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This comic should be impossible to fudge. It takes three horror icons that all have a sense of humor attached to them (except maybe Jason, but even he had his funny moments), and puts them all together in what should be the match-up of the century. Well… let’s see how that goes.
Summary: The comic opens to a frozen Crystal Lake, and Jason floating in his usual hibernation pose, sans hockey mask. It copies the opening of Freddy vs Jason by having Freddy, who at this moment is banished from the mortal realm (I think), impersonate Jason’s mom, in his head, again. Jason, he’s not a bright boy. Freddy decides to sick Jason on Ash this time, who apparently “killed” Jason at the end of a previous comic. So Jason awakes and kills some people, heading towards the home of Ash, who is now enjoying the retired life. I won’t tell anymore, because I don’t want to spoil a comic that I actually didn’t dislike (is that a double negative?).
Writing: It’s good, to a point. One thing that is definitely improved is the humor. Although there isn’t a lot of it. At first, I thought this was simply because of the fact that they are trying to cram a lot of set up in there, and they are, but that’s not why. I think the reason why the humor of A Nightmare on Elm Street and Evil Dead simply don’t work in this medium is because they largely depend on the delivery of the key actors, Robert England and Bruce Campbell, respectively. The jokes that are here are actually not bad, including a really hard to spot one that I loved. When I found it, I was so glad they didn’t point it out. Here, see if you can find it:
Art: The comic suffers here a bit, but not too much. There are some occasional posture or facial shots that seem really bizarre, but other than that no big complaints, except…
I’m not sure who to blame for this, but the artist (or letterer, depending on who did it) should have known better. I’m pretty sure this was supposed to be menacing and faithful to Friday the 13th, but it is neither. What it is, however, is an unintended source of hilarity. Not only is the noise wrong (it is supposed to be ki-ki-ki ma-ma-ma) the echoing sound of “Kill Her Mommy” that Jason Vorhess’ mother hears her son tell her in the first movie, but also, it was never meant to be displayed in this way. It would have been less distracting if Freddy walked behind Jason wherever he went saying it instead.
Also, Ash is wearing Elvis shades, which can’t help but conjure up Bubba Ho Tep flashbacks, which is awesome.
Overall: A much worthier comic than our last entry, even if it suffers from heavy dependence on a previous comic series I missed, making a good deal of this comic seem nonsensical. I would have to say track those down first before committing to this whole series. Although, this comic is quality enough to make me wonder…
How was the Ash vs Re-animator crossover?
And so, faithful reader, in this 10th article, I depart, to hopefully return in January, new, improved, and with more comics in hand. I hope, if anyone reads these, to see you then.
I love the Evil Dead movies. No hiding it, no shame, these movies are the bee’s fucking knees. Bruce Campbell? Forget about it. I have followed this guy ever since I saw him on Hercules, the Legendary Journeys as a kid. I’ve read both of his books. I EVEN LIKED MY NAME IS BRUCE. Sam Raimi? While I may not have liked his forays into the superhero genre (as mentioned last week) I do like most of his other films, and, as someone who was once (and is in some ways still) an aspiring filmmaker, I have an enormous respect for his ingenuity and the techniques he developed as a low-budget filmmaker.
I had heard on the commentary to Army of Darkness that Sam and Ivan Raimi had written some comics based on the movies, and it sounded alright to me. More hilarious horror adventures with our hero Ash? Sounded like a good idea to me. So, one day my girlfriend stopped by our local comic book store looking for something, saw the comic and picked it up for me.
It was not written by Sam or Ivan Raimi. Or any Raimi, for that matter.
Summary: It opens with a series of references to the opening and ending of Army of Darkness, with bits of exposition about the state of the world (it seems there were some comic s in the story before this, including Marvel Zombies), peppered in. Evil Ash Prime, as he is called, has corrupted the world, and now humans are barely surviving in a world ruled by Deadites. Ash stumbles out of the cave where the portal dropped him to make a blatant joke/reference to the end of the director’s cut to Army of Darkness. Pulling himself together after weeping over the potential loss of his “Sugarbaby”, he picks himself up and saunters off, right into a gang of Deadites. At least we are told they are Deadites, because except for the one that looks like a giant Satyr, these guys could be a bunch of bikers for all we know.
