Category Archives: Comics

GET REAL AND GET ANGRY

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Anger gets a bad rap.

“Don’t be angry!” – People who Talk

Anger is a great mobilizing force, channelled correctly it’s a torrent of pure emotion harnessed like wild horses drawing a carriage.

When mother nature gets pissed expect hurricanes, floods and tsunamis son, ain’t nothing subtle about it. It’s wild and uncontrollable and anyone who tried to stop the rage of nature would be a damn fool.

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You add focused purpose to anger and it becomes like a gigantic river travelling through a hydro dam. That pure unrestrained emotion and all it’s wild chaotic energy can be focused and directed with the right tools.

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We can always learn from the natural world, and we can always learn from Batman and his angry wrathful nature. Sometimes it’s wild and chaotic, othertimes his wrath is measured, focused and sustaining. There is a time and a place for both ways and it’s wisdom to know which to use and which to hit “ignore” at any time.

If I was not an angry son of a bitch I would not be writing these blogs. You can make peace with who you are, your situation in life and all the crazy ass things that happen, but anger ain’t all bad. And you are not wrong to be angry with the many injustices that exist in the world.

You are not wrong to get angry when you see people doing dumb lazy things when they damn well know better, and you are not wrong to get angry about your own un-ending dumb behavior, I know I do.  It’s called having standards and values, you know like a certain rich angry SOB who lost his parents, and dresses up to scare the criminal element, but underdeath is a highly moral individual.

Humanity is stupid, we grow smarter one mistake at a time, one bat-step at time

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Anger used poorly is a fit of rage that turns into momentary impulsive violence or accidental murder, then jail time and the destruction of everything valuable in our life (our self, our family, our life).

Anger used well is Dirty Harry spending weeks tracking down that scumbag criminal who got away, when every other lazy fuck wants to forget about it, and move on.

power to the people you fucks

Anger used well is peaceful protest, people standing up for their civil rights individually and collectively in a consistent organized manner.

Anger used well is Kratos taking down the Gods of Olympus for being soft lazy lying sons of bitches, especially that old lecherous bastard Zeus.

kratos done fuck shit up zeus 450

Anger used well is taking that inner rage and channeling it into a force for something useful, something purposeful, something good – or at the very least something productive.

I’m not saying it’s easy to do. 

I struggle with it daily.

I am saying IT CAN FUCKING BE DONE.

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Many a time I’ve taken out a momentary fit of pure unreasonable Hulk like rage on a punching bag. Or smashed some old bricks in the backyard with a sledge hammer. Our bodies were made to move and the last thing anger likes is trying to be suppressed.

Fuck that, it doesn’t work.

Don’t listen to anyone who tells you it does, as they are full of some Feel Good Grade “A” Bullshit.

Putting a lid on steam means eventually something is gonna ***explode***.

Suppressing anger is a short recipe for toxic pathology and can lead to deep psychological issues that will inevitably express themselves in involuntary ways at the worst possible times. None of them with good results.

Once that chemical chain kicks off in your body, anger is going to motivate you one way or another.

Better to be prepared and know how you can use it, rather than give in to our most base impulses, which have their time and place, and have been with us for thousands of years from the times of our hunter/gatherer ancestors.

 

WHERE’S MY BAT-CLUB OLD CHUM?

Some days I want to fucking cave someones skull in.

That might sound horrible to you

and it is…

it’s disgusting,

it’s appaling to our “civilized” minds…

but it’s also as natural as breathing oxygen or going for a peaceful walk.

We each create and destroy with the same two hands

Our bodies and our biology are built for action, whether it’s peaceful action or live and die action – those chemicals that power us do not give a damn what you are doing, or how you are doing it.

They are neutral, adrenaline has no “ethics”.

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So I prefer to so day a few good deadlifts, or punch the fuck out of a heavy bag, rather than punch the fuck out of a person, and I have to admit, quite often I want to… and there are even healthy ways of doing that like joining a boxing gym or grappling class for example where you can express your natural bodily instincts without ending up in prison or dead as a fucking doorknob.

