Search This Blog

Friday, October 29, 2010

Comic Book Review: Batman: The Killing Joke

All it takes is "one bad day".

The Joker escapes imprisonment and is planning to wreak havoc again.  Batman goes out after him, trying to figure out what he's going to do next, but he struggles. Then a series of flashbacks tells us about the Joker's possible origin, from his beginnings as a loving husband and father, to his transformation to a crazed, psychopathic mania who only lives to prove that life is all but a joke.

Arguably the greatest comic book writer of all time, Alan Moore delivers a story that is told from the Clown Prince's perspective, how he sees the world, life and Batman. He also showcases the symbiosis between DC's marquee characters which had never been done before.  Artist Brian Bolland is successful in bringing the panels and Moore's story into life, creating illustrations that takes insanity to a whole new level.


The book is hailed as one of the greatest Batman  and DC graphic novels of all time and it really is in my opinion. I got emotional and psychological satisfaction after reading it. The symbiosis between Bats and the Clown is something to dig in, and more importantly, seeing the world in a villain's eyes - or a psychopath rather - is nothing but perfect. We always get to see hero's saving the day, talk about justice and the right way to do things, but we have never seen an anti-hero take his turn and show us his side of the story, what he believes in, and what his ideals are.

Plus, a long running, central DC character gets mutilated here, and that particular event actually became part of the official continuity, which shocked readers all over the world. Talk about controversial.

Then finally there's the joke with Batman doing something that I have never seen before.  Trust me, you'll be surprised when you flip the last pages. Those were the most resounding and memorable comic book pages - especially the last one. Heh.


A little piece of factoid here: Heath Ledger said in an interview before that he was given a copy of this graphic novel as a preparation for his character as The Joker in 2008's summer blockbuster movie, The Dark Knight.


Maybe this whole Joker thing really "caught up" with him.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Comic Book Review: Batman: Arkham Asylum


Halloween is just out the door so I decided to read a lot of Batman novels. Well just two so far . I like how spooky his rogues gallery is and how dark his stories are, perfect for the said holiday.

Alright, we got Batman: Arkham Asylum (not the game, but the graphic novel the game was based upon), also known as Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on a Serious Earth. (I like the latter.)  It is written by superstar writer Grant Morisson (All Star Superman) with the art done by Dave McKean. I don't know who McKean was until I read this book, never heard of him and I believe this is the first novel that I ever read with him as the artist.I   was surprised because frankly, this comic book is out of the ordinary. Nothing that I've ever read before.

From the cover obviously you would say that the book is dark. That goes for any Batman novel anyway so its not really surprising. But this is real different.

The Joker and the other inmates of Arkham Asylum (Gotham's notorious mental facility and penitentiary) have gone out of their cells and are rampant. Commissioner Jim Gordon informs Batman about the situation and The Dark Knight immediately gets a call from the clown himself, then tells Bats that the hospital staff will be killed unless he meets up with them inside the Asylum. (Joker thinks that the Caped Crusader is just a freak like them who deserves to be in the facility too, but just won't admit it to himself.) Anyway, our hero agrees, and goes through a game of hide-and-seek with the villains, only to find out that there is more in the Asylum than meets the eye.

(This rendition of the Clown Prince of Crime gave me some serious chills)

Morisson's writing challenges the reader to think about who and what Batman really is through a journey inside the big house, meeting several of the most recognizable villains in Batman lore, with Killer Croc being the most memorable. He also tells the story of Amadeus Arkham (the Asylum's founder and previous owner) through a series of flashbacks, which plays an important role in the plot.

Dave McKean's art is totally out of this world. I have never seen a book that as dreamy as this one. Its like the book is a big whirling puzzle that is confusing - constantly spinning around and you feel like you're trapped in a different dimension. He creates a puzzle that pulls you to the depths of the story's abyss.  Mind boggling, its horrific, its grimy and totally dark. I think there parts in his illustrations that we're confusing, - maybe because he used a lot of symbolisms - but that doesn't change the integrity of his illustrations. Bats and Joker we're given justice here too which was very nice to see.

