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Batman: Death and the City Paperback – November 7, 2007
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When the Deitch boys jam, even dear ol’ dad—signature UPA animator Gene Deitch, who later created the Tom Terrific cartoons for Captain Kangaroo—gets into the act, introducing five stories written and illustrated, alone or together, by Kim, Seth, and Simon Deitch. In all, the words predominate, while the drawings complement, thereby exemplifying pictofiction, a medium Kim created in honor of the copiously illustrated old editions of Victorian novels that he collects. His two solo contributions look the most like comics because their texts are lettered rather than typeset. Both are prime Kim, concoctions of nostalgia and dread, characteristically concerned with pop-cultural ephemera (in this case, bottle caps) and early-twentieth-century entertainment (here, Depression-era jazz), simultaneously lighthearted and creepy a la his Waldo the Cat stories. Seth gives us a golem tale that Simon illustrates, a weird-science “memoir” that Kim illuminates, and an alternative-reality sketch decorated only by Kim’s frontispiece. Kim and Simon both draw rather blockish figures, the latter more realistically, if hardly as energetically as his older brother. Ingratiating work, though marred by lax proofreading. --Ray Olson
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These are stories, tales, intimate looks into the intellectual (and human?) side of Batman. Watch as he forms uneasy alliances with former foes . . . and former friends.
My favorite tale involves Batman and Zatanna teaming up to solve a case that brings about a deadly encounter with an unexpected foe. The plot weaves together a mystery with a touching story from Bruce Wayne's past. The image of Zatanna as a girl blowing magical bubbles, and its reappearance in Batman's mind during a certain scenario bring a chill.
The splash pages in between stories rivet me everytime - the black and white images bring out the most stunning emotions. If you like the artwork and the effects it brings to the stories, check out some of the "Batman: Black and White" collections.
This book does nicely on its own, but when you read it in conjunction with the "Detective" collection, it takes on a unique flavor that leaves you hungry for more.
OVER THE YEARS, THERE HAVE BEEN BATMAN STORIES WITH A GREAT STORY WITH TERRIBLE ART, AND GREAT ART WITH TERRIBLE STORIES. THIS BOOK HAS GREAT STORIES AND GREAT ART...I'VE BEEN AWAY FROM COMICS FOR AWHILE NOW...I HAVE A HUGE BATMAN AND BATMAN FAMILY COLLECTION OF COMICS AND BOOKS, AFTER I SAW BATMAN BEGINS, I WAS SUCKED BACK IN AGAIN.
PAUL DINI ISNT THE SOLE WRITER IN THIS COLLECTION, AND THEIR IS MORE THAN 1 ARTIST CONTRIBUTING...BUT THE WHOLE MASS OF TALENT IS RESPONSIBLE FOR A GREAT ADDITION TO THE BATMAN MYTHOS.
One of the best stories is the two parter called "Siege." Bruce Wayne is hosting an anti-terrorism conference at Wayne Towers with several world leaders when a series of explosions rocks the building. A terrorist using a gun that shoots out a liquid explosive is fully intent on bringing Wayne Tower down ala the Twin Towers. This was a great story. Batman along with Robin were at their most resourceful in tracking down and trying to stop the terrorist, But then, how do you stop a man who is on a suicide mission? Dini shows Bruce Wayne and Batman at his best, utilizing all his skills and Robin is calm and collected, even when his life is in great peril.
The new Ventriloquist returns in "Kind of Like Family." Harley is turned down for parole with Bruce Wayne casting a deciding vote to keep her locked up. Scarface breaks Harley out of prison to use her skills in a major heist. Harley has to decide whether to aid Scarface and be free, or if she wants to truly gain her release through legal channels. One of the better depictions of Harley the person rather than Harley the villain that I've read.
The final story is the two-part "Trust." Batman teams with Zatanna to investigate the death of one of the Zatanna's former assistants. But the magician responsible for her death turns out to be something much more sinister than Batman had bargained for. Dini's story features a good deal of tension between Batman and Zatanna as a result of the events in identity Crisis and the pair are finally able to reconcile. It's also revealed for the first time that her father Zatara was friends with Bruce Wayne's father, Thomas and worked on various charitable functions with him.
Dini shows a remarkable consistency as Detective Comics writer. While none of them may be earth-shatter, his tales are always solid and that shows in this volume as there isn't a clunker on the whole lot. The art is excellent throughout but I enjoyed Don Kramer's work on "Kind of Like Family" the most. He brought a certain charming innocence to Harley Quinn that made the story stand out.
Writer Stuart Moore and artist Andy Clark produce "seige", a far better drawn two part story about Bruce Wayne being held hostage by a suicide bomber intent on destroying Wayne Tower, while Royal McGraw and Marcos Marz produce a very competent "Terrible Trio" story, so half the book has good art at least.
This collection rounds out Dini's fist year on 'tec, and his work is getting better, with his three stories from this collection building on the ones in the previous volume. I just don't understand the art choices DC makes sometimes. Simple and elegant line work is needed here, not Don Kramer's heavy handed, badly done pencil work.
Less fill-ins and better art next time please!