt ‘the man’ Furey

You stop simply “trying” to do things, and move into taking conscious actions, you inhabit your body and move with grace and power. Your actions, words and ideas flow together as a seamless whole. You embrace whatever life throws at you, without labeling it, justifying it, or resisting it. You simple live, breathe, move, and act without hesitation in whatever direction you need to right now, according to the best data you have on hand.

ONE BAT BREATH AT A TIME, ONE BAT PUNCH AT A TIME

Batman doesn’t whine like a little bitch when things go wrong. He don’t complain when life leaves him bleeding with broken bones and puking his guts up after suffering a humiliating defeat at the hands of one of his numerous enemies.

He says, “It’s my fault… what could I have done differently…?

I could have done more, I could have been better, I could have been more prepared…

but I was not good enough this time.”

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Batman is committed to being better today, than he was yesterday.

Complaining when things don’t go his way doesn’t enter into his values. It’s a waste time, waste of effort, waste of life that could be better channeled and focused toward his unwavering commitment to excellence at all levels.

When Batman loses, for whatever reason he ask himself: How am I deficient? What can I improve upon that is going to increase my chances of getting a different result next time.

You can see it in his eyes.

When his enemies think he is beaten for good, in his mind he’s looking for a way out, a way forward, any bit of leverage he can get and when he does get it, he’s going to act swiftly, without mercy nor hesitation. That imagination, steely determination and force of will that silently says “Fuck you, only I SAY WHEN I’M DONE, not you and nothing else in the world gets to tell me that”

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Win or lose, it’s all feedback. The list of battles we must face in daily life is endless. Almost infinite. What is our one bit of inconsequential effort and struggle in the grand scheme of things.

It’s like nothing. Dust in the wind.

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We can’t win at everything, all the time. Even succeeding at anything half the time is pretty good. It’s delusional to believe we can always be at our best.

We can’t.

But we still turn up, we still act, we still take a shot, we take our chances.

We keep our mind sharp, we stack the odds in our favor by turning up to face the challenges that come every day, rather than shrinking in fear. We relentless pummel and hammer away each day at lifes difficulties. We make small incremental improvements in our skills that are almost invisible. We attempt to expand our skills at all times in our chosen arena. We beat the stupid out of ourselves one blow at a time. We own all of our bad behavior, taking an honest look at ourselves in the mirror and say:

“I AM RESPONSIBLE FOR WHAT HAPPENS”

We renew our vow, our eternal war on our own ignorance, and to being a little better today than we were yesterday.

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IMAGE CREDITS

*Batman vs Predator panel from Batman vs Predator Collected Edition, 1993, DC Comics.

*Batman and Grendel panel from Batman/Grendel Devil’s Bones, 1992, DC Comics

*Arkham Origins concept art New Gotham Diamond District by Meinert Hansen, DC Comics, Warner Bros interactive Entertainment

*Arkham City  concept art Gotham Skyline, 2011 DC Comics, Warner Bros interactive Entertainment

*Alfred/Batman panel from Batman, DC Comics

*Joker kicking Aquaman from Legends of the DC Universe #26, 2000, DC Comics

*Rooftop Batman by Jharren – https://www.deviantart.com/jharren

*Dusty Batman by James Bousema – https://www.deviantart.com/jamesbousema

*Hulk crushing little man’s spine from Batman vs The Incredible Hulk, 1981, Published by DC and Marvel

*Batman/Scarecrow image from Dark Knight Detective mini-series, 2005, DC Comics

*Batman Vow from  Dark Knight Detective mini-series, 2005, DC Comics

*Bruce Wayne eyes from Batman Eternal #51, 2015, DC Comics

*Batman in Cemetery image from Shadow of the Batman #2, 1986, DC Comics

Batman Goes to the Movies

I like when people make the effort to go forth and dive deep into a topic I love – such as Batman – and I crave this sort of in depth thinking wherever I can find it.

I enjoyed a couple of great video essays this year that take the time to think about Batman and have something useful to say, all of which are linked to below.

The first one is “How the Dark Knight Killed the DCEU” from the Lobster Magnet channel.

 

The other two videos are from HiTop Films, and are basically video essays on how the various Batman movie adaptations do or don’t stack up to the essential core of Batman established in various media. Both are EXCELLENT thought provoking videos that demonstrate a clear depth and understanding to Batman beyond the casual fan level.-

Batman 1989 is a Bad Batman  Movie (from HiTop Films):

Batman does not kill (from HiTop Films)

I rarely link to any sort of video content here, as often videos disappear and leave a big ugly blank space in your blog post, but these channels are fairly active and hopefully will be around for a while,  I hope you check them out.

