Archive for the ‘Character’ Category

Batman of Zor-En-Arrh

Posted: April 6, 2015 in Character
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  First appearing in Batman #113 in a story called “The Superman of Planet X” the alien Tlano takes up the mantle of the Bat on a far away planet. In the Silver Age, The Batman of Zor-En-Arrh was a combination of Superman and Batman. He has many of Superman’s powers and grew up on a farm on his home planet.

In the origin story, the alien Batman summons Earth Batman to help him fight invading robots. Due to the different elements of the planet Bruce Wayne has “enhanced abilities” as well, and conveniently the two team up to defeat the robot force.

Modern incarnation of Zur-En-Arrh’s Batman is less fantastical. Batman hired a psychologist to under see him in an experiment of isolation, where a connection of the word “Zur-En-Arrh” as a miss hearing of Thomas Wayne’s last words, “…they’d probably put someone like Zorro in Arkham.”  leads to an altered state Batman.

Personally, I like the more outlandish rendition of the character, which came back in an episode of Batman: Brave and the Bold, voiced by Kevin Conroy, I remember that being a fun episode, but that series is full of fun episodes.

If you were unfamiliar with this Batman,  you would notice the two Batmen have different taste in costumes. Bruce Wayne’s Batman wears dark colors, sneaks around in shadow and uses fear against his enemies. The off-Earth Batman uses a brightly colored costume of mainly red and yellow with a purple cape, and doesn’t use shadow like Bruce. Of course the mind-crazed version of Zor-En-Arrh uses the gaudy colors as well, because he wants to attract attention. Maybe the modern version likes the color of Robin’s costume and wants a little of his own.

In any case, this version of Batman shows up a handful of times in Batman’s history and every time something crazy happens, whether it’s Bruce being teleported to a far away planet by a snooping alien needing a hand to stop robots, or a hypnotized and drug induced Bruce Wayne.

 

 

 

 

 

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The Cavalier

Posted: March 30, 2015 in Character
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  A lesser known bat-foe, The Cavalier has only shown up a handful of times in the many years of Batman compared to others, and let’s be honest, never had an impact on anything.

There were those few episodes back on the ’66 Batman television series were he threatened Gotham, no different from any other week on that show. I remember his schemes not being very good, but his Shakespeare quoting gave him a little flair. Little.

He appeared in the comics from time to time, with multiple origins. In the early years he was Hudson Pyle, an aspiring superhero who through a stream of events was blackmailed into committing crimes. Finally having a fight with Batman, ending up being gunned down by the police.

Later a new Cavalier showed up in Gotham. Mortimer Drake, an antiques dealer, who robbed museums to find valuable artifacts. Drake wound up working for Black Lightning at one point as an informant. At one point even found himself up against both Batgirl and Batwoman, which caused him to go into some self-reflection because he couldn’t hit a woman. Well, that didn’t last long because he wound up punching Batgirl in the face. I don’t know if those acts took place in that order, but those were both pre-crisis. His story most likely has changed since then, and I don’t know if he’s even in the New 52 as of right now.

When he did show his face in the Batman: Brave and the Bold series those handful of times, The Cavalier is the perfect villain to show up, quote a Shakespeare line or two, then get promptly handled by Batman, so The Bat can take on greater enemies. It always got a chuckle out of me, so that’s something.

Is The Cavalier in the cavalcade of great villains in The Batman Rogue’s Gallery? No, but when he does show up he plays the small part kind of okay.

 

Alfred

Posted: February 23, 2015 in Character
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 Bruce Wayne’s longest friend, and the closest parental figure after the death of his parents, Alfred. Publicly Alfred has been the Wayne’s butler for years, but has many more jobs thanbutling when it comes to Bruce Wayne.

Sure, he is the care taker of Wayne Manor and cooks and cleans. However, when Batman comes home beat up with lacerations and bullet wounds, he can’t exactly go to the hospital. In steps in Mr. Pennyworth to play doctor and perform surgery, removing small projectiles or stitching up cat scratches. You might think that’s something way above a mere butler’s knowledge. It is, but in comics everyone has a secret origin, Alfred was/ is a secret agent. I like that, it gives his character a little more flavor what he was originally, short, overweight, and a thing for Sherlock Holmes. 

