Book Review: Batman: The Dark Knight Returns

/ Books, Graphic Novels /

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Batman: The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was struggling to get through Connie Willis’ Dooms Day Book so I decided to set it down and take a quick break. What I decided to read, pretty much on a whim, was Frank Miller’s The Dark Night Returns. This was right before The Dark Knight Rises, the final movie in Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, came to theaters, which probably led to my choice.

I had never read a Batman graphic novel. In fact, I really just haven’t read that many graphic novels period. I didn’t know exactly what to expect, just that The Dark Knight Returns was considered one of the greatest graphic novels of all time.

To put it simply, I liked it. In fact, I really liked it. Batman has retired. It’s been eight years (I think) since Bruce Wayne put on the suit–he’s in his 50’s now–and in the meantime, Gotham has gone to hell. Obviously, things escalate to the point that Batman comes out of retirement to set things right.

And he does it with brute force. Miller’s Batman is huge, basically a giant, and insanely menacing. He doesn’t pull any punches, but he has gotten older and he’s not as quick or as strong as he once was. The fight is an intense struggle and he is forced to rely on Robin for support. What’s interesting is that Robin is a teenage girl, which was a surprisingly pleasant spin on the character.

Overall, the story was great and the action was brilliant. I really enjoyed this darker depiction of Batman–it just seems more fitting than some of the goofier takes on the character like the 60’s tv show. It was also interesting to see where Nolan got many of his ideas and inspirations for the movies.

I would recommend The Dark Knight Returns to anyone who has any appreciation for Batman whatsoever, but especially if you like the recent movies. Really great stuff.

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Book Review: Y: The Last Man, Vol. 1: Unmanned

/ Books, Graphic Novels /

Y: The Last Man, Vol. 1: Unmanned Y: The Last Man, Vol. 1: Unmanned by Brian K. Vaughan

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I picked this up right after reading The Dark Knight Returns, because I really enjoyed Miller’s classic and it made me want to read more graphic novels. I had seen Y listed pretty highly on some “top graphic novels” lists and it was in stock at the library so it was an easy choice.

Y: The Last Man follows Yorick and his pet monkey, literally the last two males of any species on the planet. When I grabbed the first volume at the library, I really didn’t know anything about the story when I started in on the first volume, but, right off the bat, I was really drawn in by the premise. Sure, the “last man on earth” concept has been done before, but not in a world that still included the entire female population. It was really very interesting to see what Vaughan imagined would happen in such a scenario.

I also really enjoyed the novel because Vaughan has an excellent sense of humor. I genuinely laughed out loud a couple of times while reading. The first volume was really a lot of fun. Yorick is such a goofball, you can’t help but laugh at his antics and witticisms.

I seriously think I would recommend this to anyone with an inclination towards sci-fi or graphic novels. It really was that entertaining. Five stars for sure.

View all of my Goodread reviews.

Book Review: Watchmen

/ Books, Graphic Novels /

Hey folks! It’s been awhile. I’ve actually been off galavanting in Norway for a couple of weeks. It was amazing and I just didn’t feel the need to update the blog via my Kindle Fire while on vacation. I’m back now so I guess I’ll start posting again, though you should expect it to be pretty sporadic as is typical.

Here’s a review of Alan Moore’s Watchmen, which I read prior to my vacation. This is actually my second review as the first one got lost in vast reaches of the Internet. :( I’m also trying out a slightly different format here. Normally, I just use Goodread’s post to blog feature, tweak ever to slightly, and post. I still used the same feature, but I’ve tweaked it a bit more. I’m still trying to decide if it’s actually any better…

Watchmen

Watchmen by Alan Moore

3 of 5 stars

When I started delving into graphic novels a short time ago, I needed a place to begin so I found a couple of “top graphic novel” lists online. Watchmen was always near the top, literally #1 or #2. So, before long, I decided to dig in, even though I had seen and I didn’t really love the movie.

What I found was that the movie was actually very faithful to the novel. Unfortunately, that didn’t really work out that well for me. I respect a lot of the points that Moore was making with this novel–his commentary on politics, the human condition, and super heroes was pretty insightful. If for no other reason, I’m glad I read the novel for those insights. I just wish that I had enjoyed it more.

For me, Watchmen was, simply put, boring. There was drama, but not a lot of action. I suppose it’s possible that having seen the movie ruined any potential suspense, but I don’t think that was really the case. There just wasn’t anything particularly exciting about the story–no major climax.

I guess that makes me an outlier, one of the few that just wasn’t blown away.

Originally posted at Goodreads.com.

Review: Welcome to the Jungle

/ Books, Graphic Novels /

Welcome to the Jungle Welcome to the Jungle by Jim Butcher

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I recently decided to start reading through the “essential” graphic novels, mostly because I was getting a little bored with the novel I was reading and was looking for a break. While looking for a different title at the library, I came across Welcome to the Jungle. Being a big Dresden fan, I had heard of the novel before, but I had never read it. In fact, I think it’s the only published Dresden literature that I had not read…so I had to pick it up.

The bottom line, Welcome to the Jungle plays out very much like many of the Dresden short stories (see Side Jobs). It still has a lot of the Dresden charms like powerful magic and Harry’s wit, but what it lacks is the twisty plot that you get in the full-length novels. I liked it, but I didn’t think it was quite as good as a Dresden novel.

The artwork was pretty cool, very detailed. I thought the colors were particularly good. Harry was pretty close to my own visualization and I think that helped pull me in.

I gave this a 3, but I would probably say it’s more of a 3.5. It was a good, fun, quick read. I would recommend it to any Dresden fan.

