Efficiency, sarcasm, and natty fur!

This monkey and this robot once had a system: three blogs for three subjects. But it was complicated and vague and usually ended in feces throwing. So we have combined all three into a melange of media reviews and links and excessive blather, so as to reduce the burden on your short attention span.

In the right column, Monkey + Robot have compiled for you a compendium of sassy, savvy and in the know media reviews and tidbits, for your time-wasting pleasure. And lest you poke at us with sticks or cut off our power supply, the reviews are now selectable through those perky drop-down menus. Monkey + Robot Film and TV reviews, Wrongrobot's Comic Stash, and more.

Grab a chunk of melon and some Demoral, because in the left column, we have accumulated for you every snappy link we found amusing, entertaining, provocatively witty, or frankly, just colorful, with easy to understand small words so monkeybites can follow along. Such is Robotic Root!

Entertainment Media Ratings System:

Wrongrobot's Robot Rating: 1-10 Clicks, more indicating a happier robot!

Monkeybites' Monkey Rating: 1-10 Ooks! More indicating a mouthful of rotting simian teeth and lips curled in monkey pleasure!

IronLung's Robot Rating: 1-10 Clanks! More indicating a red-eyed, slack-jawed, blissed-out, ride-pimped dizzy droid! [this is good]

Vicbot's Robot Rating: 1-10 Whirrs! More indicating data that computes well with others.

Google
WWW http://monkey-plus-robot-reviews.blogspot.com
Wrongrobot's Fantasy Film Casting:
Casting Batman: Year One
Casting The Losers
Casting Richard Zach's Pirate Hunter

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Film Reviews [M+R Review Rating, out of 10 Possible Clicks, or Clanks, or Ooks]

Adventures of Baron Munchausen: 8 Clicks
Aliens Vs. Predator: 1 Clank
Bad Santa: 9 Clicks
Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever: 2 Clicks
Bend it Like Beckham: 8 Clicks
Bourne Supremacy: 10 Clicks
Bowling for Columbine: 8 Clicks
Bubba Ho-Tep: 8 Clanks
Cirque du Soleil- Allegria [stage]: 10 Clicks
Cold Mountain: 7 Clicks
Cutthroat Island: 2 Clicks
Elf: 8 Clicks
Equilibrium: 6 Clicks
Escape From Alcatraz: 7 Clicks
Finding Nemo: 10 Clicks
Girl With a Pearl Earring: 7 Clicks
The Graduate [stage]: 7 Clicks
Hero: 7 Clanks
House of 1000 Corpses: 5 Clanks
How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days: 5 Clicks
Hudson Hawk: 6 Clanks
The Hulk: 7 Clicks
Identity: 3 Clicks
Igby Goes Down: 5 Clicks
Intolerable Cruelty: 6 Clicks
I, Robot [trailer commentary][IronLung]
I, Robot [trailer commentary][Wrongrobot]
Kill Bill Vol.1: 10 Clicks
Kill Bill Vol.2 [IronLung]: 9 Clanks
Kill Bill Vol.2 [Wrongrobot]: 10 Clicks
The Last Samurai: 8 Clicks
LotR: Return of the King: 7 Clicks
My Architect: 9 Clicks
Original Kings of Comedy: 7 Clicks
The Phantom: 1 Click
Pirates of the Caribbean: 9 Clicks
The Punisher: 5 Clanks
Secretary: 9 Clicks
Shanghai Knights: 4 Clicks
Spellbound: 7 Clicks
Spider-Man 2: 8 Clanks/ 8 Clicks
Starsky & Hutch: 8 Clicks
Star Trek- Nemesis: 6.5 Clicks
Terminator 3: 5 Clicks, 2 Ooks
The Thin Red Line: 7 Clicks
To Live and Die in LA: 10 Clicks
Troy: n/a
Van Helsing: 4 Clicks, 0 Clanks!
Whale Rider: 8 Clicks

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Comic Film Adaptations News [Film and TV]:

Appleseed OAV 2004 6/18/04
Aeon Flux: 2/27/04
9/1/04
9/10/04
Akira Live-Action Film 9/29/04
Animated Batman 2004 9/2/04
Batman Begins: 2/12/04 2/19/04 2/24/04 3/02/04 3/03/04 3/04/04 3/08/04 3/9/04 3/17/04 3/19/04 3/31/04 TRDL Concept Illustration 4/3/04 4/5/04 4/12/04 TRDL Concept Illustration Part 2 4/12/04 4/21/04 4/22/04 4/23/04 4/23/04 4/29/04 5/4/04 Costume Critique 5/4/04 Script Excerpts 5/7/04 6/01/04 6/04/04 6/09/04 6/10/04 6/15/04 6/16/04 7/6/04 7/13/04 7/20/04 7/26/04 7/28/04 Trailer 7/29/04 7/31/04 8/2/04 8/3/04 8/4/04 8/5/04 8/8/04 8/10/04 8/12/04 8/17/04 8/20/04 8/24/04 8/30/04 10/19/04
Battle Angel Alita: 9/10/04
Black Widow 4/29/04
Blade 3: Trinity: 5/4/04 6/11/04
Catwoman: 2/18/04 5/21/04 Game Concept Art 5/21/04 6/11/04 Suckage! 7/29/04
Comic Adaptations 10/13/03
Constantine: 3/08/04 5/14/04
Dazzler?!? 7/7/04
Elektra: 2/19/04 3/29/04 4/23/04 5/14/04 4/29/04 5/4/04 6/10/04 6/18/04 7/1/04 7/2/04 7/6/04 7/29/04 9/20/04 10/13/04
Fantastic Four: 6/16/04 7/8/04 7/14/04 7/15/04 8/3/04 9/20/04
Ghost in the Shell 2: 9/18/04
Global Frequency: 6/15/04 7/16/04 8/17/04
Good Time For Comic Films! 5/14/04
Green Lantern?!?: 7/24/04 Koboshed 8/8/04
Hawaiian Dick: 4/21/04 Interview 4/22/04
He-Man: 10/11/04
Hellboy: 2/12/04 Interview: Del Toro 2/20/04
3/03/04 3/9/04 3/17/04 Personality Test 3/17/04 Figures Released 3/29/04 Toys Addendum 3/30/04 Choose the Next Figures! 4/21/04 Hellboy: An Introduction 3/30/04 Interview: Selma Blair 3/30/04
Interview: Spectral Motion 4/5/04 Caught On Film in '62! 4/21/04 Interview: Selma Blair, CafeFX 4/28/04 Hellboy Collaborator Medical Fund Auction! 5/4/04 DVDs 7/7/04 7/28/04 8/3/04 8/5/04 8/25/04 8/31/04 Hellboy 2: 3/29/04 4/8/04 6/03/04 8/27/04 9/1/04
9/14/04
Hulk 2? 5/4/04 9/7/04

Hulk Op-Ed 7/14/04
Iron Man: 3/03/04 4/23/04 6/10/04 6/28/04 9/14/04
8/2/04 8/10/04
Nick Fury: Agent of SHIELD 9/8/04
Preacher FX 4/29/04
Sin City: 3/19/04 4/04/21 4/04/29 4/05/19 5/21/04 6/01/04 6/11/04 7/1/04 7/26/04 7/28/04 7/20/04 8/11/04 9/15/04
Spider-Man 2: 2/18/04 3/29/04
Spider-Man 3: 5/4/04 5/14/04 6/10/04 7/13/04 Spider-Man 2 Game Screenshots 6/8/04 Spider-Man 2 [trailer commentary]
Superman: 5/21/04 6/03/04 6/09/04 6/10/04 6/28/04 7/1/04 7/13/04 7/14/04 7/20/04 8/5/04 8/10/04 8/27/04 8/31/04 9/10/04 9/15/04 10/19/04 [2] 10/19/04
Transformers: 9/10/04
Wanted 3/03/04
Watchmen: 4/4/23 4/7/24 7/24/24 8/12/04 9/10/04
Wolverine: 10/13/04
X-Men 3: 7/20/04 5/4/04 6/18/04 7/7/04 7/8/04 7/14/04 7/15/04 7/20/04 8/27/04 Aborted Sentinel? 9/2/04 9/7/04 9/15/04

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Film News, General:

A Scanner Darkly Film Adaptation
Akira: Kaneda's Bike in Production? 8/28/04
Aliens Vs. Predator: 6/2/04 Chess Set 5/26/04 6/8/04 Trailor 6/11/04 6/28/04 7/8/04 [trailer commentary] 8/5/04 8/8/04 7/15/04 8/12/04
Anchorman 7/13/04
Big Lebowski Day! 5/5/04
Bloodrayne 8/10/04
Bond? Who Bond? 8/3/04
Bourne Supremacy: 1/6/04 Trailer: 5/4/04 7/8/04
Cage Deserves Happiness 7/31/04
Clooney/ Tarantino in the News 10/15/03
Dodgeball 6/01/04
Domino 8/3/04
HEAT vs. R:HD: Dialog Analysis 10/22/03
Heat/ GTA III: Lawsuits Imitate Life 10/23/03
Incredibles 8/23/04
Jim White Documentary 3/23/04
Kill Bill 2 Poster 2/18/04
Kill Bill Interview: Uma Thurman 4/8/04
Kill Bill Vol. 3?! 4/12/04
The Life Aquatic 1/15/04
Matrix Explained? 8/31/04
National Treasure 8/4/04
Nowhere Man 7/26/04
Pierce is Bond No More 7/27/04
Sky Captain 7/15/04
Sky High 8/17/04
Soderberg Joins Che 4/5/04
Speed Racer: Vince Vaughn 6/25/04
Stealth 7/8/04
Summer 04 Films to Watch 4/22/04
Team America Puppet Porn 8/25/04
Transporter 2 6/16/04
Van Helsing: Van Helsing WHO? 3/16/04 Interview: ILM 5/5/04 Penny Arcade 5/18/04
Underworld 2 9/7/04
WB Kills ESC F/X 8/18/04
Will Smith Lexicon 5/18/04
Zatoichi: Blind Swordsman 6/25/04
No Mas James Bond
Miami Vice on the Big Screen

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TV Reviews, and the M+R Review Rating, out of 10 Possible Clicks, or Clanks, or Ooks

24 Season 3: 10/29/03: 8 Whirrs 11/5/03: 6 Whirrs 2/08/04: 7 Whirrs 2/12/04: 8 Whirrs 2/18/04: 8 Whirrs 2/24/04: 9 Whirrs 4/06/04: 7 Whirrs 4/26/04: 6 Whirrs 5/03/04: 3 Whirrs 5/11/04: 9 Whirrs 5/18/04: 8 Whirrs Finale 7/8/04: 3 Whirrs
Apprentice: Robin and Carolyn 4/16/04
ATHF and Space Ghost Links 2/25/04
ATHF: Revenge of the Trees 10/13/03: 8 Clicks The Shaving 10/27/03: 7 Clicks Super Trivia 9/22/03: 8 Clicks Battlestar Galactica 1/13/04: 3 Clicks
Carnivale: 9/22/03: 10 Clicks 9/30/03: 9 Clicks
Christopher Columbus: Secrets From the Grave: 3 Clicks
CSI: 8/11/03: 1 Ook 9/26/03: 5 Clicks CSI: Miami: 7/30/03: 1 Ook 7/31/03: 6 Clicks 9/26/03: 7 Clicks
Deadwood 3/24/04: 8 Clicks
Dinner for Five: 9/26/03: 7 Clicks 9/30/03: 7 Clicks
Ed: 9/26/03: 3 Clicks Series Finale 2/12/04: 7 Clicks
Emmy Nominations 04 7/15/04: 7 Clicks
Enterprise 10/13/03: 6 Clicks
Everybody Loves Raymond 9/26/03: 6 Clicks
Friends 9/26/03: 7 Clicks
Grammys: Outkast's Andre 3000 2/9/04: 10 Clicks
Law and Order Family: 9/30/03: 8 Clicks
Law and Order: 10/13/03
Law and Order: CI: 1/12/04: 8 Clicks
Marvel Comics Guide to NYC: 10 Clicks
Method and Red: 9 Clicks
MI-5 10/28/03: 10 Clicks
Mix It Up 1/12/04: 8 Clicks
Mr. Show: What to Think 9/10/03: 10 Clicks
Penn & Teller's Bullshit: 9 Clanks
Reno 911!: 9 Clicks 9/7/03
Space Ghost C2C: Baffler Meal: 11 Clicks! Flipmode 2/25/04:20 Clicks Survivor 7 9/19/03: 8 Clicks
Survivor All-Stars: 2/12/04: 8 Clicks 2/13/04: 7 Clicks Tour de France 2003 8/4/03: 8 Clicks
Will & Grace 9/26/03: 7 Clicks