In comics there are a few ways writers use Alfred. In the Court of Owls story I just read Bruce has a contact lens linked up to the batcomputer giving him access to all the file. One of the features it has is facial recognition, giving him names of people at a party. Dick Grayson and Damien pop up with their respective names and level of member access to Batman, high. Alfred’s level shown as highest, which makes me think what Alfred has privy to and not Dick. Then there are times in something like an All-Star Batman where Bruce tells Alfred to shut up, and tells him to not feed a boy Batman leaves in the cave to fend for himself.

Television and Movies takes a more mentor and father figure in the background of most of those adaptations. The Gotham series Alfred takes a more foreground approach when it takes a look at what young Bruce is doing, because they’re showing you Alfred’s guiding hand to a young recently traumatized Bruce. And the Beware of the Batman t.v. show has Batman’s butler as more of a rough and tumble former English secret agent type, from what I’ve seen which admitting isn’t that much.

We wouldn’t have the same Batman we have today if it wasn’t for good old Mr. Pennyworth.

Bane

Posted: January 19, 2015 in Character
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  Bane is an odd character. It seems like he is either used as dumb muscle for some higher thug, or Bane can show up with a little more proper characterization and mental capacity.

In the medium of comics, Bane was raised in a South American prison, because his mother was serving as life sentence. Yeah. I know that sounds like sketchy origin at best, but I don’t think they were trying too hard. And growing up surrounded by guards, gates, and bars, you have nothing better to do with most of your time than to work out constantly. Meaning Bane is a big strong dude. Before the steroid-like Venom gives him a strength boost. Not a skinny weakling barely tipping the scale over and hulking out on the drug,  as displayed in the not-so-popular Batman and Robin.

Keeping in the realm of the printed page, Bane has a lot more flavor to him. He speaks with intelligence and has the ability to be a mastermind behind schemes. The difference between The Masked Man, and say The Riddler when it comes to trying to hold Gotham hostage is, when the inevitable Batman try to put and end to the plot, The Dark Knight is met with more physical stopping power with Bane than the mostly cerebral Riddler.

Which is one of the reason’s Bane is also called The Man Who Broke the Bat. Because Bane broke Batman’s back. Which when it happened, I thought was the craziest things to have happened to Batman, because The Caped Crusader always wins, and man did he lose that fight.

I think that the smart, heavy-hitting, tactical side to Bane is what they were going for when Christopher Nolan put him in The Dark Knight Rises. They succeeded for the most part and Bane took down the Bat, at least it looked like it for a moment.

Even though Bane is a relatively new Batman villain (first appearance was in Batman: Vengeance of Bane, January 1993) he is solid enough to be put in with some of the true classics in Batman’s rogues gallery.

The Penguin

Posted: December 29, 2014 in Character
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 Short, fat, and sometimes disfigured The Penguin is not only a nemesis of Batman, but to Bruce Wayne as well, as Oswald Cobblepot.

The Penguin has been pulling off bird inspired heists for decades at this point. Thwarted by Batman on the regular, however recently Penguin was promoted to a boss of crime of Gotham City. Which I think is great, it gives him more flavor in his character and opens him up for some new dimensions in stories, if that’s where they take it.

That aspect gives Batman more into to the seedy underbelly of Gotham, a place The Dark Knight is at his best. Busting lowlife thugs in back alleys. Now The Caped Crusader has a savage, ruthless foe that might not take the businessman like approach what a “regular” wannabe mobster boss might do.

There was also a push to have the man Oswald Cobblepot be a rival of Bruce Wayne in daylight society. Which was cool. The New 52 version of Penguin has him owning a legitimate night club,  a front to doing illegal things. Not a new idea, the animated series did something similar with Oswald,  but it’s an interesting alternative to just him being professional bird pun crimesman.

Recently, Cobblepot had some run-ins with Harvey Bullock breaking into his club and accusing Oswald of hiring The Scarecrow to kill some people.

The current television representation of The Penguin on Gotham might be the best thing about the show. Robert Lord Taylor’s characterization is spot on.

