Book: Batman: Year One by Frank Miller (Writer), David Mazzucchelli (Illustrator), Richmond Lewis (Colorist)
Genre: Fiction/Graphic Novel/Comic Book/Superhero
From master storyteller Frank Miller ("Batman: The Dark Knight Returns", "Sin City") comes the most incredible Batman story of all...and the inspiration for the worldwide smash-hit movie "Batman Begins!"
Lieutenant James Gordon takes up a new post in the crime-ridden and corrupt city of Gotham, while billionaire Bruce Wayne returns to the scene of his parents' deaths, intent on avenging their memory. Each faces trials and challenges of their own, only for their lives to become irrevocably and potentially tragically intertwined...
This all-new, deluxe edition features new introductions by Miller and Mazzuchelli, pencils, promotional and unseen art, script pages and much more.
When DC decided to modernise their characters, they ran into a problem with Batman: his dark origin story already fitted the direction they were trying to go. Instead of redoing his origin story, they decided to fill in the blanks with Year One.
Year One tells the story of Bruce Wayne stepping back into Gotham City, finally ready to avenge his parents. It's also the story of Gordon, not yet a commissioner, who takes a job in Gotham for the sake of his wife and learns just what it takes to be a cop in the world's most corrupt city. Lastly, it's the story of Selina, who realises she can escape her life as a Gotham prostitute for a much more fun career.
The included extras are some of the best I've ever seen. There's cover art from the printed single-volume comics and previous collections of Year One, scripts, a short autobiographical comic by David Mazzucchelli with examples of his older work, and some examples of the colouring differences between the original comic and the printed collections. I'm particularly fond of the last two extras: the autobiographical story is a short and fun read, and the colouring comparisons really showcase what a great change the new colours make to the story.
Genre: Graphic Novels/Comics/Noir/Crime
Detective John Blacksad returns, with a new case that takes him to a 1950s New Orleans filled with hot jazz and cold-blooded murder! Hired to discover the fate of a celebrated pianist, Blacksad finds his most dangerous mystery yet in the midst of drugs, voodoo, the rollicking atmosphere of Mardi Gras, and the dark underbelly that it hides!
This is possibly Juanjo Guarnido's finest artwork so far, following his black cat detective to sunny New Orleans and featuring a stunning Mardi Gras parade sequence.
However, the storytelling seems to fall flatter than the last collectio. Flashbacks are handled clumsily with almost no indication that we're in a different timeline, and there's less bite to the story: Blacksad has no personal connection to the people involved, and there's less of the serious political themes of the last volume.
This collection contains one full issue of Blacksad, two two-page short stories, and a bucketload of notes from the artist about why he colours his panels the way he does. The art explanations are fun for a while, but I can only read so much about the comic's art theory before getting tired of it. After the packed-to-the-brim first Blacksad collection this is a little disappointing, but perhaps that's only because I was expecting another three collected issues.
(I've been falling behind on my reviews lately, and I'm trying to make up for that. Prepare yourself, dear readers, for a sudden increase in reviews while I play catch-up.)
Genre: Graphic Novels/Comics/Noir/Crime
Private investigator John Blacksad is up to his feline ears in mystery, digging into the backstories behind murders, child abductions, and nuclear secrets. Guarnido's sumptuously painted pages and rich cinematic style bring the world of 1950s America to vibrant life, with Canales weaving in fascinating tales of conspiracy, racial tension, and the "red scare" Communist witch hunts of the time. Guarnido reinvents anthropomorphism in these pages, and industry colleagues no less than Will Eisner, Jim Steranko, and Tim Sale are fans Whether John Blacksad is falling for dangerous women or getting beaten to within an inch of his life, his stories are, simply put, unforgettable.
I picked this comic up after seeing a sample of some of it's art floating around Tumblr (link NSFW, but I've included some work safe images throughout this post). The artist previously worked for Disney and has some amazing skills, which show in his ridiculously detailed backgrounds and the way he humanises his characters while keeping their animal designs.
Art like you'll see in this post, where illustrated animals act like humans, has kind of a bad rap around the internet. It gets given the 'furry' label a lot, referring to a subculture who like humanised/anthromorphized animal art, and since a lot of furry art is smut the comics get dismissed as smut too.
That's no use at all, because while some comics with humanised animals unfortunately go this route the best ones don't. To name a few: Lackadaisy (a gorgeous free-to-read online comic dealing with the dangerous life of rumrunners in Prohibition-era America, using anthro cats), Maus (the story of a Holocaust survivor, using mice) and of course Blacksad.
This collection contains three volumes of the comic, making three separate stories. It starts out with that old noir cliche 'the beautiful woman I loved is mysteriously dead' which felt like I was re-reading Sin City, but it was a great opportunity to see hardboiled detective John Blacksad' struggling to deal with loss. From there the writer/illustrator team take on bolder, braver territory, and it works fantastically. Second volume Arctic Nation takes on racism and inter-racial violence, and seeing animals act like racist dirtbags to other animals somehow reinforces how horrible this is when done by humans. Third volume Red Soul takes things an even further step up, bringing in communism and nuclear power struggles.
With flawless, amazingly detailed and expressive art and tactful, powerful storytelling, this collection is a gem amongst European comics. Highly recommended to all fans of comics like Sin City, Lackadaisy or Maus, or people who just want to look at some brilliant art.