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DID YOU READ

Five comics to read before (or after) you see “The Dark Knight Rises”

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The Dark Knight Rises” finally arrives in theaters this week, capping off Christopher Nolan’s record-breaking trilogy of Batman films that took Gotham’s favorite vigilante to a far darker place than he’s ever been on the big screen.

With the conclusion of Nolan’s arc looming large, it seemed like a good time to offer up a set of comics that will supplement your “Dark Knight Rises” experience by providing some backstory on certain characters introduced in the film, as well as some tonal accompaniment to the trilogy’s grand finale. The following list of comics won’t spoil anything in the film, so you’re welcome to check them out before or after watching “The Dark Knight Rises” — it’s entirely up to you.

So, without further ado, your list of must-read material for “The Dark Knight Rises” begins below.


Batman: Knightfall, Vol. 1 & 2

Originally published in the mid-1990s, the “Knightfall” story arc famously told of the villain Bane’s ascent through Gotham’s underworld and his epic clash with Batman that would leave Bruce Wayne paralyzed and out of commission for a lengthy period (by comics standards, at least). The series was written by a long list of authors well-known for their work in the Batman universe, including Chuck Dixon, Alan Grant, Dennis O’Neil, and Doug Moench, and spanned more than a year of issues that chronicled Bane’s rise, Batman’s defeat, and a period in which Bruce Wayne sought an the heir to the cape and cowl. Later chapters would see Bruce Wayne recover from his injuries and set out to retake his mantle and rebuild Gotham’s trust in its shadowy protector.


Batman: No Man’s Land

This 1999 story arc followed Batman and a supporting cast of (occasionally reluctant) heroes as they tried to protect the inhabitants of Gotham after the city is cut off from the rest of the world due to a catastrophic earthquake. Written by a long list of award-winning authors, “No Man’s Land” chronicles the city’s initial fall into chaos in the aftermath of the earthquake, and the subsequent carving-up of Gotham by its heroes and villains. The isolation of Gotham provides a major plot point in “The Dark Knight Rises,” and you’ll find a lot of similarities in the tone of “No Man’s Land” and the new film. In many ways, “No Man’s Land” tells the story that lies just underneath the surface of “The Dark Knight Rises.”


Catwoman: The Dark End of the Street

In 2002, Catwoman got a brand new series of her own, with the award-winning duo of writer Ed Brubaker and artist Darwyn Cooke crafting her adventures in Gotham’s East End. This critically acclaimed series kicks off with the search for Selina Kyle, who had been missing and presumed dead, and her subsequent decision to become the protector of one of Gotham’s worst neighborhoods. Anne Hathaway makes her debut as Selina Kyle in “The Dark Knight Rises,” and her take on the character has a lot in common with this series’ morally ambiguous heroine. This volume of Catwoman earned heaps of accolades during its run, and offers a great place way to get more acquainted with the modern incarnation of DC’s most famous cat burglar.


Batman: Legacy

This 1996 series by writers Chuck Dixon, Doug Moench, and Alan Grant includes prominent roles for many of the characters seen in “The Dark Knight Rises,” including Bane, Catwoman, and of course, Batman himself. “Legacy” chronicles the outbreak of a deadly plague in Gotham and Batman’s attempts to locate a cure. Forced to leave the city and travel all the way to the Middle East, Batman must seek help from some unlikely sources, and survive a run-in with The League of Assassins — the shadowy organization run by Ra’s al Ghul. Given all of the character overlap with “The Dark Knight Rises” in this story arc, this is must-read material for anyone who wants another looks at the dynamic between all of these heroes and villains.


Batman: The Dark Knight Returns

One of the most famous stories by Sin City creator Frank Miller, The Dark Knight Returns is also widely regarded as one of the greatest Batman stories ever written. Occurring well outside the character’s traditional continuity, The Dark Knight Returns is set long after Bruce Wayne has retired from policing Gotham’s streets. Prompted to become Batman once again, the 55-year-old recluse returns to the streets, only to face tough opposition from the Gotham City Police Department, the U.S. government, and one of his former super-powered allies. Much like “The Dark Knight Rises,” Miller’s classic tale explores the nature of a post-Batman city and what it would take to bring a bruised and battered Dark Knight back into action.


