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Paul McNamee "Rambleast Reviews" (North Ireland)

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Batman - Knightfall Part One  Broken Bat
Batman - Knightfall Part One Broken Bat
by Doug Moench
Edition: Paperback

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars New edition available, 9 May 2012
I just wanted to let anyone looking at this page's listing know that this book and its immediate successor Who Rules the Night? have been collected into a single volume alongside the origin story Vengeance Of Bane as Knightfall: Volume 1 in anticipation of Bane appearing in this summer's The Dark Knight Rises, and contrary to Amazon's product listing as of early May it is in fact already in the shops. If you already own these two books, you can also pick up Vengeance Of Bane in the recently released Batman Versus Bane which will save you double dipping on the other 600-odd pages in the new edition of Knightfall, whose only other difference is that it now includes the original issues' covers which the older separate editions do not. As for the story itself, I'm a big fan of it as the print equivalent of a big dumb popcorn movie, but if you're looking for something with any degree of depth or symbolism you may find it lacking. The art is decidedly mid-90s DC and the writing just above par, and it's enough of a page turner that even at 25-plus issues you could get through it in one sitting.

If, however, you're buying Knightfall for the first time, start with the new version linked to above, which will be followed up with another pair of huge volumes (as Volumes 2: Knightquest and 3: Knightsend) collecting the rest of the saga including those issues omitted from the older three editions.

Spider-Man: The Death of Jean DeWolff (Spider-Man (Marvel))
Spider-Man: The Death of Jean DeWolff (Spider-Man (Marvel))
by Peter David
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 17.31

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars In short? Very, very good., 7 May 2012
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It was many years before I started noticing comic writers' names as often as I did pencillers', but one of the first I was aware of as someone whose dialogue and stories I really enjoyed was Peter David on Spider-Man 2099. Since then I've enjoyed his work on many other titles and he ranks high on my list of guys to look forward to reading, though it's taken me this long to get round to reading this particularly famous Spider-Man four-parter in which, as the less than cryptic title screams, a certain Jean DeWolff is strikingly unfortunate.

The story unfolds as something of a whodunnit, though chances are if you're at least a little well versed in Marvel history post-1990 you'll be aware of who the culprit is (though reading Venom: Sinner Takes All at a young age threw a bit of a spanner in the works as far as that was concerned, personally speaking.) Still, it's less in the tale than in the telling, and the specifics of why what happens to poor Captain DeWolff happens unfold in a sort of callous, anticlimactic way that's an awful lot more like a police procedural than you'd expect from a Spider-Man story (and isn't unlike the excellent Gotham Central, which I'd certainly recommend if you read and enjoy this). David toys with a few different narratives but manages a strict cohesion throughout and the way things develop is at least a little surprising (though fans of this sort of affair may see the final revelation coming from a mile off.) It's worth, maybe, noting that this story comes from what I occasionally refer to as The Darkening that followed the British Invasion of DC and Frank Miller's works in the 1980s but unlike a lot of "our character can be dark too" efforts from Marvel, The Death Of Jean DeWolff fits the character and never feels like a desperate attempt at anything.

Art is from Rich Buckler and is typical for the time - neither horrible nor truly astounding. This is pre-McFarlane, where things would change considerably for better or worse (depends on who you ask) and sits comfortably in the position of carrying the book without, as so many did before, revolutionising it.

This premiere edition (Marvel's words, not mine) comes with a follow-up Sin Eater story from later issues of Spectacular Spider-Man also written by David with scratchy, manic art from Sal Buscema (somewhere in the middle of his mammoth, defining run on that title) in which Sin Eater is released from prison and encounters Electro while Spider-Man encounters guilt and general worriment just like in the good old days. It's a fun follow up which I really appreciated the inclusion of, and at least marks this edition out as superior to previous collected versions, but it's your lot as far as supplements go. Still, it's on a quality thick glossy paper stock and despite the lack of extras it's a neat little book that I'd throughly recommend.