I have no affiliation with these guys, but every year I look for interesting stuff related to Batman online and in all types of media –  and these guys really stood out with their content. It gives me an idea, maybe a “best of batman media” type of post, a round of good stuff in one post. Something to ponder.

At times I’ve considered doing video content myself – but I don’t have the editing skills for that and it would take a lot of time to learn – to make something of the quality I would desire. I’d much rather do a Podcast anyway, and I’m still looking for someone to do a Batman podcast with, but have not yet found that person. It may happen one day, or maybe never. I considered doing a solo Bat podcast, but as an avid audiophile – I really don’t like solo Podcasts and much prefer the banter of a good dynamic duo.

So I’m grateful for cool videos like the ones linked to above that go above and beyond and are not just the usual run of the mill low effort clicky baity bullshit.

Despite being around for over seventy years, there is only a handful of quality books written about Batman, and surprisingly little to find online that is worth reading about Batman. Low quality ain’t the Way of the Bat my friend, Batman don’t do shortcuts and he don’t do lazy. It’s downright disrespectful to the Legacy of the Bat to create garbage online and add the Good Name of Wayne to it. So don’t do it! Avoid! Reverse the Batmobile at full speed away from stinking garbage.

THE FUTURE OF BATFAN ON BATMAN

My apologies for the lack of posts here lately. Lots going on behind the scenes creatively speaking, but not many finished posts here over the last year or so. I hope you enjoyed my epic long-ass in depth post on Harley Quinn, that more than a few people requested – including my fellow Batfan and friend Deboleena Panja.

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At a risk or repeating myself, there is a lot more Batman themed articles in the works. Some nearly finished, others with tons of editing to do. This is post #82, and I have at least 200 more in me (probably more).

In the gaps here, I’ve also been doing other writing elsewhere. If you’ve never found my Transformers Multiverse Blog  take a look if that sort of thing interests you. Currently I’ve started into a series of articles focusing on the Transformers 1986 animated movie. I talk in that blog about Transformers fiction, sometimes toys and the odd bit about Ninja Turtles appears in there too.

Also in the works is a Batman ebook. It will be announced here long before it becomes available for anyone interested. I’m thinking it will be between 50,000 to 100,000 words, and most likely in the $5 range for Amazon Kindle (you can get the Kindle app for pretty much everything these days, you don’t have to own an actual Kindle). Once I get it done, I will more than likely do some other volumes focused around different topics.

My focus in 2019 is shifting away from various online communities, endless (enjoyable) research and back to more hardcore get up at 0500 and drink some disgusting coffee – write for an hour five or more days a week before work routine. I’m sipping on yet another disgusting black sugarless coffee ‘write now.

For anyone wondering, will I ever do my own article series about the various Batman movies? In a word…….eventually. I prefer to focus on the comics, animation and essential core of Batman. The movies get so much attention that they are at the end of my “to do” list. I will dive more specifically into the Nolan movies for a bit as part of my upcoming “Symbolism of the Bat” article series, but that will be a tangent to my articles on Batman: the Animated Series and Batman Arkham Asylum video game article series throughout 2019.

2019 is just around the corner, and while it may not be my Zodiac Sign, I’m predicting it’s gonna be another Year of the Bat around these parts. It’ll also be the year I finally get another superhero tattoo, expect pictures of that one.

2019 –  The year I do five impossible things before breakfast

2019 – The year of Making it Wayne

2019 – The year of BATITUDE

2019 – The year of many good fortunes, long life and lucky Bats.

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The Darkest Night of All: Batman METAL and Dark Knight III

I have not read a whole lot of Batman comics in 2018, but the stories I have enjoyed the most were Dark Knight Returns III: The Master Race and Dark Nights: Metal. Both were fun stories than interested me far more than the other regular sprawling monthlies with their endless sub-plots, and both I waited until they were completed before reading any of them at all.

Nothing bugs me more than reading a single chapter of a story then having to wait weeks or months to read the next chapter. It’s the same reason I won’t watch Flash or Daredevil until I have the time to go through the whole season in a week (or a couple days). Too big a gap and I forget what is happening in the story.

In both of these Batman stories, we explore the roads less traveled, the paths not taken by Bruce Wayne. Some are realistic views and events based on the familiar Bruce we know and his values. Others versions [of Bruce] are nightmarish scenarios vomited into existence because every polarity must have its opposite or its tangents that demands to be heard, even if that demand is a shrill piercing endless scream from a reality that should not exist.

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Dark Nights Metal managed to be both a kick-ass action packed Batman / JLA
story and ALSO be a really dark and fucked up slow crawl through the mind of
Bruce Wayne – leaving you wondering if he is sick or sane.

