BookBin2013: Batman R.I.P.

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Yes, that’s right…one more BookBin review for the late, great 2013. I didn’t completely finish this one last year, but I finished the bulk of it…so it counts, dammit.

To be honest, I felt mostly lost the entire time that I was reading Batman R.I.P., written by Grant Morrison and illustrated by Tony S. Daniel (with cover art by the impeccable Alex Ross…who likes Batman’s eyes to be brown while the book artist makes them blue). I don’t really follow Batman in the comics. I know enough about him through comic book osmosis, the 1960s show, and the Tim Burton movies (well, at least the first one was awesome). The only thing the Christopher Nolan movies taught me was that I could really hate Batman under the right circumstances.

Nolan’s movies also taught me that I really don’t like The Joker being played as totally psychopathic and cruel. He needs to have some kind of softening humor to him. Some kind of Cesar Romero or Jack Nicholson joie de vivre. Without that whimsy, he’s just…like any other psychotic killer. Even Alan Moore’s Joker was more interesting than the way the character comes across now. And having him split his tongue with a straight razor (SPOILERZ) so that it looked like a serpent’s tongue? That was around the point when I kind of shut down on that character. I can’t help it. I grew up with Romero’s kooky, loveable Joker and “This town needs an enema!” Nicholson Joker. Besides, why does everything have to be so sick and twisted and dark anymore? Tongue-splitting Joker. Neck-breaking Superman. Spoilerz. What happened to having fun with these stories?

I get that Batman’s had a rough life. As rough as a life can be for a multimillionaire who never has to work an honest day in his entire life. I guess we should be thankful that he wants to do good and fight evil rather than jet off to Bora Bora every weekend with his latest fling. Still, lighten up, Brucie. Dark Knight is Dark. And mopey. Then again, this is called “Batman R.I.P.” Moping is allowed, I suppose, when everyone is always trying to kill you.

All in all, it was an entertaining read with some really fine artwork, even if: A) I felt like I was missing key information while reading parts of it; and B) It does go a bit off the rails here and there (although maybe those moments would have made more sense if I’d had all the pieces to the puzzle). Also, no one is ever going to believe that any of these characters is ever going to really die. People who don’t really die: Star Trek characters and comic book heroes. Whether they come back as half-Romulan hybrids or they’re rebooted back into existence, they’re always going to be around. Not even having a bridge dropped on him could stop Captain Kirk, in the books at least. SpoilerZ. So at no point did I ever believe that Batman was really going to die. Also, I have the pleasure of being in the now and knowing that Batman does, indeed, still live.

I also don’t really get the back story for all the different Robins. Yeah, I know that one of them is now Nightwing. And I think one of them is dead (okay, so some characters do die…but only the replaceable ones). Not that I really care all that much. Still…it feels like there’s something questionable going on in Gotham that they keep remanding all these boys over to Bruce Wayne’s care but not investigating when they “go missing.” Maybe that’s just me. I had to laugh at the appearance of original Batwoman, in her yellow onesie and her Bat lust for Bruce Wayne. Oh, Katy Kane. You so cray.

And now excuse me while I wash my brain out with peroxide for actually using the word “cray.”

Final Verdict: Even though I found the novel enjoyable enough to finish it, I guess it’s safe to say that I’m not much of a Batman comic fan. I still love the original series and I still love the Tim Burton movie. I also like the concept of the character, for the most part. However, I think I find others from the Bat Family more interesting than the Dark Knight. Still, I’ve got a “classic” Batman graphic novel in my collection that I need to finally read. I’ll let you know how that goes…

BookBin2013: The Underwater Welder

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I nearly put Jeff Lemire’s graphic novel The Underwater Welder back before even giving the story a proper go. Why? Because the Introduction’s author likened the story to “the most spectacular episode of The Twilight Zone that was never produced.” That’s not what set me off; I actually love The Twilight Zone. What set me off was the author himself: Damon Lindelof. Otherwise known as “The Butcher of GallitepStar Trek Movie Scripts.”

My honest initial reaction was, if Lindelof knows as much about The Twilight Zone as he does about Trek, then no thank you. However, I resisted the temptation to judge the book based solely on the questionable choice of Lindelof as the one responsible for introducing this novel. And I’m very glad that I did.

