Monday, June 26, 2017

There Is No Hope in Crime Alley, Night 26: And I'll remember the love that you gave me / Now that I'm standing on my own

Years ago on this exact night, June 26 at 10:48 PM, on Park Row in Gotham City, Joe Chill shot and killed Thomas and Martha Wayne but left their young son Bruce alive to live with the burden of what he had witnessed. This, and every night we walk down Crime Alley only to meet the flash of a pair of gunshots, is The Batman and How He Came to Be.

But once in a while...time, space, and opportunity align in an event in Crime Alley that reminds Bruce Wayne what he is fighting for after all: not just justice, not merely punishing crime, but also...out of love.

Panels from Batman: Death and the Maidens #6 (March 2004), script by Greg Rucka, pencils and inks by Klaus Janson, colors by Steve Buccellato, letters by Clem Robins

May we, like Bruce, remember those who loved us...and that they loved us.

We all live in a narco-submarine

Panels from Ms. Tree #33 (Renegade, October 1986); script by Max Collins; pencils by Terry Beatty; inks, colors, and letters by Gary Kato;
and from Angel Love #1 (August 1986); script and pencils by Barbara Slate, inks by John William Lopez, colors by Bob LeRose, letters by Bill Yoshida

There Is No Hope in Crime Alley, Night 25: Every Rose Has Its Own Origin Story

Panel from "The Mourning After" in Detective Comics (1937 series) #782 (July 2003), script by Jason Hall, pencils by Craig Rousseau, inks by Dan Davis, colors by Lee Loughridge, letters by Janice Chiang

There Is No Hope in Crime Alley, Night 24: Shadow of the Batman

How universal is Batman's origin story? So freakin' universal that it even takes place on Earth-S&S (Street & Smith)!

Panels from "New York City, 1938" in The Shadow #100 (Dynamite, June 2015), script by Michael Uslan, pencils and inks by Giovanni Timpano, colors by Marco Lesko, letters by Rob Steen

Well, he sure told you, Mister So-Called Batman's Dad!

There Is No Hope in Crime Alley, Night 23: Must There Be a Batman?

Cover of Superman/Batman #17 (March 2005), pencils by Carlos Pacheco, inks by Jesus Merino, colors by Laura Martin

You may remember that yesterday, or only one issue ago in comic book time, Batman shot Joe Chill and thus erased his own batariffic future. That is how time travel works, and I'm standing by that. Anyway, Superman travels forward in time to fetch the now-nothin'-but-a-playboy Bruce Wayne (he still lives with his parents, ha!) and brings him back to the Crime Alley, shouting incoherently that his kids grew up to be a-holes and that where they were going they didn't need roads.

Panels from Superman/Batman #17 (March 2005), script by Jeph Loeb, pencils by Carlos Pacheco, inks by Jesus Merino, colors by Laura Martin and Larry Molinar, letters by Richard Starkings

You know, in a world where Thomas and Martha Wayne survived Park Avenue was not the scene of the murder of two of Gotham City's leading lights, maybe they would have supported live theater city rehabilitation enough that it never would become Crime Alley. But maybe even in a world without a Batman, some things are absolutely unavoidable. Like Bruce's double past, as far as Superman is concerned. Geez, Supes, why doncha just fly him into the world where you're both Nazis oh wait you'd only just averted that one a couple issues ago

Hooray! He snaps Bruce back to his real self which makes absolutely no sense in this timeline because there was never ever a Batman at all but hey, for the sense of the story let's roll with it.

For there to be a Batman, the Waynes must die. It's the universal rule of the DC Universe. And don't feel so alone, Bruce: there's a guy just one universe over on the newsstand named Peter Parker who knows just how you feel.

There Is No Hope in Crime Alley, Night 22: Why don't you just f-f-f-fade away

As I promised yesterday, tonight we see just another one of the many, many deaths of Thomas and Martha Wayne that populate comics history (and this feature)...with a slight difference.

Panels from Superman/Batman #16 (Late February 2005), script by Jeph Loeb, pencils by Carlos Pacheco, inks by Jesus Merino, colors by Laura Martin, letters by Richard Starkings

Okay, here's the short explanation to this scene: Superman and Batman were corrupted by a time-travelling Cosmic King, Saturn Queen and...Magnet Man? Cosmic Consumer? Captain Attraction?...anyway, three time traveling adult villains of the super-teens from 3005, the Legion of Super-Heroes! Then the all-new, all-different Sinisterman and Badman took over the world! Now Clark and Bruce have come to their super-senses and are hunting Cosmic King (oh, yeah, that was his name) to stop him after or before he time-travels, and of course they've popped into the most invonvenient place and time in the entire multiverse, allowing Batman to observe the death of his parents. Talk about noit being able to go home again, huh? Take that, Thomas Wolfe!

So take a moment to contemplate: what happens when Batman prevents Joe Chill from killing Thomas and Martha Wayne? Well, obviously, the Waynes, including Bruce, live! Y&ay! That's a win. But what happens to Batman himself? Think about it, won't you?

