Posts Tagged ‘Frank Miller’

The Many Lives of Catwoman is Officially Out TOMORROW!

June 30, 2017

Catwoman Cover 1

While The Many Lives of Catwoman: The Felonious History of a Feline Fatale is available online from several retailers and in a bunch of shops already, the official release date for my brand new book is tomorrow, July 1. Up here, July 1 is a holiday, and everywhere else it’s a Saturday, so let’s chat about the book today before all of the celebration and relaxation takes over tomorrow. Yesterday on Twitter I ran through twelve interesting and weird facts about The Many Lives of Catwoman, and here’s that list in a more expanded form:

  1. It covers EVERYTHING. Comics, television, movies, video games, animation, unfilmed scripts, online videos, and more. If Catwoman was there, it’s discussed. It’s all within a larger, chronological framework that explains the broader evolution of the character, though, so it’s detailed but also organized and accessible.
  2. All of the chapter titles are cat-related puns. This was hard than I thought it would be; half of them came together pretty quickly, and the rest were like pulling teeth. “A Conspicuous Pause” is probably my favourite of them all because I really wanted to get “paws” in there. I was hoping to make something work with “bastion” but I just couldn’t figure anything out.
  3. The book opens with a ten page take down of Bob Kane that becomes a celebration of Bill Finger. Bob Kane often gets sole credit for Batman and the larger Bat-mythos, but Bill Finger was a far more important figure who Kane actively screwed over for decades while hoarding all of the money and fame for himself.
  4. Catwoman disappeared for TWELVE YEARS, from 1954 to 1966. The timing suggests that it was entirely the fault of Fredric Wertham and his contention in Seduction of the Innocent that there were homoerotic undertones to Batman and Robin’s adventures. Catwoman was called out in this portion of Wertham’s book as a “vicious” woman who, when it came to dating Bruce, would “have no chance against Dick.” Seduction of the Innocent was published in 1954, and Catwoman was benched immediately afterward.
  5. The chapter on the 1960s Batman television program has more quotes from the show than is probably necessary, but they’re all amazing. It’s all just too much fun. The dialogue in that show is so specific, and I find that when I read it I can hear the campy cadence with which it was delivered in my head. So I quoted the great lines as much as possible.
  6. Selina dated Bruce Wayne in the 1980s, then turned into a stalker when he started dating Vicki Vale, then dated Batman. It’s all very bizarre, an eight year soap opera that made Catwoman a fixture in both ongoing Bat-books for most of the decade. I do a deep dive into it all, of course. It’s a fascinating era on several levels.
  7. The chapter about Frank Miller’s various takes on Catwoman is… not complimentary. From The Dark Knight Returns to Batman: Year One to All Star Batman to Holy Terror (a non-DC book that features a Catwoman analogue), Miller sexualizes and brutalizes Catwoman again and again, often in the same ways. His misogynistic tendencies become very pronounced once you take a closer look at the patterns in his work.
  8. On the other hand, the chapter about Michelle Pfeiffer’s take on Catwoman is… extremely complimentary! Because she is the BEST. Daniel Waters and Tim Burton deserve some credit for Batman Returns, of course, but the effort and dedication Pfeiffer brought to the role was considerable, with fantastic results. She’s so good that she steals the entire movie.
  9. My discussion on Catwoman in the 1990s includes a section about Tarot: Witch of the Black Rose, and god help us all. Jim Balent’s hyper sexualized art dominated this era and was often at odds with the interesting stories in the book, and looking at Balent’s next project, Tarot, offers interesting insights into his approach to Catwoman. Balent’s intentions were good with Catwoman, but his execution remains rather divisive for Catwoman fans.
  10. Halle Berry’s horrible Catwoman gets a full chapter. The film’s awfulness is inversely proportional to how fun it is to write about; it’s so bad that you can revel in how fascinatingly terrible it turned out to be. Watching the movie several times while I wrote the chapter wasn’t a blast, but it’s a sacrifice I made for you, dear readers, in service of what I think turned into a fun and compelling chapter.
  11. The Gotham section is half praise for Camren Bicondova, who is GREAT, and half side eying everything else about the show. Bicondova really is a wonderful Selina, but the show around her is a bit of a mess. When I watched it all for the book, I ended up skipping every scene that Selina wasn’t in, and I 100% recommend watching the show that way. When it’s just the Selina show, it’s pretty good.
  12. The New 52 chapter has some serious side eye as well, but only for the first three years of the relaunch. After that, Genevieve Valentine and Garry Brown launched Selina’s mob boss era, which was AWESOME. It’s a real shame that it only lasted a year; creatively, it was something fun and new for Selina that made for great stories, and commercially it brought a new stability to the book after it had tumbled down the charts over the three years previous. DC were fools to end it.