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TV News

24/Law and Order/CSI "That Guy" Character Actor Tracker
24: Comic Adaption 3/25/04 Season 4 Casting 8/9/04
Amazing Screw-On Head Cartoon 4/8/04
Cigarette Smoking Man Action Figure 5/26/04
CSI: CSI in Comedy Culture 6/24/04 CSI's Peterson 2/18/04 Sick outs Everywhere 7/27/04
CSI: Miami Drinking Game 2/27/04 No Mas Rory Cochrane 8/9/04
CSI:NY: 3/8/04 3/16/04 Drawn Together 8/20/04
HDTV ScreenCap Archive 8/25/04
Jessica Simpson 10/21/03
Mastershake Speaks 9/7/04
Nike's Lance Commercial: Magnet 8/18/04
Law and Order: Trial by Jury Casting 6/04/04
NBC Hijacks TiVo 1/15/04
Simpsons' Shearer Balks 8/12/04
Survivor All-Stars Cast 1/12/04
Survivor 9 8/18/04
Robbery: Homicide Division Music 9/30/03

French Connection Made for TV


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Wrongrobot's Comics Stash- Comics and Sequential Art Reviews

Comic Reviews, and the M+R Review Rating, out of 10 Possible Clicks, or Clanks, or Ooks

Comics Reviews Intro
100 Bullets: 48: 7 Clicks
52, 53: 8 Clicks
9-11, Artists Respond Collections
Alias: 24-25: 10 Clicks 26-27: 10 Clicks 28: 9 Clicks
Astonishing X-Men: 2: 8 Clicks 3,4: 9,10 Clicks
Avengers: 500: 8 Clicks 502: 7 Clicks
Batgirl Year One TPB: 10 Clicks
Batman: 620: 5 Clicks 621: 7 Clicks
Batman: Long Halloween: 7 Clanks
Bloodstream 1: 1 Click
BPRD One Shots: 9/7 Clicks
Cla$$War: 4: 8 Clicks 5: 10 Clicks
Daredevil: 50-52: 9/3/5 Clicks 54: 4 Clicks 56: 9 Clicks 57: 7 Clicks
65: 6 Clicks
Domino:Perfect Weapon: 8 Clicks
Exiles: 30-33: 6/4/4 Clicks 36-37: 3/6 Clicks
Ex Machina: 2, 3: 7 Clicks
Global Frequency 11: 10 Clicks
Gotham Central: 10-11: 9 Clicks 13: 9 Clicks 16-18: 9 Clicks
Hellhounds 1-3: 7 Clicks
Human Target: 4: 9 Clicks 5-6: 8 Clicks 7: 8 Clicks
12, 13: 9 Clicks
Iron Man: 73-75: 8 Clicks 76: 2 Clicks 77: 5 Clicks 86: 9 Clicks
JSA: 51-52: 7/8 Clicks 53: 8 Clicks 54: 4 Clicks 56-57: 7 Clicks 58: 3 Clicks
League of Extraordinary Gentlemen 2: 3 Clanks, 8 Clicks
The Losers: Ante Up TPB: 9 Clanks 6: 10 Clicks 10-11: 8/10 Clicks
16: 10 Clicks
New Invaders 0: 3 Clicks
New X-Men: 144-146: 5 Clicks 149: 3 Clicks 151-152: 2 Clicks 153: 3 Clicks
[Renamed X-Men] 159-162: 4 Clicks
Paradise X: A: 9 Clicks
Planetary: TPBs (1-12): 8 Clicks 16: 5 Clicks : 8 Clicks 18: 9 Clicks
Powers: 33: 8 Clicks 36: 9 Clicks 37: 10 Clicks V2, 1: 10 Clicks
2-4: 10 Clicks
Pulse: 5: 7 Clicks
Queen and Country: 20: 10 Clicks 21: 10 Clicks 25: 8 Clicks
The Ride 1: 9 Clicks
Secret War 1: 8 Clicks
Sleeper: 8: 10 Clicks 11: 10 Clicks 12: 10 Clicks Sleeper Season Two: 1: 10 Clicks
Supreme Power: 1-2: 10 Clicks 4: 10 Clicks 7: 10 Clicks 8: 9 Clicks 11: 8 Clicks
Tokyo Storm Warning TPB: 5 Clicks
Ultimates: 12: 10 Clicks 13: 10 Clicks
Ultimate Fantastic Four 1-2: 7 Clicks 3: 8 Clicks
Ultimate Nightmare: 1: 10 Clicks
2: 8 Clicks
Ultimate Six: 1: 10 Clicks 4: 10 Clicks 6: 9 Clicks Ultimate X-Men: 36-37: 2 Clicks
Ultra: 2: 9 Clicks
Uncanny X-Men: 429-431: 4 Clicks 433: 2 Clicks 437-441: 1 Click 444-445: 5 Clicks 446: 6 Clicks
Wanted 2: 10 Clicks
We3: 1: 10 Clicks
Wildcats 3.0: 13: 7 Clicks 16: 7 Clicks 18: 7 Clicks
X-Statix : 2: 4 Clicks 13-15: 6 Clicks 18: 4 Clicks 19: 3 Clicks

