Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Mini-graphic novel review #8 Batman edition!

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns
Written by: Frank Miller, Illustrated by: Klaus Janson and Lynn Varley

Published: 1986

My Thoughts: Imagine if Batman wasn't the young, fit vigilante we're used to, but an old, cynical and retired man who has decided to return to his previous life when crime in Gotham reaches dangerous new heights. Batman was never infallible, but old age and lack of practice increasingly causes Batman problems as he attempts to round up Gotham's criminals. I really enjoyed the approach this comic took, and the art is quite good, but it wasn't as amazing as people had told me it was. Maybe that's just to do with expectations, or because I'm not a big Frank Miller fan in general, but I've enjoyed other Batman comics more than this one. Still one to read if you're wanting to read the iconic Batman comics though.

Batman: Knightfall (Volume one)
Written by: Doug Moench, Chuck Dixon, Illustrated by: Jim Aparo, Norm Breyfogle, Graham Nolan and Jim Balent

Published: 1993

My Thoughts: Holy shit you guys! THIS COMIC IS AMAZING! I know I throw that around sometimes, but seriously, this comic is all awesomeness and then some. The (loose) source material for Dark Knight Rises this comic takes place after Batman's experienced great emotional, physical and psychological pain and is not at the top of his game. As he struggles to round up the gang of Batman villains that have escaped the asylum, Batman comes up against the monstrous Bane, a criminal with only one desire: to kill the Batman. The pathos of this comic is astounding. I'm a huge Batman fan from way back, but this comic hit me right in the feels. It humanises Batman and adds about a million levels of complexity to his story. Batman is one of the greatest superheroes for a number of reasons, and this is the best vehicle for demonstrating that.

Batman: The Long Halloween
Written by: Jeph Loeb, illustrated by: Tim Sale

Published: 1999

My Thoughts: Spanning 13 issues, The Long Halloween covers the mystery of Holiday - a serial killer who kills a different member of Gotham's criminal underworld each holiday. Each issues focuses on one of these murders, and the attempts made to solve the case by Batman, Harvey Dent and Commissioner Gordon. It's a fun collection which reintroduces some of the more well-known Batman villains (think Joker, Riddler, Poison Ivy etc) and themes each issue around the holiday in question - Valentine's Day, April Fool's Day, Christmas and so forth.Perhaps most interestingly though is the focus on relationships, whether business i.e. between Batman, Dent and Gordon, mob bosses Falcone and Maroni  or The Scarecrow and the Mad Hatter, or personal i.e. between Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle, Dent and his wife, Gilda, Falcone and his sister. Also, the art in this one is sensational. Very moody and dark - a little noir-ish, perfectly depicting everything that makes Batman, Batman.

Batman/Planetary: Night on Earth
Written by: Warren Ellis, Illustrated by: John Cassaday

Published: 2003

My Thoughts: Seriously one of the greatest crossover comics ever! Planetary is a Warren Ellis series about a trio of "archaeologists of the unknown" who solve weird crimes/are generally pretty badass. This volume has the team head to a Batman-less Gotham City to investigate a killer named John Black who they believe was once experimented on at 'Science City Zero'. When they track him down (after a neat little cameo from Dick Grayson and the Joker -who's a good guy!) it turns out he has the ability to distort reality, and the Planetary team find themselves face to face with various iterations of Batman. The camp 1960s Batman, the Frank Miller bad-ass Batman, the "classic" Batman and a couple of others. It's amazing to see how much Batman has changed as different writers/artists have taken him on, especially considering how much Batman I've been reading lately. Worth it just for this neat little premise, but the writing and illustrations are solid too!


  1. I felt the same way about 'The Dark Knight Returns'. I liked the art, but was underwhelmed by the end product. 'Knightfall' sounds promising though.

  2. Glad I'm not the only one who felt that way about TDKR! Definitely check out Knightfall, it's looooong but really great. I haven't checked out vol 2 yet, but since it deals mostly with Azrael I don't feel like it's something I have to rush out to.



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