Anti-Heroine, Goddess, Maniac – THE LIFE AND TIMES OF DC’s HARLEY QUINN – From Gangster Moll to Pop Culture Icon

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One of the things I love about Harley Quinn is the sense of fun about her.

She’s a bad girl and she knows it.

The ability to let loose and just unapologetically be who she is – is one of the things that appeals to me most about Harley. She is deeply flawed, and that also makes her more relatable like Batman.

However whether Harley is crazy or not, she is eccentric, vulnerable and easily led. Unlike the Joker who is a deadly kind of dangerous and playful, Harley is a more fun and sexy kind of danger that seems appealing, but Harley can fluctuate from playful to deadly in a heartbeat.

In this article we’ll take a look at Harley’s Quinn’s history, her relationship with the Joker and her exploding popularity from niche background character to mainline DC Icon. We’ll also take a lot at some of her exciting outfits, and see how she is portrayed across various media such as comics, cartoons and video games.

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 Harley Quinn was the creation of Batman writer Paul Dini. She first appeared in Batman: the Animated Series in 1992. Harley eventually became so popular that she was included in the mainline Batman comic books, went on to star in several of her own comic book titles and started appearing in video games such as Batman Arkham Asylum and Injustice: Gods Among Us. Harley also appeared in the DC Super Hero Girls kids show and has had a lot of action figures, statues and other merchandise bearing her likeness. More recently Harley Quinn appeared in the Suicide Squad movie played by Margot Robbie, exploding her popularity even more.

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DON’T CRY FOR ME PAMELA ISLEY

Harley is forever in this abusive relationship with the Joker, and while it’s sad and horrible, it’s a whirlwind Bonnie and Clyde gangster romance – she loves him and can’t get away from him. It’s very true to life where some battered and abused women refuse to leave their husbands and will run back to them at the first opportunity. In Batman the Animated Series (1992) and the graphic novel tie in  Mad Love by Paul Dini – the Joker treats Harley poorly, kicks her out frequently only for her to come crawling back even when she did nothing wrong.

There is no denying that Harley is attracted to danger and chaos, it’s all fun and games to her, but she is also like that which she finds most attractive. As a rule breaker and agent of chaos, there is no predicting on any day whether Harley Quinn will help or harm someone. Harley also has no real focus in life, and is often easily led or manipulated by others – characters such as the Joker, Catwoman or Batman regularly manipulate Quinn for their own purposes.

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In the Gotham City Sirens comic book series Catwoman and Poison Ivy are a positive influence on Harley, questioning her undying loyalty to the clown who keeps treating her so bad. We see the first instances of Harley questioning her own blind love for the Joker and need/infatuation for her abusive lover. This later leads into more solo Harley Quinn stories, and eventually to her second main ongoing solo book in the NEW 52 imprint of DC.

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THE NEW THE NOUVELLE

In the NEW 52 branded DC books Harley Quinn got another solo title and this is where  Harley is defiantly on her own, a single gal, and really gets to be her own character free of not only the Joker’s shadow, but the Batman family of comics and characters thanks to being in her own title. Her previous solo comic book was still basically tied into the Batman family of books. NEW 52 Harley Quinn is  a rising star, sitting on the comic book store shelves freed of any Batman branding, logos or tie ins.

Freed of the pattern of her reactions to both the Joker and Batman, and with the influence of Ivy, Catwoman and other gal pals, not to mention encounters with the wider DC Universe community Harley for the first time is forced to question her own motivations, character and ethos.

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THIS USED TO BE MY PLAYGROUND

New 52 Harley takes on a more goth punk aesthetic, and also classical bad girl look of the 40’s and 50s comics – a more sexualized look that is designed to provoke a reaction, but at the same time affirms she is who she is. Harley doesn’t wear crazy weird and overly revealing outfits just to titillate, (well maybe a little)  but because that is what she feels comfortable in, it’s an expression of her personality and of the Harlequin archetype.

Harley embraces her Bad Girl aesthetic, and has crazy adventures while seemingly moving into Anti-Heroine territory. In the wild and woolly (and sometimes pornographic) world of fan art, imagination is set loose, and one meme of fan art that is often repeated is Harley romantically linked with Deadpool.

Harley and Deadpool make sense thematically, they share similar costume colors and are both crazy, but ultimately fun loving GENUINE weirdos who really can’t help but be who they are, they just don’t fit in in our world. And it’s a good thing, they are both maniacs. Apart from existing in different fictional worlds, they are two similar to have any sort of actual relationship. But it’s a fun meme, and for that purpose it works well.

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The NEW 52 Harley Quinn stories are very similar in tone, style and pattern to the early Joe Kelly solo Deadpool stories that really defined Deadpool as the lovable goofy demented idiot we all know and love. The skewed morality (or lack of it) makes for fun reading.

The Joe Kelly Deadpool run is where Deadpool went from being a really generic boring bad guy with a cool costume, to having the most obnoxious and funny personality in the Marvel Universe. The birth of wise cracking Deadpool is partly a riff on Spider-Man – who used to be the funny guy, but has not been the least bit funny in decades – Deadpool’s costume also is a riff on Spider-Man’s costume right down to the eyes, layout and colors.

EXPRESS YOURSELF

Both Harley and Deadpool are selfish mostly amoral villains, but despite their nature, keep helping people, and listening to others who encourage them not to just mindlessly kill people. A distinction here is that Deadpool is a well paid assassin, who will accept just about any contract (usually children are the exception… *cough*), whereas Harley is a nutcase who kills when it is convenient, and it’s often glossed over whether she actually kills someone, or just kidnaps and incapacitates them etc.

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NEW 52 Harley actively tries to help people, when her roller derby term loses and then Harley maims the opposing team members so they can’t win – well it’s Harley’s naive and twisted way of thinking that she is helping. Harley and Deadpool are kind of like kids who grow up with abusive parents, or no parents at all.

The people they have imprinted on have largely been bad bad people, criminals, cons, murderers, assassins and psychos etc. Despite these influences, there is something good underneath in both of these characters that comes through in certain stories, leaving them neither truly villains, nor heroes, but walking a murky moral middle ground. If you’ve seen Spike on the Buffy show, he’s another example of a character with a shady past constantly walking a fine line between good and evil. Likewise, fellow Suicide Squad alumni Deadshot is a villainous assassin, seemingly without morals who conveniently misses targets when its suits him to.

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Early in the NEW 52 run Harleen Quinzel sees a patient as a psychologist – an elderly lady who complains her family don’t visit her- Harley turns up at their house with a bulldozer, knocks the wall down, kidnaps and threatens to kill them if they don’t visit their grandmother more often. Turns out the old lady had memory issues and the loving family already visits three times a week.

So Harley’s “help” is often more harmful than if she had just done nothing. A similar theme runs through the early Kelly Deadpool stories, and it’s this cheeky fun loving style that really makes the NEW 52 Harley stories a fun read. It’s these kinds of misadventures that make Harley question whether why she should even attempt to do good in the world, when her trying to be good often ends up being worse behavior than her every day “bad” behavior.

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This similarity to the classic Joe Casey Deadpool stories in one of the things that pisses some Harley fans off, for them it’s TOO similar and lazy, no longer authentically the “Harley Quinn” that they know and love. Others in another camp enjoy the stories for their difference, and then there are newer younger fans who only know the more modern version of Quinn and are not very familiar with her older stories, so the comparison is just not relevant. Chances are that if you love NEW 52 Harley stories, you’ll most likely love the early Kelly Deadpool stories.

Speaking of bad dudes – in the NEW 52 Suicide Squad comic Harley has a fling with Deadshot, and even the notoriously brave, “who gives a fuck” devil may care Deadshot pauses to stop and ask if the Joker will not try and kill him, isn’t Harley “Joker’s Girl”? Harley fucks Deadshot, and while it’s a throwaway moment, another wild impulse from a serial risk taking thrill seeker – it’s also a final nail in the coffin of her relationship with her ex. It’s a gimmick scene for sure – but also another step along the path of Harley being free of the Joker and the Batman Family of books.

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SUICIDE BLONDE

In the Suicide Squad movie for the first time we see a Joker / Harley relationship where he ACTUALLY loves and cares for her, rather than just tolerates and abuses her as in all former versions of these characters. It’s unclear whether the film was edited that way on purpose, as there is evidence that the film did contain (at least in some drafts) the classic love/hate Joker and Harley abusive relationship.

Whether that version of the film was just one idea in the mix, or somebody stepped in and cut those parts out? Who knows. I feel the film is better for it. Rumor has it that the Suicide Squad may get a sequel, and Harley Quinn may get a solo film, and then Gotham Girls is also in the mix. Whether we will get one or three films is anybodies guess. I’d like to hope so, but I think it’s more likely we will get one or two films at most, rather than three films so early with Harley – it would seem to me like over-exposure – unless they really staggered the release dates.

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CRAZY FOR YOU

Harley Quinn was introduced as a sidekick, lover and victim of the Joker, their relationship played up for laughs. But there is no denying that the Joker is verbally, physically and psychologically abusive to Harley – something easy to miss in a kids cartoon such as Batman Animated, or the tie in comic books for kids.

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As Harley became integrated into the official DC Universe through Batman related books,  making the leap from TV screen to comic book page, she also was spun off into other titles including the Suicide Squad, her own ongoing book and various mini-series.

Harley became more of an independent character, she breaks up with the Joker and for the first time we see her develop as a character, being more than just a symbiotic love/hate on again/off again  Joker relationship in Batman Animated. She goes from being just a plot device or background character, to her own more fully developed character. From the object of “she” to DC icon “Harley Quinn”

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In Batman Animated, Harley would often leave the Joker (or be kicked out by him forcefully) only to inevitably go running back to him like a battered spouse.

Harley’s integration into the wider DCU meant that when she left the Joker once again, she actually had somewhere to go, other than the confines of the TV show, or just the narrow panel borders of the Batman branded comic books.

Eventually Harley landed in her own book(s), with some mad but fun stories from various writers and artists with Harley as a reluctant anti-Heroine, who can’t help helping people, despite her best intentions to be selfish and a very bad girl.

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Harley Quinn was further cemented as a wider DC Universe character  when she appeared in the big budget Batman Arkham Asylum video game series (again written by her creator Paul Dini). While Harley reverted to her Batman Animated status as the Joker’s gangster moll once more – more people play video games than read comics, so the widespread exposure helped for the move into more of Quinn’s own comic books, and wider DC media exposure including licensed toys.

CRAZY ABOUT THE BAT

Harley also has a love/hate relationship with the Batman himself. It’s not a romantic or sexual thing. If anything, Batman is one of the more stable influences in her life – and depending on who is writing the story Baman can be her personal villain/tormentor, or a father-like figure who tries to forgive her and encourage her to give up the life of crime she has fallen into. Batman believes in the good side of Harley, but Harley inevitably rebels against all types of authority like a rebellious teenager.

The other key relationship Harley has in the DCU is with Poison Ivy/ Pamela Isley. The two have been good friends since the days of Batman the Animated Series and that friendship has continued into other media and Harley’s solo books. Harley and Ivy are very affectionate friends, but whether it’s a more sisterly bond or if Harley is bi-sexual and has been more involved with Poison Ivy off panel and between the sheets – we don’t really know. But it’s something that is hinted at in various stories, but it’s often it’s left up to the readers imagination, that doesn’t stop the writers from having fun with their hints.

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STRIKE A POSE

Further expanding Harley as a multi-media entity has been the vast volume of merchandise proving popular with both male and female fans. Harley being featured in the alternative reality comic book series Injustice: Gods among Us and the much hyped video game of the same name saw Harley’s exposure grow even more outside of her Batman/Joker origins.

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Action figures large and small, with many variants based on her different artistic interpretations across different media significantly helped Harley to become a more iconic character in a relatively short period of time, with her various appearances proving popular with hardcore collectors and casual fans.

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If you go on ebay you’ll find Harley action figures, kids costumes and even more adult lingerie type stuff. Some of it official, some of it bootleg by the looks of it. You know Quinn has achieved a certain type of mass popularity when she’s has even getting bootleg merchandise appearing on ebay.

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Licensed merchandise and mainstream movies tend to grow a character faster in pop culture than just comics or animation alone. Once Harley reached critical mass with her appearance in the Suicide Squad movie, she had gone as mainstream as it gets in her appeal. Her appeal is also multi-generational with products targeted at different age demographics.

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Harley has grown to be more than just a twisted freak, her public persona is one of fun, sexiness and  devil may care “don’t fuck with me” can do attitude. Harley is a fun fantasy character who comes from a background of animation, leapt into the mainline Batman comics, became part of the wider DC Universe, took part in company yearly gimmick events, got loads of toys made, moved on to several solo books, became part of the roster in a fighting video game and back into animation again as part of the kids show DC Super Hero Girls. Her spin off merch, cosplays, fan art and now big screen movie action sees her star continue to rise, and she’s a character that appeals to both male and female fans.

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Some of the Harley themed “clothing” items you may find on ebay

FUCK YOU, I WON’T DO WHAT YA TELL ME

There is a certain punk-rock appeal to Harley that makes her appealing to many fans. She’s “alternative”, but not in a market driven way. Harley got there organically through many costume changes and various writers. Her personality has been pretty consistent in the 25 years she has been around. Yes, the youthful Harley is already a quarter century old in the comic book world.

