Alphabetical Index of DC / Vertigo

Death: The High Cost of Living

Looking back at a modern classic, Death: The High Cost of Living maintains its quiet charm over a decade after its publication. Neil Gaiman writes, Chris Bachalo pencils, and Mark Buckingham inks the story of Death’s day off. The opening demonstrates how beautifully Gaiman blends the fantastic and the everyday as Mad Hettie, an apparently scattered bag lady, turns out to be capable of a kind of hedge magic. The dialogue is immediately evocative, with the added Anglophile appeal of […]

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Absolute DC: The New Frontier

Review by KC Carlson Darwyn Cooke’s DC: The New Frontier is a lusciously illustrated paean to the Silver Age of American superheroes. The Absolute Edition shows off the art even better with its oversized pages and upscale slipcased presentation. This is not a book for casual reading. (There are two trade paperback collections for that.) This is a book for poring over, with it well-supported on a desk or table so you don’t hurt yourself. The slipcase gives an introduction […]

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Batman/The Spirit

After Absolute DC: The New Frontier, I will check out anything Darwyn Cooke does, even if it’s written by a mega-hack like Jeph Loeb. And I found that that was the key — look at the pictures, ignore the hackneyed text. For instance, Batman’s introductory splash page is marred by an unnecessary and pointless “I’m coming for you, Joker!” Those visuals, though… mmmmm. Commissioners Gordon and Dolan commiserating in front of a huge hearth in a men’s club room populated […]

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Enigma

One of the Vertigo launch titles, Enigma still delivers power and insight today. Michael Smith is a normal man, trapped in routine, who over the course of the book discovers a childhood comic book hero come to life and experiences a sexual awakening. Since it’s written by Peter Milligan, readers won’t be surprised by the surreal way these elements are handled. Michael’s been dreaming about a masked man, a superhero called the Enigma. There’s also a mass murderer called the […]

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Planetary/Batman: Night on Earth

The raison d’etre of Planetary has been using thinly-disguised versions of other people’s characters to explore genre literature. In Planetary/Batman: Night on Earth, Warren Ellis is able to use the real thing, which makes this entry the best of the series. As expected, there isn’t much of a story — the Planetary team, while chasing a superpowered freak, encounters various versions of Batman — but the gorgeous art by John Cassaday and the appreciation for superhero history as summed up […]

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Orion: The Gates of Apokolips

I’ve never been that interested in the New Gods. Their original appearances were before my time, so my exposure to them is limited to reprint volumes and occasional appearances in The Legion of Super-Heroes. There wasn’t a lot about the characters I could relate to, but that changed with this collection, Orion: The Gates of Apokolips. Between the clarity of the god’s motivations, the epic plans and schemes, and the interaction with regular people, there’s more than enough to keep […]

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Stuck Rubber Baby

Stuck Rubber Baby tackles two of the most challenging struggles America has faced over the past half-century: equal rights regardless of race and regardless of sexual orientation. Like author Howard Cruse, Toland Polk is a white boy growing up in Alabama during the 1960s, and this novel covers his coming of age during the civil rights movement. As he observes and experiences the fear and justice of that time, he also comes to accept that he’s gay, sending him through […]

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Ocean

This action movie in a science fiction setting rings a few changes on Warren Ellis’ typical “hard man” character. For one thing, he’s black, resembling Laurence Fishburne — for another, he’s rather restrained, compared to the loonies around him. He’s still got the key characteristics, though, of being tired of the world around him, frequently bad-tempered, and willing to kill when necessary. “A hundred years from today”, a huge fleet of ancient alien coffins is discovered in the ice-covered ocean […]

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