“Suck it, Joker, I’ve got two shoe-blades!”
Ash easily defeats them, because he’s FUCKING ASH, and then we cut to Evil Ash’s layer, where it is implied he is violating them in the other room, in ways that cannot be described. Waiting in his throne room is some evil Deadite advisor lady, and…DUH DUH DUH! Sugarbaby is there! And she’s a Deadite! Another thing that wasn’t clear thanks to the art. And that we’re given no reason to care about.
Evil Ash comes out complaining that because he never got to kill Ash, his life is empty. His evil advisor woman says that all he would have to do is kill himself and then he could fight Ash on the other side. Sounds like a reasonable way to get out of this comic to me!
We cut back to Ash, walking around, looking lost, when an old man claiming to be a seer starts harassing him. Ash’s character has apparently reverted completely to his beginning of Army of Darkness personality, and tells the old man to get bent, right before the old man starts showing him visions of the past and future, saying how Evil Ash got powerful, and what Ash needs to do to stop it, by finding a few chosen warriors. It also gives Ash the chance to make a really unfunny and nonsensical Planet of the Apes reference. Joy.
“Is that Gorro? Ash you fool, this isn’t Planet of the Apes, it’s the Mortal Kombat movie! RUN!”
So, his fate determined for him like always, Ash goes forth to face his destiny.
Writing: So, the idea of this story is actually pretty good. Ash taking the fight to the Deadites in a post-apocalyptic future sounds like sliced bread, but it somehow became Cazu Marzu (look it up, by all means) along the way. One big foul up was the humor. Or rather the attempt at it.
You see, in place of Ash’s hilarious one liners or any real comedy, there are pop-culture references and horrifying attempts at wit. Here is my FAVORITE.
Where to begin with this? It’s a stupid joke. This sort of humor isn’t really funny when it’s topical. So after the fact like this, it comes off as the writer saying something tasteless and stupid and then elbowing us in the ribcage. With a chainsaw.
Also, I think it was pretty clear that Ash is from the 70’s-80’s era. So when did he find out about any of this? It makes this comic horribly dated AND anachronistic to its own story. Speaking of which, what the hell happened to Ash? Even for a pretty one-note character in what amounts to a Gore-Comedy, he still had character growth in Army of Darkness, and in many ways even became the hero that he was destined to be, which this comic references several times. That comes across to some degree, but it just feels like the character in the comic is simply a cheap archetype of the man we all know and love. Even with these gripes, the story is still a bit intriguing, if a little stock with all of the coolness and humor washed away.
Art: The art, while decent, suffers from a lack of continuity with the story, and with Ash’s face. We all know Bruce Campbell has a big chin, guys. You don’t have to have it trying to eat the rest of his face in every other panel.
If there is any complaint beyond that, it’s that nothing is really memorable beyond the cool, if a bit muddy, cover. And the opening few pages with the Necronomicon are done very well.
“Yeah, with a knife” “Or a Bigger Knife” “FUCKING KNIFE”
Overall: This comic was at best mediocre, even through the rose colored glasses of a fan of the franchise, who really wanted to enjoy it. With piss-poor humor, and the man, Ash, apparently being replaced by a conventioner cosplaying as Ash, I can’t recommend it to anyone, especially new readers, as there is a good deal of continuity that is missing without previous issues and Marvel Zombies. And if there isn’t, then the writer is just lazy.
Next week I will be looking at another comic starring the S-Mart CSR from Housewares, one that involves some other horror icons as well…and what’s funny, as I read the ads in the back of this book, is that my statement hardly narrows it down.
So, confession time. I have never liked Spiderman. I only read a few comic when I was young and they were pretty mediocre, and it wasn’t until the Sam Raimi movies that I was exposed to the friendly neighborhood web slinger again. AND I FUCKING HATE THOSE MOVIES. Without going too much into it, the main reason is the portrayal of Spiderman himself, by one Tobey Maguire, as a simpering, annoying idiot.
