A few more trade reviews for your reading pleasure, BAM:
ABE SAPIEN: THE DROWNING VOL. 1 (Dark Horse)
Written by Mike Mignola
Drawn by Jason Shawn Alexander
Like I said the other day, I love the Hellboy-verse and a big part of the world is Abe Sapien. This trade collects the very first Abe mini which also recounts his first Hellboy-less mission back in 1981. Remember how I said that even stories like this that take place in the past refer back to other stories? Well, there’s a quick look at Abe’s origin, but again, you don’t need to know anything about that to enjoy this story. It’s really fun trying to work everything out because, while this story came out after the B.P.R.D. trade which explained Abe’s past, The Drowning, chronologically speaking, comes before that. I’d like to see a huge Hellboy timeline laying everything out (maybe even with the order you’re supposed to read them in).
I’ve got the same complaint about this trade as the B.P.R.D. Vol. 9, though, in that we don’t get treated to a Mignola intro (though there still is the requisite sketchbook). And speaking of the art, Jason Shawn Alexander is awesome. I have no idea what else he’s done, but the way he draws the creepy little ghost things with the writing all over them is pretty damn creepy. Well done Jason, someday I’d like to have you contribute to my Green Lantern or eventual horror movie themed sketchbook.
I guess I haven’t really talked about the story, so here goes. Abe’s on an island looking for a magic spike in a demon, but soon enough these short demon dudes show up and everyone on the island dies! So, it’s up to Abe to save the day. I don’t want to get too much more into it without giving stuff away, but it’s another great Hellboy-verse story that any fan or novice can pick up and love.
NIGHTWING: FREEFALL (DC)
Written by Peter J. Tomasi
Drawn by Rags Morales & Don Kramer
I’m not the biggest Nightwing fan in the world, though I did enjoy most of the Devin Grayson and Chuck Dixon issues I read back in the day. Of course, things haven’t been so great in recent memory. But no more! I’ve been loving former editor Tomasi’s run on the book. Tomasi has boiled the character down to his essence, added his own spin and really cemented him in his post-One Year Later setting of New York City. In this book we get to see Dick taking up skydiving, getting a new job and home and trying to track down a villain who’s stealing super-corpses. What Tomasi does that I love is, he shows how much a part of the DCU Nightwing really is (remember, he lead the JLA at one point when they were stuck in the past). Not only does Flash (Wally) stop by for a beer, interact with Batman and Robin and confab with Superman on a case, but he also ha the JSA help set up his new pad (they’re not too far away, also being located in NYC).
I also have to admit I’m fond of Peter’s use of the New York area. I’m not as familiar with the city itself, but I totally geeked out when Nightwing flew under the Bear Mountain Bridge, which I pass every day on my way to work. There’s also a few other locations that I think I recognized (hey, I’m still learning). Aside from the locations, I appreciate the writer’s creativity and logic when dealing with the superhero world. Nightwing flies around on a ‘Wing wing (a kind of jetpack with wings), but he also asked Bruce Wayne to purchase various buildings placed strategically throughout NYC to give him plenty of places to get to if he needs to hid out. Brilliant! Does Batman even do that?
There are a few downsides though. There’s a bit of wordiness int he first few pages of the trade explaining how much Dick loves skydiving. It’s not poorly written by any means, but it’s a little bit dense and I know it turned a few guys at the lunch table off from reading the book (though I convinced them too soon enough). I’m also not sure what’s up with Rags’ art. I much prefer Don Kramer’s work in the book. It’s a lot cleaner and crisper and I kind of hope he becomes the regular artist.
So, if you’re even a cursory fan of Nightwing or Batman, you should definitely check this trade out as it, in my opinion, greatly represents the character as well as the logical standing he has in the DCU as one of the very first sidekicks who has literally grown up in the superhero world.