Batman: Year 100
$26.99/$19.99 US (Paperback)
**** (out of five)
There’s a little bit of grey in his black hair, but all in all Batman looks pretty good for 100.
Welcome to 2039, where Gotham City is as bad as it has ever been, a place where the biggest fear doesn’t come from men in masks, but from Big Brother.
A member of the city’s federal militia, the Panthers, is dead and both they and the G.C. Police Department are hot on the trail of a suspect — an “unclassified, undocumented” man with a cowl and cape.
As the law tries to identify and capture this “Bat-man,” his secret allies, his motivation and his role in the Panther’s death all slowly come to light amid a whirlwind of high-speed action.
Writer/illustrator Paul Pope (100%, Heavy Liquid) uses his distinctive storytelling and art styles in a celebration of the ideals of Batman and how they can be so timeless — even in a story set 100 years after his first appearance.
The Goon: Wicked Inclinations
Dark Horse Books
$14.95 US (Paperback)
Y’know, The Goon could actually be a really chilling book if it wasn’t so damned over-the-top funny.
Creator Eric Powell is a truly gifted artist who brings some exceptionally gruesome creatures to his stories. In Wicked Inclinations, for example, The Goon’s town is overrun by scores of dead-eyed, scraggly haired, little grey monsters that are terrorizing the locals and destroying everything in sight.
The Goon, the good-hearted local mobster — straight out of a 1930s movie — doesn’t take to kindly to this and takes to the streets.
But just as the tension of the situation is beginning to rise and the fists are flying and this series begins to seem like a horror title, out come lines like: “Get off him you chug-headed troglodytes, before I plug you!” and “You think I won’t put a slug in your face just ’cause you were born with a giant potato head, you got another thing comin’!”
Tension gone. Belly shaking with laughter. All is right with the world.
Now into its sixth collection and still going strong, The Goon is a comic book treasure where issues are filled with tales that delight and some of the most breathtaking art in modern comics.
$14.99 US (Paperback)
Doug TenNapel is some kind of whiz kid.
He’s the mind behind successful video games like the 1990s classic Earthworm Jim, books like Creature Tech (optioned to become a feature film) and cartoon shows like Catscratch, appearing on Nickelodeon in the U.S. and YTV in Canada.
What makes TenNapel’s work so enjoyable is often a healthy helping of humour, depth and humanity in every character and a highly distinctive art style.
Gear, newly collected for the first time in colour, contains all these elements and much, much more.
This pseudo-prequel to Catscratch (only a few of the characters and the art style are the same) sees four cartoon cats named after TenNapel’s real-life felines: Simon, Gordon, Waffle and Mr. Black on a mission to retrieve a giant robot to help protect their town against the aggression of invading dogs, cats and insects.
The story, which TenNapel admits in his afterword was not well planned in advance and done more as an art exercise, is kind of a mish-mash of genres and tends to meander. But it has enough heart and its creator’s trademark humour to be well worth picking up.
100 Bullets Vol. 10: Decayed
Brian Azzarello, Eduardo Risso
$19.99/$14.99 US (Paperback)
The end of 100 Bullets is in sight and war is looming on the horizon.
It ain’t gonna be pretty.
With less than two years until its planned final issue No. 100, this edgy, bleak and black tale of power, corruption and death is now very close to having all its pieces set for a bloody ending.
The days of Agent Graves showing up to hand some stranger that infamous briefcase with a gun, 100 bullets and irrefutable proof as to who has ruined their lives are becoming less and less frequent as he rounds up the last of his brainwashed Minutemen in preparation for war with his former employers, the Trust.
Decayed puts two final pieces in place, introducing readers to Jack, a street fighter with a winning streak in serious jeopardy and Remi, the small-time con man who might not make it into battle — because his brother will kill him first!
As 100 Bullets draws closer to its conclusion, writer Brian Azzarello and artist Eduardo Risso continue to grind out gut-wrenching crime-noir at its finest and the war that is coming should prove to be bloody and brilliant.
Star Wars: Knights Of The Old Republic Vol. 1: Commencement
John Jackson Miller, Brian Ching, Travel Foreman
Dark Horse Books
$18.95 US (Paperback)
Everything old is new again — at least in the Star Wars universe.
Dark Horse Comics takes us old school — reeeeallly old school — with its newest series from the Lucasverse, almost 4,000 years before the events of Star Wars: A New Hope.
As we hop in our wayback machine, we meet Zayne Carrick, struggling Padawan (student) Jedi who is either close to completing his training and becoming a knight or getting his butt booted out the door, depending on the day.
But Zayne’s life as a screw-up seems like the good ol’ days after walking in late for a ceremony only to find his school’s Jedi Masters standing over the bodies of their dead Padawans. When they fail to catch and kill him, Zayne’s on the run and facing not only the Jedi, but an entire galaxy after they frame him for the murders.
Can one Padawan, even with a little help from some unexpected allies, outwit the Jedi and escape in one piece?
Knights Of The Old Republic is an instant must not only for Star Wars junkies looking for their next fix, but for any fan of action-packed, eye-catching comics.
Blue Beetle: Shellshocked
Keith Giffen, John Rogers, Cully Hamner
$17.50/12.99 US (Paperback)
This new Beetle has got me feeling blue.
Perhaps I’m just too rooted in my love of Keith Giffen and J.M. Dematteis’ late ’80s Justice League series, but I was a true fan of the wise-cracking Ted Kord, the last hero to be called Blue Beetle. He, of course, was on the receiving end of a point-blank shot to the head in the now-classic Countdown To Infinite Crisis.
So when Jaime Reyes, a whiny teenage kid from New Mexico, was introduced as the new Beetle last year, maybe I just wasn’t ready. I read the first issue and then kind of forgot about him.
After taking more time to mourn and then pouring over this first collection of the new series, I can’t say my opinion has changed too greatly. Oh sure, writers John Rogers and Giffen do a good job of portraying Jaime’s confusion and angst and having the mantle of the Beetle thrust upon him. There’s even a nice twist about where his powers really come from. Cully Hamner’s art is equally well done.
But another series featuring a whiny, angst-filled teen?
I’ll be re-reading my back issues of Justice League International instead.
Wonderlost No. 1
C.B. Cebulski, Paul Azaceta, Juan Castro, Jonathan Luna, Martin Montiel, Khoi Pham, Alina Urusov, Ethan Young
C.B. Cebulski is a brave, brave man.
Not only is he willing to lay bare some rather revealing stories of his teen years — he’s gone the extra mile and had them illustrated.
This longtime Marvel Comics editor, now focusing more on his writing career with ongoing series like Drain for Image Comics — with the help of artists Paul Azaceta, Juan Castro, Jonathan Luna, Martin Montiel, Khoi Pham, Alina Urusov and Ethan Young — shares six tales of his youth, all focusing on friendship, lust and love.
Delving way beyond the stereotypical “she broke my heart” stuff, Cebulski doesn’t shy away from the painful or embarrassing. He admits to cheating, gross insensitivity and a very humiliating interlude inadvertently involving a female sanitary product.
He still comes out smelling like a rose, though, as he does his best to do the right thing — even when that means not getting laid.
These kinds of explorations of the meaning of those flawed fumblings of youth can often be ham-fisted, but Wonderlost is graceful and at times touching. Cebulski should be lauded for this emotional issue.