Lemire’s story of Jack Joseph, he of the titular profession, is equal parts eerie, surreal, mysterious, and moving. Jack is facing the life change of a newborn son—something that he’s struggling to embrace and so he spends as much time as possible hiding in the dark depths of the ocean, as far from his life on land as he can get. There are reasons, of course, for this fear, and the joy of this novel is Lemire’s slow reveal of those reasons.

While not the greatest artist, Lemire proves himself to be an adept storyteller. He shifts Jack through memories and—seemingly—time itself, piecing together a tale of loss and renewal that could have suffocated under the reek of triteness in the wrong hands. However, Lemire infuses the story with enough creepiness and intrigue to keep it from teetering off into the abyss of schmaltz that could have awaited Jack and us.

Final Verdict: Lindelof aside, I greatly enjoyed this novel and definitely want to add this one to my collection at some point.

BookBin2013: Elmer

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Another graphic novel posing another allegorical examination of another human flaw. This time, rather than examining our obsession with war by putting animals in the path of bullets instead of humans, we examine humanity’s intolerance of those who are different…through racism toward sentient chickens.

I know, denizens. I know.

Actually, though, sometimes the best way to get someone to think differently about a topic or to look at it with fresh eyes is to pull it out of familiar settings and turn it on its head a bit. Why do you think Star Trek has been so popular for so many years? When we remove these topics from the realm of the familiar and put them in unexpected settings, we’re forced to view them in new ways. Perhaps even view them in ways opposite from how we would typically view them.

Such is the case with Gerry Alanguilan’s graphic novel Elmer. Part social commentary, part family drama, the novel tells the story of the strange and sudden evolution of chickens into creatures capable of intelligent communication and interaction with humans, and what this means for a global society forced to accept that what was once part of the dinner menu at McDonald’s now demands the same rights and freedoms as any other sentient being.

Where my previous BookBin review left me feeling quite depressed, Elmer left me feeling amused as well as enamored of the fact that Alanguilan succeeded, for even the briefest of moments, in encouraging me to re-examine my rather carnivorous eating habits. What would I do if, tomorrow, chickens actually did start speaking? Or, even worse, cows? How would we deal with no longer being able to depend upon these creatures for sustenance?

Insert parallel comparison with slavery and emancipation. Minus the consumption. Again, always interesting when someone can force us to view old arguments through new lenses.

Sadly, I’m still just a carnivore at heart. I’ve greatly reduced my meat consumption in recent years, particularly my red meat consumption. But sometimes…sometimes. Sorry, Bessy, but sometimes I just need a steak.

Final Verdict: I might be tempted to add this to my wish list, just to keep an eye out for a cheap copy through Amazon Market Place. It was an interesting enough concept executed in a captivating enough way that I wouldn’t be averse to revisiting it later on (could I sound any more non-committal?).

BookBin2013: We3

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Obviously, I’ve been hitting up the library quite a bit in this last half of 2013. This past trip, I spent even more time than usual in the graphic novel section. Seems they got a new shipment of books in recently, and I couldn’t help myself. That’s the only way I can explain how I ended up with this strange three-comic collection, We3, written by Grant Morrison and illustrated by Frank Quitely (Scotland Tag Team, woot!).

“We3” stands for “Animal Weapon 3,” a government experiment to turn common house pets into lethal weapons. This particular group of weaponized animals, the third in a series of tests, consists of three pets stolen from the streets: a brown Labrador mix named Bandit, a tabby cat named Tinker, and a black and white rabbit named Pirate (yeah, I’m not really sure why the rabbit was hopping out on the streets either). They are reclassified (rather originally) as “1,” “2,” and “3” and outfitted with body armor that contains missiles, razor-sharp claws, machine guns, and mines. Scientists also somehow soup up their brains to a point where they can speak in rather rudimentary ways.

Yes, before you even say it, the basic story does sound a bit silly. Then again, with a culture as obsessed with war and destruction as we are, sometimes I wonder if we even have limits to what we would be willing to do in the name of defending ourselves.

