144 Batman: War Games Book Two

When giant crossovers are done right, and infrequently, they can be amazing.  I thought the entire War Games crossover was pure gold.  There was one, focused story, it ran through the entire Batman Family of books, none of it felt forced, none of it felt padded out.  It was on point and a great read.

Basically, for a year, we got a story that took place over the course of a few days.  Batman had fired Stephanie Brown as Robin.  She still wanted to prove her worth to Batman and it backfired in her face.  Batman has contingency plans for everything.  EVERYTHING.  Stephanie took one of those plans and unintentionally turned it into a reality, sparking the biggest mob war in Gotham's history.  It took all of Batman's associates to end it, but it did so much damage to Batman's standing in Gotham, his allies standing in Gotham, and his own relationship with his allies that it took years to fix.

It really is a great story with amazing consequences that laid the groundwork for more stories.  That's the sign of a great "event story."

Batman: War Games Book Two
Writer: Anderson Gabrych, A.J. Lieberman, Devin Grayson, Bill Willingham, Dylan Horrocks, Ed Brubaker, Bruce Jones, Russell Lissan
Artist: Pete Woods, Cam Smith, Brad Walker, Troy Nixey, Mike Lilly, Andy Owens, Al Barrionuevo, Francis Portella, Jon Proctor, Robert Campanella, Rodney Ramos, Mike Huddleston, Jesse Delperdang, Paul Gulacy, Jimmy Palmiotti, Kinsun, Aaron Sowd, Sean Phillips, Thomas Derenick, Adam DeKraker, Drew Geraci, Paul Lee, Brian Horton, Eddy Barrows, Jay Leisten, Chris Marrinan, Andrew Pepoy, BIT, Giuseppe Camuncoli, Sandre Hope
DC Comics

143 Tales Of The Batman: Gerry Conway Vol 1

When I think of Gerry Conway, I don't necessarily think of Batman, but as it turns out, he's written his fair share of Batman stories.  Everything in this book I've read before.  Most everything I've read I read when it was brand new.  There are a couple exceptions, but very few.  This book has a nice mix of stories from Batman, Detective Comics, Batman Family, Brave & The Bold, World's Finest and Man-Bat. 

A couple of the stories in here I have very strong, fond memories of, though I had no idea they were Gerry Conway stories.  The first being the story from Batman Family #17.  And it's not even the story itself that I have really fond memories of, but the entire issue.  I remember all the stories kind of blending into one another.  The story reprinted in this volume has one of my favorite BatFam sequences ever. Huntress breaks into the Wayne Foundation building and is quickly "discovered" by Batman and Robin.  It's the first meeting between Batman and Huntress and I love it.  Batman brings Huntress to meet Kathy Kane, who in turn takes Huntress to meet Batgirl.  That story isn't in this volume, though.

Another story I have very fond memories of is from World's Finest #250.  I don't think the story is nearly as good as I remember it, but I'm a sucker for anniversary stories with lots of guest stars.  This tale isn't just the Superman/Batman story you'd normally get in World's Finest.  It also stars Green Arrow and Black Canary and the WWII Earth 2 Wonder Woman, all who also had features in World's Finest.  I do love these kinds of stories, whether they are successful or not. 

This book also has a fair amount of Brave & The Bold stories.  I love those tales.  LOVE THEM!!!  Especially the ones that are the more impossible ones, like Batman teaming up with Scalphunter.

I wouldn't say there's anything in this book that's outstanding, but it's a great read cover to cover nonetheless.

If DC is going to reprint more Gerry Conway stuff, I hope their next project is the Fury of Firestorm series.  That, to me, is classic Gerry Conway.

Tales Of The Batman: Gerry Conway Vol 1
Writer: Gerry Conway
Artist: Steve Ditko, Ernie Chan, Michael Golden, George Tuska, John Calnan, Jim Aparo, Don Newton, Jose Luis Garcia Lopez, Carmine Infantino, Rich Buckler, Al Milgrom, Frank McLaughlin, Vince Colletta, Dave Hunt, Dan Adkins, Steve Mitchell
DC Comics


142 Justice League Of America: The Nail - The Complete Deluxe Edition

DC has finally collected both Alan Davis mini-series into one beautiful deluxe edition.  What an amazing book to sit and soak in.

Alan Davis wrote and drew a love letter to DC's Silver Age.  It doesn't quite get the love that something like Darwyn Cooke's New Frontier does, but it should.

Quite simply, Ma & Pa Kent get a nail in their tire the night they were supposed to find baby Kal-El.  They never leave the house and Kal-El gets adopted elsewhere.  He never becomes Superman.  So the story follows the DC Silver Age with that one alteration.  And what it turns into is a scene that is very reminiscent of what's happening today in America.  Except replace minorities with meta humans.  Meta humans are no longer trusted and they're feared.  There's a giant conspiracy against them, but the heroes do get their shit together and take care of matters.  It's a very compelling story.  It grabs your attention and doesn't let it go.

