The machine-making, cartoon-drawing Pulitzer prize-winner is the focus of a new exhibition, which also shines a light on the relevance of his political art

Theres a cartoon hanging in the Queens Museum in New York a drawing of a man with a shovel, digging through piles of paper.

The papers symbolize government corruption, but they wind up in the dump. The caption explains: Senate investigating committee digs up huge mass of evidence which passes before startled eyes of indignant but apathetic public, and then slides into obscurity, making room for next investigation.

From Donald Trumps tax returns to the Ukraine scandal and the impeachment inquiry, this has never felt more relevant. But the cartoon is from the 1940s, by the New York cartoonist Rube Goldberg, and its on view as part of The Art of Rube Goldberg, a survey which opened this weekend and runs until 9 February.

The pioneering 20th-century artist created more than 50,000 cartoons in a career that spanned seven decades. This is the first retrospective in 49 years to look at Goldbergs work. It also highlights his overlooked career as a Pulitzer prize-winning political satirist.

Political cartoons were not his main output, but some of his work remains so relevant, said the museums assistant curator, Sophia Marisa Lucas. He was seeking to find humor in some things, as a clever opportunity for relief.

A traveling exhibition organized by Art & Artists the retrospective features Goldbergs views on society in the 1930s and 1940s, skewering Adolf Hitler, commenting on the inflation of the US dollar and addressing the dire effects of war.

Goldberg wasnt primarily a satirist but made a significant impact with his political cartoons. He received a Pulitzer prize in 1948 for a drawing called Peace Today, showing an atomic bomb teetering towards the brink of destruction.

Rube Goldberg, Foolish Questions postcards, 1910. Illustration: Rube Goldberg

Goldberg was born in San Francisco in 1883, moved to New York City in 1907 and got a job at the Evening Mail in 1908 with a cartoon series called Foolish Questions. It was based on the premise: Ask a stupid question, get a stupid answer.

In one cartoon, a woman asks her husband, who just came in from the rain: Why, dearie, did you get wet? He answers: Of course not the rain is dry today. The series was so popular, readers started mailing in their own foolish questions for Goldberg to answer in the series, which ended up in a book and merchandise such as a deck of cards.

The exhibition follows progression of his hand, said Lucas. From the cartoons he did at the beginning of his career, it segues into his social commentary. Goldberg commented primarily on human nature.

Throughout the 1910s, Goldberg was a standup comedian in New York, toured with a troupe of comics for a vaudeville show and used slapstick in his cartoons. A new section in this particular exhibition is devoted to vaudeville one of his biggest influences.

What we did differently here, for this exhibition, was pull out another section on the influence of vaudeville on his work, said Lucas. Its history that felt buried but had a significant influence.

As Goldbergs cartoons became syndicated by national newspapers in 1922, he started to earn $200,000 a year and reached an audience of millions.

Rube Goldberg, Professor Butts invention drawing (postage stamps), 1929. Ink on paper. Illustration: Rube Goldberg

From 1914 to 1964, he ran a series called The Inventions of Professor Lucifer Gorgonzola Butts. Before becoming a cartoonist, Goldberg studied engineering, and here put his knowledge to work. He turned seemingly useless tasks into complicated chain reaction invention machines (in one, a car gets a windshield wiper from a dogs wagging tail; in another, theres a 20-step way to brush your teeth).

It didnt stop on paper, either. Goldbergs invention machines made it to Hollywood. He created a feeding machine that allowed Charlie Chaplin to sip on soup without raising his arms in the 1936 film Modern Times.

Much later, his breakfast machines were featured in blockbuster films, including Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, where a toy train pushes plates along a kitchen, while in Pee-wees Big Adventure, a statue of Abraham Lincoln flips pancakes (which end up stuck to the ceiling).

Goldberg didnt get into political cartoons until the 1930s. You see signs of his political cartoons in his early work, but its more about personality, bureaucracy, the human condition, said Lucas.

In 1938, when Goldberg was 55, he became the New York Suns political cartoonist, producing three cartoons a week on topics including corruption, poverty and crime. They werent the latest news; it was reflections on tax cuts, the war, broad issues, said Lucas. Not urgent daily news.

