Nightwing #0

Nightwing #0 was a damn good comic book. It gives a look back to how Dick Grayson wound up joining Batman’s crusade. What I like about this is how it doesn’t attempt to create a new and radically revamped origin; it just enhances the story we already know.

Dick was an orphaned circus performer after his parents were gunned down by the mob. But how exactly did Bruce Wayne wind up getting custody of him? Quite simple; he was to hide out at Wayne Manor until his parents’ murderer was apprehended. There was a bit of a bond with Bruce and Dick, for both having gone through such an ordeal.

But what writer Tom DeFalco added to the mythology was how Dick much smarter than Bruce ever imagined, not only figuring out that he was Batman but helping bring in the murderers. Dick proved to be someone competent enough to become Batman’s partner in crime-fighting.

I like it because this felt like an old silver age story. A lot of fun and a quick read, but superb for the Batman purist.

Photoshop Fun With DC Universe Infinite Heroes Batman!

Today we’re going to share a Photoshop procedural, starring the DC Universe Infinite Heroes Batman action figure! This line of Mattel action figures were pretty cool, although they were slightly smaller and lacked some of the articulation of the Hasbro line of Marvel Universe toys. I like the Batman figure because of its simple design, reminding me of the Dick Grayson-as-Batman from the Batman and Robin series, save for him not having the Batman logo belt buckle. Sometimes I like the yellow and black bat shield, but this larger, more subtle icon.

For this photo project, I took a picture of Batman in front of a cityscape shot that I found online. I took the picture with Batman right in front of the LCD display on my desktop. Doing this is a lot easier than superimposing him over the background image. The trick is to make sure your camera is focusing just on Batman instead of the whole background. That helps make a sense of depth.

Batman black and white

I wanted to do something in black and white, because I was looking through the Batman: Black and White book the other day at Barnes and Noble. First step was to convert the image to black and white and I played around with some of the contrast settings. Next I duplicated the layer and used the motion and radial blurs, followed by the feathered erase to have Batman popping out.

Old Batman Comic Book

I decided that I wanted to make an old comic book or magazine cover, so I lifted the “Batman” comic mast-head, the old DC and Comics Code indica from an actual Batman cover. I wanted to make this really beat up, so I added a scratched up texture to the image. This was done by finding a scratched up texture on Google, adding it as a new layer on top, switching it to “Multiply” mode and lowering the opacity.

I really wanted to make it look even more beaten up. Enter Pixlr-O-Matic. This site lets you apply Instagram like color processing and all kinds of effects to your photos. It’s free and web-based.
Old Batman Comic Book (really beat up)

I played around with the settings to make it look like it was extremely beat up. Voila! We’ve made a really, really b eat up old Batman comic book cover!

Iron Fist and Power Man reading Batman

Then you can use the picture for fun stuff, like the time Power Man and Iron Fist were walking around down-town Taipei reading a reprint of it!

Batman and Robin: Batman Vs. Robin

Everyone knows that Grant Morrison’s writing can be a bit overwhelming if you jump in during the middle. That’s precisely what I did with his Batman and Robin series by jumping on in the second collected volume.

World be damned, this was a very straight forward story aside from the Oberon Sexton subplot (that ran itself through this whole series…thanks Wikipedia) and some references to the “Return of Bruce Wayne” story line.

Mainly this deals with Dick Grayson (now taking the role of Batman) and Damian Wayne (Batman’s long-forgotten son) investigating the possibility of Batman not having died at the end of Final Crisis.

The first half of the book has the Dynamic duo heading over to England to team up with Batwoman, as well as Knight and Squire (imagine a knight themed, British version of Batman and Robin), to protect a Lazarus Pit that a bunch of local super villains are fighting over. Things take a turn from the worse when Dick tries to resurrect what he assumed was the remains of Bruce, but turns out to be one of the Batman clones that Darkseid had made during Final Crisis. This mistake winds up almost costing Batwoman and Damian their lives.

Once everyone gets back to Gotham City, Dick and Damian discover some weird bat references in some old Wayne family portraits and artifacts, wondering if Bruce is time travelling (they’re smart; that’s the whole basis of “Return of Bruce Wayne” is about). Because being a super hero is never easy, Damian’s body is controlled by nanotechnology by his mother Talia in an effort to kill Dick for two reasons:

  1. Dick’s been trying to convince Damian that it’s not his destiny to take his mother’s role as the head of the League of Assassins, and urging him to use his talents/skills to help people, a concept which Talia despises.
  2. She really hates him.

Obviously our heroes survive, as the series went on for a while. Morrison wrote a great comic. What he excelled at was making Damian such an interesting character, especially with his relationships with everyone around him.

Damian acts like a smart-ass to Alfred, who takes it in stride. You can only imagine how insufferable Bruce was as a child.

Damian also has this weird brother/father/mentor relationship with Dick. Even though Damian considers himself to be the superior of the two, you get the feeling that he looks to Dick for guidance and approval. Also, it’s a total flip of the usual Batman/Robin dynamic; Dick is the more relaxed, easy-going one and Damian is the intense brooding character. This works really well.

There’s also a series of weirdness that Damian has with his parents. Even though he’s only been briefly united with his father, he is convinced that he is still alive. Compare that to his dealings with his mother Talia, who is completely detached with him. At the end of the book, she disowned him for not wanting to follow her in the family business, going so far to let him know that she has a clone of him that has taken his place as her son.

I don’t think she’s getting a Mother’s Day card.

Anyway, I was glad I picked this up and look forward to getting the rest of the series. It’s definitely a Batman story (even if it isn’t the traditional Batman), but its very light and easy going in tone (yes…there’s violence and conflict, but its not  beating you over the head).

Good job, Mr. Morrison.