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Black Dossier (League of Extraordinary Gentmn)
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Black Dossier (League of Extraordinary Gentmn)
by Kevin O'Neill & Alan Moore
Edition: Paperback
Price: 12.69

12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Amazon says two stars means "I don't like it". Can't argue., 7 May 2012
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Now, I know I risk the ire of Mooreheads across the UK with any unfavourable review of something he's written and I urge those of you in that broad category not to just hit the 'unhelpful' button out of sheer disagreement, as I aim to give as fair a recommendation as I can to any potential customers of this third book (of six) in The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen catalogue which has only just recently come back into regular print, presumably in anticipation of the impending publication of Century 2009 which should serve as a form of closure for the series.

The reason I feel complelled to add to the single existing review on here (as of May, 2012) is to confirm that this book is not universally held in the highest regards and though it has its fans (and those reviewers will be supported and as such shot straight to the top of the reviews section, perhaps misleadingly) and depending on what you like about the first two LOEG series, you may not find this tome, somewhere between a companion and a reboot, as rewarding.

For a start, the presentation is worth a mention. The titular Black Dossier is a book discovered by Allan Quartermain and Mina Murray within the story and a good portion of this book is made of reprints of the book (within the book)'s material. So, to put it less awkwardly, you'll have thirty pages of comics, at the end of which section our characters will open the Black Dossier, which will then be readable by YOU until it switches back to the characters' adventures for another bridging section of comics. The Dossier's contents are entirely in-world relevant, so think the supplementary prose from the first two stories and expand that to include period comics, lifts from Orwell's 1984 and generally some representation of much of the literative output of Great Britain from the last several hundred years. It's fascinating as an askew account of the nation's history and as a labour of love it's to Moore's certain credit, but for those (like, I now confess, myself) who admired the wealth of new thinking and sheer bombast of the first twelve issue of LOEG, it's not particularly fascinating. The level of EFFORT, is fascinating, but the material just doesn't speak to me, even with the expected level of smut and humour.

The inclusion of a pair of 3D glasses for use in the last chapter's excursion to the Blazing World is novel but can't make up for a general sense that this side-project of sorts is missing some, or a lot, of the magic of the original stories. Not even a particularly unkind appearance from James Bond can help matters.

This may seem like a trite way to put things, but in my experience it's fairly accurate. If you're fond of Moore's Century volumes, whose cast mostly comes from the pages of this volume, this is a great primer. If you're a fan of the in-universe extras in most of his works, such as the chapters between issues in Watchmen and the aforementioned LOEG backups, this is likely to appeal to you. If the chief joy of LOEG 1 and 2 was seeing a certain character's blood appear all over Mr. Hyde at his dining table, like it was mine, there isn't a single idea in this book or the two that have followed it so far that is anywhere near as inspired. It's simply not in the same league, if you'll pardon me for saying so, as the first two books.

I cannot fault the dialogue, and I cannot fault the approach. I just can't get into it either. I hope this goes some way to informing your purchase decision. I'm trying to read everything Alan Moore has written and from that standpoint I'm glad I experienced The Black Dossier, but I won't, I think, be reading it again.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 18, 2012 12:25 AM BST

Batman - Venom
Batman - Venom
by Dennis ONeil
Edition: Paperback

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Worth skipping, 7 May 2012
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This review is from: Batman - Venom (Paperback)
DC's efforts to reprint a lot of books that have been for many years unavailable is commendable, but occasionally it affords a non-classic such as this compilation of Legends Of The Dark Knight issues from the early 1990s to slip back into regular circulation.

Venom concerns the at-this-stage-unnamed drug of the same name and Batman's temporary addiction to it after he's unable to save a child from drowning. The story deals with how his guilt manifests as a desire to improve with the titular drug (made famous by Bane in later tales) taking a hold on his already fragile mind and making him considerably stronger at the expense of being nice to Alfred and generally acting like a bit of a jerk.

