Knightquest: The Crusade to Strangle Robin

I'm sure I missed some panels.

All from Batman Knightfall vol. 2: Knightquest

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Godzilla: Awakening and The Pro

The Pro
by Garth Ennis and Amanda Conner

I bought this on impulse at Comixology a while ago. It was cheap enough, $3.99 for 59 pages so I took the bait.

It's a short graphic novel, maybe published as those half-comic book half-paperback kinds of deals. If you're familiar with Garth Ennis, you'll see plenty of him in the story. If not, this is a good introduction. He's that weird kind of person who very clearly hates superheroes, yet loves them enough to write this story.

The "Viewer," in a cosmic wage against his robot, bets that even the most depraved of human beings are capable of great things. ENTER: The Pro, a single mom who works as a waitress by day, and walks the night by. . . night. She's a prostitute and the "League of Honor," an obvious pastiche of the Justice League take her under their fold. A good, short read. I got a kick out of it.

Godzilla: Awakening
By the Borenstein brothers and Eric Battle

Here's another short graphic novel. It's 80 pages long and. . . can you believe it retails for $19.99???

I downloaded this thing online and was pretty surprised how much I like it. I think it's the length. That sub-100 page length is a great length to deliver a focused, concise story without drawing it out for too long. I've never read a Godzilla comic, but I would expect this to be par for the course. It frames the story from the point of view of one man and his struggle with a world with "Gojira" in it. More than Godzilla, it's about the awakening of the radioactive moth monster, "Shinomura" and its struggle against Godzilla. If I google this guy, he's already taking over deviantart!

 There's the small real-world commentary on our experiments with the A-bomb. Always welcome in a Godzilla story. I'm particularly fond of Eric Battle's layouts, so I wanted to show off some of them. The human crew dive undersea to search for Godzilla, and after hours of searching they give up to re-surface. . . only to show us a huge Godzilla staring behind them as they depart! The trade includes sketch art, so I thought I'd pair the two together:

Another splash page. In this continuity, Godzilla was a monster that lay dormant in the Earth for millions of years, until the Atomic bomb woke it up from its slumber:
How sick is that??

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Spider-Man: Big Time and Transformers: Autocracy

There's a slew of jumping-on points for Spider-Man these days. I'd say any of the Dan Slott story banners would do, Ends of the Earth, Spider-Island. And even better, they've all been reasonably acclaimed.

Spider-Man being the reason I got into comics, I couldn't stay away from it for long. Today we're looking at Spider-Man: Big Time and Transformers: Autocracy.

Spider-Man: Big Time
Collects Amazing Spider-Man #648-651
by Dan Slott, Humbertro Ramos and more

"Big Time" has a bit of a double meaning all things considered. It marks Peter Parker's transition to another job, another apartment and a newer supporting cast. It also marks the title's transition from a team of writers, to only Dan Slott. You could also call it Dan Slott's "Big Time."

The writer's a fan-favorite who grew up a fan of the title, and you can tell. He gets at the core of Spider-Man, and hits the bullet points. It's an optimistic Spider-Man he writes here that's quick to joke, has all-new friends and an all-new non-Mary Jane girlfriend. For once, Peter's used his smarts to get a lucrative research position at Modell Industries, an Apple-esque start-up focused on creating innovative technology based on science.

Slightly more forgettable is the main plot, a new Hobgoblin by the name of Phil Urich. He's a part of this new Goblin movement, that Norman Osborn is somehow fostering from within prison.

This is also the debut of "Sound-proof" Spider-Man, a special costume designed to protect Spider-Man from Hobby's sonic scream. It renders him invisible to soundwaves as well as light waves. A good jumping on point for anyone. It's certainly Spider-Man. Is it my Spider-Man? Only time will tell. . .

Transformers Autocracy
Collects the 12-issue digital series of the same name
by Chris Metzen, Flint Dille and Livio Ramondelli

Take a look at the foreword first, and you'll see it's meant to be IDW's version of an origin for the Megatron characters and Optimus Prime. The former starts as a political insurgent, intent on overthrowing the Autocracy of Zeta Prime, and the latter is a police officer just known as "Orion Pax", following orders. The Great War between Autobots and Decepticons is already underway, so it's a matter of seeing how the characters evolve in the series in this context.

The colors are really washed-out, and the lines are sloppy. It's reminiscent of a Surrogates art style, and sometimes the action is hard to tell.

This was published digitally, presumably for 3 months and was IDW's first foray into the digital-first world for the Transformers franchise. Other than that, there's really nothing digital/tablet-specific about the reading experience.

