The following below are the graphic novels or comics I did finished but for one reason or another it wasn’t on my list of exceptional works, hence my delay in reviewing them earlier in 2015. Just for the record there’s many comics and graphic novels that I didn’t finished because it was either not that good of a story or because it was inappropriate. So for me to finish a graphic novel requires a lot, unlike my reading with non-fictions, which I typically can’t stand the idea of not finishing. Also with all my discussions of worldviews, there’s time where the reading was just for enjoyment. I’ve arranged the order of these reviews from what I most enjoyed to the least satisfied.
The Shadow Hero
Gene Yang. The Shadow Hero. New York, NY: First Second, July 15th, 2014. 169 pp.
5 out of 5
It’s hard to find a good graphic novel involving superheroes that has good story telling, original, nice artwork, meaningful and also appropriate and clean that you can really recommend to people of all ages. This is one of them. It is not so childish that it’s beyond adults or teenagers reading them either. I really enjoyed this book and I picked it up to read because of who authored it. This book certainly didn’t disappoint. I love this story about a hero and how it touches on the Chinese American experience: it has reference to Chinese immigrants coming to America, a son who is born in America and raised by traditional Chinese parents in an ethnic enclave of China town in an urban city. Readers of Asian American descent will have a kick and the story is told in such a way that all can follow and appreciate. I like how the author and illustrator also tells us the background to why they told this story and apparently there was a “Green Turtle” superhero during the 1940s that mysteriously died out as much as it mysteriously started. Very fun read and I highly recommend it.
Batman, Volume 4: Zero Year: Secret City
Scott Snyder. Batman, Volume 4: Zero Year: Secret City. New York, NY: DC Comics, May 7th, 2014. 176 pp.
4 out of 5
This story goes back in time before the previous volumes of the New 52 series, in which we read of a young Bruce Wayne still new and discovering his crime-fighting role. Of course eventually Wayne would pick up the Batman theme. Here in this book Batman takes on a mysterious villain known as the “Red Hood One” who has a gang following him and terrorizing Gotham City. A well told story that is epic much to the credit of the writer Scott Snyder who also wrote the first two volume in this new series. Readers should also know that the story continues in volume 5.
Batman, Volume 5: Zero Year: Dark City
Scott Snyder. Batman, Volume 5: Zero Year: Dark City. New York, NY: DC Comics, October 15th, 2014. 176 pp.
4 out of 5
This story from volume 4. Going back into time with a younger Batman that’s just starting out, we find here that Batman’s challenge with the Red Hood gang in the previous volume has evolved into a faceoff with another villain: The Riddler. The Riddler managed to cut off and isolate Gotham City and began an era that the Riddler calls “Zero Year.” True to his character the Riddler has regular games of riddles broadcast with different residents of Gotham City attempting to answer. Batman’s injury left many people think he’s dead but since gaining consciousness Batman tries to save Gotham from the Riddler. One of the more interesting portion of this book is when the US government sends elements of the Navy SEALs Team Six and makes them not as bright compared to Batman. Kind of hard for me to follow that one. Other than that, it is an epic story that is comparable to Batman’s Court of Owls story.
Union Station by Ande Parks, Eduardo Barreto
Ande Parks, Eduardo Barreto. Union Station. Portland, OR: Oni Press, November 4th, 2003. 106 pp.
4 out of 5
This is a nonfiction graphic novel about the FBI shootout at Kansas City, 1933. That event was used by the FBI to expand their agencies in their fight against organized crime; this was the day and age of Public Enemies such as Baby Face Nelson and John Dillinger. I like how well researched this book was for a graphic novel. It even has endnotes and historical citation! The book argues that the FBI blamed Pretty Boy Floyd for the shootout when in actually he wasn’t involved and that the shooting began with an accidental weapons discharged of a shotgun by an law enforcement officer. It’s interesting to see how the FBI director J. Edgar Hoover exploited this event to grow his agency and the official version is filled with a lot of holes. I enjoyed it for it being a graphic novel, a historical work and a mystery of sort.
Batman: Earth One, Volume 1
Geoff Johns. Batman: Earth One, Volume 1. New York, NY: DC Comics, July 10th 2012. 144 pp.
4 out of 5
This is another retelling of Batman’s origin and the first adventure of Batman. I liked this story especially with the new twist of Alfred being not so much a butler in the beginning but as a former Royal Marine who was suppose to be a bodyguard and came to the Wayne Mansion on the night before Bruce Wayne’s parents were murdered. I thought this version of Alfred is better than the one we typically see of Alfred. He’s tough as nail and is more involved with Bruce Wayne becoming Batman. This version of Batman’s beginning is also interesting in that we see other smaller twists such as the Mayor of Gotham resembling the Penguin. I think the story telling is wonderful and the painting is nice.
Batman: Earth One, Volume 2
Geoff Johns. Batman: Earth One, Volume 2. New York, NY: DC Comics, May 12th 2012. 144 pp.
3 out of 5
This is the sequel to Batman Earth One, volume one, which began as another retelling of Batman’s origin and the first adventure of Batman. Here in this volume the Batman takes on the villain known as the Riddler. I enjoyed this story but didn’t think there was anything that made it stand out among other comic books on Batman.
Jonah Hex, Vol. 2: Guns of Vengeance
Justin Gray. Jonah Hex, Vol. 2: Guns of Vengeance. New York, NY: DC Comics, April 7h, 2007. 144 pp.
3 out of 5
During the fall of 2015 I found myself enjoying Jonah Hex, a comicbook character in the Western genre. I like to read Hex like the way my wife like watching Steve McQueen’s TV series “Wanted: Dead or Alive:” It was fun to read of Western adventures of a bounty hunter dealing with different characters and bad guys. I did felt that this particular volume did had more moral dilemmas than the first volume that reveal Jonah Hex is not just a thoughtless killing machine. For instance there is a suspect Hex captured whom he allows to enjoy his own wedding first and the suspect insists that there’s simply a mistake and things will eventually be cleared up. It turns out the guy was innocent but then someone attacked the bridal party. Hex isn’t comfortable with that. Nor was he comfortable with the death of a little girl by one of the suspects Hex was trying to capture that reveal Hex isn’t just a calloused gunslinger. We also see the theme of the mistrust of Mormons during that time period. Hex goes against a group that wanted to hurt them for simply being Mormons. Again, an enjoyable read.
Jonah Hex, Vol. 4: Only the Good Die Young
Justin Gray. Jonah Hex, Vol. 4: Only the Good Die Young. New York, NY: DC Comics, April 29h, 2008. 144 pp.
1 out of 5
Jonah Hex is a bounty hunter operating in the Wild West and when I was say Wild West one should emphasize wild. It seems each volume in the Jonah Hex gets a little darker. I didn’t particularly enjoy this volume as much. There was too much references to saloons and what comes with it.
Batman: The Killing Joke
Alan Moore. Batman: The Killing Joke. New York, NY: DC Comics, December 1st, 1995. 48 pp.
0 out of 5
I purchased this work because it was ranked first on Goodreads’ list of the “Best of Batman.” Some of the glowing reviews this work received was the extra nudged I needed. However after I read this book I was sorely disappointed. Many people rave about the ending but I didn’t find anything profound about it. It’s the much anticipated ending that kept me going otherwise I would have dismissed the book early on. The dark twisted nature of Joker was a little too much for me to be entertained by it. This is hands down the worst Batman comic book I’ve read. I’m writing this to warn more than anything, seeing how popular as reflected on Goodreads.
Christian Reflection: There was nothing redemptive that I can think of for this book. I do not recommend this book.