Batman Rebirth – Deluxe Edition Vol. 1

With the new line of deluxe editions, DC’s Batman volume provides a mammoth introduction to Tom King’s current Batman run. Collecting the first 15 issues of the series, plus the introductory Batman Rebirth issue. Coming off of Scott Snyder’s New 52 Run, the first 15 issues of King’s run provide a more intimate set of stories, and a welcome break from Snyder’s more horror orientated style. King builds off the monumental events of the New 52 run, such as Bloom, and Zero Year, and scales it back to what made Batman popular in the first place. A mortal man, defending his city, and protecting others the way he could never be protected. As heavily seen in the first arc.

Over the 15 issues, we are treated to the storylines I Am Gotham, two issues of the Night of the Monster Men event, I am Suicide, and Rooftops.

Batman 001 (2016)

I Am Gotham introduces us to two new heroes, Gotham and Gotham Girl, as they try to assist and eventually succeed Batman. Inspired by his actions, and past events that tie the pair to him. The arc perfectly encapsulates what it means to take Batman’s origin and words to heart, and the dangers it can, and does, bring. In the character of Gotham, we find an interesting parallel to Bruce. As dangerous and honestly foolish as Bruce’s methods are, there are far worse, though still well meaning, extremes to take. As well as the value of preparing yourself, and thinking plans through.

The two issues of Night of the Monster Men included, while good, feel inappropriate and forced in for the sake of completion. Without context, the story skips from part one to part four without explanation, only to end on a cliff-hanger, with a note at the bottom stating, ‘For the full story, see Batman: Night of the Monster Men’. As said, for the sake of completion, it makes sense to include these two issues. But with how disjointed it feels compared to the rest of the book, it’s a little unsatisfying. However, they are easily skippable and do not disrupt the rest of the books story.

I Am Suicide spins nicely out of I Am Gotham, giving a very steady line of progression, and some interesting character development. The story sees Batman needing to break into Santa Prisca to keep a promise he made to Gotham Girl. Having to work alongside several Arkham inmates as his team mates, and against Bane and Psycho-Pirate. While a straight forward plot with plenty of interesting twists. The story contains a monologue roughly half way through, that while brief, is incredibly intimate to Bruce’s origin story, while simultaneously darker than anything included in Scott Snyder’s more horror inclined run.

The final section, Rooftops, is a delightfully sweet wind-down to the collection. Simply chronicling a night with Batman and Catwoman, while tying up a few lose ends brought up in the previous arc. A delightful set up for events to come in later issues.

Batman 012 (2017)

DC’s production of their recent hard cover books, particularly their deluxe editions, adds an extra level of consumer value, and an all-round pleasure to own. They have taken great care in providing custom artwork under their dust jackets. For the Batman Rebirth Vol. 1 Deluxe, the book is wrapped in a two-page spread from Issue 12, with slight modifications to remove text boxes and dialogue.

A wonderful edition for any collector. Fantastic presentation, strong storytelling by Tom King and art from David Finch. Well worth the purchase for collectors, and those looking for an introduction to the current Batman.

Available here: http://amzn.to/2CivbCP

Advertisements

Ghost in the Shell by Andrew Osmond (2017)

  • 91BSdFVo4jL120 pages
  • Release date: 11th September 2017
  • Price: £19.99
  • Published by: Arrow Books

The cult classic Ghost in the Shell, has often found itself the centre of discussion among fans. Its impact and themes. The films significance in the modern landscape. However, it’s hard to find a single work that highlights its importance, as Andrew Osmond’s Ghost in the Shell. An incredibly engaging, and well researched look at not only the cult classic film, but the franchise, and impact it has had through the culture.

Osmond approaches this book with a passion and the intention of allowing even the most novice of Ghost in the Shell viewers the opportunity to enjoy and engage with the books subject. Opening with essentially a first-time viewers perspective of the opening few minutes of the film. Noting the praise and acclaim the film achieved, even early in its life. Osmond expounds on the films infancy, by describing the culture and time to which it is born into. Citing the state of otaku culture and the Aum Shinrikyo terror attacks in Japan, and how the West viewed Anime at the time. Referring to them as ‘Manga movies’, or ‘Japanimation’. This provides a much-needed context for the reader as to why and how Ghost in the Shell gained such significance.

The film is broken down in a digestible manor, so that no reader will feel lost along the way. Osmond comments on the characters and plot points with an attention to detail, significantly towards the film’s central protagonist, Major Motoko Kusanagi.

