Batman: Detective Comics, Volume 1: Faces of Death by Tony S. Daniel

Batman: Detective Comics, Volume 1: Faces of DeathBatman: Detective Comics, Volume 1: Faces of Death by Tony S. Daniel

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Ahem.

There are two kinds of people in the world: the ones who believe Batman is the real personality and the ones that believe Batman is the persona.

Ok, the latter camp is something I made up, but it was a cool way to open the review.

Anyway, I belong to the third faction (population: 1) that believes that neither Batman nor Bruce Wayne is the real person, but something in between, a mixed personality that we never get to see.
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Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight Vol. 4

Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight Vol. 4Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight Vol. 4 by Charles Soule
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Definitely not required reading.
Legends of the Dark Knight 4 is just a mish-mosh of Batman tales by different authors. A few are decent, some are just trippy, and a few downright suck.
But none of them are great.

I Hate it When He Does That tells how (a much too) young Bruce Wayne learns the art of fading into the shadows. He and Alfred find a girl in Thailand, help rescue her from corrupt government official, and she teaches him the Ways of the Force.
Why did Alfred ever agree to any of this bullshit? Toss that kid on a plane, and get the hell out of that cesspool!

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Riddler in the Dark is a decent story by Charles Soule. Unsurprisingly, Soule has written one of the better issues.
Riddler needs Batman to help him, but just can’t bring himself to ask the nice way.

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The Pain Cellar is about a childhood memory of Bruce’s that resurfaces, Arm Candy is about another new girlfriend, and The Notebook is about a reporter who’s shadowing Bruce for the day.
All of these are written by Frank Hannah, only a few pages long, and all make one (issue?) interconnecting story arc together.

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The Beautiful Ugly is a dark and depressing Two-Face story.
No redemption for you! <—That was me doing my Soup Nazi voice, btw.

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*sigh* Review: The Joker: Endgame by James Tynion IV

The Joker: EndgameThe Joker: Endgame by James Tynion IV
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

 

 

 

Thanks, DC!
So nice of you to reprint Batman: Endgame, plus in a few tie-in issues, and sell it as a completely different book.
Way to be classy!

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The tie-in stories aren’t bad, but they’re mostly about random characters…and then Batgirl.
Considering how much I disliked the New Batgirl, I was shocked that it was my favorite out of the bunch. It was told without dialogue, which worked really well for me, because I absolutely LOVE the art from that title.

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The rest of the tie-ins deal with what’s going on for different characters during the Endgame crisis. There’s one nutty set of stories that are all connected, dealing with a doctor at Arkham and some of her loony patients. The Big Reveal at the end of that one left me cold, because I already knew who Eric Border was, and (bonus!) I don’t tend to like tales told through the eyes of arbitrary characters.
I was actually hoping for the Joker’s point of view, because…well, the title says something to that effect. Sadly, no.
I’ve got a better title – The Joke’s on You: We Got Yer Money!

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If you haven’t read Endgame, maybe this would be the way to go? Especially if you’re interesting in purchasing. However, if you have read it (or own it), then this probably isn’t going to impress you all that much. Of course, lots of people loved this arc, so…

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For me, this was a struggle to get through. I was so annoyed that they expected me to re-read the same shit over again that it took me forever to finish it. And, yes, I read the entire thing.
I kept hoping reading Snyder’s Endgame for a second time might help me see it with fresh eyes (or some other nonsense), and maybe I’d find something I missed that would make me enjoy it a bit more.
NOPE. Still thought it was a turd.

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I received a digital copy from NetGalley and the publisher.

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Angry Review: Batman, Vol. 7: Endgame by Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo (Illustrator)

Batman, Vol. 7: EndgameBatman, Vol. 7: Endgame by Scott Snyder
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

What the fuck just happened here?!
Wow. I officially loathe one of Snyder’s Batman stories.
Alright. I’m well aware that I’m going to be standing out here by myself, but I fucking HATED this. Like, I can’t even describe the rage I feel right now. Just pure fury mingled with crushing disappointment.
Well, what do you know? I guess could describe it!
Maybe Snyder has been the king of the Batverse for so long now, that he’s started believing his own hype? I mean,
really
?!
You may want to have those looked at, buddy.

