Tag Archive: Alfred Pennyworth


Jean-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.

While many summaries of Batman: Sword of Azrael end with Batman offering to bring Jean-Paul into the Bat-Family, the miniseries was very vague about Jean-Paul’s future. It wasn’t until Batman #488 that we saw what became of him. Continue reading

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

In the course of talking to comic creators this year, I started to think about their unique talents and what I think they would be best suited to. Inspired by all kinds of wonderful ideas I’ve seen online and heard from creators, I’ve put together my New 52. These are the 52 books I would publish if DC’s offerings were up to me and, as my friends and I have had a good time discussing them, I thought I would share them with you.

I tried to consider the actual feasibility of these titles, not only in the sense of immediate sales but in their ability to expand DC’s brand long-term. I also recognize that this is a dramatically simplified version of what DC actually has to do. As such, I made a couple of rules for myself.

First, as I don’t have the same knowledge of the creators’ availability and timeliness as an actual editor, I decided that I would allow myself access to any writer currently working in comics, but that I could only assign a creator to one book. Second, I tried not to put a writer on the same book that they’ve already worked on, though some were moved to similar concepts or allowed to expand short work they’ve already done. Finally, while an actual relaunch might do well to include some new books, I limited myself to preexisting titles and IPs for this project.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, on why I’m right, why I clearly screwed up, who should be illustrating the series, etc. But, regardless, I hope you enjoy.

Finally we return to the very beginning, to DC’s namesake book, to close out the New Year’s 52…

Continue reading

batman panel senycDC really only had one big panel at SE: NYC but Batman’s 75th anniversary is certainly nothing to scoff at. On Sunday, DC VP of Marketing John Cunningham hosted a panel with some of the most interesting voices currently writing in Gotham, providing hints about what’s coming for the Bat-family and an exploration of what makes Batman such a special property.

The panelists included Gail Simone, the definitive Batgirl writer in many minds; James Tynion IV, one of the key minds behind the flagship Batman: Eternal; Greg Pak, who writes Batman/Superman; and Francis Manapul, co-writer for Detective Comics.

Continue reading

Review: Batman #22

Batman 22

With a simple, symbolically resonant cover, Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo invite us to continue watching the very forging of Batman. Is the sophomore installment of Zero Year a must read comic, or has Snyder finally stumbled? Read on, friends, same bat-time, same bat-channel. Continue reading

Batman and Red Hood 20

Peter Tomasi began his fascinating look at Batman’s stages of grief last month with an issue featuring Frankenstein and Red Robin. The Denial story saw Batman attempt to raise Damian from the dead, only to be stopped by Tim Drake. This month, Bruce has moved on to rage (as the cover so subtly points out).

Continue reading

Review: Teen Titans #18

Teen Titans 18

What would you say if I told you that this issue contained a look at the relationship between Tim and Damian Wayne, a continuation of the War of Light and Dark storyline, crossovers with two other books, a spree killer on the loose, and a last page that’s bound to pique the interest of any Titan fan? Continue reading

RHatO 18

Did someone put something in the water at Scott Lobdell’s house?

After six great issues, Red Hood and the Outlaws started a nosedive, delayed slightly by a decent Starfire story, right about the time I gave up on Teen Titans and Superboy. But somehow, despite a series of truly awful tie-ins to Death of the Family, the most hated author at DC has made a stunning comeback, delivering an excellent issue of Red Hood while righting the ship over on Teen Titans. Seriously, my review about how shocked I was to be enjoying Teen Titans again is and has been the most viewed article on this site since less than a week after it went up (thanks for the awesome turn out, Titan-fans). Dare he go for the hat-trick?

Oh yes, he dares.

Spoilers ahead. Continue reading

Review: Batman and Robin #18

Batman and Robin 18

Damian Wayne is dead.

This week we get two contrasting looks at how a father is dealing with the loss of his son. Batman #18 looks at the legacy of Batman from the perspective of an outsider, but Batman and Robin #18 looks at the man from the perspective of his legacy.

I don’t think that the experience of this book can be translated into words and so I’m going to be a little freer with spoilers than I might otherwise be. Read at your own peril, and remember that especially here, the context really is everything.   Continue reading

RHatO 17

I can hardly believe that this is my first time discussing Red Hood and the Outlaws. A controversial series, RHatO has embodied much of what is right and wrong with the New 52. After a rather poor showing in the Death of the Family arc and the accompanying cross over with Teen Titans, Jason Todd returns to Wayne Manor to say his goodbyes and rejoin his motley crew of hangers-on and reluctant friends. With Scott Lobdell leaving the title, can we expect the book to tread water, or is there a final return to form in the cards? Continue reading