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Friends of Robot: Artists:

FoR: 36Oh.net FofR: Enrico Casarosa
FoR: Terra Major's Horns of Hattin
FoR: Losstarot
FoR: Prometheus
FoR: Studio Kosen

Comic News:

Check the Film News section for updates on comic-related film adaptations! 100 Bullets FPS Game 4/2/04
Ale Garza on Batgirl 8/5/04
Amazing Screw-On Head Cartoon 4/8/04
Apparat Line: Warren Ellis 8/25/04
The Atomic Revolution Comic 3/23/04
Authority: Nguyen Interview 5/14/04
Authority OGN 7/20/04
Avengers 500 Preview 7/1/04
Brent Anderson on Pulse, Astro City 3/25/04
Batman Begins Costume Illustration [Wrongrobot]4/3/04
Batman: War on Crime 8/31/04
Bullseye Origin Series 6/28/04
Comics For Intellectuals 9/1/04
Decompression and Pacing 9/23/03
Dillon on Bullseye 9/7/04
Doc Frankenstein by Burlyman 9/2/04
Doc Ock Year One 6/16/04
Earth's Mightiest Mini 9/3/04
Ellis and Granov on Iron Man 5/25/04
Ellis Stream-a-Blog: Iron Man 7/31/04
Ellis Stream-a-Blog: Explodo 8/2/04
Ellis Stream-a-Blog: Bad Kids 8/27/04
Fox Sued over LoEG Script 9/26/03
Hawaiian Dick Bk 2 8/23/04
Hack/Slash book 2 6/18/04
Hal Jordon and Copyrights 8/20/04
Hellboy: An Introduction 3/30/04
IDW's 24 Comic 3/25/04
Iron Man Facelift 9/12/03
Iron Man 87 Outtakes 8/27/04
Joss Whedon Interview: Astonishing X-Men 8/10/04
JSA vs. JSA 8/12/04
League of Extraordinary Gentlemen 3 6/1/04
Marvel Vs. DC 8/31/04
Masamune Shirow 10/15/03
Micro-Heros Animated GIFs 4/6/04
Morrison on JLA: Hyperclan and Superman 6/1/04
Morrison's WE3 9/1/04
New Avengers 8/18/04
Nguyen Confirmed on Authority Vol.3 5/14/04
Nouvelle Manga Manifesto 6/11/03
Ocean 8/9/04
Orson Welles as Batman? 9/26/03
Phoenix Mini-Series 8/20/04
Poorly Drawn Animals 8/2/04
Remains: Niles/Dwyer Interview 3/12/04
Scurvy Dog: Yount Interview 1/15/04
SD Comicon Visual Oddities 7/31/04
Space Ghost 7/31/04
Spandex vs Leather 4/6/04
Steven Grant on 'Literature of Ethics'
The Losers: Diggle/Jock Interview 3/11/04
The Picture of Everything 1/15/04
The Question: Rick Veitch 9/1/04
The Question: Tommy Lee Edwards 9/2/04
Teddy Roosevelt From Mars 8/20/04
Tom Coker: Batman in Monolith 8/30/04
Tony Harris Pages from new Iron Man Arc
Ultimates: Bryan Hitch Interview 9/12/03
Ultra 8/18/04
Watchmen Remembered 8/12/04
WizardWorld LA Promo Art 3/22/04
WonderCon 2004 Buzz 8/13/04
WonderCon 2004 Buzz 2 8/17/04
WonderCon 2004 Dance-Off 8/18/04
Worlds Finest Film 7/26/04
World's Finest Interview 8/4/04
Young Avengers 8/20/04
Identity Crisis Covers
Honey Moon, The Ride, Rex Steele, Shirow, Megacity909
Comic Preview: Intimates, Iron Man
TSR Illustrator Terminally ill
Twinkie Comics, Avengers Dissembled Toy-style
Interview: Mark Millar of Ultimates
Interview: Cliff Chiang of Human Target
Star Trek Manga Anthology from Tokyopop
Pop Mahn to TokyoPop
Granov Iron Man Preview Pages
Image Comics Moves to Berkeley