Through the 1940s and 1950s, he commented on government austerity throughout the second world war, primary elections, lying presidents and the Middle Eastern conflict. He showed an American taxpayer getting bonked on the head and compared vote counting to a carnival game. When all clerks are unconscious, the election is over, Goldberg wrote.

One cartoon from the 1940s, called The Numbers Blues, shows a man standing sheepishly under rows of numbers hovering above his head from his phone number to social security and bank account imagining himself as a jailbird.

Political cartoons were easier for me than the inventions because they were almost pure idea and the draftsmanship was relatively simple, Goldberg once said, I could do two political cartoons a day, but an invention sometimes required a week.

Rube Goldberg. Photograph: Oscar White/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images

His creative process might have been easier, but the world around him became complicated. During the second world war, Goldberg faced intense criticism for his political cartoons and received a lot of hate mail. Since he was the son of a Jewish immigrant from Germany, he advised his two sons who lived with him in New York, George and Thomas, to change their surname from Goldberg to George.

In the last chapter of his newspaper career, Goldberg left the Sunin 1949 to become a cartoonist for the New York Journal, staying until his last cartoon was published in 1964, when he was 80.

Once drawing became too difficult in old age, he turned to sculpture. Along the way, he also made books and hosted his own radio and TV shows.

Three weeks before he passed away in 1970, Goldberg had a retrospective at the National Museum of American History in Washington. Photos from the opening show the artist, aged 87, in a sharp suit and bow tie, white-haired and in black-rimmed glasses, chatting with guests alongside his wife. The exhibition was calledDo It the Hard Way, and as one of his last masterpieces, he created a cartoon foretelling the future in 2070, he predicted women would still be fighting for equal rights.

The walls were covered with Goldbergs drawings. Large cutouts of speech bubbles hovered above them, as if life itself were a cartoon.

He was a commercial cartoonist for major publications, maximizing the opportunity in the golden age of newspapers, said Lucas. But his main goal is that he was a humorist.

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Why is it, that while I understand perfectly how bad fried food is, I will ALWAYS find a reason to get at that lukewarm batch of fried chicken from the gas station? After devouring the coma inducing “snack” I sit back and wonder why the hell I would do this to myself. I should know better.

It turns out that I do know better, it’s just that the primitive parts of my mind are much, much stronger than the reasoning parts of my mind. We might think of reason as the errand boy for our urges. With enough pressure from our primitive brain, the errand boy will give in and find any reason to make the primitive brain happy.


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George Washington Black, or “Wash” for short, is born a slave in 1818 on Faith Plantation in Barbados. He believes a life of oppression and captivity is all he will ever know, until one day Christopher Wilde, brother of the plantation owner, arrives in Barbados and requests that Wash be his research assistant. First aiding Christopher in the construction of a flying machine, Wash’s talent as an artist and naturalist soon emerge. However, he and Christopher are quickly forced to flee to America, and they are launched into a journey of adventure and self-discovery stretching from Morocco to the Arctic.

Simultaneously a globetrotting tale of adventure in the early days of scientific discovery and a meditation on what freedom means for Wash in a world that seeks to strip him of his dignity and rights, Washington Black is full of both complex ideas and exciting, tension-filled action. This combination may not be to the liking of every reader, but Esi Edugyan’s writing works to keep the plot moving at a quick, compelling pace, while raising important questions about freedom and identity for the reader. With hints of steampunk-esque scientific adventures, readers of historical fiction will enjoy this multi-layered, intricate tale.

Reviewed By: Abby Lauerman

Book Summary:

A psychopath with mother issues. A policeman with his career on the line. A beautiful agent with unclear allegiances. And an ancient organisation guarding a secret that could get them all killed.

Hiko Shimizu is not a nice man, but he is ingenious. Ingenious enough to find a lost artefact capable of catalysing a revolution in China? Maybe. And that’s close enough to draw the attention of powerful forces that won’t hesitate to kill to keep their secrets safe.

Meanwhile, Matthys Rossouw is in hot pursuit, unaware of the full scale of the danger he faces. Butterfly Hill is the exciting follow-up to Drachen. Set in the hills above Hong Kong’s Lantau Island, it’s another high-stakes game of cat and mouse that races towards an explosive conclusion.