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Few writers have done anything terribly interesting with the character. Her creator Paul Dini has made the biggest mark on the character, with other writers doing their version of his character, or some alternative version with minor differences such as the Amanda Connor / Palmiotti Harley stories.

Harley Quinn Costumes over the years. Art by LadyDeadQuinn http://ladydeadquinn.deviantart.com
“Classy” Halloween costumes

Harley’s incorporation into the kids show DC Super Hero Girls and it’s toyline sees a more age appropriate version of the character marketed to youngsters. It’s a common tactic these days from the big two to have multiple versions of their characters in each target demographic age group. That’s why you can find tiny versions of Bane or the Joker from Batman suitable for five year olds in stores – even though those characters are horrible killers.

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It’s a little at odds with her core character and values to see Harley Quinn lined up with a bunch of true blue superheroes, and call me cynical but it’s clearly DC looking at the successful line of Disney Princess dolls, Barbie dolls and their multimedia products that DC have done their version of that. Which is fine, they are cool toys frankly. I’m a bit weirded out by the heroin-chic skinny dolls with bobble heads inspiring new generations to body dsymorphia – but other than that they look cool. I almost bought the Harley Quinn doll, it’s been at my local shops a long time – but found it a little too creepy looking to put on my shelf. You kind of have to ignore the characters and realize it’s more these are generic characters wearing the costumes of the iconic characters. The personality and character is really not there.

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Still the DC Superhero Girls show and its tie in comics are decent (if bland and generic) fun for kids, not as exciting as say the Powerpuff Girls (one of my all time favourite tv shows) but it is nice that kids can enjoy a version of these characters where the girls are the stars, rather than second fiddle to the usual majority male cast of the DC universe in print and on the big screen. It’s a bland show, but it’s colorful and stars female characters in the lead, so I’m all for it  – even though it’s inoffensively bland rather than the well written all ages hit that I *wish* it was (like the original Powerpuff Girls).

 

CH-CH-CH-CHANGES, TURN AND FACE THE STRANGE

Harley Quinn’s playful and often sexual nature had made her very popular with adult cosplayers. A quick online search reveals many well conceived and implemented costumed variants, including post-apocalyptic and steampunk Harley Quinn cosplay. Harley is also very popular in pro and fan art both by herself or featured as a couple with the Joker or Poison Ivy. Her licensed toys have really taken off with versions of just about every costume and era represented in the toy lines.

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Harley’s looks have alternated from her full body 1600’s inspired Harlequin costume to more flesh revealing gothic, kink, fetish and lingerie inspired outfits, the first most significant departure from the original full body costume appearing in the Arkham Asylum video games.

Depending on the media – each of those designs cross-pollinates giving us new hybrid designs that link past present and future Harley either visually or thematically.

The most consistent motifs are the red/black playing card diamond pattern and colors, blonde hair (which is sometimes died into other colors) and the general theme of the costume and role of the Harlequin popularized in European plays during the 1600s. Sometimes we see Harley in regular clothes, in her civilian identity as Harleen Quinzel (former head shrinker), but not very often. Her identity is well known to anybody and everybody in the superhero community.

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In Batman: Arkham Asylum (the game, not the graphic novel by Grant Morrison) gone was her full body comical Harlequin outfit. Replaced with tight leather pants, smeared black eye make-up took the place of her domino mask, while Harley’s hair was dyed in the colors that were formerly on her costume, and her domino mask is gone replaced with make up to mimmick the same basic look.

While showing more skin is not really a sign of character development, some of Harley’s  stories do fit with her risk tasking provocative personality. Harley was always an explicitly sexual, dangerous character even if it was not so obvious in the Batman Animated show. When Harley falls for someone or something, her mad passion fixates on that character. Whether’s it’s her relationship with the Joker, anger at Batman or infatuation with Pamela Isley – Harley overly fixates on whatever her manic ADD attention span allows her to.

Some scenes in Batman Animated were toned down from their original scripts, to keep in line with standards for children’s television. But there was never any doubt of Paul Dini’s intentions in creating the character, which was to be in a very specific style. Harley is like a rock star groupie, and the Joker is always on tour in her mind, so the party never ends.

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When Batman: Arkham Asylum was released, many fans and game reviewers were rather surprised by Harley’s “new look” which has an undeniable S&M feel to it, and many game reviewers and fans commented that she looked like a street walker. Those comments were mostly not meant in any negative way, but more as genuine surprise that game developers / artists went with such a bold depiction that offered a strong contrast to her previous costume.

But to be frank Batman is wearing a black full body fetish looking costume and super-heroes and their costumes are fetishistic by their very nature. Come on, how many of them wear their underwear on the outside? That’s just kinky by its nature. We have just gotten so used to seeing their costumes in mass media that we take it for granted.

More important than any specific costume alone for Harley is agency – how does she interact with her world. Is the story about her, or is she just background in a story? With her solo books their is no doubt Harley is calling the shots, while the traditional Batman books have her more as a background character. Harley’s role mixes it up depending on what kind of story she is in. As a trickster and a wildcard – she’s fits in just about anywhere. She can play both heel and face, often in the same story.

In the recent animated movie Batman and Harley Quinn Harley even goes against her Fonfon Ru Poison Ivy – choosing to die with Batman when Ivy and the Floronic Man try to end the world with the Plant-Apocalypse. *Spoiler Alert* Harley doesn’t die, and helps save the day.

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GOOD LUCK IN YOUR NEW BAND

To Paul Dini’s credit, he enjoys the different contrasting versions of Harley that have popped up in new media. Dini has given several long form interviews on various Podcast shows, and he is quite vocal in his support of the diverse range of artistic interpretations of Harley in comics and other media. It’s not every day that someone can create a character in the Batman universe that sticks around. And it’s even more rare to create a modern character who moves beyond their source material to find new audiences and new media outgrowing the limited line of Batman books.

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WE AIM TO MISBEHAVE

While Harley has become a more overtly-sexual, more extreme risk taking character, she is still basically the same character. I was skeptical of this direction at first after the more chaste classic version of Harley I was familiar with seemingly went away for good. It seemed that DC was turning Harley into another dis-empowered stupid female character who just pointlessly runs around in her underwear for the fanboys, and has no real story to tell.

But having read a significant amount of both old school and modern Harley Quinn stories, most of what DC have done with the character fits very well. The thing about Harlequin’s and Clowns and performance art, is to continually fuck with the audience, and keep them guessing about what are the true intentions of this performance? A good showman or showgirl never reveals their secrets. With Harley, it feels like she is somewhat of a chameleon like Joker, or David Bowie or Madonna – going through different looks, different eras that refract societies norms and then go off in strange unpredictable directions. Partly as artistic expression, partly to fuck with the audience and be a provocateur.

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It’s the call of an artist to follow their muse, and Harley expresses herself through wild outfits and outrageous behavior. She’s a punk-rock risk taking teenager who never grew up, doesn’t give a damn what anybody thinks and that is a big part of her appeal. She knows like Poison Ivy that men find her irresistible, and uses that as leverage to get what she wants, but that can also backfire on her with characters like Batman who see through the schtick. Harley is also somewhat genuinely naive (despite her high overall intelligence), with a child like innocence that people find endearing.

Harley’s various looks are also a call back to another era, that of the golden age comics and pulp stories that featured costumed femme fatales that preceded the typical superheroes and typical JLA types. These pulp characters were often sexy, dark or extreme. Like them, Harley as an image is a fetishized object, unlike them Harley does not have a secret identity and pretty much everybody knows who she is. She has a certain kind of fame and notoriety in the DC Universe. Like other performance artists, Harley takes the iconography of femme fatales, harlequins and more, and she owns that behavior, makes it her own and uses it express herself. Harley likes to dress up and be provocative, and she has a lot of fun being a silly, sexy mischief maker.

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Whether Quinn can be called a genuinely empowered “bad girl” with her punk attitude bucking of social norms, or a more deliberate marketed femme fatale with her increasingly more revealing outfits designed to appeal to men I can’t say definitively one way or another. Harley is a character of contrast who defies simple categorization and that is something that works in her favor. Harley plays at being “crazy” but really she’s more manic and impulsive than anything. At times she has managed to restrain herself from doing something regrettable, but more often she gives in to her wild impulses, and follows her gut instincts.

Harley remains an interesting and intriguing character with some surprising depth to her that is not obvious to the casual viewer. Like the Joker, you can’t really define Harley or keep  her pinned down. She defies categorization, and constantly changes her look, keeping people guessing.

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LIVING ON THE EDGE

On one level Harley is a fun, silly, sexy manic character who is as funny is as she is unpredictable. Harley refuses to be a boring “good girl”, as she knows its way more fun to be bad and express herself, and damn the consequences. In this way she is a throwback to early pulp femme fatales, the daredevils and risk takers of yesteryear who often had secret identities to protect their wild antics and were synonymous with sexual yearning, and the expressing of normal human desires often suppressed in a patriarchal society, so that even normal human expression becomes some kind of kink or perversion.

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One big problem with female characters in fiction, particularly north american comic books – is that women are often there solely as plot devices. Just to be the token girlfriend to the main hero, as a one dimensional placeholder figure. There are various actions, reactions and attempts to write around this issue, but often male dominated cinema, film and comics have poorly written inauthentic female characters that misrepresent the other half of the population. It is a constant challenge to not make horrible shit like that in comics books when it’s the norm.

When any half decent new female character comes along there is always the risk of them being pigeonholed into some crappy archetype we are already familiar with, instead of letting them grow organically down their own  path. While the merchandise side of the Harley Quinn empire is very deliberate, to me the character has been allowed to grow beyond her roots, and at least some of that merch is because fans really wanted it.

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THE SHOW MUST GO ON

Harley Quinn is fun, sweet, sexy and silly. She’s also manic and unpredictable, an impulsive hedonistic freak, and incredibly dangerous. What I love about the character is that she is someone who says it’s okay to be an outsider, a rebel, a weirdo, a misfit and to have fun being who you are. While her outfits fluctuate from full body suits to showing a lot of skin, she defies the usual beauty standards. While Harley is undeniably hot, the way she dresses is about as unconventional as it gets – her various looks incorporating elements of goth, punk, grunge, circus / harlequin, prostitutes and retro comic book femme fatales.

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It makes sense Quinn is a popular cosplay, as there as so many options to mix and choose from. While some female comic book characters come across as borderline exploitative, Harley has owned her risque behavior, looks and attitudes from day one. As messed up as she is, she’s not afraid to be who she is. Part of what makes villains, anti-heroes and anti-heroines so much fun is that they let out all the stuff  we “norms” keep repressed and bottled up. They let their freak flag fly in a form of fiction we can find socially acceptable.

THE BEGINNING OF THE END

Harley has proved enduringly popular. From multiple video games to cosplays to fan art, two decades of comic books, animation, toys and now her first official live action movie appearance – she was rumored to be first featured back in the 90’s Schumacher Batman films…urgh. Statues, clothing, Halloween costumes, a role in a kids TV show, it seems there is no stopping Harley Quinn’s rising popularity, she’s in just about every media and form you can think of. Harley also got her own starring role in another DC Animated original feature Batman and Harley Quinn – Batman’s name may come first for marketing purposes but make no mistake, Harley is the star of this animated movie.

 

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IMAGE CREDITS

– in order of appearance –

*Harley Quinn by Vincent Vernacatola

https://vvernacatola.deviantart.com/

*Suicide Squad Harley Quinn cosplay by Kimette, photography by Michaelle Charette

https://www.facebook.com/michaellecharettephotographe/

*Roller Derby Cosplay from Kandinsky Kandall Photography

*Joker Harley comic image from Batman: Mad Love graphic novel

*Gotham City Sirens #9 cover from DC Comics

*Harley Quinn #6 (NEW 52) cover from DC Comics

*My feelings Can’t be Killed by m7781 Marco D’ Alfonso

https://m7781.deviantart.com/

*Hoodless Harley SDCC cosplay by Destiny Italia

https://destinyitalia.deviantart.com/

*Harley driving comic panel from Harley Quinn #4 (NEW 52) by DC Comics

*Harley smashing through wall panel from Harley Quinn #4 (NEW 52) by DC Comics

*SS Harley and Classic Harley fan art by Ai Eye

https://ai-eye.deviantart.com/

*Akrham Knight Harley Quinn official promo art from Batman: Arkham Knight

*I feel Pretty – comic panel from Batman: Mad Love graphic novel

*Harley + Joker panel from Batman:Arkham City official tie in comic book

*Too Many Feeling by m7781 Marco D’ Alfonso

https://m7781.deviantart.com/

*Harley and Ivy panel from NEW 52 Harley Quinn#2

*Harley and Batgirl panels from Batgirl Adventures#1

*Harley and Grundy screen cap from Injustice: Gods Among Us video game

*Batman and Harley screen cap from Batman: Arkham City video game

*DC Superhero girls image from official DC promotional material

*Harley Quinn playing card image from http://gamespot.com/

*Harley alternate costumes by LadyDeadQuinn

http://ladydeadquinn.deviantart.com

*Harley real life halloween costumes image from  https://www.inverse.com/article/21564-harley-quinn-halloween-costume-superhero-costumes-kids-adults

*Kid Harley Quinn cosplay by Kara Adelyne

*DC Superhero Girls dolls image from official promotional material

*Harley and goons screen grab from Batman:Arkham City video game

*Harley comic panel image from Batman: Mad Love graphic novel

*Tied up Harley from Batman:Arkham City video game

*Batman / Harley image from Batman:Arkham City video game official promo art

*Batman and Harley Quinn trailer from Youtube DC Channel

*Poison Ivy screen grab from Batman and Harley Quinn animated movie

*Daddy’s Lil Monster by Saintyak

https://saintyak.deviantart.com/

*Harley Quinn slingshot from Harley Quinn Annual#1

*Harley comic panel image from Batman: Mad Love graphic novel

*Bombshell Harley Quinn by Nathan Szerdy

https://nszerdy.deviantart.com/gallery/

*Harley make up panel from  NEW 52 Harley Quinn#4

*Arkham Knight Harley Quinn from official game art

*Suicide Harley cosplay by Katya Kosova photo by Tim Rise

https://www.tumblr.com/tagged/katya-kosova

*Dystopian Harley cosplay by Jessica Nigri’s

https://www.instagram.com/jessicanigri/?hl=en

https://www.facebook.com/MiniHarleyQuinn/

*Natural-born-killers-harley-quinn-and-deadpool by Saintyak

https://saintyak.deviantart.com/

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Unstoppable Batman, Unbeatable Batitude, Unbeatable YOU

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Batman is the ultimate introvert.

