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Rebirth #1 Review

(Note: Like my “Road to Rebirth” post, this was supposed to come out the week of May 25th, as I wrote the first draft of this immediately after reading Rebirth #1. But, life took over my plans so it’s coming out today instead, but written as if it was immediately after)

My mind’s still trying to process everything about Rebirth—my feelings, the plot, the ramifications, the revelations, how amazing it was/is…. I’m sort of left a little speechless; it’s taken me a while to try to put my thoughts into words, partly because of how insanely excited I was.

Just to get it out of the way: Rebirth definitely met and even exceeded my expectations. That on its own is pretty incredible because of my level of expectation/excitement, and I’m still trying to process how that was possible.

As a super quick non-spoiler review: 10/10 if you want a number rating, incredibly amazing and fully enjoyable—just makes me so excited for the future of the DCU. I literally cannot wait to read every single comic coming out of this.

But there’s really no way to talk about this without spoilers, so click away if you haven’t read it. And let me just say, this is DEFINITELY a book you don’t want spoiled (which, just a quick aside, it’s really sad how it was spoiled early—this is why we can’t have nice things).

So, Spoilers Ahead!

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First off, it’s incredible this even got made. The whole story is a not-so-well-hidden apology, in a way, for the New 52. Now, as a fairly new fan of comics I actually really liked the New 52 at first as it was a good jumping on point, and as a fan of comic films/TV shows the N52 was definitely familiar, which made it easier to jump in. What I’ve begun to notice, though, like the narrator of Rebirth, “There’s something missing.” I didn’t realize for a long time all the history, legacy, hope, and brightness that was missing from the New 52, and once I started to realize that, I definitely missed it. And so it’s amazing that Johns was able to apologize for all that, in a way—it puts so much faith and good will towards DC again.

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Rebirth started as the book that I didn’t know I wanted and needed, but turned into really cementing itself into what I’ve needed my whole life. I’ve needed that history and legacy back (even if I didn’t know that until now), and I’ve needed to experience all of that history long before now, and this gives that to me. The whole comic is an incredibly meta story talking frankly about what’s missing from the DCU since the N52 and what’s needed in the universe going forward. And that’s amazing.

I’m going to be using words like “amazing, incredible, etc.” a lot, but that’s because I’m still just too giddy to say it any other way. And what’s also amazing is, despite all history contained within the story, it’s still very accessible. I, a fairly new fan and not having read any of the Crises, or Flashpoint, etc., understood most of what was contained in the story. And what I didn’t understand didn’t damper my enjoyment. And it’s even more accessible than that: my girlfriend, for example, really enjoys comics, but hasn’t read many and isn’t into them as much as I am. As the biggest example, she hasn’t even read Watchmen, and as such didn’t understand all the ramifications from that storyline. Yet, she loved Rebirth before she knew anything about the revelation. She actually read it before me in the car as I was driving, and watching her reactions (she was careful not to spoil anything) was amazing—something this dense and rich made sense to someone who is very unfamiliar with the bigger picture, and not just made since, but allowed her to love it. That’s amazing.

I just remember that as soon as she finished she had a huge smile and said how she wanted to read all the new comics coming out of Rebirth (I was already going to get at least every single #1, but she wasn’t really excited to read any of them particularly). Which is really, really incredible. That’s how much hope and heart Johns injected into the story: even “new” readers like my girlfriend were super excited to read more. That honestly boggles my mind how he was able to do that, as I’ve heard experienced readers had a similar reaction in terms of their enjoyment and love.

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And I can say that, for myself, it definitely had a similar effect. I was really looking forward to all the comics coming out of Rebirth and already planning to buy all the #1s. But a lot of that was because I wanted to get more into the DCU and just try out everything to see what I liked, as I did with Marvel’s All-New, All Different reboot. And that’s definitely still true, but I also just can’t wait to read all of them, not just to experience everything, but because how excited Rebirth #1 made me about reading everything, just like it did to my girlfriend.

I also mentioned in my anticipation post that I haven’t read any of the Crises before, but that I’ve always been wanting to dive into the history of DC but felt pressured because of how much there was, and now Rebirth allows for that to happen without any pressure. I’m so, so excited for the future of the DCU, but I’m also really excited for the past. It was hard trying to get into it just because of how much history there is and not knowing where to start, but now I can just slowly make my way through it cause I have the Rebirth “universe” (which is, thankfully, the same universe) to dive head-first into, and the past to dive into with no pressure and at my own pace.

Which is, again, the great thing about this comic. It seems to be equally for new and old fans alike, and everyone in between, and actually works for all of those demographics, unlike many comics that try to. It gives old fans something to look forward to again, and new fans something to latch onto that allows them to look forward to both the future and past. I can’t wait to go back to that past now, and it’s no longer daunting thanks to what’s coming soon that sates my immediate desire.

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Now, of course we have to talk about all the revelations and ramifications. I’ll start with the Watchmen tie-in, because it’s brilliant. I really should have realized it sooner—the first page with Watchmen-esque panels, the watch faces, the way Pandora dies, etc.—but I didn’t, and I love that. I even saw a picture of Dr. Manhattan in a spoiler article by accident but wrote it off as something completely unrelated so I was still surprised when I read it. I really do think the Dr. Manhattan tie-in was a great choice, as it really, really works in my opinion. I just hope that he doesn’t show up again all the time unless Johns continues the story, as I think it should really be a one-time only thing, rather than bringing him into every series or something.

Again, I think it works cause of how Watchmen ended, and how you really need someone like Dr. Manhattan whose literally more powerful than everyone—and someone who’s just interested in manipulating life. Again, I hope they keep him mostly out of the world unless Johns does a mini-series concluding it, as I think Dr. Manhattan would work best that way. He manipulated the world, and now we get to see the “truth” and the slow realization of the old word—that’s enough. And it’s great how Johns explained the N52 in the plot itself. It actually makes me much more okay with the N52 because I like the idea of how it’s an altered universe due to Dr. Manhattan’s tinkering.

What I also love is the fear Rebirth gives me in regards to Batman—Dr. Manhattan was obliterating everyone who knew about him, and now Batman found the pin, putting Batman’s own life at risk. That, coupled with the Joker revelation makes me just incredibly excited for the future of Batman, even if it’s not addressed any time soon. And the references to the Justice Society, various legacy characters, etc. was also great for reasons mentioned earlier—it brings back the great history of DC.

The writing in general is great as well. I’ve always enjoyed Johns’ work, and if this is to be a (at least temporary) swan-song for him, it’s a great way to go out with all of the heart and brightness and promise seeped into this issue, even while dealing with a very serious and (literally) world-changing event. Like Wally said, “I hope…but it’s getting harder to.” It was getting harder to hope in the N52 universe, “There’s something missing,” but Johns brought that missing piece back. In Geoff Johns I trust—let’s hope he can have the same effect on the films as he did to the comics (and, of course, let’s hope the comics actually follow his lead and live up to what he promised [edit: having read the first week’s releases of Batman, Superman, Green Lantern, and Green Arrow Rebirths, I can say that so far that definitely seems to be the case]).