Any other Batman story arcs you’d recommend? Chime in below or on Facebook or Twitter.

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A-O Rewind

Celebrating Portlandia One Sketch at a Time

The final season of Portlandia approaches.

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Most people measure time in minutes, hours, days, years…At IFC, we measure it in sketches. And nothing takes us way (waaaaaay) back like Portlandia sketches. Yes, there’s a Portlandia milepost from every season that changed the way we think, behave, and pickle things. In honor of Portlandia’s 8th and final season, Subaru presents a few of our favorites.

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Put A Bird On It

Portlandia enters the pop-culture lexicon and inspires us to put birds on literally everything.

Colin the Chicken

Who’s your chicken, really? Behold the emerging locavore trend captured perfectly to the nth degree.

Dream Of The ’90s

This treatise on Portland made it clear that “the dream” was alive and well.

No You Go

We Americans spend most of our lives in cars. Fortunately, there’s a Portlandia sketch for every automotive situation.

A-O River!

We learned all our outdoor survival skills from Kath and Dave.

One More Episode

The true birth of binge watching, pre-Netflix. And what you’ll do once Season 8 premieres.

Catch up on Portlandia’s best moments before the 8th season premieres January 18th on IFC.

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WTF Films

Artfully Off

Celebrity All-Star by Sisters Weekend is available now on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Sisters Weekend isn’t like other comedy groups. It’s filmmaking collaboration between besties Angelo Balassone, Michael Fails and Kat Tadesco, self-described lace-front addicts with great legs who write, direct, design and produce video sketches and cinematic shorts that are so surreally hilarious that they defy categorization. One such short film, Celebrity All-Star, is the newest addition to IFC’s Comedy Crib. Here’s what they had to say about it in a very personal email interview…

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IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Celebrity All-Star is a short film about an overworked reality TV coordinator struggling to save her one night off after the cast of C-List celebrities she wrangles gets locked out of their hotel rooms.

IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Sisters Weekend: It’s this short we made for IFC where a talent coordinator named Karen babysits a bunch of weird c-list celebs who are stuck in a hotel bar. It’s everyone you hate from reality TV under one roof – and that roof leaks because it’s a 2-star hotel. There’s a magician, sexy cowboys, and a guy wearing a belt that sucks up his farts.

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IFC: What was the genesis of Celebrity All-Star?

Celebrity All-Star was born from our love of embarrassing celebrities. We love a good c-lister in need of a paycheck! We were really interested in the canned politeness people give off when forced to mingle with strangers. The backstory we created is that the cast of this reality show called “Celebrity All-Star” is in the middle of a mandatory round of “get to know each other” drinks in the hotel bar when the room keys stop working. Shows like Celebrity Ghost Hunters and of course The Surreal Life were of inspo, but we thought it
was funny to keep it really vague what kind of show they’re on, and just focus on everyone’s diva antics after the cameras stop rolling.

IFC: Every celebrity in Celebrity All-Star seems familiar. What real-life pop personalities did you look to for inspiration?

Sisters Weekend: Anyone who is trying to plug their branded merch that no one asked for. We love low-rent celebrity. We did, however, directly reference Kylie Jenner’s turd-raison lip color for our fictional teen celebutante Gibby Kyle (played by Mary Houlihan).

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IFC: Celebrity seems disgusting yet desirable. What’s your POV? Do you crave it, hate it, or both?

Sisters Weekend: A lot of people chase fame. If you’re practical, you’ll likely switch to chasing success and if you’re smart, you’ll hopefully switch to chasing happiness. But also, “We need money. We need hits. Hits bring money, money bring power, power bring fame, fame change the game,” Young Thug.

