Archive for Paul Pope

Lasso of Truth – Weekly Comics Round-up: 14th October 2009

Posted in Adventure Comics, Batman, Blackest Night, Comics, Green Lantern Corps, Secret Six, Wednesday Comics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 14th October, 2009 by Adam Redsell

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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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Adventure Comics #3/506
Written by Geoff Johns ǀ Art by Francis Manapul
Gimmicky re-numbering aside, yet another fantastic issue of Adventure Comics.  I never thought I’d care about Superboy, but I do now thanks to Geoff Johns.  I never thought I’d care about Red Robin either, but Johns made me do that as well.  An emotionally poignant character study of Conner Kent and Tim Drake.
Verdict: Must have.


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Blackest Night: Batman #3
Written by Peter J. Tomasi ǀ Art by Adrian Syaf
An entertaining survival horror story with plenty of fan service for Robin fans.  Dick Grayson and Tim Drake face their parents once again for the last time.
Verdict: Check it out.


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Green Lantern Corps #41
Written by Peter J. Tomasi ǀ Art by Patrick Gleason
Tomasi keeps up the horror in his epic space battle.  Gleason’s artwork is once again let down by the rotation of inkers throughout this issue.
Verdict: Check it out.


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Secret Six #14
Written by Gail Simone ǀ Art by Nicola Scott w/ Carlos Rodriguez
Month in, month out, Secret Six is my favourite DC book.  The “Depths” arc concludes with an issue that truly lives up to its name.  Bane and Scandal Savage’s oddball relationship is pushed to the very edge, and it seems there’s even more upheaval on the horizon for the Six.
Verdict: Must have.


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Wednesday Comics #11 & 12
Written by Various ǀ Art by Various
I know I’m a bit late with this, but for some reason my local comics store forget to hold a copy of issue 11 for me last month.  Wednesday Comics was without a doubt a great experiment with the weekly comics format – an experiment I hope DC repeats sooner rather than later.  Highlights for me included Azzarello’s Batman, Dave Gibbons’ Kamandi, Palmiotti’s Supergirl, Gaiman’s Metamorpho, Pope’s Strange Adventures, and Kerschl’s The Flash.  Simonson’s The Demon and Catwoman finished excellently as well.
Verdict: Must have.

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Wednesday Comics #5

Posted in Comics, DC, Wednesday Comics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 8th August, 2009 by Adam Redsell
Thank God it's Wednesday.

Thank God it's Wednesday.

Onto week five of Wednesday Comics, and there’s much to report.  I’ll go through it page by page as I did with the first issue:

Batman
Author: Brian Azzarello
Artist: Eduardo Risso (with Robins & Mulvihill)

There’s a moody, green atmosphere back in the Batcave as Bruce Wayne pieces together the evidence surrounding Carlton Glass’ murder.  Alfred, as always, makes a pointed observation on the Batman/Bruce Wayne dynamic.  I love the layout on this page; the smaller panels on the outside give the feeling of “putting the pieces together”, while the central spread of the Batcave suggests an “openness” and scope.  I love Eduardo Risso’s facial expressions and close-up shots; they help establish an intimacy with the characters.

Kamandi: The Last Boy on Earth!
Author: Dave Gibbons
Artist: Ryan Sook

Kamandi: The Last Boy on Earth! is explosive action as always.  The unlikely pair of Kamandi and Prince Tuftan the anthropomorphic tiger take on an entire army of apes in an attempt to save the first human girl they’ve ever seen.  Dave Gibbons has handed Ryan Sook the reins, quite happy to observe from afar. Without a doubt, though, it is Gibbons’ visual storytelling sensibilities coupled with Sook’s beautifully detailed action drawings that have made this story such a treat to behold.

Superman
Author: John Arcudi
Artist: Lee Bermejo
Colorist: Barbara Ciardo
Letterer: Ken Lopez

It didn’t take long for Arcudi’s Superman to go from intriguing sci-fi action to emo navel-gazing – one issue in fact – and it hasn’t been the same since.  I’d like to see it return to form, but clearly that was just the setup for this revisitation of Kal-El’s origins.  I suspect this was nothing more than an excuse to have Bermejo depict the destruction of Krypton in excruciatingly beautiful detail.  Maybe this would have been better as a straight re-telling rather than a flashback.  Superman’s banging on about “not belonging” even though he’s got the two greatest parents on Earth: Ma and Pa Kent.  What an ingrate.

