about_faces: (Two-Face... FOREVER!!!)


Ty Templeton was the original DCAU Batman comic artist who returned to title when it was rebooted as The Batman & Robin Adventures, but it wasn't until issue #4 that he took over writing duties. His writing style wasn't quite as gracefully operatic as the Puckett/Parobeck era of The Batman Adventures, but he more than made up for that by packing each issue with character moments that expanded upon the lives of these heroes and villains between the televised episodes, as well as the comic appearances that the show would never end up acknowledge.

This was especially true in the case of Two-Face, especially in the aftermath of Paul Dini's Two Timer from TB&RA #1-2. As you'll recall, that story expanded upon both Harvey's rehabilitation and his relationship with Grace Lamont, only to destroy them both seemingly beyond repair in a soul-crushingly depressing ending. If that were an episode of the show, that would have probably been the end of it, considering how little interest the show had in exploring Harvey as anything other than a villain for the vast majority of his appearances.

Thankfully, Templeton--who was the artist on Two Timer--had different plans, and he wrote three stories which each respectively fleshed out Harvey's life, backstory, and psyche. With the first of these, Fifty Fifty, Templeton told an unusual Two-Face tale that explored the limits of Harvey's adherence to his coin, and in the process, he managed to bring Grace Lamont back to the DCAU one final time in a way that provided some small measure of closure to their broken love story.

Unfortunately, the art by Brandon Kruse and Wild Dog co-creator Terry Beatty isn't quite up to par with the likes of Parobeck, Templeton, and Rick Burchett, and it's easily the weakest part of this issue, but at least we're treated to Ty's fantastic cover. It's a beautiful take on Harvey, although some of you more observant Two-Face fans might notice something a bit off about the coin. Don't worry, unlike the show's weirdly inconsistent depiction of the coin, this time it's quite coincidental!



Harvey Dent is finally in control of his anger... )

Want to buy this issue? Well, if you want a digital copy, then you're out of luck. While DC's digital comics story at Comixology has been posting most of the DCAU comics, their run of The Batman & Robin Adventures cuts off at the issue RIGHT BEFORE this one! Argh!!! So keep your eye on Comixology, and maybe someday it'll be added. In the meantime, you totally should catch up on this great series, especially issues like the greatest Ventriloquist and Scarface story of all time, great slice-of-Gotham stories like Dagger's Tale, and this Riddler/Batgirl story, where Templeton proves his proficiency with neglected DCAU villains by writing one of the very best takes on the Riddler. Good stuff, all!
about_faces: (Two-Face... FOREVER!!!)
While I'm older and wiser enough to know that McDonald's is shit that will kill me, I still have a great deal of fondness for the Happy Meal toys I had collected over the years as a kid growing up in the 90's. Of course, when it comes to which line of tie-in toys were my favorites, you can probably guess:





As you can see, the line was divided into four basic action figures and four characters riding their own personalized gimmicky vehicles, which always struck me as being like something out of Gotham's own version of Wacky Races. My favorite toy of the whole line was not the flippable Two-Face car, but rather the Riddler figure, which is still one of my very favorite plastic embodiments of Eddie.


I wish I could find a better picture of this. What I especially loved about this figure was how he had a half-smirk which gave him a different mood depending on which side you looked at him. Look at him from one side: frowny Eddie! From the other: smug Eddie! Look at him face on: snarky Eddie! Who knew that a Happy Meal could convey versatile personality?


Yes, I loved these toys, but more than that, I loved the Happy Meal boxes they came in, at least one of which featured original art by that MVP of DCAU Batman comics, Ty Templeton. Like coloring and activity books on crack, these were packed with games, puzzles, and awful jokes which must surely have been used by many a child to torment many a parent. To see what I mean, here’s the one that’s definitely by Templeton, which I know because he posted it over at his own blog. That's as official as it gets!



