Best Shots: NYX, Final Crisis, Venom and More

Best Shots: NYX, Venom, RIP and More

Greetings! Welcome back to the big column. First, links to our Best Shots Extra from this week . . .

Final Crisis #3

Now, onto the rest of it . . .

NYX: No Way Home #1

Writer: Marjorie Liu

Art: Kalman Andrasofszky and John Rauch

From: Marvel Comics

Review By: Lucas Siegel

I have been looking forward to this book for quite some time now. I was a huge fan of the original run of NYX, especially the initial issues drawn by Josh Middleton. The unique art, the smart, accurate writing of real people (who happen to have superpowers) made it an accessible book that I was anxious to read every 18 years that an issue came out. I kid, but it HAS been a few years now since the first series ended, and I’ve anxiously awaited Kiden and crew’s fates.

Wow, was I not disappointed. I haven’t heard of or even thought much of these characters in quite sometime. I remember thinking “I wonder if the NYX kids still have their powers” after House of M, and that’s about it. Yet, I was able to dive directly back into the story, and I found myself caring about every character just as much as I did when I was actively reading the previous book. Really, I was amazed- as much as I was looking forward to it, it exceeded my expectations.

There are introductions for new readers, but not so heavy handed that old readers will feel like there’s a bunch of wasted space. It’s just enough (with just enough “insider” comments) to please both sets. The book is more firmly established in the Marvel universe, as well, with mention of The Purifiers from the X-Books showing that all the remaining mutants are afraid of these guys.

A newcomer to comics, Marjorie Liu is one of those annoying writers. She jumped right in, and showed a firm grasp for the medium instantly. The characters have individual personalities, but a clear bond. The story, while mostly establishing the tone for the rest of the series, kept me entertained through the whole thing, right up to the cliffhanger at the end. Now, this cliffhanger was not the MOST original thing, but it does play into the sort of one-upmanship that needs to happen in Kiden and co.’s lives in order to keep them interesting.

Kalman Androsofszky and John Rauch’s art is likewise great. There were a couple panels with some funky faces, but not something I even noticed until a second reading. Overall, the style is similar to what Middleton established, but doesn’t look like it’s aping his style. They managed to capture the feel and still make it their own, something I didn’t necessarily get from the second artist on the first book. The vibrant color palette is especially interesting, as the story (like the one before it) takes a decidedly grim and dark tone. This contrast captures the duality of these characters well; they’ve been through hell and still manage to stay happy (for the most part) and have fun with the life they’ve been given. That’s captured well here, in both the words and the art, and this is only the first issue.

I am thrilled that NYX has made a comeback. I’m so excited to be back in Kiden’s life. I’m absolutely ecstatic that the book is just as good as it started, and that such a capable team has taken these non-X-mutants into their hands. The book is good, plain and simple.

Troy’s Note: Lan wanted to do a review of FC #3 prior to his awareness that I was doing a BSE of the book. Since Lan already did the work, I’m running his review here. This review was not ordered to offer a counterpoint to my opinion of the book; it, like mine, is a honest reflection of the reviewer’s opinion.

Final Crisis #3

Written by Grant Morrison

Art by J. G. Jones and Alex Sinclair

Letters by Rob Leigh

Published by DC Comics

Review by Lan Pitts

Know evil. If you've been sort of confused on what exactly is going on in Final Crisis, things become a little clearer. This is the "day evil won", and they do it before the good guys even know what they're up against. Batman is taken out, then Hal Jordan is arrested for the murder of Orion, and with the toppling of the Daily Planet leaves Superman at the constant side of Lois Lane though is soon called away by a mysterious female Monitor. With all three Flashes are all over the time-space, the heroes are seriously lacking in firepower. Leave it up to the Golden Age Green Lantern, Alan Scott, to form a new alliance of meta-humans through Article X (basically a super hero draft). The array of heroes in this panel is pretty awe-inspiring though, sadly, their idea never come to fruition...yet. We learn what happened to the exiled Monitor, too bad nobody wants to listen to him. It's quite the punishment his supervisors bestowed upon him.