Deadman
“The Dearly Departed Detective: Part V”
Authors: Dave Bullock & Vinton Heuck
Artist: Dave Bullock
Letterer: Jared Fletcher
Colorist: Dave Stewart

Deadman got a whole lot better when he stopped talking and started fighting.  Since the sharp drop in speech bubbles in issue 4, the panels have opened up to Boston Brand’s acrobatics and hard-boiled introspection.  Question, though, can Deadman really die?

Green Lantern
Author: Kurt Busiek
Artist: Joe Quiñones (with Pat Brosseau)

I know I bashed on Busiek last week (or yesterday) for flashing back, but this time it actually works.  Hal reminisces on his space college days as he races to save his mutating astronaut friend.  I suspect this is to emotionally ground the inevitable battle between the two.

Metamorpho
Author: Neil Gaiman
Artist: Michael Allred
Colorist: Laura Allred
Letterer: Nate Piekos

Gaiman really picks up his game this time, returning with the humour and aplomb he brought to the first issue.  Metamorpho’s billionaire boss Mr. Stagg decides to stop for lunch in a booby-trapped Antarctic temple and hilarity ensues!  Metamorpho finally gets to put his elemental powers to good use!

Teen Titans
Author: Eddie Berganza
Artist: Sean Galloway
Letterer: Nick J. Napolitano

Teen Titans is just so pale and boring.  The soft lines and washy colours don’t help matters much, but the paper-thin plot and ever-switching perspectives are the main culprit here.  I just don’t care about what’s happening here, and I feel as though I’m expected to.  In fact, I’m still not entirely sure just what is happening here…

Strange Adventures
Author & Artist: Paul Pope (and Jose Villarrubia)

Even the Rannian Wastes are beautifully exotic in the hands of master artist-writer Paul Pope.  This time Strange Adventures has a decidedly Arabian Nights-style feel to it.  With Adam Strange nowhere in sight, it strikes me that his wife Alanna may be this title’s protagonist.

Supergirl
Author: Jimmy Palmiotti
Artist: Amanda Conner
Colorist: Paul Mounts
Letterer: John J. Hill

Palmiotti’s Supergirl is cute and charming and all, but I can’t help but wish there was more to this story than rounding up some rowdy super-pets…

Metal Men
Author: Dan DiDio
Artists: José Luis García-López & Kevin Nowlan
Letterer: Kenny Lopez
Colorist: Trish Mulvihill

A standard bank robbery has evolved into a hostage situation.  A very personal hostage situation for Doc Magnus.  DiDio creates a tense atmosphere throughout, but isn’t afraid to break it up with some classic Metal Men humour.

Wonder Woman
Author & Artist: Ben Caldwell

Reading Caldwell’s Wonder Woman is an exercise in frustration.  The claustrophobic panels make it near-impossible to follow or even read.  I’ve at least managed to figure out the basic story: Diana is accumulating all of the necessary accoutrements to become Wonder Woman in her fitful sleep, under the guise of collecting the “seven stars”.    It seems that most of these legendary items are in Ancient China, though, which I don’t quite understand.

Sgt. Rock and Easy Co.
Author: Adam Kubert
Artist: Joe Kubert

I said before that it’d be interesting to see where the Kuberts go from here, and the answer is nowhere.  Nowhere in five weeks is a lot of nowhere.  More visceral images of Rock being tortured.

Flash Comics/Iris West
Authors: Karl Kerschl & Brenden Fletcher
Artist: Karl Kerschl
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Colorist: Dave McCaig

This is a great story!  Barry Allen keeps revisiting the same moments with Gorilla Grodd and Iris West, but each time his nemesis and his lover throw him yet another curveball.  It just goes to show that turning back time won’t solve everything — in fact, it’ll do quite the opposite!

The Demon and Catwoman
Author: Walter Simonson
Artist: Brian Stelfreeze (with Steve Wands)

Walter Simonson’s Demon may not rhyme, but he’s still a damn fine poet.  Catwoman’s not really worthy of her double-billing at this stage, though, so hopefully she’ll shine next week.

Hawkman
Author & Artist: Kyle Baker

It’s disappointing that the sci-fi element of this story was dispensed with so handily this week – I was under the impression that the alien threat was still there – but hopefully we’ll see it return.  Hawkman’s only stopping a plane crash this week, but the final caption promises that next week “it gets worse!”

I’d have to say that this has been by far the strongest installment of Wednesday Comics.  The greats are still great, and some under-performers really hit it out of the park this week.  Certainly worth a read.

