Book Review – Batula by Steven T. Seagle

Title: Batula

Author:  Steven T. Seagle

Illustrator:  Marco Cinello

Format: Hardback

Published: 2012

 

Tomorrow is Halloween so I figure this is probably the most seasonably appropriate book I shall read. While it is seasonably appropriate it is not scary in the least.  It’s all about a fruit bat turned vampire.  Yes you read that correctly.  A fruit bat who has been bitten by a vampire.  Okay with that out in the air, I would like to back track into how I came to read this book.

 

It was a while back from now that I found myself perusing the comics at my local shop when I found the book.  It hat my attention at the title.  I mean really what is there not to love about bats?  Yes I am fond of the little winged rodents of the night.  Not my favorite critter in the world but a fascinating creature all the same.  Of course the title alone speaks of Dracula so I was intrigued further to the point of reading the back of the book.  It was at this point that I found myself having the need to possess this books at it makes many a promise that was just too good to pass up.  Generally speaking when we hit the three win mark I know it is a book I’m interested in.  This book promised me more than 3 win points, and I shall list out the win points this book has beyond the fact of being a children’t comic (which is a neutral point as this can be both a good and bad thing depending on the content).  Win 1 – The story is about bats,  Win 2 – The story is about Vampires  Win 2.5 – The story is  about a bat that is turned into a vampire (I mean really that has to count for something!  Win 3 – There is a ‘werewolf’ in the story (really for me this should count as a double win as I love werewolves even if this ‘werewolf’ is a werewolf spider named Wulf).  Win 4 – This book was published by Image Comics which is a publisher I generally trust as most everything I’ve read produced by them has been quite good.  Win 5 – The back cover is enticing in format Win 6 – The cover is really cute/good in my opinion.  (See image bellow.)

 

Needless to say 6 wins told me that this as a must own book! Of course, there is the adage of never judge a book by it’s cover and honest to goodness I didn’t judge on cover alone – I did use the blurb on the back as a guide as well.  Now I will say now that book isn’t bad but it doesn’t deliver on the promises it makes or at least the immense potential that this story could produce.

 

To be honest, the story was very direct and straight forward even for a children’s picture book.  It told a rather bland story about Livingston the fruit bat who was turned into a vampire bat met the spider Wulf and stopped an attack on his orchard all the while garnering attention and adoration from the other bats who didn’t notice him much because he learned to like himself.  Yet, while the story was lacking the pictures held up very well, a lot of the images were adorable and I loved looking at them, even as I write this post I’ve flipped through the book a few more times taking the time to examine the pictures and appreciate the art work for what it is.  In looking through the book a second time it has won and charmed me a bit more than the first time through.

 

Also, I feel it should be noted that while this book was done by Image Comics and was in the comic book store, it is not fashioned like a comic book, it is more fashioned like a children’s picture book.  In the end, the book wasn’t quite what I expected and didn’t live up the the win score it promised me from the start but it was still a decent read, I still love the art work and if there were to be another Batula adventure I would probably read it as this story was still something of an introduction to the character and there is a lot of potential when it comes to the character and the stories one can tell with him.  So because of the adorable artwork I think this book can come in at at 4 out of 5, particularly for a children’s book.  If you judge it on story content alone (which you can’t really and shouldn’t as the art tells a story too) or on a book among all books the story would be a 3 out of 5 for me.

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Book Review – Batman Turning Points

Title: Batman Turning Points

Author: Greg Rucka, Ed Brubaker and Chuck Dixon

Illustrator: Steve Lieber, Joe Giella, Dick Giordano, Bob Smith, Bret Anderson, Paul Pope, and Claude St. Aubin

Format: Paperback

Published: 2007

 

Despite my disappointment with the last Batman centric comic I read I decided to pick another one up as it features Jim Gordon in it.  Yes I have become a Gotham junkie and am loving the show, though I don’t know how far one can go in the city of Batman when Batman is a mere child but all the same the TV series peaked my interest in Jim Gordon and this comic explores the relationship between Batman and Jim Gordon.  As the title of the book proclaims each store is about a turning point in the relationship of these two characters.