We also see how the new hood in the 'hood, Libra's, plan slowly forming together. His alliance will grow stronger and it's quite malicious. Back in Japan, Shilo Norman, the new Mister Miracle, who has recruited Sonny Sumo and a group of teenage Japanese super-heroes appropriately called "The Super Young Team". Though the young Japanese superheroes save Shilo and Sonny from being killed by Darkseid's Justifiers, the united heroes are hit hard. Twice. Mary Marvel joins the "What-not-to-wear" gang and is the catalyst for a hell of a cliffhanger. The cliffhanger at the end of this issue also marks the one-month publishing gap, during which many of the "Crisis"-related one-shots will fill in the gap. It's so hard to try and make this spoiler-free for the ones who haven't gotten it yet. I'm relieved this arc is picking up.

The art is once again spell-binding. The opening scene with the German Supergirl and the eeriness of the Question's aura. The panel where Article X is used, you can see the seriousness of all the characters and you can tell who's who. It doesn't feel crowded, but at the same time you know there are a lot of superheroes on the page. To see all three generations of Flashes run was quite a sight to behold. Honestly something I never thought I'd see. It takes a book, or mini-series, like this to really show what a great combination of story and art can do. Jones shows the seriousness of the situation, but can show the playfulness of Black Canary and Green Arrow being called upon. Meshed with Morrison's storytelling, this will one day be, undoubtedly, the epic of the decade.

Venom: Dark Origin #1

Writer: Zeb Wells

Artist: Angel Medina

From: Marvel Comics

Reviewed by: Richard Renteria

Venom: Dark Origins is a disturbing character piece that focuses squarely on Eddie Brock and how it came to be that he was the perfect host for an alien symbiote. I really was not sure what to expect as I am not very familiar with Zeb Wells’ more character-driven work. Add to that the stylized artwork of Angel Medina and the title seems like a tough sell; fortunately, between a well-told story and carefully rendered art, Venom: Dark Origin turns out to be the surprise book of the week.

Most readers are familiar with the origins of Venom, but the one question that seems to linger is this: what is it about Eddie Brock that keeps said symbiote bonded to him? There have been some occasions when Brock has lost the symbiote and it has bonded with other people (currently it is bonded to Mac Gargan – formerly the Scorpion), but it always comes back to Brock.

By going back to the very early days of Eddie Brock, Zeb Wells attempts to define the inherent quality within the character that makes him the perfect host for this particular symbiote while adding a new dimension to the relationship he shares with his “other” half.

Through the course of the story, it is very clear that Eddie is a disturbed child; it is not until about half-way through the story that a revelation is made that puts his personality in clear perspective. Having lost his mother (who died in childbirth), Eddie is a constant reminder to his father of a crippling grief. Unable to find love at home, Eddie tries to manufacture situations around him in order to receive the attention he craves.

Wells does a fantastic job of displaying Brock’s duplicity during the opening scene as Eddie “helps” a neighborhood girl find her missing cat, one that he has conveniently cat-napped. The staged events that Brock utilizes to garner attention are simplistic in manner, but they enforce how hopeless Eddie really is in life; when even his simple plan goes awry in the end, he is still unable to garner the attention he craves from his father.

As Wells moves the story forward in time from high school, and then on to college, we see that Brock has become adept at taking advantage of, or, manufacturing, situations for his own purposes, most of which involve a need to be accepted. Wells subtly reinforces the type of individual Eddie Brock has become expertly in scene after scene. The ebbs and flows of Brock’s personality are fascinating to witness and they pay off in dramatic fashion during the final scene of the issue.

While being mugged, Brock moves from victim to coward to hero in the blink of an eye, and thanks to the groundwork Wells laid early on in the issue, the reader is able to easily buy into the scenario. The final moments of the issue are that much more powerful as a much older Eddie Brock echoes the words of his lost childhood, “It was easy!”

Wells takes the reader on an emotionally charged ride through the life of Eddie Brock with great effect. At points throughout the beginning of the issue the reader can’t help but feel a bit sad for Brock, even after the cat incident. Yet, at some point during the story, the reader realizes that Brock has decided to take the easy way in life and a sense of pity begins to manifest; it is only upon Brock’s act of cowardice that the reader really begins to dislike him and see him for his true nature. The slow build that Wells takes with this issue works perfectly on an emotional level, but thanks to the stylized pencils of Angel Medina, the tone of the issue is appropriately reinforced.

Medina imbues each page with a virtual cornucopia of emotions from panel to panel. Paying extra care to present Brock with a consistent visage that only changes during moments of duress, happiness or exploitation, Medina is able to effortlessly portray Brock’s emotional distance. As this is more of a character piece than an action adventure, Medina does a commendable job of keeping the reader engaged and supplies a brief moment of action utilizing everyone’s favorite wall-crawler.

