THE ARKHAM SESSIONS: IS BATMAN EMOTIONALLY INTELLIGENT?
In “The Night Of The Ninja,” a string of robberies seems pretty mundane for Gotham City until it’s revealed that the criminal in question is a ninja. That’s right: Ninja. Bruce Wayne is immediately troubled with the idea that a fellow martial arts student from his pre-Dark Knight past, Kyodai Ken, is seeking revenge by targeting companies run by Wayne Enterprises. Batman insists on leaving Robin behind during this particular assignment so that he can deal with the dangerous ninja (and rid himself of some demons related to past failures).
Is Batman Emotionally Intelligent?
In this episode of The Arkham Sessions, we revisit the relationship between Bruce and Dick. Once again, resentment is exhibited by Dick as he tries to deal with Bruce’s perfectionistic and strict mentoring style. Dick may be on to something — Bruce appears to be closed off when it comes to the expression of his emotions. In fact, he may have deficits in the area ofemotional intelligence, which is one’s ability to perceive, understand, and manage emotions. People who have low emotional intelligence, for instance, may have difficulty reading others’ emotions and knowing what to say when others are grieving or in turmoil. They may also struggle with the ability to communicate their own emotions with facial expressions, gestures, posture and words. But is this truly a deficit with Bruce? We may be assured that he manages his own emotions with deliberate strategy; being too expressive may prevent him from maintaining his superhero ego. Nonetheless, his insensitivity is experienced by Dick as cold and distancing. Listen to the episode for our full analysis of Bruce’s complex personality.
THE BLACK WIDOW STRIKES IN THIS WEEK’S NEW ‘BATMAN ’66′ — NO, NOT THAT BLACK WIDOW
By Chris Sims
If you haven’t been keeping up with Batman ’66, DC Comics’ digital-first series based on the classic Adam West/Burt Ward television show, rest assured that it has continued to be awesome. Recent issues have seen a terrifying team-up with the Joker and Catwoman, a sinister plot to create a television adaptation of Batman’s adventures, and — perhaps most awesome of all — the debut of a giant robot version of Batman that fought crime with the power of jet boots and rocket fists. It’s… It’s pretty great, y’all.
But one of the more interesting things about the last few episodes — er, issues is that they’ve thrown the spotlight on some of the more obscure villains from the show who never made it in the comics, like the Minstrel and Bookworm, and this week, it’s the harrowing, haunting return of the Black Widow! Not to be confused with Marvel’s Natasha Romanoff or Scarlett Johansson.
Originally portrayed by Tallulah Bankhead, Black Widow is arguably the most obscure special guest villain in the Batman show’s history, largely because she was one of the rarest things to find on that show: A foe for Batman who was taken completely seriously. It’s really only Black Widow and False-Face (who is frigging terrifying) that have that distinction — at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con, Julie Newmar even mentioned that Bankhead was the only guest star she knew of who “didn’t get the joke,” leading to an episode that seems strange even by the standards of Batman.
But it is interesting, especially since Jeff Parker and Wilfredo Torres seem to be taking the same tactic for their story almost 50 years later. Sure, there are still bizarre thematic deathtraps, but there’s also a subplot about the Penguin, the most social of all arch-criminals, being kind of terrified by Black Widow, who’s taking this whole murder thing a little too far.
BORN IN A WORLD OF TRAGEDY: GREG RUCKA REFLECTS ON HIS BATMAN WORK, PART ONE [INTERVIEW]
By Chris Sims
To say that Greg Rucka had a profound impact on DC Comics in the 21st Century is underselling things quite a bit. After arriving on the scene in the late ’90s, he became one of the few writers to have written all three of DC’s biggest characters, with critically acclaimed runs on Action Comics and Wonder Woman. It was on Batman, however, where he made his biggest impact, as one of the writers for the year-long No Man’s Land crossover, the relaunched “New Gotham” era of Detective Comics, and cowriter of the enduringly influential Gotham Central.
Today, we begin an in-depth look back at Rucka’s tenure on the Dark Knight, starting with No Man’s Land, both the comic and its surprisingly popular novelization, in which Gotham City becomes a dark dystopia following a cataclysmic earthquake; his feelings about the core idea of Batman; and his frustrations on seeing the Joker show up in the pages of Superman.
BIZARRO BACK ISSUES: BOW DOWN TO BOUNCING BOY (1968)
By Chris Sims
Ever since I wrote that Ask Chris a few weeks back about how I’d rebuild the Legion of Super-Heoroes, I’ve been seized with the desire to go back and re-read some of the classic Legion stories from the Silver Age, but when I sat down to do just that, I was really surprised. Not because the stories are weird, mind you — I knew they were pretty bonkers from the first time I read them, and they certainly haven’t gotten any less weird since — but because they threw the light on one of the most grievous oversights of my writing career. See, as happy as I was with the lineup I came up with for that column, I left out the character who is unquestionably the most powerful member, the actual, official “King of the Legion.” I speak, of course, of Bouncing Boy.
You may laugh, but it’s true, and it happens in a comic where he schools the rest of the Legion so bad that they literally start tearing off their clothes in some kind of organized tribute ceremony. And that’s not even close to being the weirdest thing that happens here.
THE ARKHAM SESSIONS: THE LAUGHING FISH, HARLEY QUINN, AND THE JOKER’S DIAGNOSIS
In this edition of The Arkham Sessions, we revisit our analysis of the Joker, this time taking into account his relationship with Harley Quinn. In her second appearance in the series, Harley is depicted as a faithful, devoted partner to the Joker. Compared to “Joker’s Favor,” (Harley’s first appearance), their romantic involvement is much clearer, as is his abusive behavior toward her. We see additional signs of what’s considered “antisocial behavior” — a disregard of the law, lack of empathy toward others, and despite a self-assured, charming exterior, a willingness to harm others close to him. Harley is dangerously in the way of the Joker’s wild, impulsive antics.
Is the Joker compassionate enough to save her? Listen to the episode for the full psychological analysis of this villainous pair!
JOCK DONATES ‘BATMAN: THE BLACK MIRROR’ ART TO AUCTION BENEFITTING TODDLER WITH LEUKEMIA
If you need an incentive to help a two-year-old boy with his leukemia treatment beyond basic human decency, how about an original page from one of the best Batman stories of the past decade?
An eBay seller is auctioning off the above page from Detective Comics #871, the first part of the acclaimed “The Black Mirror” storyline by Scott Snyder and Jock, to help a little boy named Nathaniel, who has acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Jock himself donated the art for the auction.
From the eBay description:
His prognosis is good but he has a long, not very nice, course of treatment ahead of him over the next few years which will involve the family travelling regularly to hospital.
THE COMICS ALLIANCE TOP TEN: UNDERRATED BATMAN VILLAINS
By Chris Sims
If there’s one thing we’ve learned from our years on the Internet, it’s that there’s no aspect of comics that can’t be broken down and quantified in a single definitive list, preferably in amounts of ten. And since there’s no more definitive authority than ComicsAlliance, we’re taking it upon ourselves to compile Top Ten Lists of everything you could ever want to know about comics.
This week, we’re kicking it off with The Top Ten Underrated Batman Villains! The Dark Knight has an awful lot of notable foes, but there are plenty of also-rans, C-listers and one-shot villains who deserve better than being punched out and thrown into Blackgate, never to be seen again. So from the obscure to the unappreciated, here they are!
- A modern take on the Mad Monk can be found in Matt Wagner’s amazing Batman: The Mad Monk. You might have expected this from the title.
- The KGBeast’s truly ridiculous body count happens in Ten Nights Of The Beast.
- Just so you know, the villain of Johnny Karaoke’s first appearance spelled his name “Grotesk,” because of course he did.