/\ /\ /\ /\ Splash Page from Green Lantern #55 Pencils Doug Mahnke /\ /\ /\

Monday, August 23, 2010

BATMAN: Book of the Dead TPB Part 1 & part 2 Review

RATING: 2.5 out of 5

A disappointment. I was excited when I got them, but the storyline really turned out lame and I quickly lost interest. It is a full storyline in two trade paperbacks. It has a Elseworld's trademark, of which I'm glad, not really because of the Batman portion but because of the Egyption history portion of the story.

What was I expecting!? Well let's see...
Maybe ...a BOOK OF THE DEAD. After all, that's n the title.. right?

Necronomicon from Army of Darkness and The Book of the Dead from The Mummy (1999)

Examples of really cool books of the dead that I've seen in the past... are from the Army of Darkness and The Mummy (1999).   I bet some of you recognize them.

BUT these TPB's had of the dead. Not a single page.

Which...yes...takes away from the coolness of these TPB's.

There WAS a lid of the dead, which was a Mayan lid to a sarcophagus.  Did I say Mayan? Yes I did....and so did Dr. Sheila Ramsey for EIGHT pages as she lectured Bruce, and me, on Mayan theories of the end of the world.

Her discovery...the symbol of a Bat-god, when you take a mirror image of the sarcophagus and turn it upside down etc...AND this led her to there being an unknown Bat-God in Egypt... etc etc... she thinks there is a hidden room under the Sphinx etc etc etc...holds the mystery of the next world wide catastrophic event.

NOW for the Elseworlds portion:

Bruces parents were killed because they had a clue to a ancient puzzle (have no problem with this because  the reason of their death changes with the writer)

BUT, then there are flashbacks of the far... far... past (28000yrs ago).
There were Aliens who helped the Humans to become a civilization. These beings were called gods.
Nekhrun -Bat God

I know that you may think of Hawkman and Hawkgirl, but no....not them. A different set of aliens...but same old...old story. Seth being jealous of Osiris because of Isis, putting a kink in their plans of saving the Human race in 28,000 years by killing Osiris.

Nekhrun (Bat-god) dies trying to make sure that the knowledge to save the human race is entombed under the Sphinx, so that it can be discovered when humans are ready for the knowledge.

Bruce (Batman), in the present, risks his life by working through a maze (avoids the traps) to the treasure of knowledge.  There are others who want the treasure, of course he takes care of them.

THERE is a short glimpse of a mummy, but it is only Osiris being brought back to life (Stargate style with a sarcophagus).

I wouldn't suggest this TPB, but someone else may like it, especially now... that you know ...there is NO Book of the Dead, maybe... a Book of knowledge (except it's not a book either... but the cylinder thingy in Batman's hand on the cover of 2).

Another reviewer said that if you were a fan of Raiders of the Lost Ark you may like it, but he didn't. I loved that movie... and I thought this story was dry.  Maybe ...if there was more mystery... and maybe... if Bruce didn't have such a easy time with the maze, like a few traps he had to maneuver, to make it exciting( or maybe...a Book of the Dead)

I'd be glad to know what others have thought of the story. Maybe I was expecting too much.

AND on a high note ...
"KLAATU BARADA Nmmmumtmo!"
Damn...still didn't make these books any better when I opened them.

BATMAN: Book of the Dead
Writer: Doug Moench
Penciller: Barry Kitson
Inker: Ray McCarthy
Letters: Kurt Hathaway
Colors: Dave Stewart
Publisher: DC Comics
June/July 1999

Saturday, August 14, 2010

BATMAN : Shadow of the BAT : The Last Arkham #1 #2 #3 #4 Review TPB

RATING 4.5 out 5

Fantastic. This is a  very good straight forward Batman story. It dives in the world of Arkham Asylum and Breyfogle's art is a wonderful fit to this story.  Alan Grant introduces two new characters that tickle the imagination of future writers and have a fan following of their own, Jeremiah Arkham and Mr Zsasz.  A complete story in four issues. It shows Batman at his best. A smooth fighter and great Detective, who will go to any length to stop the lunatics that roam Gotham's streets.

