Batman vs. Predator by Dave Gibbons

I love cross overs and I love Vs. Comics, so when I was given this little gem as a kid my young geek heart almost exploded. A friend of the family popped over to my house to see my parents, and when he was clearing out his son’s bedroom he had found a pile of unwanted comics (unwanted comics..? Really?) He handed over the stack of comics to me, simply saying “You like comics, right?” In this collection there were some strange finds I’d never heard of at the time: Captain Britain, Spawn, and even an Alien comic in which the military had created a robotic alien to fight for them but for some reason this Alien liked to smoke cigars, drink and swear. Hmmm. I looked at the cover of the next comic: Batman vs Predator…I decided to read this one first.

Batman vs Predator is a great Batman comic – starting off with a typical ‘Whodunnit?’ storyline for the world’s greatest detective to solve. In Gotham, there are a number of Prize Fighters who have been mysteriously killed. Everyone suspects it’s due to the rival gangs who own the boxers, but Batman suspects something far more sinister (as usual.) The story then evolves into an alien invasion story when Batman is ambushed by The Predator. It is revealed that The Predator is behind the murders, and Batman starts to duke it out with the grotesque alien. However, this alien is unlike anything Batman has ever faced before; Batman is injured and goes into hiding. The story continues down the alien invasion route for a short time, and now that Batman is gone, the Predator continues his hunting trip in Gotham.

Batman vs Predator dave gibbons cosmic anvil recommends comic DC

Ultimate Showdown.

The story then takes another turn, becoming a story based on the great battle of strength and wit between The Batman and The Predator. Batman is still injured, but fit enough to walk. He constructs a new suit, strong enough to take the beast on. Batman calls out The Predator to a final battle, and when the fight breaks out, it’s a real struggle for both combatants, and reduces them to some pretty dirty stuff, but in the end, Batman is victorious. The end of the comic is cool for both Batman and Predator fans. Batman wins, so Batman fans are happy; we also get a glimpse of the wider universe and culture that The Predator is a part of, so Predator fans are happy too.

It did really well with fans and critics too – in fact, it was so popular at the time it also spawned two sequels and a similar comic called Superman vs. Aliens known as Superman/Aliens (Lolwut?)

Batman vs Predator dave gibbons cosmic anvil recommends comic DC

The Dark Knight in his Predator Hunter suit.

The art is amazing as well, as you’d expect from a legend like Gibbons. Through the artwork he shows you how dirty and grim the setting and events are. We even get a superb scene with Alfred facing off against the hunter alien.

As you can tell I think this comic is amazing, and to find out that it did really well when it came out is also cool. The thing I will always remember about this comic is this: I read the last page and I was amazed – amazed that The Batman once again stood up to a powerful opponent, and smacked him down. Bruce’s final words in the comic resonated with me for some times as well, it’s one of those moments when you think to yourself: “Batman is so nails” (nails meaning strong, as in hard as…)

Batman vs Predator dave gibbons cosmic anvil recommends comic DC

So nails.

However I will always remember this, when I finished the comic, I closed the book and turned it over to once again examine the front cover. I read the title “Batman versus Predator”, and then I thought to myself: “But… why though?”


Written by Huw Williams of the Huw’s Reviews Blog.

Follow Huw on Twitter @Big_Huw

Don’t forget to also check out the official Cosmic Anvil website to find out more about our independent comic book series, Age of Revolution!

Black Butler by Yana Toboso

Written and drawn by Yana Toboso, Black Butler, or Kuroshitsuji, is a Victorian supernatural fairy story like no other. Dark, weird, and classically gothic, this manga is fantastically written, stunningly drawn, and hugely loved both in and outside of Japan. It’s popularity is so strong in fact that its franchise has stretched beyond the manga series and anime adaptations, but also into a video game, a live-action film, and even two musical productions (only in Japan, unfortunately).

Poster for the first Black Butler live action cinematic adaptation

Poster for the first Black Butler live action cinematic adaptation

Despite volumes of the manga selling millions of copies, Black Butler is surprisingly not ranked highly in lists of the most popular manga on sale at the moment, but what sets it apart from most of its competition is the level of adoration and demand for cross-platform adaptations. The fans aren’t just satisfied with reading the story – they want the story to be as real and interactive as possible.

This only leaves one question: What is it about this manga that’s so special?

