Thursday, July 4, 2013

Digital Comic Review: Batman ’66 #1


DC launched its new DC2 line of digital comics this week with the first issue of Batman ’66, an all-ages Batman comic based on the 1960s TV series. That show was known for its high camp, and the comic is actually a bit subdued, but it does feature one of the best supervillains, The Riddler. Writer Jeff Parker and artist Jonathan Case eschew the dark side of Batman in this all-ages comic and present a cheery, over-the-top little story with no brooding or mutilations.

The story is simple: Commissioner Gordon is being awarded a valuable golden statuette in recognition of his department’s good work, and in the middle of the ceremony, The Riddler zooms through in an advertising plane with a riddle on the banner, steals the statuette, and releases laughing-gas bombs that slow everyone down so his confederates can steal their wallets and jewels. Batman gives chase, hooking his batarang on the tail of the plane, and a struggle ensues. I won’t give away the ending, but suffice it to say, the way is paved for the next issue.

The DC2 comics take advantage of a number of digital techniques, such as having a new word balloon or a massive sound effect appear when the reader swipes the page. Thus, while 95 “pages” for 99 cents seems like a good deal, many of those pages are the same with one added element. DC isn’t breaking new ground here; Mark Waid has been using similar techniques on his Thrillbent digital comics site for a while now, and he and Stuart Immonen put them to good use in Marvel’s Avengers Vs. X-Men Infinite comics as well.

The story is a bit thin, with a prolonged action scene (Batman and the plane) taking up a lot of the screens, but it’s a fun read nonetheless. That’s largely due to Case’s Warholesque art, which uses Ben Day dots, neon colors, and massive sound effects in a mix that perfectly evokes the era and the show. The inking is done in a heavy line that looks like it was put down with a brush, and then doubled with a line of brilliant blue that electrifies and energizes the scene.

DC does plan to produce print editions of these comics, so the story can’t be carried by digital tricks alone. And in fact, that’s not what’s happening here. While it’s cool to see the word balloons drop in one at a time (not as cool as it was two years ago, admittedly), it’s easy to see that the print version will simply show all the balloons at once on a single page, and that will be fine. In other words, it’s hard to see what digital is adding to this particular comic. Still, you could do a lot worse for 99 cents, and it’s always fun to see The Riddler back in action again.

Digital Comic Review: Batman ’66 #1 is a post from: E-Reader News

American Pi Hackspace Tour, part the second

Rob Bishop, our developer-evangelist, spent some of last summer visiting US hackspaces, giving Raspberry Pi talks and demonstrations. Because there was only a short time we could spare him for, there were large parts of the country that he wasn’t able to visit – and you let us know you weren’t happy about that.

So this summer, Rob is going to be visiting the parts of the USA that you shouted most loudly from: namely the Midwest and the Pacific Northwest. He’s put together a preliminary map, showing a proposed route (not yet set in stone) and the locations of hackspaces across the country. Click this image to visit the interactive map. The green line is Rob’s route, and green pins are proposed stops: blue blobs are hackspaces.

Click the map to visit a larger version

Rob will be in-country from around 5th-25th August; we’ll confirm dates later when we’ve drilled the route down a bit more. If you live somewhere on or close to this proposed route, and you’d like a visit at your hackspace or makespace, please leave a comment and we’ll see what we can do.

Rob will not be able to visit grade schools, but he may decide to fit in some university visits. Once he’s got feedback from you in the comments, he’ll confirm dates with the individual venues.

Like last year’s Raspberry Roadtrip, these events will consist of a talk, Q&A, live demos and (hopefully) some kind of competition for best Raspberry Pi hack.

And if you’re somewhere we haven’t covered yet, don’t despair: Eben and I are also planning a smaller hackspace tour, after last year’s romp through NYC, DC, the Carolinas, Georgia and Florida. It’ll take in some more of the southern states and send us up through Texas in September, after Linuxcon in New Orleans (where Eben is keynoting). We’ll have more details nearer the time.