I don't know about some you young'un snappers of whippers, but this box gives me such a 90's nostalgic flashback. It's the little details I also love, like the fact that the Joker has a trunk full of stolen kittens. The only thing that bugs me is that Catwoman is more interested in stealing the bejeweled cat collars over saving all those cats from the clutches of the goddamned Joker, but maybe that's her ulterior motive to this ill-advised team-up. At least, I think they're teaming up.

I also love that Harvey (who always looks great under Templeton's pen) is apparently trying to woo Catwoman with an entire serving tray of stolen jewels, the only one of which that entices her are the "purrrr-ls!" Maybe it's just the fact that I'm now a Dad and therefore terminally uncool, but I am such a sucker for horrible puns like that.

So lucky me, I've found scans of all the other Happy Meal boxes (including the other half of the one above), all of which are filled with more lousy jokes and wacky character moments! Whee! With the exception of the next scan, which is also from Templeton's own blog, the rest of these are from the eBay store of D&K's Treasures from the Vault, which is selling each of these boxes for about ten bucks each.

Oh, and if you want to see the original artwork of the Templeton pieces, Ty the Guy's blog has also got you covered. Just in case you want to break out the Crayola and color them in yourself.

Learn the horrible secret of why the Joker loves to make eggs for breakfast, behind the cut! )

Of course, no mention of Batman-related McDonald's tie-ins would be complete without a quick mention of my very favorite items of all: the Batman Forever collector's mugs!


Source: X-Entertainment


I recently found all of mine during one of the several times I've had to move over the past year, and they're still as cool as I remember. Also, I apparently own two Riddler mugs and three Two-Face ones, because why wouldn't I? I hope you won't blame me, especially considering the awesome handle of the Two-Face mug in particular.



Sadly, I have been hesitant to use the mugs ever since those stories broke out about lead being found in pretty much all McDonald's glasses ever made. Does that extend to the Batman Forever glasses too, or just the glasses that had paint on them? I haven't been able to find out either way, but better safe than sorry. Oh well, at least they'll be safe high up on a shelf, away from the grabbing hands of my susceptible child.
about_faces: (Two-Face... FOREVER!!!)
This has to be the single most depressingly tragic tale in all of DCAU canon. It's also, not coincidentally, one of the greatest. But I'd be lying if I said that it was one of my favorites, or that I looked forward to posting about it here.



In the wake of Batman Forever, the second season of Batman: The Animated Series was renamed The Adventures of Batman & Robin, to emphasize the presence of that damn smartass boy hostage. Following suit, The Batman Adventures was canceled (ending with a wonderful Hugo Strange story) and rebooted as Batman & Robin Adventures. What's more, the TBA creative team of Kelley Puckett and Mike Parobeck (a stellar team who had, in my opinion, only begun to produce some of their very best work) were replaced by TAS co-mastermind Paul Dini and original TBA artist Ty Templeton, who took over writing duties from Dini after issue #3.

They hit the ground running with their first outing, the two-part storyline Two-Timer, which was released little over a year after the bittersweetly hopeful Second Chance first aired. Unlike most DCAU tie-in comics, which were largely self-contained and didn't/couldn't really alter the status quo, Two-Timer took the ongoing story of Harvey Dent to new depths of tragedy, apparently shattering the lives of several characters beyond any hope of repair.



So yeah, this story is a downer, but it's not without a certain amount of sadistic glee provided by--who else?--the Joker himself, whose actions here count among the worst things that the Joker has ever done. Which is to say, there's far worse that you can do to someone than just kill them. It's a lesson that far too few writers seem to understand.

Bruce Wayne has a weekly appointment to keep behind the cut... )

If you want to read this or other DCAU Batman comics, you're in luck! The digital comic shop Comixology has made a great many of these comics--most of which are hard to find--available for just .99¢ each! YAY! Their runs aren't complete (they're seriously lacking when it comes to their selection of the first series, The Batman Adventures), but they have ALL of Batman & Robin Adventures (Vol. 2) and Batman Adventures (Vol. 4), plus most of Batman: Gotham Adventures (Vol. 3)! Check out the full selection of them here, and again, they're only 99¢ each, which is a great price to own some of the best Batman comics ever published!

