Archive for the Detective Comics Category

Lasso of Truth – Weekly Comics Round-up: 28th October 2009

Posted in Blackest Night, Comics, DC, Detective Comics, Green Lantern, Superman, Wonder Woman with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 28th October, 2009 by Red Baron

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Blackest Night #4
Written by Geoff Johns ǀ Art by Ivan Reis

Geoff Johns imbues this story with all the gravity an epic drama needs.  Ivan Reis drops The Big One with a jaw-dropping splash you have to see.

Verdict: Must have.


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Detective Comics #858
Written by Greg Rucka ǀ Art by J.H. Williams III, Cully Hamner

Rucka and Williams deepen their entire cast with an extended flashback sequence.  Four years later, Kate Kane is finally coming into focus.  The Question backup feature’s not bad per se; in fact, it’s quite good, but it’s so straight by comparison I just find myself clamouring for more Batwoman.

Verdict: Buy it.


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Green Lantern #47
Written by Geoff Johns ǀ Art by Doug Mahnke

Johns has been building to these moments for a looong time, and it’s satisfying to see old plot threads finally start to come together.  Green Lantern fans will be giddy at the prospect of a Sinestro/Hal reunion.

Verdict: Must have.


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Superman: Secret Origin #2
Written by Geoff Johns ǀ Art by Gary Frank

A young Clark Kent meets the Legion of Superheroes, and things don’t seem so lonely anymore.  Johns and Frank remind us what made Superman so inspiring in the first place.  An absolutely joyful reading experience.

Verdict: Must have.


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Wonder Woman #37
Written by Gail Simone ǀ Art by Bernard Chang

Aaron Lopresti was credited as artist on the cover, so it was more than a little bit jarring to find Bernard Chang’s pencils inside!  His Wonder Woman looks very Greek (as do his other Amazons), which makes sense, but again, a jarring interruption to Lopresti’s elegant work.  Some deliberately provocative T & A as well, which brought down the tone of this otherwise-virtuous book.

Verdict: Check it out.

Lasso of Truth – Weekly Comics Round-up: 23rd September 2009

Posted in Batwoman, Blackest Night, Comics, DC, Detective Comics, Final Crisis, Superman with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 23rd September, 2009 by Red Baron

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Lasso of Truth is your weekly guide to what’s hot and what’s not in the DC Universe.  Each week, the Red Baron goes through his comics haul to tell you what’s worth buying and what’s best left alone.

Here’s the key:

Must havethere’s no question, you should buy this great book.
Buy ita high-quality read that won’t disappoint.
Check it outpick it up if you have some extra cash.  May be an acquired taste.
Avoida disappointing read.  Save your money and steer clear.


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Blackest Night: Superman #2
Written by James Robinson ǀ Art by Eddy Barrows
Blackest Night: Superman #2 drops the horror movie tone of the first issue and opts for superhero fisticuffs instead.  It’s a pity, because depicting horror is Eddy Barrows’ specialty.  This book reads as a who’s who of Crisis on Infinite Earths, which will no doubt excite long-time DC readers.  It does lack a little in the emotional pay-off department, though (which is surprising considering the re-appearance of the Psycho Pirate).
Verdict: Check it out.


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Detective Comics #857
Written by Greg Rucka ǀ Art by J.H. Williams III
Bold and beautiful artwork, coupled with DC’s most interesting new villain makes this comic hard to fault.
Verdict: Must have.


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Final Crisis Aftermath: Dance #5
Written by Joe Casey ǀ Art by Eduardo Pansica
The Super Young Team finally awaken to their destiny, as their leader Most Excellent Superbat proves he is worthy of both names.  The art holds up surprisingly well, considering ChrisCross’ absence once again.
Verdict: Buy it.


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Superman: Secret Origin #1
Written by Geoff Johns ǀ Art by Gary Frank
It’s great to see these two back on a Superman title again, and boy, do they knock this one out of the park.  It’s simply beautiful, human drama.
Verdict: Must have.

Lasso of Truth – Weekly Comics Round-up: 26th August 2009

Posted in Batman, Batman and Robin, Blackest Night, Comics, DC, Detective Comics, Green Lantern, Superman, Wednesday Comics, Wonder Woman with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 2nd September, 2009 by Red Baron

lasso_of_truth_2

Lasso of Truth is your weekly guide to what’s hot and what’s not in the DC Universe.  Each week, the Red Baron goes through his comics haul to tell you what’s worth buying and what’s best left alone.

Here’s the key:

Must havethere’s no question, you should buy this great book.
Buy ita high-quality read that won’t disappoint.
Check it outpick it up if you have some extra cash.  May be an acquired taste.
Avoida disappointing read.  Save your money and steer clear.


Day-glo never looked so dark.