So yeah, Catwoman is amazing, the book was so much fun to write, and I hope that you’ll all check it out! I love sharing the fascinating histories of these great comic book heroines, and a strong reception for The Many Lives of Catwoman will hopefully lead to further historical showcases for the wonderful women of superhero comic books. I definitely have lots more I’d love to cover! But for right now, I hope you all enjoy this one and have a good time learning all about the unique history and evolution of Catwoman!

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Eduardo Risso to Draw Wonder Woman Mini-Comic for Dark Knight III: The Master Race #2

November 2, 2015

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Dark Knight III: The Master Race is a horribly named comic book that continues Frank Miller’s Dark Knight series, set to debut in just a few weeks time. Miller is joined by co-writer Brian Azzarello and artist Andy Kubert for this third volume, and with Azzarello in the mix I had my fingers crossed that Eduardo Risso would be a part of this all at some point. Risso is an amazing artist, so much so that he could make a project as misguided and unnecessary as this something worth looking at, at least.

Luckily for us, we’re going to get Eduardo Risso in the best way possible. Each issue of Dark Knight III comes with a mini-comic focusing on a different character, and the mini-comic for Dark Knight III: The Master Race #2 is going to focus on Wonder Woman and feature art from Risso. Presumably it’ll still be written by Miller and Azzarello, which is a burden the art will have to overcome, but Risso’s been making writers look good for ages. I’m excited to see him take on Wonder Woman, and I’m curious to see what the story will cover. Something that bridges the gap between All Star Batman and Dark Knight would be fun; Miller’s feminazi Wonder Woman in All Star Batman is pretty ridiculous, but also I love her.

Risso is doing a cover for the mini-comic as well. It’s the ominous, fierce image at the top of this post. No one does shadows like Risso. Look at those eyes coming out of the black under her tiara. This news is making we want to go reread 100 Bullets again.

There’s also been word that the poorly chosen title “The Master Race” might be a reference to Lara, Wonder Woman and Superman’s daughter from The Dark Knight Strikes Again, and that this new race of superbeings will play a key role in the story. Details remain sparse, but that does sound like something that Miller’s Batman wouldn’t be very into and would want to punch. I have no idea if Lara will be a key part of Risso’s mini-comic because we have literally no details on that book other than that Risso is drawing it and Wonder Woman is the focus.

Dark Knight III: The Master Race #2 is out in comic shops and online on December 23, so go pick that up if you’re intrigued by a Risso-drawn Wonder Woman tale. Or buy it for your friends and family for Christmas! Nothing says stocking stuffer like a super racist sounding comic book.  On second thought, maybe buy the book, pitch the main part, and gift just the pretty Wonder Woman mini-comic to all of your friends and family.

Two Dark Knight III #1 Variant Covers Featuring Wonder Woman

October 15, 2015

First off, how is Dark Knight III still subtitled The Master Race? Who thought that was a good idea? What an absolutely terrible title for a book, regardless of the content therein. I can’t even bring myself to put the subtitle in this post’s title. It’s just too dumb.

Anyway, on to the subject at hand. DC Comics is releasing about 30 variant covers for Dark Knight III #1, many of them specific to certain stores. Now, I don’t particularly care about this book at all. Frank Miller hasn’t done anything interesting in ages, and has regressed to downright offensive as of late, so I’m not excited for him to return to Batman yet again. But, in the midst of this sea of variants there are a couple with Wonder Woman, and I’m all about Wonder Woman.

At first glance, 2 out of 30 doesn’t seem like a lot, but it’s an understandable minority. To start with, it’s a Batman book. Plus everybody loves The Dark Knight Returns, and Wonder Woman’s not in that one. She’s all over the sequel, The Dark Knight Strikes Again, but nobody likes that one. That book is a dang catastrophe. So Wonder Woman relegated to just a couple of variants is about right, really.