And, of course, if you just want to read both parts of Two Timer, you can find them here and here! Definitely check them out in full!
about_faces: (Two-Face... FOREVER!!!)
Strange as it may seem, many people never even noticed Harvey Dent's first appearance in Batman: The Animated Series! I'm not just talking about people who'd never heard of the character before, but actual Batman fans who should have otherwise recognized the man who would become Two-Face! Seriously! How could this even happen?

Well, to be fair, Harvey's initial appearance was so brief, so blink-and-you'll-miss-it, that his debut feels less like a cameo and more like an easter egg. Also, never mind the fact that On Leather Wings isn't the most memorable episode either. While there's not much to discuss about this tiny appearance, it's worth noting not only as being one of the all-too-few appearances of Harvey pre-Two-Face, but also because his presence in this pilot gives Harvey the distinction of being one of the few characters whom we can say was in B:TAS from the very beginning.



In which I find a way to analyze five seconds of screen time, behind the cut! )

Personally, I suspect that Dent there had no great personal interest in capturing Batman, so his casual line could easily be read as "Suuuuure, Bullock. I'll totally do that when you capture Batman, which I know you're TOTALLY capable of accomplishing, absolutely. Go have fun now!"

Of course, my reading of Harvey's words cannot be supported by these five seconds of screen time. For that, we have to go elsewhere for more insight about his feelings about both Bullock and Batman, to the story which is the single greatest appearance Harvey Dent in the DCAU. What may come as a surprise (or may be absolutely no surprise whatsoever), this appearance happened not in the TV show, but rather in the supposed "kid's comic" tie-in, The Batman Adventures.



I've said it before and I'll say it many more times: the TAS tie-in comics are brilliant, and collectively the best Batman comics published over the past twenty years. While TBA is my least favorite of the four TAS comic series, that's kind of like saying I have a least favorite kind of bacon: even when it's not as good as the others, it's still great. In later reviews, I'll elaborite further on the greatness of men like Kelley Puckett, Mike Parobeck, Ty Templeton, Rick Burchett, and more. For now, I'll just say that TBA was pretty damn great, on par with any average episode of the actual TV show, and sometimes it even surpassed the show in terms of dark subject matter.

For example, take issue #3 (which conveniently just so happens to be the issue we're reviewing today!), in which the Joker kidnaps Commissioner Gordon. In a scene that would have been too violent for the Fox Kids TV censors at the time, the Joker proceeds to savagely beat Gordon with a baseball bat on live TV. You can see it yourself here if you scroll down near the very end of the article. It's a shocking scene thanks largely to Ty "The Guy" Templeton's chilling depiction of the Joker in the thralls of orgasmically evil delight. And again, this is meant to be, you know, for kids!

So who can possibly thwart the Joker and save the day?



Why, none other than Harvey Dent and his Action Bathrobe! Okay, not really. But kinda! Sorta. Really, you just have to see it for yourself.

Harvey and Batman hatch a plan behind the cut! )



If you'd like to read these issues of The Batman Adventures in full, the first twelve issues are 99¢ each up at DC's Comixology site, and you can even read the very first issue (with a fun but off-sounding Penguin) for free! Try out that issue to get some idea what digital comics are like. If you still prefer paper comics, then your course is going to be harder, since the first TBA trade paperback is long out of print. Why the hell doesn't DC keep these comics in print? Why have they NEVER reprinted the vast majority of the DCAU tie-in comics? Utter foolishness!
about_faces: (Default)
Sometimes, seeing online scans of a comic I've already read allows me to read the story in a different light, sometimes to such extremes that it makes me feel like I'm only now reading it for the first time.

Such was the case when [livejournal.com profile] tungstencompton posted snippets from Denny O'Neil's "Duel," the first Legends of the Dark Knight Annual, starting with the opening sequence by Jim Aparo. Now, this comic didn't do much for me the first time I read it, but seeing these excerpts online gave me a whole new appreciation for this story, and what it means to one of the most controversial Batman questions out there. But to actually say what that question is would be a spoiler in of itself.

