For the Man Who Has Everything

 

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Featured in Superman Annual #11, ‘For the Man Who Has Everything’ is a classic Superman tale written by one of the comic book industry’s greatest writers in Alan Moore. For the next few months I will be reviewing some classic mainstream Alan Moore titles.

This tale centers around a symbiotic alien plant called Black Mercy that attaches itself to it’s victim and feeds off of their ‘bio-aura’ while they are placed into a dream like state where all of their heart’s desires are occurring in their mind while they are slowly dying in reality.

The story begins with Batman, Robin (the Jason Todd version), and Wonder Woman meeting at the Fortress of Solitude to celebrate Superman’s birthday. They suddenly come upon Superman who is standing still with this alien parasite attached to him. The villain Mongul is the culprit behind Superman’s predicament and Wonder Woman immediately begins to battle him while Batman and Robin attempt to remove Black Mercy from our red and blue spandexed hero.

During this mayhem we see what is going on in Superman’s mind. He is back on Krypton (having never been destroyed), married with a son, and living a regular non-heroic life. Very quickly though we see his dream world start coming apart. His father Jor-El has been ostracized by Kryptonian society since his prediction of the planet Krypton’s destruction never came to fruition. Kryptonian society is heading towards a civil war with various warring factions preparing to go head-to-head over differing views of how their world should be run. This is clearly not Superman getting to live out his heart’s desires and shows the reader that he is starting to come out of his catatonic state.

Batman and Robin are finally able to pry the alien plant off of Superman and he immediately awakens from his motionless state and, in a very violent rage, screams and goes after Mongul in what proceeds to be a brutal fight between to well matched adversaries.

While this is going on the parasite attaches itself to Batman and he starts to drift off into a world where his parent’s have never been murdered. Fortunately, Robin is able to pry the parasite off of Batman and just when it looks like Mongul is going to get the upper hand on Superman, he launches the Black Mercy and it attaches itself to the villain.

Mongul is now in a catatonic state and we get see his heart’s desire which is the death of Superman and him taking over the entire universe.

This story is very compelling since we get to see inside Superman’s mind more than usual and really feel sympathetic knowing that even though he became Earth’s greatest hero, he still wishes for a normal life which he can never have.

This is a classic tale which was very recently redone for an excellent episode of CBS’s Supergirl which really helped the progression of the character and give a nice nod to a classic comic book story.

Alan Moore has written some classic graphic novels over the decades and usually people focus on his more original work like V for Vendetta, League of Extraordinary Gentleman, etc…. I will not argue on the merits of those works, but also encourage people to seek out his work on more well-known characters like Superman, Green Lantern, Batman, et al. A truly great writer can take a very well-known character and add his own flavor without ignoring it’s history. Moore is one of those writers and ‘For the Man Who Has Everything’ is the perfect example of his amazing talent.

It has been reprinted many times over the years and I re-read it for the umpteenth time in my recently acquired DC Universe by Alan Moore hardcover which was released in 2013 and can still be easily found on Amazon and other book retailers. It features a lot of Moore’s mainstream DC output and is strongly recommended.

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Batman, Incorporated

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Full disclosure, I have been a long time fan of Batman. He has been one of my favorite characters since the first Tim Burton Batman movie was released in 1989. I enjoy everything from the campy 1960’s television show to the most recent Christopher Nolan trilogy.  I have at least one long box full of nothing but Batman comic books. For me he is such a compelling character for multiple reasons that I will not list here.

I am fully aware of the various storylines that have went on in the past 10 years involving Batman and I have only read single issues sporadically. There have been some good stories told recently, but sometimes the sheer doom and gloom that many people feel Batman needs to be in the modern era, based on Frank Miller’s classic The Dark Knight Returns, weighs the character down and makes him less interesting in some regards. It is nice to occasionally have a break from the darkness. That is where Batman, Incorporated comes in.

Grant Morrison is one of my favorite comic book writers and personalities in the industry. He is intelligent, witty, and very unique in his thought processes. His book Supergods is a must read to get his insightful take on the mythology of our favorite comic book characters and a little more knowledge of Morrison himself. When I saw this collected edition of issues 1-8 and the one shot Leviathan Strikes! I knew I had to give it a shot since the combination of a great writer with a legendary character had to be worth the read. Thankfully, I was right.

The whole concept of Batman, Incorporated is that Batman/Bruce Wayne is traveling around the world recruiting international heroes to join his group and become Batmen to assist him in his fight against a new terrorist group called Leviathan. There is a true ‘fun-ness’ to this book that made it hard to put down. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing silly about this tale, especially some of the imagery we see through the miniseries and especially towards the end of this collected edition, but the overall tone is much more enjoyable and not as dark as some of Batman’s well known storylines.

