Monday, November 5, 2012

How are the Legends of the Dark Knight Collections?

Editor's Note: Today Pierre tells us about several Batman Graphic Novel's he's recently bought. - Jim

I have always been a big fan of Batman, or Batman-like characters like the Phantom, the Shadow or Marvel's Nighthawk, but for the past 10 years, I have not been getting many Batman comics. I think the last time I bought a monthly Batman comic was when DC published a Batman comic based on the Bruce Timm animated series or getting my Batman fix from the various Bruce Timm animated series or movies, or from older comics like the Brave and the Bold Showcases.

But lately DC has been releasing some comic compilations labeled Legends of the Dark Knight. I just got the Alan Davis one, and I did get the Jim Aparo one before that. Strangely enough, although I have been a big fan of Alan Davis since Wolverine: Bloodlust and his Batman: Full Circle, I only Had 2 Batman tales by Alan Davis.

The one issue he did that was part of the Batman Year Two TPB, and the Batman: Full Circle that serves as a sequel to Year Two. That was all the Alan Davis Batman that I had until now.

Did his Batman: Full Circle sell so poorly that it did not allow him to do more Batman One-shot?? Was Davis unhappy with the result that he did not want to do any more Batman comics??? II have no idea.

But there are about 8 comics and a short black and white short story in that book.

Reading that book was strange, it made me realize how much the Batman we actually see in Full Circle is pretty much the Pre-Crisis Batman. It highlights how much Batman did not change all that much after the Crisis. The biggest differences concerning Batman seems to have been the changes made to Catwoman, and the Joker being more of a homicidal maniac, but the Joker was actually changed with Killing Joke more than because of Crisis.

But it was fun to see where characters like McSurly and his Club actually came from. And the short black and white tale at the end was a fun and touching little story.

And there was a short tale with the Elongated Man by the Legendary Carmine Infantino. I loved his run on the Flash, and Elongated Man was a guest star on that book from time to time. It was fun to see what I assumed is the last Elongated Man tale by Infantino.

So although not that long, Legends of the Dark Knight by Alan Davis is a fun comic that is a nice contrast with the current Batman comics - worth every penny!

As for the one by Jim Aparo, Damn how the cover is god-awful.

They did a piss poor photoshop job putting that cover together, and damn the colors are way too dark. There wasn't much thought put into that cover. They poorly recolored a B&B cover and slapped the Legends of Dark Knight type on top of it.

The cover of the Alan Davis one was not colored as darkly as the Jim Aparo one, so that cover is not that bad. It is still a cover were they simply slapped the type on top of the cover, but it almost looks fine in this case.

Luckily, the inside artwork by Aparo is not as messed up as the cover. Although with the glossy/shiny paper, the colors are a little oversaturated, but that is a nitpick compared to the cover. I bought a Phantom HC by Aparo not that long ago where the printing was not of the best quality. But with the Batman one, the print quality is fine.

Just so you know how big of a Jim Aparo fan I am, I bought that Batman HC by Aparo even though I already own the same stories in the Showcase format. Damn how he is the PERFECT artist to draw Batman. And the good news is that this seems to be only the first volume of Batman tales by Jim Aparo. Let's hope we don't have to wait too long for the rest of Batman comics that he did.

There are many fine interpretations of Batman, Bolland, Davis, Giordano, Norvik, but Jim Aparo's Batman is the definitive interpretation of the character in my book.


Until next time.
- Pierre


MattComix said...


Looks like we pretty much get our Batman fix in the same way. The Bruce Timm stuff was the last time I felt really invested in the character at all. I also agree with you about Jim Aparo. There are many ways I enjoy seeing Batman drawn but Jim really seemed to take what Neal Adams layed down, made it his own and ran with it creating the most iconic look for Batman. Only thing I never liked is since he left his art very open to color they'd often use a blue on Batman's costume that was just too light. Almost baby blue. Rather a more of a midnight shade.

Alan Davis is an artist where it genuinely baffles me that he hasn't had a 100 issue run on EVERYTHING. Seriously why is this guy not one of the first five phone numbers an editor calls when he needs an artist?

As for the LDKC's I have the ones for Marshall Rogers and Gene Colan. The interiors and paper stock are fine it's really only the cover that takes away from them. I'm reminded of the tpb design post Jim did awhile back and I'd love to see what he'd do with these.

Really the only thing I don't like about them is that they're hardcover. I think they should be available paperback for those of us that are less interested in the collectible aspect than we are just wanting to see the material.

Killing Joke pretty much ruined the Joker. I think it was from there that writers just started making him into a grinning sadist and then he was further degenerated into a generic horror movie character til now where he's a cackling version of Leather Face. By this time next year he'll be wearing people's entrails as a hat and DC will pat themselves on the back for their "evolution" of the character.

If the goal was to get him away from the Silver Age version that had been more than done in the Bronze Age where he was still effectively the Clown Prince of Crime but he got his edge back and was genuinely threatening. Done and done. Blood, guts,and rape aren't what the Joker needs to be an effective villain for Batman and that doesn't mean has to be robbing banks either.

Reno said...

I got the Don Newton one in this series. Growing up, Newton was the main Batman artist for me, then Aparo.

I think when it comes to paper and printing, the one they used for the oversized HC of "Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?" showcased the bronze age era best. It was a kind of heavy-stock newsprint, and the colors weren't too bright like the way they come out on glossy paper.

Jim Shelley said...

Yeah, those covers are pretty uninspired.

As to the paper, I sort of wish they used the paper stock/color that my old Asterix and Obelix books were made with. After 30+ years, they still look great.

Not sure how I feel about Killing Joke. At the time, I remember liking how it shed some much needed light on the Joker's history prior to him becoming the Red Hood. However, I can see how that could have been accomplished without him crippling Barbara Gordon. Still, I think that scene is a far cry from what Matt calls Saw with Capes comics we commonly get now.

I'm not sure I would call the character ruined just yet. I think modern comics have some stress fractures, but it's not enough to completely undo the foundation. (IMO, if the Spider-clone saga from the 90's didn't kill Spider-man, than I think comics will survive some pretty bad stories.)

Howard said...

Thanks for the reviews. Where is Batman's right leg in the Aparo cover? Is that the way Aparo drew it or a bad cut and paste job?

Jim Shelley said...

@Abba Studios - Batman's leg is on the far left of the cover. I agree, it looks awkward on the book cover.


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