About the Author:
Dave Gibbons is a British writer and illustrator.
AVERAGE REVIEW SCORE:
3.6 out of 5
Batman Versus Predator
(Art by Andy Kubert and Adam Kubert)
This is, without a doubt, my favourite graphic novel of all time. As a kid, despite being exposed to the Adam West version, Batman was always my favourite superhero. Then in my teens I saw a film called 'Predator' which introduced me to the fascinating concept of an alien who kills not for food or out of anger but for sport. An unstoppable creature with superior technology and a rigid code of honour. It was years later when I discovered that these two icons of my youth had faced off against each other. So eventually I got a copy of this book and it didn't disappoint at all.
The Predator seems made for the dark gritty streets of Gotham and Batman's detective skills had the perfect foil in an invisible alien killing machine. The back and forth of the story as Batman attempts to counter the Predator's superior technology makes for exciting reading until, finally, both combatants are stripped back to level footing for a face off.
Perhaps my favourite element of the book is the subtle, and often humourous, use of the Predator's voice copying abilities. In fact, the best bit of the story involves Batman bashing the Predator with a baseball bat and saying "It's me, Batman" to which the reeling Predator replies "Bat. Aha ha hahaha!". The ending is clever and perfectly captures the feeling of that moment in 'Predator 2' where Danny Glover just wins the battle of his life, only to be faced with a dozen more Predators.
Read it if you have any interest whatsoever in either franchise.
5 out of 5
(Art by Ivan Reis, Joe Prado, Joe Bennett, Marc Campos, Oclair Albert and Jack Jadson)
Part of the Countdown to Infinite Crisis series. When the planet Rann is transported into the same system as its old enemy Thanagar, it sparks off a war that rapidly spreads across the galaxy. Amid the fighting Adam Stranger, Hawkman, Hawkwoman, Hawkgirl, Captain Comet and Green Lantern Kyle Rayner find themselves confronting the true sinister force behind the conflict, the soul-eating demigod Onimar Synn.
Whilst I enjoyed the epic story of warfare portrayed here, it was detracted from by two major factors. The first is simply that I'm not a huge reader of DC Comics and therefore am largely unfamiliar with the characters, places and situations featured here (with the exception of Kyle Rayner). This meant that I didn't have that familiar connection to the story that I would have if it featured things like Gotham City or Superman. Because of this the death of one of the main characters lacked the same impact as, say, the death of Blue Beetle in 'The OMAC Project'.
The other detracting factor was that this book ends with the war still in progress and a completely unexplained cosmic vortex appearing. This is clearly part of the lead-in to 'Infinite Crisis', but leaves you devoid of that feeling of resolution that a stand-alone story should have.
3 out of 5
(Art by Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez)
An Elseworlds story which begins with baby Kal-El's rocket crashlanding in Medieval England and goes on to tell a version of Superman's tale recast as an Arthurian tragedy.
I won't lie, most of the Elseworlds books I've read so far have been pretty underwhelming. It usually seems that they begin with a clever 'what if...?' idea but then feel like they don't have to deliver on anything beyond that. So, I wasn't holding out much hope for this book actually amounting to anything more than 'What if Superman was a Medieval knight?'.
Thankfully, I was pleasantly surprised. Perhaps it's because Gibbons is British and the Medieval romances of Robin Hood and King Arthur are carved bone-deep into our cultural consciousness, but this book brilliantly escapes the potential pitfalls of coming across as a Disney-fied Middle Ages-meets-superhero story. Instead, Gibbons does a great job of adapting the source material into a surprisingly compelling Arthurian tragedy.
And the squeamish should take note of my use of the world 'tradgedy', because this book does actually go to some pretty dark extremes; much like actual mythology does. This is not a 'Superman-lived-happily-ever-after' story.
4 out of 5
World's Finest: Book One - Worlds Apart
(Art by Steve Rude and Karl Kesel)
The paths of Superman and Batman cross when their respective arch-enemies, Lex Luthor and the Joker, begin to operate in the other's territory. Joker undertakes a crime spree in Metropolis whilst Luthor begins buying up real-estate in Gotham, but a further mystery begins to evolve around an orphanage caring for children from both cities.
This story ostensibly takes place relatively early in the careers of Superman and Batman, so there's a nice feeling of these two very different heroes not trusting one another but coming to respect each other increasingly. I also liked the matching of Joker and Luthor, both of whom are highly intelligent but who respresent opposite ends of the anarchy/control scale of villainy.
Honestly, this book is too short to develop much in and of itself, but I do have Book Two (of three) ready to go and am looking forward to seeing more.
3 out of 5
World's Finest: Book Two - Worlds Collide
(Art by Steve Rude and Karl Kesel)
Whilst Superman investigates Lex Luthor's new business activities in Gotham, Batman travels to Metropolis to put an end to the Joker's crime spree.
There's nothing terribly substantial about this book and the plotline about the orphanage (begun in Book One) doesn't really go anywhere of interest.
However, it has to be said that there remains something fundamentally compelling about watching Luthor and Joker match wits. Also, I really enjoyed seeing Batman operating in the daylight art deco streets of Metropolis, whilst Superman finds himself in the slums and crime districts of Gotham at night.
3 out of 5