Comic Book Review – Batman Vol. 3: Death of the Family (The New 52 – 2014)

batman death of family

I’ve read some good Joker stories over the years, most notably ‘The Killing Joke’ one-shot by Alan Moore. This arc compares very favorably to that. After DC (and Marvel) rebooted most of their lines in 2011, Scott Snyder took over Batman. The first two volumes saw Batman battle a mysterious ancient cult for the control of Gotham.

This volume sees the return of the Joker. After an inexplicable absence of a year the Joker makes a dramatic return to a life of mayhem and chaos. He raids the GCPD to steal his face from an icebox and from there lures Batman into an elaborate trap by systematically and slowly reenacting his famous crimes from the past. Joker’s tactics and Batman’s response puts a severe strain on Batman’s relationship with his extended ‘family’, hence the title.

Snyder’s Batman series is dark, constrained and tense. He likes to put the Dark Knight in the most perilous situations to test his mettle and his morals. Capullo’s art is a good complement to this style. He keeps the panels crowded and cluttered and induces a real sense of claustrophobia and fear. Snyder has written the Joker just right, and in some parts he is incredibly creepy. The extent and scope of his crimes (which provides an unwanted glimpse into his twisted psyche) is downright terrifying. The conclusion is sort of bittersweet and a bit ambiguous. Readers will be left to wonder if the Joker really succeeded in his goals or not.

Years from now we will look back at this arc as one of the more memorable Batman stories. This deserves to be in the pantheon of great comic book arcs.

 

5 out of 5 stars

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Comic Book Review – Batman Vol. 2: The City of Owls (The New 52 – 2013)

batman city of owls

It can be hard in monthly comics to come up with stories that truly feel original or that challenge a character as iconic as Batman in new ways, yet Snyder and Capullo manage to do just that. The story here which is a continuation from Volume One and examines not only Batman but also Bruce Wayne’s understanding of the city he though was his. Gotham and all its legends come to life in a way that is truly immersive. Despite being the best detective in the world, Batman is confronted with a secret that he never thought possible yet was always present. A truly exceptional piece of story telling for Batman fans and non-Batman fans to enjoy.

3 out of 5 stars

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Comic Book Review – Batman Vol. 1: The Court of Owls (The New 52 – 2013)

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This story sets up the “Night of the Owls” storyline covering all the Batman books. In this story, Batman finds himself facing a sinister new villain (later named “Talon”) who knows much about his history. I’ve been an avid reader of comics for years and I can honestly say this was the second story I read where I was pretty sure Batman was toast in it (“Knightfall” was the first). Trapped in an obstacle course in some unknown place, Batman is stalked by the Talon and a sinister group of crazies who know all about him. As the story continues we find that Gotham and the Wayne family had a history even Bruce was unaware of. While this is a good story, I have to admit the “Night of the Owls” that I’ve seen so far is actually better simply because there isn’t one Talon after him, now it’s dozens of them. If one almost killed him, how can he defeat them all? Grab this one and enjoy this “reboot” from the new 52 that actually works.

 

5 out of 5 stars

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Comic Book Review – Superman Unchained (2013 – 2014): Deluxe Edition (The New 52)

superman unchained

After enjoying Superman’s crazed 1950’s high speculative fiction (SF) watermark—including every shade of Kryptonite—in terms of “re-boots,” I’m a huge fan of the Superman in action in Dennis O’Neil and Curt Swan’s 1971 “The Sandman Saga,” running across Superman (Vol. 1) issues: #233 – 235, 237 – 238, and 240 – 242, and edited by the magnificent Julius Schwartz.

But even Grant Morrison struggled to give us a clear distillation of New 52-era Superman, ramping up ample thematic tropes from creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster’s original “Fanfare for the Common Man” ethos, born and bred somewhat in Philip Wylie’s 1930 potboiler, “Gladiator.” But I still felt little kinship to the current take on the Man of Steel—that is until Batman scribe Scott Snyder (fair enough: he redefined the Dark Knight for our era in a way that genuinely works, and it appears Tom King is following up quite nicely) breathed life into a quickly flagging New 52 vision by penning an unconventional, completely cinematic buddy action film pairing Superman with Wraith, an ultra-powerful alien who, at first, gives Big Blue a run for his money as a rival.

Wraith has an actual “world view,” one completely opposed to that of the Man of Steel, as Wraith sees his having been co-opted by the government as better for the world, and Superman as the naïve new flash in the pan sailing through the skies. Wraith wants nothing of fame. He’s been performing black-ops for United States government with abandon for years. Rather than mere mid-air fisticuffs, the reader gets genuine ideologies in conflict, as the two ultra-powerful beings clearly have different things in mind in terms of what it means to protect the earth—even if that means an occasional genuflection in opposition force General Lane’s direction.

Author Scott Snyder hurls many a plot-thread into the air, and Jim Lee illustrates each with gusto, even managing to make the character design on Wraith rise above, say, the mere Mongul homage it could have been. Collected as a nice stand-alone book, the story is filled with funny asides that work, such as Lana Lang’s comment to Lois Lane, regarding Wonder woman: “Did you know they’re dating?” Between that and Wraith acting as an only marginally accepted mentor as the two ultimately have to team, forging Superman’s best outing since Kurt Buseik’s all-too-brief run.

 

4 out of 5 stars

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FanExpo Toronto 2018 – DC Nation Panel

FAN EXPO Canada is the largest Comics, Sci-Fi, Horror, Anime, and Gaming event in Canada and the 3rd largest Pop Culture event in North America.

Celebrating its 24th year, FAN EXPO Canada has grown from a small comic book convention attracting 1,500 fans into a multi-faceted, 4-day citywide event that attracts over 129,000 people from around the world.

The DC NATION is back and better than ever! Don’t miss out as DC Publisher Dan DiDio hosts this all-star gathering with Scott Snyder (Justice League, Swamp Thing), Tom King (Batman, Mister Miracle), Jock (All Star Batman), Greg Capullo (Dark Nights: Metal), and Jason Fabok (The Man of Steel) talking and teasing upcoming stories!

FanExpo: https://www.fanexpocanada.com/en/abou…

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