Let's start with Batman and the Mad Monk. This book was a six issue mini-series, but in reality was part 2 of a 12 part mini-series as this mini-series is a continuation of Batman and the Monster Men. It smells totally of marketing to split this into two six issue solo mini-series to keep any dip off that 12 issue mini-series experience in sales and allowed each part to be marketed separately. Still it is a smart economical move and probably allowed the book to be on time by having a planned gap after the Monster Men series.
That is a long digression before talking about the book. Simply put it was great. This book is the book that should have been launched as All Star Batman. These 12 issues by Matt Wagner have been fantastic and nothing short of brilliant. The stories are during Batman's early years and are playing on the same early Batman that was crafted by Loeb and Sale in the Long Halloween. It is funny but between Frank Miller's Year One. Long Halloween and this story DC has crafted a whole new view of Batman's early years. Matt Wagner maintains that feel of the book, that is almost a Golden Age approach, told in a modern style. Very iconic and has a sad ending as Batman realizes he cannot involve himself with the woman he loves, due to his calling to be Batman.
I love this depiction of Batman still learning and getting a little beaten up, but fighting on through sheer force of will. A very heroic and a strong portrayal. I can't wait till they put all twelve issues of this puppy in a hard cover.
Stellar work and Matt Wagner is in top form with this type of work. Can't wait for his new Grendel work.
Next up is Annihilation. I picked up this series on a whim. It was by Keith Giffen, writer and Andrea Divito as artist. Giffen is one busy guy. When Giffen is listed as writer I believe he still always does thumbnails for how the book is to be laid out. Divito is a good artist, he is not great and has not yet had a break-out job. Still this book was well done and some of the space battles were very well great given the small canvass the artist had to work with.
The story itself was essentially one to reintroduce a lot of the space crew form the Marvel Universe, kill off a few stray characters, but essentially leave the world untouched. Annihilus was the main villain and Nova killed him, but he was reborn at the end of the story. One interesting change was the Silver Surfer is now back to being Galatus' herald.
The best part to me was the moving forward of the Nova character. Richard Ryder was essentially a teen-age Green Lantern. I've lost track of his continuity years ago, but now the entire Nova Corps have been killed, the computer intelligence that was the heart of the Nova corps is part of Mr. Ryder and he has been a general leading a war. Now having been through the hells of a war and handling the burdens of sending troops to their death, this is a very different Richard Ryder. I'm really looking forward to an older, stronger, wiser Nova and where they take his character from here. Very rare that we get to see a teen-age hero grow up in comics. Watch the new Nova series he still be just 22 and the computer intelligence that melded with him leaves him and he will be a happy go lucky 20 something person.
Ultimately this book delivered what a good mini-series should do. It has a self contained story (you did not need to read the multiple preambles coming into this series - I didn't) and is entertaining and makes you care about the characters you are following. Considering the wide cast, they covered everyone pretty well in only six issues.
Last up for this blog is Creeper. Creeper was a six issue mini-series by Steve Niles and Justinano (I believe we had one fill in artist issue). This was a total reset of the character. After 30 years I guess the legendary Steve Ditko character could use with a dusting off and a revamp. At best this series was okay. It kept a lot of the elements of the original the same and only really tweaked the origin of the Creeper. Instead of the Creeper just being jack Ryder in a costume, the Creeper is a separate entity sharing a body with Jack Ryder.
Still the art was good, the writing was fine and the story had a good structure and flowed very well, it was just nothing special. It did not have any real "wow" moments and did nothing more then reintroduce the character back into the DCU. It could have been done almost as well in a 48 page one shot.
Not my normal review format (which I haven't done in a long time anyway), but still I think it is worthwhile reviewing a series as a whole.
Bottom Line - Buy the hard cover for the Batman book, the trade paper back for Annihilation, borrow the Creeper trade from a friend.