Beyond finding the concept both silly and disturbing, I just felt depressed after reading this book (even with the questionably “happy” ending). Still, kudos to Morrison for writing a compelling story and to Quitely for beautiful artwork.

Final Verdict: This series posed an interesting (and definitely unsettling) question about our limits when it comes to war, but I don’t feel as if it’s a question that I want to revisit exploring. Perhaps that’s my own unwillingness to face this particular darkness that surges through humanity and that could actually cause us to consider doing something like this…or worse. We send children to die “for [insert deity of choice here] and country” all the time. Sometimes, even someone as jaded and dark as I can be prefers to put some things out of mind.

BookBin2013: Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife

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I enjoyed Mary Roach’s first appearance here at the lair so much that…rather than read the book of hers that I have owned for almost a decade and still have not read, I found the other book of hers that our local library had in stock and borrowed that instead!

I probably should have gone with the book I already own. I suspect that it would have been more entertaining. That’s not to say that there is nothing enjoyable about Roach’s second book, Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife. There are several interesting, strange, funny, and disgusting portions of this book that amused (or traumatized) me greatly. Holistically, though, it’s quite an uneven read with a painfully slow start. I think it took me a full four chapters before I finally started enjoy the read. It’s also painfully obvious that Roach doesn’t really believe in any of the things about which she’s writing.

I can’t completely fault her for this outlook. Tackling aspects of the afterlife when there’s not really anything that you can do to prove anything pertaining to the topic…it can be a hard pill to swallow, for sure. But that doesn’t mean that you have to be so…patronizing about it all. Her obvious “Scully” stance on this subject infiltrates every chapter.

To be fair, I have somewhat set thoughts on the “afterlife,” but I’m still not 100-percent certain what I believe (which is why books like this appeal to me in theory). After reading this book, I’m quite certain I know how Roach feels about it all. However, that wasn’t my interest in this book and it wasn’t my hope when I decided to read it. I simply wanted to learn more about other cultures’ views as well as some of the experiments performed in the hopes of applying science to faith. I got that, but I definitely could have done without the accompanying patina of Roach’s incredulity concerning everything she discussed.

Still, there are some interesting portions, as I mentioned. You simply have to suss out the interesting from the supercilious.

Final Verdict: I do believe I shall pass on adding this book to my library. I also really do need to read Stiff at some point in 2014…along with all the other books in my library that I’ve still not tackled. No, seriously. STOP LAUGHING.

BookBin2013: Reel Terror: The Scary, Bloody, Gory, Hundred-Year History of Classic Horror Films

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This is a first for this year, denizens. This started out as a library loan that I simply couldn’t finish before I had to return it…so I just went ahead and skipped adding it to my wish list, instead buying my own copy right away. I was enjoying it so much while reading it that I knew I was going to want a copy for my own library anyway (guess you can guess what the Final Verdict is going to be today, eh?).

You all know how much I love horror movies. As someone who has been a fan of the genre longer than even sci-fi and Star Trek, I tend to read and watch a lot about horror movies. Therefore, I can say that, from the perspective of a die-hard horror fan, David Konow’s anthology Reel Terror didn’t provide a lot of stuff that I didn’t already know, but did provide a nice timeline of the evolution of cinematic horror as well as an outline of some of the biggest movie high points. The book would be a good genre guide for those who might not be as well-versed in horror trivia but would like to learn more.

To be fair, the book does feel a bit redundant in light of the special edition DVDs of the movies Konow covers, which all have special features that cover a lot of the same ground. Also, a lot of the really big horror franchises have documentaries that cover way more ground in way more detail. For example, if you’re a Freddy Krueger fan, get thee to a copy of the documentary Never Sleep Again…or…just…here:

It’s also kind of strange how Konow shifts from a more holistic history of the genre in its early days to more specific movies once he reaches more recent times. I guess that’s because he’s more in his comfort zone with modern films that more people know. Then again, isn’t that more reason to go into more detail on the early stuff? So that more people know about them and discover their importance to the genre?

And, since I am an editorial nitpicker, I have to say, this anthology needs an editor STAT. Sentences need tightening, grammar needs correcting, facts need checking. Come on, now. Don’t let poor editing wreck a decent book (and some of the mistakes are really quite jarring).

