12 Trade Reviews – End of September 2009

BATMAN: CACOPHONY
DC Comics

Always surrounded by insane and depraved villains, Batman is up against Onomatopoeia, a man who is using other villains to draw out Batman. Silent save for uttering what would be sound effects (shooting and saying the word “Bang”), Onomatopoeia is a foe unlike Batman has faced before. With Joker set loose and after Maxie Zeus, and Onomatopoeia trying to add yet another trophy to his collection of killed unpowered vigilantes Batman has no time to slow down.
Smith writes Batman with gusto, playing to the strengths of the characters and also using them against him to keep the story compelling and interesting.
Buy Batman: Cacophony

BATMAN: GOTHAM AFTER MIDNIGHT
DC Comics

One of my new favorite writers Steve Niles writing one of my favorite characters. What could be better? Well adding Kelley Jones on art sure didn’t hurt!
This is reminiscent of classic Batman of the seventies, spooky and eerie. A crazy man named Midnight is trying to improve on what Batman does. Part of the plan means manipulating classic Batman foes into fighting the Caped Crusader and this leads to some wonderful epic battles. The battle with Clayface was amazing. So while trying to keep his foes at bay Batman needs to get to the man behind the scenes. The climax rocks and I love the way the story wraps up.
Niles did a great job capturing what I love about Batman, his gothic feel, his fight for Gotham and his relentless nature. He also does wonderfully with the crazy people Batman deals with. Pairing the too cool Steve Niles with Kelley Jones was perfect for this. Although I admit I half ecpected to see Cal MacDonald make a cameo!
Great Book!
Buy Batman: Gotham After Midnight

COSMIC ODYSSEY
DC Comics

Jim Starlin and Mike Mignola blowing it out in a battle to save the universe with iconic DC heroes and the New Gods. Originally published in 1988.
Metron has accidently released something on the universe and to stop it the combined forces of the New Gods and Earth’s Heroes may not be enough, which brings Darkseid into the game. The Anti Life Equation is an actual force and if not stopped the universe will end. Quite literally a cosmic tale this story resonates on a number of levels. The art alone makes it worth owning, but the story is terrific and Starlin really does do Epic Space better than anyone.
Buy Cosmic Odyssey

DC COMICS CLASSIC LIBRARY
BATMAN: A DEATH IN THE FAMILY
DC Comics

The Batman classic of the 1980s is collected in a hardcover featuring stories previously released separately as BATMAN: A DEATH IN THE FAMILY and BATMAN: A LONELY PLACE OF DYING for the first time in one place! Including BATMAN #426-429 and 440-442 and THE NEW TITANS #60-61.
This was a major turning point in the history of Batman and has ramifications that are still being felt. Robin being killed was huge, and a little freaky since the fans were able to vote and they said “Kill Him!”.
With some of the top creators in the field involved, Marv Wolfman, Jim Starlin, Jim Aparo and George Perez this is another must have collection.
BUY DC Classics Library: Batman: A Death in the Family

FABLES: DELUXE EDITION VOLUME 1
Vertigo/DC Comics

If for some strange reason you haven’t been reading Fables this is your perfect jumping in opportunity. If you have been reading it, this is the edition you’ve been waiting for.

This is without a doubt one of my very favorite series ever. It is such an obvious premise, and yet I don’t recall seeing anyone doing this in comics before. Take well known (and a few not so well known) characters from fables, childhood tales, fairy tales, and other similar stories and tell modern stories with them. I think what really makes this work is that Bill Willingham really makes it seem like this is the natural progression of the characters and he does it in a way that seems effortless, like he’s just telling a story he already knows by heart.
Volume One of the Deluxe editions contains the first two story arcs, Legends in Exile and Animal Farm from issues 1-10. Legends in Exile introduces our cast through a mystery, the case of who murdered Rose Red, Snow White’s flakey sister. Animal Farm introduces us to the farm upstate where fables who can’t blend in live. A wonderful tale with dragons and giants and talking critters.
After re-reading the beginning of the series I am once again blown away by the elegance of writing and the perfect art work by Mark Buckingham and Steve Leialoha. This is just so damn good.

There are a few extras, character art and covers form the series. Also a wonderful introduction form Bill Willingham. This is a book everyone, comic readers and non comic readers should have on their shelves. It is truly story telling at its best and this edition is made to last for years.
Buy Fables Deluxe Edition Vol. 1 (Shipping Sept 30)

FINAL CRISIS: REVELATIONS (hardcover)
DC Comics

The main characters in this tale are the Spectre (now hosted by former Gotham cop Crispus Allen) and Rene Montoya who is now The Question. I find it wonderful synchronicity in the fact that Greg Rucka wrote this, continuing the journey with the characters he developed in Gotham Central.

This story, as you can probably divine from the title, takes place during the Final Crisis. Evil is winning and it’s everywhere. With Darkseid brainwashing mankind and a cult worshipping evil threatening to eliminate free will it’s an epic battle. The Spectre faces his own crisis of faith and The Question along with Batwoman are put to the test in what could be the end of humanity as we know it.

