Late October trade reviews

BATMAN: GOTHAM AFTER MIDNIGHT
DC Comics

This is what Batman was in the beginning, dark creepy and spooky. A detective on the hunt fighting evil despite what the pursuit means to his own well being.
Steve Niles brings his wonderful horror sensibilities to the dark knight and with Kelley Jones on art it’s a match made in heaven.
A new crazy is loose in Gotham, Midnight, and he’s using some of Batman’s more disturbed foes for his own ends. Bodies are falling everywhere and it’s all Batman can do to keep up. He can barely investigate as he does all he can just to keep putting his foes back in Arkham. By the time the climax starts Batman is wornout and exasperated. And while he eventually manages to finish off Midnight the way the story ends is a surprise, and a damn good one.
When I finished this book I had a huge smile, stories like this are why I love Batman.

CAPTAIN BRITAIN AND MI13 Volumes 2 and 3
Marvel Comics

I always enjoyed the Invaders comics from marvel and Captain Britain is also a childhood favorite so having this group of characters together seemed like a no brainer when I was looking for reading material. A branch of the British secret Services mandated to fight supernatural threats MI13 is headed up by Peter Wisdom (formerly of Excalibur), Captain Britain, WWII legacy hero and vampire Spitfire, Blade, The Black Knight and a new hero, a girl named Faiza who wields Excalibur.
The action is great fun and I love the idea of full on invasions of vampires. The character development is also handled well. If you like supernatural action with some underused heroes this could be just what you are looking for.

ECLIPSO, SHOWCASE PRESENTS
DC Comics

Eclipso is a villain who over the years has become a real bad ass. He’s taken over various people and brought out their absolute darkest side and caused all sorts of trouble and mayhem.
In the beginning he was more of a trouble maker, a side effect of an experiment gone wrong. In this latest volume of Showcase presents we get the first 21 stories originally published in House Of Secrets. It starts with his origin naturally, and as they go on we see more than just a villain on the rise, but a man struggling to keep his dark side under wraps, very Jekyll and Hyde. The tales were written by Bob Haney with art by a few different artists including Alex Toth. I’m sure if this was done today it would look more slick and the evil behavior made more so, but as it is the art is detailed and the stories feel original and not typical men in tights fare.
This may not before everyone and fans newer to comics may not enjoy the suspense as opposed to action form of storytelling, it is another nice look back at a character that has grown much over the years. And 9.99 for 21 stories is a nice price.

JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA : BLACK ADAM AND ISIS
DC Comics

One of my long standing favorites the JSA has been through some rough stuff of late. And when it looks like they may be able to take a breather, Black Adam is back and he has resurrected Isis. Two angry people with the powers of Gods who want to remake the world. Same old same old in comics, but in the hands of Geoff Johns and Jerry Ordway it is much more. The thing that makes this such a great series is the sense of history and family within the group. This is the reason that they don’t hesitate to help Billy Batson who is having trouble becoming Captain Marvel. The first part of this leaves the Marvel family in shambles and the old wizard one angry benefactor. We have a bit of a diversion as Stargirl celebrates her birthday and we see why this team is really family. It ends with a tale of revenge as ghosts of Japanese killed in WWII want retribution. The scheme starts off with the brownstone headquarters under attack and includes the Spectre sending part of the team to the Pacific to go to the source of the attack.
Awesome art, great storytelling and a real sense of history is what makes this a great title and this latest collection is yet another wonderful reason why I keep reading JSA.

MERCY THOMPSON: HOMECOMING
DelRey Books

Originally published in comic books from Dabel Bros this collection released by Del Rey is an original story of the character crated by Patricia Briggs. Mercy is a shape shifter, and while she tries to lead a normal life, it’s obvious that will never happen. She moves to a new town to try and make a home. She ends up in the middle of a war between different packs of werewolves. Before setting down she will have to make help make a peace between these creatures, or at least stop the fighting.
A great introduction to a cool series this is a wonderful addition to the novels by Briggs.

TRICK ‘R TREAT
Wildstorm

This is a nice anthology book based on the movie of the same name. A number of different horror stories all set around Halloween. In typical horror fashion sometimes lessons are learned, sometimes not. I really liked the story of the kids going to a quarry to honor ghosts which may or may not exist.
Scary, creepy and loads of fun. I also think the art was terrific and perfect for the stories within.

TRINITY Volume 3
DC Comics

This is the third and final collection of the weekly series by Kurt Busiek and Mark Bagley. An epic tale in which Morgana leFey displaces Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman in hopes of restructuring Earth to suit her own needs and wants. As this tale wraps up here we have battles raging across the planet with scores of heroes doing what they can top fight back. The big three have become God like and as such are more powerful. Helpful yes, but it also put them rather out of touch with regular humanity. As their friends try to bring them back the battle rages on with villains trying to help the good guys and cosmic scale fighting takes its toll.
By the end of the book all is right once again naturally. But the path this series took from beginning to end was truly wonderful story telling. It felt big and the art matched. I think this was an underappreciated series and I think reading it the collected forms should make people realize just how special it is.

THE WAR THAT TIME FORGOT Volume 2
DC Comics

This collection wraps up the story that sets warriors and soldiers taken out of time to do battle on an island out of time. We discover the reason for their being taken and who is behind it. As they manage to work together they find that the are part of an experiment to save the future of human kind.
I quite enjoyed this as it used a lot of characters that have been out of play for a while. I also enjoyed the way suspense built as we learn little by little what was happening. The climax of the story comes in a fury and a lot happens very fast. The last page is wonderful as we see the results of their struggles.
Action packed and unique story telling make this a really fun read.

WEST COAST BLUES
Fantagraphics Books

This is an adaptation of a book by Jean-Patrick Manchette, the wonderfully noir tale of George Gerfaut, on the run and trying to stay alive. It’s a tale of war criminal and hitmen and men who live on the fringe of society.
George Gerfaut witnesses a murder and while he does the bare minimum to help keeping his involvement to dropping someone off at the hospital he is soon in more danger than he knows. George is being pursued by a team of hitmen, they follow him on vacation and once he discovers he is targeted he leads them on a merry chase. He spends time in the mountains finding a kind of peace which is eventually interrupted by the violence that follows him. A business man by trade who is underwhelmed by his own life George soon finds himself embracing the new lifestyle.

The art is in black and white and the book is the better for it. Color would not have had the shock value that some of the scenes carry and it makes for a grittier feel to what is a gritty tale. This is a perfect example of why crime fiction works so well in the graphic form. This book left me wanting a shower and a hug and with a few night of strange dreams. In other words, it’s wonderful.

Some of these books were provided by the publishers for review purposes.