Friday, January 30, 2015

Batman and Robin by Peter J. Tomasi issue #38

I'm still reinforcing my X-Men comics diet but I decided that, every once in while, when a new issue from among the three Bat-titles I look forward to the most is released (namely Batman, Batman and Robin and Detective Comics), I'll come back to this blog to type out a review just to stay on track. And how could I not with this one? After all, Peter J. Tomasi's Batman and Robin series remains my absolute favorite of all the New 52 titles and it's mostly because Damian Wayne is MY Robin, always and forever. A whole year has passed since he died in Morrison's Batman Incorporated. A big gap has to be filled in the meantime so Tomasi had employed other characters (Aquaman, Two Face, Wonder Woman, etc) alongside Batman to make up for Robin's absence.

It was only last Christmas when Tomasi and co. took us to a very enticing and heartfelt journey toward Damian's inevitable resurrection in Robin Rises arc, and it was personally a very cleansing venture for a fan like me. Grant Morrison may have created Damian Wayne but I would like to believe that it's Tomasi who redefined and strengthened his characterization for New 52 which was why his loss was so substantial before, and why his return felt like a victorious gain.

The last issue Robin Rises: Alpha hasn't been a fully satisfying installment from last December but this one, though strangely entitled Superpower-Fly Robin Fly, packed some great character moments that are comedic and touching, and they are mostly coming from Damian. Things are almost back to normal between father and son; Batman is accompanied by Boy Wonder in routine nocturnal patrols again, and their relationship has been better than before. There is trust and compassion even if Damian's newfound superpowers slightly threaten the balance that they have worked on and fruitfully achieved together. Bruce is understandably worried that his son may be losing some agency and control especially when he's not used to the superpowers he inherited from, let alone the extent or how to best utilize them in missions. Alfred, however, sagely advises him to give the boy some solitude to figure out things on his own. After all, both father and son have been through hell and back (if not literally) so Bruce should just allow Damian to come to terms with this change by himself first because he has become an adult now with an obligation to make his own choices.

Bruce owes it to him to recognize that. This issue heavily deals with second chances and the nature of personal responsibility and I admire the very grounded and muted tone and approach of Tomasi's writing for it. Tomasi could have easily written an action-packed issue that shows a superpowered Damian being a badass but he opted, once again, to explore how this affects Damian's psyche. The result of which is quite an admirable piece that once again resonates.

There are a handful notable scenes here. First, we have his nightmare sequence of his late mother and grandfather Talia and Ra's haunting and taunting him. Artist Patrick Gleason (with colorists Gray and Kalisz) truly brought these panels to life and infused them with horror and visual retrospection. I bet it's refreshing for them to work on a more varied color palette than the previous ones with the hellish landscapes of Apokolips (which were unmistakably superbly illustrated as well). Afterwards, he visited the graveyard where his grandparents and mother's coffins lay, contemplating about the fact that he was once buried there with them--and what it now has to mean that he's still alive and therefore has many other things to accomplish in this world. He flies to the sky, looking at Gotham City in the perspective of a Superman or any semi-godlike being and realizes that he should not be above it all. So he visits his mother's old compound where she kept and experimented his clones, destroying some of its content before he swims to Atlantis and talks to Aquaman who agrees to free said detained clones from confinement (as referenced from the issue where he and Batman teamed up against Ra's, which was probably one of my favorite instalments). After he reached the shore with his clones, Damian allows them to live in peace, claiming that they were still a part of him and deserve more than the cruel lives his mother have put them through. This just goes to show the full measurement of his maturity and compassion. Reading that scene honestly warmed my chest area. This isn't the same stubborn, impulsive and reckless Damian from ages ago. This is a young man coming to terms that he has the power to improve lives as oppose to destroying them. It takes more strength to do the former.

In that sense, this issue showcases us a Damian Wayne who learns to forgive the atrocities he came from and accept that although he is very much capable of committing the same kind, he would rather embrace a nobler role fighting the good fight beside his father and partner. He may still be a child age-wise, but he very much a grown-up whose actions and decisions must always be for the betterment of self and others. His scene here were meaningful and beautiful to see unfold. I expect as much from Tomasi whose Batman and Robin has always been very character-driven in a sense that it prioritizes growth and internal struggle of its lead heroes, particularly that of the titular Robin. I CAN'T WAIT FOR WHAT ELSE IS IN STORE FOR THIS TITLE!