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Scott Pilgrim’s Finest Hour

/ Graphic Novels /

Over the summer, the Comic-Con hype for Scott Pilgrim vs The World inspired to see the feature film in theater and, man, was I blown away. I loved the characters, the plot, the concepts, the humor, and the graphics. Overall, I just thought it was sweet.

I liked it so much that it left me wondering if Bryan Lee O’Malley’s graphic novels that inspired the film could be as good or perhaps even better. I’ve never been a big comic guy and I wasn’t sure if I would really find the experience as enjoyable. But I was wrong.

I decided to snag the first volume, Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life, off Amazon and I found it to be a lot fun. I was surprised at how closely the movie followed the graphic novel. A lot of the dialog was word for word. Unfortunately, that meant that my experience wasn’t particularly unique, but it was still enjoyable.

In fact, I enjoyed the first volume enough that I bought the next two, Scott Pilgrim vs The World and Scott Pilgrim and the Infinite Sadness. I think the second volume was even better than the first. There was much more variation between the second volume and the movie. In the film, the plot had to keep rolling and actually pick up steam, but in the graphic novels, O’Malley was able to take more time to develop the characters and really tell the story.

The third volume was also really well done and I really started to get excited about the series. My next purchase from Amazon included the final three volumes and I got them for a steal. Seriously, if you are thinking about reading the series, don’t hesitate. Just buy them individually from Amazon. I swear, every time I look, they are even cheaper. I’m guessing that the publisher ordered way too many copies assuming increased sales because of the movie, but, instead, I think there are just a ton of unsold copies in circulation and Amazon is selling them dirt cheap as of this writing.

It’s hard for me to really describe why I liked the series so much. I’m not really a hipster and I don’t really fall into the same social clique as the characters, but I’m pretty close in age and perhaps that is enough for me to relate to the characters and the story. Really, I think if you live in the world today, that’s enough for you to relate to the story.

Joss Whedon described it really well in a quote that was included on the back cover of the final novel, Scott Pilgrim’s Finest Hour:

Scott Pilgrim is the best book ever. It is the chronicle of our time. With Kung Fu, so yeah: perfect.”

Seriously, the writing is amazingly witty, the characters are charming (each in his or her own way) and well-developed, and the story is a roller-coaster of action-packed battles, hilarious dialog, and innocent romance. I just don’t know how you could ask for more.

O’Malley is really creative about his used of space. There is content everywhere–on the back of the front cover and straight through to the back cover. He also has such a creative way of telling the story. For example, he includes the chords to one of Sex Bob Omb’s songs in the first volume and in another (second, I think) he actually includes the full instructions for a vegan dinner.

In the end, I found the entire series to be a blast. I wasn’t super amazed with the conclusion (I almost like the end to the movie a little best), but that barely detracts from the series. I’m pretty sure I’ll find myself reading these again and again, which will be easy, because they don’t take very long to read.

Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life: The Review

/ Graphic Novels /

So I saw Scott Pilgrim vs The World in the theater a couple weeks ago and I thought it was pretty awesome. So awesome in fact that I decided to check out the comic series and purchased the first volume on Amazon.com. Though my package wasn’t delivered by a cute girl on rollerblades, I was still happy to receive it and was not disappointed with the contents.

The first volume is 168 pages and I think I read it in about an hour, maybe an hour and a half. It sets up our protagonist Scott Pilgrim, a lazy, unemployed bassist living somewhere in Canada, and concludes with his fight with the first of Ramona Flower’s seven evil exes, Matthew Patel. By falling for the spunky, rollerblading delivery girl, Scott has signed on to do battle with a league of evil ex-boyfriends, which sets the stage for the rest of the series that recently concluded after six volumes.

So what did I think of the comic?

I thought it was fun. There was a decent amount of humor and I really enjoyed the story. One thing in particular that I thought was really cool was that the author, Bryan Lee O’Malley, even included the chords to the song that Scott’s band (Sex Bob Omb) performs. I might just have to dust off my guitar and give it a whirl.

So how does it compare to the movie?

Honestly, I think the entertainment value is pretty similar, though, obviously, the experiences are a lot different. I was a little surprised at just how similar it was to the movie in fact. The dialog is almost word-for-word, adding and subtracting very little. I thought the filmmakers did a really good job capturing all of the details and creativity. I’ve seen some criticism about the choice of Michael Cera as Scott Pilgrim, but I enjoyed the way he played the part when I saw the film and, after reading the first volume, he seemed to play it true to the comic.

Hopefully, I’ll be getting the second volume pretty soon!

Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life

/ Graphic Novels /

So I saw Scott Pilgrim vs The World during its opening weekend and I was pretty much blown away. I loved the story and really enjoyed the creative way it was told. The video game and pop culture elements were well done and gave the movie a unique quality.

Leaving the theater, I kept thinking about how much I really enjoyed the experience. I didn’t really know what to expect going in so I was completely unprepared for just how funny and just fun the movie ended up being.

Since then, little scenes or lines from the movie have continued to pop into my head at random times and I find myself smiling or even chuckling. So last night, I finally broke down and dropped $6.59 for the first volume of the comic book that inspired the movie, Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life. The book will be in my hands on Thursday and I can’t wait!

I am a little worried though. Like any normal kid growing up, I read comics, but not consistently. I wouldn’t buy them regularly so, when I did, I’m pretty sure I just picked out whatever had the coolest cover art. I have never really been able to quite get into comics; it is one of the lacking aspects of my otherwise impressive geek cred. I mean, I totally respect the work that goes into them and I’ve definitely enjoyed the deluge of recent comic book inspired movies, but I’ve never found a series that has really drawn me in. I’m hoping that I’ve just been reading the wrong stuff, because I really want to like the Scott Pilgrim comic as much as I enjoyed the movie.