Friday, October 29, 2010

Batman and Valkyrie



What can I say, I love characters with winged horses. I have enjoyed Valkyrie as a character since reading of her exploits in The Defenders. I think she has a great look, marrying the medieval and superhero styles together. I am glad that most writers have been able to portray her as incredibly noble and extremely strong without her coming off as bitchy, which sometimes happens with tough female characters. She fit in well with the group and had interesting relationships with the various members such as Hellcat and the Hulk. I am glad to see that she is starring in a comic again, Secret Avengers. I have read decent reviews of this title and plan to pick it up when it hits TPB. It'll be nice to see Val in action again.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Batman and Ultra, the Multi-Alien



Here's one of the first batch of covers, right when I started taking requests. Two of the most obscure characters asked for were Ultra, the Multi-Alien and Mopee, and this was the result. I confess to knowing very little about Ultra, other than that he is kind of cool looking - I don't remember ever reading one of the few stories he appeared in. I smiled when I saw him make a cameo appearance on Cartoon Network's Batman: The Brave and the Bold Starro two-parter.

Mopee I think made only one appearance in an issue of The Flash. It was explained that he, a magical imp, in fact was responsible for the Flash's powers and the idea was universally found to be ridiculous by readers and creators alike... and so Mopee was never referred to again. I'm thinking that was for the best.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Batman and Transformers



I was a little to old to get into the Transformers cartoons when they first aired. I was aware of them but I was more of a Shogun Warriors or Micronauts kind of guy. So I did not start to learn anything about the characters until the first Michael Bay film. That movie was loud and preposterous, but I must admit that I found it to be big, goofy fun for the most part. Unfortunately the sequel is a bloated mess, In my opinion. Way too long and filled with some of the unfunniest "humor" I have seen in any movie. If you must watch this, just fast forward to the robot battle parts. Hopefully lessons were learned and the third installment will be more watchable.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Batman and Tor



Without a doubt, my favorite comic published last year was Joe Kubert's 6-issue Tor mini-series. It is amazing that after so many decades in the business, Kubert is still showing everyone how it is done. He hasn't missed a step and in my estimation is in fact better than he has ever been, and that's saying something. I loved these primal adventures of a time long gone by so much that I immediately ordered the three hardcover collections of Kubert's earlier Tor work. Those were great as well, especially since they span many years and you can see Kubert's art style change throughout. He also provides a lot of insightful commentary and discusses an animated Tor that never came to be. What a missed opportunity, that is something that I would have loved to have seen. I highly recommend these books as well as last year's series (now collected) to any lover of action or beautiful comic art, you will not be disappointed.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Batman and The Black Knight



I enjoy characters that are a mix of the old and new, and the Black Knight is a good example of this. I always thought that he had a great design, especially his helmet. Another cool thing about Dane Whitman is the fact that he gets around on a winged horse - that always makes for an impressive visual. Over the years, some writers have chosen to update The Black Knight to make him more modern in appearance - trading in the cape for a leather jacket, the ebony blade for an energy sword, and Strider the flying horse for an atomic steed. I did not really care for these changes, as I prefer the classic look. I have lost track of this character and do not know what he has been up to lately - hopefully he is back to his traditional garb.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Batman and Tom Strong



I enjoyed Alan Moore's line of ABC Comics for DC and the standouts in my opinion were Promethea, Top 10 and the flagship character, Tom Strong. Moore amalgamated parts from Superman, Batman, Doc Savage, Reed Richards, Tarzan and more to create this character with which he could tell stories in a wide variety of genres. These tales were appealing to me in that they felt timeless and were purely about all the fun that the comics medium has to offer without getting bogged down in a grim and gritty tone, which had pervaded the industry since Moore's own Watchmen was published. It's only fitting that Moore himself created a line of comics to counter the dark attitude that had seeped into so many titles. It also did not hurt that the series had beautiful art by Chris Sprouse, Art Adams, Jerry Ordway and others. I did not follow the title after Moore left the writing duties. Hopefully the writers who followed were able to maintain the quality.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Batman and Tommy Tomorrow



Here's another early effort, this time a request from a friend who is a big Tommy Tomorrow fan. Tommy is one of those space faring DC heroes that were popular in the 60's. He has made sporadic appearances here and there, although these days his time travelling efforts are probably overshadowed by those of Booster Gold and Rip Hunter. Still, DC has been able to find new stories to tell with Adam Strange and Captain Comet, so perhaps a Tommy Tomorrow revival will happen one day.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Batman and Tintin



I was a huge fan of the Tintin books as a kid. I think we had the entire series and I read them through a bunch of times. I absolutely loved the detail that Herge would put into his artwork with his crisp illustration style. He was also a master of body language and facial expressions, which served him well in his action sequences and humorous moments.

