Tag Archives: Batman

Reader’s Poll: Who Has the Best Rogues Gallery in Comics?

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What good is a hero without great villains? No matter how incredible or interesting the protagonist in a story may be, if he/she is not met by equally incredible or interesting antagonists, the story just feels flat. Aside from Star Wars‘ Darth Vader, who is without a doubt the coolest bad guy in pop culture, there’s no better place to find villains than comic books. So which hero has the best rogues gallery? You as the reader get to determine which ones I write about. Vote below and I’ll feature the top 5 vote-getters in a future post (might be a multi-parter).

 

Top 5-ish Batman Graphic Novels

As you all I love Batman. He’s one of my absolute favorite superheroes, second only to Spider-Man to be exact. He’s the world’s greatest detective and hand-to-hand combatant. The Dark Knight has easily the best rogues gallery of any comic hero. But he also stands alone as the character with the best graphic novel collection, and it’s not close. I was going to make this a list of the top 5, but I came up with six and just couldn’t find it in myself to knock one of them off. Besides, it’s my blog and I can make my own rules. I’m such a rebel. *Insert eye roll* I listed the writer and artist for each novel as well. Without further ado, here…we…go:

 

5*. Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth (Grant Morrison/Dave McKean)

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Beautifully painted artwork from Dave McKean sets this book apart from just about any other Batman story out there. It also delves deeper in the scarred psyche of the Caped Crusader than most. See Batman face his own madness to survive the night inside Arkham Asylum is a riveting read.

 

5*. Batman: Hush (Jeph Loeb/Jim Lee)

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I don’t know if there’s a writer that grasps the modern version of Batman quite like Jeph Loeb. Add in art from my all-time favorite comic artist Jim Lee, and you have the perfect foundation for an amazing Batman novel. They do not disappoint. A masterful puzzle of a story that also served to introduce a fantastic new villain to the Batman mythos.

 

4. Batman: Year One (Frank Miller/David Mazzucchelli)

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If Loeb isn’t the best modern writer for The Dark Knight, than it would have to be Frank Miller. Tracing the first steps in the career of Bruce Wayne’s war on crime, Year One gives an incredible re-envisioning of his origin. Also includes some of the absolute greatest Batman quotes ever written. David Mazzucchelli’s pulp-inspired artwork helps set the tone for this throwback. Heavily influenced the film Batman Begins.

 

3. Batman: The Long Halloween (Jeph Loeb/Tim Sale)

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As far as overall story arcs go, this might be my favorite among Batman’s many graphic novels. Winding and intricate, with incredible plot twists and misdirections. Much like Arkham Asylum and Hush, The Long Halloween includes several of Batman’s villains as major characters, which helps to make it an even better treat. Was, with The Killing Joke, the basis for Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight.

 

2. Batman: The Killing Joke (Alan Moore/Brian Bolland)

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The greatest story of Batman’s nemesis, The Joker. Never before has he appeared so prominently. Written by comic legend Alan Moore, the book is filled with all the violence, high drama, philosophical introspection, and twists that Moore is known for. Batgirl’s sexual assault and paralysis at the hands of The Joker is one the most iconic and controversial moments in comic history.

 

1. The Dark Knight Returns (Frank Miller/Klaus Janson)

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The essential Batman graphic novel. This is the story that returned Batman to his darker, brooding nature. Seeing an aging Bruce Wayne return to defend his city from a new threat that the police are unable to stop, while taking on a new Robin to train is some of the most fun you’ll have reading a Batman comic. Violent, gritty, and as dark as The Caped Crusader gets. Go out of your way to read this one if you haven’t.

Greatest Comic Artists – Part 2

In today’s installment, we have a father and son, a couple of comic book hall of famers, and some of the grittiest artists comics has to offer.
John Romita, Sr. – (Spider-Man, Captain America)
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With so many great artists having drawn the character, you can’t really say that there is a definitive Spider-Man artist. But if there is one, it might be John Romita, Sr. He was the artist for most of Spidey’s defining moments in the 70’s. With his son following in his footsteps, he also created one of the greatest legacies is comic history.
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John Romita, Jr. – (Spider-Man, Daredevil, Kick-Ass, Iron Man)
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Undaunted by the immense shadow cast by his father, John Romita Jr. became a legendary artist as well. And while his humble nature won’t allow him to admit it, I’d argue that his skill probably surpassed that of his famous father. After notable runs drawing for Spider-Man and Daredevil, Romita Jr. went on to co-create the ultra-violent Kick-Ass.
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Denys Cowan – (The Question, Deathlok, Steel, Power Man & Iron Fist)
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One of the best in the business at telling a story with artwork and framing an action scene. Gritty, emotional art is his calling card. Denys Cowan is so good that he managed to actually make Steel seem interesting. Cowan even drew the cover art for GZA’s album Liquid Swords. He has since gone on to work for BET.
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Frank Miller – (Daredevil, Batman, Sin City, 300)
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The standard bearer for gritty, ultra-stylized comic art. Also an acclaimed writer. Miller is credited with saving the Daredevil franchise and returning Batman to his darker roots by turning both into the violent vigilantes we know them as today. Created the Sin City franchise and drew/wrote some of the Caped Crusader’s greatest stories, including The Dark Knight Returns and Batman: Year One.
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Steve Ditko – (Spider-Man, Dr. Strange, The Question, Blue Beetle)
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Originally working in Jack Kirby’s studio, Ditko eventually became a major artist in his own right having created Dr. Strange and co-created Spider-Man and The Question. His tendency to focus on intricacy and fantasy elements allowed him to become a legend in the realms of science fiction, horror, and the supernatural.
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Come back next time where I’ll finish the list of the greatest comic book artists of all-time!

