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Batman revealed; Charlie Chaplin: Nazi hunter (Journey Into Comics)

October 2, 2018

Batman revealed; Charlie Chaplin: Nazi hunter (Journey Into Comics)

Another month, another comic controversy. The comic world is starting to feel like the White House.

This month the kerfuffle is about Batman, more precisely, a part of Batman we never saw before -- his penis.

Someone at DC Comics decided to put the Mature Readers tag on the new Batman series “Batman Damned,” written by former Northeast Ohioan Brian Azzarello with art by Lee Bermejo by including the Dark Knight’s squire in a couple of panels.

There is no reason for it in the plot. The story would have been just as good without it, but there’s his Bat-junk in all its glory.

Presumably DC did it to get a buzz going about the book, which it certainly succeeded in doing, but for the wrong reasons. “Damned” is the first comic in DC’s adult readers line, Black Label, and features the story of a beaten and broken Batman investigating The Joker’s alleged murder. The series takes place outside the regular Batman continuity, which gives Azzarello literary license to do anything he pleases in his own, private Bat world.

The buzz ranged from approval to outrage and DC got the point. Within days DC backpedaled and shaded the offending member out of the digital comics versions. While it can be found in the first printing of “Damned” at comic stores, it will be removed from future printings.

The book itself is fascinating and really didn’t need the controversy. I shudder to think what DC has planned for the upcoming launch of Black Label books featuring Wonder Woman and Superman.

From Canton to Berlin -- Charlie Chaplin, Nazi hunter!

A pair of Canton guys have already more than reached their goal on Kickstarter for a fascinating, and funny, story about the time Adolph Hitler met Charlie Chaplin.

Never heard of it? Well, history doesn’t record everything.

Writers Sean McArdle and Jon Judy from Canton teamed up with talented Philippines artist Dexter Wee to create a five-issue behind-the-scenes story that inspired Chaplin’s anti-Hitler film, “The Great Dictator.”

“Charlie Chaplin – comic, filmmaker, and raconteur – didn’t become the world’s biggest star by courting controversy, but when he comes face-to-face with the horrors of Hitler, he feels compelled to get off the sidelines and get involved,” the Kickstarter tagline reads. “And then Charlie is approached by FDR himself with a special assignment. His mission, if he chooses to accept it: create a propaganda film to drum up public support for joining the war in Europe.”

Chaplin is assisted by undercover agent Hedy Lamarr, her handler Errol Flynn, and British patriot Alfred Hitchcock as he “faces down American fascists, Nazi spies, and his own massive self-doubt to complete his masterpiece.”

The comic team is searching for a publisher, but the sure way to get a copy of the collected trade paperback of the work is to sign up on kickstarter. While you’re there, check out the extras and goodies available. The project ends Oct. 12.

In the interest of full disclosure, I’ve worked with McArdle, Judy and Wee on my own comic projects over the years.

Hot on the stands

Justice League: 100 Greatest Moments, (Chartwell Books, about $20) Talk about a bargain, former DC Comics editor Bob Greenberger has put together a smashing 312-page coffee table book featuring the biggest moments of the Justice League. For collectors, it’s a time capsule of the league’s great adventures with reprinted pages and descriptions of major events like the Justice Society crossovers, deaths of characters and more.

The art alone is worth the price of the book, not to mention the hours of reading pleasure.

The Wrong Earth (Ahoy Comics, $3.99) Welcome Ahoy Comics to the already crowded world of comics. The first book from the new company, which features work from some of the top names in the industry, is a delightful series that takes the concept of multiple Earths and mixes them up. Simply, the Batman-like character of a simpler “Silver Age” type world swaps places with the one from a grim and gritty “Dark Knight” world.

This could go wrong in a hundred ways, but veteran writer Tom Peyer and extraordinary artist Jamal Igle make sure it done perfectly. One issue and I am already hooked.

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