To be honest, this sort of story was en vogue at the time. After A Death in the Family and as per the remit of the post-Miller grim and grit landscape of US comics, a great deal of Batman arcs delighted in breaking him in ways he'd not been broken before. Coming before the natural, physical culmination of this approach to storytelling in Knightfall, this story feels an awful lot like the largely superior The Cult in which Batman is challenged mentally and suffers a similar breakdown to the one that dominates the middle third of Venom. Venom is by no means terrible, but it's definitely a little overfamiliar and by no means necessary.

This most recent publication ties into the upcoming release of The Dark Knight Rises inasmuch as there's the vaguest link to that film's Big Bad, the aforementioned Bane. In terms of new content, there's nothing. Thankfully, the original covers are presented where they should be (at the front of their respective issues - see, DC, it's not that hard...) but there's nothing else to upgrade for if you have the older, pink-background-covered edition (the cover of which is sadly not reproduced here.) No introduction, no prelim sketches, nothing. The book is printed on glossy paper which as far I can can glean from trawling the forums recently may annoy certain purists, but personally I think it suits the tonally washed out art from the period. Denny O'Neil's writing is at times as little goofy but overall the dialogue is as you might expect from him, if a little less verbose than in his 70s heydey. In short: entertaining, not vital.

No Title Available

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I've had better, 5 May 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I'm a fairly casual music listener. I like to listen to music often, mostly when I'm travelling by some means or another, but I'm not overly picky about hi-def sound and that sort of thing. I'm happy with high quality MP3s at loud volumes, so, take whatever influence from that you like while reading this review.

I'm fairly satisfied with this set of 'phones but of the review products I've been sent before, I've had better. For a start, they're not quite loud enough while walking that they offer a complete drowning out of sound. Again, this may not apply to audiophiles, but I'd rather not be able to hear cars driving past while listening to even the loudest music on my player. In terms of detail, they're nice and clear, though the bass isn't quite as loud as I'd like. Another customer described the sound as muddy, which I'd not agree with. It's not muddy, but it's not crystal clear either. For non-music output I find them a lot more satisfying. Gaming with these on is a joy.

Personally, I'm a fan of the design, and while it's not stylish by any means, neither is this something that I care about. Beats by Dre seems to have become as much a fashion statement as a sign of aural quality these days: I try not to generalise but a lot of people I see wearing these headphones would obviously be as happy with the white buds that came with their iPhones...

Comfortwise? No problems. The bins (if that's what they're called) fit perfectly over my ears so even for prolonged listening sessions (such an awkward phrase, that) comfort is guaranteed.

Not sure if that's much use to you, gang. If there's anything else you'd like to know, feel free to leave a comment. All I can say is that in a saturated market, I'm not sure I'd buy these myself, but I'd not complain at a free set.

Spider-Man: Marvel Team-Up by Claremont & Byrne
Spider-Man: Marvel Team-Up by Claremont & Byrne
by Chris Claremont
Edition: Paperback
Price: 18.64

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mighty team ups, 4 May 2012
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Marvel Team-Up, in case you didn't know, is a Spider-Man title. It features Spider-Man, Spider-Man's supporting cast and Spider-Man's interactions with various sorts from other Marvel titles. In a few of the issues collected here, it serves as a showcase (for Captain Britain), a closure vehicle (for the then-cancelled Iron Fist) and a platform to introduce characters with varying degrees of longevity (such as D'Spayre, of whom I'm quite fond).

I first read about half the stories collected in this volume as a young pup in the mid 1990s while they were being reprinted in the UK-only Astonishing Spider-Man reprint series which published US issues about two years behind continuity as well as throwing a classic from the 70s in to even out the mix. While this title was responsible for my tendency to apologise for the Clone Saga, it also introduced to me my love of 70s Spidey, from the style and tone of the writing to the colouring and all in between. This collection, from the Dark Phoenix team of Chris Claremont and John Byrne, is as far as I'm concerned totally perfect.

