Comic Review: Fight Club 2

About two decades after releasing Fight Club and then seeing it made into a film that most consider to be a classic, Chuck Palahniuk finally followed his most famous tale up with a sequel. However, instead of writing another book or working up a screenplay for a film, Palahniuk teamed up with Dark Horse Comics to make a ten issue comic book series.

The result is something really weird and I don’t mean that in a good way. Being that this is Palahniuk’s story, it is how he sees the future lives of these characters. But ultimately, Tyler Durden is just some powerful mystical being that possesses people and that’s not even the weirdest part.

What this story does, is it takes everything you thought that the original book and film were about and turns it on its head in favor of some insane random ass shit that almost feels like a big “fuck you” by the author, who may have just been annoyed by people asking for a follow up.

I don’t really know what the hell I just read. It started out pretty interesting but quickly unraveled into incomprehensible shit. And this is coming from a guy that loved the first half dozen or so Chuck Palahniuk novels. I know how shocking and surprising he can be but this is some next level batshit fuckery.

The art was good and I really wanted to enjoy this but it sort of just shits on Fight Club. That being said, I can’t really accept it and it has some bullshit non-ending that makes the whole damn thing pointless. But I’m glad I read this in one sitting over an hour and a half than issue by issue, over ten months. Had I spent that much time on it, I would have been pissed off. Right now, I’m just baffled and irritated.

 

Comic Review: Batman: Year One

Year One was a Batman tale written by Frank Miller, back in the late 80s when he was doing a lot of cool Batman tales. It originally appeared in Batman issues 404, 405, 406 and 407.

Before the modern era of DC Comics, Year One was considered canon but has since been retconned, as comic book companies feel the need to reboot things all the damn time. It’s still canon to me, as are all the tales I grew up with.

Like many of the comics created by Frank Miller, this one truly is noir, at its heart. And also like Frank Miller’s Batman stories, this is considered to be one of the best.

It actually isn’t one of my favorites, even though I like it a great deal. It’s very short, when compared to longer Batman sagas and even though it spans a year, it’s missing some meat and potatoes.

It starts with both Bruce Wayne and Jim Gordon arriving in Gotham City. It shows their stories parallel to one another, as Gordon moves up the ranks within the crooked Gotham City Police Department and as Bruce Wayne first dons the cape and cowl of Batman. It leads up to the two coming together and establishing a working relationship, just in time for the appearance of the Joker in Gotham City. The Joker doesn’t actually appear, however. In fact, the only real Batman villain in this is Catwoman with a few mentions of Harvey Dent, before he becomes Two-Face.

If you are a fan of Frank Miller, this will definitely be your cup of tea. Also, the art by David Mazzucchelli is some of the most iconic in Batman history. It’s gritty and it matches the noir vibe of the story.

Batman: Year One is a must own for any true Batman fan.

Comic Review: Penguin: Pain and Prejudice

The Penguin is a character that has been a major thorn in Batman’s side since he first appeared in Detective Comics #58, which was published in December of 1941. In that time, he has had some great moments and iconic stories.

Although, none of them really hit the nail on the head as well as this story does, at least in regards to who the Penguin is, underneath his sinister personality.

This examines the psychology and the origin of the character. It is dark but it is a necessary read for fans of the character that want something more intimate.

In fact, after reading this, it’s obvious that they borrowed some bits when developing the character of the Penguin for the television show Gotham. Specifically, the parts about his relationship with his mother. Granted, they replaced his abusive father with the kindhearted one, played by Paul Reubens, in the show.

Pain and Prejudice is well written and the art is superb. While Batman appears in the story, it is nice to see the Penguin as the main character. It follows his past family issues, mixes them with a current love story and weaves it all into a tale where he loses his shit and decides to attack the children of Gotham City. This, of course, brings Batman into the story in an attempt to foil the Penguin’s insane plot.

This trade paperback also includes a bonus, a one issue comic where the Joker tells his version of a Penguin origin story. The Joker tale is just a small part of this book and it isn’t a fleshed out origin like the Pain and Prejudice tale but ultimately, this collection is a real tribute to the Penguin character and just how human the inhuman villain is.

I read good things about the main story before buying this. The praise for it was justified, as this is one of the best Penguin stories I’ve ever come across in my long history of reading Batman comics.

Comic Review: Batman In Noir Alley

There was a cool little comic book that was given away at the DC Comics booth at this year’s New York Comic Con. This was that comic, a collaboration between DC and Turner Classic Movies.

Batman In Noir Alley is an Elseworlds tale. It sees Batman team up with the host of TCM’s Noir Alley program, Eddie Muller. Their story is pretty short and brief, even a bit one-dimensional, but it was amusing seeing Batman side-by-side with one of my favorite television personalities.

In the main story, Batman is in San Francisco trying to track down the Moroccan Raptor, which was stolen from the Gotham Museum. It starts with Bruce Wayne watching the film The Moroccan Raptor in a dark San Fran movie theater. Something pops off, Bruce becomes Batman and finds himself in the lair of Eddie Muller, his set for Noir Alley. The two then try to solve the mystery but there really isn’t any suspense and the story is over about as quickly as it started.

Part of the problem with this rushed narrative, is that the story only takes up the first half of the comic book, about ten to twelve pages. The second half of the comic is the story Gotham Noir, which is another Elseworlds tale, this one following Jim Gordon, a private eye in this, and Selina Kyle a.k.a. Catwoman. It seems to be a better story overall but it ends on a cliffhanger, unresolved. The only way to get the story’s conclusion is to download the digital Gotham Noir comic on the DC Comics website. It isn’t free though, it costs $4.99. I felt cheated but this physical comic book was free at the New York Comic Con, so I shouldn’t be that upset about it. I had to buy it on eBay though, as I didn’t go to NYCC and I didn’t have a comic shop near me that got some of the free copies to hand out.

