Just about finished Rene Montoya as the Question (based on artist Cully Hamner’s version). As always, more work to be done.
Happy New Year! I hope 2013 is good for everyone.
Batman first battled the Joker in 1940′s BATMAN #1 in a story by Bill Finger and Jerry Robinson. The Joker was poisoning wealthy men, leaving their corpses with an eerie rictus grin, and baffling the police in the process. His first fight with Batman ended with the Batman tossed into a river, excited at the prospect of an adversary who could really hit. The rematch ended with the Joker apparently accidentally stabbing himself in the heart, laughing maniacally as he died. A last-minute editorial decision saved his life, as the medics in the ambulance were shocked that the Joker was -somehow- still alive.
Over more than 70 years, the Joker remains an enigma. Different versions hinted at his life before Batman unwittingly dropped him into a vat of bleaching chemicals, but whoever he was before is unimportant. He is the Joker; deadly, anarchic, interested only in what makes him laugh, no matter who’s hurt in the process.
My take on the Joker is fairly traditional (I’ve sculpted him before). I dislike when he’s depicted as a physical monster. He’s hideous because he chose to be, not because he’s disfigured. I gave him a look like he’s just thought of an especially wicked joke.
And so the Joker gets the last laugh. Thanks for looking. This has been 12 Days of the Batman.
Batman and Robin both faced the tragedy of witnessing their own parents’ murders; not surprising each of them decided to fight a war against crime. But what about Barbara Gordon, daughter of Batman’s ally, Police Commissioner Gordon? She had no great loss to define her, didn’t have the resources of a Bruce Wayne to train and equip herself, and wasn’t a physically imposing male, either.
No, Barbara Gordon was inspired by Batman to fight crime simply because it was the right thing to do. Introduced in 1967′s ”The Million Dollar Debut of Batgirl!” by Gardner Fox and Carmine Infantino, Barbara- Babs to her friends- has been an off-and-on member of the Bat-Family ever since.
Bruce Wayne trained for years, traveling the globe and studying with the finest teachers in every field, from martial arts to forensic science. Barbara had a library card. Batman had a nearly-unlimited fortune to outfit himself with Batman’s non-lethal arsenal. Barbara had significantly less to work with.
Even Robin was raised by Batman: he had the best crimefighting teacher possible. Barbara bootstrapped herself into the role of Batgirl. Batman’s often referred to as the most “realistic” superhero (which is, itself, kind of silly), but Batgirl did even more with far fewer resources, just her brains, skill, and tenacity.
Tomorrow is the final installment of 12 Days of the Batman, a man who’s brought a lot of smiles to the world. Go to bed.
Edward Nashton was an unscrupulous carny who rigged games of chance to always have the upper hand. Smarter than everyone around him, he mastered every puzzle and brain teaser Soon he became Edward Nygma- E.Nygma- and turned to crime to enrich himself as he outsmarted the police. Which, of course, lead him to the one puzzle he couldn’t solve- the Batman.
People debate whether Batman’s presence truly prevents crime or encourages bizarre criminals to commit more elaborate and outlandish crimes. In fact most of Batman’s rogue’s gallery would exist whether or not he was there to oppose them. The Riddler may be the major exception: while he might still commit crimes if Batman wasn’t there to challenge him, he could just as easily make a fortune in legitimate enterprise.
The Riddler first appeared in 1948′s DETECTIVE COMICS #140, in a story written by Bill Finger and drawn by Dick Sprang, and wasn’t a particularly popular or memorable character until the first episode of 1966 BATMAN TV show with actor/comedian Frank Gorshin in the role. Offscreen, Gorshin had an insight into the character I liked, seeing the Riddler as a genius who did whatever he wanted for kicks: he’d play piano at a concert level; he’d perform Shakespeare in the park; he’d fight the Batman. I didn’t necessarily like Gorshin’s hysterical line readings, but I liked his thoughts on who the Riddler was.
My take on the Riddler is fairly traditional, although I incorporated the receding hairline introduced by artist Alex Ross. Suave and self-satisfied, the Riddler is one of the few criminals who rivals Batman’s vast intellect.
Tomorrow a mother of an edition of installment of 12 Days of the Batman.
Late at night when you’re sleeping, Poison Ivy comes a-creepin’ around.
Pamela Lillian Isley was created by Robert Kanigher and Sheldon Moldoff in 1966′s BATMAN #181. Over the years she’s been portrayed as a vamp, a militant feminist, a mere criminal, and an ecological terrorist. Writer Neil Gaiman and artist Dave McKean created an eerie, extremely-self aware Ivy in their series BLACK ORCHID. Locked in Arkham Asylum’s vaults, she created plant-animal hybrids to keep her company.
Unlike Catwoman, Batman and Ivy don’t share a particularly strong attraction to one another. They seem like genuine antagonists, and Ivy would just as soon be rid of Batman for good.
Once again BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES informs my depiction of Ivy. As designed by Bruce Timm and Lynne Naylor, Poison Ivy is short, curvy, and has some fabulous red hair. I gave her a growing sprig of her namesake vine, to which- like all poisons- she is immune.