Seven hundred years ago a Dynasty died, how far will people go to keep it dead?

Amazon Link –

Forward Reviews:

Clarion Rating: 3 out of 5

Butterfly Hill is an action-packed suspense novel that is fresh in its plays on history and mythology.

Brendan le Grange’s compelling adventure novel Butterfly Hill blends history with engaging characters.

Hiko is an art thief with a taste for luxury. He also hates his mother. Conning his alcoholic father into being his fall man, Hiko plans an elaborate scheme to exact revenge on his mother once and for all. As Hiko follows ancient maps to hidden clues, he also dodges clandestine cult members and determined detectives, uncovering secrets about China’s history and his family’s loyalties.

Hiko is an anti-hero, a thief by trade who is made likable thanks to his cool demeanor and unwavering persistence. Hiko is driven equally by a thirst for adventure and his disdain towards his mother, though their relationship is never elaborated on and his drive for revenge is hard to understand without personal details. Hiko’s resourcefulness as a thief is more expertly conveyed, lending believability to increasingly difficult situations.

Hiko’s father, police officers, and members of a secret organization round out the supporting characters. Their inner monologues explain parts of the plot, and their dialogue is natural. They are described with distinctive characteristics and mannerisms, making them easy to imagine, though members of the mysterious order are less fleshed out, and the group itself is inconsistently portrayed both as a national threat and a weakened organization. The young woman whom the order protects plays a central role in the plot but is one of the least explored and emotionally relatable characters in the novel.

Set primarily in Hong Kong, the novel’s locations are well-detailed and deepened through the use of historic facts. The relationship between Hong Kong and China is important to the story and is explained in context.

The action-driven plot balances fast chase scenes with informational content. Some of the conflict drama is dulled by chapter transitions that resolve suspenseful moments too quickly. The writing style is colorful and makes good use of metaphors and similes to heighten psychological understanding, like a description of Hiko’s father “shedding” a booze bottle “like an alcoholic hermit crab.” Hiko is described as “a repentant pilgrim” as he crawls into strange cave locations. Mythology surrounding the Chinese Zodiac adds intrigue but is not consistently used.

A surprise ending is exciting but not plausible, though it wraps up most of the main plot points and leaves room for more adventures. Butterfly Hill is an action-packed suspense novel that is fresh in its plays on history and mythology.
Reviewed by Delia Stanley
November 28, 2018

Author Bio:

Brendan le Grange lives in Hong Kong with his beautiful wife and daughters, writing high-paced action thrillers when his day job allows. Luckily, that day job also allows him to travel to the exotic locales in which his books are set.

Looking for toys for kids both young and old? has put together 30 guides for parents and grandparents to find the *perfect* gift this Christmas. Each list has ten options to help you find exactly what your child/grandchild will want to find under the tree.

The Top 10 Best Current Marvel Toys

The Top 10 Best Current Toy Cars And Trucks

The Top 10 Best Disney Toys

The Top 10 Best Dolls For Kids

The Top 10 Best Learning Toys For Toddlers And Young Children

The Top 10 Best Drones For Kids

The Top 10 Best Ride On Toys For Toddlers

The Top 10 Best Walkers For Babies

The Top 10 DC Comics Toys For Older Kids And Teens

The Top 10 Paw Patrol Toys For Big Fans

The Top Ten Best Baby Toys

The Top Ten Best Ball Pits For Home Use

The Top Ten Best Doll Houses For Children Of All Ages

The Top Ten Best Electronic Pets For Kids

The Top Ten Best Pretend Play Toys For Toddlers Who Love To Mimic

The Top Ten Best Robot Toys For The Family

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Hey there, I’m Kat and I’m a potato. So I might not be the prettiest but I have a good personality!

I started drawing little stories of my life to share them with people out there who also feel like a potato sometimes. I hope some of them can make you smile, so please enjoy.

