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Batman and Superman are two of the most well known superheroes ever created. In fact, I would say they are the most famous ones. It is common to see fans of the characters express their thoughts, but one thing always annoys me. The claim that Batman is better than Superman.

For many reasons, this is foolish. Not just because if there was a fight within actual canon, there is no way Batman could win, but rather looking at the characters and seeing what they represent.

Batman, is a symbol of fear. That’s been a part of the mythos since the origin was given. He chose the bat to strike fear into the hearts of criminals. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but lets continue. Batman has devoted himself to his life of crimfighting to the point that it takes priority over all else. In many ways,  Bruce Wayne is just a mask for Batman, who is the true personality. And what kind of personality does he have? That of a traumatized child unable to cope with a tragedy.  He fights the villains in Gotham, but more than one character has suggested that his presence actually attracts the villains to Gotham, making things worse.  In fact, the Joker calls Batman out on his mental state several times, notably in The Killing Joke, where he suggests Batman had “one bad day”. Obviously someone who recruits children into his war on crime, and is willing to build a satellite to spy on everyone, isn’t the most stable of individuals.

Batman has contingency plans to take down other heroes if they go rouge, but figures one isn’t needed for him, the man with billions, who can take down the Justice League.  If anything, Batman is one step away from being a supervillain himself. I wondered why that hadn’t been explored more, but then I realized it had been, just with another name you may have heard of: Lex Luthor. But while Lex is more motivated by jealousy and greed, the scary thing is that he still comes off as more stable at times than Batman, given how he is able to outsmart both Batman and Superman. Batman symbolism is less one of comfort and more one of fear and tyranny. While Lex needs to maintain his image, what would stop Batman from just deciding he can fix everything? Batman is a dangerously unstable character if you really think about it.

Now let us look at Superman. Superman is the opposite of Batman in ways people don’t think about. Not just because he has amazing powers, but rather what he represents. He is a symbol of hope, and a source of inspiration. Whereas Batman creates fear, Superman inspires hope in people. This can be traced to his origin as well. Yes he was sent from krypton as a baby to escape its destruction, but he was also raised by a kindly couple in Ma and Pa Kent. They raised him with good values and to be a good person. Superman is said to stand for Truth, Justice and The American Way, but what does that mean. Truth and Justice are easy to understand, but The American Way? The American Way is actually simple and isn’t what most people think it is. Its the one idea that has driven America from its beginnings and still does. If you feel something is wrong, you fight to change it. From the revolution, to the civil war, to the civil rights movements, this has been the driving philosophy in America, you fight for what is right.

Superman  isn’t just an all powerful alien. Whereas I feel Bruce Wayne is a mask for Batman, I feel that the consensus is wrong, Superman is a mask Clark Kent wears. The idea of an evil Superman can make for a good villain, but Superman as a character doesn’t make sense to be evil. Whereas Batman noted he wont kill, but he does hurt people, Superman is more likely to try and resolve a situation without harm if possible. He will only release his power against someone who can take it. If anything, it is Superman who feels more human than Batman. And as noted above, his enemy is Lex Luthor, who is someone Batman could easily become. Superman may have powers far beyond what humans have, but he acts and feels human, whereas Batman is essentially hanging on by a thread to his sanity. The excellent comic story “What’s so funny about Truth, Justice, And The American Way?” proves why Superman is an amazing character in contrast to darker and edgier characters. When contrasted against the Elite, he proves their reasoning flawed and shows that not only does his way work, but they are little more than psychopaths.

It all comes down to symbols in the end. Batman represents fear and control, and Superman represents hope and justice. I know which one I feel is better.

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The above was the opinion of the author and does not necessarily reflect the views of ROG or its staff.

By Jonathan Balofsky On 19 Jul, 2017 At 09:05 PM | Categorized As Books, Comics/Manga, News, ROG News | With 0 Comments

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Sad news for comic fans. The Archie Comic Sonic The Hedgehog series will be ending its run after 24 years. The series was the longest running video games based comic and it will be missed.

