Library trades for 1-23-12: Batman, Beasts of Burden and more. . .

cover by J.H. Williams IIIBatman: The Black Glove
by Grant Morrison, J.H. Williams III et al.
Collecting Batman #'s 667-669, 672-675
DC Comics, $16.49 Amazon HC

If I remember right, The Black Glove is early on in Grant Morrison's Batman run that would lead to stories such as Batman R.I.P, Battle for the Cowl, and Batman Inc. Compared to all those, it still holds up and then some. The Black Glove consists of three different stories: two three-issue storyarcs and then a final done-in-one issue. J.H. Williams III takes on the first three-issue arc, in a locked-door murder mystery: Batman and the Club of International Heroes are invited to super-billionaire John Mayhew's island of despair: slowly Batman and friends learn about Mr. Mayhew's diabolical plot driven by the "Black Glove" in a devilish drama of good vs. evil.

Williams III does a solid job on pencils, although there are some times where the art diverges from the words, to a point that removes the reader from the story. Comic books are the synthesis of words and pictures, and it hurts the story when one overtakes the other.

Tony Daniel takes on the next three-issue arc, in a Batman kidnapping that tests the Dark Knight's willpower. SPOILER: he uses his brain, because his brain's prepared for every-possible-outcome-because-of-course-he-is-because-he's-Batman and wins. For some reason, Bat Mite and Zur En Arrh make cameos as Batman's mind breaks down. Richard Clark takes on the last issue, in probably the least-polished art of the hardcover, but the best story.
from Batman: The Black Glove, by Grant Morrison, J.H. Williams III, Tony Daniel and Richard Clark
Bruce Wayne is in the middle of a date with Jezebel Jet before Mr. Ten-Eyes wages terror on Jet and her country. At this point, Bruce seems to have had enough with these weirdos interfering his life, and he takes him on, without bothering to put on cape and cowl. He straight up stalks Mr. Ten-Eyes in the dark and beats him to a pulp. Just look at that first image. Bruce is mad!

from Batman: The Black Glove, by Grant Morrison, J.H. Williams III, Tony Daniel and Richard Clark

Here's a last image from the same issue. I really admire these two pages.The close-up on Bruce Wayne's eyes, the words he says, it's a confession to why he's doing what he's doing, what's wrong with him and why he can't stop. Batman is a dude with serious issues, and these pages get to the heart of it. He tells Jezebel to walk away, because he knows he's only going to hurt her. The following page is the infamous, "Bruce Wayne is Batman," Jezebel-Jet-puts-the-hands-on-Bruce's-head-like-Batman's-ears. Well done, Grant Morrison.

Beasts of Burden: Animal Rites
by Evan Dorkin and Jill Thompson
Collecting the miniseries, and excerpts from Dark Horse anthologies
Dark Horse, $13.59 Amazon HC

Beasts of Burden vol. 1: Animal Rites, cover by Jill Thompson

They're a bunch of dogs (and a cat)! And they live in a suburb called Burden Hill! And weird supernatural stuff happens to them, and it's both charming and terrifying!

from Beasts of Burden: Animal Rites, by Evan Dorkin and Jill Thompson
That's the premise of Beasts of Burden. Dogs have an uncanny knack for emotion, and Jill has an uncanny knack at drawing them. I don't recall any other comic book with so many different dog drawings. Just look at that image above. Even though they're all in the same pose, they have different body shapes and mannerisms. You can see every different angle of a dog's face! Adorable.

In each issue, the pups and pals deal with witch cats, demon frogs, werewolves and other friendly contraptions. Each issue is standalone, because they haven't gotten hold of an ongoing series. These guys could really run with an ongoing -- I'd be on board for a miniseries at least.

Sloth, cover by Gilbert Hernandezby Gilbert Hernandez
Vertigo, $11.69 HC

Sloth is about a love triangle between teenagers Miguel, Lita and Miguel's friend Romeo. Miguel wakes up from a supposedly will-induced-year-long coma, supposedly by his will, and resumes his life with a sluggish pace. Together with his friends Lita and Romeo, he explores a haunted lemon orchard that allegedly has the Goatman, the guy who'll steal your soul, and maybe put you in a coma.

Midway, there's an confounding plot twist. I mean that literally -- the plot twists with no explanation: there's a shift in narrator, Romeo is apparently a rock star, and Lita is single and man-trapping Miguel in an attempt to get him to like her. Beyond that one wall, Sloth is a teenage story of boredom and abandonment, which isn't my thing per se, but it's drawn pretty well.

Stats a-go-go