So what this all does is allow DC to bring back all that was missing from the N52—while giving a very viable “in-story” reason. Rebirth #1 brings hope back into the DCU, and it’s glorious. I’ve actually always loved darker stories, but I also don’t think that has to be the case for every character—leave the brooding to Batman/etc., and bring hope back—and that’s what they did. I mean, the whole point of Watchmen is that superheroes wouldn’t work in the real world and it would be incredibly dark. But the DC universe is a better universe, so why not let it be better.

And so, overall, it just does the most important thing of all: makes me so incredibly excited to read all the comics in this new, brighter, history-backed future with all of their amazing characters.

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The Road to DC’s Rebirth #1: How I Got into Comics

First off, as an editorial note, this was supposed to come out on the 24th, as that’s when I initially wrote it, but with finals looming and work busy, I wasn’t able to put it out until now (so it will be written as if Rebirth hasn’t come out yet). Also, most of this post was meant to just be an intro to my excitement for DC Universe: Rebirth #1, but instead became far too long that I could no longer call it an intro. Instead, this is How I Got into Comics, also explaining my excitement for Rebirth #1 and my love of comics and DC in general (I will be adding a review of Rebirth #1 soon; it was also mostly written last Wednesday immediately after reading the comic, but I just haven’t had time to finalize it).

So, without further ado:

I love comics. And when I say love I mean really, really love to the point of comics being one of the most important things in my life, even if that seems weird—it’s true. And it’s more interesting to think of how short I’ve been a fan, only about a couple years now. I feel like they’re something I’ve wanted all my life and after finally experiencing them, just fell in love. But before I talk about comics specifically, I have to go back a little bit.

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I’ve been a nerd pretty much my whole life, in one way or another. I simply didn’t 18tolkienpic-superjumbocompletely accept and embrace that until I got to college. Part of that comes from being homeschooled and as such incredibly shy and introverted with few friends (and some other more personal reasons), so for most of high school I really just wanted to fit in, and sort of buried my nerdiness. But as long as I remember I’ve loved “nerdy” things. I was introduced to LOTR at a young age, and that remains my favorite book/film trilogy, and Tolkien is still my all-time favorite author. LOTR has just had a huge influence on me in general, as that was and is one of the most important things in my life—again, as weird as that sounds. But in relation to this post, it was one of the first “nerdy” things that I became incredibly obsessed with and excited about, shaping my entire life.

The next biggest “nerdy thing” I also fell in love with was Batman.  I actually never experienced him when I was really young—I never saw the ’89 film or the animated series or anything. My first introduction was with Batman Begins, probably about a year or two after it came out (really it was once I was deemed “old enough” to see it by my parents). I fell in love immediately, and I must’ve watched it a hundred times before The Dark Knight came out just a little while later (which was my freshman year of high school—I barely saw movies back then but convinced my dad to take me to TDK). And oh man was TDK amazing—again, a film I’ve probably seen a hundred times since, as it never gets old to me  (and it’s actually the first film I remember seeing in theaters, without thinking too hard about it; I know I’d seen others, but that’s the first memorable one).

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Now, when The Dark Knight Rises came out I was fully a Batman fan, even if I wasn’t yet into comics (in my opinion, because of how much that character meant to me—I get there’ll be people who’ll say I wasn’t a true fan, but I’d argue that I was because of the level of passion, even if I only had this one set of films). I loved Batman, and was completely obsessed, and even though I still only had the Nolan films at this time, I honestly really, really loved Batman. So when The Dark Knight Rises was coming out, I was insanely excited. To this day it remains the best theater/film experience I’ve never had, including the build up to it as well as seeing the film itself.

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I was so excited for this movie. It’s hard to even illustrate how excited I was. Part of it was also my love of Nolan, as Inception was another of the only theater experiences I remember before I really started getting into film, and that film too had a big effect on me. I still remember when, almost a year before TDKR came out, the first teaser was posted that was mostly footage from Batman Begins. And I went crazy just over that. Then the actual trailers came, and the same happened. I watched every trailer dozens of times, and also hunted down every TV spot. I pre-ordered tickets to an IMAX showing and just couldn’t wait. When it came to the actual film experience, I also was insanely satisfied. I remember standing in line, sitting in the actual theater…I bought a shirt they were selling before the film began, and I was just ready.

the-dark-knight-rises-imax-posterAnd I loved the film. I honestly thought it was perfect, and no one could tell me differently. It was also my first IMAX experience, and that itself was an incredible event. The second time I saw it, again I thought it was “the greatest movie ever.” It wasn’t until the third viewing (and the many subsequent ones) that I started to realize, yeah, it did have some flaws. And sure, it does, and it’s not perfect, but I still really, really love that movie, and I think it’s really just my love of Batman that initially clouded my judgement (similarly, I also really enjoyed Batman v Superman because of Batman and Wonder Woman, even though just after I came out of the theater the first time I had a bunch of other problems with it right away—but again, the movie seemed a lot better to me because of Batman [and Wonder Woman, in BvS’s case]).

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So that’s my background for my love of Batman. But I still wasn’t into comics yet when TDKR came out.

960145Though, despite what I just said, I do have to mention how I was actually technically a comic fan for a long time, and that’s because of the comics for the LEGO line Bionicle. They published free comics with the LEGO magazine, and I loved them. I guess I never realized just how much was possible with comics because I loved those ones but never sought out more. I was a huge fan of the toy line Bionicle and of LEGO in general, and even wrote my own fanfiction. It sounds silly but with the books and comics, Bionicle actually had a fairly rich mythology for a kid’s toy line. And I loved it. It’s what got me into writing, it was another factor of my nerdiness, and the comics probably helped my “hidden” love of comics in general.

My first introduction to mainstream comics, however, was in the spring of 2013 when I the-walking-dead-amce28099s-original-soundtrack-vol-1-covertook a Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror literature class where we read the first volume of The Walking Dead. Now, I really enjoyed it, but I still never sought out more immediately, and I’m not completely sure why. I know part of it was simply that I had started obsessing about reading books a couple years earlier (I had always loved to read, but became obsessed junior year of high school), and there were so many books I still wanted to read (and I mean, there still are), that I couldn’t possibly try to get into comics. But, that didn’t last long. About a year later I was just hungry for more Batman, no longer having the promise of TDKR or another Batman film coming soon to tide me over, and I was recommended to read Hush, by Loeb and Lee.

batmanhushMan, Hush is amazing, and possibly the best choice as an intro to Batman comics for a Batman fan. I’ve actually still only read it the one time, but it had such an effect on me, and still affects me (I hope to write a review of it at some point soonish). I also read The Killing Joke, Batman: Year One, The Dark Knight Returns, The Sandman, Vol 1: Preludes and Nocturnes, and a couple others, all at about the same time (January and early spring 2014). But I still wasn’t getting super into comics yet. I read the handful of famous graphic novels I just mentioned and that was basically it, even though I really enjoyed most of them (I did not really like TDKR the first time I read it, but that’s a story for another time—I did, however, love all of the others). At least, that was it until Free Comic Book Day 2014.