Still, this was a cool and unique concept. I’m a fan of Noir Alley and I’ve been a lifelong fan of Batman. I just wish the Muller story was something better and that this wasn’t just a ploy to get me to buy some other comic book. If DC wants my money, I can show them my collection that’s full of their comics going back to the 1960s. My Batman collection alone, is pretty astounding. You’ve got my money, DC.

Comic Review: Batman: The Long Halloween

This is considered to be one of the best Batman stories ever put to paper. It is certainly one of my favorites of all-time. It is followed up by Dark Victory and Haunted Knight and form a pretty cool trilogy as a whole, even if the third part is a collection of multiple stories and not a big epic like the first two parts. Also, Catwoman: When In Rome is made by the same team and takes place concurrently to these stories.

The Long Halloween is a good departure from the standard Batman stories. It is very heavy on the noir and less so on gadgetry and the more sci-fi elements. It reads like an old school classic Batman tale but is much more modern in its approach, in that it isn’t hokey and comes off really dark and serious.

The story focuses on a serial killer the press has labeled “Holiday”. The killer always strikes on a holiday and seems to be targeting high ranking family members in the Falcone crime family and their associates.

This is also an origin story for Two-Face. Even though it is a tale that has been told before, nothing really carries the weight that his origin does here.

Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale combined and made one hell of a team. This was originally published over thirteen issues from 1996 to 1997 and was released as a graphic novel in 1998. The writing is great, the art is even better. This truly is a quintessential Batman story. It’s as perfect as a Batman story can get and it even sprinkles in some of the better known villains, even though they aren’t the primary focus of the story. Seeing Scarecrow and Mad Hatter team together is pretty fun.

The Long Halloween is something that true Batman fans should have already read and should certainly own. There are very few Batman stories this good. It puts a lot of emphasis on the crime families and it has since gone on to spawn a lot of other Batman related projects like the Christopher Nolan Dark Knight trilogy of films and the Fox television show Gotham.

Comic Review: Hack/Slash – Omnibus Three

It has been a few years since I’ve read through the Hack/Slash series but it is my favorite horror comic. I read this omnibus back when it first came out and since I just recently picked up the fourth and fifth omnibuses, I’m revisiting the first three to refresh my memory.

Out of the first three, this one is my least favorite. Granted, it is still thoroughly enjoyable. It has longer stories but some of them feel like filler without as much action as there was in the earlier volumes. Also, the number of slashers in this entry isn’t as large as the earlier stories.

However, at this point in the series, we get more stability. New villains pop up that are bigger than just being one off or two off threats. Samhain, for instance, feels like a presence that will maintain an important position throughout the series as it keeps going. But is Samhain even a villain? Or is he an antihero that out antiheroes our regular antiheroes? He’s a complex and interesting character, almost like the Deadpool of the Hack/Slash universe.

There is a lot more emotional baggage that comes forward in these stories, which contributes to the action not being as much in the forefront as it was previously. That’s okay, as Cassie is dealing with the death of her parents in a really awful way. This book deals with her sorting that out and figuring out what her real place is in the world and how that is going to effect Vlad and others close to her.

While I love the variety in art styles that grace the pages of comic books, this omnibus has so many drastic changes in style that it is a distraction. Maybe seeing each issue as a separate piece is a better way to approach it but as I was thumbing through the pages of this big collection, it just jumped around too much stylistically and the changes were quite drastic. Not to say any of the art was bad, it was all good but it messes with the tone.

This third omnibus sits in the middle of the five. This is the Wednesday of the series, or the hump day. It connects the beginning with the end and is a bridge that looks back at what’s happened and sets the stage for what’s still to come. It mostly works and it still leaves me excited to finally read the last two books and to see how the end of this story plays out.

Comic Review: Hack/Slash – Omnibus Two

Reworking my way through the Hack/Slash comic series, I have now finished the second omnibus.

Revisiting this series has been a lot of fun and I’m doing it to refresh my memory, as I am a bit behind and need to read the fourth and fifth omnibuses, as I last stopped at the third.

In this collection, the series really finds its footing. The series begins to really take shape, as Cassie Hack’s team of allies start to come together to create something bigger than just her and Vlad taking on slashers. The people she has saved and helped, up to this point, want to assist her in her noble fight by putting their talents to use from wherever they are.

The stories in this volume are more fleshed out and not just one-offs. This collection is also capped off with a crossover between Hack/Slash and Re-Animator. In fact, the Re-Animator story works as a sequel to the film series, following the events of the three movies but tying the character of Dr. Herbert West to the family affairs of Cassie Hack.

This omnibus has a good mix of artists. One story in the book also takes on the form of a classic Archie comic in its visual style.

Cassie and Vlad’s relationship develops deeper and we also get to see possible love interests for both characters enter the picture. Plus, we get the introduction of my favorite demon dog Pooch, a talking, grotesque but very comedic mutt from the depths of Nef, a special kind of Lovecraftian Hell.

I prefer this omnibus to the first, even though the first was a great introduction to the series. Now the series feels more lived in, the characters have more depth and the relationships are blossoming into something more complex than just victims appreciating the hero. The emotionally complex hero now has people that she can put that emotion into, as well as her trust.