He’s this shy awkward kid who never finished growing up.

But then he puts on his bat-suit and he takes on all the confidence and courage, and other typically positive male qualities that he can muster and channels it into this relentless dark force for good.

We can use that kind of courage and make-believe in our own lives.

I used to train in Ju-Jitsu for several years, and every year or so we would have a grading (test of your skills and knowledge so far) and each time I would have to project total courage and confidence. As well as practicing all the required skills for endless hours.

It was tough.

I didn’t use to have a lot of either, toughness or CON-fidence – well less than none really, I had almost no belief in myself whatsoever. I’m not exaggerating in the least, I was the most shy socially awkward weak and underweight kid you can imagine growing up.

So…

I did a lot of mental rehearsal for whatever was required in the Ju-Jitsu grading, it’s something I’ve done for years along with meditation, weight training and Yoga. I credit Ju-jitsu training and the instructors for giving me the kick ass attitude to life I have today. I am indebted to them.

I would run mental movies over and over again in my own mind leading up to the grading test.

I ran through the mental routine of everything I would do, or might be asked to do.

A key thing is I did not just mentally rehearse in a cold mechanical way.

What was important is that I would see myself, in my own mental movie as already being extremely confident, assured, and relaxed. I saw myself as supremely confident and performing all tasks required without error. You know, Batman, Bruce Lee, Goku and Rambo all rolled into one. Total relaxed confidence, a precision engine of mass destruction!

 

And the great thing was, it worked.

I always APPEARED more confident than I was, and it showed.

In reality I was a nervous wreck. But nobody knew that.

It took several years of this practice, for that confidence to become permanent.

I don’t really need the mental movies so much now, I’m confident at most things, and what I don’t know already, I know I can learn and pick up pretty fast.

That does’t mean I don’t use that practice,

I still do, just not as often.

But if I was go into some arena of life that was completely unknown to me, boy you can bet I would be using those daily mental movies again.

Dark knight r_i_p__by_ai_eye Batman

Batman mentally rehearsed being or becoming Batman for years.

Before he ever became the Dark Knight.

He didn’t wake up one day being the epitome of courage, determination and self-sacrifice.

Batman got there slowly one Bat-breath, one Bat-punch, one Bat-Step at a time.

Bruce Wayne mentally (and physically) rehearsed being Batman, and everything that meant, as well as countless hours of training, (I’d say he started with at least several thousand hours of rigorous training).

He imagined he already was what he wanted to be.

The best goal setters and champions of the world are time travelers.

They have time traveled within their own minds to the near future, and in their own mind, they have ALREADY ARRIVED where they want to be, and already are how they intend to be. And they patiently wait for their body and present reality to catch up to their minds inner vision.

This is one of the secrets of Batman being 10 steps ahead of everybody else in the room. When Gordon or the JLA are working on some tough mental problem, Batman already has the solution, he’s already seen the near future and is waiting for everyone else to catch up. He’s not clairvoyant, and a good Detective has to work through things logically one step at a time, but they also take leaps.

No matter the challenge, in his own mind, Batman has already beaten it. This is where his supreme confidence comes from. Even when he loses, he wins, his enemies reveal their weaknesses to him unknowingly when they beat him. It’s all feedback for Batman, who is going to go away, train and come back even better than before.

I think with the right BATITUDE, all things are possible.

To be a little more like Batman, we can and should use mental movies to boost our own confidence at whatever we want to do in life, and to be as specific and detailed as possible in those mental movies. Your body is your slave, it does whatever you ask it to do without question, it literally has no choice. Your mind is your own garden to grow as you damn well please.

It’s no guarantee that you will succeed at anything at all, that’s a fantasy. We all fail and do stupid things. So what, with ongoing practice of mental movies and Batitude, win or lose – we take it all as feedback, as fuel for greatness.

We can apply that practice to just about anything.

Getting a new job, starting a new sport or martial art, becoming a better brother, husband, son or father. There literally is no limit to what mental movies we can run in our own minds on a regular basis.

We project the BEST version of ourselves into our mental movies we can imagine at present, we see it, feel it, smell it and know it. Then we wait for reality to catch up.

And slowly, one Bat-Step at a time, one Bat-Breath at a time we become on the outside, the person we already know we are on the inside.

We bring our BATITUDE out from our own dusty minds, we practice something meaningful in our outer lives that we can focus and channel all our best qualities into.

We still have to do the hard work of learning any actual skill, of endless training and learning.

There are no shortcuts.

But whatever you DO in life, you will be 10 times more effective with the right kind of mental movies, and the right kind of BATITUDE.

Those mental movies become the future versions of ourselves, so I hope when you watch your own mental movies, you’ve hired the best director (that’s YOU!), the best sound guy, the best actors, and the best soundtrack possible to get you feeling and acting at your best.

 

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IMAGE CREDITS

 

Midnight, R.I.P. and Two Face images by Ai Eye

Full Ai Eye Gallery at Deviant Art http://ai-eye.deviantart.com/gallery/

 

 

Batblog 2016 wrap up and Merry Batsmas / Happy New Year to All

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2016 has been a slow year for me on this blog.

I didn’t get as many articles finished as I wanted.

Heck – I didn’t even get around to starting my in depth look at the timeless classic Batman: The Animated Series and the fan favourite Arkham Asylum video games. Which means they get pushed back to 2017.

I did however get my Q&A Article up on The Heroine’s Journey, with some brilliant writers, and if you missed it, well click the blue bit. Part#2 of The Heroine’s Journey will be up soon in the new year, and it covers my ideas and theories on the the topics discussed in the Q&A.

TURN THAT FROWN UPSIDE DOWN BATS!

If that article seems a little out of place here, well all I can say is that I have a bunch of similar stuff in draft form that ties in with it, and most of that content has been put off for over a year until I can make sense of it all, and when they are up, they will get their own special click tabby thing on the top menu bar, next to the “About” and “HTBLT” tabs – what do you call that thing anyway? I don’t know.

Also coming in 2017 will be more chapters of #HTBLB – How to Be Like Batman series. I have several already in the draft stages, and the titles/topics planned out for the entire article series.

Not only that, but by the end of 2017 I will have two Batman ebooks completed – the main one being the full #HTBLB series with no doubt some bonus essays thrown in there, and a couple just for the book that will not appear elsewhere. People have asked repeatedly for it, both here on Quora and on other sites, so it is in the works!

 

HOO-HOO! I WON’T KILL YOU BECAUSE YOU ARE TOO MUCH FUN!

As well as finishing off those #HTBLB articles, I’ll be taking a look the Batman All Stars – the creators, writers, artists and other movers and shakers who have helped make Batman great over the decades.

Another new article series I am pretty excited about in 2017 is the Symbolism of Batman series, in which I cherry pick the  greatest works from all media in Batman’s history and dive into the symbolism and motifs in those works.

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Each article will be able to read by itself as a single unit, on that particular piece of Batman fiction. For example one article will cover all three of Chris Nolan’s Batman films, another will be on The Killing Joke, another on Morrison’s Arkham Asylum and one on The Dark Knight Returns etc, and by juxtaposing different representations of Batman in different media, anyone who reads them all will see the patterns and recurring ideas, themes and motifs that might not be obvious to the casual reader.

I’ll explore some similar ideas to those already laid out in two of my favourite articles The Darkness in Humanity – Batman as Avatar of our Shadow Self and Batman’s Joker as Mythic Archetype as well as expand on ideas in those articles.

 

BORING BORING BORING! WHEN WILL HE PUNCH SOME THINGS?

Or you can just read any one of the Symbolism of Batman articles and ignore the others. I hope you enjoy them, and get at least a *little* bit as excited as I am to write them.

Another idea I’ve been thinking about for a while is to do some  essays on my other favourite comic book characters, perhaps in their own Super Secret Section of the site? Lest they start a war? Because the essays I’m hanging out to write are about my favourites Wolverine, The Punisher and perhaps Marvel’s greatest character – the ever lovin’ blue eyed Thing.

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Stick around BatFans – plenty more articles to come in 2017. I may even finish some of those 100 draft articles that are laying around the Mancave. Hmm, wait a minute – I was never good at math, let’s see now.

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Okay so it’s 147 Drafts, and I have just given away two of my other upcoming article titles. Yes Harley Quinn is getting one of those long ass articles where I really get into the character, her history, motivation, success, fashion sense……..and how awesome was Margot Robbie in Suicide Squad? The movie had some issues, but damn it was fun and she knocked it out of the fucking park, bring on Gotham Sirens people! (The 90’s comics starring Catwoman, Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn that has now been announced officially as an upcoming movie project).

 

I THINK YOU AND I ARE DESTINED TO DO THIS FOREVER BATS!

Okay, so there is all that content coming, as well as no doubt I will conceive of entirely new ideas yet to enter my imagination. I love those articles the best! That’s how my Batitude short form article was born, and of course Batitude 2.0

Those Batitude articles were born on a whim, a slight impulse that lead to writing more of the same and embracing The Way of the Bat in 2016, and thank you to everyone in 2016 who stopped by this blog, I hope that you found something to enjoy here, granted my tastes are not for everyone, but for those few do enjoy any of my ramblings…

THANK YOU VERY MUCH!

 

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**

The top image in this post is by Rodrigo Idalino, I just LOVE his art, you can find more at http://rod-windt.deviantart.com/

The other images in this post are by the fantastic Saintyak, you can find more at DeviantART http://saintyak.deviantart.com/ – I particularly love his TMNT and Batman related art. Spectacular stuff, take a look already!

 

THE HEROINE’S JOURNEY: An Ever Evolving Narrative of Empowered Females in Fiction PART#1 WRITER’s Q and A

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The Heroines Journey – An Ever Evolving Narrative of Empowered Females in Fiction

Over the last year I’ve been looking into the topic of The Heroine’s Journey through books, articles, youtube videos and of course perspectives from other writers of both fiction and non-fiction. This Q&A is several questions with some expert writers I admire and respect with differing contrasting points of view including Nicole Franklin, Kate Forsyth, Alice Li, Nav. K and Mike Madrid.

There will be an accompanying article up soon on this blog where I comment on some of the Theories and Ideas that are part of the modern version of The Heroines’ Journey, and ideas discussed in this Q&A as specific or unique from Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey. So you can consider this PART#1 of #2 on The Heroine’s Journey and I will link the other article to this one once it is completed and posted.

So lets get into it, I hope you enjoy reading the insightful answers from these super-smart individuals as much as I did. It took several months to come together as people live in different time zones, in different parts of the world and are usually quite busy. Thanks so much to everyone who contributed!

NICOLE FRANKLIN

Nicole Franklin

Nicole Franklin is an award-winning filmmaker. Through her 25 years in the industry Nicole has been a television director, editor, educator, and contributing writer to such publications as The Good Men Project, Toronto-based ByBlacks.com and NBCBLK. For seventeen years, her company EPIPHANY Inc. has been producing independent films for numerous cable networks including Showtime, BET, IFC, Nickelodeon, Sundance Channel, FUBU TV and kweliTV.

In addition to the narrative feature on same-race discrimination in the workplace, TITLE VII, Nicole’s other credits include The Double Dutch Divas!, Journeys In Black: the Jamie Foxx Biography, Kids Around the World, Black Enterprise Business Report, Gershwin & Bess: A Dialogue with Anne Brown and the 10-chapter series Little Brother.   Nicole’s affiliations include DGA, PGA East, NABJ, The Black Documentary Collective (BDC) and NYWIFT. NicoleFranklin.com/cine.

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Q.Why do you feel that a Heroine’s Journey is needed that is distinct from Campbell’s Hero’s Journey?  How does it differ? How is it the same? 

I think the Heroine’s Journey is needed because as a Black feminist I could not pinpoint why a number of female leads in films I grew up watching were not satisfying role models for me.  Why didn’t I root for women who could change the world—women who were on their own, not handing over the reigns to their male rescuers?  And, why didn’t I root for them on a consistent basis?

Plots and storylines are much better in recent years, but it wasn’t until I heard Alice Meichi Li articulating the characteristics of a Heroine’s Journey vs. a Hero’s Journey while she was speaking on a NY Comic Con panel that I realized most female leading roles have been under siege. Manipulation and lackluster results from a journey that thrives on a woman’s insecurities and borderline insanity seem to have been acceptable practice for years. Li made me rethink The Wizard of Oz after seeing it hundreds of times. Once certain characteristics of female-driven stories seep into our subconscious as media consumers we’re doomed!