I remember catching some animated Tintin adaptations a few years back and they looked pretty good - I'll have to seek them out again. Tintin is headed to the big screen soon in a series of films, being brought to audiences by Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson and starring Jamie Bell in the title role. I have read that the film will utilize motion capture technology, so it will be interesting to see what the final project looks like.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Batman and Thor



I was lucky to find two snowstorm images that I could combine here. I miss Thor's classic look, the armored sleeves in his latest version don't really work for me. I can understand why Marvel made the change though, as they were probably anticipating the need for a more film friendly costume. Unless you are Arnold or Sly, it is very hard to make bare arms look big on screen, as we saw with the unfortunate Hawkman costume on last season's Smallville. Still, I wish they would go back to the classic look for the comics.

I am really looking forward to the film, I love Branagh as a director and the footage I have seen so far looks very promising. My one concern is the fact that we have barely seen the helmet. We know it's in there, the prop was at Comicon and we see the back of it briefly in the teaser... but nowhere else. I hope they feature Thor in full costume, helmet and all, for plenty of screen time.


Monday, October 18, 2010

Batman and The X-Men



This was actually the first attempt at an X-Men cover, as I did the "All-New" X-Men cover a bit later. As much as I liked the international team introduced in Giant-Size X-Men #1, the original group is a great team in their own right. I love the Lee/Kirby issues and seeing Neal Adams' more modern (at the time) take really blew my mind.

I was excited to hear the news that the next X-movie would be titled X-Men: First Class, and had hoped that is would be informed by the comic series of the same title, exploring the early days of Cyclops, Beast, Angel, Marvel Girl and Iceman. Alas, the film will instead be a prequel to the existing film series, which has played so fast and loose with continuity and character ages that such a film cannot me made. It might still be fun and I like that they are making it a period piece, but I think I would have preferred to see a complete reboot instead.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Batman and Red Sonja



Here's a character that I have been trying to get in a cover for a long time, I just couldn't get anything to work on previous attempts. This one was a little trickier than it looks, as I had to rebuild parts of the stone column and the background behind batman as there were other things in the way before.

I didn't get into the sword & sorcery titles until later in life, so my first introduction to Red Sonja was through her guest appearance in Marvel Team-Up. There's something about a gal with a chain mail bikini and broadsword that says you don't want to mess with her! Together with the flowing curly red locks, they make for a great visual and someone you believe could stand side by side with Conan.

I have heard rumors of a Red Sonja film in very early stages of development, to feature Rose McGowan in the title role. I'm not sure about that casting, she is pretty but in my opinion lacks the toughness the character also needs.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Batman and The Watcher



The very existence of this blog is proof of the fact that I have always been a fan of imaginary stories and parallel universes in the world of comics. So when Marvel came up with What If?, a series based on presenting alternate versions of popular story lines, I was immediately interested. The fact that they made The Watcher the host of these stories made the series even more appealing to me, as I had been a fan of the character from his appearances in Fantastic Four.

Uatu, The Watcher is another one of those great Stan Lee concepts. You knew that whenever he showed up, there was bound to be some big action going down soon. Even as a kid, though, I had to laugh at his "vow of non-interference". He broke that vow all the time! And even if he didn't say or do anything, Some giant bald space-toga guy showing up floating around is interference in and of itself! The Watchers really should have invested in some cloaking technology.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Batman and The Vision



I have always loved The Vision, since his earliest appearances as a member of The Avengers. His eerie visual and interesting powers and back story made him stand out in contrast with his fellow teammates. Add on top of that his relationship with The Scarlet Witch, and you had a character ripe with years of story potential.

Sadly, like his former bride, The Vision as a character has meandered somewhat for many years now. Being built and rebuilt, separated from Wanda and de-aged, it was hard for me to maintain interest in him, and I finally lost track. I am not sure of his status now, but I hope a writer can soon find a clear direction for this great marvel creation.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Batman and The Tick



I was aware of Ben Edlund's comic, but I became a fan of The Tick through his animated TV series. I have seen many comic and superhero parodies, but this one was the most well done for me. The creators had a lot of fun with the genre, but you never got the feeling that they were looking down on it. And The Tick himself is a great character, you have to love his enthusiasm.

The live action series was very short lived but well remembered. I remember watching Patrick Warburton in it and being amazed that such a show even made it to air, it was so different from everything else. It was nice to see that Bat-Manuel went on to become the Mayor of Gotham City in The Dark Knight, though!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Batman and The Thing



The Thing is my absolute favorite Marvel character. I consider him to be the heart and soul of the Marvel Universe. He has humor, tragedy, and heroism in one big package so he can be used in any type of story. Plus, he is a great team player, whether in the FF or as host star of Marvel Two-In-One. Sure, Spider-Man had met as many folks, but he still came off as a loner to me. To anyone else who is as big a fan of this character as I am... all I can say right now is stay tuned to this blog!

