Monday, July 27, 2015

Challengers of the Unknown Must Die! | Quarter Bin Trash or Treasure


Challengers of the Unknown Must DieIf you’ve been around comics for a while you’ve probably read something from the awesome duo of Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale. These guys have been putting out some of the greatest superhero stories in the last 20 years, for example: Spider-Man Blue; A Superman for All Seasons and Batman: The Long Halloween being one of their best. But they had to start somewhere and that was with 1991’s eight-part mini-series Challengers of the Unknown Must Die!

I have a specific memory of this comic due to the fact it was declared “Worst Mini-Series of 1991″ by Bill Townsend of Electric City Comics in his first-ever Electric Currents Annual; which was kind of like the hardcopy equivalent of a blog. I had no frame of reference at the time, so I just took Bill’s word for it that it was bad. I didn’t think about it again until 12-15 years later when I found those annuals in the attic and re-read them and realized the comic he was talking about was by Loeb and Sale. Not long after that I was at a comic book convention and dug through a dealer’s discount bin and sure enough found all eight issues of the series and picked them up for $2. A part of me was hoping it was as bad as Bill had made it out to be. Sometimes you hear such bad things about a movie or restaurant, etc., that it actually makes you want to check it out to see if it lives up to the anti-hype. Mediocrity can be hilarious and entertaining, no?

Challengers-of-the-Unknown-Vol.-2-1-1991

Anyway, I read the comics and thought they were actually pretty good, but that was probably ten years ago and I haven’t read it or thought about it since. However, at the last comic con I attended, I saw the collected trade paperback at a dealer’s table for $5 so I absolutely had to buy it. I decided to give it another read and see how it would stand the test of time yet again.

First of all, I should point out that I’m not at all familiar with the Challengers of the Unknown. Even though they were created by Jack Kirby, they’ve always been kind of relegated to C-list characters. The “Challs” seemed to all but disappear from the DCU once the Modern Age rolled around, and I think that’s why Jeph Loeb wanted to write for them at the time. In fact, if you really want to know the story-behind-the-story, Loeb explained it all on an episode of Kevin Smith’s Fat Man on Batman podcast a few years ago. So, I went into this story with no frame of reference and it reads in such a way that you don’t have to be intimately familiar with the characters’ legacy and details of their continuity in order to follow the plot. That being said, it’s still not the easiest story to follow.

challengersoftheunknownvolume2_2

The basic premise is [SPOILERS] that some nutjob blows up Challenger Mountain via the easiest infiltration I’ve ever seen (you’d think the Challs would have some security devices in place). Though, at the exact moment this happens, Prof had just discovered what appeared to be some kind of mysterious unlimited energy force in space and was trying to harness it… somehow. Major tragedy ensues as the adjacent town of Challengerville (because comics) is leveled from an explosion. Somehow Ace, Red and Rocky managed to survive the catastrophe but Prof and June did not. They’re actually put on trial for murder! Not surprisingly, they’re acquitted, but their lives are ruined and each decides to go his own separate ways. The middle chapters deal with Rocky becoming a Hollywood star but also an alcoholic; Red snapping and turning into a murderous vigilante and commando a la Rorschach and The Comedian; and Ace becoming an all-out Black Magician. Meanwhile, there’s a hack tabloid reporter named Moffett (that’s with two F’s) trying to make a name for himself by documenting all this. Additionally, the world seems to have gone mad as all these normal people start committing heinous acts. It comes full circle when we find out that the mysterious energy force was actually a rather generic demon-like character who found a way to transubstantiate himself using Prof’s equipment… or something (it’s very poorly explained). We do get to see Prof and June briefly on “the other side.” The plot is resolved in a surprising way when an unexpected character commits an unexpected act of self-sacrifice.

05-11-2010+02;14;54AM


This was Loeb’s first job as a comic book writer, so it’s understandable that he hadn’t “found his voice” at the time. He can’t seem to decide if he’s playing it straight or if this is a satire of some sort (the same tone “The Sleeping” had, for comparison). It has elements of mainstream superhero action & adventure; realism, fantasy; sci-fi; and even comedy. For a debut work, this is actually pretty interesting and impressive in that it takes an “everything but the kitchen sink” approach without stumbling over itself. While this is not the most brilliant comic ever written, it flows pretty well considering how much Loeb and Sale are trying to do.