Transformation (or how it began)

Coziness vs remote

Tea time


Pet lover



Single moods

Makeup skills

Vacation preparation

Meeting new people

Old friends

Mood swings

Spending money

Romantic movies

Relationship struggles

Music at work

Cold days

Public shyness

Epic food battle

Sharing is caring

Meeting new people

Undressing optimism

Being healthy


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There’s a thought experiment called the ship of Theseus. It asks that, if you replace every plank of a ship, can it still be called the same ship? Likewise, if you have a superhero with regeneration powers who’s had every part of his body shattered, exploded and/or ripped off, is he still the same superhero? Probably not, and that’s a good thing.

Rob Liefeld

In the upcoming Deadpool 2, the merc with the mouth is squaring off against his longtime “it’s complicated” opponent Cable. This brings Deadpool back to his roots, as the character first appeared fighting Cable in the New Mutants #98 in 1991 — meaning Deadpool’s now roughly twice as old as his sense of humor. Likely to celebrate this full circle, Heritage Auctions is selling the first ever page of Deadpool squaring off against Cable by artist Rob Liefeld, showing us Deadpool in his original skin (and already losing part of it in the last panel).

Rob Liefeld/Marvel Comics

Fans of the movies might notice there’s a distinct lack of banter and crotch humping coming this fresh-faced (well, not that fresh) Deadpool. The attitude, fourth wall breaking and frequent references to giving backseat handjobs to Wolverine only came later. As we’ve talked about before, that’s because early Deadpool was a bit more cookie cutter, which is a more diplomatic way of saying that he was an uninspired rip-off of a DC supervillain. And yes, that makes Deadpool’s calling Cable out for his overserious DC-like ‘tude definitely a case of the pot calling the kettle grimdark.

Rob Liefeld/Marvel Comics

This is great news for fans and newcomers alike, as this sort of reboot of Deadpool vs. Cable gives a better, funnier and more relevant Deadpool a chance at punching up his own past — and Cable’s balls, we’re assuming. But if you want to own this bit of Deadpool pre-history before it gets rewritten, the auction is going until May 10th. Be warned though, the price of this single comic strip already up to $30,000. Quite a lot, though slightly below the price of a single Calvin and Hobbes strip in the same auction — something we know Deadpool himself would definitely approve of.

For more attempts at witticisms and his personal recipes for toilet wine, do follow Cedric on Twitter.

Support Cracked’s journalism with a visit to our Contribution Page. Please and thank you.

For more, check out The Queen Has Her Own Private (Creepy) Pet Cemetery and What Would The Netflix Movie Theaters Be Like?

Follow us on Facebook, Bub.

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DC Comic’s cinematic universe might be off to a financially successful (if artistically shaky start), but DC animated movies have been wowing audiences for years. Starting with 2007’s Superman: Doomsday, DC Universe Animated Original Movies are drawn from the most significant stories in DC comics history. In a little, over 10 years, DC Comics has released 29 films, with even more on the way.

Unlike the cinematic adaptations, which have tried to build an expanded universe like Marvel Studios, DC’s straight-to-video animated movies celebrate the myriad takes on these classic heroes found in the comics. In other words, instead of trying to connect everything together, these full-length features, for the most part, simply strive to tell great standalone stories. Curious where to start? Here’s our list of the best DC animated movies to date. 

The best DC animated movies

1) Justice League: The New Frontier

DC Comics has been spinning tales since the 1930s, with the beloved Justice League forming in 1960. The New Frontier is a throwback tale to the post-World War II world of DC Comics, showing your favorite heroes as they join forces for the first time to defeat an otherworldly evil that threatens to destroy Earth. The New Frontier works as an introduction to these heroes for new fans and a love letter for devotees. Taking its time to explore each member of the Justice League, The New Frontier shows why characters with near-godlike powers would need humans like Batman and Green Arrow at their side.

Photo via IMDB/Warner Bros.

2) Green Lantern: First Flight

Part of what makes DC Comics so special is how they fully embrace the inherent weirdness of its characters. Take Green Lantern, for example. He’s a space cop with a green ring that can make anything its chosen owner thinks up, shoot laser blasts, and help its owner fly through space. The Green Lanterns have only one weakness, the color yellow. First Flight tells the origin of Hal Jordan, the first modern Green Lantern, as he is gifted his ring and forced to confront a powerful conspiracy within the Green Lantern Corps. 

