Category Archives: Comics

Reviews of comics, graphic novels, manga.

Batman: White Knight and Batman: Curse of the White Knight

Batman: Curse of the White Knight

Batman: White Knight
DC Comics
Writer: Sean Murphy
Artist: Sean Murphy & Matt Hollingsworth
FC, 232 pgs, $19.99 US

Batman: Curse of the White Knight
DC Comics
Writer: Sean Murphy
Artist: Sean Murphy & Matt Hollingsworth
FC, 272 pgs, $29.99 US

It’s difficult to find a good superhero story.


Let me back that up.

It is difficult to find a superhero story that can be understood and enjoyed and makes a lasting impact without first requiring you to be intimately familiar with a character’s back catalog. Don’t get me wrong. One of the great joys of comics is following characters issue to issue in familiar situations, fighting familiar faces, with just enough freshness to keep the pages turning. Shake it up a bit. Get a response from the reader. Reset. Creative roster change. Slap a new title on it. New #1. Do it all again. Nothing wrong with that.

But, man, those gems that can be handed to an interested reader, a curious reader, the kind of book that can grip and not let go. Those are rare. I keep mental lists. Most recently it has been Batman. What are the rare gems? Year One, Dark Knight Returns, Batman 100, The Long Halloween, Dark Mirror, Red Rain. There are others but it’s not a long list considering the age of the property.

But there is a new addition: Batman The White Knight by Sean Murphy and now Curse of the White Knight, which is the sequel by the same creative team.

I got into The White Knight because of Sean Murphy’s art. Of course he wants to write Batman. Who wouldn’t, right?! But could he do it? It did not matter to me. I waned to see the art– Murphy’s riffs on iconinc Batman characters and material. I was not disappointed with the visuals.

But the story! Whoah. Solid once he got past the opening action sequences and settled into dialogue and plot. Joker goes straight. Makes Batman look like the bad man. Good hook. I didn’t think it would deliver. It sure did.

The sequel builds on Murphy’s take on Batman and the Joker. He adds new layers, new complications, new surprises. And these will stick. He’s allowed to do his own thing. No reset in this vision.

Former knowledge is welcome but not required. He gives you what you need. Little touches. Gives you the flavour. And let’s be honest– if you’re picking up a Batman comic chances are you know the fundamentals of the character.

I don’t talk about superheroes very often. Other ComicReaders are far more capable. But White Knight and Curse of the White Knight have me yapping. Both will enjoy a long shelf life. (Chad Boudreau)

Kaijumax Season 5

Kaijumax Season 5 issue #1
Oni Press
Writer: Zander Cannon
Artist: Zander Cannon
FC, 32 pgs, $3.99 US

Zander Cannon’s Kaijumax is unlike anything I’ve read in comics and with so many comics being published these days I think that is a high compliment. Giant monsters (kaiju) incarcerated on a prison island run by Ultraman / Power Rangers / Voltron style guards. Cannon has said it’s HBO’s prison drama Oz with monsters and I can think of no better way to describe it in so few words. It is as unsettling, uncompromising, and socially relevant as that show…but with monsters.

Season 5 begins with Pokemon style creatures running an illegal fight tournament where kidnapped children are forced to battle each other. A raid breaks up the illegal activity and its “don”, a green, Pikachu-like badass named Pikadon is sent to the prison island, thus exciting the hopes of a class of inmates that have all escaped from a capsule, ball or watch at sometime in the past. You see, they’ve never had a leader to organize them and they now see Pikadon as a way to gain some territory and respect.

I think the heart of this particular “season” is going to be Sharkmon, a recovering addict who runs the prison barbershop. He is beaten and robbed by other inmates, teased about homosexual tendencies, and is currently den mother to a devil/goat/man that was turned into a regular goat in a previous “season”. That goat’s soulful, sad eyes is a constant reminder of Cannon’s talent, by the way.