 ("The Bat". no face this time, just shadows)

The Morisson-McKean tandem totally upped their game here and focused on bringing readers a unique comic book experience. I enjoyed all the confusion,  the action, the crazy art.. everything. No wonder why this is one of the greatest Batman novels of all time. 

Finally a question: Is Batman just as mad and insane just like the Joker? Or is he really a freak too just like his enemies but with a stronger sense of justice? That's something to ponder.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Excited for Superman: Earth One!

Today is a big day for Superman fans (including me) because today marks the release of the newest Superman comic book novel titled: Superman: Earth One - written by J. Michael Straczynski with illustrations by Shane Davis.

From the previews that I read, JMS tells an entirely new Superman origin based on the idea: What if The Man of Steel is introduced in the modern world? What would he look like?

This new concept re-explores the hero's origins and transformation from a 21 year old teen from Smallville into the greatest hero this world has ever known - Superman. Setting his foot for the first time in modern day Metropolis, he ponders on what he really wants to do with his life with all those amazing powers. Should he become a successful athlete? A business man? A renowned newspaper writer? Those are the questions that will be answered in this one shot issue.
Shane Davis' art shows a completely new Superman for a new generation. We won't see any of that old school Clark Kent look that we already know and loved over the years. No disrespect to loyal Christopher Reeve fans (I grew up watching him too), but I think its refreshing to see a new "look" for our beloved superhero. Kind of brooding, no more spit curl, new design on the iconic red and blue uniform and finally, should I say... emo and Twilight type? Anyway, I'm still excited to read this book, and this better not disappoint.
Check out the preview pictures below courtesy of DC comics and Comic Book Resources and see for yourself:

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Who's the better Joker?

Two Jokers. Two different generations of madness and insanity.

I have watched Tim Burton's Batman and Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight and I enjoyed both movies to boot. I love both Jokers so comparing them is tough. Its like comparing apples to oranges. Both actors have given their character their own spin to it: Jack did  the usual Joker that we see in comics with a more lighter tone, more comical and clown-like (his laugh is unmistakable), but still dangerous and insane. Heath took the character in a different direction, giving it a more grungy edge, darker, and a more sinister  They both made the character their own by giving it their best, which makes them more harder to compare.Well, what do you expect from Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger anyway?

Comic Book Review: Batgirl Year One

Batgirl: Year One
Writers: Scott Beatty and Chuck Dixon
Artists: Alvaro Lopez and Marcos Martin
Number of Issues : 9
Published by DC Comics

Girl power has never been this good.

And seriously, I never thought I would ever enjoy reading a Batgirl story, but I did. I really did enjoy the darn book. 9 issues, 226 pages of full kick-ass Barbara Gordon aka  The Original Batgirl. Its an origin tale, which means it tells us how did Batgirl became hero that she is. 

As the daughter of Commissioner Jim Gordon, she wants to follow her father's footsteps and be a cop, but he (Commish Gordon) doesn't want his little baby girl meddling with thugs and thieves. Babs tries to apply for a protection agency, but is rejected again because she didn't meet the minimum height requirements. She feels frustrated about it because every body thinks that she is nothing but a pretty, intelligent girl who should just go to law school and be a successful lawyer someday.

She doesn't want any of that. So our heroine decides to do something more than just become an ordinary citizen. Wanting to prove to everybody that she is just not your typical girl-next-door figure, she uses her wits, fact finding abilities, improvisational skills, computer wizardry and physical prowess (Barbara is an exceptional martial artist - she knows karate, judo  etc and is also proficient in gymnastics) to help save Gotham from its "freaks", and creates a costume that resembles a bat then starts fighting crime,  beating lowlife thugs and petty thieves. But she instantly finds out that it takes more than just imitating Batman - donning a cowl and putting some yellow bat logo on her chest - to become a full-pledged hero who wants to make Gotham a better place.

