Pre Taxes Trade Reviews

THE BATMAN CHRONICLES Volume 9
DC Comics


The Batman Chronicle like the Archive editions is reprinting all the early tales of Batman. However these books are trade paperbacks and have a very nice price point. They are also covering more than one book by instead publishing all the Batman stories chronologically.
This volume contains Detective 75,76 and 77, Batman 16 and 17 and World’s Finest 10.
Some of the stand out stories for me were The Grade A Crimes, I love the artwork. Here come Alfred was a lot of fun. Slay ‘Em With Flowers is classic Joker.
Another great volume in this series of reprints of the ever iconic Batman.


BATMAN: UNDER THE COWL
DC Comics

Under the Cowl is a great collection of stories of times when other people have filled in and taken the mantle of Batman. From Grant Morrison and Andy Kubert we get a future tale with Damian has taken over the role in Bethlehem. Barbara Gordon is commissioner and the relationship between batman and the Gotham police is not what it once was. It’s demonic and dark and the art is amazing.
Lightening Chances by Chuck Dixon is from when Jean Paul Valley took over the cowl. This story is from right before he goes off the deep end and we start to see a hint of how violent he is and how single minded he already is.
Robin and Batman by Doug Moench has Bruce asking Dick Grayson to fill in as Batman. Grayson always seemed the obvious choice if it ever happened for real, but this story from 1984 shows a great perspective on why Dick might not want to.
Urban Legend is a really fun story from Bill Willingham about a Batman who is having memory problems and all he knows is that he is Batman. Very cool idea for a story.
Tales of the Titans is from a story line in the Teen Titans that has our young heroes in a future where they are all really dark, and Tim Drake as Batman is extra dark. The whole story line is great, but this is a nice piece of it to show here. Geoff Johns showing his love of the characters with a nod to some classic stories in his own way.
Grounded is a future tale from Batman Beyond based on the animated series. While my least favorite of the animated shows this story is nice and shows me that I may want to look into reading more of the comics.
All in all some very nice choices for a book with this theme.


BATMAN: THE WRATH
DC Comics


This collects stories of Batman facing a foe who is his exact opposite, trained to be the ultimate villain instead of crime fighter the Wrath mastered fighting techniques and other disciplines to make him the best villain a human can be without powers. Originally a one off in Batman Special the Wrath came back in Batman Confidential to trouble Gotham and Batman again.
Writers Mike Barr did the first tale, and Tony Bedard brought the Wrath back, both doing a really nice job with a great idea.


THE BOYS Volume 6
THE SELF PRESERVATION SOCIETY
Dynamite


One of my favorite comics this latest collection opens with The Boys taking on a team called Payback and using them to send a message. Things get a bit out of control and The Female is hurt. Butcher sends the rest of the team off to care for her and goes hunting. If you are a superhero it’s not pretty. One member of the team almost manages to stop the Boys, Stormfront, a Nazi brought in and ”rehabilitated”. The boys have a friend come in and they end up winning the day, but it’s a fight all the way.
The second half of the book gives us the origins of Mother’s Milk, The Frenchman and The Female.
This is another no holds barred nothing is sacred set of stories from Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson who both seem to be having a whole lot of fun on this book. And I’m glad, because I know I’m having a whole lot of fun with this book.


THE CLEANERSDark Horse Comics


I’ve always been fascinated with people who clean crime scenes. There have been some movies on the subject and even non-fiction books. I’m pretty sure this is the first time I’ve seen this profession used for a comic book.
Written by Mark Wheaton and Joshua Hale Fialkov THE CLEANER follows Robert Bellarmine, an ex surgeon who runs a company that comes in afte the police are done to clean up what’s left behind on a crime scene. Blood, bone, broken glass and God knows what else.
In the course of a few clean-up sites Robert starts picking up an idea about who may behind a series of murders and starts to look into it. As you might imagine this is not behavior the police are fond of so Robert needs to investigate on the QT.
The conclusion to this tale is unexpected and wonderfully big and yet sublime.
Rahsan Ekedal does a great job with the art. This story obviously calls for a certain amount of gore but it’s portrayed in a way that isn’t gratuitous and for not crossing that fine line between just enough and too much Ekedal has my admiration.
I love this book and really hope to see more.




THE CREEPER BY STEVE DITKO
DC Comics


This is another gorgeous hardcover from DC similar in design to the Kirby books. It collects all of the Creeper stories by Ditko including one that is previously unpublished.
While I respect Ditko’s talent as an artist and admire his layout skills I’ve always been hot and cold to his work. Some I find to be perfect, others just don’t do much for me.
The Creeper is one I always enjoyed. Part of it may be the craziness of the character, but the truth is I think Ditko really did some of his best work here. The use of light and dark, the angles, everything about it is awesome.
The earlier stories have the character a little less insane and more grounded to his alter ego. Jack Ryder himself is interesting here as a reporter who is out spoken but not over the top like later years. Having him as an investigator for the TV station really works for what the Creeper needs to do.
285 pages of story this is a great addition to any comics library.


