Tuesday, July 8, 2008

io9 on the Ten Best Batman Books

Wellll, I can't say I agree with all of these - in fact some are really lame. What should be on the list and isn't? How about Gotham by Gaslight, an "Elseworlds" alt-history involving Jack the Ripper, Long Halloween which is a great look at Gotham's crime syndicates and shows Batman at his detective best (very noir for you Raymond Chandler fans)and Batman: Absolution where Batman confronts a terrorist years after she bombed Wayne Enterprises and caused the deaths of many of his employees but claims to have changed. (Not everybody likes this gn but I thought it was pretty good.)

One major fave of mine that was overlooked though is Detective No. 27, another alt history which takes place in the 1920s and involves Bruce Wayne joining a long line of detectives (many of them real historic figures) who solve government conspiracies. Here's a bit of the Fourth Rail review:

For 75 years, a secret society of detectives -- founded by the legendary Allan Pinkerton in the wake of President Abraham Lincoln's assassination -- has fought a quiet war against a group of nihilists known as the Knights of the Golden Circle. Each member of the Secret Society of Detectives is given a number rather than a name. A young man named Bruce Wayne returns home to Gotham City in 1939 after a decade of studying abroad, and he has one goal on his mind: to avenge his parents' murder. His skills and background have attracted the attention of the Society, though, and soon, Wayne finds himself dubbed Detective No. 27.

The best thing this ambitious project has going for it is Peter Snejbjerg's artwork. Those who have sampled his work on Starman, The Books of Magic and JSA knows it boasts a dark edge, one that's in keeping with the conspiracy-theory aspects of this story. He also does an excellent job of capturing not one but two historic periods here. The likenesses of historical figures are strong as well. Snejbjerg brings a gothic quality to the story that puts one in mind of Mike (Hellboy) Mignola's style, and there's an exaggerated, twisted quality in his style that's appropriately unsettling and surreal.

Be sure to read the comments at the io9 piece - lots of opinions on good and bad Batman stories.

1 comment :

Alan said...

To be frank, I was less than impressed with Detective No. 27. I don't know what it was about it that didn't float my boat. I had expected to like it far more than I did.

One other Batman book I loved for its combination of Lovecraft/Cthulhu Mythos and Bat-lore was Mike Mignola's" Batman: The Doom That Came To Gotham." I just reread that one recently, and it's excellent.

Oh, and don't miss the Elseworld books "Batman: Speeding Bullet" (a Kryptonian child crashes to Earth and is raised by adoptive parents--but this time it's Thomas and Martha Wayne!) and "Batman: Holy Terror" (Bruce becomes a dark avenger in a world ruled by Cromwell's Puritans, where super-powered heroes--particularly one Christ-like hero who fell to Earth as a child--are locked up and tortured). Good stuff!