 

Each comic is its own stand alone story and you know that there are a lot of story that happens between each chapter.  So if you are new to Batman and don’t know a lot of over arching story you may want to avoid this comic in all.  The first chapter is really the start of the friendship between Batman and Jim Gordon before he was even the commissioner.  It was a rough time for the young Jim Gordon but because of it it helped to form the relationship between the two men as they have both lost much and can relate to one another.  The story goes on to a time where Jim is a fair bit older and he is struggling with the fact that Batman has taken on a young prodigy that is nothing more than a child.  The story covers some after math after the Killing Joke a and even the after math of when Bane broke Batman.  The story is interesting to say the least and it is quite gripping as you see the incredibly human side of Batman and Jim Gordon and over all it was a great story.

 

As a devoted fan of Batman, I loved the story and found it very difficult to put down.  It had my interest from the start and didn’t let go even if it jumped along the Batman time line it crafted a good story and showed the turning points of the relationship between Batman and Jim Gordon.  It was a strong story that had a nice conclusion.  If you are new to the Batman universe start somewhere else, anyone else this is a very worth read and I would give this comic a strong 4 out of 5 pages.

Book Reivew – A Practical Guide to Vampires by Treval Vorgard

Title: A Practical Guide to Vampires

Author:  Treval Vorgard (this is a pen name)

Illustrator: (22 different Illustrators) directed by Kate Irwin

Format: Hardback

Published: 2009

 

Never thought you would see a regular book review from me?  Thought you were doomed to read reviews of comic books and Manga?  Well dear readers I grant you a small reprieve with an actual book!  It is a small thin book but it was a pleasure to read all the same.  Though this is being presented to you mid November this book was actually picked up by me and read in the middle of October so the season was calling for such a book as this.  Not to mention my brain has been itching to write an idea I have with werewolves and vampires but that is another store for another time – literally.

 

Anyway this book was sitting on the main display at the library and it with another book drew my attention in and I decided to grab this book.  I have done my fair share of research on vampires and werewolves and the various legends and I’ve decided it was high time I look a little deeper.  Now I will tell you right off that this book did not take me much deeper.  Though it is classified as a non fiction book it is more fiction than not.  Though the book had its short comings it was still an amusing read.  At the very least I decided to keep reading it when a friend was asking me to play a game with her.  I am a fiend when it comes to games particularly puzzle games and that was the type of game I was being offered.  (I muliti- tasked and read and played at the same time.)

 

Over all it was a quick read and gave you a glimpse of vampires and what they are like but nothing in particular detail, the drawings were quite nice and really for a children’s book it was quite good.  I will also admit that this book introduced me to some added monsters I did not know about such as the Illithid and I was amused at the vampire games listed in the book.

 

So if you are looking for a light read, want a basic gasp of vampires or have a kid that is intrigued by the creatures of the night this book is the place to go.  It  is easy to read and follow and the side notes from the author who is just as much a character of the book as the fiction and story that is created in this non-fiction format are somewhat amusing.  Over all I would give this book a 3 out of 5.

Book Review – Batman War Crimes

Title: Batman War Crimes

Authors: Anderson Gabrych, Devin Grayson, Bill Willingham, Bruce Jones, & Will Pfeifer

Format: Paperback

Published:  2006

 

I will start this review with a warning to readers that my next several reviews are going to be comics and manga as I went on a massive comic manga kick as they are quick and easy to read and I happen to really like them so bear with me during this time and I promise real books will come eventually!  Today I am presenting you with Batman War Crimes.  If you have read a lot of my reviews, you know that I am a big Batman fan particularly when it comes to the Boy Wonder Robin.  My affinity sits chiefly with Tim Drake also known as the Red Robin.  Considering that there isn’t a lot of Red Robin comics and a lot of other stories I have ventured out into other Batman and Robin comics, several of which I have not reviewed, for that I am sorry.

 

Anyway the back of this comic got my attention as this story takes place after the death of Stephanie Brown as Robin.  She was the next person to take on the role of Robin when Tim retired for a while from the cowl.  I had read the story where he retired and I would love to continue reading what happens there and I thought though I’m missing all of Stephanie Brown’s time as Robin this could be interesting this might be a really good comic!  I picked it off the library shelf and was excited to read it but it was nothing compared to the other comics I read.  Tim made an appearance but it wasn’t for long and it wasn’t a very strong or memorable story.