 

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I had been meeting with a group of friends every Saturday to write, and for FCBD we decided to go to a comic store together (which is another reason I hadn’t gotten into comics earlier—I was sort of afraid/daunted to go into a comic store alone and with little-to-no knowledge). But that FCBD was amazing. I don’t even remember what the free comics were (edit: after longer consideration, there was a Rocket Raccoon one by Scottie Young [which also helped 614qfaigial-_sx323_bo1204203200_me get into comics—more on that later], Guardians of the Galaxy, and some other stuff that I really just don’t remember), but I do remember that I picked up a couple other things: 1) the first three or four issues of Sandman: Overture, as I was a huge fan of Gaiman’s prose work, loved Sandman, Vol 1, had heard about this comic, and kind of came across it unexpectedly while just browsing; 2) the first two TPB volumes of Batman by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo.

Thus, me as a comic fan was born.

I mean, basically. I’ve mentioned before how much I love Snyder and Capullo, and how sandman-00much they’ve meant to me, and it’s really true. It wasn’t the first comic or graphic novel that I read, but after picking up Vols 1&2 of their Batman run when I immediately needed more and was hooked. I bought the other volumes shortly after and started collecting the single issues. Which, I do have to go back to Sandman: Overture because that, too, had a big influence just in terms of me collecting single issues, as they were the first single issues I ever purchased.

So, Batman, Sandman: Overture, and Rocket Raccoon were the first comics I added to my pull list, and I’ve never looked back—all three of those series remain some of my all-time favorite series, and I think the fact that they were the first three I started collecting really influenced me, as I became hooked on all of them (all three of which are incredibly different from one another, showing me how amazing comics can be in so many different ways).

I’ve become obsessed with comics since then, trying to collect as many as possible and dive head-first into Marvel, DC, Image, and more. And it’s been a hard and slow immersion, but I’ve loved every second. My proudest moment so far was finally getting every single Snyder/Capullo Batman comic (i.e. the single issues) less than a year after I started, thanks to back-issue bins at various comic shops, ebay, and used bookstores.

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My current collection of Snyder/Capullo’s Run, #0-52 (minus doubles, variants [except for #1, which I only have the variant of], and specials like director’s cuts, etc. which I left out of this picture)

So I was now a comic fan. A new one, but a fan nonetheless.

But let’s get back to diving into Marvel and DC. Man, it’s hard, confusing, and not cheap. But all worth it to me. I’ve still barely scratched the surface, but I’m leagues ahead of where I was at the beginning.

Which, to talk about DC specifically, I actually loved the New 52 at first, because it was a hard reboot only a couple years before I got into comics, meaning I could more easily jump on board, which was great. The problem was trying to get into pre-New 52 stuff, which was just as daunting as all of Marvel was. I also fairly recently realized that I read a lot of the great books of the New 52, so it seemed that the whole New 52 was amazing until I realized those were the only good titles (not to mention all of the negative ways they portrayed some of their characters and ruined histories in an overall sense). So again I started feeling lost, trying to figure out all the pre-New 52 crises, etc. (which I still haven’t touched).

But let’s jump to Marvel for a second. It was equally hard and equally easy to get into Marvel, and I had some of the same experiences. I found a few great current titles (like Hawkeye by Matt Fraction, Rocket Raccoon, etc.) and stuck with them. All this time it was still incredibly slow going for both Marvel and DC because of all there was. And each had their own advantages: Marvel had their films that I absolutely loved, making me want to learn and read more because of that, whereas DC had Batman, who, as I’ve already established, I was obsessed with.

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But then came Secret Wars for Marvel, which was amazing. More importantly, maybe, were all the new series that came with it, as I was able to immerse myself in the current stories, and that was great. After Secret Wars came the All-New, All-Different line which was also pretty great, especially because my comic shop offered every #1 for half off, so I picked up most of them just to experience everything. And that was great—I plan to pick up the TPBs of a few of their titles (X-23, Iron Man, Daredevil, Amazing Spider-Man, Vision, etc.), which was exactly the reason for picking up all of the #1s. It gave me a great place to start. The only problem was that, even with the rebooted universe, I was still finding it hard to stay caught up because of how many titles and characters there are. Plus, I still wanted to get into more past Marvel books, and jumping into that world was also daunting. Which all meant I needed to really concentrate more and dedicate more time (which sounds like a negative thing when I put it like that, but I mean that positively, as I love concentrating on comics and trying to dive in head-first).

“Unfortunately” (depending on your point of view), I just realized I’m more of a DC fan. Now don’t get me wrong, I really, really love Marvel, but I just wanted to get into DC more. Both DC and Marvel would require an incredible amount of “work” (again, in a good way), and because of limited time, funds, etc., I could really only focus on one—which I decided would be DC. Which again, probably just goes back to Batman, as most of my nerdiness in general comes from Batman.

I guess another factor is just how crazy the Marvel universe is to me (in a good way), as there’s been so many iterations of every character and just so many different characters period. DC has a lot of characters too, but I guess I’ve just always felt that I’ve known the DC ones better, or can at least grasp them more easily. Marvel just seemed more complicated to me, as even trying to read Spider-Man was hindered by determining which volume one I wanted (though again, DC of course has its own issues in terms of trying to follow along, once again just reaffirming my feeling that I had to focus on just one). So I guess it just came down to the fact that DC has Batman and Wonder Woman, and I want to invest in those two characters more than anything (and, as such, in their universe as well). This isn’t me saying I’m going to stop reading Marvel or anything like that—I love Marvel, and will continue to buy what I can, especially the current comics that I’m more familiar with. But diving into their history and getting fully immersed will have to take the backseat for now.

But, like Marvel, trying to get into DC was incredibly confusing. DC has had an incredibly rich history—a beautiful one—but one hard to get into with limited time/funds. All of the crises and worlds and everything just left me really wondering what to do and where to start.

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Enter DC Rebirth.

Like I said, at first I loved the New 52 because it was perfect for a new fan like me. But after a while and expanding my reading, I started to realize and understand why so many people didn’t like it. Yeah, some of the line is amazing—most of what I read—but besides those few, overall there were a lot of problems, and problems with the world as a whole, too. Which put me back to square one: I shouldn’t just stick to the New 52 because there’s so much better outside of it. But if not the New 52, where to start?

Thankfully, Rebirth solves that problem. Where to start? Rebirth. It’s hard to even begin to describe how excited I am for Rebirth, and for a number of reasons. First and foremost, like I said, it gives me a place to start with the whole DC universe. A whole slew of #1s, and not just weirdly-timed/planned #1s like the “DC You” was doing, but instead what seems to be a unified rebirth of their characters/universe that takes it back to its roots. And it’s not a reboot, so it’s not ignoring all of the history that I’m trying to get in to.