Q.How can writers adapt the Heroine’s Journey to their stories? (Nicole: I’m combining questions 2 and 3 here)

First writers have to realize there is a distinction between successfully writing a heroine into movie history or into oblivion. As illustrator Alice Meichi Li has noted, there is a fascination with the goddess/supernatural character Joseph Campbell often describes now being a hindrance, and not at all helpful as she would be to a man on a mission. Is it more of a standard to see backstabbing and deception between women when one’s happiness is within arm’s reach? You bet.

Second, more female writers and directors need to be hired as showrunners and creatives behind the scripts and behind the camera on an equal employment basis. Putting these two very simple suggestions into practice would be a terrific start.

Next, films, books and art are part of commercial business. Audiences must support heroines who rock with their dollars. Li mapped out a guide for what writers should avoid in their storylines starring female leads when I interviewed her for The Good Men Project here: http://goodmenproject.com/featured-content/heros-journey-vs-heroines-journey-rewriting-privilege/

Q.What changes need to happen in society to further develop the idea of The Heroine’s Journey? (Nicole: See Question above)

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Q.What advice do you have for creators (male and female) who want to create good well rounded female characters?

I would refer creators to my article The Hero’s Journey vs. The Heroine’s Journey: Rewriting Privilege featuring illustrator Alice Meichi Li. Talking to her was so eye-opening for me as an artist, executive producer and feminist.

Q.What impact do you see The Heroine’s Journey having on the literature, films, comics etc of tomorrow?

We have a long way to go when it comes to a female protagonist whom audiences can cheer and demand sequels of beyond the small screen and printed pages of comics. Digital distribution outlets are now the widened doors independent artists have needed for years in order to reach a global audience. This is actually an exciting time to be a creator. And if recent box office numbers of Hollywood films starring talented, three-dimensional female leads are any indication, then this successful model has no choice but to continue and prosper. Bravo!

Where can people find you online, what websites do you contribute to, recommend etc?

Thanks for asking Jonny! I love connecting with people through my website, NicoleFranklin.com. Also, all of my social media profiles are there. I also am the founder of the tech education initiative Hack4Hope.org and the Executive Producer of LittleBrotherFilm.com, a 10-chapter film series with producer J. Tiggett on young Black males and their thoughts on Love.  As a writer I contribute to The Good Men Project, NBCBLK and Toronto’s ByBlacks.com.

You can also find Nicole on Youtube at  https://www.youtube.com/user/Nicoleedits/about?&ab_channel=NicoleFranklin

KATE FORSYTH

Kate Forsyth

Kate Forsyth wrote her first novel when she was only 7, and is now the bestselling, award-winning author of more than 25 books, including The Wild Girl and Bitter Greens for adults, and The Puzzle Ring, The Gypsy Crown, The Starkin Crown, and Grumpy Grandpa for children. Her books have been translated into 13 languages. You can read more about Kate at www.kateforsyth.com.au

Q. Why do you feel that a Heroine’s Journey is needed that is distinct from Campbell’s Hero’s Journey?

To be honest, I see the hero in Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey as being a non-gender specific term. A girl can be a hero just as much as a boy. However, both Campbell’s language in describing the mono-mythic Hero’s Journey and subsequent usages of the format are highly male-focused, so perhaps talking about a ‘Heroine’s Journey’ can open up new ways of thinking and describing a woman’s journey of self-discovery and change.

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Q. How does it differ? How is it the same? [as Campbell’s]

For me, the journey of all my female protagonists follow the mono-mythic pattern of moving through darkness towards light, and through a process of transformation that changes them from the beginning of the story to the end. The trials that they face, the ordeals and obstacles that they overcome, are very different according to the kind of story I am telling … and the type of person my heroine is.

The Hero’s Journey is often just a way of thinking about story structure … and in that sense, it does not matter whether the hero is male or female, or even human at all. I think the secret is not to be too rigid in following the Hero’s Journey – to think of ways to make it fresh and new and surprising. And recasting this quest in the shape of a Heroine’s Journey is one way to do so.

Q. How can writers adapt the Heroine’s Journey to their particular stories?

I always try and think – what does my hero/heroine want? What stands in their way? What is the cost of failure? What do they need to learn before they can get what they want? And then I plan their journey, placing more emphasis on the key psychological turning points in the narrative structure.

Q. What changes need to happen in society to further develop the idea of The Heroine’s Journey?

I’d love to see more movies made with strong, complex and interesting female characters. Often movie and TV makers (as well as novelists) think the way to make a heroine strong and heroic is to make her more masculine – I don’t think this is necessary at all.

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Q. What advice do you have for creators (male and female) who want to create good well rounded female characters that engage the audience/reader?

Make your characters flawed, with real-life fears and problems, and then show them as they grow and change on their journey. Dynamic characters are always more interesting than ones that do not change.

Q. What impact do you see The Heroine’s Journey having on the literature, films, comics, games etc of tomorrow?

I’d love to see more films and books and games being female-centric, with strong protagonists and an interesting character arc.

Q. Where can people find you online? 

My main website is Kate Forsyth at http://www.kateforsyth.com.au/

You can also find me on Facebook, Pinterest and my Amazon Author Page at the below links:

ALICE MEICHI LI

Alice Meichi Li

Alice Meichi Li  is a New York based visual artist and illustrator for comic books, magazines, and album covers. She is the creator of the independent comic book Sherbert Lock. Alice has received numerous awards and nominations from organisations such as the Society of Illustrators of Los Angeles and the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. Alice also contributed words and pictures to Nicole’s article “The Hero’s Journey vs. The Heroine’s Journey: Rewriting Privilege” that inspired this BATFAN Q&A you are reading right now.

Q.Why do you feel that a Heroine’s Journey is needed that is distinct from Campbell’s Hero’s Journey?  How does it differ? How is it the same? 

In a society like ours where women have historically struggled for equality, it’s hard enough to get to a level playing field — let alone set upon a journey for self-actualization. The Hero’s Journey is exactly that: a coming-of-age story where a boy can become a fully-actualized man and surpass his own masters through trials and tribulations.

On Maslow’s Hierarchy, multiple needs must be met before a person can achieve self-actualization, including the physiological, safety, love/belonging, and esteem. If a story takes place in a society like ours where many women can’t even feel safe walking around in our own gender, how can we ever achieve true self-actualization?

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I keep stipulating “in a society like ours” because there are plenty of heroines that take the Hero’s Journey in fictional worlds where they fortunately aren’t bound to a system of patriarchy. (see: Nickelodeon’s Legend of Korra) So my definition of a Heroine’s Journey is that where a lesser-privileged protagonist, most likely a woman, sets upon a path to achieve normality or equality to that where a Hero might just be starting off.

Where there are trials that will help the Hero along his way, there are traps and tricks that await the Heroine as she tries to obtain equilibrium in a world that has seemingly gone mad. Where there are Masters to guide the Hero along, there are wolves in sheep’s clothing to manipulate the Heroine along.

Great examples of the Heroine’s Journey would be Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and The Wizard of Oz. At the end, neither Dorothy nor Alice become lauded as great heroes. They just return to the normal lives in their normal homes that they were striving for all along.

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Heroine’s Journeys reflect the struggles of women in a patriarchal society where being a woman basically means that the body you were born in impedes you from getting ahead the same way a man can. It can feel awfully like a world gone mad when a woman is constantly told by society that her life isn’t worth as much as that of a fetus.

That the work she does is worth around 77% as much as a man’s work, that she ought to keep at the “Drink Me” bottle to shrink small enough to fit society’s standards, or that she needs to destroy other women (Wicked Witches) to achieve her goals when in reality it’s actually a man behind the curtain who has the true power over her.


Q. How can writers adapt the Heroine’s Journey to their stories?A common piece of advice I see is “Just write a female character like a man”. Well, yes and no. If the story takes place in a patriarchy, but the woman faces zero consequences to acting like a man, then this is completely unrealistic. While I don’t agree with strictly adhering to a gender binary, I recognize that society does.People who fall outside of that gender binary inevitably face challenges from the people around them, and these challenges shape who they are.I had a great conversation with Phil Jimenez (writer/artist for Wonder Woman) once about how Superman couldn’t be written exactly the same if he were a woman, because people would treat him like a woman.
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Would the Daily Planet run the same exact articles on Superman if he were a woman? Wouldn’t there be the inevitable criticisms of her appearance or choice of costume?

Look at how the press treats male actors versus female actors in interviews. (For example — the types of questions Scarlett Johannson received from the press for her role in Avengers versus the types of questions her male co-stars received.

Spoiler alert: They tended to center around her body, costume and weight-loss, whereas her male co-stars were given more difficult questions about actual acting) There’s always going to be a slant. How a female Superman would react to *that* reaction would then shape her character differently than a male Superman.

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Q. What changes need to happen in society to further develop the idea of The Heroine’s Journey?To actually develop a Heroine’s Journey into a Hero’s Journey, we’d need to achieve true equality as a basis for all prospective Heroines to launch their journeys. Calling back to my response to the first question, it’s hard to focus on mastering any goal to a heroic extent if one’s basic needs aren’t even being met.

Q. What advice do you have for creators (male and female) who want to create good well rounded female characters?

First, read stories about real women and the obstacles they’ve had to overcome themselves. When encountering people who express the hardships they’ve experienced, listen or read with an open mind and open heart. Don’t be afraid to be wrong or question your pre-existing assumptions.

Second, don’t use rape or sexual assault as a character development tool unless you *really* know what you’re doing. And most people — men and women who haven’t been sexually assaulted — don’t. Even on Mad Mad: Fury Road, George Miller brought Eve Ensler (Vagina Monologues) on board as a consultant to make sure they portrayed a wide range of rape victims realistically and sympathetically.

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Q. What impact do you see The Heroine’s Journey having on the literature, films, comics, games etc of tomorrow?

Ultimately, I hope that exposing the struggles that Heroines have to deal with to achieve true equality will help others to be able to put themselves in a Heroine’s shoes and develop empathy for those who are less privileged than they are. But also, it’s just about time we had more stories focused on marginalized protagonists within their societies. In a way, the Hero’s Journey is easier to do than a Heroine’s Journey where a protagonist is just not the “right type” of person to succeed in that world.


Q. Where can people find you online? 

Here are the places you can follow my work…

http://alicemeichi.com
http://alicemeichi.tumblr.com
http://facebook.com/alicemeichili
http://twitter.com/alicemeichi

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I’m also doing covers for my husband’s comic, Sherbet, which is a dark comedy/sci-fi story that focuses on a lesbian detective who solves paranormal mysteries in a steampunk-inspired vaguely British future. (It’s okay because he’s British, too)  Sherbet would be another example of a woman who’s not adhering to a patriarchal society’s Heroine’s Journey.
NAV K

Nav K

Nav K is a writer and Blogger in Australia, a big Superman and DC fan who writes in depth insightful articles covering the DCU in Comics, Television and Film. You can find her brilliant Girl-On-Comic-Book-World blog at https://girloncomicbookworld.com/

She also writes about the Marvel theatrical films and Netflix TV shows such as Daredevil, Jessica Jones and Luke Cage. She was last seen flying somewhere over the city of Metropolis.

Q. Why do you feel that a Heroine’s Journey is needed that is distinct from Campbell’s Hero’s Journey?

Considering Campbell’s Hero Journey structure was created a few decades ago, looking back at it you can see that it is very specific for a male hero. The structure draws upon stories that have come from the past, meaning it draws upon many stories where women were viewed more so as objects, to accompany a man, have children, be a prize etc therefore the structure isn’t completely relevant to a heroine’s journey. Because of critical social change over the past few decades it’s important to re-contextualize the hero’s journey to better fit a female protagonist.

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Q. How does it differ? How is it the same? [as Campbell’s] 

Universal elements from Campbell’s model that should be used in a heroine’s journey include the character being drawn into the adventure, facing psychological and/or physical threats and finishing the journey in a changed manner. However the heroine’s journey should take in aspects that are specifically related to females. The hero’s journey is often presented as a solo journey, however as women are typically communal the solo quest may not work as well. Also it’s important to incorporate the conflicting roles many women have in the life such as the family/work balance, maternal instincts etc.

Q. How can writers adapt the Heroine’s Journey to their particular stories?

Writers shouldn’t limit themselves to a strict structure for a heroine’s journey. Really what’s most important is to understand that you are writing a female’s journey, not a man’s journey, so don’t ignore feminine attributes. Not all female characters have to have some inherent maternal instinct, or longing for a community, however a heroine’s journey shouldn’t be afraid of incorporating female attributes.

Q. What changes need to happen in society to further develop the idea of The Heroine’s Journey? 

I think once this stigma is removed that no one cares about female leads, we will get a much better start on developing the idea of the heroine’s journey. Creators still choose to stick to the traditional male hero archetype as it’s a safer bet than focusing on a female lead. Once creators get an idea of greater acceptance in society for female leads, they will start creating better female characters. Just looking at the superhero sphere, there has been a lot of controversy at Marvel for their failure to recognise their female heroes as equals.

Black Widow doesn’t get toys and solo movies, and it won’t be until 2018 that we see a solo female superhero movie from Marvel. This is happening because Marvel don’t believe that a female hero can sell right now. So they will wait until Wonder Woman makes her debut and gauge the audience reaction to her so that they can commit more.