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*deep breath*
I did really like parts of it. So there’s that.
Capullo’s art is amazing. Just spot-on, wonderful, and haunting.

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The facial expressions are perfect. Loved the way he drew…everything.

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Warning: Spoilers! Lots of ’em.
I’m not going to be able to properly bitch (or have a full-on tantrum), unless I can talk about what happened. If you haven’t read this yet, you may want to stop reading and come back later.

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Alrighty, the first part of the volume had me all aflutter!
Batman was fighting the leftover effects of Crane’s fear toxin, and he kept having these vivid dreams about his death. Julia was still helping Alfred with everything while he recovered, and it looked like their relationship was vastly improved.
I don’t know what happened in Volume 3 of Batman Eternal yet, but it appears they are living in some building previously owned by the Court of Owls. I hate the Owls, and I thought we were done with that whole hokey storyline, but I’m willing to let it slide.
Anyway, I loved Bruce’s interactions with Alfred.

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Ok, then Wonder Woman popped up outta nowhere and started beating the shit out of Bruce. She wasn’t making a whole lot of sense, and I thought it might be another dream. Apparently not…

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He managed to take her down, but, by that point, Aquaman & Flash were also both after him.
Boom! He pulled on his Justice-League-Taker-Downer suit, and incapacitated both of them. Nicely done! But he still didn’t know what was causing them to go nuts.

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And then Superman showed up, and everything became clear (ish).

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The Joker’s back!
And he’d managed to infect the Justice League with a special Joker Toxin. Batman narrowly escaped Superman, and (somehow) managed to get him, and the rest of the League, confined at A.R.G.U.S..
I’m assuming Alfred and Julia did this off-page, because when Bruce woke up (Clark hits hard!), the JL had already been hooked up to IVs.
Up next? Synthesize an antidote.
The bad news was that Joker let his toxin loose in Gotham, and it was spreading fast. The reallyreally bad news was that there seemed to be no way to make a working antidote.
I was on the edge of my seat by then, baby!
Why can’t they find an antidote?

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Ok, sounds pretty awesome so far, right?
Well, it was!
And then it all stared going downhill for me. At first, it was just little things (how did Joker managed to dose the entire Justice League?), but I brushed them aside, because I’ve been trained to blindly trust Snyder.
But also because of cool jump scares like this:

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But within that panel lies the problem.
I AM NOT FUCKING KIDDING ABOUT THE SPOILERS!
TURN YOUR ASS AROUND, RIGHT THE FUCK NOW!

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First, the fact that Joker was masquerading as the helpful doctor/intern from Arkham (Eric Border) that Batman has been working with, wasn’t a shocker to me. I’d been wondering when they were going to ‘spring’ that one on us. I mean, come on, he’s been shady from the start, but Arkham Manor pretty much confirmed it for me.
I can’t be the only one who was thinking that…

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The next step is a doozy.
The Big Twist is that the Joker can’t be killed. He’s immortal like Vandal Savage, Ra’s al Ghul, or Shovel Face from Twilight.
And he’s been around since (at least) the beginning of Gotham.

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DUM. DUM. DUUUUUM.
So…now we have some new convoluted Joker origin story? And he has powers? Has always had powers?
This explains why the skin on his face has healed itself.
Oh my God, I never thought I’d actually miss the fact that his face wasn’t attached anymore, but I’d rather have a totally human Joker without his fucking face, than WhatEverTheFuck Snyder was trying to sell me here.

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Still, I trusted him.
He’s the Goddamn Batman Snyder!
In my mind, I had full faith that he was going to iron out the kinks in this storyline.
It was an elaborate ruse! Or Bruce was in some Crane induced delusion!
The possibilities were whirling through my mind, even as I watched each corny plot thread unfold.

