Friday, November 22, 2013

Short Booknotes on Graphic Novels 19

Paul Dini and Bruce Timm, Batman: Mad Love and Other Stories. New York: DC Comics, 2009. ISBN: 9781401222451

This is an anthology of stories from the Batman Adventure comics. If you have seen the television series Batman: The Animated Series, these comics draw on and expand on that. Though aimed at youth readers, these comics actually have some substance and some pretty good stories. This anthology made for a fun and light reading experience. For casual readers, this is a good way to read Batman tales.

Highlights of the volume include the title story, "Mad Love," which is an origin story for Harley Quinn, the Joker's girlfriend, and "Two of a Kind," a story where Harvey Dent is rid of Two-Face, but can that last? The latter story was also feature in the Black and White volume that I read a while back, but it was still good to reread it here. The rest of the tales in the collection are very good overall.

Grant Morrison,, Happy! Berkeley (CA): Image Comics, 2013. ISBN: 9781607066774.

This was an interesting discovery for me at my local public library. In this gritty tale, Nick Sax is a corrupt ex-cop who is now working as a hit man. A hit job goes wrong, and he gets shot. Suddenly, he starts seeing a blue winged little horse that talks. Is it an alcoholic hallucination? The drugs? And why does the horse keep pestering him about some little girl in trouble and needing his help? Sax escapes from the hospital, and he now has the cops and the mob chasing after him. Plus, it's Christmas, and a serial killer who kidnaps children and dresses like Santa Claus is on the loose? What else can possibly go wrong? I read this in a quick moment as it is a gripping tale with a bit of a surreal element. If you like noir, grit, and a bit of the Christmas spirit, this is one to read. Do note it is rated for mature readers.

Stuart Moore, Wolverine Noir. New York: Marvel, 2009. ISBN: 9780785139454.

It's 1937 New York, in The Bowery. Logan is a private detective running a seedy agency with his half-wit of a "brother." Then comes in a dame, just like in so many other private detective stories, and the trouble starts. Dog, Logan's partner, decides to take on the case, but then he vanishes. Now it falls to Logan to find him, and he suspects the Japanese femme fatale is not telling him all he needs to know. In addition, a man called Creed is running a gym that seems to be good for kids, getting them off the streets. But is that all those kids do, or are they getting involved in a life of crime as ninjas? The case gets complicated as Logan finds himself forced to revisit a very tormented past. This was definitely an excellent read, and the author creates a very good noir story that is comparable to other hard boiled detective stories. When it comes to Marvel's Noir series, it is always interesting to see how they adapt the characters to the noir era. Here, Logan's claws are knives, and he is an expert knife fighter and a man who knows a few moves, taught to him by a very worldly old man. This is definitely one I highly recommend. Do note the cover notes "parental advisory," so this is probably for older teens and up.

Geoff Johns,, Superman: Brainiac. New York: DC Comics, 2009. ISBN: 9781401220884.

Brainiac has been one of Superman's most challenging enemies, and now he has found Superman's adopted home of Earth. His cousin Supergirl, who was in Krypton when Brainiac came there and took one of its cities for his collection, certainly has reason to fear Brainiac. Superman decides it is time to finally confront Brainiac, but it will be quite the challenge for the Man of Steel, and he just might not be able to save everyone this time. One thing I liked about this comic is the art, where Superman's portrayal does remind me a bit of Christopher Reeve's portrayal in the Superman films, Fans of Superman will likely enjoy this Superman story. In addition to the main story, there is some humor in his workplace at The Daily Planet with a new gossip reporter who seems to be experience her midlife crisis and a new sports reporter who is pretty much a chauvinist pig but will get some comeuppance. Overall, a good read.

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