I actually liked the casting of Michael Chiklis as Ben Grimm in the FF films, but the decision to try and go with a suit and makeup instead of cgi really killed the character for me. I am glad that the upcoming reboot will be going the computer generated route.

George Perez provided the Thing image on this cover. Here's a Perez sketch of bashful Benjy:

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And here's The Thing and She-Hulk performing a "fastball special" by Ivan Reis:

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Friday, October 8, 2010

Batman and The Taskmaster



I always thought that the Taskmaster had a great hook - he could perfectly mimic any move that he saw with his own eyes - making him a master at any kind of weapon or fighting technique. Some folks have complained that his costume is too busy, but I think it has a cool bronze age vibe to it. He has had his profile raised recently by appearances in some Avengers titles and now his own spin off mini-series. I have heard pretty decent reviews of that, I will have to pick it up when it comes out in TPB.

This cover frustrated me a little. I was so glad to find a couple of poses that went together well that I didn't notice until too late that the Taskmaster's cape and the background were a very similar color. The result is a little bit muddy because of that.

The Batman here is by the always great George Perez. Here's a Perez sketch of Wolverine:

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Thursday, October 7, 2010

Batman and The Suicide Squad

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Here is another very early request. I never read much of the first incarnation of the Suicide Squad, but I was a big fan of John Ostrander's series in the 80's which featured a group of DCU super-villains blackmailed into performing covert operations for the government. It's a great concept that allows the writer to explore the shades of grey in his characters personalities. Great comics like Thunderbolts and Incognito have taken the idea and explored as well, but Ostrander latched on to it first. The Suicide Squad is currently showing up in the current season of Smallville - Rick Flag, Amanda Waller, Plastique and Deadshot have already made appearances.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Batman and The Sub-Mariner



Prince Namor, the Sub-Mariner is one of Marvel's best characters. Because of his personality, it is fun to see him alongside different heroes - you never know whether he is going to fight them, fight alongside them, or try to seduce them! His role as a monarch as well as his long history dating back to the Golden Age of Marvel give him lots of potential for storytelling as well.

I think a Sub-Mariner film could be cool and very different, but I must admit it would be tough to pull off. Beyond the logistics of a largely underwater shoot, having the main character in a green speedo is hard to get away with. They would have to get someone like The Rock, but it would still be hard to take seriously. I do like Namor's black outfit during the 70's, maybe they could use that for most scenes.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Batman and The Squadron Supreme



The Squadron Supreme has an interesting history. They started out as analogues to the Justice League created to interact with The Avengers and that in and of itself was cool enough for me as a young reader in those days before even the first inter-company crossover. Fortunately the team was popular and were brought beck together or individually from time to time. They really broke out of guest star status with the great 12-issue Squadron Supreme series. That dealt for the first time with real world repercussions of a super team and the corruption of power. It was very unique for it's time and predated deconstructionist titles like Watchmen and The Authority which would follow to critical acclaim.

It's unfortunate that the most recent Squadron Supreme series was cut short when the creators left it. I hope to see someone pick up the reins and bring this cool group back to the forefront.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Batman and Hawaii Five-0



After posting the Charlie's Angels cover, I got a request for Hawaii Five-0. I definitely wanted to make this happen because it was definitely one of my favorite shows to watch growing up. I didn't think it was going to work because I could not find any illustrations of the show - there were a couple comic storieds but they were in black and white. Fortunately, I found some old TV Guide covers and some Hawaii Five-0 paperbacks and was able to pick an image that fit.

I checked out the new Hawaii Five-0 series pilot and it was OK, I guess. The problem is that Chin Ho and Kono (played by Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park) were much more enjoyable and watchable than the two main stars. The guys playing Steve McGarrett and Dano don't have a tenth of the chemistry of the originals. I'll stick to Jack Lord!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Batman and Charlie's Angels



I put this one together today based on a suggestion on my Facebook Fan Page. I remember fondly the Farrah red swimsuit poster that was so popular back in the day. When I was a kid - 9 or 10 years old - I had a huge crush on Jaclyn Smith. I thought that she was about the most beautiful women alive (and she still looks great). One day a classmate came in with a book of celebrity addresses, so I wrote two fan letters - one to Jaclyn and one to Mark Hamill. I clearly remember my brothers giving me a hard time about this. Well, I never heard back from Mark Hamill, but I forgive him because he is a big comics fan. A few weeks later, boy were my brothers jealous when a small package came in the mail for me from none other than Ms. Jaclyn Smith herself! It was an 8x10 glossy, and a postcard that said, "Thanks for watching Charlie's Angels!" Not much but still I didn't see any sexy movie stars writing to my brothers! That was a good day!

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