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An Absolute must for Bat-fans

<p>Pop quiz for all you non-comic devotees out there: What do the highly successful TV shows Smallville, Lost and Heroes all have in common? The answer: Jeph Loeb.</p>







Absolute Batman: The Long Halloween

Authors: Jeph Loeb, Tim Sale

Publisher: DC Comics

Price: $92/$75 US (Hardcover)

***** (out of 5)





Pop quiz for all you non-comic devotees out there: What do the highly successful TV shows Smallville, Lost and Heroes all have in common?


The answer: Jeph Loeb.


Loeb has a long and colourful Hollywood history, co-writing 1980s films like Teen Wolf and Commando, and in recent years, penning and producing episodes of the three shows above, as well as several others.


Beginning in the early 1990s, however, Loeb found a new forum for his skills as a comic book writer. After one decent miniseries, Loeb, along with friend and artist Tim Sale, produced a series of Batman Halloween specials that were both critical and commercial hits, leading to the opportunity to create the first ever Batman maxiseries (13 issues, two double-sized).


And thus Batman: The Long Halloween was born.


Taking the Dark Knight back to his beginnings, where he is just starting out on his crime-fighting career, Loeb puts the hero through his paces as he tries to catch a mysterious killer who commits a murder on Halloween and another on each subsequent holiday.


Featuring Sale’s breathtaking art, which perfectly echoes the moodiness of the subject matter, The Long Halloween was an instant classic and a natural fit for DC’s Absolute line, which delivers deluxe, oversized, slip-cased editions of some of the company’s best stories along with the glut of bonus material.


This new edition is a fitting tribute to Loeb and Sale’s masterpiece and an essential for Bat-fans everywhere.








The Exterminators Vol. 2: Insurgency

Simon Oliver, Tony Moore, Ande Parks, Chris Samnee

Vertigo/DC Comics

$15.99/$12.99 US (Paperback)

****





Mutant cockroaches, cage fighting with sewer rats and Hitler’s shrink — The Exterminators is the hands-down winner for the most wonderfully off-the-wall comic around.


This second volume of the hot new Vertigo series by writer Simon Oliver and artist Tony Moore delivers some heartbreak, high-flying action and more bugs than you could stomp in a year.


As business is starting to inexplicably pick up for Henry James and his pals at Bug-Bee-Gone Co., he finds himself torn between his longtime lover Laura (the corporate climber) and a new flame (who just happens to be working in a literary bordello).


Before James can figure out what to do about his messed-up love life, he and his co-workers have to work out how to handle the army of roaches headed for L.A.’s sewage treatment plant.


And, more importantly, they have to answer the toughest question of all: Who could organize a million cockroaches?








Star Wars: Rebellion Vol. 1: My Brother, My Enemy

Rob Williams, Thomas Andrews, Brandon Badeux, Michel Lacombe

Dark Horse Books

$14.95 US (Paperback)

*** 1/2





It's the end of the Empire; the Rebellion has begun.


Just in time for the 30th anniversary of Star Wars, the enjoyable monthly series Empire has been re-dubbed Rebellion, but the inside the storyline continues as Imperial Lt. Janek Sunber, who recently found out his childhood friend Luke Skywalker is a rebel leader, tries to get in touch with him.


Battling steep odds, Luke and his friends begin the search to bring Sunber over to the good side. But is that really what he wants?


Writers Rob Williams and Thomas Andrews and artists Brandon Badeux and Michel Lacombe craft a complex and compelling first arc for this “new” Star Wars series.








King City Vol. 1

Brandon Graham

TokyoPop

$12.50/$9.99 US (Paperback)

*** 1/2





Your cat is useless.


OK, so what can it do - catch some mice?


Well Joe's cat, Earthling J.J. Catingsworth The Third, can be a key copier, screwdriver, periscope, shotgun, hover board and a weapon of minor destruction.


That is, with a shot of cat juice.


Welcome to King City, one of the oddest places you'll ever visit, where Joe and his cat are trying to make a living and to steer clear of both trouble and Joe's ex girlfriend.


Unfortunately, this peculiar duo isn't having much luck on either front - but then it wouldn't be much of a story if they did.


Brandon Graham's sci-fi comedy is distinctive in its oddness - and that's not a bad thing.








The Flash, The Fastest Man Alive: Lightning In A Bottle

Danny Bilson, Paul Demeo, Ken Lashley

DC Comics

$15.99/$12.99 US

** 1/2





Maybe it's an Impulse, but I'm not so crazy about the new Flash.


In the wake of the 2006 mega-crossover series Infinite Crisis, the DC Universe is left with just one Scarlet Speedster - the original Golden Age hero, Jay Garrick.


After the death of Garrick's initial replacement, Barry Allen in the classic 1986 crossover Crisis On Infinite Earths, it appears the latest Flash, Wally West, is lost in time after this latest crisis. Maybe worse than that is the fact that the speed force, the power behind all the speedsters in the DCU is gone, too.


But since nature (and publishers) abhors a vacuum, the youngest member of the Flash family, Bart Allen (A.K.A. Impulse and Kid Flash) quickly finds himself the new man in red and the star of his very own monthly title.


But as with the switch from Barry to Wally back in 1986, not everyone is crazy about a new Flash.


Oh sure, a fresh slate can be creatively good, but making Bart the Scarlet Speedster seems unnecessary and was made worse as the re-launch of this title was a tad clumsy in the writing, artistically inconsistent and generally disappointing.


