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Tuesday, May 06, 2008

DC Reprints - From 1999

Several reprinted DC comics have arrived in bookstores, but not all are of recent vintage. DC's Hitman is a curious blend of crime, horror, and science fiction. The title character first appeared as a victim of alien invaders in the 1993 plotline "Bloodlines" and resurfaced in his own series and the Batman series "Contagion."

There are obvious similarities to Marvel's character, Punisher, but Tommy Monaghan has powers never known to Punisher; Monaghan operates in the gangster-haunted alleys of Gotham City but also deals with walking corpses, Etrigan the Demon, and other bizarre characters. Garth Ennis and John McCrea make this odd mixture work surprisingly well although the violence is often graphic.

The "Contagion" chapter is reprinted out of sequence and does not appear in the "Contagion" Paperback reviewed here recently. Hitman made an appearance in DC's Justice League #5.

Less violent than Hitman is Justice League: A Midsummer's Nightmare, a reprint of a mini-series in which the Justice League of America, a superhero team, is reformed. This incarnation is very close to the Schwartz-Fox-Sekowsky creative team version of the JLA of 1960.

The villain first appears to be Dr. Destiny, but writers Mark Waid and Fabian Nicieza manage a few surprises. I personally find the art rather weak; the lack of detail may appeal to some, but the JLA needs a more dynamic quality.

The best part of the story is that dealing with the superhero, Martian Manhunter.

The best of the trio is the surprisingly durable Batman: The Killing Joke. This graphic novel first appeared in 1988. Alan Moore's script and Brian Bolland's art combine for one of the best character analyses of the Joker I have ever seen.

The miracle is that this book still sells for $3.95 while the others described sell for $9.95 and $8.95 respectively.

Reviewed by Dr. Jon Suter