The story moves along nice and the pacing is perfect. Added together with the artwork of Phillip Tan it makes the story feel more epic. Tan really nails the darkness and the small rays of hope. He also really kicks ass on fight scenes.
Whether or not you read or followed Final Crisis, this book rocks with it or on it’s own.
BUY Final Crisis: Revelations

THE GOON VOLUME 9
CALAMITY OF CONSCIENCE

Eric Powell has entertained me an awful lot over the years with the Goon and this latest collection is no exception.
The Goon is up against a load of foes he thought dead, people he thought out of his life are back and it’s all heading to one big messy battle. When it’s all said and done it might be more than Goon can take.
Once again Powell combines a noir feel with horror and humor and the book is tons of fun.
Buy The Goon Volume 9: Calamity Of Conscience

THE KILLER : VOLUME 1
Archaia Studios Press

This gorgeous hardcover form Archaia is a English translation of a French comic, originally called Le Tueur it has been a huge seller in Europe. And after even just a quick glance through it you can see why.
THE KILLER is the tale of a hitman who after years of being one of the best has started to succumb to the weight of what he’s done and he messes up a job. This brings undue attention to him for the first time and when he needs to be on the top of his game to escape he struggles just to keep ahead of the police officer after him. A wonderful crime tale as only the French can do it, dark, emotional and sad. We see a noir tradition followed as the hitman dreams of a better life, but is haunted by his own choices and may never realize his dreams to spite himself.
Written by a man known as Matz, and drawn by Luc Jacamon this is a perfect example of why Crime Fiction works so well in the graphic form. Matz assisted in the translation, so it spot on to what he originally wrote.
I’d like to thank Archaia for publishing this book here in the US. It’s been out for a while, but having just discovered it I had to share.
BUY The Killer Volume 1

SUPERMAN: NEW KRYPTON Volume 2
DC Comics

This collection continues the story of Kandor returning to full size and the arrival of thousands of Kryptonians on Earth. Supergirl’s parents are trying to help the Kryptonains adapt to the new planet, but have different views. Alura, Supergirl’s mother takes a more militant stance and people start to get hurt. Epic battles and some really bad moves takes thing to a boiling point and put the people of Krypton against Earth’s heroes. To say anything more would give away too much.
Geoff Johns and James Robinson have done a a really cool job adding a whole new life to Superman and the series that he is in. I think the idea behind this is original and the execution is terrific.
Buy Superman: New Krypton Vol. 2

TITANS: LOCKDOWN
DC Comics

I’m still not sure what I think of the idea of having the original Teen Titans back together. We have a titans team made up of teens so it would be nice to see these characters integrated into the rest of the DC Universe instead of always being lumped together.
That said, I enjoyed this story for what it was, a fast paced story that reminded me a bit of classic Sci Fi / Horror stuff with body invasion and mistrust of each other due to the invasion. Jericho has gone beyond off the rails. He’s full goose bozo and feels the need to kill his former comrades, but not before screwing with their heads. Of course that’s the classic villain mistake, he should just kill them.
Winick brings some nice character development to the story and I love Sean McKeever’s art. I do need to add that I am about done with Beast Boy and Raven the way they’ve been written for the last few years. No growth at all and Raven is acting so unlike the tormented souls she once was, but not she’s just a bitch. And Gar is still acting like a 12 year old, and it’s boring.
All in all , a nice story and worth reading, though if I continue with the series I’m going to want a bit of growth.
BUY Titans: Lockdown

UNCLE SAM :THE DELUXE EDITION
Vertigo/DC Comics

This is a reissue in hardcover of a book I find to be one that is worth rereading at least once a year. My trade paperback copy is WORN OUT.
Uncle Sam is truly one of America’s true Icons, he represents us at our best, and worst. In this book Steve Darnell and Alex Ross have really created something special with our good Ol’ Uncle. It opens with Sam kinda crazy and disjointed, disconnected with the country. As he explores who he his we journey with him from the beginnings and retrace his history, and with that , the history of the US of A, blemishes and all. What we get is a look at America through different eyes and it shows us a country that has persevered but that has also stumbled a few times. It ends with what make the USA so cool, HOPE.
It’s hard not to see the social commentary here but it is presented in a way that is entertaining and captivating. Plus Alex Ross really kicked ass on the art.
The book also has some nice added features including bonus artwork and a nice piece on the origins of Uncle SAM
Buy Uncle Sam: Deluxe Edition (Shipping October 21st)

Showcase presents THE WARLORD, Volume 1
DC Comics

Number one reason to buy this book: Mike Grell doing sword and sorcery.
Collecting 1ST ISSUE SPECIAL #8 and WARLORD #1-28 this opening volume is pure magic. With Grell both writing and drawing the series Warlord was always a favorite of mine. And DC’s Showcase collections is a great way for people to enjoy these great stories and a wonderful price.

Travis Morgan is an Air Force pilot who crashes through to a world separated from the rest of the Earth. The land of Skataris, a land with magic and monsters and tribes fighting for survival. Through his adventures Morgan becomes The Warlord and leads the people against an evil priest known as Deimos. Grell really had fun with this and it shows on every page he drew.
I’ve fell in love with Grell’s art in Legion of SuperHeroes and have followed him since. I loved his work on Aquaman in Adventure comics, and his Green Arrow is amazing. I also love Jon Sable Freelance. But Warlord was where I really got to see Grell spread his wings and do what he wanted to do, tell epic stories. Warlord is now back with Grell on the book, If you are not familiar with the character, you need this, if you are already a fan, you need this.
BUY Showcase Presents: Warlord Vol. 1