Venom: Dark Origins is a surprisingly solid reading experience. Wells manages to add new layers to Eddie Brock’s character by giving an interesting insight into the character, while Medina solidifies his talents by effortlessly enhancing the emotional impact of the story with his stylized art.

The Authority Volume 5 #1

Writers: Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning

Artist: Simon Coleby

Published by DC/Wildstorm

Review by Corey Henson

If at first you don't succeed, try, try again: DC and Wildstorm have taken the old adage to heart and come up with a fifth volume of The Authority, with Guardians of the Galaxy's Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning and British artist Simon Coleby at the helm.

Following the events of the universe-changing Wildstorm: Revelations and Number of the Beast series, the Wildstorm world landscape is devastated and demoralized. Mankind is hanging on by a thread in a post-apocalyptic landscape, and the remaining superheroes are stretched to their limits doing what they can to help the survivors adjust to the horrorific new status quo. The Authority, who once charged themselves with building "a finer world", are now all that stands in defense of London and its people. But the Authority are just as broken as their surroundings, and the best they can manage to help is to use their downed Carrier as a sanctuary for London's survivors.

Abnett and Lanning don't show us anything particularly unique to their version of the "Earth as wasteland" idea, but they use the well-worn trope as best they can by adapting their cast to their surroundings and accentuating how the Authority has been affected the changes. Particularly heartbreaking is the brief scene between lovers Apollo and Midnighter, whose relationship has been irrevocably broken by Apollo's inability to survive on the Earth's shattered surface. Coleby's artwork, embellished by Carrie Stracha's murky color pallette, does a fantastic job of highlighting the somber tone of the script.

Obviously, taking the Wildstorm Universe in such a dark direction is a ballsy move. If it doesn't catch on with readers, DC is going to have their work cut out for them if they want to start over again. The Authority is off to a good start as far as this first issue is concerned.

Flight Volume 5

By: Various

From: Villard

Review by J. Caleb Mozzocco

At this point, it’s probably simply sufficient to say, “Hey, the new volume of Flight is out” rather than devoting a full review to it. After all, there have been five of these Kazu Kibuishi anthologies of short stories by gifted illustrators and designers, and despite a change in publishers, each successive volume has been remarkably consistent.

Like the previous four volumes of Flight, this is a collection of top-flight material from top-flight creators. I’m tempted to say this is the strongest of the five thus far, but that may be in large part due to it being freshest in my mind.

There are plenty of returning creators and characters, as well as some returning narratives. Michael Gagne’s “Saga of Rex” (the silent story of that little fox with a crystal spike in his forehead) continues, there’s a new Jellaby story by Kean Soo, and Scott Campbell’s one joke –Head characters return (in a surprisingly effective story in which delicious tacos defeat war).

Once again kid-friendly, all-ages fantasy seems to dominate the proceedings (Dramacon’s Svetlana Chmakova’s “On the Importance of Space Travel” being perhaps my favorite), but there are some rather exceptional deviations that give this collection the occasional sharp edge, like Graham Annable’s dark pantomime “Evidence,” Chris Appelhans’ loosely drawn and sparsely colored “Seasons,” and the hallucinogenic colored and hilariously literal “Scenes In Which the Earth Stops Spinning and Everybody Flies into a Wall,” which is written by Dinosaur Comics’ Ryan North and John Martz.

And those are just a few of the 21 stories by 23 creators worth keeping an eye on, all of which range from pretty good to really great.

The Amazing, Remarkable Monsieur Leotard

Written by Eddie Campbell and Dan Best

Illustrated by Campbell

Published by First Second

Reviewed by Michael C Lorah

Eddie Campbell’s books are becoming, with each passing year, more stunning. Jules Leotard, who really existed and invented the leotard (they named it after him) and trapeze acts, dies early on in this book. At this point, Campbell and co-writer Dan Best introduce Etienne, Leotard’s less dynamic and interesting nephew, a slightly awkward and confused fictional relative who inherits leadership of Leotard’s troupe of circus performers.