So with permission from the OP who scanned the pages in the first place, I'm reposting the Aparo pages here for several reasons, not the least of which being that I think it's some of Aparo's best artwork ever:





(Ala Brad Pitt) What's in the bag, what's in the bag? )



After his glory days in the Bronze Age, Aparo's art seriously seemed to go downhill once he let himself be inked by someone else in stuff like A Death in the Family. Even when he inked himself again after that in stuff like the Knightfall era comics, it just wasn't the same. He seemed more stuff, less dynamic, more of a relic from a bygone era rather than a timeless master as fans like me have always seen him, and always will.

Looking at the above scans, I have to wonder if he was just let down by the poorer printing and coloring quality of regular Batman books, as opposed to LOTDK's prestige format. I'm not sure he ever looked quite this good in any story since, with the possible exception of the GCPD police mini-series, since Bill Sienkiewicz's inking makes EVERYBODY look better. But there's nothing quite like the pleasure of Aparo inking and lettering himself in stories such as this and this.

That said, I do make some exceptions, mainly where nostalgia is concerned. For example, I'd give up a moderately-sized toe to own this:





That right there is the first page of the first comic I ever read, and I'm incredibly jealous of the guy who actually owns it. Needless to say, this page had quite the lifelong impact on me.
about_faces: (Default)
One of the (unsung?) greatest talents to work on Batman comics in any format, Ty Templeton, has started posting unused cover and concept art from his work on the various Batman: The Animated Series tie-in comics. If you're like me, each of these posts are a little Christmas.

So far he's only done a couple, starting with the early drafts of the cover for the greatest Ventriloquist and Scarface comic ever made (man, I got hyperbole out the wazoo today, don't I?), and it's hard to tell which cover I like best. Ultimately, I think he made the right choice, but dear god, I want to see the rest inked and colored for proper pin-ups! In the comments, I of course put in a request for rejected Two-Face drafts, a request which was seconded (hurr) by the next commenter.

Today, Ty posted original cover drafts for Batman: Gotham Adventures #2, a story which I've actually posted at my regular LJ, but not here yet, which I should properly do at some point seeing as how it's frelling fantastic.

I'd like to think that maybe my comment inspired his next post, but it's just as likely that he was going to do it anyway considering that he writes: For the time I was on the various Batman books, I tried to make sure all the #2 issues (including #12 and #22) were Two-Face stories. Not just because of the obvious connection to the #2, but it allowed me to write a Two-Face story at least once a year. Considering he’s one of the best characters in fiction, I’m no fool, and I wanted at him as much as I could.

As I've always considered all of Ty's Two-Face stories to be among the very best ever written, it's fantastic to outright hear that Ty loves the character. For a villain who doesn't get much love in fandom (Henchgirl's talking me into starting up the first and only Two-Face-centric art collection group on DeviantArt), Harvey's really loved by a discerning handful of fans and creators. That love isn't usually expressed loudly the way Harley and Joker fans express their passion, so it's cool to see it mentioned by a master like Ty in such a matter-of-fact way. Like, "Yeah, he's one of the best in fiction. It's a fact. Moving on."

As for the rejected covers themselves, I think the very best was the fourth one, with Harvey in the background dominating the light and shadow while Batman and Batgirl fight thugs in the foreground, but I also have great fondness for the fifth, with the full-body shot of Two-Face. That one looks like a movie poster, one that could out-Scarface Scarface. What all these covers have in common is how they play with light and shadow, and in that respect, the final used cover works beautifully even if it's the blah redesign of the character for The New Batman Adventures.

Sadly, the BTAS comics are still out of print, most of which have never been collected. But for anyone who wants more Ty Templeton goodness, I wholeheartedly recommend checking out his Vertigo graphic novel, Bigg Time, a scathing and hilarious satire on fame, the film industry, and guardian angels. And check out the rest of his blog too! I don't know why the hell I don't visit it regularly, as I would have missed posts like these above!