Of the many incarnations of the character, The Animated Series might be my favorite, Danny Devito in Batman Returns is the creepiest, and Burgess Meredith is fun and lighthearted.

Being one of Batman’s oldest foes The Penguin has been around for a long time, and will be there in the future to try to stop Batman.

Harley Quinn

Posted: December 8, 2014 in Character
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Harley Quinn is a character I’ve never been able to fully understand. She was introduced in The Animated Series as Joker’s “special lady,” but he never seemed to keen on the idea. In the beginning The Joker just seemed like he was using her to get things he wanted.

Which in her back story, is true. Doctor Harlene Quinzell worked at Arkham Asylum as a psychiatrist talking to the patients there. Then Joker became one of her patients, and he told her things to manipulate her into sympathizing with him. Long story short, she eventually helped him break out and quit being a professional to be… arm candy for Gotham’s greatest villain?

When Harley is with The Joker it can feel that way. Sometimes she has some insight into what joker has planned, but for the most part is just another member in The Jokers gang.

Just when you think she’s all about her “Mister J”, Harley got some Quality time with the girls. In this case “the girls” are Poison Ivy and Catwoman. Harley takes on a one of the girls personality. As you could guess. The trio hasn’t happened that often as of late in the New 52, but I think it’s fun when they get together.

Then there’s a third side to Harley. Solo, she can be drastically different from either of those, or be an extreme case of either. Quinn’s ongoing series has been good and is something I try to keep up on, but I’m behind on most things.

It’s kind of hard to put your finger on why or why not you like something that can have such drastic swings in personality. Sure when she’s cuddling up to the joker can be a little one note, but her gallivanting in her own adventure is a lot more fun giving her a more rounded personality.

Harley Quinn was not only in her own book, but she also had a pretty major role in Suicide Squad. I think she was the leader at one point. However just like her solo series I’m so far behind that I don’t know what’s happening.

I would say that, if you like the unpredictability of what the joker has try Harley’s solo book. It’s different enough to not feel the same, but has a familiar root.

Scarecrow

Posted: October 20, 2014 in Character
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Doctor Jonathan Crane, like the better Batman villains takes an aspect of his adversary, and takes it to an extreme level.

Better known as Scarecrow, Dr. Crane uses a toxin he created to get people to hallucinate their greatest fears. Batman uses fear, but in more natural way of freaking out thugs, he uses the dark to play on people’s senses and once they get into a vulnerable state the caped crusader uses intimidation to finish off the bad guys.

When Scarecrow is used effectively he makes an excellent opponent, playing Batman at his own game, sometimes giving the hero a taste of his own worst fears.

Fear is something that has to be used sparingly. Or else it gets tiresome, and just becomes a bunch of tropes. The best uses of it tend to be where you don’t realize whats going on until the very end. Like the episode in The Animated Series where Batgirl falls to her death in front of her father, and Commissioner Gordon hunts down Batman, Robin, and Nightwing because in his eyes, they are just as guilty as whoever made her fall. The spoiler ending is that she was unconscious, dosed with some fear toxin giving her the most dramatic nightmare. It’s one of the better episodes near the end of the series, and well worth a watch.

I thought Batman Begins had an unexpectedly well thought out version of the character. In a cinematic telling origin story of Batman, Scarecrow isn’t exactly at the top of most movie goers lists.

Scarecrow can be an effective villain against Batman, it’s just difficult to find the proper place where he can foil Batman convincingly.

Victor Friese is one character who didn’t, for the most part, have any depth until the Animated Series, and they did it by taking away his personality.

In the sixties Batman series, he was played very jovially, much like all The Caped Crusader’s cohorts in crime. Then Batman would stop the icy villain by remembering to put a pair of thermal underwear on, and off to jail with Chief O’Hara Freeze would go. Much like the Arnold Schwarzenegger Mr. Freeze in Batman & Robin. Only the movie seemed to want to multiply the use of ice puns up a magnitude or two.

Say what you will about Otto Preminger’s antics against Adam West, but that whole show was satirical. The Joel Schumacher movie was trying to be that show in spirit, and failed hard.