Friday, January 2, 2015

My Yearend Batman Comics; A 2014 Retrospect

NINE MONTHS. That's the time frame it takes to carry a child in the womb. Fortunately for me, I have no immediate or long-term plans to become a mother myself because I consider being a geek a full-pledged vocation that I would always choose more than having my own family. Is that a little sad? From where I'm sitting, it doesn't seem so. That said, I did have a baby of my own to tend to in these last nine months, metaphorically speaking, and it's no other than this blog which started out as a dare to myself that eventually became a consistent and enthralling mental exercise where I explored everything there is to love about my childhood hero, Batman. This has been a productive way to spend my free time for 2014, honestly. I had so much fun writing my insights on spectacular Bat-stories, and hopefully encourage other people to read more Batman comics for themselves, and not just see him in movies. It hasn't been easy though; there have been a few times I almost procrastinated. But I persisted and I can't believe I was able to review 250-something comics. I'm feeling very, very accomplished because I was able to pour my time, soul, energy and dedication into a project that is meaningful to me in the most intimate way possible. 

I just spent the last nine months reading and reviewing Batman comic books, ranging from classics, old continuity from the New 52 roster--and I have no regrets whatsoever. To be fair, I also spent reading and reviewing Hellblazer comics (the first fifty issues) for two months as well (not to mention individual episodes for both Gotham and Constantine) so it has been a really extraneous yet significantly fulfilling year. So here is the Yearend recap of my most favorite Bat-comic books for 2014.

If you want to start reading Batman in comics, this is honestly the best series to start with. As part of the New 52 re-launch, Scott Snyder's Batman series is more or less newbie-friendly, even if the said novice reader has only been acquainted with Batman through the films (exclusively Burton or Nolan variety or both, it doesn't matter). It currently has five major arcs (with Endgame as the latest one), thirty-eight issues released, and five collected volumes (namely The Court of Owls, The City of Owls, Death of the Family, Zero Year: Secret City and Zero Year: Dark City). What I personally love about this series is artist Greg Capullo and his lavish illustrations of the Gotham landscapes, as well as the internal and interpersonal conflicts that happen within Batman and among other characters. Writing-wise, Snyder always makes you care about Bruce Wayne and Batman both as separate entities which is always a nice treat for me since I'm the kind of Bat-fan who is also interested with the man underneath the cowl. There is great energy, action and compelling storytelling in each volume and I highly recommend the last two arcs, Death of the Family and Zero Year. If there is one Batman series you should get into right at this moment, then you better make it Snyder's run.

I will forever associate Peter J. Tomasi with Batman and Robin, which is also another New 52 entry for this list. I never expected to fall in love with this series at all, and that mostly happened because Tomasi has characterized the current Robin, Damian Wayne, with an earnest and grounded understanding of his youth, psyche and complex relationship with his estranged father, Bruce Wayne himself. At the heart of Batman and Robin is a consistently riveting family drama as both father and son struggle to communicate and relate to each other which also affect their working relationship as the Dynamic Duo. The first volume Born to Kill will always remain as my absolute favorite of all the New 52 releases. Requiem for Damian is definitely the climactic height of this series and, as an unsuspecting newbie, I won't spoil you as to why (but if you're a comics fan yourself then you would know already).

I guarantee that if you're a fan of character-centered stories, then this series will captivate you. I would caution you with a few issues in the second volume (the Terminus and zombie arcs respectively) because those are utter shite. Other than that, New 52's Batman and Robin is an instant darling.

I only realized how much I love this series once I was able to take a step back to appreciate the extent and breadth of everything included in its thick first volume (twenty fucking issues!). Released weekly as oppose to your usual monthly, this hefty motherfucker was as diverse as it could get, featuring an ensemble of artists and writers who are led by Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV. Currently close to forty issues (and possibly more on the way as soon as I post this blog post), Batman Eternal is going to be a very challenging pursuit for all readers, most notably for its multiple storylines and cast of characters. In this series, Gotham City will prove to be a more uninhabitable place than communist North Korea, given the crimes, mob strife, paranormal attacks and overall dangerous games being played within its city limits. I advise that you don't dare reading the first volume in one sitting because it will stress you the fuck out. This is best enjoyed in moderation; you must allow yourself to breathe between storylines or whatever helps to keep you sane because Batman Eternal will put your attention span under a strenuous test of will and retention. Still, this is a series you will get addicted to, especially if you are emotionally invested enough to see how the events and conflicts will play out and get resolved.