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Which leads into my next point: I love Geoff Johns, and he really does seem to be leading the charge here, having sat down with all of the creative teams. This whole event is something incredibly important to him (I mean, just the name for one thing when taken with his previous series). And it shows. His passion for this makes me excited, as he seems to really understand and love the DCU, and his own Flash and Green Lantern Rebirths were fantastic and did amazing things to those characters, bringing them back to their DCU glory (something that even I, a fairly new comic reader, saw while reading those even though there wasn’t a huge impact for me—I still realized that there was a huge significance to those stories).

Next, I really like the twice-monthly schedule, as I want to dive head-first into new series that I love, and this allows for that. There’s also the creative teams to consider, and a lot of them make a lot of sense or at least are really intriguing. By far I am, of course, most excited for Scott Snyder’s All-Star Batman with his team of artists. I’ve always loved his original villains and his take on classic villains, so him spending time on various Batman villains is amazing. I love that two-face was his first choice because he never touched on the character during his New 52 run in a major way like he had with Riddler and Joker. I also love the rotating team of artists, hopefully each one being tied to a specific villain, but we’ll see how it works out. I have to say I’m most excited for Jock, as he’s quickly become one of my all-time favorite artists with Wytches, Detective Comics, Green Arrow: Year One, etc. Just his one-shot of Batman #44 was amazing, and worked perfectly because it was a different moment in the timeline so it didn’t distract from the current time-period that Capullo was drawing.

At a close second, though, is Wonder Woman. I loved what I read of Azzarello’s run, and had just decided to start collecting in single issues when the Finches took over because it was a new story arc, and…man, I tried so hard to love it, because the art was great and I loved her new costume. But it really just wasn’t great. Ah, well.

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But enter Greg Rucka, who had a very well-acclaimed run on Wonder Woman (that I haven’t read, but can’t wait to go back to, especially with the new editions being released), and I love his idea of doing half Year One and half present day. This really makes use of the double-artist team extremely well, and it will be great for WW to have her own “Year One” story.

The main Batman series sounds great because of Tom King, and Detective Comics sounds really fun as well, with Batwoman and Batman running a “school” of sorts for the Bat-family. I’m more excited for the regular Batman series because of the creative team, but I’m more excited for the idea behind Detective Comics, as I love the Bat-Family. Trinity also sounds great, and at the least the art will be amazing, and a bunch of other titles have me really excited. There could be a little more variety and diversity, but I like how they’re going back to their core characters (while adding newer ones, like finally having a female Green Lantern, etc.), and having only 30-something series to start makes it easier to jump into. I hope they just keep expanding and diversifying their line.

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Lastly, the early reviews for the Rebirth one-shot have been great. I’ve avoided reading any spoilers, but I like looking just at the general consensus which it seems amazing.

All those things just make me so incredibly excited for Rebirth #1 and the whole Rebirth event as a whole. It just seems so amazing—it’s an easy jumping-on point that also promises to bring DC back to what it was, as Geoff Johns basically apologized for the New 52 in his introduction of the Rebirth Previews magazine. So it’s perfect for me. I know exactly where to plunge right in and it’s not a new, different universe like the New 52 was. I’ve been wanting—needing—to collect DC for a while, but all I’ve been able to do so far is Snyder’s Batman. So, as a new fan I’m so incredibly excited.

But as a fan of DC and its history—not a long-time one or super knowledgeable one, but simply a very passionate one—this is also really exciting. Johns has placed emphasis time and again on using this to go back to the rich history that DC is all about and using that history instead of ignoring it. And this Rebirth just makes me even more excited to go back to that expansive history and experience that past, particularly what I haven’t yet. There’s no longer any pressure to try to dive right in and figure out exactly how to dive in because I have Rebirth to do that. Instead, I can simply catch up on all the history at my own pace.

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There’s no pressure to get into DC (because I want to do it as fast as possible), because I can get into it through Rebirth while simultaneously slowly going back at my own pace and getting immersed in all of that. Which was the problem for me because I wanted get completely immersed but there was just so much it was always hard to know where to start. I read Flash and Green Lantern Rebirths, for example, and they were great, as I said, and fun, but had no real impact because I hadn’t read what came before, even though I did still appreciate the concept. And this takes off all the pressure and lets me do that at my own pace—I can immerse myself in Rebirth to get into their universe while slowly discovering the past, as now I no longer need to dive in immediately because Rebirth gives me current comics that aren’t the New 52, but rather are comics celebrating DC’s history.

That probably all seems incredibly muddled, so to quickly sum up: Rebirth gives me a current way to dive into DC’s universe and history, taking the pressure off of trying to figure out all of the past as I can just enjoy Rebirth for now and slowly make my way through the past.

The last thing I want to mention is just the cover of Rebirth #1 Special that was revealed. Just the cover is amazing and makes me excited. The Trinity so greatly displayed, Aquaman looking awesome, etc. There’s all the new things it teases, such as the 2 new GLs, particularly the female one. And it’s great how many female characters are prominent (still not as many as I’d like, but such a better ratio that the Justice League has always been, for example), and what that promises for the future, too, with new series like birds of prey, Superwoman, etc.—again, still not enough female-centric series, but a step in the right direction. And, just the set-up and background of the image itself is great. I love the colors and I love how they’re all reaching toward a bright light, with lightning heavily featured… I love it.

And of course, there’s the inside of the Previews book, too. I love how the creators of the various series are creating their own costumes, rather than Jim Lee making all of them, as it seems to promise at least slightly more creative control. And revealing all the creative teams and synopses makes me simply unable to wait. I’ve flipped through that Previews magazine dozens of time, so incredibly hungry for them to all finally come out.

That’s how excited I am. Just the promo image would’ve been enough, but everything else just adds to it and makes me incredibly giddy. I’m counting down the hours until tomorrow.

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Wonder Woman: Earth One, Volume One – Review

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I love Wonder Woman. However, because I am fairly new to the comic book world, as well as because of limited funds and whatnot, I unfortunately haven’t read as much Wonder Woman as I’d like. But after seeing Batman v Superman, I really re-fell in love with her. I was disappointed with a lot of the film, but Wonder Woman’s treatment was extremely well-done, and just got me insanely excited for her solo film (same with Affleck’s Batman). It also made me want to immediately re-read Wonder Woman comics I had already read, and get more comics that I hadn’t.

After finding out a year plus ago that Grant Morrison was writing an Earth One book featuring Wonder Woman, I was excited. And when I found out it was coming out shortly after BvS, I simply couldn’t wait because of how much I just loved Wonder Woman in the film.

So, super hyped up for a new Wonder Woman book? Check. A Grant Morrison book, no less? Check. A self-contained story because it’s in the Earth One universe? Check. Art from someone as great as Yannick Paquette? Check. Coming out at the perfect time when I’m already more hyped about Wonder Woman than usual? Check.

To say I was excited would be an understatement. And, as such, I had extremely high expectations.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t the greatest comic ever like I had hoped. Instead, it was just pretty good.

In terms of technical details it was really good. Morrison knows how to write a story, and he showed that once again here. Paquette is a great artist, and he too showed that here. So from purely a technical standpoint, it was great.