What follows is the decade-spanning adventures of the least likely family imaginable. The tattooed lady, the dancing bear, the strong man, the India rubber man, and more, all bound together in an unlikely familial bond. Campbell and Best do strong work moving the characters through a litany of absurd and entertaining scenarios, including several circus sequences and multiple connections with historically significant events – including the Franco-Prussian War, the Titanic’s voyage, a meeting with a Whitechapel murder investigator Campbell fans should be familiar with, and the racism of the human zoo exhibits displayed in Paris around the turn of the century.

Campbell’s art is always a highlight. Remaining one of comics’ foremost creative thinkers, Campbell makes each page a playful reminder that the characters are eccentrics, performers in the grand big top tradition. Design elements, full-page backgrounds, text pieces and childish scribblings enforce the upbeat, stylish elements of the characters’ journey. I’m continually impressed with how naturally Campbell’s pen and ink style has been adapted to color, and the clarity of his visual storytelling remains a hallmark of Campbell’s work.

Eddie Campbell remains one of the comic industry’s most creative and challenging voices, getting more mileage out of an idea than nearly any other creator. His sense of design and appreciation for playful characters and scenarios serves him well in this engaging, entertaining book about unlikely families and the eventfulness of life.

Gentleman Jim

By: Raymond Briggs

From: Drawn & Quarterly

Review by J. Caleb Mozzocco

There is such a thing as being too far ahead of your time, and that seems to have been the case with Raymond Briggs—or at least that’s the case one-named Canadian comics artist Seth makes in his introduction to this new edition of Briggs’ 1980 book Gentleman Jim.

Briggs, whose work you’ve probably seen even if you don’t recognize his name, as he’s the artist responsible for classic children’s book The Snowman could, and perhaps should, be recognized in the same breath as Will Eisner when it comes to popularizing the idea of the graphic novel, Seth argues, as Briggs’ Snowman came out the same year as Eisner’s A Contract With God (and was, in fact, predated by two other holiday-themed works of sequential art).

That Briggs isn’t thought of as a comics creator has more to do with the pigeonhole we’ve stuck him in than his actual work, Seth says. Because Briggs’ books are usually addressed towards young readers (and, I’d point out, usually printed by children’s book publishers in formats that look more like picture books than comics), he’s thought of as a children’s book author, not a graphic novelist. This despite the fact that so many of his books—Father Christmas, Ug, Boy Genius of the Stone Age, The Bear, The Puddleman—are told exactly like comics, complete with panels, narration boxes and word balloons.

Gentleman Jim should help change that, as Drawn & Quarterly is a graphic novel publisher, and this is being pushed as such (additionally, it’s addressed is towards adults, not children).

The characters will likely be familiar to anyone who has read Briggs’ powerful 1982 nuclear war graphic novel/children’s book for grown-ups When The Wind Blows, which focused on a charmingly naïve and gentle-hearted older British couple trying to weather a nuclear missile strike together.

The subject matter in this book—originally published in 1980—is much, much lighter. Jim Bloggs is a roly-poly, middle-aged man who works as a janitor but dreams of a more exciting life while reading the classified ads—a life as a soldier or artist or cowboy or executive—and he eventually settles on trying to be a highwayman.

His wife Hilda tries to help him the best she can, helping him dress up like the fellow on the cover of the adventure novel that inspired him to take on a second career as Gentleman Jim, and we follow the couple’s efforts to make Jim’s silly dream a reality, neither one of them ever quite realizing how unrealistic it is, despite the constant intrusion of real life.

The Bloggs are simple characters devoid of cynicism, like little kids who never stopped being little kids despite reaching the other side of middle age, and there’s a bittersweet sort of joy in watching them try and fail to live out this fantasy, thanks in large part to the attention Briggs pays to detailing their relationship. Sweeter still is the way that nothing seems able to deter them, or dampen their spirits, or push them away from one another.

All in all, it’s not a bad little graphic novel Briggs has produced, and hopefully it will be one that will introduce comics fans to his exceptional body of work.

Judge Anderson: PSI Division: Shamballa

From: 2000 AD

Written by: Alan Grant

Art by: Arthur Ranson

Reviewed by Tim Janson

While I love Judge Dredd, the stories about the Psychic Judge Anderson have always intrigued me far more. While Dredd’s stories are typically shoot ‘em up action tales with a good deal of sarcastic humor, Anderson’s stories have always been darker and abound with horror elements. Her battles with Judge Death and the other Dark Judges are legendary within the pages of the Uks long running 2000 AD and Judge Dredd Magazines.