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Chezkevin vs. Knightquest: Part 1

It was a while ago, almost two years, that my friend donated her comic book collection to me. She was moving and she didn't have the room to hold the boxes and shelves of her comics. I inherited pounds and pounds of paperbacks, hardcovers and a full long box of floppies, mainly from the late 90's.

A number of issues from the "Batman: Knightfall" series was a part of the collection, the years-spanning storyline where Bruce Wayne was crippled, passed on the Batman role to another guy, and then took it back. Even including the issue where, yes, Bane breaks the bat. I read through most of it while I was housesitting for a high school teacher of mine, and now I've gotten ahold of Volume 2: Knightquest. This is the one where Jean Paul Valley, a once-brainwashed assassin assumes the role of Gotham's dark savior at Bruce Wayne's behest. Let's go ahead and take a look at these stories. It's pretty big and I wanted to talk about each storyline, so I've split it up into two posts.

Knightfall Vol. 2: Knightquest
by too many people to list here
Collecting DETECTIVE COMICS #667-675, BATMAN #501-508, BATMAN: SHADOW OF THE BAT #19-28, CATWOMAN #6-7 and ROBIN #7
$17 on Amazon

Detective Comics #667-669

Jean Paul Valley goes on his first adventures as Batman. He kicks Robin out of the Batcave. This was back when Tim Drake was Robin, and back then he even had a tunnel right from his house to the Batcave! Jean Paul Valley seals that up, claiming that he doesn't need a "hindrance or a security risk."
(I don't think they ever resolved this cliffhanger from 668. . .)

Anyways, Batman takes on these two cowboy sharpshooters, who perform heists throughout Gotham. Their big target is the "Money Train," Gotham's nightly delivery of the day's take in train fare. It's millions of dollars, and a chance for Batman to show off his new Batmobile, a thing that runs circles around the original Batmobile that can run on the tracks of Gotham Rail system.

Batman #501-502
Batman fights a man called "Mekros," a hired assassin in sophisticated armor, who's hypnotized himself to become the perfect killing machine. A good foil for Jean Paul Valley, who was hypnotized before he could be aware it.

Batman: Shadow of the Bat #19-20
"Tally Man"
Batman takes on the "Tallyman," a spindly assassin with springs for limbs and who's obsessed with marking down everyone on his hit list. There's some plot where some crime boss hires him to take down another crime boss. Ultimately, Batman is the last guy on his hit list, the 67th (or 68th?), and takes him down.

There's a nice flashback that explains why Tallyman is the way he is, because his entire family was abused because they couldn't make his rent. Another Batman villain whose life in crime was caused by some childhood psychosis. The two-parter also doubles as a "Jean Paul Valley's Origin" story, in that he tries to go deep in his memories, back to understand "The System," the hypnosis training he underwent to become an assassin for the Order of St. Dumas.

Detective Comics #670
A quick one-shot featuring Dr. Freeze. It starts out as a cute mystery, in that you're asking "Hey who is that guy and why is he in a giant block of ice." It eventually turns into a "Hey Batman's about to kill this guy. It's not the same Batman that you know and love!"

Batman #503-504, Catwoman #6-7
It's a crossover between the Bat- and Cat-titles! Gotham City's having an International Exchange Summit, and it's the target of some terrorists. Catwoman undergoes some thievery in order to prevent the terrorists, and Batman's convinced that she's the terrorist instead.

Interestingly, he's as enamored with her as you might expect anyone would be with anyone wearing a skintight catsuit, and in a confrontation he says without meaning, grr, I'm gonna tie you up:
Batman #671-673

The Joker's back! And this time he has a new Batman to fool around with. In this storyline he's making a real-life movie titled, "The Death of Batman." So basically, he's just doing his usual stuff except this time he's making it for a film.

There's a cute "Ebert & Roeper" reference in there:

Otherwise, it's the same as usual, with the added touch of Batman about to kill Joker, but stopped by the GCPD.

Batman kill count: 0. Batman-attempting-to-kill count: I dunno, 6?

Batman: Shadow of the Bat #24
"The Immigrant: Rosemary's Baby"

Maybe my favorite of this paperback. Don't let the title fool you. Nobody's having a demonic baby in this comic book. Batman investigates an illegal child trafficking system, spurred on by the attempted thieving of an illegal immigrant named "Rosemary" and her search for the baby she had to sell.
The children in this story act as a better foil to Batman than any of the other stories. It's maybe the beginning of the search for his humanity.
That's about all I'm willing to write for today, So I'll go ahead and split this up. My last half of Knightquest will be coming I DON'T KNOW, WHENEVER I WANT I GUESS by next weekend.

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