However, some of the details didn’t work for me. In terms of writing, there were a few parts that seemed a bit heavy-handed to me. As if Morrison was timperator-furiosarying create a very showy, super feminist book, rather than just writing a feminist story. Now maybe that’s just me, but I think it’s better writing when there’s female character and the writer doesn’t scream at you “hey I’m a strong female character.” Just let Wonder Woman be Wonder Woman, who is a strong female character. This is something done perfectly in Mad Max: Fury Road, I think. It features an incredibly strong female character but it doesn’t have to yell at you to point it out—she simply is a great character.

Which, I do have to mention, despite what I just said, Wonder Woman’s characterization here is near perfect. I’ve always loved her character, and this book was no exception; in the end, it definitely got me excited for the next chapter after being introduced to this version of her, as I can’t wait to see her in action after the end of this story.

There were a few other parts of the story I just didn’t care for either—the culture of Wonder Woman’s people felt a bit forced sometimes instead of being natural, and her “adapting” to the English language was downright cheesy at times.

And there were also some art issues I had. Now, as I said, Paquette is an aww-e1-pg3mazing artist, but as is almost always the case with Wonder Woman, I didn’t like the way she was drawn (the exception being Cliff Chiang who I think did it very well, as well as one of the more recent runs with David Finch drawing her re-designed costume). Now I get that Diana herself wouldn’t care (nor does she really need much protection of any kind, just like Superman doesn’t), so it “shouldn’t” matter, but the unfortunate fact is that it does—because our world has been objectifying and sexualizing women forever, and this comic, unfortunately, continues that, at least IMO. I just wish that she could be the amazing character she is without being drawn in ways that amplifies certain parts of her body, because of how much women are objectified still today.

As I mentioned, I really like the way Chiang drew her, and I also love her BvS costume, as I don’t think either are objectifying, even though they’re still obviously her costume. I just wish more people could follow their lead, including Paquette/Morrison in this book.

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Otherwise, in terms of art, it was very well done. As I said, Paquette is an amazing artist and he always has a great artistic relationship with colorist Nathan Fairbairn, both of whom always deliver together a book that’s very nice to look at.

Overall, it was simply not as amazing as I was expecting (though to be fair I had incredibly high expectations), but it did make me very excited for the next book in the series, which I suppose is far more positive than negative, even with the problems I had.

Batman, Vol. 9: Superheavy, Part 2 Review

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Includes spoilers for Batman: Endgame and minor spoilers for Superheavy, Part 1.

Superheavy part 2 concludes the controversial story arc of Snyder and Capullo’s run wherein Jim Gordon takes up the mantle of Batman, all city-sanctioned. I honestly never thought I wanted to see Commissioner Gordon as Batman, but the way Snyder and Capullo told the story was fantastic, with an epic finale fitting of a run so grand.

Because Jim Gordon is very involved with the justice system, this creates an incredibly interesting dichotomy to the classic Batman, who has mostly always worked outside the law, though with a relationship with it (specifically, Gordon himself). Now, with Gordon as Batman, he must have a relationship with himself, persay, as a law man. This requires him to constantly question who and what Batman is and should be, giving him an entirely different perspective on the symbol.

Which, on the subject of Gordon becoming Batman, the “Superheavy” arc compliments Snyder and Capullo’s previous runs so well. Because of the world they have created, Gordon is the logical choice for taking over (as Dick Grayson, for example, was never a huge part of this series—plus, of course, the want to do something different), and while I was a tiny bit skeptical at first, I knew trusting in Snyder/Capullo would never be a bad choice. “Endgame”, particularly the last issue, delivered for me one of the most moving, most amazing moments in comic history. Those two characters dying in such a fantastically brutal way, made such an impact that going anywhere would have been difficult, especially choosing someone like Gordon taking over. I think they handled it very smartly by almost immediately showing Bruce alive—after all, no one (for the most part) stays dead for long in comics, so why build up a mystery that would only disappoint in the end if it was built up so much only to lead to what everyone expected? And, while a side story to the main action of Gordon as Batman, Bruce’s storyline is interesting and never drags down the main story.

And the main story itself is fantastic. As I said, Gordon as Batman really is fascinating to watch, and while he does a good enough job for a while, with a villain like Mr. Bloom Snyder and Capullo show that no one besides Bruce can stay Batman for long.

Snyder has always delivered amazing villains, but I’ve particularly loved his new, original creations, such as the Court of Owls and this villain, Mr. Bloom. In short, Mr. Bloom is amazingly horrifying, in many ways thanks to Capullo’s art. Bloom himself really does become like a weed in Gotham that cannot be exterminated, his whole body like murderous roots refusing to relent their grips and torments on the “garden” of Gotham City.

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Which, I really have to pause to just praise the art. I’ve said it before, but Greg Capullo is honestly perfect for Batman, especially with Snyder. With this universe he and Snyder have created, he simply cannot be replaced. This is proven in issue #49 where Yanick Paquette takes over the art duty. Now don’t get me wrong, Paquette is an amazing, amazing artist (and also works extremely well with Snyder, as seen with their run on Swamp Thing), and he does a fantastic job with the issue. It’s beautifully drawn and a pleasure to look at.

That said, it’s also jarring and takes you out of the book, at least in my opinion (and again, at no fault of Paquette). It simply removes the reader from the world of Snyder and Capullo’s Batman, which is equally theirs together, and only works with other creators for side stories (such as the back-up stories in previous arcs, and issue #44 that I’ll mention later). I realize this was somewhat necessary, but I’d rather have waited another month or two so that Capullo would be able to do it, especially since it’s the penultimate episode of the storyline. Because of the way it does slightly take you out of the story (at least, just at first), this really is the only negative I have with the whole arc, which says a lot because this is only a negative in terms of preference and my want of Snyder and Capullo to be mostly alone for their issues, especially for the final arc these two masters have created.

That said, on the other hand you have issue #44, as I mentioned, where the change in artist did work in my opinion when Jock took over. Not because Jock is a better artist than Paquette (they’re both so amazing but also so incomparable because of how they differ [though I will admit that personally speaking, I do prefer Jock’s art, but that’s not the reason for my argument here]), but because of what the issue was: a flashback, not a chronological part of the story. This worked perfectly because the change of art cemented the idea of a different Gotham City, which in turn worked perfectly with the story at hand.

But, back to Capullo, he’s fantastic at everything he does with Batman, especially the more horror-esque moments. Mr. Bloom is terrifying, and while some credit of course must be given to Snyder, he would not work nearly as well without Capullo, which is really what makes comics so great—I said this in the review of their Absolute Court of Owls: this is what comics can and should be. The writer and artist are supposed to be able to work so well together that one without the other wouldn’t work as well, and together they simply enhance each other. That describes Snyder and Capullo perfectly.

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What’s particularly incredible to me is that it seems as if Capullo can do anything. Just thinking back on everything he’s drawn through their entire run on Batman, it’s insane to me realizing that whatever Snyder asks, Capullo can deliver. Especially with the villains.

