Holy crap Batman!

DALLAS – A 1939 comic book in which Batman makes his debut sold at auction Thursday for more than $1 million, breaking a record set just three days earlier by a Superman comic, Heritage Auction Galleries said.

The Dallas-based auction house said the rare copy of Detective Comics No. 27 sold for a total of $1,075,500, which includes the buyer’s premium, to a buyer who wished to remain anonymous. The consigner wanted to remain anonymous as well.

“It pretty much blew away all of our expectations and now it’s the highest price ever raised for a comic book,” said Barry Sandoval, director of operations of Heritage’s comics division.

A copy of the first comic book featuring Superman, a 1938 edition of Action Comics No. 1, sold Monday for $1 million in a sale between a private seller and a private buyer, with the transaction conducted by the New York City auction site ComicConnect.com.

“We can really say that Batman has nosed out Superman, at least for now,” Sandoval said.

He said the consigner had bought the Batman comic in the late 1960s for $100. With a bright yellow background, the comic features Batman swinging on a rope above city rooftops.

“That cover is just one of the most famous of all comic book covers,” Sandoval said.

J.C. Vaughn, associate publisher of The Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide, said most people had predicted it would be the comics with the first appearance of Superman and Batman that broke the $1 million barrier. Both comics that sold this week were in great condition — scoring an 8.0 on a scale that goes up to 10, he said.

“I think that you can greenly ascribe this to a real comfort with the liquidity of rare, high grade vintage collectibles,” Vaughn said.

George Pantela, owner of Melbourne, Australia-based GP Analysis, which tracks sales of certified comics from more than 20 auction houses and dealers, said the previous record was about $317,000 paid a year ago for a lesser grade Action Comics No. 1 than the one sold this week.

Vincent Zurzolo, chief operating officer of Comicconnect.com, took the breaking of their record in stride.

“It’s an exciting week in comic books when you have two comics selling for $1 million,” he said.

Comics: Batman & Robin #1 (2009)

B_and_R1For fans of All Star Superman and The Authority, you’re in for a treat with Batman & Robin #1 (Batman Reborn arc) with the infamous creative team of writer Grant Morrison and artist Frank Quitely.

Coming off the heels of the supposed death of Bruce Wayne in Final Crisis #7 and the ensuing ‘Battle for the Cowl’ story arc (yawn), the Batman Reborn arc kicks off with Dick Grayson (the original Robin and more recently Nightwing) assuming the Bat mantle and Bruce’s estranged son Damien as the new Robin in a new DC series.

A little background first on the ‘bat’ universe within DC:  At the end of Final Crisis we are supposed to believe that Bruce Wayne mortally perished, yet in the last page it hinted very heavily that Bruce did in fact ‘not’ die, but taking a self imposed sabbatical for a while.  What this was supposed to accomplish for us comic fanatics I’m just not sure, because if DC was trying to shock us or make us care about Batman, they failed, at least in my opinion.  As a matter of fact Final Crisis in itself was a disappointment, especially since it was so drawn out and late with several issues.

So we are supposed to ‘believe’ Bruce is indeed dead, and thus a vacuum of power has been been created within Gotham City with many of the B-list hero’s in and around Gotham are going to pick up the pieces and continue on with Batman’s brand of justice.  So we have Robin, Huntress, Batgirl, Jason Todd, The Outsiders, Nightwing, Batwoman, etc., etc., etc. all vying for the lead spot in the totally predictable and utterly boring “Battle for the Cowl” arc. 

I’m sorry if I seem a little sour on this, but really, did anyone truly believe that Dick Grayson would not come out on top after all this and become the new ‘temporary’ Batman?  And I say temporary only because if you think Bruce is truly dead, then you may as well give up reading comics now.  Also, if you are one to believe that the next Batman movie will be out in 2010 or 2011, do you think DC would have one of their main characters in limbo when all the merchandising hoopla begins?  Nah, at best (or worst depending on how you look at it), Bruce will be back within 2 years….the same way most of DC’s ‘dead hero’ roster always returns back in time.  As far as the other titles go, I’m not so excited….so Red Robin is set in Europe, and Outsiders is just plain lame since it became ‘Batman and the Outsiders just over a year back witha  direction change that took the fun out of the book.  And sadly, while the new Batwoman may be something to look at as far as eye candy goes, nothing over there has made me care all that much.  Clearly Gotham is still too saturated with Bat-esque goodies and baddies running around in spandex…sigh.