Day-glo never looked so dark.

Batman and Robin #3
Author: Grant Morrison
Artist: Frank Quitely
60s camp with a chilling, modern twist, as only Morrison can deliver.
Verdict: Must have.


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Batman: The Widening Gyre #1
Author: Kevin Smith
Artist: Walter Flanagan
Here’s the thing with Kevin Smith: when he fails to capture a character’s voice, he replaces it with his own voice.  It’s like a Tarantino film – the actors are really just delivering a conversation Tarantino’s had in his own head.  But for all its character flaws, Widening Gyre remains an entertaining read.  Thankfully he does manage to capture at least one voice: the voice of the rhyming demon Etrigan.
Verdict: Check it out.


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Blackest Night: Titans #1
Author: J.T. Krul
Artist: Ed Benes
Amounts to little more than a history lesson about characters I don’t care about.  Benes’ artwork is sexy enough – perhaps a little too sexy.  The first truly disappointing Blackest Night title.
Verdict: Avoid.


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Detective Comics #856
Author: Greg Rucka
Artist: J.H. Williams III
Rucka’s new Bat-villain Alice chews up the scenery in Batwoman’s psychedelic nightmare.  J.H. Williams once again pushes the boundaries of the medium.
Verdict: Must have.


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Green Lantern #45
Author: Geoff Johns
Artist: Doug Mahnke
Plenty of great moments in this War of Light, but it sacrifices cohesiveness in an effort to cover everything.
Verdict: Buy it.


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Superman #691
Author: James Robinson
Artist: Renato Guedes
What is essentially the culmination of months of storyboarding comes off as contrived and confusing.
Verdict: Avoid.


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Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen Special #2
Author: James Robinson
Artist: Bernard Chang
Jimmy Olsen investigates the same uninteresting shadowy government conspiracy he’s been investigating for months.  The exorbitant cover price makes it that much more unforgivable.
Verdict: Avoid.


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Wednesday Comics #8
Authors: Various
Artists: Various
Everybody lifts their game this week to produce what is effectively the best dose of Wednesday Comics yet.
Verdict: Buy it.


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Wonder Woman #35
Author: Gail Simone
Artist: Aaron Lopresti
Wonder Woman returns to form spectacularly, cagefighting in the underground with Black Canary(!).
Verdict: Buy it.

Detective Comics #855

Posted in Batwoman, Comics, DC, Detective Comics, The Question with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 9th August, 2009 by Red Baron
Batwoman in Wonderland.

Batwoman in Wonderland.

“Elegy Part 2: Misterioso”
Author: Greg Rucka
Artist: J.H. Williams III
Colorist: Dave Stewart
Letterer: Todd Klein
Assistant Editor: Harvey Richards
Editor: Michael Siglain
Variant Cover Artist: J.G. Jones

“The Question – Pipeline: Chapter One/Part Two”
Artist: Cully Hamner
Colorist: Laura Martin
Letterer: Jared K. Fletcher

It’s official: Detective Comics is the best Bat-book on the shelves at the moment.  Who would have thought that Batwoman would amount to anything more than a media publicity stunt?  Well, the media don’t really care anymore, but I sure as hell do.

So many great Batman staples make their return here: Carroll-inspired villainy, Gothic castles, mad monks, and bad opium dreams [see Arkham Asylum, The Cult, Gothic, Batman and the Mad Monk, and Venom].  It’s Rucka’s respect for these hallmarks that makes us accept Batwoman into the Bat-family, and as a worthy successor to the World’s Greatest Detective.

Batwoman’s new foil Alice is chilling and off-kilter to say the least.  In fact, she’s quickly establishing herself as Batwoman’s Joker, and honestly I think she’s interesting enough to pull it off.  Her exclamations are just like original Alice, but it’s her pragmatism and emotional detachment under the guise of curiosity and innocence that makes my skin crawl.

All of this is augmented by Dave Stewart’s striking colours and J.H. Williams’ beautiful pencils.  Williams’ panel layouts are once again experimental yet easy to follow, and their “otherness” only fuels the drug-induced surrealism that dominates the issue.  “Beautiful, like broken butterfly wings” is the best way I can think to describe it.  Batwoman’s flowing red locks, Alice’s running mascara, the falling autumn leaves, the psychedelic vines that cloud Kate’s memories: this comic is a visual feast.

Suffice it to say, Kate Kane’s beginner’s luck has run out and Alice – new leader of the Religion of Crime – shows her true colours.

A very strange cliffhanger is followed by The Question backup feature, with Cully Hamner ably assisting on pencils.  His art is like Weet Bix and warm milk; the cartoony style can’t prepare you for the gritty brutality that follows.  The Question teaches her adversaries a very valuable lesson: don’t bring a weapon against someone more proficient in that weapon – like nunchaku for instance – it’s just a liability.  After some persuasive interrogation, Montoya shifts back into detective mode, but finds more trouble than info.  The Question’s street-level view helps ground an otherwise fantastical cape story, which again begs the Weet Bix and warm milk analogy.