b79ddded6fd1f52ac879f99d08f95c9b

As you’ll see from Bill’s review below, the fact Loeb was a Hollywood screenwriter may have made the reader assume he was a total outsider who had no personal history or respect for comics. Listening to Loeb on Smith’s podcast, you’ll learn that the opposite is true; he’d been a fan since he was a kid and it shows as it contains many references to other comics. There are plenty of proverbial wink-at-the-camera moments such as this nod to The Dark Knight Returns:

Challengers of the Unknown Must Die2

Or this Spider-Man reference:

COTUspidey

Special mention absolutely must be made to Sale’s layouts and compositions (which Brian Michael Bendis does in the introduction of the TPB). They could’ve illustrated this as any normal comic with the usual layout of panels and such, but Sale takes an experimental approach using two-page spreads quite often. It’s not often the way panels are lain out that makes a comic book memorable, but in this case it absolutely does. It’s novel enough to be impressive, but not so wacky as to be incomprehensible.

tumblr_mczt52kFgR1rhjbado1_1280

Overall, Challengers of the Unknown Must Die! is far from a masterpiece, but it certainly is impressive for what it is. I’d love to see Loeb and Sale return to this story for a sequel or perhaps just do another Challs graphic novel from scratch. If you find these comics in a discount bin, I definitely recommend picking them up. Or get a used trade online for cheap.

Verdict: Treasure

The following is Bill Townend’s review from the 1991 Electric Currents Annual. I would love to know if he’s ever re-read Challengers of the Unknown Must Die! in the last 24 years and if his opinion has changed.

You think I’ve been nasty so far. Well, you ain’t seen nothing yet, because this series deeply, deeply offended me.

The first comic I ever remembered reading was Challengers of the Unknown #57, which came out in the summer of 1967*. On the cover there were the Challs Fighting the Dreadful Dimension Man (a green guy with a helmet on this head that looked like the letter D), and the Iron Dictator, a robot that looked like Hitler. Sure, it was dumb, but what does an eight year old know? I htoughtit was cool beyond belief. So the Challengers were the first series that I consciously collected. The stories got much better as the campy sixities ended, but the sales of the Challs didn’t improve, and they began reprinting stories.

The stories they reprinted were from the early appearance of the Challengers, and they were drawn by Jack Kirby, and some of them inked by Wally Wood. This was pre-Marvel Kirby at his best, and in fact you could see a little Fantastic Four in them.
Capture
When I heard they were being revived, I was glad to hear it. I was curious to see how they would be handled in the 1990s, and in fact I had a few ideas of my own. The Challengers were all remarkable men: a test pilot, a championship boxer, a circus daredevil, and an undersea explorer. Why couldn’t the series show that you didn’t need to be a superpowered goon for life to be an adventurer? The Challengers were adventurers who took risks because they felt they were living on borrowed time. By rights all of them  should be dead many times over, so why not push the boundaries of existence a little? The premise of the mini-series was an intriguing one: “The Challengers are living on Borrowed Time. Time’s Up.”

But when I heard how the series was going to be handled, my heart sank. The Challs were going to be treated like a joke. 

DC seems to be making a habit of trashing its heroes of yesterday. Adam Strange had been completely screwed up last year, and Chaykin made a complete mess out of DC space heroes in this series Twilight. Kid Eternity also got the treatment this year. But this…. this was an abomination.

Jeph Loeb is the name of the worm who wrote this series. He’s some sort of Hollywood scriptwriter person who wanted to write comics. How nice for him. One of this guy’s screenwriting credits was for the movie Teen Wolf Two, high art to be sure. Loeb wanted to write some comics, so DC gave him a list of properties that they weren’t doing anything with, and this nitwit picked the Challs. Apparently he liked the sound of the name. Prior to this he had never even HEARD of them.

I don’t really want to go on at great length about this, because plainly it doesn’t deserve it. But the writing was so cliched, so hackneyed, so stupid, that I could scarcely believe it. OK, let’s turn Rocky into an alcohol, how trendy, how nineties. Let’s turn Ace into a halfassed Doctor Strange… um, let’s turn Red into Sgt. Fury. And let’s kill Prof, nobody cares about him anyway.

It seems this Loeb guy had read a couple of Matt Wagner Grendels and never got over it, because the style is lifted directly from them. And he liberally puts in all sorts of nonsensical “homages” (definition: I am too lazy to think for myself, so I will rip off Ditko or Kirby or Neal Adams). There was the “Tiger, you hit the jackpot” from Amazing Spider-Man #42, innumerable Kirby Sgt. Fury rip-offs, and on and on. Didn’t it bother anybody at DC that these were all MARVEL references!?!?

*A Google search reveals the comic he’s referring to was actually issue #53 dated January 1967.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Legends of the Dark Knight: Issues 101-111



The Incredible Adventures of Batman (issue 101)

Written by John Wagner. Drawn by Carlos Ezquerra.

There’s a lot I don’t understand about this comic. The cover is part of a DC-wide monthly theme where every issue would have just a face on the cover. Did all of these issues take place 100 years in the future as well?

Futuristic Batman stories are dumb because they’re inherently sci-fi and as we all know, Batman isn’t the kind of character that adapts well to sci-fi settings. This issue is a perfect example of that. The premise is rather generic: a crime lord who attacks telepathically and can’t be stopped, so a cyborg decides to dress up like Batman and just kill him. What is the point of this? We all know Batman doesn’t kill. And what does a cyborg have to do with anything?

If the story wasn’t bad enough, the terrible art just makes it worse. This is hideous and amateurish – like some kid trying to emulate Rob Liefeld… with his eyes closed. It looks like doodles and yet it’s finished work. I can’t believe an editor considered this professional grade quality. Yuck.

Score: 1/5

Spook (issues 102-104)

Written by James Robinson. Drawn by Paul Johnson.

I like when Batman comics actually are detective stories and mysteries. What I don’t like is when they’re hackneyed and cliché and predictable. “Spook” is basically every episode of Scooby Doo done as a Batman story; along with Clue and every Agatha Christie murder mystery as well. I can’t tell if this is an homage or a dry parody of the genre because it hits every beat on time and follows the formula to a T.

The plot is rather pointless: Bruce Wayne and a bunch of people go to a mansion in the middle of nowhere in the winter. Then a “ghost” and his assistant start killing people. It turns out the ghost is an ex-CIA “spook” (hence the obvious title); complete with crowbarred-in backstory. This probably could’ve made for an interesting premise, but Robinson doesn’t do a single original thing with this script. It’s just so cliché and riddled with plot holes. The biggest being Batman claims that Bruce Wayne was killed by the ghost yet his body is never shown and there’s no explanation to how to “survived” after the denouement.

There was no reason for this to be a 3-parter, it could’ve been a one-parter easily, which explains why so much of it just seems like filler. The art is serviceable, though, much like the story, it doesn’t take any risks or do anything impressive or memorable. This could’ve passed for an episode of B:TAS, it just seems weak and silly in LOTDK.

Score: 2/5

Duty (issues 105-106)

Written by C.J. Henderson. Penciled by Trevor von Eeden. Inked by Joe Rubinstein.

I have an idea what the point of this arc was, but I don’t think it came close to working as such. The premise is that Batman is out of town at the time so Captain James Gordon and Sergeant Harvey Bullock take the place of the protagonists while The Joker is his usual, homicidal self. Actually, Joker goes far beyond his usual M.O. and instead goes into all-out psychopathic terrorist mode in which he brings down a skyscraper with a bomb and has a master plan of destroying all of Gotham by using a freighter carrying explosive gas.

The problem is, Henderson has no idea how to tell a tale this epic in scope and reduces it down to just any other comic book story. It’s interesting reading this not only in a post-9/11 world, but also with three Christopher Nolan Batman films that had plots of similar nature. Sure, this could’ve worked, but not the way it’s written here. It’s all just exposition and action – no detective work. Just talking, chases, explosions, more talking, more chases and more explosions. There are no transitions between scenes so the story has a rather rough, unfinished feel to it – like it’s the rough draft of what will become a much better story.

The art is both hit and miss. The layouts and compositions are quite creative and dynamic. There’s not a boring page anywhere in this comic. However, the actual style is a weird amalgamation of cartoon and illustrative so it comes across as amateurish and ugly. Some of the layouts are just difficult to follow (oh, wait that was a two-page spread?).

Score: 2/5  

Stalking (issues 107-108)

Written by Lee Marrs. Drawn by Eddy Newell.

It’s been a while since there’s been a decent Batman vs. non-costumed villain. This arc has an interesting premise in that neither the readers nor Batman know who the killer is. Though the story is extremely bleak as this villain goes around killing innocent people and blowing up buildings like it’s nothing. And it’s all done, seemingly, out of revenge against Jim Gordon for arresting someone years ago.

Dark, grotesque stories are fine when done right, though I don’t think this is the best example of one. Marrs seems to want to have it both ways with a creepy, moody, noir crime piece but at the same time also an action-packed comic book. It’s nice there’s actual detective work in here for a change and it actually furthers the story as well as does exposition pretty well. The problem is it reads like a mish-mash where it can’t tell what it wants to do.

The art is dynamic to say the least. It’s both ugly and beautiful. Dynamic and stiff. Fluid and stoic. Newell’s style is very illustrative with LOTS of lines and the coloring only adds to the darkness of it. In fact, it’s so dark there are many instances I couldn’t tell what I was looking at.

While this wasn’t an amazing entry in the LOTDK series, it certainly was an interesting one. A better ending would’ve made it great instead of just okay.

Score: 3/5

The Primal Riddle (issues 109-111)

Written by Steve Englehart. Penciled by Dusty Abell. Inked by Drew Geraci.

This is a comic that absolutely should be a contender for “I Can’t Believe This Comic Exists” since the premise is that Batman has a near death experience but even though Bruce Wayne lives, the soul of Batman goes into another person’s body. I honestly can’t believe that’s the premise to a legitimate, straightforward Batman story, especially in LOTDK. And yet, this is not a terrible comic by any means (though it’s not an especially good one, either).

Whenever a Batman story invokes the supernatural – even for benign purposes – it always seems out of place to me. But this isn’t a supernatural-based comic per se, it just uses that as a way of putting a crafty spin on the comic. And thankfully it doesn’t take itself too seriously, unlike say “The Sleeping” which was equally as ludicrous with its supernatural premise.

Still, it’s hard to describe a story where Batman’s soul is transferred from person to person both accidentally and purposefully without it sounding like the premise of a spoof or wacky cartoon episode. I suppose that explains the clean, cartoony art which is some of the best-looking art I’ve seen in this series in a long time. It’s bright, colorful, dynamic and easy on the eye.

I really should hate this comic, but I don’t. It’s merely “not bad.”

Score: 3/5

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Minerva, Mayhem and Millionaires | Batman '66 | vlog #120

Season 3, Episode 26. Originally aired March 14, 1968 (series finale).
Written by Charles Hoffman. Directed by Oscar Rudolph.
RATING: 2/5

Glamorous and manipulative Minerva (Zsa Zsa Gabor) gets her hands on Bruce Wayne and his diamonds, user her Deepest Secret Extractor to learn his safe's combination. Unless Batman, Robin, Batgirl and Alfred wax Minerva, she'll skip with her swag!

See all of my Batman '66 vlogs here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list...
LIKE the Batman '66 Fan Page on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/batman66fanpage

Saturday, July 18, 2015

The Entrancing Dr. Cassandra | Batman '66 | vlog #119

Season 3, Episode 25. Originally aired March 7, 1968.
Written by Stanley Ralph Ross. Directed by Sam Strangis.
Dr. Cassandra (Ida Lupino), husband Cabala (Howard Duff) and their confounded camouflage pills make it easy to rob banks, invisibly. To get the Terrific Trio out of the way, they bait a trap guaranteed to spring six arch-criminals for a Gotham crime spree!
RATING: 2/5

See all of my Batman '66 vlogs here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list...
LIKE the Batman '66 Fan Page on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/batman66fanpage

Friday, July 17, 2015

The Joker's Flying Saucer | Batman '66 | vlog #118

Season 3, Episode 24. Originally aired February 29, 1968.
Written by Charles Hoffman. Directed by Sam Strangis.
The crazy Clown Prince of Crime has hateful high hopes of ruling the universe by building on a flying saucer scare. His need for the Wayne Foundation's lightweight beryllium results in Batgirl and Alfred's abduction... and the Joker in orbit.
RATING: 2/5

See all of my Batman '66 vlogs here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list...
LIKE the Batman '66 Fan Page on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/batman66fanpage

Thursday, July 16, 2015

I'll Be a Mummy's Uncle | Batman '66 | vlog #117

Season 3, Episode 23. Originally aired February 22, 1968.
Written by Stanley Ralph Ross. Directed by Sam Strangis.
King Tut's need for Nilanium, the world's hardest metal, leads him to the vein beneath Wayne Manor. His mineshaft from the lot next door alarms Batman, but it's too late! The Tutlings have tunneled right into the Batcave!
RATING: 3/5

See all of my Batman '66 vlogs here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list...
LIKE the Batman '66 Fan Page on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/batman66fanpage

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

The Great Train Robbery | Batman '66 | vlog #116

Season 3, Episode 22. Originally aired February 8, 1968.
Written by Stanley Ralph Ross. Directed by Oscar Rudolph.
Batgirl is exchanged for Frontier Fanny (Hermione Baddeley) as the stakes get higher to shut down Shame's real aim - The Great Train Robbery! Shame pulls it off, and all that's left is for Batman to challenge him to a mano-a-mano match up.
RATING: 3/5

See all of my Batman '66 vlogs here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list...
LIKE the Batman '66 Fan Page on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/batman66fanpage

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The Great Escape | Batman '66 | vlog #115

Season 3, Episode 21. Originally aired February 1, 1968.
Written by Stanley Ralph Ross. Directed by Oscar Rudolph.
Shame is sprung from prison with the help of Calamity Jan (Dina Merrill) and leaves a cryptic note for Batman to chew on. Shame's opera house holdup, backed by some handy Fear Gas, leaves the crafty cowpoke and gang free to roam and rob again.
RATING: 4/5

See all of my Batman '66 vlogs here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list...
LIKE the Batman '66 Fan Page on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/batman66fanpage

Monday, July 13, 2015

Penguin's Clean Sweep | Batman '66 | vlog #114

Season 3, Episode 20. Originally aired January 25, 1968.
Written by Stanford Sherman. Directed by Oscar Rudolph.
Penguin is back in circulation with a bad bird bamboozle to contaminate currency with rare germs. As citizens toss their cash in the streets, Batman, Robin and Batgirl must make Penguin's wads worthless.
RATING: 4/5

See all of my Batman '66 vlogs here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list...
LIKE the Batman '66 Fan Page on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/batman66fanpage

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Nora Clavicle and the Ladies' Crime Club | Batman '66 | vlog #113

Season 3, Episode 19. Originally aired January 18, 1968.
Written by Stanford Sherman. Directed by Oscar Rudolph.
Commissioner Gordon is swept from office and replaced with Nora (Barbara Rush), the mayor's wife. Soon she deploys a women-only force and unleashes a myriad of explosive mechanical mice in an insurance scam. Holy pied piper! Who'll save Gotham?
RATING: 1/5

See all of my Batman '66 vlogs here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list...
LIKE the Batman '66 Fan Page on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/batman66fanpage

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Louie's Lethal Lilac Time | Batman '66 | vlog #112

Season 3, Episode 18. Originally aired January 11, 1968.
Written by Charles Hoffman. Directed by Sam Strangis.
Louie's lackeys kidnap Bruce and Dick so the lethal larcenist can corner the lilac perfume market. Batgirl comes to the rescue only to be dumped in a vat waiting for hot oil. Time to deploy the Instant Unfolding Batcostume Capsules!
RATING: 0/5

See all of my Batman '66 vlogs here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list...
LIKE the Batman '66 Fan Page on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/batman66fanpage

Friday, July 10, 2015

“Let her go, pus bag!!” | I Can’t Believe This PANEL Exists

Last month I debuted a new on-going feature called I Can’t Believe This Comic Exists in which I’ll discuss a comic that is unbelievably crazy, bizarre, weird, etc., or a comic that is so mind-numbingly bad that I have difficulty comprehending its existence. For this second installment I’d like to (theoretically) boil it down to a single panel that blew my mind: Legends of the Dark Knight: Issue 78 (dated December, 1995); Page 12; Panel 1:

LOTDKi78p12 - Copy

I suppose the average person’s reaction to seeing that panel with no other context would probably be a chuckle or a shrug.

Allow me to put this in context so that you can have the appropriate reaction. This is from the third and final part of a story arc called “The Sleeping” written and illustrated by Scott Hampton. The story goes like this: Bruce Wayne is riding in the back of a limo driven by Alfred when the car is T-boned by a drunk driver. He wakes up in a purgatory of sorts wherein an apparition tells him he’s in the place everyone goes to when they’re in a coma. There’s a “silver cord” which connects his soul to his physical body which can be broken while here. His goal is to find the “lake of fire,” which will return him home. Oh, and by the way – his “Twin Soul” is also here – someone he will undoubtedly encounter. This page pretty much explains it all:

LOTDKi76p8
Even when Bruce Wayne enters another plane of existence, his Batman costume complete with utility belt always comes with him.

I don’t know about you, but this premise reminds me a heck of a lot of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman. The premise of that series, if you’re not familiar, is that whenever you go to sleep you enter the literal “Land of the Dreaming” of which Morpheus [a.k.a. “Sandman” a.k.a. “Dream”] is the overseer. That series was always intended to be of the horror/fantasy and general “mindbender” genre and dealt with religious and mythological concepts and characters interacting with the real world. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that this arc was titled “The Sleeping” and has such a similar premise. Though this title is a total misnomer since being asleep and being in a coma are not the same thing! Wouldn’t “The Comatose” be a more accurate title?

In this story, Batman is his usual stoic self and there’s even a dramatic side story about what Bruce Wayne’s life would’ve been like had he never become Batman. Another side story discusses the life of an Irish woman named Mary who was coerced into joining the IRA and would up in this realm after having second thoughts and trying to save someone from a bombing. These two pieces of exposition serve mostly as filler and account for the bulk of the second and third chapters. The other character – the one in the panel – is an extremely sarcastic dude named Henry who claims he’s been down here for a year or two. He conveniently has page-filling exposition, too:

LOTDKi76p17
Hi, Jeff.

That’s something I forgot to mention. In this realm, there are demons known as “Soul Eaters”. They seem to have a hierarchy with a leader known as “The One” (Keanu Reeves?). Sometimes they speak English and sometimes they speak in their own demonic language (because continuity). Being simple creatures, all they feast on are the helpless saps in Comaland:

LOTDKi76p18
How exactly has this schlub survived down here for so long?

Which brings us back to the panel I can’t believe exists. After three drawn-out issues, Batman, Mary and Henry finally make it to the literal “Lake of Fire” and are attacked by “The One.” Batman puts up a pretty good fight, but not good enough to win. So Mary comes to his rescue (because that makes sense, right? A superhero like Batman just got his arm literally torn off by a demon, so surely an average woman can pick up where he left off). Not surprisingly, she does not do well and is about to be devoured – that’s when Henry saves the day (he tries to, that is). Now read pages 10-13 in their entirety and see how you react:

That's gonna leave a mark.
That’s gonna leave a mark.

LOTDKi78p11
Batman’s fighting moves are nice, but if only he had long fingernails!

LOTDKi78p12
I can’t help but think this moment was ripped off from…. err… “inspired by” the 1987 kids’ movie “The Monster Squad”

LOTDKi78p13
With ripped abs like those, you’d think a demon would AVOID fatty foods!

When I first read these comics I couldn’t stop groaning at the trite, unoriginal premise. Was this a blatant rip-off of Sandman and the entire Vertigo-style horror/fantasy comics that were all the rage in the 1990s? Or did Scott Hampton just want to draw a Batman-versus-demons comic? After all, Batman vs. Predator was a hit – isn’t this essentially the same concept?

Re-reading it now I can’t help but wonder if “The Sleeping” is actually a dry parody of those aforementioned comics. I haven’t asked him, but I suppose Scott Hampton could plausibly claim this was intended to be satire (whether that’s true or not), the same way DC markets Frank Miller’s All Star Batman & Robin: The Boy Wonder as a parody ex post facto, or how Tommy Wiseau describes The Room as a black comedy when he clearly intended it to be a drama.

Unfortunately, I don’t think this story was intended to be campy or satirical. I think Hampton meant for this to be taken at face value and if that’s the case I’d just have to wonder why this is the story he wanted to tell. Batman is not the kind of hero you want to see go up against the supernatural. He’s a normal human without any superpowers, so he fares best against villains who also match that description.

But if there’s one thing we can take away from “The Sleeping,” it’s that some schmuck actually out-Batmanned Batman by KICKING A DEMON IN THE NUTS! A feat like that should earn more respect than taking a bullet for a mob boss or beating up the biggest, baddest guy in prison. You may be tough, but unless you’ve laid out a monster with a swift kick to the manzone, you ain’t $h!t.
Of course, I can’t help but wonder what a fantastical creature like a demon needs testicles for. Do hellspawns procreate heterosexually?

P.S.

By the way, does this cover remind you anything else that was popular at the time?

Batman_Legends_of_the_Dark_Knight_Vol_1_78

Like, say… Aliens?


