Vanessa's Reviews > DC Universe: The Stories of Alan Moore

DC Universe by Alan Moore
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's review
Jul 28, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: read-in-2011

Alan Moore is well known even to people outside of the comics world and there's a simple reason for that: he's an auteur who could just as easily work in literary fiction, mystery, science fiction. He chooses to write comics. And we love him for it.

This is a collection of some of his early work for DC. And what a collection it is. Just look at the cover art. I knew Alan wrote and revitalized Swamp Thing of course and everyone who reads the Batman-verse comics, particularly Birds of Prey, knows about "The Killing Joke" but he also wrote for Green Arrow, Green Lantern and Superman. There isn't a clunker in this collection (having said that, the Green Arrow is probably the weakest entry.)

The standout stories include the following:

"For the Man Who Has Everything"-art by Dave Gibbons (who would also collaborate with Moore on Watchmen.) Superman is given the chance to imagine a world in which Krypton didn't blow up and he has a family. But things aren't as rosy as they appear. Great one-off issue.

"Father's Day"-art by Jim Baikie. Hey gang! Remember Vigilante? Me neither. He's apparently a Batman-esque type of hero that works by day as a district attorney. His costume is silly but the story is a really affecting and surprisingly (for the time) gory page turner about a battered woman trying to protect her daughter from the violent, fresh-from-prison father who molested her years before. The art by Jim Baikie is a little reminiscent of Mary Worth but it compliments the story well and a few panels really hit you in the gut and stick with you.

"The Jungle Line"-art by Rick Veitch. This story is good but probably not great. Moore has certainly written better Swamp Thing pieces; however, adding Superman to the story just made it irresistible. When Superman loses his mind from an extraterrestrial fungal infection, who you gonna call? Swampy.

"Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow"-art by Curt Swan and George Perez. Curt Swan was a famous long-time Superman illustrator so it's fascinating he paired up with Moore for this brilliantly off-kilter epic that posits a future where Superman has died. This along with "The Killing Joke" is the best story in the bunch. Moore melds Superman-esque sensibilities (lines like "Superman! Thank heavens you're back!") with a deeply touching and occasionally odd and disturbing tale of Superman's last days which include a siege on the Fortress of Solitude, Jimmy Olson and Lana getting super powers and a Brainiac-controlled reanimated Lex Luthor. I defy you not to get out your Kleenex by the end. Not to mention Curt Swan seems to think that in the distant future of 1997, men will be wearing lace cravats.

"In Blackest Night"-art by Bill Willingham. I liked all the Green Lantern stories (including the one that introduces Mogo. Sniff, RIP) but this one starring Katma Tui is my favorite. Bonus: hear perhaps the only instance of a Guardian telling a joke.

"Mortal Clay"-art by George Freeman. In this Batman story, Moore is at his disturbing and funny best.

"The Killing Joke"-art by Brian Bolland. You can have your Dark Knight Returns. I love this infamous Batman story from the same era which features outstanding artwork from Brian Bolland. The story is deeply disturbing and emotionally powerful. This is the story that put Barbara Gordon (the original Batgirl) in a wheelchair after being shot by the Joker, a chain of events that turned her into Oracle. Some of the scenes from this are unforgettable: the look on Barbara's face right before she gets shot, Batman's face at the hospital, the final showdown between Batman and the Joker. This is the original version with colors done by John Higgins and Bolland, while gracious, was never quite happy with them. If you can, check out the Deluxe Edition of this story which Bolland colored himself. It's quite a difference to compare them side-by-side.

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Comments <span class="smallText"> (showing 1-2 of 2) </span> <span class="smallText">(2 new)</span>

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message 1: by Thom (new)

Thom Your art credits remind me of a lot of names from the 80s. When I was dropping $$$ on these guys, and these weren't "my father's comics", so to speak.

Vanessa Yeah, you'd probably be amazed at all of the not your Dad's diversity now. At least I can talk to you about the old school canon.

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