Book Review: A medley of Batman graphic novel reviews


I’ve been reading (in the little spare time I have) a lot of Batman graphic novels (guided by IGN’s list of the top 25), spurred on by a friend and co-worker who is reading and compiling his own top 25 Batman graphic novels. Some have been excellent. Some have been terrible. Here is a medley of a few of my reviews so far.

The Killing Joke by Alan Moore

It’s pretty crazy, and I’m slightly underwhelmed (as I am with most Alan Moore, I think…). It’s fairly short and it ends abruptly, and rather unsatisfactorily. Alan Moore is more than a little nuts. It must be scary to be in his head.
Also, Barbara Gordon‘s attack (she is shot in the spine by Joker and left for dead) is completely gratuitous (at the time…DC salvaged it by making her the Oracle, but that wasn’t Alan Moore’s plan). I don’t know. I also don’t think I need Joker’s backstory. I like the frightening ambiguity of it. The brokenness of the three men (Batman, Joker, and Commissioner Gordon) works to great effect here. It was truly disturbing what happened to Gordon, as Joker sought to demonstrate how one series of events could starkly alter a person irrevocably.
Batman sums up his relationship with the Joker through his discussion of the way it will end one day (they’ll kill each other, someday, one way or the other) and I think that eternal struggle is important, and they are tied together psychologically. At the end of the story, Joker tells Batman an absurd joke. I think that Batman wouldn’t be amused by the absurdity of the joke. I feel like he represents rationality, cold and calculating, while Joker symbolizes the opposite. Also, Joker is Batman’s absolute enemy. Yes, they’re linked through their endless struggle, but he would not joke around with the Joker.
Ultimately, I think it was the end that knocked it down a peg for me. That, and a lack of resolution regarding Barbara’s fate. I don’t need Joker to have a reason for what he did, but completely shifting a significant, established character’s course and leaving it to others to rectify the situation is a bit of an error.

The Batman in Nine Lives: An Elseworlds Production by Dean Motter

I adored this Elseworlds tale of Batman and his search for the killer of Selina Kyle–the foxy owner of the Kit Kat night club whose killer could be any of her many man-friends (who, in the real world, are super-villains). Most of the main villains make a cameo in some fashion, and it’s a solid, noir whodunit. Excellent!

Hush by Jeph Loeb and Jim Lee

The artwork, as well as the story, was excellent, I’ve always loved the relationship between Batman and Catwoman, and Jeph Loeb also likes to toy with Poison Ivy’s powers of persuasion in unique ways.
Truly, Jeph Loeb is a master of the Batman graphic novel, I can’t say enough about his excellence.
At the same time, I wanted a bit more of Hush, rather than a shadowy guy just rubbing his hands together and twirling his mustache (which he must have under his bandages). I’m sure he’ll be coming in more later, but I just feel like he should have been more directly involved, much like Holiday or The Hangman. That is my only criticism.

The story amps up in the second half, introducing myriad, significant villains who are attempting to trip Batman up, some of whom shouldn’t be alive! This added a great depth and uncertainty to the story, leading us to ask the question: Who is Hush? Why is he orchestrating all these events? What is his vendetta against Batman?

There arose a new aspect to the relationship between Batman and Superman (Boy Scout vs. Vigilante), and how Superman has entrusted Batman with his weakness, should such a need arise–they really balance each other out, and this aspect of the story (Superman turning evil and needing Batman to keep him in check) may have been inspired by Justice League of America: Tower of Babel. That would be the only redeeming thing to come out of that disappointing graphic novel.

Son of a Demon by Mike W. Bar

This was pretty good, overall. Batman’s relationship with Ra’s al Ghul is revisited and placed in a somewhat different light, and Batman’s longstanding relationship with Talia is rekindled.

It can be argued that the conceit of Batman working alongside thugs with machine guns doesn’t fully work, but he does inject his moral code into their ranks and disciple at least.

This story inspired the Batman & Son storyline by Grant Morrison nearly 15 years later, and I’ve always been intrigued by Batman’s tumultuous relationship with Ra’s al Ghul and Talia–they’re somewhat family to him, and this is a solid extension of that.

That’s all for now. I’ll probably have some more later!

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One thought on “Book Review: A medley of Batman graphic novel reviews

  1. Pingback: Graphic Novel Review: Batgirl Year One « Elementary, My Dear Reader

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