All this aside, Reel Terror is a nice compendium full of fun facts for both beginners and old pros to the horror scene. If you like the genre or are interested in getting more into the genre, I think this book might be for you (you might want to wait until the next edition, though…maybe, just maybe, it will be properly edited!).

Final Verdict: Um. Yeah. You all are lovely smarties. You know the answer.

BookBin2013: Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison

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Earlier this year, I found myself under a barrage of questioning from friends, both nerdy and non, all asking me the same thing: “Are you watching that new Netflix show, Orange Is the New Black?” It was weird and somewhat unnerving that people from all angles of my existence were asking about this show and showing utter shock when I responded no.

I hardly watch any television anymore. I mean, sure, I still watch CSI…because Jorja Fox and Elisabeth Shue. Otherwise, I typically tend to shy away from getting into TV shows. They just seem to constantly disappoint me. I’m far too critical for my own good sometimes. Also, why on earth would I want to watch a show about an upwardly mobile, city-dwelling Whiter-than-Casper yuppie who is suddenly faced with serving time in a federal prison for a crime she committed almost a decade prior? Sounded like a recipe in cliches and stereotypes that I didn’t think sounded interesting at all.

However, this constant questioning and surprise over my lack of participation caused enough curiosity that I finally looked up this Netflix show, just to figure out why everyone was asking me about it. And the obvious answer was?

Galina “Red” Reznikov. Known in my world as Captain Kathryn Janeway.

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Oh, yes. This was something I needed to watch.

I typically don’t like things that pique the interest of the Hype Machine (which this show obviously was doing), but I put those reservations on the back burner because of my lifelong devotion to Kate Mulgrew. For the most part, I’m incredibly glad that I did. First, the expected nitpick from me: The show was created by Jenji Kohan, who created the Mary-Louise Parker-helmed Showtime series Weeds. Minus the first season, I hated that show. It took turns so dark and twisted, I finally gave up watching, for fear of ODing on Dramamine just to keep up. Kohan’s MO seems to be giving you characters that you love, instantly like, or even love to loathe…and then making them thoroughly hate-worthy in the least enjoyable ways.

I really hope she doesn’t do that with the characters of OITNB, although the first season ended in such a way that I’m beginning to wonder. Truthfully, though, the primary character, Piper Chapman, is probably the least likeable character of the whole cast. No, the strength of this show lies within the capable hands of one of the most amazing ensemble casts I have ever witnessed in any series. I’ve made note of this before, but it bears repeating that it’s a shame that many of these incredibly talented actresses couldn’t finally catch the break they deserved until being cast as prisoners. Yay for diversity…behind bars.

Seriously, though, the women on this show are amazing: In addition to Mulgrew and Taylor Schilling as Piper Chapman, there’s Danielle Brooks, Uzo Aduba, Laverne Cox, Samira Wiley, Dascha Polanco, Taryn Manning, Michelle Hurst, Natasha Lyonne, Yael Stone, Selenis Leyva, Constance Shulman…they are all so amazing in their roles. You’d think with a show with so many “moving pieces” as this one, it would be easy to overlook characters or forget certain ones in between appearances. Not so with this cast. Each of these actresses brings something so delightful to her character that you remember her, no matter how often or infrequently she appears.

But what does all this have to do with a book review? Glad you asked. After watching the first season and hitting a raging case of withdrawal upon finishing, I put myself on the library wait list for the book on which this series is based. There actually is a Piper, although her real name is Piper Kerman:

With a career, a boyfriend, and a loving family, Piper Kerman barely resembles the reckless young woman who delivered a suitcase of drug money 10 years before. But that past has caught up with her. Convicted and sentenced to 15 months at the infamous federal correctional facility in Danbury, Connecticut, the well-heeled Smith College alumna is now inmate #11187–424—one of the millions of people who disappear ‘down the rabbit hole’ of the American penal system. From her first strip search to her final release, Kerman learns to navigate this strange world with its strictly enforced codes of behavior and arbitrary rules. She meets women from all walks of life, who surprise her with small tokens of generosity, hard words of wisdom, and simple acts of acceptance. Heartbreaking, hilarious, and at times enraging, Kerman’s story offers a rare look into the lives of women in prison—why it is we lock so many away and what happens to them when they’re there.