I’ve managed to hook at least five other people on Kaijumax in trade paperback form. Now, if only I had the same success with Eric Powell’s The Goon. (Chad Boudreau)

Something is Killing the Children

Something is Killing the Children volume 1

Something is Killing the Children volume 1
Boom Studios
Writer: James Tynion IV
Artist: Werther Dell’Edera
FC, 128 pgs, $14.99 US

What caught my eye with this series was its title: “Something is Killing the Children.” A co-worker of mine has it on her file and I seem to recall asking her what the story was about. Her reply was something along the lines of “Well, something is killing the children….”

Sometimes you get what is exactly what is being advertised.

Something IS killing children and in the first issue we see a fit, punk-ish blonde go into the woods to track, fight and kill the something. She is bad-ass, of course. When I learned later that her name is Erica Slaughter I thought “come on” and almost quit reading. What kept me going though was the story of the survivors introduced: a young boy whose friends were all horribly torn apart at a slumber party, and a young man whose sister has gone missing. The quiet moments of regret, remorse, and uncertainty were the meat of the story for me. Fighting monsters, well, I can get that in a lot of comics. I stuck with it though and now six issues later I’m still in.

Something is Killing the Children was originally planned as a five-issue miniseries but it was extended based on the strength of its sales. Issue #6 hints at a larger story in the background, involving Erica Slaughter’s origins and the organization / family in which she seems to belong.

Writer James Tynion IV is perhaps most widely known for his successful run on Batman and Detective Comics. He did his time in the advertising business before breaking into comics thanks to Scott Snyder, who asked Tynion to co-write a back-up feature in Batman during the Court of Owls story arc. You might also know Tynion from The Woods, a 36-issue series he did with Boom Studios, which also publishes Something is Killing the Children. Italian artist Werther Dell’Edera provides the interiors. I know his work from the overlooked and too short Briggs Land. In Something is Killing the Children he employs a rough looseness in scenes of action and violence.

Some of the individual parts of this series wouldn’t hold my interest alone, but taken as a whole, Something is Killing the Children is poised to remain on my reading pile. (Chad Boudreau)

Mr. Higgins Comes Home

Mr. Higgins Comes Home
Dark Horse Comics
Writer: Mike Mignola
Artist: Warwick Johnson-Cadwell
FC, 56 pgs, $14.99 US

I’ve read so much of the Mignolaverse that I feel like I’m running out of material. Mignola and his collaborators are still releasing new product but it was kind of nice to have a backlog of trade paperbacks and floppies on my reading pile because I could read Mignola when I wanted to read Mignola. There was no waiting for new releases.

For some strange reason I have extra time on my hands around the store these days so I wandered among the shelves and spied a Mignola book not yet in my collection: Mr. Higgins Comes Home. I bought it. Got to support local, you know.

A pair of fearless vampire hunters question a man hidden in a monastery. Meanwhile, at Castle Golga, preparations are underway for the annual celebration of the undead. The man– Mr. Higgins– has a history with Castle Golga and does not want to return. The hunters, though, need him in their fight to rid the world of vampires.

This story feels a lot like the old movie The Fearless Vampire Hunters in the best of ways. The landscape, the castle, the vampire hunters, the bits of comedy sprinkled around. The familiarity is easily overlooked when one spends time with the art as provided by Warwick Johnson-Cadwell. Every panel is packed with delicious detail– the rooms filled with knick-knacks; the scenery lush. The relatively simple character faces are expressive. There is a strange flatness to some of the panels and a crookedness to others. The designs are other-worldly and sinister, and yet also whimsical without being dismissive of its subject matter.

I was not familiar with the artist but a quick Google search revealed his UK origins, where he has worked in editorial illustration, concept design, storyboarding, and narrative art of various forms. Listed among his clients is Aardman Animation!

There are many things I miss while having ComicReaders closed to the public. One of those things is watching people browse and discover comics. My love of Mignola as a writer and artist led me to Mr. Higgins Comes Home and Warick Johnson-Cadwell. I am grateful for the opportunity to make that discovery. (Chad Boudreau)