Sunday, September 09, 2007

Batman: A Trio of Tales

For as long as I can remember I've loved Batman. He was a regular guy with exceptional training and some really kick ass weapons and gadgets. He couldn't fly and he couldn't lift cards above his head but he held his own. His villains were the same way. None of them had crazy super powers. Instead they were just crazy.

My one problem with Batman and his villains is it can be difficult to tell an interesting tale. Just the shear amount of stories that have already been told alone can limit the originality and creativeness one can do with them before you either take the character too far out of their established roles or give the reader a "been there, done that" story that doesn't hold their interest.

Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale do anything but that in their trio of Batman Books. Batman Haunted Knight (a trio of tales from the Legands of the Dark Knight series), The Long Halloween and Dark Victory. These three books encompass around 30 issues total.

I picked these up over the last six weeks because I was moving and bored out of my skull with no cable tv or internet connection (which is why there's a huge gap in posts here for anyone wondering) based on a friends recommendation. I've never been a huge fan of either Loeb or Sale but knew they did a lot of work together for both DC and Marvel so I gave them a shot.

I was glad I did as well.

Loeb crafts some great tales that focus on Batman's early years as a crime fighter in Gotham City. From his dealing with the death of his parents to his relationship with a young Jim Gordon and an ambitious Harvey Dent. What really made these some cool books for me though was how Loeb handled the villains. Everyone from the big guns like the Joker and Two Face are done well but it's the really odd ones like the Calender Man and The Mad hatter, guys you don't often see, that Loeb really finds niches for. When he writes these guys he writes them odd and scary, just how they should be.

The art by Tim Sale (the guy who did all the artwork for the NBC show HEROES for the two of you out there that don't know) is great but what's really fun is to see his progression on the books. From the first Halloween tale to the last page of Dark Victory you can tell he's refining his style and growing as an artist.

From here, Loeb and Sale would go on to do other projects but to date they haven't returned to Batman. As a writer myself I understand there's only so much you can creatively do with a character before you feel you've said your peace and have to move on. Personally, I'm hoping they find some more to say in the future.