But considering there has been this controversy in the first place, from both female and male audience, recognises that there is an acceptance and want for more heroine leads. Furthermore understanding that the emotional side of a heroine isn’t a weakness can help propel the idea of the heroine’s journey, removing the idea that only the emotionless yet aggressive male heroes are the only heroic lead that works.

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Q. What advice do you have for creators (male and female) who want to create good well rounded female characters that engage the audience/reader?

Don’t be afraid to embrace the femininity of the character. You often see creators trying to develop “strong female characters” by stripping away the very aspects that make them female, and emphasizing their masculinity.

Writers shouldn’t be afraid to show emotional vulnerability, maternal instincts, communal values etc from female characters because they may be afraid of creating a weak female character. Just looking at one of the most talked about strong female characters in film this year, Furiosa from Mad Max perfectly captured her femininity, maternal instincts and strength.

Q. What impact do you see The Heroine’s Journey having on the literature, films, comics, games etc of tomorrow?

Its clear creators are having a stronger focus on female characters. You can watch an action movie now where the female isn’t just always the damsel in distress character anymore, we have stories like Mad Max, Hunger Games etc. Especially within the superhero sphere you can see the huge impact the heroine’s journey is having.

Wonder Woman who has for the longest time been viewed as this feminist icon is finally getting her debut on film decades after her creation. And we can see in these female superheroes that they aren’t being stripped of their femininity to create a “strong female character”, these characters are embracing it.

Q. Where can people find you online? 

You can find me at girloncomicbookworld.wordpress.com which is basically a place with discussion and opinion on everything comic book related from movies to TV to actual comic books!

Follow Nav on Twitter @Nav_Kay

Nav K articles:

Comic Book Movie Articles

Comic Book TV Shows

Comic Book Character Analyses

MIKE MADRID

 Mike MadridMike Madrid is a native San Franciscan and a life long fan of comic books and popular culture. The former advertising executive is the creative director at Exterminating Angel Press. He is featured in the documentary “Wonder Women! The Untold Story of American Superheroines.” He also has a fantastic TV news anchor worthy mustache.

Q. Why do you feel that a Heroine’s Journey is needed that is distinct from Campbell’s Hero’s Journey? How does it differ? How is it the same?

Traditionally in Hero’s Journey stories, the male protagonist starts out being hindered either by youth, inexperience, or both. But he often has a mentor to guide him on his journey to being a hero. However, the fledgling is never shown to actually be hammered by his gender. This is not the case with many heroines in comic books.

Women who want to take on heroic roles in comics often have their abilities questioned simply because they are female. And this skepticism often comes from their fellow male heroes. These women usually need to undertake this journeys to heroism on their own, without the help of a mentor. So, the Heroine can start off her journey facing adversity not only from her foes, but her allies as well.

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Q. How can writers adapt the Heroine’s Journey to their particular stories?

I’m not sure that a female hero has to have a distinctly different journey from a male. The motivation for being a hero should be the same for a woman or a man:the desire to make the world a better place. The end goal is going to be the same, although the woman may face additional or different challenges along the way. A woman’s methods may differ from a man’s, but that’s what will make her a believable character.

Marvel’s current version of Thor, who is a woman, is an interesting example of a female hero’s journey. The new Thor has had quickly assumed a mantle of great power, and the reader sees her jump right in and grasp her new role. She displays a formidable persona that convinces her fellow heroes of her tremendous abilities.

But through Thor’s internal dialogue the reader can experience how this heroine is evolving in this role and learning about her new life. So she seems like a real character without having to be presented as a bumbling newcomer trying to figure out how to swing her hammer.

Q. What changes need to happen in society to further develop the idea of The Heroine’s Journey? 

Well, obviously women have to be viewed as being equal to men. This is a challenge in America, where women aren’t paid the same as men and where we’ve never had a female president. As much as comic books present this fantastic view of the world, often the values seen in these stories are much the same as what we see every day in our so-called “real world”.

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Q. What advice do you have for creators (male and female) who want to create good well rounded female characters that engage the audience/reader?

It’s good that the mainstream comics industry has finally recognized that there is a sizable readership, both female and male, who will buy titles featuring strong heroines. The problem is that these characters are sometimes just written as men, with breasts.

I think the most successful recent incarnations of Marvel’s Black Widow and Spider-Woman and DC’s rebooted Batgirl are good examples of characters that are shown as strong and capable, but still also come off as believable women. A woman doesn’t need to suppress her female nature just because she has taken on a heroic role. She can be strong and brave, but still show compassion and understanding.

Q. What impact do you see The Heroine’s Journey having on the literature, films, comics, games etc of tomorrow?

I think the Heroine’s Journey can teach readers, particularly female readers, how to overcome obstacles in order to achieve their goals. However, I feel like comics often focus on this journey for too long in the case of female heroes. While people ideally continue to grow and learn new things throughout their lives, as a certain point I feel it’s important to show female characters as established heroes rather than continually putting them in the role of novice.

This has been the case with Wonder Woman throughout her long career. Male writers seem to think she is a more interesting character when she is the outsider learning what it takes to be a hero. And so we have seen her origin story continually retooled and her journey toward heroism beginning anew again and again. I prefer when Wonder Woman is simply presented as an established hero on the same level as her contemporaries Superman and Batman, rather than a few steps behind them.

Q. Where can people find you online? What projects / websites / books etc are you involved in?

Besides The SupergirlsDivas Dames & Daredevils and the companion volume Vixens Vamps & Vipers, I am doing a series of collections of the adventures of some of my favorite Golden Age heroines like Black Angel and Spider Widow. You can find more information about my books at  heaven4heroes.com.

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Note from BATFAN JOHN: I own all three of these books, and I highly recommend them, Supergirls is a fun informal history of female pulp characters and Superheroines, while Mike’s other two books contain reprints of vintage comics along with some introductory essays to the comics and their era. You can find Mike’s books on Amazon.

THANK YOU so much to everyone who made this article so much fun to put together and read. Thanks to Nicole, Kate, Alice, Nav and Mike. Words can not express how grateful I am to you all for your insightful and interesting diverse answers to my Questions.
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Be like Batman one Step at a time, one Breath at a Time

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One thing I learned from Batman is that Bruce is a lifelong learner.

Some people learn fast, others slow.

Like Batman, I like to take a few months, or even a few years to aquire new skills.

The slower we learn, over a longer period of time, the better it sticks. The less we skip things and take shortcuts.

When we cram in too much too soon, we forget things.

Or sometimes don’t learn much at all.

Fast or slow. Both are good. They have their uses.

But we remember best what we keep using year after year.

So to be like Batman means stripping any topic, or field or study down to the basics, and perfecting those basics over many years.

Martial arts. Gymnastics. Strength Training. Business Plans. Marketing. Swimming. Developing Joker anti-venom, Escaping Batshit crazy death traps.

These are some highlights that any of us can learn, along with hundreds of other skills, but the key is like Bruce, like Batman to take your time. Pick what you really need to know in life and Master it.

Pick your skills and learn them.

Learn them well.

Focus daily, bring your full attention to whatever you are doing and do it well.

Batman knows that what he does on any given day is really not that important.

But what is important is the FOCUS and CONCENTRATION he brings to whatever he does.

It’s part of his skill set, part of his ever adaptable arsenal in his War on Crime.

 

So slow down,

take a breath…

make it a deep one,

and whatever you do next today…

do it with more Focus…

do it with total Concentration…

Pretend you have trained like Bruce Wayne for many years with some super secret monks away in the Himalayan mountains to master your own mind and body.

Today, Be a master of your own mind.

Exercise your BATITUDE

Let no obstacles stand in your way

BE LIKE BATMAN!

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–>Amazing art featured in this blog by Saintyak, you can find more fantastic Batman, Hellboy and other cool art by Saintyak at DeviantART http://saintyak.deviantart.com/gallery/

The Daily Grind – Welcome to Batman’s World

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It is one thing to face the world when you are full of confidence, in perfect health, and you have no real troubles – everything is going your way, you feel you can not not fail no matter what, you could even say its easy to live life and face challenges when you are in that state.

But when you are down and out, when you feel depressed, when you’ve lost your job or a relationship, when nothing seems to be going your way, when you’re sick or injured, its another thing entirely just to get through the day, let alone dare greatly or accomplish anything.

One of the things I love about Batman is that he puts up with a lot of physical and emotional trauma, and he just keeps going. At any time when Batman is apprehending super-villains or whoever, you know that like a pro fighter or footy player – he has minor and major injuries.

Batman is rarely injury free, happily content or at his peak on a daily basis. It’s more than likely he’s sore, very tired, had  a string of horrible things happen in any given month and he has every reason to say “Fuck it, tonight I’ll stay home and go to bed feeling sorry for myself”. None of us are at our best in that state, but we function and go on, doing the best we can.

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But the strength of Batman’s character is that he does not have time to feel sorry for himself, his constant injuries and scars, illness or depression – he accepts as the toll of his never ending mission. His compromised social status and lack of societal norms are part of the cost of being Batman. He is forever an outsider, even at times to his own Bat-Family of Alfred, Robin, Batgirl etc.

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Batman’s relationships are rocky territory, they never end well. His night time job is being Batman, and his day time job is being Bruce Wayne, while he works no traditional job, he does accomplishes more in any 24 hour period than most of us do in a day. If you think Jack Bauer does a hardcore job as a counter terrorist agent, well at least Jack Bauer gets holidays.

Batman is Batman 24/7 – 365 days a year. He doesn’t get breaks, he doesn’t get a lunch hour to piss and moan about how inadequate his life is, every hour of being Batman is overtime, but he only pays himself, nobody ever advertised the job of “Being Batman” in the classifieds, but Bruce Wayne turned up anyway. Not just anybody can be Batman, it takes a certain kind of individual to step up to a role that he had to invent himself, and nobody could ever realistically ask anyone to perform the role of “Being Batman”.

Bruce Wayne constantly reinvents himself, as Bruce, as Batman. He’s rarely at his best. He’s usually the underdog and battling the odds, he’s not invincible like some fans (and the odd writer) seem to think. He’s human and fallible. He makes mistakes. He’s often NOT at his best in any given scenario. But that is part of what being Batman is, and what he represents.

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Batman is the guy who is down in the real shit of life and he makes the best of it. He goes to places most of would never dare to go and says “This is my home, this is what I do, I am Batman, don’t ask me to change”.

For Bruce Wayne, being Batman is his mission in life – for better or worse. It’s painful being Batman, it’s hard work, there are no thank yous, no rewards, just the satisfaction Bruce Wayne has knowing that one more potential victim of violent crime was prevented from his efforts, or that one more kid gets to keep his parents and live a normal life – rather than see them shot down in cold blood in a dark alley – that is the drive and determination that keeps Batman going – however crazy and unrealistic it is, it doesn’t matter. Whatever excuse Bruce tells himself continue being Batman is not important, it only matters that he does what he does with total conviction. And while he is rarely at his best, even Batman at his worst is still damn good at what he does.

I think that’s the kind of person we can all aspire to be. If you can honestly say “Even at my worst, I’m fucking good at what I do” – well you can’t buy that kind of satisfaction. It’s honest, it’s real, it’s something you can look in the mirror and say out loud, without a hint of shame or irony.

Batman is totally committed to being the best Batman he can be, no matter the circumstance, or how bad it gets. That’s the guy I cheer for.

Not the all time winner who has everything go his way, one effortless victory after another. But the guy who just walks through ten tons of shit on a daily basis and when he gets to the end of the day collapses, then gets up the next day eager to do it all again.

That’s the Batman I love.

Like Sisyphus who faced an eternal torment of a boulder that must be rolled or carried up a steep hill, only to have it roll down and be forced to endlessly repeat this task.

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The difference is in perception, for Batman, carrying or pushing that heavy boulder up a hill is not a pointless task, but an ESSENTIAL task.

He gets the job done and says “Is that all you got, I’m not done, I’m just getting warmed up!”

One man grows weak endlessly doing a pointless hard grueling task, while another man grows strong repeatedly enduring the unendurable. In life we can piss and moan about the hard times, or we can use them to grow stronger, like a sword tempered and forged in the harshest of conditions, our iron will, our strength of character is forged in the every day furnace of real life. What’s left after facing such trials is the essential, everything that holds us back gets burned up along the way.

I complain and whine about little things as much as anyone, probably more so, but I keep coming back to that annoying #hashtag…

The one that says wake up and be grateful for the life you have, the one that says grab life by the balls and don’t let go, the one that says we can and should live life on our own terms…

Some call it How To Be Like Batman #HTBLB

Or just plain old #Batitude.

It’s on the door to my mancave, it infuses my daily life, BATITUDE is a constant reminder to be the best I can be in any situation, and when I fall down, when I fail, when everything turns to shit, well plant some flowers, embrace it, do whatever I have to do to get through. In good times, in hard times, things constantly change, but BATITUDE remains.

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Q&A with Khai from Kool Kollectibles

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Back to the Future marty mcfly you know what time it is son

 

Back to the Future. Star Wars. Batman. Transformers. Predator. The Terminator. These are some of the cool properties you’ll be seeing in this short Q&A with Khai from  Kool Kollectibles.

It’s no secret to anybody who knows me that I love Batman and Transformers. While I own a few Batman figures here and there, I have around a hundred or so Transformers toys from various toy lines, and a bunch of of the old Marvel Legends toys among other stuff.