Alien_3

And just by sheer coincidence, look at the ad from the back cover of that very comic:

LOTDKi78bc

The Joke's on Catwoman | Batman '66 | vlog #111

Season 3, Episode 17. Originally aired January 4, 1968.
Written by Stanley Ralph Ross. Directed by Oscar Rudolph.
Arch-criminals Joker and Catwoman are going for the gunpowder they need for their heist, but our heroes blast apart their plans. Catwoman wants a fair trial, but jury tampering leads to courtroom chaos.

See all of my Batman '66 vlogs here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list...
LIKE the Batman '66 Fan Page on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/batman66fanpage

Thursday, July 9, 2015

The Funny Feline Felonies | Batman '66 | vlog #110

Season 3, Episode 16. Originally aired December 28, 1967.
Written by Stanley Ralph Ross. Directed by Oscar Rudolph.
Joker and Catwoman link up over the lure of cash and more cash, and are ready to dynamite the Depositority. With Batgirl's help, Batman and Robin jump the jester, who offers them a numbing Joker-buzzer blast in return!

See all of my Batman '66 vlogs here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list...
LIKE the Batman '66 Fan Page on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/batman66fanpage

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

The Ogg Couple | Batman '66 | vlog #109

Season 3, Episode 15. Originally aired December 21, 1967.
Written by Stanford Sherman. Directed by Oscar Rudolph.
Egghead and Olga are back to egg-stract valuables from the museum and poach 500 pounds of caviar! Batgirl convinces Egghead to fink on Olga, but she's trussed in a trap only Batman and Robin can unscramble.
RATING: 3/5

See all of my Batman '66 vlogs here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list...
LIKE the Batman '66 Fan Page on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/batman66fanpage

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Catwoman's Dressed to Kill | Batman '66 | vlog #108

Season 3, Episode 14. Originally aired December 14, 1967.
Written by Stanley Ralph Ross. Directed by Sam Strangis.
Catwoman (Eartha Kitt) is ready to filch the fashion world and snatch a solid gold dress. As the Terrific Trio bolt into action, Catwoman has the purr-fect pattern for pulling the wool over their eyes!
RATING: 3/5

See all of my Batman '66 vlogs here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list...
LIKE the Batman '66 Fan Page on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/batman66fanpage

Monday, July 6, 2015

The Bloody Tower | Batman '66 | vlog #107

Season 3, Episode 13. Originally aired December 7, 1967.
Written by Elkan Allan and Charles Hoffman. Directed by Oscar Rudolph.
Ffogg and Peasoup are forging ahead to steal the Crown Jewels, throwing lethal fog pellets, death bees and diversions at the Dynamic Trio. Can our heroes turn the tables and keep the Batmobile on the left side of the road?
RATING: 1/5

See all of my Batman '66 vlogs here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list...
LIKE the Batman '66 Fan Page on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/batman66fanpage

Sunday, July 5, 2015

The Foggiest Notion | Batman '66 | vlog #106

Season 3, Episode 12. Originally aired November 30, 1967.
Written by Elkan Allan and Charles Hoffman. Directed by Oscar Rudolph.
When the air clears, suspicions shroud Lord Ffogg and Lady Peasoup with Batman, Robin and Batgirl in pursuit. Clouds of man-made mist keep our heroes at bay, so they are free to steal away.
RATING: 1/5

See all of my Batman '66 vlogs here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list...
LIKE the Batman '66 Fan Page on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/batman66fanpage

Saturday, July 4, 2015

The Londinium Larcenies | Batman '66 | vlog #105

Season 3, Episode 11. Originally aired November 23, 1967.
Written by Elkan Allen and Charles Hoffman. Directed by Oscar Rudolph.
It's off to Londinium to solve the mystery of a Lord and Lady (Rudy Vallee and Glynis Johns) looting a priceless snuffbox collection. A closer look at Lord Ffogg's estate leads to a noxious fog bomb going off in the makeshift Batcave under a tented manor.
RATING: 1/5

See all of my Batman '66 vlogs here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list...
LIKE the Batman '66 Fan Page on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/batman66fanpage


Friday, July 3, 2015

Surf's Up! Joker's Under! | Batman '66 | vlog #104

Season 3, Episode 10. Originally aired November 16, 1967.
Written by Charles Hoffman. Directed by Oscar Rudolph.
The Joker, hoping to win hearts and minds as a surfing champ, uses a kidnapping and devious devices to steal the skills. Contestants drop out while Batman and Robin drop in to make sure Joker wipes out.
RATING: 4/5

See all of my Batman '66 vlogs here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list...
LIKE the Batman '66 Fan Page on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/batman66fanpage