However, the movie did use some of the elements the Animated Series established. Such as Mister Freeze was a Doctor, and had a wife who was in cryogenic stasis, and while he was seeking a cure for her. One chemical bath later Victor Friese was a cold man. Except the show had given Freeze something by taking his away the one bit that made him a person, the movie just poked a fat finger at some of the ideals, and didn’t take them anywhere.

Freeze tends to make appearances in other places as well. He’s in both, Batman Vengeance a video game for the Nintendo GameCube, and Arkham City for Playstation 3. They both had incredible boss battles pitting Batman up against his coldest foe. Vengeance took the look of the Animated Series, put it into three-dimensional space, and gave you a first person view option. Arkham City had Mr. Freeze stalk Batman around a police laboratory blasting the area with his freeze gun, and you couldn’t attack him twice the same way, because he was “learning” Batman’s moves. Both were memorable unique experiences in their games.

What I found to be the most creepy instance of Victor Friese, was again the Animated Series. In the fourth season when the redesigned many of the characters used, and put in Tim Drake as Robin and Batgirl as Batman’s sidekicks. They also gave Mister Freeze a make-over as well. Since there wasn’t much to take away emotionally, Freeze was just a head in a glass jar. Sure, a majority of the time he was in a big robot suit and you didn’t know the difference, but when he had to come out and walk along with robotic spider legs that came out of his helmet. That’s crazy.

Mister Freeze was one of the handful of Batvillains that in the beginning was used for a story, then put on the shelf for a number of years, only to be brought back and is now part of a core of Batman adversaries.

The Riddler

Posted: September 29, 2014 in Character
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Edward Nigma is the most clever of all Batman’s rogues. Most people do the bad comparison and put him up against Joker and think they’re the same. They aren’t. The Joker character is a clown, chaotic and with an off sense of humor. Riddler is a thinking man, preparing riddles to perplex The Dark Knight to his endeavors, trying to out think the Great Detective.

A good Riddler story keeps Batman and Robin on their toes trying to solve the clues left behind and see the bigger puzzle, while not having the Dynamic Duo have a tremendous logic leap that makes you feel like you missed a step.

I like when The Riddler is involved. It give a chance at their being some good riddles that end up in some crazy over arching scheme.

Riddler has been a part of some big events in Batman, he was the one behind the Hush and Zero Year story lines. I’m sure the only villain with more appearances in the Adam West Batman television show other than The Riddler was Penguin.

Not every time Mr. Nigma showed his face it was because he was behind some large scheme. Their was a time, about a year or two before DC decided to reboot the whole universe, that Edward went as straight as he could. The Riddler started being a private detective. That little twist opens up a whole other side of Nigma rarely, if seen at all. He became a puzzle solver not a puzzle maker.

Now, of course, comics being what they are The Riddler is back to his old tricks.

All in all, I like The Riddler, he brings some fun stories.

Barbara Gordon

Posted: September 8, 2014 in Character
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Batgirl. Introduced in the ’66 Batman television series as Barbara Gordon, commissioner James Gordon’s daughter. She crossed into the comicsuniverse and has been a staple in the Bat-universe ever since

Barbara was a college student who was inspired by Batman to help her father out. I’m mostly positive Commissioner Gordon knows who everyone in that circle is, especially Batgirl. Considering she only shows up when Barbara is around and they both have shockingly similar red hair. Which flows out of the original Batgirl’s cowl.

 

I like the design of Barbara’s Batgirl outfit. She’s not as dark and brooding as Bruce Wayne, so she gets some yellow highlights in places to liven her up a bit.

Of course, Barbara went through some dark times. Getting shot point-blank by The Joker put her into the wheelchair she was in for decades. Before DC decided to restart their whole universe (not one hundred percent completely, and not at all flawless) and made it so Barbara was paralyzed, but she got better somehow.

However, that time when she couldn’t go out and fight alongside her friends didn’t stop her. Barbara Gordon became Oracle, became a computer hacker and monitored Gotham from her base off operations contacting and aiding Batman when he, or someone like Robin or Nightwing needed her.

To be honest, I more like Barbara as this upper level behind the scenes person, getting everyone where they need to be rather than Batman’s girl sidekick.