Pulp and Dagger

Graphic Novel Review


for December 17, 2006


Year in Re-view

Every couple of weeks here at Pulp and Dagger I do a review of a comic book graphic novel. And what with Christmas coming up, I thought now might be an appropriate time to just skim back over the past yearís 20 to two dozen reviews and pick out a few highlights, in case youíre still looking for a present for the comic geek on your listÖor something for yourself. (Just to keep it under control, Iím considering books I reviewed in 2006 -- not earlier).

One of the first highlights that comes to me is Batman: Dark Detective -- Steve Englehart, Marshal Rogers and Terry Austin delivered a Batman saga that managed that rarity of tricks -- being a fun, four-colour romp as Batman battles some of his key foes, with an intelligent, emotionally complex, adult tale of star crossed love and relationships that turns the ďdark knight avengerĒ into a three dimensional man. Itís fun and deep. It gets a bit grisly toward the end, so I canít fully recommend this for younger readers, but otherwise, itís one of the best Batman stories Iíve read in, well, years.

Staying with super-heroes a moment longer, if Batman: The Dark Detective is a reflection of the best of today (albeit by Old School creators) then Marvelís reissue of the decadesí old Iron Man: Demon in a Bottle reminds you that , recognized or not, comics were always capable of stand out stories. This collection of a nine issue run of Iron Man comics is, again, a nice mix of fun entertainment with grown up undercurrents. Thereís plenty of adventure and heroics, plus pulpy soap opera-y threads, but the story arc has acquired its reputation for its ground breaking depiction of its titular hero struggling with alcoholism.

Sean Wangís Runners: Bad Goods was a deliberately fun space opera in a Star Wars vein, following a group of good natured smugglers. Clean, clear visuals, and witty, light-heartedness, while still maintaining a dramatic core, made it a refreshingly fun adventure.

Silencers: Black Kiss was kind of like TVís The Sopranos meeting a super hero comic, as it follows a gang of super-villains who get caught up in a mob war. Iím not a big one for villains-as-heroes (Iíve never watched the Sopranos) so it maybe says something when Iím recommending this as an enjoyable, off-beat saga, with some wit and characters who, despite their criminal leanings, you can empathize with.

Marvelís super spy, The Black Widow has always been torn between being a super hero adventure or an espionage thriller and this collection -- Homecoming -- firmly ensconces her in the latter camp, as this Modesty Blaise wanna be gets embroiled in international intrigue that has her uncovering secrets about her own past. This B-list property gets an A-list treatment, with a smart, edgy, vividly drawn mystery-thriller.

Some other ďhonourable mentionsĒ? The re-issue of Spider-Man: Kravenís Last Hunt probably deserves being on the recommended list -- but I figured it was already getting top heavy with super hero recommendations.

Other notables include Checkerís new collection of some old X-Files comics, Adventure Classics, and others. In fact, feel free to trip through the archives for other reviews.

Reviewed by D.K. Latta

Got a response?  Email us at lattabros@yahoo.com

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