If There’s One Post About Comics Today That You Should Read I’m Talking About This One Right Here

Justice League inspects the comics (3) 

So there was a big comic book that came out today. Actually two.

I’m not talking about Flashpoint #5 or the new Justice League #1. I’m talking about this set of bagged goodies I found in my car. In the interest of disclosure, I was given this pack a while ago, but completely forgot about it.

Anyway, a company called Cards One specializes in putting together comic packs like these. Their business model is buying overstock and closeout of comics and cards, repackaging and selling them at discount stores like Five Below or your friendly neighborhood dollar store.

Today’s lunch break was time to break it open and see what literary treasures I would find.

Justice League inspects the comics (4)

So I dispatched the Justice League Desk Strike Force to investigate what was in this package.

The Question doesn't trust this mystery packageObviously the Question would be the natural skeptic of the group and would be the most hesitant to investigate a mystery package like this.

He would probably assume that it was part of some sort of trap or something like that.

After all, he’s this super hero team’s resident paranoid conspiracy theorist. I like keeping him at my desk to remind me of being skeptical, kind of like a reminder to get to the bottom of everything and find the truth. His creator Steve Ditko would be proud.Justice League inspects the comics
So what was in this value comic pack? Well first was Tales of the Teen Titans #64 which finishes up the Trigon Saga storyline and Raven sacrifices herself to stop her evil monster of a father. Wolverine #50 is wholey

Wolverine #50 was the other comic in the pack, with its special gimmick cover of a file folder of Wolvie’s secrets being slashed open. Holey promotional gimmick Batman! Story wise, the book is pure early 1990s fun. It was pencilled by some guy named Marc Silvestri. I wonder whatever happened to him…

The Question inspects the Crisis on Earths One and Two 

It also came with a trading card from DC’s first series of super hero cards from Impel back in 1992. It was about Crisis on Earths One and Two. The Question investigated, but he really didn’t believe it. Two earths? That’s crazy talk.

Strange and Stranger: The World of Steve Ditko

When I picked up Blake Bell’s Strange and Stranger: The World of Steve Ditko, I figured I would learn more about the comic book creator. Instead, after finishing this book, I only have more questions. This isn’t a shortcoming of the author; his subject is just that complex.

Bell shares a glimpse into the mind of Ditko, someone who is very important in the history of American comics but at the same time is more elusive and mysterious than the Question–a character he created.

So what did I learn about Ditko?

By the time you finish Strange and Stranger, you learn what motivated Ditko. It’s not fame and fortune, or other forms of personal success. It’s following the Ayn Rand philosophy of objectivism. So what’s that?

“My philosophy, in essence, is the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute.” Ayn Rand

So what does that mean and how does it apply to Ditko? Basically, he had his own strong sense of what was right and wrong, and he would only do things on his own terms. This strong sense of black and white in his worldview is what influenced his career. Bell shares many stories from Ditko’s peers–and excerpts from the artist–that show how they shaped his business decisions, for better or worse.

Bell does a great job of showing how the characters created by Ditko incorporated objectivist theory, like how Hawk and Dove may have differing theories on how to get there but ultimately coming to the same conclusion of what is right. I can now look back at his work on the Creeper and the Question and see how this influences the characters’ actions. I also was introduced to Ditko’s Mr. A, a somewhat more sinister and objective version of the Question, who wasn’t afraid to take a life of a criminal.

Even if you don’t agree with them, you can’t help but not respect Ditko’s decisions. He is a man who would rather lose personal success then compromise his personal values. This is evident in the tale of Frank Miller wanting to collaborate on a Mr. A project, but Ditko refusing since Miller didn’t share the same views on the character.

So ultimately, I’m more intrigued about Steve Ditko than ever before thanks to this book b y Blake Bell. Does anyone have any recommendations of where I should start?

30 Things I Like About Comics–#25 Batman: The Animated Series

The year 1992 brought us one of the greatest comic book adaptations of all time–Batman: The Animated Series. This cartoon show from Fox pushed the boundaries of what a cartoon show was. It was still kid friendly, but somehow it catered to adults.

Not only was it run on Saturday mornings, it was also broadcast on Sunday nights for a while. Guided by Bruce Timm’s “dark deco” stylings, visually the show looked like it was straight out of the 1940s, complete with Max Fleischer Studios style artwork.When you compared it to other animated television shows, you could clearly see how much time and effort was put into Batman. I remember reading an article in Air (a magazine about on the airbrush as an art tool and a medium) where they went into great deal about how complicated the background paintings were.

But on top of that, each episode was just so brilliantly written. Again, the show certainly did not pander to a juvenile audience. Themes of love and death were regularly featured. The series came across as an an old timey detective show.

It must have did well at this, as the show wound up winning three Emmy awards.

Kevin Conroy’s vocal portrayal of Batman is how I imagine the character. Sorry Christian Bale, but you have nothing on Kevin’s batman.

Kevin’s portrayal of Batman was dark and mysterious, but human. It just worked so well.

Not to mention Mark Hammill’s portrayal of the Joker. The character was maniacal and ridiculous all at the same time. Hammill made some intentionally cheesy and pun-laden dialogue work. He did such a good job in his creation of the character, that every time I read the Joker in a comic book, whether it be a random issue or a significant book like The Killing Joke, I hear his voice.

For trivia buffs, Batman: The Animated Series also created the Harley Quinn and Renee Montoya characters into the DC Universe. After debuting on the television show, the two later crossed over into the comic book universe.

Harley was pretty much the same–a maniacal clown with an unconditional love and loyalty for the Joker. Renee evolved much more as a character, with her sexuality being explored and her taking over the role as the Question.

So what did you think of the show?