When I voiced this to a friend who was an avid comic reader, around the time of the second movie or so, he told me that WAS Spiderman, and I probably wouldn’t like any comics with him in it either. So I really never was interested until I found out from much more…informed people that this is not how Spiderman actually is supposed to be. So I thought “Well, I should read some Spiderman then!”. But no, dear reader. For by these same people I was also informed that Spidey had taken a nose dive with the events of a book called One More Day, in which Spiderman makes a deal with the devil because blah blah blah (if you really don’t know by now, the Internet is full of stuff about it and why it sucked).
But, being and objective reader and not wanting to just give up again on this franchise, I decided to throw caution and good sense to the wind and picked up this issue, mainly because the variant cover looked good. It…kinda worked out?
Summary: So, we open with a brief monologue from Peter Parker recapping some events, kind of. He mostly just talks about how beautiful Mary Jane looked at the wedding. But, in between Spider-dweebs babbling, we get brief info about Jonah Jameson, Spideys “worst enemy”, becoming mayor, Jonah’s dad marrying Aunt May, and Dr. Octopus and Norman Osborn doing evil things that will have no effect on this issue.
The comic proper begins with a series of flashbacks about Aunt May’s wedding reception and how Mary Jane was there. Interspersed with this is Peter waking up the next morning in bed with someone named Michelle (apparently his roommate who doesn’t like him) and her getting pissed at him because…he doesn’t remember? Whatever. Point is, she says she wants him gone.
Oh, believe me, Spidey, many comic book fans have beaten you to it.
Then, Spidey swings over to his Aunt May’s house, looking for a place to stay, but finds that it is now populated by relatives, living there until Aunt May returns from her honeymoon. So he saunters off, pondering what he can remember of last night’s event (he made a date with MJ, but can’t remember when or where).
From there, the comic goes into classic Super Hero mode: Peter finds out about a fire, shows up, saves the day with somewhat witty remarks and quick thinking.
“Fear not, citizen, for I am the Incredible Firescreamer! With the amazing ability to yell out fire!”
The comic ends with Peter remembering where to meet MJ, but sadly she oversleeps and never shows up. It also contains a short little bonus story about parenting and role models, that is alright, I guess. A little corny, but that’s better than nothing.
Writing: This may come off as more of a critique of Spiderman in general, so bare with me. In regards to the comic, it ranges from banal, the stuff about his sleeping with Michelle and the date with MJ, to average, with him saving the burning building. Nothing really special about this comic, but for what it is, it’s well executed.
But on to Spiderman in general (and this may leak over unto the whole of Marvel as well), I really hate Jonah Jameson. The “I’ll get Spiderman” schtick was old before it got started. I know he has served some purpose (and I actually like him in the movies) but he falls so flat. He basically serves as a device for the writer to go “Poor Spiderman, no one likes him. Look how wrong Jameson is about him!”. He straw-man’s all critique of Spidey’s actions, as opposed to what he should be, which is someone who voices actual concerns about Parker that allow Pete to question his own actions and become stronger through it.
That’s just the direction I would have liked to see it go, but maybe that’s not what Spiderman is really about, after all, I’m new to his world.
But one thing I am not new to is the biggest gripe I have with Marvel. The civilians. Holy crap I hate them. They range from completely helpless to stupid and vindictive. Not only do they change sides at the drop of a hat, but they just act incredibly idiotic (the Screamtress up there is a perfect example). And when it comes to stories about people trying to save them, its hard to get into it when you don’t care if they live or die.
Also, like every Marvel comic I’ve read, every time a character references a past story, a little box pops up to talk about it, and tell you what issue. This is helpful at first, but after a while it kind of feels like they’re just pushing things on you.
“No, Spiderman, I, the great Water Pusher, shall assist you!” (Christ I hate these people)
Art: The comic shines here, mostly. The flashback sequences especially utilize color in a way that makes it flow well with the inter-cut of the morning after. There is one thing, however, that the artist can’t seem to get right, and that’s faces. Now, every artist approaches the human anatomy differently, so obviously, not every face looks exact. But this…well…
I think Mary Jane may have been to Innsmouth recently!