Sega put out a statement.

 

More comics are coming it seems, but not with Archie anymore.

 

This is the end of an era.

By Jonathan Balofsky On 21 Apr, 2017 At 04:42 PM | Categorized As Books, Comics/Manga, News, News, NINTENDO, ROG News | With 0 Comments

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It was previously noted that a Splatoon manga series will soon begin running in Japan, and now it turns out fans here in the west need not feel left out.

Viz Media posted the following.

Splatoon has quickly become an extremely big hit and a manga is a great way to expand it. It would be great if the manga is as well received as the game was.

Will you be reading it?

By Jonathan Balofsky On 22 Mar, 2017 At 09:52 PM | Categorized As Books, Comics/Manga, News, ROG News | With 0 Comments

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Robert E Howard was the legendary creator of Conan the barbarian. Conan has seen several comic adaptations over the years, including comics from Dark Horse Comics that have been running for some years now. But Howard made other great characters as well, notably Kull the Conqueror, a more cerebral take on the idea of the barbarian hero. Kull has also had adaptations in the past, from Marvel Comics and Dark Horse Comics, but they have not caught on as well.

Now however, IDW Publishing has acquired the license to produce new comics based on the character. Rather than retreading what was previously done, the writers are taking things in a new direction.

“‘Kull Eternal’ is that idea — using the Howard-penned tale (and one of my personal favorites) ‘The Mirrors of Tuzun Thune’ as its foundation, IDW will take Kull on a journey through time… a strange journey that will combine modern conspiracies and political intrigue with the supernatural and sword and sorcery underpinnings of the warrior king’s past. This will be Kull as he’s never been seen before… and yet as legendary as ever. A weird tale we hope is worthy of all the fantastically weird tales that have come before.”

This is a really cool take on the character, and one I personally will have to check out. I have been a massive fan of the work of Robert E Howard for years, including the Kull stories, and so really appreciate this new take on the lore. Here is hoping IDW has a successful run with the character.

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By Nate VanLindt On 22 Mar, 2017 At 07:44 PM | Categorized As Books, Comics/Manga, Featured, Reviews | With 0 Comments

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Chances are you probably grew up reading either the ‘Hardy Boys’ or the ‘Nancy Drew’ novels.  Those old blue and yellow-spined hardcovers on your bookshelf filled with stories of the exploits of Frank and Joe and Nancy and Bess.   Just the mention of Franklin W. Dixon or Carolyn Keene brings back fond recollections for many of us, and they weren’t even real people.  All the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew stories were ghost written by contract writers for years.  The same goes for the ‘Bobbsey Twins’ books by Laura Lee Hope and the ‘Tom Swift’ novels by Victor Appleton Jr.    These books gave literally generations of young readers the basics of deductive reasoning and entertained them all the while.  The first Hardy Boys book was published in 1927 and the first Nancy Drew book in 1930 and they’ve been in continuous print ever since.

With their long-lasting popularity, it’s not surprising to see Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys occasionally resurface every decade or so for a facelift and some renewed book sales.  But one thing that most any fan would definitely not be expecting is the new comic series from Dynamite Comics entitled ‘Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys: The Big Lie.’  ‘The Big Lie’ is everything that no one would expect from a Nancy Drew/Hardy Boys team-up comic.  It’s gritty, violent, and hard-hitting right from the beginning.  The content is grim, the artwork has a rough retro feel, and the story is quite frankly, shocking.  It’s hard not to go into details without ruining the plot, but suffice it to say a fair assemblage of well-loved characters manage to make an appearance in issue one without things feeling crowded. On top of that, there are some surprising cameo appearances that might cause you to wax nostalgic.

Anthony Del Col of Kill Shakespeare fame manages to pull together tendrils of all our communal visions of Bayport from our childhood and weave them into the beginnings of a crime drama more reminiscent of an episode of Homicide: Life on the Street than a children’s mystery.   On top of that, Werther Dell’Edera’s minimalist art, which echoes notes of Darwyn Cooke but with more rough realism, perfectly rounds out the feel of the story.  Frank, Joe, and Nancy live very much in our present in this story and not in the picturesque Bayport that we read in novels as children.  People in this world are imperfect, petty, vicious, and most assuredly real.  It’s a novel approach to characters that have been relegated to childhood memories for far too long.

