Friday, February 10, 2012

What I read this week - Feb 10

This week was actually the start of my busy season. My work is very cyclical with Spring and Fall being ridiculously busy with Summer and Winter being ridiculous dull. My company has part timers that work for 3 months, take three months off and repeat. And yes, they earn in 3 months what you and I earn in 6!

Anyway, I did manage to read some books this week and because I was busy I cheated and read great stuff. Yep, nothing completely new and out there. Nothing mysterious. Just books with proven writers and artists so I knew it would be good. So, go figure, I liked everything this week.

I managed Batwoman: Elegy, Bayou Vol 1 and 2, and Unwritten Vol 2. You can see why I loved them below the break.

Batwoman: Elegy, written by Greg Rucka, art by J.H. Williams III, published by DC, 192 pgs, $18.

One of the few characters to survive the DC implosion of 2011, Batwoman currently has her own on going title but this tpb collects stories from , Detective Comics, issues #854-860 published in ’09-10.

This is the origin and first adventure of Kate Kane, who unlike most heroes is tattooed, Jewish, and in an effort to cover as many ethnic and minority bases as possible, a lesbian too. But none of those things really have anything to do with the story, and the new Batwoman battles a cult that worships crime, it’s leader Alice who only speaks in quotes from Alice in Wonderland, and has a flash back of her origin.

Is it any surprise that this is good? Rucka is an outstanding author and writes a heck of an adventure story. This collection is no exception and he creates a truly flawed and interesting character in Kate Kane. Even her arch nemesis, Alice, with an incredible annoying habit of only speaking in Wonderland quotes is really cool.

But, the real star of this show is the art by J.H. Williams III. Williams is amazing in this book. He continues to push the envelope even more than he did on Promethea. There are a couple of pages that don’t work, but even those look stunning.

This is a great story with even better art. It achieves something that has been almost impossible in the last few years, creating a new AND interesting character being build from the ground up.

Bayou Vols 1 and 2, both written and illustrated by Jeremy Love, published by DC/Zuda, 160 pgs, $15.

I read High Moon from Zuda last week and it was a fun little book. So this week I decided to continue reading Zuda and picked up Bayou vols 1 and 2. It’s one thing to know a Batwoman book by Rucka was going to be good but how did I know this would be good? Well, I actually read Vol 1 last year and loved it, so I just picked up Vol 2. Since I had read the first part so long ago, I decided to read both again.

Set in 1933 Mississippi, Lee is a black sharecropper's daughter learning about… well all the typical things you would expect in Mississippi. When a chain of events causes Lee’s father to go to jail and the local white population to start demanding justice, Lee must travel under the cypress tree in the bog into a new world full of interesting characters and strange events in order to save here father.

The best way to describe this book is to think of Alice in Wonderland in the deep south at the height of Jim Crow. Love does a great job of creating tension and a true sense of dread within the story. When Lee is playing with a little white girl you can’t help but wonder what will go wrong. When Lee’s father is taken to jail you can’t help but wonder how far off is the lynch mob. And, even though all these incidents are clich├ęs and you know they are coming, Love does such a great job developing the characters that you can’t help but get sucked in.

Love also does a great job of creating an alternate, southern style wonderland with Br’er Rabbit instead of the White Rabbit and other famous substitutions. But, I think what sold it for me is that the entire Wonderland is tainted by Jim Crow and the violence associated with it. It brings a very real danger to the time that Lee spends there which further heightens the tension.

My only complaint is that the story isn’t done. I am hoping that a third book is issued that will give me a conclusion, but even if it doesn’t it’s a mystical ride getting there.

Unwritten Vol. 2: Inside Man, written by Mike Carey, art by Peter Gross, published by Vertigo, 168 pgs, $13.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, it’s more of the same. Last week I read Vol 1 and loved it. I immediately rolled into Vol 2 and I still love it. There is no drop off in quality what so ever and this is starting to rival Carey’s other masterpiece “Lucifer” in terms of grand scope and excellent story telling.

When Frankenstein shows up to have a discussion with out lead character about being literary creations not loved by their makers, I was just blown away. It opened so many new mysteries that once again I couldn’t put the book down.

That’s it for this week.


  1. Alice has its own tensions with the British aristocracy system of the time, but nothing so immediately threatening as Jim Crow lynch mobs.

  2. It's got great creepy moments where there's definitely a touch of Grimm's in this wonderland.