Batman #44 by Scott Snyder, Brian Azzarello & Jock

Batman #44 by Scott Snyder, Brian Azzarello & Jock

I’ll try to make this a quicker review because I don’t want even the remote chance of spoiling this issue for anyone. It’s not that there are any “shocking” moments or “this page changes everything” aspects…. it’s because I really enjoyed Batman #44 and wouldn’t want to sully the childlike captivation that a new comic can bring to someone. Also, I normally hold off on reviewing a title until it has been published as a trade paper volume that I can sink my teeth into. This issue is worth making an exception.

Batman #44 is written by Scott Snyder, co-written by Brian Azzarello and guest-illustrated by Jock (‘guest’ because he hasn’t worked on this particular Batman series). Scott Snyder and Jock make a hell of a team so once I heard about Jock’s involvement I immediately went on the hunt for this issue.

One neat factor about Batman #44 is that it is somewhat separated from the current storyline, meaning, it can be enjoyed even if you’re not up to speed on the Jim Gordon Batman/ Mr. Bloom era. The connections it does have to the ongoing Batman series are perfect and thought provoking. It takes place five years before the current story. Batman is still rather new on the job so he has more to prove to himself than he does to Gotham. To do this, he sets out to solve an ‘everyday’ murder in one of the worst areas of the city. He reasons that doing this will remind him why this crusade is so important. In Batman’s eyes, this is a simple task in the city he knows so well… or does he? It’s a question he’s forced to ask as Gotham reminds him nothing in this urban jungle is simple.

Jock’s style is perfect (as always) because it possesses a certain dark, gritty whimsy that reinforces the jump in time. There’s plenty of social commentary present in Batman #44. These prevalent themes could easily turn me away from the pages. Comics regularly walk a line with social commentary; they involve heavy issues that can tip the scales of enjoyment in the wrong direction. If this issue was handled by any other creative team then that could have been the case. Thankfully, DC is trusting Batman to very capable hands.

My rating of BATMAN #44 is a solid 9 out of 10. Pick this one up – you won’t regret it!

9 out of 10

BATMAN: UNDER THE RED HOOD by Judd Winick & Doug Mahnke

I watched the movie Batman Under the Red Hood a year or two before I finally got my hands on the source material. The movie was gritty and violently satisfying. Then, at long last, I ordered a copy of the book…

BATMAN: UNDER THE RED HOOD by Judd Winick & Doug Mahnke

I’d never read anything by Judd Winick but Doug Mahnke was a familiar name from his Justice League and Green Lantern work. These talented gentlemen make a great team because BATMAN: UNDER THE RED HOOD was an enthralling read.

Fast and furious, the Red Hood comes into Gotham to efficiently transplant himself into the industrious crime that the city is so known for. Red Hood is essentially Batman, but with no boundaries whatsoever. He quickly reveals himself as Jason Todd – the fallen second Robin. This reveal shakes the Dark Knight to his core.

Jason Todd’s death is the shadow lurking over a man who exists in the shadows. Prior to this volume, old wounds left from Jason’s death at the hands of the Joker were reopened from a farce perpetrated by Hush. This story takes place after those wounds mostly healed once again. Fast and furious, the Red Hood comes into Gotham to efficiently transplant himself into the industrious crime that the city is so known for. Batman must deal with the threat while trying not to fail his former protege.

Batman, by nature, is a tortured soul. His tragic origin is accepted to a point where people expect him to be cold, calculated, and remorselessly driven by his vengeful mission. The Batman is so effective in this role that it’s easy to think of him as being incapable of experiencing anything else. However, underneath the cowl there is still Bruce Wayne – a man who should be able to experience the emotional shortcomings that define humanity. Throughout this superbly executed read you get a real sense of the Dark Knight’s tortured conscience.

I don’t want to say anything else about the story because I’d hate to take away from its gripping appeal. On a more trivial note – 384 pages is on the high end for your average graphic novel. Most stick between 150-200 pages so getting that much more for a comparable price was enough reason to bump this higher on my priority list. I’m pleased to say that it’ll go back in line for a re-read.

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My rating of BATMAN: UNDER THE RED HOOD is a vengeful 8.5 out of 10.

INJUSTICE: GODS AMONG US by Tom Taylor & Jheremy Raapack, Volume 1

INJUSTICE: GODS AMONG US by Tom Taylor & Jheremy Raapack, Volume 1

WOWIf I was forced to summarize my feels in one word that would be it – wow!

I played the INJUSTICE: GODS AMONG US video game on Xbox 360 with my son to completion. From the first play through to every subsequent replay, this game was a hell of a lot of fun. When I heard about this graphic novel tie-in I frowned upon the idea. Senseless merchandising can easily burn my interest in something to the ground… except for Star Wars which has a free pass in all things non-Jar Jar. It wasn’t until I saw the Amazon rating average of (4.6 out of 5 stars after close to 200 customer reviews) that I decided to give it a shot.

I’ve never been happier to be wrong! INJUSTICE: GODS AMONG US Volume 1 written by Tom Taylor and impressively illustrated by Jheremy Raapack was a surprise delight. It had a healthy mix of humor, action, and even right down to some of the ‘feels’. The dialogue was well-composed so it felt very natural; comic books often fail to reach such fluid conversation. The story was solid – in the end I found it satisfyingly conclusive while having me salivating for the next volume.

My rating of INJUSTICE: GODS AMONG US Volume 1  is a gushing 8.5 out of 10. GO READ THIS BOOK!

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