Depending on the angle, Mary Jane looks either like a man, or a fish person. It’s rather bizarre. I suppose it doesn’t take anything away from the story, but after Peter’s drooling over her for most of the comic you have to wonder if he’s into some weird shit.
Overall: Amazing Spiderman 601 isn’t terrible, it’s nothing special, but from what I’ve been hearing about Spidey these days, that’s probably better than normal. It doesn’t require any knowledge of his continuity to get into, and in fact, I suspect it was better because I didn’t know a whole lot about the current storyline. However that’s not much of a recommendation, is it?
…Better than those goddamn movies, though.
It’s Halloween, dear viewers, and I think it’s a perfect time to do two things. First, to get back to the reason why I started writing these articles, which is to look at comics from the perspective of a relative outsider. And Second, to talk about the largest event in the DC universe at the moment, Blackest Night. As a huge fan of horror, and a huge fan of DC, this seems like it could be a winning combination, and upon the recommendation of Mr. Jennings, I decided to pick up Blackest Night: Superman #1 of 3.
Summary: It opens like a classic horror film, with “Kal-L of Earth 2” rising from his grave, commanded by an unseen force that speaks in black text boxes shaped like a green lantern symbol. After some establishment that we are in Smallville and a mysterious shape is flying through the sky. We cut to Superman and Conner (Superboy?) and the Kent farm, having coffee with Ma Kent. (Side note, Jonathan Kent is apparently dead, it’s not discussed why or how in this comic). During their nice sit down, we see things from the perspective of Zombie Superman 2 (He is still technically Superman, right?) as he stalks about town. It is here we are shown that not only can he see people’s base emotions, he also keeps talking about his power level (does he feed on the emotions? Never explained).
“Well no wonder he’s afraid, apparently Zombie Superman is also a Super-SAIYAN! (That’s the last one I swear…)”
Eventually, Superman and Conner find Zombie Kal-L in the graveyard, digging up the grave of Jonathan Kent (I think). A fight ensues, with Zombie Superman wooping ass and almost killing Conner. He then leaves, and during this, zombie Lois Lane (from Earth-2 as well, I think) shows up and kidnaps Ma Kent. Then Superman and Conner track the zombie honeymooners to town square, where they notice the town is abandoned. Then, the Zombies reveal themselves, posing for the final page of the comic, holding Ma Kent hostage.
“What? Now Conner’s a 28 Days Later zombie? I just don’t get this comic at all…”
Writing: The story does a good job at creating a homage to a slasher film, as advertised. It builds mystery and tension to the reveal of Zombie Superman, and even afterward you are left wanting to know what he’s really after, which hopefully the other 2 issues resolve. However, from a new reader standpoint, this comic is confusing as hell. The whole Earth 2 really blindsided me, as did the New Krypton thing (it was a brief side plot I glossed over because it had nothing to do with the main story). I considered myself at least a bit knowledgeable about the DC universe, but I have no idea what the crap they are talking about. The black lantern rings would also probably throw a new reader off. However, there is a lot of stuff at your local comic book store that contains “checklists” of sorts, so you can read the Blackest Night stuff in order, which will makes thing more clear, I hope.
Beyond that, this comic is good, although the seeing emotion thing got kind of tiresome after a while. Also, I don’t normally talk about lettering and the like, but the Black Lantern narration style boxes are very clever.
Art: The art is fine, nothing special, but well executed nonetheless. For the most part, anyway. There are a couple moments where I question some facial expressions, mainly this one close up of Superman where it looks like he’s possessed by the Devil.
“Um…that’s not the evil Superman, right?”
Also, for no reason I can gather (aesthetic choice, I guess) the panel order will shift from left to right on one page to a two page left to right format. It’s pretty jarring, although not deal breaking.
Overall: It’s an enjoyable story about Superman, although I would have to read the rest of this three part mini-series (and for that matter, the rest of Blackest Night) to figure out not only if it’s good, but also what the hell is going on.