Wednesday Comics #4

Posted in Comics, DC, Wednesday Comics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 7th August, 2009 by Adam Redsell
Risky and rewarding.

Risky and rewarding.

Four weeks of Wednesday Comics and it’s panning out as expected: the strong stories are still performing strongly and the others, well – not so strongly.

John Arcudi’s Superman – while beautifully painted by Lee Bermejo – is still, quite frankly, a whiny bitch; Neil Gaiman’s Metamorpho an absolute head-scratcher; Eddie Berganza’s Teen Titans just screams ordinary; while Ben Caldwell’s Wonder Woman remains a cramped, unfocused mess (I didn’t even know something could be those three things at once until I read it).

It’s interesting to see who really thrives in this weekly one-page format and who doesn’t – I’m honestly surprised at how unimpressed I’ve been with Neil Gaiman’s Metamorpho, and yet at the same time I wonder just how much brilliance I’d expect from one page of Sandman.  But this isn’t a 22-page comic, nor is it a graphic novel, and I think the writers and artists that understand that are the ones that deliver.  The Kuberts’ Sgt. Rock is dragging its heels like nothing else (so far he’s managed to get himself tortured), and Kurt Busiek’s Green Lantern isn’t much better (so far, Hal Jordan flew into a bar, flew out of a bar, and had a flashback – ZOMG!).  Just get to the good bits already! You can’t pace this like a 22-page comic, exploding it out page by page in a weekly format – you’ve only got twelve weeks to tell your story, and one page to impress me.  Given his experience with the weekly format, you’d think Busiek of all people would have it down.

The ones that do have it down are Gibbons (Kamandi), Pope (Strange Adventures), and Kerschl (The Flash/Iris West).  Come to think of it, all three of them feature villainous, super-intelligent, talking apes.  Kamandi is an open, sprawling adventure in a dystopian future.  Gibbons, an adept artist himself, lets Ryan Sook tell the story visually while he narrates.  Both Kamandi and Strange Adventures are throwbacks to the EC “Weird Science-Fantasy” comics of the fifties, and both are positively dripping with atmosphere.  I suspect the hand-written captions may have also helped in this regard.  Kerschl took the most interesting route of all the writers, telling parallel stories of The Flash and his lover Iris West, and you know what?  I think he’s stumbled across the magic formula for one-page-per-week storytelling.  I love the contrast of romance and superheroics from week to week, and the way these stories interweave and feed off of each other.  Barry Allen must race against time and himself(!) to save Central City and his love-life!  I love it!

Honestly, it’s worth reading Wednesday Comics just to follow those three, but there are plenty of other strong efforts to justify your purchase.  Dave Bullock has managed to pick up the pace and find his voice in a much more focused Deadman, while the Most Improved award must go to Walter Simonson with The Demon and Catwoman, which makes a whole lot more sense now in its own weird little way.  Catwoman has become a cat-woman, and the Demon is waxing poetic as he should be, as they duke it out in the highlands.  Brian Azzarello’s Batman is shaping up to be an intriguing murder mystery, while Dan DiDio’s Metal Men is again surprisingly funny.  Jimmy Palmiotti’s Supergirl is okay, if only a little trivial on the back of Pope’s Strange Adventures (Supergirl’s basically trying to round up two super-powered pets who have run away from home).  While it’s disappointing that Hawkman‘s story is no longer narrated by birds as it was in the first issue, it has taken a science fiction twist for the better, I believe.

And that about wraps it for the fourth week of Wednesday Comics.  I have issue 5 in front of me now, but I suspect I’ll have nothing new to say about it.  This is the most interesting experiment in the comic book format that you’re ever likely to be part of, so get into it.

Wednesday Comics #1

Posted in Comics, DC, Wednesday Comics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 8th July, 2009 by Adam Redsell
The Ultimate Newspaper

The Ultimate Newspaper.

Wednesday Comics is the product of DC’s continued experiments with the weekly comic format, and in many ways I think it’s the culmination.  For many people, this will be the Ultimate Newspaper.  It’s certainly mine.  There’s something about opening it out that makes the experience that much more exciting.  And while the whole format is a throwback to the Sunday comic strips, and the stories themselves a throwback to the Silver Age; it’s just so brimming with comic magic that it can’t help but feel fresh and new.  Each page is devoted to a DC property, written and illustrated by a star-studded roster including the likes of Brian Azzarello, Dave Gibbons, Kyle Baker, John Arcudi, Lee Bermejo, Kurt Busiek, Neil Gaiman, Paul Pope, Adam Kubert, Joe Kubert, and Walter Simonson.  The hook is this: these creators get to tell stories of whichever character they damn-well please.   The plan is virtually fool-proof.  Here’s how it went:

Batman
Author: Brian Azzarello
Artist: Eduardo Risso (with Robins & Mulvihill)

Not a whole lot of action as yet, but we have a good setup here.  Batman finds out he has until midnight to save an investment banker from being murdered.  Problem is, it already is midnight.  Azzarello makes an interesting observation on Commissioner Gordon’s relationship with Batman.

