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GamelogoBy Australian Ninja

Remnants & Relics. Buttonhole *Special* Feature

Welcome dear reader to Remnants & Relics, the first in an ongoing series of features looking back at various aspects of yesterday's video games. This series is one that I'd hoped to kick off many months ago, but I just haven't had the time to do it justice, until now. So consider this your opportunity to put on your best pair or rose-tinted glasses, open up a luke-warm can of clichés and prepare to hop aboard the way-back-machine.... It came from beyond two dimensions! -A Look Back at Isometric Gaming-

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ToonlogoBy Australian Ninja

ACMI Day Tripper

Welcome Buttonhole readers to another feature that is so choc-full of goodness that I've divided it into several sections. The top half is about the Indy video games showcased at ACMI. The bottom half is about the Pixar exhibit. It's ridiculously long and all terribly interesting to read, so you may as well read it in two halves, or just the parts that interest you. After reading about the ACMI exhibits on their website and getting more than a little excited, I decided to make the perilous trek to inner Melbourne. With time on my side and money stuffed in my pocket I ventured forth to the train station. Once on board I passed the time by staring out the window, reading a volume of Dark Horse's Concrete and snacking on tasty fruit. Arriving at Flinders St, I wandered around until inevitably finding my way out of the rat-maze like station.

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ToonlogoBy Australian Ninja

Classic Comic-book Review. Kraven's Last Hunt

"Here lies Spider-Man - Slain by the Hunter" So reads the grave of one of histories greatest superheros. "But he's not dead, is he? What happened to everyone's favourite web-slinger? Spidey seems to be alive and well now, what with his three movie deal and a string of monthly Marvel comic-book titles to his name, so why was he buried six feet under? The year is 1987. The company is Marvel. The character is Sergei Kravinov also known as 'Kraven the Hunter.' Back in the 60's Stan and Steve (Lee and Ditko, respectively) churned out a heap of cool villains for the title "Amazing Spider-Man." Doctor Octopus, The Cham

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Batman Dark Knight Returns Cover "Must own" comics part 3: Batman the Dark Knight Returns

Frank Miller's legendary Bat book joins the group

Publisher: DC Comics

Tue, 11 January 2005

Sammy by: Hillelman

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I get a smile on my face just thinking about this classic graphic novel by Frank Miller. First published in four volumes in 1986, The Dark Knight Returns is everything a Batman comic book should be. Miller at his very best is almost unbeatable and Dark Knight is a perfect example of that. When comic book fans think of the Batman character, this is the book most likely to spring to mind first and rightfully so. The characterisation, dialogue and structure are all executed immaculately. Even Frank himself can’t seem to repeat such lofty standards (with the possible exception of his work on Batman: Year One).

The story is set some time in the future. Bruce Wayne is getting old (well, old for a superhero at least) and has, as of ten years ago, retired from fighting crime as the Batman. A suppressing heat wave has engulfed Gotham City and unlawful, destructive behaviour is on the rise. A gang known as the Mutants are terrorising the citizens and the state of the place in general is on the decline. Bruce is becoming increasingly frustrated and miserable and has taken to drinking quite a bit. Still haunted by the murder of his parents and his promise to make Gotham a safer and better place, Bruce becomes unable to remain idle any longer. He decides to dust off the cape and return to being who he truly is; Batman, the Dark Knight.

Miller also illustrated the book. It was inked by Klaus Janson and painted by Lyn Varley. The art is awesome in the way it matches the story so perfectly. Using chunky, larger than life characters in a gritty, heavily shadowed world -- it manages to look both realistic and slightly abstract at the same time. Several of the pages and panels feature iconic images that have become almost synonymous with comics, Batman in particular.

Many other well known characters are included in the story such as: Two-Face/Harvey Dent, the Joker, James Gordon and Alfred. We are also introduced to a brand new (female) Robin. Miller’s take on them all is spot on. Harvey is shown as a man damaged far more mentally than he ever was physically. The Joker is at his evil best here; tormenting Batman to his breaking point. His demise comes in a most shocking and memorable fashion. Gordon and Alfred are given all the importance they truly deserve as part of the Bat-universe. New Robin Carrie Kelley is very well constructed and provides the necessary contrast (both visually and otherwise) to the Batman’s sombre personality.

