Saturday, 24 August 2013

Legends of the Dark Knight # 9

Dreaming he is a Butterfly

The story starts with Batman beating the snot out of the Scarecrows henchmen in a Hammer Horror style graveyard, as he makes his way to the inevitable confrontation with the master of fear, telling him his toxins don’t work on him as he’s built up resistance and is also wearing nose plugs. Unfortunately for bats the Scarecrows latest toxin is absorbed through the skin stopping Batman in his tracks, now this is where the story really kick in and takes the reader on a journey they didn’t expect (well I didn’t).

Bruce wakes up to find himself in his bed with Alfred tending over him as he has seemingly lost the use of his legs and several years have now passed, Bruce has to come to terms that the years of fighting crime have left him both mentally and physically injured beyond any hope of healing. Alfred explains that he now slides in and out of lucidity and for the short time he is lucid he has forgotten what happened to him and Alfred has to explain it to him all over again, as you would expect Bruce is having none of this saying no matter how hurt he was he would find away to go out and fight crime. Which is the cue for Alfred to vent his anger telling Bruce if he had helped people with his inventions instead of fighting crime the world may have been a better place, pointing out he could have saved millions and improved society if he had directed his energies into creating vaccines for diseases, instead of creating anti toxins to protect himself from his enemy’s. It’s a valid point and one that is improved upon by Jim Gordon who comes around every time Bruce is lucid with unsolved crime files he needs help with, Jim tells Bruce that since his enforced retirement things had improved dramatically in Gotham. With no Batman to fight or focus on the madmen have all left they city and the ones that didn’t were mopped up by Batman friends, as Jim points out Scarecrow is no match for Superman.

The most damming news is that Bruce was responsible for the death of Robin during one of his psychotic episodes believing he was Clayface in disguise, its news that just about pushes Bruce over the edge not only is his purpose for living now gone but he is responsible for the death of his partner.

Just when you think all hope is lost the Batman never give in never surrender attitude begins to kick in, and reality starts to intrude on the fear induced dream and we once again find Batman face to face with a disbelieving Scarecrow who is quickly dispatched. The Scarecrows new toxin makes its victims create an artificial life built on their own fears and dreams, but as Batman points out if he was going to have a fantasy life it would have been better than the one he has at present.

This is one of the best Scarecrow story’s I have read in a long time making the Scarecrow scary again, it asks some very interesting questions like would Gotham be better off without Batman and would society be better if Bruce's focus was more humanitarian than vigilante. They are interesting questions that most comic fans would have an opinion on, but they not an argument anyone would ever win or agree on believe me I've had enough of these discussions to know.

The Trap

The second story in the book has Batman tracking down Catwoman who is breaking into Gotham's newest billionaires home using cold technology from Mr Freeze, all is not what it seems as Catwomans intentions are noble (sort of) as the billionaire is an anti-establishment nut who is funding terrorists and she is trying to get proof. Now if she can help herself to a few million in Bearer Bonds in the process then more power to her, as she points out ''its not cheap being this cool'' a sentiment I can relate too but I usually wait until the Debenhams Blue Cross Sale. The final panel shows why Catwoman is such a perfect foil for Batman, and why like all cats she cannot be trusted as no matter how much they purr they always have their own agenda ad sharp claws. The story is fast paced and the artwork flows so well it’s like watching an animated film, so congratulations to Stephane Roux on the art and Ray Fawkes on the writing.

Now with all that’s been going on in the other DC books I have had Legends on the back burner, but after reading this issue there is no way it is going to stay there. Legends for me is simply the best of the Bat books out there at the moment and I cannot recommend it higher, it comes out in digital format weekly then is printed in paper form toward the end of the month which is how I get it. The beauty of this book is that the story’s tend to be one shot and don’t tie into present continuity some don’t even tie in to any continuity, so you can pick up any issue and not feel lost as the story your reading may have happened or they may not have, after all they are just Legends.

Sunday, 4 August 2013

The Rocketteer & Spirt #1, Pulp Friction

In a cold Central City councilman Alderman Cunningham is arguing against TV rights going to private enterprise, unfortunately his passionate pleas fall on deaf ears and as he leaves  the council chambers he indicates that the debate may be over but his campaign isn't.

The next morning during a sea front photo shoot three thousand miles from Central City the councilman is found dead, the model that stumbles across the dead councilman is none other than Betty the model girlfriend of Cliff Secord The Rocketeer (never a dull moment with that girl). The councilman's death prompts both police commissioner Dolan and The Sprit to fly across country to investigate, they are joined on their trip by the commissioner's daughter Ellen who has hopes of seeing someone famous while in Hollywood. Unknown to any of them the air field they are to fly into is the one where the Rocketeer works, and when 3 strangers one who is masked emerge from a plane looking for the woman who found the dead body of the councilman, alarms bells begin to ring for Peev the Rocketeers engineer. 

Insert your normal hero against hero battle as the Rocketeer try's to stop the car carrying the Spirit, the commissioner and his daughter as it makes its way to his girlfriends home, a battle that involves the Sprit  taking on the Rocketeer in mid flight its all good stuff and takes me back to the fun days of comics.

The twist is that Peev and the commissioner both know each other they are old war buddies its friendship that helps stop the Spirit & Rocketeer knocking lumps out of each other, so its off to Bettys (not the tea shop) to talk to her about the dead councilman.  Betty has been laid up in bed with the shock of finding a dead body (drama queen) refusing to answer her door to anyone, however on hearing a strangers voice at her door she is happy to open it and fall into the arms of the Sprit barley able to stand with all that she as seen (as I said drama queen). From the look on Ellen's face I cannot see her staying in the Spirits arms for too long, and I suspect the interaction between Betty and Ellen may be just one of the many joys this book has to offer.

I went into this story a little unsure as I don't have any history with the Spirit and I didn't want that lack of unfamiliarity to spoil my enjoyment, well it didn't the story written by Mark Waid is a total joy one of the best starts to a Rocketeer story I have read this year. and I've enjoyed all of them so far. Any lack of knowledge I had about the Spirit is handled on the inside cover in around 5 lines and gave me all I needed know, the art by Paul Smith is a good fit for the story along with the colouring of Jordie Bellaire who's colours set the pulp fell that runs throughout the book.

If you haven't picked this book up yet do yourself a favour and do so it a good fun book with a great story line featuring two fantastic characters, I cannot recommend it any more than that other than to say it has raised my interest in the Spirit and I will be checking out some of his past story lines, any pointers on what to check out would be appreciated.