As readers of this blog know, I’ve been trying to better familiarize myself with the comic medium over the last year. I am at a point now where I’ve read most of the staples, ranging from Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns to Grant Morrison’s All Star Superman to Stan Lee’s original Spiderman comics. I was pleased to see that Saga won the Hugo yesterday, which I believe to be the best series on the market today. Also to mention are a few of DC’s New 52 that I have found to be worthwhile reads.
Batman is by far my favorite superhero, so it is no surprise that putting the character in the hands of Scott Snyder resulted in a good story. There is a new villain in The Court of Owls, a secret society of assassins that will put Batman to the test. I first read Snyder in his American Vampire series and while his story-telling is a lot more straight-forward than a writer like Grant Morrison, his characters still have depth. This comic features an extended family of crime-fighting cohorts in Dick Grayson, Tim Drake, and Damien Wayne. Greg Cupollo’s art is strong and complements the story well. The Court of Owls is not the greatest Batman story ever told, but it is still fresh and well worth a read for any Batman fans.
I picked up this comic for two reasons. First of all, I am trying to get more familiarized with Superman, given that Man of Steel was recently released in the theaters. Second of all, it was written by Grant Morrison — a writer who can be hit or miss with me, but often delivers a complex story that is rewarding. Action Comics, even going back to its 1930’s inception, is not the traditional Superman we know and love. He is a blue-collar hero who leaps buildings in a single bound. He is superhuman, but not infallible and certainly not the omnipotent Christ-figure that he later evolved into. This fact alone makes this comic a little harder to adjust to. I can’t say I loved this title, but I like what Morrison did with the characters. The story at times felt a little messy and my nostalgic bias also got in the way of me enjoying it at times. Nonetheless, I do think it is worth a read and it gets back to the roots of the most popular superhero in American history.
Wonder Woman has never been a favorite character of mine. I always found the invisible jet to be a silly concept and I hadn’t ever picked up any of her comics. In the New 52, Azzarello gives Wonder Woman a fresh treatment, providing a rich background that builds on the Greek mythos and Wonder Woman’s Amazonian heritage. This comic has a good story and while I dislike the cover for this title, much of the artwork is quite good inside. Given the lack of strong female protagonists in the comic medium that enjoy any form of popularity, it is nice to see Wonder Woman take off in the New 52. For someone like me who hasn’t read any Wonder Woman titles, this seemed like a good place to start.
I became a fan of Jeff Lemire after reading the graphic novel, Underwater Welder a year ago. Lemire demonstrates a good understanding of how sequential art can reveal a story and his pairing with artist Travel Foreman seems to be the right match for this macabre tale. Animal Man does not have the name recognition of many of the other superheroes, but he has enjoyed popularity with several top names in comic books handling the character before Lemire. This story follows Animal Man and his daughter into another world, unlocking the mystery behind their superpowers in a fashion that reminded me much of a Clive Barker novel. I enjoyed this comic much more than I expected and would recommend it without reservation.
Okay, I admit that I only picked this novel up based on the recommendations of a few folks online. Vampires have run their course and I am already vested in Scott Snyder’s American Vampire series. Then this series comes, taking advantage of a shared universe that caught me hook, line, and sinker. What universe (city) you ask? Why it’s Gotham. The story takes place in a future where vampires have spread throughout the world and have reached in equilibrium with the human population. A multi-century-old vampire named Andrew Stanton has kept the human population safe, but his ex-lover, Mary, is raising a cult that will threaten Andrew and the entire human population. As strong as he is, he will need assistance to stop this army and in Gotham, we find that hope in Batman. This probably isn’t my favorite comic of the lot, but it was enjoyable nonetheless. The artwork was reminiscent of the art in American Vampire and the story is fast-paced and surprising.