Now this is the accumulation of one writer's seven-year stint primarily dedicated to a series so layered and at times convoluted in scope, with an oddball premise of quite the endearing appeal. Batman Incorporated is the kind of Batman story that you will never read anywhere else and could never be written by any other author than the superb and prolific Grant Morrison. This is a uniquely penned series that may demand newbies to read other Morrison Bat-books before it (since the conception stretched as far as Batman and Son and his own Batman and Robin run from the old continuity). The series also ran originally from 2010-2011 (nine issues collected in a deluxe edition) and was then continued on for New 52 (two volumes, thirteen issues in total plus a special issue). To fully appreciate and enjoy Bat-Inc, one must not contextualize it with other New 52 Bat-titles because there is a certain dissonance when you do that. Truthfully, I think Morrison intended to write this solely for the old continuity so there are some irregularities when you put it in the New 52 universe so do yourself a favor and don't do that. Batman Incorporated has everything you want in a regular comic book: action, adventure, a slice of family drama with some global conspiracy to fuel it. It's goddamn fantastic, thrilling and memorable in all the right places.

New 52's Detective Comics initially had a bad start. The first twelve issues and two collected volumes penned and illustrated by Tony S. Daniel proved that he is a better artist than writer, and it almost made me stop reading this series altogether. Fortunately enough, when John Layman and artists Jason Fabok and Andy Clarke took over the title, this series soared into the heights it was always meant to glide in. As the comic book series that launched the character of Batman for the first time in the forties, Detective Comics should still be considered an important landmark for Bat-comics which should allow for some whimsically inventive and self-contained story arcs to play out. This did happen after John Layman's run came to an end. We get the creative tandem of Francis Manapul and Brian Buccelatto next who both wrote and illustrated the five-issued Icarus. They are also doing the current storyline Anarky whose premise issue was released a week before Christmas. 

There is a lot of promising potentials for this series, particularly when it defines Batman foremost as a detective solving cases using his mental prowess and not just his physicality. A certain nostalgic noir appeal in the later issues is guaranteed, and I recommend you pick up this title starting with issue #13.

A brilliant eleven-issued series penned from the old continuity by Scott Snyder which was a twofold exploration of Dick Grayson as the new Batman and Commissioner Jim Gordon as he faces the awful truth about his only son, James Jr. Artists Francesco Francavilla and Jock alternately illustrate the Gordon and Grayson issues respectively so the visual diversity of this story arc is quite delightful. Jock has created weeping renditions of a Dick Grayson gliding across the Gotham skyline as he exhibits the Boy Wonder he is at heart even after he has taken the mantle of Batman. 

Meanwhile, Francavilla's muted colors of orange, purple and red painfully captured and enhanced the intensity and foreboding atmosphere as Gordon slowly but surely uncovers his son's inclinations to psychopathy and evil deeds. This is an unforgettable story; a moving and tragic masterpiece about inconvenient truths and how chaos can be the most undiscriminating force of nature that often rules the choices we make, the comfortable ideals we cling onto--and how the people we love the most can be the very ones who have the ability to betray and destroy who we are.

Collected as the first volume for Grant Morrison's Batman and Robin run, these two stories are well-balanced in action, plot and character development in a scope so commendable and enjoyable. Morrison's goofy yet creepy villains Professor Pyg and Eduardo Flamingo are the perfect villains faced by Dick Grayson and Damian Wayne as the titular heroes. A special participation of Jason Todd as the Red Hood is also a tantalizing treat, as well as hi supporting one-shot character sidekick Scarlet. I absolutely devoured everything about these complimentary arcs have to offer because they were audaciously fun and surprisingly insightful when it came to the tension of relationships among the characters, particularly between Dick and Jason.
Also, Damian Wayne's headstrong and arrogant personality is perfectly befitting for the stories Morrison has told for this volume, particularly on the budding partnership between him and new Batman Dick Grayson. Everything about Grant Morrison's Batman Reborn comprised of these arcs was full of energy and vibrancy with a few touches of poignancy and character insight to keep its story dimensional and afloat. These story arcs are an instant crowd-pleaser!
(3) Zero Year

