‘The Weekly Bat-Signals’ with Shawn Warner, Episode 16

Greetings fellow Gothamites, this week we are coming to you from stately Wayne Manor, just 14 short miles northwest of Gotham City down Old North Pass. Lots of news from Hollywood this week on the Batman Versus Superman movie and all the hoopla surrounding the cinematic Bat-Universe in general, some big names weigh in including the most recent Dark Knight Christian Bale as well as avid Bat Fan and one of AMC’s Comic Book Men, director Kevin Smith. Then we change gears to check out the print version of Batman ’66 #5 by Jeff Parker with art by Ruben Procopio and Colleen Coover. This series has been so much fun and has featured some pretty fantastic artwork including brilliant covers by the artistic genius that is Michael Allred. So without further ado let us begin this week’s chat about The Bat, first stop Hollywood.

Warner Brothers is considering their options for bringing Batman back to the big screen, ranging from offering Ben Affleck the next Bat-project to direct and star in to bringing back Joseph Gordon-Levitt or the more unlikely scenario of re-casting Christian Bale as the gravely-voiced Dark Knight Detective. However the latest rumor is surrounding a Batman Beyond film based on the animated television series which featured Terry McGinnis as a new, teen-aged Batman in a Gotham City of the future.

As for Christian Bale who reportedly turned down a fifty-million dollar paycheck to reprise the role of the Caped Crusader in Batman Versus Superman sources close to the actor say he has likewise declined to don the cape and cowl for a Justice League movie. Bale did however have a bit of sage advice for Ben Affleck as he prepares to take up the mantle of The Bat, “The only thing I said to him is look, just make sure he can take a piss without having to have anyone help him because it’s a little bit humiliating when you have to have someone help you out of the costume in order to do that.”

Longtime friend and vocal Affleck supporter, Kevin Smith had this to say after being given a sneak peek of the new Bat-Suit designed for Affleck to wear in Batman Versus Superman; “You have not seen this costume in a movie before. And for a comic book fan it was mind-bending. Only (Zack Snyder) has enough power to pull this off.” Smith added happily that the new suit does not feature Bat-Nipples. He went on to say that there is a very definite Jim Lee influence to the new costume.

In other related Bat news from Hollywood, producer Daniel Alter revealed that the new film will feature a semi-retired Batman who has taken his war on crime back to the Bat-Cave where he deploys drones to handle the actual fighting. This film is set at a time when Batman has severed ties with Dick Grayson, refusing to even speak with him. This turn of events makes a Nightwing appearance very feasible.

That’s all the Tinsel Town talk concerning the Caped Crusader, now we go from the silver screen to some sequential stories in Batman ’66 #5. The main story in this issue centers on The Sandman and his crew of Sleepwalkers as they attempt to induce all of Gotham to fall fast asleep while they fleece them of all their waking worldly possessions. The Sandman then needs a secure place to stash his ill-gotten treasure so, thinking the Bat-Cave will work nicely for his felonious purposes; he lulls Batman into a state of deep sleep where he will be susceptible to suggestion. In this dreamy condition between awareness and slumber, The Sandman endeavors to extract the location of the Bat Cave from the Dark Knight’s brain. Jeff Parker has captured the campy tone of the television series so well that you can almost hear Adam West’s voice when you read the dialogue. The adventures are fast paced and the capers handily resolved in twenty-pages or so making these stories easily digestible and downright fun to read. Ruben Procopio does a fabulous job penciling this first story. His stylized interpretation of anatomy works perfectly with the cartoony tone of the narrative. Procopio’s visual storytelling is spot on as panels flow seamlessly into pages keeping in step with Parker’s brisk pace. Matthew Wilson’s colors add a vivid dimension to Procopio’s art that really makes it pop. This is easily one of my favorite stories in the series so far.

The second story, also written by Parker but with art by Colleen Coover features the first appearance of Batgirl in this book as she faces off against Catwoman in a good old-fashioned jewel heist caper. Here the art is a bit blocky and simplified but it fights the story fairly well with its 60’s sensibilities and “mod” style. Overall both of these stories are completely entertaining and enjoyable leaving you ready and waiting for the next adventure of the Dynamic Duo. If you are a Bat-Fan and not already getting this book, I highly recommend picking it up and joining all the fast-paced fun from Jeff Parker and company.

Well that’s going to do it for another Weekly Bat Signal as always I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed putting it together. Please join us right back here next week for another episode, same Bat-Time, same Bat-Channel.

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Follow Shawn Warner on Twitter:  @shawnwarner629

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