As is usually the case, reading the book was a completely different experience from watching the cinematic take on the source material. As much as I really did enjoy the first season of the show, I found the book to be far more satisfying and far more meaningful than the show. The first major difference is the fact that Piper Kerman is actually a likeable person (or at least really skilled at selling herself as likeable). Kohan decided to make Kerman’s series counterpart one of the most irritatingly predictable and subsequently boring/annoying characters possible (I assume this was the great red herring of the series: Tell the brass that it’s about a White woman’s wacky adventures in prison to get the greenlight and then use the series as a means to showcase some truly talented Black, Hispanic, and Latina actresses; good on ya for that, but did you have to make Chapman such an irritating little princess?).

Piper Kerman is in actuality quite decent and down-to-earth; another person who made really bad decisions when she was younger and who now must pay for those decisions. She becomes, literally and figuratively, another number in the books. This memoir is full of observations on so many aspects of the American penal system that need serious reform. Our prisons are filled with people who simply should not be incarcerated, punished for crimes that shouldn’t be crimes (let me bend your ear sometime on my thoughts about the legalization and regulation of drugs and how this would solve so many problems).

The book also is full of stories about wonderful women Kerman encountered (it was such a joy to stumble across people Kerman mentions throughout this book and realize that there really was a Taystee or a Sophia or a Pennsatucky!) who, while walking their own path and dealing with their own pain, still reach out and extend kindness and support. The book is amazing. Even if you don’t want to watch the show, I would highly recommend giving Kerman’s memoir a chance. It does drag on a bit toward the end, and it ends in a surprisingly abrupt way; otherwise, however, it’s definitely worth the read.

Oh, and for the record, Kate Mulgrew’s character is frightening as hell. And wonderful. And I can’t wait to see more. And I will never accept an English muffin from her. EVER.

Final Verdict: I’ve added this book to my wish list. It’s a quick, interesting read, and I can use it as a reference to identify new characters in the second season of the show.

BookBin2013: Voices from the Street

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Here’s a visit with a favorite author who hasn’t made a BookBin appearance since I reviewed his novel Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said back in 2009. Anyone who knows me knows that I love Philip K. Dick. While I haven’t read a lot of his works, I have always regarded the ones that I have read as top-shelf contributions to the science fiction genre. One of my ongoing frustrations with our local library (which for all intents and purposes, is quite lovely in almost every regard) is that the only one of Dick’s novels that they’ve had in a very long time is Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

Own it. Love it. Want something new.

So when I did a random database search on a whim and discovered that they were hiding one of Dick’s books somewhere other than the science fiction section, I could barely keep from running to the location. Seems that one of his earliest rejected manuscripts, penned sometime in the 1950s, finally made it into print in 2007. Surprisingly, Voices from the Street is not a science fiction book. It’s as grounded in present-day reality (for the time it was written) as anything could possibly be.

The story centers on Stuart Hadley, a young handsome lad with a pretty wife, a new baby boy, and a dull but promising job selling televisions. He’s also coddled, disaffected, and temperamental, with a constant sense that he was meant for more than the confines of his “normal” life. He wants to be an artiste, bohemian, spiritual, separate. He seeks fulfillment through various means and…well, in the end, it’s truly a Philip K. Dick novel, even without the electric sheep.

In this novel, Dick captures several personality layers through an array of complex and disparate characters…the damage of disconnectedness left by war, the ennui of privilege, the false witness of spirituality, the emptiness of having, the futility of wanting. His prose is dark, direct, never afraid to keep plummeting down the rabbit hole, never feeling the need to hold back on anything. His dialogue is vicious at times as his characters hold conversations reserved either for the closest of friends or the people one deems unworthy of censorship. Characters are blasé about the most sensitive of subjects. He lets his characters exist in all their tainted glory, likeable and repugnant in equal strokes.

I don’t know if I would recommend this book to anyone. Fans of Dick’s work would be expecting something completely different (although one can see the nascent presence of his literary style, just in need of a bit of polish and practice). Perhaps fans of dystopic novels would enjoy this bleakly hopeful (hopefully bleak?) story, but it does take a bit of time to finally get where it’s heading. The seed of a great story is there; it simply needed to have some overgrowth trimmed away. Then again, who wants to be the editor to tamper with a Dick novel published posthumously? It would be akin to…cutting notes from a Mozart concerto.