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Oh my! Joe Chill (exposed to the toxin) is waiting to kill a family. It’s been set up by Joker to look just like Crime Alley! Oh! Batman saves the family, but the toxin spreads to the adults, so he can only rescue the boy.
I’ll bet the boy is somehow part of Joker’s plan!

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Um…nope. Evidently it was just an excuse for Batman to save a kid.
Whuuuut?
Did we really need yet another reminder of the gunshot, the pearls falling, the sad little boy crying in the rain?

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Let me go ahead and answer that for you. No, we did not.
Whatever! In Snyder We Trust!
So when Joker broke into the Batcave and chopped off Alfred’s hand?

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I trusted him.
And when he stole the giant Dinosaur to use in a parade because that’s such an original fucking idea?

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I trusted him.
And when he had to go to the stupid-ass Court of Owls to find out if the Joker was truly immortal?

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I still trusted him.
Then have the world’s lamest fight with one of their Talons?

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I trustehhhh…well, if I’m being honest, I was starting to get pretty worried at this point. And, it turns out, I had every right to be.
Joker isn’t immortal, he’s just found some sort of a Lazarus pit to heal himself. Of course, the key to saving everyone in Gotham (from the toxin) is whatever’s in that Pit Juice.
*rolls eyes*

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The showdown culminates with Batman & Joker in a cave full of explosives.
They proceed to simultaneously stab and psychoanalyze each other to death.
Dr. Phil, what do you think it means when Joker lodges a playing card in Batman’s eye?
Well, Anne, I think it shows that they are definitely two sides of the same coin. They can’t live without each other, and so they will probably die in this cave together.
WhatTheFuck are you talking about, Phil?! Oprah lied to us! Self-help guru, my ass! You’re nothing but an obnoxious bully with a receding hairline, and smarmy grin.

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But it turns out Dr Phil was right.
Yep. They killed Batman…again.
I swear to God, I just now finally feel like I’m caught up on all of the shit from the last time he died, and they’re doing it again?
I guess Nubby Alfred could always step up as the next Dark Knight, if they wanna shake things up for a year or so.

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The final nail in the coffin though?
Batman left a note.

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Luckily, Alfred was able to translate the one word note that said Ha.
Blah, blah, balh…Batman’s story will always be a tragedy, because that’s the way he wanted it.
Live bravely, smile at the void, and eat cake…

Or something like that.
*vomits*
I can’t believe this shit. I CAN’T BELIEVE THIS SHIT!
You just did this, you idiots! Why don’t you kill off someone who hasn’t been dead in the past few years?
Green Arrow and Superman haven’t been dead in a while. Or how ’bout Hal? Maybe Spectre could come back and take him over again?
But no. Let’s kill Batman. Marvel got rid of Wolverine, so we need to off our flagship character, as well.
Great idea!

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*sigh*
Ok, the beginning of the story was great, and Capullo’s art deserves 5 stars all by itself, so this was not a total loss.
Again, I know most of you will love this, think it’s an ass-kicking story, and continue to worship this run. And I don’t want to argue with you, or try to change your mind. This is simply my (fairly worthless) opinion.

Ugh. I’m exhausted from hating Endgame so much. I’m going to bed.

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Initial thoughts:
Wow. I gotta think about this one for a bit…
My knee-jerk reaction is a hearty fuck you to Snyder.

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I received a digital copy from NetGalley & DC.

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Review: The Dark Knight Vol. 4 – Clay; by Gregg Hurwitz (end of series)

Batman: The Dark Knight, Vol. 4: ClayBatman: The Dark Knight, Vol. 4: Clay by Gregg Hurwitz
My rating: 4 of 5 stars


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This book is choc-full of evil villains. (It’s BATMAN! Duh…)

So anyhow, The Dark Knight has been one of the 4 main Batman titles, (Batman, Detective Comics, Batman and Robin) yet it’s probably the least known one. It made the mistake of having Gregg Hurwitz not write the first volume, he just drew it. Once he took over, things got better. Most of the Dark Knight seems to focus on villains and their origins (Scarecrow, Mad Hatter, and this one…Clayface) and that’s a cool thing to do when Joker and Riddler (and Penguin to a lesser extent) dominate the rest of the Bat world.

