Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Batman, Captain America, Daredevil, Wonder Woman — and more — trade paperback reviews

As I'm always preaching here, don't forget to take advantage of your local library to read the latest Marvel and DC trade paperbacks. Or catch up on what you've missed!

Heck, countless CCCs have been typed on the keyboards of the computers at my local library.

Like this op-ed -- a roundup of reviews of some (mostly) recommended reads from the cape-and-cowl crowd...

BATMAN: DARK DETECTIVE
This six-issue 2005 limited series is a reunion well worth reading! And your money, if you're lucky enough to find each of the issues.

Writer Steve Englehart reunites with artist Marshall Rogers and inker Terry Austin for a follow-up to their classic 1977-'78 DETECTIVE COMICS run (Nos. 469-476 and 479, for you completists) -- one of the definitive takes on Batman. Needless to say, Englehart writes and the now late Rogers draws "my Batman." It's refreshing to see the sparks between the compassionate Dark Knight and Silver St. John, my favorite lover from Bruce Wayne's past.

Even if the late Rogers' art  isn't quite as stellar as it was back in the day, his art and characters flow and is still a treat for the eyes. And Englehart has lost very little of his writing mojo despite being away from comics for years. Grade: A-

DAREDEVIL: THE DEVIL INSIDE AND OUT (VOL. 2)
Writer Ed Brubaker is a master of the noir, street-level superhero story. The guy is worth every bit of the great press he gets; he simply spins a great yarn. What's most compelling for DD fans like me is I hadn't read any DAREDEVIL issues for years and years before this and even though I was thrown in the middle of a complex story, I could follow it with no problem.

A few months ago, I posted a somewhat more detailed, yet non-spoiler review of this trade. It's hard to fathom this was the first time I'd read anything by Brubaker. Grade: A

GREEN LANTERN: (VOL. 1): NO FEAR
Like Brubaker, Geoff Johns is a master storyteller. He has the special gift of taking years of continuity and condensing it so all fans can understand it well.

Johns adds a great twist to Green Lantern's power ring and Hal Jordan's legacy with the idea of being fearless. Sadly, the second half of the story takes a strange spin after a down-to-earth first part and left me cold. Grade: B

CAPTAIN AMERICA: WAR AND REMEMBRANCE
One of the best Captain America runs ever -- bar none. This collection is a must-read -- check that, must-have! -- for diehard Capheads or casual Cap fans.

Given my glowing review for Team Englehart and Rogers' Batman, I may sound like the proverbial broken record here (or would that be broken DVDs or Blu-Rays these days?!), but this short collection of stories truly is a definitive take on Captain America.

Roger Stern's foreword is an intriguing look at how his collaboration with artist John Byrne and inker Austin came together and how their future plans got squashed. Grade: A+

WONDER WOMAN: DOWN TO EARTH
There's fairly good looking art in this collection, but writer Greg Rucka struggles to find Wonder Woman's voice. The early cameo by Superman is one of the best bits. Grade: C

SPIDER-MAN: BRAND NEW DAY (VOL. 1)
When financial struggles hit Peter Parker again and Spidey's on seemingly everybody's you-know-what list, life isn't better. At least for Spider-Man fans.

This story is a great set-up for bringing Spider-Man/Parker back to his roots. BRAND NEW DAY is a good time that harkens back to the Stan Lee-Steve Ditko days. It's contemporary, but feels timeless. Grade: A

SHAZAM!: POWER OF HOPE
Aside from the 1970s TV series, Captain Marvel -- as I knew him growing up -- has gotten the short end of the stick for years. This oversized publication shows just how great a character Shazam is and brings a lovely humanity to the superhero endowed with powers from the gods. POWER OF HOPE tends to be a bit too sentimental at times, but you can't go wrong with the one-two power punch of Paul Dini and Alex Ross. Grade: B

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