All Bruce Wayne’s dark and most demented aspects are given truly terrifying life in the previously unknown Metal Underverse.  The main story was good, but the highlights to me were the tie in one shots each showcasing a more depraved, more driven more
demented aspect of Bruce Wayne / Batman’s psyche.

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It’s an intelligent and fun look at how many ways Bruce Wayne could have fully gone over to the dark side. If you thought Darth Vader or Spawn were dark and demented characters, well you ain’t seen nothing yet – they pale in comparison to these gloriously demented zealots, these bizarre twisted manifestations of Bruce Wayne’s ultimate drive and his obsessions perverted to the extreme. It’s a deliciously slow crawl through the worst parts of Bruce Wayne’s psyche, all his murky mucky hidden corners lit up like a Christmas Tree to be savored and devoured.

If you’ve ever read any DC Elseworlds, this is like an evil universe of “What If….” Batman stories, but incorporated into one deep dark bizarre evil universe that starts merging (or more like ravenously consuming) the mainline DC Universe. Its dark demented and exactly the kind of story I love. It also runs with themes of Alchemy and Heavy Metal laced into the story like a deadly neurotoxin that poisons you before you even open the to the first page.

There are so many evil fucked up versions of Batman that it’s just a smorgasbord of super nasty.

A Batman who becomes the new God of War? Another Batman who is infected with the Doomsday virus, why not? Each one more depraved and driven than the last.

How about a Batman who is basically a Clive Barker style cenobite with little demon Robins chained on leashes? That’s him in the tasteful fetish attire and a Joker grin on his face. He wears his influences on his sleeve.

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And there is a load more of them, a whole JLA of evil Batmen from a wicked universe that should not and could not exist, all based on key moral decisions Bruce Wayne did or did not choose. That’s my favourite part really, that each personality splinter comes from something deep, true and honorable in Wayne, all twisted by a dark universe where evil prevails.

It’s Metal, Horror and every fucked up Grimm’s Fairy Tale with a horrific ending wrapped in big black coat of the Bat and put through a meat grinder. On paper, it looks gimmicky as fuck. All style, no substance. Exactly my first impression, and also the reason I put off reading it for months.

Convention has it that Batman’s adventures work best when they’re rooted in a basically realistic world of gritty crime violence and backstreet reprisals, but from the very start of his career, he was drawn into demented episodes of the supernatural, uncanny and inexplicable. His was the territory of the dark unconscious after all… – GRANT MORRISON / Supergods

But reading the complete story in one day (and it’s tie ins over a couple days) – there is surprising depth and exploration of Bruce’s psyche in this story. It’s nice to also see horror being an essential part of the story, something we rarely get in modern Batman comics outside of the cliched often boring obligatory Scarecrow  appearances or the odd Kelley Jones anomaly.

This is no story of hyper-rationality and realism, but a deep exploration into parts unknown. It’s a fairy tale of pure unrestrained evil and chaos, and how close it is to home, and how the complete self in all of us has these same potentials and impulses. It’s multiple Batmen expressing their shadow self and domination of all life on earth, rather than in service to humanity.

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JLA + Evil Universe = Demented Batpeople

Dark Nights Metal also manages to creatively link itself to Grant Morrison’s run, and Snyder’s infamous NEW 52 run – both of which I rather enjoyed. It was not even necessary to do so, but it’s a nice extra – and a bit clever.

Snyder is nowhere near the caliber of writer that Morrison is when it comes to exploring niche exotic, weird and offbeat material, but he managed to really surprise me with this story by including key elements of his NEW 52 Batman personality, and tapping into the larger mythical/magical framework of stories human beings tell for generations.

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There is a good dose of archetypes and a scale to this mini-crossover that felt not too big, not too small…. but just right. Dark Nights Metal is a terrific read. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea for sure but I encourage you to to check it out.

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THE TRIUMVIRATE KNIGHT

After the original Dark Knight Returns – a seminal stand alone defining work – nobody could have expected, predicted (nor wanted) a sequel.

So, years later Miller wrote The Dark Knight Strikes Again (aka DK2) as a sequel – and it was not terribly welcome. There was as sense of “the first one was classic, don’t fuck with it Frank” coming from many fans, the same way classic stand alone movies are revered, and sometimes genuinely shit on when remade, rebooted or re-interpreted by a studio looking to make a quick buck.

I first read Dark Knight 2 from my local public library in the collected edition. The art was a real turn off, but I enjoyed the story. On subsequent readings, I’ve come to enjoy the skewed art that is more…. mmm…. expressionistic and emotional (moving away from realistic anatomical drawings).

I certainly can see why there were so many complaints about the art. Some of it still bugs me to this day, but it’s definitely Art. The scratchy look really reminds me of early Romita Jnr stories, the kind that suit a grim crime ridden environment. While I enjoy the color palette used, the actual digital coloring itself is a bit of any eyesore, coming across as more experimental than refined.