“For example, after the ‘assassination’ prologue, Ghost’s titles show the creation of Kusanagi’s cyber-body. We see it as an anatomist’s dummy of fake skin and bone, flushed through vats of liquid, clothed in fast-setting flesh. All this suggests a Frankenstein creature, a horror film Other. But as the sequence ends, and Kusanagi is lifted up fully formed, we don’t see some lab-coated Pygmalion admiring his sculpture – ‘She lives!’. Instead, we cut to a close-up of Kusanagi awakening in darkness. We were in her head all along, as she dreamed her body’s creation. She moves the fingers of one hand slightly, as if asking, is this my hand? Is this my body?”

Osmond explores how her femininity and sexuality are put aside. Blurring gender lines, in moments of intense strengths and sacrifice. These discussions extend to comparisons of her counterparts. Such as Trinity in The Matrix franchise, and Black Widow in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This also encompasses the franchises lore, such as the impact and importance or cyber-bodies in the cyberpunk genre.

The book does not limit itself to just the films themes, characters, and impact. But extends to the creative minds that birthed the film and franchise. Discussion of the film’s director, Mamoru Oshii, ranges beyond simply his filmography. Extending to popular consensus, his frequently used themes through his work, and the man himself. His diversity in mediums, interests and personal history. The chapter dedicated to Oshii, reads like a love letter to the forgotten works of a master. Overshadowed by the books subject. With a wonderful look at Oshii’s work on the Patlabor series. The only major subject that feels skipped over, is Oshii’s 1999 film, Jin Roh: The Wolf Brigade. A subject that is likely to merit its own book in a similar vain to this one.

Given how private Masanori Ota presents himself, going as far as to use the pseudonym Masamune Shirow. It’s surprising how well Osmond dives into the franchises original author. Discussing his secluded nature, themes and works. Drawing particular attention to Shirow’s playful and wacky sense of humour, something largely ignored in adaptations. Focus and time is payed to Shirow’s other praised franchise, Appleseed. Highlighting, especially, the difference in publication. Osmond breaks down Shirow’s 350-page manga, in a similar manner to his discussion of the films plot. This is a necessity, given how well and thoroughly he examines the adaptation process. Taking the world and characters Shirow crafted, but injecting Oshii’s own brand of philosophy and themes, and examining how this effects the original material.

Time and attention is given to many important, but largely unsung figures in the films creation. Figures such as character designer, Hiroyuki Okiura. Animation director, Toshihiko Nishibubo, and art director, Hiromasa Ogura. Osmond takes great care in communication the amount of work that went into the films construction. Outlining fine details from Mechanical design, scripting and music. To even the process of dubbing and localisation. Something we rarely see approached and discussed when it comes to Ghost in the Shell.

With absolutely stunning cover art by Chris Malbon, and the loving research of Andrew Osmond. Ghost in the Shell from Arrow Books, is a fantastic look at the cult classic film, and a must read for avid fans, and the curious mind willing to traverse the vast net that is Ghost in the Shell.

Available from Arrow Films here.
Also Available from Amazon: Ghost In The Shell by Andrew Osmond

Marvel Comics: The Untold Story by Sean Howe (2012)

History can often be written in a fairly boring, and straight forward manner. This happened, followed by this, leading up to what you already know. Often, it can feel like a text book, forcing you to focus like your studying for a test. Even when the subject is something of interest to us, you can find ourselves feeling bogged down by information that feels flavourless. Almost redundant.

With Sean Howe’s Marvel Comics: The Untold Story, this is never an issue.

When diving into Marvel Comics, we find a delightfully well written book, that comes off as inviting and invigorating as a genuine Marvel comic. Presenting what could be mundane facts and events, as earth shattering moments in history. Culminating in what we know as modern-day Marvel. While it’s tempting to simply focus on the larger figures, such as Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, and Steve Ditko. Howe uses interviews, statistics, reports, articles, and a wonderful writing style, to breathe life into the mythical Marvel Bullpen, while shedding light on the cut-throat industry as a whole.

Covering a pre-World War II industry, right up to modern day Marvel, as part of Disney. It’s hard to find an aspect of Marvel’s history that Sean Howe does not cover.

While set out mostly in chronological order, the use of time skips or jumps in places, work to emphasise the importance of figures or events. Through it, you can gain a greater appreciation for Marvel, as well as feel a slightly different perspective on some of the figures or events. Stories from different time frames, or events within the comics, become stronger, when you begin to understand the reasons behind choices.

While the book may seem intimidating, given its massive size, with almost 500 pages. It’s manner and style make it easy to read, not only with how it’s written, but with the way it sucks you in. Engrossing you within the history of such an important company within the industry.

For those with little time to read, the book is accompanied by a wonderful 18-hour Audio Book that truly immerses you while on the go.

For those curious of Marvel’s fascinating history, or simply want something engaging to read. Sean Howe’s Marvel Comics: The Untold Story is a wonderful read. Truly worthy of your time, and attention.

Available here: Marvel Comics: The Untold Story (P.S.)