Xpress Reviews: Graphic Novels | First Look at New Books, December 7, 2012

Week ending December 7, 2012

Finch, David & others. Batman: The Dark Knight. Vol. 1: Knight Terrors. DC. (New 52). 2012. 208p. ISBN 9781401235437. $24.99. SUPERHEROES
Gotham’s villains have a new power, a kind of fear serum that turns already formidable foes into deadly, rampaging monsters. As more clues about the serum are uncovered, red herrings and serum-infused criminals from Batman’s past abound. Fans of the artwork in Ultimate X-Men and Moon Knight will not be disappointed; the fight scenes tumble and claw their way through most of the book. Unfortunately, the plot doesn’t pack the same punch and mainly serves to bridge one fight scene to another. A few random sequences are plain baffling: Batman jumping into his jet with an ice cream cone? Some exceptions are the glimpses we’re given of Commissioner Gordon’s personal struggle and the two supplemental stories, Joe Harris’s “The Madness” and Judd Winnick’s compelling “I Can No Longer Be Broken.”
Verdict Aside from a new villain being lightly introduced, there’s not a lot happening here. At best, this is a secondary purchase for older teens and adults. For a better balance of action and character development, refer fans to Batman’s other current titles.—Marlan Brinkley, Atlanta-Fulton P.L.

Johns, Geoff & Peter J. Tomasi (text) & Ivan Reis & others (illus.). Brightest Day. Vol. 3. DC. 2012. 224p. ISBN 9781401232177. pap. $16.99. SUPERHEROES
A handful of DC’s second stringers save the world in this satisfying conclusion to the Brightest Day saga. Boston Brand, once Deadman, is resurrected by the White Lantern, as are Aquaman, the Martian Manhunter, Firestorm, Hawkman, and Hawkgirl; all were killed in the previous DC saga, Darkest Night. In this volume, the heroes must accomplish the tasks set forth by the White Lantern in order to prevent the Dark Avatar from wiping humanity from the face of the earth. Not all of the characters make it to the end, and there is a surprise appearance by a hero thought to be gone. An environmental hook distinguishes this book from other superhero epics. The artwork is proficient but not outstanding.
Verdict Readers will need to have read the previous volumes in the series. Superhero fans looking for a good story that doesn’t concentrate on the biggest names may find this appealing.—Eric Norton, McMillan Memorial Lib., Wisconsin Rapids

Seeley, Tim (text) & Victor Drujiniu & others (illus.). The Occultist. Vol 1. Dark Horse. 2012. 136p. ISBN 9781595827456. pap. $16.99. SUPERHEROES
Seeley (Hack/Slash) and Drujiniu (Tales from Wonderland: Alice, Predator) deliver the story of Rob Bailey, a college student who is unwittingly chosen to become the occultist—a vessel for the Sword, an ancient book of spells. Acquiring the supernatural force makes Rob the target of several enemies, including Aiden Beck, a shaman who wants the Sword’s power for himself, the assassins he hires to hunt Rob down, and a demon intent on the book’s destruction. Luckily, Rob picks up an ally in Det. Anna Mendez, who is also his romantic interest. The five chapters provide a solid introduction to Rob’s personality and how his superpower works. The development of secondary characters is hit or miss. Drujiniu is very good at realistic likenesses, and his shadowy style is perfect for something of this genre.
Verdict Fans of Seeley’s other work will enjoy this new story, as will readers who enjoy paranormal or dark fantasy comics with flawed heroes, like Hellblazer or Buffy the Vampire Slayer.—Rachel Hoover, Thomas Ford Memorial Lib., Western Springs, IL

Bette-Lee Fox About Bette-Lee Fox

Bette-Lee Fox (blfox@mediasourceinc.com) is Managing Editor, Library Journal.

Now in her 46th year with Library Journal, Bette-Lee also edits LJ's Video Reviews column, six times a year Romance column, and e-original Romance reviews, which post weekly as LJ Xpress Reviews. She received the Romance Writers of America (RWA) Vivian Stephens Industry Award in 2013 for having "contributed to the genre or to RWA in a significant and/or continuing manner"