To think it was just over a year ago that the Flash was at his zenith with writer Geoff Johns…








Madman Atomic Comics #1

Michael Allred, Laura Allred

Image Comics

$3.50/$2.99 US

****





The end of the world is nigh and its greatest hero might be going mad, man.


In his Image Comics' debut, Madman finds himself lost and trapped in a world full of the dead only to be located by his friend Warren the artificial intelligence who (thankfully for new readers) has the hero retell his life story.


But have all of Madman's adventures over the years been a lie? Is he really a hero, or is he something much more sinister?


Many comic fans have been eagerly awaiting the return of Mike Allred's Madman and this first issue doesn't disappoint.








Wonder Woman #6

Jodi Picoult, Drew Johnson, Ray Snyder

DC Comics

$3.65/$2.99 US

****





As if being a goddess trying to fit in as human wasn't hard enough.


In her recently acquired identity of Diana Prince, special agent for the Department of Metahuman Affairs, she's just been handed an assignment she can't hope to complete: Bring in Wonder Woman for questioning!


Making matters worse is the kidnapping of Diana's partner at the hands of one of the Amazon princess' nastiest enemies, who takes the time to frame - you guessed it - Wonder Woman.


Bestselling author Jodi Picoult (The Tenth Circle), along with artists Drew Johnson and Ray Snyder, begins her five-issue writing stint with DC's mightiest heroine with a conundrum and a bang that promises to lead to big things to come.








City Of Others #1

Bernie Wrightson, Steve Niles

Dark Horse Comics

$2.99 US

****





Blud is a cold-blooded killer - and he's fine with it.


He's never had any problems with ending someone's existence.


That is until he tried to whack the undead.


Now Stosh Bludowski finds himself searching for answers. People that can't be killed are something out of horror flicks, not real life. Who are these zombie folk and what do they want?


The answers just might find this hitman caught in the middle of a centuries-old war - one where he is casualty No. 1.


The horror comic dream team of icon Bernie Wrightson (Swamp Thing) and modern master Steve Niles (30 Days Of Night) will chill you to the bone with their cool new series.








Hellblazer #230

Andy Diggle, Leonardo Manco

Vertigo/DC Comics

$3.65/$2.99 US

*** 1/2





Welcome to Hell, Andy Diggle.


The acclaimed writer of The Losers and Swamp Thing hops on board Vertigo's longest-running series beginning with issue #230, becoming the latest in a stunning array of regular scribes to bring readers tales of the supernatural featuring John Constantine.


From Jamie Delano to Neil Gaiman, Garth Ennis, Warren Ellis, Brian Azzarello to Mike Carey, Hellblazer has been a hotbed of writing expertise.


Diggle, along with longtime artist Leonardo Manco, aims to prove he belongs in that elite group and gets his run off to a creepy start as Constantine tries to talk a hired killer out of letting him slowly drown under a pier.


Good luck, Andy. If you even come close to the names on that list you'll do fine.








Texas Strangers #1

Antony Johnson, Dan Evans III, Mario Boon

Image Comics

$3.50/$2.99 US

*** 1/2





They say the Old West was wild, but it's doubtful they could have imagined how wild it would be with a little more magic thrown in.


In the Old West of the Texas Strangers, you're just as likely to see magical elves as you are a six-gun toting cowpoke and goblins are home on the range.


As twin teen siblings, Wyatt and Madara set out to find their father to learn the secrets of an enchanted blade they found, they find themselves running afoul of some unsavory elements and first encounter the Texas Strangers, the protectors of the peace on the magical frontier.


When one of those aforementioned bad guys kidnaps Wyatt, it's Madara to the rescue - with a little help from the Strangers.


This debut issue deftly mixes two great genres into one and comes up with a promising premise for a solid series.








Mr. Stuffins #1 (of 3)

Andrew Cosby, Johanna Stokes, Lee Carter

BOOM! Studios

$3.99 US

*** 1/2





He's snuggly and cute and he can kick your butt - introducing Mr. Stuffins, teddy bear secret agent.


Zach doesn't know what he's getting into when he convinces his dad to buy him the cool new storytelling animatronic bear from the toy store. He has no idea that a government scientist on the run from his employers hides a disc in the bear's box containing the latest in top-secret artificial intelligence.


So Zach's a little shocked when his new toy begins ordering him to get him some guns and secure the perimeter - and even more shocked when it beats the tar out of three school jerks bullying him.


But can Mr. Stuffins protect Zach when the government agents figure out where that disc has gone?


The concept may sound a little comical, but somehow this debut issue manages to avoid being a joke and delivers laughs and action in equal amounts.








Army@Love
#1

Rick Veitch, Gary Erskine

Vertigo/DC Comics

$3.65/$2.99 US

*** 1/2





Once glory and money are used up as motivations to fight for your country, all that's left is doing it for love.


Writer/artist Rick Veitch (Swamp Thing, Can't Get No) flashes readers forward a few years to examine what happens when the celebrity-obsessed, reality TV-mad generation is America's frontline in the “war against terror” and imagines what it will take to keep them interested.


Just wait until you see what the “Hot Zone Club” is.


War: The Next Generation - would you want anyone but Veitch to be tackling this stuff?




jonathan.kuehlein@metronews.ca

 
 
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