"Maybe that's what Batman is about. Not winning, but failing and getting back up. Knowing he'll fail, fail a thousand times, but still won't give up." ~Bruce Wayne leaving a message to Alfred
In line with the 75 years of celebration for Batman's existence as one of the most majestic gifts the human imagination has ever conceived, I thought it was quite poetic that Snyder and co. decided to explore and re-tell his origins for this generation, employing the elements that not only suited the mainstream and contemporary demands of the comics medium, but also to ensure that the quality of this new Batman mythology will still weave the precious quintessential facts and lore we have come to know about the Dark Knight. Year One is the inspiration though Snyder did not shy away from heavily incorporating the gritty ideas found from Christopher Nolan's movies (even Tim Burton's fairy-tale-like visual concepts, and a dash of noir from Paul Dini's The Animated Series, as well as a surprising Adam West's sixties show flair mixed in for good measure). The result is a rich tapestry of in-depth historical examination of what Batman stands for and why he will continue to live on close to a century or so.

This five-issued Two Face storyline is called The Big Burn, and I was admittedly nervous as all hell. Peter J. Tomasi created one decent villain so far, and that was NoBody at the beginning of the first eight issues of Batman and Robin. Can he handle writing something for a well-established A-lister Bat-villain? For his writing for the new origin story for one of the Bat-villain A-listers Two Face, The Big Burn certainly ended as a phenomenal albeit an essentially incomplete story.

Tomasi's original creation of the villainess Erin McKillen is the dark horse that certainly won a place as a formidable foe (that I have a feeling could appear in other issue of the B&R run soon enough). I really enjoyed her. I enjoyed her relationship with Bruce Wayne. I enjoyed her sadomasochistic tango with Harvey Dent/Two Face. And I enjoyed her personal backstory. She was the one who truly shone in this story--which defeats the purpose of this arc. The top-notch illustrations of Gleason, Gray and Kalisz should pique your interest since I personally think that they can rival those of Capullo, Miki and FCO from Synder's Batman: Zero Year. I'm constantly pleased by how much Gleason is surprising me as an artist. 

When all is said and done, however, Peter J. Tomasi's The Big Burn was definitely one of his strongest arcs and worth the read, trust me. I still look forward to whatever larger role Erin McKillen will take to what I assume will be the Gotham's mob rise to relevance in the New 52 Batman storylines.

While almost all other Bat-titles utilize the existential solitude that has defined Batman for generations, Grant Morrison decided to do something radical just to shake things up which explains the very premise of Batman Incorporated: in the aftermath of the Final Crisis events where Bruce Wayne was presumed dead, former first Boy Wonder Dick Grayson took up the cowl with Bruce's illegitimate son Damian as his new Robin. Some time later Bruce comes back with a new platform against crime, and decides to create a vigilante franchise that recruits potential crime fighters across the globe. From Japan to Argentina, to England and Australia, these skilled men and women pledge their service and allegiance to the unending symbol of Batman. This was an intriguing concept since it puts Batman in the context of a teamwork situations which we never often see him enough (outside of Justice League, that is). 
I admit that Morrison's tonality and approach to Batman might be an acquired taste, but his experimental flair keeps his stories interesting because he has a unique perspective on how to write Batman than most of his contemporaries. With a Batman-Morrison story, you will always have an adventure you can sink your teeth into. Demon Star attests to that. Here we get a very well-nuanced character arc for Talia al Ghul who is the main villain at play for Batman Incorporated. Batman's relationship with his son and partner Damian was also explored in an angsty level, and the Leviathan is probably a more real and tangible threat than Synder's Court of Owls. If you take comics reading seriously and actually find time to research parts you don't comprehend (or, even better, read previous continuity stuff as well), then I can assure you that Batman Incorporated will be one of the most dynamic, diverse and memorable comics you will ever read these days.


