on 16 December 2008
With DC planning an all encompassing, continuity changing, Some-Crisis-Or-Other every two years I was loathe to pick up anything with narrative ties to Infinite Crisis. Which is a shame because otherwise solid stories like Under The Hood and Superman, Up, Up and Away would be so much more enjoyable were they not mired in esoteric references to "such and such a Crisis of Infinite Proportions".
Fortunately this collection presents Bat-fans with a solid, old fashioned, back to basics Batman story that can be picked up without the slightest understanding of the DC Universe outside of Gotham.
The plot itself is simple but well executed enough to avoid falling into the realms of cliche. Batman and Robin, after a year's hiatus have returned to Gotham only to find that the man in whose care they left it, may not be playing by the rules.
Yes, the whole thing smacks of the Knightfall saga of the early '90s but the execution is decidedly noir and grim, with betrayal, murder and intrigue at every turn.
The supporting characters are surprisingly well sculpted, with bullish detective Harvey Bullock finally getting some character development.
There are also some beautiful moments of Batman / Robin interaction that should concince even stalwart proponents of a "solo" Batman.
In a time of ludicrously complicated and grand plot contrivances, it's nice to see a superhero story that doesn't try to reinvent the wheel, but tells a good story just right!
on 16 January 2007
It's a year after Batman and Robin's disappearance from Gotham and the city has been under the watchful eye of another protector. But now the Dark Knight has returned, and villains from his rogue gallery are being killed one by one.
This story has three real subjects to it, if there's one thing that Batman novels can do more than any other comic book franchise it's have really tragic characters that you can't help but sympathise with and this story more than anything it's a story which really hits upon the tragedy of the character of Harvey Dent. Harvey Dent in my opinion has always been the most tragic character, for who is essentially a good person he's never had anything good given in return, this story being no exception. There are dramatic changes in the Batman/Robin relationship plus we get to purge all those vilains that were, either too silly to be taken in earnest or have become stagnant and purposeless as of late. Also there's a reintroduction of a certain individual that I never thought I'd see return in this capacity ever.
All in all this story re-vamps the Bat world setting it up for a new time, a new era. There's a definate sense of closure and balance of the old story arcs and now we're starting again from scratch and boy have they set the pieces for a really exciting and surprising future of the Bat. As a stand alone piece the story is okay but I see it mainly as a stepping stone setting up the events for the future, and it's looking to be an exciting future at that.
Ready to get back on the ride?
Okay, let's go!
This is a return to form graphic novel for Batman. As the title implies, this tale revolves around Harvey Two-Face. In some of the more recent comics, Two-Face has been cured, and his face has been restored to it's original, normal appearance. Whilst Batman and Robin have been away from Gotham for the last year, Two-Face has been protecting the city in their stead. But as the comic book starts, all is not well in Gotham. Criminals are being slaughtered by an unknown killer. All the evidence points to Two Face, and both the police and Batman are more than a little suspicious of his involvement. The story then charts Batman piecing together the pieces of the puzzle to try and solve who is behind all of this....
I liked this graphic novel a great deal for a number of reasons. Firstly, it is intelligent. It involves Batman being a detective, and i like these types of story much more than the hugely long fight-scenes of his other appearances in graphic novels. There is more than one storyline involved in this volume, and each one is given time, thought and care.
Another strong point is the character development. Batman, Robin, Two Face and Commissioner Gordon all grow within this book, for varying reasons (which i won't spoil by writing down here!). In two Face's case though, it is very well done - you really feel sympathy and empathy for him, as he tries to wrestle with his inner demons. In many ways, Two Face is the most believable of Batman's enemies - he is not as one dimensional as the Joker, or Bane. The writer has done really well in bringing Two Face to life, and for this, more than anything else is the reason you should read this graphic novel.
Two other good reasons for buying this book are the artwork, and the culling of some less believable bad guys. The artwork is good, and solid all the way through, and is consistent from one chapter to the next. The culling of some of the minor bad guys is a good move too. Batman needs believable enemies and not the sillier ones we have seen of late. I think that Batman needs a human enemy with as much intelligence and resourcefulness as he has - like Sherlock Holmes and Moriarty.
So, to sum up - this is a top notch Batman graphic novel. Good story, good characters, good set pieces, good pacing and good artwork.
I would highly recommend this book - especially for the ending of the first sequence of the private detective sub plot - read this book to discover what i mean.
Highly recommended and very enjoyable - the best Batman graphic novel for a while!