A follow up story was done called Another Nail.  This one I struggled a bit with.  It starts off going further into detail an event that happened in the first book, which leads to the new story.  Or so I guess it does.  The second book felt like it was a lot of plot points, but I was waiting to figure out what the actual plot was.  If that makes sense. 

Both series are some of the best work Alan Davis has ever done.  He's amazing.  I could look at this book for the rest of my life and never get tired of it.

Justice League Of America: The Nail - The Complete Deluxe Edition
Writer: Alan Davis
Artist: Alan Davis, Mark Farmer
DC Comics


141 Doctor Who - The Tenth Doctor Vol 6: Sins Of The Father

Okay, so I've read a lot of Doctor Who this week while being cooped up at home.   This is the third book (and the last on my backlog shelf of books to read) one.  What I love about the Doctor Who comic series is it takes a page from the tv show and stages out seasons of storytelling.  Like on the tv show, there's a big, over-arcing story being told at the same time as single, smaller stories are unfolding.  But the catch with that is if you don't care for the big story, all the rest of the smaller stories don't do it for you.

This volume deals with two big over-arcing plots, neither of which I care much for.  There's this storyline with the Nocturnes that has been unfolding since the fourth volume of this book and another storyline dealing with Anubis which is been going on since maybe the third?  I really don't care for either and that's distracting from any enjoyment I might find in this book.  I'm anxious for all these arcs to reach their conclusions so that I can get back to really liking the Tenth Doctors' adventures.

On a happier note, the art is as gorgeous as ever.  There's that, at least.

Doctor Who - The Tenth Doctor Vol 6: Sins Of The Father
Writer: Nick Abadzis
Artist: Giorgia Sposito, Eleonora Carlini, Leandro Casco, Simon Fraser, Walter Geovanni
Titan Comics

140 Deadman By Kelley Jones: The Complete Collection

I'm sure I've mentioned on the blog my love of Deadman.  He's a character who always always always appeals to me.  And this collection is a great one.  It collects together three separate series drawn by Kelley Jones.  And this is why when I think the name Kelley Jones, the first thing that springs to my mind of Deadman.  His stylized version of the character is amazing.

What we have here is an 8 part story that originally ran in Action Comics Weekly.  It involves zombies and possession and all that good ol' New Orleans voodoo nonsense.  Mike Baron wrote the tale, as he did the other stories in this book.  It's followed up by the two part mini series Love After Death.  Deadman meets, well, for lack of a better term, Deadwoman and instantly falls in love.  It's a great tale of the supernatural, love and betrayal.  And finally, the mini series Exorcism, which follows up both of the previous stories in this volume.  Deadman is distraught after the events of the Love After Death series and his basically lost his mind.  Madame Waxahachie, a character first introduced in the Action Comics Weekly series is brought in to help fix what's happened.  It's a great, but disturbing tale (and it also features the Phantom Stranger, another of my favorites!)

If you're a Deadman fan, this book is for you.  It's such a great read, cover to cover

Deadman By Kelley Jones: The Complete Collection
Writer: Mike Baron
Artist: Kelley Jones, Tony DeZuniga, Pablo Marcos, Vince Giarrano
DC Comics

139 Mister Miracle By Jack Kirby

I'm going to say something very controversial.  I don't like Jack Kirby.  I don't think he's the shit like everyone else does.  I'm not a huge fan of his writing.  I'm not a huge fan of his art.  I appreciate that he's a creative behemoth and he's responsible for some of the most well loved and most enduring properties in comics, but I'm just not a fan.

However, Mister Miracle may be my absolute favorite Kirby creation.  Everything about his sings to me.  His costume is simple, yet complex.  It's bright and shiny and happy.  His back story is tragic but his current story is positive.  He's a fun character and he has great adventures.

Sure, most of the stories in here are kind of awful, but they're fun awful.  And we get all 18 fun but awful action packed issues of Kirby's run.  We get a lot of Kirby's Fourth World characters showing up for different stories, which is neat.  He was writing, drawing and editing the whole Fourth World set of books for a number of years.  I don't know how he did it.  Granted, they weren't monthly books.  Bi-monthly at best, but that's a lot of pages to be putting out on a regular basis.

Anyway, if I was going to pick on Kirby book to love on for his 100th anniversary celebration, it would be this book.

Mister Miracle By Jack Kirby
Writer: Jack Kirby
Artist: Jack Kirby, Mike Royer
DC Comics

138 JLA Year One: The Deluxe Edition

I suppose there was a need for this book.  Crisis On Infinite Earths had made the JLA's origin obsolete.  Things needed to be shuffled around to make it still work.  And this book put it all down on paper for us.  I remember enjoying the book when it first came out all those years ago.  But reading it with a fresh set of eyes, all these years later, I kind of feel like this story is a big waste of time.  In the years since it was published, this story, too, has become obsolete.  Events have made changes in history and this doesn't hold up anymore.  And maybe that's why I feel like it was a waste?  I don't know.