Who will appear in tomorrow’s installment of 12 Days of the Batman?
In 1971′s BATMAN #232, writer Denny O’Neil and artist Neal Adams- the team that had brought Batman back to his noirish roots after his campy, TV series era- introduced Batman’s most formidible foe to date, Ra’s al Ghul (literally “The Demon’s Head”). Ra’s immediately deduced Batman’s secret identity of Bruce Wayne, but found it irrelevant. He saw in Batman a potential heir to his vast criminal enterprise, one with the seemingly noble goal of halting ecological catastrophe, but at the price of human civilization. He was as wealthy as Bruce Wayne, as smart and dangerous as Batman, and he was seemingly immortal.
There were obvious allusions to Fu Manchu and James Bond villains in his world-dominating archetype (Ra’s trying to marry his daughter Talia off to Batman seems lifted directly from On Her Majesty’s Secret Service). But it gave Batman an adversary who could match him in every way, and took him out of Gotham City for jet-setting adventures around the world.
Neal Adams designed Ra’s with no specific ethnicity in mind, made him of indeterminate, perpetual middle-age, and without eyebrows (a detail other artists frequently ignore). I sculpted him with a typical “Who Dares?” imperious kind of expression.
Hope you’ll return when tomorrow’s installment of 12 Days of the Batman comes creeping up!
Cursed with a genetic skin condition, Waylon Jones grew up as tough as his hide, and gained the alias Killer Croc. Although more recently depicted as some kind of reptilian mutant, in his earliest appearance, 1983′s BATMAN #357, creators Gerry Conway and Gene Colan made him rugged,but very human.There’s not a lot to Croc: selfish, petty, homicidal, and monstrously strong.
I like him best that way. While Batman has handled sci-fi menaces before, his best villains are usually humans, capable of all the evil humans can do.
Although I picture a more down-to-earth Croc, I do think he spends his time in prison filing his teeth.
I hope you’ll head back her tomorrow for the next installment of 12 Days of the Batman!
Raised on the high-wire, the boy who never looks down!
Robin the Boy Wonder, Batman’s most faithful sidekick, was “the character find of 1940!” when he debuted in DETECTIVE COMICS #38 in a story by Bob Kane, Bill Finger, and Jerry Robinson. He was added to give the solitary Batman someone to talk to, a Watson to his Holmes, and was a child so readers- then assumed to be entirely young boys- would have a character with whom they could identify. A circus boy orphaned by crime, he became Batman’s ward, and a chance for Batman to restore to someone the childhood he himself never had.
I like Robin because he’s the son who can never grow up to be his father, but eventually learns what his own unique strengths are. He is light in the darkness. He makes Batman smile.
This is Dick Grayson, the original, my favorite, in Tim (Robin III) Drake’s Neal Adams-designed costume, a la BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES (much as I love Robin, that short pants look is just… No).
Tomorrow a killer (for real this time!) installment of 12 Days of the Batman!
Waddling through a Winter Wonderland, it’s Oswald Cobblepot- The Penguin!
With his squat stature, tuxedo-and-umbrella motif, monacle and cigarette on a long holder, on paper it seems unlikely that the Penguin is one of the Batman’s more enduring foes. He was created in 1941′s DETECTIVE COMICS #58 in a story written by Bill Finger and drawn by Bob Kane. Kane was inspired by the Chesterfield cigarettes penguin mascot.
Often depicted as a gangster with one foot in legitimate enterprises, he’s usually somewhat buffoonish and not very threatening. But my feeling is all Batman’s repeat foes have to be formidable; why else would Batman waste his time? I see the Penguin as deceptively small but physically dangerous, dirty fighter, and completely ruthless in eliminating his competitors. (Have you ever seen actual penguins? They’ll walk over their own mothers for a scrap of fish.)
I updated his classical look somewhat, swapping out his usual top-hat for a derby and giving him an overcoat with a feathered collar. His slightly more rugged features, still exaggerated, give him a kind of Al Capone look. This is a man who could beat someone to death with an umbrella.
Hope you’ll return for tomorrow’s high-flying installment of 12 Days of the Batman!
Catwoman: the one that got away.
Batman’s tumultuous relationship with Catwoman began in 1940′s BATMAN #1, written by Bill Finger and with art credited to Bob Kane. Originally a burglar called the Cat, Selina Kyle’s costumes, methods, motivations and origin over the years changed more than any other Batman villain. The only constant has been the mutual, usually unfulfilled attraction between them.
(Usually. In recent years their relationship in the comics has been more explicitly sexual. In DC’s alternate “Earth 2″ Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle married and produced a child, Helena Wayne, who became the crimefighting Huntress.)
This piece depicts her in the most-recent version of her costume, designed by Darwyn Cooke and taking a page from Emma Peel, it’s my favorite of her many looks (except for the Doc Marten boots: how’s she supposed to sneak around in those?).
I hope you’ll come back for tomorrow’s black and white installment of 12 Days of the Batman!