Greatest Comic Artists – Part 1

Comic books have given us some incredible stories…stories that we remember for the rest of our lives. But regardless of how great a comic writer may be (and there are some truly great ones out there), it would just be a story without great artwork to go with it. The art in a comic sets the tone, conveys the emotions the characters are feeling, and helps fill in the gaps of the story that dialogue can’t. Here’s the first installment of some of the best:

Jack Kirby – (Fantastic Four, The Avengers, Captain America)

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Where else to start on a list of the greatest comic artists than with The Godfather of comic artists himself? There is a reason one of the comic book halls of fame is name after this man. He was the artist behind some of comics most iconic characters, having co-created Captain America, the Fantastic Four, the X-Men, Iron Man, Thor, the Hulk, and the Avengers. He helped usher in the modern era of comics, where characters stopped looking like cartoons, and took on more realistic qualities

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Charlie Adlard – (The Walking Dead, Savage, Judge Dredd)

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No one makes use of shadow quite like Charlie Adlard. Which is useful considering the work he’s most known for, The Walking Dead, is published in black-and-white. He also does a fantastic job giving each character a realness that few artists can.

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Neal Adams – (Green Arrow, Batman, Deadman)

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Possibly the greatest cover artist in the history of comics. But while he is prolific at creating cover art, he is still an incredible talent drawing panel-to-panel. Arguably the quintessential Batman artist, and most definitely the definitive artist for Green Arrow.

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John Byrne – (X-Men, Fantastic Four, Superman)

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While he was the artist (and writer) behind the Fantastic Four’s “Second Golden Age”, he is most known for his extensive work with Chris Claremont on The Uncanny X-Men during the late 70’s into the early 80’s. He was the pencil behind benchmark X-Men stories like “The Dark Phoenix Saga” and “Days of Future Past.” There is no artist more widely associated with the X-men…except maybe the next guy…

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Jim Lee – (X-Men, WildC.A.T.s, Batman)

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Hands down my all-time favorite comic artist. When I think of the X-Men from the comics, the 90’s versions of the characters are what immediately come to mind. Jim Lee’s fantastic art and stories are the major reasons for that. He also helped start Image Comics with his WildC.A.T.s and Gen13 franchises. He has also had long, impressive runs drawing for Batman and Superman as well. He is also a current co-publisher for DC Comics.

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100 Greatest Comic Book Characters of All Time – Part 15

Because I’m kind of just ready to move on to other things, instead of just giving a 5 character entry with descriptions, I’m just going to list the Top 30 with a picture. Sorry if you were enjoying it in the original format. Maybe one day I’ll go back and finish it that way. But until then, here goes:

 

30. Jesse Custer

Jesse Custer

 

29. Dr. Strange

Dr. Strange

 

28. Green Goblin

Green Goblin

 

27. Darkseid

Darkseid

 

26. Thor

Thor

 

25. Nightcrawler

Nightcrawler

 

24. Rorschach

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23. The Thing

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22. Martian Manhunter

 

 

21. Jean Grey

Jean Grey

 

20. Cyclops

Cyclops

 

19. Deadpool

Deadpool

 

18. Lex Luthor

Lex Luthor

 

17. Mr. Fantastic

Mr Fantastic

 

16. Catwoman

Catwoman

 

15. Daredevil

Daredevil

 

14. Nightwing

Nightwing

 

13. The Flash (Barry Allen)

Flash

 

12. The Hulk

Hulk

 

11. Wolverine

Wolverine

 

10. Iron Man

Iron Man

 

9. Green Lantern (Hal Jordan)

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8. Magneto

Magneto

 

7. The Joker

The Joker

 

6. Dr. Doom

Dr Doom

 

5. Superman

Superman

 

4. Captain America

Captain America

 

3. Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman

 

2. Batman

Batman

 

1. Spider-Man

Spider-Man

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

100 Greatest Comic Characters of All Time – Part 12

The countdown continues, with more cigars than a walk-in humidor.

45. Hellboy

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A Nazi-hating, monster fighting demon with a love for cigars and a right hand that is the key to the end of the world. Summoned as a baby during a thwarted Nazi occult ritual, he was discovered and raised like a son by the British Professor Broom. His power is matched only by his wit and a sense of responsibility instilled in him by his father.