But more than that, this comic poses the most pressing dilemma that the DC universe has ever faced:
Does being a Zombie make Superman more or less invulnerable?
“Gimme Some Sugar, Baby.”
This time, I will be journeying into the realm of Warren Ellis again. A while ago, I decided to look into Black Summer after The Spoony One laid out the rather interesting premise in one of his videos. Which is thankful, because I wouldn’t have gotten any detail concerning the premise otherwise. Allow me to explain:
When I went to go pick up the first issue, I rightfully assumed that it was the FIRST ISSUE. And in some ways it was. But when it only briefly mentioned the events that had been laid out to me as the opening of the series, I was really confused. After asking around, I found out there was an issue zero. That’s right. An issue zero.
Let’s discuss a problem with comic books really quickly. New people have a hard time getting into comic books for a number of reasons, but a big one is because they have a hard time keeping track of characters and plot lines, and the number of issues required to do so can be intimidating. Which is why proper numbering is important, not only to more serious comic book folk but also people who are simply interested in a certain hero or story and wish to know more about them. When you break that numbering system, it is incredibly frustrating. Now, I am a pretty patient guy when it comes to this stuff, so it didn’t scare me off, but I know of many people who have been turned off to comics as a medium because of shenanigans like this.
Anyway, back to the “issue” at hand:
Summary: Black Summer is a story that starts with the worlds greatest hero, John Horus, killing the president and his cabinet. He then announces to the press that they were corrupt war criminals, and he will oversee a new fair election to replace them. Obviously, things don’t go quite that smoothly, as the military starts freaking out and hunting down all of John’s old team, one of whom, Tom Noir, is the focus of this issue. Tom was crippled in an accident and has been long retired, but that doesn’t stop the “government” from suspecting his involvement in the assassination. He receives a visit from one of their representatives, a long thought dead friend named Frank Blacksmith who has come with a large bodyguard to politely kill Tom in case he becomes a threat. It largely takes place in his apartment during this encounter, with brief flashbacks show bits of the origin story of the team.
Art: This is my biggest complaint with the comic. The art seems fine in more grand scenes (like John flying around a tower) but in the closer scenes, especially the fight scene in the apartment, it gets really line heavy, and just seems really over done. It’s not enough to break the comic, and at times this style leads to great detail, but it makes a lot of panels far too busy. One positive note in this category, though, is that despite the business, the characters expressions really show through, more so than I’ve seen in a lot of comics.
One warning to potential readers, though. It’s really, really, gory.
Writing: The concept is diabolically genius, that of a hero having no choice but to stop someone he perceives as a murderer, without the help of the justice system (this person just happens to be the president), and the question over his sanity in doing so. All of these things are laid out here (more or less, Issue Zero gives a better picture of this, however).
But other than some a good intrigue, not a whole lot happens in this issue. Regardless of the rather pin-point plot, it is expertly paced, with flashbacks providing exposition at just the right times, without it feeling like your slogging through said exposition. If one of the only complaints about something is that you want more of it, then that is usually a good sign. Also, it has some of the same style from Transmetropolitan, with a dark humor streak beneath the seriousness, and that’s never a bad thing (at least for me).
Overall: I’d recommend checking out at least the issue ZERO, which is what I did shortly after reading this one (if you can find it, it took me a while) to see if you like it. It’s only supposed to be 99 cents, so its a good way to gage whether or not you’re going to enjoy this comic, as I did. I’ve recently acquired the rest of the comics, so after I read them all I will probably come back for further analysis. However, until then, tune in next time for my first review of a comic I didn’t like!
A while back I was at my local comic book store and I noticed some assorted comics with the Watchmen logo on them that said at the top “After Watchmen…What’s Next?”. This kind of corporate shill bootstrapping makes me sick sometimes, but the idea was to make certain larger graphic novels (Sandman and this one especially) more accessible to the noobs like myself, which I can appreciate. It was only a dollar for the first chapter of one of these said novels, so I took a look through the pile and this one jumped out at me:
I had a vague recollection of hearing this was good, and that Warren Ellis was a very talented writer, so I decided to check it out. One of the best dollars I have ever spent.
