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American Vampire Anthology by Various Authors and Artists

This collection of stories is fantastic. I picked it up this weekend because I wanted the first volume of American Vampire but no one had it. However, I’m very very pleased with this purchase. I have not read any of this series and yet I didn’t feel lost at any moment reading these stories (and I am sure anyone who has read the series will love how this fills in the gaps). I enjoyed reading different takes on vampire stories and seeing the different art styles, some of which were familiar and some of which were new. It’s a good book, not only for introducing people to American Vampire, but also for introducing people to different writers and artists.

(Books read in 2013 #30)

This artwork is really really cool. I want this poster.

Strap in, this one is a doozy! I’m a little late, but its better late than never with this one. Lets talk about the absolutely brilliantly written Batman #13. I honestly can’t think of another comic issue that took me to Nerdvanna. This is akin to Arkam Asylum for me and up there with the best of the Batman. My prediction is that once this arc is completed it will compete with the likes of the Killing Joke, The Dark Knight Returns and Year One for the best Batman arc of all time. That’s my gut based of this issue anyway. Ok enough of this onto the ‘why’.

Lets start with the premise of death in the family. We knew going into this we would see the return of the Joker so there was a certain level of anticipation just from this fact. We’ve had 12 months of Batman since the relaunch and the Joker has remained suspiciously absent from the rebooted Gotham City. Why? Snyder is a smart guy. My theory is that he needed the 12 months to really understand the character and create a story and introduction worthy of the Joker. I think Snyder has been hard at work for these last 12 months crafting his Joker, something new, but something that still fits within the boundaries of this character we love. 

The journey we are taken on in this issue is nothing short of perfection. Starting off with the ominous van crossing a bridge on a gloomy night with a grim monologue about the future from Jim Gordon. Could it be ‘him’ driving the van? Is Jim GOrdon speaking in retrospect? We keep reading. Suspense builds. We cut away to the Gotham City Police Station and a dialogue between Gordon and a reporter. We then are treated to one of the greatest frames I have seen in a long long time. A rectangular frame at the bottom of the page. All it shows is is a foot stepping out of a vehicle into the rainy Gotham Streets. A purple hue is applied to the frame. We see the bottom of a cuffed trouser leg. At this point I was barely able to sit upright, the anticipation was absolutely killing me. 

Its not long before we finally get what we are waiting for. AN attack on GCPD by the main man himself, but as evidenced in the scene that plays out and explained later in the issue we see the ‘new’ Joker. A reinvented man. Something darker. Something worse. Snyder also works wonders tying into some pre DCnU content and ‘The Dollmaker’s” removal of the Jokers face. I thought this was clever, but new fans probably won’t follow this neat bit of backstory. Who cares though, they should do their homework. Ok back the review. 

I don’t want to explain in depth every scene in the issue as theres still plenty of great stuff left to read, but I guess why I rate this so highly is just the emotional tension in this issue. Snyder plays on our knowledge and love of the Batman canon but delivers us a shiny package of something new and something we’ve all been waiting for. The plot twists and turns, the suspense, the cliffhangers, the mystery. This is Batman at its full potential!.

The artwork is also amazing. I imagine when Snyder decided he wanted to do a darker Joker there was a certain aesthetic that had to go with it. How do you make a creepy smiling clown even creepier? Oh I know. Lets have him wear his torn of face skin over his mutilated skull, strapped on by a belt. Its definitely a more horrific look for him but it seems to work so well with the direction he’s taking the character. 

We’re also treated to an absolutely fantastic epilogue that features Joker and his girl Harley Quinn. Although, its a bit of a different dynamic than what returning fans would be used to. Harley’s interaction with joker is interesting. She seems absolutely terrified to the point where we aren’t sure as a reader whether its because of her love for him or because she’s frightened of what might happen if she objects in any way. We also get to see a new ‘colder’ side to the Joker. Usually, even though he’s a twisted sicko, theres still some level of emotional grounding. The Joker we see in this epilogue seems to of lost that side of him. Its the kind of guy you would expect to go on an enormous killing spree with no remorse. The old Joker would would find this funny and would appear to get off on the killing. New Joker, I’m thinking not so much. I think the getting off on crime and chaos ship has sailed. I think we’re going to see a much more strategic and meticulous Joker in this arc, who’s intentions come from somewhere deeper than he’s ever displayed before. Its going to be pretty interesting. 

Cliffhanger is great too, but I had suspected Alfred would be the family member up for elimination *tear*. Overall this is a perfect issue for me and so I’m giving it:

10/10

Go and get this and read it right now if you’re at all interested in Batman. 

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