After witnessing the suicide of one of the Joker’s minions, Batman locks himself in the batcave and succumbs to depression, after which he removes his mask and was Bruce Wayne again at that moment. The dark knight, his shadow self, appeared to him and began to berate his lack of motivation, forcing him back to the direction he was meant to tread. His shadow self took him back to his childhood on the nights before his parents’ brutal murder. Bruce also got to face the emptiness of his personal life since almost all his relationships never deepen and that everything that he was revolved around Batman. His shadow self suggested that they should kill the Joker, considering that the madman was created by Bruce’s reluctance to execute him time and time again.

I think it’s pretty much acknowledged that Bruce Wayne and Batman are inseparable that sometimes it’s hard to tell which is the mask. In Darwyn Cooke’s EGO, we are challenged to recognize both as different ends of the spectrum and not as one man. At the beginning panels. Batman speaks with weary introspection about the almost cyclic way of crimes in Gotham.

Alan Moore’s blissfully insane The Killing Joke was Tim Burton’s inspiration for his Joker in his Batman movies. It was said that he insisted to adapt the Joker’s origin story from this comic book and upon reading TKJ myself, I understood perfectly why. This only has 46 pages but those pages are filled with gore and twisted imagery that will fuel your nightmares. 

This was incredibly piercing to digest for me; I'm not one to shy away from whatever depravity is depicted in books but this one was unsettling in certain ways especially since there's an unmistakable melancholic tone in the last few pages which still manages to be flat-out hilarious as well. That general dichotomy in my response has made me very uncomfortable once I finished reading. And that is what made TKJ memorable overall. The most haunting and memorable scene in this comic book were definitely the last pages. Earlier in the panels, the Joker’s goal was to make Batman laugh and so by the last scene he told Batman a joke. The joke was a metaphorical representation of their relationship as hero and villain which can be deconstructed as being each other’s crazy, uncompromising half.


"Bruce sees Damian as a broken boy and is on a mission to fix him. Damian, on the other hand, only wants to be accepted by his father for who and what he is; he doesn't want to be looked at as some science project that needs to be modified." Tomasi's story proposal

I can honestly say that this is my most favorite volume from the New 52 Batman titles yet, even surpassing the more riveting plot and suspense created in Scott Snyder's The Court of Owls. I'm a sucker for character-driven stories and exploration of character dynamics more than anything else in fiction so Tomasi's work for the first volume of Batman and Robin truly spoke to me. The emotional spine and theme of the first volume relies heavily on nature versus nurture, particularly on how Batman and Robin must learn to build a relationship based on trust, love and respect even if external forces would get in the way every once in a while, especially with a vocation like crime-fighting.

Damian Wayne is born and raised a killer. His mother Talia al Ghul and the rest of the League of Assassins had tempered his steel into something sharp and deadly. Bruce knew that his absence in the most formative years of his son's life has already been detrimental, and in the span of these issues, he tries everything to ensure that Damian walks the right path and not give in to the darkness that his natural instincts are much more attuned with.

In every list of the greatest Batman stories ever written, this is always on top of the pile. Naturally, I was excited to start reading this although I cheated on myself a little because I did watch its animation adaptation last year. But having the chance to read the source material myself, I started to understand why this was such an important work when it was released about the same time Watchmen was in the late eighties. I was unfortunate enough to be born in the nineties so I wasn't there to see firsthand how Batman's narrative evolved in the comics and I was quite envious of those who were there to witness what Frank Miller accomplished when he wroteThe Dark Knight Returns; considering how much of its impact still echoes in the modern interpretations of Batman and his villains to this very day.
Additionally, Batman is not a noble, sympathetic hero in this book--nor does he need to be. I believe that only the truest Batman loyalist understands that the Dark Knight earned his place in comics not because he is always a good little soldier but because Batman is the kind of warrior who is resilient and resourceful and always at his best when cornered by the worst; and who ultimately makes the right choices even if the results are not always going to be in his favor. That is the overall message I got from The Dark Knight Returns as someone who considered him as a childhood hero. I related strongly to the female Robin of this book, Carrie, who I believed recognized that the man she idolizes is not someone who always deserves such tenacious admiration but is still someone worthy of the good fight when push comes to shove. There are a couple of instances in TDKR that Batman truly repulsed me but Miller never forgets to make sure that readers can at least understand why he had committed such actions and that they may be the only course of action left to do in the grand scheme of things. Batman never hesitates to always walk into that abyss; to dare go where no sane, self-respective 'hero' would.