Whether it was with the Court of Owls, the Joker, or with Mr. Bloom in this volume, Capullo has always gone above and beyond with his truly terrifying villains, while at the same time he does a perfect job with lighter moments, and creating trustworthy-looking characters.

One example that includes a slight spoiler: When we see Bruce talking to (we assume) the Joker in the park, it may be some of the most fantastic work that Capullo has ever done, specifically because of the subtlety: the Joker looks completely harmless and honest, yet there is just a tiny hint of a smile—of something more—that clues the reader in to his true identity (and of course, the facial structure that we’ve come to know through Death of the Family, Endgame, etc.). Which, on this note, all the moments with the Joker were fantastic, as Snyder and Capullo just hinted at things without ever actually fully revealing anything, which just really lent itself nicely to the comic as a whole and to the tone they set with Endgame, and never slowed down the main story.

batman-41-preview-1Continuing with the art, the colors as always were fantastic. FCO Plascencia is without a doubt my favorite colorist, and this comic is why. So often there’s incredibly bright, beautiful colors (bright purples and pinks, for example) that would seem to be very out of place in a Batman story—especially one as dark as Snyder and Capullo make—yet somehow, it fits perfectly and is never jarring in the slightest. Yes, Snyder and Capullo’s work is amazing, but it’s accented so fantastically by Plascencia’s colors that he, too, is a crucial cog in the creative machine, and without his colors, the series would simply not be as good.

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All in all, this is a perfect arc for Snyder, Capullo, & Co. to end on, if their run really had to end. Endgame would have felt too heavy-handed, as if they were trying to really create an “endgame” for their run. Instead, having another arc after Endgame allows them to partially resolve those events while still leaving enough mystery so that the reader is wholly satisfied. What’s fascinating to me is that this might actually be my least favorite arc of theirs, but that’s only because every single issue was so, so amazing. This arc particularly really is nearly perfect, and I think as an ending arc, is the perfect arc to end on, especially while still having one last final issue (#51) for the team to really say goodbye to the fans outside of any story arc constraints. Every loose end is wrapped up just enough to be perfectly satisfying, whereas ending with Endgame wouldn’t have allowed that.

Throughout their run on Batman, and especially in their final arc, Snyder, Capullo, & Co. really show just how superheavy the mantle of Batman is and can be, and how important Batman really is.

I can’t wait to see what they do next together, and I hope DC puts out Absolute editions for the rest of their run besides just Court of Owls, as every arc really deserves it.

Without a doubt, this is one of the comics I can’t recommend enough.

 

Absolute Batman: The Court of Owls Review, by Snyder & Capullo

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This is why I read comics. I could literally hang each and every page of this on my wall, that’s how incredible the art is. And to make the comic even greater, the story definitely matches the art so that you’re constantly struggling whether to quickly glance over the art so you can get more of the story or just forget the story and immerse yourself in the art. Luckily, a mix of both of these options is possible with the Absolute Edition, as both are put on display in this prestige format.

Thanks to books like Watchmen and The Sandman, comics have been realized as being capable of being truly “art.” That said, there’s still definitely a stigma against “normal” superhero comics (i.e. books not so allegorical and symbolic as Watchmen is so amazingly). This comic proves there shouldn’t be that stigma.

Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo must go down in history as one of the greatest writer/artist collaborations in comic history, up there with Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean, Brian Azzarello and Eduard Risso, Jeff Loeb and Tim Sale, et cetera. They’ve created something truly extraordinary here that just seems like it could only be made by these two together.

Now I’ll admit I’m a tiny bit biased because this book is what (partially) got me into comics, but I think that’s more of a testament of how great it really is. Even after reading so many amazing comics since (such as The Sandman, Maus, etc.), my love and appreciation for Snyder/Capullo’s run on Batman as art hasn’t changed. It’s not just a great superhero comic or great Batman story, it’s a great comic. It’s a great piece of art. They show this even more as their run goes on, as they take risks and make choices that would seemingly be crazy choices to make, and one that fans would react negatively to. Yet they pull it off (I’m referring specifically to their “Superheavy” arc here).

But let’s get back to how I started reading comics. There were a few comics that I read before any others: Watchmen, Batman: Hush, and a few others, and while I loved those and appreciated them (I do often consider Hush being one of the most influential books period for me, especially because of how it shaped my love of Batman and comics in general), my love didn’t really take off until I read The Court of Owls. I had read a few great graphic novels and thought maybe that was about it. You hear about comics like Watchmen and Sandman all the time, so I thought maybe those were just more the exception than the norm (not to mention the fact that all of the “great” comics seemed to have come out decades ago). But then I read Court of Owls. While they were already on their fourth or fifth volume by the time I read it, this was still a current, ongoing series. And one that was truly incredible—a current comic that is as good as all those decades-old graphic novels everyone talks about.

That said, Court of Owls is definitely different from more “arthouse pieces” like Watchmen. It is a more “normal” superhero comic, it’s not incredibly heavy on philosophy and thematic weight. Instead, it’s an easily-accessible, fully enjoyable, amazingly-crafted Batman story.

It’s what comics should be.

Not that I’m taking away from things like Watchmen at all—it’s amazing, and it’s also what comics should be—but Court of Owls is just a “regular” superhero comic, yet it’s as amazing as it is. That’s what made me really want to get into comics and read them “religiously” because I realized what comics were capable of doing.

Scott Snyder first showed his amazing skill at writing Batman with his run on Detective Comics, most notably The Black Mirror. Somehow, he managed to top even that when he took over the main Batman title with DC’s New 52 Reboot. Each and every story he’s written has built on the last, even if it’s not immediately apparent. He weaves various storylines through each arc, building a universe that is both familiar (i.e. obviously still Batman, without making any huge changes that would cause fan riots) but at the same time entirely his own.

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Using the Court of Owls as the main villains for his first double-length arc was the perfect choice. Not only did it allow him to set up the New-52 Gotham City by showing an organization that has been deeply embedded in its roots for decades, but it also allowed him to introduce a Batman that is, perhaps for the first time, in truly unfamiliar territory. Bruce no longer knows Gotham the way he thought—the way he knew—he did: there’s a secret organization throughout its entire infrastructure that he knew nothing about. And that unfamiliarity is something that resonates with the reader as a rebooted Batman is begun. And it also allowed Snyder himself to present his unease at writing Bruce Wayne for the first time, as he’s stated in interviews (as Dick Grayson was Batman during his Detective Comics run).

One of my favorite parts of the storyline is at the very beginning when we’re introduced to the rogues gallery and the city as a whole. Snyder really sets up the whole universe perfectly with the opening fight, especially with cementing the idea that “Gotham is Batman.” Not only does Snyder use this effectively, but he proves it throughout the next ten issues.

It opens with a murder and Batman taking a role that he doesn’t often enough: detective. Without giving too much away, the reader follows him along as he investigates and is met with various obstacles until eventually meeting the Court itself. This is one of my favorite things about Snyder’s run (which is now, unfortunately, almost at an end with only one more issue to go), that each of his arcs has a specific “genre” to it, and this one is Mystery.

