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Friday, Mar 29, 2013
To Be Continued...” has HECKLED the light and shadowed the DARK. And now we delve deeper into the devil(s) you don't know. Prepare for Grendel…

Once upon a time there was a boy named Eddie who was so gifted physically and mentally that his every goal was attained with careless ease. This led to a life of pride and despair, as nothing had any real meaning attached to it. Thus he formulated a new life of challenges for himself. Eddie became Hunter Rose, wealthy novelist and playboy by day, crime lord and costumed assassin by night. It was this latter role as “Grendel” that lived long after his death at the hands of a Native American man-wolf named Argent.


So we are told in the stories by writer/ artist Matt Wagner, creator of Grendel. The character debuted in 1982’s Comico Primer #2 and continued first in his own series, then (when publisher Comico began to experience financial difficulties, resulting in the cancellation of Grendel) as a backup story in the pages of Wagner’s more heroic creation Mage.


Interest in Grendel rose (no pun intended) due to his appearances in Mage and resulted in a new ongoing series. By this time Hunter Rose had become a dark legend, spread by the (fictional) biographical novel Devil by Deed written by Christine Spar (daughter of Rose’s adoptive daughter Stacy Palumbo). When Spar’s son is kidnapped by (no, I’m not making this up) a Vampire Kabuki dancer, Spar becomes the first to take up the mask of Grendel after Rose, initially in a quest to rescue her son, then in a quest to pretty much shish kebab every Tom, Dick, Harry or Sally she comes across. And thus the legend became a legacy.


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Tuesday, Mar 19, 2013
Wrapping To Be Continued's month-long look at the Dark Knight, there's really only one question left: how can all these different visions of the Dark Knight all be true?…

“If I have to have a past, then I prefer it to be multiple choice.”
—Alan Moore The Killing Joke


“Because even when they aren’t talking about me, they are.”
—Neil Gaiman Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader?


In the last three of “To Be Continued…” we have explored many chapters of The Batman’s history and many versions of the Dark Knight Detective from the dark, gunslinging vigilante to the campy pop-art experiment to the brilliant, but emotional crusader with the chilling smile to the grotesque gargoyle of the future. If DC has taught us anything with Zero Hour, “The New 52” and any series with the word “Crisis” in the title, it’s that the “real” version of Batman depends greatly on the zeitgeist and who happens to be writing him at the time.


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Thursday, Mar 14, 2013
Ladies and Gentlemen… the Dark Knight Returns…

“I love beauty.  I don’t care about pretty.”
—Frank Miller on drawing comicbooks


Previously on To Be Continued…  we discussed the full circle of Batman, starting with his debut in 1939 as a violent vigilante with no qualms about killing the bad guys (he was featured with a gun holster on the cover of 1939’s Detective Comics #33). It was not artist Bob Kane or writer Bill Finger who lightened Batman’s violent side or instilled the character with his now-trademark hatred of guns, but editor Whitney Ellsworth who mandated the change. The character devolved from the still very dark Dark Knight (now with a Doctor Watson to explain things to in his sidekick Robin) to a campy parody of himself, no longer inhabiting a bleak and menacing Gotham City, but a bright and colorful world at large. This culminated in the farcical TV show Batman (1966) and its feature film spinoff, but when Batmania wound down, DC Comics was free to re-darken the Detective.
 
The 1970s were a time of artistic experimentation. Bands like Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin broke new ground in music and films The Godfather and Star Wars revamped old movie genres into critical and commercial successes. Comics were no exception to this innovation, especially at DC Comics where the cultural shifts were written all over every page. Wonder Woman had a wardrobe and attitude change, Superman munched on Kryptonite (while Clark Kent left the Daily Planet for a job on the TV news) and Green Lantern and Green Arrow addressed issues such as racism and drug addiction.


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Tuesday, Mar 5, 2013
Sleeping on the job?!… Certainly not the Batman. And the Batman in the bright light of day? Equally impossible, right?…

“The Dying Batman… Driven by an instinct he cannot name–an instinct beyond understanding–he strides toward a certain destination… to where Ra’s Al Ghul stands alone…”
—Denny O’Neil Batman #244 September 1972


In our last electrifying entry of “To Be Continued…” we detailed how Batman has survived the evolution from his gothic roots through various incarnations, from the ridiculous to the shockingly dark and just about everything in between. The modern Dark Knight movies have worked to avoid any semblance of silliness behind Batman’s mask. Still, the very best and most memorable Batman comicbook stories are those that feature a more well-rounded, less caricatured hero both in and out of costume. The best writers and artists never forget that the Dark Knight can be very dark and is still a human being, rather than a crime-fighting machine.


By the 1970s the newly re-darkened Batman and Robin (though now not always a team) still did one important thing… they still appeared in broad daylight.


In Kane and Finger’s origin story for Batman, Bruce Wayne famously said “I must be a creature of the night, black, terrible.. a… a… a BAT!” In spite of the fact that some creators took this far too literally, Batman himself could tell you that Crime Never Sleeps. Thus, unfortunately for Bruce Wayne, Batman’s own sleep time often fell into the “Never” category as well.


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Tuesday, Feb 26, 2013
Of all the laughs and the gaffs and the smiles we've had on "To Be Continued…", this week's smile comes from the strangest place--the Batman…

“A grin in the wrong place is more frightening than a snarl.”
—Walter Simonson in 1989 on drawing Batman


Recently in “To Be Continued…” you all read the story of the Heckler. How he lived, how he “died”. Gave you a kick, huh? You’re kicking for more? So here’s the story about the Smile on the Dark Knight.


When Batman debuted in Detective Comics #27 (May, 1939) as “The ‘Bat-Man’” (quotes included), he was an undeniably grim figure, different from both the kitschy character of the 1960s era and even the veteran crime fighter of today. Today, Batman controls himself with a strict set of rules, but that initial story by Bill Finger (writer) and Bob Kane (artist) was also the first Batman story in which an enemy died at the hands of the Caped Crusader. At the time, Batman had no compunction about killing and his enemies rarely survived past the final frame. Batman even occasionally used a gun to take out the bad guys, starting in Detective Comics #32 (1939) and held a pistol in advertisements.


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