Once again, Detective Comics has cemented itself as the most beautiful, value-packed book on store shelves.  Issue 854 was a great new start to Detective with very little background required, so why not jump in while the time is ripe?

The Dark Knight Cram School: The Greatest Batbooks of All Time.

Posted in Batman, Comics, DC, Detective Comics, film, JLA, The Dark Knight with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 14th May, 2009 by Red Baron

To celebrate the birth of Bat-Shark Repellent, I thought I’d lend my expertise to you all by recommending the Greatest Batbooks of All Time. I’ve made no secret of the fact that my comic book collection threatens to swallow my entire bedroom, so rest assured – I’ve read a lot of Batman. So if you’re looking for a good jumping-on point for the Caped Crusader, you’ve come to the right place. Here goes…


16. Batman: Venom

This story marks the second time Batman is broken, this time by addiction to a performance enhancing drug known as Venom. Venom has an almost surreal quality, but the story takes a very Bond-like turn when the Batman hunts down his tormentors. And yes, Bat-shark-repellent is involved!

15. Superman: Red Son

While not a Batbook per sé, Red Son features the coolest iteration of the Batman that you’ll ever see. It’s also one of the greatest Superman stories you’ll ever read. It’s an Elseworlds tale [i.e. outside of continuity] that poses the question: what if Kal-El landed in Russia instead of America? It further poses the question, how would a Russian Batman react to a superhuman Communist dictator?

14. Batman: The Man Who Laughs

A menacing Joker tale by veteran Ed Brubaker. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if his interpretation of the villain informed Heath Ledger’s performance.

13. Batman & the Monster Men

A young and naive Batman faces off against the abominations of Dr Hugo Strange. Written and drawn by the legendary Grendel creator Matt Wagner.

12. Batman & the Mad Monk

Matt Wagner returns for a supernatural romp through Batman’s past. It’s pulp and spectacle with a modern touch.

11. Son of the Demon

Batman marries the daughter of his greatest foe, Ra’s Al Ghul. The Bat and the Demon must work together to stop a terrorist threat, for Talia’s sake and the world’s. A controversial tale that has recently come into play in a big way.

10. Batman: Black & White Volumes 1 & 2

A series of Batman vignettes by comic book greats and mainstays, all in black and white. It’s amazing how much story they can cram within a few pages. A great laugh and a great deconstruction of the character. Pick up Volume 3 if you’re keen, it’s just not quite as good as the first two volumes.

9. Batman: Blind Justice

A surprising amount of material has been mined from Blind Justice to bring you Batman Begins, and this is chiefly because it is the authority on Bruce Wayne. It’s funny considering the author is none other than Batman screenwriter Sam Hamm. Never has Batman’s alter-ego [or past] been shaped so definitively. Believe it or not, Henri Ducard and Ra’s Al Ghul are two separate people. It’s a pity about the kooky mind-control, though.

8. Batman: Gothic

It’s surprising just how well Batman goes with the supernatural. Trust Grant Morrison to pull it off [and he continues to do so now!]. Everything about this tale is gothic, especially the art of Klaus Janson.

7. Batman: Year 100

Year 100 takes place in a dystopian future Gotham, which is eerily similar to the old Gotham: a dark place full of crooked cops. Batman is once again a wanted outlaw, though the authorities prefer to deny his existence altogether. Paul Pope’s gritty and brutal future is believable, and reminiscent of Alfonso Cuarón’s Children of Men. A great read with no strings attached.

6. Batman: The Cult

One of the greatest bat-villains was a one-and-done character, Deacon Blackfire. Criminals are being brutally murdered, while the homeless disappear from the streets of Gotham. He defeats the Batman in the worst possible way: by breaking his spirit. Another supernatural Bat-story written to great effect by comics stalwart Jim Starlin. Jason Todd (the second Robin) has never been so likable than in this book, which is surprising.

5. Arkham Asylum

Once again Grant Morrison gives supernatural depth to the Batman mythos, this time to his rogues’ accidental lair: Arkham Asylum. Batman’s greatest foes have taken the house hostage, challenging him to a game of wits. The Batman accepts, but he soon finds that the building has a life of its own. Drenched in symbology, each page is hand-painted by the legendary Dave McKean.

4. The Killing Joke

The Greatest Joker Story Ever Told. If there was ever a book to read before seeing Dark Knight, this is it. Comics legend Alan Moore proposes a possible origin for Batman’s arch-nemesis. Short and sweet.