Everything I want from comics from this period is included in these pages: period dialogue, vintage colouring, plenty of non-intrusive exposition and a total absence of any seriously heavy issues with which to totally derail Spider-Man's unique sense of fun. The stories are contained within, at most, two issues. The majority of the tales told are two-parters though there are one or two that are done-in-one (notably Spider-Man's confrontation with Tigra which, through the use of the exclamation "Holy Cow - IT'S KRAVEN!", instilled in me at an early age a respect for the Russian wildman). Occasionally the stories will end with a cliffhanger for someone but unless it's Spider-Man it'll not be followed up in this book (and as such, directions to pick up Ms. Marvel's own title are, frustratingly, decades out of date).

Now, I came to this book after my Claremont X-Men odyssey, during which I read every issue of his legendary 16-year run on that title over the course of about 8 months. That exercise in patience was itself inspired by my huge enjoyment on Claremont's run on the title with Byrne as co-plotter and artist, though by the time I'd gotten through to his early 1990s wind-down, I was burned out altogether and was left with a bit of a sour taste in my mouth as far as he was concerned. Fear not, though, as this comes from the very peak of his writing career, and any such fears you may have if your only experience with Claremont is the Omnibus collecting his run with Marc Silvestri are entirely unwarranted as this was when his MO was writing fun, massively entertaining stories showcasing the very best of Marvel. Byrne's pencils still seem a little ahead of their time when it comes to faces, though his general figure work fits in well with the work of Ross Andru on Amazing Spider-Man at the same time. Excitement is the order of the day, and each issue provides plenty of lasting value from a time when stories weren't dragged out for months or even years, with enough content to encourage multiple readings and enough base quality to keep you coming back.

The book collects issues 59-70 and 75 of the title and comes with no extras whatsoever save the interior inclusion of the re-coloured art from the book's front and back cover.

Untold Tales of Spider-Man Omnibus
Untold Tales of Spider-Man Omnibus
by Kurt Busiek
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 75.00

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Worth telling, 30 April 2012
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If you've time for a little history lesson, this paragraph's just for you. JUST for you. If you're already familiar with Untold Tales and want the skinny on this recently-released Omnibus edition, feel free to skip down a paragraph or two. My feelings'll only be hurt a little bit. So anyway, as part of its bid to attract new readers in the mid 1990s Marvel launched several new series at a cut price in the hopes that the drop in cents would boost sales and among said titles was The Untold Tales Of Spider-Man, under the guidance of writer Kurt Busiek (of Marvels fame) and Pat Olliffe's pencils. At the time, Spider-Man was waist deep in the deep waste of the multi-year arc fans shudderingly recall as the Clone Saga (`saga', in this case, a term too slight for what could better be described as an age), and the tales Untold presented must surely have come as a relief from Ben Reilly's monthly battles with cyber-terrorists, plot saturation and any regard for credibility. Hell, I'm a clone saga apologist and even I get tired of those stories from time to time.

What Untold Tales presents, for your consideration, is a collection of stories set during the original Stan Lee and Steve Ditko era, those original 38 issues (plus annuals!) which many and most consider to have defined the character in a fraction of the time other iconic characters have enjoyed. It helps if you've read those issues (they're available in paperback form as Marvel Masterworks volumes 1-4) but these stories stand up very well on their own. Sure, you'll miss out on a lot of little and loving references (including riffs on Lee's original inconsistencies, like calling Peter "Palmer" in an early issue and the ever-changing surnames of Liz Allen and Anna Watson) and a deeper understanding of why exactly Flash Thompson and Betty Brant merit quite so much page time.