The story follows the aftermath of the events in the harrowing comic book A Death in the Family where the second Robin, Jason Todd, wasn’t saved by Batman when the Joker abducted and murdered him. It turns out he wasn’t dead and is determined to make Batman regret losing. He cleans up after the Gotham streets by killing every mobster he could get his hands on, all the while challenging Batman’s moral code, urging him to cross that line because he claims it’s freeing and that the true definition of justice is passing judgment onto criminals through execution.

I believe that the best Batman stories are those that deal with his relationships with people and this one examined Batman as the father figure to the Robins, Dick and Jason. It also showed the readers that Batman needs his Robins a lot more than he thought. There were many moving moments in this book, particularly the confrontations between Batman and Red Hood (Jason Todd). I like the action sequences a lot and they are enhanced by the gripping narrative and the emotionally volatile dialogue. There was plenty of humor too among the characters since the Black Mask and the Joker are present, and Alfred’s insights on Bruce’s relationships with his Robins in the context of death and grief made me want to hug little Bruce in the flashbacks. Green Arrow and Superman had cameos as well and the strained way Batman talks to them was telling of how he usually relates to fellow crusaders. You can really feel the uneasiness on his part.

Comprised of eight issues and a bonus story, you're going to get your money's worth when you purchase the deluxe edition, and it's something you can even be proud of for having in your collection. The artwork and visual appeal for this graphic novel are well-received by a lot of fans. Paquette and Burnham alternated in illustrating the issues and each of these artists have a signature style that you will enjoy perusing through. The coloring is astounding as well. Everything is vibrant. Everything looks and feels like a visual adventure for every issue. This is certainly one of the things that really got me going while I was reading Batman Incorporated. I simply adored every setting structure and details that the artists have put into the stories. You get a great sense of atmospheric tension and danger as we travel alongside Batman to Japan, Argentina, Africa, etc.

As for the writing, Morrison also took some time to craft some authenticity when it comes to the cultural backgrounds and small nuances for each country we visit. His characterizations pertaining to the recruits of Batman Incorporated have bold brush strokes to them that may make them seem more larger than life which could potentially bother a reader such as myself who prefer to get intimate with characters especially when it's a superhero story. Nevertheless, my enjoyment was not spoiled, considering I do get that missing ingredient in the seventh issue entitled Medicine Soldiers which is probably my most favorite of them all because of it's character-driven with a poignant narrative. As for the rest of the issues, every action sequence produced is well-balanced with an even pacing and sensible build-up. The plot may seem convoluted and, at times, even outright ridiculous, but a handful of memorable badass moments can keep things going right after you turn the last page of an issue and head to the next one.

This is a heavyweight collected edition, comprised of the following contents: BATMAN: VENGEANCE OF BANE SPECIAL #1, BATMAN #491-500, DETECTIVE COMICS #659-660, SHOWCASE '93 #7 and 8 and BATMAN: SHADOW OF THE BAT #17-18. I'll divide this review into significant parts worth noting, and therefore the content may be semi-spoiler-ish. Thread lightly in case you feel like reading this one yourself. If not because the length looks to be a handful, then I hope my summary and analyses would suffice your curiosity of what this omnibus entails.

Knightfall is primarily known for the climactic events when Bane 'broke the Bat'. For the non-comic book-reading population, they also know about this because of the Nolan movie.

The first volume had enough action and substance to keep you going. The astonishing length will be intimidating at first but the reader will not find it hard to get into the meat and bones of the story after a while as long as he/she also learns to trust the writers with where they're headed; even during the moments they have to get inside the heads of extremely unlikable if not downright unremarkable main characters, such as with the case of Bane and Jean-Paul Valley.

