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Literature Review (Part 2: DC) May 1, 2006

Posted by Brian L. Belen in Comics, Reviews.
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You can see by the DC comic titles I’ve collected my affinity for following particular writers and artists.

First: Batman: The Long Halloween by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale. Easily one of the most engaging and enjoyable reads I’ve had in a while. The story follows Batman in his early years as he, Commissioner Gordon and District Attorney Harvey Dent investigate a series of murders targeting the prominent mob families of Gotham City, beginning on Halloween and on some holiday or another for a year thereafter. Essentially, it’s a retelling of the origins of Two-Face. Everything about the story is simply brilliant. Loeb does an excellent job weaving together a noir murder mystery depicting Batman (properly) as a detective. And Sale’s artwork fits like a glove. So taken was I with this one that I had to get the creative team’s sequel, Batman: Dark Victory. If your Batman experience will be limited to these two books together with Frank Miller’s Batman: Year One and Dark Knight Returns, it will be a very rich one.

You will, however, want to stay away from Batman: Haunted Knight, also by Loeb and Sale, a collection of halloween stories. Prepared early in their collaboration, it’s just not up to par with their later work. You won’t miss anything if you never encounter the book in your life (unless you have a knack for completeness).

Next: Superman for All Seasons, again by Loeb and Sale. This graphic novel offers a poignant, possibly even lighthearted story emphasizing Superman’s strength of character. I thought it was a thoroughly enjoyable read, although anyone hoping for the typical superhero story with the token mega-battle may be disappointed.

On a whim, I decided to try out Joe Kelly and Chris Bachalo’s Steampunk and was sadly quite disappointed. The story follows Cole Blaquesmith, a fisherman in mid-1700s London who seeks help from a madman to save the life of the woman he loves, travels to the future precisely for that purpose and in the process alters the fabric of reality. On the face of it, the plot had promise, but the finished product couldn’t pull it off. Joe Kelly’s style of storytelling was rushed and all over the place, and Chris Bachalo’s art, and the intricate details that I’m a big fan of, was just an utter mess. Trust me: if you leaf through the two volumes, you’ll understand why the series was cancelled prematurely.

Thankfully, my faith in Chris Bachalo’s talents were restored when I picked up a copy of The Witching Hour, where his pencils perfectly matched (suprise, surprise) Jeph Loeb’s story. This was just fantastic: a tale about modern-day witches who work to set right certain injustices and shortcomings in people’s lives, and help them see the possibilities that lie in store for them. Loeb is able to weave an intricate story that goes back and forth between the witches’ history, the mission they are on and the lives of the people they try to help, all coming together by the end of the book. Bachalo’s imaginative artwork, penchant for details and creative use of panels suit the story perfectly. Reading the book I couldn’t help but be reminded of Neil Gaiman and Chris Bachalo’s work on the two volumes of Death. This one may just be that good.

So those are the titles I’ve enjoyed (mostly) since getting back to New York. There’s plenty more I’m looking forward to collecting (DC: The New Frontier, Green Lantern: Rebirth, Neil Gaiman’s run on Eternals, et cetera), so I suspect I’ll be writing about them in the future. Who knows? I might just end up getting a degree in comic books on my way to finishing my PhD in economics. I’m sure I wouldn’t be the first.

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Comments»

1. Anonymous - May 26, 2006

Have you read Infinite crisis? War Games? – mon


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