Comic Trade reviews – January 2010

Batman: The Cat and The Bat
DC Comics
From the pages of Batman Confidential a wonderful tale of Batgirl at the very start of her career against Catwoman. Selina and Barbara may play well together now, but back in the beginning it was anything but BFFs.
Batgirl wants to prove she’s up to the task of being the latest crime fighter in Gotham and she “borrows” a note book of her Dad’s which is full of open cases. Before she can do anything with it the notebook is stolen by Catwoman. What ensues is a high action and extremely entertaining chase between the two as they try to keep the notebook from each other. By the time the great adventure is done they are talking to Batman who has cleaned up behind them. The book ends with Barbara feeling pretty confident and Batman’s approval with Catwoman’s grudgingly given praise.
Fabain Nicieza did a great job with this and the quips and jives between the two are great. The action is also well done and having Kevin Maguire on art only made it better. I love Maguire’s art and he did a bang up job here. The ladies look sexy with out looking ridiculous. Of course the high light of the art was the scene in the hedonistic society club, having everyone naked with out actually showing anything was a work of art and layout.
gtreat book.

Batman Private Casebook
DC Comics

Paul Dini always brings something special to the table when he writes Batman, and in this collection it’s Zatanna. Of course Dini has a soft spot for magicians, his wife is a real life Zatanna of sorts.
The book opens with a nice head to head with Ra’s al Ghul, but the second story is what really got me excited. The Wonderland Gang was loads of fun, villains all based on Alice in Wonderland lead by the insane Mad Hatter. And then it gets even better as batman is there for the new Ventriloquist, this time it’s a femme fatale who is off the deep end believing the dummy is real. And of course Zatanna is there to help fight the good fight. The interactions between Bruce (and Batman) with Zatanna are well done and reaffirms the history between them.
Dustin Nguyen does some great work here and the art changes a bit for each tale, and it suits the mood of each story well.
A great book for fans of classic Batman.

Batman: Battle For The Cowl
DC Comics

After Batman died Gotham city very quickly went into chaos mode. This book collects a number of stand alones that lead into the new Batman stepping up. My favorite was the Arkham Asylum tale. It was creepy and yet almost hopeful as it tells us of the latest Dr. to run the facility and how he actually seems to feel for some of those in his care. Of course he is also probably full goose bozo crazy, but hey, it adds to the story! I also liked the oracle run squad keeping Gotham in check, the last tale in the book. All the compatriots of Batman’s coming in to help out. They face a gambling ring run by Hugo Strange with lives on the line.
Cool art, great writing, great reading.

Outsiders: The Deep
DC Comics

With Batman gone Alfred has been tasked with reassembling The Outsiders to help fight the good fight. It’s an interesting mix and i was a little skeptical of introducing an Owlman to the main DC Universe. But the line up works as each member has there own ties to Batman and as a result a certain loyalty which is in turn given to Alfred. Metamorpho, Black Lightening, Halo, Kattana, Creepr, Geo Force and Owlman operating from a space station and going up against some big guns from the outset. Deathstroke who has a few bones to pick with Geo Force, Vandal Savage, who is just mad at everyone, and a group of immortals calling themselves The Insiders who need to do some bad things to stay immortal. Large scale action crossing the globe gives this book a big feel. peter Tomasi has a nice handle on the characters and I particularly enjoy just how crazy the Creeper is.
This new team could be a lot of fun.

Ultimatum
Marvel Comics

As long as I’ve been reading comics I have had an up and down experience with Marvel. Love some, hate some, and indifferent about others. The Ultimate line of books was real real stroke of genius. And wile I was reluctant at first, after reading a few trades I was hooked. A reset of the Marvel universe with no baggage, no continuity to bog it down. And it’s been great.

And now it’s getting ready for big change. Oh, I know, they always say big change, those comic book people. But I can honestly say that after reading this trade collection, I believe. They are taking the whole Ultimate Universe and kicking it in the ass.
Magneto is beside himself after his kids are murdered. he finally acts on this and the result is the whole planet being tipped on it axis. Latveria is now a frozen arctic wasteland, Manhattan is flooded, the whole globe in chaos. And above it all Magneto watches. I will warn you right now, read a few trades leading up to this, it will help round out the story. And I guarantee when you are done you will want to read what comes next.
We get a lot of promises of BIG books. This delivers. All the heroes pooling together to find out what happened and fix it. But there are also a lot of casualties. Characters I love are gone. And some in fairly gruesome ways.

Jeph Loeb did a wonderful job with this and really delivered an event. David Finch delivered some of the most consistent and awesome work I’ve seen from him yet, and I like everything he’s done so that’s saying a lot.
great book, get it.

WILDSTORM: After The Fall
Wildstorm

Wildstrom is another universe of heroes going through an upheaval. The world has suffered a catastrophe at the hands of a rouge goverment operation gone wrong and set the planet on it’s ear. The story is following in the various books, including Authrity, Gen 13, Wildcats and more. This book collects a story that ran concuretnt in the back of the comics and is about a covert team called Team Seven.
Christos Gage wrote the whole thing, the art is by various wonderful talents. The basic outline here is John Lynch survives the catastrophe and in an effort to fix the planet needs to put back together a squad of post hmans and agents that no one knows about and go up against some of the most bad ass the Wildstorm universe has to offer.
As we follow lynch in his recruiting of the Seven we get a nice overall look at the state of the planet, and it’s not good. But the action is great and the depth that Gage adds to these characters is amazing. The book ends with the prelude to something bigger, and I can’t wait.