The latest Judge Anderson release from 2000 AD features stories written by the long-time team of Alan Grant and Arthur Ranson. In the opening tale, “Shamballa” a series of world-wide supernatural events lead Anderson on a quest to locate a long-lost tribe of subterranean people who are orchestrating these events to take over the world. This is a full-length global horror trail that delves deep into Anderson’s psyche and demonstrates that she may be an even tougher Judge than Dredd himself.

In “Witch Report” a lighter themed tale, Dredd is escorting some Psi-School students out on Halloween night when they encounter a quarter of marauding witches.

“The Jesus Syndrome” takes a hard look at organized religion in the futuristic Mega-City One. When a grass roots preacher begins attracting too many followers to Christianity, the Judges decide he is becoming too influential, except for Anderson who gets inside his mind to truly feel his message of peace and love. This is a cutting piece on the state of religion not only in the future but even our present times.

In the story simply entitled “Satan”, the devil himself, imprisoned for over 250,000 years, is accidentally released and begins to literally spread Hell of Earth. Religious leaders gladly proclaim their fraudulent intentions rather than face the “Beast” and only Anderson and her unique talents up to the task of dealing with the devil. A truly outstanding piece of writing and Ranson provides one of the outright scariest takes on Satan ever seen in comics.

Grant provides some of the best Judge Anderson stories he’s ever written and Ranson tops it all off with incredibly detailed and lush artwork.

Judge Dredd the Complete Case Files #10

From: 2000 AD

Written by: Alan Grant, John Wagner

Art by: Kevin O’ Neill, Came Kennedy, Barry Kitson, Cliff Robinson, Garry Leach

Reviewed by Tim Janson

The most venerable of all UK comic book characters is back in the latest monster-sized collection from 2000 AD. Checking in at close to 400 pages, this omnibus edition reprints Dredd’s adventures from the venerable 2000 AD Magazine numbers 474 – 522, from 1986 – 1987. The first thing you’ll notice about the stories is the fantastic array of artistic talent. Many of these artists are well-known in American Comics today but were just starting out back in the 80’s. These include the likes of Barry Kitson, Kevin O’ Neill, Cam Kennedy, Ian Gibson, and Steve Dillon. The book is like a who’s who of UK artistic talent.

There are literally dozens of stories in the book. Most of them are short, 6 – 8 page tales although there are a few which ran several parts. Dredd was created by John Wagner and Pat Mills as a sort of futuristic version of Dirty Harry, a tough, no nonsense cop whose abilities to act as cop, judge, and jury, was perfectly suited for life in Mega City One. The stories feature loads of action, underscored by fair amounts of humor and parody.

One such tale is the “Fists of Stan Lee” with art by Kitson. Dredd runs into a vigilante who is a martial arts expert. It’s one of the few times we actually see Dredd not only lose a perp, but allow him to get the better of Dredd.

Another tale filled with droll humor is the “Phantom of the Shoppera”. Dredd is on the tale of a masked phantom who has kidnapped his secret love…no, not the cute girl but a rather perplexed gentleman who is hoisted away to the Phantom’s secret lair in the shopping mall rafters. Hilarious tale!

“The Taxidermist” is a four-part story. A mob boss employs a taxidermist to stuff the bodies of the men who killed his son in a shootout. Stuffing bodies is quite legal in the city but you have to have the proper death certificates and documentation. The poor taxidermist finds himself caught between the mob and Dredd!

Even the King of Pop, Michael Jackson makes an appearance in the book in a story called, “The Comeback”. Long frozen in a cryogenic chamber, “Jaxon” is thawed out and even Dredd is interested in seeing the former pop icon.

And on it goes with lots of bullets and blood, but more laughs than you might imagine. A treasure chest full of fun for Judge Dredd fans.

PELLET REVIEWS!

Sentences: The Life of M.F. Grimm (DC/Vertigo; by Mike) – Percy Carey’s graphic novel memoir is an extremely engaging read. The narrative voice engages the reader’s attention and gets you involved in Carey’s decisions. He doesn’t apologize for much, despite being involved in some truly awful and illegal dealings, but Carey brings a sense of wisdom and understanding to his recounting of youthful indiscretions. Despite capturing the aesthetic of urban street life, artist Ron Wimberly’s art could be tighter at times, as characters are sometimes difficult to distinguish. To his credit, however, the visual storytelling is consistently engaging and compelling, and Wimberly’s skill at framing a panel to accentuate the problems a wheelchair-bound Carey must cope with are formidable. Sentences is a challenging and uplifting narrative for fans of hip-hop or of life.