No.

You gotta have an outlet – a channel for that raw energy – which is what anger and all emotions are – a form of energy seeking to be expressed.

Natural agression (even more more for so men, with our particular specific chemical make up) has to find a way, it’s nature.

You can move into alignment with your own nature, or be used up by it. If you want to see the worst results of anger left unchained, of people with little to no impulse control – go visit a local prison for some examples.

Nature is hunter gatherers, you’re either killing your dinner or fighting off an attacker of some sort – those instincts are in us and not going anywhere. You make peace with that or you try and explain it away with some kind of bullshit that ultimately ends up hurting you and those you are responsible for. Anger, or Emotional Energy without focus is chaos, but with discipline that same anger can serve a purpose.

MANS GOT TO KNOW HIS LIMITATIONS CLINT EASTWOOD

The unseen forces that shape us as individuals we often have little to no influence upon.

If we are caught in a raging river, the best we can do is “go with it” rather than struggle against it and hasten our own demise. There is an eternal aspect to anger that is impersonal and inescapable, it’s part of us and always will be.

Ares 1 mad as hell and not gonna take it any more

Instinct would tell us to struggle – to survive – but flailing about without focus only gets you fatigued and drowned that much faster.

Anger is eternal – it’s a force of Nature, you can try and supress it, but it’s as stupid as trying to suppress a hurricane.

It just doesn’t work and it’s a waste of life to even try.

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Batman is an angry son of a bitch (no disrespect to his parents intended) but what he also is, is highly trained, focused and disciplined. He makes anger work for him. He makes anger his bitch.

Focused training and discipline are tools. They are like the reigns on those wild horses, that when used properly direct all that energy and fury in a specific direction. They are your best chance at harnessing chaos, but life doesn’t come with any guarantees.

MAN OF BATS

So other than dressing up like a giant bat and punching crime in the face, how in fuck do we let that natural anger out?

There are a lot of different ways, and everyone has to find what works for them. Some types of anger are momentary and impulsive, other types of anger are more lower level, but move up or down in that chemical hierarchy in your body – so it’s good to find several different ways to move and feel with your body.

*A tough workout – vigorous physical exercise gets at the way our bodies chemisty was made to be used. Our fight or flight instincts can be utilized for intense brutal workouts that leave you so spent you simply have no anger left in you afterward. It’s my #1 method, but I know it’s not everyone, and should not be used everyday. Everyday workouts should be lighter, or go hard on a punching bag for a short time and you won’t be fatigued for your everyday responsibilities

*Writing and Song – Some of the best hip hop music on the planet was made by some people genuinely angry at circumstances of their own lives, or the society they live in, for damnm good reasons. It’s not an easy route, but it’s a valid one. If writing seems soft and gentle to you, well its fucking difficult and I say go listen to some George Carlin or Chuck D if you have that erroneous idea. Writing your thoughts and ideas down, or speaking them aloud is a way to not let them to take you over, to become a master of the magic of words is not for everyone, but songs are a kind of magic, they weave a spell for good or bad over those whom would be influenced by them. Minstrels are not to be fucked with, so don’t call them soft.

*Peaceful Protest Groups – Some nutters take it too far, but I’m all for the principle of standing up for what you believe in (provided it’s married to the common good, and not hurting poeple). I do not approve of dangerous or stupid stunts to get attention. I dont approve of asshole groups who piggyback their agenda onto someone else or hijack their protest to be public nuisances. I do approve of organized peaceful purposeful action, the INTELLIGENT kind that Dr King spoke of and utilized so eloquently.

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.  – Martin Luther King

I do approve of focused sustained efforts for real world change. Long intelligent ruthless campaigns, not foolish nieve skirmishes. There is great strength in inner peace, and succumbing to your most base actions, inflicting violence on others in the name of “peace” is the ultimate hypocrisy and the stupidest of human actions possible.

*Clubs, groups and hobby activities – Joining a hobby oriented group that gets you out and about, meeting like minded others can be a productive way of using up energy that otherwise can fester into anger.

