Wednesday, 13 August 2008

So, you want to read some amazing comic books? PART ONE

In the last week I have been astounded by the amazing works of art that I have found in the medium that is comic books. Here is a round up of what I read, and why it was so good.

1. Batman: Year One by Frank Miller

I'm not sure how this journey into comic books started. Wait that's a lie. This starts with the newest Batman film: The Dark Knight. After watching that, I spent quite a few days reading all manner of Batman-related information via the internet, and when reading that a lot of inspiration for the script of the film was taken from the Batman comic books "The Long Halloween" and "Dark Victory", I set about finding them. Of course, Batman: Year One is the prequel of sorts to these books, and is a brilliant starting place.

First and foremost, it's written by Frank Miller, the man behind 300, Sin City, and a whole host of other acclaimed comic books (his name will come up again in this article, be sure of that!), and the story is impressive, giving a realistic beginning to the relationship between Batman and Jim Gordon, not unlike the same events in The Dark Knight's prequel, Batman Begins. All in all, it's a fantastic starting point in this version of the batman story, especially if you've enjoyed the recent films. The darker, more realistic feel to the story adds as much to the comic book as it did the film.

2. Batman: The Long Halloween by Jeph Loeb

Even though Batman: Year Two is the official sequel of sorts to Year One (although not written by Miller), many online sources regarded The Long Halloween to be a much better sequel, and I couldn't find anything to disagree with.

As mentioned before, the writers of The Dark Knight found this to be a big inspiration to the script of the film, and it's not hard to see why, with the mob, the joker, and Harvey Dent all featuring prominently. The main story of the book is of a mystery holiday killer slowly going through the members of the most notorious mob family, killing on every major holiday. Well almost, but that's telling.

The book features appearances from Joker, Scarecrow, Catwoman, The Riddler, and many other well known bat-villains, but of course, it's the story of the white knight DA Harvey Dent that will be of the most interest, especially in the books concluding chapters. A fascinating read.

3. Batman - Dark Victory by Jeph Loeb

Jeph Loeb brings closure to many of characters explored in Year One and The Long Halloween in this book, and he does it in a stunning fashion.

There are breakouts, a hangman killer leaving clues, a tonne of bat-villains, and an introduction to the boy wonder too. Yes that's right, Robin is in this one. And it's good, and still quite realistic, something this trilogy of sorts definitely delivers with.

After Year One and The Long Halloween, there's no way that you wont want to read this.

4. Batman: The Man Who Laughs by Ed Brubaker

An alternative sequel to Year One of sorts. (That's right, another alternative sequel!). This one gets quite a lot of good press though, and it's not hard to see why. Continuing where Year One left off, it explores the relationship between Jim Gordon and Batman, as a crazed madman starts killing important city officials.

It's not hard to see that this first batch of comic books were all read with a fascination of the joker character in mind is it? Either way, this is a more straightforward introduction to the joker character in the Batman universe than, for example, The Long Halloween.

Ok, that's it for part one of what's been a mostly Batman-centric comic book feature so far.

Next up: The Dark Knight Returns, The Dark Knight Strikes Again, The Killing Joke, 300, THE WATCHMEN.

Beware, you have no idea how much I loved the next batch. Be prepared.

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