Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Cats

Catman is up to his usual mischief in Cats.

(Second in a series of tribute posts for the Norm Breyfogle Stroke Recovery Fund)


Cats is a perfect little one-shot by one of my favorite Bat-teams, Alan Grant and Norm Breyfogle. Catman is making mischief, Catwoman is being blamed, and Batman is in the middle of it. Oh, and did I mention there's a white Bengal tiger on the loose in Gotham City?



Both Batman and Catman set out in search of the missing tiger. They don't need to wait long. Notice the series of 'cats' on the following page, which Breyfogle unifies into a striking visual parallel.

Thanks to Catman, Batman ends up facing the tiger in gladiator-style combat. Catwoman has also come out to play, and admires the scene from afar.

I'll leave it to you to discover how this one ends. There's a lot in Cats, particularly in the relationships, and I urge you to visit your local comics shop and pick up a copy. For me, this one's got just the right mix of humor and adventure. It's beautifully scripted by Alan Grant and beautifully drawn by Norm Breyfogle. It's a testament to this issue that I still come back to it from time to time, almost 25 years after it was published.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Breyfogle's Batman

Norm Breyfogle, who is recovering from a stroke, is probably my favorite Batman artist of all time. I grew up reading Norm's iconic run with Alan Grant on Detective Comics. In contrast to the hyper-realistic, stone-faced Batman of Jim Aparo, Breyfogle's Batman is bold, stylized, and emotionally expressive. This cover from Detective #610 is a personal favorite of mine, revealing Batman's sadness at the untimely death of his nemesis, the Penguin.
Norm's stroke was unexpected. He did not have insurance, and medical bills have wiped out his life savings. Norm's work had a profound impact on me growing up and to this day. As a tribute to Norm, and to raise awareness for his cause, I plan to feature his fantastic work over the coming month. If you're a fan, please consider donating to his stroke recovery fund, run by his family.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Year Two

Batman: Year Two, written by Mike W. Barr, was the first graphic novel I ever bought. I was drawn in by the cover, which depicted a grimacing Batman holstering a pistol.
There's a purity to Batman in Year Two - a pointy-eared optimism. He's due for a rude awakening when he encounters his predecessor - an extremely violent vigilante known as the Reaper.


As in Batman's first encounter with the Mutant Leader, he barely makes it home alive.
Just as Batman had to suit up to face Superman in TDKR, he resorts to desperate measures to take in The Reaper. Since Batman abhors guns, he takes up the only one he owns - the gun which killed his parents.
You may recognize in that flowing cape the style of Todd McFarlane - one of the greatest artists of the era.
Things get complicated when Bruce starts dating a beautiful and idealistic young woman, who just happens to be the Reaper's daughter.
By the climactic battle, Batman has learned how to take the enemy's weapons into his own hands, without becoming him. He is forced to take down his beloved's only family.


In the aftermath, the Dark Knight is left alone to pick up the pieces.