Random Amadeus humor, FTW.

Final Verdict: I think I might want to add this one to my collection at some point. I feel that it’s a solid example of the burgeoning of one of the truly great modern sci-fi authors, even without the sci-fi.

BookBin2013: A Curious Man: The Strange and Brilliant Life of Robert “Believe It Or Not!” Ripley

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Two of my all-time favorite things when I was a kid were as follows: watching episodes of Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! on Sunday evenings before bed, and getting to visit the Ripley’s museum whenever we made it to Myrtle Beach. I have always had a love affair with the bizarre or mysterious or just plain gross or scary, so these two treats fed right into my fascinations…it wasn’t until I was much older that I started to understand the exploitative implications of a lot of the people the Ripley museum “showcased.”

It also wasn’t until I was much older that I realized that the “Ripley” of Ripley’s fame was an actual person. What? I never claimed to be 100-percent on the ball all the time, denizens. Needless to say, it’s no surprise that I hardly knew anything about LeRoy Robert Ripley beyond the obvious fact that he had a penchant for peculiarities. From this approach, then, I found the details of Neal Thompson’s Ripley biography A Curious Man both fascinating and at times, yes, unbelievable.

Mostly, I think I find it unbelievable how much money cartoonists once made, how like rock stars they were treated by their employers and readers alike. I suppose it should make more sense to me than the celebrity status we so willingly award to the most undeserving of crassness today (“reality” television is a poisonous thing, indeed). Those early comic strip pioneers, including Ripley, at least contributed something to the pantheon of creativity…something more substantial than the stain of fake tan smeared across our collective conscience.

Besides, this was a time before cable television and multiplex theaters. It was a time before world travel was an acceptable option and we dared envision connecting with anyone beyond the boundaries of our ZIP code or even the parameters of our humble little neighborhoods. To experience the wonders and terrors that the world had to offer required a contact, a willing conduit to allow the flow of information from the farthest regions down into Main Street, USA. Someone like Ripley, who gladly would uproot and take to the skies, the seas, the snows, the sun-drenched jungles…wherever he had not yet journeyed, had not yet taken his readers.

Thompson’s biography provides all this information and more on Ripley, from his early days through his rise to fame, his comics, his museums, his radio shows…perhaps even beyond that. Sadly, I ran out of time and had to return this to the library before I could finish it. However, what I did read of this book was quite fascinating, not just in regard to the man but also to where he grew up, where he lived, and where he traveled. Thompson does quite a lovely job of making his biography well-researched, well-rounded, and well-received by readers, including me.

Final Verdict: I would like to check this one back out of the library at some point, so that I can finish the few chapters I had left, and perhaps I’ll add it to my wish list for future buying. Believe it…or not!

BookBin2013: Batwoman Volume 2: To Drown the World and Volume 3: World’s Finest

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I told you I’d be speaking of the Lady Kane very soon. I bought all three of these graphic novels at the same time, and while I enjoyed Batgirl’s collection immensely, it was really all about Batwoman for me. These two graphic novels, To Drown the World and World’s Finest, barely made it into the house before I was flipping through them, devouring the visuals, squeeing at the snippets that my brain was able to process on a first-blush review, and then champing at the bit in anticipation of the story that awaited me.

Admittedly, I might have enjoyed the second Batgirl collection a bit more if I wasn’t so looking forward to these two novels. Sorry, Batgirl.

Truthfully, though, I was a little bit…not necessarily disappointed by the second Batwoman collection…but definitely not as enamored of it as I was of her first go in the New 52 universe. One of the primary reasons is a pretty obvious one. J.H. Williams III didn’t do most of the artwork for this collection. He and W.H. Blackman were busy writing the story, so a lot of the interior art was done by Amy Reeder, Trevor McCarthy, and Pere Perez, with Guy Major doing the coloring. Not that this made the artwork terrible…but Williams is such a masterful artist that not seeing his work makes you painfully aware of how unlike Williams most other artists are.