Busiek's and Olliffe's level of reference to these older comics treads that fine line between respect and reverence - it's not weighted down with clever-clever callbacks to obscure one-off characters but there's enough there for those who've read the original run to recognize and a genuine sense of warmth and familiarity from the creators for a much-loved period in American comics. It creates a curious amalgam of old and new. The style is firmly 60s - Peter's still in his white and blue outfit, Betty's hair changes often enough to be noted in the supplemental material - but the tech is modern, with robotic assistants and flamethrowing supervillains and so on.

Olliffe's art pays a consistent visual homage both to Ditko's progression and his figures (his Jonah's a dead ringer for the 60s incarnation of ol' flat top) but his Spider-Man takes cues from the evolution of the character since then, from Romita's solidity to McFarlane's disregard for physics. Most importantly, it's exciting and it works well, especially against Busiek's unquestionably breezy writing. This was a time when Pete's woes rarely went beyond worrying that the public thought he was a coward and fretting over Aunt May's health. No dead girlfriends, live burials or ...shudder... clones, just yet. As such, there's a tone to the writing that approaches superficiality, but the stories have depth and the continuity is flawless, both with the source material and this series' own timeline (both of which are presented in a flowchart at the book's rear). Shortly said, it's a really good read and the art is wonderful. What more could you ask for?

Well, what you could ask for is the lavish presentation afforded to some of Marvel's best runs (and, erm, certain others), and as ever, ask and ye shall receive. The Untold Tales run comes complete in this edition, so that's 25 standard issues as well as the Strange Encounter one-shot and the 1996 and 1997 annuals (which are each another throwback to the 1960s Marvel Annual MO, with pin-ups, creator profiles and more goodies than you can shake a sticky web ball at, and Mike Allred art to boot). Most impressively, the massive tome also collects Busiek's Amazing Fantasy 16-18, a miniseries charting Peter's adventures between his 1962 debut appearance and Amazing Spider-Man #1 in 1963. The painted art is courtesy of Paul Lee and it presents a gloomy Wednesday afternoon of a New York and a trio of loosely connected tales that complement the main body of work perfectly. A really, really welcome addition. The actual hardcover book itself (underneath one of two spiffing covers) is a bright red, which is a first for my Omnibus collection, but I'm not complaining. In terms of extras, there's not much to talk about seeing as the original annuals run the gamut of curios fairly extensively, so we get a pair of cartoons from Fred Hembeck, some alternate covers from TPB editions and each of the Omnibus' covers on the last page. Also included are the letters pages from issues 1 and 25 which illuminate the reasons for the series' birth and ultimate cancellation. A succinct package with little fluff. The binding lays perfectly flat from the centre all the way out, and save for a select few pages (maybe 10 in total where things look like they've been scanned) the reproduction is flawless. Paper stock is glossy and suits the mid-1990s artwork and colouring.

Would I recommend it to first time readers? Absolutely. Heck, it was my first time reading it and it's one of the best Spider-Man books I own. There's no doubt that reading those original 38 issues (and enjoying them) will increase your enjoyment of this might slab of paper, but it's by no means reliant on them - merely respectful. And at under 50 and just over 800 pages, it's one of the more sensibly priced Omnibuseseses. I say thee buy.

A Nightmare on Elm Street Series I Freddy Krueger
A Nightmare on Elm Street Series I Freddy Krueger

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As close to perfect as possible, 27 April 2012
= Durability:4.0 out of 5 stars  = Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars  = Educational:1.0 out of 5 stars 
Freddy Krueger hasn't had as glorious a career in the miniature plastic effigy stakes as you'd think such an iconic character would merit. NECA, evidently the inheritor of McFarlane Toys' seat upon the throne of affordable adult collectables, are taking great pains to make up for a spotted history of poor likenesses, inaccurate design and in most cases outright shoddiness on the parts of McFarlane, Mezco and even NECA themselves. Within the past year four figures have been released based on specific scenes from each of the first four films in the Nightmare On Elm Street series, and for my money (and yours, if you intend on buying it), this figure is the best itty bitty Freddy ever released. Not only does it outshine all previous efforts (including the previous record holder from McFarlane's Movie Maniacs Series 4) but it's also the best of the current wave of four on account of the range of expression offered by a mere two heads and a humble selection of well-considered articulation points.

