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Best Books of the Year So Far
Looking for something great to read? Browse our editors' picks for 2015's Best Books of the Year So Far in fiction, nonfiction, mysteries, children's books, and much more.
Dennis "Denny" O'Neil is a comic book writer and editor, principally for Marvel Comics and DC Comics in the 1970s. His best works include Green Lantern/Green Arrow and Batman with Neal Adams, The Shadow with Mike Kaluta and The Question with Denys Cowan, all of which were hailed for sophisticated stories that expanded the artistic potential of the mainstream portion of the medium. As an editor, he is principally known for editing Batman. His 1970s run on Batman is perhaps his most well known endeavour, turning Batman from the campiness of the 1960s TV show, to "The Batman", getting back to the character's darker roots and emphasizing his detective skills. This grimer and more sophisticated Dark Knight, as well as new villians such as Ra's Al Ghul, brought back Batman from the verge of pop culture oblivion. His work would influence later incarnations of Batman, from the seminal comic "Batman: The Dark Knight Returns" by Frank Miller, to the movie Batman Begins in 2005.
The reason why Batman is one of the most fascinating characters in comics is because his has always been the most human of environments. No super powers of any kind. Only a man guided by his values, intellect, strength and will power. And it is this last trait that becomes the critical element in "Venom," a work that shows us why Michael Keaton never would have donned the cape and cowl if Denny O'Neil had never existed. "Venom" shows us that the Batman is only as strong as the Bruce Wayne beneath the cowl. When the latter weakens, the former disappears. Bruce becomes addicted to venom, a sort of super-steroid, and must go through hell and back to once again become the man he was. This is made even more difficult due to the fact that Bruce's self-righteousness and stubbornness only give rise to an enormous feeling of self-loathing. This is one of the Batman books that best illustrates what it takes to be a hero. All human beings are flawed, and everyone falls at one time. But it takes a true hero to summon up the best in his/her humanity to rise again. Beyond leaping tall buildings in a single bound or clinging to walls, "Venom" shows that the true nature of a super-hero lies closer to home than we'd expect, and that no character in comics exemplifies it like Batman.
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Truly the best of the Legends of the Dark Knight series, Venom is the frightening story of Batman's lapse into performance-enhancing drugs, and how he must literally climb his way back into rehabilitation. Batman's human side is displayed with such realism that you actually hate what he becomes and then feel the pain he goes through. An interesting sidenote is that the drug, Venom, used in this story is also the substance that Bane, the villain who breaks the Batman in Knightfall, uses as a steroid and strength-builder.
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After being out-of-print for sometime now, DC has decided to re-release this great book (and the Batman Versus Bane) for the purpose of leading up to the Batman: Knightfall, Vol. 1 and The Dark Knight Rises film coming out later this year, due to the the villain character Bane. You can call this a marketing decision, but for the rest of the Batman fans out there: this is a godsend.
Now because there are much better and far more detailed reviews, I won't bog you down with another long description of the same information. I just want to list the few new features here.
BATMAN: VENOM includes: New cover. High-glossy paper that enhances the colors. Original covers of each issue, complete with original pricing, DC logo, and release date. And a special epilogue page informing readers that venom continues on in Knightfall.
This is a great read on The Dark Knight, that you can read as a continuation into Knightfall or stand-alone tale. In fact, it was added in IGN's top 25 Batman stories. So that tells you something. So do yourself a favor and pick this up.
"Batman: Venom" is a story that compels the Batman reader in a very different manner. Much like "Knightfall," one must endure a period of helplessness with Bruce. As someone whose confidence is so important, because he lacks powers, Batman has lost his central strength.
The story begins as Batman has trailed kidnappers to an abandoned mine. In a heavy rain, the mine is flooding, with a little girl trapped inside. Frantically searching, Batman finds the girl behind a rock. He moves each rock and finally approaches the largest, nearly a boulder. The space behind the rock is filling and in desperation, Batman cannot move it. Before his very eyes, the spark of innocence is extinguished as the girl succumbs to death.
Though Batman has had his back broken, been injected with the world's deadliest poisons, and endured psychological torture, watching the girl die struck him still more deeply. Assuming the guilt that belongs to the kidnappers, Batman tries to gain strength. The father of the girl is a pharmacist who has perfected the ultimate "performance enhancer."
Batman accepts the package of pills and finally decides to take them. What Batman doesn't know, however, is that the drugs harbor addictive properties. The rest of the story is primarily a struggle within Batman to beat a foreign substance that threatens to take over his own body and mind.
The struggle within is masterfully told, and Batman has never seen so desperate an hour. The reason I don't give a five is twofold: First, Batman putting it in his system without analyzing it at the Batcave? The writers explain that some, but still it is unbelievable. Second: He has his utility belt, and I am surprised nothing in there would have been useful to save the girl.Read more ›
Title: Batman: Venom Publisher: DC Writer: Dennis O'Neil Artists: Trevor Von Eeden, Russel Braun Inker: Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez Collects: Legends of the Dark Knight #16-20 Price: $9.95
Originally this story came out back in 1992 - back in my college days when I still bought many, many comics on a monthly basis. Although this is an older story, however, it's still a good one - definitely worth the paltry cover price of $10.00. Most of you reading this review are probably familiar with the Batman: Knightfall storyline, in which Batman has his back broken by Bane. Well, this storyline was a prelude (of sorts) to the events that led to that momentous story.
In this story, Batman finds a kidnapped girl trapped in a sewer, but can do nothing to prevent her from drowning as he is unable to move the large, heavy rocks blocking the tunnel. Grieving from his failure, Batman is offered a "designer drug" by the dead girl's father - a drug that he claims would have enabled Batman the strength necessary to have saved his daughter. At first, Batman declines the offer. Later, however, tired and beaten, he accepts the drugs to help him overcome his weakness. Thus begins his eventual addiction to the drug.
Once again, Batman is portrayed here as a very human hero. He has far more physical limitations than many of his spandex-clad brethren, and faced with the possibility that he just may not be good enough to save children from dying, he does what he can to raise the level of his abilities. Unfortunately, this drug comes at a steep price, as do most any drugs. The side effects of the drug hamper Batman's reasoning skills, his emotional stability, and his aspirations to continually push his mental knowledge of everything he can.Read more ›