Kamandi
Author: Dave Gibbons
Artist: Ryan Sook

The opening shot is classic Kamandi, but I’m also getting hints of “Tales of the Black Freighter”, which is interesting because this time Gibbons is writing, not drawing!  Gibbons highlights the awesomely clever origin of Kamandi’s name too.

Superman
Author: John Arcudi
Artist: Lee Bermejo

Bermejo’s Superman is absolutely gorgeous.  This has got to be the most intriguing story of the bunch as well…

Deadman
Authors: Dave Bullock & Vinton Heuck
Artist: Dave Bullock
Letterer: Jared Fletcher
Colorist: Dave Stewart

Deadman is too talky and too simple for my liking.  As far as noir goes, though, it does talk the talk, especially in the art department.

Green Lantern
Author: Kurt Busiek
Artist: Joe Quiñones

Busiek and Quiñones revisit the Hal Jordan of the 50s, and if Darwyn Cooke’s New Frontier was anything to go by, this should fit like an old pair of shoes.  (Comfortably, that is.)

Metamorpho
Author: Neil Gaiman
Artist: Michael Allred
Colorist: Laura Allred
Letterer: Nate Piekos

This was probably the funniest of the fifteen comic strips.  Gaiman has put himself right into the Silver Age for this one, forcing foibles and attitudes of the time period to great comedic effect.  Michael Allred also channels Jack Kirby with his bold, no-nonsense approach to the panels.

Teen Titans
Author: Eddie Berganza
Artist: Sean Galloway

Loved the art style.  The writing – not so much…

Adam Strange
Author & Artist: Paul Pope

The biggest surprise for me was Paul Pope’s choice of character in Adam Strange.  I had him pinned as a Batman-only writer, but boy, was I ever wrong.  This pulp-style sci-fi is probably the coolest of the bunch.

Supergirl
Author: Jimmy Palmiotti
Artist: Amanda Conner

This is pretty much just an intro, but a cute and funny one nonetheless.  After all, isn’t that what these Sunday comic strips were all about?

Metal Men
Author: Dan DiDio
Artists: José Luis García-López & Kevin Nowlan

Anyone who’s ever read a ‘DC Nation’ column was probably as surprised as I was when they realised that Dan DiDio’s Metal Men is actually quite funny.  And clever!

Wonder Woman
Author & Artist: Ben Caldwell

While I found Wonder Woman’s conversation with the pigeons to be quite amusing, I thought the rest of the page was cluttered and confusing.  I think Ben Caldwell is trying to cram too much in here.

Sgt. Rock and Easy Co.
Author: Adam Kubert
Artist: Joe Kubert

Kubert and Son join forces for a striking first effort.  Joe’s depiction of Sergeant Rock’s brutal interrogation is all kinds of visceral.  I’ve never read Adam Kubert’s writing before, so it’ll be interesting to see where he goes from here.

The Flash
Authors: Karl Kerschl & Brenden Fletcher
Artist: Karl Kerschl
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Colorist: Dave McCaig

It’s good to see Karl and Brenden really experiment with the form.  The Flash page is split into two parallel stories: a Flash action sequence in a race to stop Gorilla Grodd; and Iris West, about to leave that unreliable, good-for-nothing Barry Allen!  Can’t wait to read the next one.

The Demon and Catwoman
Author: Walter Simonson
Artist: Brian Stelfreeze (with Steve Wands)

What *appears* to be a rather wacky combination of characters proves to be rather dry, as Selina Kyle takes a tour of Jason Blood’s mansion.  Hopefully things will heat up when the Cat and the Demon come out to play…

Hawkman
Author & Artist: Kyle Baker

A great note to finish on.  The entire story is told from the perspective of a hawk as Hawkman leads his avian allies into battle.

I never thought it would happen, but I think DC may have finally nailed that magic weekly formula.  If each of these stories advance at a steady pace, then we should be in for a real treat.

A word to the wise, though: *probably* don’t carry this one on the bus, or out in the rain…

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 Adam Redsell

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!