No death of the Waynes, no Batman. DC Comics will surely go bankrupt in this timeline! But stay tuned tomorrow to see how Superman personally kills young Bruce to make certain the entire future of the DC Universe timeline is restored!

(No, he doesn't do that.)

There Is No Hope in Crime Alley, Night 21: Bruce had fun, and it hurt

Yeah, yeah, I know: we've seen it one bajillion times before:

Panels from Superman/Batman #14 (January 2005), script by Jeph Loeb, pencils by Carlos Pacheco, inks by Jesus Merino, colors by Laura Martin, letters by Richard Starkings

But what if just imagine...something different happening that night! What could happen differently, you ask? Surely the death of Batman's parents is a universal constant? Well, tune in tomorrow to see just how correct you are! Answer: not very! Bwah-ha-ha-ha-ha!

There Is No Hope in Crime Alley, Night 20: Cold Feet

Panel from Batman: The Cult #4 (1988), script by Jim Starlin, pencils and inks by Bernie Wrightson, colors by Bill Wray, letters by John Costanza

There Is No Hope in Crime Alley, Night 19: I dreamed a dream in times gone by / When Joe Chill shot my mother and dad

Panels from Batman (1940 series) #621 (January 2004), script by Brian Azzarello, pencils and inks by Eduardo Risso, colors by Patricia Mulvihill, letters by Clem Robins

There Is No Hope in Crime Alley, Night 18: Imagine Bruce is bulletproof / It's easy if you try

What If...? The Waynes' son was Clark Kent? Well, first, they'd need more durable Grey Ghost toys. Then maybe, the Elseworlds story Speeding Bullets. But before all that, Superman #353! Not a hoax! Not a What If?! Not an Imaginary Story! Not an Elseworlds! Not a dream!

Panels from "Just Imagine: The Secret Origin of Bruce (Superman) Wayne" in Superman #353 (November 1980), script by Bob Rozakis, pencils by Curt Swan, inks by Frank Chiaramonte, colors by Gene D'Angelo

...oh, it was a "Just Imagine" story.


Aren't they all?

Saturday, June 17, 2017

There Is No Hope in Crime Alley, Night 17: Somehow Batman and Bane have the same origin

Panels from Batman (2011 New 52 series) #18 (May 2013), script by Scott Snyder, pencils by Andy Kubert, inks by Sandra Hope, colors by Brad Anderson, letters by Nick J. Napolitano

Later, as young Dorrance sat in his father's study pondering his life, an object which causes death or destroys life suddenly flew through the window! "That's it, fadder!" he declared aloud. "I shall become a BANE!"

365 Days of Defiance, Day 168: Oh, I'm bein' followed by a doomshadow

In which only Wonder Woman...yes, Wonder Man!...has remained immune to the complete subjugation of the Earth by Doctor Doom, thanks to his ionized state, or incredible coolness, or possibly both.

Panels from Marvel Graphic Novel #27: Emperor Doom — Starring the Mighty Avengers graphic novel (1987), script by David Michelinie, pencils and inks by Bob Hall, colors by Bob Hall (?), letters by Bill Oakley

Why, it's almost as if Doom welcomes a challenge to his omnipotent status quo. Maybe he's just...bored?

Wonder Man becomes a one-man rebellion against the state! Can he stop Doctor Doom from ruling over the whole planet?

Why yes he can, because he's Wonder Man!

Wonder Ma-an!
Wonder Ma-an!
All the world is waiting for you
Ionic power you possess
In your safari jacket
Stopping Doc Doom's racket
Make him cringe and whine and grovel!

Wonder Ma-an!
Wonder Ma-an!

Doom's rule's really quite obscene
Just like in Secret Wars '15
Thinks he's the master race
Punch him right in the face
By the end of this here graphic novel!

Wonder Ma-an!
Get us out from under, Wonder Ma-an
You're a wonder, Wonder Ma-an!

Friday, June 16, 2017

There Is No Hope in Crime Alley, Night 16: All Chill, All the Time

Here's a few details of the Pre-Crisis DC Universe that exist-no-more, and I will argue that their omission and replacement by new lore has made the Batman legend stronger and more epic. 1: Martha Wayne died of a heart attack, not being shot by Joe Chill. 2: Pre-Crisis, Alfred didn't show up until years later, so it was Bruce's Uncle Philip Wayne who more-or-less raised him, and 3: Philip's housekeeper was Joe Chill's mother. Man, you usually have to go to a Shakespeare tragedy to get such coincidinkys.