*Therapy – Therapy or the “talking cure” can do a lot of good for some people. It can also potentially make some people worse or just not work (such as Sociopaths). It has proven results at helping people if not resolve their deep seated anger, but at least identifying it, seeing it coming and developing strategies on how to address it and channel it rather than be used up by it. There are good therapists, and shit ones. Shop around.

*Seated Meditation and Moving Meditation – When I’m worked up the last thing in the fucking world I want to do is Meditate. I mean FUCK OFF! However…. it can be used a preventer, and I have to say that once learned Medtiation is VERY EFFECTIVE at Preventing outbursts of rage, and helps you regulate all those fun happy chemicals running around inside your body all day. A moving meditation such as slow walking and counting your steps, can also be effective, but mostly if i am that worked up I would rather run, punch a bag, swing a sledgehammer at some rocks or lift something heavy…. and do something relaxing later on.

*Find what works FOR YOU. I don’t know any magic formula. I’ve worked some things out in life by trying a lot of different things and figuring out that I really don’t like most things. From there I simplify down to the essentials. But first you have to at try some new activities, new ways of being to get out of your old habits and break into new ones. And it’s uncomfortable as hell!

 

THE DEVIL INSIDE

We all have the same two hands – love and hate, good and evil, the same natures in each of us. Those who would pretend otherwise are nieve fools too afraid to look into their own existential abyss and witness the eternal unforgiving  blackness within themselves, that left unchecked can consume you like a deep ocean vortex.

We all have the good and evil  left hand right hand available to us at any time. I’m a left hander, so I’m fucked right out of the gate.

robert mitchum hate knuckles

Inside of each of us are these two polarities. It’s not just a matter of how we use the energy each day, but how we combine the two polarities into a unified whole.

You can’t deny any part of your nature and expect to still be human. We can transcend and include our most base instincts, but they are always with us and they are NECESSARY parts of our condition.

We learn to be more like Batman by acknowledging rather than denying our true nature, by discipling and training ourselves to be smarter, stronger and more cunning today, than we were yesterday. If we fight a war, it’s a bitter campaign against our own ignorance, and if we have the Will of the Bat, we can beat back our own individual and collective stupidity one Bat Punch, one Bat Step at time.

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“Batman is a metaphor for the alchemy of our own soul. He symbolises how to integrate and transform our darkest impulses and direct them toward our highest good.” – JOHN SORENSEN

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WHAT IS AN ANTI-HERO?

An antihero can mean one of a number of things.

In Film an antihero is typically a flawed hero who tries to do good, but doesn’t really live up to the roles and expectations of a genuine Hero.

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Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart) in Casablanca to some is an antihero, but to others he is a genuine hero.

It is very subjective.

Another popular cinematic antihero is Clint Eastwood in Sergio Leone’s Fistful of Dollars. Clint played an outlaw as “Blondie” in the dollars Trilogy, while he played a lawful antihero in Dirty Harry.

But in the Dirty Harry sequels Clint increasingly became an un-lawful (rather than lawful) anti-hero, he became more of a vigilante with a badge.

 

Some actors are typically known for playing antiheroes like Lee Marvin, Charles Bronson , Kurt Russell etc while other actors such as John Wayne are known primarily for playing morally decent heroes.

An antihero in comic books such as Spawn, Judge Dredd Wolverine or The Punisher is neither good nor evil. Hero nor villain.

 

Comic books antiheroes often fall on the side of “good” in the moral compass.

They may be vigilantes like Batman who is both a genuine hero and antihero with a moral code – he does not kill nor use guns.

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Wolverine is another antihero with a moral code, who tries to kill only bad people, but sometimes ends up killing the wrong people, or gets brain washed by Hydra to kill other heroes pushing him temporarily into villain territory.

