Comic Review: Batman Arkham – Clayface

Published: August 15th, 2017
Written by: various
Art by: various

DC Comics, 318 Pages

Review:

I’ve read a bunch of these Batman Arkham collections and I’m glad DC Comics is still putting one out a few times per year. If you remember those old collections like The Greatest Joker Stories Ever Told or The Greatest Batman Stories Ever Told, these are similar and are always focused on one character: a Batman villain.

Now I say that these are focused on one villain but this installment is a bit different, as it features Clayface, which there have been multiple versions of over the years and all of them are pretty unique.

What I really loved about this is that it gives us the first appearances of every Clayface in regular Batman canon. Hell, it even gives us the story of the Mud Pack, which was a villain team comprised of multiple Clayfaces.

The Clayface that most people are familiar with is the original, Basil Karlo. He was the one featured in Batman: The Animated Series in the ’90s and has monopolized Clayface’s comic book appearances since.

However, I loved seeing all the different versions here. My favorite story and now my favorite Clayface is the third version a.k.a. Preston Payne. I knew of him but never got to read his debut until now. His look and armored suit were badass and his story was fantastic thanks to the great Len Wein. As much as I like Karlo, I’d love to see Payne make a real comeback.

Overall, this was a pretty cool collection. Most of these are stories I’ve never read but they also gave me better clarity on the bizarre history of the Clayface moniker.

Rating: 8/10
Pairs well with: Other Batman Arkham collections, as well as Clayface-centric stories.

Comic Review: Batman: Year Two

Published: 1987
Written by: Mike W. Barr
Art by: Alfredo Alcala, Alan Davis, Todd McFarlane, Paul Neary

DC Comics, 169 Pages

Review:

I’ve heard great things about Batman: Year Two. Surprisingly, I’ve never read it even though it came out in the time when I was just starting out reading superhero comics, specifically Batman titles.

Plus, seeing that this was written by Mike W. Barr is pretty exciting, as I read Camelot 3000 a few months back and loved it.

This story starts off with a bang. However, it gets away from itself after the first issue or so.

It explores Batman’s motivations and what he is willing to do in the name of justice. The story actually sees him team up with Joe Chill, the guy who murdered his parents, and Batman does brandish a gun in this. Eventually, he becomes the Batman we all know and love but his journey here was weird and it seemed kind of forced and shocking just to be shocking.

I guess this is a sort of sequel to Frank Miller’s Year One but it doesn’t seem to fit well with it.

I liked the Reaper character and his weird way of passing the torch to Gotham’s new hero but honestly, this was kind of a mess and Batman, despite this being early in his career, didn’t feel true to the character. I guess that’s kind of the point but it didn’t gel for me.

That being said, this is still worth a read and it has resonated with a lot of people. Also, it’s really cool seeing early art from Todd McFarlane, before his epic Spider-Man run.

Rating: 6.25/10
Pairs well with: Batman: Year One and other late ’80s Batman tales.

Comic Review: Camelot 3000

Published: December,1982 – April, 1985
Written by: Mike W. Barr
Art by: Brian Bolland, Bruce Patterson, Terry Austin, Tatjana Wood

DC Comics, 320 Pages

Review:

I used to see Camelot 3000 in the back issue bins all the time when I started out collecting comics. I was a dummy that only bought superhero comics and toyline tie-in stuff, so I never gave it a chance.

However, over the years, I’ve heard great things about it and I’ve since gone out and collected all twelve issues of this DC Comics maxiseries.

Having now read it, I thought that all the hype was pretty justified. It was an energetic and exciting read. I crushed the whole thing out in a cross country flight and it made the time pass with ease, even if my seat was smaller than a can of corn.

Mike Barr’s story was stupendous with lots of layers, superb character development and also, one of the most original takes I’ve ever seen on the King Arthur legend.

Furthermore, the whole comic is visually stunning thanks to the fantastic art of Brian Bolland, who is a legend in my book.

Also, it touches on some social issues a few decades before those issues started to be addressed in mainstream entertainment. It’s certainly a comic book ahead of its time and it presented these things with care and respect.

I love that this tapped into great fantasy storytelling, mixed it up with solid science fiction and ultimately gave us something that truly feels epic. And I’m not one to throw the word “epic” around, as it is used too often like “awesome” and has lost its intended meaning.

Camelot 3000 is most definitely a classic in the comic book medium and one of the best series to come out of the outstanding ’80s.

Rating: 9.5/10
Pairs well with: ’70s and ’80s fantasy comics, as well as other DC maxiseries from the era like Watchmen and V for Vendetta.