But some people take toy collections to a whole other level, be it upmarket highly desirable or rare items, fantastic displays, and with the internet people can even develop their own fan following. Well, I for one am a fan of Kool Kollectibles, I love checking out new pics of whatever amazing toys he has picked up, and took this opportunity to ask him a few questions, and of course share some stunning pics of his amazing collection.

You can find Khai’s main site koolkollectibles.net, and link to all his other social media pages from there.

http://www.koolkollectibles.net/

https://plus.google.com/+KoolkollectiblesNet/posts

https://www.instagram.com/koolkollectibles/

https://www.youtube.com/c/KoolkollectiblesNet

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No two collections are the same, and no two collectors are the same. Thanks to the magic of the internet collectors and fans around the world can enjoy seeing what other people are into, get ideas about how to display their loot, discover something they never even knew existed or just admire a really fantastic collection.

So without further ado, here’s some quick questions and amazing pics from Kool Kollectibles.

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 JOHN: What are your overall favourite top 3 toys and why?
KHAI: I collect a lot of different lines of figures and other collectibles, but my top 3 right now would have to be (not in any order):
1) Hot Toys 1/6th scale Chewbacca figure
2) Pop Culture Shock 1/4 scale Ryu Ansatsuken statue
3) Hot Toys 1/6th scale Delorean Time Machine
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JOHN: One issue every collector faces is space. How do you store and display your collection? Do you ever get rid of old items to make room for new items?
KHAI: The best bit of advice given to me as a collector was to put money aside for decent glass display cabinets. Some collectors continually spend money on figures, but either have no space to display them, or have open display cases that results in a lot of dust maintenance. So I saved up money for a while and bought some big glass display cabinets and it was the best decision I ever made. Having your collectibles displayed well in a glass cabinet really takes the collection to another level. With decent lighting too, it simply looks amazing, and is less maintenance with dust etc.
Also, a collection shouldn’t be judged on its size. Some collectors think bigger is better. That’s not necessarily the case. I’ve seen some smaller collections, but they’re displayed well and in a classy way, and are collectibles that are loved by the owner, not because they are the “in thing” at that moment in time.
I normally buy things to keep, and so have not had to sell many things at all. But for space and money, I did end up selling my 6″ Star Wars Black Series figures since I was getting essentially the same characters in the large 1/6th scale and didn’t need to double up. So now that I have my larger cabinets in place, I try to pick and choose the items I buy now to fit into themes or source material that I love.

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JOHN: You have a focus on Hot Toys movie characters and Transformers Masterpiece figures, why these particular lines over other lines/brands of toys?
KHAI: Most of my collecting is based around nostalgia. I grew up in the 80s watching the classic cartoons such as Transformers, Battle of the Planets, He-man, MASK etc. Then through the 80s and 90s and even now I still love movies. I love the classic action and sci-fi movies from the 80s and 90s. I was lucky enough as a kid that my grandparents and parents spoiled me with the original G1 Transformers toys, many of which I still have today. When I saw the TF Masterpiece figures around the 2010 mark, it was mind-blowing for me to see the characters I loved in a toy form that was as close as their cartoon aesthetic as possible. And with such improved engineering, the TF Masterpiece figures are some of the best Transformers toys ever made. With the nostalgia that they bring, I smile each and every time I see them.
As for Hot Toys figures, Hot Toys is by far the benchmark at the moment on 1/6th scale collectibles. The attention to detail, realism, paint application, and tailoring is second to none. And with them making iconic characters from Star Wars, Terminator, Back to the Future, Predator, Aliens etc, and then new characters from the Marvel and DC cinematic universes, there was no way that I could pass them up! They are simply some of the best action figures around at the moment, and look incredible when displayed together.
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JOHN: Any advice for new collectors, or people looking to get into the hobby?
KHAI: Spending can quickly get out of control, especially with peer pressure in buying everything to keep up. I would say just stick only to source material that you truly love, and pick and choose carefully what you buy. Remember, it’s not about the size of the collection that matters, it’s how you love each item in your collection that really matters to you and those close to you that come and look at it.
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JOHN:What are you top toys that fall into the category of “unobtainium” for you. That is toys that are very rare, super super expensive or just not made anymore and are nearly impossible to get ahold of even if you have the money. What are your top “wish list” rare items, your holy grail items/toys?
KHAI:I recently got my first Pop Culture Shock statue with the Street Fighter Ryu. I have played Street Fighter since arcade days in high school, so for about 25 years now. The characters are ingrained in my consciousness! If I could wind back time, I would go back and buy the PCS Street Fighter statues previously released. PCS truly limit their edition sizes, and once sold out the price skyrockets to a point where I cannot justify the expense. So those PCS statues are some that fall into this grail category for me.
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JOHN: Do you collect any traditional (meaning cheap and usually small eg 6-12″) action figures, or just the more upscale stuff with better detail and sculpting?
KHAI: I used to collect the smaller cheaper figures such as the Star Wars Black Series and NECA figures. But I found they were harder to display in a way that showed them off well, and then I was doubling up the same characters in larger scales. So to minimise my cost and space issues, I just decided to stick with the larger collectibles and buy less of them.
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JOHN: Your entire collection gets sucked into a mini-black hole, except for ONE toy of your choice, what toy would that be?
KHAI: Always a hard question to answer, as collectors tend to end up with a few items that are their favourites. Strangely, if I had to save just one item in my collection from a fire or black hole, I’d probably pick the TF Masterpiece MP-13 Soundwave. Soundwave was my first TF G1 toy when I was a kid, and the Masterpiece version is amazing. So for nostalgia, fun factor with the transformation etc, I’d have to say that.

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JOHN: Batman, Indiana Jones, Star Wars, Transformers – which is your favourite movie/comic/toon franchise and why?
KHAI: Star Wars would have to be my pick for favourite franchise, particularly the original trilogy. I used to watch the movies every weekend on VHS tapes, and just love the whole story arc and characters.

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JOHN: Where can people connect with and follow you online? 
KHAI: The best place to keep up with my latest news etc would be the Kool Kollectibles Facebook page and YouTube channel. I also keep the website and Instagram account up to date too! Links below 🙂
Thanks Khai for taking the time to answer some nerdy questions. There were so many great pictures of your collection, it was hard to pick, so I put as many in as I could.
There are some more great pictures below to enjoy, in some excellent display cases, be sure to follow Khai on Facebook / Twitter etc at the links above if you want to keep up with his collection, or view lovely full screen HD galleries of his toy collection.
So many wonderful toys. My favourites have to  be the Batman 1989 toys, Heath Ledger’s Joker from The Dark Knight and the Terminator toys from various films. Just a spectacular collection any comic book fan or action/sci-fan would be very jealous of.
Thanks again Khai!
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New Wave Anti-heroes, Rising Bodycounts and Batman

 

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When I think of tough guys, loners and outsiders -your Clint Eastwood, Lee Marvin and Charles Bronson, your Wolverine, Punisher, Bond and Judge Dredd – Batman to me is the king of the outsiders. He’s the king of the loner antihero “don’t fuck with me or you’ll regret it” crowd.

Batman is a bad boy. He’s dark, cool and sexy. He’s exciting and dangerous but also emotionally distant. He’s not the kind of guy a girl brings home to meet her parents. He is the kind of guy who smashes a mouth full of teeth down the throat of a rapist in a dark alley at 3 am in Gotham City.

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BATS OF A FEATHER, FLOCK TOGETHER

Where Batman differs from his anti-hero contemporaries such as Dirty Harry, Wolverine and The Punisher is that Batman doesn’t kill, and that is a deliberate moral choice that Bruce Wayne made.  Some say that is his weakness, while a contrasting viewpoint is that it is one of Batman’s greatest strengths. Batman gets to have all the darkness and edge and cool of an antihero, but still gets to be a morally decent human being who refrains from killing his enemies or criminals in general.

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Another of my favourite characters is The Punisher, you can call him amoral, say he has PTSD or whatever else you like. It  really doesn’t matter, labeling  Frank Castle won’t help you understand him, and it sure as hell will do nothing to stop him.

When the Punisher comes to town he’s like a tank that just mows down bad guys and keeps moving. To some he’s a total psycho, to others an agent of mercy, or avatar of death. He’s a one man army of destruction with no moral “confusion” about what he does or why he does it. In Frank Castle’s world, everything makes perfect sense.

“Label me, you negate me”

There are bad men in organised crime who do things like kidnap young women, ship them overseas and sell them into sex slavery while they are forced onto highly addictive drugs. There are bad men who put semiautomatic weapons into the hands of children, there are men who rape and torture and kill civilians for profit, or simply because they could get away with it.
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In Frank Castle’s world, those people need to die. The world is better off without them. The crime families, mobs and gangs are beyond the capacities of the police and legal system, so therefore their ever present threat needs to end, permanently, and Frank Castle is the man for that job. He’s not so much a man on a mission or executioner nut job – as an unpaid civil servant. In Frank’s mind he’s the guy who comes around to take out the cities garbage, that nobody else wants to deal with. In his world view he performs a necessary job that nobody else wants to do.

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Frank Castle makes for an interesting contrast with Bruce Wayne. Both the Punisher and Batman fight crime, one is a former marine, the other a rich autodidact civilian. Their methods differ, but their basic goal of a war on crime – of targeting high profile crime lords and super-criminals means they are similar characters. The key point being that Punisher kills criminals, while Batman keeps them alive to face arrest and prosecution. Both use fear as a weapon, and display fierce sigils branded onto their chest that make it clear that if you are close enough to see them, then it is already too late, and your day is not going to end well.

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BATMAN AIN’T NO MAGILLA KILLAH

In Batman’s first year in Detective Comic, he DID kill people, and sometimes used a gun.  Sometimes he killed people on purpose, and other times inadvertently like punching a guy out of a window, or off a high railing in an industrial factory.

Then with the introduction of Robin, the powers that be at mighty D.C. decided that Batman would not be a killer (at least not an intentional killer, and certainly not a psychopath) and made both the character of Batman, and the books he featured in lighter in tone. He became more like Superman and less like The Shadow. Unfortunately it meant that Batman went from a cool urban commando to a grinning idiot who ran around in the daylight, at least until he was rescued in the 1970’s by Denny O Neil and Neil Adams who returned him to his Gothic pulp roots.

What started as a Gothic inspired pulp vigilante book with a coat of Superhero paint (inspired by the success of the Superman books) turned into a genuine Superhero book, with a very MORAL character. Who deliberately chose not to kill, or use guns, and that is the Batman we have had ever since. The version that most of us enjoy and get all worked up about when live action film versions of Batman ignore his integral morality. The guy who swore off guns forever. The guy who refuses to use “the weapon of the enemy”.

batman dont use guns son miller style

Another perspective on why Batman does not use guns, other than the editorially mandated one, a story if you will in the Batman canon that never really happened, is WHY did Bruce Wayne suddenly decide to stop using guns, and killing people by pushing them over balconies, or the odd snapping of a bad guys neck?

I think another possible reason, if you like to ponder these sorts of theories and ideas – and you want to include all of the Batman continuity as a whole from 1939- to the present day, assuming it’s ONE GUY who has changed and evolved as a person – I think that Bruce Wayne realised the error of his ways after those first months where he was a very sloppy and careless Batman, who perhaps didn’t always kill on purpose, so much as inadvertently. Batman used a gun only sparingly – rather than charging in lighting up the night with a muzzle flare (except that time he had a machine gun mounted on a plane, kind of hard to ignore that one) – and I think Bruce Wayne evolved to become a more moral person, who saw what he was doing was wrong, and decided not to kill anyone on purpose, and that he would certainly never be an executioner ever again.

Batman with guns detective comics first run

I think that perspective gives more credibility to the character, and more growth to him as a moral human being who starts out as a man-child punching crime in the face. A character who starts out obsessed with vengeance or revenge for the death of his parents, and evolves into a Batman who serves Justice, and who avoids killing at all costs, who ultimately wants to work WITH the system of law, by putting criminals in the hands of the cops, lawyers and judges. Rather than being someone like Frank Castle who wants no part of the systems of government and law that he operates totally outside of, Frank Castiglione skips the judge and jury and sends criminals on a one way first class trip straight to the coroner.

Batman wants the world to be a better place, Batman’s dream is not just Justice or punishment, but to live in a world where he is no longer necessary, while Frank Castle’s dream is just to wipe out as many monsters as he can before his inevitable demise, he has no end goal. Of course the idea of why he stopped using guns was sort of glossed over in the comics, there have been several key Batman stories that talk about guns, but it’s kind of this forgotten thing in his history and people are often surprised at those earliest stories to see him using guns. It just seems kooky and odd now, and we want to forget about Batman using guns and sweep that taboo stuff under the rug.

 

punisher dredd batman guns vigilante justice

ALL YOUR GUNS… ARE BELONG TO US

We can take this contrast of the moral vigilante hero even further with the characters such as Dirty Harry and Judge Dredd and to some extent James Bond.

‘Dirty’ Harry Calahan is permitted to use “justifiable force” within his job as a cop. He is legally allowed to shoot the bad guys, if the situation can be reasonably justified as presenting a threat that requires that level of lethal force.

Dirty Harry throws away his badge

In the first Dirty Harry film, we see Calahan bending the rules, using force in excess of that which is necessary and eventually breaking the rules altogether when he shoots a subdued criminal at the end of the film. He then throws his badge away in the final moments of the film, as he knows he can no longer be a cop, and he has gone too far. Dirty Harry is a film that really was not intended to have a sequel. But sequels happened, because the films made money for the studio, Warner Brothers kept making them.