Antiheroes may be criminals who are morally decent, and are reluctant heroes such as Catwoman who are mainly interested in crime, but not at the expense of the poor. She steals from the rich, and often from rich morally repugnant criminals such as the mafia who are killers and slave traders.

catwoman by darwyn cooke

A true villain or super-villain is out for a particular agenda, or to serve themselves, thus are not anti-heroes. If someone benefits by the villains actions, it’s usually incidental. But some characters walk a constant line from Villain to Anithero and back again. The X-Men’s Magneto for example started as a villain but has been at times Villain, Hero, Anti-Hero and even a genuine savior to Mutants for brief periods of time.

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Some characters waver between being a hero, antihero and villain, such as Deadpool, who is a mercenary and does not pretend to be a hero.

While Deadpool is a mostly an amoral killer mercenary who accepts contracts for money, he doesn’t want to kill children, and he has teamed up with Wolverine and other X-men characters just as many times as he has fought against them. Despite being amoral, even a mentally ill maniac and basically he does not accept societies values and expectations, but he does have his own style and values he lives by, just don’t expect those value to match up to your own.

Deadpool has also teamed up with other characters like Spider-Man  and other Marvel heroes, but often betrays them or uses them to help him complete his mercenary contracts.

DEADPOOL SPIDERMAN COVER PARODY

An antihero then can actually be :
*A former hero
*A pure anti-hero – like the Punisher
*A reformed villain – like Hawkeye who has been a villain, hero and antihero

Even Captain America has been an antihero in the Marvel Civil War story when he went against the compulsory government superhero registration act.

For more on this topic and further examples check out the TV Tropes website, it’s a great resource for fun short reading and really valuable for doing research for articles and podcasts and what have you on niche topics.

Anti-Hero – TV Tropes

Anti-Hero / Analysis – TV Tropes

This alignment meme grid you may find helpful for practical examples of the contrast of heroes, anti-heroes and villains. All of whom can be Good / Neutral / Evil etc, and may shift into different alignments in different stages of their career in their given lifespan or fiction.

I don’t know who first created this D&D style alignment grid for Batman characters, there are loads of variations floating around, this version was featured on Comparative Geeks  a blog and podcast about many Geek topics, such as this excellent piece on my main man from Vulcan Spock — A Character Study
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If you’d like to read a longer article on Anti-Heroes and more speifically Batman, check out my feature article New Wave Anti-heroes, Rising Bodycounts and Batman
new wave antiheroes

 

 

BATITUDE FOREVER!

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

I can’t do it.

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

Well that’s just not fucking kosher in Gotham.

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

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

Sure it’d be *easy*

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

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…But that would be LAZY and SOFT.

Not difficult and challenging.

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

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

I also have the fresh perspectives of more life lived.

The Good, The Bad and The Indifferent.

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

To lurk around in the shadows.

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

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Time to look into that dark existential abyss and say

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

batman posters1

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

Stick around.

Knuckle sandwiches are complimentary.

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

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

 

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Fail More Fail Better – BE LIKE BATMAN

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

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

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Fail more, fail better.

Failure is feedback.

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

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

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

 

What works… persists,

What doesn’t… falls away.

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

What works for me might not work for you.

What works for you, might not work for me.

What works for Batman might not work for us.

THIS IS ONE OF THE SECRETS OF THE BAT.

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

He is ordinary yet mysterious.

Super, yet human.

He gives Superman a headache.

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

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

Batman is pure imagination and willpower given physical form.

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

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

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

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

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

BATMAN-VS-PREDATOR-WINNER

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

A lot.

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

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

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

 

THE WAY OF THE BAT

Rarely are we ever successful at something right away.

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

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

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

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

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

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Trying over and over does’t equal success.

It might sometimes.

But most of the time it doesn’t.

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

Batman - Dark Detective fear scarecrow 300

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

but I was not good enough this time.”

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

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

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

You can see it in his eyes.

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

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

It’s like nothing. Dust in the wind.

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

We can’t.

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

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

“I AM RESPONSIBLE FOR WHAT HAPPENS”

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

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IMAGE CREDITS

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

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

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

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

*Alfred/Batman panel from Batman, DC Comics

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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JLA + Evil Universe = Demented Batpeople

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

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

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

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THE TRIUMVIRATE KNIGHT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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*spoiler alert* The Butler Did it

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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