 

44. Rick Grimes

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The primary protagonist in Robert Kirkman’s zombie epic The Walking Dead. In a world of terrible violence and brutality, few have suffered as much as Rick Grimes. He lost his wife and newborn daughter and had his right hand cut off (all by psychopath The Governor), had to cut off his girlfriend’s hand and allow her to be eaten to protect his son, and has seen person after person who’s safety he was responsible for die often gruesome deaths. All the while he has shown himself to be a master strategist, a tremendous leader, and a bonafide badass.

 

43. Lucifer Morningstar

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DC Comics’ version of the Devil. Modeled heavily after the Satan in Paradise Lost with the face of David Bowie (may he rest in peace). Originally appearing in the pages of Sandman, he eventually went on to star in his own series. As one would expect from a character based on Satan, he is silver-tongued, charming, and seductive, but can be extremely violent and unforgiving.

42. Nick Fury

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The long-time director of spy agency S.H.I.E.L.D. Nick Fury has stories dating all the way back to the second World War, where he was the leader of the special ops team the Howling Commandos. Upon suffering fatal wounds from a mine shortly after the war ended, he was healed using the experimental Infinity Formula which essentially stopped him from aging. Known for his ability to always think 2 steps ahead of his enemies and his devotion to secrecy (sometimes even from those he trusts most). While, in recent history, Nick Fury has rarely been the central figure of any particular story, he has been on the periphery of many of Marvel’s biggest story arcs, many times being a key figure in setting them into motion.

 

41. Jim Gordon

Jim Gordon

The police commissioner of Gotham City, and arguably Batman’s greatest ally in his fight for justice. With a history as long and developed as the Dark Knight’s, Jim Gordon is the greatest supporting character in all of comics. He is as complex as a non-primary character can be: willing to bend the rules to get things done in a city as dark and corrupt as Gotham, yet has a strict moral code when it comes to right and wrong (something the writers of the TV series Gotham seem to have missed)… is a paragon of virtue among the police force, yet hasn’t been an angel in his personal life.

 

100 Greatest Comic Characters of All-Time – Part 8

65. Colossus

Colossus

The Russian mutant with skin of living steel. When Colossus was first introduced into the X-Men universe, he definitely had one of the more interesting powers. Piotr Rasputin has been in the middle of some of the biggest storylines throughout the X-Comics run. While he has spent of most of his time as a member of the X-Men, he has also been one of Magneto’s Acolytes. One of the more intriguing stories with Colossus was in the Age of Apocalypse mini-series, where, fearing for the life of his sister, he goes on a rampage and kills his friend Iceman and Shadowcat (his future wife in the proper timeline) in the process.

64. Ra’s al Ghul

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One of Batman’s greatest foes. The leader of the ancient criminal organization The League of Assassins, Ra’s is an extremely skilled hand-to-hand combatant, has a genius level intellect, is a master strategist, and with the help of his Lazarus Pit, is ,for all intents and purposes, immortal. They can heal him of any wound and slow his aging down to a crawl. The downside of the use of those Pits is that once he emerges, it throws him into fits of utter madness that last a little longer each time. He has had many storied run-ins with the Dark Knight, but he has great respect for Batman and the work he is trying to do. Ra’s al Ghul is also the grandfather of Bruce Wayne’s son Damian.

63. Spawn

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Probably Todd McFarlane’s most popular creation and the character that blew the doors open for the creator-owned properties movement of the early 90’s After CIA operative Al Simmons dies and is sent to Hell for the deaths of innocents caused by his work, he cuts a deal with Hell lord Malebolgia to get his soul back. In doing so, he becomes Spawn. Intended to be a weapon against the forces of Heaven, Simmons refuses and commits to use his abilities to help others. His intentions may be pure (mostly), but his methods are brutal and gruesome. This dichotomy paired with the off-the-charts cool factor of his costume has made Spawn one of the most popular characters in all of comics.

62. Marv

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Another brutal anti-hero with noble intent. After spending a night with a prostitute (unpaid), and waking to find her lying dead next to him in the morning with police already outside the door, he escapes and on goes on a hunt for the people responsible. His search leaves a trail of blood and bodies. His sense of justice for those that were kind to him in a cruel, unforgiving town like Basin City, and his willingness to take any amount of abuse and punishment to make sure that that justice is served has turned Marv into one of the most compelling and endearing characters to come of Frank Miller’s noir series, Sin City.

61. Iron Fist

Iron Fist

The resident Kung Fu master of Marvel Comics. Aside from being a nearly unmatched martial artist, Danny Rand also possesses the ability to “focus his chi” into his fists making them hard as iron and impervious to pain or inward to heal himself. While he has never been quite as popular with the mainstream as some of Marvel’s other properties, Iron Fist has been an integral part of some of the company’s biggest stories, most notably the Marvel Civil War, where he served as Captain America’s second-in-command. Look for that popularity to spike in the near future with a Netflix series of his own right around the corner.