Batman and Robin also appears in this comic book, and we see them meeting Batgirl for the first time. (take note that Barbara Gordon has not met them before and that she knows nothing about them). They are both cautious about her, especially Bats. And over the course of the story, he tries to tell our red head heroine that this whole thing is not a game and that she should stop doing the whole vigilante thing before she gets hurt real bad. Of course Barbara doesn't listen to what he says, and it now its all up to her to show the Caped Crusader that she deserves to be  part of the team.

Artists did a good job of illustrating all the action, and I love the vintage style they used on the characters.  Its always good to see the Golden Age art on Bats. Such a classic.

Another great aspect of the comic would be the focus on Barbara and Dick Grayson's (aka Robin The Boy Freaking Wonder, or Pixie Boots as Babs would call him here) adventures and err.. blooming romance.I would have to say, that angle worked for me. It added a somewhat lighthearted tone to  all of  the crazy action.

Oh and the dark, murky, crazy Gotham. Superb.

The verdict: What can I say? This is as good as any DC story out there... no wait, its one of the better comic book you will read in a while, considering that the spotlight here is on beautiful red headed chick. I  definitely enjoyed the ride with Batgirl and she really shined all through out in this series, proving that she is just as important as any character in Batman's fight against crime. The perfect example of girl power. Not even the Powerpuff Girls can beat Babs here.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Comic Book Review: Green Lantern - Rebirth

Green Lantern: Rebirth
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Ethan Van Sciver
Number of Issues: 6
Published By DC Comics

Since the Green Lantern movie is just looming there, I thought I would read one GL comic book, and after some good 'ol research, I  picked the most recent book that "resurrected" our favorite cocky, overconfident, and fearless test pilot/intergalactic policeman. Finally got to read Geoff Johns' and Ethan Van Sciver's amazing work on the most popular GL in Green Lantern: Rebirth, and I must say, this was one of the best... not just one of the best GL stories out there, but by DC as well. Time for some love for the greatest Green Lantern of all time, Hal Jordan!
Story is basically about the rise of Hal Jordan again as the main Green Lantern of the current DC continuity. Jordan was infected by the villain Parallax back in 1994 and became one of the most powerful supervillains in the Universe.

He "died" at the time and then after that, he was chosen as the new host for The Spectre, the Spirit of Vengeance. And in this story, he tries to get himself back and separate himself from those entities and to prove himself again - that he can still do the right thing, fight his fears and weaknesses and save the Universe from the most powerful forces ever known.

I got a lot of satisfaction from Johns' story and Van Sciver's detailed art. Those guys really did capture the whole element of the Hal Jordan - Green Lantern mythology. They also showed the hateful relationship between Jordan and Batman which I really liked.

You also get to see the JLA here - Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman, Green Arrow and the Martian Manhunter. If that's not enough, we also got our beloved Green Lantern Corps - Kyle Rayner, Guy Gardner, Kilowog and Ganthet. And of course, the villainous Sinestro and Parallax will not be forgotten here. The egghead (as Green Arrow described him) and the yellow parasite makes for a great villain tandem and never fails to make up a good fight with our emerald policemen.

The verdict: Whether you're a GL fan or not, you'll enjoy this book.And do not worry about not having some GL background before, because the writer provides a summary of the events that happened before which lead us to this story. Johns' great storytelling combined with Van Sciver's art makes a great story of overcoming your greatest fears, friendship and redemption. (Reading this would not be bad either if you're planning to watch the GL movie in 2011. )

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Green Lantern Fan Made Trailer

A lot of fan made trailers have been showing up on Youtube since Warner Bros and DC announced that they will be making a Green Lantern movie (starring Ryan Reynolds). Now its long been confirmed, and it is scheduled to be released sometime next year.