There was a spectacular time in the sixties when Batman became a television phenomenon and captured the fancy and affection of children and adults in a way that is uncannily unparalleled to this day. The Adam West and Burt Ward version is all kinds of campy and clean fun and may come off as a dissonant echo to a younger generation, considering its general tone is a mixed bag of patronizing, self-conscious and cheesy exposition, dialogue and performances. I stumbled upon online copies of the episodes about four years ago and I admit that I was so shocked and disgusted by the comedic style of the show that I put it aside just as quickly as I have watched the first four episodes. I came back to it later on with a more nuanced understanding and appreciation of the history and progression of Batman as a pop culture symbol, and finally acquired the taste necessary to embrace this version.

I was therefore very thrilled that DC decided to take this risky venture to bring to the comics pages the sixties version that, although may still have a strong following and demographic, is not the most popular version of the Dark Knight these days. The project could have fallen apart easily but it's a damn good thing it didn't. Now on 35 issues, Batman '66 has flourished well and is still going strong. It's all thanks to the earnest and enjoyable prose that main writer Jeff Parker put into each story, and the illustrations drawn and composed by Jonathan Case, Ty Templeton, Joe Quinones and many others who have brought a freshness and vibrancy to the narrative that truly brings back the nostalgia and quirkiness of the original television series. The first volume collects the five issues of the line-up, and have varying degrees of humor and wacky formulaic storylines that would take anyone back in time when comics are supposed to make you laugh and relax you.

This comic story has everything that it tends to become disjointed at times but at its best, it was able to provide insightful examinations on Batman’s social circle which includes fellow caped crusaders and the colorful villains that composed the infamous rogue gallery.

Hush basically has every character you have ever known in the Batverse: the Robins minus Damian Wayne, the Huntress, Catwoman, Poison Ivy, Joker and Harley Quinn, Killer Croc, Two-faced, Ra’s Al Ghul, The Riddler, etc.

There is something really enticing about that since all of these characters are so incredibly fascinating that it could never go wrong if they’re all present in one story, right? In a way, it was very exciting to read, especially since Batman’s narrative explaining the complexities of each relationship he has with a villain/fellow hero adds a lot for weight to the interactions.

Hush was ambitious in scope and often outlandish and bizarre but it remains easy to enjoy to a newbie especially if they wish to see Batman have some romantic angle to his character, and was able to provide charm and quirkiness for a long-time Batman fan.

The eleven stories featured in this collaborative work of Steve Englehart and Len Wein for Strange Apparitions is a fun-filled adventure that makes use of a roster of villains such as Dr. Phosphorous, Hugo Strange, Penguin, the Joker and Clayface. This collection also gives us Bruce Wayne's girlfriend Silver St. Cloud who I consider to be a well-written female character even if she's still subjected to certain glaring gender stereotypes back when this comic book was published.

It's worth noting that 70's era Batman comics was still experiencing the aftershocks of the 60's era when the Adam West and Burt Ward show was a national phenomenon which explains the tendency for campiness in this volume. But there is depth and maturity in the stories themselves as well if you consider the content alone; yet I consider the structure and delivery to be the reason why they can be grating in some moments. However, I think I'm going to be less generous with my rating and base it on my own personal preferences. In general, if we consider its objective importance to the Bat-verse, Strange Apparitions will be a solid 8. But I will remove one star in my final verdict because it's my own prerogative to do so. This is also something I cannot recommend to novices right away but should be explored for posterity's sake no less.

Peter J. Tomasi, Born To Kill and Robin Rises

(1) Francis Manapul, Icarus; (2) Chris Burnham, Batman Incorporated

(1) Snyder, Capullo, Miki, FCO, Zero Year; (2) The Staff for Batman Eternal
So that's it for my Yearend 2014 Recap of Batman Comics! I'll be taking a very long break from reading Batman this year, however, because I wish to focus my time on X-Men comics this time. I'll still review Gotham episodes though, but most probably as a single-post summary of the first season as oppose to the per-episode recap like I used to do last year. I'm cutting back on my Bat-writing as an unfortunate by-product of my decision to commit myself to X-Men for the rest of the year. I also have a batch of novels to get into and will be posted in my READEMPTION LITERATURE blog. However, I do plan to resume a combined Batman-Hellblazer comics reading/reviewing by July-August which will have a short list of readings. Be sure to check out HELLBLAZED-CONSTANTINE-GEEK for my reviews of the NBC show and the comics.