As such, I'd like to thank the wonderful Michel Fiffe for the heads-up. As part of the Act-I-Vate comics collective, Fiffe is an incredibly gifted and unique comics creator whom Warren Ellis called a "revelation." It's easy to see why if you've read his webcomic Zegas, or his Bizarro Comics style pet project with Erik Larsen, Savage Dragon Funnies. That kid's goin' places, I tells ya.
about_faces: (Default)
It still strange for me to realize, but I truly think that the best Batman comics of the past twenty-five years are the ones published throughout the four tie-in series for Batman: The Animated Series. Just like the show, these comics are pure, classic Batman, timeless tales that are rich in character and fun, even when they lack actual plot developments. If there were allowed to have an overall plot arc, I'd argue that they're the long-form Batman equivalent to All-Star Superman.

Virtually all of the characters in the show got chances to shine in the comics, which gave even the villains a new dimensions not even realized in TAS. Harvey is no exception. Bear in mind, he was only explored as a character in two episodes (Two-Face and Second Chance), which the rest of his appearances reducing him to being a plain villain or supporting rogue. The comics went a bit further, some of which I include among my Top Ten Two-Face stories.

But for now, let's take a look at the covers themselves... )


Hopefully someday there will be a renaissance of interest in these comics. Even at the time, it was clear that they were popular, rightly celebrated for being superior to the actual Batman comics being released at any given time, yet they remain out of print.

Why? God knows. Probably something to do with the WB's fickle treatment of the animated properties, shunning all but the current televised take as the only version. And while I utterly adore The Brave and the Bold, the TAS stories are still the finest Batman stories ever produced in any medium, and these comics are no exception. I hope that they will see the love and respect they deserve for a whole new generation.
about_faces: (Hugo Strange)
I was introduced to this story way back in scans_daily 1.0, wherein it was instantly beloved by all. Upon tracking down the issues myself, this three-part finale from The Batman Adventures became one of my top ten favorite Batman stories ever, from any continuity.

I'm posting it here as the next part of my Hugo Strange series, as it was his only appearance in the ten years after Prey, and it's *also* tied to New Year's Eve.





In keeping with Batman: The Animated Series' treatment of villains, Hugo is given unprecedented character depth, sympathy, and a tragedy which matches (perhaps even rivals) the stories of Harvey Dent and Mr. Freeze.

But let's not kid ourselves. I know the main reason why folks love this story. It's a testament to the greatness of these comics that Hugo's sad story could run in the same issues as moments like this:






In Memoriam, behind the cut )

It's because of stories like this that I honestly consider the TAS comics--all four series--to be the greatest Batman comics of the past twenty-five years. Maybe if these comics ever actually had crossovers into the DCU or "mattered" in some way continuity-wise, more people would have cared.

As it is, I'm just glad I recently managed to complete my entire collection of The Batman Adventures, Batman & Robin Adventures, Batman: Gotham Adventures, and Batman Adventures, until DC finally wises up and reprints the whole series.

Happy New Year, folks! Drive safely, drink sensibly, and try not to get your memory wiped!
about_faces: (Two-Face... FOREVER!!!)
Whew! Didn't think I'd get this one up this week! Finding internet while on a road trip is damn tricky, especially in the rural South. Lord knows if I'll even get next week's posted at all.

In last week's post about the story where Harvey became a vigilante (to thwart Two-Face), I made direct comparison to the episode of BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES entitled "Judgment Day," wherein Two-Face gained a third personality who became a vigilante known as "The Judge."

I've already complained on why I hated the Judge for botching what could have been a great concept--Harvey's good side manifesting as a vigilante--but thankfully, Ty Templeton used the Judge as a jumping-off point for an excellent issue of BATMAN: GOTHAM ADVENTURES:





That means I'm one of the good guys for now )

Profile

about_faces: (Default)
about_faces

July 2013

S M T W T F S
 123 456
789 10 111213
14151617181920
2122 2324252627
28293031   

Syndicate

RSS Atom

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Sep. 26th, 2017 03:42 am
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios