Archive for October, 2015


Sword of Azrael 1 Gatefold CoverJean-Paul Valley is one of my favorite characters in comics by a long margin. Created in anticipation of the “Knightfall” crossover trilogy that saw him take over as Batman for a year, Azrael became a hated symbol of 90s grimdark. But Jean-Paul is so much more than that. In fact, Jean-Paul was not only a refutation of Dark Age thinking but became an active example of the alternative. Over his ten-year story, Jean Paul became a unique and interesting character, examining concepts as varied as non-violence, childhood abandonment, addiction, toxic masculinity, and elective family.

Jean-Paul is a very special character in my mind, and yet he doesn’t have a lot of fans. So, if you’ll indulge me a bit, I’d like to take you on a tour of Jean-Paul’s world. If I’m lucky, maybe I’ll make a few new fans and you’ll walk away with a new character to nerd out over. If not, we can at least make fun of this character’s weird history together. So come with me and let’s take a walk.

This week we’re going to take a look at where things started for Jean-Paul, the 1992 mini-series Batman: Sword of Azrael. As in many superhero origin stories, the Jean-Paul of Sword of Azrael isn’t fully formed yet. However, Denny O’Neil’s vision for the character is definitely present and, perhaps more than it knew, Sword of Azrael lays the foundation of the character. Continue reading

Grayson 5

It feels as though there’s been a shift in how new talents come to public attention in comics. For a long time creators would break their teeth on some brilliant indie series or put in their time at DC or Marvel before they hit that first story they were born to tell, sometimes both. But in recent days, a sea of new writers have made strong and seemingly immediate impressions on the comics landscape.

Tom King is one of these new voices. Though he’s actually written quite a few comics before and even published an acclaimed novel, King was not necessarily a familiar name when he was announced as the co-writer of DC’s Grayson. Just a little more than a year later, Grayson has become a hit, King’s unique reinvention of the Omega Men has proven popular enough to flat-out reverse a cancelation, and he’s got upcoming series from Marvel and Vertigo.

As if proving yourself beloved, literary, and properly appreciative of Dick Grayson’s butt wasn’t enough, I had the good fortune to meet King at New York Comic Con where I discovered that he’s also not only a huge nerd but an incredibly kind and thoughtful creator.

Voice strained from four days of non-stop comic madness, King still took the time to give us a fantastic interview, covering topics as wide as religion, personal evolution, diversity, and comics history. Continue reading

Right at the beginning, when I started doing interviews for this site, there were a few creators I just knew I had to try to speak to. But I didn’t want to focus too much on Batman and I wanted to make sure I was asking questions that they wanted to answer and that you’d want to hear answered. Long story short, it’s two years later and somehow I still hadn’t talked to James Tynion IV!

It feels like it goes without saying at this point but James Tynion is a core player in the modern comics industry. It’s technically accurate to say that he’s a future superstar, as I suspect he’ll be an essential writer for years to come, but that ignores that he’s already made it, overseeing both of the Batman Eternal weekly series, each one the core of comics’ most profitable brand.

But perhaps what’s most interesting about Tynion is that he’s not just writing a main Batman title, he’s also filling in the corners of DC’s universe and turning out multiple independent books that are wonderfully experimental and real. He manages to give the impression of a seasoned professional and the up-and-coming rebel out for his job. His work at Boom! has been a huge part of their success in establishing themselves as the place for fresh creator-owned comics.

As such, Tynion was rather busy this year at New York Comic Con, but I was able to find a few minutes to talk to him about his plans for The Woods and what we can expect from Batman and Robin Eternal. Continue reading