Granny Goodness, created by Jack Kirby, made her first appearance in Mister Miracle Vol. 1 #2. Most know her as the ruthless older woman who runs the orphanage on Apokolips like a daycare lady from Hell. Granny uses torture techniques and brainwashing to create some of Apokolips’ most fearsome warriors — most notably among them, her Female Furies. Her appearance could be considered to be devoid of sex appeal — almost always scowling, a bulky athletic build, forever covered from neck to toe. Ultimately, this depiction serves to make her less sympathetic, because “pretty privilege” even exists in comics. Also, her name is Granny, and, as we all know, women of a certain generation are not supposed to be desirable and function best as bitter older women.
An alien ship lands on Earth. Its occupant gets raised as human, hiding special abilities for fear of reprisal. But when the superpowered extraterrestrial becomes an adult, Truth, Justice and the American Way mean something very different. Because this strange visitor from another planet is black.
As I got older, I started wondering “what period was Batman Returns set in?”. Its predecessor, Batman, seemed modern for the time (1989) but Returns felt a lot older. People wore clothes from the early 20th century, maybe 20s-30s and the architecture was very Art Deco.
It’s hard to tell. The architecture suggests that, but the technology suggests what was then the present day.
That was 1989, meaning that Thomas and Martha Wayne were probably killed around 1969 or so. So why, in the flashback to that scene, were they and little Bruce dressed like it’s the 1940s? Did somebody mess with the timestream? Does the Keaton Batmobile have a flux capacitor?
Batman Returns has a similar issue. It almost feels like the main characters are stuck in a period they aren’t from, as they appear modern and the rest of Gotham is still in a weird 20th century time warp. But let’s look at this logically. In the film, we start with Oswald Cobblepot’s birth and early days as a baby 33 years before what we believe is 1992, taking us to 1959. Are you telling me 33 years pass and people haven’t updated their clothes? And there are other suggestions about the time, as a commenter on this blog post mentions:
Some more timewarp craziness, this time form (sic) Batman Returns:
Ted Bundy exists and is a known serial killer. (Bruce Wayne dialogue to Selina)
And yet, only about 30-40 years earlier (whatever Penguin’s age is), Gotham was something out of circa early 1900s (judging by Penguin’s parents’ dress and house furnishings, Pee Wee and Simone)
Bundy was alive between 1946–1989 and he admitted to murders committed between 1974 and 1978 so it definitely wasn’t set in the 20s or 30s. So maybe, like Batman, it was set in an alternate universe’s 1992 where Art Deco and German expressionism never died. Did I mention Tim Burton was the director and the film was criticised for being too dark?
So, to answer the question “what year was Batman Returns set in?”, my answer is: probably 1992 but not our 1992.
As is always the case with legacy comics characters, if you look far back enough it isn’t long before you come across stories “of their time” that reflect the distinct lack of voices that didn’t belong to straight, white men with two-dimensional ideas about people who were unlike them. Superman’s always been a symbol for an idealized form of the American dream and a mythic idea of morally sound justice. But in comics like Giant Superman #239 from 1971, an issue including multiple stories from writers Otto Binder and artists Wayne Boring and Stan Kaye, you can see how DC Comics has always had a difficult time addressing Blackness in the context of Superman stories as its own identity rather than something that exists in contrast to whiteness.
2020 sucks hard. I feel like I’ve said or written that a hundred times but it bears repeating. So finding any glimmer of light or hope means more than usual and I found one on Sunday night.
Chan Chau (they/them) is a cartoonist from in Minnesota and they tweeted one of their comics about Soft Lead Clark Kent, in a world where he’s a cartoonist for the Daily Planet rather than the reporter we know on this earth. He visited his Bruce Wayne at his home for breakfast and expressed his fear that his work was “pointless”.
[…] You know drawing cartoons. Well, making comic strips about my cat for the Daily Planet, to be precise. It seems so… ugh, silly.
Bruce offers his opinion and it reminded me that sometimes you need something for you rather than what you think other people want or need and I felt that. Hopefully it can offer some respite and clarity for anyone who reads it.
Of all the Black superheroes I asked for on Twitter, one that caught my eye was Batman. When was Batman Black? Once, 19 years ago.
In September 2001, Stan Lee and Joe Kubert created Just Imagine Stan Lee with Joe Kubert Creating Batman with Bruce Wayne replaced with Wayne Williams, an African-American man.
Like the original Batman/Bruce Wayne, he had no superpowers, was an expert detective, skilled fighter, and super-rich. But Wayne Williams’s backstory differed from Bruce Wayne’s. Williams’ father, a cop, was killed in an ambush and he was then framed for a crime by a gang leader called “Handz”. While in prison, he made friends with a scientist called Frederick Grant and started bodybuilding. He got a full pardon after rescuing the warden during a prison riot and sought revenge on Handz who had also killed Williams’s mother while he was incarcerated.
To earn money, Williams becomes a wrestler, under the name of Batman, and became a wealthy celebrity. He found Grant and they became partners and turn to fighting crime. Batman finally found Handz and fought him which lead to Handz’s accidental death from a fall. He then vowed to protect innocent people.
However, not everyone enjoyed the story arc.
Stan’s Batman operates out in the open, and his goal is only to get payback. But the major crime is how Stan basically just repurposed old ideas into something that came off like a polished turd. It’s kinda like if you submitted old homework to fulfill (sic) a new assignment, and still only managed to get a C.
And this from Tim Webber of CBR.com, who ranked it #12 (last) in his ‘Just Imagine…’ Stories list:
While other Elseworlds tales have twisted and stretched the concept of Batman into fantastic new shapes, Lee delivers a perfunctory take on Batman that doesn’t feel compellingly different from anything that’s been done before. His attempts to write street-level dialogue come across as clumsy and dated, and do little to define one-note characters. Kubert’s art looks fine, but Lee’s script just feels disappointing. A lot of the hype for the “Just Imagine…” project rested on this first book, and the squandered potential here casts a shadow over the rest of the line.
If those reviews don’t deter you, you can buy the full novel on Amazon or stream the video below where someone has kindly displayed every page to read.
Slow news day? Perhaps it was in February when Gizmodo published its Cinematic Batman Lips list but this kind of absurd piece fits right in with the omnishambles that is 2020.
Writer James Whitbrook felt inspired to write the piece after the reveal of Robert Pattinson’s Batman. There were 2 rules for the list:
No TV-only Batmen.
Lips were only rated as part of the whole Batman outfit (so no Bruce Wayne lips, if that makes sense)
This left 8 in total. I won’t spoil the list but I will reveal one part: Robert Pattinson’s Batman—the one who inspired the list—came in last. Ouch. The rest follows what I’d expect, although I would have swapped 2nd and 3rd.
Val Kilmer’s lips were my personal favourites.
Anyway, stream the most famous Batman lips scenes in Batman lipstory (from Batman Returns) below.
I will be updating this periodically if any new responses come in but, unsurprisingly, Black Panther came out on top (although he was neck-and-neck with Storm for most of the time).
For any of the pedants out there, some of these aren’t technically superheroes but I didn’t try to correct anyone because 1) my Black comic book knowledge is poor and 2) I wanted to see what people’s interpretation of Black superheroism was. Do you need to have superhuman powers to be a superhero? That’s a question for another day.
The upcoming Black Adam film isn’t set for release until December 2021 but who knows if that’ll delayed further. Until then, Dwayne Johnson revealed a new promo with awesome artwork to whet the appetites of fans.
What we also got was a look at some characters from the Justice Society of America including Hawkman, Doctor Fate, and Cyclone (Atom Smasher was already confirmed). Yep, the JSA will be in this one. And there was a warning to Shazam and the Justice League:
“Things will never be the same. The hierarchy of power in the DC Universe is about to change.”
The Rock knows how to cut a promo and despite his reputation as a babyface, he can play a mean heel. BUT I’m not sure how to feel about this. I was excited when he announced he’d be playing Black Adam as I’m a huge fan of the JSA and Black Adam as a villain but I worry it’ll become Another Dwayne Johnson Film™ with a comic theme rather than a fantastic entry point for the JSA and one of their toughest enemies.
It’s been a hot minute since I last watched a DC animated movie but I’m almost certain it was a Batman movie. I’ve not watched enough DC animated movies to form a balanced top 5 but Stephanie Ijoma of Nnesaga has and, in May, she went through her 5 favourites.
If you want to know what they are, check out them out in the summary (below)
Nnesaga’s top 5 DC animated movies (click the triangle to open the list)
Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox
Batman: Under The Red Hood
Teen Titans: Judas Contract
Justice League: Throne of Atlantis
Justice League: Doom
Who is Nnesaga?
Nnesaga is a media platform founded by Black gamer Stephanie Ijoma. It champions diversity in the form of events, media and workshops in comic book media, gaming, and anime.