Tag: Batman

Superman: Red Son by Mark Millar

Posted February 3, 2016 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Graphic Novel / 0 Comments

Superman: Red Son by Mark MillarTitle: Superman: Red Son (Goodreads)
Author: Mark Millar
Artist: Dave Johnson
Published: DC Comics, 2014
Pages: 168
Genres: Graphic Novel
My Copy: Library Book

Buy: AmazonBook DepositoryKindle (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

What if Superman never crashed in Smallville Kansas? What if he lands in the Soviet Union? How different would the story be? Mark Millar has created this alternative history in Superman: Red Son. Growing up in a Ukrainian collective farm, Red Son explores an alternate version of the Cold War. Rather than fighting for ‘truth, justice and the American way’, Superman works with Joseph Stalin and champions the communist ideals.

I was a little hesitant in reading Superman: Red Son; there was always a chance that this mini-series would just be propaganda, proclaiming the brilliance of Capitalism and the American way. While there is a little of this that bleeds through, for the most part, Mark Millar has taken a fair approach. If you think about the ideals that Superman has, it does closely align with the Communist ideal; equality for all. In the graphic novel, we often see Superman and Soviet leaders in disagreements about the way things should be done, reminding them of their own greed or desire for power.

There was an ideology within the soviet era of how a man should act, this is known as the new Soviet man. A new Soviet man is selfless, learned, healthy, muscular, and enthusiastic in spreading the socialist Revolution. I found it interesting how Mark Millar managed to capture this ideology and how easy it fits Superman’s own personality. While eager for the international expansion of the Warsaw Pact, Superman championed the Soviet ideals but would avoid violence whenever possible.

Interestingly enough, Mark Millar seems to capture a problematic America, that wish to intervene in the way the Soviet Union is run. While time and time again, Superman shows that he does not intend to inflict harm on the country. They still enlist Lex Luthor and S.T.A.R. Labs to help fight the spread of communism, exploring what I think was the major problem with the Cold War. If you look at the history of the Cold War, it feels like the majority of it could have been avoided if America just let the Soviet Union (and other Communist countries like Vietnam) fail on their own. This is obviously a personal opinion on the Cold War, I am aware that it was far more complex than an anti-communist war.

I may have read Superman: Red Son differently to others, but I truly enjoyed the experience. There are some interesting ideas explored, and I enjoyed the alternative versions of not only Superman, but other superheroes like Wonder Woman and Batman. There are a few flaws with the comic mini-series but for the most part, I found this to be a fresh take on the Superman story. It would be nice if this was a bigger series but for the most part Mark Millar wrote a great story and the illustrations by Dave Johnson and Kilian Plunkett were stunning.


Batman: Cacophony by Kevin Smith

Posted November 23, 2014 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Graphic Novel / 0 Comments

Batman: Cacophony by Kevin SmithTitle: Batman: Cacophony (Goodreads)
Author: Kevin Smith
Artist: Walter Flanagan
Published: DC Comics, 2009
Pages: 144
Genres: Graphic Novel
My Copy: Hardcover

Buy: AmazonBook DepositoryKindle (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

Batman finds himself trying to understand a strange relationship between The Joker and Onomatopoeia. The Cape Crusader soon has to choose between chasing down The Joker and this puzzling villain Onomatopoeia. Writer/Director Kevin Smith puts his love of comic books and Batman to a practical use and wrote the series Batman: Cacophony.

I picked this graphic novel on my honeymoon because I was curious to see what Kevin Smith would do with Batman. I wanted to see what Smith would do with this superhero and I was a little curious about the super villain he created. Onomatopoeia is an enigma and I wasn’t sure how to take him; he works well as a super villain but for the most part I am still not sure what to make of him.

I am a fan of Batman and have often enjoyed Kevin Smith’s movies (except Jersey Girl) but I found this collection to be a little juvenile. Smith’s humour is often childish but that is never a defining factor in his movies with the exception of Clerks 2, so I was expecting so much more. There wasn’t much in the way of a storyline in Batman: Cacophony and I ended with so many unanswered questions. This is only a three issue series and I have to wonder if there were plans for more.

Walt Flanagan’s illustrations were a lot better than the writing; while not great it was far more entertaining. Flanagan uses a lot of vibrant colours that help distract the reader from the rest of the series. I had to enjoy the small homages Walt Flanagan made to other artists; one that particularly stood out to me was The Joker dress from The Killing Zone. Flanagan adopts a very busy style and while I wanted to rush through the story, it was hard to do this with the art.

There are a lot of great Batman series out there and I am struggling to work out which ones to try and which ones to look over. I am sad to say that Batman: Cacophony is one that should have been overlooked but that won’t stop me from trying to explore the rest. I hope people will help me with recommending me some good Batman series to read.