Incredible Hulk Visionaries: Peter David vol. 5 (Marvel; by Mike) – For fans who like to argue about the importance of writer or artist in the creation of a comic book, this book stands as the perfect example of why such arguments are completely useless. After the opening three chapters by workmanlike artist Jeff Purves, penciller Dale Keown took over as the regular Hulk artist, and the improvement in story quality is remarkable. Crisp storytelling, powerful character acting and Keown’s massive Hulk all work to support Peter David’s careful exploration of the inner workings of Bruce Banner’s shattered psyche. Though some of the surface plots are just average comic book adventuring (Freedom Force, the Defenders), the ongoing evolution of Banner and the Hulk’s mindscape continues to make this series of collected editions more compelling than 95% of the superhero comics on the shelves today.

Ultimate Origins #3 (Marvel Comics; Reviewed by Richard): As much as I may be a fan of the Ultimate Universe, I am finding no real enjoyment in Ultimate Origins as the story continues to spin its wheels and the reader waits for something to happen. Nothing of great importance occurs with the mysterious relic that makes an appearance to every major group or individual in the Ultimate U during the course of this issue. Bendis does reveal more about the relationship between Professor X and Magneto, but that really felt unnecessary and overly long. The scene is further muted as we know a betrayal is just around the corner (and the scenes seem to do very little to advance the overall story). Jackson Guice does a solid job on the art, but with little story, no action and no reason to care, I can’t help but feel his talents are being wasted on a title that should be full of big revelations with lots of explosions and fighting. For a five issue mini-series, I really was expecting the story to pick up, but much like House of M, it seems to want to drift in place for no particular reason.

"Batman R.I.P. Roundup": Detective Comics #847, Nightwing #147, Robin #176 (DC Comics; review by Rev. O.J. Flow): I pride myself in being one of those readers who manages to stick with only the books I normally get and ignore the others in the event of multi-book crossovers, but the stars seemed to be in alignment in terms of me breaking from tradition. I always get Detective Comics, though it was accompanied by two other related titles that are not in my regular rotation, Nightwing and Robin, and both were fueled by writer and artist teams worth the leap of faith. While the overall package of "Batman R.I.P." tie-ins require a scorecard the Elias Sports Bureau would need overtime to tabulate, the three books on their own merits are pretty good reads and a major upgrade from the last Batman crossover, "The Return of Ra's al Ghul." Going back to the scorecard analogy, the only thing detracting from the stories in all three of these books is the lack of clear-cut timelines and the not-so-obvious connections to the bigger story being told in Batman. For example, in Nightwing, lead antagonist Two-Face mentions to the titular character that the Dark Knight is roaming Gotham City in his new Technicolor costume, but isn't Dick Grayson an inmate of Arkham Asylum thanks to the Black Glove at that point? That being said, the first part of "The Great Leap" here (written by Peter Tomasi with art by Don Kramer) is a crackerjack action piece with Dick accepting the unenviable request of Harvey Dent to protect an old law colleague. I don't know about you, but the opening sequence in book's the first two pages seems to hint at a major shift in the status quo for all of the Bat-books. The seeds of a major change in Robin can also be found in his own book. Written by Fabian Nicieza and drawn by Joe Bennett, Robin #176 finds the titular character once again doubting his relationship with his mentor, and it's no surprise that his longtime peer, the Spoiler, is caught in the middle. Despite not buying this title AT ALL in years, the story was fairly accessible in the big "R.I.P." picture. Ironically, the one book I routinely purchase that actually DID star Batman, Detective Comics #847, proved to be another stellar Paul Dini/Dustin Nguyen production, but darn if I could tell you where it fits into that same "R.I.P." scheme. The second part of "The Heart of Hush" provides plenty of invaluable insight on the background of Hush, and in the process showcases a more innocent time in Bruce Wayne's life before a senseless act of violence changed his life forever. Catwoman and Zatanna also figure big in this story, as does the Scarecrow in a interesting bit of retroactive storytelling. I'd appreciate the "R.I.P." banner heading on this title a whole lot more if its relevance was better explained.

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