Category: DC

Batman: Haunted Knight is a collection of three Halloween 'specials' focusing on different aspects of Batman/Bruce Wayne's past, present and possible future, written by Jeph Loeb and illustrated by Tim Sale.

The first story focuses on Batman's attempt to re-capture the Scarecrow, at the same time as Bruce Wayne finds himself starting up a new relationship. I can't really say anymore than that without giving the twist away... and there is a twist. In my opinion, this was the pick of the bunch.
The second story, draws on the Alice in Wonderland mythology and follows Batman's attempts to re-capture the Mad Hatter. In this story we learn that battling the Mad Hatter almost always trawls up memories of Bruce Wayne's mother, due to the Hatters association with the Alice in Wonderland tale. This story was ok. Not outstanding, just ok.

The third and final story is the Batman version of the old Christmas Carol story, with Bruce Wayne visited by the spirits of the past, present and future. In this story, the first meeting between Lucias Fox and Bruce Wayne is revealed, and we also learn how Fox finds himself at Wayne Enterprises. Besides that, you can probably guess how this plays out. In the end, Wayne realises that not all his money needs to go toward crime fighting, and that it can also be used to help others. Wayne also realises that he needs to retain his humanity even if those he fights show no humanity themselves.

Having read Batman: The Long Halloween and Batman: Dark Victory, both also products of Loeb and Sale, I held high expectations for Haunted Knight. Unfortunately, however, this time around they weren't quite able to meet my expectations. That's not to say Haunted Knight is a bad collection, just that I didn't like it as much as either The Long Halloween or Dark Victory. This collection is best suited to the Loeb/Sale completest and the die hard Batman fans. Casual readers would probably not enjoy this as much as other stories Loeb and Sale have worked on. Overall I'd give this one a 6 out of 10.

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War Games was a Batman cross-over/event that ran in DC Comics between October 2004 and January 2005. The War Games story arc appeared in all the Gotham related titles running at the time, Detective Comics, Legends of the Dark Knight, Nightwing, Batman: Gotham Knights, Robin, Batgirl, Catwoman, Batman, and Gotham Central. The War Games story arc has since been collected in three trade paper backs, Batman: War Games, Act One - Outbreak, Batman: War Games, Act Two - Tides and Batman: War Games, Act Three - Endgame.

The story begins with Stephanie Brown (aka. Spoiler), trying to redeem herself in the eyes of Batman, after recently been fired as Robin. In an effort to regain Batman's confidence, and hoping to take back her Robin mantle, Spoiler sets into motion an elaborate contingency plan Batman had developed in the event of widespread gang violence. In essence the plan involved gathering all of Gotham's crime figures together and to unite them under a single crime boss, Matches Malone, and alias used by Batman to infiltrate Gotham's organised crime. In effect this plan would have given Batman control of Gotham's organised crime, if it were to go to plan. Unfortunately, Spoiler was not aware that Batman and Matches Malone were the same person.

When Spoiler gathers the crime figures without Batman's knowledge, and with Matches Malone an obvious no show, things turn pear shaped, and the gangs go to war with one another. Batman and friends are immediately drawn into the action, trying to put an end to the war before Gotham is destroyed.

In the chaos, The Black Mask appears, a villain that shares a history with both Batman and Bruce Wayne. An opportunist, the Black Mask decides to step into the role Matches Malone was intended to play. With Batman, Robin, Nightwing, Oracle, Batgirl and Catwoman stretched to breaking point, Spoiler is captured and tortured by the Black Mask. When Black Mask learns the truth behind the War Games scenario being played out in Gotham, he has all the information he needs in order to take control, and rule Gotham City's underworld.
» Read the rest of the entry..

Before I begin, I need to say up-front that when it comes to the big DC Infinite Crisis event, I'm relatively clueless. From what little I do know, Infinite Crisis was a big deal, that concluded with the big name DC drawcards, including Batman, jump forward a year in their continuity. Batman: Face the Face was written by James Robinson with art by Leonard Kirk and Don Kramer. The trade paperback collects a total of eight issues, taken from Batman #651-654 and Detective Comics #817-820, which were originally released May - August 2006. This story-line is sometimes referred to as "One Year Later", and basically serves as the relaunch of the Batman titles.

Batman: Face the Face marks the return of Batman, and Robin, following their one year sabbatical. Prior to taking the year off, Batman left a reformed, and no longer deformed, Harvey Dent to fill the role of protector of Gotham City. From all reports, the twelve months without Batman passed relatively smoothly, and Dent appeared to have handled the challenge well. When Batman and Robin return to Gotham, and take up their crime fighting responsibilities, things start to turn pear shaped. A 'mysterious vigilante' begins dispatching some of the lower level (read crap and unpopular) super villains, such as KGBeast and Orca. When all the evidence points toward Dent, and "Two-Face", as the mastermind behind the murders. All of this is set on the backdrop of an unseen player attempting to take control of the Penguin's empire, as well as Dent growing increasingly resentful of the Dark Knight's return.