The toy from the first film comes close to this in terms of shall we say normalcy (the figures from the the third and fourth films are a little too specific to their respective scenes) but the replacement head from that toy isn't worth getting excited over. Those heads that are included with this package boast Fred in a sneer and a scream respectively and both capture Englund's likeness absolutely perfectly, particularly with regards to the makeup of that film which many fans including myself would argue was the best he ever looked, even if the film is one of the worst. Two hands are included for the right arm: the standard bladed glove and another in which the blades come directly from the fingers. He's also packaged with his iconic hat, which fits both heads perfectly. The articulation comes in the form of cut joints for the right wrist and ankles, and ball joints for the left hand, waist, elbows and shoulders. It may not sound like a lot (and it certainly isn't offensively obvious to look at) but it makes for a hell a of a lot of posing options if that's what you're after. The options on the waist alone set this toy apart from any released before.

Now, NECA has had some serious problems with paint application for several years now (last year's Terminator line was ruined as a result) but I'll happily confirm that this range suffers no such problems. Both the figure I bought and the rest I looked over in the shop had uniformly excellent application, from the textures of the shirt and face to the detail in the eyes. Really, really impressive and certainly nothing to worry about.

In terms of packaging, it comes clamshelled in plastic with paper inserts so that if you prefer you can remove the figure from the back and reinsert it at a later time without it looking from the front like it's ever been opened. Rather than the more usual NECA style of the artwork to the left of the figure, this comes in the taller box with the series title at the top. The artwork is suitable and uniform for each of the four figures, with the exception of the relevant film information and figure shots.

Not sure there's much else I can say. If you're after a one-purpose Freddy figure that doesn't reference any specific moments (save for the removal of his scalp to show the brain, which can be covered by the hat if so desired), this is the one to go for. If you buy it and you're not satisfied, I'LL refund you your money.*

*Not true
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 24, 2014 5:44 PM BST

Spider-Man: Torment (Spider-Man (Marvel))
Spider-Man: Torment (Spider-Man (Marvel))
by Todd Mcfarlane
Edition: Paperback
Price: 11.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Torment or triumph?, 26 April 2012
Like a prom dress in a bin, such beautiful, beautiful garbage has Todd McFarlane created. Of greater historical importance than actual merit, Torment sure is purty to look at it but boy is it stupid. The story reads thus: Todd McFarlane had asked to be moved from his (rightfully legendary - yeah, I'm a fan) artist run on Amazing Spider-Man to any project on which he could write, and Marvel editor Jim Salicrup agreed to kick off a brand new Spider-title to accompany the existing monthly three (Amazing, Spectacular and the already-superfluous Web Of) just to showcase Todd's considerable talents as a visual storyteller and to see if he could match his skills thereat with a typewriter. So was launched the paradoxically subtitled 'adjectiveless' Spider-Man (referred to as 'Adjectiveless' by all and sundry and sundry's mothers' mothers) a few months before a morally wanting bid to cash in on the record-shattering success with X-Men #1 (whose artist Jim Lee would up sticks with McFarlane about a year or so later to form Image).

So, like I said, it's got historical value. Like how an entire line (Adjectiveless - see, I told you? - ran for just less than a hundred issues and a further 57 after its 1999 relaunch) was created as a platform for an essentially unproven hot young stud to try his hand at writing. Writing, that is, the company's hottest character. Like how it was launched with something like six or seven different covers for each printing it sold out of (mine's silver, if you're curious). Like how it foreshadowed Lee's and Claremont's X-perience so closely if not hitting the dizzying highs of that book's earliest issues. It's a snapshot of a changing industry and a milestone of a time when things were seriously changing in mainstream comics, just before those very instigators left for pastures greener with only imitators in their wake.

Is it any good though?