Summary: Transmetropolitan is the story of Spider Jerusalem, a political cult reporter who got disillusioned and holed up in a cabin in the mountains, blasting anything that got too close. Unfortunately, before he left, he made a deal with a publishing house to write two books, which he never intended on. Now, the time has come to pay the piper, and Spider must return to the city he hates, get his old journalism job back to pay for expenses, and finish both books within one year or be sued into debtors’ jail.
There is a lot to love, just in this first chapter of the story. It’s funny, in a very dark way, and its vision of the cyberpunk future is colorful while still being somewhat bleak. The characters are especially vibrant, in design and in personality, and they leave impressions even if they don’t have a lot of panel time.
Also, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that I am a huge Hunter S. Thompson fan, and that Spider shares more than a few traits with him. In fact, though I have not researched it, I’m willing to bet that Ellis based Spider off of him, at least a little. In fact, the whole world feels a little like a Gonzo hallucination, with reality stretched to zany proportions.
Art: The art is quite solid and consistent, which is a miracle seeing how crowded the panels can get. To represent this weird world, every panel is colorful and vibrant, and while it can get a bit busy sometimes, the artist (Darick Robertson, I think) is skilled at keeping it from becoming distracting, and even with all the little things going on, nothing ever feels bland.
Writing: As mentioned above, the characters’ personalities match the art. Everyone is interesting and no one allows themselves to be forgotten. One of the reasons this is amazing is that nothing in the comic ever feels like exposition. Without realizing it we are filled in on who Spider Jerusalem is and why he does what he does (as much as can be done in this one chapter anyway).
If I were to have a complaint about the writing though, it would be that it is not for everyone. As I stated before I am a huge HST fan, so an abrasive, foul and violent style of storytelling really doesn’t throw me off, but some people might not be able to get into it so easily, especially because it can be a bit eccentric (for example: near the beginning, Spider passes by a Bar he frequented in the last 5 years, reminisces, and then proceeds to fire a rocket at it), and a bit wordy.
Overall: If these small complaints don’t bother you, then I highly recommend that you check out Transmetropolitan. It’s a unique and interesting story that requires no former knowledge of comics. I hope that the industry does more “sample” comics like this, as it is a great way to get new people like me into the medium, looking at material that we wouldn’t of gotten into beforehand.
Hey this is Jordan here, and I am here to introduce this guest reviewer. He is a fan from the Spoony Experiment forums, and when I asked for guest reviewers he was one of the first to submit a review. This is it, and I enjoyed it greatly. It’s not often I enjoy other comic book reviewers this much, but I found this be a great review. He doesn’t have a website, but if this review goes well I will be sure to bring him back for another review. So sit back and enjoy The Uninitiated Comic Reader Issue #1: Batman War Crimes written by Danius Kang.
I’ve always loved stories about superheroes. When I was young, my favorite television shows were the old X-Men cartoon, Batman the Animated Series, the Superman Animated series, Batman Beyond and the like. The more mature over-arching stories and the great action, as well as fantastic art styles really hooked me. As a result, I’ve always liked the stories and mythologies surrounding superheroes, and at that time I even read a few comics. Few being the imperative word.
I couldn’t really afford comics at the time, so eventually I drifted away from the medium. For years, I kept toying with the idea, occasionally picking up a comic or two but never got into it, and still didn’t really have the money. But now with libraries carrying more and more trade paperback collections, it seemed like as good a time as any to start trying to read (comics) again, especially with so much interesting-looking stuff out there.
So I went to my nearest library and found a lot more than I bargained for. Overwhelmed by choice, I decided to go with a hero I knew I could trust: Batman. And I thought I would share my naive experiences, giving a different perspective on the comics than you might be used to (caution: possible spoilers).
NOTE: I did not and have still not Wikipediaed (how exactly do you turn that into a verb…Wikied I guess)or researched any of these comics or related stories, characters, etc. This is because I want to preserve the genuine first impressions that I had. As a result, I apologize in advance if I overlook something and look like an idiot.