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IFC: Who are your comedy idols?

Sisters Weekend: Mike grew up renting “Monty Python” tapes from the library and staying up late to watch 2000’s SNL, Kat was super into Andy Kaufman and “Kids In The Hall” in high school, and Angelo was heavily influenced by “Strangers With Candy” and Anna Faris in the Scary Movie franchise, so, our comedy heroes mesh from all over. But, also we idolize a lot of the people we work with in NY-  Lorelei Ramirez, Erin Markey, Mary Houlihan, who are all in the film, Amy Zimmer, Ana Fabrega, Patti Harrison, Sam Taggart. Geniuses! All of Em!

IFC: What’s your favorite moment from the film?

Sisters Weekend: I mean…seeing Mary Houlihan scream at an insane Pomeranian on an iPad is pretty great.

See Sisters Weekend right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib

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Reality? Check.

Baroness For Life

Baroness von Sketch Show is available for immediate consumption.

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Baroness von Sketch Show is snowballing as people have taken note of its subtle and not-so-subtle skewering of everyday life. The New York Times, W Magazine, and Vogue have heaped on the praise, but IFC had a few more probing questions…

IFC: To varying degrees, your sketches are simply scripted examples of things that actually happen. What makes real life so messed up?

Aurora: Hubris, Ego and Selfish Desires and lack of empathy.

Carolyn: That we’re trapped together in the 3rd Dimension.

Jenn: 1. Other people 2. Other people’s problems 3. Probably something I did.

IFC: A lot of people I know have watched this show and realized, “Dear god, that’s me.” or “Dear god, that’s true.” Why do people have their blinders on?

Aurora: Because most people when you’re in the middle of a situation, you don’t have the perspective to step back and see yourself because you’re caught up in the moment. That’s the job of comedians is to step back and have a self-awareness about these things, not only saying “You’re doing this,” but also, “You’re not the only one doing this.” It’s a delicate balance of making people feel uncomfortable and comforting them at the same time.

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IFC: Unlike a lot of popular sketch comedy, your sketches often focus more on group dynamics vs iconic individual characters. Why do you think that is and why is it important?

Meredith: We consider the show to be more based around human dynamics, not so much characters. If anything we’re more attracted to the energy created by people interacting.

Jenn: So much of life is spent trying to work it out with other people, whether it’s at work, at home, trying to commute to work, or even on Facebook it’s pretty hard to escape the group.

IFC: Are there any comedians out there that you feel are just nailing it?

Aurora: I love Key and Peele. I know that their show is done and I’m in denial about it, but they are amazing because there were many times that I would imagine that Keegan Michael Key was in the scene while writing. If I could picture him saying it, I knew it would work. I also kind of have a crush on Jordan Peele and his performance in Big Mouth. Maya Rudolph also just makes everything amazing. Her puberty demon on Big Mouth is flawless. She did an ad for 7th generation tampons that my son, my husband and myself were singing around the house for weeks. If I could even get anything close to her career, I would be happy. I’m also back in love with Rick and Morty. I don’t know if I have a crush on Justin Roiland, I just really love Rick (maybe even more than Morty). I don’t have a crush on Jerry, the dad, but I have a crush on Chris Parnell because he’s so good at being Jerry.

Jenn: I LOVE ISSA RAE!

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IFC: If you could go back in time and cast yourselves in any sitcom, which would it be and how would it change?

Carolyn: I’d go back in time and cast us in The Partridge Family.  We’d make an excellent family band. We’d have a laugh, break into song and wear ruffled blouses with velvet jackets.  And of course travel to all our gigs on a Mondrian bus. I feel really confident about this choice.

Meredith: Electric Mayhem from The Muppet Show. It wouldn’t change, they were simply perfect, except… maybe a few more vaginas in the band.

Binge the entire first and second seasons of Baroness von Sketch Show now on IFC.com and the IFC app.

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