 

The gist of the story here is that Batman is getting blamed for Stephanie’s death and the death of other people as he is being framed for these other deaths as there is another person who is running around in the cowl pretending to be him.  This story follows Batman as he tries to get to the bottom of things and understand how and why Stephanie dies because it shouldn’t have happened.  It is to be honest a very dark time for the Bats as he deals with this and to me it is clear that he is dealing with a lot of guilt about the situation as well and thus becoming obsessed with his work.  To match and reflect the darkness of the story the drawing are very dark and gritty and the lines are very angular.  I’m not as fond of the artistic style found in this story.  There were really a lot of artists, letterers, inkers, and colorists involved with this story,  20 to be exact (this is why they are not listed in the specs about the book).

 

In short, I was not that enthused or gripped by the story like I have been with all other stories I have read of course this wasn’t focused on Robin and that might be the big difference as everything else I have read has a focus on Robin and I expected the same here to have a focus on a Robin.  So I will give this a 2 out of 5 pages as I wouldn’t really recommend this as a story to read or own.  It was what it was and I appreciate it for that but really you are not missing much if you skip this read in the overarching story of Batman and his Robins.  At the very least the plot important things found in this story can be easily picked up in other stories that have a much higher entertainment value than this comic.

Book Review – Batman: Battle for the Cowl by Tony S. Daniel

Title:  Batman: Battle for the Cowl

Author:  Tony S. Daniel

Published: 2009

Format: Paperback

 

I will admit that I am reading this particular story arch rather backwards.  I started with Red Robin (which has become my obsession) who was searching for Batman because he didn’t believe he had died.  I have now branched out to read the store of the after math following Batman’s death that precursors Tim’s search for the Dark Knight.

In this story the “bat family” have enlisted and called upon the help of other super heroes to help keep Gotham in lines as it had turned to turmoil since the disappearance of Batman.  As the city and the super heroes try to recoup things continue to spiral downward through the void left by the lack of Batman.  These problems strongly indicate that there is a need for a new man to step up and take the mantle of Batman and stand for what he stood for.

Yet in this story the question remains as who?  The logical response would be for Nightwing aka Dick Grayson the first Robin to take the mantle but he is hesitant and while he hesitates, Tim Drake steps up to don the cowl as there is a need and there is another deranged being who has tried to take on the mantle of Batman but with a rather loose interpretation of Batman’s morals such as killing criminals rather than arresting them and using guns.  The question then sits who is this new poser as Batman, can the super heroes stop this man and keep Gotham in one piece as a gang war breaks out among many other near disastrous moments?

I admit that as I was reading this comic I was constantly turning from one page to the next to the next review pages over and over again taking in the great artwork and the meaning of what was going on.  This was a powerful story that I know I will probably read again.  My biggest complaint and is that there were characters in this story that I am less familiar with such as Squire.  I think it is cool that other super heroes came to help and I love the idea but my knowledge is limited to the world of batman.  There wasn’t major history that I needed and though I may not know anything about Squire I could still follow along with story and it really wasn’t a big problem.

Over all I would give this story a 4 out of 5.

 

BONUS

 

Title: Gotham Gazette

Author: Fabian Nicieza

Published: 2009

Format:  Paperback

 

At the end of Battle for the cowl was a bonus story called Gotham Gazette.  When I hit this particular story I was given pause as the art style and storytelling changed.  Additionally there was a strong focus on several tertiary characters to the Gotham and Batman story so I have very little reference point to work from which made the story rather confusing to me.  I read it any way as a lot of it was some of the after math to what happened in Battle for the Cowl.

 

This story was a lot more difficult to get through save for at the end when the characters I know such as Tim and Dick made an appearance it helped set up a bit for the Red Robin series.  Additionally toward the end the story was also leading to someone figuring out the Bat secret and that to me is an interesting story arch but it didn’t delve far into it leaving me almost hanging.  The story ended well and I understand it ending but it was disappointing for me to get interested in a plot that ends a bit prematurely and is carried on a bit in a different story.

 

Over all, I think I would give this bonus content a low three out of five pages.  It wasn’t bad enough for a two though I found the art style to be a bit odd and drab and the story to be a bit flat but it wasn’t terrible and it did give me some entertainment and helped to set up for the future stories that I have already read.

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