Anyway, I’m off point.  Back to the comic at hand.  Morrison and Quitely’s take on Batman & Robin is very fun witha  mixture of dry humor and sarcasm.  Batman overall needed a nice change up within any of their titles, and this one looks very promising.  You can’t really go wrong with Morrison’s writing, and Quitely’s unique art style is both detailed and fresh on the characters within. 

While Dick Grayson is the lead in this title, it’s clear that a lot of focus and development is in store for Damien, and his character while coming off as a little spoiled prat at times is a good counter contrast to Dick’s. 

Introduced in this issue is a few minor tweaks to the traditional costumes (I particularly like Batman’s new belt), a new batmobile, and a new ‘lair’ (underneath a Gotham skyscraper that coincidentally is shaped like a bat if you look hard enough).  Also look for a new rogue in ‘Pyg’, a sadistic new villain whose minions are probably the most ‘eerie’ I’ve ever seen within the pages any Batman title.  It’s refreshing for a new criminal face other than another rehash of the Joker, Clayface, Penguin or whomever.

Morrison and Quitely have the first three issues here and are setting up the foundation for a hopefully solid run for future writers and artists on this title lik ethey did for X-Men #114 some eight years back.  Anyway, this title is fun and exciting and really does qualify as a ‘shake up’ within the established universe without throwing everything out the window before it, but again, in all seriousness, do we really expect Bruce to be gone for more than 2 years?

Comics: Batman Cacophony #1

Cacophony 1

Cacophony 1

I generally have a very favorable response to anything writer/director Kevin Smith touches.  I enjoy his movies immensely, although at times I find the abrasive language a bit much and sometimes overdone.  But when it comes to his comic book writing, who can deny that he helped re-elevate many DC and Marvel characters who seemed at one time very cool, but were losing their ‘it’ factor.

He helped me discover Daredevil when he took over the relaunch of that title years ago, and I still collect and read that avidly (of course M. Bendis has a lot to do with that today).  He brought Green Arrow back to the forefront of DC (although I’m not sue how that title is doing today).  And even the often delayed and criticized Spiderman & Blackcat series helped bring Felicia Hardy into her own again.

With that said I was excited to learn that Smith would be involved in a three issue series starring Batman, although I was a bit surprised Smith chose this character to tackle.  There’s been a lot of focus on Batman as of late with the Final Crisis/R.I.P storyline, All Star Batman project, Batman & The Outsiders (personal yawn), The Dark Knight movie this past summer, in addition to all the other Bat titles that DC is churning out.  I often think Batman is becoming DC’s own Wolverine….over exposed and involved in way too many titles to keep his continuity in check.

A Batman story needs to be impressive and handled well in my opinion to hold my attention, and to grab my $3.99 anymore, and I believe that Smith can usually turn out gold.  With what I personally think is becoming a fiasco over at DC with the very drawn out and sometimes confusing and continuity challenged chaos which is Final Crisis, I despretly want to like this book.

I just finished issue 1 (of three), and I’m happy to say I approve and look forward to the next two installments.  However, while it was indeed good, it was not ‘great’.

As always, Smith’s intricate dialogue and creativity are what help make this book such an enjoyable read.  Smith, like Bendis can tell a fun story with snippets of humor and dark and scary content and seem to blend the overall theme and direction fairly well.  That said, the initial setup with and backstory with the Joker and Deadshot was intriguing and a very fresh idea for once in the often rehashing of anything dealing with Arkham Asylum.  The interaction between these two is classic, both funny and disturbing at times.  However, the one gripe I have is the stated $20,000 a disgruntled guard agrees upon to sell all of Arkham’s secrets.  It should have been much higher, and the explanation as to why the guard was let go to begin with was a bit weak.

Smith’s prior creation, Onomatopoeia, also shows up to run interference with Deadshot.  Onomatopoeia, doesn’t talk, but instead, mimics the sounds of his surroundings and my first thought upon seeing his costume was a possible homage to Bullseye (Marvel).

The Joker is also portrayed a bit more disturbing than I remember him in the past, with some homosexual and necrophilia tendencies.  With Smith at the helm of writing, this doesn’t really surprise me too much, and adds an additional ‘creep’ factor to the clowned prince of crime.

There is a scene about half way through the book between Onomatopoeia and The Joker which seems to be the initial setup for act two and a hint towards Onomatopoeia’s motivations.

So by now you’re wondering, “Where is Batman in all this?”.  In an abrupt cut, Smith takes us to witness villain Zsasz commit a heinous crime, and once again Smith throws in a very disturbing moment in which Zsasz turns his back to the panel and commits self mutilation on what can only be suggested as his genatalia before Batman crashes in to take him down.   All in all, I’m not exactly sure what the point was in all this other than Smith wanting to inject a twisted moment into the book and shoehorn Batman in at this point.  It’s not that it doesn’t work and detracts from the overall story, but its placement and abrupt cut over to seemed a bit off.

