From Comic Tropes’ YouTube description: The Joker is one of the most iconic villains in comic books. This video explains the history of his creation and discusses the writers and artists who made significant contributions to his history. From Bob Kane, Bill Finger, and Jerry Robinson to Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo many have written the Joker and he’s been different things in different eras: from a gangster to a prankster.
Published: September 4th, 2018 Written by: various Art by: various
DC Comics, 241 Pages
As I’ve stated just about every time that I’ve reviewed one of these Batman Arkham “best of” collections, I love these damn things. Each one focuses on a specific villain from Batman lore and, for the most part, collect the best stories from all eras of Batman comic book history.
Now while I did enjoy most of this volume, I can’t honestly say that these are the Penguin’s greatest hits. Some of the stories here were kind of drab and just from memory I came up with about a half dozen that were better than the ones collected here.
However, I think part of the problem is that they want to cover all the eras and most of the great Penguin stories I’m thinking of are from the ’70s and ’80s.
This still does a good job at showcasing the character and giving fans a peak into how he’s evolved over the years as times change and new writers have come and gone, most of them leaving their imprint on the character.
In the end, this is worth adding to your collection if you’ve also been buying every volume. However, I wish that DC would come up with a better and beefier collection to honor the longevity and greatness of this 79 year-old character.
Rating: 6.75/10 Pairs well with: Other Batman Arkham collections.
Published: April 24th, 2018 Written by: various Art by: various
DC Comics, 240 Pages
There really aren’t a lot of Hugo Strange stories. Well, at least when compared to the amount of Joker, Riddler, Two-Face, Penguin or Catwoman stories. But there were still enough to fill up an installment in the Batman Arkham Collections, which has been a trade paperback “best of” series for many of Batman’s top villains.
Granted, we might be scraping the bottom of the barrel now that they’ve done one for Joker’s Daughter and they have an upcoming one for Victor Zsasz but I digress.
I like most of these villain-centric collections and this one is no different, as it is nice to have the key Hugo Strange stories in one book. However, this also goes to show that the guy has been underutilized and underappreciated by Batman writers over the years.
This is over 200 pages but some of the stories are multi-part arcs. There’s maybe a half dozen different tales here but it doesn’t feel like it’s enough when compared to Batman Arkham Collections of the past.
Most of them were enjoyable but this makes me question as to whether they should have made this one.
It also made me wish that a good writer would come along and use Hugo Strange more or at least come up with something really great for him to do. He was utilized greatly in the Arkham Asylum games, as well as the Gotham TV show.
But maybe he’s just too much of a generic mad scientist type and with that, overloaded with tropes that most writers just aren’t interested in writing about. But the character debuted in 1940. So in 80 years, there really hasn’t been one great Hugo Strange story? C’mon, DC.
Rating: 6/10 Pairs well with: Other Batman Arkham collections.
Published: August 15th, 2017 Written by: various Art by: various
DC Comics, 318 Pages
I’ve read a bunch of these Batman Arkham collections and I’m glad DC Comics is still putting one out a few times per year. If you remember those old collections like The Greatest Joker Stories Ever Told or The Greatest Batman Stories Ever Told, these are similar and are always focused on one character: a Batman villain.
Now I say that these are focused on one villain but this installment is a bit different, as it features Clayface, which there have been multiple versions of over the years and all of them are pretty unique.
What I really loved about this is that it gives us the first appearances of every Clayface in regular Batman canon. Hell, it even gives us the story of the Mud Pack, which was a villain team comprised of multiple Clayfaces.
The Clayface that most people are familiar with is the original, Basil Karlo. He was the one featured in Batman: The Animated Series in the ’90s and has monopolized Clayface’s comic book appearances since.
However, I loved seeing all the different versions here. My favorite story and now my favorite Clayface is the third version a.k.a. Preston Payne. I knew of him but never got to read his debut until now. His look and armored suit were badass and his story was fantastic thanks to the great Len Wein. As much as I like Karlo, I’d love to see Payne make a real comeback.
Overall, this was a pretty cool collection. Most of these are stories I’ve never read but they also gave me better clarity on the bizarre history of the Clayface moniker.
Rating: 8/10 Pairs well with: Other Batman Arkham collections, as well as Clayface-centric stories.
Published: July 23rd, 2014 Written by: Bill Finger, Brad Meltzer, Scott Snyder Art by: Bryan Hitch, Bob Kane, Chip Kidd, Sean Murphy
DC Comics, 34 Pages
This was a cool comic that was given away for free back in 2014. You can actually still get a free digital copy of this on Comixology, if you have the app.
The first third of the comic is a reprint of the first ever Batman story, which appeared way back in 1939 in Detective Comics issue 27. For those who have never read it but are big fans of Batman, it’s definitely worth a look, as you can see how the character started out and how it contrasts how he has evolved over eight decades.