I’m happy to see they’ve decided to go with the “original” Clayface, Basil Karlo, a very plain man who wanted to be an actor, but just didn’t have “it” to get noticed. Eventually he goes to Penguin to get help, and Penguin gives him some native thingy that turns his face to clay like malleability, so he can be a great facial actor. He in turn ends up doing things for Penguin, but things go wrong and he soon becomes all clay, but can become anyone he touches.

We see here that he’s taken as a very dangerous, almost invulnerable force. Arkham needs a special containment unit for him. We also see that he needs people to like him, as he stays calm in Arkham because his neighbour in the cells is a fan and they talk…only when he dies does Clayface go nuts. He takes it to another level, going after Penguin and taking him out, then seeks out the Joker to give him some Joker Gas/Serum. He then rampages thru town and takes people hostage to get an audience who he pumps full of Joker toxin so they laugh at his work non-stop.

What’s different here, is that Batman is written with just the slightest sense of humour…he and Alfred trade wits and barbs, and he even jokes around with Gordon (announces his arrival before he scares the shit out of Gordon in the dark.) The best part is when Clayface impersonates Gordon at the start of the book and kills a bunch of people…then later on, Gordon uses the Bat Signal, Batman appears and bitchslaps him…(sorry Jim, just had to make sure it was you)….HAHAHA effective but funny.

In addition, Batman actually listens to Alfred who tells him to get some help, and we get brief appearances of Black Canary and Condor (who? ya, no, this guy looks like a twat). Eventually Clayface is secured, and the sad chapter closes.

The next 2 books arc is called Voiceless, and is done entirely without dialogue. Alberto Ponticelli takes over the art here from Alex Maleev (who did a very good job with the Clayface arc, very dark muted tones and great use of browns). Alberto does different work, with good facial and body language artwork, but his is even more important in a wordless story.
The story is about a family of Mexicans, the mother works in a sweatshop, and when she accidentally breaks one of the angel figures she’s making, she is fired on the spot. She goes home and her young son is quite ill, she runs to the drugstore, which is closed, offers all her money to the pharmacist, who just drives off…you can figure out what happens next, since this is Batman…
They see advertisments for Gotham, and get into trucks to go there, but are separated. (Granny and young daughter in one, mom in the other) The Daughter and Granny are working in a Gotham sweatshop making Christmas ornaments, when Granny sees that granddaughter is alive, she decides to break out…but one of the captors sees her sneaking out a window, and well…that’s that.
Batman comes upon Granny’s body, and the art on this page is superb.

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It gets down to the very essence of what Batman is all about, and even now, looking at it for like the 10th time in the last 18hrs, the raw emotions just hit me very hard.

Well, long story short, Batman kicks the everloving shit out of the sweatshop folks, who of course, report to the Penguin…he rescues mom, has her reunite with the daughter in the hospital (cue more tears, Anne, you better take a box of hankies) and then throws down furious vengeance. Because this is still Batman, we see the Penguin get out of jail due to his many lawyers. Wayne Enterprises attempts to employ many of the workers, and we see the mother has a job there, as Bruce Wayne walks by and smiles at her in one panel.

The last page has Batman checking in on the family, and he smiles and waves to the little girl who waves back to him, then we see the final image…the broken angel on top of the Christmas tree, made up to look like Batman.

