Monday, June 15, 2009

Batman Variety Pack

At my library I get to look at the new teen books before they end up on the shelves. Lately, it seems as if every other book is a new graphic novel featuring Batman (or Catwoman). I have enjoyed all of them, so here is the rundown.

Batman and the Outsiders: The Snare was my first exposure to this series and it was interesting to see Batman lead a group of heroes. Chuck Dixon writes a story arc that takes place all over the globe and into space. Dixon weaves political intrigue around The Outsiders, who include the Green Arrow, Metamorpho, Batgirl and others. Part of the team is dealing with a suspicious space station, while the others are captured at a military installation in China. When they start to figure out the connection, Batman's life is endangered. This is a rollicking superhero adventure, though Batman himself does not play a huge role in it.

Batman Black and White is an anthology series originally published in 1996 (then published again in '07) with a great lineup of writers and artists. These stories are mostly dark and insular which matches the art which is exclusively in black and white. Different writers tackle various parts of the Batman legend. Most of the stories have held up over time, though a couple seem quite dated. In Volume 1, Good Evening, Midnight and Heist are two of my favorites and Archie Goodwin's Heroes won an Eisner for Best Short Story. If you haven’t seen these stories before they offer a lot of depth for Batman fans to dig through.

Batman: The Resurrection of Ra's al Ghul by Grant Morrison and Paul Dini follows the rearing of Ra's grandson, Damian. His mother, Talia, is teaching Damian about the rise and near immortality of Ra's. Batman is lead into the story while investigating the death of two archeologists in Australia who were working for the Wayne Ecological Foundation. Batman doubts that his foe is dead and needs to track down the whole family. The story takes some weird side trips, but there was enough ninja fighting to keep me interested and Ra's al Ghul remains one of the most intriguing figures in Batman's history.

Catwoman: The Long Road Home by Will Pfeifer (don't worry Batman shows up) begins with the title character caught in an alternate world which she is trying to escape. In this world, Catwoman is in the middle of chaos along with other known criminals like Lex Luthor. Meanwhile, her disappearance becomes noticed and Slam Bradley is working to get her back. Batman also makes an appearance (see, I told you so) as he confronts Selina and tries to convince her she needs to change her lawbreaking ways, which does not go over so great.


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