Photo via IMDB/Warner Home Video

3) Superman/Batman: Public Enemies

Batman isn’t just doom and gloom, especially when he partners with his old pal Superman. Following one of the duo’s best team-up storylines, Public Enemies finds the world’s finest heroes framed as enemies of the state by President Lex Luthor. With their worst enemy in charge of the country, our heroes must fight through their rogues gallery and friends alike if they hope to clear their names. Stuffed to the gills cameos, explosive action, and a giant mecha Batman/Superman robot Public Enemies is a reminder sometimes comics are best when they’re just fun.

Photo by IMDB/Warner Home Vidoeo

4) All-Star Superman

Grant Morrison’s All-Star Superman is arguably one of the finest comic series in history. This reimagining of Superman presents us with a hero who finds out he has only one year to live. Endeavoring to live his remaining life to the fullest, All-Star Superman shows viewers the warm heart at the center of the Man of Steel. Some of the tonal shifts are a little odd, but by paying careful attention to recreating Frank Quitely’s art while honoring the spirit of Morrison’s story, All-Star Superman sets itself apart from other adaptations by crafting its own world. We know Superman isn’t dead, but it’s powerful to imagine how he would go out if he could on his own terms.

Photo by IMDB/Warner Home Video

5) Batman: Under the Red Hood

What mistake haunts you? For Batman, it’s the day he was unable to stop the death of Jason Todd, the second Robin, at the hands of the Joker. If Batman had been willing to kill the Joker early in his career, countless lives would have been saved, albeit at the cost of violating his own moral code. Is sparing the life of a villain worth the victims they’ll eventually take? It’s a question Batman must face when a new crime lord appears in Gotham, ready to spill blood in the name of protecting the city in a way our hero won’t. What starts as a hard-boiled crime drama soon takes a mystical turn, resulting in a rare and altogether satisfying Batman story.  

Photo via IMDB/Warner Home Video


6) Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths

The Justice League may be heroes on our Earth, but what about the multiverse? It turns out on another alternate Earth, our heroes are are part of the Crime Syndicate, a villainous organization that has taken over the planet with eyes on conquering the multiverse. Crisis on Two Earths gives a delicious reimagining of these classic heroes as super villains whose acts of terror drive Lex Luthor to super heroics. It’s exhilarating watching these familiar heroes face their darkest instincts, with Batman in particular making choices that bring his status as a pure hero into question. Smart without being overwhelmingly dark, Crisis on Two Earths is brilliant from start to finish.

Photo via IMDB/Warner Home Video

7) Wonder Woman

Did you fall in love with 2017’s hit Wonder Woman live-action film? Make time for the far superior animated movie. While the beginnings of both films are strikingly similar, they diverge wildly during their second acts, with the animated Wonder Woman diving directly into the modern world in her battle against Ares. There’s a humanity to Wonder Woman that other superheroes often lack, in part because her separation for our society makes her more adept at noticing its problems. Sure, the world almost ends and the fight scenes are staggering, but this film would be worth a spot on this list simply for showing Diana to be the greatest hero in the DC universe. At bare minimum, if you have children sit them down and show them this scene if they ever try to argue about gender norms.

Photo via IMDB/Warner Home Video

8) Justice League: War

2011’s New 52 reboot was DC’s attempt at starting fresh after decades of continuity made reading their comics a chore for new fans. While the plan didn’t exactly work for the print books—DC returned to its original continuity in 2016—it did have its moments of brilliance, most notably, Justice League: War. It’s a thrilling retelling of how the New 52 Justice League came together to stop the vile intergalactic warlord Darkseid from destroying Earth. With incredible animation that rides the line between anime and the classic DC cartoons and an action-packed story, War proves that even unnecessary comic book events can birth great things.  

Photo via IMDB/Warner Home Video

9) Justice League Dark

Sick of the big name DC heroes? Well, too bad. This movie still has Batman in it, but the Dark Knight is backed up by the finest mystical icons the publisher has to offer, from the criminally underrated Deadman to John Constantine. The DC playground has worked for decades because it’s a world where every kind of story flourishes. Superman can save the day while these hidden magic heroes protect us from other unseen horrors. Blending horror and superhero action takes finesse, and Justice League Dark is a masterclass how to turn comic books into dark fairy tales.