So Batman has some tough questions that need answers. Has Dent returned to the Two-Face persona? Is Dent being framed? Who is trying to take over the Penguin's operation? Well if I answered those questions for you, you would need to read the book!

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Face the Face is important if for no other reason than it re-establishes James Gordon as Gotham's police commissioner and reveals that Detective Harvey Bullock is once again a member of the G.C.P.D. The collection also end with Bruce Wayne offering to adopt Tim Drake (the current Robin) as his son.

There is a real effort in this collection to reposition Batman as the detective. He is less a "super hero" in this story and more a "super detective". The whole feel of the book is one of "back to basics". Which is good and bad. It's good because it restores the character of Batman back to the ball park of where he is at his best, but bad because at the same time, there's nothing new going on that hasn't already been done before.

Overall, while the artwork in this book is solid, the story-line is more than a little disappointing. The twist in the tail is telegraphed from very early on, and from then on in it's more a case of going through the motions. For what is essentially a 'relaunch' I found Batman: Face the Face to be a let down.

Overall I'd give Batman: Face the Face 4 out of 10. » Read the rest of the entry..

I'll say it up front, Batman: The Long Halloween is one of the best Batman stories I have read. The Long Halloween is a 13-issue comic book limited series written by Jeph Loeb with art by Tim Sale and originally published by DC Comics in 1996 and 1997. Even if you aren't a comic fan, chances are you'll have seen some of Loeb's work on television, as he is a Co-Executive Producer on the comic inspired NBC show "Heroes", and was formerly a producer/writer on the TV series Smallville and Lost. The Long Halloween has been collected in trade paper back and you can also find it as a DC Comics "Absolute Editions" version.

At its core, the Long Halloween is a detective story, with Batman on the trail of a serial killer known as Holiday, due to his habit of killing his victims on public holidays. Like Batman: Year One, The Long Halloween is set in the early days of Batman's career, pre-Robin. Like Year One, The Long Halloween also focuses on the early day's of Harvey Dent and his eventually transformation into Two-Face.

The Long Halloween is described as "noir-ish" which I guess is a fair way to describe it. Many of the mob gangsters that appeared in Year One return, but Gotham is slowly being over run by the "freak" element, with villains such as Two-Face, The Joker, Scarecrow, Mr Freeze and the Mad Hatter, all having surfaced in the six or so months that have past since Year One.
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Batman: Year One is a four issue story arc written by Frank Miller and illustrated by David Mazzucchelli, that originally appeared in issues #404 to #407 of DC Comics' Batman series in 1987. Batman: Year One is one of the "must read" Batman comics, and is also one of the first examples of the "limited series" format (or self contained series within a series) that is now common place in most main stream comics. Batman: Year One is also the story arc that inspired a lot of the key plot points for the film Batman Begins, and there is a clear link between the gritty style portrayed in both Year One and the film.

Batman: Year One begins with the return of Bruce Wayne. Having left Gotham city 15 years ago, following the death of his parents, it appears that Bruce Wayne has spent his time away training in martial arts as well as forensic and criminal sciences. Jim Gordon is also moving back to Gotham City, with his pregnant wife Barbara. It doesn't take Gordon long to figure out that law enforcement in Gotham is not everything that it should be. Corruption has spread to the highest levels.

Bruce Wayne, yet to adopt the Batman persona, hits the street for his first mission, creating an alibi and disguising his appearance before entering the Red Light District of Gotham. Following an altercation with a local with a local pimp, and a brief fight with a dominitrix called Seline Kyle (who will go on to become Catwoman), Bruce Wayne is shot by police. Managing to escape and make his way back to Wayne Manor, Bruce sits alone, bleeding, and wondering whether it's worth going on. Searching for a flash of inspiration, and a way to strike fear into the hearts of his enemies, a bat crashes through a nearby window and lands on a sculpture of his father. "Yes Father, I will become a bat". Batman is born. » Read the rest of the entry..

The name George A. Romero is synonymous with the zombie genre. If you haven't yet seen the original film version of Dawn of the Dead, then you are really missing out. It's an absolute classic. In any case, once I learned that Romero had been involved in a comic series, I had to check it out.

"Toe Tags" is a 6 issue mini-series issued by DC Comics, also referred to as "The Death of Death". It was first released in late 2004, no doubt to capitalise on the success of the Dawn of the Dead remake that was also released that year. "Toe Tags" is based on an unused script Romero had written previously as a potential sequel to his "Dead Trilogy".

"Toe Tags" follows Damien Cross, who appears to be one of the few survivors of the zombie plague that has struck down the globe. His girlfriend Judy, has also survived, however the two are holed up in different buildings. Judy is the Lara Croft/Alice character, handy with a pump action shot gun, and hot looking. Fortunately for Judy, Damien has a pet elephant. Apparently a highly trained elephant at that. Mr Tembo, as the elephant is called, is sent on a rescue mission to find Judy and bring her back to Damien. It would seem that Mr Tembo is a kick ass elephant, because before you can shout "Dumbo" three times, Judy is safe and sound, yet slightly shocked. Damien is not the man she'd left behind. He's now a zombie, but he's also undead with a difference. Thanks to his eccentric zoologist friend, Damien was administered an experimental serum, that has allowed him to retain both his free will, and his memories. In other words, besides the rotting flesh, he's basically the same guy. Apparently the serum also stops him from stumbling around muttering "brains... braiiiiiiinnnssss..."