SPOILERS (The TPB is over 10 years old so I'll give quite a bit) and Review :

At 16 yrs old, Jeremiah Arkham, faced down a escaped Patient from Arkham Asylum, and at that moment he decided to follow in his Uncle Amadeus Arkham's footsteps.  He had the nack, or talent, of reading people, and he knew how to push their buttons.

The first issue introduces a newly remodeled  asylum, designed by Jeremiah, and it introduces us to some of it's more well known inmates: Cornelius Stirk, Everad Mallitt, The Scarcrow (Professor Johanthan Crane), Mr Zsasz,... AND lastly THE BATMAN.

   Batman has gone off the deep end, lost his mind, and killed a cop. Gordon himself had him taken to Arkham Asylum.  MY first thoughts, are.. NOOOOOOOO it's not him, or he has been framed or or or or...something else.

The orderlies want to unmask The Batman, which is not going to be a easy task. Jeremiah intercedes saying, "I will learn his secret identity. He himself will Tell me...When he 's good and ready. On the day he is cured. And when he Hands me that cowl...There will be NO MORE Batman."  This is where I slap my forehead with the palm of my hand and utter, 'Of course ...they won't remove the mask.'

How did Batman end up in Arkham Asylum?
Issue 2 tells what lead up to Batman's incarceration, and it has to do with Zsasz.
A lunatic had killed a family by slitting their throats then arranged them in a family setting.  This is the M.O. of  Mr Zsasz.  Gordon and Batman take a tour of the Arkham Asylum guided by Jeremiah, to see how Zsasz could have possibly got out.  Alan Grant gives us a grim picture of  Zsasz as he laughs coldly at Batman and shows him that he has no new tally marks on his body. What I find strange... is that the killer, is wearing a top hat and tails, and I had thought Zsasz was a Skin Head
    After leaving the asylum in a bad mood from the meeting with Zsasz, Gordon and Batman are called to yet another gruesome crime scene with the same M.O. as before.  A lieutenant makes a bad joke at the scene and Batman beats him up, causing his death.

AND so... Batman is in Arkham.

WHERE is Robin and Nightwing in all of this?
Batman tells Robin to stay out of it.
So... Robin tells... Nightwing, 
WHO doesn't believe what happened and goes to break into Arkham to breakout Batman.

This leads to  my favorite fun scene in the storyline.

Nightwing breaking into Arkham, worming  his way through the air ducts, to find Batman doing the same.
(I've cut and paste, to show the scene as best I can.)  

Batman lets Nightwing know that being committed to Arkham was his idea, so that he could get inside and find out how Zsasz got out. Gordon and the Lieutenant( who isn't dead) were in on the scheme.

This is where I sum up my review and leave you hanging, because you need to buy it for yourself.

Grant and Breyfogle have Bruce getting out of one situation after another, from the subtle, with Bruce calmly cuffing a smart ass officer with his own cuffs, to the grandiose of Bruce taking on the whole rogues gallery of lunatics at the asylum. It's a Great Batman story and it also introduces yet another sadistic killer, "Mr Zsasz", to Gotham's cast of characters.
The trade paperback (Batman: The Last Arkham) is out of print and costs a arm and a leg(About $60), but the single issues you can get cheap on ebay(About $15 or less).

BATMAN: Shadow of the BAT: The Last ARKHAM Issues #1, #2, #3, #4
Writer: Alan Grant
Artist: Norm Breyfogle
Letterer: Todd Klein
Colorist: Adrienne Roy
Cover Painting: Brian Stelfreeze

Publisher: DC Comics
June, Jul, Aug, Sep, 1992

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


RATING 3 out of 5

The dialog is very repetitive and at times very unnecessary. This becomes distracting and takes away from the over all appeal of this issue, but the story line is intriguing and entertaining, which makes me want more. So.... I'm sticking with the mini and will be getting the next issue.

Full REview with spoilers.