The final story is about the evilest villain of all: Abraham Langstrom, father of Kirk Langstrom, and new Man-Bat. Langstrom Senior is a corporate raider, who buys up companies and strips them for parts in a very ruthless manner, we also see that he owns pharmaceuticals and has no problem sending defective medicine to Africa to be used there because “It’s Africa.”. Yup, easy to dislike him. We also see he’s bullied his son, and is obsessed with being the Man-Bat and feasting on Flesh…well there’s a showdown with Batman of course, and the manner in which Batman takes him out eventually is draining…
(And thankfully, even in the midst of this, there’s a couple of jokes! Alfred makes fun of Bruce for saying Ouch while getting stitched up, and Gordon tells Batman people need to stop “Vigilante-ING” to which Bats replies “I don’t think that’s a verb”).

So all in all, a strong collection of 3 different stories, all relating to Batman, and giving us a nice connection to him and deeper understanding, all without extremely long and drawn out storylines. The Dark Knight is a great title to read if you like Batman but only want to dabble, or you want to jump in somewhere.

Sadly, this last volume marks the end of the series…I suppose it wasn’t feasible to carry this many Bat-titles, so we should be glad that this was around while it was. It’s also easy enough to read through separate from the major storylines, and good for filling your Bat-diction.


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Review: Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns (re-read)

Batman: The Dark Knight ReturnsBatman: The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

***NOTE: This was a re-reading in prep for reading DK2 (The Dark Knight Strikes Again)…I’ve already read it, and I’m going to stick with the 5 star rating, but more for what it means than if I just read it today and was born any time AFTER Michael Keaton’s Batman.***

1) There is no doubt in my mind, Frank Miller saved Batman. Between this and Year One, he’s got 2 of the Top 5, if not THE top 2 Batman books ever written, essential, and even essential for comics in general.

– Without Miller, there’s no Tim Burton/Michael Keaton Batman in 1989 (a movie, and event, which literally awed my 8-9yr old self in such a way that Batman will always be my #1, even more than 25 years later.)

– Without Miller, there’s no Christian Bale/Christopher Nolan Batman Trilogy. (Year One)

Without Miller’s inspiration of Burton and later Nolan, does the Superhero Movie Franchise business take off like it does? I’m not sure, and if it does, is it the same? Does it carry the same gravitas? Or do these movies end up more like Superman? (No knock on the early Superman, but I can barely tell you a thing about Superman IV, which also came out when I was a kid, other than there was an Atomic Powered dude in a cape who looked like He-Man, and everyone else in the world thinks it might be the worst comic movie ever.

Without Miller, does Scott Snyder develop into the same writer he is? Maybe, still strong, but the same? No. Does he become one of the great Batman writers ever? No. Read Snyder’s current run on Batman (especially Zero Year) and tell me he’s not supremely indebted to Miller’s work (and this particular book).
I would then tell you that Miller plans to write DK3, which might be a great idea, or a horrible one, but then I’ll tell you that Scott Snyder is going to co-write it with him…and you’ll definitely check it out at some point.

http://www.bleedingcool.com/2014/12/0…

It’s hard for anyone under a certain age (and I think I just qualify as old enough, because I remember the Adam West Batman, and the comics being ho-hum until Jason Todd died and the Tim Burton movie) to realize just how useless Batman was before this. Miller also opened the door for everyone else to make him the DARK Knight, and to add their work to the canon.

That is huge, and for that alone, this book deserves 5 stars. When it came out, I think if I were old enough to have read it then, I would have given it 10 stars. So that’s that. It’s untouchable….in THAT way.

However…there is a lot of stuff about it that just doesn’t do it for me, and for others as well. I can see younger readers just thinking, who cares? Why bother, this isn’t original. I can see why too.

– The art…is 50% terrible…there’s some great stuff, but there’s also stuff so bad it wouldn’t be published today.

– It’s extremely verbose and wordy. If a comic is nothing but reading text and long winded internal monologues, at some point it becomes extremely tedious; Show me, don’t tell me! Otherwise I’d read a book. I want to see some wow splash pages too, not just words. Does that make me sound like a troglodyte? No I don’t think so. I understand some degree is allowed, and in many ways, at the time less speech bubbles was a new(ish) idea.