From there, Damien and Judy hit the road on the back of Mr Teembo. The story takes on a survivalist mentality. With Damien and Judy on the run from both the Undead, and the living, who are hell bent on obtaining the secrets to the serum. There are a few twists and turns along the way, but this mini-series is mostly an excuse for the artist to draw as many exploding skulls as possible.

"Toe Tags" is really Damien's story, and follows his struggle to reconcile the 'old' Damien, with the new. He remembers his former life, but struggles with determining who he is, and who's side he should be on. He's sympathetic to both the living and the undead. So essentially he exists as a walking, talking, rotting and conflicted emo guy.

What did I learn?

Never turn your back on an elephant.

"Toe Tags" is worth reading if you're interested in exploring the "Dead" universe further, but as a stand alone story, it's not all that strong.
» Read the rest of the entry..

As a comic geek, I felt that it was my duty to go along and see The Dark Knight a second time. Since I loved it so much the first time, for my second viewing I decided to go big, and it doesn't get much bigger than IMAX. Needless to say, The Dark Knight blew me away for a second time, although this time it was on a much bigger scale!

In my opinion, Christopher Nolan has nailed the essence of Batman, and Heath Ledger's macabre and twisted portrayal of the Joker ensures that The Dark Knight sets a new standard for comic book movies. If you haven't seen the movie yet, stop reading this and get along to your local cinema. You won't be disappointed. » Read the rest of the entry..

Batman: Turning Points was a five issues mini-series focusing on the symbiotic, yet sometimes strained, relationship between Batman and Commissioner Gordon. The five issues have been collected in trade paper back form.

The five issues cover five distinctly different stories and time periods throughout Batman's career. The first issue finds Batman attempting to build up a level of trust with Gordon. The second involves Gordon attempting to reconcile in his own mind the moral implications of allowing Batman to take on a younger side kick, Robin.

The third, and perhaps most interesting story takes place shortly after the events of the classic one-shot "The Killing Joke" in which the Joker had shot Gordon's daughter in the spine, paralysing her, in an attempt to prove his point that anyone can be driven to insanity if they have "just one bad day". In this story, Batman is having trouble dealing with the guilt associated with these events, ignoring his "obligations" whilst a serial killer roams free in Gotham.

The fourth issue takes place after the events of Knightfall, in which Batman is recovering from a heavy defeat, and Azrael is temporarily standing in as Batman until Bruce Wayne can get back on his feet. This story had a couple of flaws, the major one for me being that for some reason Gordon wasn't able to identify that the 'new' Batman, was not the one he had been dealing with for years.

The fifth issue connected back to the first story, however, to be blunt, not a lot happened.

Overall Batman: Turning Points was an average collection. DC clearly called in the who's who of writing talent with Rucka, Dixon, and Brubaker all contributing, which is perhaps the most disappointing aspect with regard to Turning Points. Even with all that talent on board, they still only managed to turn out an average collection. The artwork is most definitely "old school". The cover is a good indication of what you'll find inside. If that annoys you, look elsewhere.

What did I learn? Sometimes you really should judge a book by its cover.

Would I recommend it? I wouldn't recommend this to the casual reader or Batman fan. Arguably this collection is for the Batman 'completests' only. » Read the rest of the entry..

Alan Moore's Watchmen is often described by critics as being 'seminal'. Now, I'm embarrassed to admit it, but I had to look that word up:

sem·i·nal: highly original and influencing the development of future events: a seminal artist; seminal ideas.

For the record, it can also mean "pertaining to, containing, or consisting of semen." In the case of Watchmen, the first meaning here is definitely the most appropriate.

Watchmen was originally published as a monthly 12 issue comic book limited series from 1986-1987, and later collected as a trade paperback (meaning all issues in the one book). It was written by Alan Moore, also known for V for Vendetta, and illustrated by Dave Gibbons.
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Batman: The Dark Knight Returns is a mini-series written and drawn by Frank Miller and published by in four issues by between February and June of 1986.

Don't get Batman: The Dark Knight Returns (DKR) confused with the 2008 Dark Knight movie. They are two distinctly different tales. DKR is set twenty years into an alternate future in which superheroes are strangely absent, and super-villians are either jailed or dead. Ordinary criminals now fill the void, and a gang known as the "Mutants" are holding Gotham City to ransom.

Batman has not been seen for ten years following the death of the second incarnation of Robin (Jason Todd). Bruce Wayne, whilst battling a drinking problem, is still a rich man. We learn that for years he has been funding the rehabilitation of Harvey Dent, to the point where "Two-Face" seems to have disappeared, and Harvey Dent is released back out into society. When Dent returns to crime, Batman is forced out of retirement. After recapturing Dent, Batman then goes after the mutants, defeating their leader, and fuelling the media's obsession with the re-emergence of the Dark Knight.
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