Somehow in the sequels Harry Calahan ends up back on the police force he walked away from in the first movie. He keeps right on using excessive force, to the point where he basically becomes like the Punisher, he often goes around executing criminals, not really even trying to enforce the law at all, yet he somehow still has a badge. By the third Dirty Harry film (The Enforcer, 1976) Harry is no longer content with just a Magnun gun to obliterate his enemies and uses a bazooka to blow away a bad guy in a guard tower.

The Dirty Harry film series was very entertaining, but utterly ridiculous as they kow towed to the prevailing paradigm of 80s action cinema – that of rising body counts and zero accountability from fetishized heroes who used lethal force, who changed from being somewhat realistic hard edged anti-heroes to over the top comic book like action heroes minus any morality or conscience.

dirty harry magnum vs bazooka 1

“Dirty Harry is, perhaps like Rocky Balboa before him, also a keen dissection of the evolution of the action star from the 1970s to the 1980s. James Bond, for the most part, stayed James Bond. But Harry and Rocky changed as film trends changed. They both, in their respective first films, started out to be gritty and melancholic and kind of realistic. And both, by the fourth films in their respective series, had mutated into unbeatable, peerlessly heroic icons that were used in a somewhat jingoistic fashion by their fans. This was a movement from the depression and hopelessness of the Vietnam War to the blast-’em-all mentality of the Iran-Contra scandal of the Reagan years.”  – Witney Seibold / CraveOnline – The Series Project: Dirty Harry

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WE COME IN PEACE… SHOOT TO KILL, SHOOT TO KILL

The Batman / Dirty Harry / Punisher vigilante archetype is taken to the extreme with Judge Dredd. In a post-apocalyptic dystopian future, gigantic megacities are rampant with crime. The Judges are entitled by their job role to be judge, jury, executioner and cop all rolled into one, in an effort to streamline the process of law and justice in vastly over populated megacities. The “Judges” as they are known in the 2000 AD fiction are a drastic response to crime in a world where other alternatives fail.

 

Judge_Dredd vs Predator bad ass knife

 

Dirty harry as he becomes more lethal, more of a effective killer moves away from the law and justice, becoming an aimless amoral vigilante.  Judge Dredd however kills as part of his job as a judge in Megacity 1. It is part of his job to kill, and the more effective a killer he is, the more effective he is at enforcing the law in his world. That is not to say that Dredd kills all criminals indiscriminately like the Punisher, he still has legal mandates to follow.

For people not familiar with Dredd, he is sort of like a combination of Dirty Harry and Batman. A bad ass vigilante type, who happens to be a law enforcer, who bends and sometimes breaks the rules, but who ultimately still has a morality to him that means he is not a pure fascist or sadist. Judge Dredd appears to be a fascist at a glance, but looking into his stories he doesn’t have a political agenda, he is both a parody of actual law enforcement and in his fiction a good cop, in that he does his best to actually enforce the law, even when he bends or breaks the rules he lives by as anti-hero characters often do.

 

“While sometimes Judge Dredd is a good man doing his best to save his city, he’s still part of a fascist system.

But the best part about this is, although America is still one of the greatest Judge Dredd stories out there, highlighting Dredd and the Judges as fascists really wasn’t anything new. In fact, it had been part of a major story arc that had gone on for a while.

To me, Judge Dredd is one of the most morally complex and interesting characters because of that key conflict. He’s a man who’s a part of a fascist system, but he and many other Judges aren’t doing what they do for power’s sake, they’re not doing what they do because it suits them. No, the Judges – especially Dredd himself – do the job they do because they believe that it’s right. That, under the circumstances, there really is no other way. That they put a harsh leash on the citizens, but only because the previous system of democracy lead to Armageddon.” – James Aggas / Judgedreddcollection.com

 

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In a world that doesn’t make sense we often feel powerless and helpless. Characters such as Batman, the Punisher and Judge Dredd force the world to make sense on their own terms. We feel empowered reading these characters not because their solutions to problems are legally or morally right, and not because their solutions seem to work (temporarily) but because these characters appear to be both powerful and capable. In fiction heroes can take on the world and win.

However their examples are not sometime to emulate. Their actions just don’t work in the real world, with rare exception. For every Sunday Superhero who leaps in to rescue a citizen in distress, there are far more people we don’t hear about who get shot stabbed or killed trying to help someone out.

Batman, The Punisher, Judge Dredd and Dirty Harry are terrible terrible role models. But we love these characters  because they are power fantasies, the characters look cool and powerful, and most of us would rather feel cool, powerful and in control of our lives than helpless and afraid.

Nobody wants to be adrift in a sea of emotional chaos where down is up, up is down and we don’t know how to make sense of the world. Tough guys, loners and antiheroes like regular heroes are ciphers, characters we project ourselves onto and vicariously enjoy for their values and hardline uncompromising attitudes. They can’t succeed outside of their own fiction, in real life we are often forced to compromise and do things we don’t want to do, often it can be soul destroying and it’s not a matter of choice, but survival. That kind of hardline no compromise attitude rarely works in the real world.

That hardline attitude may work well temporarily in places like combat sports or the military, but those environments still have rules, and the real world has no rules, just human idea constructs smooshed over top of what we call life. And in life we have to find our own way and make sense of things – the world is not black and white, but endlessly complicated, expansive and multidimensional.

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BAT… JAMES BAT

We can’t escape from the 70’s Batman and fully understand 80’s Batman without a nod to the prolific James Bond. Forties Batman was grim and gothic, fifties Batman was a grinning idiot who ran around in the daylight, late fifties and early sixties Batman had increasingly bizarre adventures in space and other forgettable stories. Seventies Batman  moved back closer to his roots, bringing back the Gothic dark elements of the character, while adding an exotic globe trotting James Bond angle to the Batman mythos, before moving into more grim existentialist flavored Batman stories in the eighties.

James Bond, in any incarnation is not a vigilante. He is a spy, a tough guy and a loner however he works for a British government spy organisation. He has a famous “license to kill”. It’s an unavoidable part of his job to kill. His portrayal has veered from serious to outlandish and comical and stone cold serious again through the different actors, and tone of the various movies. From high camp, to straight action to gritty intense emotional drama, Bond has done it all. He’s a very effective fighter, killer and spy. He makes for a great contrast with Batman, Dredd and Dirty Harry. We can see the overlap in their methods, their morality (or lack of) and the dangerous situations they all face on a daily basis. Leaving these guys aside for a while, let’s take a look at some of the overall trends in action heroes in cinema and comics during the 70’s and 80’s, and then see how it all relates to, or influences Batman media.

 

BACK……..TO THE 1980’S

(A.K.A. CRUSH…KILL…DESTROY!)

 

War Western and Film Noir
If you look at the history of american action movies you have your war and western films, film noir, detective stories of hard boiled gum shoes and the like, and as the war and western movies died off in the 50’s and 60’s you had the rise of the loners, the outsiders, tough guys, and antiheroes typified by actors like Lee Marvin in Hard Boiled, Charles Bronson in Death Wish, Clint Eastwood in Dirty Harry.

As the straight laced 60’s action heroes gave way to more grim anti-heroes of the 70s, and excess over the top body count of 80s action cinema the cowboy/cop/soldier turned into the loner /outsider/antihero. The hero archetype in cinema moved from establishment to anti-establishment and back again, taking on new forms and permutations. The trend continued in the 80s with new wave action hero’s such as Stallone and Schwarzenegger who were as famous for their imposing physiques as their high bodycount movies and non-stop blood thirsty action.

Back to the 80s guns action and overkill

In the 80’s out were the straight laced serious cop/cowboy heroes  and in was super-human murder death killing machines such as The Terminator and Rambo. Chuck Norris, Steven Segal, Jean Claude Van Damme and others continued the trend of Stallone and Schwarzenegger in B-grade cinema where the selling point was the high bodycount, martial arts expertise, military commando’s and other types of extreme hero killing machines who dominated the decade. The lone hero or anti-hero with the highest bodycount and the smartest one liner and baddest attitude that started with Lee Marvin, Charles Bronson and Clint Eastwood evolved and devolved in the 80’s to new forms.

Heroic trends shifted from establishment to anti-establishment to jingoistic pro Americana war propaganda and back again.

 

terminator lethal weapon robocop action men 80s

“RIGGS IS CRAZY!”

But the 80’s was not just home to near super-human killing machines, but was also the decade of rogue cops on a revenge mission and sci-fi, technology, A.I. and Trans-Humanist fears with Robocop and The Terminator. The crazed 70’s cop on a revenge kick morphed and blended with the 80’s excess new breed of action hero. Martin Riggs in the first Lethal Weapon is tough yet vulnerable, by the fourth film in the series, he has become  a parody of himself, he still gets hurt, but we know he will always come out on top like Rocky and Dirty Harry. The heartfelt portrayal of the genuinely suicidal Riggs continued the new trend of sub-genre PTSD that was firmly established in The Deer Hunter (1978).

Alongside these new special effects heavy blood thirsty action movies was the usual glut of B-grade Kung-Fu Killer imports that  trickled down the pipeline and eventually gave way to American teenagers new obsession with Deadly Ninja films.

It didn’t matter any more in this crowded action-genre market whose side the hero was actually on. What his values, ethics and mission were – only how big the explosions were, and how many people he killed during his mission or journey. James Bond who had dominated the action movies of 60’s had become a relic by the 80’s – he was no longer cool. What was cool was pointless mass carnage, excessive blood and explosions, abstract violence as pop-art – a trend that ironically James Bond himself helped to start in his earliest films, this trend continued throughout the 80’s as “me-too” Z-Grade action movies appeared on the video rental shelves next to the big budget action blockbusters.

 

The Dark Knight by Mental Studios 450

WHERE DID YOUR BAT-MANNERS GO OLD CHUM? (A.K.A. BATMAN IS A BIT OF A BASTARD)

As these types of new wave heroes and anti-heroes invaded comics along came Wolverine, Judge Dredd, The Punisher and of course Batman became more of a hard ass in the 80’s. If 70’s Batman was typified by James Bond style globe trotting adventures by Denny ‘O Neil and Neal Adams, the 80s were about grim and gritty Batman, none more grim and gritty than Frank Miller’s Dark Knight Returns, a tought ruthless bastard who was equally likely to sneer or laugh at you as he broke both your arms…Miller’s semi-sadistic vision of Batman overshadowed every other Batman story in the decade of Miami Vice, new wave pop, hair metal and hip-hop. While Wolverine and The Punisher debuted in the 70’s, it was the 80’s were they graduated to their own titles and found new fans as they became a popular ultra-violent alternative to mainstream superhero comics,.

No other writer had written Batman so gruff, stand offish and downright mean as Frank Miller in The Dark Knight Returns. This was Batman as Dirty Harry, Batman as Judge Dredd in another costume. Gruff, uncaring, stand-offish, he often spoke in short sentences with a commanding tone that other Bat writers over the years picked up on.

The team of John Wagner and Alan Grant in (issue numbers) ran with their own version of this hard bastard Batman in a fantastic run of comics.  John Wagner, Alan Grant and Norm Breyfogle’s gave us a breif fan favourite run on Detective Comics staring in 1988, in Detective Comics #583-594; 601-621 (thanks to FamousFanBoy for the reference).

For people who grew up on and only knew Batman from the campy 1966 TV show starring Adam West and Burt Ward, this hard cynical violent Batman of the 80’s seemed excessive, mean and horrible, a betrayal of their childhood character.

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But for hardcore Batman fans, it was a return to the roots of the Gothic vigilante who terrorized the criminal underworld before he was castrated by the Comics Code Authority and his stories turned into a saccharine dayglow fever dream of political correctness. It was more of the hard bastard 80’s Batman who fans greedily devoured and asked for seconds.

With the influences of Miller’s Dark Knight Returns Batman and Wagner’s Judge Dredd, Batman in the 80’s was a tough bastard who grew more dark, grim and cynical. In short he was becoming more like the modern Batman we know. Some would call him a fascist, or mentally unstable. But no matter what label was thrown at the Dark Knight, none of them could really stick, or at least not for long as a new fresh interpretation was always just around the corner.

Many of his regular monthly stories reflected the regular version of Batman fans were used to from the 70’s. But the hunger for for a harder edged Batman would reach it’s peak with the 90’s Knightfall storyline, where Batman / Wayne is replaced by nutcase Jean Paul Valley, who uses deadlier weapons and becomes a parody of Batman while trying to replace him.

Batman by Greg Capullo one tough bastard
Miller’s Dark Knight by Greg Capullo

In the modern era we get a composite Batman. The athletic James Bond Batman of Neal Adams, the hard cynical bastard Batman of Frank Miller, the relentless manhunter Detective of Paul Dini, the Gothic Dark Knight of Bob Kane & Bill Finger and other great Bat-writers. The modern Batman is a mix of all these great elements, and the whole of Batman is greater than the simple sum of his parts, his diverse writers, artists and influencers.

He can be grim and cynical, he can be the light hearted Lego Batman or Adam West Batman, he can be eerie and creepy Batman in Kelley Jones horror stories, he can do it all. Batman is tough, he’s an awesome idea, nobody is going to break him by writing a bad story, Batman’s been around too long and is so damn cool and brilliant that he can do it all. Fighting white martians, fighting Superman, fighting sharks and jumping sharks, he’s been there, done that and now he’s ready for more.