The only character who gets a bit mistreated is Clark Kent/Superman. Frank presents Superman as a guy who works for the US government and more or less just does as he is told. Although this seems a little bit harsh, it does allow the differences between Bruce and Clark to appear even more pronounced and results in the legendary fight between Batman and Superman towards the end of the story. Even if the rest of the book wasn’t so great it would be worth buying for that battle alone. Still, some Superman fans have expressed disappointment over the years at how he is depicted in the Dark Knight Returns and I can see their point.

Batman is a fascinating character and never has that been more evident than in this story. As an aging crime fighter everything he does takes him far more effort than it did before. You can almost feel his exhaustion and perhaps even his confusion. You get the sense that, at times, he wonders whether he is doing the right thing or if he is even making any difference at all. While most of us have never dressed up in costumes and fought villains (I hear the Gimmick does it all the time), those all too human thoughts and feelings are something most of us can relate to. As a result of his frustration and anger he also seems more ruthless and brutal than usual, while still struggling to keep himself together and not take things too far.

It would appear that Frank Miller doesn’t have all that much faith in humanity, if the Dark Knight Returns is any indication. The people in this story need to be led kicking and screaming into the right path. That could be interpreted as cynical, but it serves the plot well and, unfortunately, it seems to me that there’s an element of truth to it too.

Whatever way you look at it, The Dark Knight Returns is a superb work. Miller did a follow up in recent years with a sequel titled The Dark Knight Strikes Again. It received a less than rapturous reception, with bad reviews from disappointed fans popping all over the place. But that’s not what this article is about and in no way does it ruin the greatness of DKR. If you are thinking of getting into Batman comics, or even comics in general, I strongly suggest you start with this graphic novel. A special 10th anniversary edition is also available.

by: Hillelman

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More articles by Hillelman

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More Toons

Q&A with Handy
Tales from Earthsea. Anime DVD Review
Armageddon Expo '07 Report
Le Chevalier D'Eon V1. Anime DVD Review
Manifest '07 Report

Which of these animated shows is the funniest?
The Simpsons
South Park
Family Guy
King of the Hill
Looney Tunes (Bugs Bunny etc.)
The Flintstones

ToonlogoBy Borgieman

Manifest '07 Report

Ninja's note: Once again, it's time for another Buttonhole report on the Melbourne Anime Festival, otherwise known as Manifest 2007. If you missed Ichibod's feature on a previous Manifest, check it out here. This Manifest coverage comes to you courtesy of forum regular and newest Buttonhole contributor Borgieman, a cool guy who knows his Anime and has been known to play a video game or two. So read on true believers! A Day at Manifest 2007

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ToonlogoBy Australian Ninja

Only Yesterday. Anime Review

The problem with having favourite films is that every time I watch another Studio Ghibli film it becomes my new favourite. It kind of renders the word 'favourite' meaningless when every Studio Ghibli film takes my breath away. Still, I can't complain about being thoroughly entertained by this whimsical and insightful film, "Only Yesterday". This gem was directed by Isao Takahata, well known for his anime film Grave of the Fireflies. Although Only Yesterday is a light hearted film that ambles along at a leisurely pace, it still manages to explore themes such as love, work, family relationship struggles, following your dreams and country versus city living. In the film, the main character Taeko decides to take a working vacation in the country, getting away from her office bound job and unexpectedly starts t

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ToonlogoBy Jason

Speed Grapher V1. Anime Review

Well, "I don't like it" was my initial feeling when viewing this Anime for the first time. Subsequent viewings haven't changed my views a great deal. Nothing really stands out as being absolute shit but it seems that this series tries too hard. It's almost like they were more interested in creating something 'edgy' and confronting but sadly forgot to include an even remotely palatable story. The hero of this particular piece is a bloke called Tatsumi Saiga. Tatsumi is a photographer and a veteran war journalist for whom taking photos has become somewhat of a fetish. Although he seems to have become jaded - nothing is worth wasting his film on - that is, at least until he stumbles across an exclusive club for the mega rich

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