There’s an upcoming story in the Superman/Batman title that will involve our long-eared Dark Knight getting superhuman abilities (albeit, temporarily). Writers Michael Green and Mike Johnson have been doing great work on the title, so this promises to be an entertaining tale.
But did you know that this won’t be the first time Batman has been given super-human talents? Here are just some of the more interesting adventures that have occurred when Bruce Wayne wound up gifted with "power and abilities far beyond those of mortal men."
PLEASE NOTE: I am not including times where Batman used technology to help him out, such as a suit of armor or a rocket pack or New God weapons. Nor am I including times when he got powers for only a few pages, such as when he borrowed Hawkman’s wing-harness and Nth metal belt or the time that Hal Jordan let him try on his Green Lantern power ring for a minute. Those times may have been cool, but they lasted for only a scene rather than a fully story. Likewise, I am not including any Elseworlds tales, so deal with it.
Sure, you might stick them in jail — or an asylum — for what they’ve done. You could even throw them off a rooftop, leaving them paralyzed for life. But that won’t change the fact that they already did it. They scored a victory, even if it was short-lived.
The Joker is definitely a villain with a better track record than most. Lex Luthor may have become President and nearly destroyed Superman a few times. But he never killed Lois Lane or tortured Ma and Pa Kent. The Clown Prince of Killers, however, has had quite a few shining moments.
What drives this evil mass murderer? Some have claimed the chemicals which altered his pigmentation also damaged his brain. Some have claimed he suffered such psychological trauma and simply snapped. Some believe his brain actually acts on a higher level of perception, forcing him to operate with a logic we simply aren’t equipped to understand. Half of his crimes seem to be a way of trying to bring Batman to his own way of thinking, that there is no hope in the world, only chaos.
The fact that we can argue about the Joker’s sanity (or lack thereof) is part of what makes him so interesting. And so, with the release of The Dark Knight — and the Joker — looming near, we’ve sifted through the long and bloody history of the Harlequin of Hate to find those victories which stand out above the rest. Steel your nerves and enjoy ComicMix Six: The Six Greatest Joker Victories.
In previous editions of ComicMix Six, we’ve rounded up everything from Political Campaigns in Comics to Celebrity Team-Ups. This Friday marks the newest milestone for Mike Mignola’s Hellboy franchise, with the movie sequel Hellboy 2: The Golden Army hitting theaters, so this week’s list focuses on Mignola’s most popular creation.
The evil-fighting demon named "Hellboy" has been one of the most successful new superheroes introduced in the past 20 years, first appearing as a joke illustration from Mignola in the early 1990s and then evolving into his current incarnation to debut in a full-fledged Dark Horse comics series.
Now the Hellboy world is huge, comprising several Hellboy books, the B.P.R.D. line, video games and the Hellboy movies.
Picking through all those 15-plus years of content, here are the six very best Hellboy stories, from epics to little fairy tales, from Cavendish Hall to Hell on Earth, and everywhere in between (Note: Only Hellboy-specific stories are included in the list).
Read on for the ComicMix Six: Best Hellboy Stories.
This week, we have a special guest contributor, Vinnie Bartilucci, whose name can often be seen in the comment sections here on ComicMix. We thought he had a great idea for this week’s list, so without further introduction… Take it away, Vinnie! -RM]
Comics work fine all by themselves, in their own little universe. But at some point, just like on television, someone always says, “Hey, let’s bring in a guest star!”
Maybe it’s because the star in question is a comics fan, or they thought it’d bring the book some publicity if the star help it up on The Tonight Show, or any of the other inspirations that come after a late night of pacing the floor with a stomach full of pastrami. But the real world and the world of comics clashed a lot of times over the years.
Sure, comics creators would often put themselves in the books – Julie Schwartz made more than a few appearances in the DC titles after the discovery of Earth-Prime, and Stan Lee almost deserves his own ComicMix Six for all the times he appeared in the books. Bob Hope and Jerry Lewis even had their own titles for many years. But it’s the one-shot, “Hey, did that just happen?” crossovers I’m honoring in this article today.
So here they are, in no fixed heirarchy, my ComicMix Six list of the The Best Celebrity Team-Ups in Comics:
SUPERMAN AND ORSON WELLES: One of the earliest examples I’m aware of, the creator of Citizen Kane and later spokesman for the Paul Masson Wineries Orson Welles appeared in Superman #62. While working on his latest film, Black Magic, Welles accidentally stumbles across the launch site for an unmanned rocket to Mars, and while exploring the ship, it varooms off to the red planet, not as unmanned as previously presumed.
On Mars, he is confronted by the Martian’s tyrannical leader, “Martler.” Martler had taken that name because of his admiration of the Earth Dictator, and patterned his armies after the Nazi example. Apparently he didn’t get the last few news items… Welles naturally refuses his offer to become propaganda minister of Earth, and forces them to show him how to broadcast to Earth. He beams an impassioned plea home with news of the coming invasion, but you guessed it, thanks to his little prank a few years earlier, people don’t believe him this time. Well, nobody but Superman.
Superman arrives in the traditional nick of time and helps stop the “Solazi” invasion fleet, while Welles keeps the soldiers on the ground spooked with a few cheesy magic tricks, a skill that would serve him well later in life on Merv Griffin. He eventually knocks out Martler, and using him like a puppet, fakes a broadcast (irony!) to the people of Mars telling them to stand down. Martler is banished to an unpopulated asteroid, where we must assume he remains to this day.
In a previous edition of ComicMix Six, I set forth my picks for The Worst Movies Adapted from Comic Books. Now, because a "worst" list is nothing without a "best" list, I’ve assembled another one for you. This time around, I’m casting the spotlight on the opposite of bad movies and highlighting The Best Movies Adapted from Comic Books.