Perhaps my favorite moment in this arc is chapter five, wherein the mystery is almost personified on the pages itself. I don’t want to give anything away for anyone who hasn’t read it (though it’s been out for five years now), but the art compliments the writing so incredibly well in the way that the art itself becomes another mystery to unfold, and the reader—just as he or she is made unfamiliar by Batman himself being unfamiliar with Gotham—becomes wholly wrapped up in the mystery and confusion that Batman is. I’m honestly not sure if I’ve ever been this close to a character in a comic book, and it’s only due to Snyder and Capullo’s prowess.

Which of course, leads me to the next half of the duo: Greg Capullo. This book would not work without him. It really wouldn’t. There’s many, many fantastic artists who have done incredible work on Batman, but I truly think that there has never been a greater pair than Snyder and Capullo. The one that comes closest to me is Snyder and Jock (especially in their issue #44 flashback, which was perfect because it was a flashback—juxtaposed with issue #49 that took me out of the story a little bit because Yanick Paquette took over for the issue. He’s a fantastic artist, but because it was in the current storyline, it was jarring to have the artist shift without the time period).

Capullo can draw Batman—and he can do it in any scenario. Whether it’s friendly, normal Bruce Wayne or tortured, at-the-end-of-his-ropes Bruce; whether it’s detective Batman, action Batman, etc.—he can do it all.

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Chapter five, as I mentioned before, is so fantastic because of Capullo’s art, and what he does with Snyder’s script. I love how horrifying Capullo can make certain pages or panels, but he can also make beautiful and light-hearted scenes too, all in a style that works together, never drawing the reader out of the story.

As I said in the opening, each and every page could be framed and put on a wall, and I meant it. I really don’t know how he is able to get such perfection in each and every panel, but he does, and with much detail. He’s just as good at full-page or double-page spreads as he is with small, individual panels, and in this Absolute Edition, his work truly shines.

Because of the incredible high-quality of this edition and the larger size of the page, it allows you to really take in every page of art, while still intently following along with the story—and that’s how comics really should be read.

I truly think that every comic should be good enough to deserve such grand treatment, and it’s a shame that that cannot be the case (DC’s Wonder Woman with Azzarello and Chiang, Marvel’s Secret Wars with Hickman and Ribic, etc. are also deserving, for example, but there are many that are not).

But Capullo’s artwork alone is definitely enough to merit this edition, not to mention just how amazing Snyder’s story is.

It would also be incredibly remiss of me to not mention FCO Plascencia’s coloring—he’s honestly my favorite colorist, and his work with Snyder and Capullo is why, especially in the later arcs where he’s allowed to run loose with his colors. However, no matter how bright or colorful Plascencia makes the comic, it always fits perfectly with the story, just as it does here, with many grays and muted colors, adding to the unsettling state of mind the creators want you to be in.

All in all, the Absolute Court of Owls is truly a masterpiece, and one of my all-time favorite graphic novels. If you haven’t read it, go read it—even in just the trade paperback size if necessary—as this is too amazing of a work to not be read, and I honestly believe that it’s up there with Watchmen, The Sandman, and others.

The Absolute Edition, specifically, just enhances Greg Capullo’s amazing artwork, and is definitely worth the price.

Top Ten of 2015 — Graphic Novels

As with my top books, these are the best that I read in 2015 for the first time, not necessarily that were released this year. And man, this was hard, so there’ll be some honorable mentions just because of how many great ones I read.

Top Ten of 2015 — Grpahic Novels

  1. Sandman: Overture, by Neil Gaiman and J.H. Williams III. I’ll sing the praises of it in a minute but I just wanted to say first that I never thought anything published this year (at least in part) could beat Endgame. But then I read this. Talk about art, and if anyone ever doubted that comics can be art, this proves them so utterly wrong. Each and every page was just so gloriously illustrated, and Gaiman’s writing enhances it so much. You could literally sit and look at every single page for five or ten minutes, just taking all of Gaiman’s words in and all of the incredible art by Williams III. While I don’t necessarily dislike it, I was never the biggest fan of the art for the original Sandman series, I think just because it was very much of its time (though revolutionary in its own right) and I didn’t start reading comics till recently. The art for Overture, however, is nothing short of utterly fantastic and simply must be taken in for longer than it takes to read the page. Another thing I love about this is how it’s a prequel, and prequels usually don’t work simply because we know exactly what the end result is, so there’s no tension or anything. Gaiman, however, shows his true skill by making a prequel still completely fascinating and gripping. The only thing is that I would recommend reading the entire Sandman series beforehand, as there’d be a bigger resonance and catharsis that way.
  2. Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader?, by Neil Gaiman. One of the most powerful books I’ve read, for sure. It’s no secret that I’m a huge Batman fan, so sure that has something to do with this, but honestly this book is just written so well. Gaiman is at his best when he plays with fantasy elements, and it’s those supernatural elements that work best here. I liked it so much that I immediately went on eBay and found the single issues simply because I wanted them as part of my comics collection. There’s so many great emotions that come from the plot—if it had truly been the last Batman comic, I would’ve been totally okay with it, as it was such a great finale (though of course then we wouldn’t have Snyder and Capullo’s Batman run, which, speaking of…: )
  3. Endgame, by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo. Oh man, talk about emotions, this was incredible. Snyder & Capullo are by far the best comic team working today. I really can’t say enough good about them, as somehow they keep pulling every storyline and every situation off. With the absolute genius of Court of Owls, I didn’t think they could get better or even match it, but every single volume has been just as good if not better, and Endgame is no exception. In fact, it might actually be my favorite so far, but it’s just so hard to choose. The last chapter of this storyline was especially brutal emotionally, and I’m so glad I decided to start getting them month-to-month (and now I do, I’m proud to say, own every single issue of their run—took me a while to track them all down for a decent price).
  4. Saga, by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples. For this, I’m talking about the beautiful light-blue hardcover collection of the first 3 volumes. And, having Saga be #4 just shows how great this year has been for me comics-wise, because this comic deserves the #1 spot itself. So many people have praised this, and rightly so. I love the richness of the world, and how, like Star Wars, it’s a fantasy story but set in space/different worlds. It held my interest all the way through, and I can’t wait for the next hardcover.
  5. Wytches, by Scott Snyder and Jock. Man, this book is creepy. Another fantastic book from Snyder, and my favorite so far of his non-Batman stuff.
  6. Rio Bravo, by Matt Fraction and David Aja. A really fun read, and a spectacular finale to Fraction’s run of Hawkeye.
  7. Superman Unchained, by Scott Snyder and Jim Lee. First off, the art on this is amazing, especially in the nice Deluxe Hardcover DC published, or the awesome fold-out page in issue #1. And it was really cool seeing Snyder in a completely different type of story, but still just as engaging.
  8. Secret Identity, by Kurt Busiek and Stuart Immonen. Very different from most superhero comics, but really good. What I remember most about it is the art, and how I would just take in the various splash pages for long periods of time—it definitely fit with the overall feel and tone of the book.
  9. Swamp Thing, by Scott Snyder and Yanick Paquette. Another Snyder hit, and a really unexpected one. I kept hearing that Swamp Thing was great, but never really believed it—until I read this.
  10. Aquaman, Vol. 1: The Trench, by Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis. I decided to put this one on here over some of the others just because of how much it surprised me. I never really expected to like Aquaman all that much, but this—and the subsequent volumes—was amazing, and now I can say confidently that I’m definitely a fan of Aquaman.