The rest of this single issue comic is comprised of two modern stories, the most important of which is a re-imagining of the original Batman story.
The last tale in this, gives a sort of futuristic look into where Batman could go, decades from now.
This is short and a pretty quick read. But it’s a really cool release for those of us who love Bats from every era.
The early Bob Kane art is neat to see in the first part and the art in the modern stories is really good.
In the end, this is just a cool comic to add to your collection, especially since it’s free.
Rating: 7.5/10 Pairs well with: other old school Batman stories from the Bob Kane and Bill Finger era.
Release Date: June 1st, 1976 Directed by: Richard Ashe Written by: Bill Finger, Charles Sinclair Music by: Robert G. Orpin Cast: Chase Cordell, Leigh Drake, Gregorio Sala
Lizard Productions Inc., 81 Minutes
“I wish I was kidding Mac, I’m not! Now there is an answer and I think I know what it is and it makes me sick to think about it!” – Johnny Longbow
The world has seen werewolf movies a million times over. But were-lizard movies? Those are much harder to come by. Thank god we were given this film to satisfy the were-lizard fans of the world. Sadly, it is as excruciating to get through as a were-lizard gnawing on your face.
I guess it is worth noting that this film was penned by Bill Finger, a man who died in poverty after Bob Kane took all the credit (and money) for creating Batman. Hulu recently did a documentary about Bill Finger and you should check it out for the full story. But he’s a guy instrumental in the creation of my favorite hero, so I thought his involvement in this was worth pointing out, even if the end result wasn’t anything worthwhile.
This film stars no one that anyone would recognize. And other than Bill Finger’s involvement, I haven’t heard of any of the other people involved either.
The story is about this Native American guy trying to solve these strange murders. It plays out like a werewolf movie but it’s got that lizard twist, which makes it completely original. Well, not really. The creature, called the Moon Beast, is created by fragments of a meteorite coming into contact with just some normal human dude. Actually, it gets lodged into his brain… his brain! He goes on a killing spree because these things have to happen in these sort of pictures and eventually, he is destroyed by an arrow made of the same meteorite. In fact, the magic meteorite arrow makes his whole body explode because why wouldn’t it?
Did I spoil the plot? Well, the entire film spoils itself and everything it comes in contact with.
I guess I have to give some props to the filmmakers, however, as they completely steal the most iconic scene from a great 1940’s horror film, Val Lewton and Jacques Tourneur’s The Leopard Man. It’s the scene where someone is trying to get into their house, a loved one leaves them locked outside to teach them a lesson and then the loved one hears horrible screams from the other side of the door, as a pool of blood creeps into the house from outside. Granted, this sequence was completely butchered and looked like shit in this film but it was a nice attempt at an homage that most people would never pick up on. Or maybe it was just outright thievery.
Lastly, there is a band in this movie that plays a set that is entirely too long and feels like it takes up half the damn film. Okay, maybe like five to ten minutes but man, it’s terrible, terrible stuff.
This film is only worth your time if you watch it get riffed on MST3K. It was featured in the final season of the show’s original run.
So this is going into the Cinespiria Shitometer. The results read, “Type 3 Stool: Like a sausage but with cracks on its surface.”
Rating: 2.75/10 Pairs well with: Other films featured on Mystery Science Theater 3000 that deal with body transformation: Werewolf, Blood Waters of Dr. Z, I Was a Teenage Werewolf and The Incredible Melting Man.
Release Date: May 6th, 2017 Directed by: Don Argott, Sheena M. Joyce Music by: Brooke Blair, Will Blair
9.14 Pictures, 93 Minutes
Man, I really enjoyed this documentary and it is always great to see a positive conclusion to a long standing injustice, even if those who were directly involved didn’t survive to see it.
Batman & Bill is the story of Bill Finger. Most people don’t know the man but he was instrumental in creating Batman and a lot of his supporting characters. Due to a shifty deal that happened back in 1939, Bob Kane got all the credit for Batman’s creation and thus, reaped all the benefits. Kane went as far as to deny Finger’s involvement and claimed sole credit in Batman’s creation.
This film was well put together and tells the story of how Kane and Finger came to be a creative duo. It also goes through the history of Batman and his evolution as a character and a phenomenon.
Marc Tyler Nobleman, an author of seventy-plus books, uncovered more about the real story behind Batman’s creation than anyone else. He investigated Bill Finger’s story for years and eventually published the book Bill the Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-creator of Batman. Nobleman made it his mission to draw attention to Finger and his contributions in an effort to get him the credit he deserved.
Nobleman eventually finds a long lost heir to Finger and with her, is able to fight for justice and to right the ship that was misguided more than seventy years earlier.
For true fans of Batman, this is a story that must be known. And for fans of justice, this will make you feel good.
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