So let’s get to the covers. First is a Joshua Middleton for Madness Games & Comics:

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I’ll say this: It’s super Frank Miller-like. He nailed the hair especially. The cover makes me think of what Miller’s art could be like if his work got more finessed and detailed over time instead of scratchier. His Wonder Woman is decent, and captures this world’s version of her well, but I’m particularly into the Carrie Kelly in the foreground; she looks great.

The second cover is by Artgerm, for Legacy Comics and Cards:

dk3who

At first glance, it’s pretty nice with his smooth artwork and a very lovely take on Wonder Woman, but the perspective kind of ruins it for me. Wonder Woman is in front of Batman, thus closer to the viewer, so she should be bigger. But Batman is HUGE behind her, to an outlandish degree that practically dwarfs her. It just looks weird. Nonetheless, the Wonder Woman on her own is really quite a lovely take on Miller’s version of the character. If they could excise or resize the Batman, it would be a great cover.

If you’re into either of these covers, getting a hold of them might be tricky. You’ll have to track down the specific store, and try to order the cover from their website or some such if they’re not local for you. I’m imagining they’ll be pricier than the regular comic too, so be prepared to pay a bit more; I think the Artgerm one is going for ten bucks. You might have some luck on eBay, too.  There also may be more variants with Wonder Woman, because not all of the covers have been released yet!

First Look At Ben Affleck As Batman OR They’re Doing The Dark Knight Returns, It Seems

May 13, 2014

After teasing the Batmanmobile yesterday, Zack Snyder took to Twitter today and tweeted not just a picture of the car, but of Batman standing next to it. The internet is, of course, flipping out right now, and so I thought I’d join in on the fun. Let’s take a look:

affleck1

Starting with a positive, I like the ears a lot. I’ve long been a fan of a shorter eared Batman, and I like that that’s the direction the Man of Steel sequel is going. Though we should have expected as much, given all the Dark Knight Returns talk that’s been surrounding the movie since it was first announced. Look at Affleck above and look at this Frank Miller art from The Dark Knight Returns:

affleckdkr

It’s got the short ears and a similar logo, plus Affleck looks really bulked up like Miller’s Batman. The influence is clear.

The one thing that concerns me, costumewise, is the neck. If that sucker is solid, it’s going to make Batman really stiff. Remember Batman Begins, and that solid neck piece? And most of the Batman movies before that, too. Batman had to turn his whole body to look around, and then they wisely changed the design in The Dark Knight to allow Batman to actually move his neck. Encasing Affleck’s head in a rubber cowl is going to make for some awkward movement. I think that the cowl from the 1966 Batman show is still the best Batman cowl thus far, solely because it’s actually fabric and Batman can move his head like a normal person.

All together, the picture is sort of cool, and if it were a completely different crew writing and directing the movie I’d probably be pretty excited. Unfortunately, I saw Man of Steel, and it was god awful, plus I went through the whole experience of being psyched by pictures and trailers before being colossally disappointed by the grey, soulless, joyless film we ended up with. It’s a cool picture, but ultimately I am fully expecting this movie to suck. Anything otherwise will be a pleasant surprise.

Wonder Woman: Bondage By Frank Miller And Bill Sienkiewicz, And How Way Off It Would Have Been

May 12, 2011

Bleeding Cool ran this image today (first posted at DC Women Kicking Ass) of a bound Wonder Woman drawn by Bill Sienkiewicz.  It seems that Frank Miller and Sienkiewicz were talking about doing a Wonder Woman series called Wonder Woman: Bondage, inspired by the bondage themes in William Moulton Marston’s original Wonder Woman stories, and this was a test piece:

The date on the picture appears to be March 15, 2005, and the thought bubble reads: “I’ll bet Elektra never had to go thru this kind of humiliation… but I shouldn’t gloat.”

Sienkiewicz spoke to Bleeding Cool about the image, which was never meant to be seen by the public, and said:

[Wonder Woman’s] been simultaneously revered and handled poorly in some incarnations. To me she’s always been a ‘”symbol” more than a character that has been well-utilized in a story context. The most interesting stuff was the earliest – and felt the ripest for revisiting.

The fact that her creator William Marston also created the precursor to the lie detector and was into bondage lent a weird kinky vibe and made the idea of mucking with her and her origin a potentially fun trip.