Not really. I'm a real big fan of the way Todd draws - many of the things other people might criticize him for are things I'm a champion of. As a hundred odd pages of Spider-art, and this is after a few years of really honing his talent, when he was at his webbed zenith, this is simply marvellous. I love how he draws every member of the cast, I love his New York, and his Lizard? Best ever. Yeah. No question.

But the story is awful and the dialogue, well, it kinda feels like a soft target, you know, like when you don't really feel comfortable picking holes in something? Sure, it was his first issue and everything, but this was a BIG deal at the time. I'm surprised these issues got to newstands let alone out of the writers room. Plotwise, there's something goofy going on in da Big Apple, with spooky drums resounding and the once-Dr. Conners driven to murder at the whim of a villain so forgettable I honestly, one week after re-reading the story, can't remember a thing about. Was she Kraven's girlfriend, or something? Who knows? The five-issue story, after an issue of setup, takes place on a single night, so to flesh things out a little we're treated to Mary Jane's plights on a night on the town for no reason any other writer would entertain. For like a second. It's really, really silly.

But it looks good. My advice, then, is this: pick it up if you're happy to tolerate a lack of satisfaction in the scripting department in order to appreciate some very influential and honestly classic art. Otherwise, avoid.

This edition is a paperback printing of the Premiere Hardcover that was released a few years ago, and ports over the same included extras: an introduction from Jim Salicrup from the original TPB edition (another factor for this story's needless length is that it was written with the intention of eventual publication as a book - these were the early days of the 'graphic novel', after all), some relevant excerpts from Marvel Age magazine including an interview with McFarlane from 1991, the variant covers for the original issue and two pieces of art from the original story recoloured with modern tech. If you're wondering, it has the white-on-red Marvel logo at the top of the spine.

If you DO like it, or you want to sample the art with some really great writing, check out the Omnibus of Todd's run on Amazing with David Michelinie.

Batman - Birth of the Demon
Batman - Birth of the Demon
by Mike W Barr
Edition: Paperback

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece and its company, 17 April 2012
Of the three hardcover graphic novels compiled in this single paperback edition, only one is what I'd happily call a must-read. That is of course the third and final of the trilogy, Birth Of The Demon, for which this book is named. Though the first two (Son Of The Demon and Bride Of The Demon) are enjoyable romps in their own right, Birth Of The Demon is truly a sublime Batman publication charting the history of villain extraordinaire Ra's Al Ghul and written by his own creator, the legendary Denny O'Neil. O'Neil always had the best handle on his own character and the first two stories (written by Mike W. Barr) honestly feel like a warm up to the main event, but it's so much more than just a well-written origin story. From pace to framing, the story is perfect, thanks in no small part to the art of fellow Bat-alum and legend Norm Breyfogle which sees his discard his typical linework for an altogether more unique feel with paintwork and colouring and so many more positives that I can't describe them. It's gorgeous, truly, and the tale is tall and nasty and properly fitting of the man many would consider Batman's greatest foe.

The presentation is definitely worth a mention seeing as these books have been scaled down for their reprinting here and as such, as least on the first two, the artwork seems to suffer from a strange compression eefect that leaves the colours bleeding into one another and creates a sort of sickly look for the first two thirds of the book. Whether it's Breyfogle's artwork or just pure good luck, Birth Of The Demon itself doesn't seem to fare as badly and I've not a single complaint about it.

This edition is affordable (check out the prices for the original three hardcovers online - yowza) and though the presentation isn't perfect it's a great alternative to hunting down the originals and frankly a steal for the chance to own O'Neil and Norm's crowning achievement. There's nary an extra in sight save for the original covers collected at the back so unfotunately the original introductions are absent, but regardless I can easily recommend this for Batfans new and old (and if you fancy tying it into Morrison's recent run, the rear blurb gives you the go ahead, though it seems a tad strenuous considering a single panel "a prequel" to Batman And Son).

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