For those of you that weren’t raised on a steady diet of old clocks and tower treasures, never fear.  ‘The Big Lie’ stands well on its own regardless of your familiarity with the original source content.  It’s well-written, well-drawn and starts off a solid crime drama with a bang.  Issue one is at local comic book stores now, but it’s hard to expect anything but greatness from the forthcoming issues.  This one is a sleeper waiting to become a hit and whether you’re a fan of Frank, Joe, and Nancy or not, ‘The Big Lie’ is an absolute must-read for the indie comic reader.   One caveat however – this comic is definitely not for young readers.  It’s rated Teen+ and well deserves the rating.

By Nate VanLindt On 5 Mar, 2017 At 06:12 PM | Categorized As Books, Editorials, Featured | With 0 Comments

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Since the advent of Harry Potter, the popularity of teen and children’s writers has skyrocketed.  As many adults are reading these books as kids are and bookstores have assembled whole sections of their stores for the wide variety of teen material available.  Much of the volume of material available tends towards teen science fiction and fantasy, following in the Potter and Hunger Games trends.  Other writers have branched out into suspense and even horror.  But this isn’t a new genre.  A few spectacular writers broke ground in these genres decades ago.  One of these early few was the esteemed young adult writer John Bellairs. 

Bellairs wrote several books in the mid to late 60s, ranging from religious parody to fantasy.   In the early 1970s, he wrote a dark fantasy novel for adults, but publishers recommended he rewrite the book for young readers and in 1973, The House With a Clock in its Walls was born.  With artwork by the legendary artist Edward Gorey, The House With a Clock in its Walls found immediate success.

Bellairs’ flair for the macabre along with Gorey’s edgy panels drew together a uniquely dark story.   His characters were realistic, flawed, and captivating.  The villains had no issues torturing and killing children, much like the original Grimm’s Fairy Tales and this stark look at the supernatural underbelly of 1950s New England went on to win 5 literary awards between 1973 and 1982.  He went on to win 13 more awards for his other books as well.  But Bellairs wasn’t done.

He went on to write a total of 15 children’s horror novels primarily focusing on three main characters.  Of those 15 books, 12 were stunningly illustrated by Edward Gorey.  Notably, the Dial hardcover library editions of Bellairs’ books feature wraparound dust jacket artwork by Gorey and a unique font, creating a wondrous and foreboding atmosphere before even opening the books themselves.

What’s truly remarkable about Bellairs’ work, however, is how enduring it is and how well it has aged.  Each book comes in at around 150-200 pages, but the length belies the quality of the content.  Evil wizards and sorcerers abound and time travel, human sacrifice, and Armageddon are common themes.  They aren’t simply dark, though.  The characters are well-written, the stories cohesive and self-contained.  For an adult going back to re-read these books, they have managed to stay compelling and powerful and should be a must-read for the kid who loves a scary story in all of us.

John Bellairs died in 1991 at the age of 53, but he left a legacy of fiction for all of us to treasure.  Several movies and shows have been made of his work based on The House With a Clock in its Walls and The Treasure of Alpheus Winterborn, but they are extremely difficult to locate and have low production value.  Eric Kripke, of Supernatural fame, has been rumored to be working on a current movie adaptation of The House With a Clock in its Walls, but the project has yet to have materialized.  Kripke is said to have been inspired by Bellairs’ work as a child.  With any luck, a modern movie of Bellairs’ seminal work will inspire a whole new generation in the years to come. 

For those that are interested, most of John Bellairs’s books are in print (and have been continuously since their release) and available on Amazon or at your local library.  An original set of the Dial hardcover library editions can run upwards of $500.00 on eBay, even for ex-library copies.  A fan tribute website still runs to this day.

 

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