– The Politics of the Cold War and Reagan-era USA aren’t relevant to the readers of today…well…Russia does have a powerful military and single leader…and the US doesn’t like ’em much…but…no.
It can be dated at times, but that’s not a huge complaint for me (I like history and contextualizing oneself in the period) but I see why others won’t like/care/understand.

– TOO MANY TV screen talking heads. But again I think that’s just a commentary on the new-ish 24 hour news channels on cable that sprang up in the 80s (yes kids, there was a time when CNN and MSNBC weren’t a thing, and before the interwebs and cellular telluphones. We played with sticks and rocks and rode dinosaurs in black and white…). I think they’re meant to annoy the shit out of you.

What I do like, is that not only is Batman examined, but this gets into some of the stuff that would pop up later on in Marvel’s Civil War and other books: Superman is a government agent in exchange for freedom, Wonder Woman has left for home, Green Lantern is in space, and Green Arrow is some kinda survivalist nutjob (who hates the big blue boyscout). There’s examination of the legality/criminality of heroes within society and if they help fight evil, or encourage it’s growth. Even if Miller didn’t devote the whole book to the idea, the idea itself was latched onto by many readers who grew into the writers of today, and we see those concepts debated all over the Marvel and DC Universes.

It also gets to the core of Batman himself. Bruce Wayne is the disguise, Batman is the reality. Even if he deluded himself otherwise in retirement for a decade, the hunger, the drive, the spirit of the bat, it is inside of him, and finally comes out, just pushing everything and everyone else to the side. I love the way Miller gets that across, that he cannot escape it; he knows it in his soul, because the Bat IS his soul. The very essence of what Batman is is what keeps Bruce Wayne alive, and without it, there’s no point. The 55 year old man is able to do things a man 20 years younger would have trouble with, and it’s all thanks to, and because of the Bat. Bruce Wayne is irrelevant, Batman and the power of what he represents is key. And surprisingly, what Miller thinks Batman represents, or at least how I see it, is that Batman, for everything that he is, represents HOPE. If not hope, Batman is Gotham. The 2 are tied together, one cannot rise without the other, and both suffer in the absence of the other.

OK now it feels like I’m writing an English essay on a book report…That’s another thing, Miller’s work here was a huge help to the entire industry of comics, and graphic novels. There’s no Sin City without TDKR; I don’t think DC and Marvel become powerhouses, I think the comic industry takes an even bigger hit; Comicon, does that still thrive? I honestly don’t know, but interestingly enough, much like Gotham without Batman, Batman without Miller and this book, could not/would not have thrived or even survived. It would have been a shell of itself.

So there’s my 200 cents on the matter.

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Review: Batman and Robin Vol. 3 – Death of the Family by Peter J. Tomasi

Batman and Robin, Vol. 3: Death of the FamilyBatman and Robin, Vol. 3: Death of the Family by Peter J. Tomasi
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I would probably lean towards 3.5 stars on this, but not quite 4.

Of course, with “Death of the Family” you know it’s going to include BATMAN #17, which I’ve now read…5+ different times in different TPBs? It’s a damn good book, one of the best individual Batman/Joker issues of all time…BUT, I’ve read it a ton in the last year.

I really enjoyed the first story arc, where Damian sends Bruce on a round the world wild-goose chase after some family memories, which seems very sweet, and it actually is. Of course, Damian uses this opportunity to patrol Gotham as pint-sized Batman, which is fun on it’s own. Eventually Bruce catches on to it, or maybe he knew all along and Alfred just pushed him to let the boy do it. It’s an even more bittersweet story arc when you know what is coming for the Waynes.

Leading up to #17, we’ve got Damian and the Joker tete-a-tete, which is interesting, and I’m pretty impressed that he nearly holds his own against the Clown Prince.

In the aftermath of it all, Damian, Bruce and Alfred all suffer nightmares, which are fairly vivid.

I really enjoyed the artwork by Patrick Gleason here; great use of colours, especially Yellow/Orange/Red and Black.

A solid collection, gives us a good chunk of Damian and Bruce.

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