Comic Review: The Ride 1, Everything Old is New Again (Commentary), Batgirl Year One TPB
7/02/2004



The Ride 1: This new series essentially amounts to a fun glamour project for some of the industry's coolest artists, if not the most widely known. It's like someone expended one of their genie wishes on pulling all of their favorite guys together to work on the same book in a round robin format. The concept is pretty straightforward: Doug Wagner writes a skeleton script loosely based around the presence of a 68 Camaro (the first issue introducing two federal agents on a personal quest…which involves driving into trouble) and hands it off to a pair of guest artists each issue, who run with it, putting their pages together around that premise, and off it goes to the next artist, who adds to the story, and so on. This is obviously an artist's, and artist-fan's, project. The script is the most fleeting concept here. And the decent part is that it doesn't really matter, if you treat this book as what it is: a sequential art exercise designed to be FUN. The skill of the artist is critical here. As has been said often, a skilled sequential artist should be able to convey the story without dialog, which is not to say that the writer is superfluous: I'm talking about dialog, not plot. Anyway, if the book reads clearly visually, then the script enhances the depth of the experience. Unfortunately, many books today use the crutch of script cues to drag the reader through sloppy composition, cluttered panels and confusing artwork. But back to The Ride: this is a vanity project for these guys, and it's beautiful stuff. The first issue is all about Gaijin Studios, and it shows: Adam Hughes did the cover art, in his surreal Illustrator rendering style, and the art chores are shared by two of my favorite artists: Cully Hammner and studiomate Brian Stelfreeze. Their pages are seamlessly integrated together, and their styles are complimentary, which is one of the reasons I like them both so much: strong linework, simplified abstracted rendering, stylized perspectives, and remarkably strong senses of composition. Plus, as I said, it's Gaijin, so look for car crashes, guns and explosions, shell casings and a schoolgirl assassin with a knee brace and a (thankfully not IPOD) MP3 player in use during the bedlam. Two wickedly cool panels to watch for: A Tour bus hurtling with surprisingly vivid inertia, spinning out of control in midair after a detonation, coming straight at the reader; also, a fun shot of our assassin, er, adjusting her thong, let's say, after cheesegrating her opponents' vehicles with rounds.



It's light stuff, but sexy and fun.

9/10 Clicks (for art alone)

Sample Pages
The Ride Site

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Everything Old Is New Again: Comic Revamps:There's been a fairly recent phenomenon in contemporary comics, of drawing from material from the Golden and Silver Ages of comic history as loose source material for mildly revisionist nostalgic origin stories. Re-launching older properties with a 'fresh' vision has always been a staple, and frequent bane, of comics continuity. The traditional images of most of DC's franchise characters were forged in the early Silver Age revamps of earlier characters that were holdings of smaller comic publishers that were absorbed by the company. Marvel's mainstay foundation property, the X-Men, often seem like they originated in their Giant-Size X-Men No.1 incarnation, which introduced the multi-ethnic cast that became so popular as the series progressed, even though the core group had been created in the early 60s along with Marvel's other well-known properties, but had languished with poor sales and had eventually been cancelled. So revamps are nothing new. But starting in the mid-80's, on the heels of the remarkable vision of Frank Miller's Dark Knight project, most comic creators attempted to match his post-modern revisionist ingenuity, and satisfy their publisher's hopes for matching success, by taking various characters, both popular and less well-known alike, and radically re-launch them, often involving significant “updates” to their origins and powers, and applying a trendy, stylish aesthetic to their once-familiar classic looks. While some of these projects were inspired and stuck in continuity going forward (Priest's Black Panther,Flash's streamlined costume) and some were interesting for a while, though ultimately suffered revamps of their own (Spider-Man's black costume, Iron Man every 7 issues) many just became dated too quickly and left unfortunate landmines in comic continuity in their wake (the Warrior, Guy Gardner.)