There were tons of fan trailers and even trailer spoofs that kind of pissed me off, but none of those stood out, except for the one posted here, with more than 3 million views already. I was blown away. Check out the trailer after the jump:

Friday, October 22, 2010

Comic Book Review: Kingdom Come

Familiar right? You've heard the phrase in the Bible a million times and you even  say it in your everyday prayers (assuming you pray). But we're not gonna talk about religion here, because  I don't want to discuss anything about that convoluted subject, and plus were not here to argue with each other. LOL . Ok, back to the show - this is a review (obviously) of another DC comic book named Kingdom Come, 4 issue comic book published in 1996 by DC Comics and is written by Mark Waid with the art done by Alex Ross. And here folks is the absolutely stunning cover art by the superstar painter:

 (image courtesy of DC Comics)

As you can see from the cover, this is not your ordinary superhero comic book. The artist does an exceptional job of painting these superheroes in great detail, from the eyes, built, wrinkles, to the emotions that they express in the story. Nobody illustrates superheroes like Alex Ross, and i mean, no one. He draws and paints them in a realistic kind of way, and it is as real & good as you can possibly get. Obviously I like his take on Supes right here he is quite older than what we see in the comics continuity, with strands of white hair on the sides.

You're maybe asking why is that. It is because the story is set some 20 years in the future of the DC Universe at the time. Mark Waid plays with the idea of a growing animosity and conflict between the old-timers or traditional superheroes (Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Flash, etc) and a group of new superheroes or what they call "metahumans" who are dangerously irresponsible and rampant, led by a new "hero" named Magog. I'll stop right there because it would be ugly if I tell the whole story here. And continue reading, you might be in for a real treat at the end of this review.

I forgot to mention, that the story too shouts of the Bible, especially the Apocalypse, Armageddon (or whatever you wanna call it), similar to the Book of Revelation and believe it or not, the main character of the story is not Superman or Batman.. or any superhero. It is an elderly human... a pastor named Norman McCay who also narrates the story and the events as they unfold before your very eyes, so you, the reader is kinda watching with him as well as the battle of the Titans builds up.

Another important thing I would like to comment on is that I believe that the whole novel is some sort of potshot at the gritty and dark comic book stories of the 80s - such as the Dark Knight Returns, Sin City, and Watchmen to name a few - and serves a vessel of Ross' and Waid's commentary on it. Its like they're saying: "hey, we're tried of all the chaos and darkness running around here for a while, so let's bring back the light-hearted and hopeful tone of comic books and these classic heroes". 

In totality, Kingdom Come is an awesome read with the big blowout being the artwork You just can't miss this. 5/5. 

Luckily, for those who are not able to download comics over the internet, or buy a trade paperback of this book, a guy on Youtube under the username of mglittlerobin decided to make a visual audiobook of this classic story for a person who has an obsessive compulsive disorder. Now that's very nice. The voice acting is perfect, and the narration is smooth, and it perfectly reflects the comic book so its a definite watch on Youtube. Check out part 1 and follow the rest on YT, or you can buy it directly from Amazon and support them: - Kingdom Come Audiobook

Comic Book Review: Y: The Last Man

Y: The Last Man
Writer: Brian K. Vaughan
Artist: Pia Guerra
Number of Issues: 60
Published by DC Comics (under their Vertigo imprint)

Ok friends this is my first comic book review so please bear with me if you find something stupid on my entry. (*geez im nervous*)

Heard of this book from a couple of people on the web and ive been intrigued by it since day one because of the rave reviews and its interesting plot: A mysterious plague hits the world and every single mammal with a Y-chromosome (yes.. every male) dies - except for some guy named Yorick and his pet monkey Ampersand.  Yes. No males, just females everywhere.. and a mammal.

Anyway, based on the plot description, it poses that "what if" question. What if you're the last man on earth and you got chicks everywhere you go? Sounds nice, right? You are the last dick on the face of the planet and maybe you're thinking you can fuck around and get laid with any woman you want non-stop.  (and when i come to think of it, that's exactly what i thought before reading the book! *haha*) That happened a couple of times in the novel, but that's not entirely the whole point of it. Y: The Last Man is something more than just your average comic book.

