Weekend Top Ten #109

Top Ten Batman Allies

As part of a poll on Comics Should Be Good in honour of Batman’s 75th anniversary, they’re asking people to vote for the top ten friends and foes of ol’ Pointy-Ears.  I’m voting in the poll, but also decided - as it’s Top Tens n’all - to post my favourites here too.  So, to round out the one-hundred-and-tens, there will be two lists, one of the Goodies and one of the Baddies.  Enjoy!

  1. Dick Grayson (Robin/Nightwing/Batman II)
  2. Alfred Pennyworth
  3. Jim Gordon
  4. Clark Kent (Superman)
  5. Stephanie Brown (Spoiler/Robin/Batgirl)
  6. Barbara Gordon (Batgirl/Oracle)
  7. Tim Drake (Robin/Red Robin)
  8. Damian Wayne (Robin)
  9. Selina Kyle (Catwoman)
  10. Leslie Thompkins

By the way, if you read this and want to vote, you’d better hurry up and do so, as the poll closes today!


Cully Hamner design and style guides for Renee Montoya/The Question.

The Renee Montoya Question is one of the biggest casualties of the New 52 as far as I’m concerned.


Here’s An Idea I Had About Batman 

So as you may already be aware, I like Batman a lot, which means I think about Batman all the time, and ever since I started writing comics, I’ve been thinking about what I would do if I could do a Batman story. That’s pretty common, right? I mean, surely everyone has a Batman pitch in their back pocket just in case it ever comes up. One of mine, the one that I think could actually work really well, was The Batman of the 30th Century.

The basic idea comes from two things: One, that the Legion of Superheroes is founded as a Superman spinoff, which means there’s a lot of Superman legacy stuff that shows up over the years, and there’s a lot of Flash stuff that shows up from XS, Impulse and the Tornado Twins, but there’s nothing in the Legion’s future that indicates a legacy for Batman. (There’s also nothing involving the Wonder Woman legacy, but, you know, that’s a discussion for another time.) And yet, if you skip ahead to the 853rd Century of DC One Million, the Batman legacy is definitely alive and well.

Second, and the reason it’s so weird that there’s no Batman tie-in for the Legion, is that there actually was a “Batman of the 30th Century.” His name’s Brane Taylor, and he appears in a one-shot story in 1954. It’s not all that obscure among people who read a lot of comics, and with creators’ love of tying things together, it seems mystifying to me that there was never a reintroduction of that character as part of the Legion’s future. Maybe it was the name? “Brane” is, to be honest, kind of awful. But it’s all there, and looking at it as a fan, it seemed natural that you could tie it together. The only thing that you’d really need would be to tweak Brane so that he’d fit in with the teenagers of the Legion, and when I saw (and bought the original art for) Cliff Chiang’s Gatchaman-inspired “Science Ninja Hero Batman,” it all seemed to fall into place. I really wanted it to have a strange feeling of the retrofuturism of the original Legion and its Silver Age roots along with Batman’s darker, more modern aesthetic (there’s a lot of the Morrison run in this, for instance).

So I thought about this for years, and I ended up mentioning it to J. Gonzo, the artist of La Mano Del Destino, and he really loved it and wanted to draw it, and came up with a few ideas his own along the way — Robin and Bat-Mite were his ideas, and I love ‘em. We ended up making a full pitch document with character designs and summaries that I think is really cool, but at the same time, I know that there’s a roughly zero percent chance that it will ever actually happen. So we showed it around to a few people, and now I’m sharing it with you. Enjoy!

I’d buy the hell out of this.

Share a Story 2014

I’ve not blogged much about Share a Story so far this year, other than pushing the launch and the fresh broadcast of last year’s Winners’ Journey programme.  That’s probably because my role really kicks into high gear once the competition closes and all the entries are received, and also because I’ve been crazy-busy the past couple of weeks.

However, I really am remiss in not pointing you in the direction of the revamped Share a Story website!

It will feature new videos popping up regularly during the competition’s run (which is about another three weeks).  You’ll be able to see all the winning films from last year, as well as interviews with the winning kids themselves, including some words of friendly advice.  There should be some “How-To Guides” offering tips and tricks too.

There’s also a handy lesson plan for teachers that want to use Share a Story as a teaching aid!

This is something I hope teachers do find useful, as I’ve had lots of feedback telling me that Share a Story really is a good tool to help get kids interested in reading and writing - especially the notoriously prickly young boys.  We did something similar last year, but this is on a bigger scale and hopefully even more useful.

So if you’re a young writer or artist, or there’s one somewhere in your life, what are you waiting for?  Write and draw a story for CITV, and you could see it brought to life by award-winning animators and end up on the telly.  Plus there are lots more exciting things planned for this Share a Story year, with some cool surprises lined up for the winners!


Above: Annabelle and Malachi, winners in 2013, with CITV editor Andrew Connor, see how an episode of an animated programme is put together.