Panel from "The Women in Batman's Life!" in Batman (1940 series) #208 (January-February 1969), scrip by E. Nelson Bridwell, pencils by Gil Kane, inks by Jack Abel

365 Days of Defiance, Day 167: "And all the doubt was now — should I be fit?"

If'n you're a fan of Neil Gaiman and/or early, still-tenuously-attached-to-the-DC-Universe Vertigo Comics (and who isn't?), you might enjoy the recent Free Country: A Tale of the Children's Crusade, which reprints the original pair of Children's Crusade bookend issues and expands on the 1993 Vertigo Annuals event with all new middle chapters and vignettes by Toby Litt and Peter Gross, giving us even more Dead Boy Detectives than ever! And then there's this bit of expanded history to the denouement, which ought to make perfect sense to those of us who've read our Robert Browning, or even our Stephen King The Dark Tower series:

Panels from Free Country: A Tale of the Children's Crusade graphic novel (May 2015), script by Toby Litt, pencils and inks by Peter Gross, colors by Daniel Vozzo, letters by John Costanza

Thursday, June 15, 2017

There Is No Hope in Crime Alley, Night 15: Doctor Manhattan holds up the Waynes to get their pants

Panel from DC Universe: Rebirth one-shot (July 2016), script by Geoff Johns, pencils and inks by Gary Frank and Ethan Van Sciver, colors by Brad Anderson and Jason Wright, letters by Nick J. Napolitano

365 Days of Defiance, Day 166: How to Get Ahead in Skrull Business

Yesterday we saw the Skrulls preparing to invade Wakanda. you think that worked out for them?

Panels from Black Panther (2006 series) #39 (September 2008), script by Jason Aaron, pencils and inks by Jefte Palo, colors by Lee Loughridge, letters by Cory Petit

Yeah, about as well as expected.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

There Is No Hope in Crime Alley, Night 14: "That boy is our last hope!" "No...there is another."

Panel from "Wipe the Blood Off My Name!" in World's Finest Comics #223 (May-June 1974), script by Bob Haney, pencils by Dick Dillin, inks by Vince Colletta

Today in Comics History: Earth-2 is introduced; fanboys immediately begin arguing over its canon

Panels from Flash (1959 series) #123 (September 1961), script by Gardner F. Fox, pencils by Carmine Infantino, inks by Joe Giella, letters by Gaspar Saladino

Today in Comics History: Poor Fred Hembeck

Panels from Carnage (2016 series) #11 (October 2016), script by Gerry Conway, pencils and inks by Mike Perkins, colors by Andy Troy, letters by Joe Sabino

365 Days of Defiance, Day 165: Heaven Help the Working Skrull

Hey, speaking of inspirational pre-battle speeches of defiance:

Panels from Black Panther #40 (October 2008), script by Jason Aaron, pencils and inks by Jefte Palo, colors by Lee Loughridge, letters by Cory Petit

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

There Is No Hope in Crime Alley, Night 13: Flashpoint, ah-ah, check out this universe!

Cover of Flashpoint: Batman: Knight of Vengeance #3 (October 2011); pencils, inks, and covers by Dave Johnson

The Flashpoint Universe! Where Barry Allen saved his mother! Therefore all parents are safe everywhere forever! Why look, Thomas and Martha survived the shooting by Joe Chill! What could possibly go wrong?

Panels from Flashpoint: Batman: Knight of Vengeance #3 (October 2011), script by Brian Azzarello, pencils and inks by Eduardo Risso, colors by Patricia Mulvihill, letters by Clem Robins


Today in Comics History: Charles L. Hurlburt fails to remember the facts

Panels from the Milk & Cheese story "Just the Facts, Maim" in Deadline USA v1 #2 (1991); script, pencils, inks, and letters by Evan Dorkin

They told him there was going to be a test! (Answer can also be found here, of all places!)

Today in Comics History: Morrison and Millar proves you can fit over 500 words on one comics page

Text pages from Aztek: The Ultimate Man #1 (August 1996), text by Grant Morrison and Mark Millar

365 Days of Defiance, Day 164: Once more unto the breach, bubs, once more

Hey, remember that time when Picard sent Data into a holodeck recreation of Shakespeare's Henry V in order to teach him a valuable lesson about humanity?

Well, Cyclops is a great believer in the same technique. And Wolverine is an android who wishes to be a man oh wait my allegory has gotten turned on the wrong road somewhere.

Panels from "Follow the Leader" in X-Men Unlimited #5 (December 2004), script by Scott Killinger, pencils by Rael Lyra, inks by Jay Leisten, colors by Transparency Digital, letters by Dave Sharpe

Anywhere: meanwhile in the holodeck Danger Room:

And then they fight. They fight, they fight and fight and fight. Fight fight Fight! Fight fight fight!

Today in Comics History: There came a time when the old gods died and it was reported in the local newspaper

Splash page from Orion #2 (July 2000); script, figure pencils, and inks by Walt Simonson; background pencils by Cliff Chiang; colors by Sherilyn van Valkenburgh; letters by John Workman

Monday, June 12, 2017

There Is No Hope in Crime Alley, Night 12: He didn't even remember they had seen a movie!

Panels from The Untold Legend of the Batman #1 (July 1980), script by Len Wein, pencils by John Byrne, inks by Jim Aparo, colors by Glynis Wein, letters by John Costanza