But a refreshing change occurred over time: much like other art styles, comics began looking back with an eye of nostalgia, not condescension. Several projects grew from this, with creators bringing the character back to its early roots in design and backstory, but with a contemporary realistic, nuanced tone. The visual style tends to be simpler, more stylized, and idealistic, like period movie set designers recreating 30's product advertising, based on their own perceptions of what they looked like, rather than the original products themselves. It's an interesting process, I think, creating new-old versions of things. The scripts in these projects are sentimental, but introspective, and seem to capture the excitement and newness of that era, but with the reader pulled closer into the character as an individual. It's due, in large part I'm sure, to creators looking back on their favorite comics as children, and desiring to remake them with an adult sensibility. I'm no stranger to this in my own projects, certainly, and some refreshing, satisfying reads can come out of it. Tim Sale Jeff Loeb have had a string of successful projects in this vein (Superman: Man of all Seasons, Daredevil: Yellow, Hulk: Gray, Spider-Man: Something or Other) but struck gold with their seminal Batman: The Long Halloween. They portrayed a classic Bob Kane Batman, grey tights, plain black bat-emblem, dark, muted watercolor washes…and though Sale's particular style on that project was exaggerated, it sparked a fresh look at what was already a successful tradition: the nostalgic look back at classic Batman characters, and the gradual bleed of some of that imagery into the contemporary books.

Frank miller and David Mazzuchelli created one of my favorite projects over fifteen years ago, the perfect Batman origin-story, Batman: Year One, which offered a study of how and why Bruce Wayne was compelled to take on the mantle of the bat, and how it would be introduced into street culture through his inventive use of theatrics and simple effects (backlighting, fog generators, releasing live bats, appearing from the shadows) and how his career mirrored that of Detective Gordon and, in this version, sado-masochistic prostitute Selina Kyle. It was brilliant, and Mazzuchelli's classic look to the character stuck with me as the definitive Batman as a man, rather than literally the larger-than-life character he scares criminals into thinking he is. Eventually, thankfully, this classic look, attitude, and low-tech methodology came back to the Batman franchise a few years ago, and we have seen the rturn of this classic look in time for the next Batman film, and a host of interesting creative projects using the character. This is an example of how a nostalgic origin project influenced the contemporary view of the character.

Another example, but in pretty much the opposite direction, is Barbara Gordon. She was the original Batgirl, and eventually was maimed by the Joker in the 80's, bound to a wheelchair and retired from costumed adventuring, in one of the decade's more serious, permanent changes to comic continuity. She has been the information broker Oracle into the present, and in the last few years, a member of a loose alliance of female adventurers in Gotham, as seen in the Birds of Prey series, by Chuck Dixon, which includes Black Canary and eventually the Huntress as well. Barbara Gorden as Oracle has been a frequently well-written character, still relevant in comic continuity, and surprisingly resistant to creators' penchant for irrational recovery and re-launch (read: Professor X, Elektra, etc.) Meanwhile, one of the few positive lasting results of the No Man's Land storyline in the Bat-books several years back, was the creation of a new Batgirl, a mute, superbly-skilled and mysterious young woman, head-to-toe in black leather and as lethal as she is agile. This character has quickly become a legitimate member of the Bat pantheon, and one of the freshest female fighting characters in modern comics. So, on the heels of this, when the Batgirl: Year One mini-series was announced, with Chuck Dixon pairing with Marcos Martin for art chores, I was intrigued. In this project, Dixon would plant forshadowing elements throughout his look back at Batgirl that would lead to Gordon's eventual identity as Oracle. Both Oracle and Batgirl in current continuity are well-written, modern female characters in DC's otherwise conservative line. So why a retread Batgirl origin story featuring a character long gone and never to return (one hopes) featuring a frighteningly kitchy, dated costume? Read on…

:::



Batgirl: Year One TPB: From the cover of the first issue, I was simply convinced that I was going to love this project as much, if not moreso, than I did the Robin: Year One. Same writer, same artist (well, not Javier Pulido, but Marcos Martin, a very similar artist who also worked on Robin) and same simple, stylized visual style. I bought and read the first three issues, and stopped. I knew I'd want it in trade, so I waited and picked it up as a single volume. It's a great read cover to cover.

