‘Batman’ flashback: ‘The Killing Joke’ (1988)

(Note to readers: This is part of a series where I look back at various works of "Batman" lore from the perspective of a heretofore casual "Batman" fan who enjoys the current TV series, "Gotham.")

Completing the holy trinity of Bat-comics, after "The Dark Knight Returns" and "Batman: Year One," comes "The Killing Joke" (1988). While Frank Miller wrote the first two, another comics legend, Alan Moore, penned this one. I know him best from "V for Vendetta," which came out concurrently with "The Killing Joke" (and which was beautifully adapted into a movie in 2006) and five odd-but-fascinating "Star Wars: Devilworlds" tales.

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‘Batman’ flashback: ‘Batman: Year One’ (1987)

(Note to readers: This is part of a series where I look back at various works of "Batman" lore from the perspective of a heretofore casual "Batman" fan who enjoys the current TV series, "Gotham.")

Just as "The Dark Knight Returns" is considered the definitive late-career Batman story, "Batman: Year One" (1987) is hailed as the definitive early career Batman story. Remarkably, they were both written by Frank Miller, and within a year's time. (And they're both SET in the mid-Eighties, which requires a reader to understand the comic-book principles of multiverses and floating timelines.) But while "Returns" trod all-new ground, "Year One" trod ground that was already covered: Batman's origin story, as told in "Detective Comics" No. 33 (1939) and "Batman" No. 27 (1948).

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‘Batman’ flashback: ‘The Dark Knight Returns’ (1986)

(Note to readers: This is part of a series where I will look back at various works of "Batman" lore from the perspective of a casual "Batman" fan who enjoys the current TV series, "Gotham.")

Something I should understand as I embark in my "Batman" journey is that I can't be attached to continuity if I'm going to enjoy it. This is hard for me as a "Star Wars" Expanded Universe fan. "The Dark Knight Returns" (1986) is set in the year of its publication (elements such as Reagan being president and a cold war with Russia attest to this); 10 years after Batman's retirement is sparked by the death of the second Robin, Jason Todd; when Bruce is 55 years old; and when Commissioner Gordon is about to retire. But writer Frank Miller – whose work I know from the deliciously stylish "Sin City" movies, which are live-action adaptations of his comics – wasn't following the comic continuity of the time: Batman hadn't been gone from the drugstore racks for a decade when he wrote this; he didn't retire in 1976. Nor was Jason Todd dead, although the mainstream "Batman" comics did kill him off later.

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One-season wonders: ‘Birds of Prey’ (2002-03)

On somewhat of a "Batman" kick while enjoying the latest strong season of "Gotham," I decided to explore some other corners of the Bat-verse. While "The Killing Joke" or the Nolan films or "Batman: The Animated Series" might've been wise choices, I'm apparently a glutton for punishment, because I selected "Birds of Prey" (2002-03, WB; now streaming on CW Seed) as my window into past lore. While the 13-episode series is fodder for plenty of talking points and trivia – for example, it's the only live action Bat-verse TV series other than the 1960s "Batman" and "Gotham" – it's not particularly enjoyable to watch.

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First episode impressions: ‘Gotham’ Season 3

The "Gotham" Season 3 (8 p.m. Mondays on Fox) premiere showed again why it's one of the best shows on TV – packing in lots of story and stylized comic-book intrigue while staying fairly faithful to the lore. As the "Mad City" arc begins, it's a good time to look up the "Batman" comic histories of some of the new characters while also checking in with an old favorite who is about to undergo a major change.

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Checking in on ‘Gotham’s’ rogues gallery as Season 2 winds down

Part of the fun of watching "Batman: The Animated Series" after school in the '90s was waiting for the title card to come up, as it usually revealed the featured villain in the episode. Sometimes as an episode wrapped up and Batman delivered a bad guy to Arkham Asylum, we'd get glimpses of many members of the rogues gallery in their cells, and sometimes multiple villains would star in the same episode.

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The golden age of TV prequels: ‘Bates Motel,’ ‘Gotham’ and ‘Fear the Walking Dead’

At first blush, prequels should be a boring form of storytelling, because we already know the end point. Of course, there are many examples that prove out-of-sequence storytelling can work – the "Star Wars" prequels and "Smallville" have plenty of fans, for example. But three current series – A&E's "Bates Motel," Fox's "Gotham" and AMC's "Fear the Walking Dead" -- have turned the prequel into an art form, garnering extra drama from the fact that the audience knows where the story is going.

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Batman and Superman could’ve avoided fighting if they had just talked it out

"Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice," the second entry in the DC Universe film saga that started with 2013's "Man of Steel," is more engaging than its rather boring predecessor, due largely to the novelty factor of seeing these two icons – plus Wonder Woman – in the same movie. As with "Man of Steel" -- like this film, directed by Zack Snyder -- there's a jarring disconnect between the computer-generated fight scenes and scenes of characters talking to each other, and it feels like the former category dominates the film. (Spoilers follow.)

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Why is Katniss Everdeen so reluctant to be a hero? (And why ‘Gotham' features the rarest of heroes)

When faced with a totalitarian government, institutionalized corruption or a plain ol' supervillain, pop culture's superheroes and revolutionaries are almost always reluctant, and it's getting to be a rather predictable trope, even within the context of otherwise enjoyable franchises. I got to thinking about this odd trend when watching "The Hunger Games" movies on Showtime.

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First episode impressions: ‘Gotham’ Season 2

A couple of milestones: My 1,000th blog post and the start of the fall TV season. This season got started with a show that's not necessarily the best on TV, but is quickly becoming one of my favorites: "Gotham" (8 p.m. Eastern Mondays on Fox).

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