So, let’s get on with it. The first book is:
Batman: War Crimes
Summary: War Crimes is a hard-bound collection of technically 7 (?) comics (three mini stories that are tangentially related to the four main chapters) that seems to put a cap on the “War” story arc. Apparently, I jumped in at the wrong point here. Looking at the back, it showcases four books preceding it (War Drums, War Games: Outbreak, War Games: Tides, and War Games: Endgame). However, the book kindly uses the first page to fill me in on everything that has happened so far.
Apparently, Stephanie Brown, the Spoiler, wanted to be the new Robin, but Batman said no go, because she wasn’t disciplined enough. She goes on to prove him right by enacting one of his hypothetical “War Game” scenarios behind his back, in some attempt to prove herself worthy (this part was pretty esoteric, actually). All this does is allow Black Mask (a villain I wasn’t familiar with) to take control of all the gangs, killing Stephanie in the process. During this, Batman apparently made some unpopular decisions (none of which are discussed) causing most of his allies to abandon him.
In addition to this recap, the comic opens with a long scene of Black Mask explaining the current status of the villains of Gotham. I found some of what he says here interesting, but he was really vague about a lot of what he was explaining. So to me, this 18 page spanning conversation would seem really boring to people who are regular readers, and it was just kind of confusing to me. And really, the only important thing said here (at least that is relevant to this book) is that Black Mask had a guy make him a bunch of masks of villains and heroes, and the Joker is missing.
The comic really gets going about the time Batman is being accused of not only the horrors of the previous months, but also tricking children into joining his crusade, and that then turns into Batman being blamed for Stephanie’s death. This stems partly from the fact that someone is running around dressed as Batman, acting like a maniac. The Joker reappears with unclear motives (although he turns out to be completely inconsequential), and Batman learns the true identity of Stephanie Brown’s killer. I don’t want to spoil anymore because despite my complaints this was actually a good read (mostly).
Art: The art fluctuates between each chapter, ranging from mediocre to pretty good. The only real gripe is with the way the Joker is drawn. I’ve noticed this in a few of the other Batman comics I’ve read, but artists seem to be in a big disagreement as to how he should look. And he is the only character that seems to fluctuate, chapter by chapter, in this jarring manner. It doesn’t help that this is the first panel we see him in.
Wowza. Did the Joker have facial reconstructive surgery and then put on a few pounds? Apparently not, actually, as he looks totally different in the very next panel. I get that this was done to portray depth of field and perspective at a dramatic angle, but it definitely didn’t come off as it was intended.
Writing: As stated above, the story is well plotted and doesn’t jump around too much after the first quarter of the book. The dialogue is very well written, and is clever without being over the top (not to mention a really good final speech from Batman). But speaking of Batman, this seems to be where the writing has its real flaws, in the form of his characterization.
Now, this might be because I haven’t read the previous books and don’t know what he’s been through (although throughout the comic they give a good idea of how dire the situation was). But Batman seems to be…enjoying his job a little too much? I know the Dark Knight has, well, moments of darkness, but I kinda thought the whole shtick was that as much as his parent’s death motivated him, his crusade isn’t about vengeance. But during most of the comic, he seems to relish breaking peoples bones. In fact, he internally monologues several times about how good it feels to beat up some thugs (in this case, however, he admits it shames him to feel that way), and then later he does it again during a fight, commenting how nicely his fist fits into his opponents’ guts.
This sort of attitude is also expressed during a fight with Black Mask in which he is incredibly arrogant and even gloats at one point. It just seemed really out of place for someone who is usually as reserved and focused as Batman.
Overall: I really enjoyed this book. It was the first comic I had read in a long while, and it involved one of my favorite heroes. The art got a bit wonky at times, as did Batman’s actions in certain situations, but it didn’t detract enough to drag the whole story down.
It terms of, I probably should have researched this a little bit. It wasn’t a great jumping on point. However, the inclusion of some tie-in material and the front page recap made it a lot easier on me, so props to DC on that one. Before I could recommend this to anyone, though, I’d have to read through the rest of the arc.
And next time I do this, I think I’ll just pick up a single issue and work from there.