Edge of That Abyss: Looking Back at Batman: Mask of the Phantasm


The fact that Batman: Mask of the Phantasm turns 25 this month blows my mind. It feels like such a massive part of my childhood. Because I was born in 1993, this was obviously not a theatrical watch for me. I owned a beatdown clamshell copy that I spent a lot of time watching and re-watching with our dusty ole’ VHS. It was that and Batman & Mr. Freeze: Subzero that gave me Batman fever.

But I always preferred Mask of the Phantasm. This was the best Batman movie of the time, and it wouldn’t be matched until Christopher Nolan came along to change everything.

But why? For starters, it was a feature length sequel to the always incredible Batman: The Animated Series. Same voice cast, same writers, same wonderful world. It’s noir chic and German expressionistic influences made the show’s look iconic.

The Animated Series had some stellar episodes. I don’t need to tell you that.  But Mask is special. By giving us a big screen love story for Batman, we get to see the inner thoughts of Bruce Wayne. His fears. His regrets. Batman/Bruce is famously mopey. Thankfully, Mask gave us a reason for the moping other than, “My parents are dead”. The Phantasm is a formidable villain with an incredible design. Part Grim Reaper, part Dickensesque apparition. Over 76 minutes, we are given a heck of a Batman story. We’re shown his origins, his first doomed love, and a legendary battle with the Joker in a decrepit World’s Fair.

Batman Mask 1

It’s honestly all very impressive. This was our first big screen Batman that had dimension. Couple that with sterling animation and a cast that still remains iconic to this day, you get a super hero classic. This is a Batman film for the ages.


Book Review: ‘Batman: The Doom That Came to Gotham’


Written by Mike Mignola and Richard Pace

Art by Troy Nixey

It’s Gotham City, 1928. Twenty years have passed since a madman slew the parents of young Bruce Wayne, heir to one of the city’s oldest fortunes. Twenty years since he fled the carnage of Gotham.
But now Bruce Wayne has returned—and hell has followed. A terrible thing from beyond space and time has awakened. The Lurker on the Threshold has called its faithful servants—immortal sorcerers, reptile men, beings of eldritch cold and fungal horror—to feed our world into its gaping maw.
If the Batman hopes to end the horror, how terrible must Bruce Wayne become?


Plot summary taken from Amazon product description. Slight spoilers below…

This was seriously fantastic. This graphic novel is like a mix of everything I love: a Mignola style, Batman and Lovecraftian horror.

It helps that the comic is set in the late 1920’s. This Batman is out-matched for most of these issues, his tech wholly un-prepared to battle the unwholly creations summoned by a very eldritch Ra’s Al Ghul to do what Great Old Ones from beyond are want to do.

Part of the fun of Batman graphic novels like this one is seeing how the creators twist around familar tropes and and villains of The Dark Knight. This one has a portal opening Two Face, an insidious Poison Ivy and a fun use of the Oracle.

These three issues pack in a lot of incredible detail and horrifying art. This is a must read for any Lovecraft or Batman fan.

My 5 Favorite Batman Villains

I am a huge Batman fan. No. Seriously. I own way more Batman shirts than any adult man has any right to. I finished up a recent play through of Rocksteady’s Arkham video game trilogy and I’m currently loving everything Batman. So, because it’s fun and because I want to do it, I’m sharing with you my five favorite Batman villains (ranked!). Ready? Let’s go!

5. Ra’s al Ghul

ra's ah gul

“I deem it my mission to purify this planet, to restore it to its former beauty… a mission I will brook no interference in.”

The Demon’s Head. The head of a cabal organization called the League of Assassins. He has possession of a device called The Lazurus Pit that makes him immortal. Most villains only want to see Batman dead. Ra’s al Ghul is different because he respects The Dark Knight and sees him as a worthy successor. It’s a fascinating relationship that leads to some truly awesome battles.

4. Bane


“I shall simply BREAK YOU.”

He is the man that broke the Bat. As cunning as he is powerful, he is well trained and very brutal. A childhood spent in a South American prison will do that to you. He’s as driven and determined as Batman but with none of the ethical hang-ups. Not many enemies can match The Caped Crusader punch for punch. Bane does that and more.

3. The Court of Owls


“Oh, don’t worry, my dear. We have so many MORE of them.”

Batman is Gotham. The Court of Owls are awesome because they question that very notion. They are well funded and have an immortal army at their disposal. Not only that, but those masks are CREEPY. Their systematic attack on the Wayne family over the decades makes them a unique enemy for Batman to face.

2. The Scarecrow


“Shhh… it’s okay to be afraid.”

Fear. It’s Batman’s ultimate weapon and Doctor Jonathan Crane’s obsession. Often portrayed as cunning and cold, his weapon of choice challenges Batman in a way most of his rogue’s gallery cannot. I love Scarecrow because he’s a intellectual opponent for Batman in a very real way. Many of Batman’s foes serve as physical manifestations of his attributes. Fear toxin. It just sounds cool.

1. The Joker


“This time. No more games. No more jokes. I’m just here to close up shop.”

Everyone loves to hate The Joker. He’s completely insane but at the same time COMPLETELY aware of every action. His every action is part of something bigger. He’s often one step ahead of Batman, which is pretty hard to do. He’s been the star of dozens of some of the greatest Batman storylines (including my personnel favorite, ‘Endgame’). A crazed Ying to Batman’s logical Yang in every way. When The Joker shows up, you never know what you’re going to get. He has no weakness. And that’s why he’s my favorite Batman villain.

Those are my top 5! What do you think? Do you love these nasty bunch of bad guys? Sound off in the comments below!