Happy Halloween, Bruce Wayne

In celebration of All Hallow's Eve, I thought I'd share with you one of my favorite Batman stories. I ran into the third act of it, in a graphic novel at a Half Price Books in Illinois. I couldn't find the complete trilogy at Amazon, so I figured it was out of print, but then I found a couple copies at my local comic shop. I was hooked. It achieves an atmosphere that few comics are willing to explore. The art creates a world that sucks you in. It's Batman meets gothic horror. It's

Tales of the Multiverse - Batman: Vampire
collecting the three graphic novels, Batman & Dracula: Red Rain, Batman: Bloodstorm and Batman: Crimson Mist
by Doug Moench and Kelley Jones

Man, where do I begin? Gotham being overrun as it is, a weird cloud of red rain hovers over the city, and brings with it a strange series of murders, the victims dying after two punctures in their neck. With Dracula in the title, you can tell where this is going.

Vampires might be overused now, but Kelley Jones builds them up as they used to be: dark, hungry, irresistible. Together with the way he draws Batman, there's an atmosphere that'll spook you. Check it out:
Man, who draws a cape like that? Kelley Jones is an auteur. Here's another shot, of Batman in the city.

Our Dark Knight faces off against Dracula by the end of Red Rain, and it's a great finale to the first act. I don't think I'm spoiling it when I tell you that Batman becomes a vampire by the end, and that kicks off the main arc for Bloodstorm. It's Bruce Wayne's struggle against the evil inside him. In the dark of night, he makes recurring visits to Ariadne, a collector of the occult, and his constant question is whether vampires are evil -- whether they must be evil.

And hey, here's a sweet-ass panel of Batman as a vampire:

In the conventional DC Universe, Bruce Wayne is this man that acts as this ghoul, this terror of the night. He frightens criminals but adheres to a rigid moral code. What makes the multiverse so brilliant is that here, Bruce Wayne becomes the terror of the night, and he becomes the monster that he's always played at being. There are no more rules. With the Joker gone at the end of the second act, Gotham's criminals come out of the woodwork and this is where Batman as a vampire really shines. It's a brutal, horrifying experience when Batman murders the Penguin, feasts on his blood and then beheads him in order to keep him from returning as a vampire.
And then puts on the Penguin's monocle and yells at his henchmen.

Crimson Mist is my favorite act of the trilogy, because this is the kind of story that only a multiverse could tell. It's Batman unleashed, Batman as I always wanted to see, but feared to admit. In the third act, Batman flies around Gotham as crimson mist, feasting on and beheading all the supercriminals in Arkham Asylum. And it doesn't stop there: Batman takes their heads and pikes them outside Blackgate Penitentiary, as a warning. That is wicked.

The trilogy ends in a way that you'd think, and it's fitting. But it's Gotham's dive into hell, and Batman's stuggle with evil that made me so glad I picked this up. I've never read a more chilling Batman story. Batman: Vampire isn't just a good Halloween reading experience; it's a good anytime reading experience. I give it my highest recommendation.


Here's an excerpt from the first act. Batman lures Dracula's followers into the Batcave, planning to detonate it and them inside.
It. is. sick.

Follow chezkevin on rss | twitter

Read more Batman here.
Looking for some spoooky recommendations? Check out The Unknown vol. 1 and vol. 2.
Looking for Batman: The Long Halloween? Here it is.

Trades for 10-29-12: Epting, Epting and Albuquerque

Hi all! Today I have not one, not two but three comic book trades for you. Ya dig?

Fantastic Four vol.4
collecting issues 583-588, "Three"
by Jonathan Hickman and Steve Epting
$16.49, Amazon

Hey, I've never read any of Hickman's Fantastic Four before, and, thankfully, this library book was as good as any other. He starts right off the bat with an upset in one of the characters' status quos: due to exposure from the recent world they were exploring, The Thing sheds his rock skin and becomes a human-looking Ben Grimm what with hair and all. This makes for my favorite issue of the trade, in which Johnny Storm takes Ben out for a night on the town, and it's pretty touching. Check out who they have dinner with:

Get it? It's Stan and Jack. If ever you had any doubts about Hickman as a Fantastic Four writer, they're taken down right there. Ben Grimm also runs into the all-new, all-action Yancy Street Gang, a group of now-unemployed stock traders from the recession that bully unaware New Yorkers:

Nice one Ben! At the end of the issue, Ben goes to see Alicia, and it's an excellent scene.

Although it was my favorite, Ben's arc isn't the main point of the trade -- the reason it's called "Three" is that Johnny Storm dies in this storyarc, saving the world from another Annihilus invasion. I'm sure it was a big deal in 2011, when it came out. It's given its proper weight and it's heroic, but it's hard to be anything other than ambivalent about it. 'Cause, oh look, hi Johnny, you returned in issue 600 in 2012. Thanks comics.

Captain America: The Death of Captain America vol. 2
collecting issues 31-36, "The Burden of Dreams"
by Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting
$10.19, Amazon

I read this one about two months ago so there's this huge gap between what I remember and what's actually there on the page. I skimmed through the thing when I was on the toilet, and I honestly can't tell you much more than, "Bucky reluctantly accepts the mantle of Captain America and handles the duties in his own way while still honoring Steve Rogers."

There's a story here, I'm sure, but until you've read all the issues in "The Death of Captain America," it's not really there. Re-readability works only if you read every issue together, and no single issue stands alone. It's won awards and prestige, but Brubaker's Captain America goes at a pace that I can't appreciate. But hey, check out Bucky's bionic arm whamming a dude by its own device
Hah! It'll be the new banner here eventually. This trade is labeled volume 2, but volume 1 is labeled "Winter Soldier" and collects issues 1-7. I get that this is the second volume for "The Death of Captain America," but that's a really cryptic way to label your paperbacks, Marvel. Boo.

