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The return of Batman Jr?

<p>It was simply too good a dangling plot point to pass up. It was 1987 when writer Mike Barr and artist Jerry Bingham gave us Batman: Son Of The Demon, an original over-sized Dark Knight story that pitted the hero against one of his greatest nemeses, Ra’s Al Ghul.</p>








Batman #655

DC Comics

$4/$2.99 US

**** 1/2 (out of five)





It was simply too good a dangling plot point to pass up.


It was 1987 when writer Mike Barr and artist Jerry Bingham gave us Batman: Son Of The Demon, an original over-sized Dark Knight story that pitted the hero against one of his greatest nemeses, Ra’s Al Ghul.


The story was good, if not great, but it was the ending that raised many an eyebrow: Talia, Ra’s’ daughter, appeared to have given birth to Batman’s son and then left him on a young couple’s doorstep.


The debate over whether this story was in or out of DC Universe continuity (that is, did it really happen) raged for years.


Well Grant Morrison has officially ended the debate in his writing debut on Batman by bringing back the boy as an older child, very much under the influence of his nefarious mother, now leader of Ra’s’ criminal empire.


Accompanied by the spectacular art of DC newcomer Andy Kubert (X-Men), Morrison will have readers hook line and sinker after reading this first issue in one of the top stories of the year.












Justice League Of America #0

DC Comics

$4/$2.99 US

**** (out of five)





Who’s in the new Justice League is one of the biggest secrets of 2006, but before you get those answers, it’s time for a trip down memory lane — and a peak into the future.


The only thing we know for sure is that Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and the less-known Red Tornado will all be members of DC’s premier super-team, so writer Brad Meltzer (Identity Crisis) and an all-star cast of artists take a look at the relationship between the ‘Big Three’ as they prepare to revive the squad in the next few months.


The result is an eclectic, but impressive issue that asks far more questions than it answers and certainly does its job of whetting readers’ appetites for next month’s big first issue.












Conan #29

Dark Horse Comics

$2.99 US

**** (out of five)





He dodges broadsword blades, demons and monsters alike, so who would’ve imagined Conan could be endangered by a mere toad?


Hellboy creator Mike Mignola takes over the writing reigns of the monthly adventures of Cimmeria’s greatest warrior and, along with more spectacular art by Calgary’s Cary Nord, hits it out of the park.


In ‘The Toad’, Conan, fleeing a group of soldiers bent on having his head after he had the wife (and belongings) of a town’s magistrate, stumbles upon a most unlikely shrine, occupied by thousands of tiny toads.


While Conan fights for his life against one determined warrior, one loan toad may spell doom for the combatants.


Throw in a dynamite variant cover by Mignola and this issue’s a must-have.












Star Wars: Legacy #1

Dark Horse Comics

$2.99 US

**** (out of five)





It’s 130 years after the destruction of the original Death Star and there are still plenty of wars to be fought in the stars.


Dark Horse Comics launches us into the far-flung future of Star Wars with Legacy, the adventures of the next generation of Jedi knights — but as this new series begins, it’s nearly the end of the new Jedi order!


The ghoulish Darth Krayt has led his army of Sith warriors on an all-out assault on the Jedi, with plans to massacre as many as he can’t turn to the dark side. But in this era, as with the Star Wars we’ve all come to know and love, the Skywalker name still carries some weight and young Cade Skywalker rises to defend the last of his kind.


The question is: Is Cade’s rising anger over the Sith’s attack simply setting him up for a fall into the darkness?


The future of Star Wars in comics is still bright and longtime SW creators John Ostrander and Jan Duursema do a fine job of hooking readers in with this debut issue.


Oh, and don’t forget to grab the sweet, little 25-cent #0 of this series for all the background info you’ll need.












Elephantmen #1

Image Comics

$3.50/$2.99 US

**** (out of five)





When U.S. President George W. Bush delivered his 2006 State Of The Union address he had me in stitches.


He actually included a line in his speech about the importance of passing legislation preventing the creation of human-animal hybrids.


No, seriously.


But where I, and so many of my colleagues, saw humour, Richard Starkings — creator of the critically acclaimed series Hip Flask — saw something he was already interested in.


What if we did experiment with those hybrids? Where could that lead to in, say, 250 years from now?


Starkings’ answer is Elephantmen, a series containing humanized beasts of many varieties, including the obvious elephants, along with boars, hippos, alligators and more.


Issue #1 stars Ebenezer, an elephantman with a dark past, who befriends a kindly little girl named Savannah. As Ebony’s brutal adventures in Africa replay in his mind, he, and the reader, ask the same question: is this an elephant, a man or both?


Elephantmen is harp, stylish and thought provoking stuff.












She-Dragon

Image Comics

$6.75/$5.99 US

**** (out of five)





As long last: She-Dragon!


After being cast into an alternate dimension way back in Savage Dragon #117 readers were promised a one-shot She-Dragon special was coming.


Well two years later, creator Erik Larson and artist Franchesco! have finally delivered and it’s worth the wait.


As She-Dragon tries to find her way back home, readers are treated to a re-telling of her origin and some wonderful misadventures that reunite her with another long-lost Savage Dragon character.


Best of all, this 64-page monster issue leads faithful readers right into the next issue of SD, which has been one of the best series of 2006.

So what are you waiting for? Go get it!









Death Jr. 2 #1 (of 3)

Image Comics

$5.50/$4.99 US

**** (out of five)





Gary Whitta and Ted Naifeh were onto something special last year with Death Jr.


While there’ve been plenty of cute/horror hybrids over the past few years, there was something utterly charming about the combination of Whitta’s characters and Naifeh’s drawings.


So DJ, as his friends (all fellow young monsters) call him, was certainly due a sequel and the creative team has made it happen.


Volume 2 finds DJ headed for a summer interning alongside dear ol’ dad, A.K.A. Death, at the company business, Terminal Industries. Meanwhile, all of DJ’s friends, including his would-be girlfriend Pandora, are all off to a very special summer camp with barbed-wire fences and guard towers called Happy Trails.


The charm, wit and humor of Death Jr. is back and we’re all the better for it.












Uncle Sam And The Freedom Fighters #1 (of 8)

DC Comics

$4/$2.99 US

** 1/2 (out of five)





The catchphrase for Uncle Sam And The Freedom Fighters is “They fight for you!”


Now as a Canadian, I’m not sure they actually are fighting for me, but either way I’m not sure that’s such a great thing.


In another attempt to spin interest out of the fallout from Infinite Crisis, which saw the original Freedom Fighters massacred by the Society of Super-Villains, DC brings us the adventures of the embodiment of the American ideal.


Oh there’s mystery, intrigue, action and all that good stuff, but there’s also devolution into civil rights, patriotism and the ethics of war — all the things that are, no doubt, on American’s minds right now, but don’t necessarily make for fun comic books.


This one might just be a little to over the top for the common comic fan.



jonathan.kuehlein@metronews.ca

 
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