Mini Review: Graphic Novels (Fables, Batman & Hawkeye)

Posted October 12, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Graphic Novel / 0 Comments

I’ve been reading a few graphic novels in the past month or two and I have really struggled to work out how to review them. I thought maybe I could just give a quick mini review of the ones I’ve read recently. I just discovered Comixology (I know, late to the party) and their mobile app is great. I never thought reading a comic on a phone would be a great experience but they have nailed it. So you might see a few more reviews of graphic novels in the future.

Fables: Legends in Exile I really love the concept of Fables, the Fabletown community (all characters from different fairy tales) living in New York. The Big Bad Wolf is a hard-boiled detective that is on the case to find out who killed Rose, Snow White’s sister. While the art has a real 80’s feel to it, it is the story telling that makes this a great graphic novel. I expect to be reading a lot more from this series.

 

Batman: The Killing Joke I’m not a fan of art style in Alan Moore’s graphic novels but I really do enjoy a good Batman comic. This is a dark, comical and sadistic read, almost like an origin story for The Joker. If you are a fan of Alan Moore or Batman, this is a must read, this is The Joker that Heath Ledger modelled his role after in The Dark Knight.

 

Hawkeye: My Life as a Weapon Hawkeye is one great superhero and he doesn’t have any superpowers. In fact most of my favourite superheroes don’t have superpowers (The Punisher, Batman) but unlike them, Hawkeye isn’t doing this for revenge. Most people know that there are two Hawkeye’s (Clint Barton and Kate Bishop) and Matt Fraction (the author) has an interesting approach to including both of them. This is more of a look into the personal lives of Hawkeye rather than a superhero adventure, highly recommend this and will be continuing this series.

If anyone knows of some good graphic novel series I should try, please let me know. If you have not really tried a comic before and don’t know where to start, check out my First Steps post on that topic. On a final note, another great thing about the Comixology app is the free comics, good way to try a series (normally offer issue one or a previewer) without spending any money.


The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

Posted May 30, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Classic, Gothic, Horror / 0 Comments

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis StevensonTitle: The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (Goodreads)
Author: Robert Louis Stevenson
Published: Signet, 1886
Pages: 92
Genres: Classic, Gothic, Horror
My Copy: Personal Copy

Buy: AmazonBook DepositoryKindle (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic gothic horror novella Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde is probably known to many people; it’s been adapted many times and is often a symbol of the horror genre in pop culture. We all know the story; mild-mannered Dr Jekyll by day but at night, thanks to a potion, Mr Hyde is unleashed. But do we really know this tale; the tale of good and evil, or maybe the unleashing his secret inner persona, or maybe this is a story about dissociative identity disorder?

This is a reread for me so like I did in The Great Gatsby; I’m going to quote my old review (which is relatively short) but expand with what I know now. First we need some context; Robert Louis Stevenson had already had some success as a Victorian adventure writer before he came up with the idea of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. He had already written Treasure Island and his collection of short stories New Arabian Nights; in fact it is believe that he came up with the idea while working on his revisions for the short story Markheim (which, in my opinion, is his best piece). So already you get a sense that he knows what he is doing and if you’ve read Markheim you can see the similarities clearly. It was the late into the Nineteenth Century where there were extraordinary technological advances being made and people had a growing pessimism towards a possible decline in arts and religion.

The Promethean personality is something we’ve seen in books like Dracula by Bram Stoker, but this novella has more in common with Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Both involve scientists that defy the laws of nature and God with major consequences. Also, they play on the concept of good and evil and the dangers of advancing sciences but they also have been written in a way that to this day people debate the meaning of the novel.

Some say this is a novella that looks at that great Victorian idea of inner conflict with humanity; that good and evil exist in us all and it is an internal struggle between the two. While others suggest that maybe Stevenson was interested in exploring mental health, especially when it comes to split personalities or what should be correctly called a dissociative identity disorder? When I first read this book I got a sense of both, saying “[That] it’s a vivid portrayal of a split personality, split in the sense that within the same person there is both an apparently good and an evil personality each being quite distinct from the other.”  As an interesting side note Vladimir Nabokov has famously argued that the “good versus evil” view within this novella is misleading, as Dr Jekyll himself is not, by Victorian standards, a morally good person.

“The novella’s impact is such that it has become a part of the language, with the phrase “Jekyll and Hyde” coming to mean a person who is vastly different in moral character from one situation to the next.” While this is true, the tale has left a bigger impact on pop culture than just one phrase and classic horror movies. Within comic books both The Hulk and Batman’s rival Two-Face have clear influences from this novella; in fact you might argue that all superheroes are influenced as well, all living a double life.  Even the framework has been used in other fables, gothic, horror and speculative fiction.

“Robert Louis Stevenson is an amazing writer and this book is well worth the read, I’ve always enjoyed a story that tries to explore two sides of a situation.” Not only does this highlight how much I’ve improved in my reviewing but it serves as a reminder of my interest in plots that explore both points of view. Frankenstein still remains my ‘go to book’ for this even though rereading Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde has rekindled an interest in Robert Louis Stevenson’s thoughts on the whole “good versus evil” view. I much prefer Markheim and think I might go read it again now.