Friends! Strangers! Romans! Comic book inhalers of all stripes! Come one come all to my new monthly column. I’ll be covering one or several important moments in comic book lore that transpired during the highlighted month. Anyway, onto the meat and potatoes, shall we? Let’s dig into February.
Batman: Year One
The first issue of Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli’s critically acclaimed graphic novel hit the shelves this month in 1987. It’s best known for reimagining Bruce Wayne’s early adventures as Batman. Mazzucchelli’s unrepentant realism and a Gotham that smacks of 1980s, graffiti-clad Manhattan set the tone for the story’s mood. Miller’s heavy-handed pen made for a story that’s as much about Bruce Wayne as it is about Batman. Furthermore, it’s as much about Batman’s conflict with the Gotham Police Department as it is about his conflict with criminals. One of the unique aspects of Batman: Year One is that it shows the readership a deeper cut of Jim Gordon than we are used to. The mustachioed detective is new to Gotham, and unlike in other graphic novels, shown to be a deeply flawed man.
It’s worth noting that Batman: Year One has influenced The Caped Crusader on film perhaps more than any other Batman tale. The story and aesthetic of 2005’s Batman Begins richly pulls from Batman: Year One. Additionally, in 2011 DC created a direct-to-video animated film titled Batman: Year One.
Fun fact — if you listen closely, you can detect a familiar voice in the guise of Jim Gordon: Breaking Bad‘s Brian Cranston.
Wade Wilson, AKA Deadpool, celebrates his birthday in a few days! Deadpool is the most famous mercenary in comics thanks to a smashing success at the box office a year ago. The February film now sits atop the mantle of, ‘Highest Grossing Rated R Film of all Time.’
In comics, Deadpool made his Marvel debut in New Mutants #98 (1991) by Rob Liefeld and Fabian Nicieza. Originally, he was a serious X-Men villain — much more like DC’s Deathstroke than the Deadpool we all know. This is no mere coincidence, as the creative team has admitted that he’s a Deathstroke remodel. Wade Wilson has all of the same abilities, arsenal and a similar aesthetic to Slade Wilson, the Deathstroke.
Where Deadpool departs from Deathstroke is his personality. In his 1993 miniseries, Deadpool started to break the fourth wall and inject a torrential amount of humor into the Marvel universe. Be warned, new readers: if you’re easily offended, reading Deadpool is not a great place to start. Gratuitous violence and locker room humor lie ahead.
The One We’d Like to Forget
At the risk of beating an already pulverized horse… let’s not forget Deadpool’s representation in 2009’s X Men Origins: Wolverine. In the much-maligned film, Deadpool has the combined abilities of Wolverine, Nightcrawler, Cyclops and Quicksilver; he’s never had the abilities of the latter three. Additionally, he never dons his red-and-black outfit and finds his mouth sewn shut during his infamous fight scene with Wolverine. His nickname is The Merc with the Mouth! This is like having a Daredevil that can see, or a Batman with two living parents.
Laura Kinney, better known as X-23 or All-New Wolverine, is clone-daughter of ‘the best there is at what he does’: Canada’s angriest mutant, Wolverine. Craig Yost conjured her into the Marvel universe in 2004, and she’s been clawing (snikt!) her way into fans hearts ever since. Cloned from a damaged copy of Wolverine’s genome by a shadowy organization known only as The Facility, Laura has almost all of her sorta-old-man’s abilities. She’s a clawing, shooting, regenerating machine of an X-Men.
Unlike Wolverine, whose claws protract from between his knuckles, X-23 sports adamantium claws from her knuckles and feet. She would not be a fun opponent in the octagon. X-23 will make her silver screen debut in March’s Logan, and will be portrayed as an adolescent.
The Deadpool variant cover for 2015’s All New Wolverine #4 is one of the best of that year. It’s a tip-of-the-hat to a famous panel in 1965’s World’s Finest #153 by DC Comics, where Batman slaps Robin across the face while they are arguing about Superman. In Tom Raney’s All New Wolverine #4 variant cover, Laura is less than pleased with Deadpool inquiring about the deceased Logan.