3. The Long Halloween/Dark Victory

Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale team up for one of the greatest Bat-mysteries ever told. Batman must sift through his rogues gallery to solve the mystery of the Holiday killer. The fall of the Falcone crime family; the definitive Two-Face origin story; the origin of Robin – it’s all here and it’s all told beautifully in a true marriage of word and picture.

2. Batman: Year One

Frank Miller redefines the Batman for a new era. Make no mistake, the Batman of Year One is the Batman we know and love today. The definitive Batman origin story, Bruce Wayne returns to Gotham to wage his personal war on crime. Gritty, dark, and grounded, Batfilm enthusiasts have this book to thank for its rich source material.

1. The Dark Knight Returns

Before Miller wrote his beginning, he wrote [and drew] the Batman’s end. A retired Bruce Wayne must don the cape and cowl once more to reclaim the streets of Gotham from Violence and Unreason. Without a doubt the Greatest Batman Story Ever Told, and one of the greatest graphic novels ever written.

Honourable Mentions
This is a list of other Batbooks that are still worth a read for Batfans, but have not been included in ‘The List’ for reasons I will state below:

Batman: Knightfall Part One – Broken Bat
Knightfall is like the Rocky movies: a great overall story arc, but the execution leaves a little to be desired. The chapters written by Chuck Dixon are pretty good (especially the moving finale), but most of the fill-in stories are abhorrent. Nonetheless, an important chapter of Batman’s life, though it suffers from the trappings of 90s event books and B-list villains. Bane puts the Batman through his paces, letting his entire rogues gallery loose upon Gotham. He breaks his spirit and then his back.

Batman: Nine Lives
A cinema-style noir murder mystery and a damn fine Elseworlds tale. It just feels a little dry, and the Batman takes a while to surface.

Batman: Thrillkiller
Again, this is a great Elseworlds tale, starring Batgirl and Robin, this time in the early 60s. Each panel is painted beautifully, but Batman’s glaring absence is once again noted for most of this tale.

JLA: Tower of Babel
A pretty good Justice League story with one tiny problem: Mark Waid’s Batman is a prick. This was the era of the know-it-all Batman – the House M.D. of comics, if you will – never explaining the methods behind his madness until the very end. Ra’s Al Ghul [you’ll hear his name a lot] procures Batman’s secret files to use them against his allies.

Tales of the Demon
If you can get past the West-ian campiness you’ll enjoy some of the greatest Ra’s Al Ghul stories ever written.

Strange Apparitions
Such an apt title for such a strange book. Following the death of Dr Hugo Strange, this story proves once again that the Bat mixes well with the supernatural. But if you can’t handle a little West-ness, you might want to steer clear.

A Death in the Family
An extremely imporant chapter in Batman’s life, but pretty poorly executed. The fact that the ending was voted for only cheapens the emotional impact.

Gotham by Gaslight
Another Elseworlds tale that suffers from not enough Batman. Batman must hunt down Jack the Ripper before it’s too late, but when Bruce Wayne is suspected, things go arye. The identity of the infamous serial killer is a little disappointing, especially when you compare the mystery as a whole to Alan Moore’s From Hell.

Hush
Hush amounts to nothing more than a gorgeous fangasm, really. Still a good read, up until the ‘big reveal’ at least. It’s still a pretty fun ride through Batman’s gallery of rogues and allies.

Batman & Dracula: Red Rain
The Batman must become a bat-man to protect Gotham from its bloodthirsty tormentor. It’s a pretty decent Elseworlds tale with a great idea behind it, Moench just doesn’t get as much mileage out of it as I had hoped.

Batman: Child Of Dreams
A Japanese take on the Batman, author Kia Asamiya actually deconstructs Japanese culture better than the character himself. This is essentially Batman for a new audience (the Japanese), so it’s understandable that many of the ideas presented are well-worn. It’s still well-executed and an intriguing read, nonetheless.

Death and the Maidens
Greg Rucka cooks up a storm within the Al Ghul family, building up a new heir and Bat-villain in Nyssa Al Ghul. But to kill a man who has resurrected himself time and again with such apparent finality – it’s a little hard to swallow – and with Ra’s’ recent resurrection last year, it all feels a little ineffectual. It is Greg Rucka and Klaus Janson, though, and you can’t blame them for trying.

So that does it for me – if want to dive headfirst into the Batman mythos, check out the books I’ve recommended above. If you want to go further, give the others a try – I’ve been a little harsh on them – they’re not the greatest, but they’re still enjoyable reads. I also highly recommend Grant Morrison’s current run on Batman, but be warned – it’s extremely zany, and requires a lot of background knowledge to follow.

What about you? Do you fancy yourself a fellow Bat-fan? Have I left out your favourite Batbook? If so, gimme some hell!