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DK2 didn’t try to just repeat the first book or story, but did something new. And really that’s what I want out of any comic book story. The art style is clearly closer to Miller’s 300 book,  Lynn Varley also colored those books. Can you see Wonder Woman’s nose in that picture? Did you even notice?

Art (good or bad) should get a reaction out of you, and I do find many of the comments hilarious that just assume EVERYTHING in DK2 is “bad art”. It’s pretty ignorant to assume that anything not anatomically accurate or super shiny and Avengers style pretty is “bad”. Or that doing something more fast and loose is bad rather than a stylistic choice. It’s not even a new style for Frank, as he has done these freakish looking pin ups for decades that have appeared often in other people’s books. His Savage Dragon pin up is an eye sore to me, but it’s one of Larsen’s favorite Dragon pin ups.

Personally I found Dark Knight Strikes Again an interesting read and more enjoyable the second or third time through when you get what Frank was going for. And I still re-read it regularly. I picked it up again just now to flip through while writing, and will probably read it again this weekend.

With Dark Knight Returns III: The Master Race, we got a more conventional commercial story – usually the death of creativity. But when that commercial story is a collaboration of Miller and Azzarello – well that’s still one damn good read, even if it lacks deeper meaning and more overt political commentary like the original Dark Knight Returns. I did enjoy seeing more classical comic art in DK3 rather than the hyper stylized Pollock splashery of DK2.

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It’s pointless trying to outdo the original DKR – it’s a masterpiece of sorts, but instead we get another story set in that universe that is less controversial and more… for lack of a better word – palatable. That should be a criticism, but it’s not. It’s a fun read if you like Batman, or even just the wider DCU.

How much Miller wrote DK3 is debatable, as his co-creators (check out the credits below) and more “hands on” style of DC Comics suggests that it was a more commercial effort with a more restrained Miller.

The art by Andy Kubert is lovely, but you get the impression with another artist (and another well known writer) involved, did Miller ghost write this one? Did he pass them some details scribbled on a cocktail napkin and DC said “Hell yeah, we like money, but we’re in control on this one Frank, fans don’t like when you draw outside the lines with squiggles and stuff”

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*spoiler alert* The Butler Did it

Whatever the reality of the situation, I enjoyed the final product.

But Frankly speaking…….I’d rather read a more wild, chaotic and excessive Miller story any day than a subdued one. I don’t care if it’s downright bonkers, as it’s his freedom to express what he wants to express. I’m sorry if you don’t like his stories or whatever…….(yeah I’m not) – but artists have to actually genuinely express themselves to make something interesting. Anything else is just vanilla monthlies.

I love monthlies too, there is a time and a place for restraint and “by the numbers” story telling (such as regular monthly books) and there is a time and place for more experimental material, such as in one shots, Elseworlds stories and creator driven mini-series.

Anytime you get  a Kubert – be it Andy, Adam or Papa Joe on a book, you are in for a visual treat. I still fondly remember Andy Kubert’s amazing work on Batman vs Predator, he’s one of my all time favourite comic books artists.

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The backup stories in Master Race use the “scratchy” style we saw in DK2, and are Miller’s art, while Kubert’s stuff is in the main story.

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It’s not like we have not had a good Miller story before with someone else on art duties. Mazzucchelli / Miller on Batman: Year One was a winning combination. But it does make me curious what would a purely Miller written and drawn DK3 have been like? Supposedly there is yet another sequel coming. Which for many fans means an excuse to foam at the mouth and scream gibberish online. I don’t care for that sort of thing.

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If you like something, read it and enjoy it. If not, move the fuck on.

It’s a waste of life to rant and rave nonsensical crap. I don’t mind genuine criticism, whether it be written or video content, provided it has an actual point of view. But mostly, I just love to read comics – and I don’t care or have the time to read “reviews” of comics (that take more time to read than the actual comic itself!) I do however like anything that takes the time to go deeper into a topic  I love – like Batman – and wish more people would create that sort of thing.

In Dark Knight III: The Master Race, there is a heap of other DC Icons as guests in the story. Superman is a more well balanced character, and Batman responds to one of the greatest threats he has ever faced. A whole army of refugee Kryptonians who intend to rule the earth by force as dictators and make it their new home.

Bats don’t tolerate that kind of crap, so you know he’s not going to sit back and do nothing. How it plays out is a fun enthralling read and perhaps a more traditional comic story than the excesses of DK2. That’s neither a good nor bad thing, but however it all stacks up – it’s a book I’m happy to add to my growing collection of Batman comics on the book shelf.

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