There were a lot of things that bothered me about this book.  I love an Easter egg, but it felt like this book when above and beyond the call of duty to shove as many of them in here as possible.  It's distracting.  Some of the characterizations also annoyed me.  Black Canary especially.  She was insufferable to me.

I heard a lot of behind the scenes stuff about the production of this book back when it was being published.  There was a lot of talk about Mark Waid being furious with Brian Augustyn's scripting and that he had to rescript an awful lot of this book.  It may be true.  I've never been a big Augustyn fan.  I don't feel he's a very good writer.  It may be his presence here that brings the book down for me.  Because it's not Waid.  He's still got a million ideas and they're all good.

It was nice to revisit this book, but I don't know if it was necessary.

JLA Year One: The Deluxe Edition
Writer: Mark Waid, Brian Augustyn
Artist: Barry Kitson, Michael Bair, Mark Propst, John Stokes
DC Comics

137 Batman '66 Meets Steed And Mrs. Peel

I read the Batman '66 series when it first came out and while it was fun at first, it got old quick.  At least for me.  However, these occasional mini-series have more than redeemed the book for me.  This one was particularly fun.

Here we have Batman and Robin teaming up with Steed and Mrs. Peel.  I have to admit I never watched the Avengers and have read very little Steed and Peel, but knowing a lot about them isn't necessary.  

This adventure starts in Gotham City and spans all the way to England, covering both teams' home bases.  I'm not familiar with the Steed & Peel villain, so I don't know if they're brand new or canon, but they mesh well with the choice of Bat Villains used in this tale.

There are two highlights of this book for me.  The first is the tone of the book.  It's not as campy as the Batman '66 books can be, but it doesn't lose the camp, either.  It's a controlled camp and it makes the book extra enjoyable.  The other highlight is the art of Matt Smith.  I think he's incredible every day of the week, but this was really beautiful to look at.  I don't know if it's all free hand art or if he used video stills for some of the panels.  I can't tell.  Either way, it's gorgeous art that fits the book like a glove.

Batman '66 Meets Steed And Mrs. Peel
Writer: Ian Edginton
Artist: Matthew Dow Smith
DC Comics / Boom! Studios

136 Doctor Who - Tenth Doctor Vol. 5: Arena Of Fear

I didn't care for the 4th volume in this series, but volume 5 was significantly better. 

Two tales in this book.  The first picks up where the last volume ends.  There's a group of travelers consisting of Captain Jack and Cindy (among others) who are wandering the earth.  They really have no idea of who they really are or what they're doing.  They eventually cross paths with the Doctor, who is in the same situation.  And that's when memories begin to return.  A fun adventure to kind of undo the boringness of volume 4.

But the better story is the second one in this book.  The Doctor, Gabby and Cindy try to take a vacation but end up in the middle of an adventure featuring a witch.  Sounds boring, but it was actually quite good.  And this being Doctor Who, you know there wasn't really a witch.  But what was it?  Hmmmmmmm.....

Doctor Who - Tenth Doctor Vol. 5: Arena Of Fear
Writer: Nick Abadzis
Artist: Eleonora Carlini, Elena Casagrande, Iolanda Zanfardino, Simone De Meo, Luca Maresca
Titan Comics

135 The Legion By Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning Vol 1

I have to say I'm rather surprised that DC has published this book.  At this time, I mean.  They just started collecting the Legionnaires and Legion Of Super-Heroes books earlier this year.  This book shouldn't be out already.  I thought it would all get collected chronologically.  But I'm wrong.  And I'm happy.  I particularly loved this run on the book.

According to the afterword in the book, both series were losing readers and Abnett & Lanning were brought in to spark new interest with a new direction.  Now, if you've read any of my mini-reviews, you know one thing I hate is when a new team is brought in to give a book a "bold new direction" and they start things off by discarding what's come before them.  Well, Dan and Andy did just the opposite.  They had a big idea, but they lead into it.  Quickly, but without throwing anything away.  Their first story introduces the Blight, their second story sets characters in place for the Blight storyline and then BAM, we're smack in the middle of the story.  And it's a good one.  And from there they start making the changes they want to make in the book.  All the changes are plot dictated and very organic.  And that, my friends, is how you change the direction of a book.

I remember being kind of upset when this book first came out.  Olivier Coipel's art was so ugly to me.  But as the story progressed, I realized he was the perfect artist to draw the whole Blight storyline.  It works incredibly well.  It holds up to this day.

I love the Legion.  I love this book.  I'm so glad DC is showing the Legion some love right now.

The Legion By Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning Vol 1
Writer: Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning
Artist: Olivier Coipel, Adam Dekraker, Jeffrey Moy, Angel Unzueta, Chuck Wojtkiewicz, Andy Lanning, W.C. Carani, Jaime Mendoza, Dexter Vines
DC Comics