The image was done by me to visually test the water, so to speak and my own comfort level, if not everyone else’s, about how far it could be pushed. I did some others that were far more extreme, no one has seen those, this one was relatively tame by comparison. Still it was perhaps a bit over the top, but I think Frank and I invited that.

I think Sienkiewicz pushed it too far.  Having spent three years researching Wonder Woman, I know way, way too much about her bondage-laden past and the theories/kinks behind it, but I still find the picture a little disconcerting.  Wonder Woman got tied up ALL the time, and even worse than in Sienkiewicz’s picture.  Check out this involved bondage scene from Wonder Woman #6:

She’s got a mask, a neck brace, tons of chains AND the golden lasso tied around her, plus after this she gets dropped in a big tank of water.  Sienkiewicz’s scenario seems like a bit of a tight spot, but Wonder Woman’s gotten out of worse.  The picture, however, is still very off-putting.

I think part of the problem is that we can’t see her face.  From the dialogue, it seems that she’s glad to be tied up, but a smile and a wink could go a long way here.  Wonder Woman was happy to be tied up lots of times:

Though she was also sad a lot, and those images don’t bother me as much as Sienkiewicz’s does.  Consider this panel from Wonder Woman #2 where a bound and crying Wonder Woman is taunted by her captor:

Now, this is not a fun image, but I don’t find it nearly as disturbing as the Sienkiewicz piece.  I think that ultimately, H.G. Peter’s artwork from the 1940s was much less visceral in two main ways.

First, Peter’s style was cartoonish.  He certainly had a unique style for the time… Wonder Woman and Sensation Comics looked rather different from anything else on the stands.  But it wasn’t anything near realistic.  Sienkiewicz, on the other hand, is certainly a very stylized artist, but with a far more realistic vibe. 

Second, this realism affects how we see the piece.  Sienkiewicz’s Wonder Woman is contorted and taut.  Her legs are bent back, her shoulders are pulled down… there’s a tightness to the piece that well communicates that her bonds have debilitated her.  With Peter, the layouts were far more basic.  Wonder Woman would be tied to a post, or chained to a table.  Her body was rarely twisted by her bonds.  Plus, it always felt like she could escape at any second… Peter’s Wonder Woman never seemed completely helpless.  Sienkiewicz’s picture looks like a really messed up murder scene, and Wonder Woman appears lifeless.  Peter’s art never sapped the life from the character.

I think this would have been a pretty terrible comic, as both men seem to be missing the tone/message of the original bondage entirely.  Bill Sienkiewicz is a fantastic artist, and Frank Miller is a great writer (I know a lot of Wonder Woman fans hate his take on the character in All Star Batman, but I think it’s far more hilarious and clever than people give it credit for), but they’re way off base.  I don’t know if Sienkiewicz or Miller came up with the dialogue for the image, but humiliation was absolutely not a part of Wonder Woman’s bondage past.

For Marston, what was good about bondage wasn’t a masochistic pleasure in being humiliated.  It was all about trusting the person who bound you, and being comfortable in giving control of yourself entirely to someone else.  It was a message of love and trust, and while super weird for a kid’s comic book, it’s kind of quaint and nice when you compare it to how we think about bondage today.  Marston believed that bondage went bad when this love and trust were removed and it became a dominance situation.  Rendering the bound party completely powerless or humiliated was a total perversion of how Marston thought bondage and submission should be.  When Wonder Woman was so bound, it was meant to illustrate the evils of our society. 

It all tied into his theories about how women should rule the world (bondage equals power; men tend to be dominant and cruel, while women tend to be loving and caring, thus we’d all be better off if we submitted to women and put them in charge), and it’s all very bizarre, but it’s a particular sort of bizarre.  Sienkiewicz and Miller’s interpretation of it, or at least what I can glean from this image, is WAY off the mark.  This image is bizarre in the wrong way.  Marston was certainly weird and kinky, and there are some serious problems with the way he presented his bondage theories, but Sienkiewicz seems to be operating from a far more modern concept of bondage and that’s not what the original comics were about.

So yeah, super off-putting picture.  I think that Sienkiewicz on a Wonder Woman book could be really cool, but maybe with a lighter sort of story.  Or at least dark in a different way.


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