Photo by IMDB/Warner Home Video

10) Teen Titans: The Judas Contract

The ’80s revival of the Teen Titans served as a way for DC to poach some of the youth audience Marvel had gained with the X-Men’s explosive popularity. It was a gamble that paid off, with the series building heroes like Cyborg, Nightwing, and Starfire into the beloved icons they are today. Teen Titans: The Judas Contract is a modern update of the team’s most important storyline, a years-in-the-making betrayal from a beloved fan favorite. While the animated movie has some changes due to differences in comic book and cartoon continuity, the spirit of the story shines through. Thanks to their uber-popular cartoon, Teen Titans has rarely had a chance to explore the more mature sides of their stories, but Judas Contract opens the doors for those angles without ever getting bogged down in darkness.

Photo by IMDB/Warner Home Video


11) Superman vs The Elite

If you’ve ever heard someone mutter that Superman is lame and a relic of a bygone era, show that person Superman vs The Elite. When a new superhero team with lax views on killing hits the streets, Superman finds himself at odds with public opinion. As Superman wrestles with his place in the modern world, he discovers troubling questions about the Elite, culminating in staggeringly animated final fight. Writers rarely raise the reality that maybe Superman is holding back so he doesn’t hurt people, a fact The Elite finds out with terrifying clarity when the Man of Steel cuts loose. The animation is a little strange, but the story is a love letter to why Superman matters.

Photo via IMDB/Warner Home Video

12) Teen Titans Vs. Justice League

Being a sidekick sucks. No one takes Robin as seriously at Batman and the less said about Aqualad the better. Still, there’s a reason sidekicks have earned the respect of the most powerful beings on Earth, and in a pinch they can hold their own against any force on Earth. That theory is put to the test in Teen Titans vs. Justice League as the DC Universe’s biggest guns are possessed, leaving it up to their proteges to save the world from those tasked with protecting it. Judas Contract is a better film, but if you want to feel its full impact, make sure you watch this first.

Photo via IMDB/Warner Home Video

13) Son of Batman

Each Robin has represented a different aspect of Bruce Wayne, from Dick Grayson watching his parents die to Tim Drake’s full embrace of being a detective. Son of Batman introduces the most controversial Robin yet: Damian Wayne, Bruce’s lost biological son who has been raised by the League of Assassins. As Batman struggles with his role as a father, new obstacles arise, like training his son not to kill criminals or run off to take on supervillains on his own. Part one of a three-part story, Son of Batman serves as an exploration of Batman’s deep history while opening the door to his modern future. Also: It features an army of Man-Bats, and we’re always down for animal-human hybrids.

Photo via IMDB/Warner Home Video

14) Batman vs. Robin

After spending his childhood being raised by assassins, Damian Wayne is having a hard time adjusting to his new father’s rules. Then one day he meets Talon, a vigilante member of the secret Court of Owls, who offers him a chance to fight crime on his own terms. This sequel to Son of Batman has a darkness to it, as Bruce fights against a secret society of murderers for the soul of a son he only just met. In the Batman and Robin trilogy, this entry is Empire Strikes Back, so don’t expect to walk away with a happy ending.

Photo via IMDB/Warner Home Video

15) Batman: Assault on Arkham

Batman might get top billing, but Assault on Arkham is honestly more of a Suicide Squad movie, placing the anti-heroes front and center in a darkly comedic heist film. Fan favorites Deadshot, Harley Quinn, Captain Boomerang, Black Spider, KGBeast, Killer Frost, and, best of all, King Shark are sent into Arkham Asylum by Amanda Waller on a suicide mission to retrieve information from the Riddler. The only thing that stands in their way is Batman, and a terrifying inmate who escapes during their assault. Funny and at times brutally violent, Assault on Arkham is a fine tribute to the Suicide Squad and the Arkham video games that inspired it. We just wish Harley wasn’t so oddly sexualized.

