Thursday, October 27, 2011

Comic-Reading Librarian: The Long Halloween

There are a couple schools of thought about comics and graphic novels at the library.

Snobby Librarian: Doesn't get it. Why are you reading that trash and why do I have to appeal to the lowest common denominator and have them on my shelves?

Ambivalent Librarian: I've read/heard of Persepolis and Invention of Hugo Cabret, but do you see how the women are portrayed in this manga crap?

Ostracized Librarian: Gets talked about after spending her break reading those comic books.  Aren't those for 12 year old boys?

So I think maybe you can guess that I'm an Ostracized Librarian.  I'm also going to make a sweeping generalization and say that most people who work in libraries who aren't against comic books work in Youth Services.  Youth Services people want kids to come to the library and read ANYTHING, so we don't turn up our nose at it if there are pictures.  Some of us know that comics are actually good, and not all men in tights lifting cars over their heads.

So every Halloween I read The Long Halloween by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale and then get snickered at by the other librarians behind my back.

Let me just go on record here as saying that I am a Two-Face girl, through and through.  He's always been my favorite in the Rogues gallery, probably because I love a man in a good double-breasted suit.  Also, I adore his story.  He and Batman are two-sides of the same coin (intended imagery!).  Both obsessed with justice, but working towards it from opposite ends of the spectrum of good and evil.  Also, of all the rogues he's most conflicted about his life of crime.  Not a lot of remorse coming from Joker or Poison Ivy, but Harvey Dent is still in there, and we can see him.  So that makes me an unapologetic fan-girl of this story.

The premise is that murders are being committed on every holiday by a killer who has it out for the Mob Scene in Gotham.  Rogues Gallery favorites all make appearances, cementing themselves as super-villains instead of thugs, and the origin of Two-Face plays out.  I really enjoy how his origin wasn't completely rushed and botched like it was in The Dark Knight movie.  (Post complaints below)

If you haven't read it, but you like Batman, go read it.  What's great is that someone who has long been left behind by convoluted DC continuity (which the re-launch did not fix, no matter what they say) can still read and enjoy this story if they know anything about Batman.  It's meant to be a continuation of Batman: Year One by Frank Miller, but I actually don't love that story and think you can do just fine skipping it.

Loeb is a divisive figure in comics.  This book, and Superman for all Seasons are critically acclaimed.  His works on the Ultimates and Ultimatum, definitely a sore spot for fans.  I admit that while I loved this story and to a slightly lesser extent its sequel, Dark Victory, the sort of re-hash of this style he does in "Hush" didn't do it for me.

Also, I don't love the boxy art of Tim Sale in this book, but I got over it because I was engrossed in the Noir murder mystery with the tuxedo wearing, mafia-fighting Batman I love.

If you love Batman or Two-Face, pick it up.  What's more Halloween than reading a book about lunatics in costume and murder-most foul?

No comments:

Post a Comment