The story spans years and showcases copious amounts of comedy, violence, drama, horror and every thing in between as Yorick goes through a long journey of trying to save humanity and at the same time, finding his lost girlfriend - all the while learning life lessons as he crosses borders.  But the real beauty of the book in my opinion lies in its aggressive commentary on matters such as gender issues, human behavior, politics, and even complicated relationships that human beings fall into. This book has it all. It will talk to you, and make you reflect on your own beliefs and thoughts on society and the people around you as well. 

It was was nice all through out. The plot: outstanding. The art: nothing but amazing. I has hooked the first time I read it, and it just keeps on getting better and better as you journey with our characters. Its one of those books that will make you want more and more and more... thanks to those ridiculously good cliffhanger endings in-between chapters and all the heartwarming and "oh shit" moments. And though the reason for the plague was somewhat bleak for me, it was still near perfect for me in terms of how all of it ended.  Great job by Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra (Damn you guys, you made me cry. Very few books had that kind of effect on me.) on creating a one-of-a-kind classic that should stand the test of time.

Overall, Y The Last Man  is rare series that is unique, daring, sexy, thought-provoking and a critique that offers an entire different perspective on society. A definite must read and undoubtedly one of the best graphic novels of this century. You gotta read it, to believe it.

Y: The Last Man is created by Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra and published by Vertigo comics. Suggested for Mature Readers.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Comic Book Review: All Star Superman

All Star Superman
Issues: 12
Written by Grant Morrison
Art by Frank Quitely
Published by DC Comics

Obviously whoever visits this site knows who my favorite comic book character is - yes, the Big Blue Boy Scout, the Last Son of Krypton, the Man of Tomorrow... Superman. 

He's been in the comics industry for 70 years and counting, and his enduring popularity is the stuff of legend. You could see him almost everywhere and anywhere: to tshirts, dvds, toys, internet, comic books, books etc. Hell, i even see the iconic Superman "S" shield painted on jeepneys and tricycles.

So since I love Big Blue, I picked up this book, All-Star Superman.  At first I thought it was a Superman story with all big DC characters such as Wonder Woman, Batman, etc.  But no,  there was no Batman or any of the Justice League members, except for Lois Lane of course, his arch-nemesis Lex Luthor, and a couple of other supporting characters like Jimmy Olsen! Not only that, it also features characters from Krypton and Superman's history that I've never heard of before who gets their their own shot at the Man of Steel.

Superman is living the last year of his life after being diagnosed with a fatal dose of radiation poisoning. This raises up a whole bunch of questions like: "What your days are numbered? What would you do to make it all worthwhile?"  Morrison plays on the hero's mortality here which sets up a very beautiful and touching story with Superman trying to accomplish 12 tasks, including one last attempt to save mankind before he dies - that I believe is one of the greatest accomplishments he has ever done in his 70 year existence.

Colorful, heartwarming stories and plot devices will sometimes rip your heart out while some chapters will make you smile and make you feel so good that you just want to read it all over again. Grant Morrison concocts perfect mix of Golden and Silver-Age-esque storylines partnered with Modern-Age Superman sensibilities that wonderfully works wonders.

Another great thing about this book is that everybody almost gets his/her own spotlight , from Supes himself,  up to Jimmy Olsen who actually gets to become a big-bad-ass monster! In addition to that, you will also get to see a Superman co-creator draw his greatest creation, relived for the very first time in modern comics, and many more.

 The essence of Superman.
There is action, drama, romance, heart-stopping scenes,  and of course, an incredible finale (against Solaris and Lex Luthor) and that would make even the most hateful Superman guy out there love him.  A simple story made from years of collected Superman tales and masterfully weaved by Grant Morrisson tells us exactly why Superman is the greatest superhero of all time.  Add Quitley's refreshing art, and it gives us more than we could ask for a Superman novel.

To me this is one of the best Superman and DC comic books/stories of all time. It is an epic that would be remembered forever as arguably the greatest - if not the greatest - Superman tale ever told. If you haven't read this yet, go pick it up and savor the adventure of a lifetime with the hero who started it all.