Photo via IMDB/Warner Home Video


16) Superman/Batman: Apocalypse

This overstuffed story almost collapses under the sheer weight of how much it tries to pack into 78 minutes, but it ultimately sticks the landing. Weeks after the end of Superman/Batman: Public Enemies, a spaceship crash lands in Gotham, revealing a confused and terrified Kara Zor-El, aka Supergirl. Welcoming his cousin to Earth, Superman takes her to live among the Amazons to learn to control her powers. Everything is going smoothly, until Darkseid kidnaps Supergirl for his own vile schemes. The plot and the action are exhilarating, though the animation (styled after Michael Turner’s original comic art) feels overly sexual for the story being told. This film also features the best Batman moment in any of the animated DC films, as our hero talks his way out a fight with a God.

Photo via IMDB/Warner Home Video

17) Justice League: Doom

On paper, Batman is the weakest member of the Justice League, brilliant but stuck with the limitations of a human in peak condition. In the world of mind control, doesn’t it make sense that he’d have thought up ways to take down the other members of the League just in case? Unfortunately, a team of supervillains steal that information, incapacitating the Justice League and placing humanity in jeopardy. Like all DC animated movies, this film is just too short to do the story justice, but in spite of its rushed plot, Doom is a shining example of superhero action. Justice League: Doom also marks the final film project Dwayne McDuffie, creator of Static Shock and one of the most important African-American writers in comic book history.

Photo via IMDB/Warner Home Video

18) Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Vol 1 & 2

Trying to squeeze Frank Miller’s landmark story, The Dark Knight Returns, into a 78-movie would be impossible, so instead DC split the story into two separate, feature-length parts. From an animation standpoint, this film is a triumph, accurately recreating Miller’s iconic stylized art while grounding its wilder moments. Even still, the charms that made it shine in the ’80s have somewhat dulled. From the overwhelming darkness and violence, to a Batman who is frankly sort of a jerk, The Dark Knight Returns succeeds in deconstructing the icon, but at the cost of removing much of what makes him fun.  

Photo via IMDB/Warner Home Video

19) Batman: Year One

Batman: Year One is an anomaly in the DC animated movies. Unlike the massive scope of the films before it, Year One is an almost-grounded story about the first year of Gotham’s two greatest crime fighters, Batman and Jim Gordon. While the film stays loyal to writer Frank Miller’s occasionally frustrating sexism, the story itself is a welcome change of pace for DC’s animated universe. However, if you watch these films for bombastic action, Year One’s tempered pace will prove more frustrating than inspired.

Photo via IMDB/Warner Home Video

20) Justice League: Throne of Atlantis

A large chunk of Throne of Atlantis is consumed by a half-baked Aquaman origin story that keeps the Justice League away on a separate mission until the end of the movie. The fight scenes are incredible, but the story is frustratingly uneven.

Photo via IMDB/Warner Home Video

Editor’s note: This article is regularly updated for relevance. 

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One of Andy Kubert's sketches from 'The Dark Knight III: Master Race' hardcover edition, released this week.
Image: DC Entertainment

Like him or not, you have to admit Frank Miller is a comics legend.  

Though he’s faced criticism over the years for his controversial, conservative stances and his attitude toward female characters, Miller wrote books such as the groundbreaking Dark Knight Returns and its sort-of-prequel Batman: Year One, which comics fans the world over now consider sacred texts. 

But Miller, who usually illustrates his own stories, stumbled with the forgettable, critically panned, sketchily drawn sequel The Dark Knight Strikes Again in 2002.

Miller knew he wanted to continue the series after that, so why did it take so long to do so? 

“The material had to come together,” he says. “You don’t jump in on the job until you have enough material and a good enough idea … It needed some new wrinkles, some new places to go.”

Returning 15 years later for Batman: The Dark Knight: Master Race, which is published in graphic novel form this week, Miller assembled what he calls “the best talent out there:” co-writer Brian Azzarello and artists Andy Kubert, Klaus Janson, and Brad Anderson.

Frankly, they made all the difference.