American Vampire vol. 2
collecting "Devil in the Sand" and "The Way Out" back-ups (issues 6-11)
by Scott Snyder, Rafael Albuquerque and Mateus Santolouco
$11.42, Amazon

It takes a while for "Devil in the Sand" to get going, but by the third issue, you can really sink your teeth into it. Leave it to American Vampire to introduce new characters in the middle of the title and make them compelling. It's America in the 1930s, and we take the perspective of the sheriff of a small town in Nevada. You might have heard it -- it's called Las Vegas, and a few businessmen are attending the small town for the construction of the Boulder Dam. And it turns out those businessmen . . . are vampires!

Scott Snyder weaves a story that's about American industry and progress, as much as it's about a vampire class war, as much as it's about a small town sheriff and his world. While I was lukewarm on the first volume, the second volume is really worth your time.

Follow chezkevin on rss | twitter

Hey Spidey! Who's your favorite player on the Heat?

Bosh (Chris)

Is that so? I took you for a fan of King James.

from Peter Parker: Spider-Man #48, by Paul Jenkins and Mark Buckingham
Follow chezkevin on rss | twitter

Best of THE PAST FEW MONTHS: Zero month, Punk Rock Jesus and more

Work's been taking my time lately, which I can't say is a bad thing. It has been keeping me from blogging, which I'm not too proud of. Here's a recap of the last few comics I've been reading this month. It is not a complete list, because I'm not amused by all the comics I get. Enjoy: remember to take advantage of Google's Lightbox View to check out these images (scanned in 150 dpi for your reading pleasure!).

Batman #0
by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo
Zero month was last month, and it threw DC to the top for September. I didn't pick up any more DC titles than I usually do, so here's a small clip from Batman #0. It opens with a really great heist scene where Bruce botches his impersonation of a thief, and in the middle of the issue, there's this conversation between Bruce and Lt. Jim Gordon. In the middle of the enter thing, Bruce has been testing out his delayed-return batarang, so Bruce has to end the conversation before the batarang returns!

Batman #12 was also out, and it was a done-in-one that focused on a Gotham electrician who was an orphan, living with her brother and obsessing over the Batman. The cool thing about the issue is that she discovers Batman's controls, wired into everywhere in Gotham's electrical grid. This really builds on the Batman's connection to Gotham City that Snyder's been theming around. That is pretty cool!

Batman, Inc #3
by Grant Morrison and Chris Burnham
Matches Malone returns in this issue! Matches is one of Bruce Wayne's many alter egos, and Matches is what he uses to infiltrate the criminal underworld. Matches visits a bar to get more information about the terrorist organization when he gets more than he asked for, and by the end of the issue he's getting choked in a grocery bag, while Damian's dressed up as Red Robin in order to save him. Cue issue 0.

Batman, Inc #0
by Grant Morrison, Chris Burnham and Frazer Irving
Check it, that guy's name is Veiniac. He swings from rooftop to rooftop from veins that extend out of his wrist. "Doubleface" also makes his dazzling debut here, but his gimmick is that he's Bi-Beast.

Oh, the issue? It's about Bruce Wayne starting his global network of Batmen, and it's made of scenes of people recruiting other people for Batman, Inc. It's a shame that this came right in the middle of issue 3 and 4, because Bruce was about to choke to death when issue 3 ended.

Chew #28
by John Layman and Rob Guillory
Chew continues the "Space Cakes" arc, although I'm having a hard time remembering what's exactly happening, what with the Secret Agent Poyo one-shot in between issues 27 and 28.

Anyways, in this series of panels, the team has to take Tony out of the hospital to use his powers, except he's still in extreme pain from last arc ("Major League Chew") so they put him on painkillers.

The Flash #12
by Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato 
Argh this entire issue was great! Francis Manapul is making some great comic art, and here's one example of an exciting way to show a person falling down.

Man those double-page spreads are awesome. The issue is about Golden Glider breaking out a bunch of the supervillains that Flash put away, and it spilled over into Annual #1, which is not all that great visually. And when you make that visual aspect mediocre, it removes a lot of what makes this title so great.

The Flash #0
by Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato
This zero issue tells us a bit about Barry Allen's motivation for crime and the personal tragedy that caused it. It's a different take on the superhero tragedy, in that Barry's dad actually killed his mom in a domestic dispute, and Barry spent much of his life trying to find the evidence to disprove that. By the end of the issue, he learns to move on with it, instead of spending his time living in the past, a major theme in the title.

This zero issue also holds the wild debut of Barry Grylls, survival extraordinaire. Dat beard.

Punk Rock Jesus #2
by Sean Murphy
 Woooow. I haven't talked about any other issues, but this page pops up in issue 2. It's an extreme close-up of Thomas, the bodyguard for Gwen (the mother to the clone of Jesus Christ). After the very conservative, separate-paneled pages, here's this huge close-up on Thomas' face, and you can see all the grit on it. You can see the dots on his hat and the lines on his face, and if you look hard, you can even see fingerprints on his cheek. That's just wild. Sean Murphy is telling this story, and it's exciting to read. Check it out.

I've also been reading The New Deadwardians, but it's' moving at such a slow pace that I'm just picking it up out of habit. Two more issues to go and I don't have to think about it anymore.

Follow chezkevin on rss | twitter
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Stats a-go-go