Weekend Top Ten #108

Top Ten Moments from the Marvel Cinematic Universe

  1. That gravestone (Captain America: The Winter Soldier, 2014)
  2. "The Star-Spangled Man" (Captain America: The First Avenger, 2011)
  3. Thor hanging his hammer (Thor: The Dark World, 2013)
  4. The Mandarin revealed (Iron Man 3, 2013)
  5. "I’m always angry" (The Avengers, 2012)
  6. "I’m not that kind of doctor" (Iron Man 3, 2013)
  7. Hulk punching Thor (The Avengers, 2012)
  8. "You think you’re the only superhero in the world?" (Iron Man, 2008)
  9. Loki insulting Black Widow (The Avengers, 2012)
  10. Rhodey’s password (Iron Man 3, 2013)
Weekend Top Ten #107

Top Ten Favourite Characters in Ben & Holly’s Little Kingdom

  1. Gaston the Ladybird: loyal, dependable, and fluent in Ant-ish. Clearly the most identifiable character on the show.
  2. Nanny Plum: hilariously dismissive of almost everything, combined with a take-no-prisoners attitude and a wicked way with Magic Jelly.  Plus she spoke to me on Twitter.
  3. Wise Old Elf: he’s wise, he’s old, and he’s an elf.  And, just like Grandpa Pig, I can do his voice.
  4. Mr Elf: partly it’s the voice, partly it’s his hard-working, always-optimistic character, but mainly it’s for the “Mutiny on the Bunty” gag.
  5. Redbeard the Elf Pirate: he’s an ELF PIRATE, aren’t you paying attention?
  6. Strawberry: because of Strawberry Ice Queen and “she bashed it on a rock!”
  7. King Thistle: the Daddy Pig of Ben & Holly, King Thistle is a mega-dad.
  8. Big Bad Barry: he’s got at least nine boats and a pirate’s treasure inside him, and a fairly ropey sense of humour.
  9. Ben: good at pretty much everything, and - like Luke Skywalker - the only character who’s pretty much always right.
  10. Holly: the cheeky, sassy Leia to Ben’s Luke, except without any awkward sister-kissing stuff.
Clearing up Some Misconceptions About Wonder Woman


One of my favorite guest posters, Tim Hanley, has taken his love of comics to a new level. This week his book about Wonder Woman becomes available. I’ve read a copy and if you like Wonder Woman or woman in comics, you need to read this book. Buy it here. To celebrate the release, Tim is guest posting again and this time he takes on some misconceptions about Wonder Woman and her world.


Tim’s thoughts follow.

Read More

Fascinating and interesting examination of Wonder Woman’s history and what makes up her character.

Weekend Top Ten #106

Top Ten Films I Own But Have Never Seen

A few years ago I came the conclusion that I don’t buy films to watch, I collect DVDs (and Blu-rays, natch).  As a consequence, I’ve got quite a collection of discs that have never seen the inside of a player (steady…).

This list is far from exhaustive, and I’ve not even thought about the films that I’ve seen before, but not actually watched on DVD yet (f’rinstance, I think I’ve only watched one of the Alien discs in my massive nine-disc box set).

  1. Spartacus (1960)
  2. The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)
  3. The Hidden Fortress (1958)
  4. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)
  5. The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976)
  6. Howl’s Moving Castle (2004)
  7. La Haine (1995)
  8. The Fisher King (1991)
  9. Good Bye Lenin! (2003)
  10. The Raid (2011)
I think we can all agree on two things…
  1. The final Wolverine film Hugh Jackman makes should be an adaptation of Old Man Logan
  2. If they ever remake Rocky Horror Picture Show, Hugh Jackman would be perfect casting as Frank N Furter
Fantasy Casting!

So my last two Top Tens have been fantasy casting suggestions for movies that I have no involvement in and, for the most part, don’t even exist.

It’s been fun.

As a card-carrying geek, I often indulge in fantasy casting sessions.  I’ve thought before of writing these up and putting them on Tumblr, but the Thought Train quickly derails into Spurious Valley.  It all gets a little bit too “and then and then and then” for my liking.  A diverting and entertaining mental exercise, surely, but deprived of context, rather redundant.

Plus, who cares what I think?

All the same, I’ve channelled this particular brand of Power Cosmic into thinking of some cool, offbeat, and under-mentioned actors who I’d love to see don the metaphorical spandex and become a Movie Super Hero.  I’ve tried to avoid the obvious, and largely picked actors that I just really like.  Some of these suggestions are for films announced or rumoured, and some are pure wish fulfilment.  Although, who doesn’t want to see Tom Hardy play Death’s Head?

One or two of the suggestions have greater meaning.  Robin Williams, for instance, has apparently wanted to play The Riddler since before Jim Carrey, and now that Batman is a gentleman of slightly more advanced years, Williams would be great as an ageing, washed-up criminal who just can’t keep up with these youngsters anymore.  In fact, I think he’d make the perfect fit for Ben Affleck’s first solo Batman movie.  Emily Blunt as Captain Marvel was an attempt to think outside of the box marked “Katee Sackhoff” - sure, she’d be great, but she’s the only name anyone suggests, and Blunt would make a terrific superhero (she’d probably have been a good Wonder Woman, in fact).

So anyway, these were my confused thoughts behind the last two weeks’ Top Tens.  Enjoy, yes?