The different variations on Batman are inventive and great to see. I especially enjoyed the Native American version Man-of-Bats. His focus was helping his own people by any means necessary and his nobility was admirable even though we saw some flaws in his approach. He is a very human hero that anyone could become, whether or not they had the finances to do so.

Grant Morrison really seemed to enjoy writing this tale which results in the reader experiencing the same emotions throughout the series. The team of artists on this series all had their own styles well represented, yet still made every issue seem artistically cohesive. The art popped off the page and really grabbed your attention and made this series very engaging.

The only thing that was a slight disappointment is that I saw the twist ending coming from a mile away. I did not know the outcome of this series so I went in fresh and I was still able to figure out who the mystery person behind Leviathan was going to be. I will not spoil anything, but many long time readers probably did the same. Despite this fact, the ending was still good and did not detract from anything.

This deluxe edition is a great collection of an amazing miniseries and will look great on your bookshelf.

If you are a fan of Grant Morrison, Batman, or just good storytelling, then this is a must read for you.

The Nolan Batman Trilogy

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Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy is the best portrayal of the title character and his mythos we have seen in movies/television to date. All three movies were well done and made Batman relevant to the general public again.

I will give my opinion on all three in this single post…I am assuming most people have seen all three movies so there may be spoilers without warning:

Batman Begins:

Hot damn this is a great movie! I was thrilled when I heard they were re-launching Batman and looked forward to a more serious, realistic tone and this film did not disappoint. Christian Bale is the perfect Batman/Bruce Wayne. I feel he is the first actor to get both sides of this character right. Yes, I agree that his Batman voice is a bit over the top, but for me it works. Michael Keaton was a great Batman, but did not get the character of Bruce Wayne correct in my opinion. He was brooding in both roles and seemed to forget that Wayne pretended to be happy out of the costume so people would not make the connection between him and his superhero persona. Bale was a terrific Batman and portrayed Wayne’s artificial ‘playboy’ persona perfectly. I do not feel his performance of the title character will be surpassed any time soon.

The overall casting of this movie was perfect with Cillian Murphy as a terrifying Scarecrow and Liam Neeson as the true Ra’s Al Ghul working as perfect villains for this origin tale. Michael Kane as Alfred with Gary Oldman as Jim Gordon was great casting of two of Batman’s most trusted allies. The only casting choice that I did not like was Katie Holmes as Wayne’s love interest. This was a character that was not needed to make this movie work and would have made it that much better if she was excised from the script all together.

Overall, this was a great re-telling of Batman’s origin and was a very promising start to the franchise.

The Dark Knight:

The BEST Batman movie ever! Simply WOW! The late Heath Ledger’s performance as The Joker was pure brilliance and he more than deserved the Academy Award he won posthumously. I still love Jack Nicholson’s portrayal of The Joker from years ago, but Ledger’s was, and may possibly always be, the best. He was simply perfect and really had a grasp on all of the character’s nuances.

Aaron Eckhart also did a fantastic job as Harvey Dent/Two Face. He made you root for his character throughout the movie and feel sympathy when he was hideously scarred and sought revenge. His death at the end of the movie was appropriate, but I would have liked to have seen him in the final film.

Overall, this is one of those rare 2 hour plus movies that keeps your attention throughout and wanting more.

The Dark Knight Rises:

Not the best of the three, but definitely one of the best Batman movies overall. It seemed like a natural progression from the end of the previous film and was overall well done and a fitting end to Nolan’s trilogy.

Anne Hathaway did a good job as Selina Kyle/Catwoman. I was not expecting much so I was surprised when she did such a great job and really held her own.

Tom Hardy as Bane was a great casting choice and despite the peculiar voice, I felt the portrayal of Bane in this movie was well done.

I only had 2 issues with the film…it seemed a tad too long and the reveal at the end of Ra’s Al Guhl’s daughter Talia being behind everything did not seem to be too effective. It may be because I already knew about this event, but it still seemed to not have the kind of “punch’ you would want.

I really enjoyed how the movie ended with Bruce Wayne finding happiness and Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) turning out to be Robin and taking on the mantle of Batman.

Overall, this was a terrific trilogy that did Batman justice.

I sincerely hope Ben Affleck can do an admirable job portraying this legendary character, but do not expect him to surpass Bale’s.

Here’s hoping we do not get another George Clooney type performance!