THE DARK KNIGHT Archives Edition Volume 6
DC Comics


Collecting Batman issues 21-25 (1944) this volume is every bit as wonderful looking as all the other Archive editions.
By this point in the Batman mythology the character have been established but some of these tales bring in extra depth to them, such as Hid Lordship’s Double which lets Alfred get a bit more into the story. We also see some of the trade mark history based stories such as It happened in Rome written by Joe Samachson.
The credits also look like a who’s who of creators from the early days of comics. Bill Finger, Bob Kane of course. But also Dick Sprang, Jerry Robinson, Joe Greene, Jack Schiff, and Alvin Schwartz are among the creators here.
I understand that not everyone enjoys the early stories from back in the early golden age, but I really like the look of the old stories and there was something innocent and righteous about them. And I can see how these tales would go on to influence later creators.
A fun book and a nice addition to a comic book library.


IGNITION CITY
Avatar
Warren Ellis once again does something that is totally new and fresh. This feels to me like a steampunk mystery tale set in a possible future and I wouldn’t even want to give it a sub genre title. What it is really, is just damn good story telling.
Mary Raven lives on an Earth where man has gone to space and since been grounded from exploring the universe they just begun to enjoy. Since she can’t fly she is at a cross roads and travels to Ignition City where her Father had been living. The last space port it is kind of the old west with rayguns and space ships and aliens. Originally planning to just pick up her Father’s effects she decides to stay on and find out why he died and who killed him. It’s the old west in a new world.
Gianluca Pagliarani did a spectacular job on the art. It makes me think of some of the wonderful work in heavy metal back in the 70s and 80s.
A compelling and wonderfully imaginative homage to westerns and serials of the thirties Ignition City is pure fun. The spine says volume 1, and I can’t wait for more.




SHUTTER ISLAND
Tokyo Pop/ Harper Collins
This is an adaptation of the novel by Dennis Lehane (which was also adapted into a film). It’s very loyal to the source material which I think is a great novel.
Christian De Metter has done incredible work here, done in dark water colors he captures the mood of the story in an almost magic way. The suspense builds and the twists and surprises are spot on.
If you read the book, you will love this, if this is your first experience with Shitter Island I think you will love it and hopefully want to read the novel. Both are great.


SUPERMAN: BRAINIAC
DC Comics


Geoff Johns and Gary Frank on a story arc that leads into some of the current story with New krypton.
It gives the story of Who and what Brainiac really is and how he came to capture Kandor. It eventually leads to an attack on Earth as Brainiac is obsessed with capturing “the last Kryptonian”. Supergirl is having some real problems with this as it dredges up some pretty bad memories from her past. And while Brainiac loses this round, Superman doesn’t really win…..


I can go on about how wonderful Geoff Johns is, but the truth is, if you have if you have been reading DC Comics you already know this guy loves this stuff and it shows in everything he writes. Gary Franks does an incredible job on the art, and Superman really deserves great art. Every emotion on every face is believable, the action amazing and even quiet scenes are perfect. As much as I love the words from Johns, Gary Frank can tell a story with just his art. 

X-Force Vol. 3: Not Forgotten
Marvel


The newest incarnation of X-Force is something I’ve enjoyed. It always struck me that this group of people should have a team that will do whatever they have to do to ensure the safety of Mutants. Naturally Wolverine is here. X-23, Domino, Angel and James Proudstar are all logical choices to join him.
X-Force needs to stop a threat that is coming from a league of anti-mutant extremists led by Bastion. A variation on the legacy virus is being used to spike mutants and cause them to go out of control killing tons of people, just to make mutants appear to be more of a threat. In addition Rhane is reunited with a wolf prince from Asgard and the are attacked by Frost Trolls.
Loads of action and great art. I don’t always enjoy the computer heavy art, but here it works well.


X-MEN FOREVER: THE SECRET HISTORY OF THE SENTINELS
Marvel Comics
When I first started spending my own money on comics I very quickly discovered X-Men. The one writer who kept me buying every issue was Chris Claremont. His plotting, his love of the characters and his long term vision of the group was something that really kept the title amazing.


His work here on X-MEN FOREVER is something I’ve really been enjoying. A separate continuity from the regular books this is an X-Men that follows suit to his earlier work which ended with X-men Mutant genesis in ‘91. Great depth to the plots and fleshing out of characters.
In this collection the team is reeling from the death of Wolverine, Storm was an imposter and the real Storm is back. And the Sentinels rear their heads again. There is some really great interaction with Shield and Nick Fury as the X-men join forces to stop the threat that just won’t die.
Having Paul Smith on some of the art here really brings back memories and was a perfect choice.
I may not keep up with all the X books anymore, but this is one I do and plan to keep reading.