Tag Archives: The Joker

Batman- Detective Comics: Faces of Death review

Batman-Detective Comics volume 1:  Faces of Death

DC Comics

176 pages

I’m not getting all that much from the New 52 first wave, and so far much of it has not been all that great.  Having read and LOVED Scott Snyder’s Batman, I had high hopes for this volume.  I was not blown away by this book.

It is not bad really, just nothing special.  If I take the Snyder book away and let this one stand entirely on its own, it does not really succeed.  It is not a complete story, and does not even read as a complete first chapter of a story.  After the first chapter of the book, with an amazing last page, the Joker is gone from the book.  There are small hints and that is it.  From there the story focus shifts to a character called the Dollmaker.  He is a very interesting villain, that may become something really special, but just as that story starts really flowing, the focus shifts again.  The Penguin is the bad guy for the rest of this book.  There are just too many things that seem to be competing for the story.  As monthly issues this may have flowed better, but in a single sitting, it was actually capable of distracting me from itself!  Maybe I am missing the point, but I don’t think so.  If the New 52 was launched to bring in new readers as much as entertain existing ones, I think this book fails on both counts.  For a new reader to enjoy this monthly, it needs to flow from issue to issue.  For a new reader to pick up this complete volume, it needs to work as a complete narrative, or at least as the opening to one.  This fails at both.

The transition from one villain to the next works well, but why?  This is a little like climbing a ladder, reaching a certain point, then moving to another ladder slightly to the left of you for no real reason.  This book felt like the first chapter to 3 separate stories that should run simultaneously, not be cut back and forth between them.  The interlude with Hugo Strange–and no, I am not really spoiling anything–is just stuck in there and has only a fairly tenuous connection to the rest of the book.  So now we are up to four antagonists, none of which get any kind of resolution in this volume, and that does not count the sub plots and villains from those.  Story wise, I’m sorry to say, this book is a mess.  It is clear writer/artist Tony S Daniel is playing the long game.  The book has been selling well, so I imagine he will be allowed to continue, but if it doesn’t narrow the focus just a bit it will continue to read like an anthology title.

The art is another matter, and it fares quite well.  Having very little familiarity with Daniel’s art in the past, I cannot say if this is something new or not.  His style seems like the bastard love child of Frank Miller and Kevin Nowlan, and that makes it something very nice to look at indeed.  The inkers changing from issue to issue hurts the visual flow of the book (DC still emphasizing schedule over anything else, it seems), but taken separately, they are very nice to look at.  The first issue is the nicest to look at, while the others have a polish to the line that does not really suit the art.  There are panels in issue 2 that look like Mark Farmer inked them.  I like Farmer, but not in this book.  The art changes blend away after a while and things settle down visually once you are a few issues in.  The panel layout is reader friendly, but the dark on dark with very little panel border can cause you to lose the panels at times.  I know that it is done to give a certain feel and save time, but without some clear way to differentiate between one panel and the next, it can be very hard to see the flow.  The glossy paper compounds the issue at times.

This is a decent, if not great book.  I was hoping, based on the cover and the first issue, that we would see the start of a redefining Joker story.  Instead I feel a little cheated.  We got a taste of several different ideas that start a group of plots, none of them coming to any kind of climax.  I think a more firm editorial hand might have been needed here.  If you are looking for the Batman of the New 52, I have to say that so far, it is in the main Batman title by Snyder and Capullo.  Give this book a miss for a while.  I would like to hope that it will settle down into a more cohesive story, but I’m not hopeful.


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OMF-ing G!! Detective Comics #1-review

Detective Comics #1

September 7th 2011


Like many, I was not going to pick this up.  My experience with Tony Daniel’s Batman work has been a bit average.  I have never found the stories all that interesting and certainly not as compelling as Grant Morrison or even the classics by Denny O’Neil.  They never really lacked for atmosphere, but the actual story was usually two dimensional, even by modern comic standards.   Not that they were ever bad, just that they never stood out and really made you remember them.  What made me decide to pick this one up was a spoiler I saw online.  I’m not going to say where, as it will affect the overall enjoyment of the story.  But the spoiler was enough to get my hopes up that this might be more than just another average Batman story.  It was.  In a BIG way!

The basic plot is conventional enough, the Batman is trying to hunt down the Joker.  From there, the reboot takes over.  Batman has only been doing this for a few years and the Joker has been around even less.  He is a unpredicatble serial killer that no one can seem to catch.  Batman is once again working without the aid of the police.  Only Jim Gordon is on his side, and even that alliance seems a bit shaky.  The storytelling device of the internal monologue is ever-present, much more than it has been in recent years.  The Batman that I have grown tired of is gone though.  The attitude in the last few years has been “Batman knows all”, and to be honest, it has gotten old.  He should not be perfect and while he probably IS the smartest guy in the room most of the time, does he have to be such a prick about it?  Not here, it would seem.  While I would not call him humble, he is certainly not the Bruce Wayne we have gotten used to lately.  I have liked the idea that he is, and will always be the most experienced in the DCU, but I also would really like to see a human in that suit.  That is definitely something that was not there in Justice League #1.  Score one for the New 52!

The spoiler that grabbed me was the last page, and it is a doozy.  It is my hope that this signals the start of the “something really different” I have hoped for from the reboot.  I don’t want, and I think many people out there might feel the same, the same tired old stories with a new number.  Now that they have thrown the baby and the bath water out, make it worth something.  Take chances.  Shake up the franchises.  With the exception of Batman and Green Lantern, what have they really got to lose?  And even there, not much.  This change, assuming it is real, substantive and far-reaching, could make all the difference in both saving DC and the industry as a whole.  The tried and true trademarks of the big 3 will always be there, but the month to month storytelling in the comics needs help, and if DC get it right, every other company out there could well be playing catch up for a while.

Visually, this is a great book.  Lots of instances where Daniel is borrowing from Frank Miller and Neal Adams and many other artist, but unlike so many cheap homages, this works very well.  Large, dramatic splash pages and small, tight extreme close-ups.  There are pages that feel like everything else is shut out.  You are very much pulled into this book in a way that I have not felt in many years.  As I was reading this, the world around me really did fade into the background.  I don’t mean to say the story and art were that much of a revelation, just that the way it was put together was that effectively done.  The book was that well structured.  The art was clean, crisp and consistent through the whole thing.  It has been a gripe of mine in the last few years as far as the art has been concerned.  Some pages in a book may well be great, while others either look rushed or are done by a fill in artist, both of which can pull you right out of a story if there is no narrative reason for the change.

I grade on a pretty tough scale when I think of these things, so I wont be that specific here.  But this book is probably sitting at #2 of the current bunch from the New 52.  I have several others to review, including the one at the top of that list for me, all of which I will get to in the next few days.   Stay tuned…


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C2E2 2.0 is heeeeerrrrreeeeee!!

It is that time of year.  The Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo starts tomorrow and runs through the weekend.

Yes, i will post pictures and write about what I see.  I will stay away from the “news” since that will be covered elsewhere.

Leaving bright and early tomorrow and will probably not sleep tonight.  Post or two to follow this weekend!

Stand  by…

To keep things interesting while you wait, a lovely artsy fartsy thing (or two) in the comic book mode.

First, the Joker by Mike DeoDato Jr.

And below, an Adam Hughes con sketch of the original Green Lantern and the lovely Batgirl by Alex Ross

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