Batman: The Adventures Continue

The Goggler Pull List #22: Batman: The Adventures Continue and Blue Flame

Dept. of Comic Book Compulsions

On this week’s edition of The Goggler Pull List, we review and recommend Alan Burnett and Paul Dini’s Batman: The Adventures Continue and Christopher Cantwell’s Blue Flame.

Let’s go.

Batman: The Adventures Continue (Alan Burnett, Paul Dini, and Ty Templeton)

BaThe Adventures Continue

There have been many Batmans. Every writer who has written him, every artist who has drawn him, and every actor who has portrayed him, has had their own unique take on who and what they believe Batman is. Each one bringing to it their own perspective, and baggage, and favourite character quirks. Adam West completely embraced the ridiculous and the camp. Tim Burton and Michael Keaton envisioned him as a gothic crusader. Lego Batman was EVERY Batman. Grant Morrison wanted to get under his skin. And Scott Snyder absolutely shattered his worldview.

There have been many, many takes on Batman (and there will likely be many more), but the version that I keep coming back to is the one created by Bruce Timm, Paul Dini, and Mitch Brian for Batman: The Animated Series. Where so many writers have felt the need to differentiate their version of the character from everything that has come before, the folks behind The Animated Series made their mark by consciously leaning into everything that Batman ever was.

In my mind, this is the definitive Batman. He is the world’s greatest detective, the dark knight, and the caped crusader all rolled into one. But even more than that, this is one of the few versions of the character in which Batman is charming, personable, and genuinely likable. It’s something almost every movie adaptation seems to have missed. Yes, he is still shaped by the overwhelming darkness of having witnessed his parents be gunned down in cold blood, but here he still seems to have a sense of hope and compassion for the world.

Which is why I’m always excited whenever DC decide to revisit this version of the character.

Batman: The Adventures Continue

This eight issue limited run, labeled “Season One,” is everything a fan of Batman: The Animated Series would ever want. It’s written by two of the producers of the series, Alan Burnett and Paul Dini, the latter being one of the finest Batman writers of all time (his autobiographical graphic novel, Dark Night: A True Batman Story, absolutely destroyed me). It’s illustrated by Ty Templeton, one of the artists who drew the original comics that were based on the cartoons back in the 1990s.

Much like the cartoons, Batman: The Adventures Continue, sets Batman and his sidekicks on a series of episodic adventures, some of them variations on popular comic book storylines, that serve to further deepen the mythology of this particular universe. Fans of the series will no doubt be thrilled to see characters like Jean-Paul Valley, Deathstroke, and Jason Todd introduced into the milieu of the series for the first time.

Batman: The Adventures Continue

Batman: The Adventures Continue is a perfect distillation of the cartoon that it’s based on. Ty Templeton’s lines really capture the visual style of the series. Heck, there are some panels that look and feel like they could be stills from the cartoon. This isn’t an homage, or an adaptation, but a continuation. These stories feel like episodes that we never got to see on TV.

For me, the reason this series succeeds is because it manages to recapture some of the nostalgia of sitting down in front of the television with a bowl of cereal, on a Saturday morning, and watching your favourite superhero on yet another one of his adventures. Every issue felt like I was revisiting a fond childhood memory.

This is a comic book that should speak to every generation of Batman fan.

Batman: The Adventures Continue

*Side note: Season 2 of Batman: The Adventures Continue just kicked off with Burnett and Dini giving us their take on Scott Snyder’s iconic “Court of Owls” story arc. I’ve read it and it’s an absolute blast. Sure, the story feels a little familiar, but the inclusion of Deadman, and the appearance of animated favourites Veronica Vreeland and Summer Gleeson, had me grinning from ear to ear.

Blue Flame (Christopher Cantwell and Adam Gorham)

I am three issues into The Blue Flame and I still have no idea what is going on. That may seem like a bad thing, but the way Cristopher Cantwell has set this up, this vagueness only gives the mystery at the heart of the comic more depth. There is a mystery here that I want to know more of. There is an unseen ticking clock in here somewhere (even if just in my mind) about how Sam Brausam, the DIY vigilante known as the Blue Flame on the streets of Milwaukee, relates to the Blue Flame in space trying to fight for the right of planet Earth to exist.

The Blue Flame throws the reader right into it by taking us to deep space, with our titular hero flying around alone, homing in on a mysterious beacon, on a mysterious plane,t with a mysterious group of people, only to find out that he’s been brought there to take part in a trial for all of humanity.

Cut to Sam Brausam, a HVAC repairman in Milwaukee, who also happens to be part of a vigilante group known as the Night Brigade, and the bad night he’s about to have. 

In the three issues that are currently out, the two Blue Flame storylines have yet to converge (assuming they do), but Cantwell’s writing is so tight that you are never really lost. Cantwell doesn’t try to do too much with this new character, but as a reader, you are never left to wonder about the Blue Flame’s powers. The Blue Flame feels comfortable and familiar, but not in a tired sort of way. The mystery of how the DIY Milwaukee based vigilante Blue Flame found his way to an interplanetary tribunal is always on the back of your mind, but it never feels like it’s being held away from you on purpose. Cantwell glides back and forth between the two stories with such ease and confidence that it never feels wrong to go from one place to the other.

There is a familiarity in that storytelling form too. Tom King did it so masterfully in his 2017 Mister Miracle run and is currently doing the same thing in Strange Adventures. But I dare say Cantwell’s attempt at the multi-story arcs feels harder by not having existing characters and universes to play in. Cantwell has the complicated job of introducing the main character and his backstory, while also letting the story of the current predicament play out, with its own set of characters and circumstances, and make both equally as compelling. And he does.

Adam Gorham’s art is also beautiful, and that first page of that first issue truly sings, harkening back to the golden age of comics with its big yellow text boxes and a beautiful depiction of strange planets and galaxies.

The Blue Flame sometimes feels like a Grant Morrison Green Lantern comic. There is a bigger interplanetary problem that is going to be solved by someone who is going to do more than just punch a big bad monster/alien/being/thing. This feels like it’ll be solved by thinking, and talking, and arguing. That may not sound cool to you, but it is sure working for me.

*Side note: The Blue Flame comic also comes with its own original score by composer Aaron Fischer. A QR code on the inside cover of each issue takes you to a Bandcamp page with the soundtrack, and I have to tell you, this is a comic book gimmick I can get behind. The playlist gets updated with each new issue released, and reading each new chapter with a score that was written specifically for it makes for a really fun way to experience the beats of this story.

We get our comics either from our local comic book store, The Last Comic Shop, or on Comixology. Are you interested in checking out Batman: The Adventures Continue or Blue Flame? Have you already read these comics? Let us know by getting in touch with us on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

Check out our previous installments of The Goggler Pull List here.

Reminiscence Podcast
Previous Story

The Goggler Podcast #93: Reminiscence

Next Story

Dave Is an Uncomfortable Look at One Man’s Single-Minded Pursuit of a Dream

Latest from Comics and Graphic Novels