In contrast to the worst films, these stellar examples of cinematic goodness are not only great comic book adaptations, they’re great movies, too. From brilliant direction, exciting visuals that enhance rather than obscure the story, to compelling peformances, these six films deliver in a big way.
They alse showcase adherence to, and reverence for, their source material and represent what happens when talented people who appreciate comics get together to make a movie. Plus, they’re just plain fun to watch.
So now, without further ado and in no particular order, here is my ComicMix Six list of The Best Movies Adapted from Comic Books.
A while back, I gave you "The Worst Superhero Names in Comics," but now it’s time for the other end of the spectrum. Yes, it’s time to give the supervillains their due. (Well, those of them with horrible names, that is.)
Oh, and before anyone mentions folks like "Mr. Banjo" and "Captain Nazi," I didn’t include those characters because they were created to fight Captain Marvel back when that character’s adventures were still very much aimed at younger readers – so I consider them to be an entirely different animal. The same goes for any villains created with intentionally silly names (i.e., Howard the Duck’s nemesis, "Dr. Bong").
Ready? Okay, then I give you the ComicMix Six list of The Worst Supervillain Names in Comics…
6. BUSHMASTER: Yeah, I know it’s the name of a deadly snake. But honestly, guys and gals, when you see Wonder Woman (of all people) fighting a telepathic character called "Bushmaster," and then you read her thought bubble proclaiming, “Great Hera! I — I cannot resist the telepathic commands of the evil Bushmaster!” … Well, you can’t help but laugh and cringe at the same time — which is painful, believe me.
Congratulations, Bushmaster. You just barely edged out "The Growing Man" and "Bi-Beast" in the award for names with ridiculous innuendo.
It should come as no surprise that Hollywood studios often turn to the pages of comic books and graphic novels for source material — especially for action-packed summer releases like Iron Man.
Some of these films, such as Iron Man, Batman Begins, Spider-Man 2 or X-Men 2, achieve a great deal of commerical and critical success. In addition, they’re also embraced by comic book fans as great examples of what comic book movies should be.
Unfortunately, there are also those other comics-to-film adaptations that disappoint critics, mainstream audiences and comic book fans alike. These films, whether due to bad writing, inept direction, gross miscasting, or a combination of factors, are often not only bad comic book adaptations, but bad movies in general.
Yet, even with Iron Man‘s phenomenal success, it’s important to remember these bad films. These particular movies occupy a special place in the hierarchy of bad filmmaking and deserve to be highlighted — especially so you can avoid seeing them if you haven’t already.
Here then, in no particular order, is the ComicMix Six list of the Worst Movies Adapted From Comic Books.
[EDITOR’S NOTE: In last week’s edition of ComicMix Six, we told you why the Skrulls’ "Secret Invasion" probably isn’t worth losing sleep over, given our list of the worst moments in Skrull invasion history. This week, we’re playing in the sandbox of big events yet again, with a list of reasons why Marvel’s recent Civil War event doesn’t stack up against one of its popular predecessors, the 1984 series Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars. -RM]
Just over a year ago, Marvel shook up their universe with Civil War, a series-spanning event wherein the U.S. government decided, after a tragic accident involving super-powered heroes and villains, that anyone with superhuman powers would be required to register and become official federal operatives. Costumed crime-fighters picked sides, Marvel picked a slogan ("Whose Side Are You On?"), Spider-Man unmasked, and Iron Man’s pro-registration camp hunted down the anti-registration crowd led by Captain America. In the end, Cap tearfully surrendered, only to be "killed" for his troubles a few issues later.
Throughout the series’ seven issue (and countless tie-ins), the Merry Marvel Marketing team hailed Civil War as the most mind-blowing storyline since, well… ever.
Here at ComicMix, we’re not quite sure we agree. After re-reading Civil War and comparing it to one of the first epic Marvel crossover events, the ’80s action-fest Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars, there’s a good argument to be made for the superiority of the earlier project.
Oh, and remember, what’s being discussed here is the 12-issue Secret Wars series, published by Marvel in 1984 (and featuring the first appearance of Spider-Man’s famous black costume), not to be confused with Secret War, the 2004-2005 five-issue series written by Brian Bendis.
Got it? Good. Now let’s begin…
6. REMEMBERING THE LESSONS ‘SESAME STREET’ TAUGHT THEM: In Civil War, heroes who fought alongside each other for years decide that the best way to debate the merits of a new law is to spy on one another and brawl at each and every opportunity. In Secret Wars, heroes who don’t necessarily trust each other decide that, despite their differences, teamwork and cooperation will improve their situation.
Sure, Spider-Man had a skirmish with the X-Men and the Hulk was shouting at everyone, but they still came together in the end. Wolverine and Captain America shared a heart-to-heart, and the heroes even accepted Magneto’s help, knowing that the greater good was more important than issues of mistrust.
Yes, we’ve all heard the big news: Skrulls have invaded the world. They’re everywhere, hidden from magic and telepathy, ready to do their worst. They’ve infiltrated the highest levels of government and they’ve replaced all of our planet’s best and brightest with sleeper agents, ready to bring down all that we hold dear.
But that doesn’t mean you should be worried.
Here at ComicMix, we know that the Skrull Empire doesn’t exactly have the best track record. Heck, they once replaced Alicia Masters, one of the best friends of the Fantastic Four, with a Skrull agent, then seemed to forget she was even there until years later when she was found out — which led to the FF blowing up the biggest space station in the aliens’ Empire.
And that’s not even the tip of the Skrull Empire’s iceberg of ineptitude. For the first in our new series of ComicMix Six features, we present some of the Secret Invasion villains’ least-impressive diabolical schemes through the years.