Barr, Mike W.
AVERAGE REVIEW SCORE:
2 out of 5
Batman: Year Two
(Art by Alan Davis, Todd McFarlane, Paul Neary and Alfredo Alcala)
Early in Batman's crimefighting career he is confronted by the return of a far more violent vigilante from Gotham's past, the Reaper. In order to stop the Reaper's murder spree, Batman reluctantly allies himself with Gotham's underworld, including the man who killed his parents, Joe Chill.
The introduction to this book by the author explains that he had the idea of retelling Batman's early days years before the opportunity arose. That is the single way that Barr gets one-up on Frank Miller's 'Batman: Year One'. This certainly isn't a sequel to 'Year One' and is far inferior to it in just about every possible way, including weight, depth and tone. In short, just go read that other book.
If you want a few more specifics about this book's failings then they include, but are not limited to: a villain who is supposed to be dark and threatening but just comes off as silly and disposable; out-of-character behaviour for all of the more familiar characters and a total failure to show us anything new or insighful about Bruce Wayne.
The worst element of this book, however, is all of the horribly contrived plot tension. For example, not only is the Reaper the father of Bruce Wayne's latest love interest, but that love interest is also on the verge of abandoning love and becoming a nun. Neither of these things proves particularly relevant to the plot and are just there to create false tension. Far worse is the fact that Batman is forced to become partners with Joe Chill (for no logical reason) but is secretly planning to kill Chill with the very gun that killed Thomas and Martha Wayne. For starters, it's never explained how he came by that gun or why he's keeping it like some sick memento, but anyone who has every heard of Batman will know immediately that there's exactly a 0% chance of him actually using it to murder Chill. The whole subplot is therefore pointless and, honestly, the version of Bruce's confrontation with Chill originally told in a comic from 1947 is far better (whilst still not being very good itself).
2 out of 5
Star Wars: The Clone Wars - The Starcrusher Trap
(Art by the Fillbach Brothers)
22 BBY. The Jedi undertake a mission to destroy the Separatists' newest superweapon, the Starcrusher, but it soon becomes obvious that the mission is a trap aimed directly at the Jedi themselves.
Generally, this is just a run-of-the-mill Clone Wars story in which the likes of Anakin, Obi-Wan and Ahsoka charge around with their lightsabers and make distinctly unfunny quips.
I did like the inclusion of the Jedi Jyl Somtay from a hard-to-find short story but that positive point is offset by the fact that, with Jyl around, Ahsoka begins acting like Anakin's jealous girlfriend. This is distinctly uncomfortable considering a) he's married and b) she's fourteen!
2 out of 5