“…this is the most perfect version of Batman ever. Wagner and Grant’s Batman is the gritty, damaged Miller version, merged with Morrison’s “love god”, merged with the father figure who raises and nurtures Robins, merged with the super-hero from the pages of Justice League. He’s every Batman, it’s all in him!  – Paul C. / FamousFanboy/Blogspot.com.au

 

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Frank Miller’s “Dark Knight Returns”

While Alan Grant was a prolific Batman writer in the late eighties and into the nineties, his collaborator John Wagner contributed to only a select few Batman stories. Its makes his contribution however small that much more special. I’m not saying he is more important than any other Bat-writer over the decades, but to get to the modern Batman we love you have to go through Dirty Harry and Judge Dredd and Frank Miller’s Batman – the same way to fully understand the Golden Age Batman you need to know about Zorro, The Shadow, Doc Savage and Superman. Frank Miller’s influence is significant, but often over stated.

To follow the trail of the smiling daylight cop Batman to the dark detective Batman, his diversion into sci-fi bizarreness and high camp and a return to the darker Batman that revisited his Gothic roots from Detective Comics #27 you have follow the reinvention of characters at DC lead by Julius Schwartz such as the Silver Age Flash, which leads into Denny O Neil and Neil Adams Dark Knight Detective of the seventies, which leads into Doug Moench’s Batman of the 80s, Miller’s Dark Knight, Kelley Jones’ gothic horror Batman, Chuck Dixon stories of the 90’s. Paul Dini’s Batman Animated stories, Loeb and Sale’s Halloween stories, and all the regular amazing talent on the monthlies up to the modern day with fantastic runs from brilliant writers such as Grant Morrison and Scott Snyder.

POST POST POST MODERN CAPE AND COWL

Batman comics group editor Denny O Neil’s overall influence on Batman from 1970s-1990s cannot be understated. He has been involved with the character as a writer and editor for longer than any other individual, he was in the unique position to help reshape Batman from irrelevance to pop-culture juggernaut.

You don’t get Miller’s Dark Knight Returns, Nolan’s Batman Begins or Snyder’s Batman v Superman without the groundwork laid by Denny O’ Neil and other talented bastards over several decades. Denny takes Batman seriously, he respects the character and puts him in challenging situations where he is forced to rise to the challenge and use all his skills. Denny’s Batman is perhaps the most human. He fails, he expresses remorse, he is not invincible, unbeatable, nor any sort of  Bat-God under Denny O Neil’s pen.

Denny is perhaps the most significant writer to have ever worked on Batman next to his co-creator Bill Finger. His background as a crime reporter / journalist led him to include social and sometimes political commentary in his Batman stories in a seamless way that integrated with the core themes of Batman and whatever case the world’s greatest detective was trying to solve that month.

Batman by Neal Adams bleeding pin up

Denny ‘O Neil along with other new generation writers of his era lifted the craft and quality not just of Batman, but the superhero genre of fiction. Putting real world issues into populist cheap entertainment gave Denny’s stories a more timeless feel. While some of the dialogue in those older stories can be a bit hammy, the themes of his stories still resonate today. With Neal Adams’ anatomically accurate drawings, and cinematic dynamic storytelling style, together Denny and Neil  redefined Batman for an entire generation of Batfans.

Including Batfan Paul Dini who (along with Alan Burnett and Bruce Timm) would redefine Batman yet again in the 90s with Batman the Animated Series, creating one of the the most definitive and enduring versions of Batman beloved by fans around the world.

Detective 596 John Wagner Alan Grant
Wagner / Grant Batman in Detective Comics #596

 

NEW WAVE HEROES AND ANTIHEROES SETTLE IN

The new wave of western anti-heroes such as Clint Eastwood’s Blondie in For a Fistful of Dollars were seen as sheik, uber-cool nonchalant ass-kickers by the youth, and needlessly cruel and violent by the older generation who had grown up with relatively bloodless Westerns and exaggerated morally perfect heroes typified by John Wayne, Gary Cooper James Stewart and other stars. Sam Peckinpah continued the trend of bloody Westerns featuring unlikable and often downright villainous – yet human – characters.

With “emotional realism” taking precedence in the late 70s into the 80s, many stories in both films and comics also brought a kind of cynicism and existential meaninglessness that is still today often mistake for “realism” in general, rather than as a sub-genre of the “realism” movement that swept into film through the seventies, echoed a couple of decades later in TV and comics by the likes of Oz, The Wire, and The Walking Dead.

Batman in the rain 1

From the 70’s to the 80’s we had the end of the John Wayne moral Cowboy / War Hero / Lawman characters and the rise of the anti-hero and excessive violence. This was the era of Wolverine and Judge Dredd, of Frank Miller’s Daredevil and Batman, of Dirty Harry, The Terminator, Robocop and Rambo. The trend of new wave surreal realistic violence started by genuine passionate film makers such as Sam Peckinpah devolved into mindless blood letting, bigger explosions and body counts, and a sort of amoral glorification of pro-american killing machines masquerading as fetishished unbeatable soldier heroes and one man armies on revenge missions for America.

Even the anti-war film Rambo, the grim and gritty tale of a shell-shocked Vietnam veteran who is unable to return to civilian life (a new sub-genre of film showing the real life after effects of the Vietnam war – rather than the glory and propaganda of earlier war films – first touched on in the in the PTSD infused The Deer Hunter) devolved into a remorseless killing machine in his sequels, depicting the jingoistic consequence free fantasy violence that the first film spoke out against.

The tie in jingoistic 80’s cartoon depicting John Rambo leading a team of “me too” G.I Joe type team on missions where rocket launchers, grenades and realistic automatic heavy artillery led somehow to blissful bloodless resolutions to american foreign concerns in exotic locations further eroded whatever credibility Rambo had established as a character in his first appearance. Further even bloodier sequels would cement Rambo’s memory as another 80’s murder/death/kill machine, drowning out the tone and message the first Rambo film established in a deafening roar of semiautomatic gunfire and garnished with a tidal wave of empty shell casings.

…AND THE REST

James bond continued to do what he does best through the years, leading from the lukewarm Bond of the 80’s to the politically correct but underwhelming Bond of the 90’s – Bond remained somewhat unpopular – as even the cold hearted killer BOND looked tame and boring next to the existential cool of Clint Eastwood or the bad boy outsiders like Judge Dredd, Batman and Wolverine who appeared in the late 70’s and early 80’s.

As the 70’s ended, so did the era of John Wayne, and moral cowboy heroes and conscience of America for several decades. The Duke  starred in his final film The Shootist (1976), a somber small scale western film about an aging gun fighter dying of terminal cancer. Directed by Dirty Harry’s Don Siegel, it’s the film nobody really expected to see after John Wayne’s semi-retirement from cowboy film in the 60’s.

James Bond continued on through the 80’s, and moving into the 90’s attempted to reinvigorate the franchise with Pearce Brosnan in four films (and a non canon video game)  that were an odd mix of poorly implemented political correctness and other 90’s cliches that failed to modernise Bond in any meaningful way. They were still fun films, but lacking in many ways. Brosnan was excellent as Bond, but the writing was not up to the standards it should have been for such a beloved character.

Not until the success of Batman Begins and The Bourne Identity did James Bond successfully move out of action adventure movie limbo (and legal dramas behind the scenes) to be reborn a meaner, more handsome, more clever and capable Bond than any we had seen ever before. The sense of humor and knowing winks to the camera of the Connery and Moore era were gone, this Bond was all seething rage, pain and pathos, this was James Bond: Year One, a reinvigoration of both the character and franchise that continued on for several films. Things had come full circle as 70’s Batman was heavily influenced by the cinematic James Bond, and decades later James Bond was heavily influenced by the cinematic Batman.

 

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Further permutations of the vigilante archetype played out through the eighties and into the nineties. One of the more interesting comic book oddities was Marvel’s Moon Knight.

Moon Knight was a creation of prolific Batman writer Doug Moench.

Having penned many Batman excellent stories, Moench created Marvel’s most superficially  Batman-like character “Moon Knight” in the late 70s. What was similar was the costume, money, gadgets, vigilante schtick and war on crime, what was different is that Marc Spector was formerly a mercenary, a cold blooded killer who was reborn as Moon Knight, whose new superhero mission was to serve as the avatar to Khonshu -the Egyptian God of the Moon.

Moon Knights depictions would vary over the decades from being a moral hero, to psychotic, to multiple personality disorder and schizophrenia. Moon Knight then is a Batman like character who is genuinely crazy, who sometimes kills, while still basically being a moral hero on a mission. Loose affiliations with the Defenders, Avengers and other teams mean Moon Knight varies in his personality and depiction as much by writer as because of his multiple personality disorder and supernatural origins.

While superficially similar to Batman, the Moon Knight stories are different enough to make him a genuinely interesting and even unique character.

Batman Judge Dredd 1

I hope you’ve enjoyed this quick tour of Batman’s vigilante contemporaries and influences. Coming up in a future article I’m going to take a look at the Golden Age characters who are part of Batman’s DNA like The Shadow, Doc Savage and Zorro.

So stick around, there is plenty more to come Batfans.
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Quite Possibly the Most Un-Exciting Editorial on the Internet (but don’t hold your breath) for Batfan on Batman Blog June 2016

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It’s that mid year period when I’ve got a few articles up, a bunch more nearly finished, and many many more still in the draft stage.

At any time, I have more articles I want to write, than time to write them.

Which is why I play the waiting game. I’d love to be able to write more often on this BatBlog, but in the real world I gotta work and this blog is just a hobby.

Just because it’s a hobby does not mean I not 100% committed to making every article the best damn article it can be. I’m never entirely satsified with anything I write, becase I know it can be better, you can tweak things endlessly, or you can write them, edit the hell out of them, and get them out there for people to read.

Blog writing needs frequent updates to get good search engine results. But I write infrequently, so it means this niche audience for this blog is you my friend.

Batman may be the biggest and best fictional character on the planet, but a blog dedicated to looking deeper into every aspect of Batman is not for everybody. Some people just want to see him punch crime in the face on a the big screen and then go home.

Some want the monthly comics. Others are all about the collectibles. There are those who love superhero mythology, or just enjoy a good story. I love all of it, the movies, video games, animation, toys, LEGO Batman, DC Comics Batman, pink and purple glow in the dark Batman – I don’t care – I love it all.

Whatever type of Batfan you are, I hope you find something to enjoy here.

I like to under promise and OVER deliver, rather than the reverse.

Actions speak louder than words, I could write an editorial every month, but that is time away from actually writing. So 2-3 a year is plenty for me.

I just wanted to reassure new and long time readers there are plenty more good articles on the way. Some you’ll like, some you won’t. That’s okay, nobody is going to like everything, I like to mix it up and do different things.

Batman by Neal Adams bleeding pin up

This year I’m going to switch my focus to two major things that 90% of Batfans love.

The Arkham Asylum video game series and Batman: The Animated Series (from the 90’s)

Fans univerally love those two licensed properties, and I wanted my blog to start with just the core of Batman, the character himself before branching out into other things based on the character and his comics.

I’m thinking I’ll spend a good six months writing JUST on B:TAS and the Arkham games. I’m going to focus on the concepts, and ideas behind these properties, the art style, their impact on Batman media, who the various talents are behind these properties and other fun stuff.

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My next article will be up later this week. It’s done right now, it’s a cool piece where I look at Batman and action heroes of comics and cinema in the 70’s and 80’s. I could post it right now, it’s done, edited, has 5000+ words, lots of purty pictures but you know….

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I don’t like to rush things out the door. In manufacturing, when a product is complete, its sits and does a whole lot of…. NOTHING. It does so much NOTHING it can drive you crazy, it just sits there taking up space MOCKING YOU.

Until the Q.C. (that’s quality control if you never been a willing slave in any type of industrial manufacturing building of loud noises and low pay) guy or gal comes to town. The Q.C. brigade are quick draw artist, if they don’t like the cut of your gib, they will slap a big bright sticker on your product to make sure it goes nowhere, and does even MORE nothing.

Quality Control stops by these here parts regularly, and real surly like they say “John, this here product done look real good, but… you DO know Batman has two ears, NOT one. You’re gonna have to fix that before we let this article out the door. We send that out and we’ll all look like Bat Idiots here at the Batitude Madeup Multimedia Corporation.

 

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So when I finish an article, I let it sit. Then I come back to it and give it the final Q.C. inspection before shoving it out the door to fend for itself in the world. And even then there are STILL typos. Yes I KNOW. I go back now and then fix them up, it’s just unavoidable really.

That’s about all I have to say really. Well one more thing, I guess.

My published post count so far here is 72, the articles in draft are at 142. Some of those drafts will be scrapped, but at least 100 of them will be full articles.

I also have over 200 other different Batman themed articles planned out in a hardcover journal. So while the articles may be infrequent, there is a lot more to come…

I hope you stick around and have enjoyed what you have read here so far. If you’re new, check back once or twice a month for new stuff, and hit up the old subscribe via email down the right side of the screen there (big orange box) under my smug mug back at the top of the page.

Batman articles draft vs published

 

 

 

 

Batfan John’s Snappy Answers to Batman Related Questions #1: What is your favourite version of Batman?

 batman by john romita junior in the rain.jpg

“A great rabbi used to say, “I never asked myself if I could do it. I only asked myself if it needed to be done.” In his relentless struggle against evil, the Batman never asks himself if he can do it; he asks only if it needs to be done” –  Cary A. Friedman, Wisdom from the Batcave.

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