 

Honorable Mentions:

  • It’s a Magical World, by Bill Watterson. Now, normally this would probably be #1 on my list (or very close to there, at the least). The only reason I made it an honorable mention instead was because I’d read about half or so of this a long time ago (Calvin & Hobbes was my childhood, though this was the only collection my family actually never owned for some reason). But I finally read the whole thing cover to cover and, well, Calvin & Hobbes definitely holds up, it’s just incredible.
  • Harrow County, by Cullen Bunn and Tyler Crook. This really should be on my top ten. I think it’s better than Aquaman, and maybe even some of the others. The only reason I decided to leave it off was because I already have Wytches on there which is similar in tone. Which I know is unfair to Harrow County, but I wanted to feature a bigger variety, hence my stating clearly that this was better than some on the list. But I really did love this. It’s just so creepy and gripping that I couldn’t stop buying the first arc in single issues even though I had just promised myself I would only be getting #1s for the most part because I was buying too much. I’m definitely going to be picking up the subsequent trades.
  • The Wake, by Scott Snyder and Sean Murphy. Another great story from Snyder, and just not on my list because I didn’t like it quite as much as the others, which isn’t a knock on it at all because it was still fantastic, and just shows how great of a writer Snyder is.
  • American Vampire, by Scott Snyder and Rafael Albuquerque. Same as The Wake—I’ve only read vol. 1 so far, but I’ll definitely be picking up and reading the rest.
  • Dark Victory, by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale. Again, just another example of how many great comics I read this year when this doesn’t even make the top ten (though, like Harrow County, it’s probably better than Aquaman and maybe some of the others). I preferred this over Long Halloween, but both are fantastic Batman stories, and of course Sale’s art is amazing.
  • Superior Spider-Man Vol. 1, by Dan Slott and Ryan Stegman. I wasn’t expecting to like this as much as I did, but now I can’t wait to read the rest of the series.
  • Justice League, by Geoff Johns and Jim Lee. Really a fantastic series, and I can’t wait to start reading the Darkseid War once I pick it up in TPB.
  • Wonder Woman, by Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang. Honestly, it was the cover that made me want to read this the most, and the art is definitely fantastic. But I wasn’t expecting to love the story as much as I did. Azzarello proves how great of a writer he is here, and I can’t wait to read the rest of the volumes. I really love all the mythological elements he embraces and threads through the story.

Top Ten of 2015 — Books

A few weeks late and a few dozen dollars short, but…here’s my favorite 10 books of 2015. These are my favorite books that I read for the first time in 2015, as I don’t think any of these were actually released in 2015 besides Trigger Warning. And a last caveat—really the first like 7 of these are all pretty equal, and it was really hard ranking them, so much so that I ultimately half ranked them based on which ones I wanted to read again the soonest, and half of how “good” they were…which made for some odd ranking choices, but oh well.

Top Ten of 2015 – Books

  1. Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline. I really had a blast with this one. It’s not the best book I read, but immediately after finishing it I really wanted to read it again simply because it was so much fun. I cannot wait for the film by Spielberg, who is quite possible the best director alive (I mean, it’s hard to choose when you have people like Scorsese, Fincher, Nolan, etc., but he’s definitely up there). And, ultimately, I can’t wait to read this book again the most.
  2. Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel. I wasn’t expecting to like this as much as I did, but it was really great. I loved how it was a “literary”, if you will, post-apocalyptic story, as really the writing was just beautiful.
  3. Voodoo Heart, by Scott Snyder. I went on a bit of a Scott Snyder craze, as you’ll see with my top Graphic Novels of 2015, but man can this guy write. I was really excited to read his only prose book, and it didn’t disappoint. Each story was incredibly fascinating, and I was really impressed by all of his main characters, none of whom I really particularly liked, but all of whom I just loved reading about.
  4. Trigger Warning, by Neil Gaiman. So I also went on a bit of a Gaiman craze this year, reading almost all of his prose books that I hadn’t read before (if not all of them…mostly his short story collections, which were all great but I enjoyed this one the most, so it gets a spot on this list). Gaiman really is in all probability the best writer working today, whether it be comics or prose. I loved every story here. I also loved the diversity here, with poems and other formats. I’d also just like to mention that I re-read American Gods and, if I counted books that I re-read, this would be #1 on this list, as that book is just amazing (though actually not my favorite Gaiman book, just solidifying how great of a writer he is).
  5. The Martian, by Andy Weir. Similar to Ready Player One, this book was just so much fun to read. And what I loved was how much hard science there was, but I didn’t mind it at all—if anything, it only enhanced the story, whereas often so many scientific details can just bog down a story and make it less enjoyable. I enjoyed the book so much it made the movie one of my most anticipated films.
  6. The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains, by Neil Gaiman. Another Gaiman book on the list, and not the last. I’m not sure whether to consider this a graphic novel or prose—I guess it’s closer to a graphic novel, but I decided to just put it on this list (and, to make up for it, I put a tie as #10, so there’s still 10 completely-prose books on this list). A very short book—and Goodreads tells me this is the shortest book I read in 2015—but really great. I really want to get the audio version, as I’ve heard that’s great as well, but the art was fantastic, and just enhanced the story so much—Gaiman’s great at that collaboration.
  7. The Enchanted, by Rene Denefeld. This should probably be higher on the list except I don’t need to read it again right away, and that’s how I ultimately decided to rank these (though even that’s not accurate, because I want to re-read the #9 book more, I want to re-read my #2 less than #3-6…yeah, I’m not really sure how I ultimately ranked these to be honest, as I loved them all, but I did my best). Anyway, similarly to Station Eleven, I love the way it was written, as well as all the subtle fantastical hints to it. I found out about this book through Erin Morgenstern’s blog (the author of one of my all-time favorite books, The Night Circus), and it didn’t disappoint.
  8. Fight Club, by Chuck Palahniuk. Really good book, though I just can’t help but think how much better it would have been if I had read it before watching the movie. Still, by far my favorite Palahniuk book so far.
  9. Vicious, by V.E. Schwab. Probably the lowest book on this list in just terms of how it’s written, but I was so invested in the story and characters that I really loved it.
  10. Good Omens, by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett; and Mort, by Terry Pratchett. Both of these were just really fun reads, and my first exposure to Pratchett. I’ve since read Reaper Man, and I look forward to reading more Discworld novels.

 

Next up: Top Ten Graphic Novels, after which I hope to start updating this blog more regularly…

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