This is a faaasst paced book. Action covers almost every page. The dialog almost gives me a feeling that Bruce has had too many cups of coffee, then there are the  double captions talking about the same thing.  More and more dialog.  I think it's the hardest part to accept about the issue,  that Bruce would talk so damn.. much, or think... so so much. 
But in truth, WHY wouldn't he?

 Batman, is the world's greatest detective, and known to be prepared for every contingency,  So ...WHY wouldn't he have a running dialog and thought balloons for everything that he is doing. It kinda makes sense..., but doesn't work well for a comic.

 Neal Adams pencils are amazing and brings the action alive and pulls you into the story, but then the dialog throws you back out.
  Bruce is still retelling a story within a story in this issue.  In issue 1, he had passed the time while waiting for information from Man-Bat, by telling a story to Robin. The story he told to Robin, was about when he first started as Batman and was carrying guns.   
    Now ... in Issue 2, we find out that Bruce not only didn't finish the story, but wasn't telling the whole story to Robin

During a fight at the piers he is knocked unconscious and he has flashbacks of that story he was telling Robin, the REAL story.

 MY favorite part of the issue was Bruce saving the little old "Ruthie Diels". It won me over for the whole issue. Those few panels made me say "Aw...he saved Ruthie."

I also loved the large two-page spread of the train engine blowing apart. BAWHOOM .. he he he, I like bigga badda booms.

SO Yeah...I'm gonna get the next issue.  The story is very intriguing and entertaining.  I liked the issue  more on the second read, because I already knew the dialog.

Story and Art: Neal Adams
Color: Continuity Stodios
Letters: Ken Lopez
Assistant Editor: Janelle Siegel
Associate Editor: Rachel Gluckstern
Editors: Marts & Carlin

Publisher: Dc Comics
Oct 2010

Monday, August 9, 2010

ACTION comics #891 The Black Ring: Part 2

RATING 3.3 out of 5

This issue doesn't rank high on action, but... what did I expect with Lex Luther as the main character. It's not a "Wow" kind of book, more of a comedy.  I'm not a fan of the character of Lex Luthor, but I still enjoyed the story and plan to get the next issue.

Full REview, spoilers.

Paul Cornell is able to keep the character of Lex Luthor true to form, but this issue seems to be a bit  off course from the main storyline started in the previous issue, which was Luthor searching for a way to build his own power ring from the Black Lantern rings that disappeared.

This issue seemed a little slow to me. Even though I see the humor of going into Lex Luthor's mind and seeing his fantasies, it just wasn't my type of action packed comic.
The storyline starts with Luthor, as a caveman, stealing "Fire" from the gods to bring to mankind. The gods looking suspiciously like The Trinity (superman, Wonder woman, and Batman.)

We find out ....that Lex's antagonist... the adorable  "Mr Mind", is trying to gain information from Lex, by having him live through his fantasies (I don't get it, but a plots a plot).

AND personally, I believe Lex's antagonist needs to be bottled up and sold to promote the acceptance of cute caterpillars everywhere.
He is....Just so ...adorable.(see panel to the left)

What is the  information that Lex has in his mind for Mr Mind to find? Whatever it is ...Mr Mind himself doesn't know. (So cute...I could just pinch those cheeks...ah... if he had any.) Mr Mind seems to be afraid of someone else, who he thinks is watching him. This "mysterious" someone... wasn't clear on what Mr Mind was to extract from Lex's mind.

I might have made it a bit more complicated then the story  really is, so lets try again: Lex's mind...controlled by Mr Mind .... looking to find ...information undefined...for someone not become a headline.

Lex creatively gets free of Mr Mind and gives him "The boot", then decides to get extra muscle to help him on his quest for higher power, Deathstroke. 

I would say that you could skip this issue if you want, but the story was cute and humerus.

I'm looking forward to the next issue. Deathstroke is one of my favorite bad guys, plus he's a eyed... katana swinging way.  If I have a choice between a cute evil caterpillar, and bad ass hunk, bad ass hunk will win in my book every time.

Writer:  Paul Cornell
Pencillers: Pete Woods & Cafu
Inkers: Woods & BIT
Colorist: Brad Anderson
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Cover: David Finch, Batt & Peter Steigerwald