Plus, there are a lot more “male gaze/crotch/butt/boob” illustrations of Batwoman in this novel than previously, which I found very distracting. These particular poses die down after a while, but the fact that they’re in there at all really annoys me. Batwoman isn’t here to titillate you with pendulous breasts and a latex-clad badonka-donk. She’s here either to save or kick your ass, depending on which side of the law you choose. Also, if you’re turning to comic books for that kind of titillation? Here’s a little bit of advice: Women, even the comic book variety, are on this planet for more than your ogling. Also? Batwoman is not interested in you.

Williams and colorist Dave Stewart return to the drawing table for the comics that make up the third volume, giving even more credence to the collection’s title, World’s Finest. Not to mention the fact that the third volume’s writing is that much stronger…and there’s the fact that another DC Comics heroine makes a guest appearance throughout this collection, making it that much more amazing.

But first, the second volume. Just as I stated in my review of Batgirl’s Knightfall Descends, I feel like this second collection is a bridge collection, with story arcs designed to get us from the amazing work in Hydrology to World’s Finest. It’s still a solid offering (probably more so that Knightfall Descends) and carries the plot forward in strong ways.

The payoff, however, is the third volume, which is brilliant from start to finish. Plus? Wonder Woman. Yeah, that’s right. Wonder Woman plays a major part in this collection as she agrees to team with Batwoman to help defeat the latest menace to threaten the residents of Gotham City.

[Loba Tangent: Why are there even still people who live in Gotham City? I’m sorry, but not even knowing that Batwoman had my back would make me want to…okay, never mind. I would totally stay in Gotham if Batwoman was there to protect me. Carry on.]

Seriously, denizens, the third volume of the Batwoman story is ace all the way. Williams and Blackman are so on-point throughout, and Williams’s artwork shines as always. He makes the graphic novel experience such an immense joy, even when depicting some of the darkest, most gruesome moments. And believe me when I say that Batwoman’s world is incredibly dark and incredibly gruesome.

To be honest, this third volume made me believe that Batwoman could totally convey to a movie experience. This is definitely in part to Williams being such a masterful artist…his vision of Batwoman’s world is absolutely cinematic. Plus, the fantastical villains and epic battles would look amazing on a big screen. It definitely helps that the writing is so great as well. I know I said before that I didn’t think Williams was as strong a writer as he is an artist, but I do believe that the combo team of Williams and Blackman nail this story in such amazing ways. They both have hit such a stride, not only with the large-scale story arcs but also with the smaller, more intimate character developments. They also do a fantastic job on inner monologues, something that Gail Simone does with equal (and at times greater) mastery with her Batgirl writing. Plus, using this particular storyline would also bring Wonder Woman to the big screen, which is something that I fear might never actually happen unless she rides in on someone else’s coattails…or cape. All the better if she came in, lariat blazing, with another bad-ass comic heroine!

Of course, my high praise and adoration for the third Batwoman graphic novel makes the recent shakedown at DC Comics all the more disappointing and upsetting. Williams and Blackman have walked away from Batwoman because of DC Comics brass interfering in story lines that they had already greenlit. Story lines that should be allowed to be completed. I was willing to be a little less decisive about this until I read these latest offerings, but now that I have? I so very much would love to see the continuation of this story that Williams and Blackman wanted to tell. There’s a fourth collection that will contain what I think are the last of Williams and Blackman’s contributions to Batwoman…so at least there’s that. Still, I can’t even begin to express my disappointment that they have left…and have taken an amazing story with them.

Final Verdict: Not only am I keeping these (der), I’m also going to finally pick up Wonder Woman’s New 52 novels. Her story is currently being told by Brian Azzarello. I’m not that fond of his writing style, as I previously indicated in my review of his Joker graphic novel. Also, Cliff Chiang is in charge of the artwork. I’m not really all that crazy about his style either. Unless, of course, he’s drawing Wonder Woman as Joan Jett. Otherwise, meh.

Obviously, not really liking the writer or the artist are two major reasons to stay away from Wonder Woman. However, I kind of feel a bit schmucky that I’m not supporting Wonder Woman. I’ll at least give the first novel a go. We’ll see where it goes from there…