One of Andy Kubert’s sketches from ‘The Dark Knight III: Master Race’ hardcover edition

Image: dc entertainment

Miller’s women 

There are some neat touches that only Miller could bring to this comic — such as the character of Carrie Kelley (the best of all the Robins — fight me). She absolutely shines opposite the daughter of Superman and Wonder Woman, Lara Kent.

“Carrie Kelley was a real breakthrough for me because she was such a fresh character,” Miller says. “Her perfect contrast was Lara … I loved the fact that the dark guy (Batman) had the bright daughter and the bright guy (Superman) had the dark daughter.”

The fact that these two (and many more) well-written women exist in the book is testament to a fact Miller admits: he’s grown up.  

“Over the years, I had to listen to criticism,” he says — and he actually listened: “My female characters have gone from kind of an adolescent fantasy about women into much more fully formed characters.” 

These women are more than just their relationships to their fathers. Carrie and Lara are young women developing their own personalities and powers. They’re a delight to read and they keep you turning the page.

Miller’s other accomplishment is political satire. With writing partner Azzarello, Miller brought the kind of commentary that we saw him introduce with his take on Ronald Reagan — who he remembers as “quite funny in a terrifying way” — in The Dark Knight Returns. But this time, he’s showcasing both the media and now-President, then-candidate Donald Trump.

Miller says that Trump and his administration are is “a cartoonist’s dream” and that there hasn’t been this kind of political figure that so lends himself to that craft “since Nixon.”

These moments will make you laugh uncomfortably, which is something Miller’s work tends to do.

One of Andy Kubert’s sketches from ‘The Dark Knight III: Master Race’ hardcover edition

Image: dc entertainment

The team that makes it shine

If nothing else, this book looks awesome. From Kubert’s pencils, to Janson’s inks, to Anderson’s colors, this book really finds it feet in the art.

Kubert especially, who Miller himself calls “remarkable,” pulls off something really impressive in this project, marrying his own drawing style with echoes of Miller’s own art. He found that balance while creating the original sketches Mashable is exclusively debuting here. 

Kubert’s family is prominent in the industry and he’s worked with many notable creators, but he found this project to be “daunting.” Kubert considers Miller to be “god-like” in the comic world, and he says he was under a lot of pressure to measure up. 

“I idolized Frank big-time growing up.” He laughs and remembers, “I was scared shitless.”

Kubery says the key to the book was two pieces of advice Miller gave him after he sent his first roughs (11×17 conceptual versions of a page.) Kubert was told to “be more experimental,” and warned not to “forget about negative space.” 

One of Andy Kubert’s sketches from ‘The Dark Knight III: Master Race’ hardcover edition

Image: dc entertaiment

Kubert collaborated a lot with Azzarello and Miller through the process, working with ample feedback. For him, that made this one of his favorite scripts to work on.

The other members of the art team more than carry their weight here, adding depth and character to the art.

Kubert and Janson had been close for years, but this was their first project together. 

“I always knew this guy was good,” Kubert says of the inker, “but you don’t really know how good he is until he works on top of your pencils … the guy is so freaking good.”

It was a similar story with colorist Anderson. Kubert says that Anderson has a way of just getting what Kubert is trying to do in a piece. “He kind of finished my sentences … (but) he brought his own distinctive voice to it.”

The art team worked so well together that they’re partnering on a book called New Challengers with yet another legendary Batman writer — Scott Snyder. 

Image: dc Entertainment

Another chapter to come?

Miller won’t say exactly what the next chapter in his Batman story will look like, but he does hint that it would involve the next generation — Lara and Carrie, and perhaps even Jonathan Kent, too!

And he says he definitely has the drive to do more: “Every project makes you want to do more projects.”

As for Kubert, he’s just extremely proud of the work he’s done here. 

“I hope I can do this again sometime … how am I gonna top this?” With the kind of talent he, Anderson, and Janson put on the page, there’s no doubt there are incredible things to come.  

Check out more of Andy Kubert’s sketches below. You can also find them in the hardcover edition of Batman: The Dark Knight: The Master Race, which hit shelves last week.

Image: dc entertainment

Image: dc entertainment

Image: dc entertainment

Image: dc entertainment

Image: dc entertainment

Image: dc entertainment

Image: dc entertainment

Image: dc entertainment

Image: dc entertainment

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