For starters – and I know this word is overused – it’s truly unique. I love manga, but like any established medium, so much of it is stuffed with generic tropes, fan service gimmicks, and ‘this-seems-very-familiar’ premises. The genres and sub-genres – although endlessly abundant – are also incredibly rigid, and most authors seem to prefer to play it safe within these genres, telling the kinds of high-school romance or action-adventure stories that the audience is used to reading and therefore easy to sell. However, it serves to note that the biggest sellers at the moment – One Piece, Attack on Titan, Naruto, Magi and Kuroko’s Basket – are actually very distinctive, showing that if an original idea catches people’s imaginations, it can really take off.

cosmic anvil black butler manga anime

Magi Manga Cover

cosmic anvil black butler manga anime

Kuroko’s Basketball Manga Cover

cosmic anvil black butler manga anime

Naruto Manga Cover

cosmic anvil black butler manga anime

Attack on Titan Manga Cover

cosmic anvil black butler manga anime

One Piece Manga Cover

Black Butler is a manga that has certainly achieved this. Set in Victorian England, the story revolves around 13-year-old Earl Ciel Phantomhive; orphaned on his tenth birthday when his parents were killed in a mysterious fire. Upon their death, Ciel vowed revenge, and inadvertently summoned a demon – Sebastian Michaelis – whom he made a deal with: To help him enact his revenge in exchange for his soul. Until that day arrives, Sebastian poses as Ciel’s butler and aids him in fulfilling his family’s duties as Queen Victoria’s ‘Watchdog,’ solving crimes in London’s gritty underworld while facing other paranormal beings along the way. Even in the worn-out supernatural genre, it’s a pretty interesting set-up.

The characters, however, are the real heart of the series. Ciel Phantomhive is far from your typical 13-year-old boy. Despite running his family’s toy company, he has little time or interest in childish pursuits – preferring to spend his time reading the newspaper, intimidating businessmen, indulging in Victorian High-Tea, and picking over crime scenes with his tailor-made cane and permanent frown of disdain.

black butler anime manga cosmic anvil recommends

Ciel Phantomhive

Sebastian Michaelis is quite simply what he says he is: “One Hell of butler.” He can do everything from cooking a three-course dinner from scratch in under an hour; to taking out armed mobsters armed only silverware. His demonic powers essentially give him enhanced strength, speed and invulnerability, but his slim physique and feline elegance are more reminiscent of Catwoman than Superman. Despite taking on a male guise, there are subtle hints throughout the story that Sebastian is in fact gender-neutral, which, coupled with his graceful but deadly demeanour, makes him a mysterious and unpredictable presence.

cosmic anvil recommends black butler manga anime

Sebastian Michaelis

Sebastian also becomes the unwitting object of affection for rogue Grim Reaper (and fan favourite) Grell Sutcliffe. Grell’s sexuality is never openly discussed, but the batting of his eye lashes, the shimmy in his walk, and a certain Titanic re-enactment scene (pictured below) – not to mention his constant fawning over Sebastian’s assumed-male body – make it pretty clear what kind of stereotype he is supposed to be (…or perhaps not if you take a look at this interesting forum debate between fans). Whilst Grell is genuinely endearing, this comedic but negative stereotyping of gay men and women as camp, sexually devious, and always chasing after people they can’t get is unfortunately common in manga/anime of this genre. Sebastian’s indefinable character draws strength from exactly the opposite.

cosmic anvil recommends black butler anime manga

Every night in my dreams, I see you… I feel you…

The dynamic between Ciel and Sebastian is often mistaken for something perversely sexual and has inspired a wealth of, uh, not so tasteful fan fiction and art, but though I agree it is a perverse relationship, it’s certainly not a romantic one. Despite Toboso’s seductively penned expressions and glove removal sequences, Sebastian actually has no discernable sexuality. It is more of an unhealthy co-dependency to satiate unhealthy desires that he and Ciel share. For Ciel, it is the desire for revenge, and for Sebastian, it is the desire to consume Ciel’s soul. Sebastian – like the witch in the Hansel and Gretel legend – is ‘fattening’ Ciel’s soul up as he helps Ciel get closer and closer to his ultimate goal. In that role, Sebastian appears caring, nurturing, and protective, and sometimes it seems that even Ciel mistakes this for the guidance and companionship he has been missing in the wake of his parent’s demise, forgetting that behind beneath his loyal butler’s skin beats the dark heart of a predator.

cosmic anvil recommends black butler anime mange

“One Hell of a Butler.”

Although there is something negative to be found in the twinning of androgyny with the monstrous, I think that what Toboso ultimately proves by playing on that connection in Black Butler is that we are perhaps more uncomfortable with androgyny then demonism, and this is the story’s unique appeal. The glimpses of Sebastian in his feminised demon form are more tantalising than his acts of inhuman strength and violence. Sebastian’s gender is a riddle that we – as readers in a gendered society – long to solve.

Written by Hannah Collins, writer of the iwantedwings blog.

@SpannerX23 on Twitter.

By night, Hannah is a geeky feminist blogger, but by day she is a freelance artist who specialises in comic book and children’s book illustration. Check out her website here if you’ve got a project you want to bring to life with bespoke artwork 🙂

Don’t forget to check out the official Cosmic Anvil website for our original creator made comics!