Chuck Dixon creates a nebulous, timeless Gotham in this project, where the 60's sexism and gender politics that defined the character's original motivations exist hand in hand with a traditional, retro-deco look to Gotham. Yet, the internet, computer technology in general, and several empowering themes of female individuality, also co-exist here, creating a strange hybrid setting. Young Barbara Gordon is laughed at for her desire to join her father on the force, yet seems free to take routine, late-night martial arts classes several nights a week. It's a confusing setting, but serves the story well enough. Dixon has created a plausible reason for Gordon to dress as a costumed character in the first place, specifically a strangely garish mimic of Batman's look: she wants to upstage her father at a costume ball by subverting the image of the mysterious vigilante he has uncomfortably aligned himself with, whom he needs yet who's existence he despises. It's a riff on the common teenage rebellion thing, taking on the appearance that most frightens you parents, and making it your own in a an attempt at individuality. In an accident of fate, masked villains raid the ball, and take Detective Gordon and Bruce Wayne (unable to ge away long enough to change into his Batman gear) hostage, and Barbara decides to attempt to rescue her father by pretty much kicking the ass of everyone there. The press gets a hold of it, and she's instantly legitimized. As appalled as she is initially, we soon find her venturing out into Gotham's streets after hours, and becoming more and more interested in making the costumed vigilante thing work. Dixon gives us both an emotional core to Barbara's motivation (protecting her father , proving herself to him, and soon, defiantly adventuring almost specifically because Batman and Robin condescendingly forbade it, etc) and loads of little technical details of a normal person figuring out, through adaptive use, what works and doesn't work in terms of fighting crime in spandex. She tweaks her gear as she goes to be more practical, losing heels (after actually losing one in battle) for athletic soles, elastic bungie cable instead of traditional rope, a growing kit of weaponry thanks to Batman's hidden mentorship, and even the need for a utility belt in the first place.

Barbara Gordon is written very consistently, so much so that you feel like you know the character even after just a few issues. It's one of a few projects lately that actually make good use of the character's first-person narrative to explain their thoughts, rather than just establishing the scene. Coincidentally, the other good example of this is another re-launch, Human Target by Peter Milligan and Javier Pulido (the same artist who worked with Dixon on this series' predecessor, Robin: Year One) in which Milligan uses the narrative voice to allow us a glimpse at Christopher Chance's fractured psychology. Here, we learn to know a Barbara Gordon that is aggressively defiant with regards to the limits she envisions imposed on her by male-dominated society. Her story is largely a Girls-Kick-Ass! tale, but her personality is interesting and realistically flawed: she reacts to conflict with snap defiance, jumping to conclusions and making some foolish mistakes in the process. This is pretty common stuff for the young hot shit archtype, but it's made more interesting within the context of her No-Place-For-Girls conflicts: she reacts in a way that is non-gender-specific, but rather a function of temperament, personality and age. Yet, Dixon reminds us that she IS a girl, and is emotional and human. She's aware of Robin's attention, intrigued by the handsome officer in her father's squad, insecure about some of her actions and frequently embarrassed. This girl, however, may blush, but she's probably hurtling between buildings when doing so. It makes for an engaging read.



The villains of the piece are almost a side-plot. Killer Moth is another up-and-coming character mimicking Batman's look and methods, but badly, and while he desperately wants to be taken seriously, and comes off as a wannabe, he contrasts with Barbara, who almost can't help but be successful as a costumed hero. The dichotomy is interesting. Unfortunately, the witless Moth takes up a partnership with Firefly, a sadistically murderous arsonist for whom Moth creates an identity, and soon becomes the driving force behind the team's crimes. As Moth loses control, Batgirl's attempt to thwart the pair and rescue her father from harm becomes decidedly more serious, and the book ends with startlingly real consequences. Dixon peppers th test with references to Barbara's future: her obsession with her physicality, agility and freedom (to be stolen from her later, which we can see will be torturous for her) and her use of computers and her savviness for information searching (her future as Oracle) despite her somewhat heavy-handed narrative dialog protesting against such a role, and the first meeting with Black Canary, her future partner in Birds of Prey. Dixon also shows us a Batman who appears, on the surface, to be against another protégé, but secretly insures that she is properly trained and equipped, and eventually, welcomed into the Batcave, as if she, like Robin before her, is his responsibility. The use of good cop/ bad cop with Robin is fun to watch as well. One more note on Killer Moth: I originally assumed this was a new character Dixon wrote in in order to develop a contrast to Batgirl's slow adoption of Batman's image, but in browsing through an old issue of DC's WHo's Who from 1986, I found the original Killer Moth, dating back to the 60s... so one has to marvel at the idea that this Batman-clone was created earnestly back in the day in the original comics!

The trade reads quickly, and can be a real page-turner. Marcos Martin's art and the inks of Alvaro Lopez and washes of color by Javier Rodriguez all lend the book a retro- dreamy quality, and are of consistently high-quality. Martin draws Barbara as a spritely, agile, wide-eyed young women, and as such, she's very endearing. She also has a mean scissor-kick, so the package is well represented in his imaginative panel angles and perspective action shots. A highly recommended book, and an excellent example of how a nostalgia project can yield contemporary relevance.

10/10 Clicks!

So says...Wrongrobot!



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