That also goes for another character, Maximillian Zues, who is introduced to the story in another abrupt cut scene.  My first thought was “What?  Of all the characters to choose from, why Zues?  Well, I’ll just have to trust Smith to flesh this out in the next issue as only he can.  I just hope I won’t be scratching my head at the end of issue 2 as I am now. 

The pencils provided by Walter Flanagan also leave me a bit unsure how I feel in the end.  In some panels I think Flanagan did a fine job, especially with Jokers expressions and mannerisms.  Yet in others, the artwork felt simplistic and rushed and ‘under-developed’ like with Zsasz and Maximillian.

Overall, even with a few jarring interuptions in the flow of the book and inconsistent art, this is still a buy and already more cerebral than what happening over in Batman & The Oustiders…once a fine book that seems to have lost its way (already much like the newly revamped Titans)

Movie’s: Batman 3 rumors

Michael Caine (Alfred Pennyworth) recently spoke with MTV news and spoke about rumors of possible casting choices for the third installment of the latest and successful Batman franchise.

Caine says, “I was with a [Warner Bros.] executive and I said, ‘Are we going to make another one?’  They said yeah.  I said, ‘How the heall are we going to top Heath?’  And he says ‘I’ll tell you how you top Heath – Johnny Depp as The Riddler and Philip Seymour Hoffman as The Penguin.’ I said ‘Shit, they’ve done it again!'”

Hoffman’s name as a British or Russian arms dealer of the ‘the Penguin’ first floated in 2006, before the villains of ‘The Dark Knight’ were announced.  Depp recently said he’d be open to considering the opportunity.

We’ll have to wait and see the direction in which Cristopher Nolan wants to take the next film and whose schedules will be free at the time.

Comix: Final Crisis #2

Final Crisis #2So I eagerly picked up FC #2 yesterday trying to see if my slight dissapointment with the first issue could be alleviated.

Well, after devouring it from cover to cover all I can say is that I have mixed feelings, and not for the better.

Again, like issue number 1, the first few pages just seem like they came from left field.  We are introduced to a Japanese nightclub filled with numerous 20-something old powered patrons shown dancing and drinking and taking in the nightlife.  There is a brief altercation between a reknown popular superpowered sumo fighter and a mecha- suited guy looking to make a name for himself via a challenge.  So after 6 pages or so of this set up and build…..cut…new scene: DC heros mourning Martian Manhunter.

Um….okay?  What was that all about?  Why introduce all these Japanese characters in a nightclub scene?  It actually made me think about more questions such as: Why has DC never really focused on this segment before…that is supposedly established groups or even established metahuman cultures in other countries?  Yeah, there’s been some exposure to Soviet and even Chinese hero’s, but this just came across as way too casual.  See, when Superman flies by, even though he’s an established character, he still inspires awe and wonderment from the citizens of Metropolis or the world over….like ‘seeing’ a superhero is a ‘big deal’.  Apparently not so in Japan….it’s part of the ‘norm’?

Is it me or does Libra just not yet inspire grandeur of being a main player?  I still look at Lex Luthor and Vandal Savage as power players, and Libra just comes across as a costumed B-lister.  I don’t think Grant Morrison has done a well enough job yet in defining Libra’s motivations or powers.  After 2 issues (of the scheduled 7), I just don’t “get” Libra.

The rest of the DC Universe is investigating the murder of Martian Manhunter and Batman finds himself in a confrontation with an Alpha Lantern who seems to be shutting him down at every turn.  Hal Jordan also faces his ring being shut down by the Alpha Lanterns as he is to be arrested and investigated as well for his supposed ‘role’ in the Manhunters murder.  This upsets Superman.  But these sequence of events aren’t explored enough in detail to make logical sense.  I mean, how does an Alpha Lantern shut of Hal’s ring?  This is the same Hal whose ring as Parallex was virtually unstop-able…leading me to wonder why then if OA and the Lanterns have the ‘ability’ to shut off a ring at will…..then why the hell didn’t they do that eons ago when Hal was on a rampage?  And Batman being bested in his general approach to things and then captured via a Boom Tube by this rogue Alpha with ulterior motives…I dunno.

I have a suspicious feeling the way the Lantern Corps and OA are involved so far that Final Crisis is really no more than a pilot to get the next big DC arc of the ground…The Blackest Night…which would do the whole Final Crisis resolution a big disservice.