**spoiler alert** I am normally not a big fan of "Elseworld" comic books, so it is kind of odd that I liked this so much.
The premise is that Oliver Cr...more**spoiler alert** I am normally not a big fan of "Elseworld" comic books, so it is kind of odd that I liked this so much.
The premise is that Oliver Cromwell didn't die when he did in our world and this small change led to a world where the United States never came to be. There is no separation of Church and State, and both England and its colonies are firmly under the control of a repressive religious regime.
In this world, a young Bruce Wayne is about to take his sacred vows when he finds out his parents were not killed in a random mugging like he believed. Instead, they were tried in absentia and executed as enemies of the church. The revelation shatters the young man's faith, and he decides to get revenge the way only Bruce Wayne can.
That is just the jumping off point and the story proceeds to take some interesting twists and turns along the way. While it is a bit heavy handed with some of the points it makes at times, it still manages to make some interesting points about government, religion, and faith. Which is why I am such a big fan of it.
It also probably doesn't hurt that it was illustrated by Norm Breyfogle, one of my all-time favorite Batman artists.(less)
**spoiler alert** I have a sort of love/hate relationship with Frank Miller. I feel some of his early work, Batman:Year One, The Dark Knight Returns,...more**spoiler alert** I have a sort of love/hate relationship with Frank Miller. I feel some of his early work, Batman:Year One, The Dark Knight Returns, and his early Daredevil stories, are comic book classics. I also have a great deal of respect for his Dark Horse work, like Sin City and 300. On the other hand, I can't even read some of his more recent creations. I picked up the entire run of DK2, but I could never get into it. I never even made it past issue two of All-Star Batman and Robin. I think the problem is that the machismo and misogynic tendencies, which were always present in his work, have truly gotten out of hand. That being said, I really loved Daredevil: Born Again.
The basic premise is simple. Matt Murdock's former secretary and girlfriend Karen Page has fallen on hard times. She is now a heroin addict and a porn star. Low on cash and desperate for a fix, she sells Daredevil's secret identity for drug money. This knowledge ends up in the hands of the Kingpin who uses this knowledge to destroy Matt Murdock's life. He destroys his life more utterly than I have ever seen on the pages of a comic book before or after. He destroys him financially. He destroys him professionally. He destroys his reputation in both identities. As an afterthought, he even blows up his house.
Frank Miller does not shy away from showing us how devastating it would be to suddenly lose everything and what effect it has on Daredevil. Matt Murdock does not heroically persevere; he breaks down. All of which makes his eventual "rebirth" all the more dramatic.
Honestly, Daredevil: Born Again is not just one of my favorite Frank Miller stories. It may be the best Daredevil story ever written.(less)
I consider Grant Morrison one of the "Mad Geniuses" of comics. I think his work helps stretch the boundaries of the medium. On the other hand, occasio...moreI consider Grant Morrison one of the "Mad Geniuses" of comics. I think his work helps stretch the boundaries of the medium. On the other hand, occasionally he stretches the medium to its breaking point and when he does his writing can border on incoherence. Still, I am willing to grant the occasional grand failure among grand successes. Animal Man is an example of Morrison nearing the edge, but not going over. Morrison was brought on to revitalize Animal Man, a truly minor hero in DC's pantheon. It worked, but it is doubtful DC was expecting what they got.
Morrison presented Buddy Baker as an Everyman hero. He is the type of guy who started wearing a jacket over his costume because he needed somewhere to hold his keys. He has a wife and kids who actually act like you would expect them to act. He is a super hero primarily because he has super powers and figures he should try making a living that way. After all, if you had super powers, would you go work at Walmart?
If all Morrison did was establish this niche for Buddy in the DC Universe, Animal Man would be a decent comic. Animal Man: Deus Ex Machina brings it to the next level.
In Deus Ex Machina, Buddy Baker slowly comes to awareness that he is a comic book character. I am not normally a fan of breaking the fourth wall. However, in this case Morrison uses it as more than a simple gimmick. It is an integral part of Buddy Baker's search for meaning. Unlike most of us, Buddy gets to meet his maker. He gets to ask him all of the questions we would in that situation, often getting less than satisfying answers. Whether this makes him lucky is a matter of debate.(less)
Darwyn Cooke's amazing blending of political allegory and superhero comic history. Set in the late 1950's, superheroes are in decline after being inve...moreDarwyn Cooke's amazing blending of political allegory and superhero comic history. Set in the late 1950's, superheroes are in decline after being investigated by Joseph McCarthy's House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC).
With the exception of Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman the Golden Age comic heroes have given up the fight. A new generation of heroes is ready to take it up, but can they overcome the paranoia and mistrust of their own government?
Honestly, this is a great comic which makes great use of Darwyn Cooke's unique style. It was even made into a great animated movie. (less)
I am a big fan of the Concrete series, which might be best described as a superhero comic without the superheroics.
Concrete is the story of a man who...moreI am a big fan of the Concrete series, which might be best described as a superhero comic without the superheroics.
Concrete is the story of a man who is abducted by aliens and finds his mind transplanted into a nigh indestructible cyborg body. However, rather than decide to try to save the world by punching out bad guys, he uses his newfound fame to become a writer and use his words to elicit change.
Most of the drama in Concrete comes from his feelings of alienation and the fact that he has to deal with the all too fragile world around him. He cannot have a physically intimate relationship with the woman he loves. His strength and weight make him unable to sit in normal chairs or even dial a phone without breaking it. Concrete is not bitter though, more wistful and melancholy as he tries to make the best of the hand life has dealt him.(less)
**spoiler alert** Set in the future of the DC Universe, most of the old generation of superheroes have retired and have been replaced by a newer and m...more**spoiler alert** Set in the future of the DC Universe, most of the old generation of superheroes have retired and have been replaced by a newer and more violent breed. When Kansas is irradiated and rendered uninhabitable by their antics, Superman comes out of retirement and reforms the Justice League to police these new heroes.
However, in the attempt to restore order, the Justice League begins to trample over the very freedoms they are trying to protect. This is a familiar theme in comic books, I can't call Kingdom Come the most original story. Still, between the amazing artwork by Alex Ross and the sense of grandeur imparted by Mark Waid's storytelling, this story has never been told better.(less)